NEWS AND VIEWS
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
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The Premier plays Nutsy
There must be votes in koala bears.
The Queensland Premier Anna Bligh is doing her best to pretend her Government cares about the cuddly critters with an announcement of measures she says need to be taken to save an estimated 20,000 koalas living in the state's southeast. Dogs may be banned in new housing developments and fences made compulsory around existing houses with dogs kept indoors at night to ensure the safety of the Blinky Bills. Exact details of the rescue plan, which may also include lowering speed limits around koala habitats and building tunnels under major roads so koalas can safely cross, will be worked out by a taskforce including the RSPCA, local councils, developers, conservation groups and koala experts.
Begging for cash
It is a strange thing to be sure when businessmen and politicians alike claim there is no connection at all between donations to a political party and future influence that parties looking like sure losers find it very hard to raise money. The latest lot to find itself in this predicament is the Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory which last week had to send out an emergency email to supporters requesting donations to cover campaign expenses. The CLP is being well and truly outspent on advertising by a Labor Party that is a clear favourite to be returned (an 85% chance on the Owl's Election Indicator) on Saturday and seems to be having no fund raising difficulty at all.
Good news for polar bears
Cross fingers and hope for chills. The polar bears seem safe for another year. Whatever impression you might have got from Marian Wilkinson in the Fairfax papers and Four Corners this week, there has been a better than expected northern summer for Arctic Ice. During July the ice cover was better than in July during the last three years which had produced very gloomy predictions indeed about the future for the bears.
Not that foreboding about the future should be banished. The figure for July 2008 has simply returned to the long term downward trend line but at least the prediction of the experts in these matters at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre is that, with sea ice now at the peak of the melt season and ice extent below average, "it seems less likely that extent will approach last year's record low."
Back in April at the beginning of the melting season the NSIDC had headlined its forecast " Arctic sea ice extent at maximum below average, thin ". By May the report was even gloomier: " Arctic sea ice forecasts point to lower-than-average season ahead ". By early June if bears could read they would have been truly alarmed: " Arctic sea ice still on track for extreme melt ". Pessimism continued at NSIDC on 2 July: Melt onset earlier than normal but by 17 July there was at least A different pattern of sea ice retreat . It was not until the next report of 1 August that even a little optimism – just a little mind you - was allowed to come through: Race between waning sunlight and thin ice . There was almost a tinge of disappointment in that headline and a grudging acknowledgement that the " rate of decline should soon start to slow, reducing the likelihood of breaking last year's record sea ice minimum."
One poll lead Obama does not want!
There was mixed news for Barack Obama overnight in the various samplings of public opinion. A couple of pollsters had him improving again and back in the lead (see Real Clear Politics if you are interested in such daily movements) but over at Amazon.com's best-seller list it is anti-Obama books that are selling well. While barely getting reviewed in the mainstream press, Hillel Italie of Associated Press writes that going negative against Obama isn't just a campaign strategy for Republican John McCain. It's also a good formula for selling books. Three anti-Obama releases are now in the top 20.
© Richard Farmer 2008