30 January 2010

Is this what Kevin Rudd had in mind for Australia at Copenhagen?

You would be amazed by all the things that you don't hear in the mainstream media, such as the draft text of the Copenhagen climate change treaty, which thankfully was never agreed to. Even though it is still online, hardly anybody has read it, which is probably the way it was intended.

The 181 page document is barely comprehensible, but Clause 38 that begins on page 18 raises your eyebrows:

38. The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following:

  1. The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate.
  2. The Convention’s financial mechanism will include a multilateral climate change fund including five windows: (a) an Adaptation window, (b) a Compensation window, to address loss and damage from climate change impacts, including insurance, rehabilitation and compensatory components, (c) a Technology window; (d) a Mitigation window; and (e) a REDD window, to support a multi-phases process for positive forest incentives relating to REDD actions.
  3. The Convention’s facilitative mechanism will include: (a) work programmes for adaptation and mitigation; (b) a long-term REDD process; (c) a short-term technology action plan; (d) an expert group on adaptation established by the subsidiary body on adaptation, and expert groups on mitigation, technologies and on monitoring, reporting and verification; and (e) an international registry for the monitoring, reporting and verification of compliance of emission reduction commitments, and the transfer of technical and financial resources from developed countries to developing countries. The secretariat will provide technical and administrative support, including a new centre for information exchange.

Columnist Janet Albrechtsen read the treaty draft before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and warned the public of the "fine print" in the climate change agreement that our governments were about to sign up to in The Australian and The Wall Street Journal.

29 January 2010

Senator Fielding is just another twit on Twitter

@senatorsteve: just been using a nice new apple mac inside the detention centre. Not bad at all!

@latikambourke: @senatorsteve good to see your priorities are in order, Senator.

@Pollytics: You really are a tool sometimes RT @senatorsteve: just been using a nice new apple mac inside the detention centre. Not bad at all!

@jamesmassola: @senatorsteve I'm a little unclear on what using an iMac has to do with a visit to Christmas island. Why is that noteworthy?

@Pollytics: @senatorsteve Did you feed the animals? You're treating the rest of your trip like you're at the zoo. Wake up to yourself, its detestable

21 January 2010

Senator Brown's life in a parallel universe

According to The Canberra Times, CSIRO hydrologist Dr David Post stated that there was "no evidence" linking the drought in eastern Australia to climate change. In response, leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, made an extraordinary claim:

We should ask why CSIRO is prepared to turn an unaccountable blind eye to recent climate trends in Tasmania. This undercurrent of scepticism would seem to suggest the report has been politicised.

While the Rudd Labor government has been ridiculing climate change sceptics opposed to its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), which will be re-introduced into Parliament for the third time after two failed attempts to have the legislation passed, Senator Brown believes the findings are a result of the CSIRO "caving in to political pressure".

If there is any political pressure that is influencing the work of the CSIRO, it is pressure to avoid publishing research that conflicts with the government's climate change policy, as was the case for Dr Clive Spash, whose research was suppressed because it was critical of the government's CPRS.

Dr Post does not actually rule out the possibility that the drought in the Murray-Darling Basin was caused by climate change:

At this stage, we'd prefer to say we're talking about natural variability. The science is not sufficiently advanced to say it's climate change, one way or the other. The jury is still out on that.

The report from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project puts the current drought into context:

Annual rainfall in the southern MDB for the ten-year period 1997 to 2006 was significantly lower than the long-term average but similar low-rainfall periods occurred in the 1890s and around 1940.

17 January 2010

More 3D buildings for Australian cities in Google Earth

I started playing around with Google Earth again after using it to look at the destruction wreaked by the earthquake in Haiti. More 3D models of buildings in Australian cities have been added since I last enabled the 3D Buildings layer and looked at our cities.


The University of Western Australia


16 January 2010

America's Climategate: Allegations of climate data manipulation at NASA and NOAA

Explosive allegations of data manipulation at US government climate data centres have been aired in a special report on the website of KUSI News, based in San Diego, United States. These claims are based on research by computer programmer E. Michael Smith and meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo, who say that world temperature observations have been substantially manipulated to support claims of global warming.

According Smith and D'Aleo, the US national temperature dataset has been manipulated in a number of ways. In about 1990, readings from thermometers around the world had been excluded, reducing the total number of thermometers used in the dataset from 6000 to 1500. Readings from thermometers in cold places were substituted with ones from elsewhere, as E. Michael Smith explains:

Smith: One of the more startling ones I ran into was Bolivia. There is a very wonderful baseline for Bolivia, a very high and mountainous country, right up until 1990 when the data ends, and if you look on the November 2009 anomaly map, you'll see a very red, rosy, hot Bolivia. How do you get a hot Bolivia when you haven't measured the temperature for 20 years?

Coleman: Well, how do you?

Smith: They take the temperature from places up to 1,200 kilometres away and copy it in, they fill in with what they've got. And what they've got is the beach in Peru and the Amazon jungle.

Also, adjustments were applied to the raw data to produce a warming trend where none existed, as in the case of Davis, California, which appears to be warming in the adjusted data but shows cooling in the non-adjusted data:

Port-au-Prince: Before and after

Port-au-Prince, before January 12, 2010, when it was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake:

Port-au-Prince after the earthquake:

1 January 2010

Update: Rudd Labor government censors results from ISP filtering trial

In an earlier post I briefly explained how key results were missing in the Enex TestLab report on the government's live pilot of its proposed ISP-level filtering scheme.

The results of the accuracy testing can be combined into a single table.

Consolidated table of accuracy results taken from ISP Filtering Live Pilot Report

No results were published on the percentage of URLs that were blocked on the innocuous list of URLs, as was done for the participants blocking additional content. The results cannot be considered complete without figures providing an indication of the rate of over-blocking that occurred for filters blocking URLs on the ACMA blacklist only.

A filter blocking only those URLs listed on ACMA blacklist should in theory block fewer innocuous sites than a filter blocking additional categories of content as well as the ACMA blacklist. However, the results for filtering the ACMA blacklist only are crucial as ISPs will be required to block the content specified on this list for all Internet users under legislation the federal government intends to introduce into Parliament this year.

While the rate of over-blocking for filters blocking the ACMA blacklist alone is likely to be better, publishing just the results for trials of filters that block both the ACMA blacklist and additional categories of content puts the government in a convenient position when challenged by criticism of the filters' performance. Enex stated in the report that the percentages for the blocking of URLs on the innocuous list of URLs were high:

In terms of over-blocking the results of this trial show that, while an improvement on previous testing levels, this is still considered high.

The government might respond to criticism by stating that less over-blocking will occur with the proposed mandatory filter which will block URLs on the ACMA blacklist without providing any actual figures obtained from tests.

The case is similar with the feedback survey that was carried out for customers of the ISPs involved in the pilot. The customer feedback survey was not issued to customers of ISPs that filtered the ACMA blacklist only, as stated in the report.