Australian Politics 2017-11-14 15:44:00

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Australia's lush street trees face grave threat if emissions keep rising (?)

How strange that a group called the "Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub" found a problem!  Could they have done otherwise?  It's all arrant nonsense anyway. Plants generally like warmth.  A popular street tree in Brisbane is the colourful Croton.  But it only grows to shrub height here.  In Darwin, where the climate is much hotter, it grows to tree height.  And even in Sydney cumquat trees are planted as an ornamental shrub.  But in far North Queensland they grow to tree height. Warmth is more likely to make the trees BIGGER.

And they have overlooked something that flows from their own Greenie theories.  What they are warning against is a CO2-caused temperature rise.  But elevated levels of CO2 have a fertilizing effect, and can cause plants to colonize places where they were not previously found -- as has happened in the Sahel.  So in the unlikely possibility that a couple of degrees of warmth were bad for some tree, the higher levels of CO2 could well counteract that.  But they have completely ignored that factor.  So the assumption below that present distribution is also a distribution limit is very shaky.  It's a typically one-sided Green/Left document below



Much-loved leafy streets and shady parks in Sydney and Melbourne are in jeopardy, according to new research that found climate change severely threatens the health of more than one-third of tree species in Australia's cities.

The federally funded study of 1.5 million trees in 29 council areas across Australia found that higher temperatures and urban heat means new tree species may be introduced, existing trees must be given special care and some trees may disappear in certain locations.

More than four in 10 houses in Australia's capital cities have a street tree.

Trees can greatly affect people's experience of a city - providing shade, places for recreation and a sense of place and heritage. They also cool the city, capture rain, slow stormwater and provide habitat for birds and other animals.

But the study found 24 per cent of all public trees, or 35 per cent of tree species, were at high risk from increased temperatures under a business-as-usual scenario in which emissions continue to increase to 2070.

Some 14 per cent of all public trees, or 22 per cent of tree species, were at high risk of increased temperatures if emissions were limited, in line with international commitments, in the years to 2040.

Trees were deemed at high risk when predicted temperatures were warmer than 97.5 per cent of locations where the species is found – making them particularly susceptible to drought, physiological stress and pest and disease outbreaks.

In the City of Sydney, 50 per cent of trees were at high risk under a business-as-usual scenario. They included brush box, rose gums, grey oaks and several eucalypt species.

In the Sydney council area formerly known as Marrickville, now part of the Inner West Council, a business-as-usual scenario put 40 per cent of trees at high risk, including casuarina she-oaks, black locusts and several eucalyptus species.

Some 32 per cent of trees were at high risk under business-as-usual in the City of Melbourne. They included rose apples and several species of elms, oaks and eucalypts.

Melbourne's inner north City of Moreland would see 26 per cent of trees at high risk under a business-as-usual scenario, such as purple-leafed plums, prairie crabapples and the narrow-leaved ash.

Darwin had the highest proportion of trees – 85 per cent - most at high risk if emission levels rose to 2070, while Ballarat had just 1 per cent at high risk.

Risks to trees were posed by both rising global temperatures and the urban "heat island" effect, where localised warming occurs due to dark-coloured and paved surfaces, buildings and the emission of heat from human activities.

The study was conducted by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, a consortium of four universities funded by the Department of Environment and Energy.

It said "changes to the composition and the traits of the urban forest will lead to changes in the sense of place and identity of cities."

"Many cities in south-eastern Australia have a strong European colonial heritage expressed in their many broad-leaved deciduous trees that is likely to change under future climates," it said.

Conversely, local native trees helped create unique city identities and connections to natural heritage and traditional Indigenous ownership.

SOURCE





Rent-seekers think Liberals wrong? Well that’s good

“Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain,” wrote Dale Carnegie. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Carnegie’s advice should temper our loathing of the people responsible for wrecking a perfectly good energy market with their ill-judged policy intrusions.

They may claim to be well intentioned, but as Carnegie reminds us in How to Win Friends and Influence People, even gangsters imagine themselves blessed with hearts of gold.

“I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time,” Al Capone once ­lamented, “and all I get is abuse.”

Jay Weatherill was only trying to brighten our lives with his quirky plan to power his state with windmills and other imperfect methods of delivering alternating current at a constant 50 oscillations a second.

So far his little experiment — the South Australian Premier’s words, not ours — has delivered the highest electricity prices in the country, and possibly the world, and the first state-wide blackout for more than a half-century.

A more reflective premier might have thought twice before abandoning coal, preferably before a demolition squad blew up the state’s last thermal power plant, as it did late last week.

Instead, Weatherill is backing fledging technology called solar thermal. It would be a “game changer” that “signals the death knell for coal-fired power stations”, Weatherill told reporters in ­August, when he announced a solar-thermal plant would be built near Port Augusta.

The plant will have a capacity of 130MW, about 4 per cent of SA’s peak demand. Despite its modest size it will knock $90 million off our collective electricity bills, Weatherill said. “That’s about $50 per household … it could be much lower than that.”

One thing in solar thermal’s favour is that it can store energy. It won’t store it for long, however, since it suffers from the same impediment that stops us boiling the kettle tonight for tomorrow’s cup of tea.

But who are we to challenge Weatherill’s uncorroborated price assumptions about the potential of unproven technology? Especially when it has the cast-iron backing of concessional equity loan from the government.

The Premier reckons the project is a goer even without the $110 million it is borrowing from the feds, which makes you wonder why taxpayers get dragooned into carrying the liability for these kind of things.

Oliver Yates spent many ­hours trying to answer that question at Senate estimates committees before stepping down as chief of the Clean Energy ­Finance Corporation earlier this year. Here’s an extract from a particularly long session in February last year.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson: “A point of clarification … Is there some kind of market failure in relation to financing these kinds of projects?”

Yates: “Market failure is, I think, an overused term. It could be a market failure, but a market failure could also represent the fact that there are not a lot of investors in certain asset classes … If you call that market failure then, yes, it is a market ­failure.”

Yates is an angry critic of the Turnbull government’s plans to fix the energy market. The Liberals “are knowingly stoking the fires of the destruction”, Yates told the online journal RenewEconomy earlier this month. “They are on the wrong side of history.”

Yates’s outspoken comments followed his unexpected intervention at a Liberal Party lunch in Melbourne earlier this month, when he stood up from the table so suddenly that his companions found their desserts on their laps.

He spoke for several minutes denouncing climate denial before he was ejected by security guards. Such incidents are rare at Liberal Party fundraisers, but there is an argument they should be encouraged. Properly promoted, they would surely draw a crowd.

Yates’s wrath was invoked by Jane Hume, a mild-mannered senator from Victoria, who tried to lighten proceedings by presenting Scott Morrison with a lump of brown coal as a souvenir from ­Victoria. For Yates it was further evidence of a Liberal Party in denial, as he told this column yesterday. “They’re walking around as if coal is a good idea, ” he says. “Some of us find that offensive.”

In the interests of disclosure, we should note that Yates has skin in the game. He co-founded the Clean Energy Derivatives Corporation, which bets on ­future National Electricity Market prices.

It is hard to see how sanity can be restored to the energy market without treading on the toes of the renewable energy lobby.

What angers them most about Josh Frydenberg’s reforms is the National Energy Guarantee, a mechanism that requires electricity retailers to find their own back-up power when wind and solar plants cannot operate.

They can no longer expect the east coast grid to cover for them; anybody selling electricity must provide it every day in regular 4,320,000 alternating cycles.

The NEG is bad news for renewable energy producers because it takes away an effective subsidy and goes some way to levelling the playing field. Regional electricity producers that rely heavily on intermittent renewable energy sources will have to fire up gas plants, install batteries, pump hydro, boil kettles or anything they think of to keep the lights on.

It is bad news for the SA government, which assumed those costs would be absorbed by consumers in other states. It is bad news for carpetbaggers generally.

It is, however, good news for everyone else since it will end a form of subsidy that was being added to our bills.

Investors in renewable energy will think twice before investing in new projects, and shift the focus to projects with back-up, such as solar thermal, if it proves to be viable.

It will reduce the risk of blackouts — even in South Australia — and empower consumers. It will help restore the energy market to what it used to be: a system where supply is dictated by customers’ needs rather than the caprice of the weather gods.

SOURCE





Vote shows we can respect views with which we disagree

Tony Abbott

Whichever way it goes, the supporters of marriage between a man and a woman can be proud of their campaign. With polls showing support for same-sex marriage as high as 70 per cent just two months ago, the No campaign has done a fine job reminding people of the importance of keeping faith with values and institutions that have stood the test of time. Change is part of life but change for the better is invariably evolutionary, not revolutionary, and builds on our best traditions and historical strengths.

Two months ago, there were all sorts of hysterical claims about the bigotry and homophobia that the plebiscite would supposedly unleash. There have indeed been nasty social media posts on both sides of the argument but there’s been no bullying, intimidation, or prejudice from the No campaign. Yet again, the Australian people have shown that they’re more than capable of respecting views they don’t necessarily agree with and the Abbott government’s decision to resolve this matter by popular vote has been vindicated.

For whichever side emerges on top, the challenge will be to show magnanimity in victory. Of course, the result has to be respected by the parliament as there’s no point having a national plebiscite, even by post, if its result is to be ignored.

Bill Shorten, I suspect, might now be a little embarrassed by his pre-plebiscite declaration that Labor would introduce a same-sex marriage bill into the next parliament regardless of tomorrow’s vote, because any democratic politician who declares that he’s right and the public wrong is on a hiding to nothing.

A No vote would dismay the activists who have long demanded the status of marriage, if not its heavy duties and obligations. It shouldn’t make much difference to same-sex couples, though, as they already have exactly the same rights as a man and a woman in a settled domestic relationship.

In the event of a Yes vote, both Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull will need to do much more to protect freedom of conscience and freedom of religion than is the case with Dean Smith’s private member’s bill — which does no more than allow ministers of religion to decline to perform same-sex weddings.

Less than two months ago, the Prime Minister said: “I … want to reassure Australians that as strongly as I believe in the right of same-sex couples to marry, even more strongly … do I believe in religious freedom.” The opponents of same-sex marriage will certainly facilitate the passage of a bill through the parliament but hope that the Prime Minister will be as good as his word on entrenching the right to dissent from any new orthodoxy.

Naturally, the supporters of marriage as it has always been understood would be disappointed; heartbroken, indeed, in the case of those who have always maintained the power of the ­“silent majority”, if it turns out that the cultural ground has collapsed from under them.

Yet defeat could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if it forces the defenders of Western civilisation out of their long complacency. For too long we have put up with the trashing of our country’s history and the rubbishing of our ethical norms because we didn’t want to upset people.

The most persuasive advocates of same-sex marriage have a point when they characterise it as merely the latest manifestation of the decency and generosity of spirit that has long characterised Western societies. But how long can we slice and dice the ethical understandings on which our civilisation has rested? How far can we accept the redefinition of concepts that have always been taken for granted; assert rights without corresponding responsibilities; allow every opinion to be equally valid; or seek to give what we haven’t actually got? If we don’t want to end up at the bottom of a slippery slope, we have to be careful about starting down in the first place.

The same-sex marriage plebiscite is really the first time the public has been asked their view on an important values question. With no big political party leader on their side and with many church leaders dithering and divided, the ability of the No case to mobilise more than 5000 volunteer doorknockers and phone canvassers and to raise more than $6 million from 20,000-plus individual donors shows the latent power of respect for tradition, if only the case is made for it. The challenge will be to keep the faith and stay the course for the even more important struggles ahead.

SOURCE





Queensland conservative leader played role in decision to preference nationalists

LNP leader Tim Nicholls has confirmed he played a role in his party’s decision to preference One Nation in 49 seats. “I’m a member of the state executive and had a role in it,” Mr Nicholls told ABC Brisbane radio this morning. “The decision was ultimately one for state executive to make…we put the Greens last as I’ve said. The danger of a Labor-Greens coalition, a very real prospect…is something we wouldn’t countenance or support.”

The LNP will preference the Greens last across the state. “Their policies would lend you to believe they will destroy the economy,” Mr Nicholls said. The Opposition leader also said the LNP would not support Labor’s Cross River Rail project, which has been budgeted at $5.4bn.

Asked when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former PM Tony Abbott would be joining his campaign in Queensland, Mr Nicholls dodged the question and said it was “very much a Queensland campaign”. He said it was likely federal MPs would show up at some point ahead of the November 25 election. It is understood Mr Nicholls will be campaigning in south-east Queensland today, while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is still in the regions.

SOURCE

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here