Brain graze


Certain environmental reporters have shredded whole forests in their quest to have the world believe that catastrophe is just around the corner due to man-made global warming.
This unproven theory surfaced in the mid-80s and was often pushed by greens who a decade earlier were prophesising an imminent ice age. Well, 15 years have passed and no huge disasters have occurred because of manmade global warming, if you discount bushfires. There is no doubt the world is getting warmer in places. And the cause is manmade. In particular, airports are getting warmer, and that's where a lot of the earth's weather stations are located.
This permits the pro-manmade lobby to say every year that the past 12 months were the hottest on record. Course it was; there were 10 per cent more flights, 10 per cent more tarmac and the surrounding urban area increased its sun-soaking cement and bitumen surface by 10 per cent. But the manmade proponents aren't eager to link urban development to global warming. That could lead to calls to destroy cities and decentralise populations. No, they prefer to blame filthy industry and other energy-reliant trappings of modern society. And what's their solution? The developed west is to stop using this energy and allow the developing world, China and India, to take up the slack with their antiquated technology. Get it: in the end, at least the same amount of energy is used, producing a much larger amount of pollution. And this is supposed to reduce ''manmade global warming''?
Fortunately not all the world's scientists are caught up in the manmade hysteria and this fine report by AAP's Don Woolford of a climate conference in Hobart this week showed just how uncertain the science is.

A deep current of unusually salty water heads north out of the Southern Ocean and the
climate changes.
A filthy eastern European factory closes, or a Greenland glacier melts. Again, the climate is affected.
These are but three of a myriad of factors, some paradoxical, that help to determine the world's weather.
More than 50 international scientists, members of the joint scientific committee of the World Climate
Research Program (WCRP), met in Hobart this week to review progress on understanding the climate jigsaw nd plan further work.
The Geneva-based WCRP oversees multidisciplinary climate research projects which are too big for any ingle nation and its findings feed into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Australian Antarctic Division, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Cooperative Research Centre,
Australian Greenhouse Office, Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO contribute to its work.
But the more the scientists learn and the more sophisticated their modelling becomes, the more they realise hey don't know.
``We're slowly getting there,'' Chad Dick, an Englishman who works for the Norwegian Polar Institute and is a CRP project director, said.
``But it will probably be 20 years before we know how confident we ought to be in our climate models.''
Dr Dick, who worked for six years at the Bureau of Meteorology's weather station at Cape Grim in
northwestern Tasmania, warned there could be unpredictable disasters waiting.
``The ozone hole more or less popped out of nothing,'' he said.
``There were good models of some of the chemistry that goes on in the atmosphere, but no-one predicted hat the place of ozone depletion would be at the poles.''
The WCRP is running five major projects covering ocean circulation, land mass and water run-off, the role of now and ice in climate change, climate cycles, and the importance of the stratosphere, which sits 10 to 20km bove the Earth.
Dr Dick said the Southern Ocean was particularly important because it is the only ocean that connects with he three great oceanic basins -- the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian -- and it takes about 60 per cent of the an-made carbon dioxide that is absorbed in water.
Its driver is the circumpolar current, which propels vast bodies of water eastward round the top of Antarctica.
At its depths is heavy, salty and very cold water, a result of Antarctic sea ice expelling salt as it is formed.
Much of this deep, cold water eventually heads north through the other three great oceans before rising in he tropics. It has an immense influence on Australia's weather and affects almost everywhere.
But a body of water can't move without being replaced by other water. As the deep, cold water goes north, warmer water comes south. And in the Northern Hemisphere a similar cycle in reverse direction occurs, most importantly through the Gulf Stream.
Dr Dick said that without this constant oceanic interchange, the tropics would get continually hotter and the high latitudes ever colder. It is a mechanism for equilibrium.
But the equilibrium is delicate and can be affected, in ways not yet fully understood, by changes in current, temperature, salinity and oxygen levels.
This is a research area of particular Australian interest and a recent study has found oxygen depletion in one of the Antarctic's main regions of deep water formation.
There are paradoxes, too. Scientists have little doubt world warming helped cause a giant ice shelf to break off the Antarctic Peninsula recently.
Yet that same warming, by causing more precipitation, means most of the rest of Antarctica is increasing its snow and ice and probably becoming still colder.
There's little doubt that a major cause of the warming -- though millennial cycles may also be involved -- is the greenhouse effect caused by the ever-increasing expulsion of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But it's very tricky. Take all those factories, particularly to the east of the old Iron Curtain, that pumped both CO2 and squillions of particles of other muck, into the atmosphere.
These particles had a countervailing effect because they reflected sunlight back into space and thus cooled the atmosphere.
As the factories were closed or modernised -- for excellent reasons -- this influence was lessened.
``The technology is getting better at removing particles, but not CO2,'' Dr Dick said.
``So as the atmosphere gets cleaner, greenhouse gets stronger.''
No-one doubts that humans are helping to change the climate, but to what extent remains unclear.
In fact one of the key unanswered questions specified by conference chair Peter Lemke is: ``What is the extent of human-induced influences on climate?''
While that is essentially a scientific question, Dr Dick said that the ultimate decisions had to be made by governments and peoples.
They had to decide whether the cost of reducing energy use was worth the risk of major, perhaps disastrous, climate change.
Dr Dick, who believes the world should err on the side of caution, is not hopeful.
``Everybody will be green, everybody will be an environmentalist, but not until it's too late,'' he said.


Who said they no longer practise cannibalism in Africa?
FROM Kampala Reuters reports that a Ugandan woman issued summary justice for the beatings dished out by her husband by biting off his penis and testicles during an
argument, police said on Wednesday.


SEEMS sanity is the second victim in the cultural war. Jewish World Review reports that
''Sound and Fury'' an Oscar-nominated documentary on the controversy over the Australian-developed cochlear implants -- a technology that allows deaf people to hear-- is stirring passions. Why is
there a dispute? Because many deaf people now
view themselves as an identity group under assault
from the hearing world. Cochlear implants, which
work best with children, are viewed as an example
of intolerance and aggression that remove deaf
children from their culture, just as missionaries once
took Indian children from their tribes and put them
in Christian boarding schools. In Sound and Fury,
a deaf Long Island couple refuse to let their
6-year-old daughter get a cochlear implant. The
father has a lament about the future: "If the
technology progresses, maybe it's true deaf people
will become extinct, and my heart will be broken." Cathy Young is right on the money in Reason magazine, declaring: "the celebration of difference and pluralism has brought modern
Western culture to the brink of lunacy."


Want a comfortable living provided by the State? Get married. Again and Again. The Daily Telegraph reports polygamists living in Britain can claim benefits for multiple wives, even if they are not residing in the UK..