Sunday, November 29, 2009

Penguins seek global warming asylum

The following article, from NZPA, is dated November 19, 2009:

Four icebergs sighted off the Auckland Islands, 400km south of Bluff, are slowly heading toward New Zealand.

Expedition leader on the tourist ship Spirit of Enderby, Rodney Russ said it was the first time in almost 40 years of visiting the area that he had seen icebergs among the islands.

"They currently appear to be moving north at about 1.25kmh," he said in a statement.

"It is possible that they might reach New Zealand intact -- but they are showing signs of deteriorating and breaking up."

Three years ago, a flotilla of icebergs -- including one 1km long -- drifted to Southland's Catlins coast, with some coming as close as 25km to land.

It was 1931 when icebergs were last reported so close to the mainland. One Otago helicopter company charged $500 a seat for flights to the ice.

In the latest flotilla, the largest iceberg so far sighted was 80m long.

"We first sighted them 10 (nautical) miles off the eastern entrance to Carnley Harbour in the Auckland Islands," he said.

Improved weather conditions today allowed the ship to sail close by the icebergs, which had travelled 19 nautical miles to the north.

The Spirit of Enderby left the Auckland Islands on Wednesday to sail to Macquarie Island, 600km to the southwest, and is expected to encounter more icebergs.

The crew of the vessel has been put on special `iceberg lookout' as these icebergs pose a significant risk to ships, Mr Russ said.

"We have never had `iceberg alerts' in the Subantarctic islands before," he said.

Australian scientists last week reported another mass of 20 icebergs drifting north past Macquarie Island.

Glaciologist Neal Young said satellite images showed a group of icebergs, roughly spread over an area of 1000km by 700km, moving with the ocean current away from Antarctica.

The larger icebergs looked as though they had recently been calved off one of the massive icebergs which originally broke off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf and the Ronne Ice Shelf in 2000.

  • The cartoon is from the Manawatu Standard of November 21, 2009.

  • Kiwis flocking to Australia

    The following AAP article, dated November 12, 2009, gives background information:

    Australia should shut the door to thousands of New Zealanders to help stabilise the nation's population at 26 million by 2050, federal Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson says.

    Migration from New Zealand is uncapped and the number of Kiwis permanently settling has jumped from 16,400 in 2002-03 to 47,800 last financial year.

    Mr Thomson says if Australia is to avoid an "environmental disaster", net overseas migration needs to be slashed from 213,500 to 70,000 a year.

    In particular, the trans-Tasman travel arrangement with New Zealand would need to be renegotiated to do away with "the open door", he said in a speech to a community group in Melbourne on Wednesday.

    Instead, New Zealanders should be offered places made available when people leave Australia to live elsewhere.

    Mr Thomson says population growth in Australia is now a "runaway train".

    Official projections show the country having 35 million people by 2050, which is unsustainable, he said.

    Stabilising the population at 26 million would address "the declining quality of life in our cities, the traffic congestion and the disappearing backyards and open spaces".

    Mr Thomson also wants to cut the skilled migration and family reunion programs, allowing Australia to boost its refugee intake from 13,750 to 20,000 a year.

    The baby bonus should be abolished and family benefit payments restricted to just two children per family, he said.

    The savings made would allow Australia to invest more in skills and training domestically, and increase foreign aid "to enable us to be compassionate, decent international citizens".

    Mr Thomson has delivered several speeches in recent months rejecting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's assertion that population growth is good for Australia and the economic prosperity of the nation.

    He has called for the rolling back of laws that allow international students to apply from Australia for a skilled permanent residence visa within six months of completing their course.

    More controversially, in August he said the country's migration intake should be slashed so authorities could run more rigorous security checks on applicants.

  • The cartoon is from the Manawatu Standard of November 13, 2009. It shows Prime Minister John Key talking to Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

  • Things look up for dairy farmers

    The depiction of smalltown New Zealand in the above cartoon, from the Manawatu Standard of November 12, 2009, is anachronistic. It shows what small towns looked like in the late 19th century. But in stressing the importance, in such rural towns, of dairy giant Fonterra's payout to dairy farmers, it is spot on.

    The following article, from Top News of November 11, 2009, provides background information:

    As confirmed by Fonterra in a recent statement, the company will be increasing its payout to dairy farmers by as much as 20%. The firm also shared that the price of solid milk products would increase by around $1.10 to $5.70 per kilogram. Distributable profit will also be lowered by 15 cents, to stand at 35 cents.

    It has been calculated that the increase would add nearly $110,000 into the bank account of each dairy farmer.

    "The improvement in global dairy markets reinforces that dairying is a business that’s in good heart with sound long-term prospects, both for Fonterra shareholders and the broader New Zealand economy", shared Fonterra Chairman, Sir Henry van der Heyden.

    Fonterra's payout to farmers is made up of two parts - payout on milk solids and distributable profits. While the former is related mostly to milk powder rates, the latter is affected by price of product such as cheese and casein.

    Fonterra has shared that recent trends have renewed the company's confidence in the global dairy market.

    John Key and the national debt

    As transTasman noted on October 15, 2009:

    Finance Minister Bill English who returned at the weekend from London, reports Aust and NZ are “flavour of the month” with overseas investment markets which see the two countries coming out of the recession in better shape than others in the OECD. Aust and NZ did not have a banking crisis, public finances are under control and both are benefiting from the Chinese slipstream. In this climate NZ should have no trouble raising debt, (it needs to borrow $250m a week over the next 3 to 4 years), but the cost of financing the debt will be around $700m a year and add significantly to the fiscal strains of the next decade. Having worked itself out of the last debt cycle over 30 years NZ now faces another debt cycle which may be just as long. Getting out of it won’t be helped by the public perception the Govt is throwing tax-payer’s money away on the free-to-air broadcast rights for the Rugby World Cup.

  • Tom Scott's cartoon is from The Dominion Post of November 3, 2009.