Many have complained endlessly about a coming environmental apocalypse, unless all the travel stops. Now the travel has stopped. But not because of climate change. There really is a health crisis, and communities across the world have been prepared to put saving lives before everything-else.
We are still allowed to eat, and there is still food in the supermarkets. But I have wondered why there is no rice. I phoned a rice grower, my good friend Debbie Buller, and she did confirm that Vietnam has blocked the export of rice from the mill recently purchased by the SunRice Group. So, there is a nation-wide shortage of rice.
I began a recent blog post: ‘Australia was once self-sufficient in rice.’
This offended at least one of my readers who is also a free trader. He contends that being self-sufficient is nothing to be proud of, that we should always be in pursuit of free trade for the cheapest.
I’ve no problems with free markets, though it would seem sensible that nation states have a capacity to feed themselves, and also have a reliable energy supply so they can light-up homes and hospitals, and also be able to defend themselves. Bad things do happen.
It is absurd that we have let faux environmental campaigning essentially close-down our rice industry, while ignoring the crippled Murray River estuary. It is a travesty that no one in politics or the mainstream media has so far been prepared to champion, or report, on this.
Managers at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have consistently misled the public on the state of the climate. It is not getting drier, and the extent to which some coastal locations may have warmed over the last hundreds years is unclear because of all the changes to the measurement methods.
There is an opportunity through this crisis for national priorities to be reset. It is the case that we should know what we are for, not only what we are against.
I’m for bringing back the sea tide to the Murray River’s estuary. This would also be good for food security. I want Australia to be self-sufficient in rice.
30th March 2020
1. SCUBA DIVING AND DOCUMENTARY MAKING
We live on a rotating planet, differentially heated by the Sun, and mostly covered in sea water. The largest body of water is the Pacific Ocean, and on its south western edge is the Great Barrier Reef. This is arguably the largest coral reef system to have ever existed on planet Earth. It is but a thin veneer growing on top of at least five previous extensive reef systems; each destroyed by past dramatic falls in sea level.
Twenty thousand years ago, at the height of the last glacial maximum — there was so much ice at the North and South Poles — sea levels were up to 110 metres lower than they are today.
Early January 2020, I spent one week at the northern edge of the Great Barrier Reef diving the cliff faces of these Ribbon reefs that follow the edge of Australia’s continental shelf. When sea levels were much lower, these underwater cliffs that are now covered in coral were the land’s edge: where the land mets the sea.
A highlight was exploring an underwater limestone cave. I swam into it at 12 metres, once upon a time it would have been possible to walk into it.
Limestone is hardened, impure calcium carbonate made from corals and also shells. Being made of a single, relatively stable chemical it is not easily eroded. But limestone is soluble in rainwater, which will dissolve the carbonate along bedding planes and fractures where it is constantly exposed to dripping water.
The week was spent filming including evidence of cycles of growth and decay. There will be a mini-documentary or two that will follow. To stay up-to-date with progress, consider subscribing for my irregular email updates.
In the meantime my first mini-documentary, Beige Reef, is available on YouTube.
2. SEA LEVEL CHANGE
Sea level change is a consequence of cycles within cycles, mostly driven by the extra-terrestrial. As I’ve previously explained, the shoreline near where I live in Noosa, suggests significant sea level fall over the last few thousand years. This is not consistent with the dominant narrative, with the zeitgeist of our times, but I see it in the geology: the marine pot holes, and that wave-cut notch, which is just above my favourite wave-cut platform. I will likely be at the marine potholes 40 minutes before the highest tide each month, I will then walk on to the cliff face to be there for the moment of the highest tide.
3. RAINFALL FORECASTING AND OTHER THINGS
I am a scientist, natural historian and writer. I have more than a dozen technical papers published in peer-reviewed climate science journals and as book chapters. I have also published on mangroves, midges and many other things.
More recently I’ve been attempting to recast the climate narrative away from one of fear, towards awe in understanding natural climate cycles.
I base my arguments and conclusions on evidence, and I apply logic. Of course, science is a method. Science is never ‘settled’. Those who appeal primarily to the authority of science and the notion of a consensus are more interested in politics. Central to the scientific method is the hypothesis that can be tested: that can potentially be falsified. We must therefore always be open-minded, tolerant and ready to be proven wrong.
I am also a senior fellow at the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs. I am grateful for the IPA’s continuing financial support through the B. Macfie Family Foundation. A major project over the next year with the IPA will be the publication of the next book in the ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ series.
Towards the goal of improved weather and climate forecasting using Big Data and Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs), I incorporated the Climate Lab Pty Ltd. Two years ago I was delivering training program with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in big data and artificial intelligence for better climate services.
Despite a significant inter-governmental investment in climate-related research over several decades, there has been no improvement in the performance of medium to long-range weather and climate forecasts. The current approach attempts to simulate actual physical processes, while assuming a dominant role for carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change. The future is in a radically different approach based on a new paradigm, already made possible by the advent of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – specifically Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). ANNs can be used to mine historical climate data for patterns, construct statistical models, and then using these to forecast.
This approach to forecasting does not involve the coding of equations that describe weather processes. Rather it involves mining historical data and building statistical models.
Measurements of any variable associated with weather and climate, when arranged chronologically at the appropriate scale, show patterns of recurring oscillations. The oscillations may not be symmetrical, but they will tend to channel between an upper and lower boundary – over and over again.
Most of these oscillations can be deconstructed into sine waves of varying phase, amplitude and periodicity. These oscillations may, or may not, represent real world phenomena that can be explained in terms of atmospheric physics and chemistry, and/or the gravitational-pull of the Moon, and/or variations in the electromagnetic field of the Sun, and its changing declination relative to the tilt of the Earth, et cetera – but they exist.
As long as the relationships embedded in the complex oscillation continue into the future – and it is these relationships that we model – an accurate forecast is theoretically mathematically possible.
Of course, the quality of data used to construct the arrays and entered into the ANNs is important. Thus, my longstanding concerns about the appropriate calibration of equipment used to measure surface temperatures by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology – and also the inappropriate remodelling of data through a technique known as “homogenisation”. I’ve detailed some of these concerns in a letter to the Chief Scientist.
The extent of the remodelling can now be explored through an interactive table, unique to this website, with maximum and minimum annual series for all 112 ACORN-SAT sites (versions 1 and 2) juxtaposed against the raw data.