On the subject of...

Global Politics

2
Mar
2017

Energy Policy & Global Warming

Yesterday I had a “coup”, with The Australian publishing a letter by me and giving it the heading “Bad Energy Policy” (see below). This relates to my comment in the letter that “Voters would have to choose between two bad policies, with the Labor Party offering results twice as bad”. Although the Editor deleted some bits from my original draft (as shown by the bits in square brackets), he has retained the reference to the letter sent by 300 scientists to Trump on global climate. Several scientists from Australia are signatories, including myself ( I have a BSc Econ Hons from the LSE and economics is a justifiable inclusion here). The language used in Lindzen’s letter and included in my letter below is particularly interesting in that it asserts that government actions to reduce emissions of CO2 produce no environmental benefit and in fact cause serioussocial and economic harm. This can be taken as the view of deniers rather than sceptics. Note also that the lead author, Dr Richard Lindzen, is a highly regarded atmospheric physicist who has deeply researched this subject and has communicated with me on it (to put me on the right track!).
27
Feb
2017

Turnbull Must Go

Today’s Newspoll shows that, despite Turnbull’s very recent decision to start attacking Shorten more aggressively, the Coalition’s polling has dropped a further percentage point (to 45/55 on a TPP) and Turnbull’s personal polling has dropped sharply to 29/59 satisfied compared with 33/54 last time. This has occurred after Shorten was not only unable to state the estimated cost of Labor’s 50% target for renewable energy but also announced that he would try to reverse the decision by Fair Work Australia to slightly reduce penalty rates even though he had previously supported a review when he was minister under Labor! With Labor on the back foot, the Coalition’s polling ought to have improved.
5
Feb
2017

Trump Already Having an Effect on Attitudes & Policies

Trump’s Executive Orders and Twitter announcements continue day by day and it is pertinent to consider their effectiveness and possible implications so far: Job Approval ratings in US polling show a slightly higher net rate of disapproval of Trump, on average - 48.3 to 46, with more disapprovals than approvals (see attached on Polling on Trump Job Approval). But the protests shown on our TV, and the imbalance in the news, clearly exaggerate the opposition to Trump. It is probably little different to the election, albeit more aggressive. Even “our ABC” felt it had to mention support for Trump in last night’s TV news. Despite Trump’s critical remarks about NATO, the meeting of European leaders in Malta on Feb 3 seems to have produced mixed views about Trump (see EU on Trump). The British PM (the only one to have met Trump as President) told them that the US under Trump would still cooperate on defence. The French PM, whose approval polling in France was in single figures the last time I looked, attacked Trump’s support of Brexit (but in front of May). It appears that the meeting was mainly concerned with helping Libya stop emigrants to Europe across the Meditarranean and improving controls on entry of refugees. However, the current President of the EU (actually of the Council), Tusk, thought the US is a threat to the EU!
2
Feb
2017

Turnbull, Shorten & Trump

Turnbull’s address to the National Press Club was supposed to set out his policy agenda for 2017. Perhaps the first thing to note is that his text made no mention at all of the election of Trump as the new President of the US and the possible need for Australia to change some of its policies as the result of the major changes being implemented by Trump. This was surprising if only because of the importance of the US as a world power and our alliance with this country. But also because Trump appears to be reversing many of the major policies pursued by Obama, some of which have implications for Australia’s.
26
Jan
2017

Turnbull & Trump

As we get closer to the resumption of Parliament on Tuesday 7 Feb, many have increasingly wondered what issues the Turnbull government will prioritise in the New Year and how it will react to the new Trump government in the US. In today’s Herald Sun (see below), Terry McCrann suggests that Turnbull has offered few indications of the policies he intends to pursue actively and gives the impression that he is ill prepared to handle the new policies which Trump has indicated he intends to pursue in the US. This confirms, McCrann says, what he said back last April when he wrote that “Turnbull was a complete dud”. Perhaps Turnbull will make his position clearer in his promised major address on February 1.
22
Jan
2017

Renewable Energy; Hiatus Continues; Islamism under Obama and Brennan

My previous Commentary on 18 Jan drew attention to the quite wide differences in the increase in global land temperature since 1979 between official government agencies and the satellite operated by the University of Alabama. I indicated that there should be no significant difference between the official agencies and the satellite increases and suggested that the higher increase published by the official agencies reflected significant errors by them. The comparative figures indicated that these errors could amount to 0.4C of the total increase of about 0.8C accepted by the IPCC et al since 1900. I noted also that the “natural” increase during the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from the late 1970s to around 2000 was about 0.4C and that, taking account also of errors, this means there could well have been little or no increase in global land temperature since 1900 due to human activity.
18
Jan
2017

Temperature Increases Only from Natural Drivers, Drop Renewable Energy Usage

An important question is why there is such a focus by official agencies on the warmist year and whether that phenomonenon helps understand the causes of the increase in temperatures published by official agencies. As to the causes, the Australian BOM report acknowledges that “the Australian climate in 2016 was influenced by a combination of natural drivers and anthropogenic climate change”. But the UK Met mentions neither of these and the Aus BOM does not say anything about the relative contributions made by natural drivers and human activity. We can say however that, even if temperatures have increased by about 0.8C since around 1900 (which is the standard official message), this has done no harm. To the contrary, as illustrated in the attached report by the FAO, 2016 produced record agricultural output and since 1900 there has been a strong increase in food and other consumer production, with poverty rates falling. This suggests that, even if CO2 emissions did contribute to increased temperatures, there is no need to reduce the CO2 concentrations which remain in the atmosphere as a result human activity to date. Indeed, given that the increase in published temperature of 0.8C since about 1900 has done no harm, it also suggests there is no substantive basis for the government to justify taking action to reduce emissions from hereon unless it can be established that major increases in temperatures will now occur and damage production capacity.
12
Jan
2017

Obama’s Farewell Address 11 Jan 2017

The strategic and political role played by the US, and the dominant role played by its President in determining its foreign policy in particular, makes it important to assess Obama’s contribution after 8 years as leader as well as the possible implications for future policy. I spent some time yesterday reading the 6 page text of his farewell address (see attached) to 18,000 supporters in Chicago who (on the TV presentations) cheered at almost everything he said and who asked him to stay another four years. Today’s Australian gives an excellent assessment in brief compass in its editorial below. I would be much more critical, though.
1
Jan
2017

Hopes for 2017

A New Year should bring hopes of decisions by governing and other influential bodies which will improve lives and avoid conflict. Perhaps the most hope comes from the election of Donald Trump as US President and the end of the regime run by an Obama who failed so badly to support political systems based on what have become known as western values. His attempt to “capture” opponents of those values simply by recognising their views revealed the paucity of his understanding of history and the need for western leaders to explain the virtues of those values as well as at times being prepared to fight in their defence and, in the case of the President, even outside the USA as a leader supporting values whose overturn would be threatening. Obama seems now to be spending the latter days of his presidency by exacerbating his errors rather than ameliorating them. His claim that he could have won a third presidency if the US Constitution had allowed it is but one example. Another is the US treatment of Israel in the Security Council, involving the abandonment of the long standing veto by the US. Worse than this is the report that Obama is considering declaring that the “women of the century” should include Jane Fonda, the American actress who not only supported North Vietnam in the Vietnam war with the US but falsely accused US airman of telling lies about being tortured when captured. John Kerry, appointed Secretary of State by Obama, was also an opponent of that war that was supported by the Soviet Union and China and in which Australia was an active participant.
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