Mr President

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There is only one topic tonight – the election of Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States.  Like many others, I am draped in a cloak of disbelief.  How could this happen?

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I am not a great fan of Hilary Clinton but even a shred of decency should have been enough to drive people away from Trump in droves.

However, the decision has been made and unfortunately we are all going to have to live with it.  The ramifications of a Trump presidency have the potential to be far-reaching and affect people far beyond the boundaries of the United States.

So, what does this mean for Australia?  According to early media speculation, an increasingly isolationist America would almost certainly impact on trade, defence and foreign policy.  Strategic alliances with Indonesia, our populous Muslim neighbour, relations with China and the problems in the South China Sea and of course trade agreements are all at risk.

Closer to home, this election victory has given Mr Trump’s Australian surrogates such as Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, One Nation senator Pauline Hanson and the LNP’s George Christensen, the opportunity to claim an endorsement of their own views on topics as diverse as immigration, refugees and climate change.

I am fearful of what this means for our future but I am also hopeful that commonsense and decency will prevail.

An Endless Summer

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Here in Australia we have had a long, hot summer.  There is no other way of describing it.

I found found some statistics from the Bureau of Meteorolgy.  There is no information for April but we all know that the warmer than average trend continued.
December
Second-warmest December mean minimum temperatures on record
Warmest December mean temperatures on record for Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia
Two heatwaves break December records in southeast Australia
Severe bushfire in southern Victoria
December was another very warm month for Australia, the sixth-warmest on record for nationally-averaged mean temperatures. The national mean minimum temperature was the second-warmest on record with an anomaly of +1.24°C, while maximum temperature was the warmest on record for parts of southeast Australia including Victoria (+3.80°C).
January

National mean temperature above average

Maximum and minimum temperatures both above average
January mean temperatures were warmer than average for Australia as a whole (an anomaly of +0.52°C), with all States and the Northern Territory recording warmer than average mean temperatures.
Tasmania recorded its second-warmest January on record.
The Australian mean daily maximum temperature was 0.21
°C above average and the Australian mean daily minimum temperatures was 0.83°C above average
February

Australia’s ninth-warmest February on record

Heat wave in northwestern Queensland results in some daily maximum records broken.

February was a warm month for Australia and the ninth-warmest February on record. The national mean temperature was 0.92°C above the historical average, with the monthly mean maximum temperature 1.43°C above average and the monthly mean minimum temperature 0.41°C above average.

Mean temperatures and mean maxima were above average in all States.
Queensland recorded its fifth-warmest February on record for mean temperatures and equal sixth-warmest for both maximum and minimum temperatures. Tasmania was sixth-warmest for minimum temperatures.
A heat wave in north-western Queensland in the last week of February resulted in a number of records for daily maximum temperatures being broken in this region
March
Mean March temperature for Australia warmest on record.
National mean March minimum temperature warmest on record.
National mean maximum temperature seventh-warmest March on record.
A new record for the warmest March day on record for Australia on the 2nd.

This month was the warmest March on record with a mean temperature anomaly 1.70°C

above the average, exceeding the previous record set in 1986 (+1.67°C). The national mean March minimum temperature anomaly was also the warmest on record at +1.97°C.
The hottest March day recorded in Australia was recorded on the 2nd.  On this day, more than one-third of Australia recorded maximum temperatures in the warmest percentile.
During the month warmer than average maximum and minimum temperatures affected much of the country. New South Wales and Victoria experienced record high mean March temperature anomalies (+2.49 °C and +2.42 °C respectively).
Nationally, the mean March maximum temperature was the seventh-warmest on record (+1.42 °C).
How did you cope with the heat?  Did you enjoy the ‘endless summer’.  Are you looking forward to ever increasing temperatures over the coming years?
Think it won’t happen?  Check out this graphic.
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Climate change is real and it is here right now.  It is time to stop and consider what the future is going to look like.  What is life going to be like for our children and grandchildren?  We are well on our way to leaving them a legacy of an uninhabitable planet.
Check out this page for more information.
What do you think?  How do you feel?
I am interested in your opinion whether you are here in Australia or overseas.

A Prime Minister

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As usual with any blog posts which deal with politics, I offer the following disclaimer.

WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

2015-09-23This article by Meshel Laurie was written almost 2 years ago but I have only just discovered it.  It captures my feelings perfectly and I only wish that I had written it.

Will we ever have another Prime Minister who has the courage of his or her convictions and who is prepared to make decisions for the future good of Australia rather than simply eyeing off their own re-election?

G20 – What in the World?

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WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

Whether we like it or not the G20 has arrived in Brisbane, the capital city of my home state, Queensland.  Today is a declared public holiday for all who work in the Brisbane City Council area.  I am included in that number.  Even when I was in the city on Monday and Tuesday, there were barricades everywhere and the footpaths were literally swarming with police.

Powerful and influential leaders from nations across the world are descending as I write and the spotlight of the world media will be on Brisbane over the next 3 days.  The total influx of people is in excess of 7,000.  This includes support and security staff for the world leaders as well as a huge contingent of journalists and other other media staff.

So what is the G20?  This link gives a brief, unbiased overview.  In reality, Mr Putin is arriving with a flotilla of Russian warships steaming towards Australian waters, the USA and Chinese delegations fly in with the ink barely dry on an agreement to work together on greenhouse gas emissions and David Cameron has come to hang out with his ‘new best friend’.

david cameronWho knows what the weekend will bring.  The one thing that we will all endure is hot weather.  It does not matter whether you are a young child whose home is here or one of the most powerful leaders in the world – it will be hot – probably hotter on Saturday and Sunday than any previous November day on record in our city.  This is not a one-off.  It is indicative of our changing climate.  Already, most of the temperature records are from the past 10 years, despite the fact that records have been kept for well in excess of 100 years in this country.

Mr Abbott does not think that the G20 is the right forum for discussions about climate change.  That’s right, just continue to bury your head in the sand.  We all know that you do not believe in the science of climate change.  You have told us so, yourself.

ProtestI will not be protesting this weekend but I am sure that there will be others who do.  They will have all sorts of items on their agendas that they want to put in front of this group of powerful and influential leaders.

My weekend will be spent making sure that my garden is kept well-watered and protected from the searing sun and heat as I do my best to ensure the survival of the food crops that I am growing to feed my family.  I will also be thinking of those farmers who struggle to make a livelihood while doing battle with the increasingly extreme weather conditions.  They do this in order to provide food to you and I.  The advertisement below, was one which was banned by the Brisbane Airport Corporation as being “too political” for display during the G20.  It features a South Australian grape producer, David Bruer.  You can read more here.

billboardWhile grapes and the end product, wine, may not be essential to our survival, agriculture in the broader sense is most definitely necessary.

Remember, Mr Abbott – without a planet there will be NO economy.  Addressing the issues of climate change should be front and centre of any global economic forum.

I was looking for a final quote for this post and amazingly I found this.  Need I say more?

G20 summit: Australian PM Tony Abbott tries to block climate talks – and risks his country becoming an international laughing stock

Mr Abbott believes the Brisbane conference is the wrong forum for discussions on the environment.

As host of the G20 summit of world leaders in Brisbane this weekend, Australia had been looking forward to its moment in the sun. However, Tony Abbott’s government risks becoming an international laughing stock, thanks to its attempts to block discussion of climate change.

This week’s landmark agreement between the US and China to reduce carbon emissions has increased pressure on Australia – the only developed country to have gone backwards in fighting climate change – to put the issue on the summit’s agenda.

However, Mr Abbott – who has scrapped a carbon tax and is trying to reduce renewable energy targets – insisted that the G20 was the wrong forum. “This is the world’s premier economic conference, and I… expect the focus will be on economic reform, economic growth, how we drive growth and jobs,” he said.

The agreement by the world’s two biggest polluters, on Wednesday at the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit in Beijing, reportedly took Australia by surprise. Veteran political commentator Michelle Grattan said the government had been “ambushed almost on the eve” of the long-anticipated Brisbane conference.

Under the deal, the US has pledged to slash its emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent of their 2005 levels by 2025, while China has said its emissions will peak by 2030, at the latest, and then decrease.

Next to those goals, Australia’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent of their 2000 levels by 2020 looks inconsequential. Few believe the government will meet even that modest target.

One of the world’s biggest per capita polluters, thanks to its reliance on fossil fuels, Australia is also the world’s largest coal exporter. Mr Abbott – who once dismissed climate change science as “absolute crap” – horrified scientists and environmentalists last month when he described coal as “good for humanity” while opening a new mine in Queensland.

The government has reportedly been fending off last-minute attempts by the US, France and other European nations to have climate change discussed by G20 leaders.

The meeting is seen by many as an important opportunity to build momentum before next year’s Paris conference on climate change, where it is hoped a new global pact will be hammered out.

Australia’s opposition leader, Bill Shorten, warned that if Mr Abbott persisted in his refusal to allow climate change to be discussed in Brisbane, “he will embarrass Australia in front of the rest of the world”. Mr Shorten accused the Prime Minister of holding “flat Earth” views.

Other critics dismissed Mr Abbott’s claim that the G20 was not an appropriate forum. Ms Grattan, a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra, noted that the joint communique issued by the US President, Barack Obama, and the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, referred to climate change “already harming economies around the world”.

With the European Union agreeing last month to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2030, Australia is looking increasingly out of step with the developed world.