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Healthy debate needs truth

My view, as I’ve expressed before, is that healthy debate is important, but it relies on the participants sticking to the facts, and not just making things up.

Otherwise you get stuff like this, which concerns a Bacchus Marsh resident who apparently misinterpreted what he read and contacted Leader (newspapers) with concerns about seniors ticket pricing doubling from $3.30 one way to $7.

I suspect Myki spokesdroid Jean Ker Walsh was probably correct when she said some seniors may be confusing a one-off cost with ongoing senior fare prices.

That is, to buy a re-usable Myki card will, once all the free offers are gone, cost $7 for a concession.

Many people also seem to be assuming (incorrectly) that tourists and others will be forced to shell out for a card. They won’t — short term (non-reusable) tickets will be available: Short term tickets (for occasional users such as tourists) will replace the single-use 2-hour and Daily tickets available now.

I know it’s easy for people to assume the worst, but these sorts of false “the whole thing is totally crap” arguments don’t really help the debate, and help obscure the truth: that Myki is incredibly expensive, late, and badly implemented.

So it goes too for climate change.

Lord Christopher Monckton has been doing a speaking tour of Australia in the past few weeks, and doing a fair bit of media along the way. He’s an extremely eloquent, apparently very knowledgeable and intelligent climate change sceptic.

But, as MediaWatch found, he makes stuff up. He comes out with unsubstantiated claims which (as MediaWatch showed) many in the media let him get away with unchallenged.

I think the United Nations Climate Panel is now a busted flush. For instance, Rajendra Pachauri, its chairman, Sir John Houghton, its former chairman, and a number of other people associated with it, are now under formal criminal investigation in the United Kingdom for filing false accounts of a charity known as TERI Europe of which they are all trustees.

MediaWatch asked Sir John Houghton, who said “I am not and have never been a Trustee of Teri Europe.

They also spoke to the UK Charity Commission which said it’s evaluating Monckton’s claims, but is not running a criminal investigation. And they asked TERI Europe, who said that “Neither TERI Europe nor its trustees have received any complaint from the Charity Commission about its activities, let alone any allegation of criminal conduct.

Another of Monckton’s claims: The Barrier Reef Authority has established that sea temperatures in the region of the reef have not changed at all over the last 30 years.

MediaWatch checked this too. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says it doesn’t measure sea temperatures itself, and doesn’t know where his figures come from.

It really does appear that he’s just making stuff up — and not for the first time, either.

I suspect to anybody with an open mind, it all just casts doubt on the rest of his arguments, and it doesn’t help us have a serious, healthy debate at all.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

12 replies on “Healthy debate needs truth”

Thing is, both sides are making stuff up in the climate debate. It’s now no wonder people are switching off and ignoring the issue – I am guessing most people just think “as long as I don’t have to pay more, whatever”. It is eerily similar to an election campaign these days. He said this, he lied about this, but no, this group did this and manipulated that. Blah blah blah, meanwhile China keeps on downing our coal.

I was guilty of repeating something to my partner about the umpteen times increase in the cost for a pensioner’s monthly travel. The talk back caller was wrong but not corrected.

But the truth is that myki is “totally crap”.
The only people it will benefit are people who travel rarely – people who only travel an errand to the shops every now and then, seniors who don’t commute etc.
For the rest of us, absolutely nothing has changed – fares remain the same. Only differences are:
1. We must now touch off as well. This will cost us (default fare) if for some reason we don’t manage to do it – eg. I touched on at my bus a few days ago, luckily I tapped off before my stop, cause when it got to my stop, all 3 readers were “Out of service”
2. Tickets take longer to validate. Original idea seemed to be that you could just hold your card out at a brisk walking pace, and it would work. Obviously not. This will also cause bottlenecks at railway station validator gates – it obviously has at South Yarra where a large number of students now possess myki’s, and it’s causing problems.

Daniel, as you asked me to in a previous post, here’s my post in response to your Twitter post comparing Lord Monckton to the baby elephant. I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to repost this in a more fitting column- what prompted me to post it originally in the other column was my frustration at seeing him constantly maligned because of his opinion, and not attacking him on his views, but rather his looks, which if applied to someone else, there would be public outrage! Once again, thank you Daniel, and don’t take any offence at my introduction- sarcasm is my one monkey trick:

Gee, Daniel, how tasteful of you, comparing Lord Christopher Monckton
to the baby elephant at the Melbourne zoo! Hahaha, how funny! I mean,
that evil, flat earther, denier deserves to be made fun of, especially
about his condition of Graves Disease!!!!!! Oh, you didn’t know that:

Making fun of somebody because of appearance through no fault of their
own!? Hmmm, almost seems politically incorrect, doesn’t it? I know,
why don’t we all make fun of Downs Syndrome patients, that’ll be good
for a laugh or two!!! Hahahaha, take that for looking different,

Aren’t we supposed to be tolerant of all people with all looks in
society, so I’ve been told by the politically correct media!? Nah,
bugger that, who cares, just so long as he doesn’t agree with us,
all’s well, right!?

I have found that with Lord Monckton’s recent tour, much of his
vilification by the “unbiased” media has been because of his bulging
eyes, not on his ability as an orator or on his talking points. Is
this really an example of how tolerant liberals are? How about
attacking his substance instead of his appearance.

I had the pleasure of attending Monckton’s lecture while he was here
in Melbourne, and he was highly entertaining, and highly informative.
The man is very sharp, and has absolutely no need for any notes or
teleprompters, like a certain current US President. Whether you feel
his presentation is factual or not is up for healthy debate, and a
debate we should have that ISN’T over, according to a certain former
US Vice President! By the way, where is Al? Has anyone seen him
lately? He’s not missing in the current US snowstorms, is he? I mean,
with that much snowfall, I’m sure his mansion in Nashville was
probably blanketed with snow!

And before you start attacking me about how one snowstorm isn’t proof
of global cooling, or actually proof of global warming, as some have
claimed, recall we had this discussion about half a year ago, when you
cited Black Saturday as proof of global warming, and I referenced that
morning, which just happened to be one of the coldest of the decade.
And I agree, the current US snowstorms are neither proof for or
against global warming, but if you’ve constantly cited record hot
temperatures as proof, then why is it the reverse doesn’t apply?

I feel Lord Monckton’s appearance brought another side to the issue,
one which is sorely needed in light of the recent Climategate and
Glaciergate revelations! What, you weren’t aware because most of the
media have ignored the story? Well, here’s just a small selection of
articles, if you’re curious:

In light of all this, isn’t debate welcome- after all, if you’re
absolutely correct in your beliefs, then any opposition shouldn’t be
feared, right? And remember, we’re not arguing that climate change
doesn’t exist, we’re arguing whether man’s involvement has any
significance over other factors, like the Sun! Let’s have that debate!

That’s the end of the original post! I will post another piece on my opinion about the climate change and ETS debate!

I’ll try not to bloviate, can’t guarantee it, but I want to briefly impart what my opinions on climate change are, and what I think should be done about the situation. I know most won’t agree with me, and by no means do I claim to be an expert, but I have come to these conclusions after a few years of following the issue quite intensely! I know I’ll be attacked for them, but I’ll state them anyway!

Firstly, most of us ‘skeptics’ do believe in climate change. What we believe is that mankind has had little if no effect on it! People will say that’s crazy, as CO2 emissions have gone up over 70 years, and so has the temperature, so that’s proof!! But if you look at certain graphs of average global temperatures over the last century, between 1900 to 1940, temps rose, then went down until 1975, then went back up until 1998, stabilised, and has gone down for the last few years. Now I know there will be many disagreements with it, and there are various graphs, so whether you believe me or not is up to you. I don’t have any graphs on me, but here’s a site with some links, which should have such a graph:

In summary, searching through the above links, you will find that there are many scientists that feel that solar activity, particularly sunspot cycles, are what is the main driver of climate change. Among other reasons why I don’t believe CO2 is responsible is because of all the CO2 in the atmosphere (less than 1% overall), about 3-4% in man-made! That figure is obtained from here:

My feeling is that a 4% increase in CO2 has very little effect on raising temperatures. Besides, CO2 is not the most abundant greenhouse gas- water vapour is! All right, that’s rather simplified, but I don’t wanna harp on about it now- I did in a letter to all 12 Victorian Senators on ETS.

OK, I’m not all that convincing on that, fine, so what would be my solution if man-made global warming is true? The same as if it isn’t! Nothing! Well, not exactly, but I wouldn’t implement a hideous ETS plan! My solution is rather simple, and it is one that is always overlooked, and once again brought up today:

That’s right, nuclear energy! I know it ain’t politically correct, but that’s my plan! It is one of the most efficient and affordable forms of energy. Furthermore, no CO2 emissions! Sure, everyone will bring up waste, but there are options, such as an underground desert storage facility, such as Yucca Mountain:

There is also recycling material, which the French do. With regards to safety, next generation reactors are much safer than previous reactors. And for those who cite Chernobyl as reason for banning nuclear power, bear in mind that the accident happened because they had disabled certain safety features to run an experiment. Also, it was in the dying days of the Soviet Union, where everything was falling apart.

We have the knowledge and ability to build safe reactors. We are also fortunate to hold about a third of the world’s uranium supplies. Thorium reactors are also a viable alternative, once again we hold a third of those reserves:

As an example of how it cuts emissions, France, with 3 times our population, emit roughly the same amount of CO2 as Australia, as they derive about 80% of their electricity from nuclear. And for those who don’t want one in their own backyard, we already have a watered down version of one, and in fact, I work just down the road from it on Wellington Road:

Synchrotrons generate X-rays, Nuclear reactors generate gamma rays, one step above X-rays. The benefits- we would have a clean source of energy, with high efficiency, which means affordable electricity. Furthermore, with enough of them, we need never worry about rolling blackouts during summer, as we would have an abundance of energy. There is more to be said, but I’ve prattled on enough about it, suffice it to say that our PM is doing us a disservice by ruling it out, when even Obama is looking into it! To not use our own resources is crazy!

Wind and solar aren’t, and never will provide enough baseload power for our country. My physics training (Monash) and background have shown me enough details to realise this. Besides, the costs per kW/hr for those means are much more expensive than coal or nuclear.

As for the ETS, that is the most horrid piece of legislation in Australian history, and I have fought tooth and nail on it! I have written two 12 page letters to all 12 Victorian Senators bringing up my concerns about it! Quite simply, it is nothing but the biggest tax on our lifestyle, with absolutely no environmental benefit. It would not punish the “polluters” (power stations), as they would pass the cost onto consumers. Furthermore, everything you would do or buy would increase in price because of this! This “tax” would make it impossible for many manufacturing companies , metal smelting in particular, to operate here, and would leave and set up in India or China, who have no plans to curb emissions! Thus we would have ruined our economy, all to say that we’re not polluting- someone else is on our behalf!! Furthermore, it would create a carbon derivatives market, much in the same fashion as the US sub-prime mortgage market, and we know how well that went!

Not much more, I promise! I just wanted to talk briefly about Lord Monckton lecture a bit. He is quite enigmatic, and bombards you with a lot of scientific data and numbers. I admit, much of it went over my head, and I don’t doubt that he would spin some of it as well. He understands the need for cleaner air, and other concerns such as deforestation, but does make a convincing argument about man’s impact on CO2. He does provide a well presented case, one that should be considered, especially in light of all the investigations of the IPCC and the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia. You wouldn’t execute an inmate if last minute evidence was presented casting doubt, so let us not rush through legislation if there is doubt, as there appears to be now.

In summary, it looks as if the federal election may be decided on this, and I would urge everyone to do some research on this, as our country’s future depends on it! Once again, thank you Daniel for putting up with my bloviating, and hope that I have presented some logical arguments. I know it isn’t much, but I’ve said enough at this stage. Welcome other people’s thoughts!

Neither side is ‘squeaky clean’ and the stretching of the facts to fit a particular perspective just annoys the man in the street.

I get a sense that, regardless of the arguments about “the science”, people want to do something about ‘climate change’. People are prepared to reduce their carbon emissions which is mostly about reducing their energy load. Indeed many people are already taking action at a local or personal level to reduce energy use. This might range form changing lightbulbs right through to installing solar panels or even taking public transport rather than driving.

The problem is that our politicians haven’t caught that same sense. They want quick or big ticket solutions (and look where rushing insulation installation has got us) rather than building on the broad groundswell I believe is there in support of mitigation strategies.

Personally, I prefer a carbon tax to cap and trade. A tax provides a direct price for inherent externalities (such as emiting carbon) that provides certainty to business and consumers.

The most bogus of all of the repeated bogus claims, is the claim that the energy used in mining uranium and turning it into nuclear fuel, exceeds the amount of energy created by using the nuclear fuel.

Yet this bogus claim is repeated every day, including today’s Age.

But Ronnie, you’re missing the point of Daniel’s post (or at least failing to acknowledge it). I think Myki’s totally crap too, for the reasons you mention and a whole lot more. But if we want our criticism to be taken seriously, we have to be careful that our facts are 100% accurate, and not go spouting a lot of factoids, rumours, assumptions, misinterpretations and the like. People like Bacchus Marsh Guy, getting all in a flap over nothing, don’t help the cause one bit. They merely deflect attention from legitimate criticism such as yours.

Spot on Bonnie.

And Ronnie, your points are not strictly true, in my view. But I’ll save that for another time, suffice to say that you shouldn’t judge the Myki barrier gates by what’s installed now, as that’s only temporary.

The only clear result to emerge from the AGW debate so far is that if you have possession of the data you can make it say any damn thing you like. Once the data passes out of the hands of AGW enthusiasts and into the hands of the public — who, after all, have paid for the bloody stuff — then we will be better placed to try and determine what — if anything — is really going on.

Sir John’s announcement was not true though. I checked up immediately after
Media Watch who were the trustees of TERI Europe. There was Sir John’s name on top of the list…. but now he’s be down graded to only an Adviser.

Quick off the mark aren’t they? Mind you maybe he was only an adviser and they
by mistake put him in as a Trustee. Lord Monckton is no fool.

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