Friday, 31 January 2020

Dr Jen: Keeping You in the Loop

Keeping You in the Loop

Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Marohasy 
We live on a rotating planet, differentially heated by the Sun, and mostly covered in seawater. The largest body of water is the Pacific Ocean, and on its southwestern edge is the Great Barrier Reef. 
This is arguably the largest coral reef system to have ever existed on planet Earth. It is but a thin veneer of limestone that has grown on top of at least five previous extensive reef systems; each destroyed by past dramatic falls in sea level.
Ribbon Reef No. 10 is the longest of the most northern outer barriers at the edge of Australia's continental shelf, with an inside (westerly-facing) edge that drops to 40 metres and an outside (easterly-facing) edge that drops vertically to 2,000 metres.  Both edges are covered in a great diversity of colourful corals.   This last week I got to dive both edges!  It was so much fun sinking below the waves with the reef sharks and trevally, meeting manta rays and cuttlefish.  
At the northern tip of this ribbon is an opening that was once where the Starke River entered the sea; that was more than 16,000 years ago when sea levels were up to 120 metres lower than they are today. 
That river canyon is now underwater with strong currents, that wash in nutrient-rich upwelling from the Pacific Ocean twice a day. The water rushes in, and then out. So I was pleased that there was a lookout on the top deck of our boat the entire time I was diving, with a tender handy, should I come-up in a current that I couldn’t kick against and needed to be picked up. 
In fact, I always surfaced at the stairs to the boat, thanks to the great navigation skills of my underwater buddy. 
Beyond the southern end of this coral reef system is the much smaller Ribbon Reef No. 11, and a dive site known as Goggle Gardens. The corals here are at 15 metres and were totally bleached white from March to October 2016. 
What I learnt from a very experienced diver, who documented this event through photography, is that white and bleached coral is not necessarily dead coral.

The zooxanthellae — unicellular algae that give coral its colours and normally feeds it with energy from the sun via photosynthesis — were expelled, as the corals were stressed by the exceptionally warm waters during the summer of 2015 – 2016.  But the corals at this dive site did not die. 
Coral polyps also have tentacles, and these tentacles were used to feed on small animals and plankton and also to clean away bad algae that would otherwise settle and smoother it. 
So, corals are not necessarily totally dependent on zooxanthellae, they can be omnivorous. 
In fact, bleached coral can take-back zooxanthellae, become colourful again, and reshoot after months of being stark white and bleached. 
I hope to show how this happened at this dive site in my next mini-documentary. 
There are a few photographs, including of me with a giant potato cod, at my most recent blog post:
But mostly we took an underwater video, and there is also some drone footage.   It just needs editing and some narration.

Thanks for caring. 
Dr Jennifer Marohasy
Researcher and Writer
The photograph of the corals at the top of this note was taken looking over one of the underwater cliffs on 21st January 2020: filming for my next mini-documentary that I know you will enjoy.
Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Marohasy, All rights reserved. 

King Kevin through the back door

Are the politicians planning to crown one of their own?

24 January 2020

Extraordinary plans are afoot in Canberra for Malcolm Turnbull, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd or someone of their ilk to succeed Queen Elizabeth in her capacity as Queen of Australia.
This is to be done through the back door, not by the people, but by the politicians doing a deal among themselves .
With the hope that nobody will much notice, pseudo-king Kevin or whoever is chosen will be called ‘governor-general’.
And as is typical of these soi-disant republicans, this will involve a secret agenda and the complete disregard of any unintended consequences.
What is clear is that the pseudo-king will be able to exercise all of the apparent powers of the Crown but without any one of the constraints. And to demonstrate that the plan is serious, expert legal advice has even been obtained on how best to hijack the succession to the Queen without the tedium of first obtaining your or any other rank-and-file Australian’s vote.
Politicians in the principal parties rarely speak without approval of the machine and given there has been no subsequent attempt from his party or other republican politicians to distance themselves from this plan, it may well have been dropped into the media, just before Christmas, by Victorian Labor MP Julian Hill to test the waters.
It was of course soon superseded by news about all of those many serious problems created or made worse by our mainly republican politicians, including  drought, bushfires, energy prices, the run-down of manufacturing, fishing and agriculture and falling school standards

Unlike the political class and the commentariat, there is little interest in, or strong support for, such soi-disant republicanism among the rank and file. This was true even around the referendum. In fact, the only demonstration which attracted a decent crowd was when Australians for Constitutional Monarchy called out over 20,000 supporters into Macquarie Street Sydney over the Carr government’s seizure of Government House. Every republican demonstration, including one widely promoted for the referendum, has been an embarrassment.
Republicanism in Australia has never been about republican principles as understood in, say, the United States. It has always been for some ulterior purpose. In the nineteenth century, it was to create a white apartheid regime and in the first half of the twentieth century, to annex Australia to the evil communist empire responsible for the massacre of over 100 million people.
The one which has so excited the political class and the commentariat for the last quarter of a century has nothing at all to do with the principles of republicanism. Based on an embarrassing and infantile obsession against the Queen and the country’s oldest and most enduring constitutional institution, its aim and effect are to increase the power of our mainly republican politicians. Hence the winning referendum slogan, ‘Vote No to the Politicians’ Republic’ devised by ACM’s Rick Brown who, in delivering Victoria,  ensured a clean sweep for the No case.
More recently, when Harry and Meghan decided on a new stage in their lives, the usual coterie once again saw this as the long-awaited silver bullet which would revive their flawed and unappealing politicians’ republic.
Hence the plethora of royal watcher commentaries filled with invention, viciousness and spite and invariably concluding with yet another call for that republic.
What they all fear is another referendum would result in a bigger defeat than in 1999. So they all call for a variation of the solution first proposed by Paul Keating a quarter of a century ago, a government-funded mass opinion poll. Called a ‘plebiscite’ to make it sound serious, it was to ask: ‘Do you want an Australian Head of State?’.
Too clever by half, Keating chose a term which was so obscure it wasn’t even in the then Macquarie Dictionary; with only public international lawyers fully understanding what the term meant.
But Keating wasn’t fast enough for QC and soon to be made judge, Lloyd Waddy, who observed, with consummate ease and wit, that he would advise ACM followers to vote Yes for the simple reason that we already had an Australian Head of State –―the Governor-General. Nothing more was heard on this from Keating .
The latest version of the proposed and arguably unconstitutional plebiscite tries to overcome this by asking: ‘Do you want Australia to become a republic with an Australian Head of State?’. But as David Long wrote recently in The Spectator Australia
‘Any first-year university political science student familiar with the writings of John Locke will know that Australia is already a republic.’
Indeed, in writing ACM’s foundation charter, Michael Kirby included the belief of some (including both John Howard and Tony Abbott) that Australia is already a republic, a crowned republic. As Kirby wrote, Australia enjoys ‘all the desirable features of a republican government and a constitutional monarchy without any disadvantages of either system.’
So if the planned plebiscite is not first ruled unconstitutional, it will prove just as totally useless as Keating’s would have been.
That’s why dispensing with the people’s vote as Hill proposes may well be  proving attractive to the republican politburo. They would then try to use an obscure provision in the 1986 Australia Acts to have all seven parliaments agree on circumventing Australians’ right to decide such questions in a referendum.
This legislation was introduced to regularise the status of the states, not to steal the people’s vote and make someone like Kevin Rudd a ‘King’ Kevin.
If it looked as if the politicians were going to adopt Hill’s plan, you can be assured that ACM will be in the High Court and before the people quicker than Hill can say ‘God Save The Queen’, to whom, incidentally, he has sworn or affirmed his allegiance twice.

[This comment was the subject of an interview with Michael McLaren on 2GB, 4BC, 3AW and the Macquarie Media Network on 22 January 2020 at ]

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Energy & Environmental Newsletter: Two Special Reports

When will we ever learn?

John Droz Jr

One of the main blessings of accurately understanding history is that it gives us an unprecedented opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others — for free!  What sense does it make to repeatedly go down a path likely to fail?

If we look back at government policy decisions, it’s abundantly clear that good intentions + time and effort + lots of money does NOT assure a successful outcome. Indeed, after all of these, the way-too-often actual result is:
  1. ) the costs turn out to be enormously more than projected, and
  2. ) the benefits are significantly less than promised, and
  3. ) the negative “unintended” consequences are crippling, and
  4. ) the guilty legislative parties are long gone when the results are in.

So how do we avoid this groundhog day (Russian Doll) repetition? Genuinely learn from history... Separate the wheat from the chaff... On technical issues: take the route of Real Science, not political science.

With those objectives, I’ve drafted reports on never-been-done-before perspectives about two of the pre-eminent issues of our time: climate change and wind energy.


Report #1: Climate Change

Let’s say we are having a polite, serious discussion with a legislator, scientist, environmentalist, journalist or citizen who is a climate change believer. We ask them to explain the rationale behind their position. 

Inevitably the justification for their concern will be based on one or more of four different arguments (which I’m calling the four pillars). That’s fine, but the question is: do each of these pillars actually hold up to close, thorough, objective scrutiny? 

That’s what the first Report analyzes — and the answer is NO. (Although this is a complex, complex matter, I’ve tried to keep it understandable to most citizens.)

CONCLUSION: This analysis is NOT proof that the climate change hypothesis is false. Rather it is conclusive evidence that the main arguments of climate change believers are amazingly weak.

That realization should be a red flag that we are again heading down a policy path that history is telling us will likely not be productive... For genuinely altruistic individuals there are many more serious proven problems that we would be better off spending our limited time, money and efforts on.


Report #2: Industrial Wind Energy

Again let’s start with the assumption that we are having a courteous, in-depth conversation with a legislator, scientist, environmentalist, journalist or citizen who is an industrial wind energy supporter. We ask them to explain the rationale behind their beliefs. 

Inevitably a primary justification for their support will be that wind energy is a critically necessary component to effectively deal with climate change. The question is: does that claim hold up to comprehensive, objective, in-depth scrutiny? 

The second Report assesses that question — and the answer is NO. (Although this is a technical topic, I’ve again tried to keep this understandable to most citizens.)

CONCLUSION: This analysis is NOT proof that wind energy has zero climate change benefits. Rather it is conclusive evidence that the main justification for legislative support for wind energy is likely false.

{Technical note: in almost every (US - Ed) state, a wind project must be approved by that state’s utility commission. The number one criteria in essentially all states is that the wind developer needs to prove to this commission that there is a “public need” for their proposed project. The main “public need” justification presented by almost all wind developers is that their wind project is necessary to meaningfully address the climate change crisis. This Report shows that such a claim has little scientific basis.}

The realization of this major disconnect should be a red flag that we are again going down a policy path that history is warning us will almost certainly not be productive. If climate change is an emergency (see Report #1), we have proven solutions (e.g. nuclear power) that do substantially reduce CO2. There is no legitimate “public need” for wind energy, from any perspective.

My hope is that these two unique Reports will assist well-intentioned scientists, legislators, journalists and citizens to avoid the ditch and stick to higher-yield policy paths (with human flourishing as the objective).

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Australian Bush Fire Fake News

Burt Rutan

The Fake News folk want you to believe that the human-caused Global Warming is destroying Australia by fire. See graphic.

The photo below was taken by wife Tonya just now on a bike ride in Brisbane, right in the middle of the biggest red blob. 

Note the clear skies. The locals say these fires are a normal occurrence, happening most years. 

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Burt Rutan, retired American aircraft and spacecraft designer who was perhaps best known for SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first private manned spacecraft. See Encyclopedia Britannica

Tuesday, 21 January 2020



Graham Williamson

January 2020

Source: The Guardian
Media Nonsense – Trying so hard to avoid the truth!

As Professor Andy Pitman, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, formerly Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, recently pointed out, there is a yawning gap between the scientific facts about droughts and climate change, and the media hype relating to this issue. According to the Professor during an  address at the Sydney Environment Institute:
“…this may not be what you expect to hear. but as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought. 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.”
The media however live in their own world, a world often completely devoid of facts and truth.

At this time of severe droughts and bushfires impacting large areas of Australia, media coverage is often characterised by those claiming government ‘climate change’ policies are to blame. Typical headlines scream “
The new normal? How climate change is making droughts worse,” “Climate change is already making droughts worse,” Climate change causing more droughts & floods in Australia”, and “Climate Change Makes Droughts in Australia Worse”.

Given the connection between droughts and bushfires, many sought to blame ‘climate change’ for bushfires also, with headlines like, “Bushfire season 'will be more severe as a result of climate change'.” Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John even accused the government of being “arsonists”:

"How dare any of you suggest that in this moment at this time it is appropriate to be prosecuting a piece of legislation with the aim of propping up coal," he told the chamber. "You are no better than a bunch of arsonists - borderline arsonists - and you should be ashamed."

According to a further news report, “Greens MP Adam Bandt has blamed the unprecedented bushfires and ‘catastrophic’ fire risk across two states on climate change, and even suggested Prime Minister Scott Morrison is partly responsible due to the government’s lack of action.”

The Bureau of Meteorology even went so far as to claim, whether floods or droughts, it is all likely caused by what they referred to as ‘climate change’.

Presented below are the scientific facts, according to scientists. For their own reasons, the mainstream media has consistently and obsessively sought to conceal, or avoid highlighting these facts. They have sought not to publicise the truth. This persistent media campaign against truth, is a campaign against the people, a campaign against the foundations of democracy.

At a time when so many Australians are suffering so much from bushfires and drought, the media still treat the truth, and the people, with absolute contempt.

What the Science says About Droughts & Human-Caused Climate Change

Scientists say we do not know what causes droughts and what ends droughts – but yet alarmists say they know the answers, humans are the cause, and politicians can control them.
 “…this may not be what you expect to hear. but as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought. 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 made the landscape more arid.If you look at the Bureau of Meteorology data over the whole of the last one hundred years there’s no trend in data. There is no drying trend.  There’s been a trend in the last twenty years, but there’s been no trend in the last hundred years, and that’s an expression on how variable Australian rainfall climate is. There are in some regions but not in other regions.So the fundamental problem we have is that we don’t understand what causes droughts.Much more interesting, We don’t know what stops a drought. We know it’s rain, but we don’t know what lines up to create drought breaking rains.”

The Professor’s comments are perfectly clear. Apart from his assertion that “there is no link between climate change and drought”, he also states “there is no reason a priori why climate change should make the landscape more arid…… there’s been no trend in the last hundred years……. we don’t understand what causes droughts…….. we don’t know what lines up to create drought-breaking rains.”.

The scientific evidence is abundantly clear, humans cannot control, reduce, or prevent, droughts.

IPCC, Droughts, & AGW – The Scientific Evidence

According to the IPCC AR5 scientific report in their AR5 Technical Summary:

No global trend in droughts as emissions increase
“There is low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall), owing to lack of direct observations, dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice and geographical inconsistencies in the trends. However, this masks important regional changes and, for example, the frequency and intensity of drought have likely increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and likely decreased in central North America and northwest Australia since 1950. “

And in Chapter 2 of the AR5 Report the IPCC state:

“Confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th centu­ry, owing to lack of direct observations, methodological uncer­tainties and geographical inconsistencies in the trends.”

The IPCC summarise in Chapter 10 of the AR5 Report, stating previous claims about humans causing droughts were alarmist or exaggerated:

Droughts not caused by humans, and previous claims false or exaggerated
“In summary, assessment of new observational evidence, in conjunc­tion with updated simulations of natural and forced climate varia­bility  indicates that the AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in droughts since the 1970s should be tempered. There is not enough evidence to support medium or high confidence of attribution of increasing trends to anthropogenic forcings as a result of observa­tional uncertainties and variable results from region to region (Section Combined with difficulties described above in distinguishing decadal scale variability in drought from long-term climate change we conclude consistent with SREX that there is low confidence in detec­tion and attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.”

But most telling is the admission by the IPCC in the AR5 Technical Summary, that droughts during the “last millennium”, before the industrial revolution and rise of atmospheric CO2, were much worse than today:

Droughts worse before ‘carbon’ emissions
“There is high confidence for droughts during the last millennium of greater magnitude and longer duration than those observed since the beginning of the 20th century in many regions. There is medium confidence that more megadroughts occurred in monsoon Asia and wetter conditions prevailed in arid Central Asia and the South American monsoon region during the Little Ice Age (1450–1850) compared to the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950–1250).”

Clearly, the IPCC confirm the views of Professor Andy Pitman.

What do BOM & CSIRO Say About Rainfall & Droughts in Australia?

Lower rainfall and reduced runoff in the southeast of Australia associated with the current drought is in part due to natural variability as well as to human-induced climate change. The relative contribution of each of these mechanisms remains uncertain.”

“However, natural variability still dominates Australian rainfall variability from one year to the next, and its influence is large enough to mask the impact of underlying rainfall trends in the short to medium term.” 
Looking at specific areas of Australia in a publication entitled “Climate change in Australia”, BOM & CSIRO paint a confusing picture indeed, pointing out that human-induced changes are not as important as natural variability and “the risk of both a drier and wetter climate” should be considered for most areas. They do point out however, that global emissions are expected to target some areas of Australia much more than other areas when it comes to droughts and rainfall.

As noted above, especially at this time, we desperately need to ensure resources are not diverted away from the realities of the current drought and bushfires, and the suffering they are causing. We need to move on and ensure people are not foolishly misled into believing humans can control or prevent droughts with a ‘carbon tax’. We especially need to stop terrifying and manipulating children with untruths.