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Are the Left now toning down the hate?

I believe Joe Hildebrand is right below in saying that the current level of hate in Australian Federal politics is a historical departure.

Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's most storied conservative Prime Minister, ran Australia for most of the 50s and 60s and always had a good reply to his Leftist critics.  And he kept them out of office over many elections.

In his retirement he wrote two autobiographies. I read both shortly after they came out. That is a long time ago so I remember now little of what I read then. The one thing in them that has stuck in my mind is his praise for his erstwhile opponents in the Labor party. He described them quite warmly -- as good and sincere men who honestly believed they were working for the good of the country.

So what Hildebrand says below of the Hawke era in fact goes back a long way.  Politics in Australia were for a very long time marked by real interpersonal civility


I was talking to Bob Hawke’s widow Blanche d’Alpuget.

It was the first time we had spoken since Hawke’s death – which is hardly surprising since we hardly know each other – but like anyone with a passing relationship with the Labor Party, I somehow felt that they were part of my extended family.

At any rate, I certainly felt very close to her then and as we talked about Bob’s death it was clear that she was a woman blown apart. You could see right through to her shaken soul.

But when we talked about Bob’s legacy that soul turned to steel. Hawke was, above all else, a consensus builder – a peacemaker. He took not just his party with him on his and Keating’s grand economic project but often the opposition too.

As Blanche angrily lamented, even amid all the fire and fury of political and parliamentary life, politicians always used to work together behind the scenes to get things done. They would shake hands, do deals and share jokes behind the Speaker’s chair. They would work across the aisle – bridging the often artificial divide between left and right – in pursuit of what used to be known as the common good.

This was Australian politics’ dirty little secret: The people that pretended to hate each other actually quite liked each other.

And this was the culture that prevailed in Canberra under both Labor and the Coalition for a quarter of a century – so much so that when an escalating travel rorts war resulted in a senator attempting suicide both sides immediately agreed to a ceasefire.

But a decade ago that all changed. A nasty condition known as “the NSW disease” crept into Canberra, a culture in which leaders were brutally knifed at the first whisper of discontent and which swept through both the Labor Party and the Coalition, decimating them both.

It is no coincidence that all of this took place in the new age of social media – in which politicians, activists and any member of the public could slug it out directly without the niceties of standing orders or news cycles.

And it is no coincidence that it happened amid the online news revolution, in which both old and new media outlets became more tribal than ever in an effort to hold or attract their audience.

One man who was at the centre of it all was Craig Emerson, a softly-spoken economist and academic who was an adviser to Hawke before entering parliament and becoming a minister under the fractious Rudd and Gillard governments.

Emerson’s latest thankless task for Labor was to find out how it lost the unlosable election, which he and former premier Jay Weatherill dutifully performed. Their conclusion is neatly summarised in the report as follows:

“Labor should position itself as a party of economic growth and job creation. Labor should adopt the language of inclusion, recognising the contribution of small and large businesses to economic prosperity, and abandon derogatory references to ‘the big end of town’. Labor’s policy formulation should be guided by the national interest, avoiding any perception of capture by special interest groups.”

In short, the party needed to be inclusive, not divisive. And it was a philosophy Emerson took to heart when he bravely defended Barnaby Joyce in the unbecoming shitstorm that accompanied last week’s bushfire disaster.

Emerson observed that contrary to the outrage being generated by both social and mainstream media, Joyce had not been attacking two dead bushfire victims for being Greens supporters but clumsily trying to say that he wouldn’t – albeit for reasons known only to Barnaby himself.

For this attempt at nuance Emerson was naturally crucified on social media, leading him to write a thoughtful piece for the Australian Financial Review lamenting the blind ideological tribalism that had taken hold of politics.

And of course for this he was naturally crucified by blind ideological tribalists. He was condemned for breaking a cultural embargo in his effort to bridge the divide.

But he was not alone. In the small pond of Australian politics, Emerson’s piece received a tsunami of support – not from alt-right fascists, as his extreme left accusers tried to claim – but from the leading lights at the ABC. The Germans might have brought down the Berlin Wall but it was Annabel Crabb who brought down the AFR paywall when she tweeted a picture of the whole column as a vital read for her half a million followers.

And of course Emerson joins a growing number of leaders from the moderate left who are coming to realise the extreme left poses a greater threat to their cause than the moderate right does. No less a figure than Barack Obama this month condemned “woke” cancel culture and plenty of once-woke celebrities from Sarah Silverman to Michael Leunig have found out the hard way that the hard left only loves you until they come for you.

The champions of censorship like to claim that they are on the right side of history but it is just possible that future historians may remember this November as the time when cancel culture got cancelled.

Man, I hope I live to see that.

SOURCE 


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That wicked air pollution again

The article below is a riot of statistics but one thing it sedulously avoids is any mention of effect sizes. The effect size in other studies of this topic is usually negligible so that may tell you why.

None of the previous studies of this topic are exactly comparable but some of them have been pretty powerful. For instance, a 2018 study included the entire Medicare population from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2012. And their finding that only one in a million people die from particulate air pollution is pretty decisive. If you bother about that tiny risk, you should never get out of bed.

In the present study, even a probability statistic or two would have been of some help, though the large sample size would show just about any effect as statistically significant.  The text of the article does imply that effect size statistics can be found in the supplementary material but when I clicked on the heading of the relevant table there nothing happened.  Very suspicious.

There are however some indications that the effects were very weak. The authors' reliance on inter-quartile ranges is characteristic of what you do when there is no overall significance in the data. And take the sentence below:

"PM2.5 exposure was associated with excess burden of death due to cardiovascular disease (56070.1 deaths [95% uncertainty interval {UI}, 51940.2-60318.3 deaths])"

As far as I can work out the number of deaths was just about in the middle of the uncertainty interval, again suggesting that nothing much was going on. One hopes that the authors provide some real and accessible statistics about effect size soon.

The big hole in studies of this topic is failure to take account of income.  Poor people commonly have much worse health and unless income is controlled for you may be simply seeing the effects of poverty, not what you think you are seeing.

To their credit, the authors did use an expansive demographic statistic to provide some sort of control on their results.  But their procedure there was rather brain-dead -- or perhaps the procedure of someone who doesn't really want to deal with demographics.  They created an Area Deprivation Index (ADI), which ranks geographic locations by socioeconomic status disadvantage and is composed of education, employment, housing quality, and poverty measures.

One wonder exactly what "poverty measures" were.  Nothing as simple as individual income, it would seem.  And that was it:  No attempt to control for individual poverty.

So even if the ADI index was well done, that is not the end of the story. Using the characteristics of an area as a proxy for individual characteristics is quite desperate.  Any one area will include a considerable demographic range.  A poor person living in a rich are will be characterized as rich -- which is madness.

So once again the study founders on the rock of a failure to control for income.  The illnesses observed might have been effects of poverty, not air pollution.  For a variety of reasons, poor people are more exposed to air pollution, something this study does concede

And at risk of killing a dead horse, the pollution measures were also area statistics rather than individual statistics.  That assumes that everyone living in the same area breathes in the same amount of pollution.  I hope I don't have to give reasons why that may not be so

But air pollution SHOULD be bad for you, someone will say.  It probably is -- at some level. But is the level normally encountered in American cities bad for you?  That is what no-one so far has been able to establish reliably.

Given our evolutionary history of sitting around campfires for perhaps a million years, one would expect that evolution would have given us a substantial tolerance of inhaled air pollution.  That is probably what is actually revealed in studies like the present one


Burden of Cause-Specific Mortality Associated With PM2.5 Air Pollution in the United States

Benjamin Bowe et al.

Abstract

Importance:  Ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution is associated with increased risk of several causes of death. However, epidemiologic evidence suggests that current knowledge does not comprehensively capture all causes of death associated with PM2.5 exposure.

Objective:  To systematically identify causes of death associated with PM2.5 pollution and estimate the burden of death for each cause in the United States.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  In a cohort study of US veterans followed up between 2006 and 2016, ensemble modeling was used to identify and characterize morphology of the association between PM2.5 and causes of death. Burden of death associated with PM2.5 exposure in the contiguous United States and for each state was then estimated by application of estimated risk functions to county-level PM2.5 estimates from the US Environmental Protection Agency and cause-specific death rate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Nonlinear exposure-response functions of the association between PM2.5 and causes of death and burden of death associated with PM2.5.

Exposures:  Annual mean PM2.5 levels.

Results:  A cohort of 4 522 160 US veterans (4 243 462 [93.8%] male; median [interquartile range] age, 64.1 [55.7-75.5] years; 3 702 942 [82.0%] white, 667 550 [14.8%] black, and 145 593 [3.2%] other race) was followed up for a median (interquartile range) of 10.0 (6.8-10.2) years. In the contiguous United States, PM2.5 exposure was associated with excess burden of death due to cardiovascular disease (56 070.1 deaths [95% uncertainty interval {UI}, 51 940.2-60 318.3 deaths]), cerebrovascular disease (40 466.1 deaths [95% UI, 21 770.1-46 487.9 deaths]), chronic kidney disease (7175.2 deaths [95% UI, 5910.2-8371.9 deaths]), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (645.7 deaths [95% UI, 300.2-2490.9 deaths]), dementia (19 851.5 deaths [95% UI, 14 420.6-31 621.4 deaths]), type 2 diabetes (501.3 deaths [95% UI, 447.5-561.1 deaths]), hypertension (30 696.9 deaths [95% UI, 27 518.1-33 881.9 deaths]), lung cancer (17 545.3 deaths [95% UI, 15 055.3-20 464.5 deaths]), and pneumonia (8854.9 deaths [95% UI, 7696.2-10 710.6 deaths]). Burden exhibited substantial geographic variation. Estimated burden of death due to nonaccidental causes was 197 905.1 deaths (95% UI, 183 463.3-213 644.9 deaths); mean age-standardized death rates (per 100 000) due to nonaccidental causes were higher among black individuals (55.2 [95% UI, 50.5-60.6]) than nonblack individuals (51.0 [95% UI, 46.4-56.1]) and higher among those living in counties with high (65.3 [95% UI, 56.2-75.4]) vs low (46.1 [95% UI, 42.3-50.4]) socioeconomic deprivation; 99.0% of the burden of death due to nonaccidental causes was associated with PM2.5 levels below standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Conclusions and Relevance:  In this study, 9 causes of death were associated with PM2.5 exposure. The burden of death associated with PM2.5 was disproportionally borne by black individuals and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. Effort toward cleaner air might reduce the burden of PM2.5-associated deaths.

JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1915834. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.15834


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Ronald Bailey has gone over to the Dark side

Bailey was once a climate skeptic but claims that in 2005  new data made him into a Warmist. I commented on that "conversion" at the time. He has however upped his game since then and we see the result below. His big failing this time can be found in the rubric (red bit) below.  He is precisely wrong in what he says there.  The Climategate emails show that the major players in Warmism are outright crooks. They arbitrarily alter data sources and do their best to ensure that any articles that don't suit them never get published. How surprising that the word "climategate" does not occur once in Bailey's long and diligent aricle.

So it is difficult to ascertain the truth when the chief sources of information about the climate are untrustworthy.  This is particularly so if we realize something that Bailey himself admits:  The data is full of estimates. The climate data is woefully incomplete and all sorts of dodges have to be resorted to to fill in those gaps, with some of the estimates (terrestrial-based measures of arctic temperatures, for instance) being truly heroic.  At almost every point there is room to move estimates in the direction desired. So all the findings that Bailey relies on may or may not be true.  We cannot know. But it is the warmist claim is that we DO know

But that is not a deliberate retreat into nescience. We can still make our own observations and develop our own theories.  And that is what climate skeptics have done. And they have found much that does not support the conventional theories and findings.  Bailey attempts to debunk one by one the dissident theories and findings but he does so by relying on findings from people within the consensus.  And we know that data to be assumption-laden.  So Bailey's large project ends up with circular reasoning:  Warmism is true if you accept what warmists say.  Or putting it another way, you cannot lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.  Once crookedness has been established, it is difficult to find the truth

But vast government activity worldwide is based on Warmist claims being truth.  To use another metaphor, that is a castle built on sand.

The replication crisis

I must stress that I am not putting total reliance on the climategate revelations.  What I am stressing is the constant need for guessing when dealing with incomplete data.  And confirmation bias is well known  even without the climategate revelations. There is now a substantial literature in medical and psychological research showing that unreplicable findings will regularly be accepted until someone comes along and blows the whistle -- by attempting a close replication of the original finding.  A disastrous 60% of findings do not replicate -- indicating that most of what we thought we knew in those disciplines was frankly wrong.

So what about climate findings?  Do they replicate?  We cannot know. Climate researchers have traditionally kept all details of their data and its analyses close to their chest. They defy the basic philosophy of science dictum that your data and analyses must be available for all to check. So that basically tells you all you need to know about the research concerned. The authors know that their results will not replicate when examined by outsiders so make such examinations impossible.

And that suspicion hardens into certainty when we look at Michael Mann's influential hockeystick claim. Mann denied access to his data but inadvertently left some of it on a server where sophisticated computer users could find it.  And when Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre did a reanalyis of that data using Mann's program they found that ANY data fed into Mann's program would produce Mann's result.  Mann's findings were a total fraud.  Mann guards his data jealousy to this day.  He was even prepared to lose his lawsuit against Tim Ball rather than reveal it.  And Mann is one of those whom Bailey assumes to be "acting in good faith".

Sadly, global warming is the greatest hoax in human history, perpetrated by grant-hungry scientists with few scruples.  The future of the climate CANNOT be known or predicted but it is the contention of the Warmists that it can be.

The satellite data

I will be mentioning the satellite record of global temperatures shortly  so before I do that I need to spend a little time looking at Bailey's attempt to discredit the satellite data.

He says, rightly, that even the satellite data requires adjustments for various things and points to discrepancies in what the various versions of what the satellite data shows. In the best Leftist practice however he tells only half the story. Let me mention something he leaves out.  The two major versions of the satellite record have long been the UAH record maintained by skeptics and the RSS version by the conventional Carl Mears.

And the two produced such similar results that the RSS figures were often used by skeptics as discrediting warmism.  Even the RSS data from Carl Mears showed little warming.

As Mears himself admits, he was mightily irritated by people accusing his temperature record of supporting the climate skeptics.  He was in fact expressing irritation with that for quite some years.  He declared several times that he still supports Warmism despite what his own data show.

So in 2016 he finally devised a solution to his embarrassment.  He "adjusted" his data.  He said his old data had errors in it and he has now corrected the errors, to show some warming  -- a warming of 18 hundredths of one degree over nearly 20 years, no less!  One hundredth of a degree per annum! (If there had been errors in it, one wonders why he rode with the "erroneous" data for so long but let that be by the by).

And the explanation he gives for his adjustments is reasonable in principle, but, as always, the devil is in the details.  And the details do contain devilry, as Roy Spencer has pointed out.  Carl's adjustments were so bad in fact that the paper in which he described them was rejected as unpublishable by a major climate journal, eventually being accepted by a meteorological one.  However you look at it, however, one hundredth of a degree per annum is negligible warming. Both major versions of the satellite data continued to show no significant warming

The skeptical response

Most of the prominent climate skeptics have looked at Bailey's article and are mocking of it.  I thought I might close by reproducing a emailed comment on it from Don Easterbrook:

"The latest evidence shows that the likelihood of an apocalyptic climate change are about as close to zero as you can get. The NASA and NOAA portrayals of 'hottest  year ever' are totally fraudulent. NOAA temperatures in the US have cooled slightly over the past 20 years  and global satellite temperatures show no warming (see below).





We are now entering a Grand Solar Minimum, guaranteeing that temperatures will plunge, not warm catastrophically. The chances of cataclysmic warming are not worth worrying about!


Excerpts from Bailey

Researchers use complicated computer climate models to analyze all these data to make projections about what might happen to the climate in the future. My reporting strategy has been to take seriously what I believe to be the principal objections made by researchers who argue on scientific grounds that panic is unwarranted. I also assume that everyone is acting in good faith. What follows is based on what I hope is a fair reading of the recent scientific literature on climate change and communications with various well-known climate change researchers.

Ice Age Climate Change

To decide how worried we should be, we need to go back much further than 1992. Starting about 2.6 million years ago the Earth began experiencing ice ages lasting between 80,000 and 120,000 years. The world's most recent glacial period began about 110,000 years ago.

Most researchers believe that variations in Earth's orbital path around the Sun is the pacemaker of the great ice ages. Ice ages end when wobbles in Earth's orbit increase the sunlight heating the vast continental glaciers that form in the northern hemisphere. These orbital shifts initiate a feedback loop in which the warming oceans release of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which in turn further boosts global temperatures. Higher temperatures increase atmospheric water vapor which further boosts warming that melts more ice and snow cover. Less snow and ice enables the growth of darker vegetation which absorbs more heat and so forth.

At the height of the last glacial maximum 19,000 years ago atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide stood at only about 180 parts per million. The level of atmospheric carbon dioxide increased to around 280 parts per million by the late 18th century. This chain of feedbacks eventually produced a rise in global average surface temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius. That's the difference between the last ice age in which glaciers covered about one-third of the Earth's total land area and today when only 10 percent of the land area is icebound.

As a result of human activities, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to about 415 parts per million now. The annual rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 60 years is about 100 times faster than the rate of increase that occurred at the end of the last ice age. How much this increase is responsible for having warmed the planet over the last century, along with how much more warming will result if carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise, is the central issue in climate change science.

Just Add Carbon Dioxide

Of course, the sun powers the Earth's climate. About 30 percent of solar energy is directly reflected back into space by bright clouds, atmospheric particles, and sea ice and snow. The remaining 70 percent is absorbed. The air and surface re-emit this energy largely as infrared rays that are invisible to us but we feel as heat.

The nitrogen and oxygen molecules that make up 99 percent of the atmosphere are transparent to both incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared rays. However, water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone are opaque to many wavelengths of infrared energy. These greenhouse gas molecules block some escaping heat and re-emit it downward toward the surface. So instead of the Earth's average temperature being 18 degrees Celsius below zero, it is 15 degrees Celsius above freezing. This extra heating is the natural greenhouse effect.

NASA climate researcher Andrew Lacis and his colleagues contend that carbon dioxide is the key to greenhouse warming on Earth. Why? Because at current temperatures carbon dioxide and other trace greenhouse gases such as ozone, nitrous oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons do not condense out of the atmosphere. Overall, these noncondensing greenhouse gases account for about 25 percent of the Earth's greenhouse effect. They sustain temperatures that initiate water vapor and cloud feedbacks that generate the remaining 75 percent of the current greenhouse effect. Lacis and his colleagues suggest that if all atmospheric carbon dioxide were somehow removed most of the water vapor would freeze out and the Earth would plunge into an icebound state.

Princeton physicist and lately resigned Trump administration National Security Council member William Happer has long questioned the magnitude of carbon dioxide's effect with respect to warming the atmosphere. In fact, Happer is the co-founder and former president of the nonprofit CO2 Coalition established in 2015 for the "purpose of educating thought leaders, policy makers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy."His 2014 article, "Why Has Global Warming Paused?" in the International Journal of Modern Physics A, Happer argued that climate scientists had gotten crucial spectroscopic details of how atmospheric carbon dioxide absorbs infrared energy badly wrong. As a result, he asserts, a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would likely warm the planet by only about 1.4 degrees Celsius. If the effect of carbon dioxide on temperatures was indeed constrained to that comparatively low value man-made global warming would probably not constitute a significant problem for humanity and the biosphere.

In 2016, NASA Langley Research Center atmospheric scientist Martin Mlynczak and his colleagues analyzed Happer's claims in a Geophysical Research Letters article and found, "Overall, the spectroscopic uncertainty in present-day carbon dioxide radiative forcing is less than one percent, indicating a robust foundation in our understanding of how rising carbon dioxide warms the climate system." In other words, the details of how carbon dioxide absorbs and re-emits heat are accurately known and unfortunately imply that future temperatures will be considerably higher than Happer calculated them to be.

 Another related claim sometimes made is the effect of carbon dioxide on the climate is saturated, that is, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already absorbing re-emitting about as much heat as it can. Consequently, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere won't much increase the average temperature of the globe. But is this so?

This claim is based on the fact in the current climate era that, as Princeton University climatologist Syukuro Manabe in a 2019 review article "Role of greenhouse gas in climate change," notes, "surface temperature increases by approximately 1.3 degrees C in response to the doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration not only from 150 ppm [parts per million] to 300 ppm but also from 300 ppm to 600 ppm." To get a further increase of 1.3 degrees Celsius would require doubling atmospheric CO2 concentration to 1200 ppm. A metaphorical way of thinking about this issue is to visualize that the atmosphere consists of layers and as each layer fills up with enough carbon dioxide to absorb all the heat that it can, the extra heat radiates to the next layer that then absorbs it and re-emits it, and so forth. Consequently, the effect of CO2 on temperatures does decline but it does not saturate at levels relevant to future climate change.

Again, an increase of 1.3 degrees Celsius due to doubling carbon dioxide doesn't seem too alarming. "It is much smaller than 2.3 degrees C that we got in the presence of water vapour feedback," notes Manabe. Researchers find under current climate conditions that "water vapour exerts strong a positive feedback effect that magnifies the surface temperature change by a factor of ∼1.8." A warmer atmosphere evaporates and holds more water vapor which again is the chief greenhouse gas. Just as predicted, water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing as average global temperatures rise. Citing satellite data, a 2018 article in Earth and Space Science reported, "The record clearly shows that the amount of vapor in the atmosphere has been increasing at a rate of about 1.5% per decade over the last 30 years as the planet warms."

Evidence Tampering?

Researchers have devised various records to track changes in global average temperatures. These include surface records incorporating thermometer readings on land and at sea; remote sensing of atmospheric trends using satellites, and climate reanalyses to calculate temperature trends for two meters above the surface.

All temperature records must be adjusted since all have experienced changes that affect the accuracy of their raw data. For example, surface temperature records are affected by changes in thermometers, locations of weather stations, time of day shifts in measurements, urban heat island effects, shipboard versus buoy sampling and so forth. Satellite data must be adjusted for changes in sensors and sensor calibration, sensor deterioration over time, and make corrections for orbital drift and decay. Climate reanalysis combines weather computer models with vast compilations of historical weather data derived from surface thermometers, weather balloons, aircraft, ships, buoys, and satellites. The goal of assimilating and analyzing these data is to create past weather patterns in order to detect changes in climate over time. Since climate reanalyses incorporate data from a wide variety of sources they must be adjusted when biases are identified in those data.

Some skeptics allege that the official climate research groups that compile surface temperature records adjust the data to make global warming trends seem greater than they are. A recent example is the June 2019 claim by geologist Tony Heller, who runs the contrarian website Real Climate Science, that he had identified "yet another round of spectacular data tampering by NASA and NOAA. Cooling the past and warming the present." Heller focused particularly on the adjustments made to NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) global land surface temperature trends.

One general method used by climate scientists of adjust temperature records, explains Berkeley Earth climate data scientist Zeke Hausfather (now at Breakthrough Institute) is statistical homogenization. Researchers compare each weather station to all of its nearby neighbors and look for changes that are local to one station, but not found at any others in the area. A sharp sustained jump to either lower or higher temperatures at a particular station generally indicates a change such as a shift in location or a switch in instrumentation. The records of such out-of-line stations are then adjusted to bring it back in line with its neighboring stations.

In general, temperatures increase more rapidly over land compared to the oceans because of the oceans' greater capacity to absorb heat and ability to get rid of extra heat through evaporation. Heller is right that raw land station adjustments by NOAA/NASA have increased overall land warming by about 16 percent between 1880 and 2016. On the other hand, NOAA/NASA adjustments of raw sea temperature data to take account of the shift from measuring ocean temperatures using buckets and intakes aboard ships to a widely deployed network of automatic buoys reduced the amount of warming in past. The adjustments result in about 36 percent less warming since 1880 than in the raw temperature data. When taken together the NOAA/NASA adjustments to land and ocean data actually reduce, rather than increase, the trend of warming experienced globally over the past century. Adjustments that overall reduce the amount of warming seen in the past suggest that climatologists are not fiddling with temperature data in order to create or exaggerate global warming.

More HERE


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Children who start school later gain advantage, new study shows

The paper underlying this report does not yet appear to be online but the Centre seems very Leftist so the research is unlikely to be very rigorous.

Even the report below does however reveal a lack of rigour.  It is apparently based on the nonsensical "all men are equal" dogma.  No attempt is made to take account of student IQ. High IQ students have often been shown to thrive when enrolled early and the usual squawk about their social fitness has been shown to be a snark.  Smart kids are in general better socially as well as academically

So the study tells us nothing certain.  There were presumably a number of low IQ students in the sample who would benefit from a late start.  So the finding of an overall benefit from a late start could be entirely a product of the low IQ element in the sample.  How students of around average IQ fare is simply not addressed


Children who are held back and start school later than their peers gain an advantage that is still felt up to six decades later, a new study shows.

They are more self-confident, resilient, competitive and trusting, which tends to be associated with economic success.

The analysis of 1007 adults aged between 24 and 60 illustrates the “potential adverse effect of school entry rules,” lead author Lionel Page from the University of Technology, Sydney said.

“Our findings indicate that school entry rules influence the formation of behavioural traits, creating long-lasting disparities between individuals born on different sides of the cut-off date,” he said.

School starting ages vary between Australian states. In Victoria, children starting school must turn five by April 30 in the year they start school, whereas in Queensland and Western Australia the cut-off is June 30. In South Australia,, they must be five by May 1 and in Tasmania they must be five by January 1.

Dr Page said the study’s findings suggested the relative age at school had an impact on people’s success in adulthood.

“We find that participants who were relatively old in school exhibit higher self-confidence about their performance at an effort task compared to those who were relatively young,” he said.

“Moreover, they declare being more tolerant to risk in a range of real-life situations and trusting of other people in social interactions.

“Taken together, this set of results offers important insights on the long-term effects of relative age at school on behavioural traits.”

The new study was published by the Life Course Centre, a joint research project between the federal government and the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.

It involved adults from Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

The findings come as a UNSW study found a quarter of students are held back so they start school when turning six, not when they turn five.

SOURCE   

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The politicians are responsible for Australia's big fires, says the NYT

The NYT has noticed Australia's bushfires.  Bushfires suit their agenda a lot better than the punishing cold that is gripping most of America at the moment. On the U.S. data they would have to be talking about global cooling!

As was to be expected from the NYT, the fires are said to be all due to global warming.  Global warming explains everything, it seems.

It would be good if we DID have warming at the moment.  Ocean warming would evaporate off more water vapor, which comes back down as rain, which would tend to put the fires out.  A warmer world would be a wetter world, much less conducive to fires.  Bring on that elusive warming!

Excerpt only below


When a mass shooting shattered Australia in 1996, the country banned automatic weapons. In its first years of independence, it enacted a living-wage law. Stable retirement savings, national health care, affordable college education — Australia solved all these issues decades ago.

But climate change is Australia’s labyrinth without an exit, where its pragmatism disappears.

The wildfires that continued raging on Wednesday along the country’s eastern coast have revealed that the politics of climate in Australia resist even the severe pressure that comes from natural disaster.

Instead of common-sense debate, there are culture war insults. The deputy prime minister calls people who care about climate change “raving inner-city lunatics.” Another top official suggests that supporting the Greens party can be fatal. And while the government is working to meet the immediate need — fighting fires, delivering assistance — citizens are left asking why more wasn’t done earlier as they demand solutions.

“We still don’t have an energy policy, we don’t have effective climate policy — it’s really very depressing,” said Susan Harris Rimmer, an associate professor at Griffith Law School. [LAW school?]

But in Australia, where coal is king and water is scarce, the country’s citizens have spent the week simmering with fear, shame and alarm. As a 500-mile stretch from Sydney to Byron Bay continued to face catastrophic fire conditions, with 80 separate blazes burning and at least four deaths reported, Australians have watched, awe-struck, as life-changing destruction has been met with political sniping.

Michael McCormack, the No. 2 official in the conservative government, kicked it off on Monday, telling listeners of the country’s most popular morning radio programs that fire victims needed assistance, not “the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies.”

Barnaby Joyce, the government’s special envoy for drought assistance, followed up by suggesting that two people killed by fires near a town called Glen Innes over the weekend might have contributed to their own deaths if they supported the Greens.

The victims’ neighbors called his comments “absolutely disgraceful.”

But a Greens party senator responded with his own outrage: He said the major parties were “no better than arsonists,” an insult carrying special weight for the world’s most arid inhabited continent....

Just a few days before the fires, for example, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a mining group that new laws were needed to crack down on climate activists and progressives who “want to tell you where to live, what job you can have, what you can say and what you can think.”

What’s galling for many scientists is that the public wants the federal government to do more; polls consistently show that Australians see climate change as a major threat requiring aggressive intervention.

SOURCE 

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Living near a park could add years to your life! City dwellers whose homes are close to green spaces are less likely to die young 'because they have cleaner air and exercise more' (?)

Not this old chestnut again. There are normally one or two studies every year that claim to prove a relationship between pollution (or lack of it) and health and I regularly review them. See here. Without fail, the studies are full of holes.  They do not show what they purport to show.  They omit major methodological precautions that would have protected them from false conclusions and as a result leave their reported effects attributable to other things than pollution.

Living near a park is desirable so mainly the rich can afford it.  And the rich have better health anyway. Some of these studies claim to control for demographics but usually rely on a proxy such as education, e.g. here.  I have never seen actual income data for each person gathered


Living near a park may slash your risk of an early death, according to the biggest ever review of the evidence. 

An international team of researchers analysed nine existing studies involving eight million city-dwellers around the world.

Results showed adults who lived near green spaces were significantly less likely to die young from any cause, including heart disease, cancer and dementia. 

Urban parks help improve the air quality, filtering out toxic pollutants that kill scores of people every year.

Researchers say they also offer no-cost spaces for people to exercise, which helps drive down obesity rates.

These benefits are also good for mental health and stress levels, said the Barcelona Institute for Global Health-led academic team.

They have now called for more shrubs, plants and trees to be planted in urban areas on the back of the findings.

People who can walk to a park are less likely to be fat
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found that children in the state who grew up within a third of a mile of a park were at a lower risk of becoming obese by age 18 and were less at-risk for chronic health problems later in life. 

After a review of studies on California parks and human health, they concluded parks may offer a free, untapped resource for millions of Californians and city dwellers on the whole.

One of these studies surveyed 80,000 California households about their mental health, stress and financial circumstances.

They found that regardless of how poor or wealthy those families were, the ones that lived close to a park or green space were less distressed.

Their analysis also suggested teens that live near parks may take advantage of them for exercise.

One of the studies found that nearly 30 per cent more teenagers spent an hour or more doing some form of physical activity five days a week when they lived near parks and green spaces. 

The study authors surmise that that meant less screen time for the teenagers living near parks, too, which may offer mental health benefits for them.

The studies that were reviewed included people from seven different countries – the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, Australia, Switzerland and China.

The researchers used satellite images to measure the distance between participants' homes and green spaces and cross-referenced it with their health records.

The studies tracked the participants for several years. Results were published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

They found that for every two per cent increase in greenness within 500 metres of their home, there was four per cent lower chance of an early death.

Lead author David Rojas, researcher at the Barcelona Institute and Colorado State University, said: 'This is the largest and most comprehensive synthesis to date on green space and premature mortality.

'The results support interventions and policies to increase green spaces as a strategy to improve public health.'

The research team - which involved experts from the World Health Organization - are currently applying the results to estimate the number of premature deaths that could be prevented in cities around the world.

Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative at the Barcelona institute said: 'Urban greening programmes are not only key to promoting public health, but they also increase biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change, making our cities more sustainable and livable.'

SOURCE 

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An addled attack on the elderly

The comments below were front-paged on some News Corp sites on 20/11/19. They are all the more disgraceful for coming from an economist, Jason Murphy, -- who should know better. They are just an attempt to stir up hatred of the elderly. One gathers Jason is a rather young economist.

His little trick is to refer to people in their 60s and 70s as "Baby Boomers". But let's call a spade a spade and refer to them as elderly.

He says that the elderly are on a gravy train.  Lots of men die in their '60s. Is that a gravy train?  Their widows certainly don't think so. Those who do not die very often develop health problems.  Is bad health a gravy train?

He talks of franking credits as gravy but that is just a Leftist smear put about by socialist failure Bill Shorten.  Franking credits are a refund of overpaid tax, nothing more, nothing less. And the system was devised in 1987 by Paul Keating, no friend of the rich

And is superannuation gravy?  It reduces payments to pensioners.  Is that gravy?

And elderly people on holiday are apparently particularly reprehensible. But many of them are people who took very little in holidays so that they could save up to have one big holiday after retirement, when they would be relaxed enough and have time enough to enjoy it fully.  Is postponing your holidays gravy?

It is true that for many elderly the family home is rather empty after the children have moved out but the owners concerned spent many years paying off a mortgage to have that home.  Should they be denied what they sacrificed for? Should they be denied a bit of ease and comfort after many years of scrimping.  Is scrimping and saving gravy?

And the family home is often retained as a place of refuge if any of the children get into financial or other trouble. The home really is retained "for the children". It is an important fall-back option in times of trouble.  Is it gravy to provide that?  Or should it be only the taxpayer that provides for people in strife?

The writer also says we should have a resources tax.  Julia Gillard could tell you about that idea.


Australia’s Treasurer has been out and about this week justifying the need for a surplus by talking about the “economic time bomb” that is our ageing population.

Yesterday, Josh Frydenberg told young people they will have to pay for the retirement of the old as we have fewer and fewer working age Australians to support each old one.

It was an impassioned speech, but it ignored one key thing — Baby Boomers, aged 55-75, have a sweet ride on a gravy train consisting of franking credits and loopholes in superannuation and pension rules.

Australian households aged over 65 have 2.5 times as many assets and 16 per cent as many liabilities as those aged 25-34, according to official data.

Their average net worth is about $1.4 million.

But there’s no urgency whatsoever from the Treasurer to tax them more fairly. He’s let a hundred terrific opportunities go by to tighten the screws on Australia’s luxury generation, from franking credits, to the pension age, to superannuation.

The older generation is all over Facebook these days and they’re filling it up with holiday photos from yet another terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean or the Adriatic coast.

As we glumly scroll past them, we have a right to feel aggrieved to hear the fiscal obligation of Australia is ours.

Younger Australians should utterly reject the false burden being placed on their shoulders by a Treasurer too gutless to tax the boomers fairly.

“If we don’t remain fiscally disciplined today, the next generation will have to pick up the bill tomorrow,” he told the Business Council yesterday.

This is the line Mr Frydenberg is pushing as he seeks to justify his surplus. It seems so simple. Almost a truism.

But it disguises a set of entirely optional choices that helps one generation live in near empty multimillion-dollar homes and collect the pension, while many in the younger generations are locked out of the housing market and paying off enormous higher education debts.

Both parts of the seemingly benign statement involve pain falling on younger generations. Fiscal discipline falls principally on the young, while the boomer cohort romp merrily through a world of superannuation tax discounts and pensions that rise faster than inflation.

The Treasurer is talking about putting older Australians to work. But don’t assume this means bringing the current crop of older Australians out of retirement. He’s not talking about the current retired generation. He’s talking about making people work longer in future, i.e. just another way to make the burden of today’s generosity fall on a younger cohort.

Four times the Government has made choices that could have evened up the burden and saved the Budget.

For example, Australians of pension age face a “means test” that determines if they are eligible to collect the pension. It determines if they have “the means” to look after themselves — after all, it doesn’t make sense to give the pension to a retiree with $2 million in cash and shares. But the Government chose to leave the principal place of residence out of the means test. A retired couple living in a $2 million home can still collect their combined $1282 a fortnight. (You even hear rumours of people upsizing their home in order to reduce their cash holdings and qualify for the pension.)

The Government has begun a major review process of retirement incomes. But Finance Minister Matthias Corman neutered it before it even got going, promising in October it “will not lead to any change”.

The Government scrapped existing plans to lift the pension age from 67 to 70.

Franking credits, mean if you own shares in a company and you pay no tax, you get a check refunding you for any company tax that company paid. That benefits retirees disproportionately. Labor wanted to change the rules on this at the last election and lost in part because of it.

The electoral mathematics behind these choices are apparent. Younger voters tend not to vote for the Coalition while older voters are more prone to. Polls at some points have shown a dramatic generational divide from 60-40 to Labor among the young (18-24), to 60-40 to Coalition at the other end of the age spectrum (65+).

Of course, while generational war wages, certain corporations are enjoying the fireworks. Boomers might get a nod and a wink from the Treasurer but resources companies get all that and more.

It didn’t have to be a battle between young and old. There are other entities you can tax. Norway socked away $US1 trillion in assets in its sovereign wealth fund by levying taxes on the exploitation of its enormous oil resources.

Australia, you will remember, proposed a resources super profit tax that would have taken the cream off the top of the profits of the massive mining and extraction companies when the price of coal and iron ore were high. Instead those extra profits from digging up Australias dirt resources went to the owners of those companies, many of which are based offshore.

So while the generations go to war, don’t forget that it didn’t have to be this way.

SOURCE 


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The retirement savings crisis sweeping the world

The basic problem of super-low interest rates is not going to go away.  First Obama and now Trump have issued vast amounts of new U.S. dollars.  And the greenback is the world's reserve currency.  So the world is awash with money. So much so that banks are close to giving it away.  They don't charge much to the people they lend it to.  But those charges are the source of retirement income for many.

So putting your retirement savings into a bank is a mug's game.  You will get less interest on it than the rate of inflation.  Far from providing an income, your savings will wither away.

So many retirees put their money into superannuation and other funds, which do promise an income.  But the superannuation funds are stretched too.  No matter what they invest in, they are not getting much return either.

There are two things they can do about that:  Invest in riskier schemes or cut benefits.  A lot of funds are doing both.  Risky invetments are a huge peril, however.  There is a history of them sending funds broke.  How would you cope if your fund went broke and your income dried up altogether?  That has happened in saner times so it is even more likely now.

So what to do?  I think that careful investment on the stock exchange is the best solution for most people.  Good stocks still return their average dividends of about 4% each year so that puts most people about where they thought they were.

So why do the funds not invest solely in stocks?  They do invest but they are always looking for growth and safe stocks tend not to grow much.  But if you are already retired that may not matter much.  If your income is OK but grows only slowly, it still may be enough for you.  It is a heap better than losing the lot -- which can happen with growth stocks.

I may add that I do put my money where my mouth is.  About half my money is in real estate but the other half is in the stock exchange.  I buy stocks with about a 4% return and that gives me a good income plus a stable value for my portfolio.

Stockmarket experts despise such simple investments as mine but I have the last laugh.  During the last big crash in 2008, the smarties bombed badly while the value of my portfolio barely budged and my 4% income also went on as usual.  I guess it is evil of me but I was much amused at the time when lots of hot-shot investors lost the lot


Jan-Pieter Jansen, a 77-year-old retiree from the Netherlands, had high hopes for a worry-free retirement after having saved diligently into a pension during his working life.

But Mr Jansen, a former manager in the metal industry, has been forced to reappraise his plans after receiving notice from his retirement scheme, one of the Netherland’s biggest industry-sector funds, of plans to cut his pension by up to 10 per cent. Understandably, the news has hit like a sledgehammer.

“This is causing me a lot of stress,” says Mr Jansen, who retired 17 years ago and hoped to use his pension pot to treat his grandchildren and afford good hotels on holidays. “The cuts to my pension will mean thousands of euros less that I can spend on the family, and the holidays we like. I’m very angry that this is happening after I saved for so long.”

Mr Jansen is not alone in experiencing pension pain. Tens of millions more pensioners and savers around the world are facing the same retirement insecurity as Mr Jansen, as plunging interest rates since the financial crisis wreak havoc on the funding of schemes. As average life expectancy increases, pensions have become a defining political issue in countries as diverse as Russia, Japan and Brazil.

General Electric, the US industrial conglomerate, recently announced that it is joining a growing list of companies that are ending guaranteed “final salary” style pension schemes, affecting around 20,000 of its employees. In the UK, tens of thousands of university academics are preparing to take strike action over steep rises in their pension contributions.

A common factor in this global pension upheaval has been suppressed bond yields.

Bonds have historically provided a simple match for the cash flows needed to be paid out to the members of retirement schemes such as Mr Jansen’s. But decades of declining bond yields have made it far harder for pension funds to buy an income for their members, pushing them more into equities and other riskier, untraded investments, such as real estate and private equity.

Buoyant financial markets have so far ensured robust investment gains for pension plans on their existing holdings. Yet given their long-term liabilities, the dimming outlook for future gains is causing anguish.

“Their house is on fire,” says Alex Veroude, chief investment officer for the US at Insight Investment, which manages money on behalf of many pension funds. “And rates can and probably will go lower from here. Even if the house is on fire, it’s still only the first floor. We think it can hit the second and third floor as well.”

This is not merely a danger to individuals like Mr Jansen who may see their pensions cut — it could also have a wider impact on the economy. If people set aside more money for retirement, it may hamper economic growth by reducing consumption — the opposite of the intention of central banks when they cut rates. The Swedish Riksbank hinted obliquely at this when it recently signalled it would lift interest rates back to zero by the end of the year, saying that “if negative nominal interest rates are perceived as a more permanent state, the behaviour of agents may change and negative effects may arise.”

There may even be more systemic consequences. Last month the IMF warned in its annual report on global financial stability that the rush by pension funds into “illiquid” assets will hamstring “the traditional role they play in stabilising markets during periods of stress”, as they will have less money available to scoop up bargains.

The push into more unorthodox investment strategies is worrying some in the industry, who warn that they could exacerbate market downturns. “We’re seeing some really unusual behaviour, and we’ll see some payback,” says Con Michalakis, chief investment officer of Statewide, an Australian pension plan. “The trillion dollar question is when? I’ve been doing this for long enough not to want to predict when it will happen.”

When Christopher Ailman studied for a degree in business economics at the University of California in the late 1970s, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker was ratcheting up interest rates, sending bond yields spiralling higher. Soon after he graduated in 1980 the 10-year Treasury yield hit a record of nearly 16 per cent — and the concept of sub-zero yields seemed preposterous.

“At school my textbooks said that there was no such thing as negative interest rates,” says Mr Ailman, now chief investment officer at Calstrs, the $238bn Californian teachers’ pension plan. “But here we are.”

In the wake of the financial crisis, many central banks deployed unconventional new tools to reinvigorate the global economy once interest rates hit zero. At first this primarily meant massive, multitrillion dollar bond-buying programmes, but in 2009 Sweden became the first central bank to experiment with negative interest rates.

It was later followed by Japan and the rest of Europe, with the desperate scramble for bonds pushing yields lower. Growing concerns over the health of the global economy, a subdued inflation outlook and expectations of even easier monetary policy have now pushed the pile of negative-yielding debt to about $13tn.

Pension plans invest in a broad array of asset classes, but with many stock markets at or near record highs, the prospect of gains are dimming across the board. AQR Capital Management estimates that the classic 60-40 balanced equity-bond fund might return as little as 2.9 per cent on average a year after inflation over the next decade, compared with an average of 5 per cent since 1900.

“Higher prices are simply pulling forward ever more future return to the present,” says Andrew Sheets, a strategist at Morgan Stanley. “That’s great for today’s asset owners, especially those close to retirement. It is much less good for anyone trying to save, invest or manage well into the future, who face an increasingly barren return landscape.”

The tumble in bond yields is particularly problematic for “defined benefit” pension plans, which promise members a specific payout. They use high-grade bond yields to calculate the value of their future liabilities, and every small move downwards deepens their funding challenges.

A one percentage point fall in long-term interest rates will increase liabilities of a typical pension scheme by around 20 per cent, but the value of their assets would only go up by about 10 per cent, estimates Ros Altmann, a former UK pensions minister. “Clearly, then, scheme funding will deteriorate and employers will need to increase funding,” she adds.

Many UK pension schemes are now using sophisticated “liability driven investment” strategies, hedging against the impact of lower rates on their liabilities. This has slowly started to catch on in Europe and the US as well.

But those schemes that have not taken steps to guard against interest rate risk now face huge increases in their deficits, and are having to make difficult decisions about how to bridge the funding gap.

Across the western world pension fund managers face similar challenges. The industry outlook is now as grim as it has ever been in Peter Damgaard Jensen’s two-decade stint at the top of PKA, a Danish pension fund.

“In some countries the pension system cannot survive if things don’t change,” he warns. “They either have to pay in more or cut benefits.”

In the Netherlands, the government has come under pressure to change retirement system rules so schemes can effectively shrink deficits, blown out by negative bond yields. With European bond yields hitting record lows in August, funding ratios — a measure of how much money a pension plan has compared with its liabilities — have collapsed to around 90 per cent, according to Anna Grebenchtchikova, a Dutch pensions expert. “The 90 per cent funding ratio means that benefit cuts are likely unless interest rates and/or equity markets rise substantially before the end of the year,” she says. “Consequently, many opposition parties and organisations for the elderly have called for a relaxation of the rules.”

One such fund is Stichting Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn, the second-biggest Dutch pension fund. While it generated €39bn of investment gains in the first nine months of this year, falling yields have forced it to set aside an extra €54bn to meet current and future demands from pension holders. It now warns it might have to cut benefits for the first time in its half-century history.

“To avert a reduction, we urgently need help from politicians in The Hague,” Peter Borgdorff, PFZW’s director, wrote in a blog post earlier this month. “The clock is ticking.”

To counteract the fading outlook for returns from mainstream bonds and equity markets, many pension plans are ratcheting up their investments in “alternative” or “private” assets, such as private equity, real estate, venture capital, infrastructure and untraded loans.

For long-term investors who can accept the illiquidity in return for the promise of higher returns, this makes sense. A housing project or toll road can produce a bond-like, steady income stream. Yet with almost every institutional investor exploring this avenue, it has led to froth in “private markets”.

“There are some dangers,” says Mr Damgaard Jensen. “It can create bubbles when people go into new areas. They’re not the cheapest asset classes to go into. And there are a lot of fees. Often the only people that get rich are the fund managers. And you have to make sure you can hold on as it’s hard to sell.”

These private market investments involve allocating money to private equity or real estate funds, which will be “called” when their managers want to make a big acquisition. But this could reduce how much money pension funds have available. The IMF estimates that pension plans have doubled their allocations to illiquid assets over the past 10 years, and for about a fifth of funds these capital commitments amount to more than half their liquid assets.

“Given higher liquidity risks, pension funds will probably have to set aside more of their liquid assets to cover potential outflows during and after periods of stress, especially if market funding becomes more expensive,” the IMF said in its Global Financial Stability Report. “This would make it more difficult for them to buy assets traded at distressed price levels, limiting their ability to invest counter cyclically and thus play a stabilising role during periods of market stress.”

Faced with a continued subdued outlook for investment returns, fund managers face the unpalatable prospect of inflicting further pain by asking for bigger contributions from pension members and employers, imposing benefit cuts, or closing their schemes.

Baroness Altmann believes intervention is needed to limit the impact of pension pain spreading to the wider economy, as businesses divert cash from investment into paying more money to plug retirement scheme deficits.

“Government and regulators should be planning to help those pension schemes and their sponsors who may never be able to afford full annuity buyout, without becoming insolvent,” she says. “The development of a regime for ‘winding down’ rather than ‘winding up’, which does not require annuity purchase and which would see pensions paid out of a pooled fund of assets, would be more likely to deliver higher pensions overall.”

Without intervention, there are also wider risks to society as more workers could be shunted out of company-backed guaranteed schemes and into arrangements where their pension is at the mercy of the stock market.

“In 20 years we may find ourselves with a real global crisis where we haven’t saved enough money for retirement,” says Calstrs’ Mr Ailman. “Returns can fluctuate, but longevity has been extended dramatically . . . We just have to explain to millennials that their parents might have to move back in with them.”

SOURCE 

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Is God punishing Australia with drought and bushfires?

As an atheist, I cannot agree with that. But in Australia you are allowed to say that, despite much condemnation. See Israel Folau's words below. His beliefs are part of a resilient Christian tradition that sees God's hands in earthly events. Many Christians do, for instance, see God's protective hand in their own lives. And that is a great source of comfort and reassurance to them.

And seeing Bible passages as prophetic of world events is also common.  Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists have been doing so for well over hundred years -- and there is always some fervent Christian somewhere doing it. Seeing the book of Daniel as prophetic is particularly common.  So what Folau is saying is simply one part of the Christian tradition, a part that is evidence of a fervent Christian committment.

Even Jesus did it. His words in Matthew 24 are usually seen by Christians as prophetic of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem



Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s claim the bushfires that have devastated Australia and left six dead are God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage has sparked a furious reaction.

Dumped by Rugby Australia after warning homosexuals and other sinners they will go to hell unless they repent, Folau has doubled down on the stance in a video sermon posted to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney.

During the 10-minute recording, the 30-year-old says the timing of the bushfire crisis is no coincidence but only a taste of God’s judgment should nothing change.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he says.

He then reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

“The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years – God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together … they’ve come and changed this law,” he says.

“Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”

Folau says he believes the scripture is talking to Australia. “Look how rapid these bushfires these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not?

“God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in and quickly denounced the comments from Folau. “I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments,” Morrison said.

“They were appalling comments and he is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.

Folau says he is sharing the message “out of love” but he stirred up a hornet’s nest as his comments were picked up by news outlets across the world.

Anglican minister Peter Kurti said Folau was wrong. “If God really was going to punish us for changing the law on abortion (and) changing the law on marriage, it’s the Parliament House in Macquarie St and the Parliament House in Canberra that should have been the target of God’s wrath — not the mid-north coast and south Queendland,” he told Sky News. “If God was angry, God’s aim was off.

“These are outrageous views and they are up there with the religious fanaticism of the Greens. But … we live in a free country and if this is what Israel Folau believes — and he’s not a politician, he’s not voting resources … he’s a preacher talking to his congregation — surely in Australia we want to defend his right to do so even though we can think the views he expresses are completely wrong and offensive.”

SOURCE   

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Chinese-made condoms too small, Zimbabwe’s health minister complains: Rushton vindicated

This report may seem to have humorous value only but it does in fact have a bearing on a substantial academic theory. J.P Rushton's r/K theory proposes that penis size is one of a set of covarying characteristics that differentiate blacks, whites and Asians, with blacks having the largest endowments and Chinese the smallest.

Rushton's claim that blacks have larger penises is not at all original. Knowledge of the difference existed in ancient times -- going as far back as Greek physician Galen. Africa has never been far from Europe.  And in the contemporary world there is much talk of white women liking black men for their larger endowment.  I have myself heard women praise bigger penises.

Most academics furiously reject the theory (e.g. here).  All men are equal, don't you know?  But their principal objection is about Rushton's data quality. Measurements not reported in peer-reviewed academic journals are scorned.  But academic journals in the social sciences  are famous for using non-samples as their databases.  The data underlying academic journal articles is rarely a representative sample of any known population. So criticizing Rushton for his data quality is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

As is constantly borne upon us in sociology, there is no such thing as a perfect dataset and the very act of doing sociology is a claim that we can feel a way through what data we do have to arrive at useful conclusions.  And Rushton's theory is well within that conventional category of an interesting theory based on imperfect data.

But the theory clearly needs more evidence before it becomes widely persuasive and the report below is surely just what is needed: A clear statement from an authoritative source.  Black penises ARE larger than Asian ones.  Rushton was clearly a good sociologist in that he threaded his way through imperfect data to arrive at a correct conclusion. He stands vindicated.

In thinking about Rushton's theory I am reminded of the late Napoleon Chagnon, a leading anthropologist who was in the beginning  widely mocked for his accounts of primitive people.  In the end it is his critics who have fallen by the wayside and he is seen as having made an important and correct contribution


A Chinese condom manufacturer says it is considering making its products in different sizes after Zimbabwe’s health minister complained that contraceptives made in China and exported to the African nation were too small for its men.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa made the comments at an event in the capital Harare last week to promote HIV/Aids prevention, according to the website New Zimbabwe.com.

“The southern African region has the highest incidence of HIV and we are promoting the use of condoms,” Parirenyatwa was quoted as saying. “Youths now have a particular condom that they like, but we don’t manufacture them. We import condoms from China and some men complain they are too small.”

Zhao Chuan, the chief executive of the condom manufacturer Beijing Daxiang and His Friends Technology Co, told the South China Morning Post the firm was planning to make contraceptives in different sizes.

“As to the different demands from customers such as in Zimbabwe, Daxiang, as a Chinese manufacturer, has the ability and the obligation to make a contribution, so we have started to do some surveys on users’ data in the region to make preparations for future products with different sizes,” Zhao said in an email.

Zhao said that customers around the world had different requirements, with Chinese men preferring thinner condoms while not worrying about the size, while customers in North America liked a softer contraceptive.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa worst affected by HIV/Aids, with an estimated 13.5 per cent of its adult population infected with the virus.

The use of condoms is a key way to limit the spread of infection. The country has become one of the top five condom importers in the world, according to local media reports.

China is one of the world’s largest condoms producers, according to National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The nation has about 300 condom manufacturers producing about 3 billion of the contraceptives each year.

SOURCE

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The Electric Car Fantasy

Hilariously unmentioned is that in a NY winter you will be able to drive electric cars only a small distance.  Winter heating gulps a huge amount of battery power, leaving a much reduced capacity to move the car.  So unless you have a very short commute, you will need a combustion car to get to work in winter. Fun!  A two car family is going to have a new meaning

And let me not mention congestion at charging stations.  Are you looking forward to waiting for half and hour while the guy in front of you charges up?

Greenie ideas are unbelievably dumb


Senator Chuck Schumer’s ambitious proposal bucks basic economics—and science.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer has promised that if Democrats win the Senate in 2020, they’ll pass a law requiring that every car in America be electric by 2040. Chinese policymakers must be celebrating, because China makes the majority of the world’s batteries and has the most new battery factories under construction.

The Chinese will need someone to buy all those batteries. This past summer, when China abandoned subsidies for electric vehicles (EVs), sales collapsed. China’s plan now is to require automakers to produce EVs, but at a paltry 3 percent to 4 percent of output. Perhaps Beijing will ultimately increase the allocation, but truly revolutionary technologies never require governments to order their adoption. As for Schumer’s plan, it will fail on every front—including saving China’s battery industry.

Let’s start with what consumers want. SUVs and pickups now account for 70 percent of all vehicles purchased. Most people, it seems, like big vehicles. The minority who buy purely for economy choose small cars with gasoline engines. This option, by the way, puts less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than a Tesla.

Consumers are price-sensitive in every category, a reality that politicians ignore at their peril. Batteries add about $12,000 to the cost of small and midsize cars. That’s meaningful for all consumers but the 1 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, automobiles constitute the most expensive category of consumables for the average household, costing twice that of health care. (Housing is the biggest expense, but that’s not a consumable.) A recent McKinsey analysis suggests that automakers could “decontent” EVs to cut costs—that is, take out the extra features that every salesman knows are what sells cars.

Setting aside details like cost and features, the key claim is that widespread use of EVs will reduce global carbon-dioxide emissions—except that it won’t, at least not meaningfully. First, it bears noting that regardless of Washington’s creative accounting, the all-EV-option would entail at least a $2 trillion cost to America’s economy, just in higher car costs. Then, simple arithmetic shows that this option wouldn’t even eliminate 8 percent of world oil demand. And the impact on global carbon-dioxide emissions would be even smaller.

Why? It takes energy—the equivalent of 80 to 300 barrels of oil—to fabricate a battery that can hold energy equal to one barrel. Thus, energy used to make batteries brings a carbon “debt” to EVs which, depending on where the factories are located, greatly diminishes, or even cancels out, emissions saved by not burning oil.

None of this changes the fact that, for the first time in a century, EVs are exciting options for niche markets. Credit for that goes to the three scientists who received the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry for inventing the lithium battery—and to Elon Musk.

If Teslas weren’t well-designed and appealing, even subsidies wouldn’t have enticed well-heeled buyers. Nor would every automaker be trying to compete. But for perspective on sales adoption in niche markets: even Tesla’s impressive cumulative total of over 500,000 sold in the six years after its introduction was eclipsed by the Ford Mustang, selling 2.5 million in its first six years.

The reality: there’s no stroke-of-a-pen way to change energy use radically for mainstream cars, 100 million of which are purchased every six years in America. And, as the International Energy Agency notes, efficiency improvements expected for combustion engines will save 300 percent more global energy than will all the EVs forecast to be on roads by 2040.

Senator Schumer is looking for a transportation revolution in all the wrong places. New York City was the epicenter of history’s last mobility revolution, when citizens embraced the automobile, leaving behind the era of filthy streets congested with inconvenient and expensive horses and a fatality rate tenfold higher than for car passengers today. Changing the fuel used by today’s cars is no more revolutionary than changing the type and source of horse feed 120 years ago.

For a real energy revolution, policymakers should join Bill Gates in calling for the only viable path to a radically different future: much more research in the basic sciences. That’ll require different budget priorities, as well as patience. Someday a chemist or physicist may discover, for example, a way to make a low-cost room-temperature superconductor. That would really change the world. Such a discovery would mean that electrons could be poured into a meta-barrel as easily as oil is poured into a steel one. Meantime, if today’s electric cars were genuinely compelling, consumers wouldn’t have to be ordered to buy them.

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Jacquie Lambie and Pauline Hanson slam the sale of iconic Australian baby formula brand to the Chinese

I usually agree with Pauline.  I have always voted for her when I could.  But she is not thinking deeply about this one.

This is quite unlike Mr Trump's attempts to protect American firms.  In this case the jobs will stay in Australia and the raw product will come from Australian farms.  So what does it matter who runs the bottling plant?

And this also opens up the chance of a bigger market for Australian milk.  The Chinese owner will be in a position to promote and sell it in China in a way that no Australian firm ever could.  It could be a big win for Australian dairy farmers


Senator Jacqui Lambie has slammed the sale of Australian baby formula company Bellamy's to the Chinese, calling the move an 'embarrassment to the country.'

On Friday, the Foreign Investment Review Board approved China Mengniu Dairy Company's $1.5billion bid to buy 100 per cent of the Tasmanian brand's shares.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg backed the approval but insisted that certain conditions were imposed.

The company will have to remain headquartered in Australia for a decade and run by a majority Australian board.

Shortly after the acquisition was approved, Ms Lambie took aim at the Morrison Government, saying the buying-up of Australian companies was 'concerning.'

'I think I'm like millions of Australians out there who are very concerned about the Communist Chinese takeover,' she told the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday.

'Every time they open a cheque book we roll over like a dog.'

Prior to the sale, Ms Lambie, along with senators of the Centre Alliance, had called for an inquiry into Chinese influence and buy-outs around the country from the foreign affairs committee.

Ms Lambie was joined by One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson as well as Barnaby Joyce who also voiced their frustrations over the acquisition.

Mr Joyce said he was 'disappointed' to see Australia lose yet another company to the Chinese and urged the government to make sure the conditions are properly met.

In a more scathing attack, Ms Hanson called on Mr Frydenberg to overturn the decision. 'Stop, just stop! Enough with the rampant sell off of Australia,' she said.

'These are money making entities, which are vital for our economy, they employ local people, and they contribute to our food production. Why compromise all that?

'Here we are allowing the Chinese to waltz in and snatch away one of the leading baby formula manufacturing businesses, with little consideration for what it means for our country's future; this takes another chunk out of Australia's ability to produce enough food for our own people.'

Ms Hanson, who accused the government of being 'frivolous' with Australian assets, said there needs to be 'more respect for what's ours.'

Bellamy's sale is expected to be finalised by the end of the year if shareholders approve the deal.

Mr Frydenberg has also required the Chinese buyer to invest at least $12million in infant milk formula processing facilities in Victoria.

'The conditional approval demonstrates our foreign investment rules can facilitate such an acquisition while giving assurance to the community that decisions are being made in a way which ensures that Australia's national interest is protected,' Mr Frydenberg said in a statement on Friday.

Before the takeover bid, shares in Bellamy's plunged 62 per cent in 18 months.

There were allegations the Chinese state brought this about by not approving Bellamy's request to sell organic formula in Chinese stores, which is still pending.

Mengniu is 16 per cent owned by food processing company Cofco, which is co-owned by the Chinese state.

The board of the Tasmania-based company denied the takeover had anything to do with fast-tracking Chinese regulation to allow expansion in the country.

Mengniu offered $12.65 per share and Bellamy's said it would pay a dividend of 60 cents per share, meaning shareholders get $13.25 per share.

That is a 59 per cent premium on the $8.32 price before the deal take-over bid was announced in September.

Mengniu is a huge dairy company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of $24.6billion.

Bellamy's CEO Andrew Cohen described Mengniu as an 'ideal partner'. 'It offers a strong platform for distribution and success in China, and a foundation for growth in the organic dairy and food industry in Australia,' Mr Cohen said.

Mengniu chief executive officer Jeffrey Minfang Lu said taking over Bellamy's would give it critical access to the Australian market.

'Bellamy's is a leading Australian brand with a proud Tasmanian heritage and track record of supplying high quality organic products to Australian mums and dads,' he said.

'This leading organic brand position and Bellamy's local operation and supply-chain are critical to Mengniu.'

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Climate alarmists are brazen opportunists preying on misery

Chris Kenny writes well below but omits what is probably the most important point:  Global warming CANNOT cause drought.  Global warming would induce more evaporation off the oceans  which would come down as MORE rain, not less.

So the widespread claims that the fires are caused by  of global warming because global warming has induced drought are just another Greenie fraud. Drought is if anything a sign of cooling, not warming. It is true that drought does dry out the vegetation and thus encourages fires but what causes drought?

Nobody knows exactly.  All we know is that Australia is very prone to it.  Australian farmers often go for years without seeing rain -- which is why there is a lot  of irrigation


Like a struck match in the bush, global warming is the spark that triggers a destructive firestorm in public debate. Heated on emotion, fanned by sensationalist media and fuelled by ideology, it burns through common sense, reason and decency, showing no respect for facts or rational thought.

Climate alarmists are using tragic deaths and community pain to push a political barrow. Aided by journalists and others who should know better, they are trying to turn a threat endured on this continent for millennia into a manifestation of their contemporary crusade.

It is opportunistic, transparent, grisly and plain dumb. Contributions this past week take lunacy to new levels in an ominous sign for public discourse. In this land of droughts and flooding rains — Dorothea Mackellar’s “flood, fire and famine” — we now confront an extra injury every time the weather tests us; silly and reckless posturing from climate alarmists trying to prove their point.

History doesn’t matter to them, nor the facts. Rather than consider reality they proffer an almost hallucinogenic alternative, pretending their political gestures will deliver cooler, damper summers unsinged by bushfires.

This repugnant rhetoric must be called out; facts and science must prevail. But engaging in this debate must never be interpreted as downplaying the severity of what has occurred — four deaths, hundreds of properties destroyed, lives changed and trauma ongoing. It is only to say this is the perennial horror of our sunburnt country that will bedevil this land long after all of us, our children and our children’s children are gone.

Australia’s natural history is impossible to interpret without reference to fire; plants evolved to survive bushfire and depend on it for propagation. Indigenous heritage demonstrates an understanding of fire in managing vegetation, protecting kin and hunting animals. Since European settlement our story is replete with the menacing scent of disaster and tragic episodes.

Victoria has suffered most, in 1851 with a dozen people killed, along with a million sheep and five million hectares burned. In 1926, 60 dead; in 1939 there were 71 dead and just five years later at least 15 died. In the 1960s dozens were killed in Victoria in numerous years and just 10 years ago on Black Saturday 173 lives were lost along with more than 2000 houses.

In South Australia and Tasmania there is a similar repetition of tragedy, often during the same heatwaves, only with smaller and sparser populations the casualties are lower. Still, the toll is horrific; 62 people died in the Tasmanian fires of 1967.

Wetter summers and drier winters make the NSW fire season earlier and less intense, with blazes common in late spring. Devastating blazes have been regular, taking multiple lives on multiple occasions in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Yet so much coverage and commentary in the past week would have it that the latest tragedy is a new phenomenon. Rare as it is for the rainforests of northern NSW and southern Queensland to burn, it happens.

Back in September, Joelle Gergis of the Australian Nationa University’s Climate Change Institute wrote in Guardian Australia about how “I never thought I’d see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake up to the climate crisis?”

The Climate Council member wrote: “As a scientist, what I find particularly disturbing about the current conditions is that world heritage rainforest areas such as the Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland are now burning.”

But such fires predate climate change: “A bushfire in Lamington National Park today swept through a grove of 3000-year-old Macrozamia palms,” The Cairns Post reported on October 25, 1951. “These trees were one of the features of the park … the fire has burnt out about 2000 acres of thick rainforest country.” That is rainforest burning in Lamington National Park 70 years ago.

Journalists, often encouraged by authorities, have written about the “unprecedented” nature of the Queensland fires. Yet newspaper searches tell a different story. Toowoomba’s The Chronicle in 1946 reported winter fires in late Aug­ust: “From Bundaberg to the New South Wales border … hundreds of square miles of drought-stricken southeastern Queensland were aflame.” Two years later in The Central Queensland Herald there were reports on September 30 of “An 800-mile chain of bushfires fed by dry grass stretched tonight along the Queensland coast from Cairns to Maryborough.”

Earlier this year, former NSW fire commissioner, now ­climate activist, Greg Mullins told ABC radio: “There’s fires breaking out in places where they just shouldn’t burn, the west coast of Tasmania, the world heritage areas, wet rainforest, subtropical rainforest, it’s all burning — and look, this is driven by climate change, there’s no other explanation.”

But The South Australian Chronicle of February 1915 reported lives lost and the “most devastating bushfires ever known in Tasmania sweeping over the northwest coast and other districts. The extent of the devastation cannot be over-estimated.” And in 1982 The Canberra Times detailed a “huge forest fire” burning out 75,000ha of dense rainforest on Tasmania’s West Coast.

Terrible as our fires are — often the worst in a generation or more — they are not abnormal in our landscapes, in our climate. A sober discussion in the global warming context might argue that, across time, our endemic bushfire threat could increase marginally rather than diminish with extra rain.

But to suggest the threat is new or can be diminished by climate policy is to pile false hope and mind-numbing stupidity on top of alarmist politicking.

This week, journalists and politicians have wilfully misrepresented claims from NSW fire authorities that they had never confronted so many emergency-level fires at once. An unprecedented number of fires, especially when deliberately lit, has more to do with expanding population than climate.

There also has been much ­hyperbole about the fire rating of “catastrophic”; a new category added to the rating system after Victoria’s 2009 fires to ensure greater community responsiveness. CNN International went heavy on our fires, saying half of Queensland was facing bushfire emergency.

The US-based broadcaster ran a Nine Network report by Airlie Walsh declaring it was the “first time in history Sydney had been met with such catastrophic conditions”. This was typical of the misleading reporting; it was merely the first time the “catastrophic” category had been invoked since it was introduced a decade ago.

Back in 2009, the ABC reported how the additional category was about raising awareness: “Victorian Premier John Brumby said in the last fire season, only five days would have been classified as code red. The new fire warnings system will provide the community with a better understanding of the level of bushfire threat on any given day based on the forecast weather conditions, he said in a statement.”

CNN also used our fires as the basis for an interview with David Wallace-Wells, author of The ­Uninhabitable Earth. He was asked “how dangerous” it was that our Prime Minister “doesn’t actually want to tackle the problem”. This, in the modern parlance, is fake news.

Wallace-Wells, without resort to science, asserted Australia was ­already “suffering intensely” from climate change which, according to him, was responsible for our current drought. He also wrongly claimed our government was not taking any “meaningful action” on climate.

As a national park staffer, and having studied and trained at bushfire management, I experienced one of the Ash Wednesday infernos in 1983. Temperatures well over 40C, tinder-dry bush in the steepest parts of the Adelaide Hills and winds gusting towards 100km/h; this was hell on earth, when fires become a storm and only survival counts.

I missed the worst of it but joined the mop-up — a miserable task amid burned homes, melted cars and the smell of death — ­before helping to extinguish blazes over following days. No one who was there will ever say they’ve seen worse.

People who have seen bushfires only on television can have no idea, and those who experience the horrors of a firestorm won’t get into silly comparisons. In her nonfiction account of Victoria’s Churchill fire on Black Saturday, Chloe Hooper relays first-person accounts.

“The flames were lying down because the wind was howling through.” “It was basically hailing fire.” “It was like a jet engine, I’ve never heard a noise like it and then the penny dropped — it was the fire coming.” “Trees ignited from the ground up in one blast, like they were self-exploding.”

All of this is so lethal, terrifying and devastating — and always has been. It insults all those who have been lost before to pretend it is worse now.

Heat, wind and fuel are what drive our fire threat, and the worst conditions will involve hot, dry conditions and gale force winds across a heavy fuel load. The only factor we can realistically control is fuel — hazard reduction is crucial but often resisted.

While drought can limit the fire threat in some areas by inhibiting grass and shrub growth, the big dry has turned the forests of northern NSW and southern Queensland into tinderboxes. This situation is directly linked to the drought, so the critical question is whether there is a connection between the drought and climate change.

The most authoritative assessment of this came in June from the director of the Centre for ­Climate Extremes, Andrew Pitman. (I have inserted an additional word, in brackets, that Pitman and his centre later said should have been included.)

“This may not be what you expect to hear but as far as the climate scientists know there is no (direct) link between climate change and drought.

“Now, that may not be what you read in the newspapers and sometimes hear commented but there is no reason a priori why climate change should make the landscape more arid.

“And if you look at the Bureau of Meteorology data over the whole of the last 100 years there’s no trend in data, there’s no drying trend, there’s been a drying trend in the last 20 years but there’s been no drying trend in the last 100 years and that’s an expression of how variable the Australian rainfall ­climate is.”

Pitman is no climate sceptic. These are just the scientific facts. Yet his comments are fastidiously ignored by most media except to deliberately reinterpret them.

Mostly preferred are unfounded prognostications from people such as businessman cum green campaigner Geoffrey Cousins telling Radio National Breakfast “everyone in this country now understands the link between climate change and these fires”.

Or Greens leader Richard Di Natale telling the Senate that global warming is “supercharging these megafires”.

What a confluence: media eager to elevate a sense of crisis; political actors exaggerating to advance a cause; horrendous threats that require no embellishment; public fascinated by weather patterns; and information from official authorities feeding the frenzy (revised fire danger categ­ories; weather bureau rainfall records starting only from 1900, therefore eliminating the first five years of the Federation drought; historical temperature readings revised downwards so that this January a record capital city maximum was declared in Adelaide despite a maximum one full degree higher being recorded in January 1939).

When cold, hard analysis of facts is required, we see wild claims constantly made and ­seldom tested.

Di Natale and ­fellow Greens Adam Bandt and Jordon Steele-John stoop so low as to blame these fatal fires on the ­government, dubbing it “arsonists”. Former fire chiefs gather to suggest, with straight faces, that some additional climate change action from government could have quelled these fires. It is as ­offensive as it is ­absurd, but it is seldom called out by a complicit media.

Even Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has conceded that if we were to eliminate all our nation’s greenhouse gases (about 1.3 per cent of global emissions) it would do “virtually nothing” to the ­climate.

The real situation is even more hopeless, of course, because ­global emissions continue to rise. So, the first crucial furphy perpetrated daily by the virtue signallers is that Australian action can control the climate.

It is too ridiculous to be ­repeated yet it is, seriously, and daily. We also constantly hear, as we did on CNN, claims Australia is doing nothing; this ignores our Paris commitments, energy upheaval and the latest report from ANU experts Andrew Blakers and Matt Stocks. They found the country is on track to meet its Paris emissions reduction targets, investing 11 times the global average in renewable energy.

This has not, and will not, cool our summers or quell our bushfires. Still, even if we magically could freeze the climate — setting it permanently at whatever it was in the 1950s, 1850s or 1750s — we know we would still face catastrophic fire conditions in many, if not most, fire seasons.

Many commentators this week have done what they often do when the green left over­reaches; they say the debate has gone too far at either end.

This is intellectually dishonest; one side of this argument urges getting on with the hard task of battling our brutal and ever-present bushfire threat, the other side is playing inane and opportunistic politics.

No one has cut through the nonsense and sanctimony better than The Weekend Australian’s cartoonist, Johannes Leak. He has given us the brattish little arsonist sitting on his mother’s lap being told, “Don’t blame yourself darling, that bushfire you lit was caused by climate change.”

Then there was “Total Fire Bandt” who was fighting bushfires by installing solar panels while others confronted the flames. And Leak showed the Greens sacrificing the economy in a pointlessly pagan attempt to appease an ­ominous blaze.

The overwhelming majority of Australians, who comprehend the omnipresent bushfire threat, would agree with these points. But our debate is shaped by a media/political class far removed from practical realities, more afraid of the chill winds of the ­zeitgeist than a blistering hot northerly.

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