Hands down Liberal voters…

June 30th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Climate scientist Will Steffen has found a solution to opinion polls that don’t go his way, I write in The Australian this morning.

Canberrans are going off the idea of building an $800 tram to nowhere; support for the project has fallen from 55 per cent to 39 per cent in less than a year. Steffen and Babara Norman smelled a rat.

How could anyone fail to see the benefit of investing the best part of a billion bucks in a 12km light rail line from Civic to Gungahlin, wherever Gungahlin might be?

Why would Canberrans not wave their hats at the prospect of travelling down Northbourne Avenue at a thrilling 30km an hour, a speed only marginally slower than George Stephenson’s Rocket?

Steffen and co-author Barbara Norman spotted the outlier.

“Only 15.8 per cent of intending Liberal voters support light rail,” Steffen and Norman wrote in The Canberra Times last Thursday, “while for all other groups (Labor, Greens, Others and Undecided) support for light rail varied between 42 per cent and 63.5 per cent.

“That anomalously low level of support among Liberal voters immediately caught our attention and prompted us to reanalyse the poll results.”

The “strong skew” of Liberal-leaning respondents, claimed Steffen, “can easily generate a misleading impression of what the poll numbers are actually showing”. Steffen and Norman’s solution was to remove 446 Liberal voters from the result.

The result of this “reanalysis”, claim the authors, is that 51.9 per cent support light rail, 3.2 per cent oppose and 14.9 per cent are undecid­ed.

There is no explanation of what became of the other 30 per cent but clearly they don’t count.

Write Steffen and Norman: “For the more than two-thirds of Canberrans who are not intending to vote for the Liberals, there is very strong support for light rail, a nearly 20 per cent lead over those who oppose it.”

So that’s settled, then. Everyone agrees a tram to nowhere underwritten by the taxpayers in the most car-friendly capital in the country is a wonderful idea. Everyone, that is, except those dolts who vote Liberal who don’t really count.

FULL COLUMN HERE

SLOW TRAM TO NOWHERE

Pope’s miserable gospel leaves out the Enlightenment

June 23rd, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So if we’re turning the planet into a wretched, poisonous place, as the Papal Encyclical on the environment claims, how come we’re living so much longer? 

Pope Francis doesn’t factor in the importance of the Enlightenment. When humankind shook off superstition and rely on human reason, science and technology took off. The result: healthier, happier and extended lives:

Enlightenment - life expectancy

 

In The Australian today I ask why the Pope appears to be so anxious about scientific, technological, industrial and economic progress. Far from eating away at the planet, they are the very things that allowed the human race to prosper. And they make possible the social progress we long for.

FULL COLUMN

Pope Francis the hand-wringer

June 22nd, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Pope has succumbed to catastrophism in his latest encyclical, I write in The Australian tomorrow. Here’s Eric Lobbecke’s brilliant illustration:

Screenshot 2015-06-22 22.26.44

 

 

Unsettled science of climate change

June 17th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The IPCC is a serial embellisher. It never passes by a chance to inflate, embroider or lay it on thick, I write in a piece for Spectator Australia this week (20 June).

Screenshot 2015-06-17 21.42.08Former IPCC chairman Robert Watson acknowledged after the failure of the Copenhagen summit that “the mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact.”

As Jo Nova points out, the models also fail on regional, local, short term, polar, and upper tropospheric scales. They fail on humidity, rainfall, drought, they fail on clouds and fail to take account of the hot spot. The so- called feedback loops are not intensifying the effects of CO2 as the computer models forecast.

READ FULL STORY HERE

Canberra’s latest green elephant

June 16th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Screenshot 2015-06-16 05.21.47The ACT light rail scheme has failure written all over it, I write in The Australian today. The trams will travel at an average speed of 30km/h — somewhat slower than George Stephenson’s Rocket at the 1829 Rainhill trials.

The journey from Gungahlin to Civic will take 25 minutes, the same time as the bus. The business case released last year predicts the tram will yield $5.5m in fares in its first year of operation, which appears to be about a third of its projected operating and maintenance costs. Add to that the construction and financing costs bundled into a 20-year-contract, and the ACT government will be up for $80m to $100m a year, a subsidy per journey of more than $17…

Rational arguments are all but useless, however, against la-la economics designed to buttress a sentimental longing for a city of low-carbon regularity and simplicity.

The tram’s proponents refuse to accept that buses are better suited to Canberra’s circumstances. They hate the fact that 92 per cent of Canberrans get to work on their own steam and see the Territory’s high rate of vehicle ownership — 1.8 cars for every household — not as a virtue but a vice.

FULL COLUMN HERE

Not-so-merry England: part two

June 12th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“I find Matthew England’s response to Nick Cater’s article misleading,” writes Chris Schoneveld from Kewarra Beach, Queensland, in The Australian‘s letters page today. 

Schoneveld takes issue with England’s claim that the Antarctic land ice is melting rapidly.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 9.32.56 am“Changes in the ice mass in Antarctica are measured using satellite gravimetry and altimetry and they do not show an alarming decrease. On the contrary, ice mass in central Antarctica is remarkably stable and there is ice gain in the east and south. Ice loss is measured mainly along the west near the Amundsen Sea and the cause of this regional phenomenon is  yet to be explained.
“A geothermal source of heat has been suggested and/or the warming of the circumpolar deep current melt- ing the ice shelf from below. The mechanisms involved are complex, but global warming of the atmos- phere is not necessarily the culprit as it would give rise to a more uniform change in ice mass. A However, the steady increase in sea ice over the past 30 years, which Cater alluded to, is not consistent with the hypothesis of man-made global warming.”
Indeed. Putting aside the complex scientific arguments England et al need to explain one thing. Why are their computer modelled climate predictions are so badly out of kilter with observed changes?

Not-so-merry England: part one

June 10th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

After comparing the IPCC to FIFA in Tuesday’s column in The Australian I half expected to see a letter in Wednesday’s paper from Sepp Blatter protesting at the outrageous slur.

Instead the criticism came from Matthew England who, on behalf of his associates at UNSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, claimed I had launched “yet another unwarranted attack on me and my fellow scientists.”

Geoff Derrick sent me this reply:

Professor England’s criticism (Australian 10 June) of Nick Cater’s excellent column about the IPCC (Australian 9 June) is unfounded. Both Antarctic land and sea ice extents are at seasonal record levels, and any melting taking place is totally inconsequential.  Some melt water is recorded from the West Antarctic glaciers because of a zone of high heat flow in the earth’s crust in this area, related to volcanism. It has nothing to do with greenhouse gases, but everything to do with the global alarmist campaign of manufacturing misleading and erroneous headline-grabbing articles which have no basis in scientific fact, simply to promote the climate meeting in Paris later this year. The good professor also accuses Mr Cater of muddling sea ice with land ice, but we should also recall that Professor England comes from the same institution that gave us the so-called ‘Ship of Fools’ of Christmas 2013, which sailed into the Antarctic to demonstrate dangerous melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet, only to be promptly and embarrassingly stuck in thick sea ice for many days.

I’ll be posting a further riposte shortly.

 

 

 

IPCC is to science what FIFA is to soccer

June 9th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

 

The IPCC is to science what FIFA is to soccer: bloated, unaccountable and out of touch, I write in The Australian today.

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke, The Australian

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke, The Australian

The hockey-stick graph adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a totem in 2001 has been abandoned; the IPCC’s claim that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 has been declared a mistake; global temperatures have levelled over the past 15 years, a hiatus the IPCC did not predict and cannot explain. Yet the catastrophism will not abate.

No one expects experts to be perfect, but as Robert Watson — a former IPCC chairman — has pointed out, the errors follow a pattern. “The mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact,” he said after the failure of the Copenhagen conference. “That is worrying.”

Its reluctance to address the warming pause is “symptomatic of a failure of leadership”. says author Rupert Darwall. “The IPCC is unreformable and the Fifth Assessment Report should be the IPCC’s last.”

THE SCIENCE TOO BIG TO FAIL

Citizens of another planet

June 2nd, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The nation-state is an unfashionable concept among the bien pensants who prefer to think of themselves as citizens of the world, I write in The Australian today.

World Citizen: Kevin Rudd from the Facebook page Kevin Rudd: The People's Prime Minister

World Citizen: Kevin Rudd from the Facebook page Kevin Rudd: The People’s Prime Minister

That is how Kevin Rudd describes himself, according to posts on the hagiographic Facebook page Kevin Rudd: The People’s Prime Minister.

“Australia’s 26th Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was a crowd favourite at Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day,” an anonymous post reports.

“Brilliant speaker,” posts Susie Clarke, “and how the people love him! Kevin Rudd is a Global person, not like Australia’s shameful, moronic, foot-and-mouth diseased Tony Abbott!”

There is more than a hint of cultural cringe, a behavioural pattern in estranged Australian intellectuals first noted by Arthur Angel Phillips almost 60 years ago.

“There is a certain type of Australian intellectual who is forever sidling up to the cultivated ­Englishman, insinuating ‘I, of course, am not like these other crude Australians’,” Phillips wrote.

Phillips could never have foreseen where the denaturalisation of the sophisticated classes would lead once the concept of universal human rights took hold.

Until the start of the 1970s, rights and responsibilities were inextricably linked with the state.

Martin Luther King marched to Washington, not Geneva, to demand the state honour its commitment to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He urged aggrieved African Americans to take responsibility to become better citizens by living diligent and sober lives.

The corruption of the sovereign unalienable rights for which King fought into the universal rights in vogue today is more recent than may be imagined.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights contemplated that it might sometimes be necessary to usurp the state but only as a last resort to overcome tyranny and ­oppression.

In 2015, however, the dethronement of the state is an everyday occurrence at home and abroad. Rights are imagined to be absolute, decoupled from the individual’s relationship with the state.

Gillian Triggs, our immodest Human Rights Commissioner, treats sovereignty as an inconvenient legacy from less-enlightened times.

She demands the commonwealth pay millions of dollars in compensation to unlawful non-citizens who have turned up uninvited and have yet to contribute a cent to the common good.

FULL COLUMN

Billionaires – and why we need more of them

May 30th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

We have 46 billionaires in Australia, according to the BRW rich list, which if you follow the questionable logic of Andrew Leigh’s book Billionaires and Battlers is probably a very bad thing.

On Seven Weekend Sunrise this morning, I argued that far from despising billionaires we should be thanking them for creating the wealth which drives Australia forward.

Billionaires: Master architects of great wealth and lasting legacies, a UBS/PWC report published last week, says we have entered

“a second ‘Gilded Age’, comparable to the first ‘Gilded Age’ at the beginning of the 20th Century. The majority of the world’s billionaires have made their wealth in the past 20 years, when they created more than US$3.3 trillion.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 11.29.08 amHere are ten reasons why Australia’s growing list of billionaires is a sign of a good society:

1. The overwhelming majority are self-made billionaires, rather than inheritors of multi-general wealth. It is evidence of social and economic mobility.

2. Four out of the top ten are migrants. Two more are sons of migrants. This is an open society with “wealth for toil.”

3. Australian billionaires – by and large – do not have tickets on themselves. Which is just as well because, as D H Lawerence said, in Australia “there is a all the difference in the world between feeling better than your fellow man and merely feeling better-off.”

4. They are generous philanthropists who collectively contribute hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the common good, over and above what they pay in taxes.

5. The digital economy means anyone with a computer can start a business. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar started the software company Atlassian in their early 20s and were billionaires by 34.

6. They create jobs and wealth for the country.

7. We enjoy a better, more comfortable built environment thanks to the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of property and retail developers.

8. Billionaires are innovators and the benefits of innovation are shared.

9. Individual success provides inspiration for all.

And finally…

10. Our richest billionaire is a woman.