March 31, 2015 | Graham

Heat not hiding in the ocean

Anyone who understands physics, which excludes many prognosticators on climate change (yes, I’m thinking of you @beneltham*), understands that the oceans drive the climate.

So it was always a bit of a stretch to think that the plateau in global temperatures of over the last 18 or so years was because the heat was hiding in the ocean.

For that to be the case they had to answer the question as to why the ocean had suddenly stopped heating the atmosphere and was now retaining the additional heat and effectively becoming hotter than the atmosphere.

Recent research by Liang, Wunch, Heimbach and Forget suggests that not only is the heat not hiding in the ocean, but the ocean is very gradually becoming cooler.

This opens the possibility that recent temperature increases reflect energy balances at some stage in the past, not the present. Another of the interminable list of confounding factors that can’t be, or aren’t, factored in to climate models.

Current emissions of CO2 may well just be balancing out a gradual cooling of the globe, which is evident in the record of the last 10,000 years.

*If you’re wondering about the Ben Eltham jibe click here to follow his haranguing of me for daring to have an opinion on global warming that differs from his. When he claims to be a scientist and tries to pull rank I ask him a simple question about water, air and thermal mass which he confuses with oceanography. You can read the whole unedifying discussion here. But I’ve also copied the tweets below.

I challenged Eltham, who works for rival think tank the Centre for Policy Development to a debate on the subject of global warming, but he refused. Seems it’s OK to have a view, but not necessary to be able to defend it.


Posted by Graham at 1:09 pm | Comments (7) |

March 31, 2015 | Graham

You be the judge on Ferguson

The shooting of a young black male in Ferguson, and the ensuing riots, is generally portrayed as a racist event, but depending on where you stand, the racists can be white or black.

Verbatim Theatre is a genre where you take the actual evidence and lay it out in front of an audience. In Ferguson the Play the evidence is the actual testimony to the Grand Jury, presented to closely adhere to how the Jury heard it.

This is how playwright Phelim McAleer describes it:

The purpose of FERGUSON is to reveal the truth about what really happened on August 9, 2015 in Ferguson, MO and to look at why and how the Grand Jury came to the decision they did. FERGUSON is a staged version of the Grand Jury testimony exactly as they heard it. But this time the audience gets to be the Grand Jury. The performances in Los Angeles will be dramatized staged readings with interactive voting. Every night the audience will  decide who’s telling the truth, decide who’s lying, and decide if they would indict Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. How will you vote?

McAleer claims:

A lot of people lied about what they saw that day. They lied to support both sides. They lied to the media, they lied online, and they lied to investigators. Many admitted this to the Grand Jury, but the media never corrected the record. 

Most people don’t know what the Grand Jury heard and most people don’t know that a lot of what alleged witnesses told the media was later withdrawn or proven impossible by evidence uncovered in the Grand Jury room.

Hopefully it will come out on video and we can all watch, and maybe even vote. An interesting exercise in making the truth available.

Posted by Graham at 11:06 am | Comments Off on You be the judge on Ferguson |

March 29, 2015 | Graham

Palaszczuk fails first test

With her back against a wall, faced with a decision she should have made two weeks ago, and after having tried to shovel that decision off onto the party secretary, Annastacia Palaszczuk has belatedly sacked “Billy” Gordon from her party and bizarrely claimed the decision is driven by “integrity”.

Even if you believe that somehow a criminal history dating back to the 80s had somehow escaped the Labor Party which has been so busy “listening” to Queenslanders of late, you have the fact that the premier knew about the issues on the 13th March yet took to the 27th March to refer matters to the police and the 29th to take decisive action.

Could anyone believe she would have taken this action if the correspondence hadn’t been leaked to the Courier Mail and made public?

We’ve seen much being made of the fact that this is the first majority female cabinet in the history of Australia, but it appears that, even with a freshly minted report of the task force headed by former GG Quentin Bryce, investigating domestic violence sitting on the premier’s desk, when it comes to a culprit sitting in the seats behind them other factors are more important.

The premier claims that Billy lied in the preselection process. Looks like he did, although if you want to run the state of Queensland, checking that candidates are actually telling the truth seems to be rather basic.

Not that the premier is too concerned with lying, as those with a long memory will remember she was part of a government that voted to make it OK to lie to parliament.

And if Billy lied, who else might have?

Perhaps it is time the Premier did police checks on all her colleagues. To lose one might appear unfortunate, but to lose two would be careless, and Premiers get too well-paid to be allowed to be careless.



Posted by Graham at 1:40 pm | Comments (10) |
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March 20, 2015 | Graham

Nothing tough about trade-him-in Tony anymore

Tony Abbott has been portrayed as too tough and unfeeling by his enemies for as long as he’s been in parliament. This is wrong. Despite his obvious exercise discipline what we’re seeing at the moment is a Pavlova – brittle on the outside and soft in.

If Abbott were tough then he would not now be saying that a debt to GDP ratio of 50 or 60 per cent was acceptable compared to other countries. This is the fat farm argument. “I might be obese, but it’s OK because I’m nowhere near as obese as that loser over there.”

As a food Nazi Abbott should have sniffed this non sequitur out faster than a carb hidden in the salad.

By his own words he is fulfilling predictions that Australia is on the path to Greece, and given up on the mandate he was given at the last election.

If Abbott were tough then he wouldn’t have apologised for his perfectly acceptable remark that Bill Shorten is the “Dr Goebbels of economic policy”.

The furore is nothing more than confected outrage and the politics of social exclusion, as practiced by the Left on a daily basis via social media. It should have been called out as such. You can’t beat bullying by rolling over to the bullies.

Since when have Nazi references been out of bounds? Must have just happened yesterday, because Andrew Bolt has a long list of Labor Party figures using them. And there is that Holocaust inspired term of derision they throw around “climate deniers”.

(And I bet most of you read my Nazi quip higher up without even noticing it.)

If Abbott were tough Peter Credlin would be gone, and probably her husband, Federal Liberal Party Director Brian Loughnane as well.

Revelations that Loughnane resisted showing employment contracts to Liberal Party Treasurer Philip Higginson are, to put it mildly, mind-boggling. Not only did Higginson have a right to see that information, but the whole federal executive should also have been aware of it. Loughnane’s passive aggression was outrageous.

That Abbott demanded Higginson resign suggests that either Abbott does not get corporate governance, or  that he was pressured into it by his office. If he were tough he would never have demanded Higginson go, and now that Credlin has made herself the story, he would also demand her resignation (or engineer it).

If Abbott were tough there would be a long list of double dissolution triggers, and he would actually stand for something.

I no longer think Tony can survive. All the doubts I had when I read his book Battlelines have resurfaced. His backbench and cabinet will be reading a different script, but I think coming to the same conclusion.

And when I think of it Battlelines has all the problems I’m seeing in its author. It looks tough on the cover, but inside is an incoherent blanc mange of inconsistent ideas, none of which could be described as a “battleline”.

I don’t know who the replacement will be, but Abbott has done his dash. At least, unlike Kevin Rudd, he has been allowed to do it in public. When he is replaced, people won’t be asking why.

It is time to trade the PM in.

Posted by Graham at 7:55 am | Comments (24) |

March 17, 2015 | Ronda Jambe

All gassed out

Last night I went to the presentation by the Melbourne based Alternative Technology Association.

They did a report last year comparing domestic gas for heating, hot
water and cooking with efficient electric. It is a fairly complex report,
and considers many variables, including type of housing, location in
Australia, local gas prices and local climate, age of appliances, etc.

Summary and links to full report:

Gas prices have risen more than electricity prices in recent years, and
now Australia will be selling gas overseas, putting our consumers in

The modelling for the report took a mid-level estimate of expected gas
price increases, and the presenter said the levels didn’t affect the outcomes much,
as most of the gas price is in network costs (70%) rather than retail and
wholesale costs.

Biggest finding was that it is always more cost effective (over a 10 year
net present worth), to install reverse cycle electric heating and cooling
rather than ducted gas in a new home, and generally also for an existing

For hot water and cooking it varied, but generally the greatest benefits
come when you switch the last gas service off, and eliminate service
charges. Induction cook tops are apparently very good, and have become
less expensive.

The report doesn’t predict that the gas industry will go into a ‘death spiral’ any time
soon, but there are risks to the existing business model, particularly if
some of the reports recommendations are taken seriously.

Recommendations include:
reviewing the gas industry’s right to spruik itself as clean and cheap

eliminating any subsidies in new housing developments for installation of
gas infrastructure

requiring gas network businesses to forecast and analyse disconnection rates

helping low income people or poorer landlords to do conversions to electric


moving public housing services away from an ‘all gas, automatically’
assumption in their developments and renovations.

Surely it is wise now to halt any subsidies for domestic gas infrastructure, yet another fossil fuel subsidy that will keep Australia from meeting the future head on.

This report comes as I am looking into heat pumps for our own domestic heating and cooling, as I see the advantages of ditching our ducted gas heating.

Interesting times we live in, and with the ACT set to go 90% renewable, the days of gas, like coal and oil, may be numbered.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 2:19 pm | Comments (1) |
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March 10, 2015 | Graham

Superannuation and home buyers

It’s amazing how many people have leapt in to criticise Hockey’s suggestion that young Australians should be able to tap into their super contributions to buy their first home, including this bad tempered contribution from former PM Paul Keating.

Far from being a class envy attack on retirement savings, it could be the single best idea this decade to making retirement more secure for millions of Australians.

The average Australian home is worth 571,500, but the average superannuation account balance for males aged 60-65 is only $114,000.

The real poverty for those in retirement is experienced by those who do not own their own home.

Owning your own home eliminates rent and reduces occupancy costs to maintenance and rates. It provides an asset that can be parlayed against a nursing home place, or even reverse mortgaged or sold in emergency.

So any policy which makes it easier for Australians to own their own homes is a retirement policy.

If Keating were really worried about retirement, rather than “protecting” his legacy and trying to position the Liberals as “unfair”, he’d be intelligently looking at the real problems faced in retirement and conclude, along with generations of Australians, that owning your own home is the best pathway to security.

It’s a good policy kite from the government and ought to be adopted.


Posted by Graham at 7:30 am | Comments (9) |