Latest Entries »

To all you pessimists and gloom and doomers.

Hans Rosling Dont Panic with title

Hans Rosling presents.


Time to make the cost of Energy an election issue.

South Australians pay the most for Electricity in Australia and is amongst the dearest in the world.  This does not have to be and we can do something about it. We have a state election coming up here in South Australia, and this should be the major election issue.

Brief History

1946.  ETSA established by premier Tom Playford by nationalising the Adelaide Electric Supply Company (AESC) in 1946. AES was a private company based in London. See Wikipedia

Energy prices continue a steady decline post war to mid 1990′s and among the cheapest in the world at that time.

Electricity history S.A. collage

1993. Sagasco sold to Boral. The State Bank collapse ensured many government owned institutions would go.

1994.  Australian Federal Government recommends deregulation and privatisation of the energy market.

elictricity prices history excerpt

1998. South Australia joins the National Electricity Market (NEM)

1999. ETSA sold to Hong Kong Electric Holdings.

2000. Torrens Island Power station sold to Texas Utilities (TXU). Electranet lease sold to consortium of Qld, Hong Kong and other businesses.

2001. Renewable target (20%) agreed to by Federal and State governments.

2003. Wind farms start being built in S.A. Do they do any good? Read this if you think so.

2004. Australian governments signed the Australian Energy Market Agreement,  which set out the reform agenda for national governance arrangements, electricity transmission, user participation and gas market developments.

2005. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is established and eventually takes over the responsibilities of the state based energy regulators.

2007. AGL buys Torrens Island power station

 2008. Solar feed in tariffs introduced in S.A.

2009. AEMO commenced operations.  Revenue comes from generators, retailers, and others  in the energy sector. AEMO’s budgeted net revenue for 2011–12 is $161.9M. Costs  are ultimately passed onto consumers, of course.

2011. Wind Farms now produce more than 20% of S.A.’s electricity and a report on household electricity shows how prices have sky-rocketed. Almost the dearest in the developed world.

electricity price rises Aus 81 to 2011

2012. Electricity prices in other countries.

electricity prices around the world 2012

Which sectors get what from your bill:

AER electricity $ breakdown

Sample of who gets your hard earned cash is going:

S.A. Power Networks profit 2011/12 = $306 million.

AGL Profit 2012/2013 = $598.3 million (national)

Origin Profit 2012/13 = $760 million (national)

Tru Energy Profit 2011 = 1031.3 million (EBITDAF)

Some of the impacts of high energy costs:

More people dying. A new study by the Adelaide University showed more cold related deaths in South Australia than in Sweden. Sweden?  Really!  Probably nothing to do with people cutting back on expensive energy, would it.

Over 10,000 businesses closed in 12 months. 12% higher than during the GFC with more to come. (Eg. Holdens) due to their lack of viability (costs versus income). Electricity being one of the major cost factors.

25,000 jobs lost in S.A. in the last 12 months.

Electricity defaults increased to 10,000 homes in South Australia in the 2012/13 financial year.

Homelessness increases 8% in 5 years in Australia. As of 2011 there are over 100,000 homeless people in Australia.

How about just the fact that we  have less money to spend in our local economy.

Add to the list in comments. Love to see more.  I am sending this info to all the Politicians I can.

Ultimately I would rather see electricity re-nationalised and remain so, as a basic human need.  As water should be also for that matter. (It is currently being considered for sale as well). But even if this is un-realistic at this stage, our governments can help to reduce the cost. They have got the power to change the status quo if they choose too. Please help them make that decision. Write your local member now.


The Bom and NOAA appear to only forecast either flat or positive conditions. Ie. heading towards El Nino. Only very rarely do they forecast negative values, and I have never seen them forecast a La Nina. Those  climate models seem to have such a “positive” attitude, it continues to come out in their forecasts!

Have they ever forecast a La Nina?


Temp gauge F

How the temperature gauge would have looked on 12th Jan 1939

“Adelaide to set a new high temperature record.” There has been a lot of talk lately in  Australia about temperature records of the hot kind.  Here in Adelaide we were supposed to surpass the “all time” highest day time temperature, which is listed as 46.1° C, set on the 12th Jan  1939.

The other day, one of my more senior customers was chatting to me about this (he brought it up btw), and said he remembered that day, as he was sitting a Uni exam at the time. He remembers the media on the following day stating it had reached 117° F.

Now, the official record from Bom says the highest recorded daytime temperature for Adelaide is  46.1°C (114.98°F) as stated above, however the Adelaide Advertiser news paper for the day after the 12th  shows the maximum temperature as being 117.7° F  for the 12th of Jan 1939 (see below), which translates to 47.6°C.  1.5°C above the currently listed record.

Synoptic chart 13th Jan 1939

So it seems my very astute customer’s memory was quite correct. Thanks  Lyall. Not bad memory for 75 years ago.

My next question is though, why is the reported temperature from 1939 so different from the current Bom official record?

Seems, the Bom likes to alter the official records from the past, in many locations including  Adelaide, and they all appear to be lower than the original raw data.  The collection of weather  data was collected meticulously at the West Tce Bureau of Meteorology site from the 1800s right up to the late 1900s.

So, when is a record not a record? When you have the power to change the past it would appear.  


“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” ― George Orwell1984 


Fixing Kids Vision in China

IMG_2720Have you ever been to a rural province in China? Have you ever helped 3,000 kids to see, and have you ever met up with 33 international volunteers whom you have never before met to do the above?  Well, I can now say that I have.

IMG_2660Yulin is a rural city in the mid north of China. Mostly dry and sandy. The local soil is Loess, hundred+ metres thick, blown in from Mongolia centuries before, apparently, covering the entire region.  Half a million people live in this remote city in China with well over a million more in the surrounding counties.  Agriculture has been the staple in this region, however in more recent years coal and oil has brought prosperity to many, with accompanying development. Health professionals, like Optometrists or Ophthalmologists, are few and far between though, let alone spectacle shops.  Combine this with a negative cultural attitude regarding wearing specs, and the obvious visual needs, and this sets the stage for a lot of work to be done.  It is the view of many in this area that anyone wearing specs must be “defective”, so kids don’t like to wear them and parents only see their kids being dis-advantaged if they are seen to be wearing them.

IMG_2457OneSight is a charity supported by Luxottica and it’s employees to bring vision care and vision correction to those who cannot afford specs, or just do not have access to Optometrists .  Having supported OneSight for many years now, I was given the opportunity to participate in this international clinic to China. Even given that I have skills to contribute to vision care anywhere in the world, I still feel very privileged to have been chosen for the clinic team.

36 people from 10 different countries along with local volunteers and in partnership with REAP (Regional Education Action Program), examined the eyes of 3,600 students and teachers from 26 odd schools, producing onsite 3,000 pairs of spec’s. Some to be worn by students for the first time.   The reaction was at times, one of great surprise and sometimes even shock.


Hotel in the middle of nowhere.

But before we got there, we had to endure 26 hours in 4 planes and 5 airports, before we arrived at Yulin Airport, ready for another 2 hours on a bus to a hotel in the middle of nowhere. Well, not nowhere, but nowhere near anything else except the massive oil refinery.  The reason it’s there is because there is no other decent accommodation for visiting business people and VIP’s.  There reason why we were there is because it is the closest accommodation to our first school.

The first drop was easy. I needed a crow bar to get the second lid open!

The first drop was easy. I needed a crow bar to get the second lid open!

The days were filled with pretesting eyes, dilating pupils and checking their intra ocular pressures, and of course testing their vision and fitting them up for specs. Except those who ended up not needing too much correction, then we gave them “cool” (“coo” in Mandarin) sunglasses. We checked the kids eyes in this school as well as many who were bussed in from other schools in the province.

No real idea what the hell this was. A pumpkin filled with ?????

No real idea what the hell this was. A pumpkin filled with ?????

The food of which many of us were a bit wary, was to my taste, absolutely fantastic! Albeit unconventional, with pretty much the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, I have to admit that my internals hadn’t been this good for about 10 years!  Good fresh, unprocessed, fibrous food. Beans, rice, noodles, tofu, that mashed potato stuff with the green in it, and various other unknown and indescribable food stuffs. Many of which I was not game to ask what it was. Everything went down, and nothing came back up, so all good. The same can not be said for the locally brewed alcohol. Wine and spirits, I can say they do not do well. Just as well the beer was ok, and later on we found some JW scotch at a (believe or not) 711 in Yulin.

It's just a "weed".

It’s just a “weed”.

Interesting sights along the roads we saw. Oil refinery, wind farms, solar farms, all next to each other, and a “billion” or so coal trucks. Oh and then there was the small fields of hemp growing adjacent the road.  Not sure if it is legal here but no one seems to be concerned about it.  Saw some “weed” growing on the footpath about 50 metres from the hotel. Very interesting, and I did not take the suggestion at the time to pocket a sample.

Working with a bunch of people from all over the world with similar skills and the same passion for helping people to see, is a quite extra-ordinary feeling.  Different cultures, different languages, and different personalities, would normally be a recipe for conflict and division, but here in mid north China, I see nothing but care, commitment for the job at hand, and a bit of fun thrown in to keep things enjoyable. Makes for an amazing experience.

IMG_2663Then there was shopping. Oh my. The locals of which some I am sure had never seen a European person before, were very surprised and entertained by our appearance and by our definite lack of language skills, in particular when I attempted to actually pronounce something in Mandarin.  Many of the shop keepers even got photo’s with us. We were like rock stars! Every where we went we attracted a crowd with many getting a sneaky phone pic, and occasionally some of the more brave locals asked for a photo with us. So cool. We felt very special in China. Funny, that when I was finally back in Sydney airport, I felt a little ordinary. Just one more Caucasian in a land of many.

IMG_2232NOTE : REAP (Rural Education Action Program) is a part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences which conducts social policy experiments to improve educational outcomes. This project, of which we are a part, is designed to measure the impact of proper vision on school outcomes.  55% of the students in the study have imperfect vision. Only 20% of those students currently have glasses. Some of which are not correctly prescribed.  The control group will receive their prescribed specs about 1 semester after the rest of the students.

For further reading : Onesight Yulin blog, and if you want to get involved in helping people see, go to  OneSight for Australia, or OneSight for the rest of the world.



Black ribbon in an ancient land

Stepping out of the car into the dry South Australian heat, I stopped for a moment to reflect on our short 15 km walk on the warmest day we have ever attempted.

I am not personally well adapted to excess heat, but this was our last chance to walk for the year, and our target this year was to reach Burra. It would mean a two day walk of  40 kms to be walked this weekend. We split the days into 15kms and 25kms,


Sienna patches in a sea of yellow

Fifteen kms would normally be a breeze for us, but this was 20° warmer than what we were normally used to.  Anyway, it had to be done. No point in setting a target if you are not serious about achieving it.


Some, just along for the ride

Not only was the heat a problem, but we had two other impediments on this walk hampering our progress and our enjoyment. Having to walk through fields in late spring meant that the grass seeds were going to be plentiful, and they were. Our socks were like porcupines after a dozen steps, and the seeds were working their way in deeper as we walked.  After a while it got quite painful before we stopped and “de-seeded” ourselves. The other experience which I had not encountered since the late seventies, was the FLIES!  There were millions of them. Annoying us fro start to finish. For a couple of hours I was killing about ten of them every minute. That amounts to well over a thousand mortally wounded winged terrorists. Still didn’t put a dent in the numbers though.

This trek heading into Burra had the most amazing scenery. The colours, the hues, and the landscapes, all just like a Hans Heysen painting. You can kinda see how the naming all came about, huh?

Stayed at the Burra pub overnight. Typical country hotel with lovely people, and the food was just glorious. I had the lamb as the steak we ordered was all gone. (we were a bit late).  Tender, melt in your mouth type tender, and very tasty.  When in doubt at a restaurant,order the local produce. Went down nicely with a couple of beers. It was not a great choice to sleep though for a Saturday night. Just a little noisy down stairs.

The second day was a little cooler at 25°, but the flies were just as bad. However, I was so taken with the stark beauty of the landscape I just had to put it into prose.


Through Heysen’s Eyes

Endless sky, a liquid sun.

Dusty road, aside old man gum.

A thousand flies, narking crows,

Cool breeze on us, from god bestowed.

White wisps across, the hazy blue

Sienna patches amidst the yellow hue.

Lone sentinel atop a windswept hill

Enduring, in wait for rain until.

Black ribbon wanders the ancient land

Attempt at taming, by man’s hand.

Pebbled beds carved through time

This is, old earth’s, paradigm.

Harsh it is, and it’s only spring

The rains have gone, birds on the wing.

Hues and tones bleached and dry

Like a view, though Heysen ‘s eye.

In Short:

Distance : 40 kms

Duration : 7 hours 34 minutes (over 2 days)

Pace : 5.3 kph

Terrain : Rolling hills through farm land and dirt roads. Only two moderate hills and one gorge.

Best Part : Getting it done. Way too hot to be enjoyable. Will not be  doing  that again in the heat. At least the scenery was pretty cool.



Hmmm. Hpefully not a previous walker that didn’t make it!


Lone sentinel








Well, that is it for another year on the Heysen trail.  I have to say that the vista’s all along the trail have been absolutely fabulous, and incredibly diverse. Can’t wait to see what is in stall for us in the mid north.  Ciao for now.


BreathingFunny what you come across on a climate blog. WUWT is the world’s most visited climate blog on global warming and climate change, dealing with science type stuff focussed mostly around weather and climate. One would not consider getting exercise tips from a site like this, but things in life often surprise.

I went for a run tonight. This was my first in two months, and thinking that my cardio would be as weak as a worm at a cock fight. My run cut short, with me gasping for air as I collapse in a heap somewhere on a lonely road, I suddenly remembered a bit of advice I read about breathing during exercise.

Mostly when we exercise and become a little stressed, we tend to suck in air faster in attempt to get more oxygen into our lungs and eventually our muscles. However, it would appear doing the opposite actually achieves a far better result. Ie breathing out more rather than trying to suck in more. To me this sounded counter-intuitive, but after trying this tonight, surprise, surprise, it actually worked.  Who would have thought? Maybe this is a well known fact and I am just a dumb bunny, but I am sure I would have remembered a little gem like this.

The theory goes like this.  If you don’t expel all of the carbon dioxide from your lungs, there is less room for inhaling oxygen and you also “rebeath” the C02 still in your lungs, so by fully exhaling all of the C02 from you lungs, there is room for more oxygen to be inhaled and absorbed.  More oxygen equals more endurance.  Simple, and it actually worked. 5k run and not out of breath at the end. Oh, too cool.

See “Catching my breath” for the full story from Willis Eschenbach


IMG_9748.CR2Kiribati has tide gauge data going back to the 1940′s.  Compliments from PSMSL (Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level) based in Hawaii.  The two Canton Island gauges in Kiribati run from 1949 to 2007. They also overlap for 2 years, giving a decent comparison, and that difference is fairly consistent over the overlapping time period to produce a single record.

Tide Gauge 575 = 1949 to 1974

Tide Gauge 1329 = 1972 to 2007

I have spliced the two records, adjusting one by the average monthly difference, to produce a long record.

Kiribati Canton Island Sea Level 1949 to 2007

Now, there are not many tide gauges in the world that do not have some spurious readings, but over a long enough record you should be able to see a decent trend, if there is one.  In this case, the less than half a mm per year is hardly anything to panic over.

Splicing in Kiribati’s other tide gauge data to complete the record for gaps and to bring it up to date, results in a 1.52mm per year sea level rise over Kiribati’s recorded tide gauge history (1949 to 2012).

Kiribati Spliced Sea Level 1949 to 2012

This is also consistent with the 1371 and 1804 Kiribati combined tide gauges (1974 to 2012). The 1804 gauge is still in use.

This rate of sea level rise is almost exactly what we have seen in tide gauge records for 200 years, long before any C02 influence, and certainly the coral Islands can cope exceptionally well with this rate of rise.

Probably the most knowledgeable person on the planet regarding ocean level would have to be Dr Nils-Axel Morner. So, what does he have to say?

The sun is starting to set on the doomsayers of “climate change”.


CaptureThis week I will be travelling to a country I have never been to, with a bunch of people I have never met, attempting to speak a language I have never spoken, to give the gift of sight to many in need. Totally Awesome!

A close friend of mine used to say (and probably still does), “do what you fear most” as his best attempt at personal philosophy.  Not sure if this is what I fear most, but it does qualify as an “unknown” carrying a certain element of apprehension (or fear). So off I go flying into the blue yonda farther north than I have ever been before.

OneSight has given me the opportunity to join a team of volunteers going to China.   We will be checking the eye health and vision requirements of 3,500 locals who do not have good access to vision care and spectacles.

I have been working in the vision industry in various capacities, for more years that I care to mention (3 decades?), and have travelled an interesting journey working in 4 states and one territory in Australia, personally helping thousands to see, and to look pretty good too, in spite of the fact that wearing specs used to be a fashion faux pas. Even more so I have (hopefully) coached and inspired many others to do the same.

Anyway, this is just one of the ways I can give back to my extended community.  Just a little thankyou for existing in this wonderful world and in this fantastic time and space. Thankyou OneSight for the work that you do. I am proud to be associated with this great organisation.  If anyone wants to help out or get involved with Onesight (particularly in Adelaide), drop me a note, or get in touch with Onesight through the Website.


Ps. A little known fact is that the most common form of blindness in the world is just a lack of glasses. So I hope to help fix this. Simple really. Most things usually are.


Tuvalu google

Western Pacific ocean

Latest update of sea levels around Tuvalu.

We now have the full 2012 results showing no sea level rise over the full year.  So now, not only has there been no sea level rise in the last 13 years, but there has been an actual decline of 2mm per year for the last 7 years (Jan 2006 to Dec 2012).

Perhaps even it’s just land or water use changes causing the “apparent” rise in sea level.

Tuvalu sea level 2000 to Dec 2012

Tuvalu sea level 2006 to 2012

Source Data

Tuvalu is situated in the western Pacific, close to the equator.  The sea level tends to wax and wane depending on (but not limited to) such influences like the moon, the wind, ocean currents, local land subsidence, and ocean temperature. During El Nino years, the sea level tends to drop dramatically around Tuvalu, as was evident in 1998 and again in 2010.  Of course the ocean can fall vast amounts during world glaciation and rise during interglacials as it has presently.

Supposedly, the sea level is continually rising due the warming of the planet from our carbon dioxide emissions.   Seems the ocean doesn’t appear to understand this concept very well.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 76 other followers