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Proposed Jetty at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island

KI Plantation Timbers (KPT) is planning to build a deep water jetty at Smith Bay on the North coast of Kangaroo Island. This plan has been controversial, mainly because of the possible impact of changes in water quality on the abalone farm which occupies land adjacent to the proposed jetty.

I will consider the reasons this development is being planned along with reasons for the choice of this site. I will then list some of the possible benefits to Kangaroo Island if the project is successful, before discussing some of the objections, both to the site, and to the proposal as a whole.

I have no personal interest in KPT whatever. This discussion is motivated by a desire for fairness and accuracy in discussions of development on Kangaroo Island, and for the best possible outcome for KI and its residents.

Why Build a Jetty?

Just under one half of one percent of Kangaroo island has been planted to renewable timber. About two-thirds of this is native hardwoods, and one-third Pinus Radiata. Almost all of these plantations are located West of Parndana. The estimated value of harvestable timber is a completely renewable $50 million per year, of which $20 million per year will flow back as direct income to Kangaroo Island. That value is only realisable if a cost-effective way can be found to transport harvested timber off the island. Taking wood chips or timber in trucks across the length of the island for transport on Sealink ferries and further transport from there to a deep water jetty is not economically viable. Even if it were financially sustainable, wear on kangaroo Island’s roads, and additional environmental and safety concerns, particularly during tourist season, make this an undesirable option. A deep water jetty in proximity to plantations is the only realistic option.

Why Smith Bay?

A dozen different sites have been considered by KPT. The project needs a sheltered site on the North coast as close as possible to existing timber plantations, where land is reasonably level, and with rapid drop off into deep water so that large vessels can berth reasonably close to shore. Smith Bay matches all these criteria. In addition, adjacent land is already cleared, so there is minimal impact on land environment, and the seabed where the jetty is planned has previously been dredged, meaning minimal impact on the marine environment.

What are the Potential Benefits to Kangaroo Island?

Once operational, KPT will directly employ people in 120 FTE (full time equivalent) positions in timber planting and maintenance, sawmill operation, transport, administration, jetty operation, etc. In addition a further 100 FTE positions will be created in direct support; contract and supply, etc. With family members, this is likely to lead to the addition of over 400 people to Kangaroo Island’s population. This means additional rates income for Council, additional money spent in local businesses, additional students in local schools, possibly to the extent of its being feasible for Parndana to offer classes up to Year Twelve again. In total, some $20 million additional income to Kangaroo Island, not as a once off, but in perpetuity.

A project which has the potential to bring such major and ongoing financial and social benefits to Kangaroo Island should not be rejected unless there are overwhelming, compelling, evidence-based reasons to do so.

What are the objections?

Does Kangaroo Island Really Need a Port of This Size?

This is not really an objection, although it is sometimes framed as one. Firstly, it is not a port, it is a jetty. And at 150m in length, it is about the same size as other jetties on the island. The simple answer to the question is yes. The jetty needs to be 150m in length for large ocean-going vessels to be able to berth.

The Planned Port is a Monstrosity Which Will Ruin the Look of the Bay.

Firstly, it is not a port, it is a jetty. Secondly, the look of the bay has already and tragically been destroyed by the establishment of an industrial-type complex right on the foreshore. And finally, is Christmas Cove a monstrosity? Is the Vivonne Bay jetty? On the contrary, our jetties are some of our most loved and photographed landmarks.

An International Port is a Major Quarantine and Exotic Pest Risk.

It is not a port, it is a jetty. Any overseas vessels berthing at the Smith Bay jetty will already have passed customs and quarantine inspection at Fremantle or Port Adelaide. This is the same process that applies to cruise ships which currently visit the island. Cruise liners visit the island in similar numbers to those planned to dock at Smith Bay, but are much larger vessels.

Before considering other objections let me be clear; the abalone farm at Smith Bay is a completely inappropriate development for KI, both from an environmental and an aesthetic point of view. It should never have been approved. It has changed a lovely rocky bay on the North coast into what looks like an industrial wasteland, one which pumps millions of litres of high nitrate, high bacterial waste into the ocean. The World Wildlife Fund has raised a number of concerns about land-based abalone farming, including noise, odour and dust, high energy use (How much energy? Yumbah was quoted $1.35 million for electricity for operations in SA in 2017), unsustainable kelp harvesting for food, or use of fish meal and algae in manufactured feed, the impact of waste disposal including the pumping of waste water directly into the ocean, including waste nutrients, chemicals, shell grit, faeces and sludge, and the risk of disease. Unlike some claimed objections to the proposed jetty, this is a real, evidence based concern. An outbreak of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis, traced to a land-based abalone farm at Port Fairy owned by Southern Ocean Mariculture Pty Ltd, has devastated wild abalone along 1200 kilometres of the Victorian coast and continues to spread at a rate of about 5kms per month. An abalone farm in Santa Barbara, California, released Candidatus Xenohaliotis Californiensis into the environment, causing devastation to native black abalone populations. That species is now listed as endangered. Why would anyone want this on Kangaroo Island?

In addition, the abalone farm makes a minimal financial contribution to KI. It is owned by Yumbah, which also owns abalone farms at Port Lincoln, Narrawong and Bicheno. Profits are not returned to the island, and abalone grown here is not marketed as a Kangaroo island product.

Sadly, the time to make these objections, and to launch a campaign to save Smith Bay, was before the abalone farm was established. It is now an operational business, and any concerns or objections it has need to be considered. However, I will just add that the proposed jetty site at Smith Bay is not only the obvious, most economical and most environmentally appropriate site on the North coast, it has previously been dredged and used as a jetty/landing. Due diligence prior to the establishment of the abalone farm would have shown this to be the case, and suggested that another site would have been a better option. To establish a business adjacent to a site previously used as a jetty and likely to be used as a jetty again, and then complain because your business is incompatible with a jetty, is like buying a house next to the airport and then complaining about flight noise.

Worst Case Scenario – A Ship Sinks or Capsizes Resulting in Major Spill of Fuel or Cargo

The plan is for twelve ships per year to berth at a sheltered deep water jetty. Roughly the same number of ships will berth at Smith Bay as cruise liners visit the island each year, except that cruise liners are substantially larger. This is about the same number of ships that dock at Penneshaw every weekend, carrying far more hazardous cargo. In no business or endeavour is it possible to proceed by inventing the scariest possible scenario and then claiming that anyone in favour of the project wants this dreadful thing to happen. Risk assessment has to be based on historical evidence and the real, assessable likelihood of various possibilities.

Ports and Shipping are Incompatible with Aquaculture.

No, they are not. China is the world’s largest producer of farmed abalone, and much of its aquaculture takes place near major shipping lanes and population centres. Many Australian abalone farms are in close proximity to ports; Port Lincoln, Port Fairy, Narrawong – directly across the bay from Portland, to name just a few.

The Federal Government is Deeply Concerned About the Environmental Impact of this Project.

A recent letter to The Islander claimed that “the Federal Government is so concerned that they have placed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act controls over the project.”

It is not a matter of being “so concerned” at all. The Act is triggered whenever an issue is raised about the potential environmental impact of any development. In this case, there have been reports that the proposed jetty may impact nesting areas of endangered birds. This concern is answered simply by pointing out that the bird species reported as potentially impacted do not nest in any area that will be disturbed or affected by the development.

Water Quality Will be Negatively Affected

It is important to understand exactly what is being planned. The jetty at Smith Bay will be operational for two months of the year. During that time it will service between ten and twelve ships. That is, the Smith Bay jetty will service as many ships in a year as travel to and from Penneshaw in an average weekend. Ferries docking at Penneshaw carry, load, and unload creosote treated timber, gas, oil, petrol, building materials, fresh produce and livestock, as well as passengers and vehicles. The ships at Smith Bay will load only an entirely natural product, treated with no artificial fertilisers or pesticides. Natural timber will be stored temporarily on the site, sufficient for the next load. If there is rain, runoff from sheltered timber stacks is no different from rain falling on natural native forest. Nonetheless, the site will be designed to ensure that any runoff is collected and secured.

Water quality at the jetty at Penneshaw is consistently high. There are hundreds of times more ship movements than are planned at Smith Bay, with far more hazardous products, on a shallow sandy bottom, yet the water quality is unaffected. In fact, the water inside the rock wall where the ferries dock is frequently clearer than outside, for the simple reason that the protection offered by the rock wall reduces the amount of sand and organic matter picked up by wave motion, and helps to ensure consistent water quality in the protected area.

In addition, abalone farms in China, South Africa, Australia, the US and other countries operate in a wide variety of locations, with widely varying input water quality and temperature. Input water is filtered, usually through a sand filter, and temperature controlled as required. Provided inputs and filters are managed correctly, they can, and already do, cope with natural day to day changes.

KPT is conducting and will conduct ongoing tests of water quality at the proposed site. The only likely change once the jetty is operational is that there may be a slight reduction in the amount of sand and other suspended matter because of the protection offered by the jetty. There is no objective, evidence-based reason to believe there will be any long term changes which will affect the operation of the abalone farm.

Even if all the Above is True, Water Quality Will Definitely be Affected During Construction.

Two of the advantages of the Smith Bay site are that it slopes steeply down into deep water, and that some dredging has already taken place. The use of a floating pontoon also reduces the need for disruption to the sea bed. Nonetheless, some dredging will need to take place, and large quantities of rocks will need to be placed to construct the jetty out of mostly natural materials.

Fortunately, a wide variety of mitigation procedures are available to minimise silt plumes. These include hydraulic dredging, use of a closed clamshell, ensuring there is no barge overflow, use of silt curtains, and dredging and construction only when tide or current is flowing away from critical areas. Other measures may be available to the abalone farm to alleviate any concerns it has about water quality during construction, including changes to filtration processes, moving or extending water intake locations, enhanced use of water storage and recycling, etc. KPT has employed consultants to consider all available options, and has offered to meet with representatives of Yumbah (the owners of the abalone farm) to discuss these and other measures to ensure the abalone farm is able to continue to operate without interruption. So far this offer has not been taken up.

Summary

Objections offered so far either have no basis in real world evidence and experience, or in the case of temporary changes in water quality during construction, can be mitigated to ensure continued safe operation of the abalone farm. The development of a jetty at Smith Bay offers substantial ongoing social and financial benefits to the residents of Kangaroo Island and should proceed.

PDF available if you want to downlaod this post in a more easily readable and printable form: KI Plantation Timbers

Global temperature tracks sunspot activity almost exactly. Number of sunspots now? Zero. Cold times are coming.

Sunpsots

Sunspots

People seem not to realise that religious belief was essential to the development of science.

1. The belief that the world is real, objective, and largely independent of our perceptions, and not simply illusion (maya in Sanskrit). That is, that there is something real and enduring there to investigate.

2. The belief that the world is reasonable, and organised in a reasonable, that is, orderly and consistent way, not not simply according to the whim of ancestors or nature spirits or fickle and jealous gods.

3. The belief that the material world is good, and therefore worth investigating, as opposed to the view that the material world inferior, something to be spurned or escaped from.

We take these beliefs so much for granted; that the world is real and objective, that it is ordered according to laws which can be investigated and understood, that nature/the universe is good, and that investigating and learning its laws and systems is a good and worthwhile endeavour, that we forget that only one culture has ever held these views consistently over a long enough period for science to develop.

Science is a creation of the Christian West.

The more science drifts from Christian theology, that is, the more it drifts from understanding reality as independent and objective, and the more it drifts from believing truth is an absolute value in its own right, the more it will be become empty, political, and corrupt.

Visit Blissyoo.

Don’t let Facebook decide what you see and what you can post.

Blissyoo means no censorship of posts, freedom of speech, videos, music, groups, pages, news, and soon, revenue sharing.

Visit, join, invite your friends.

Tonga pleads with the world: Global warming is real and is affecting us today. Save our pacific island 😢

Two different islands, neither in Tonga

Two different islands, neither in Tonga

There’s only one problem: the picture shows two different islands, neither of which is in Tonga.

The top photo is Kwajalein Island and the bottom photo is Ebeye Island. Although both in the Kwajalein Atoll they are not the same island and are part of the Marshall Islands, a long way from Tonga!

Isopropyl alcohol, H2O, sodium hydroxide, acetic acid, …. Nope, no chemicals there. Sometimes I wonder if people can really be that stupid. And then I think, yep, they obviously can!

Lots of chemicals in these chemical free wipes!

Lots of chemicals in these chemical free wipes!

This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.

$3.80 out of $10,000. That’s the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

1.7 cents out of $10,000. That’s the amount of Methane in the atmosphere.

Terrifying, isn’t it?

Naturopaths, homeopaths, etc, – these charlatans make a fortune out of suffering, illness, cancer and depression. Don’t be fooled. Seek genuine, tested treatments from a real medical practitioner.

worried-girl-413690_1920

“About ten months ago, a naturopath by the name of Dorothea Cist commented on my article about ND education and training, claiming:

I have many other cases of, and letters of testimony from, patients who were treated successfully by naturopathic medicine, and often by homeopathy alone. These magnificent cures, by treatments completely unsupported by any double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, were from pathologies as varied as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, grand mal seizures, interstitial cystitis, and bi-polar [sic] disorder.

I asked Cist to clarify. Is she claiming she can cure bipolar disorder with homeopathy?

She didn’t respond, but she didn’t need to. Yes, Cist was asserting she can use magic to cure a mental illness, along with a slew of other complicated diseases.”

“An American scientist has made a remarkable conceptual breakthrough, a design for a non nuclear relativistic launcher, capable of accelerating thousands of deep space probes per year to 0.25C; fast enough to reach the nearest stars in 15 years. The system is extremely scalable – you could start with a small, low cost proof of concept launcher, and work up to bigger devices, capable of launching substantial probes into interstellar space. The system also has a practical alternative use – the full size version is powerful enough to deflect dangerous asteroids into safer orbits.”

“In addition to larger spacecraft, some capable of transporting humans, we consider functional spacecraft on a wafer, including integrated optical communications, optical systems and sensors combined with directed energy propulsion. Since “at home” the costs can be amortized over a very large number of missions. In addition the same photon driver can be used for planetary defense, beamed energy for distant spacecraft as well as sending power back to Earth as needed.”

We could do this now – no new technology is required. Just the will to do it.

A dazzling speech by James Delingpole to the meeting of the World Taxpayers’ Associations in Berlin.

This is a sample. Read the whole thing.

Last year Climate Change Business Journal – calculated that the total annual spend on the climate change industry is $1.5 trillion a year.

All those carbon traders, climate researchers, renewables and biofuels experts, environment correspondents, professors of climate science at the University of East Anglia and the Potsdam Institute, sustainability officers on local councils, and so on, add up the cost of their grants and salaries – and $1.5 trillion per year is the ballpark figure you reach.

So what does $1.5 trillion look like in a global economic context?

Well, it’s roughly the amount we spend every year on the online shopping industry.

$1.5 trillion on the global warming industry; $1.5 trillion on the online shopping industry.

But there’s a key difference between these two industries.

One exists to provide buyers and sellers what they want – to their mutual benefit; the other is a sham.

Buying stuff on the internet: it’s really useful, isn’t it? It has had a dramatically transforming effect on our quality of life, the way you can order a book at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night and have it appear on your doorstep the very next day.

But how did this marvellous industry spring up? Was it because of all the special incentives and tax breaks granted by wise governments? Nope of course not. They weren’t necessary. The online shopping industry sprung up and grew and grew because it was what people wanted, where they chose – of their own volition – to spend their money.

Now compare and contrast the global warming industry – which I call a Potemkin industry – because that’s what it is: a fraud; a sham; a conspiracy against the taxpayer.

Do you want to have a guess how much that industry would be worth if it weren’t for all the money funnelled into it via government grants and taxpayer levies and subsidies and regulatory capture?

Pretty close to zero, I’d say. Take wind farms – my hobby horse. The cost of intermittent, unreliable wind energy is roughly twice the market rate for onshore wind; three times the market rate for onshore. Nobody’s going to pay that kind ofmoney in the open market. The only way it’s going to happen if people are mandated by the government to do so: which is what of course has happened across Europe and in the US.

Warren Buffett has said it: “wind farms don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

They’re inefficient; they kill birds and bats; they spoil views; they’re environmentally unfriendly – rare earth minerals from China; they’re hazardous; they’re expensive; they’re ugly (well I think they are….)

And in few countries is the damage these monstrosities have done more obvious than in Germany, home of the hateful Energiewende.

Energiewende means Energy Transition. It has been a disaster.

Apart from occasional links to news stories of interest, I haven’t written anything about local oil and gas development for over a year. I am often asked why I would support energy exploration in the Bight. And even more often, it is simply assumed that no one could honestly want such development, and I must therefore be in the pay of the oil companies. Alas! Not so. Though if Bight Petroleum or BP or any of those other nefarious organisations felt a desire to send me a large cheque, or even an offer for me visit to an operational rig or working survey vessel, I would gladly accept. The cheque would be best.

Australia’s economic stability depends on reliable supplies of cheap energy, mostly in the form of coal and oil. Many people would rather this were not so, and suggest renewables as a safer, cleaner option. Renewables are becoming cheaper and more efficient. But they are not yet even at the stage when they reliably produce over their lifetimes more energy than it costs to manufacture, transport, install and maintain them. The energy required for that production, maintenance, transport, etc., is entirely provided by fossil fuels. The only other possibility, energy produced by hydro and nuclear power, is not efficiently convertible for use in primary industry or transport; two key areas for remote communities like Kangaroo Island. Like it or not, our stability and economy will depend on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

Members of remote communities would be the first to suffer if fuel became difficult to obtain, or prices surged. For example, on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, the entire life of the community depends on oil. Without oil there would be no ferries or planes to the island. There would be no fishing, no farming, no way for tourists to travel to or around the island, no boat trips or safaris, no food or furniture transported to the island, no building, no roads, no maintenance of infrastructure. In other words, no way to live.
There are a number of reasons why energy production should take place locally wherever possible.

Some of the most important of these are environmental.

Firstly, as a general rule, anything that can be economically or competitively produced locally should be produced locally. This is true of clothing and food; it is certainly true of energy. It is inefficient to produce oil half- way around the world and transport it here if we can develop oil reserves within Australia at the same price. And we can. Local production means saving all of the fossil fuel used in transporting vast amounts of oil around the world, with all of its associated emissions. Just because we have to use fossil fuels for now does not mean we should do so wastefully, or without regard for any environmental impact.

Secondly, oil that is not produced locally has to be produced somewhere else; somewhere, unless it is the US or Canada, with far lower safety and environmental standards than Australia. The lower the standards, the greater the likelihood of loss of life and of lasting harm to biological systems.

Thirdly, about 25% of all oil spilled into the ocean is directly related to oil industry activity (the rest, by far the majority, is mostly natural spills and seeps, like the Coal Point seep field near Santa Barbara, or multiple seeps in the Gulf of Mexico). About 5% of the 25% attributable to the oil industry occurs during exploration and development. The other 20%, five times as much, occurs during transportation. By far the greatest risk of a major spill near Kangaroo Island is the millions of tonnes of oil unloaded at Port Adelaide, which is far closer to KI than any proposed development site. One guaranteed way to reduce ocean spills is to reduce the volume of oil transported over long distances. Of course oil would still need to be transported from local wells to a local refinery, but there is a huge difference between transport over 500 kilometres, and transport over 15,000 kilometres.

The final environmental concern that would be alleviated by responsible local energy development is that of ocean noise.

Waves slapping against the sides of an empty tanker are in the same order of magnitude as the sounds generated by acoustic imaging. Acoustic imaging allows engineers to map the ocean bed and underlying structures in great detail. This reduces the need to drill test wells, and keeps interference with the sea bed to a minimum. Acoustic imaging is carefully monitored when in operation to protect nearby marine life, especially marine mammals. It has been rigorously researched over the last thirty years to examine possible impact on marine life. No long term impacts on any marine species have ever been observed. There is, for example, no correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beaching of whales. Australian research has also shown no impact beyond a momentary startle on smaller fish, worms, corals, etc. And of course, acoustic imaging takes place in any one area for only a few days. The noise of tankers plying the oceans is constant, is not monitored for effect on wildlife, and has not been subject to the same research. Where we are unsure of effects, we ought to exercise caution, and where we can reduce human impact on the environment, we have a duty to do so. Local energy development will significantly reduce ongoing ocean noise pollution.

In addition to environmental benefits, local production of oil also provides for greater reliability of pricing and supply. The Middle-East is simply too unstable to for us to rely on for such a vital resource. In the past we had little choice, but now it is clear that Australia has oil and gas reserves which may rival those of Saudi Arabia. We do not need to obtain oil from unstable, violent or war-torn regimes. In addition, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly shown that it is willing to manipulate the price of crude oil to suit its own purposes. It has done so over the last twelve months, reducing the price dramatically, in order to make Western investment in energy development uneconomical, and to encourage continued dependence on Arab oil producers. It can just as easily increase the price when it believes itself in a position of strength, and has done so in the past.

Price and stability of supply are important factors when considering where to source oil supplies. So are human rights. Many of the Middle-East oil producing states have appalling human rights records. These are places where children are executed, where women are stoned to death for adultery, where hungry men who steal a loaf of bread for their families have their hands cut off, where gays are hanged. When we support these undemocratic regimes, which are only able to maintain their hold through massive security spending, we are extending and facilitating the suffering of millions of people who deserve better.

Local energy production reduces our dependency on dictators, and reduces their ability to keep their populations under control. It makes us more responsible members of the world community.
Finally, money that is spent on development here in Australia provides employment and investment in Australia. Instead of sending money overseas, resource development companies pay royalties which help fund schools, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure and services in Australia.

Why do I support responsible local energy development? It’s better for the environment. It’s better for energy pricing and security of supply, which makes it better for Australian industry including manufacturing, farming and tourism. It’s better for human rights. It’s better for the Australian tax-payer, because local development helps fund local infrastructure and services.

I have constructed a short, five question survey which covers some of the points above. If you are interested, please feel free to complete it.

Responsible Energy Development Survey

Once more unto the breach …

This is an important issue – for Kangaroo Island and for the state as a whole. I am still hopeful it will be possible to have a harmonious discussion focussing on the facts.

Why would anyone want oil and gas exploration near Kangaroo Island?

Our society, and every modern liberal democracy, depends on cheap energy. The primary sources of that energy are oil, coal and gas. These energy sources enable us to travel, to heat our homes, to run industry and agriculture, to provide health and education services. No energy means none of these things.

Developing countries need this energy too, to provide these same services, including basic health care, to their people. While foreign aid might be helpful in emergencies, what developing nations really need is power stations, cheap energy. And that depends on cheap fuel.

We all rely on oil and gas, KI residents more than most. While we might prefer oil development to take place somewhere else, it would be immoral to deny developing countries the energy sources Western nations have used to pull themselves out of poverty over the last centuries. Responsible energy development is an important part of our commitment to being part of a global community.

In addition, developing energy resources within Australia improves national security, and reduces our dependence on, and financial contributions to, corrupt and frequently brutal Middle-eastern regimes. It also helps to preserve forests and wildlife. If you are worried about your child starving, or dying because you have no access to clean water or cannot obtain basic medical care, you are not going to be concerned about the state of forests in Indonesia, or the whale hunt at the Faroes. The more prosperous a country or people, the more time and resources go into preserving and caring for the environment.

So private energy resource development should be encouraged unless in a particular situation there are pressing reasons why it should not.

Are there pressing reasons why oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight should not proceed?

There are three main reasons opponents to development have put forward.

1. Oil rigs and other equipment near Kangaroo Island will spoil the landscape, reduce the natural beauty of the area, and consequently reduce its appeal to visitors.

The nearest practical development point for an oil rig within Bight Petroleum’s exploration zones is approximately one hundred and fifty kilometres west of the West coast of KI. If this is on KI or even near KI, then so are Gawler and Keith. If the Eiffel Tower was perched at Cape Borda, and you were standing at the top with a telescope, you would still not see an oil rig at that distance.

2. Acoustic imaging used to map geological structures on the sea floor is harmful to whales, dolphins and other marine sea life.

Acoustic imaging has been used for the last forty years. One of the reasons for this is that it helps developers pinpoint likely productive sites, reducing unnecessary drilling and environmental impact. The possible effects of acoustic imaging on marine life have been extensively researched during this time. No university or other study has ever found any correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beachings, or any other negative effect, for example on reproductive rates or migration patterns. Recent intensive study conducted in Australia by Woodside Petroleum, the CSIRO and Penn State University likewise found no negative effects on sessile and territorial marine life.

Anti-development activists have sometimes suggested that the hearing of whales and dolphins could be permanently damaged by the noise of acoustic imaging. Sperm whales vocalise at about 235dB. The average acoustic array produces about 230dB. Even if the whales were 2 metres from an active array, the sound they heard would be less than the sound of their own vocalisations. To suggest that their hearing could be damaged by this is equivalent to claiming our hearing would be permanently damaged by listening to chatter at a tea party.

3. The possibility of a serious spill.

Spills are far more likely during handling and transportation than during exploration and development. The most significant risk of a serious oil spill near Kangaroo Island is from the transport of oil products to the island.

Australia’s worst development spill, and third worst oil spill overall, was at the Montara well in the Timor Sea. The two worst, from the Princess Anne Marie oil tanker in 1975 and the Kiriki tanker in 1991, were both transport spills. Prevailing winds and currents pushed the oil slick from Montara one hundred and eighty kilometres from the well site. At that distance, the slick was patchy, intermittent, and a few microns thick – less than the almost invisible amount of oil left behind by a well-maintained outboard motor. A spill of this magnitude occurs about once in every 100,000 years of well operation.

If a similar spill occurred at the closest point for any development in the Bight, a few streaks of oil a few microns thick could just reach the Western shores of KI, if wind and currents were behind it. But during the calmer months when development would be taking place, prevailing upwellings would push any spilt oil away from, not towards Kangaroo Island. Oil even from a one in one hundred thousand year spill would not approach Kangaroo Island. In addition, safety standards are improving all the time. The worst year for oil spills in the nineties was better than the best year in the seventies.

In other words, even if a spill occurred, no oil would reach the shores of Kangaroo Island, and the chances of such a spill occurring at all are tiny – one in one hundred thousand years of operation.

To summarise: The proposed oil exploration and development is not “on KI.” It is not even “near” KI in any normal meaning of that word. No oil rigs or other development would be visible from anywhere on Kangaroo Island. Forty years of research has shown no harm to any form of marine life from acoustic imaging. There is no correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beachings, and no evidence of hearing loss in any marine species. Even if a spill equal to the worst in Australia’s history occurred at the development site, oil would not reach the shores of KI. The chances of such a spill’s occurring are approximately one in 100,000 years of well operation.

There are good economic, humanitarian and environmental reasons why responsible oil and gas development should proceed. There are no compelling, truthful, reality-based reasons it should not.

I have been a fan of Professor Elizabeth Loftus’ work for many years, so I am pleased to see her getting a hearing in the press at last.

From the Australian ABC news site:

When an eyewitness gives evidence in a trial, how much faith should we place in their testimony? At first brush the answer would seem to be, why not trust them? After all, if an impartial witness says with certainly they saw something—why be sceptical?

However, Elizabeth Loftus, a renowned professor of both law and psychology based at the University of California’s Irvine campus, urges caution. Professor Loftus has been at the forefront of complex and controversial debates around the nature of memory for many years, and her research has made her a much sought-after expert witness in both criminal and civil trials. In fact, she has testified in over 250 trials.

Professor Loftus says eyewitness testimony is the major cause of wrongful convictions in the USA. In one project where more than 300 cases of wrongful conviction were established using DNA testing, the major cause of these wrongful convictions was faulty eyewitness testimony.

Read the rest ..

 

One of four.

Andrew Wakefield and the faked link between MMR vaccinations and autism.

Andrew Wakefield is one of the heroes of the anti-vaccination crusaders. In 1998 prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published a paper by Wakefield and others which implied a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination. Not only was there no such link, but Wakefield’s data was faked. The article was retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010.

Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and lead to increased levels of preventable infectious childhood diseases. That is, he must have known than faking data so as to suggest a link between MMR vaccinations and autism would lead to increased child deaths.

Whatever Andrew Wakefield is, he is no hero of child health.

Apart from faking the results, there were several other ethics violations. These included failing to disclose cash payments from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR caused their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, and the use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.

On January 28, 2010, Wakefield and two of his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, were found by the UK’s General Medical Council to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly and not in the clinical interests of the children involved in the study.  The Medial Council found, amongst other things, that Wakefield had used colonoscopies, MRIs and lumbar punctures when such procedures were not clinically indicated.  On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield and Walker-Smith were guilty of professional misconduct and should be struck from the Medical Register in the U.K. His license to practice medicine has been revoked.

There is no moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine (a poison) to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.

Some supporters of the MMR/autism theory claim that just because a few bad apples faked their results doesn’t necessarily mean there is no connection between vaccination and autism. No it doesn’t. But there isn’t. Not a speck. Not a jot nor a tittle.

In the next few days I will explain exactly how scientists know this. I’ll also examine the story that when Japan stopped vaccinating children, SIDS (cot death) stopped completely. It didn’t.

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