24 May, 2019

When Will the Conventional Wisdom Accept Realities?

Climate Models Have Been Predicting Too Much Warming

Leading scientist warns that computer simulations are unreliable


London, 23 May: A leading climatologist has said that the computer simulations that are used to predict global warming are failing on a key measure of the climate today, and cannot be trusted.

Speaking to a meeting in the Palace of Westminster in London, Professor John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville told MPs and peers that almost all climate models have predicted rapid warming at high altitudes in the tropics:

“They all have rapid warming above 30,000 feet in the tropics – it’s effectively a diagnostic signal of greenhouse warming. But in reality it’s just not happening. It’s warming up there, but at only about one third of the rate predicted by the models.”

A similar discrepancy between empirical measurements and computer predictions has been confirmed at the global level:

“The global warming trend for the last 40 years, starting in 1979 when satellite measurements began, is +0.13C per decade or about half of what climate models predicted.”

And Dr Christy says that lessons are not being learned:

“An early look at some of the latest generation of climate models reveals they are predicting even faster warming. This is simply not credible.”

12 May, 2019

Bible Ecclesiastes Chapter 10 V2

Here is very timely advice from The Bible. Totally out of context, but suits me!

The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.

19 March, 2019

The Darling and Menindee Lakes

While on the subject of the Murray-Darling Basin, CEO of the NSW Irrigators’ Council, Luke Simpkins, has expressed disapproval of The Australia Institute’s report “Owing down the river”, describing it as “a further appalling attempt at skewing the facts.”

In his vigorous rejoinder, Simpkins points out a few salient facts conveniently ignored by the Institute in relation to the legislative framework governing the allocation of water—when it is available—in the Basin.
  • Farmers can only use water when all environmental and human needs have been met. 
  • Most farmers in the Barwon-Darling currently have no access to water, and haven’t for over 12 months. 
  • Even when farmers do have access to water, due to the rules, 94% of flows in the Barwon-Darling are reserved for the environment and only 6% is available for irrigation farmers.
  • Farmers only take what is available under their licence conditions and very rarely is there an opportunity to use all the water they are licensed to use in the one event.
  • All flows in the past 12 months have been protected from extraction by the state government and our irrigators because of critical human needs on the river.
  • Access to water by irrigation farmers has already been cut back from 527GL to just 173GL in 2007 under the Cap on Extractions. This saw a massive reduction of 64% of water access to farmers in this region.  
  • The Barwon-Darling farming community has already contributed 33GL (33 billion litres of water) to the environment under the SDLs, which is 27GL (27 billion litres of water) more than they were required to.
  • The Independent Assessment of the 2018-19 Fish Deaths In The Lower Darling by Professor Vertessy, suggests that the majority of impacts from extractions on Menindee inflows, and therefore Menindee Lake volumes, are from tributaries above the Barwon–Darling and not the Barwon–Darling itself.
  • While an ‘unregulated river’ is a river without a dam at the headwater – it is not a river without regulation. In fact, all river systems and water use in NSW is under very tight regulations.
  • All Water Sharing Plans, including the Barwon-Darling, are undergoing review by the Natural Resource Commission, which is a statutory requirement.
  • Water Sharing Plans have the sophistication of flexible measures embedded within them, so they  can adapt and respond to changing water availability, without the need for a total overhaul.
  • This gives certainty that environmental needs can continue to be met, and also certainty to farming families about the likelihood of receiving a water allocation (if any at all).
  • The Minister can intervene at any time.

03 March, 2019

Pell-A superbly balanced commentary

The Australian // Pell’s conviction and fall from high public esteem is a question of judgment


Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court for a plea hearing on Wednesday. Picture: David Caird.

12:00AM MARCH 2, 2019 There have been two trials of Cardinal George Pell — in the court of justice to decide if he was guilty of sexual abuse of children, and in the court of public opinion over nearly two decades that saw him accused of indifference, deception and ultimately evil compliance in the monumental sins of the Catholic Church.

The tests in these trials are different. The test in the first trial was whether the evidence showed Pell guilty “beyond reasonable doubt” as a sexual predator who abused his authority to brutally exploit two choirboys. There is no test in the second trial — no judge or jury — just the hardening of opinion towards Pell and then his demonisation as the nation’s senior Catholic during the long and climactic revelations of unforgivable sexual abuse within the church.

The law requires these trials to be separate. Indeed, justice ­depends upon it. Yet how realistic is this? Chief Judge Peter Kidd told the jury: “You mustn’t in any way be influenced by knowledge you might have of childhood sexual abuse in the Catholic Church or cover-ups of abuse in the Catholic Church.”

Jury ignored evidence: appeal

JOHN FERGUSON It was an entirely proper warning. Yet how can people not be ­influenced by the cultural cataclysm that saw Pell linked with child sexual abuse? Many people held him responsible as the church’s leader. Many people, correctly appalled by the cover-ups and betrayals within the church, said: “Now Pell is on trial he deserves this, he deserves to be punished.” This was a different and enraged form of justice — the justice of retribution.

In this cathartic moment there are two principles to be remembered. Pell was not on trial for the evils of the church; he was not on trial for the betrayal of young children by priests; he was not on trial for any defects in his own ­response to child sexual abuse. He could not be on trial for any of these things. He was on trial only for the specific charges he faced and the accusation he was a sexual predator. The question for justice is obvious: Did Pell get a fair trial? The implausibility of the evidence raises serious doubts.

Second, the anger of victims is entirely justified based on their ­betrayal by priests and bishops. For victims, it is natural to feel justice in this decision. But the historic wrong done to victims cannot be atoned by the doing of another wrong — by convicting Pell if such a conviction carries the enduring stain of a potential miscarriage of justice now and into the future, raising dark questions about our character as a country, our institutions and our legal system.

The test of our system of justice is its capacity to elevate reason before emotion. It is understandable that families of the victims called the Pell verdict “fantastic” and “a great day for victims”. But do we understand that building new wrongs upon old wrongs is no doorway to moral vindication for the victims, despite the temptation offered by retribution towards Pell?

Robert Richter QC reacts to Pell critics outside Melbourne County Court on Wednesday.

Despite the chief judge’s ­appropriate warning, is it possible for any jury to be quarantined from the impact of the highly publicised sustained abuses by priests over a generation? This story of abuse horrifies the heart because it constitutes the practice of evil in the declared house of God. It involves the ruthless grooming and exploitation of children, denial by the Catholic ­hierarchy, the failure of bishops, heartbreaking testimony by victims given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and the commission’s 2017 report finding “the greatest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions”.

In a finding that went to church leadership, the royal commission said complaints about abuse were “ignored and rejected”. It con­cluded the failure to recognise child sexual abuse as a “crime” was “almost incomprehensible”, only to be explained by recognising the culture of some institutions “prioritised alleged perpetrators and institutional reputation over the safety of children”.

The royal commission heard from 2489 survivors of child sexual abuse by Catholic perpetrators spread across 964 Catholic institutions. The report says: “It was impossible not to share the anger many survivors have felt when we understand they were so deeply betrayed by people they were entitled to trust.” The commission calculated that a shocking 7 per cent of Catholic priests from 1950 to 2010 were alleged perpetrators — that is, alleged criminals purporting to be agents of the Lord.

The sexual abuse issue is global but it has triggered perhaps the worst crisis for the Catholic Church in its Australian history. It is no surprise that Pell, leader of the Australian church, architect of the Melbourne Response designed to address child sexual abuse and previously responsible for reforming the Vatican’s finances, has been the dominant and contentious figure in this saga.

Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter QC, said his client had “been portrayed in the media and by everyone else as the evil incarnation of the Catholic Church”. That has a touch of exaggeration but the point is obvious. Ask yourself: Is there a prominent figure more ­denounced and traduced in this country over the past decade than George Pell?

Pell cannot escape responsibility for the failures of the church but the sustained visceral hostility towards Pell transcends institutional accountability. The vile hatred towards him is worse than displayed towards a serial killer. Veteran lawyers said privately they had never seen anything like it in their careers. What does this tell us not just about Pell but about ourselves? The Pell story goes ­beyond the institutional and cultural failure of the Catholic Church. It is far bigger, more complicated and dangerous.

It is about the poisoning of the culture, the anti-Catholic bias of Victoria Police and its fishing ­expedition to ensnare Pell, the calculated media assaults on Pell spearheaded by the ABC, the targeting of him by progressives who saw Pell (perhaps Tony Abbott aside) as the leader who most ­offended their every instinct — as a conservative Catholic, weak on empathy, strong on hierarchy, faithful to traditional doctrine, ­opposed to all aspects of sexual libertarianism, the tallest of tall poppies defending an order many wanted to pull down and the frequent target of, until now, never substantiated claims about being a sexual predator.

In a sense Pell is a leader but also a victim of his own church. ­Because the crimes of the church are so great our culture demands a scapegoat. Our media demands a scapegoat. The adversary and polarised nature of contemporary society means a scapegoat will be found. When the moral fault is so great, the pain of survivors so deep and the media quest for investigative retribution so pronounced, the pressures on the legal system approach breaking point.

In his measured response, lawyer and Jesuit priest Frank Brennan said the criminal justice system “is intended to withstand” these hostile preconceptions. But can it? “The system is under serious strain when it comes to Pell,” Brennan said of Australian justice. Don’t think Brennan is a lone voice. There are many in the Catholic community convinced of Pell’s innocence and they are re­inforced by many distinguished lawyers who fear this verdict is a miscarriage of justice.

“Should the appeal fail, I hope and pray Pell, heading for prison, is not the unwitting victim of a ­nation in search of a scapegoat,” Brennan said. His use of the word “nation” is appropriate. If Pell is sentenced to a long prison term the interconnection between the two trials — the court trial and the public trial — will be an inescapable feature of the saga.

The Pell issue has a long way to run. It poses a test for many institutions, not just the Catholic Church. It is, above all, a test for the maturity and judgment of this country because, whichever way the appeal goes, a divided nation will need to manage the consequences.

Amid the thousands of words written this week, those from The Age’s veteran crime reporter and columnist, John Silvester, deserve to be highlighted: “Pell was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness, without forensic evidence, a pattern of behaviour or a confession.

“Pell has become a lightning rod in the worldwide storm of anger at a systematic cover-up of priestly abuses. But that doesn’t make him a child molester. If Pell did molest those two teenagers in the busy cathedral, it certainly does not fit the usual pattern of pedophile priests. Those in power identify vulnerable potential victims, groom and then isolate them.

“In the Pell case, though he had access to hundreds of boys over his career, he did not groom the vulnerable. Instead he attacked two he did not know in broad daylight in a near-public area. He could not have known if one of them would walk straight out and blow the whistle on him, and with two kids in the room he would have been sunk.”

Pell was charged in 2017 and committed to stand trial last year. This followed a Victoria Police ­investigation of him from 2013, ­before there was any complaint. He was convicted at his second trial on five charges in relation to abuse of two choirboys, one of whom had died. At the first trial, covered by the suppression order, the jury failed to reach a decision.

At all stages, Pell maintained his innocence. When Victorian ­detectives flew to Rome and first raised the detailed allegations with Pell, his reaction was: “What a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish. Completely false. Madness.”

The former choirboy who gave evidence said the abuse occurred immediately after Pell celebrated mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 just after he became archbishop of Melbourne. The complainant’s evidence is that the two choirboys had left the liturgical procession and gone to the sacristy, where they began drinking the church wine.

Pell arrived suddenly, censured them and then, with the sacristy door open, people passing in the corridor, and still in his heavy mass vestments including the alb, a long secured vestment without front buttons or zipper, proceeded to sexually assault the boys, whom he did not know, in an extremely brief period of time. There was no witness to support the complainant. The former choirboy’s evidence was given in secret. Brennan called the entire scenario ­“incredible”.

Richter said: “Who in their right mind would do it? Did the archbishop have some kind of mental breakdown? Who would take the risk?” Richter had a rich field on which to plough — highlighting the inconsistencies and improbabilities in the account. Does this meet the test of “beyond reasonable doubt”?

The proposition, in effect, is that Pell was a brutal, opportunistic and reckless hypocrite campaigning against sexual abuse, devising the church’s Melbourne Response, but being a predator himself, a predator who ignored the usual “rules” of grooming and engaged in the most grotesque ­betrayal of everything his life as a church leader represented in the improbable location of the sacristy of St Patrick’s within minutes of the end of Mass.

There is nothing in Pell’s life and character to sustain such a judgment. The hope of Pell’s legal team was that the sheer implausibility of the evidence backing the accusation would lead to a decision in his favour.

Ultimately, as John Ferguson from this newspaper reported and argued, much depended on the credibility of the accuser. Fergu­son said: “The courtroom feedback is that the victim, barely a teenager at the time of the offending, was credible. It explains why the crown’s senior prosecutor, Mark Gibson, focused so heavily in his closing on the witness’s evidence, imploring the jury to accept the word of the accuser.”

Gibson said to the jury: “I’d like you to step back for a moment and simply think about the overall ­impression that you are left with by the complainant’s evidence when it finished on the morning of 14 November.”

It is surely relevant that one of the great lessons from the royal commission and the ­betrayal of children is the need to listen and accept their stories. This is seeping into public consciousness.

The past failures of police, church and parents have created a new awareness: the sins of dismissing or ignoring the words of victims must end. Justice Peter McClellan, chairman of the royal commission, emphasised this point, saying: “Each survivor’s story has been important to us. The survivors are remarkable ­people with a common concern to do what they can to ensure other children are not abused. They ­deserve our nation’s thanks.”

McClellan said police and insti­tutions had often refused to ­believe children, even returned them to unsafe places after they tried ­to ­escape.

Silvester said: “Now police are told to come from a mindset of ­believing a person who says they have been sexually assaulted, and more cases in the grey area are being presented to juries. In ­reality, sex crimes are being ­treated differently to other crimes, although the standard of proof ­remains the same.”

In Pell’s trial, Gibson asked the jury of the accuser: “Did he strike you as an honest witness?” The verdict implies the answer. Is this a trial where the apparent implausibility of evidence was weighed against the apparent credibility of the accuser? In such a trial how does this translate into the “beyond reasonable doubt” test?

The answer, surely, is the weight and plausibility of the evidence must count. Would another person, not Pell, have been quickly exonerated or not even been put to trial in this exact same situation? The answer seems obvious though it cannot be proved. Many Australians will conclude that the public trial of Pell has inevitably infected his courtroom trial. Pell went into this trial with his reputation seriously damaged because of the campaign against him. He has long been denounced not so much for what he has done but because of what he represents.

Politicians from both sides say the verdict proves ­“nobody is above the law”. That is an understandable and correct ­response. But it cannot close the book.

There is another question: Has the law been properly and ­fairly discharged? To me, that test looks dubious.

The political consequences of this trial are immense. If the head of the Catholic Church is found to be a sexual predator then the disgrace of the church is complete. Its priests will be more discredited. Their moral authority will be gravely impaired. Its congregations will be further reduced. The statutory privileges the church has enjoyed will be reduced by politicians and the legal foundations of religion in Australia will change.

The political prejudice towards Pell was undisguised in the comments from many politicians ­attacking those — notably John Howard — who provided a character reference for him.

15 February, 2019

Conservation-Viv Forbes

Be Like the Beaver – Build More Dams

Water is essential for all life, and happily it is abundant on our blue watery planet.
However, salty oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface and contain 97% of Earth’s water. Salt water is great for ocean dwellers but not directly useful for most life on land. Another 2% of Earth’s water is tied up in ice caps, glaciers and permanent snow, leaving just 1% as land-based fresh water.
To sustain life on land, we need to conserve and make good use of this rare and elusive resource.
Luckily, our sun is a powerful nuclear-powered desalinisation plant. Every day, solar energy evaporates huge quantities of fresh water from the oceans. After a stop-off in the atmosphere, most of this water vapour is soon returned to earth as dew, rain, hail and snow – this is the great water cycle. Unfortunately about 70% of this precipitation falls directly back into the oceans and some is captured in frozen wastelands.
Much of the water that falls on land is collected in gullies, creeks and rivers and driven relentlessly by gravity back to the sea by the shortest possible route. Allowing this loss to happen is poor water management. The oceans are not short of water.
Some animals and plants have evolved techniques to maximise conservation of precious fresh water.
Some Australian frogs, on finding their water holes evaporating, will inflate their stomachs with water then bury themselves in a moist mud-walled cocoon to wait for the drought to break. Water buffalo and wild pigs make mud wallows to retain water in their private mud-baths, camels carry their own water supply and beavers build lots of dams.
Some plants have also evolved water saving techniques – bottle trees and desert cacti are filled with water, thirsty humans can even get a drink from the roots and trunks of some eucalypts and many plants produce drought/fire resistant seeds.
Every such natural water conservation or drought-proofing behaviour brings benefits for all surrounding plants and animals.
People have long recognised the importance of conserving fresh water – early settlers built their homes near the best waterholes on the creek and every homestead and shed had its corrugated iron tanks. Graziers built dams and weirs to retain surface water for stock (and fence-crashing wildlife), used contour ripping and good pasture management to retain moisture in soils, and drilled bores to get underground water. And sensible rules have evolved to protect the water rights of down-stream residents.
In some snow-fed rivers like the Nile, floods are generally a reliable and predictable annual event. For millennia the Nile delivered water and silt fertiliser to the farmers on the flood plains in Lower Egypt. The massive High Aswan Dam may have done more harm than good – it certainly did great harm to the farmers and land down-stream by stealing the silt and the water that supported the productivity of farms that have fed millions since Roman times. The value of the electricity generated by the dam probably does not compensate for these losses.
But in Australia, rainfall is usually a boom and bust affair. Much fresh water is delivered to the land surface suddenly in cyclones, storms and rain depressions. But “The Wet” is always followed by “The Dry”, and droughts and floods are normal climatic events. People who fail to store some of the flood must put up with the drought.

14 February, 2019

This Man is not all bad.

1600 Daily
The White House • February 13, 2019

Not one more person should suffer under socialism

Today, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcomed President Ivan Duque Marquez and First Lady Maria Juliana Ruiz Sandoval of Colombia to the White House. “We’re working on many things together: the eradication of drugs in Colombia and outside of Colombia; and obviously, Venezuela,” President Trump said.

“We want to work together to put an end to the brutal dictatorship that has been affecting the Venezuelan people,” President Duque added.

Three weeks ago, the United States officially recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. “We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom, and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair,” President Trump said in his State of the Union address last week.

To keep its word, America has imposed tough sanctions on Maduro and his corrupt associates. The Trump Administration is blocking assets in the United States controlled by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, disconnecting Maduro and his cronies from their needed revenue sources and protecting crucial assets for the future of Venezuela.

Here at home, mainstream Americans are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our own country. From Venezuela to the historic horrors of Maoist China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union, socialism turns modern prosperity into primitive scarcity. Even Europe’s Nordic countries—often held up by American liberals as socialist “success stories”—reveal the failure of state control: Today, living standards in the Nordic countries are at least 15 percent lower than in the United States, according to the Council of Economic Advisers.

America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control,” President Trump told Congress last week. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”