Australian Climate heating up  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The SMH has an article on a report released by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology on Australian climate change and global warming - Climate snapshot reveals things are heating up.

THE nation's two leading scientific agencies will release a report today showing Australia has warmed up significantly over the past 50 years. It is a response to recent attacks on the science underpinning climate change.

The ''State of the Climate'' snapshot, drawn together by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, shows the mean temperature has increased 0.7 degrees since 1960.

The snapshot also finds average daily maximum temperatures have increased every decade for the past 50 years.

The report states temperature observations, among other indicators, ''clearly demonstrate climate change is real''.

''CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will continue to provide observations and research so Australia's responses are underpinned by clear empirical data,'' the report says.

Other findings reveal the past decade was the nation's warmest on record, sea levels rose between 1.5 millimetre and 3 millimetres a year in the south and east and between 7 millimetres and 10 millimetres in the north between 1993 and 2009, and sea surface temperatures have risen 0.4 degrees since 1960.

The release of the report comes as many Australian scientists expressed concern over attacks on the science underpinning man-made global warming, fearing it is damaging the reputation of science as a whole.

The former Australian of the Year and long-time climate campaigner Tim Flannery last month urged climate scientist to talk to the ''confused Australian public'' and answer their questions about the science.

The director of the Bureau of Meteorology, Greg Ayres, told the Herald the purpose of the climate snapshot was to remind the public that the bureau had been collecting objective and observable climate information for a century.

''I would like to invite the Australian public to use … the information generated in the national interest to reach an opinion on climate change because it is objective information,'' Dr Ayers said.

He said the trends in temperatures back up the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing human processes, such as burning fossil fuels, was the primary cause of global warming.

The ABC has more - CSIRO boss says climate change is real.
TONY EASTLEY: The head of the CSIRO, Dr Megan Clark has come out in defence of climate scientists and says there's absolutely no doubt there's a link between humans and climate change. She says the evidence of global warming is unquestionable and in Australia it's backed by years of robust research. She says climate records are being broken every decade and all parts of the nation are warming.

Dr Clark is speaking to environment reporter Sarah Clarke.

MEGAN CLARK: Look, we are seeing significant evidence of a changing climate. If we just take our temperature, all of Australia has experienced warming over the last 50 years.

We are warming in every part of the country during every season and as each decade goes by, the records are being broken. Our records of the '70s were broken in the '80s, broken in the '90s and we are also seeing fewer cold days. So we are seeing some very significant long-term trends in Australia's climate.

SARAH CLARKE: So given these observations then, what is your response to those who suggest that the planet isn't warming?

MEGAN CLARK: Well, I think we can certainly look at the long-term trends and any event here or there or a storm here or there really doesn't explain away what we are seeing in these major long-term trends.

We are also seeing consistency. I think the consistency between our temperatures, what we are seeing in our rainfall, what we are seeing in the increase of carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere and of course, what we are now seeing in our oceans.

So it is not just one measurement that is telling us. It is our observations and science that we are seeing in many areas being consistent.

SARAH CLARKE: So how much is manmade climate change then contributing to all of this?

MEGAN CLARK: We know two things. We know that our CO2 has never risen so quickly. We are now starting to see CO2 and methane in the atmosphere at levels that we just haven't seen for the past 800,000 years, possibly even 20 million years.

We also know that that rapid increase that we've been measuring was at the same time that we saw the industrial revolution so it is very likely that these two are connected.

Guy Rundle has an article at Crikey wondering why the greens have never adopted some of the political tactics used by the old left to educate and expand their support base - Where is the Mao, the Lenin for climate change?.
While dealing with the minutaie of British life — filling a free prescription (good) that the pharmacist said would take 45 minutes because of the absurd process of checks and counter-checks (bad)* — your correspondent browsed in the second-hand section of the excellent Bookmarks bookshop, run by the Socialist Workers Party. Among a range of purchases two stood out.

One was Mao’s pamphlet On Peasant Revolution. It was sitting on the desk beside me as I read various Crikey reports about Julian McGuaran, and his latest mad blurt about the CSIRO. Quite possibly it’s a new high/low in conspiracy theories, but it’s nothing new, really. Yet the reaction is fresh horror at the degree of irrationalism, stupidity, of McGuaran’s remarks, as if climate change should somehow sell itself as an idea autonomously.

The reaction is of a piece with much of the Green/climate change movement ‘s work, which has been, over past years, one of the most ineptly conducted campaigns, and avoidable political losses, in the last 200 years. There is no doubt that a lot of this is to do with the formidable money and power of the anti-climate change movement (sceptics is too neutral a term, denialists too prejudged).

But as the pamphlets of Bookmarks remind us — Shaw, Lenin, Mao, Emma Goldman, Stafford Cripps, John Strachey, Rosa Luxemburg, etc — progressive movements have faced far greater challenges hitherto. And the pamphlets tell us something else — the climate change movement should stop focusing on each fresh outrage by the antis, and focus on the positive campaign that it is not making.

Climate change is not an easy thing to argue. For a start, you can’t honestly say that the science is settled, because no science is ever settled. So one is faced with either advancing a great oversimplification, which then has to be walked back at times, or make the more complex argument about probabilities and the precautionary principle. Secondly, it’s a more abstract process than, say, killing whales, or some other concrete and visible thing. Thirdly, it asks people to be in a permanent state of transformation, rather than relaxing into their familiar lifeways. And that’s before you factor in the relentless propaganda of News Limited (Australia), etc.

But many of these things can be said about the challenges faced by the Left and the labour movement in the early 20th century. What was relatively concrete for workers were things like nation, empire, and race — these were immediate, visible things, rich in symbols and manifestations, of sufficient power to march millions of people into trenches to slaughter each other over a four-year period. Class as a concept (as opposed simply to wealth and poverty) was a different matter. Profit, surplus value, labour-power, exploitation — all these had to be established as an alternative account to notions of hard work, a fair day’s wage, king and country, blahblah.

How was it done? It was done by establishing a whole disciplined apparatus, with the explicit object of creating both a core of full-time cadres/organisers/propagandists who could expound the argument everywhere, anytime, a hundred different ways, at the drop of a hat. Step by step they created a wider band of people who, while not professional agitators themselves, had been so convinced by the argument — intellectually, politically, morally — that they felt some of its urgency and identified with it, so that they would talk to others about it.

Crucial to this process were four things — the training school, the pamphlet, the public meeting and political self-criticism/analysis. It’s a signal fact of the climate change movement that none of these features are really present. The Right likes to argue the Green movement is Marxism by other means. If only that were the case, some of these things might have been in place.

Instead few of them are. There are many good books on climate change — by Monbiot, Mark Lynas, David Spratt among many — but there is nothing in the style of a Communist Manifesto, the US Declaration of Independence, a Lenin, a Mao, or a Santamaria for that matter. Something that in a few thousand words sets out an argument about what is happening, about why its critics are wrong, and about what should be done.

The Green party should have produced something like this years ago. If it has, it should be printing it in the tens, hundreds of thousands. Everyone who wants to do something about climate change should just be able to take a stack of them to give to people. It should be written in clear, direct language, but without skimping on the science.

Secondly, you need people trained in the arts of argument, propaganda and recruitment. At the moment, most people actively involved in the climate change movement are simply terrible at arguing their case. Those with a scientific background don’t know how to boil it down, those without take too much on trust. Some sort of ongoing training would address both problems.

But here self-criticism would come in because the great flaw in the climate change movement has been an elitist arrogance that is, at its worst, anti-political. Some of that is due to the asocial political naivete of scientists — ‘I mean, it’s obvious, why are these people being so stupid’ — some of it is due to the technocratic spirit of the age, whereby something is seen as a mere technical problem to be fixed, and some of it is due to the fact that the abstract/systemic nature of climate change ideas are most easily accepted by people trained in abstract-systemic thinking. That is, the scientific /professional/managerial/cultural class (SPMC) who, in many ways, run the joint.

As Bernard Keane has noted here, the active anti-climate-change movement is old, white and overwhelmingly composed of people who once had unquestioned cultural authority but now don’t — the old bourgeoisie, some manufacturing workers and tradies, farmers, etc. Consciously or otherwise, they see that acceptance of climate change as a model means the transformation to a new framework in which the cultural power of the SPMC class becomes entrenched.

Trouble is, many of those advocating the reality of climate change don’t really factor in this class difference to the way they think, or the manner in which they campaign — when they campaign at all. And that is the final missing piece, the lack of public meetings and campaigning. No-one likes ‘the hours spent at the boring meeting’ (well some do, but they should be used very carefully) and leafletting in the street requires a ceaseless war against a creeping feeling of embarrassment and absurdity. But it’s got to be done. Even in post-post-modern society there’s no substitute for it.

The trouble is the SMPC class are not only digital natives, they can easily talk themselves into believing that a TweetDeck and a smokin’ thought-meme crowdsource flashmob thing can wholly substitute for grassroots face-to-face campaigning. The Greens, the FOE, the ACC, must have a potentially active membership larger than the far-Left groups such as Socialist Alternative. Yet you rarely see posters for a climate change public meeting, a table in Bourke Street Mall — and never for the Green party, which appears interested in repeating early Labour’s obsession with factionalism and parliamentarianism.

The climate change movement may well be correct in their argument that every year counts in changing global processes. But in past years that has served as an excuse for not building the slow and remorseless mass campaign, deploying all the campaigning skills and rhetoric of older progressive campaigns (much of which, in style anyway, is being used by the anti-climate-change group). It has to abandon the idea that truth somehow communicates itself. The longest march, as the man said, begins with a footstep. Or a pamphlet.

Guy also has an article asking how it is an ex-KGB man came to own 2 of the UK's national newspapers - Rundle’s UK: witnessing the KGB takeover of London media.
Sometimes you wonder how you would explain the current world to someone who had fallen into a coma in 1985. Google. Bing. Bingle. Angela Shanahan. The KGB takeover of the London media.

Today, the UK Office of Fair Trading said that it will not investigate the proposed takeover of The Independent newspaper by Alexander Lebedev, billionaire and former global economics operative for the glorious USSR’s anti-fascist security service.

Lebedev got his money as the USSR dissolved, and has owned papers in Russia. Indeed he already owns The Evening Standard, London’s surviving evening newspaper – whose future he ensured by turning it into a freesheet, and retaining much of its original form. That earns him some points, since there is nothing so pleasurable as an afternoon newspaper, especially one which is mainly gossip and fizzing opinion.

Now he’s the Indy’s last chance. Launched in 1986, owned by its journalists, and proudly disdainful of celeb gossip – its coverage of royal births was famously limited to a single para ‘in brief’ – the paper was created for people who wanted serious in-depth coverage of world events and politics, just at the time when the audience who wanted that were starting to die off.

The paper was centrist at a time when The Guardian was further left – even up to the late 90s, the Grauniad had columns by Paul Foot and Mark Steel, both members of the Socialist Workers Party. But as The Guardian moved to the centre-left, and The Telegraph began to cover music and pop culture more recent than King Oliver and His Jazz Gollies at the Palm Court, Frinton-on-sea, the Indy began to be squeezed, its circulation heading south of 250,000.

They responded by successively reinventing themselves – first by the use of startling front page images – symbolic and surreal photos to illustrate stories, rather than mundane place shots. It was such a success that The Guardian nicked it and did it on better paper. In foreign affairs it went rapidly left, with the invaluable Robert Fisk and the insufferable Johann Hari among others.

They turned themselves into a campaigning paper, omitting major stories from the front page in order to bang on about this or that cause – child slaves in Wales, the counterfeit Haggis trade, cruelty to llamas in Bolivia etc – and finally they went tabloid, the other broadsheets following in quick succession. By now they were owned by the Irish entrepreneur Tony O’Reilly, so The Independent idea was dead, but they were ceaselessly inventive in keeping the paper going.

The result is a mess.

The Indy is ugly beyond belief – uglier than the tabloid Times, which is saying something. There is often one story a page, with ads, all clumpy and yurrgh. Aside from Fisk, and right-winger Bruce ‘the Brute’ Anderson, the columnists are a ‘whatthe-, whothe-?’ crowd. Circulation is at around 180,000, and it loses a quarter of a million quid a week.

Lebedev has wanted to buy it for some time, and it’s a measure of our tranquilised, globalised age – or the utter irrelevance of newspapers – that no-one really cares that a Putin confidante and backer will own two of the country’s nine dailies. His initial plans were to make it a morning freesheet and get general London media blowfly Rod Liddle into edit it – until the latter was caught posting racist comments on a Millwall football club fan site. The freesheet idea is on hold and other high-profile editors sought by Lebedev – Newsnight TonyJonesOnSteroids host Jeremy Paxman, and former BBC director-general Greg Dyke – have knocked the post back.


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