Tuesday, August 28, 2012

C time

I found a copy of the Peninsula News on the train and thought it was a good opportunity to browse through a local newspaper I wouldn't normally get to read. It's interesting to see the differences in focus for the different areas, but also to see the contrast in style of the newspaper. Published by Ducks Crossing, it's not a bad local rag, seemed pretty even-handed and published a range of views. This letter, however, is as sure a pointer to the kind of sloppy thinking that will land us with an Abbott government and all the privation that entails (Hey, Craig Hillman of Empire Bay, you're not the only one who can exercise his hyperbole out in the open).

Let's follow the litany of bungles shall we:

  • The compensation is for the costs passed on by the big polluters, which naturally includes coal-fired power stations, who supply householders with electricity.
  • 'the biggest political lie in Australian history perpetrated by the worst government in living memory'. How can a government that shielded us from the Global Financial Crisis AND maintained a social program (even giving the taxpaying populace a hand-out to spend as they will) be considered in this light? How can change of heart brought about by being the leader of a minority government that has had to form an alliance with a combination of Greens and conservative rural independents, be compared with the "never, ever GST", a far more comprehensive tax, applied to nearly everything (with concessions only forced by the parties who held the balance of the power at the time i.e. the opposite of the current situation, where it is the cross benches that enforce a moderating influence on the tax, rather than driving it)? It was a far bigger lie, never mind all the other unrelated non-core promises. Worst government? Even allowing for partisan considerations, worse than the ineffectual McMahon government, worse than a "crash through or crash" with problems of Supply? By what standards is it the worst? Or are you must making shit up?
  • "All the while the Earth stubbornly refuses to adhere to IPCC computer generated predictions of catastrophic warming and indeed has the audacity to display a cooling trend for the last decade'"Making shit up most definitely. Unless Hillman is veering toward conspiracy and denying headlines and weather reports - in which case, no appeal to reason is possible - the number of record heatwaves belie this assertion. Thawing permafrost, collapsing icebergs, changed migratory and feeding patterns add to a credible analysis of the situation as attributable to some kind of heating; whether this is from holes in the ozone layer, methane from livestock farts, or the combined pollution of jetstreams and automobile exhausts, mixed with smog from factories, and coated with a fine dust of poison vapours. But let's forget all the real things in the air, the water, and soil and look at the IPCC computer generated predictions of catastrophic warming for a second. What is Mr Hillman's suggestion, that we wait until we see irreparable damage to agriculture or infrastructure, to forest and field before we act? Or does he think that the catastrophes that have occurred in the last twenty years not of a sufficient degree of destructiveness to count as a successful prediction? This is not to say, either, that cooling doesn't occur. New South Wales has the deepest covering of snow in the snowfields since 2004. And this at the start of Spring after a string of mild and even temperate winter days. May I respectfully point out, however, that it's not just the sudden joy of skiers that we have to consider but also the countries that are affected directly or as a blighted afterthought by warming patterns of a lasting nature. 
  • I'm still neutral on the pros and cons of selling coal to China and selling it domestically, and being charged differently, but I can't see what the down side of more solar panels would be. It would tilt the balance back onto the rights of the electricity consumer and their ability to participate. And 'deputy Prime Minister Bob Brown' is currently planning nothing more than protecting whale pods in the far North West in his retirement. Christine Milne is the new leader of the Greens, and had been for some months when you penned your missive. 
  • I'm a little lost on the semantic distinction between a tax on production and a tax on the product or produce. Wouldn't applying a tax at some point in the production have a similar effect on the profitability of the company regardless of when it was applied? In which case the makers of cheesy puffs, not classified as food and so not exempt, not getting taxed on the noxious gases emanating from the plant, is no comfort when looking at the tax that then drives up the cost on the shelves. Logically, if you don't respect a tax on the molded rubber production of thongs for causing a warming effect then you should be no more pleased that the tag that goes on them is less competitive in price for something you, as the merchant, don't get to see the benefit of.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sighs of the Forest

I've avoided writing about forests mainly because it's become a more depressing subject than one might expect. It isn't just some green cult pervasiveness in modern society or the climbing climate change stats that has brought this about; there were figures when I was a boy in the sixties stating that a football field of forest was cleared every two seconds (or maybe it was only one in every two minutes or one every two hours and the rate has increased in 21C). Now you'd expect that after nearly fifty years there wouldn't be much forest left and the deserts would have expanded. Well, I don't have the fortitude to investigate this, but here is my continuance of examining the largest of 'things in the world'

The lists don't seem to be able to single out forests so perhaps the differently named woods meet up. Here instead are the countries with the most forest cover:

The Russian Federation is covered in 809 million hectares of forest, Brazil 478 million hectares, Canada 310 million hectares, the US has 303 million remaining, 197 million hectares of Chinese forest, we have 164 million hectares of mainly eucalyptus, but also groves of acacia and melaleuca; 134 million hectares in the Congo, 88 million hectares Indonesia, 69 million hectares in Peru, and 68 million hectares make up the forests of India.

The single largest is the Amazon rainforest, described as "the lungs of the world" but with a shallow root system.

The tallest forest is on display.

The longest forest is the Siberian taiga, which stretches 5,700 kilometers from west to east and 1,000 kilometers from north to south through northern Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden, covering some 2.7 billion acres. 


India has had government lotteries to encourage vasectomies and China imposes a strict one-child policy for families, this begs the question as to why countries with overpopulation issues should also have so much forest. This observation isn't to suggest that more forest is cleared or that more people nominate for a tree change, I am curious as to the seeming discrepancy. Does it have to do with the fact that the forested regions consist of mountain range or are otherwise inaccessible and not arable? And what about Africa. Is the Dem Republic third world and poor despite its forest or because of it? Or is there no correlation?

It is cool - gladed even - that one can still imagine experiencing the fictional exploits of Tarzan or Nyoka the Jungle Girl. Or The Phantom. The deep jungle is still there. As is Mowgli's Jungle Book India.