Even the Antarctic peninsula is cooling

The Antarctic peninsula is the most Northerly part of Antarctica so by reason of that alone is the warmest part of Antarctica. Additionally, it is known to have a degree of subsurface vulcanism, which warms bits of it even more, so it is the part of Antarctica that Greenies normally talk about.  A glacier breaking off or splitting there gives them erections.  But glacial ice is always splitting off somewhere so what they see proves nothing.  I put up something about peninsula glaciers yesterday.

Implicitly, they tend to generalize a slightly warmer area of the peninsula to Antarctica as a whole and regard what they observe as proof of global warming.  It has long been known however that Antarctica as a whole is cooling so that claim is just the usual Warmist dishonesty.

The article below, however, rubs salt into the wound.  Not only are a few bits of the Antarctic peninsula not typical of the Antarctic, they are not even typical of the Antarctic peninsula.  The peninsula overall is cooling too!

Recent regional climate cooling on the Antarctic Peninsula and associated impacts on the cryosphere

M. Oliva et al.


The Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is often described as a region with one of the largest warming trends on Earth since the 1950s, based on the temperature trend of 0.54 °C/decade during 1951–2011 recorded at Faraday/Vernadsky station. Accordingly, most works describing the evolution of the natural systems in the AP region cite this extreme trend as the underlying cause of their observed changes. However, a recent analysis (Turner et al., 2016) has shown that the regionally stacked temperature record for the last three decades has shifted from a warming trend of 0.32 °C/decade during 1979–1997 to a cooling trend of − 0.47 °C/decade during 1999–2014. While that study focuses on the period 1979–2014, averaging the data over the entire AP region, we here update and re-assess the spatially-distributed temperature trends and inter-decadal variability from 1950 to 2015, using data from ten stations distributed across the AP region. We show that Faraday/Vernadsky warming trend is an extreme case, circa twice those of the long-term records from other parts of the northern AP. Our results also indicate that the cooling initiated in 1998/1999 has been most significant in the N and NE of the AP and the South Shetland Islands (> 0.5 °C between the two last decades), modest in the Orkney Islands, and absent in the SW of the AP. This recent cooling has already impacted the cryosphere in the northern AP, including slow-down of glacier recession, a shift to surface mass gains of the peripheral glacier and a thinning of the active layer of permafrost in northern AP islands.

Science of The Total Environment. Volume 580, 15 February 2017, Pages 210–223


Obsolete health advice in NSW schools

This is a good lesson in the folly of relying on governments.  The "health" advice below is based on minimizing the intake of dietary fat and salt.  That was of course conventional wisdom for many years.

Over the decades however, the research did not support that and current  medical advice is that fat is actually GOOD for you and that it is sugar that should be minimized.  There is however a lot of research indicating no harm from sugar. And the advice on salt is that it is only a deficiency of it that kills you.

So governments should get out of the health advice business.  Their current advice is just an obeisance to fads.  It is actually contrary to the best current scientific advice.  It is nothing more than a parade of ignorance

SCHOOLS have been told to stop using butter in the latest NSW government crackdown on the food sold at ­canteens.

Banning or severely restricting fairy bread, Vegemite, schnitzels, pies and cream is also part of a dreary new regimen for kids.

“We can’t teach good ­nutrition in the classroom and then sell rubbish in the playground,” Education Minister Rob Stokes said.

Under a blanket regimen starting next year, public schools are being told they must not buy hundreds and thousands, butter, cream, salt, Nutella, icing and chocolate chips.

The war on fat has also spread to Vegemite, which may now only be used in “small amounts, lightly spread”.

Fattier foods such as schnitzels, bacon, hot chips, pies and other foods must make up no more than one-quarter of canteen menus — and they must be healthier versions.

New Education Department advice says these ingredients “should not be used in your school canteen”.

The department has prepared a list of meals it would prefer kids have, including hummus, rice paper rolls, a “veg-o-rama burger” and a bean and corn salad. It wants canteen menus to contain at least 75 per cent healthy food, and water should be the kids’ “main drink”.

“The nanny state is getting ridiculous — governments are interfering too much in our lives,” Liberal MP Peter Phelps told The Saturday Telegraph.



The incorrectness of Soylent

Soylent is a liquid meal replacement born in California a few years ago. For people too busy to eat or too busy to prepare meals, it offers great convenience.  You can live on Soylent.

It is a cleverly-made product that embodies answers to most criticisms that might be made of it.  It is for instance made from grains and other vegetable products so is acceptable to vegans. Yet there has been great opposition to it. Before I look at why, I should perhaps declare that I have an interest of sorts.  

In 1967 when I was in the 4th year of my psychology degree, our professor of physiology mentioned to the class that skim milk has a very similar nutritional profile to the liquid diet that American astronauts at the time were being fed.  Just add a few vitamins and you should be able to live permanently on nothing but skim milk.  Being both busy and having little money at that time, the idea appealed to me.  So for six months I lived on skim milk plus some supplements.  I was fine.  The diet worked.  No problems. I gave it up only because of boredom.  So I have the experience to find the Soylent story reasonable.

So what have people got against Soylent?  Just Google 'Soylent' and you will come across a whole lot of grouchy comments on it. I have read a lot of those comments.  The most scathing seem to come from people who have their own barrow to push -- from GMO opponents to sugar-opponents.  Soylent obviously does not bow down sufficiently to their particular obsession. From my reading of the medical journals, I consider opposition to GMOs and opposition to sugar as ill-informed so I regard all that they say in their attacks on Soylent as unreliable and not worth pursuing.

The majority of the negative comments however just seem to come from the break with normal human food practice:  It's unnatural; it deprives us of pleasures; and disrupts social interaction. And some of course didn't like the taste, texture etc.  Though the critics who actually made an attempt to live on Soylent for a little while were generally rather surprised by its palatability.

And like all new products it had teething problems, with early formulations triggering food insensitivities in some people.  Those problems were met with slight reformulations of the product and it should not now give those problems.

So, basically, it seems to me, the opposition to Soylent is mainly a combination of snobbery and a fear of the new.  As an alternative to a normal diet it would seem to have few problems. Living on it would probably reduce your social interactions and it will never taste as good as a well-cooked T-bone but nobody claims otherwise.

The only real scientific objection to it that I can see concerns the bioavailabilty of its ingredients.  Its micronutrient profile fits well with official guidelines but there are various ways of meeting those guidelines and some ingredients may have greater bioavailability than others.  Some further research on that may be worthwhile.  The product would however seem in general to do well what it purports to do.


How to lie with statistics: Climate change is turning Antarctica GREEN

Choosing your start and finishing points is a great trick when you want to use statistics misleadingly.  Below they have arbitrarily chosen the last 50 years for their calculations.  And their calculations may be correct.  What they don't say is that all the supposedly causative temperature rise happened in the first (approx.) 30 years of that period.

The most recent 20 years have seen no effect, no change -- the famous "hiatus" during which there has been no statistically significant net temperature rise globally.  So if the greening has continued into the last 20 years -- which they imply -- it is NOT due to global warming. Things that don't exist can't cause anything.  If it has NOT continued into the last 20 years it is a finished trend of no current interest.

I note also that their data was obtained from the extreme end of the Antarctic peninsula, and the peninsula as a whole is known to be anomalous to Antarctica as a whole. It shows occasional warming (probably due to subsurface vulcanism) when the great mass of Antartica is cooling.  The study below is therefore from several viewpoints inadequate to sustain any generalization.  Putting it plainly, it is just another bit of  slippery Warmist propaganda

Few plants live on Antarctica but scientists studying moss have found a sharp increase in biological activity in the last 50 years.

Plant life exists on only 0.3 per cent of Antarctica. However moss is well preserved in chilly sediments.  This offers scientists a way of exploring how plants have responded to such changes.

Scientists gathered data from five ice cores drilled from three islands off the Antarctic Peninsula. They then looked at the top 20cm of each of the cores.

This allowed the scientists to look back over 150 years and explore changes over time. Changes included the amount of moss, and its rate of growth.

They also looked carbon in the plants that indicates how favourable conditions were for photosynthesis at a certain point in time.

The latest study claims the rate of moss growth is now four to five times higher than it was pre-1950.

A team including scientists from the University of Exeter used moss bank cores – which are well preserved in Antarctica's cold conditions – from an area spanning about 400 miles.

They tested five cores from three sites and found major biological changes had occurred over the past 50 years right across the Antarctic Peninsula.

'Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,' said Dr Matt Amesbury, of the University of Exeter.

'If this continues, and with increasing amounts of ice-free land from continued glacier retreat, the Antarctic Peninsula will be a much greener place in the future.'

Recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is well documented with warming and other changes such as increased precipitation and wind strength.

Weather records mostly began in the 1950s but biological records preserved in moss bank cores can provide a longer-term context about climate change.

The scientists analysed data for the last 150 years, and found clear evidence of 'changepoints' – points in time after which biological activity clearly increased – in the past 50 years.

'The sensitivity of moss growth to past temperature rises suggests that ecosystems will alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region,' said Professor Dan Charman, who led the research project in Exeter.

'In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic. 'Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking.'

The research teams, which included scientists from the University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey, say their data indicates that plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming.

The same group of researchers published a study focusing on one site in 2013 and the new research confirms that their unprecedented finding can be applied to a much larger region.

Plant life only exists on about 0.3 per cent of Antarctica, but the findings provide one way of measuring the extent and effects of warming on the continent.

The researchers now plan to examine core records dating back over thousands of years to test how much climate change affected ecosystems before human activity started causing global warming.

The paper, Widespread biological response to rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, is published in the journal Current Biology.

SOURCE.  The academic journal article is "Widespread Biological Response to Rapid Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula"


Western Australia’s catastrophic forest collapse

A thoroughly lazy article below. It does seem to be true that West Australian forests are retreating but the galoots below have no idea why and don't try to find out. They just chant the tired old mantra of global warming. But global warming COULD NOT be the cause. As any number of studies show (e.g. here) increased CO2 in the atmosphere has a GREENING effect, not a browning effect. The writers below, George Matusick, Giles Hardy and Katinka Ruthrof, are all academics specializing in forest studies so they are quite simply a disgrace to their professions. It's just a bit of opportunistic Warmist propaganda below.

Even aside from its building block effects, elevated CO2 reduces transpiration time for plants and makes them less needful of water; Warming oceans give off more water vapor which comes down as rain.  So both CO2 rises and its allegedly associated temperature rises are good for plants.  They certainly don't dry anything out.  So what they say below flies in the face of all the facts.  They are just grant-hungry crooks

Recent, unprecedented, climate-driven forest collapses in Western Australia show us that ecosystem change can be sudden, dramatic and catastrophic. These collapses are a clear signal that we must develop new strategies to mitigate or prevent the future effects of climate change in Australian woodlands and forests. But society’s view of forests is ever-changing: are we willing to understand ecosystems and adapt to changing conditions?

The south west of Western Australia has experienced a long-term climate shift since the early 1970s, resulting in dryer and hotter than average conditions. This shifted baseline, or average, has also led to more frequent extreme events. In 2010, the region experienced the driest and second hottest year on record.

These climate changes have resulted in significant decreases in stream-flow and groundwater levels. For example, formerly permanent streams now stop flowing for considerable periods. Groundwater levels have fallen up to 11 meters in some forested areas, with larger decreases in populated areas. Clearly, soil water reserves have dried out substantially and will likely continue to do so; we are now starting to see the implications of this. Although most of the West Australian society, particularly those in urban environments, may be well-buffered from these changes, ecosystems are not.

The climatic changes occurring in the south west of Western Australia are contributing to deteriorating woodland and forest health. In the past 20 years, insect infestations and fungal diseases have plagued many iconic tree species, including tuart, wandoo, flooded gum, marri, and WA peppermint, increasing their mortality rates. Many of these disorders are likely triggered or incited by changing climate conditions.

In extreme climate conditions, woodland and forest health suffers most. For instance, during the record dry and hot period in 2010 and 2011, large patches of trees throughout the region suddenly collapsed, with little recovery in some areas. Along the coastal plain surrounding Perth, some areas of Banksia woodland suffered losses as high as 70-80%, while over 500 ha of tuart woodland collapsed and over 15,000 ha of exotic pine plantations (~70% north of Perth) were destroyed. In the northern jarrah forest, over 16,000 ha of forest suddenly collapsed, with mortality rates 10.5 times greater than normal.

In several ecosystems, species have died out and not been replaced, permanently shifting vegetation structure and ecosystem function. Some believe that species and ecosystems will transition slowly in response to climate change. But following the extreme conditions experienced in 2010-11, we now know the transition in many West Australian woodlands and forests will likely occur in sudden, catastrophic, step changes. Many species may not have time to adapt.

These often sudden and dramatic shifts in vegetation health, structure and function have profound consequences on associated flora and fauna, including many critically endangered species. The Mediterranean type-ecosystems of the south west were recently named among the top 10 ecosystems most vulnerable to climate-induced tipping points and degradation by a panel of 26 leading Australian ecologists. The region is one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots, harbouring approximately 1500 plant species, most of which aren’t found anywhere else.



The debt

Under Obama, the quantity of U.S. dollars on issue grew exponentially.  If all holders of dollars tried to spend them, however, the result would not be pretty. The quantity of goods and services available would remain largely unaltered but with trillions of dollars competing to buy them, the value of a dollar would fall dramatically -- as far as one cent in terms of today's purchasing power.  Virtually all savings would be wiped out -- as has happened in many places in the past, Weimar Germany, modern Venezuela etc.

So the USA is essentially bankrupt.  It cannot give value for what it owes.  Fortunately, all that huge overhang of money is at present stashed in financial institutions and overseas debt, with China being a big holder of U.S. dollars, so the money is not being spent and the buying power of the dollars has remained fairly stable.

China, however saw some years ago what was happening and has taken steps to rid itself of its possibly worthless dollars. It resists taking in any new dollars and has gone on a worldwide spending spree to unload the dollars it already holds.  It is buying up real estate, farmland and profitable companies worldwide. Basically the Chinese government encourages its companies and people to buy up anything overseas that moves and some things that don't.

What could happen, however, is that all that money locked away in banks and company reserves could start to be spent.  Mr Trump has engendered a feeling of optimism in business and many businesses are going to feel encouraged enough to start expanding.  And they will go to the banks and make good cases for borrowing.  And the banks will see what looks like good uses for their money.  They will see that they could start to earn interest on their otherwise unused money.  So they will lend on the applications to them and business will get a big new pile of money in their hands.  And what will business do with that pile of money?  Spend it!

And then comes the crunch, a whole heap of new money will be added to the money already in circulation and that will greatly increase the demand for goods and services.  But the available goods and services will not increase significantly so the only way anybody can now grab what is available will be to offer more money for it.  Prices will soar and the buying power of everybody's dollar will drop.  America will have roaring inflation and all that money you spent years saving will become near-worthless.   What you can buy today for $100.00 will in future cost you $1,000.00 or more. You will have been comprehensively robbed of your savings.  You will suddenly be poor.

What happens then is the question.  What normally happens in response to roaring inflation is that the existing currency is scrapped and new money is issued.  You might get one new dollar for a million old dollars.  America will have walked away from its debts.  The nation will be effectively bankrupt

Is that going to happen?  I am not alone in expecting it.  All the gold bugs expect it and I see that some wiseheads expect it soon. Below is an email just received:


Dear Reader,

I just got wind that the people in charge of "the Fed" are scrambling to keep America's money system alive...

According to my source, Fed members just wrapped up a special "behind-closed-doors" meeting to discuss one of the most dramatic changes to the U.S. dollar in the last 100 years.

A change that not only affects how we spend, save, and earn...

But that will also transform the very nature of "money" itself.

To uncover the story, I flew down to Aspen, Colorado to meet with NY Times Best-Selling author, currency expert and multi-millionaire speculator Doug Casey.

Casey is one of the most connected men in the financial world.

He was Bill Clinton's classmate at Georgetown... He's debated presidential candidates... He's met with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan... And he's also been invited by the leaders of twelve different countries to discuss monetary reform.

Some even credit Casey with introducing the concept of "economic citizenship," where individuals can become citizens of a country simply by making an investment.

In my interview with Casey, you'll hear his warning to Americans regarding the consequences of a new potential money plan by the Fed that could start in the next 6 months.

You'll also hear the four steps he's personally taking today to prepare himself and protect his savings.

To watch my exclusive interview with Casey, click here.


Bob Irish
Retirement Insider


How should the government handle the problem when it comes?

With close co-operation between Congress and the administration, the crisis could in fact be handled very constructively -- so should be handled while one party controls both the administration and the legislature, as it does at the moment.

The first step should be a total abolition of the old currency, meaning that debts owed in that currency cease to exist.  People laboring under student debt, people who have borrowed big to buy a house and businesses labouring under huge borrowings would suddenly find themselves debt free and owing nobody anything.  A great cry of joy would arise across the fruited plain.

Cities and states owing huge retirement benefits extorted by strong labor unions would also feel their budgets freed up for urgent roadworks etc.  The retired unionists would have to get by with social security, like everybody else.

As soon as the old currency is abolished a new currency should be issued, called (say) "Federal Notes", abbreviated as "Feds". And the distribution of the new money could be used first and foremost to benefit the little guy.  All dollar savings deposits in the banks could be transformed into deposits of Feds on a one-to-one basis up to a maximum of 5 million.  That should keep 95% of the population happy immediately.

Businesses actually making things like cars and machinery could be given Feds to the value of 6 months of their turnover. Service business are not usually very capital intensive so could get the equivalent of one month's turnover.  Their ongoing revenues should keep them going after that.  Freed of debt, American business should roar ahead.

So who would be the losers?  Basically China and Wall St.  And I can't see many Americans crying over that.  Wall Street is basically a parasitic tumor on American productivity anyway so would hopefully die out at that point.  And China has its own currency so is in no way dependent on U.S. dollars.

It would all generate lots of uproar to be dealt with so everybody would be in agreement that such a disruption should never be repeated.  People would agree that the cause of Obama's excess money issue should be addressed.  And the cause is plain:  The great expansion of the Federal bureaucracy under Obama.  Obama spent three dollars for every two he raised in taxes.  And he mostly spent it on useless bureaucrats whose main job was to hold America back in various ways.

So the bureaucracy would have to be drastically trimmed.  And there is an easy way to do that.  All Federal departments that overlap with State government departments could be abolished.  There are extensive State departments dealing with the environment, healthcare, education etc so there is no need for Federal activity in such fields.  In effect America would be re-Federalized, with most functions going to the States.  And that is how America was during its great period of growth so nobody could plausibly say that that would not work.  America would be returning to its healthy roots instead of becoming just another version of a corrupt and overweening European state.

And such a big shrinkage could enable useful Federal tax cuts. Company taxes and death taxes could be abolished, freeing up big constructive energies. The whole world would want to set up business in America, with the result that all those unemployed Federal bureaucrats could get jobs doing something useful.

So there would be something for just about everyone. Even the Democrats might like to see the worker liberated from his debts -- if they do really still care about the worker. And the Left worldwide has traditionally been hostile to Wall St. Again, however, we could not rely on the Democrats for that. Big Wall St contributions to their campaign coffers seem to have "bought" just about all of them by now.


Reading to children at bedtime: ABC questions value of time-honoured practice

I question it too.  All the studies show that children read to subsequently do better at school but is that a result of the reading?  It is more likely a social class effect.  Middle class people are more likely to read and they also have higher IQs.  The question could easily be answered by controlling for IQ  but IQ and social class are both largely forbidden topics in the social science and medical literature.

There is however one well controlled study here which found that NO parental lifestyle differences, including reading to children, had any effect on the subsequent IQ of the child

THE ABC has questioned whether parents should read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an “unfair advantage” over less fortunate children.

“Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?” asks a story on the ABC’s website.

“Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”

The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.

“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”

Contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Gelonesi said the bedtime stories angle was highlighted by the ABC “as a way of getting attention”.

Asked if it might be just as easy to level the playing field by encouraging other parents to read bedtime stories, Gelonesi said: “We didn’t discuss that.”

Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.

“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.

Professor Frank Oberklaid, from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute said he was bewildered by the idea. “It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard,” he said. “We should be bringing all kids up to the next level.”



Does Christ influence Leftists too?

It's unlikely that he has much effect on their behaviour but he clearly has a lot of influence on their arguments.  They work within a Christian value system.  Their devotion to political correctness, for instance, is based on an avowed aim not to hurt the feelings of minorities.  And being kind to others, in particular being kind to the disadvantaged, is a major Christian message:  "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).

The Left don't of course see themselves as preaching Christian values.  They think they are just appealing to what most people would agree with.  They don't look at WHERE those values come from.  And they do of course come from hundreds of years of Christian culture. Many people are no longer Christian but the values their culture gives them are of Christian origin.

A good way of seeing that is to look at our own culture before the arrival of Christianity.  There are only a few literary remnants of it left but one that we do have is revealing:  Beowulf, an epic Anglo-Saxon poem.  It takes you into a quite alien world but it is the world of the people from whom we are mostly descended.  It is unlikely that there is much genetic difference between us and them.

In Beowulf, the prime virtue is heroism in battle.  And the King is not a dictator who is always telling us how to behave.  He is simply a "giver of rings" -- someone who gives formal recognition to heroism. He does NOT reward people for being kind to the poor and lowly. Physical strength and prowess is the dominant value in that world. The meek are certainly not blessed there.  Quite to the contrary.

So the Left do pay homage to Christian values, albeit indirectly. They actually PROPAGATE Christian values, while not realizing that they are doing that.  They really do preach: "Blessed are the meek".

A Christian correspondent has further thoughts on the matter which I append below:


Even those “spiritual” lefties who despise Christianity and like to say “I’m spiritual not religious”, in the same breath call themselves humanitarians, egalitarians, etc., thus showing they do have quasi-religious attitudes. And they all hold Christianity as their reference point from which they have conjured up their leftist alternative to Christianity, and they use all the Christian concepts like non-judgemental, caring, so they are Christianised in the sense that they are what they are because of Christianity.

They would not have their ideas if not for Jesus teaching them, and themselves perverting them into their alternative, and they have made hollow poor replicas.

Leftism/lefties are the anti-Christs that John talks about that came into the world with Jesus’s message. John said that “They went out from us but are not of us.” (1 John 2:19).  John predicted the rise of Anti-Christs: People focused on Christ but enemies of him.

Every teacher of anything cannot help but also teach the opposite concept and those with dark hearts  will get the opposite idea automatically without the teacher saying it, just because that is the way they are.

Teaching something good makes bad people worse. Just like giving cognitive behavioural therapy to psychopaths just makes them better manipulators of others. In that same way Jesus created  leftism, or rather, he brought it here as the opposite concept to his own teachings.

He certainly made leftism as extreme, cunning and powerful as it is in the West today because he divided and widened our hearts with his teachings, gave each a wider potential for good and evil, he gave our hearts their extreme left-right potential, as Socrates did our minds. That is the sword that divides us that Jesus mentioned.

Not all westerners are Christian, but all westerners are Christianised, because the wide left-right expanse of the western heart is the result of Christianity. Jesus knew what he was creating in this world. His teachings are full of advice and examples of how to differentiate between his teachings and leftism.

He used the Lefties/hypocrites of his time [e.g. the Pharisees] as examples of what not to be like, (and they were only dumb and mild ones compared to the cunning treacherous ones of today) knowing that with his teachings on love that he was widening the left-right potential of human hearts and that the future lefties would be even more left, cunning and treacherous than what they were then.  He was teaching greater love/goodness than existed at that time, and that would in turn be matched in extent on the left, for the more love/goodness existed in the world, the more love/goodness they would have to learn to fake, like a see-saw getting longer on one side must get longer on the other side to stay level.  


Is Mark Latham angry because of his own humble background?  Do his anti-elite barbs reveal his pain of being an outsider?

Rick Morton says below that coming from a poor background has marked him and he thinks Mark Latham's similar background accounts for his angry rants.  It's a conventional explanation but may be wrong.

I too come from a poor background but am a positive, contented person.  I also sailed to the top of the socio-economic tree quite quickly and effortlessly and regard my life as a blessed one: No anger or resentment there at all, no consciousness of obstacles.

Latham too sailed to the top of his tree quite quickly and effortlessly so I think my experience might be quite a good simile for his life.  I sailed to the top of the education tree by becoming a university lecturer while Latham climbed to the top of the political tree by becoming the Federal parliamentary leader of the ALP. Neither of us have any grounds for resentment about our progression through life.

So I rather see Latham's utterances as the work of a commendably honest but temperamentally aggressive man.  There is no need to invoke his childhood to explain his actions.  It seems clear that Rick Morton dislikes what Latham says and it is an old tactic to attack disagreements by demeaning one's opponents.  It's called "ad hominem" argument and I cannot see that Morton's article is anything more than that. It is a purely speculative attempt to "psychologize" Latham in order to discredit his arguments.

A man with a parliamentary pension of $80,000 a year called me elite this week, just over a decade since I took a half-eaten chicken from outside a stranger’s hotel room because I had no money for food. Now it is possible I achieved this mythical elite status in the intervening years; I am writing this column. But my assailant is a Well Known Commentator whose only stumbling block in his many well-paid media gigs is that he holds on to them like a man in a greasy pig competition.

I do understand where he is coming from, however, having grown up in similar circumstances. Mum raised me and my two siblings on her own while working for meagre pay. Our father paid $21 a month child support for most of that time. Were it not for the local Catholic Church and its community, we would have had more than one desolate Christmas.

This man, whose father died when he was a teenager, became mayor at 30 and leader of the ALP before losing an election. His wife is a lawyer. He breeds racehorses for fun. None of these are bad things, unless you’ve glazed your persona in the resentment of never fitting into the class you’ve now belonged to for decades.

What commentators — well-read, well-connected — never disclose is that elitism is built on cultural capital. Not just the big stuff, either. By the time I’d finished high school I had read only three classics. I never finished Pride and Prejudice, as mandated, but nailed the essay based on the four-hour BBC drama. I knew of some artworks, but only by indirect means. Whistler’s Mother was famous, I knew, because Mr Bean ruined it in a movie. I saw a few foreign-language films on SBS, but only because we had dial-up internet and I stayed up late to see naked people. Such were the times.

We laugh, but there is an acute shame in all of this. I won a scholarship to a private univer­sity, about which I cared little, but it came with a newspaper cadetship so I went. During one of the valedictory speeches I listened to a student give a speech in which he lamented the rise of scholarships “diluting the elite status of the university” for the full-fee paying among them.

I cried when, in my late teens, I sat next to some of these students at a teppanyaki restaurant during an official function and went hungry because I did not know how to use the chopsticks and was too embarrassed to ask. Days before, I’d never even heard of such a restaurant.

It’s enough to make a man angry, I get it.

My provocateur must have known this feeling. It has riled him for decades. I suspect not, however, out of concern for the millions of other Australians to whom this continues to happen but on account of his own wounds, which have festered.

Both Mark Latham and I made it out of this milieu, whether he wants to admit it or not, though I remain tethered to it in weekly battles to support Mum through the drug addiction of a very close family member that has raged for years. I have feared for her safety more often than I care to think about. None of us has the resources or social leverage to even start an intervention, let alone make rehab work.

There is a certain access that comes to being in the media, though nothing of the sort the anti-elites would have you believe. It is true that when Mum feared our relative had been involved in a serious car accident I called police media to get some basic details and put her mind at ease. It wasn’t him. I did not feel elite.

This is the “real Australia” the commentators claim to represent, though of course they do not. They peer in, as if through a window at a zoo, and sketch clownish caricatures of our lives. I use my experience only because I know it, though there are many whose experiences outside mainstream politics and power deserve to be captured in minutiae instead of airbrushed by pointless slogans.

But I get it, the residual hurt and anger. I know the fissures outsiderism can leave on the soul, particularly when you’ve wanted to belong somewhere but end up between the start and the finish. Even now, I find myself wondering if this might have been more powerfully argued, more eloquently put, if I’d known more people who’d read the right books when I was younger.



Oceans are at the 'edge' of losing all oxygen: Event could lead to mass sea life extinction that will last a MILLION years

I could spend time pointing out the leaps of logic committed below but I will simply look at a conventional commentary on the Toarcian event.  They predict a repeat of that event.

Quote 1:  "The T-OAE has been extensively studied in the past three decades although there is no general consensus about the causes or triggering mechanisms behind this event"

Quote 2: "Results from the Paris Bassin as in other localities indicates that the increasing greenhouse conditions may have caused acidification in the oceans, hampering carbonate bio-mineralisation, and provoking a dramatical loss in the CO2 storage capacity of the oceans."

Quote 2 is very confused.  The statement, "increasing greenhouse conditions may have caused acidification in the oceans' is the opposite of what happens.  Warmer oceans outgas CO2, leading to a reduction in carbonic acid and increased ALKALINITY of the oceans. But from that illogic they do in fact somehow come to a correct conclusion, that warmer oceans carry less CO2.

So, basically nobody understands what caused the Toarcian event and others like it and the degree of confusion in the thinking about it offers little hope of any increased understanding. We would have to understand the causes of such events to predict them.

The thing that seems to have sent the galoots below off into their voyage of non-sequiturs is the finding that oceanic oxygen content has decreased slightly in the last 50 years. But that is no surprise. There was a slight temperature rise over the early part of that period so we expect the oceans to outgas some O2 over that period. So the non sequitur indulged in there is to expect that the O2 would continue to fall, which in an extreme would one day give a Toarcian-like end point. But will it continue to fall? Nobody knows. What we do know is that global temperatures have shown no significant net movement for nearly 20 years, despite a considerable CO2 rise over that period. NASA/GISS Tell us that the global December 2016 temperature anomaly was .77, which was DOWN on December 2015 (1.10)and even slightly down on 2014 (.79). So the recent trend is downwards, for what that is worth.

In all the circumstances, then, there is NO WAY we can link Toarcian-like events to anything in the present time. The scare is nonsense

University of Exeter scientists fear the modern ocean is 'on the edge of anoxia' - when the oceans are depleted of oxygen. And while this dramatic drop in oceanic oxygen comes to a natural end, it takes about a million years.

Scientists believe the modern ocean is 'on the edge of anoxia' - and the Exeter researchers say it is 'critical' to limit carbon emissions to prevent this.

A study last year by researchers from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, showed that while the levels of carbon dioxide are increasing, the concentration of oxygen in the oceans is decreasing.

Researchers analysed over 50 years’ worth of data looking at a range of parameters from ocean salinity to temperature. From this, they calculated that over this period, the world’s oceans have lost an average two per cent of their oxygen.

The main process through which the oceans are losing their oxygen is the heating of the water. As oceans warm, they lose their ability to trap dissolved oxygen.

And because the warming is normally contained to the upper levels of the water, it decreases the density of the surface water, preventing it from dropping to the depths and taking oxygen with it. 

Studying what happened during the Jurassic period, they found the drop in oxygen causes more organic carbon to be buried in sediment on the ocean floor.

This eventually leads to rising oxygen in the atmosphere which ultimately re-oxygenates the ocean. But it took a million years to get the balance right again.

Lead researcher PhD student Sarah Baker said it was now 'critical' for modern humans to limit carbon emissions to prevent this. She said: 'Once you get into a major event like anoxia, it takes a long time for the Earth's system to rebalance.

'This shows the vital importance of limiting disruption to the carbon cycle to regulate the Earth system and keep it within habitable bounds.'

The researchers studied the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, which took place 183 million years ago. This was characterised by a major disturbance to the global carbon cycle, depleted oxygen in Earth's oceans and mass extinction of marine life.

Numerical models predicted that increased burial of organic carbon - due to less decomposition and more plant and marine productivity in the warmer, carbon-rich environment - should drive a rise in atmospheric oxygen, causing the end of an anoxic event after one million years.

Testing the theory they examined fossil charcoal samples to see evidence of wildfires - as such fires would be more common in oxygen-rich times.

These were taken at Mochras in Wales and Peniche, Portugal.

They found a period of increased wildfire activity started one million years after the onset of the anoxic event, and lasted for about 800,000 years.

Ms Baker added: 'We argue that this major increase in fire activity was primarily driven by increased atmospheric oxygen.

'Our study provides the first fossil-based evidence that such a change in atmospheric oxygen levels could occur in a period of one million years.'

The increase in fire activity may have also helped end ocean anoxia by burning and reducing the amount of plants on land.

This is because plants can help to erode rocks on the land that contain nutrients needed for marine life - therefore with fewer plants, fewer nutrients are available to be carried to the sea and used to support marine life in the oceans.

Less marine life - that would use oxygen to breathe - would mean less oxygen being used in the oceans, and could therefore help the oceans to build up a higher oxygen content, ending anoxia.

It may therefore be essential to maintain the natural functioning of wildfire activity to help regulate the Earth system in the long-term. 


Has Judas been misunderstood?

Apologies if that heading seems flippant but it does ask a serious question. It asks a question that just about no-one normally asks:  What was Judas's motivation?  It is normally assumed that it was greed for the famous 30 pieces of silver.  But if Judas was as callous as that, why did he commit suicide when he saw Jesus executed?  And what are we to make of it that Jesus predicted to him what he would do?

No-one at this distance can get into his mind but there is one explanation for his behaviour that does make considerable sense.  Could it be that he was overawed by the miraculous powers Jesus had displayed and wanted Jesus to use those powers on a large scale -- perhaps even to drive the Romans out?  Did he think Jesus only needed a small push to get him to do that?

And when Jesus predicted to him what he would do, did he take that as a sign that Jesus actually WANTED him to do that? And was he heartbroken at the actual outcome of his actions?  Was his suicide born out of a realization that he had got it tragically wrong?

Broadly, that explanation seems to explain what actually happened. It fits better than actions motivated by mere greed.

A Christian correspondent of mine has attempted to go even deeper into the matter, however, so I reproduce below his thoughts as well:


I don’t think Jesus so much prophesied that Judas would betray him as told Judas to betray him.

I think Judas was spiritually immature, a material man, a little too hooked on the material and emotional pleasures of life. He didn’t understand Jesus’s teachings in a spiritual/heart/soul sense.

He believed Jesus should be some sort of worldly king or leader.  Judas had seen or heard of Jesus perform many miracles, healing people, walking on water, disappearing from the midst of a crowd trying to kill him, killing the fig tree by pointing at it.

Judas was enraptured by Jesus’s power and presence. He thought something like, “Just let them try to take my master, and see what happens. My master will cast them aside and destroy them like he did the fig tree.”

Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but not betray him out of spite, but out of immature love, like the childish love a little boy has for his father, thinking his father is the strongest man in the world and can beat up any other man.

Judas not only thought that Jesus would defeat any attempt to capture him, but he also thought that an attempt to capture him would force Jesus to demonstrate his powers upon the authorities, and thus give Jesus the recognition Judas believed he deserved. Then Jesus would be elevated to some sort of leader, as Judas believed he should be.

Jesus knew that Judas thought like that.

And he let Judas go and betray him, even told him when to go.
Not that Jesus encouraged him, but knew that he could not be stopped from doing it because of his immature love for Jesus.

And Jesus knew betrayal would serve his cause, and he also knew the awful suffering that would come back upon poor Judas afterwards when we would realise what he had done.

And that came true. When Judas saw Jesus powerless and being tortured to death, Judas could not bear it, he realised his awful error and went and hanged himself.

He was not a betrayer so much as an immature man with a childlike love.

The lesson is that betrayal need not be consciously treacherous, it can be merely immature.



President two scoops

I have been having a great old chuckle about Mr Trump's latest appearance in the news. He put on a dinner for some "Time" magazine journalists but gave them lesser dinners than his own.  He had two scoops of ice-cream and a diet Coke whereas the journalists got only one scoop of ice-cream and only water to drink.

This utter triviality has attracted great attention, being reported even in Australian newspapers.  And what it says about Mr Trump has also generated a lot of opinion, with the most frequent opinion being that it shows Mr Trump as childish.  But that overlooks the obvious.

Leftists rarely listen to conservatives so tend to have strange and derogatory ideas about what makes conservatives tick. And on this occasion they have revealed that they don't even know the basics:  Conservatives DON'T believe in equality.  They think there never has been any equality and never will be and that seeking it is striving after wind.  So Mr Trump saw no problem in giving unequal serves of food and drink. It's as simple as that.

Because of the torrents of abuse that Leftists hurl at anyone they disagree with, it has become normal for conservatives to give lip service to Leftist beliefs.  It has become good manners not to emphasize inequality.  So any other President would have given equal serves of food and drink to both himself and his guests -- purely as a courtesy.  But Mr Trump is not any other President.  He is his own man and rewrites the rules all the time -- to the rage of Leftist journalists.  We have been living in a Leftist-dominated consensus about many things and Mr Trump has shone a light on that by violating the consensus almost daily. He has done a great service to us all by that -- JR


Making a muckle out of a mickle

My heading above is in Scots.  It means making something big out of something little.  Its the expression that leapt to mind when reading "More errors identified in contrarian climate scientists' temperature estimates" from diehard Warmist, Prof. John Abraham.  He has been refuted many times so I see no point in reproducing his effusion, let alone fisking it. His modus operandi is to present as established fact Warmist beliefs, with no supporting references to substantiate them.  He has to do that. Most of them are at best controversial if not outright false.

Like most Warmists he has to clutch at any straw that might support his beliefs.  And he has found a recent paper that appears to have given him an erection. I reproduce the abstract below.

The paper is not even about global temperatures.  It is about the Arctic only.  It reports minor disagreements in the way the satellite data for the Arctic is presented.  It does not address the fact that the various methods concerned give global temperatures that correlate around .90 and that the disagreements in reported temperatures are in hundredths of a degree.  But, most importantly, all the measurements show the same trend -- temperatures flatlined for many years with the only rise coinciding with the recent El Nino weather oscillation. Naught for the comfort of Warmists there.

A Comparative Analysis of Data Derived from Orbiting MSU/AMSU Instruments

R. Eric Swanson


Spencer and Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) recently introduced a new method to process MSU/AMSU satellite brightness temperature data with their version 6 (v6) data. A comparison of UAH v6 north polar lower stratospheric (TLS) data with that from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) is presented, indicating a possible bias between 1986 and 1988. Comparing UAH and NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research (NOAA) TLS data produces a similar result. An additional analysis utilizing midtropospheric (TMT) data also found a similar bias. Comparing the NOAA TMT data for the May 2016 release against UAH and RSS TMT evidenced another excursion, dated at the middle of 2005, that was corrected in later releases. These comparisons reinforce the concerns expressed by other analysts regarding the merging procedure for UAH v6, repeating similar concerns regarding the earlier UAH v5 products. Any biases in the UAH, RSS, or STAR products would impact the trends calculated for these products and could explain the differences between these trends. Biases in the UAH series would also impact the UAH TLTv6 lower-troposphere product, which is a linear combination of the UAH TMT, tropopause temperature (TTP), and TLS series.



The puzzle of Matt. 5:38-41

In Matthew’s report of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

Mainstream Christians essentially ignore this pretty clear instruction.  They go to war, they fight back, they sue etc.  It is only some of the smaller denominations who take it seriously: Traditional Quakers, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses etc.  I respected my Bible from an early age so, at around age 14, I became a pacifist in obedience to that scripture.  Not long after I became an atheist, I joined the army.

But the reason why the scripture is mostly ignored is that it runs against all nature.  No-one naturally behaves that way.  It is anti-instinctual.  But despite my defection from Christianity, I have always wondered if I was missing something in that teaching.  And I now think I was.

As any serious Bible student will tell you, context can be enormously important in studying scripture.  The "proof-text" approach to exegesis can easily get it wrong.  You have to study what went before and after a passage as well as the passage itself.

So what context do we need to understand Matthew 5:38ff?  Is it the commandment to love others as ourselves?  That would certainly fit as equally unrealistic. But "I came not to bring peace but a sword" (Matthew 10:34) would seem an outright contradiction.

I think the context we need is in fact the whole of the Gospels.  We have to look at the whole message of the Gospels.  And that message is that Jesus knew from the beginning he was a new and different teacher and that his difference would get him killed.  And he saw great meaning in his life and death.  And the time he spent teaching his disciples tells us that he did not see his death as the end of his message.  He wanted his teachings to survive and be passed on. And exactly that happened, of course.

But part of his foresight was that his disciples would be persecuted -- so it was important that he give them ways of surviving that.  He had to tell them to behave in a way that would protect them.  He had to give them what modern-day psychologists call "de-escalation techniques".  Above all else they had to avoid getting killed by hostile others.  And in Matthew 5:38ff he taught exactly how.  He taught his disciples to be unthreatening and even likable when confronted with hostility.  He was giving them lessons in survival against great threat -- things to do right from that point onwards, not rules for all times and all situations.  And when modern-day psychologists look at his rules they will see that his de-escalation techniques were pretty good. You can turn down hostility if you go about it the right way.

So Matthew 5:38ff was the practical aspect of his teachings.  What at first sight seems totally impractical was in fact superbly practical. The survival of Christianity attests to that. -- JR


Australians want company tax spent on environment, survey finds

A most amusing "survey" below.  It calls to mind the way "elections" in totalitarian countries usually find 99% support for the dictator.

Some obviously leading questions were asked.  To what ordinary voter would it occur that company tax in particular should be diverted to fund environmental programs?  It is just a Greenie wet dream.

And the suggestions were put to an undefinable group of people via an automated telephone poll on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).  And they got the resounding result the ACF undoubtedly wanted. If I had designed the questions, the result would show very little support for the environment.

Not to put to fine a point on it, the findings are garbage.  And nobody actually talked to any of the people surveyed!

Australians have given the thumbs down to Australia's environmental protection in a new survey, which shows a high level of scepticism about the Federal Government's commitment to protecting nature.

The poll has revealed more than two thirds of Australians want a share of company tax spent directly on protecting the environment and more than 76 per cent want a levy imposed on polluting companies to protect reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife.

Nearly 3,000 people were interviewed for the pre-budget sounding, conducted by market research company ReachTel for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

Six out of 10 said protecting the environment should receive a bigger share of the federal budget, while nearly three quarters said they would support a political party with a policy for "a national plan where nature thrives".

Just 11 per cent thought that nature protection should receive less funding.

Yet spending on environmental programs is in decline and set for further cuts, with conservation groups arguing that protecting the environment is shouldering a disproportionate share of "budget repair".

The environment budget has declined by 20 per cent since the Coalition first came to office in 2013, according to analysis by the ACF, and is projected to decline by 38 per cent on 2013 levels through to 2019.

Over the same period, overall spending is projected to increase by 22 per cent.

The political leanings of those polled in its survey were broadly consistent with the findings of most voting intention surveys.

They translate to a two-party preferred result of 47 per cent Liberal, 53 per cent Labor.

The survey also showed four in 10 Australians thought the Government has "a plan to protect the reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife for current and future generations".

This was outnumbered by 45 per cent of respondents who disagreed with that statement.

ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shannassy said the poll showed the Federal Government is "completely out of touch with what Australians expect their elected representatives to do".

"The only way for the Prime Minister to restore his credibility on environment and climate change is to reverse cuts and develop a comprehensive national plan to protect nature and move to clean energy," she said.

"The polling shows that Australians support long-term measures that would provide increased funding to protect and restore Australia's reefs, rivers, forests, and wildlife."

The survey results come in the wake of the independent State of the Environment report, released by the Turnbull Government in March.

It found that despite significant improvements on key benchmarks, resources for environmental management and protection were "insufficient".

The State of the Environment Report also said the nation lacks "an overarching national policy that establishes a clear vision for the protection and sustainable management of Australia's environment to the year 2050".

The office of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has been contacted for comment.



Neither Hillary or the Left blame themselves for their defeat at the hands of The Donald

And the reason why they keep having to find scapegoats is clear.  Russia, the FBI, any excuse will do.  Leftist beliefs are built on sand so it needs a huge psychological investment to defend them. You have to build your mental world on fantasies not facts. So anything that undermines Leftist fantasies is very threatening to Leftists.  It calls the whole self-worth of the Leftist into question.  They need a feeling of superiority for their self-esteem and their addled beliefs feed that feeling.  So they cannot admit that they got it wrong in any way.  Setbacks are always somebody else's fault

In an interview on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said she takes ‘absolute personal responsibility’ for losing the presidential election. She then pinned the blame for her loss on FBI director James Comey, Wikileaks and misogyny. ‘If the election had been on 27 October, I would be your president’, she said — that was the day before Comey sent his letter to Congress saying the FBI would reopen its investigation into Hillary’s emails. In other words, she doesn’t really believe she is responsible.

This is delusional. There is no evidence that these were decisive factors. Swing voters of the Rustbelt states were much more concerned with jobs than Hillary’s email server, and they could not care less about leaked emails from John Podesta (who?) and the Democratic National Committee.

As for misogyny, how do you explain that a majority of white women voted for Trump? As it happens, America was perfectly ready for a woman president – just not ready for Hillary.

Let’s be clear: Comey didn’t tell Hillary to put in a lame campaign effort in Michigan and Pennsylvania, nor did he tell her to avoid Wisconsin entirely. Vladimir Putin and Wikileaks didn’t instruct her to insult the millions of people she labelled ‘deplorable’ and ‘irredeemable’.

And neither Comey nor Putin were to blame for Clinton’s lack of message or purpose. Slogans like ‘I’m with her’ and ‘It’s her turn’ summed up the emptiness at the core of her campaign. As Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write in Shattered, their brutal look at the Clinton campaign, ‘Hillary had been running for president for almost a decade and still didn’t really have a rationale’.

In Donald Trump, Hillary faced one of the most unpopular individuals ever to run for president. He was also one of the least informed candidates. A joke. And yet she lost to him. That’s how flawed a candidate she was.

In one sense, Clinton’s desire to blame Comey and Wikileaks is not a big surprise, given that Democrats have been pointing the finger at them for months. But hearing these excuses coming from Clinton herself was another thing. It was a grotesque display of self-pity, an attempt to drum up sympathy for herself.

Hillary’s campaign was really a bigger problem than the candidate herself. Her hollow message reflected the Democrats’ lack of purpose and vision generally. Her arrogance and sense of entitlement was indicative of an aloof political establishment and machine politics. In writing off millions as ‘deplorable’, she was only expressing a commonly held view among the elite. And now, in shifting the blame, Hillary joins many other liberals in avoiding to face up to reality, and trying to understand what is lacking in their politics.

Clinton’s remarks proved to be just another example of a truism – the Democrats’ reaction to Trump’s election shows why Trump won. Her interview was a reminder of why she deserved to lose.



Aussie politicians can learn a lot from Macron

Robert Gottliebsen is mostly right below and it is indeed a relief to have an economic realist in charge of France.

But the main point of the whole election was attitude to the EU.  Marine Le Pen wanted France out of it.  And that attracted so many votes that Macron hopped on the bandwagon.  He too vowed to reform the EU and France's relationship with it.  In other words, LePen shifted the whole Overton window rightwards.

The EUSSR is now under attack from all sides. Britain is leaving, Italians loathe it.  Greeks groan under its restrictions and Germany has a new nationalist movement -- AFD -- that is getting a slice of the vote similar to what LePen got.  To survive, the EU will have to have its wings heavily clipped.  The torrent of regulations it issues will probably be scrapped, at least

Coalition and ALP politicians in Australia could learn a lot from the victory of Emmanuel Macron in France. And if the rest of Europe learns, the EU might have a chance to regain momentum.

It’s the French equivalent of Donald Trump’s draining the swamp.

If we strip away the political rhetoric involved in debating the far right, we have a set of policies from Macron that would transform Australia. Of course, as in Australia, announcing policies in France is only the first step. Bringing them into action is much harder and, in the case of France, Macron has to assemble a political party to win a Parliamentary election to make his revolution work. But he has momentum.

So let’s go through some of the Macron policies that would either transform Australia or where there is clear relevance down under.

* Make budget savings of €60 billion ($A90 billion). Cut the number of public servants by 120,000 — through natural wastage, but excluding hospitals. That’s a huge fall in the public service but like Australia, France has a bloated public service with enormous waste and duplication. Remember: the French people voted for this. They understand the waste in their equivalent of Canberra. France will stick to the EU deficit limit of 3% of GDP.

* Boost people’s purchasing power by cutting their social security contributions. This is worth about €500 ($750) annually for someone on a monthly net salary of €2,200 ($A3,300).

In Australia, the equivalent is that superannuation contributions would be cut back. Unless superannuation can be used to provide a home deposit, it is becoming less and less relevant to young Australians.

* Lower corporation tax from 33.3% to 25%. Australia’s corporate tax debate is made more complex by franking. But the American action is spreading.

* Maintain retirement age at 62, but unify pension rules to reduce complexity. I suspect that there will be a hidden incentive to work longer, which we are mandating.

* Half of food provided in school and work canteens must locally produced or organic. Imagine what a boost that would deliver to our agricultural industry because the pattern would spread to supermarkets.

* Allow businesses flexibility on the 35-hour working week — but extra hours worked will be free of social security deductions. The same policy introduced into Australia would see much more flexibility in shift allowances and penalty rates. But because there was no super deducted, pay rates might not be reduced.

* Make fluency in French the main qualification for obtaining French nationality.

* At the age of 18, French teenagers will get a “Cultural Pass” worth €500 to spend on cultural pursuits such as the cinema, theatre, books. What a fascinating idea.

* Ban children’s use of mobile phones at school. A great idea.

* France aims at becoming the world leader in developing green technologies. France already has a huge nuclear industry.

* One million poorly insulated French homes must be renovated. Macron can learn from Australia. Don’t allow governments anywhere near the change and get the right technical people involved.

* Create a 5,000-strong force of EU border guards. Protecting borders was an issue that could not be ignored. Both Australian parties understand this.

* MPs must not work as consultants, nor employ family members.

* Cut the total number of parliamentary deputies and senators by about one-third. Another wonderful idea for Canberra.

* Reform the EU by giving the Eurozone a separate budget, finance minister and parliament. Macron is trying to also transform the EU which has its own monumental waste.

* In Brexit negotiations, insist that EU Single Market rules apply fully to all trade partners. That’s being tough on the UK.

To get these sort of policies required a new party. Currently the same applies in Australia. The party does not have to be extreme right or left.

Alternatively, one of our existing parties may wake up.



A VERY interesting article by Stan Grant below

Grant has in the past made much of "discrimination" against Aborigines so it is an interesting turn that he makes below.  He says that Aborigines are NOT disadvantaged and that many have succeeded in white society.

That is an excellent counterblast against the constant wails from Leftists about the sad state of Aborigines.  It discredits their implicit claim that Aborigines can not get anywhere without Leftist "help".

What Grant omits however is that most of the successes he quotes are like him -- people with substantial white ancestry.  Some could pass as whites. Grant himself is little more than a white man with a good tan. I cannot think of a successful full-blood even in sport.

But Leftists insist that part Aborigines and full-bloods are all the same.  All are just Aborigines.  So Grant's argument should lack no force with them if they were consistent.  But expecting consistency from Leftists is a big ask, of course

Historian Tony Judt was big on challenging conventional wisdom. He warned of the dangers of "received wisdom": those things we accept as truth and cease questioning.

I recalled his words just this week as I was confronted with the received wisdom of views about Indigenous people.

I was at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. Before me was a room full of some of the most successful people in Australia and they were Indigenous. Yes, Indigenous.

I looked out and there was Kyle Vander Kuyp, an Olympic hurdler. In the middle of the room was Mark Ella, in some minds the greatest rugby union player in the history of the game and a former captain of the Wallabies.

Aden Ridgeway was there, former Democrats senator. There were lawyers, doctors, university professors.

In one room was probably the single largest collection of Indigenous millionaires ever assembled in one room.

They were there to celebrate black business. It was a conference organised by Supply Nation, Australia's leading directory of Indigenous businesses.

It was formed to capitalise on a Federal Government policy that mandates that all Government contracts include a proportion of business awarded to Indigenous owned and run companies.

Proud, successful, ambitious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders — how does that fit with the received wisdom of a demoralised, disadvantaged people?

No-one ever did Mark Ella a favour on the football field. There was no special treatment or easy pathway to a Wallabies jumper. Mark is now an executive at National Indigenous Television.

Kyle Vander Kuyp did not walk onto the world's biggest sporting stage because he was a victim. Post-athletics Kyle is forging his own successful career in the private sector.

These were people who made things happen. The people in that room had earned their hard-won success. Yet, it still surprises people.

Suffering need not be a life sentence

As an Indigenous man and a journalist whose career has taken him around the world, I have lost count of the times someone has said to me, "Oh, but you're not like the others".

As I took to the stage to speak to these amazing people, I wanted to puncture that received wisdom that consigns into permanent misery and suffering.

I wanted to challenge this idea that to be successful is somehow not to be Indigenous.

Our forebears were the first people to cross the open water in the history of humankind. They first touched these shores at least 60,000 years ago and forged a civilisation.

Colonisation was devastating. Indigenous people still live with the legacy of injustice and segregation.

It is a sad fact that by any measure the first peoples of this land are its most impoverished. Indigenous Australians have the worst outcomes in health, housing, employment and education.

Statistically Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders die ten years younger than other Australians. Rates of suicide and imprisonment are catastrophic.

None of this should be forgotten. But does that story of struggle and pain tell the story of those before me?

How does it explain me? Yes, I was born into poverty. My family was itinerant and we had no permanent home for much of my childhood.

For my parents it was a struggle to put food on our table.  Now, I live a privileged life.

Poverty need not be permanent. Suffering need not be a life sentence.

There is alternate history in Australia. It is a history of Aboriginal people struggling against adversity and successfully engaging with white Australia.

Australian Historian Paul Irish writes about this in his new book Hidden in Plain View. It tells the story of the people of Sydney.

They did not vanish after the coming of the British, they resisted, they survived and their descendants live here still.

Irish tells a tale of ingenuity and resilience; a people rendered strangers in their own land, who adapted and embraced the ways of whites while holding to their own traditions.

Irish introduces us to people like Jack Harris, one of the so-called "last of his tribe", who worked and traded with Europeans while never missing a chance to remind them "this is my country".

This was common right across the country. It runs counter to a story of an unrelenting and tragic clash of civilisations.

Anthropologist Ian Keen has said that Aboriginal people were invisible in our economic histories.

Economist Christopher Lloyd has written about this: "Indigenous people developed economic relations with settlers in some places and supplied labour while at the same time being marginalised and impoverished due to land seizures."

Of course, that does not mean people were not exploited. The struggle for unpaid wages continues.

But the instinct to survive and prosper never wavered.

They were not victims

I have written about this in my recent Quarterly Essay, The Australian Dream: Blood, History and Becoming.

I traced the journey of what I called Aboriginal economic migrants. These were people leaving the missions and reserves looking for a place in a new country, an Australia that had excluded them.

They walked — often hundreds of miles — for work on farms as fruit pickers or saw-millers or drovers and railway workers.

They fought to get houses in town and enrol their kids in schools. They fought in Australia's wars and demanded the right to be full citizens.

They were not victims.

They hitched a ride on the post-World War II economic boom. They worked alongside the migrants of southern Europe and saw the face of this country change as the nation abandoned the old White Australia Policy.

Movement is change and Indigenous Australia changed. They married non-Indigenous people, sparking a black population boom, and gravitated to the cities. Today the grandchildren of these pioneers are graduating universities in record numbers.

The Indigenous middle class is growing. Indigenous people are on our television screens, on our stages and our sporting fields.

We don't tell this story often enough. We don't even yet have a language for Aboriginal success.

Redefining what it is to be Indigenous

Indigenous lawyer Noel Pearson blames what he calls a soft-racism of low expectations. White Australia can be disbelieving and black Australia can be sceptical if not hostile. Success is sometimes seen as betrayal, a sell-out to the struggle.

Academic Marcia Langton has called this out in her Boyer Lectures of 2012. She coined the term "The Quiet Revolution", but says success comes at a price.

"Those of us who are successful run the risk of being subject to abuse, accused of being traitors to our own people, 'assimilationists'," she said.

"These detractors will never help you and they can resent your success. They will become increasingly irrelevant as you become more successful."

There are deep, historical, structural problems in Australia; successive generations of policy failure and pockets of racism that lock too many Indigenous people out of the Australian dream.

But identity framed around misery can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The people I spoke to in Sydney this week are redefining what it is to be Indigenous.

Received wisdom would say they are disadvantaged — but don't try telling them that.



Splashy ideas get the money -- even if they are wrong

The article below is about medical research but similar results are found in other disciplines -- such as psychology. But global warming is probably the  most spectacular example of what the article discusses -- that scientists are most likely to get funded if they have an exciting idea to present -- but almost all such ideas are eventually found to be wrong.  And saving the planet is a REALLY big idea that yields a golden shower of research grants onto anybody who promotes Warmism.  The data is already in which shows that Warmism is BS but until most scientists come out and say it is BS it will still hold sway.  But for most scientists  concerned, Warmism is their bread and butter so we are going to wait a long time for them to own up

How many times have you encountered a study — on, say, weight loss — that trumpeted one fad, only to see another study discrediting it a week later?

That’s because many medical studies are junk. It’s an open secret in the research community, and it even has a name: “the reproducibility crisis.”

For any study to have legitimacy, it must be replicated, yet only half of medical studies celebrated in newspapers hold water under serious follow-up scrutiny — and about two-thirds of the “sexiest” cutting-edge reports, including the discovery of new genes linked to obesity or mental illness, are later “disconfirmed.”

Though erring is a key part of the scientific process, this level of failure slows scientific progress, wastes time and resources and costs taxpayers excesses of $28 billion a year, writes NPR science correspondent Richard Harris in his book “Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions” (Basic Books).

“When you read something, take it with a grain of salt,” Harris tells The Post. “Even the best science can be misleading, and often what you’re reading is not the best science.”

Take one particularly enraging example: For many years research on breast cancer was conducted on misidentified melanoma cells, which means that thousands of papers published in credible scientific journals were actually studying the wrong cancer. “It’s impossible to know how much this sloppy use of the wrong cells has set back research into breast cancer,” writes Harris.

Modal Trigger

Another study claimed to have invented a blood test that could detect ovarian cancer — which would mean much earlier diagnosis. The research was hailed as a major breakthrough on morning shows and in newspapers. Further scrutiny, though, revealed the only reason the blood test “worked” was because the researchers tested the two batches on two separate days — all the women with ovarian cancer on one day, and without the disease the next. Instead of measuring the differences in the cancer, the blood test had, in fact, measured the day-to-day differences in the machine.

So why are so many tests bogus? Harris has some thoughts.

For one, science is hard. Everything from unconscious bias — the way researchers see their data through the rosy lens of their own theses — to the types of beaker they use or the bedding that they keep mice in can cloud results and derail reproducibility.

Then there is the funding issue. During the heyday of the late ’90s and early aughts, research funding increased until Congress decided to hold funding flat for the next decade, creating an atmosphere of intense, some would say unhealthy, competition among research scientists. Now only 17 percent of grants get funded (compared to a third three decades ago). Add this to the truly terrible job market for post-docs — only 21 percent land tenure track jobs — and there is a greater incentive to publish splashy counterintuitive studies, which have a higher likelihood of being wrong, writes Harris.

One effect of this “pressure to publish” situation is intentional data manipulation, where scientists cherry-pick the information that supports a hypothesis while ignoring the data that doesn’t — an all too common problem in academic research, writes Harris.

“There’s a constant scramble for research dollars. Promotions and tenure depend on making splashy discoveries. There are big rewards for being first, even if the work ultimately fails the test of time,” writes Harris.

‘Promotions and tenure depend on making splashy discoveries. There are big rewards for being first, even if the work ultimately fails the test of time.’
This will only get worse if funding is cut further — something that seems inevitable under proposed federal tax cuts. “It only exacerbates the problems. With so many scientists fighting for a shrinking pool of money, cuts will only make all of these issues worse,” Harris says.

Luckily, there is a growing group of people working to expose the ugly side of how research is done. One of them is Stanford professor John Ioannidis, considered one of the heroes of the reproducibility movement. He’s written extensively on the topic, including a scathing paper titled “Why Most Published Scientific Research Findings Are False.”

He’s found, for example, out of tens of thousands of papers touting discoveries of specific genes linked to everything from depression to obesity, only 1.2 percent had truly positive results. Meanwhile, Dr. Ioannidis followed 49 studies that had been cited at least a thousand times — of which seven had been “flatly contradicted” by further research. This included one that claimed estrogen and progestin benefited women after hysterectomies “when in fact the drug combination increased the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.”

Other organizations like Retraction Watch, which tracks discredited studies in real time, and the Cochrane group, an independent network of researchers that pushes for evidence-based medicine, act as industry watchdogs. There is also an internal push for scientists to make their data public so it’s easier to police bad science.

The public can play a role, too. “If we curb our enthusiasm a bit,” Harris writes, “scientists will be less likely to run headlong after dubious ideas.”



Was Trump right in praising the Australian healthcare system?

See the report below.  Trump took a lot of flak for his remarks but because knowledge of the Australian system is minimal in the USA, the subsequent controversy got a lot wrong.  TRUMP WAS RIGHT.  Let me say WHY the Australia system is better.  Broadly, it is better because the care you get is influenced by how much you put into the system.

At the basic level, a visit to your local doctor, the Federal government picks up most or all of the tab. So everybody has good access to a doctor of their choice.

But when the costs get big -- as in hospitalization -- a different system prevails.  Everybody is entitled to free treatment at a government hospital but the care you get there is very poor, with waiting times being very problematical.  One man once had to wait 7 years for an eye operation, during which time  he could barely see.  And even with cancer, which MUST have speedy treatment to give the possibility of recovery, the wait can be long enough to reduce significantly or eliminate survival chances.

And Australians have heard the horror stories and know that you would not wish government medical care on anyone.  As a consequence 40% of Australians have private health insurance -- which gives them access to our many world-class private hospitals, where they get prompt and effective care.  A few years ago, I went to my favourite private hospital with pain from kidney stones,  I was scanned, diagnosed and on the operating table in a matter of hours, and given the latest and greatest treatment for the problem.

So our private hospitals are as good as our public hospitals are bad.  And private health insurance in Australia is not forbiddingly expensive.  People on quite ordinary incomes can and do afford it.  I pay $215 a month for very comprehensive cover and my insurer pays 100% of my private hospital costs. Obviously, many people will have to cut back on other expenditures to afford their subscription but prudent people do just that.

On the other hand, less wise people decide that they will take their chances with the "free" system and spend their money on beer and cigarettes instead.

The upshot?  People who contribute to their own health insurance get care as good as can be imagined while those who try to parasitize the taxpayer get shithouse medical care.  That seems to me to be entirely fair.

And there is great consensus behind the Australian system.. It has been in place for many years now and neither political party wants to change it:  Very different from the USA

A comment by US President Donald Trump about Australia's healthcare system has caused a political firestorm in the US.

Mr Trump, while sitting beside Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York before their bilateral meeting on Thursday, praised Australia's healthcare system.

"We have a failing healthcare," Mr Trump said.

"I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do."

Earlier in the day the president and his Republican Party scored a victory in the House of Representatives for repealing Obamacare, although it still has to pass the Senate.

During the Republican campaign to replace Obamacare they railed against government-funded universal heath-care systems like Australia's.

US Democratic Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a supporter of universal healthcare, laughed during a US TV interview when he was told about Mr Trump's Australian comment.

"Thank you Mr Trump for admitting that universal health care is the better way to go," Mr Sanders later tweeted.

"I'll be sure to quote you on the floor of the Senate."

Mr Turnbull also drew criticism after he told Mr Trump in front of reporters: "Congratulations on your vote today".

Labor's shadow minister for health and Medicare Catherine King said the prime minister was praising a bill that will could lead to thousands of Americans losing their healthcare and "will take away the requirement for health insurers to cover people with 'pre-existing conditions' - such as diabetes, autism or cancer," Ms King said in a press release.

"It could also impact survivors of rape or domestic violence."

Later on Friday White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing that Mr Trump was simply "complimenting a foreign leader on the operations of their healthcare system".

"It didn't mean anything more than that."

Ms Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump's remarks did not mean he thought the US should adopt a similar system to Australia's.

"I think he believes that they have a good healthcare system for Australia," she said. "What works in Australia may not work in the United States."



Can the acquired characteristics of fathers be passed on to offspring?

Epigenetics tells us that they can.  The article below reviews the now-extensive evidence to that effect.  So were Lamarck and Lysenko right?  Not quite.  The genes do not change but they can apparently be switched on or off. Knowledge of the effect is still in its infancy so there is not a lot we can say about it at this stage.  What we can say is that some things traceable to the father's lifestyle can apparently influence how the child will turn out.  Lifestyle leaves markers in the DNA that can be inherited.

Perhaps most interesting of all, however, is that a change in lifestyle seems able to change the epigenetics as well.  So if you reform yourself of unhealthy behaviours, the children will not inherit bad effects from them. As an hypothetical example:  Say you are a heavy drinker experiencing a lot of alcoholic depression:  You are in the grip of that when your son was conceived.  Your son may be born prone to depression.  But if you gave up the booze six months before your son was conceived he would probably not inherit a tendency to depression.

As lot to think about there and no certainty in any of it but we clearly have a new era in our understanding of genetic inheritance

For decades, prenatal advice has mainly focused on mothers. Leading up to and during pregnancy, women are told to take folic acid supplements, stop drinking and smoking, avoid high-mercury fish, and maintain healthful weight gain, among other wisdom. That advice is prescribed by physicians and public health experts to promote healthy pregnancies, normal fetal development, and long-term offspring health. A father’s behavior can also influence the health of a pregnancy, by exposing his partner to secondhand smoke or domestic violence, for example. But there’s a growing belief among scientists that a man’s behaviors and environmental exposures may also shape his descendants’ development and future health before sperm meets egg.

Researchers now understand that sperm contains a memory of a male’s life experiences, ranging from his nutritional status to his exposure to toxic chemicals, said Michael Skinner, PhD, a professor in the school of biological sciences at Washington State University. This information is captured in alterations to the epigenome, the suite of molecular on-off switches that regulate gene expression.

Moreover, it’s now been well-established through animal studies that some “epimutations” are heritable. Skinner and others, for example, have provided evidence in rodents that male exposure to endocrine disruptors and other environmental toxicants can induce epigenetic changes in sperm, which in descendants can cause infertility and other diseases.

Epigenetic information can be embedded in sperm in the form of changes in DNA methylation—the addition of chemical “tags” that switch genes “on” or “off”—or histone modifications—chemical tags on histone proteins, which regulate how DNA is condensed. In addition to these epigenetic marks, researchers also have become increasingly interested in changes in noncoding RNAs, such as microRNAs (miRNAs), which are involved in gene silencing and can be present in sperm.

Last year, a review of human and animal research suggested that epigenetic changes may be the underlying mechanism by which paternal factors such as age, diet, weight, stress, and alcohol consumption contribute to a range of health outcomes in offspring including birth defects, behavioral problems, developmental disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

The senior author of the review, Joanna B. Kitlinska, PhD, an associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology at Georgetown University, cautioned, however, that all of the associations between paternal epimutations and offspring health in humans are still just that—associations. “There really is no direct proof at the moment,” she said.

Providing direct evidence that heritable environmentally induced epigenetic changes in human sperm (or eggs) increase susceptibility to disease in later generations remains challenging. But the epidemiological hints and laboratory evidence are starting to coalesce into a relatively simple public health message: When it comes to preconception health, fathers matter too.

From Men to Mice

A series of studies of historic cohorts from Överkalix in northern Sweden published last decade suggested that information about life experiences could be passed down several generations through the male line and could influence descendants’ health. In 2001 Lars Olov Bygren and coinvestigators from Umeå University in Sweden demonstrated that men born in 1905 who experienced food scarcity before puberty—when primordial sperm cells are developing into mature sperm—had paternal grandchildren with a lower relative risk of early death. The reverse was true for men who had plenty to eat: Their sons’ children were more likely to die young.

The researchers teamed up with a group in the United Kingdom to publish a larger study in 2006 that additionally included Överkalix cohorts born in 1890 and 1920 and looked at sex-specific effects. This study revealed that the food supply of paternal grandfathers was only linked to their grandsons’ mortality rate, while the food supply of paternal grandmothers was only linked to their granddaughters’ mortality.

Marcus E. Pembrey, MD, coauthor of the 2006 article and an emeritus professor of pediatric genetics at University College London, explained in an email, “The sex-specific effects were difficult to put down to ‘cultural’ inheritance,” adding that “the Överkalix data demonstrate some molecular ‘memory’ of the ancestral exposure.”

When the collaboration began, Pembrey was director of genetics on the landmark Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) at the University of Bristol. In the 2006 article, he and his coauthors also presented data from a cohort of fathers in the ALSPAC study. In this group, men who took up smoking before puberty had 9-year-old sons with higher BMIs than men who first lit up later in life, suggesting that the timing of the ancestral exposure matters. A follow-up study published in 2014 found that the sons of early smokers—who themselves were not necessarily overweight—had an average of 5 to 10 kg more body fat in their teens than their peers.

Several other epidemiological associations between a father’s health prior to conceiving and the health of his children have emerged. For example, there are also some indications that a father’s drinking may contribute to fetal alcohol syndrome–like symptoms, specifically low birth weight, congenital heart defects, and mild cognitive impairments.

Experiments in animals suggest that epigenetic changes in sperm may explain some of these associations. Male rats administered alcohol for 9 weeks prior to breeding, for example, have epimutations in their sperm, which may account for the significant decrease in fetal weight of their offspring. Many other studies have found a range of physiological and behavioral abnormalities in offspring, including altered organ weights, decreased grooming, and increased anxiety-like and impulsivity-like behaviors, in rodents whose fathers—but not mothers—were given alcohol, with sperm epimutations being the presumed underlying mechanism.

Early this decade, a spate of animal studies demonstrated that, in addition to toxins and alcohol, paternal weight and eating patterns—such as high-fat or low-protein diets—also appear to alter the sperm epigenome and offspring health. In one mouse study, a paternal diet low in folate was associated with an increase in birth defects in offspring compared with a paternal diet sufficient in folate. The fathers who consumed less folate had abnormal methylation of genes implicated in development and chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer.

And just last year, German researchers found that male or female mice with diet-induced obesity produced daughters (but not sons) who were more likely to be obese than those whose parents were both lean. Critically, the offspring were created through in vitro fertilization and gestated by lean surrogate females, eliminating potential confounding by gestational environment and pointing the finger squarely at epigenetic alterations.

Studies published last year also suggest a link between paternal dietary patterns or diet-induced weight gain and increased birth weight and breast cancer risk in female offspring. One of these studies identified shared epigenetic changes present in both the sperm of overweight male mice and the breast tissue of their female offspring. These alterations included reduced expression of miRNAs that regulate insulin receptor signaling, among several other well-characterized signaling pathways known to play a role in tumorigenesis. Alterations in miRNA expression may therefore underlie the metabolic reprogramming that, in turn, increases breast cancer risk.

“We see that the daughters of overweight fathers have increased breast cancer risks the same way as daughters of mothers who are overweight in pregnancy also have increased breast cancer risks,” said Sonia de Assis, PhD, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. “I think we’ve been looking at only the half of the problem.”

Humans: The Next Frontier

Researchers are just beginning to tease out these underlying epigenetic mechanisms in humans. Investigators on the Newborn Epigenetics Study (NEST) at Duke University provided the first molecular evidence in 2013 and 2015 that a man’s lifestyle may be imprinted on his child’s epigenome.

The researchers, including Adelheid Soubry, PhD, head of the epidemiology research center in the department of public health and primary care at the Catholic University Leuven in Belgium, discovered altered epigenetic marks on genes associated with embryonic growth, as well as metabolic disorders and cancer in later life, in the cord blood of newborn infants whose fathers were obese. These marks were independent of maternal obesity and different in infants of nonobese fathers.

Human sperm itself also tells a similar tale. Last year, Soubry found epimutations on a number of growth-regulating genes in the sperm of obese and overweight men. Moreover, some of the epimutations in sperm were similar to those previously identified in the cord blood of infants of obese fathers, suggesting they may be passed on from father to offspring. Research in larger study populations will be needed to confirm this, Soubry said.

And it’s not just a father’s weight that can change his sperm epigenome. In February, Skinner published findings showing that men who underwent chemotherapy for bone cancer in their teens shared a signature of epimutations in their sperm about a decade later. Although his sample size was small—18 cases and the same number of controls—Skinner said the persistence of changes suggests that toxicants may permanently alter epigenetic marks in sperm stem cells, resulting in a lifetime of epigenetically altered sperm.

Skinner wants to see more studies on human paternal exposures and impacts on offspring and subsequent generations. He emphasized that studies should probe molecular-level changes in the epigenome that may explain the associations. He and a coinvestigator plan to study health outcomes in the offspring of human and rodent chemotherapy recipients. “When you do the exposure and you change the epigenetics of the germ line, you can’t predict what’s going to happen,” he said. “You just sort of have to look and see.”

It’s not fully understood how epigenetic changes may persist through generations. Two rounds of near-complete epigenetic erasure and reprogramming occur between fertilization and implantation and during gonadal sex determination. How some epimutations appear to survive these waves of reprogramming to promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance will be an important question for future research.

Malleable Marks

There are early indications that some paternal lifestyle-associated effects on sperm and offspring can be reversed, with exercise and dietary changes or surgery-induced weight loss, for example. Although several windows of susceptibility may exist for paternal exposures and some changes in sperm may be permanent, the few months leading up to conception may not be too late to make lifestyle changes, Soubry said. de Assis agreed: “If they can’t do it for their entire life, then at least in that period before conception.”

Soubry suggested that physicians can encourage male patients who plan on conceiving to eat a nutritious diet, quit smoking (even temporarily), drink moderately, and manage stress—all of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already recommends for fathers-to-be. “That advice cannot harm, and I think it can even help to reduce the risks later on for the child,” Soubry said. Of course, behavior matters during pregnancy, too. Fathers—along with mothers and domestic partners—can have a profound effect on the health of pregnancies.

Kitlinska stressed that future studies should look at the combined effects of maternal and paternal factors, including epimutations. “Usually when we design experiments, we look at the effect of paternal exposures or maternal exposures, but really I think it’s an interplay of both.”