Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tofurkey of the Week # 8

Yay for Tofurkeys, the award for those found acting like a total turkey, albeit sustainably.

This week the Daily Suppository was put in a difficult position, on the basis that the Tofurkey really should go out to anyone who switched off their lights for Earth Hour. In the end, since it was problematic to award this virtual mock-fowl to so many, and technically that would have meant awarding it to North Korea, we went with the environmental group Rising Tide instead.

The protest group Rising Tide are a bit concerned about Australia's coal mining industry. Even though Australia's coal reserves make us energy secure for at least the next 150 years, essentially float our economy and make China vewy vewy happy to call us mates, they don't like it. No, sir, not one bit. So they decided they were going to put a stop to all this carbon nefariousness by attempting to block coal-transport freighters entering Newcastle harbour, with....wait for it....kayaks.

No news on how successfull they were at stopping several hundred feet of dry-bulk carrier with one of those itty-bitty yellow plastic paddles. Ouch.

Not surprisingly:
Newcastle Port Corporation says the six hour protest did not interrupt ship movements, with several ships loaded during the day.

But Rising Tide spokeswoman Naomi Hodgson insists the protest did have an impact.

"Usually the shipping movements are publicly available online and the only time they ever take it down is when we're holding one of these protests and sure enough five days ago they took the schedule down," she said. Source here.

I'm sure the Newcastle Ship-Spotter's Club will rethink their carbon footprint immediately.

So many double entendres, so little time...

Just stopping by to tell y'all about some amusing green-on-green action thats set to get any hippy Mac-whores out there (you know who you are) all riled up. Which is fun for everyone involved.

Greenpeace has just put their birkenstock-clad foot into the side of the new i-pad touch, claiming that whilst they look schweet, they are causing climate change. Oh, dearie me, where's the app for that?

Naturally, this has annoyed several of Greenpeace's erstwhile supporters, who have quickly moved to defend the gadgets, claiming that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages (which interestingly, isn't seen to be a good enough reason not to cripple our economies in the name of carbon reduction):
"If Greenpeace really wants to get up in people's grill about something that needs to change, it should start with their cars," says Steffen, a self-described Greenpeace supporter. He also argues mobile devices like the iPad can ultimately save energy by allowing people to work and shop from home.
Jonathan Hiskes of Grist, another eco-minded blog, agrees. He writes: "These technologies bring far more promise than peril for engineering sustainable societies."

Quoted from this source.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reefgate update

I recently blogged about an unfolding drama that is (naturally) being referred to as Reefgate, involving academic malfeasance and misrepresentation by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, particularly in reference to a recently published study that appeared in the well known scientific journal PNAS.

The marine scientist at the centre of exposing this mess. Walter Starck, has written to PNAS with his concerns. A full copy of his letter has been reproduced over at OmniClimate, with the author's permission.

Read it here. This is going to get interesting, so stay tuned.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Don't be a joiner

The University of Tasmania is recruiting for a new study they are conducting into the health effects of climate change on chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Reasons you should be concerned:

* What they are actually researching is the health effects of "extreme temperatures". That means the effect of extreme temperatures on you, the sick volunteer. Whats wierd is that global warming isn't expected to make Tasmania have extremes of temperatures. If anything it would make it nicer there. Why aren't they researching the health effects of a sub-tropical holiday on people with chronic health then?

* Their hypothesis is that the health of chronically ill people will suffer from subjecting them to extremes of temperature. (Once again, let me point out they mean you.)

* Somehow, presumably, this got ethical approval.


There is a story brewing here in Australia that is rather major. Its a big deal, and the Australian population at-large, let alone the world, doesn't seem to realise what is happening. Many people would be aware of the Great Barrier Reef, and most have a nebulous, erroneous idea that it needs to be "saved".

Marine scientist Walter Starck has just outlined some of the mismanagement issues of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), as well as an emerging issue of gross academic misconduct, and has published these over at Quadrant Online. Rather than copying and pasting the story from Quadrant, I would recommend people go there and read the whole thing, which is available in pdf.

In a very simple nutshell: GBRMPA has just been outed for some major academic malfeasance, which they had perpetrated in the hopes of turning the entire Coral Sea off of the north eastern coast of Australia into a Marine Protected Area (which they would then get to "manage" - leading to a massive increase in the size, power and funding of their organisation.) They are acting in concert with NGO's such as the Pew Trust which is slinging around major funding dollars behind the scenes. Given GBRMPA's and the Pew trust's track record, this can only be a bad thing.

There is a huge backstory to all of this that is desperately at odds with much of the public's (generally wrongful) perception of the reef,which I will try and outline in upcoming posts.

Suffice it to say this story has everything:

* Beaurocratic bungling.
* Misrepresentation of research.
* Failure to declare major conflicts of interest.
* A major US scientific journal.
* Huge and poorly concealed hidden agendas.
* Destruction of people's livelihoods and an entire, almost extinct fishing industry.
* Collusion between politicians and NGO's such as the Pew Trust (aka "The Face of Evil"). (Which is so poorly concealed its scary. When you look at the story on Quadrant, cast your eye to the google ads on the page - a frequent one to appear based on the key words in the article is one inviting you to sign a petition to make 100% of the Coral Sea a reserve. If you go to the site, it is maintained by a bunch of conservation societies, including the Pew Trust. Which is such a perfect illustration of their presence in all of this.)

Edit: After pointing out the google ads from the Pew Trust over at Quadrant, it appears they have disabled them on that page. Update me if you find something different!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yeh, what he said.

I have noticed that my posts tend to be preaching to the choir these days. I figure I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, Im writing to my skeptic buddies who are on the same page as I am. So for this reason I dont often bother refuting issues scientifically or otherwise fleshing out issues that seem pretty much self-apparent to me.
I missed the testimony of Princeton Physicist William Happer to the US senate at the time it was made (February last year), but watching it now, I just want to say that damn, its good:

Not least because it garnered a fairly hysterical reaction from some people at the time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mirth Hour

Im having a crap week and am mourning some close family members. This makes me quite cranky, and its bound to show somewhere. Like this blog. Believe it or not, my regular posts actually represent a restrained version of what I am actually thinking, with much less swearing. In everyday life I swear like a sailor with tourettes, just ask my children. I know this is terribly uncouth (unless you're turned on by pretty young women using the words "c*nt" "m*therf*cker" and "c*cksucker" as the second word in every sentence. I don't know, there may be some of you.) So please, I will try and reign back the worst of it, but every now and again I may need to unleash the cranky. You have been warned.

I really, REALLY dislike frickin' earth hour. (That doesn't count as swearing). The whole idea stinks. Not only is switching your lights off for an hour completely pointless and tokenistic, it encourages hippies to feel good about themselves, which should be avoided at all costs. Smug bastards. (OK. That was technically swearing, but its better than the word I was thinking.)

So in honour of Earth Hour, I plan to do a little bit of celebrating, Daily Suppository style, join me if you wish:

* Tyres. Burn them. I plan on having a backyard luau around a merry bonfire of Bob Jane All-Rounders. If I pull this one off right, you should be able to see my own little private ecological disaster from space. Call Red Adair and pass the matches, 'cause Mamma's making a barbeque tonight.

* Don't tell Mr. Paua, but I know all about his little private incandescent light bulb stash that he bought in a panic after the government planned to bring in those toxic mercury bombs that flicker in a visible range of hertz. Old school lightbulbs are just the ticket for building my very own redneck chandelier:

This puppy makes my electricity meter spin faster than an ecologically friendly front-load washing machine on a spin cycle.
Optional extras include a safety switch (if you're of a nervous disposition. Pussy. Whats a little house fire if it helps the cause?) Or red bulbs and a prominent position in a window facing the street, for that authentic "late night in the Reeperbahn" feel.

* If these little festive options don't appeal, you could always drive to your closest airport in an SUV and fly to an exotic destination very, very far away from where you live. (Or next door, just be sure to fly there the long way around.) Make sure when you get there you take a long hot bath and wrap everything you purchase in double layers of plastic bags, just to be safe. Then make sure you call some friends who are sitting in front of their Mac tweeting by candle-light, and tell them all about it. I recommend India and China, as this way you can support their carbon emitting economies by spending your money there and irritate annoying hippy friends with your profligate air travel and cool ethnic purchases.

* Or better yet, maximize your carbon output and take a holiday on a cruise ship, making sure to leave the lights on in keeping with conventional maritime law.

In your face, Al Gore!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Counting the carbon cost of cancer

Doctors in the United Kingdom have once again exceeded my expectations on wierd climate alarmism by agreeing that they need to cut the carbon cost of cancer treatment, and make cancer treatment more "environmentally sustainable".

Which is just odd.

At a recent summit, a group of doctors representing key organisations in the field agreed to:

• developing a carbon reduction strategy,
• signing up to the 10:10 climate change campaign, and
• supporting the research, dialogue and action necessary to create environmentally sustainable cancer services.

Whats a bit of a worry is that "treating" cancer isn't envrionmentally sustainable at all, if you want to make cancer therapy environmentally sustainable, then it probably makes more sense to not treat it.

Its not a real stretch to get to this point, once they build more "sustainable" buildings to give treatment in, they really have nowhere else to go with this campaign to cut the carbon footprint of cancer care, other than reducing services.

The other option is to reduce cancer rates so there is less to treat, unfortunately, this group has thought of that already:
“High-carbon lifestyles are a cause of cancer and chronic disease and, indeed, many preventative measures for cancer encourage low-carbon lifestyles. Moreover, lower carbon cancer care can, in itself, contribute to prevention,” Frances Mortimer, medical director of the Campaign for Greener Healthcare, said.

FYI, a "high-carbon lifestyle" is the one you are enjoying now. The one with cars, mains electricity, pop-tarts, steak and out-of-season produce shipped in from afar. The "low-carbon lifestyle" they are talking about is the one that many of the recent immigrants to your developed nation of residence can tell you all about. They probably wouldn't recommend it on an ongoing basis, though.

You say potato...

Clearly the days of having some young media lacky check for continuity are finished. Over at the Daily Telegraph, in their dedicated climate change news section (which Im having a bit of trouble even believing they have) they are running two stories side by side.
One story is about how marine biologists are desperately trumpeting that waters are warming on the east coast of Australia, with predictably catastrophic predictions ensuing. (did y'see what I did there?)
The other is an article about how the 3km open water swim at the World Master's Games was cancelled in Sydney because the water was too cold.

Tofurkey of the week # 7

I think we are up to our seventh Tofurkey award now, I'll double check later. The latest environmentally sensitive turkey(s) to garner the kudos of our favourite faux-poultry plinth, is a bunch of Australian Greenpeace protestors. Cunningly dressed as ninjas to conceal their identity (beware of future arse-whoopings from the real shadow-warriors when they find out about this), the protestors scaled the Sydney Opera House to unfurl a banner that said something unimaginative about, yawn, climate change.

In the process they managed to create a safety hazard to the public, drain untold amounts of taxpayer funding in the form of police time, helicopters etc, and risk the lives of actual police men and women who had to work out how to get them down.

The Tofurkey is thusly handed out on the following basis:

* They got arrested for trespass. (Yay!)
* The accoutrements of a ninja warrior should not EVER be co-opted by any outfit as lame as Greenpeace.
* The police who had to respond to this were dragged away from actual real police work, and were rightfully pissed about it. Somewhere a granny got rolled for her pension money, a junky stole a car stereo and some twit smashed my car window even though a 12 year old could pick the lock with a coat-hanger and I dont even have a stereo, and its all Greenpeace's fault.
* This protest has been done to death. I mean, cliched, much. (In 2003 protestors painted "No War" on the opera house in red house paint and had to pay compensation for "willfully marking a building without consent".)
* Their protest slogan and cause de jour was lamer than the organisation they represent. "Stop the politics climate treaty now"?! Awww. C'mon. Really?! You climbed the opera house for that?
* And finally, they used the same slogan in december last year, and got arrested that time, too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fat people: apparently not just annoying on 'planes...

According to an excessive amount of Australian doctors, fat people are at fault for climate change. Or climate change is causing obesity. No. Wait, obesity and climate change are both caused by rampant consumerism funded by the tobacco lobby. No, thats not right....hang on, I'll get it in a minute....

Oh! Rampant consumerism is causing climate change and obesity and we are all going to die horribly and climate skeptics are acting just like tobacco companies to obstruct anyone trying to fix it. Thats it!

Over 300 Australian doctors published (another) open letter (which you probably can't read because its not open in the sense that you don't have to pay to see it) in the Medical Journal of Australia, explaining the above position. According to the climate doctor in-crowd:
“We are now seeing the emergence of health risks caused by excesses in market driven consumerism (including the consumption of energy dense processed foods), energy subsidised exertion-free living, an over-arching pre-occupation with gross domestic product and ... population growth."

According to a Herald Sun Article (which you actually can read):
“As health professionals, we urge Australian politicians (and the public) to recognise the overlap in the underlying cause of two great health threats that our population now faces,'' the experts wrote.
''... the rise of obesity and its life-threatening disease consequences and the great threats to health from global climate change.

I also particularly like that they didn't hold back from not-so-subtly lumping climate skeptics in with tobacco companies, which they described as an example of:
“the well financed, doubt-fostering opposition of vested interests'"

There they go with that "well financed" crap again. Or maybe Im doing this skeptic thing wrong, and I really needed to go to tobacco giant Philip Morris for funding (after all, what could be more Australian than Philip Morris? They own Kraft, which owns Vegemite.)

The many and varied authors of the abysmal piece of catastrophising excresence that parodies an open missive, also didn't hold back from blaming impending, hypothetical climate woe on a growing population. Clearly they don't read my blog, or they'd know that our actual birth rate is below replacement value, and the only reason our population is increasing is immigration. Sure, its something to bear in mind, but lets face it, Australia hasn't exactly thrown open the gates Corey-style and said "house party, and you're all invited".

What I would like to know, is where in the rolling, bucolic hills of their imaginations did this group representative of one of the highest earning professions in the country, not see the blatent hypocrisy of a political stance that smacks of socialism? Seriously, some of these people have stethoscopes that are worth more than my car (I'm not kidding, although mind you, some people have electric tea kettles that are worth more than my car). Especially considering that its actually POOR people in this country who are more likely to be obese. (If you don't believe me, I invite you to conduct your own literature review. Or alternatively you could go to your local McDonalds.)

I realise that I have strayed far into unexplored victriolic territory today, but I am on the wrong end of too many early mornings, sick kids, cranky husbands and chlorhexidine hand-rub, and it was a given that the next person(s) who messed with me were gonna get torn a new one. Much to an entire teaching hospital's continued relief, it turned out to be a bunch of histrionic, hypocritical alarmist doctors that irked me first, and in a virtual sense.

Sadly, I know some of the people who put their name to this, and all I can do is shake my head in a rueful, slightly sad kind of way, and say: "Y'all are gonna be REAL embarassed about this some day, and the internet (and a certain under paid and overworked blogger) never forgets..."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tofurkey of the Week # 6

Ahh, the Tofurkey. The Daily Suppository's award for all those found acting like a total turkey in an environmentally sensitive manner. This award has become somewhat of a fixture around here, athough everyone has been very kind to not point out that it hasn't been as weekly as the name would indicate.

Regardless, I have found another candidate for the award, and this week it goes out to the wife of fellow Tofurkey alumni, Pete Bethune.

Pete Bethune, erstwhile "Captain" of the doomed Ady Gil Trimaran and all 'round danger to the public, has just landed in Japan, where all his, um...tofurkeys, have come home to roost in the form of an arrest for tresspass. This charge is for his ill-advised boarding of the whaler Shonan Maru II, and may attract a sentence of up to three years or a hefty fine. Pete can console himself with the fact that it could have been worse, he could have been charged with piracy.

Sharyn Bethune, Pete's wife, has earned herself a tofurkey for expressing "shock" at his arrest.

Sharyn was quoted as saying:
“You can't just shrug it off. It's a long way for his kids to go and see him - a Japanese jail.”

Which came as a bit of a shock to me, too, as I assumed given the way Pete has been gallivanting around the southern ocean throwing butyric acid missiles around and generally having a, forgive me, whale of a time, that he mustn't have any kids.

Blind Freddy could have seen this arrest coming, so the Tofurkey is also awarded on the basis that people with dependent children should not knowingly put themselves in such a compromising situation and then plead for sympathy when the inevitable happens.

The New Zealand foreign minister has also stated that he is not going to intervene on Pete's behalf, and is happy to leave him to the tender mercies of the Japanese judicial system. Which, as mentioned previously, has a track record of a 98% + conviction rate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Xena, princess stupid

Just caught an interview with Lucy Lawless, best known for her role as "Xena, Princess Warrior", and was intrigued by this bit:
Q: After Climategate and other reports questioning climate change science, many people worldwide are still skeptical about global warming. What would you say to disbelievers to get them to change their minds?
A: I think the people running climate change denial campaigns are sociopaths. They don't want you to get off the grid in any sense because then you'd be autonomous and they couldn't make you buy their poison.

The stupid, its hurting me. FYI Lucy, I don't own a utility company and Im not peddling poison. Im just a discerning, skeptical individual.
And just so you know, you sucked in Battlestar Galactica. There, I've said it.

NB: The link in the original interview (from Mother Nature Network of all places) actually really did link to Big ups to the lads over there!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Harvard medical, how could you?

Medical students in Australia would like to have you believe that there are a few medical schools that somehow have some additional kudos. There are a few "Sandstone" universities, such as the University of Melbourne, University of Sydney etc. that are as close to venerable as you get in this young country. Generally I find this rather laughable, "After all", I would say "its not like its Harvard or anything."
Even here in Australia, Harvard has a mystique. Oooh, Harvard, the best and the brightest, the pinnacle of medicine.

Then I recieved a flyer advertising a series of speaking engagements here in Australia by one Harvard Medical faculty member, Aaron Bernstein MD, who is speaking about the health effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. He seemed familiar somehow, then I realised he had annoyed me before. I had previously encountered the work of Dr. Bernstein, who is a paediatrician, when he was recommending that we tell the parents of sick children that they need to reduce their carbon footprint. Given my time-poor lifestyle at the moment, it turned out that I had missed the deeper significance of his work and his status in the climate change alarmism sphere. That was remiss of me, so allow me to address it now.

Bernstein is speaking at a few engagements in Australia, including the upcoming "Healthy Parks, Healthy People" congress in Melbourne, where he keynotes with other famous faces such as Tim Flannery (who clearly wasn't embarassed enough by chairing the Copenhagen Climate Council to go away on sabbatical indefinitely, as we had hoped).

Turns out Dr. Bernstein is a best selling co-author of 'Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity', which earned praise from Al The Gore-acle himself. In Dr. Bernstein's words "...we are living at a time of rapid depletion of biodiversity, one of the most extreme in Earth's history." Which is interesting, because I always thought that the biggest mass extinction we know about in Earth's history was the Permian-Triassic extinction 250 million years ago, where 90% of life went bosoms up. Closely followed by the end-Cretaceous extinction where around 85% of all species died (bye bye T Rex).

Anyway, Bernstein is also the course director of the Harvard medical program Human Health and Global Environmental Change, which "...examines the human health consequences of global environmental change, with an emphasis on climate change and biodiversity loss". And here was me thinking I had to learn a whole bunch of useless stuff in my public health class.

Apparently its OK to turn out cohorts of medical students who can't confidently auscultate a heart murmur or perform a pap smear, but who have been tutored extensively in fisheries management by such "luminaries" as Carl Safina from the Blue Ocean Institute. Just in case you were confused by the words "fisheries management", Carl Safina doesn't really want fisheries "managed", he would prefer that they were stopped altogether and locked up in Marine Protected Areas. To prove this, I discovered that he is also a fellow of the Pew Environmental Group, who are well known for eradicating coastal economies and fishermen's livelihoods and now want to lock-up Australia's virtually un-utilised fisheries (see Jenifer Marohassy's article on the topic here)

If that wasn't enough to make you dubious about Carl Safina, perhaps I should also note that he wrote a new Forward to Rachel "Silent Spring" Carson's book The Sea Around Us. The Blue Ocean Institue is also responsible for FishPhone, which is apparently a "sustainable seafood text messaging service", and they also run a novel program combatting the effects of climate change called the Friendship Collaborative, which "brings together scientists and evangelical Christian leaders in face-to-face conversations about climate change and our collective moral responsibility to care for creation." No news yet on how thats working out for them or creation.

In any case, why are medical students sitting through a series of lectures in topics such as this? Do they honestly have that much time on their hands over at Harvard that they cant think of something else they should probably be doing instead? Like seeing patients?