JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Crazy economics: Spend $10 billion and rescue the Murray river carp fisheries?

It just shows how dry Australia is and how pathetic we are with water. Australia’s largest river ends in an artificial dam full of feral European Carp. Lobbyists are campaigning hard (and successfully) to take water from upstream farmers to restore the flow. According to Jennifer Marohasy, one of the main outcomes will be to increase a massive artificial freshwater estuary that only exists because several kilometers of man-made barrages were built across the end of the river in the 1930′s. She makes a case that we’d be better off using the $10 billion dollars and the water to restore natural wetlands or to produce food. As she says “Taking one-third of upstream Murray water from farmers to feed a downstream carp fishery makes no economic, environmental or agricultural sense.“

I spoke to Marohasy on the phone today and she makes the point that the Murray River was in strife in the 1980′s, and it did need extra water-flow, but a lot of action had already been taken, and river health improved before this latest $10 billion dollar plan was pledged in April 2007. (For example, in October 2005 the “world’s largest delivery of environmental water“, [...]

Jennifer Marohasy and ABC’s MediaWatch tribal warfare

UPDATE: While MediaWatch (ABC) is hassling Jennifer Marohasy, Marc Hendrickx at ABCnewswatch responds in kind, posting an excellent open letter to MediaWatch, asking if they can outline their own scientific qualifications to judge Jennifer Marohasy’s scientific work. ABC staff want to know her motivations, but Marc wants to know theirs. And “given that they employ 11 staff full time” and produce “one 15 minute show per week”, do they consider that this represents good value for the Australian taxpayer? Touche!

Brilliant Marc. It’s a must read.

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Jennifer Marohasy has extraordinary influence. She’s so powerful that the ABC’s Media Watch program has singled her out, asking questions about her income and disclosures that they don’t even bother to ask Tim Flannery. Presumably they don’t think anyone still takes Tim seriously.

They sent her a barrage of questions last Friday, which she hammered in a detailed reply on the weekend. I hear they are still sniffing around anyone they can think of who may know something about Marohasy, asking leading questions and volunteering information that isn’t correct.

Media Watch (aka Witch Hunt) thought this was a question worth asking:

[To Jennifer Marohasy] In your recent opinion columns [...]

Could we make that flood worse?

Many landholders along the Tumut River have not returned to their homes because of increased outflow from the Blowering Dam. (AAP: Wolter Peeters). From the ABC site.

It’s not like we need another case study in just how creatively dumb bureaucracy can be, but Jennifer Marohasy has been relentless in pursuing the extraordinary case of a government contracting a corporation to pour nearly 7000 Mega litres into a area facing life threatening floods. That’s more than 2000 Olympic pools worth of water dumped into a flood zone just last Wednesday.

Remember, this legislation was made with good intentions, and it was supposed to help the environment…

The Whole Truth: Water Deliberately Dumped into Flooded Area

SNOWY Hydro chief executive, Terry Charlton, recently confirmed that water was dumped into the already flooded Murray-Darling Basin, but said the authority had little choice (The Australian, December 15, 2010, page 7).   A real time operational diagram, however, tells a very different story.

Last Wednesday, Snowy Hydro could have sent water into Eucumbene dam.  At only 20 percent it had a storage capacity of a whopping 4 cubic kilometres of water.

Instead, the water managers set the trans-mountain tunnels so water was flowing away from [...]

Cancun in a nutshell: nothing achieved but it’s a Big PR Success

UPDATED

After the awful post-Climategate-and-Copenhagen year, more than anything else, the Big Scare Campaign needed a PR win. And in that sense Cancun was a major victory. Nobody agreed to anything legally binding, Kyoto was not extended, and all they achieved amounted to nothing more than an extension of the yearly junkets, and the promise that the gravy train is not dead yet. But the headlines will warm the hearts of all on Team-Scare-Us. The most important thing for the side that’s losing friends, faith and face, was to regain momentum. They’re trying to stop the death spiral.

The Australian ABC is only too happy to help be a part of the cheer-squad:

Cancun climate talks reach ‘historic’ deal

BBC lends as much momentum to this as it can swing in a headline:

UN climate change talks in Cancun agree a deal

Andy Revkin, NY Times, talks about “pivotal moments” in reverential tones. It’s a bit like the second coming:

Consensus Emerges On Common Climate Path

No one has actually agreed to anything enforceable, but you’d have to read the subtext to know that.

Richard Black, BBC Environment Correspondent sums it up unusually well:

“The dog is resuscitated [...]