Drowning Miami (and goodness knows what to the Gold Coast).  In Rolling Stone the writer put it quite dramatically: “Goodbye, Miami — by century’s end, rising sea levels will turn the nation’s urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin.Slightly less dramatic is The Geneva Associationwhich speaks on behalf of the world’s major insurance companies:  “In some high-risk areas, ocean warming and climate change threaten the insurability of catastrophe risk.”

Both reports are out this week with frightening predictions about the consequences of global warming. Read them and take your pick, but I’m influenced more by the views of those insurers who are wondering whether they want to take bets anymore about extreme weather events.

John Fitzpatrick, secretary general of The Geneva Association, said:

“There is new, robust evidence that the global oceans have warmed significantly. Given that energy from the ocean is a key driver of extreme events, ocean warming has effectively caused a shift towards a ‘new normal’ for a number of insurance-relevant hazards. This shift is quasi irreversible — even if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions completely stop tomorrow, oceanic temperatures will continue to rise.”

Converting me to Abbott. It’s a bit hard for overweight and unfit blokes like me to relate to Tony Abbott with his bike riding and triathlons, but I’m looking at him more favourably after Wayne Swan went the smear in the House of Representatives yesterday. “The Leader of the Opposition slept right through the critical vote, he was drunk, and didn’t come into the house — he slept right through that vote,” a nasty Swan told the House of Representatives yesterday, referring to some irrelevant bit of parliamentary play or other. It makes me think Abbott is not so different from me after all.

Backing hundred-to-one winners. I’ve a bit of sympathy for the prime ministerial communications team as they search daily for a vote-winning media opportunity. When you are down and almost out it’s hard to come up with something that might help turn the tide. So if there’s a chance of getting a nice spread for your boss in the monthly Australian Women’s Weekly you just have to say “yes”. It is, after all, the biggest-selling and most influential magazine in the country, and if the price of admission is a set of knitting needles and Reuben the dog, you just have to pay it.

When it doesn’t turn out exactly as you might have wished? Well, that’s just the way things are when you need to back 100/1 winners. Most of them don’t win and some end up worse than others. (I write as man who inspired that Octopus advertisement for Barrie Unsworth as inevitable defeat by Nick Greiner’s Liberals was looming in New South Wales all those years ago.)

Not that I think the knitting picture featured in the edition of the Weekly on sale today, and lampooned in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and on social media yesterday, is some kind of great vote loser. I’m sure that there are many women, and some men as well, who will relate to someone who finds knitting an antidote to the pressures of a stressful life.

What I’m not sure of is the wisdom of reacting to the criticism as in the backgrounder from the PM’s press office. Better to follow that sage advice about “never explain, never complain and never resign” while continuing to search for that elusive long-shot winner.

Gillard to remain leader? Participants in our little Chunky Bits survey favour that she will still be leading the Labor Party come election day.

Give your opinion here along with a predicted date and time for any leadership spill for a chance to win a First Dog calendar.

News and views noted along the way.

Peter Fray

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