Melbourne Storm:

Pamela Papadopoulos writes: Re: Editorial & The buck stops with News Ltd in the Melbourne Storm scandal (Friday, Item 2). It’s just a corrupt storm in a tea-cup for many and maybe the game might start reflecting the world wrestling federation soon at how the corporate nature of sport has lost it’s way and become a theatrical joke.

Kerry Lewis writes: Let me see, have I got this right? According to the prognosis of the latest “Storm Trouper”, if I was playing for the club, if I was on say “$X,000,000” a year according to the contract I’d signed and been given a copy to read at my leisure, after the rapture, and I was then “given” a “$30G” boat, a “multi-G account”, that I didn’t have to pay, at say “Harvey Norman” — everything but “a block of flats, plus Tasmania” (where would I keep ’em?) — I mightn’t know I was the recipient of largess, over and above my entitlements under the salary cap? Who is this “clown”? Another “three quarter”– by name and IQ — too?

Keith Thomas writes: Melbourne Storm, Carl Williams and more. But still no need for a body with royal commission-like powers to investigate corruption in Victoria – the new Queensland? John Brumby makes the valid observation that creating a watchdog just moves the watchdog problem back a step and “who will guard the guardians?” becomes a question that needs an answer. Surely it’s not a question that cannot be answered. The heads of previous commissions (Fitzgerald and others) would, I am sure, have answers to this problem far more worth of consideration than John Brumby’s unthinking cliched response.

James Burke writes: Tea Parties. Kill Klegg. The Melbourne Storm… I’m not a journalist or a politician, so I don’t have to live in fear of speaking the truth. I’ll vote for the party that pledges to cease all government advertising in News Limited publications. Let’s see how long the Oz lasts without Federal Government job ads.

Climate science:

Matt Andrews writes: Amidst Tamas Calderwood’s gibberings on climate (comments, Friday), it’s possible to discern a couple of things that, at first glance, could pass for facts.

One is that there has been a “12 year cooling trend that 95% of climate models failed to predict”.  This is, of course, completely false.  The temperature record over the last 12 years, and indeed the last 30 years, is entirely consistent with the underlying warming trend of roughly one-sixth of a degree per decade… and entirely consistent with the projections of climate models.  The idea that climate models project a simple steady warming, with none of the rough and tumble of El Nino, La Nina, the odd volcano, etc etc, is straight out of la-la-land (a.k.a. “Watts Up With That”, “Climate Audit”, the back of Andrew Bolt’s envelopes, etc).  Rather that go into a long explanation of all that – again – I’ll just refer anyone interested to a succinct post titled “Riddle me this …” at the “Open Mind” site.  For a more detailed look at the situation, try the real climate scientists at, in a post titled “What the IPCC models really say“.

Tamas also informs us that “it is calculated that if the Earth had no atmosphere and were a black lump of rock at its current distance from the Sun, it would be just 8C cooler than it is now.”  As ever, Tamas cites claims without revealing where they came from, but this is both misleading and Just Plain Wrong.  A black-body Earth with no atmosphere and constant albedo would have a temperature of about -18.8C.  The average global surface temperature is currently roughly 14 degrees … so the greenhouse effect warms up the planet by around 33 degrees, not 8 degrees.  Check “Black body” on Wikipedia, for instance. For a much more detailed explanation of the physics of the greenhouse effect, try a piece titled “Greenhouse effect revisted” written for non-specialists by Chris Colose (a real climate scientist).

Steve O’Connor writes: Pretty much par for the climate denial course, but I thought I might as well correct the record in case anyone was still taking him seriously. Here we go again with yet more misinformation from Tamas Calderwood (comments, Friday). The average temperature of the earth without it’s warm blanket of atmospheric gases would actually be around -19C which is 33 degrees colder than present, not 8 as Tamas states.

It is worth bearing in mind that in the last ice-age New York was buried under 2km of ice even though the average temperature was a ‘mere’ 5 or 6 degrees colder. I wish it weren’t so, but a three degree warmer world means a whole lot more than taking our daily temperatures and adding three.

Peter Kemp writes: There is next to no doubt that the earth is warming and very little chance that the cause is other than human activity. Even if we are unsure of the cause it would surely be prudent to reduce greenhouse gasses anyway. The only solution to greenhouse gas is for most of the world to take action. All Australia can hope to do is to set an example and provide leadership but in order to do this we must set our own house in order.

If Australia did the impossible and ceased all greenhouse gas emissions it would make no noticeable difference to total world emissions. If Australia did everything possible it would make even less difference and would result in extreme hardship. In this it matters little that we have high emissions per citizen because our population is very small.

Australian coal exports are a very small proportion of China’s coal use and cause a miniscule proportion of their total greenhouse gas emissions. If Australia ceased all coal exports it would make no noticeable difference to total world emissions. It would probable make no difference at all as coal would be largely sourced from elsewhere and any reduction would be more than offset by greater transport use and lower efficiency. What it would do is drastically reduce our standard of living.

If we take the money and run the current generation will continue to be very well off but it will be at the expense of future generations. The bonanza income from coal will end one day even if future beliefs are that emissions had little to do with global warming. We should invest our windfall income in our children’s future as follows:

1. Educate all Australians as well as possible and eliminate as far as possible our reliance on overseas educated immigrants,

2. Aggressively research alternative energy, transport, agriculture and any thing else that may reduce greenhouse emissions,

3. Aggressively implement every reasonable means to reduce our own greenhouse emissions. I support a straight carbon tax with appropriate compensation,

4. Support Australian production of items essential for our national wellbeing,

5. Improve our countries infrastructure now while the resources are cheap and

6. Implement a low population policy that will make the inevitable future problems easier to control.

If we do these things now we will, in the future, lead the world. We will be well placed when the rest of the world finally takes emission control seriously. We will be ahead of the game at home and in a position to profit by selling education, expertise and technology in place of coal. If we don’t do these things then one day our castle of prosperity will tumble down and there will be nothing to fall back on.

Wind will never be a viable base load source for Australia (the combined available output of all installed wind power in Australia now varies from 2% to 75% installed capacity). There appears to be a future in storing heat energy (as steam?) to smooth the output of solar energy but it is not here yet. Hot rock will improve. Forget “clean coal”. For countries that do not already have the transmission infrastructure it would be better to encourage distributed solutions anyway.

It is unlikely that Australia will ever be in the business of selling nuclear technology but we can sell fuel, process fuel and possibly store waste. The only sticking point is (perceived?) safety. Having said this there is a place for nuclear base load generation in Australia’s but we can wait for better and cheaper the technology.

Finally, the only way the world can provide all people with a reasonable standard of living is to drastically reduce world population but Australia is pursuing population increase because our leaders can’t face the challenge of managing a stable population and only see short term solutions and votes in continuous expansion.

People smuggling:

David Gothard writes: We can solve this problem almost immediately. Legislate to make it a Criminal Offence to enter or attempt to enter Australia other than at an approved Port of Entry and with appropriate documents. Penalty five years incarceration. Or ten years for the Smugglers who arrange and profit from the trips.

The first question asked of the individuals when they apply for asylum, is if they have a criminal conviction under Australian law. If they do then application denied, they spend their time in prison and are deported. We already refuse entry for people who come with a criminal record, so lets provide them with one.

This would close off the boat smuggling immediately but still allow people to come by normal means.

Flu vaccine:

Melanie Farris writes: Whilst I understand that ‘a’ version of the flu vaccine has been clinically trialled, what I do not understand is how the formulation can be changed and not trialled before being administered to humans (not even to specifically mention babies).

Talking head GPs on “news” programs seem very capable in avoiding this question, bless them. Although the Sunrise GP this morning did venture to “can you imagine if they had to re-trial every year it would never get to market”.

The AMA and Immunisation program can’t complain on the one hand about parents who choose not to immune their children because of “misinformation” yet withhold information themselves.

P.S. That whistle blower on ABC last year should be bloody ashamed of themselves. Its a bit late to be blowing the whistle now, after the fact. If what he/she says is true he/she had a duty and responsibility to stand up and be counted a very long time ago.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey