Arquivo da tag: Austrália

An Heir to a Tribe’s Culture Ensures Its Language Is Not Forgotten (New York Times)

Mr. Grant estimates that thousands of students have read the books and taken courses on the language, first through informal workshops held in the nation’s capital, Canberra, from the early 1990s. In December 2015, at a branch of Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, students completed the first-ever course in Wiradjuri.

 To a great extent, Mr. Grant is carrying out a promise to his beloved grandfather, who singled him out as a youngster as his heir to Wiradjuri culture.

“My grandfather was a Wiradjuri elder,” he said, and was anxious to pass along the culture. “But he was arrested after he called to me in Wiradjuri to come home from the park. ‘Barray yanha, barray yanha,’ ‘Come quickly,’ he called out.”

Mr. Grant was probably 8 or 9 years old the night a local policeman heard his grandfather, Wilfred Johnson, and locked him up. But he does not recall a sense of alarm.

“He was an elegant man,” he said of Mr. Johnson. “He was beautifully dressed, usually in a coat and hat. But he was black. So it wasn’t the first time he had spent the night in jail.”

After the arrest, Mr. Johnson, who spoke seven languages, refused to speak Wiradjuri in public.

“He was a linguist with enormous respect for his own people and culture,” said Mr. Grant, who speaks three languages himself: Italian, which he picked up while working at the sawmill, as well as English and Wiradjuri. “But he told me, ‘Things are different now.’ He would only speak his language in the bush.”

It was during those expeditions into the backcountry that Mr. Grant learned Wiradjuri, as well as tracking and hunting skills. He knows that a echidna’s back feet turn inward, complicating tracking. He can describe how his grandfather made a lasso out of long grass to catch a stunned goanna, a type of lizard, for dinner, and he says a rope laid around a bush house will stop snakes from passing over the threshold.

Lloyd Dolan, a Wiradjuri lecturer who has worked with Mr. Grant, said elders took risks teaching Wiradjuri to their children. Mr. Dolan also learned Wiradjuri from his grandfather. His mother forbade him to speak it at home.

“There was a real fear that the children would be taken away if authorities heard kids speaking the language,” Mr. Dolan, 49, said from his office at Charles Sturt University. “The drive to assimilate Aboriginals into white society was systemic.”

Aboriginal people had no right to vote in elections before 1962, and they were counted as wildlife until a change to Australia’s Constitution in 1967.

Mr. Grant grew up in poverty, his family drifting from place to place: Redfern, a rough-and-tumble Sydney suburb; Griffith, a village 60 miles northwest of Narrandera, where he lives now, and Wagga Wagga, which is 62 miles southeast of that.

He recalls vividly moving from a “humpy,” a dirt-floored makeshift shack, consisting of just a few rooms, on the fringe of a country town, into a house with electricity. “It was the first time we had electricity at home, but it wasn’t on much because we had no money to pay for it,” he said with a laugh.

As a child, Mr. Grant said, he scorned his grandfather’s ways. He was embarrassed to be black. By the time he was 17, in 1957, his grandfather had died, and he had dropped out of school, left home and found a job on the railways.

Soon, he moved from a small town to Sydney, where he says he drank a lot, got a tattoo of a roughly drawn dagger and eventually found himself in jail.

“I cried and cried when that happened,” he said. “I had been drinking and probably brawling, and I didn’t want to be there.”

It was his wife, Betty, now 73, who helped turn his life around. After marrying in August 1962, they spent several weeks living out of a shell of a car on the Aboriginal Three Ways Mission on the fringe of Griffith, in central New South Wales.

Mr. Grant soon found a job at a sawmill, and although an accident mangled two fingers of his left hand, it was steady work. He and his wife started a family.

Around that time, Aboriginal activists began agitating for civil rights. In 1965, Charles Perkins, the first Aboriginal to attend the University of Sydney, led 35 student protesters on a Freedom Ride bus tour around outback country towns. They were pelted with gravel and harassed as they went from small town to small town, where they called for an end to segregated seating on buses and in theaters. They demanded equal service in shops and hotels, and they wanted Aboriginal children admitted to municipal swimming pools with white children.

Six years later, Neville Bonner, a leader from an Aboriginal rights organization, became the first Aboriginal to gain a seat in Australia’s Parliament, filling a Senate vacancy left by a Queenslander who had resigned.

With the help of these small civic changes, Mr. Grant, whose formal education ended at age 15, managed to navigate a way forward for himself and his family. He first found work in Canberra helping Aboriginal children who had skipped school.

Around the same time, there was a push to document Aboriginal culture and language, which was rarely written down. As one of the few who knew Wiradjuri language, he was approached about writing it down. That eventually led him to teaching his language and writing “A New Wiradjuri Dictionary,” published in 2005.

“I was told when you revive a lost language, you give it back to all mankind,” he said, sitting in his kitchen, not far from where the kingfishers darted across the Murrumbidgee.

“We were a nothing people for a long time. And it is a big movement now, learning Wiradjuri. I’ve done all that work. I’ve done all I can.”

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University offering free online course to demolish climate denial (The Guardian)

The University of Queensland’s course examines the science of climate science denial

David Attenborough signs his new book 'Life in the Air' at the Natural Hisory Museum in London.  Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in the University of Queensland MOOC.

David Attenborough signs his new book ‘Life in the Air’ at the Natural Hisory Museum in London. Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in Denial101x. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Sarah Lee

Starting 28 April, 2015, the University of Queensland is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial”.

 Denial101x summary.

The course coordinator is John Cook, University of Queensland Global Change Institute climate communication fellow, and founder of the climate science myth debunking website Skeptical ScienceCook’s research has primarily focused on the psychology of climate science denial. As he explains,

97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming; however, less than half of Australians are aware of humanity’s role in climate change, while half of the US Senate has voted that humans aren’t causing global warming. This free course explains why there is such a huge gap between the scientific community and the public. Our course looks at what’s driving climate science denial and the most common myths about climate change. 

The course includes climate science and myth debunking lectures by the international team of volunteer scientific contributors to Skeptical Science, including myself, and interviews with many of the world’s leading climate science and psychology experts. Making Sense of Climate Science Denial is a seven-week program featuring interviews with 75 scientific experts, including Sir David AttenboroughKatharine HayhoeRichard AlleyMichael Mann, and Naomi Oreskes.

The course incorporates lessons in both climate science and psychology to explain the most common climate myths and to detail how to respond to them. Research has shown that myth debunking is most effective when people understand why the myth originated in the first place. For example, cherry picking (focusing on a small bit of convenient data and ignoring the rest) is one of the most common fallacies behind climate science myths.

The lectures in the University of Queensland MOOC not only explain the science, but also the fallacies underpinning each myth. This is a unique and important feature to this course, because understanding their origins effectively acts to inoculate people against myths.

Thousands of students from more than 130 countries have already enrolled in Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. The goal is for the students to come out of the course with a stronger understanding of climate science, myth debunking, and the psychology of science denial that’s become so pervasive and dangerous in today’s world.

G20: Australia resists international call supporting climate change fund (The Guardian)

Exclusive: Europe and the US argue strongly that leaders should back the need for contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries prepare for climate change

theguardian.com, Friday 7 November 2014 00.51 GMT

tony abbottAustralia’s original position was that the G20 meeting should focus solely on economic issues. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Australia is resisting a last-ditch push by the US, France and other European countries for G20 leaders at next week’s meeting in Brisbane to back contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

The prime minister has previously rejected the fund as a “Bob Brown bank on an international scale” – referring to the former leader of the Australian Greens.

The Green Climate Fund aims to help poorer countries cut their emissions and prepare for the impact of climate change, and is seen as critical to securing developing-nation support for a successful deal on reducing emissions at the United Nations meeting in Paris next year.

The US and European Union nations are also lobbying for G20 leaders to promise that post-2020 greenhouse emission reduction targets will be unveiled early, to improve the chances of a deal in Paris, but Australia is also understood to be resisting this.

As reported by Guardian Australia, Australia has reluctantly conceded the final G20 communique should include climate change as a single paragraph, acknowledging that it should be addressed by UN processes. Australia’s original position was that the meeting should focus solely on “economic issues”.

The text that has so far made it through the G20’s closed-door, consensus-driven process is very general, and reads as follows:

“We support strong and effective action to address climate change, consistent with sustainable economic growth and certainty for business and investment. We reaffirm our resolve to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015.”

Australia had previously insisted the G20 should discuss climate-related issues only as part of its deliberations on energy efficiency, but the energy efficiency action plan to be agreed at the meeting, revealed by Guardian Australia, does not require G20 leaders to commit to any actual action.

Instead it asks them to “consider” making promises next year to reduce the energy used by smartphones and computers and to develop tougher standards for car emissions.

But as the negotiations on the G20 communique reach their final stages, European nations and the US continue to argue strongly that leaders should back the need for contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

More than $2.8bn has been pledged to the fund so far – including $1bn by France and almost $1bn by Germany. More pledges are expected at a special conference in Berlin on 20 November. The UK has said it will make a “strong” contribution at that meeting.

It is understood the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which leads Australia’s negotiating position, is considering whether Australia should make a pledge.

Asked about the fund before last year’s UN meeting, the prime minister said “we’re not going to be making any contributions to that”. It was reported that at one of its first cabinet meetings the Abbott government decided it would make no contributions to a fund that was described as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

The government also pointedly dissented from support for the fund in a communique from last November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting – a stance backed by Canada.

Abbott told the Australian newspaper at the time; “One thing the current government will never do is say one thing at home and a different thing abroad. We are committed to dismantling the Bob Brown bank [the Clean Energy Finance Corporation] at home so it would be impossible for us to support a Bob Brown bank on an international scale.”

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Playing whack-a-mole with Australian adviser’s climate change myths (The Guardian)

Maurice Newman, business adviser to Australia’s prime minister, pops up with a litany of climate change myths and misrepresentations

Maurice Newman, the climate science denying business advisor to Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.Maurice Newman, the climate science denying business adviser to Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

Reading opinion columns from Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s top business adviser Maurice Newman reminds me of those fairground whack-a-mole games.

You smash those cartoonish mammals over their fibreglass heads with a big rubber hammer as they emerge from little round holes, yet these little subterranean mammals never know they’re beat and just come up with the same grin somewhere else.

In this climate denialist version of whack-a-mole, the mammal is replaced with Newman’s upper torso clutching the latest truthy climate factoid he has plucked indiscriminately from the intertubes.

Just like at the fairground, when you whack-a-Maurice, he just keeps popping up with another myth.

The latest version of whack-a-Maurice comes in his new opinion column in The Australian newspaper, headlined “Inconvenient truths ignored by the climate propaganda machine”.

In the article, Newman attacks renewable energy, the IPCC, Australian Greens leader Christine Milne and climate science in general while telling us that coal is cheap and reliable and that we should put our self-interest in selling that coal above all else.

Newman misrepresents the latest IPCC study, misquotes experts, pushes debunked studies, claims the Scottish Government commissioned a report that it likely never actually commissioned and rounds off by putting his faith in an internet poll that was gamed by climate sceptics.

So join me for a game of Whack-a-Maurice®.

Whack time

In the article, Newman starts with three statements about energy prices and how renewable energy projects apparently “destroy jobs” and have been terribly bad news for places that have embraced progressive policies to encourage renewable energy.

Newman writes:

Clearly [Greens Leader Christine] Milne is unaware of the cost to California, Europe and Britain of their ultra green embrace.

The Golden State’s energy prices are 40 per cent above the US national average, plunging its manufacturing and agricultural regions into depression, with one in five living in poverty.

OK. While it’s true that Californians do have comparatively expensive electricity costs, they actually have among the lowest average electricity bills across the whole of the United States.

This appears due to a combination of the state’s mild climate and its aggressive energy efficiency scheme.

California does have a renewable energy target – recently expanded to push the state to get 33 per cent of its power from renewables by 2020.

The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in the US has studied the impact of renewable target schemes (known there as Renewable Portfolio Standards) in place across the US.

The 2007 Berkeley study (carried out before California upped its target) found these RPS schemes added an average of about 38c per month (about one quarter the cost of one take away coffee) to electricity bills. California’s scheme was among those having the lowest impact on bills.

In 2012, Californian’s had an electricity bill of about $87 per month.

Apparently, in Newman’s razor sharp climate policy mind, it is imposts like a 38c per month rise in electricity prices that is “plunging” the state’s agriculture industry into depression, rather than, say, one of California’s worst droughts in living memory.

El whack

So now to Spain. Newman writes:

Researchers at Spain’s King Juan Carlos University have found renewable energy programs destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green one created.

Newman is referring to a report titled: “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources” that was published in 2009 and written by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez.

Alvarez is an associate professor at King Juan Carlos University, but Newman doesn’t mention that the study was actually co-commissioned by the “libertarian” think tank The Instituto Juan de Maria that Alvarez founded.

Alvarez has also presented at a Heartland Institute climate conference for “sceptics” and his institute has been a sponsor of one of those conferences.

Who were the other commissioning group?

This was the Institute for Energy Research, a US-based thinktank with strong links to the US Koch brothers, whose foundations have given about $175,000 to the think tank and funnelled millions into anti-climate action projects at similar think tanks. The IER recently claimed Alvarez’s study as its own.

But was the study any good?

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratorytook a studied look at it and, to put it mildly, tore the thing to bits. Here’s some of the choice parts of their critique

The analysis by the authors from King Juan Carlos University represents a significant divergence from traditional methodologies used to estimate employment impacts from renewable energy. In fact, the methodology does not reflect an employment impact analysis. Accordingly, the primary conclusion made by the authors – policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses – is not supported by their work …

Additionally, this analysis has oversimplifications and assumptions that lead to questions regarding its quantitative results. Finally, the authors fail to justify their implication that because of the jobs comparison, subsidies for renewables are not worthwhile. This ignores an array of benefits besides employment creation that flow from government investment in renewable energy technologies.

The Alvarez study came in for similar harsh criticism in Spain, as noted here on a blog from the US Natural Resources Defense Council.

Scots whack

And so now to whack-a-Maurice in Scotland. Newman writes:

A study by Verso Economics commissioned by the Scottish government concluded that for every job in the wind industry, 3.7 jobs were lost elsewhere.

Verso Economics? Commissioned by the Scottish government? Sounds impressive.

Indeed, when the report was published in March 2011, it was given extensive coverage in Scotland. And what did the Scottish government make of the study? A BBC report tells us the government’s view.

This report is misleading.

Does it seem odd that the Scottish government should condemn it’s own report?

Perhaps one reason is that there appears to be no evidence that the Scottish government actually commissioned the report that Maurice Newman says it commissioned (I have asked the author, an economist called Richard Marsh, for clarification, but the report itself makes no mention of a commission from the Government and, when Marsh gave evidence to a Scottish parliamentary committee the following year in relation to the report, he didn’t mention a government commission then either).

Verso Economics appears to have been a very small firm with only two employees, Marsh being one of them. This doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong, but it is curious that Newman would choose to use the name of a tiny consultancy once based in Kirkaldy that no loner exists (Marsh is now at another firm).

Where’s the next mole?

Whacking scientists

Newman has a crack at former Australian chief scientist Penny Sackett who, according to Newman, had said in 2009 we had only five years to avoid “dangerous global warming”.

Plainly if you read Sackett’s words from 2009, she was talking about a time frame to start radically reducing emissions to prevent “dangerous global warming” down the track and not, as Newman implies, a time by which we should all be frying in our own juices.

Equally, Newman brings up the bête noire of all Australian climate science denialists, Tim Flannery. Newman writes:

When climate commissioner Tim Flannery said that “even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems”, it was sobering, but soon we were donating to flood victims and -suspected he’d dreamt it up to scare us.

Again, Newman ignores the fact that Flannery was not talking about the present, but referring to a time decades into the future if emissions remained on their current path.

Whack. Next mole?

Whacking the IPCC

Newman claims that “temperatures have gone nowhere for 18 years” while ignoring that in those 18 years the world has experienced the hottest decade on record. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000.

If Newman thinks warming has stopped, why is it that between 2002 and 2011, the two main ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland were melting at a rate of about 362 billion tonnes of ice a year – an almost six-fold increase in the rate for the previous decade?

Newman keeps popping up like our proverbial mole with a litany of myths.

He says the recent IPCC Synthesis Report “fails to mention” that the extent of Antarctic sea ice is the highest since records began.

The reason it fails to mention this, is that the record was broken well after the underlying reports were finished.

But yet, the Synthesis Report does mention the increase in Antarctic sea ice extent (read my post What’s going on with global warming and Antarctica’s growing sea ice? for more on this).

Next.

Bleak whacking

Newman writes:

In painting the bleakest picture they can, IPCC authors have projected CO2 levels reaching 1000 parts per million in 2100, largely through coal combustion…

Newman wants us to think that the IPCC authors are a bunch of doom merchants, and so ignores the fact that the IPCC report makes a range of projections for the future concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As well as the admittedly “bleak” scenario of CO2 levels reaching 1000 parts per million in the atmosphere by the end of this century (delivering something like 4C of global warming), the report also projects CO2 levels at 720ppm, 580ppm, 530ppm and 480ppm.

Newman would have struggled to have missed this, given they all appear on the same chart.

We could go on an on whacking Maurice Newman’s climate denialist moles, and his column has several others, but at some point we have to stop.

Sciencey internet polls

But not before we dwell on Newman’s closing argument that 91 per cent of people think the IPCC is wrong that we’re heading for 4C of global warming.

I think you’ll agree that Newman’s source for this is beyond reproach. It’s one of those really sciencey internet polls carried out by the ABC.

So sciencey was the survey, that climate science denialist groups from Australia to the US were telling supporters to visit the poll.

This is when we have to remind ourselves that Maurice Newman is the chairman of prime minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, handpicked by Abbott himself.

As Maurice Newman himself concluded, “Enough said”.

New CSIRO head wants to make water divining easier for farmers (Melbourne Skeptics)

By Ben Finney |

The incoming leader of our top scientific research organisation is promoting water-dowsing to Australian farmers.

The CSIRO has a new leader, Dr. Larry Marshall, who will take the reins in 2014-12.

Currently the managing director of the California-based Southern Cross Venture Partners, an outfit specialising in creating and growing Australian technology companies, Dr Marshall holds a doctorate in physics from Macquarie University. He has 20 patents to his name and has co-founded six companies.

The 52-year-old, who admits he hasn’t applied for a job in 25 years, suspects it was this combination of science and business that got him the CSIRO’s top job following a competitive global search.

“I started as a scientist, became an entrepreneur and learnt a lot about business the hard way,” he said.

[…]
Innovation Minister Ian Macfarlane, whose portfolio takes in science, welcomed Dr Marshall’s appointment.

Highlighting his commercial background, Mr Macfarlane said Dr Marshall’s arrival came at a time when the agency was embarking on a “significant new phase” in which the CSIRO would play an increasingly important role in the economy. This included strengthening links between business and science, he said.

The leader of CSIRO is chiefly welcomed by Australia’s Innovation Minister? What about our Science Minister? Oh that’s right, Australia’s current government has scrapped the ministry for science. Instead, our Prime Minister has appointed himself the head of a Science Council, with no minister responsible for science — and CSIRO left to the mercies of the “industry” portfolio.

So our federal government’s appointed head of CSIRO, Larry Marshall, himself seems to place much more emphasis on what is financially profitable than what is scientifically sound. He’s not been working as a scientist for a very long time; the past 25 years was spent as a venture capitalist.

And now, on the basis that charlatans can fool him, he wants to use his new position as head of CSIRO to fund research for water dowsing.

He’d like to see the development of technology that would make it easier for farmers to dowse or divine for water on their properties.

“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80 per cent accuracy and I’ve no idea how they do it,” he said.

“When I see that as a scientist, it makes me question, ‘is there instrumentality that we could create that would enable a machine to find that water?’

“I’ve always wondered whether there’s something in the electromagentic field, or gravitation anomaly.”

Dr Marshall believes the CSIRO can ‘push the envelope’ with such projects and contribute to improving agricultural productivity.

Really? Shouldn’t we reserve funding for technologies whose claimed phenomenon can pass a simple blinded controlled objective study, rather than assuming Larry Marshall has seen it and he can’t be fooled? (The Victorian Skeptics has a guide to dowsing among other educational materials.)

In an age when all of climate science shows that we are in for, among other catastrophic results, devastating drought unless we act now to reverse our damaging activities, Australia’s leading government science body will spend its precious attention on pseudoscience and fakery.

We are under the rule of one of the worst governments in Australian history, in terms of the scientific soundness of policy.

These Two World Leaders Are Laughing While the Planet Burns Up (New Republic)

OCTOBER 21, 2014

Meet earth’s worst climate villains

By

Canada once had a shot at being the world’s leader on climate change. Back in 2002, our northern neighbors had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first treaty that required nations to cut their emissions or face penalties. In 2005, the country hosted an international climate change conference in Montreal, where then-Prime Minister Paul Martin singled out America for its indifference. “To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say this: There is such a thing as a global conscience,” Martin said.

Australia, too, was briefly a success story. The government ratified Kyoto in 2007 and delivered on promises to pass a tax on carbon by 2011. The prime minister that year, Julia Gillard, noted her administration’s priorities to set “Australia on the path to a high-skill, low-carbon future or [leave] our economy to decay into a rusting, industrial museum.”

Today, the two countries are outliers againfor all the wrong reasons.

According to a 2014 Climate Change Performance Index from European groups Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, Canada and Australia occupy the bottom two spots among all 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Among the 20 countries with the largest economies (G20), only Saudi Arabia ranked lower than them. Canada and Australia’s records on climate change have gotten so bad, they’ve become the go-to examples for Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who don’t think climate change exists.

How did these two nations go from leading the fight against climate change to denying that it even exists?

On the way to his first trip in the U.S., Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stopped for a full day of talks with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June. The Sydney Morning Heraldreported that Abbott was in Canada’s capital with the intention of building a “conservative alliance among ‘like-minded’ countries” to try to dismantle global efforts on climate change. At a press conference that day, Harper applauded Abbott’s efforts to gut Australia’s carbon tax. “You’ve used this international platform to encourage our counterparts in the major economies and beyond to boost economic growth, to lower taxes when possible and to eliminate harmful ones, most notably the job-killing carbon tax,” Harper said. He added that “we shouldn’t clobber the economy” by pursuing an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax.

This is how Canada and Australia’s top leaders frame global warming. The two stress that they will always choose short-term economic gain first, disregarding scientific findings and even the interests of their political allies in the process.The countries’ abrupt shift on climate track conservatives’ rise to a majority in Canada in 2011 and in Australia last year.

In just a few years, conservatives have delivered blow after blow to the nations’ environmental progress. Canada withdrew from Kyoto in 2011 to avoid paying expensive penalties for failing to meet its promise to cut carbon 6 percent over 1990 levels (Canada’s emissions had risen by nearly 30 percent). Harper offered a less ambitious target instead, one that mirrored the U.S.’s commitment cut 17 percent of carbon pollution by 2020. But Canada will miss that target by a long shot, according to environmental groups who point to the aggressive development of the Alberta tar sands oil and expired clean energy subsidies. The commissioner of the Department of Environment and Sustainable Development noted in a recent report that Canada “does not have answers” to most of its environmental concerns. Australia, meanwhile, had the world’s highest emissions per capita in 2012topping even America’s. The government’s mediocre ambition of cutting emissions 5 percent by 2020 won’t happen either: It projects emissions to grow 2 percent a year, according to Inside Climate News.

The hostility toward environmental interests goes even deeper than energy policy. Harper has battled his own scientists, independent journalists, and environmental groups at odds with his views.

Climate scientists have reported that they are unable to speak to press about their own findings, feeling effectively “muzzled” by agencies that want to script talking points for them. In June, a government spokesperson explained that federal meteorologists must speak only “to their area of expertise,” which does not include climate change, according to a government spokesperson. Journalists sometimes face bullying, too. Environmental author Andrew Nikiforuk told ThinkProgress that “a government of thugs” slandered him and shut him out of events. But environmentalists may fare the worst. Seven environmental nonprofits in Canada have accused the Canada Revenue Agency of unfairly targeting them for audits. According to internal documents obtained by The GuardianCanada’s police and Security Intelligence Service identified nonviolent environmental protestslike people who oppose hydrofracking and the Keystone XL tar sands pipelineas “forms of attack” fitting the “number of cases where we think people might be inclined to acts of terrorism.”

Australia, for its part, has downplayed scientific findings. Abbott, along with his Environment Minister Greg Hunt, have rejected any link between extreme weather and global warming. Abbott, who once called the science of climate change “absolute crap,” said last year that UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres was “talking out of her hat” when saying that rising temperatures were driving more intense and frequent brushfires. “Climate change is real as I have often said and we should take strong action against it but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change,” he argued. Hunt defended his boss, citing Wikipedia as his proof. “I looked up what Wikipedia says for example, just to see what the rest of the world thought, and it opens up with the fact that bushfires in Australia are frequently occurring events during the hotter months of the year. Large areas of land are ravaged every year by bushfires. That’s the Australian experience.” He could have referred to his Department of Environment’s website instead, had it not earlier removed explicit references connecting climate change, heatwaves, and fires.

As the host of the G20 this November, Australia is in an awkward position. Australians have staged protests, while the U.S. and European leaders have pressured Abbott to put climate change on the agenda. He has refused. There’s no room for climate, he says, because the summit is about “economic security” and “the importance of private sector-led growth.”

What’s even more baffling about the rise of climate denial in both countries is that it’s apparently not the popular view in either country. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Australians and Canadians say climate change is a major threatas opposed to 40 percent of Americans who say the same.

Of course, the U.S. has reversed itself recently, too. President Barack Obama is making climate change a second-term priority, and has taken steps to cap carbon pollution from power plants. Such initiatives have put the U.S. on track to meet its pledge in Copenhagen in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. At the same time, China, which faces internal pressure over air pollution, is looking a lot more serious about slowing down pollution; it will begin a national cap-and-trade program in 2016. Even India is redoubling efforts on clean energy, to meet the power needs of its growing population. Half the world plans to put a price on carbon.

It’s true that neither Canada nor Australia has much responsibility for the amount of heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. The United States, China, and India make up a combined 49 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2013. Canada and Australia, by comparison, emit 3.5 percent of total carbon emissions combined. But the critical requirement for an international climate change agreementwhich negotiatiors will try to hammer out in Paris next yearis that every country big and small make a commitment to greenhouse gas targets. Fortunately, the negligence of two smaller, industrialized countries won’t be the fatal blow to negotiations in Paris. Still, by ducking their own responsibility, Australia and Canada are ignoring their “global conscience”to borrow a former prime minister’s words.

A decade ago, our close allies due north and across the Pacific rightly shamed us on our poor response to climate change. Now, they’ve lost the moral high ground. At the September United Nations Climate Summit, the largest gathering of world leaders yet on the issue, both Abbott and Harper were no-shows. The ministers sent in their place also arrived empty-handed; Australia’s foreign minister suggested that only larger countries should be responsible for more ambitious climate action. Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq repeated an already-public commitment that Canada would copy Obama’s fuel economy regulations requiring 35.5 miles per gallon. Afterward, in an interview with the Globe and Mail, Aglukkaq spoke of the unfairness of a global treaty. “It’s not up to one country to solve the global greenhouse-gas emissions. I mean, seriously now, it’s just not fair. We all have to do our part, big or small countries.”

That’s true. If only her small country would do its part, too.

Climate detectives reveal handprint of human caused climate change in Australia (Science Daily)

Date: September 29, 2014

Source: University of New South Wales

Summary: Australia’s hottest year on record in 2013 along with the accompanying droughts, heat waves and record-breaking seasons of that year was virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused global warming, scientists say.

The impacts of man-made climate change were felt in Australia during its hottest year on record in 2013. Credit: UNSW, P3, Helena Brusic.

Australia’s hottest year on record in 2013 along with the accompanying droughts, heat waves and record-breaking seasons of that year was virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused global warming.

New research from ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (ARCCSS) researchers and colleagues, over five different Australian papers in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), has highlighted the powerful influence of global warming on Australia’s climate.

“We often talk about the fingerprint of human-caused climate change when we look at extreme weather patterns,” said Prof David Karoly, an ARCCSS researcher with the University of Melbourne.

“This research across four different papers goes well beyond that. If we were climate detectives then Australia’s hottest year on record in 2013 wasn’t just a smudged fingerprint at the scene of the crime, it was a clear and unequivocal handprint showing the impact of human caused global warming.”

In 2013, heat records fell like dominoes. Australia had its hottest day on record, its hottest month on record, its hottest summer on record, its hottest spring on record and then rounded it off with the hottest year on record.

According to the research papers presented in BAMS, the impact of climate change significantly increased the chances of record heat events in 2013. Looking back over the observational record the researchers found global warming over Australia (see attached graphic): doubled the chance of the most intense heat waves, tripled the likelihood of heatwave events, made extreme summer temperature across Australia five time more likely increased the chance of hot dry drought-like conditions seven times made hot spring temperatures across Australia 30 times more likely.

But perhaps most importantly, it showed the record hot year of 2013 across Australia was virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused global warming. At its most conservative, the science showed the heat of 2013 was made 2000 times more likely by global warming.

“When it comes to what helped cause our hottest year on record, human-caused climate change is no longer a prime suspect, it is the guilty party,” said ARCCSS Australian National University researcher Dr Sophie Lewis.

“Too often we talk about climate change impacts as if they are far in the future. This research shows they are here, now.”

The extreme year of 2013 is just the latest peak in a trend over the observational record that has seen increasing bushfire days, the record-breaking warming of oceans around Australia, the movement of tropical species into temperate zones and the shifting of rain bearing storm tracks further south and away from some of our most important agricultural zones.

“The most striking aspect of the extreme heat of 2013 and its impacts is that this is only at the very beginning of the time when we are expected to experience the first impacts of human-caused climate change,” said Dr Sarah Perkins an ARCCSS researcher with the University of New South Wales.

“If we continue to put carbon into our atmosphere at the currently accelerating rate, years like 2013 will quickly be considered normal and the impacts of future extremes will be well beyond anything modern society has experienced.”

Sem chuva, vale até reciclar esgoto (Página 22)

14 JULHO 2014

Na capital do oeste australiano, nem só de dessalinização vive a gestão da água. No lugar onde a seca é realidade há décadas, a reciclagem tornou-se essencial

Por Flavia Pardini na Página 22

A seca no Sudeste brasileiro pegou muita gente de calça curta no país da enxurrada. Mas no continente mais seco do mundo, a noção de que é preciso gerir a água para o futuro é realidade há décadas.

Na cidade australiana de Perth – onde a vazão para os reservatórios caiu pela metade desde os anos 1970 –, o pilar de longo prazo da política hídrica é a dessalinização, que responde por metade do consumo de 1,8 milhão de habitantes. O outro grande esforço em marcha é o de reciclar.

Um programa de tratamento de “águas residuais” – que vão pelo ralo após o uso em chuveiros, pias e máquinas de lavar – e sua reintrodução no aquífero recebeu luz verde em 2013. No início de março passado, a Water Corporation, empresa que abastece Perth, informou que 3,5 bilhões de litros de água altamente tratada e purificada foram reinjetados nos aquíferos mais profundos da região, onde ficará estocada para uso futuro. O plano é reciclar e reinjetar 7 bilhões de litros por ano, com possibilidade de expansão para 28 bilhões de litros.

O processo envolve ultrafiltragem, osmose reversa e exposição a raios ultravioleta. A reinjeção é necessária para que a população, que prefere um processo “natural” de filtragem, aceite beber água que já foi usada e descartada.

Um porta-voz da Water Corporation informou que a expectativa é de que 1 litro de água reciclada custe “um pouco menos” do que 1 litro de água dessalinizada. Ambientalistas aguerridos contestam as boas intenções da empresa – segundo eles, seria mais barato tornar obrigatório que novas residências captem água da chuva e disponham de seu próprio sistema de reciclagem.

A reciclagem, segundo a Water Corp, tem potencial para responder por até 20% do consumo de Perth em 2060.

Fonte: Página 22.

Aboriginal Hunting Practice Increases Animal Populations (Science Daily)

Oct. 24, 2013 — In Australia’s Western Desert, Aboriginal hunters use a unique method that actually increases populations of the animals they hunt, according to a study co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute-affiliated researchers Rebecca and Doug Bird. Rebecca Bird is an associate professor of anthropology, and Doug Bird is a senior research scientist.

Aboriginal hunters looking for monitor lizards as fires burn nearby. (Credit: Rebecca Bird)

The study, published today inProceedings of the Royal Society B, offers new insights into maintaining animal communities through ecosystem engineering and co-evolution of animals and humans. It finds that populations of monitor lizards nearly double in areas where they are heavily hunted. The hunting method — using fire to clear patches of land to improve the search for game — also creates a mosaic of regrowth that enhances habitat. Where there are no hunters, lightning fires spread over vast distances, landscapes are more homogenous and monitor lizards are more rare.

“Our results show that humans can have positive impacts on other species without the need for policies of conservation and resource management,” Rebecca Bird said. “In the case of indigenous communities, the everyday practice of subsistence might be just as effective at maintaining biodiversity as the activities of other organisms.”

Martu, the aboriginal community the Birds and their colleagues have worked with for many years, refer to their relationship with the ecosystem around them as part of “jukurr” or dreaming. This ritual, practical philosophy and body of knowledge instructs the way Martu interact with the desert environment, from hunting practices to cosmological and social organization. At its core is the concept that land must be used if life is to continue. Therefore, Martu believe the absence of hunting, not its presence, causes species to decline.

While jukurr has often been interpreted as belonging to the realm of the sacred and irrational, it appears to actually be consistent with scientific understanding, according to the study. The findings suggest that the decline in aboriginal hunting and burning in the mid-20th century, due to the persecution of aboriginal people and the loss of traditional economies, may have contributed to the extinction of many desert species that had come to depend on such practices.

The findings add to a growing appreciation of the complex role that humans play in the function of ecosystems worldwide. In environments where people have been embedded in ecosystems for millennia, including areas of the U.S., tribal burning was extensive in many types of habitat. Many Native Americans in California, for instance, believe that policies of fire suppression and the exclusion of their traditional burning practices have contributed to the current crisis in biodiversity and native species decline, particularly in the health of oak woodland communities. Incorporating indigenous knowledge and practices into contemporary land management could become important in efforts to conserve and restore healthy ecosystems and landscapes.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Journal Reference:

  1. R. B. Bird, N. Tayor, B. F. Codding, D. W. Bird. Niche construction and Dreaming logic: aboriginal patch mosaic burning and varanid lizards (Varanus gouldii) in AustraliaProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1772): 20132297 DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.2297