Kevin Herbert, Secretary, Australian Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). The claims in yesterday’s “Tips and rumours” article titled “What does the government know about CFI?” are a prime example of poor tabloid investigative journalism.

Our Association has independent data which rejects each and every claim made in the article as untrue and clearly malicious. There exists no peer reviewed data either in Australia or globally to support ANY of any of claims made about cellulose insulation’s alleged inherent dangers to Australian consumers.

Also, the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) last night confirmed that the article’s opening claim that “A recent federal government commissioned study conducted by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation identified loose-fill or Cellulose Fiber Insulation (CFI) as a major hazard and safety threat” is without foundation.

Cellulose insulation has been successfully installed in more than 500,000 Aussie homes and in millions of US and European homes over the past 35 years. Also, it is considered the world’s most environmentally friendly insulation being manufactured from 100% recycled, fire retarded cellulosic fibre, and has superior fire resistance characteristics compared to all other commercially available home insulation in Australia.

Anyone reading this example of Crikey’s failure to vet information before publishing it as “Tips & Rumours”, could reasonably ask “Who was the primary source responsible for spreading such malicious inaccuracies?” Obviously, the answer to that question has become the real story.


Peter Kemp writes: Many people don’t think Australia should pursue an increasing population and they are entirely correct while the majority of immigrants gravitate to our overcrowded cities.

If we could distribute our population more evenly then a case might be made to increase our population even though it is obvious that the word population is excessive. In the meantime importing workers to support our minerals boom is a short sighted, knee jerk reaction to support a minority and could only be justified by invoking the largely mythical “trickle down effect”.

I think it is fair to say that Crikey supports an increasing population and I know there is a wish for more skilled workers. We could get these workers in the short term by immigration which in effect makes us parasites on other education systems or (shock horror) we could moderate our booming growth.

Whatever we do we must overhaul our own basic education system and realign the balance between the subsequent professional and technical education. Universities should return to educating the elite (yes it does exist in spite of socialist attitudes) and there needs to be a quality technical education system free from the social responsibility of providing a statutory occupation for welfare recipients.

The mining industry:

Mark Duffett writes: Re. “Why this will be a great election to win” (Wednesday, item 10). Ah yes, it’s been a few days since the last one, so it must be time for another Bernard Keane kick at the mining industry, in which he typically wallows in his ignorance to help support the chip on his shoulder. He seems to think that the fact miners are doing pretty well at the moment somehow invalidates criticism of the RSPT proposal’s effect on the industry.

Bernard, the effect of the RSPT proposal was on investment decisions.  In the mining industry as in many others, investments can take up to a decade or more to come to fruition.  The corollary is that profits being made now are the realisation of investments made over previous decades.

Accordingly, they have nothing to do with the events of the last six months. Is this really so hard to understand? And never mind the fact that RSPT proponents such as Bernard rested much of their case on the mining industry not paying enough tax.  Yet now they’re going to swamp the budget in a sea of black?  How does that work again?

Dying to vote:

Alex Joseph writes: My congratulations to Lindsay Beaton (yesterday, comments) for pointing out the cases of Ms Emily Davison and others who did die for the vote.  May I also add the millions who perished under various communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the USSR and Asia who also died in the cause of freedom (which I suppose included the freedom to vote for the government of their choice).

I visited a few former communist countries recently, (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia) apart from spending a week in Berlin.  All these places had very moving memorials to the horrors of communist dictatorships.

If we do not appreciate the vote and if we belittle phrases like “dying to vote”, we do so at our peril.  No society on earth has a cast-iron grip on democratic ideals — it took Weimar Germany, a perfectly good democracy, just a few short years to transform itself into a brutal dictatorship under Hitler.

Let’s not get too complacent about our democracy and let us not forget those who DID die for it !!!

The “Restoring Honor” rally:

Justin Templer writes: Without wishing to create a boring chain of correspondence I cannot let Steve Crilly’s rebuttal (yesterday, comments) of my comments on the video interview of participants at the Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” rally go undefended.

Firstly, Steve, you suggest that I think that Glenn Beck himself meant to mock the interviewees.  Obviously I do not think that — these people are his bread and butter.  But this was equally obviously not Glenn Beck’s work — it is a YouTube video of unknown provenance and is quite apparently put together with a negative lens on the rally participants.

Secondly, it is apparent that the interviewees were not chosen for their ability to clearly espouse their views – the fact that they were dumb and sometimes barely coherent suited the purpose of the video.

Thirdly, just because I believe that their views on the “Ground Zero Mosque” deserve sympathetic treatment does not mean I am “buying into” their views.  But it is worth considering that their beliefs and antipathy to Islam brought them to Washington and it would be short-sighted to simply dismiss them as being “wrong”.  These are the same people who brought us George Bush and it would be better to address their issues than have them do it again.

Climate change:

Adam Rope writes: Serial devils’ advocate Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments) writes in critique of Guy Rundle yesterday that:

“If he cared to punch around the better blogs such as Skeptical Science for a few months and delve into the theory, he might come to the reasonable conclusion that the science is increasingly unsettled and far from certain in its conclusions. The ‘multiple lines of evidence’ to suggest accelerating warming are in fact increasingly contradictory. Better measurement has in fact flattened the warming trend and found less heat stored in the oceans and flattened sea level rise in spite of certain ‘scientists’ who keep chanting the old mantra that the opposite is true.”

Thus in Ken’s world, arguments unsupported by real factual evidence, made by unqualified people of a fixed ideological position, writing under various pseudonyms, on a blog discussion somehow have more credibility than rational scientific analysis, made by scientists qualified in the field under discussion, in scientific papers published in the better peer-reviewed journals.

Glad we got that straight.

(A couple of comments on one Skeptical Science thread in response to Ken show my point: 61, “You’ll need to develop that assertion into an explanation better than what others practicing in the field have done before you’re convincing. You do realize that, right?” & 62, “Nope. An unconvincing variety of “common sense” doesn’t “trump” a century of understanding of the thermodynamics of radiative heat transfer.”)

It should be noted that in his year long discussion with KDKD on the Climate Change Cage Match that even when Ken’s version of events was shown to be scientifically, statistically or even logically unsound, he simply ignored that fact, and returned to the same scientifically unsound view a few comments or days later.

Thus my serial devils’ advocate at the start of this riposte — as I see him typing with a certain self satisfaction at his repeated stirring of the pot.

Kieren Diment writes: If readers cared to poke around the more respectable climate change blogs such as Skeptical Science they’d find that Ken’s claims that the science is increasingly unsettled are manifestly false.

Essentially he is falsely claiming that despite the fact that  his statistically illiterate and scientifically dubious musings on these blogs are constantly rebutted with sound scientific evidence, that they still maintain some shred of validity.

The only thing that’s unsettling is the degree to which Ken clings to his ideological preconception that climate change can’t be important in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

Andrew Davison writes: Is Ken Lambert for real? He recommends that Guy Rundle read the Skeptical Science blog and come to the conclusion that the climate change science is increasingly unsettled and far from certain in its conclusions. Bollocks! Skeptical Science is on my favourites list and it took me only two clicks to confirm that the science is still pointing in one direction: “A 2010 study included 10 key indicators, and as shown below, every one of them is moving in the direction expected of a warming globe.”

The ten indicators are: tropospheric air temperature, glaciers, snow cover, temperature over land, sea level, sea ice, ocean heat content, sea surface temperature, atmospheric humidity and temperature over oceans.

It is Lambert and his ilk who make the “preposterous” mistakes, not the IPCC!