Iran & US Sanctions Policy, Climate in 2017

Iranian’s Judiciary Head Sanctioned

It appears that the protests in Iran have virtually ceased following deaths and many arrests by the Revolutionary Guard. However,  according to a Reuters report Supreme Leader Khamenei still felt it necessary to make a public statement that “citizens had a right to air legitimate concerns, a rare concession by a leader who usually voices clear support for security crackdowns.These concerns must be addressed. We must listen, we must hear. We must provide answers within our means”, Mr Khamenei was quoted as saying, hinting that not only the government of Rouhani, but his own clerical leadership must also respond”. “I’m not saying that they must follow up. I am also responsible. All ofus must follow up” (see Khamenie Statement 10 Jan).

That this is a similar statement to that made earlier by the elected President Rouhani might mean some form of agreement at the top to moderate governance in Iran.

It is interesting that the head of Israeli’s Mossad, Yossi Cohen, saw it appropriate to respond to Khamenie’s remarks and his accusation that the disruption in Iran is partly caused by Israel. Cohen argues that it is mainly due to a failed economic policy and adds that he “would be happy to see a meaningful revolution”.

Needless to say, if a revolution succeeded in establishing some form of democracy and ridded the existing dominant role of Islamic extremism, it could have major welcome effects in the Middle East.

Following Khameni’s remarks, Trump has announced that the US would “certify” the nuclear deal made between Iran and the US/Six European countries under Obama (a regular certification is required so as to provide an opportunity for the US/Six to check that Iran has in fact stopped the development of nuclear weapons). However, Trump qualified his certification by saying he was giving Europe and the US “a last chance” to fix “terrible flaws” in the agreement. At the same time, the US announced new sanctions, including on Iran’s head of judiciary on the ground that he was responsible for the deaths and arrests of protesters. A separate report states that the new sanctions extend to  14 Iranian officials and companies and businessmen from Iran, China and Malaysia, freezing any assets they have in the U.S. and banning Americans from doing business with them.

The Iranian foreign ministry responded by describing the sanction against the judiciary head as ” hostile action” and as having “crossed all red lines of conduct in the international community and is a violation of international law and will surely be answered by a serious reaction of the Islamic Republic.” It accused Trump of “continuing to take hostile measures against the Iranian people and repeating the threats that have failed many times” (see Iran Nuclear Deal Certified Again But Sanctions Imposed Against Judiciary Head).

As previously commented, the Turnbull government has expressed no sympathy for the Iranian protesters seeking the removal of the dictatorship run by extremist Islamists and has offered no support for the policy adopted by our US ally, let alone for the many Iranians who have left their country.  Under Trump, the US has taken a close interest in developments Iran and it is in Australia’s interests to do so too.

Climate and Energy Policies

In my Commentary last Friday I drew attention to serious questions about the basis of Australia’s carbon reduction policies and to the misleading report on Australian climate in 2017 by the BOM, whose representative (but not head) included an unjustifiable prediction that “the odds [now] favour warmer-than-average temperatures more often than in the past”. I included Richard Morgan’s advertisement in the Herald Sun titled The Next Ice Age, which points out that “model failures demonstrate the underlying theory and assumptions used are not supported by the results”.

As to incidents in global climate in 2017, the CEO of London’s  Global Warming Foundation, Benny Peiser, and respected climate analyst Matt Ridley, had an article published in the Wall St Journal pointing out that, while “the past year was filled with bad weather news”, “it has become routine for the media, politicians and activists to link “ such bad local news with climate change. However, they rightly say that “by looking at the world as a whole, and at long-term trends (climate) rather than at short-term events (weather), we can better test the claims that 2017 was an unusual weather year and that weather is getting more extreme as the world warms”. Their thesis is that “Bad Weather Is No Reason for Climate Alarm” and they say that although “on average the globe suffers some 325 catastrophic natural disasters a year, last year (through November) they were down to around 250 and “a third fewer people were killed by climate-related hazards” (see Peiser & Ridley Assess Climate in 2017).

Peiser &Ridley also quote other aspects relevant to an authoritative assessment of climate developments taking account of 2017 incidents:

  • While temperatures have risen since 1990 at between 0.121 and 0.198 degrees Celsius per decade, that is at a third to two-thirds of the rate projected by the IPCC.
  • Globally the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index—which measures the combined intensity and duration of these storms—is currently running 20% below its long-term average. In fact, the index for 2017 was less than half of normal cyclone activity for the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Although more than 9,000 wildfires burned some 1.4 million acres across California,  the number of wildfires in California has actually been declining for 40 years. The global area burned by wildfires has also declined in recent decades.
  • As for drought, a comprehensive database published in 2014 in the journal Nature found that the proportion of the world suffering from abnormally low rainfall has slightly declined since the 1980s.
  • The number of major floods in natural rivers across Europe and North America has not increased in 80 years. Globally, too, floods have decreased in recent years.

Hence, while short-term weather fluctuations and extreme events rightly catch the headlines,P&R correctly say “they don’t capture the reality of the planet’s climate. Over the past several decades, the world has been getting slowly warmer, slightly wetter and less icy. It has also been no stormier, no more flood-prone and a touch less drought-prone. And sea level continues to creep slowly upward”. In short, 2017 provided no indication that we are threatened by dangerous warming.

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