Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year Eve tradition

On the tractor ploughing on the night of the 30th I listened on the radio an account of a new year eve tradition from Germany where every year sometime during the evening on TV the same comedy routine will be screened based on a British music hall sketch with two English actors and filmed in Germany in 1963.

Photo sourced from here

Turns out it is not just the Germans that are hooked on to this comedy routine but also those in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Finland, Estonia, Faroe Islands and Austria. Here in Australian SBS One has also taken up the tradition of the annual screening of Dinner for One, this year at 8.30pm 31st December.

From this site there is a link to the script and it gives the following brief outline of the plot.
 Complete Script (in English)
The British actor Freddie Frinton played the tipsy butler James in the 1963 German TV production. (Frinton died only five years after the Hamburg filming.) May Warden played the role of Miss Sophie, who is celebrating her 90th birthday. The only problem is... all of her party "guests" are imaginary friends who have died off. A German New Year's Eve just doesn't seem right without hearing the lines known to just about any living German: "The same procedure as last year, Madam? - The same procedure as every year, James."

Monday, 30 December 2013

Holy Cow! Another Global Warming Myth busted.

(Originally published on Australian Climate Sceptics blog)

The word “Sustainability” has been hijacked with definitions developed by groups pushing various agendas including being used extensively to promote the Agenda 21 agenda to a point that we need to be wary of the use of the word.

Having said that, here is a pre-Christmas story from 

Cows’ Role in Global Warming Overlooked in Climate Talks
Cattle and other ruminants are probably the biggest human-related source of methane, a gas adding to global warming, and climate negotiators have paid too little attention to livestock, a team of researchers said. 
Cows, sheep, goats and buffalo produce “copious amounts” of methane in their digestive systems, Oregon State University wrote in an online press release, citing analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change today. One of the most effective ways to cut the gas would be to reduce the global population of ruminant livestock, the university said.
Yet there is a multitude (or should I say a stampede?) of information contradicting this. Googling "cattle carbon neutral" brings around a quarter million hits. E.G:-

US Grasslands Carbon Neutral: (The Land)
Cattle grazing systems on native grassland in the northern United States are reducing greenhouse gases, a new study reports. 
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers set out to get a local perspective on European conclusions that managed grasslands are greenhouse gas sinks—(although when methane and nitrous oxide emissions were taken into account, the greenhouse gas balance in the European sites was closer to neutral). 
The USDA study, reported this week in the Journal of Environmental Quality, came to a mixed conclusion. 
It confirmed that in the North Dakota study area, all grazing treatments sequestered significant quantities of carbon and minor quantities of atmospheric methane.

Climate breakthrough: cattle carbon neutral: (Qld Country Life)

A NEW report which shows that Queensland's cattle grazing industry is already all but carbon neutral and could provide a solution in addressing the State's overall carbon liability has been buried by the Bligh Government. 
It is understood the release of the 30-page report prepared by Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries has been derailed by Greg Withers, the Director-General of the Queensland Government's Department of Climate Change and Premier Anna Bligh's husband. 
The report, which examines the carbon footprint of the beef industry and the impact of vegetation clearing bans, has been peer reviewed by a number of the nation's top scientists, including the CSIRO's Dr Ed Charmley, QUT's Dr Peter Grace, and Meat and Livestock Australia's Beverly Henry. 
The authors of the report - titled Net Carbon Position of the Queensland Beef Industry - are respected QPIF scientists Dr Steven Bray and Dr Jacqui Wilcocks.
Ruminants not Kyoto villains  (link: pdf)

A Paper by Dr Gerrit van der Lingen published by the NZ Climate Science Coalition.  (NZCSC)
The New Zealand Government signed the Kyoto protocol on 22 May 1998 and ratified it on 19 December 2002. 
Perhaps there was some justification in 2002 before the bottom fell out of the falsified AGW hypothesis. (See also UK Met OfficeJo Nova)
All plants, including grass, require carbon dioxide to grow. Grass is eaten by ruminants and the carbon in it is used for the growth of the animal and for milk and wool production. A small part of the carbon from the grass is used to make methane through enteric fermentation. This methane is emitted by the animals into the atmosphere. It stays in the atmosphere for only about 10 years, after which it changes back to carbon dioxide, which in turn is being absorbed by the grass, which in turn is eaten by the animals, etc. It is basically a closed loop. However, some of the carbon is incorporated by the animals into skin, wool, meat and bones. Some of those are subsequently turned into durable animal-based commodities, such as woollen garments, leather products, even bone carvings. As long as such products are not incinerated, the carbon stays locked up. It is being sequestered.  
Consequently, ruminants act as carbon sinks. There is therefore no justification to include ruminant methane emissions in the Kyoto Protocol obligations.

Do the Alarmists check both sides of the debate or just go ahead and publish already busted alarm stories?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Gladstone harbour - the truth and the pain to bring it to light

Truth never lost ground by enquiry. - WILLIAM PENN, Some Fruits of Solitude

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light. - GEORGE WASHINGTON
Pic supplied by author
Photo by John Mikkelsen

Finally the truth has come out in the major metropolitan newspapers about what has been killing marine life in Gladstone harbour. To be fair the situation wasn’t helped by the Gladstone Port Corporation (GPC) withholding reports from public examination for over two years. The local newspaper, the Gladstone Observer, has finally reported the news instead of printing the version presented by the GPC without too much outside inquiry. The full page advertising by GPC at the time may have been co-incidental.  
The enquiry for truth has largely been pursued in the alternative media on blog sites. The most prolific writer about the disaster besetting Gladstone harbour is John Mikkelsen or Mikko to his online friends, a semi-retired journalist living at the time at Tannum Sands who could see first-hand the fish deaths, could talk to the local fishermen and the scientists who came to investigate.
John Mikkelsen in his latest blog post, Gladstone Harbour- dredging up what went wrong, writes of the “latest of the belated reports emerging showing how environmental breaches went unreported in Gladstone Harbour;” referring to Tony Moore’s December 20th Brisbane Times newspaper article, Gladstone Harbour bund wall failures explained.
The Australian in the November 18th issue carried the article, Fish fears rise over LNG port dredging, revealing how GPC withheld reports for more than two years containing evidence contrary to the GPC claim that the problems were all caused by a flood in 2011, a scenario that as time went on became increasingly apparent to be unlikely.  The author of this article in the Australian is the Environment editor, Graham Lloyd who has since followed up with two more articles, Bad build blamed for fish deaths and Gladstone port plea to stem toxic leak.

Vision demonstrating failings in the bund wall at Gladstone Harbour.
Photo Brisbane Times

The evidence now available supports what John Mikkelsen has been writing since September 2011. His articles were published in two of Australia’s largest blog sites, Something’s really fishy in the Gladstone waters at The Punch on October 2011 and then on the 26th at ABC’s Unleashed, Gladstone fish can't read.

John Mikkelsen
But the enquiry into truth was not without cost, on October 17th 2011 Mikko who several years previously had held the position of editor of the Gladstone Observer wrote:

Yesterday I watched a convoy of tugs towing barges loaded with dredging spoil past Tannum Sands to the dumping grounds in open waters just outside the entrance to Gladstone Harbour, the scene of widespread controversy surrounding continuing catches of sick fish and dead marine animals.

On Wild Cattle Island, a national park just south of Tannum beach, I saw the carcass of another dead adult turtle washed up at low tide, the latest in more than 200 strandings.

In the past week, local media outlets have all run full-page advertisements from the Gladstone Ports Corporation stating “Water quality in Gladstone Harbour is OK”. Tell that to the fish.

Meanwhile, for almost five years I have been writing a weekly column, ‘What Goes Around’ in The Gladstone Observer. For the past month, I have focussed on the harbour controversy but it has now been axed because of “budget restrictions”. All online comments to articles relating to the harbour and diseased fish were removed just over a week ago and since then new articles have not allowed online comment.

All that could be coincidental and I am not suggesting otherwise, just presenting the circumstances. My last article, published in today’s Observer (October 17)”

The above quote was published at a community blog site that no longer deserves to be named. This article attracted several thousand views to the ongoing comments that kept people up to date to the unfolding situation at Gladstone harbour. Most of these views would have been from people keeping themselves informed rather than those actually commenting.  Unfortunally the article also attracted a couple of people with the zealous desire to discredit the evidence being presented and although living far away from Gladstone were very persistent in harassment often using cherry picked Google searches. The article was deleted in November 2012 because of the abuse of trust that the community placed in one person to hold the site’s password; it was deleted for no other reason than this person choose at the time to disagree with it.

The original post was copied and is available at the pindanpost blog site. Many pages of updated comments, including informed scientific commentary, are lost.   

It appeared that the motivation to persistently harass the events at Gladstone harbour to be reported and commented upon was that environmental groups had subsequently become active about the issue and that if the ‘greenies’ were making statements they had to be automatically wrong. While it is certainly easy to find many examples of the extreme end of the environmental movement in their ‘the end justifies the means’ approach using alarmism, misinformation and even sabotage, it is simplistic to assume that everyone interested in environmental issues are of bad character with incorrect information. Whenever in this harassment it was pointed out the greenies were involved with Gladstone harbour, Mikko would patiently reply that “even a broken clock is right twice a day.”    

Social media can be and is being used for good; the enquiry into the truth about Gladstone harbour would not have proceeded without the use of blog sites. However it also provides a soap box for those that society would not have otherwise have provided for some people. It brings out the ‘haters’ from both the politically left and the right. It provides the opportunity for you to hear the viewpoint that you want to hear and to attack every view expressed by other sources that have been pigeon holed as wrong. Social media provides the opportunity for those that wish to rant, engage in absolutes and abuse just as it can provide the opportunity for enquiry, positive engagement and thoughtfulness. 

Photo sourced -
 Those of us who are politically conservative and are interested in a balance of conservation with economic development and community values should stand strong against the attacks of some on the left who believe that the only legitimate comment on environmental issues is owned by them. Also those of us you are politically conservative and are interested into the enquiry into the truth of a situation should resist the weakness that requires one to retreat to known absolutes and not allow new events to challenge one’s thinking. Sometime there are circumstances where you end up on a parallel course to others that are normally in opposition; it appears that some are so insecure in their own convictions that they create an artificial world of “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”.

Congratulations Mikko for the truth belatedly being reported in the major metropolitan main stream media. You have stuck to your guns; the truth has ultimately prevailed thanks to the pains you took to bring it to light. The pursuit may have not been without pain; there are a few people that owe you an apology.

The event of November 2012 was the catalyst for the beginning of this blog site and below is the list of the posts published by John Mikkelsen about the Gladstone Harbour


Photo sourced from,

Gladstone Harbour- dredging up what went wrong

May 9 2014
The independent report to federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt was released on and it reveals that there was an obvious determined attempt to cover up the whole devastating effects of the dredging and leaking bund wall, coinciding with the fish disease and toxic algae outbreaks.

Bad build and oversight failure at Gladstone gas hub.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Gladstone Harbour- dredging up what went wrong

This is the latest in a recent series of belated reports emerging showing how environmental breaches went unreported in Gladstone Harbour after the onset of the major dredging program for access to the LNG plants under construction on Curtis Island.
The Gladstone Ports Corporation recently claimed there was a "small leak" in the reclamation bund wall containing acid sulphate mud and a cocktail of heavy metals and other industrial deposits laid down over about 50 years and never previously dredged.
Fish, turtles, dolphin and dugong were sick and dying, people were hospitalised with severe infections but the authorities claimed it was all due to the flood in 2011, one of the most moderate floods on the Queensland coast at that time.

This article in The Brisbane Times shows one example of how things went wrong, but we weren't told when it was happening:

Two senior engineers have told exactly how the controversial bund wall in Gladstone Harbour leaked in 2011 and 2012, letting dirty dredge spoil flow out to the Great Barrier Reef.
A protective geotextile cloth that was originally supposed to be built inside the porous bund wall, was instead laid on the inside wall of the bund wall.
It was half the thickness of the originally-designed geotextile cloth and simply tore, crumpled and "ballooned away" from the bund wall as the tide rose and fell in 2011 and 2012.

Vision demonstrating failings in the bund wall at Gladstone Harbour. Photo: Supplied
This left large holes in the bund wall for the dredge spoil to leak through on the rising tide in Gladstone's Harbour.
After seeing the presentation on Friday, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is asking questions about the expected scrutiny of future dredging operations in Queensland.
On Friday, GRMPA decided not to give a permit to allow dredging spoil to be dumped in reef waters until further tests are finished in late January.

Vision demonstrating failings in the bund wall at Gladstone Harbour. Photo: Supplied
Gladstone Harbour's bund wall was built in 2011 because 25 million tonnes of sediment had to be dredged to make way for the harbour expansion for the liquid natural gas industry.
The wall was needed to protect marine fauna (largely fish and turtles) and flora (largely sea grass).
The Gladstone Harbour result - as shown by experienced engineers Bill Service, a dredging supervisor with QGC; and Warren Hornsey, an engineer who works with geosynthetic materials - was explained to Griffith University students in August for $5.
Their presentation: "Gladstone Harbour Dredged Spoil Bund Wall - What Went Wrong" was presented at Griffith's Gold Coast campus on August 21.
The bund wall failure in 2011 has never been explained in detail to journalists, who have questioned the conditions in the harbour for two years.
The pair found:
the rising tide caused the "geotextile cloth" to split horizontally;
in some cases the geotextile was not secured at the bottom and simply lifted up;
"there were crumpled areas, tears, rips and holes due to the water movements."
Bill Service and Warren Hornsey, say the leaking was caused by problems with the lining - which was thinner than originally proposed - and not being placed within the bund wall.
"This resulted in a porous wall, which relied on a geotextile fabric lining material to prevent fine dredged spoil from leaking through the wall," the authors said.
"Unfortunately, problems arose with the lining, resulting in significant leakage of dredged spoil."
The bund wall was built by Abigroup, confimed by this site as part of Gladstone Harbour's Western Dredging Project.
A spokeswoman for Abigroup said they met its contract requirements for the project.
“Abigroup delivered on their contractual obligations in relation to the Gladstone Port Corporation Seawall project,” said an Abigroup spokesperson.
The Queensland Government said Abigroup was not fined by the previous state government,or the existing state government for the leaks.
"No, Abigroup was not fined," a spokswoman said.
"Abigroup was a contractor engaged by the Gladstone Port Corporation (GPC)," she said.
"Any breach of tender would be a commercial matter for GPC to consider."
A Gladstone Port Corporation spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on why the original bund wall design was changed, or whether Abigroup was ever fined for the dredge spoil leaks.
GBRMPA this week refused to grant the permit to allow three million cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped in Reef waters and extended a decision until 31 January 2014.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has approved dredging to expand Abbot Point coal port but GBRMPA must issue a permit before dredge spoil can be dumped.
Gladstone Harbour now has a day-to-day monitoring site of water conditions in the harbour.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Qld Rural fire service - Malone review delivery

Media release

Malone Review Team Update December 2013

Since the handing down of the Police and Community Safety Review (Keelty Review) on the 10th September, the Newman Government and Malone Review Working Group have been focused on delivering the majority of the 91 recommendations of the Malone Review into the Rural Fire Service.

Photo sourced ABC

The Rural Fire Service in Queensland has suffered from the neglect of successive Labor Governments over many years. It is my role and that of Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Jack Dempsey to ensure a solid foundation is laid to rebuild an organisation that supports 34,000 volunteer firefighters, Rural Fire Brigades, SES volunteers and State Emergency Service units, which provide community defence across Queensland.

From meetings across the state with volunteers and the large number of submissions that were made, together we’ve set a clear outline of what the Rural Fire Service should look like in the future. We are now in the process of ensuring that RFSQ is empowered to enable its team to meet diverse community needs into the future.

The position of Deputy Commissioner Rural Fire and State Emergency Services will be advertised nationally in early 2014. This role will be instrumental in providing leadership and strategic direction to the Rural Fire Service, as well as the State Emergency Service, Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue. One of the prime attributes of the new Deputy Commissioner is a solid grounding in volunteering and an understanding of the ethos and values of the volunteer.

There are a number of legislative changes that are required to enable my vision, and the legal frame work is something that will not change overnight, as a solid foundation for the acknowledgment and recognition of volunteers will set that basis that brigades and units will operate from for potentially the next twenty years.

The sign-off of the jointly-agreed recommendations is expected by the end of March 2014, however to date the Malone Review Working Group has ticked off on 36 recommendations. This, in conjunction with the appointment of the Deputy Commissioner Rural Fire and State Emergency Services, will see the implementation of these approved recommendations. It is vital that this be communicated widely to RFSQ, SES Staff, volunteers, brigades, units and to all concerned stakeholders. This open communication will ensure there is a wide understanding within the community about the roles and responsibilities that we all share in defending Queensland.
In essence, we are embarking upon a journey that will lead to a more empowered Rural Fire Service supported by a strong, well-led arm of an all hazards approach organisation and I ask you all to work together towards reaching our common goal.
I take this opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope that there is enough rain to fill your tanks and dams without the deluge that beset us earlier this year.

Ted Malone MP
Assistant Minister for Emergency Volunteers
Previous related post

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Corals – the Great Survivors

Photo sourced [here]
by Viv Forbes

For at least fifty years, agitated academics have been predicting the end of the Great Barrier Reef. Now international “experts” are also sprouting coral calamity. But despite the alarms, the reef is still there.

An early scare focussed on the Crown of Thorns Starfish which was going through one of its sporadic population booms. Such plagues come and go with the natural cycles of growth and decay. But the reef survived.

Then experts got scared in case someone drilled for oil on the Reef – so we had a Royal Commission and banned all that. However marine life seems to flourish around all artificial reefs such as jetties, shipwrecks and drilling platforms. Rigs have to be regularly cleaned of marine growth.

Natural hydrocarbons have been part of the wild environment for longer than corals, which may explain why corals are remarkably tolerant of hydrocarbons. Despite natural oil and gas seeps, man-made spills, and hundreds of offshore drilling rigs, corals still thrive.

After the worst oil spill ever during the First Gulf War there was no clean-up attempt apart from oil skimming because the 700 oil-well fires had priority. Fresh crude oil floats and is a danger to sea birds, but it soon reacts with air and salt water to become solid tar balls which sink to the sea floor. An inspection of the sea bed later to catalogue “the disaster” found teeming wildlife, with sea-grass, snails and fish thriving after the fertilising effect of the oxidising oil.

Corals are even thriving at the exact spot in the Montebello Islands where two atomic devices were tested by the British in 1952

Photo sourced from [here]

Another scare concerned coastal development and agricultural run-off. Again destruction of the Great Barrier Reef was forecast. Academics were summoned and a huge national park was established for their playground. Run-off still occurs, rivers still flood, but the reef is still there.

Lately global warming scares such as coral bleaching and ocean acidity have mesmerised the media. These are supposedly caused by wicked humans burning hydrocarbons and using energy by doing things. So we introduced a carbon tax, despite the fact that no unusual warming or acidity can be measured. And the reef is still there.

Now we are told that port dredging near Bowen is going to destroy the Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is 2,400 km long – stirring some mud at one small spot 40 km from the reef is unlikely to be noticed by the coral. Moreover, the stuff being dredged is comprised of natural material eroded from the land and put there over millennia by coastal rivers. Compared with the silt load discharged by rivers like the mighty Burdekin in a normal wet season, or stirred up by cyclonic surges, dredging is a non-event. The Reef has been coping with sediments like that for thousands of years

Photo sourced from [here]
All plants and animals need minerals for optimum health. Marine life gets its minerals from erosion of rocks on the land. Coastal rivers (and dredging of river silt) stir up the minerals which supply the off-shore environment. Like all nutrients, some is necessary, too much brings harm.

Corals are among the greatest survivors on Earth and have been here for about 500 million years. Many of the types of corals found on reefs today were present in similar forms on reefs 50 million years ago.

Since corals first appeared there have been five mass extinctions when over 50% of all life forms on land and in the seas died. These episodes usually included massive volcanic events that filled air and sea with debris, lava, heat and acid fumes. And still corals survived.

Then there were asteroid impacts that created huge craters that dwarf man’s puny ports. Debris, rock, mud and slush were flung in all directions – far more and further than man’s dredging will ever do. Corals even survived this.

Corals also survived several deadly ice ages when sea levels fell so low that many coral reefs left their skeletons stranded as limestone hills on dry land. But always some colonisers followed the retreating seas and survived.

Then came the hot climate eras when the great ice sheets melted and sea levels rose dramatically. Some coral reefs drowned, but others just built on top of the old drowned corals forming the beautiful coral atolls we see today. Corals flourish in gently rising seas such as we have today – it gives them room to refresh and grow vertically.

And if the water gets too warm, coral larvae just drift into cooler waters closer to the poles. The Great Barrier Reef would move slowly south.

Corals have outlasted the dinosaurs, the mammoths and the sabre-toothed tiger. Captain Cook’s ship was almost disembowelled by the sturdy corals of the Great Barrier Reef in 1770. If Cook came back today, he would be unable to detect any changes in the Reef.

We should of course minimise soil erosion, human pollution of offshore waters and direct damage or interference with the Reef. However, green extremists would like to sacrifice all of Queensland’s coastal industry on the coral altar - exploration, mining, farming, land development, tourism, forestry, fishing, and shipping. They need reminding it is only rich societies who can afford to care for their environment.

Photo sourced Drive Great Barrier Reef

No matter what the future holds, corals are more likely than humans to survive the next major extinction.

In the event of yet another Ice Age we must hope that reef alarmists have not denied us the things we will need to survive - food, energy, chemicals, shelter, concrete and steel generated by carbon fuels.

Viv Forbes, BScAppGeol, FAusIMM, FSIA
Rosewood    Qld   Australia

Viv Forbes is has a degree in applied science, and has spent a lifetime working in, studying and writing about the geological history and primary industries of Queensland. He is a sheep breeder and a semi-retired coal industry manager. He is certain that the Great Barrier Reef will outlast him.
He is Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition.