Writing in today’s Washington Post, Bill McKibben blames deadly recent weather events on climate change. And he snarkily dismisses as naive the argument that humankind can adapt well to such change.
Let’s look at data from the National Weather Service on annual fatalities in the U.S. caused by tornados, floods, and hurricanes from 1940 through 2009. Naturally, these data show that the number of such fatalities varies from year to year. For example, in 1972 the number of persons killed by these weather events was 703 while in 1988 the number was 72. On average, however, the trend is clear and encouraging: the number of such fatalities, especially since 1980, is declining.
The average annual number of such fatalities over this entire 70-year span is 248. In each of the four decades prior to 1980, the average annual number of fatalities was higher than 248; in particular:
The average annual number of such fatalities over the full 40 years 1940-1979 was 290.
But in each of the three decades starting in 1980, the average annual number of fatalities caused by tornados, floods, and hurricanes was lower than 248; in particular:
The average annual number of such fatalities over the full 30 years 1980-2009 was 194. (This number falls to 160 – just over half of the 1940-79 number of 290 – if we exclude the deaths attributed to hurricane Katrina, the great majority of which were caused by a levee that breached a day after the storm passed.)
This decline in the absolute number of deaths caused by tornados, floods, and hurricanes is even more impressive considering that U.S. population more than doubled over these 70 years, from 132 million in 1940 to 308 million today.
Seems that McKibben’s apocalyptic prognostications about humanity’s future are as fact-based as are those of the Rev. Harold Camping.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (03:12 am)
The world will end in 2002, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022, 2026 or 2046, according to a series of expert observations:
There’s still hope for saving the planet from ourselves … 10 years left.
We can only have a few years left, maybe a decade, to change societal attitudes towards progress before we have “lit the fuse” for inevitable environmental catastrophe in later decades.
We may have as little as forty years left before global warming passes a tipping point.
Larry David says, “You know, Al is a funny guy, but he’s also a very serious guy who believes humans may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan.”
The world only has 10 years to develop and implement new technologies to generate clean electricity before climate change reaches a point of no return.
Scientists say eight years left to avoid worst effects
The scientific consensus is that we’ve got only ten years left to address global warming.
EU, US agree 15 years left to avert climate disaster.
We have only seven years left to peak global emissions before facing escalating dangers of runaway global warming.
The Stern Report said we’ve only got eight to eighteen years left to significantly reduce global emissions or risk costly and irreversible damage to the planet.
We have, at best, 100 left before a new, far more dangerous phase of global warming begins … With at best 90 months left on our clock.
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen.
Prince Charles flew to Chile yesterday with a dramatic message for world leaders on global warming: “You have just eight years to save the planet.”
The Climate Commission report says the world has at best 10 years to cut carbon emissions or it will face dangerous atmospheric warming and sea level rises.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (03:09 am)
They’re a bargain:
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (03:01 am)
Not only will Labor’s carbon dioxide tax save the planet, but it might also help poor folk buy appliances and show them how they work:
Australia’s poorest households would get help to buy new appliances and be coached to improve their energy efficiency under a plan to use carbon tax revenue to ease the pressure of skyrocketing electricity bills.
Imagine the pride felt by a trained Energy Efficiency Coach after returning from a fulfilling day telling the poor how to turn off DVD players and such.
A coalition of welfare, clean energy and business groups is lobbying the federal government to use a fraction of what is reaped each year under a carbon price – $100 million of what is expected to be about $10 billion – to help up to half a million low-income households.
As everybody knows, the best way to create low-income households is to reduce employment:
The Greens have demanded a ban on the development of any new coalmines and coal-seam gas facilities, hardening their rhetoric on climate change and highlighting the depth of their differences with Julia Gillard.
Greens deputy leader Christine Milne yesterday seized on a report by the government’s Climate Commission, which called for swift action to reduce carbon emissions, to declare Australia must stop investing in fossil fuel energy sources.
Keep talking, Christine. Let’s update the list of entities now opposed, to some degree or other, to the carbon tax: electricity supplier TRUenergy, construction firm Leighton Holdings, Sunbather Pool Technologies, the Master Builders Association, the Herald Sun, the Housing Industry Association, Clive Palmer, the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy, the Queensland Resources Council, Mt Isa mayor John Molony, Queensland Labor premier Anna Bligh (conditionally), Western Australian MP Tony Crook, cement maker Adelaide Brighton, power company Macquarie Generation, Ford factory workers, Kerry Stokes, Stephen Lowy, the Minerals Council of Australia, Western Australian energy supplier New Synergy, the citizens of Illawarra, Hafda’s Butchery, Labor senator Doug Cameron’s working people, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, dairy farmers, barley growers, insurance companies, local councils, state governments, CFOs, food and grocery producers, miners, union members, Gerry Harvey, G&S Engineering, Sam Gadaleta, BHP, Queensland Labor members, the Noosa Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Northern Territory parliament, Santos, the Australian Taxi Industry Association, Alumina Limited, an industrial group representing Amcor, Bluescope Steel, Boral, CSR, Sucrogen, Sugar Australia, Rheem, Vicpole and Dexion, Incitec, the Taxi Council of Queensland, the Australian Agricultural Company, the Australian Coal Association, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Federation of Automotive Product Manufacturers and Penrith’s Sun Masamune sake brewery.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (12:24 am)
ABC managing director Mark Scott’s latest email to staff:
When I arrived at the ABC almost five years ago, one of the first commitments I made was to make the ABC as environmentally responsible as possible. We took up the challenge to become a green at work leader in the community by developing ways to minimise waste, ensure efficient energy use, and provide cost savings to the ABC. I’m proud to say that much work has been done in these areas. We’ve reduced our emissions by over 21% since green auditing began at the ABC in 1997; reduced our total waste by over 8% in the last year; and reduced our air travel by 20% since 2008 …
Our target is to reduce ABC emissions by 40% by 2020 and by 60% by 2050. That means there remains an additional 18.8% in reductions to be made by 2020.
While the ABC has implemented changes to its organisational practices, using more efficient equipment, reducing demand on central plants and embracing energy efficient design principles, we all need to change our daily work habits to reach our target.
Today, to assist in our endeavour, I’m pleased to officially launch the new Green @ Work website. It details simple ways you can make a difference at work, monitors the ABC’s performance and offers a DIY guide for any Australian workplace seeking to go green.
In no way do we think meeting this target will be easy. In fact, our greatest challenge today is electricity consumption. With the launch of ABC3 and ABCNews24, our demand for electricity is on the rise and our electricity bill is forecast to increase in the current financial year. We need to source the most efficient and innovative technology possible. This means includes keeping on top of energy efficient alternatives that can be used for heating and cooling systems, television studio lighting and IT infrastructure.
I am interested to know what you think. What else can the ABC be doing? Hobart, Darwin, Morwell and Maroochydore, have managed to significantly reduce their electricity consumption in the last 12 months. What can we learn from them? We have started a discussion on yammer where you can have your say here
There is much to be proud of but plenty more work to do. I look forward to continuing to share news about the ABC’s Green @ work, developments.
Via elusive ABC insider the Ultimo Mole, who writes: “I can think of one way the ABC can reduce its pollution emission levels …”
UPDATE. In other media news, staff cuts at the SMH result in the paper forgetting how its favourite party spells its name:
Facts and evidence count for less than fear and self interest. Policy consistency doesn’t matter.Labour, which was resoundingly elected in 2007 when it vowed to tackle climate change, seems more anxious to appease the sceptics even as the evidence of warming mounts.
Actually, considering that editorial, they sound like they love the Greens more these days.
Tim Blair – Tuesday, May 24, 11 (11:35 am)
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (07:09 am)
WHY is the AFL showing Australia at its sanctimoniously stupid and divisive worst?
Take the team it’s sending to play an exhibition event at the African Games in Mozambique in September.
Every player must be Aboriginal, and this race-based team will play another from South Africa.
Consider how tin-eared that is.
South Africa also once fielded a national team - the Springboks - with every player from the one race.
We called that racist and evil, and rightly protested.
Now, after the fall of apartheid, we’re sending our own team with the same kind of racial restriction.
Only this time we call it affirmative and good.
True, the difference is indeed that the AFL wants to help black players, and not keep them down, as apartheid did.
But not only is sending a race-based team a foolish signal to send to a continent with still strong racial tension, it also sells Australia short.
Wouldn’t we give a much truer picture of this country - and a more inspiring message of human possibilities - if we sent a team not chosen by race, but utterly indifferent to it?
How much nobler it would be to send a team that included not only an Adam Goodes and a Liam Jurrah, but also a Nic Naitanui (of Fijian ancestry), Robin Nahas (Lebanese), Tadhg Kennelly (Irish), Brett Deledio (Italian) and a cornucopia of other ethnicities and faiths - Jack Riewoldt, Chris Judd, Nick Maxwell, Alan Didak, Todd Goldstein and Gary Ablett.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (07:07 am)
If he stayed even longer overseas, Julia Gillard would be delighted:
GLOBETROTTER Kevin Rudd has notched up a staggering 384,000km in overseas air travel since becoming Foreign Minister - the equivalent of flying to the moon.
The former prime minister confirmed his status as our leading frequent flyer by visiting 43 countries in an eight-month odyssey in which he has spent four days in every 10 overseas…
And despite being the only cabinet minister to drive a fuel-efficient Toyoto Prius, his global carbon footprint amounts to 58 tonnes - equivalent to driving 13 Holden Commodores for a year.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (06:56 am)
FACT is, even our Climate Commission on Monday ran out of global warming scares.
Joke is, not one of the players reading its latest report noticed.
Not one slapped their head, blushed and said: “Is this what we’ve panicked about? What fools we’ve been.”
And so it was Groundhog Day when the commission, chaired by Tim Flannery, handed Prime Minister Julia Gillard its update on the global warming catastrophe it’s paid to hype.
There was Gillard, declaring the debate was now over, and we should back her carbon dioxide tax.
There was Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, still pretending to believe we were threatened by warming, and he had the policies to stop it.
And there was the media . . .
Journalists are now so conditioned to greet every global warming report with horror that few seemed to consider what they were writing as they once more penned their “doom doom doom” stories.
And so we got headlines like this: “Sea-level fright as climate report goes public” and “Wipe-out: sea level could rise 1m by 2100”.
But wait. Is that the biggest scare the journalists can pick out of this report—seas rising just one metre? If the very worst happens?
A century from now? When we’ll be long dead?
But wait another sec. This prediction is not merely an anti-climax, but a lovely surprise. After all, didn’t the ABC’s top science presenter, Robyn Williams, once warn that the seas could rise by not one metre, but 100?
Here he is on his own Science Show in 2007, at the height of warming hysteria:
Andrew Bolt: I ask you, Robyn, 100m in the next century . . . do you really think that?
Robyn Williams: It is possible, yes.
And didn’t Climate Commissioner Flannery himself once warn of sea level rises so high that we should “picture an eight-storey building by a beach, then imagine waves lapping its roof”?
So we’re already gone down from 100m seas to just a metre, at worst, and most likely half that. I think we’ll cope.
The mystery now is why no journalist noticed the hot air leaking from the alarmist balloon, given that even the report’s author, Climate Commissioner Will Steffen, seemed to feel he had to apologise for not reporting worse.
“While a sea-level rise of 0.5 metres—less than the average waist height of an adult human—may not seem like a matter for much concern,” he admitted, “such modest levels of sea-level rise can lead to unexpectedly large increases in the frequency of extreme high sea-level events.”
Or maybe they won’t. Who knows?
Sorry if I sound flippant, but we’ve been fooled so often by alarmists peddling dud scares that we’d be mugs not to doubt them now.
Just read the Climate Commission’s own report for proof.
Remember how The Age editor told us in February: “There will be more cyclones, and more of them will be as big as Yasi”?
Actually, the report admits, there’s no evidence we’ll get more cyclones.
Indeed, “it is not yet possible to attribute any aspect of changes in cyclone behaviour (frequency, intensity, rainfall, etc.) to climate change”.
Remember Climate Change Minister Penny Wong swearing in 2009—before the rains returned—that “this severe, extended drought is clearly linked with global warming”? Remember Flannery claiming “even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems”?
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (06:55 am)
But there’s still two years of avoiding stuffing it up:
The Liberal leader says he has detected a “tectonic shift” in the electorate because decent working people were suspicious of Labor’s alliance with the Greens, horrified about losing control of the borders, and worried about the carbon tax.
But during a closed-door pep talk for MPs yesterday, he also warned “success can be fleeting and ephemeral”.
No wonder Abbott is confident:
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard’s vote in NSW has crashed to a record low, internal ALP polling shows…
Labor sources revealed the most recent internal ALP polling had its primary vote at 28 per cent - a ten point drop on the national vote since the election last August.
And in Victoria:
LABOR fears up to one in four of its Victorian members will not renew their memberships after last year’s devastating state election loss and disenchantment with the Gillard government…
About 4700 of state Labor’s 12,000 members have not renewed ahead of a deadline on Tuesday. Labor insiders are predicting less than half will make the effort.
ALP state secretary Noah Carroll told last weekend’s Victorian ALP conference that membership was at a record low.
(Thanks to readers CA and Brett.)
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (06:39 am)
I doubt this issue will have much traction in voter-land, but with Labor yesterday trying to gag debate in Parliament to save Wayne Swan, it does raise questions about the Treasurer’s truthfulness - and basic competence:
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says Western Australia will get less money for major projects and in GST payments following tax changes by the Barnett government.
The WA coalition government on Thursday announced it would increase the royalty rate for iron ore fines to 6.5 per cent as of July 1, 2012, then to 7.5 per cent the following year…
Under the minerals resources rent tax deal with the big mining companies, the Federal Government must credit them back with money they pay into state coffers, meaning the Gillard government could be short $2 billion under the new WA arrangement.
But the move apparently took the federal government by surprise, with Treasurer Wayne Swan telling ABC radio last week that WA Premier Colin Barnett “did not communicate that he was going to do this to us”.
“He didn’t communicate with us. He didn’t get our tick. He didn’t discuss it with us,” Mr Swan said a day after the state budget.
Last May, West Australian Under Treasurer Tim Marney wrote to then head of federal Treasury Ken Henry telling him of potential plans to lift mining royalties, which “would include the removal of existing iron ore royalty rate concessions, which would see both fine and lump iron ore royalty rates being levied at 7.5 per cent . . . by 1 July 2012”.
And that is what last week’s West Australian budget did.
The idea that just maybe Swan wasn’t told of this development last year can also be dispensed with, because a week after Marney’s letter, federal Treasury wrote to the federal Treasurer’s political office stating: “Western Australia indicated at a recent Commonwealth Grants Commission meeting (prior to the announcement of the Resource Super Profits Tax) it was considering increasing the royalty rate on iron ore fines from the current rate of 5.625 per cent, to the 7.5 per cent rate for lump ore.”
TREASURER Wayne Swan has conceded he was aware the West Australian government was considering raising mining royalties before it was announced in last week’s state budget.
But the advice was given to him 13 months ago, he told parliament on Tuesday… ``But he didn’t say he was moving that in that budget then or any subsequent budget,’’ Mr Swan told parliament…
Mr Hockey asked how the treasurer could reconcile his answer when his chief of staff was given notice of the royalty increase by the premier’s chief of staff last Wednesday.
That was two days before Mr Swan told ABC Radio he had not been warned of the decision.
``The only advice that my office received was that they would be in the budget,’’ Mr Swan said…
``We were not consulted ... we were not given anytime to consider it, we were not given anytime to respond.’’
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (06:28 am)
Greg Sheridan loses heart for the fight:
Here are two terrible metrics: there are now more Afghans fighting us than there were nine years ago; the situation in Pakistan, politically and in terms of its own domestic security, is much worse than it was nine years ago.
No matter what we do, we cannot win in Afghanistan while Pakistan helps the Pashtun-based Taliban in the south. We have known that for a long time. That the Pakistanis were so obviously sheltering Osama bin Laden is a sign of their continued deep investment in the Taliban and, by extension, in parts of al-Qa’ida.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (06:17 am)
If the alarmists can’t even agree on how long we have left to save ourselves…
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (06:00 am)
“The Greens have said very clearly: no new coalmines, no extension of existing coalmines; let’s invest in renewables - the technology exists,” Senator Milne said. She also attacked the emerging coal-seam gas industry as “a disaster for Australia”, despite it creating thousands of jobs.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson:
“Not only does the coal-seam methane export industry have a great potential for Australia over the next 10 to 20 years, but so has the coal sector, and I might say the iron ore sector,” he said. “That’s despite, I might say, when it comes to coal-seam methane, LNG and the coal industry, the best endeavours of the Greens to undermine and destroy that industry in Australia.”
They said Labor had lost seats in mining areas in last year’s federal election, such as the Queensland seats of Flynn and Dawson, and understood it wold not regain the seats if it shut down the industries that underpinned their local economies. “We want to do the right thing by the environment, but we’re not silly enough to put people out of work, particularly when they are our supporters,” said one Labor backbencher.
“Everything I am hearing from our leaders is that we want to put in place a process that will allow the market to drive the changes. So we are hardly going to tell people they can’t build new coalmines.” Another MP said it would be “political suicide” to embrace the Greens’ position.
“At some point, the Greens will have to moderate their demands,” the MP said. “I’m hoping they will be realistic enough to accept they can’t have everything.”
OK, so Labor agrees it wants to keep the coal mines, even though coal is responsible for much of the emissions it says are threatening the planet with doom.
A few questions, then: does Labor then accept that emissions will rise and rise, as our coal keeps getting burned - especially by China? If Labor wants coal mines to stay in businesses, why then threaten them with a carbon dioxide tax? If coal is our future, why invest so much money in far more expensive and unreliable forms of “renewable energy” - wind and solar?
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 25, 11 (05:53 am)
More media organisations are waking up to the Greens agenda and recognising growing public concern about the ramifications of a carbon tax, its feeble environmental benefits and its damaging economic costs.
They are finally catching up with the real Bob Brown, who has crafted a carefully modulated voice, aiming to ooze sensibility so that his agenda and method escape scrutiny. Any pretence of moral superiority is being rapidly exposed as just that. After Brown’s attack on the media, his director of media, Marion Rae, took a swipe on Twitter at members of the Canberra press gallery, described some newspapers as tools for soaking up cat urine and said of Uhlmann (who is married to an ALP MP): “Some are born great, some become great and others have talented wives, eh mate?”
As The Australian’s Caroline Overington noted, the tweets followed Brown’s plea for a more constructive, mature relationship between the Canberra press gallery and politicians. When Gillard formed a minority government on September 7 last year, she said: “Let’s draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in.” It has taken a while. But the sun is now shining on Brown. And the King of Canberra Hypocrisy is wilting.
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, May 24, 11 (01:34 pm)
Viv Forbes is a geologist, mineral economist and farmer - and a man worried by our future if the green alarmism isn’t stopped:
People seldom recognise major turning points when they occur. At the time they are just another routine event in a crowd of trivial news.
But I was shocked recently by what I believe is a major turning point in Australian industrial history.
Xstrata announced that smelting and refining of Mount Isa copper is to be phased out.
As a young graduate, decades ago, I watched in wonder as men in asbestos suits tapped the glowing copper furnace to release a test sample of molten metal for the metallurgist. I gazed at the huge ladles pouring the molten copper into the casting wheel to form the slabs of blister copper. I saw the heaps of the red metal piled up on the rail siding destined for Townsville. And, as I later walked through the refinery at Townsville, I marvelled at the science, engineering and practical skills under that roof. To see the continuous casting wheel turning molten metal into rod and wire was modern magic.
All of these assets, skills and machinery are about to be scrapped as Australia loses its competitive edge in value adding.
Does Minister Martin Ferguson understand that many of these jobs for technicians, engineers and skilled workmen in minerals processing and refining are under threat from the carbon tax? Does he honestly believe they can be replaced by green jobs such as oiling the gearboxes of wind turbines manufactured overseas by General Electric or washing the dust from solar panels manufactured in China? Can he explain how replacing low cost energy with high cost energy can benefit Australians? If the Minister understands these dangers and delusions, why is he not speaking up? Has he lost his wits or his courage?
And so Viv has written this essay about mining and our future.
(Thanks to reader Lu.)
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, May 24, 11 (01:31 pm)
A good sign for the Liberals, a bad for Malcolm Turnbull:
Former party leader Malcolm Turnbull, an outspoken advocate for a market-based approach to emissions reductions, and opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt attended today’s briefing for MPs in Canberra by the Climate Commission.
In contrast about 30 Labor MPs, including Julia Gillard and senior ministers Wayne Swan, Greg Combet, Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek attended the briefing, which follows the release of a commission report yesterday.
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, May 24, 11 (10:47 am)
Outside Harold Camping’s Alameda house at 6:01 p.m. on Sunday, very little (save a cloud of shame and regret) hung over the false prophet’s abode where he and his family waited for the rapture. Camping had used numerology and The Bible to make a proclamation that he and his Family Radio followers would be beamed to heaven at 6:00 p.m. on May 21.
The (Climate Commission) report said a sea-level rise of 0.5m (1.6ft) would lead to surprisingly large impacts, with the risk of extreme events such as inundations in coastal areas around Australia’s largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne hugely increased. What were once-in-a-century floods could start to take place annually, it warned.