Spencer climbs down — word is out, help at hand

Peter Spencer

I missed the announcement in the Herald yesterday, but it’s just as welcome for hearing it late: after 52 long days on a hunger strike, Peter Spencer, farmer, has given in to “the concerns of family and friends” and been winched back down to earth.

According to Greg Ansley, Peter was “taken to hospital in the nearby alpine town of Cooma to help recover from the ordeal and a diet of lemon juice, vitamins and water.”

Congratulations to a determined champion of justice. We hope he can keep the farm he’s worked so valiantly to save.

He has not achieved the demands he made of the authorities, like a royal commission and a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, but he seems to have made a strong point around the country which will now be followed up by supporters and sympathetic politicians.

Australian Opposition National Senator Barnaby Joyce will take Spencer to Canberra next month to continue his “courageous” fight. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Spencer had made an important point.

Spencer, who faces the sale of his property and is deeply in debt, said yesterday he intended to continue his fight against laws that prevented him from clearing trees from his property.

From The Canberra Times:

The hunger strike was the latest in a long line of measures Mr Spencer took to draw attention to his plight and those of many other farmers and graziers in NSW and Queensland.

Mr Spencer said he plans to continue to lobby the Federal Government for a Royal Commission into legislation that bans farmers from clearing native vegetation on their properties.

So the crisis is over and Spencer is safe; I wonder how the real battle will end? This dispute is not just about global warming, it’s about private property, land rights and the rightful powers of the state.

Peter Spencer — climate martyr

Peter Spencer fasting on his protest platform

This is an Australian story. It is for us all.

Noble resistance has often created martyrs, those who die in defence of their cause. Let us hope we’re not watching the final days of the first climate change martyr.

Peter Spencer is a courageous, intelligent and resourceful man. But he has been destroyed by the Australian government, through the legal system, in the name of climate change. The only rescue possible for him is by the government and they are refusing to get involved.

It is worse than disgraceful. It is tragic.

The only hope for him now is a public outcry, which is beginning in Australia.

He came to my attention through this story on Jo Nova’s web site. It is a disgrace that the mainstream Australian media are not reporting it (though some are beginning to).

It is no great surprise that the New Zealand media aren’t reporting it either. For one thing it’s happening overseas but doesn’t involve Paris Hilton and for another our media have largely lost their spine. Especially where climate change is involved, almost no journalists will challenge the government line.

Losing all he has in the next few days

The page I link to above has important links to parts of the story. In addition, Joanne posted this story yesterday which contains a harrowing radio account by Peter himself of the troubles he faces and the strenuous, creative efforts he’s made over several years to confront them.

The tremendous strain of being parted from his family for the last three years and the imminent loss of his farm and personal effects in the next few days causes him to break down several times. Throughout his account, even after more than 40 days without food, he speaks clearly of events and his hope that the government can yet be persuaded to change what it has done.

Jo’s latest post reports the rally was quite well supported. However it includes a very disturbing account of possible government intervention making the rally more difficult to stage. Bus inspectors threatened a snap inspection which effectively stopped the organisers from using buses.

And we thought Australia was a modern country with advanced notions of freedom and democracy.

What’s possible over the ditch is possible right here.

What to do? Post a comment about your support on Jo Nova’s blog. There’s an address there to write to the Australian Prime Minister. Post a comment here. Write to anyone you know in Australia to make sure they’ve heard about this amazing injustice.

If you think of something else we can do, post it here.

White roofs might cool a city, but hardly the globe

Brian Rudman, in White roofs are good for society, in the Herald last Wednesday, dredges up Professor Steven Chu’s wacky idea from last May to paint our roofs white, reflect more sunlight and thus temper the severe global warming presently afflicting us.

Professor Chu, US Energy Secretary and Nobel-prize-winning physicist, said lightening roofs and roads in urban environments would offset the global warming effects of all the cars in the world for 11 years.

He doesn’t tell us how long everything must remain painted white to earn those 11 years, or how much we’d need to pay for all the paint.

We can tell him, however, that it wouldn’t make any difference to global warming, although it might reduce the urban heat island (UHI) effect.

How does the UHI work? Well, roads and buildings absorb heat from the sun more than trees or grasslands do. So, as a village becomes a town and the town grows into a city, adding more and more roads and buildings, average temperatures climb, especially at night. This happens in both hot places and cold places, it makes no difference; if you build a city, you raise the temperature.

But if more surfaces were light-coloured instead of dark, more sunlight would be reflected and downtown wouldn’t get so hot.

The trouble is, it’s just not enough to combat global warming. With only about 0.1% of the sun’s energy being reflected away even if every road and building in the whole world was painted white (which would be a miraculous feat of co-operation), we wouldn’t see any change in the global average temperature, which might go down by about 0.1°C.

So we’d pay trillions to keep our parts of the world painted and we wouldn’t see any result for it.

The irony of this proposal is that the US-managed global surface temperature record is contaminated by the UHI effects from urban weather stations all over the world, since so many of them are in towns and cities. Anthony Watts, at Watts Up With That, has gathered evidence of this and for years has been lobbying to have adjustments made to the dataset to remove the spurious UHI warming and see whether we really do have global warming.

There is strong evidence that if this was done most of the surface “warming” recorded over the last part of the 20th century would simply disappear.

How ironic that Rudman picks up on a solution incapable of solving a problem that doesn’t exist, but whose effect could be to remove evidence of the problem.

Uh, so it will solve global warming! White paint, anyone?

By the way, it’s important to remember that this solution only makes sense in low latitudes (closer to the equator), where cooling your building is sensible. In higher latitudes (closer to the poles), where it’s already colder, you must heat the building and you really want darker colours to warm it a bit and save that heating money. So you can’t really paint all the buildings white, only those in the warmer places. And you don’t want to paint the colder roads white, since they ice up more readily.

What a pity. It was such a good idea.

It’s your footprint. What is it to me?

Gareth Hughes, an obviously earnest young man, writing in the NZ Herald recently, advises us breathlessly to take all manner of feel-good actions to stave off global warming and prevent any further drain on the national grid. As though the national grid was not supposed to supply energy for our use. That we pay for.

He seems to take the view that the Earth is a fragile, sensitive object that, without the most rigorous balancing of resources to ensure what is called “sustainability” (but which is never defined), might never recover from the ravages of this human life upon it. Never mind that animals, birds and fish rage and stamp, consume and defecate their mindless ways above, across and under it and in the oceans in their millions willy-nilly. What they do is natural but everything we do is unnatural, artificial—even inhuman, perhaps. Certainly endlessly disagreeable. Continue Reading →

NZ sustainable energy supplies surprise

download pdf (92 KB)…

by Gary Kendall, Engineer
This paper examines the practicality of replacing base-load power generation in New Zealand with renewable resources, including hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and tidal. It reveals, surprisingly, that introducing significant numbers of electric cars would seriously strain our present power supply. If you’ve heard about the government’s desire to restrict thermal power generation to mitigate climate change, you should read this paper.   pdf (92KB)…