Saturday, 22 July 2017

Mouth of the Clarence River in Yaegl Country



“Always” by Frances Belle Parker

Quotes of the Week


“Abdel-Magied's savaging has been so grotesque in its meanness, ugly in its intolerance and alarming in its violence, that it's obvious something else is going on, too – something has been legitimised and unleashed. And it seems to be hostility to Islam, as well as women.” [Julia Baird writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2017]

“A few years ago I talked to [Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] for two hours about climate change, and he had a great grasp of it. Then he turns around and does nothing. To me, that is truly criminal.” [Marine scientist J.E.N. “Charlie” Vernon quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2017]

It has put Australia in a position it's only been in three times before: Minor parties securing more than a quarter of all votes. Every time we have been in this situation, one of the major parties has been reshaped or disappeared.” [Economist Andrew Charlton quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2017]

Look who's trolling Trump


Friday, 21 July 2017

A reminder to rural and regional businesses that there always needs to be a valid reason based on fact for dismissing staff


FAIR WORK COMMISSION
Excerpts, 14 July 20017

[42] In dealing with unfair dismissal claims over the past 20 years a handful of cases remain memorable because of their particular circumstances. In some instances, the case was remarkable because of the manifest absence of valid reason for dismissal, usually accompanied by deplorable procedural deficiencies. In other cases, the audacity of the employee to make complaint about their dismissal was consistent with a history of misconduct that provided unassailable valid reason for which the individual should have been dismissed much earlier. Unfortunately, this case will join the ranks of those elite few which forever remain ignominiously memorable…..

[52] Employees are human beings and not human resources. A machine or item of office equipment might be quickly discarded if it is broken or malfunctioning. However, an employee is entitled to be treated with basic human dignity, and advice of the termination of employment by telephone or other electronic means should be strenuously avoided so as to ensure that the dismissal of an employee is not conducted with the perfunctory dispassion of tossing out a dirty rag……

[59] In summary, this case has involved a very regrettable absence of valid reason for the applicant’s dismissal. Further, it has been highly lamentable to observe the seriously flawed manner in which the employer first determined, and then conveyed the decision to dismiss the applicant. The circumstances of this case provide strong foundation for argument against any lessening of legislative protections for unfair dismissal, a proposition which seems to regularly resurface, and gain a level of publicity that is disconnected with reality.

[60] Regrettably, the dismissal of the applicant was harsh, unjust and unreasonable. Thankfully, the applicant is a person protected from unfair dismissal, and she is entitled to have the Commission provide an appropriate remedy.

A plea on behalf of NSW Liverpool Plains communities


LOCK THE GATE:
It's been a difficult week on the Liverpool Plains.
Yesterday the New South Wales Government paid coal company Shenhua $262 million dollars in a deal that removes part of their larger exploration licence but still lets the company go ahead with it's full coal mining project on the irreplaceable Liverpool Plains.

There is a lot of public relations spin from the NSW Government, but the cold hard truth is that they haven't stopped the Shenhua Watermark coal mine and the company now says it plans to proceed to start the project.

The consequences for local farmers adjoining the mine, and the productivity of this vital national foodbowl, will be severe.

Phone in 4 the plains button
The Government is trying to throw the coal dust over our eyes by telling us this is a great win for the Liverpool Plains.

But in fact, all they have done is pay an exorbitant price for some areas that Shenhua never had any intention of mining, whilst allowing the full 4,000 hectare mine with 3 massive open-cut coal pits to go ahead full bore on the Plains.

The NSW Government has the legal power to cancel the entire Shenhua exploration licence and put an end to this dangerous mine proposal once and for all.
Phone in 4 the plains button
This is an incredibly crucial moment. We need a crescendo of voices demanding full protection of this magnificent country and an end to the Shenhua mine project.

Thanks for your help,
George Woods
Lock the Gate Alliance
http://www.lockthegate.org.au/
Lock the Gate Alliance · PO Box 6285, Sth Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
.
You can also keep up with Lock the Gate Alliance on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A new Australian Federal Government super ministry capable of deploying armed soldiers on our streets


“The first question to ask yourself is this: does handing Dutton that power sound like a good idea?” [journalist Katherine Murphy, The Guardian, 18 July 2017]

A new Australian Federal Government super agency capable of deploying armed soldiers on our streets? With a former Queensland police officer of no particular merit as its head?

What could possibly go wrong with a rigid, far-right, professed ‘Christian’ property millionaire having oversight of a super portfolio which would reportedly bring together the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Australian Border ForceAustralian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC along with a database on ordinary citizens, ‘intellectuals’ and perfectly legal organisations, going back literally generations?

How long will it take before any industrial action or protest event would be quickly labelled as terrafret and armed soldiers sent to disperse people exercising their democratic right?

Australia’s been down that painful path before during the last 229 years and been the worse for it.

Turnbull at Holsworthy Barracks, Forbes Advocate,17 July 2017

“The measures I am announcing today will ensure that the ADF is more readily available to respond to terrorism incidents, providing state and territory police with the extra support to call on when they need it.”  
[Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull, media release, Holsworthy NSW,17 July 2017]


Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed a dramatic shake-up of Australia's security, police and intelligence agencies that will put Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, in charge of a sprawling new Home Affairs security portfolio.

The department of Home Affairs will bring together domestic spy agency ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and the office of transport security and will be put together over the next year.

And Mr Turnbull has also announced the government would, in response to the 
L'Estrange review of Australia's intelligence agencies, establish an Office of National Intelligence and that the Australian Signals Directorate will also be established as an independent statutory authority. 

The new Office of National Intelligence will co-ordinate intelligence policy and is in line with agencies in Australia's "Five Eyes" intelligence partners in the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand…..

The changes are to be finalised by June 30, 2018 - subject to approval of the National Security Committee of Cabinet -  with Mr Dutton to work with Senator Brandis in bedding down the changes.

Senator Brandis will lose responsibility for ASIO under the changes but, crucially, retain sign-off power on warrants for intelligence agency. 

Mr Turnbull said the Attorney-General's oversight of Australia's domestic security and law enforcement agencies would be strengthened, with the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the independent national security legislation monitor moving into his portfolio. 

The Prime Minister said Australia needed these reforms "not because the system is broken, but because our security environment is evolving quickly…..


However that L'Estrange review – part of a routine reassessment of national security arrangements – is understood not to specifically recommend such a super-portfolio.

Mr Turnbull has been dropping strong hints lately that he is inclined to make a significant change, rejecting what he's branded a "set and forget" policy on national security and warning that Australia must keep up with an evolving set of threats from terrorism to foreign political influence.

Security and intelligence agencies themselves are also believed to have concerns about such a change, while some former intelligence heads have publicly said they do not see any need for change.

However, a well-placed source in the intelligence community said a Home Affairs office - as opposed to a US-style Department of Homeland Security - was the preferred options for police and intelligence agencies.

That was because a Home Affairs department would potentially be broader, including agencies such as the Computer Emergency Response Team, the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Crimtrac, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the new Critical Infrastructure Centre, rather than just police and intelligence agencies.

The Guardian, 18 July 2017:

Peter Jennings, the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, put it well on Tuesday when he said any “grit” in the Dutton/Brandis relationship could be problematic for intelligence operations, which is obviously problematic for all of us, given we rely on the efficiency of the counter-terrorism framework to keep us safe.

So we’d better hope for the best, to put it mildly.

We’d also better hope it’s a good use of the time of our intelligence services and public servants to nut out how the Big Idea is going to work in practice, which will be a reasonably complex task, at a time when these folks already have a serious day job.

Recapping that specific day job again: trying to disrupt national security threats, in a complex environment. Pretty busy and important day job, that one.

It’s cartoonish to say this is all about the prime minister rewarding old mate Dutton, on the basis you keep your friends close, and your (potential) enemies closer.

Nothing is ever that simple outside a House of Cards storyboard– although it remains an irrefutable fact that Dutton wanted this to happen, and if Dutton really wanted it to happen, it would have been difficult for Turnbull, in his current position, to say no.
The Australian, 19 July 2017:         
The pressure points lie in the risk calculations that link intelligence to response. In a liberal democracy, we rightly demand high certainty of the intention to carry out an act of violence before we are comfortable with our security services pre-emptively taking someone off the streets. Usually when an attack happens, here or in the US or Europe, it’s because the calibration of risk hasn’t worked. It’s not because security services weren’t concerned about an individual’s beliefs and actions or couldn’t find him.
For those of us without access to national security data, the evidence suggests that Australia does these important risk calculations relatively well. Our list of foiled terrorist attacks is quite a bit longer than the list of attacks. The reason for this is the national security structures we have evolved: the combination of separate national security agencies, each with highly developed specialist capabilities and slightly different cultures and perspectives, working in close, 24/7 collaboration.
When calculating risk, separation and diversity are a strength because they build contestation, careful deliberation and stress testing into the system. Britain, the US, France and Belgium have chosen more centralised structures, and the evidence is that their systems do not work as well as ours. Bringing our highly effective agencies into a super-department cannot help but disrupt their inner structures and cultures. Such enterprises inevitably lose sight of the goal — keeping Australians safe — as they become driven by the desire for efficiencies and cultural homogenisation, and the urge for bureaucratic tidiness. Look no further than the creation of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, a process that has consumed enormous amounts of resources in reconciling two incompatible cultures, with no apparent benefits and a list of embarrassing blunders.
Creating one security super-department places a major imperative on the government to get everything right, first time. Separate but closely collaborating security agencies create a powerful check against underperformance: a struggling agency or a leader who’s not up to it are spotted and called out quickly. But underperformance in a federation-style conglomerate is not so easy to see and to call out. And in the meantime, it’s the safety of Australians that will be the price for underperformance.
If the Turnbull government were serious about national security, it would not engage in evidence-free experimentation with our national security. It should instead be building on what’s working well and making it even stronger. We need better co-ordination and cross agency connectivity, not big-bang organisational redesign.
We should be getting these sorts of issues right in a system that is working, rather than indulging in the risk-riddled gesture politics of a grand restructure.
Michael Wesley is professor of international affairs and dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and tweeters are just some of them (11)


In the matter of KNIGHT FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY; REBECCA BUCKWALTER; PHILIP COHEN; HOLLY FIGUEROA; EUGENE GU; BRANDON NEELY; JOSEPH PAPP; and NICHOLAS PAPPAS, Plaintiffs, v DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States; SEAN M. SPICER, White House Press Secretary; and DANIEL SCAVINO, White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President, Defendants, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. Filed 11 July 2017.

The New York Times, 11 July 2017:

WASHINGTON — A group of Twitter users blocked by President Trump sued him and two top White House aides on Tuesday, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he, as a government official, cannot bar people from.

The blocked Twitter users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, raised cutting-edge issues about how the Constitution applies to the social media era. They say Mr. Trump cannot bar people from engaging with his account because they expressed opinions he did not like, such as mocking or criticizing him.

“The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another,” the lawsuit said.

By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Mr. Trump is violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the lawsuit argued.

It offered several theories to back that notion. They included arguments that Mr. Trump was imposing an unconstitutional restriction on the plaintiffs’ ability to participate in a designated public forum, get access to statements the government had otherwise made available to the public and petition the government for “redress of grievances.”

Filed in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit also names Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, and Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s director of social media, as defendants. It seeks a declaration that Mr. Trump’s blocking of the plaintiffs was unconstitutional, an injunction requiring him to unblock them and prohibiting him from blocking others for the views they express, and legal fees.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

So you think it's OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP ?


So you think it’s OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP and return them to the federal parliament next year?

That all people on Centrelink income support need to do is pull up their socks and get on with it because many of those Coalition MPs have told their electorates that ‘the best welfare is a job’?

Perhaps it is time to pause and think about the possible relationship between states with low employment opportunities as well as high unemployment levels and states with high working-age suicide rates – and then consider the effect of those punitive welfare policies that first the Abbott and then the Turnbull governments have created or expanded.

Starting with this policy debacle......

ABC News, 15 July 2017:

Fines imposed on welfare recipients in a controversial work-for-the-dole scheme have soared to 300,000 in under two years, prompting renewed claims of poverty and hunger in Aboriginal communities.

Jobless people in remote Australia must work up to three times longer than other unemployed people to receive benefits.

The overwhelming majority of participants in the Community Development Programme (CDP) are Aboriginal.

The latest figures reveal about 54,000 financial penalties were slapped on participants in January, February and March alone for missing activities or being late.

"It's extraordinary," Australian National University researcher Lisa Fowkes said.

"Those 35,000 people have incurred more penalties than all of the 750,000 other Australians in the social security system.

"There is something really seriously wrong with the program, and that's showing up in these figures."

Unemployed people under the CDP must work 25 hours a week to receive welfare payments.


NSW - est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Victoria - est.7 job seekers for every job vacancy
Queensland - est. 8 job seekers for every job vacancy
South Australia – est. 16 job seekers for every job vacancy
Western Australia – est. 10 job seekers for every job vacancy
Tasmania – est. 14 job seekers for every job vacancy
Northern Territory – est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Australian Capital Territory – est. 3 job seekers for every job vacancy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a total of 2,540 people of workforce age took their own lives in 2015.

The all ages state suicide rates in that year were:

NSW 10.6
Vic     10.8
Qld     15.7
SA      13.4
WA     15.0
Tas     16.3
NT      21.0
ACT    11.6

In 2016 the Australian Youth Development Index reported the state 15-29 year-old suicide rates for 2015 were:

NSW 10.3
Vic     9.7
Qld    12.4
SA     11.6
Tas    13.4
NT     11.2
ACT   9.7

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2015: 

Intentional Self-Harm In Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
This section focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths for which the usual residence of the deceased was in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. .....

In 2015, 152 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons died as a result of suicide. The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 25.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 12.5 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons. Suicide deaths also accounted for a greater proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.2%) compared with deaths of non-Indigenous Australians (1.8%). 

In the five years from 2011 to 2015, intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 15 and 34 years of age, and was the second leading cause for those 35-44 years of age. The median age at death for suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons over this period was 28.4 years, compared with 45.1 years in the non-Indigenous population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females had a lower median age at death than males (26.9 years for females compared with 29.0 years for males). 

Australia's population pyramid is not so balanced that it can afford to lose its teenagers and young adults to an early death from despair.

So why are we tolerating a federal govenment which does its best to grind down some of the most vulnerable amongst them - those who cannot easily find paid employment.

PEOPLE POWER: gas pipeline resistance in the corn


HuffPost, 9 July 2017:

If the management team at Williams Partners was having flashbacks on Sunday, it was by design. The Oklahoma-based pipeline company has met stiff resistance to its proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline since it was first announced in 2014. On Sunday, hundreds of opponents of the project congregated in an outdoor chapel in Columbia, Pennsylvania on property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an order of Catholic nuns. Among those in attendance were representatives from another order, the Sisters of Loretto, from Kentucky who helped defeat Williams’ Bluegrass pipeline in 2014….

Lancaster Against Pipelines, a grassroots group dedicated to stopping the nearly 200-mile natural gas transmission pipeline, constructed the chapel on a grove just feet from where the pipeline would cut through a corn field. The field and nearly cloudless blue sky above provided the backdrop for the simple wooden altar facing a few rows of wooden benches.

Williams Partners tried to stop the dedication. Last Thursday, the company submitted a 45-page emergency motion to a federal district judge in an attempt to take immediate possession of the property and get permission to deploy U.S. Marshals on the nuns and “any third parties authorized by the sisters to be on the property.”

It was a particularly brazen attempt on Williams’ part to get ahead of the legal process. The company was already scheduled to take the nuns to court later this month when it filed its emergency motion. The regulatory process is not complete yet either. The project has not yet received the permits from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection necessary to proceed with the pipeline.

Mark Clatterbuck, one of the group’s board members who helped construct the chapel, told the crowd that he thinks the company is getting nervous. He believes it understands that the chapel “is not sort of symbolic resistance, that it’s real and we’re not going away.”

Lancaster Against Pipelines website:

“'If completed, it will go through more than 350 waterways, 220 wetlands and would permanently fragment over 44 interior forests,' said Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck, a local Mennonite pastor and cofounder of Lancaster Against Pipelines. '… We believe the collective damage to the Susquehanna watershed (and therefore the Chesapeake Bay) is irreparable, and that the state needs to intervene for the future of clean water and clean waterways in Pennsylvania.'”

Lancaster Against Pipelines Facebook page:


* Images taken form Lancaster Against Pipelines posts

Monday, 17 July 2017

'The Force' is strong on the Liverpool Plains



People power at work on the NSW Liverpool Plains -  well done to everyone over the years who attended protest events, emailed, wrote, phoned. posted, tweeted and/or made formal submissions objecting to Shenhua’s mining expansion plans.


Shenhua says it still plans to progress the Watermark coal mine in light of the NSW government $262m buy back of half its exploration licence.

Shenhua Australia Chairman Liu Xiang said the planning for the mine would continue on the remaining section of the licence “in line with the planning approvals” from both the state and federal governments.

The NSW government said despite the agreement, Shenhua's expired exploration licence had yet to be renewed.

“An application to amend the current renewal application to remove the relinquished area has been received,” a Department of Planning and Environment spokesman said.

“The relinquished area will be removed from the title and the consideration of the renewal application for the remainder of the licence will be considered as per normal procedures and in accordance with the Act.”

In a statement to The Leader, Shenhua expressed its “disappointment” regarding the NSW government’s stance on mining operations on black soil plains, “as it would prevent its efforts” to get its exploration licence “wholly renewed”.

While Shenhua believes it “would have been able to responsibly expand its existing Watermark Coal Mine”, it has “come to terms with the NSW Government’s decision to not allow any mining on the black soil plains”.


However, the fight continues…….


Liberal Member of the NSW Legislative Council, Don Harwin
Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts, Vice-President of the Executive Council
Phone
(02) 8574 7200
Fax
(02) 9339 5568
Email



ABC News, 12 July 2017:

National co-ordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance Phil Laird said anything less than the full cancellation of the project would not protect the farming systems.

"If we are going to hand over our best farming country to a coal mine that's owned by the Chinese Government, we've got to change our priorities," Mr Laird said.

"This coal mine is going to be 200 metres deep and its going to cut below the ridge line way below the level of the farm land and the aquifers.

"The impacts to those aquifers is unknown and the entire region depends on those aquifers for survival."


CSEC - CHINA SHENHUA ENERGY COMPANY LTD.
12/07/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/07/2017 19:28

Voluntary Announcement- Announcement On Progress Of The Wate...

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited takes no responsibility for the contents of this announcement, makes no representation as to its accuracy or completeness and expressly disclaims any liability whatsoever for any loss howsoever arising from or in reliance upon the whole or any part of the contents of this announcement.
(a joint stock limited company incorporated in the People's Republic of China with limited liability)

(STOCK CODE: 01088)
VOLUNTARY ANNOUNCEMENT
ANNOUNCEMENT ON PROGRESS OF THE WATERMARK PROJECT

This announcement is made by China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (the "Company") on a voluntary basis. The purpose of this announcement is to keep the Shareholders and potential investors of the Company informed of the latest business development of the Group.

On 20 November 2008, the Company issued the Announcement in relation to Watermark Exploration Area Exploration License. Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Limited ("Watermark Pty"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, entered into Exploration License with the state government of New South Wales, Australia (the "NSW Government"), pursuant to which Watermark Pty paid for the exploration license at a consideration of AUD299,900,000 and obtained the Watermark exploration area of approximately 195 square kilometers in aggregate.

On 29 June 2017, Watermark Pty reached an agreement with the NSW Government in relation to partial extension of the exploration license. Pursuant to the established policies of protection of agricultural activities on the black soil plains, the NSW Government withdrew the exploration license of approximately 100 square kilometres within Watermark exploration area and provided Watermark Pty with economic compensation amounting to AUD261,800,000, and accepted the application for the partial extension of the exploration license of non-black soil plains in Watermark exploration area. According to the agreement upon tendering in 2008, if the mining license of Watermark Pty is approved, then an additional AUD200,000,000 shall be paid to the NSW Government.

There are three planning open-cut mining areas, which are situated within the area of non-black soil plains, for the Watermark Pty Open-cut Coal Mine Project with recoverable reserves of approximately 290 million tonnes (JORC Standards), total designed raw coal production capacity of 10 million tonnes/year and designed service life of 24 years. The total investment amount of the project was approximately AUD1,470,000,000, among which 40% was contributed by Watermark Pty and 60% was financed by way of bank borrowings.

Up to now, the approval from the National Development and Reform Commission of the PRC, the approval for the environmental impact assessment from the Australian Federal Government and the approval from the Planning and Assessment Commission of the NSW Government have been obtained for the Open-cut Coal Mine Project. The environmental protection certification and mining rights license from the NSW Government will be applied for.

Watermark Pty will comply with the requirements of laws in Australia to promote the approval and construction of the Open-cut Coal Mine Project.

SHAREHOLDERS OF THE COMPANY AND POTENTIAL INVESTORS ARE ADVISED TO PAY ATTENTION TO INVESTMENT RISKS AND EXERCISE IN CAUTION WHEN DEALING IN THE SHARES OF THE COMPANY.

By Order of the Board
CHINA SHENHUA ENERGY COMPANY LIMITED HUANG QING
Secretary of the Board of Directors

Beijing, 12 July 2017

As at the date of this announcement, the Board comprises the following: Dr. Ling Wen, Dr. Han Jianguo and Dr. Li Dong as executive directors, Mr. Zhao Jibin as non- executive director, and Dr. Tam Wai Chu, Maria, Dr. Jiang Bo and Ms. Zhong Yingjie, Christina as independent non-executive directors.

It should be noted that the Shenhua Group has been named as one of the top 100 global fossil fuel companies collectively resposible for 72% of all global industrial Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Chris Kenny and Andrew Bolt "wilfully misrepresent" according to Crikey and the scientific community


Crikey must have taken some pleasure in publishing this story on 11 July 2017:


…..But Kenny knew better, cleverly revealing the real story: “a global warming pause”.

Wrong. There is no global warming pause, as has been widely and repeatedly made clear, for example, herehere and here. Even worse, the paper he referred to said nothing of the sort.

About five seconds into Kenny’s TV, ahem, “report”, he decided to stop being even slightly accurate. “What they’re saying here is that the warming they have on their graphs, on their modelling, is much higher than the warming that has actually occurred.”  

The paper didn’t say this either.

Kenny then went on to quote repeatedly and triumphantly from the paper’s abstract, not the paper itself. Which is a bit weird. It’s like quoting from the back cover of a book, not the book itself. (The abstract of academic papers is typically publicly available, whereas the papers themselves are usually restricted to researchers or universities.) For such a huge, serious science story, wouldn’t you cite the actual paper? Unless, of course, you don’t have access to the paper. And if you don’t have access, have you actually read the thing?

Kenny quoted the last line of the paper’s abstract:

“We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.”

This, he said, meant that scientists were overstating temperatures. Hence the momentousness of his”story”. Problem is, the paper didn’t say this at all.

If he’d read the last line of the paper itself — and it’s questionable as to whether he read the paper at all — he would have read this:  

“Although scientific discussion about the causes of short-term differences between modelled and observed warming rates is likely to continue, this discussion does not cast doubt on the reality of long-term anthropogenic warming.”

Kenny didn’t report this, though. If he had, he wouldn’t have much of a story. However, he did claim that the paper showed that climate scientists’ models were wrong, that temperatures were overstated and therefore climate change wasn’t such a problem.

Kenny is the earthly representative of his spiritual mentor, Andrew Bolt, who misreported the same story, but went one further, saying that the paper’s lead author, “leading alarmist Ben Santer, now admits the world isn’t warming as predicted by global warming models”.

Not only is Bolt’s report as untrue as Kenny’s — if not more so — but Santer has been at pains to make clear the opposite is the case. For example, he published a fact sheet to accompany the paper Kenny and Bolt reported on. Wait a moment, I here you say, there was a fact sheet

Indeed. As Santer explained to me:

“The aim of the fact sheet was to reduce the likelihood of misinterpretation of key findings of our paper. But no matter how carefully or cautiously a paper is written, it is impossible to guard against wilful misrepresentation of results. Sadly, such wilful misrepresentation is now an expected outcome after each paper I publish.”…..

Apart from getting the names of two of the researchers right, little else Kenny said was.

As is evidenced by Kenny’s Heads Up segment posted on YouTube:


Here is that fact sheet both Kenny and Bolt appeared to ignore:

Benjamin D. Santer, John C. Fyfe, Giuliana Pallotta, Gregory M. Flato, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Ed Hawkins, Michael E. Mann, Jeffrey F. Painter, Céline Bonfils, Ivana Cvijanovic, Carl Mears, Frank J. Wentz, Stephen Po-Chedley, Qiang Fu, and Cheng-Zhi Zou
Published online in Nature Geoscience. DOI:10.1038/NGEO2973.
Question 1: What is the main issue that you look at in your paper?
Answer: Our paper looks at satellite and climate model estimates of global-mean changes in the temperature of the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere – the troposphere. It tries to understand why there are differences between modeled and observed tropospheric warming rates over the period of satellite atmospheric temperature measurements (January 1979 to December 2016). These differences have an interesting time signature. In the last two decades of the 20th century, differences between modeled and observed tropospheric warming were generally small. But during most of the early 21st century, the average warming in models was larger than in observations.
We asked whether such differences between modeled and observed warming rates could be explained by natural internal variability of the climate system. Natural internal variability arises from phenomena like El Niños, La Niñas, decadal oscillations in the Pacific,1 and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
We found that natural internal variability can explain most of the relatively small differences between modeled and observed tropospheric warming in the last two decades of the 20th century, but can’t fully explain why model tropospheric warming is larger than in the satellite data during much of the early 21st century.
Question 2: What is your bottom-line finding?
Answer: The bottom line is that the differences between modeled and observed tropospheric warming contain useful diagnostic information. We use this information to test hypotheses about the causes of these warming rate differences. One hypothesis is that internal variability alone can explain why model tropospheric warming in the early 21st century is larger than in satellite data. Our findings suggest this hypothesis is very unlikely to be correct.
Based on our results, it is far more likely that the early 21st century differences between modeled and observed tropospheric warming rates are due to the combined effects of two factors: 1) Random differences2 1 Such as the closely-related Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). 2 We analyzed simulations performed with atmosphere-ocean models of the climate system, which produce their own random sequences of internal climate variability. In such models, there is no “synching up” (except by pure chance) between the random sequences of internal variability in the observations and in the model simulations. Different sequences of internal variability in “model world” and in the real world are not a scientific surprise – they are expected, and they can contribute to short-term differences between modeled and observed warming rates. 6/1/17 10:47 AM 2 in how modes of internal variability actually behaved in the real world and in the model simulations; and 2) The fact that some of the external cooling influences which affected “real world” temperature in the early 21st century were not accurately represented in the model simulations.
Question 3: What are the “external cooling influences” you are referring to in your paper?
Answer: Examples of such external cooling influences include a series of moderate volcanic eruptions, a long and unusually low minimum in the Sun’s energy output during the last solar cycle, and an uptick in particulate pollution from Chinese coal-fired power plants. The model simulations were performed before reliable, upto-date information became available about how these external cooling factors evolved in the early 21st century.3
Question 4: Do the problems in representing these external cooling influences point to systematic errors in how sensitive the models are to human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) increases?
Answer: No, not at all. We are talking about known, well-studied problems with some of the external, climate-influencing “forcing factors” that were used in the model simulations. These problems have nothing to do with the issue of how sensitive models are to GHG increases.
Question 5: Haven’t some scientists claimed that the larger-than-observed model warming in the early 21st century is solely due to over-sensitive models?
Answer: Yes, such claims have been made and continue to be made. We tested the “over-sensitive models” claim in our paper, and found that it does not explain the actual differences between modeled and observed tropospheric warming behavior. Nor does a combination of “over-sensitive models” and natural internal variability plausibly explain the differences. None of our findings call into question the reality of long-term warming of Earth’s troposphere and surface, or cast doubt on prevailing estimates of the amount of warming we can expect from future increases in GHG concentrations.
Question 6: In a recent paper in Scientific Reports, you find that satellite measurements do not show any signs of “leveling off” of tropospheric warming over the past two decades. Aren’t those findings at odds with the findings of the Nature Geoscience paper?
Answer: No. The findings of the two papers are entirely consistent. The Scientific Reports paper compares the satellite tropospheric temperature trend over the past 20 years with many samples of 20-year trends obtained from model simulations of natural internal climate variability.4 Even though the most recent 20-year warming trend is smaller than in earlier parts of the satellite record,5 it is still significantly larger than the range of 20-year trends caused by internal climate variability alone. From our Scientific Reports study, there is no evidence that satellite data show “leveling off” of tropospheric warming in the last two decades.
The Nature Geoscience paper focuses on different model simulations. It looks at simulations of historical climate change, and asks whether differences between model-simulated and observed tropospheric warming 3 Consider a hypothetical climate model with perfect representation of all important physical processes in the real-world climate system. If such a model were used to simulate historical climate change, but the simulation left out important external cooling influences that affected the real world, the simulated historical warming would tend to be larger than observed. 4 Model estimates of natural internal variability were obtained from so-called “control runs”, with no year-to-year changes in GHGs, volcanic aerosols, the Sun’s energy output, or other external factors. 5 For reasons that are explained in the last paragraph of the answer to Question 2. 6/1/17 10:47 AM 3 could be due to different sequences of internal variability in the real world and in model world. It finds that internal variability alone cannot convincingly explain why models do a reasonable job capturing observed tropospheric temperature changes in the late 20th century, but not in the early 21st century. It also finds that “over-sensitive models” cannot explain the curious structure of model-versus-observed warming rate differences.
The key point here is that the two studies pose different scientific questions. The answers to these questions are complementary, not contradictory.
Question 7: What is the major remaining uncertainty in your study?
Answer: We think that the main uncertainty is in the model estimates of internal climate variability. We rely on these variability estimates to test the two hypotheses mentioned above – that differences between modeled and observed warming rates during much of the early 21st century could be due to: 1) internal variability alone; or 2) the combined effects of “over-sensitive models” and internal variability. If models systematically underestimated the size and the timescales of the major “real-world” internal variability modes, it would be less easy for us to rule out hypotheses 1 and 2.
The problem here is that satellite temperature records are relative short, and are a mixture of both internal variability and temperature responses to external factors (changes in GHGs, particulate pollution, the Sun, volcanic aerosols, etc.). Reliably teasing out the internal variability from such a short, mixed record is a tough job. To be clear: model control simulations6 can give us pure “unmixed” estimates of internal variability. Observations cannot, so there is some irreducible uncertainty in judging how well models capture key features of “real world” internal variability.
Previous work that we’ve done has not found a systematic low bias in model estimates of tropospheric temperature variability, but there is some evidence that current models might underestimate the timescale of the IPO. A lot more work needs to be done in comparing modeled and observed variability. We hope that our paper will provide impetus for such work.
Question 8: What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned?
Answer: One of the lessons learned is that “forcing matters”. Through the pioneering work of Susan Solomon and many others, we’ve learned a lot about the external influences that affected real-world temperature in the early 21st century. We now understand that if we systematically misrepresent these external influences in model simulations, we’ll see differences between modeled and observed warming rates. We need to do a better job understanding how these external influences actually changed in the real world, and we need to put our best estimates of these forcing factors into model simulations. This type of work is now happening.
Another valuable lesson learned is that “natural internal variability matters”, particularly when one is comparing modeled and observed temperature changes with different sequences of internal variability, and over short periods (1-2 decades). Many scientists (and many of the authors of the Nature Geoscience paper) have devoted years of their careers to the task of improving the understanding of internal variability.
These lessons will enable us to do two things. First, to more reliably separate internal variability and external influences in observed climate records. And second, to better quantify the relative contributions of internal variability and external influences to the differences between simulated and observed warming rates. The “lessons learned” will help us to better diagnose the causes of these differences.
FOOTNOTES
1 Such as the closely-related Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).
2 We analyzed simulations performed with atmosphere-ocean models of the climate system, which produce their own random sequences of internal climate variability. In such models, there is no “synching up” (except by pure chance) between the random sequences of internal variability in the observations and in the model simulations. Different sequences of internal variability in “model world” and in the real world are not a scientific surprise – they are expected, and they can contribute to short-term differences between modeled and observed warming rates.
3 Consider a hypothetical climate model with perfect representation of all important physical processes in the real-world climate system. If such a model were used to simulate historical climate change, but the simulation left out important external cooling influences that affected the real world, the simulated historical warming would tend to be larger than observed.
4 Model estimates of natural internal variability were obtained from so-called “control runs”, with no year-to-year changes in GHGs, volcanic aerosols, the Sun’s energy output, or other external factors.
5 For reasons that are explained in the last paragraph of the answer to Question 2.
6 See footnote 4.