Strange ... almost eerie.
The pond woke up this morning with a sense that the rapture was imminent, that the complete destruction of Australia was about to unfold. The python squeeze was on, the fix was in, and it was all over red rover.
Yet all that could be heard was the traffic, the planes overhead, and the parrots squawking up a storm in their new nearby winter residence, a gangly gum.
There was a sense of palpable relief, and lordy even a hint of sunshine, as if Katrina and the Waves were the patron saints of Sydney.
Of course it might not have been possible to be so sanguine in the United States. Apart from communists taking over the health system, there have been record temperatures and record wild fires and record storms and record destruction (In scorching heat, the US is burning).
Naturally the average denialist can put all this down to the vagaries of the weather, though the wild fires seem to be part of a pattern, as explored in Pondering a Link Between Forest Fires and Climate Change.
Less easy to explain is the change in sea levels on the US northeast coast, as noted in nature's US northeast coast is hot spot for rising sea levels:
Research from the US Geological Survey (USGS) shows that sea levels are rising much faster between North Carolina and Massachusetts than anywhere else in the world. The news comes less than two weeks after North Carolina's Senate passed a bill banning state agencies from reporting predictions of increasing rates of sea-level rise.
Yep, the GOP has taken on the job of King Canute, but with a hear no evil see no evil speak no evil slant.
Here in Australia all we have is the Murdoch press to do the job.
So what's the story?
In absolute figures, sea levels on this stretch of coast have climbed by between 2 and 3.7 millimetres per year since 1980, whereas the global increase over the same period was 0.6–1.0 millimetres per year.
You won't find anything front page in the Murdoch press about this phenomenon.
But you would have found plenty of coverage of alternative views, as shown by Sea-level rises are slowing, tidal gauge records show, featuring the thoughts of Phil Watson and quoting the work of US researchers Robert Dean and James Houston.
Sallenger and his team have been conducting their research since long before the North Carolina legal controversy flared up, but their paper specifically targets Houston and Dean’s research. It says that Huston and Dean's data sets encompass multiple time periods, causing three-quarters of their data to be biased towards masking the acceleration of sea-level rise in the northeast hotspot.
Sallenger would rather focus on his science than make any comment about politics. “We do science at the USGS that is relevant to policy, but we don’t make policy. That’s for the state legislature,” he says. “There are caveats in all of this, but our work suggests it would not be correct to project future rises using a linear interpretation.”
Meanwhile, in la la land, the denialists are busy clapping hands over eyes and ears:
North Carolina is not the only ‘hotspot’ for efforts by conservatives to legislate away the reality of sea-level rise. In 2011, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality removed all references to rising sea levels from a scientific study of Galveston Bay, and two weeks ago, the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill commissioning a study on rising sea levels only once references to sea-level rise and climate change had been removed.
In the land of free thought and free thinking, it's a peculiar interpretation of the relevance and usefulness of government - to scrub the record clean, and erase bad thoughts in a way that would make Orwell proud (oh okay there's a dollar for the Orwellian swear jar).
Luckily in Australia we don't need government to scrub the record clean, not when the Murdoch press is doing such a fine private sector enterprise job.
And the rest of the media isn't far behind.
In all the coverage of the carbon tax today, there's been a lot of 'me, me, me' chatter, and a singular lack of considered thought in relation to the tax. Will it be effective in relation to controlling Australia's insatiable appetite for shovelling carbon into the air? Or is it just window-dressing, its impact over-exaggerated by Dr. No's unseemly lust for power, worse than a Gollum's love of a precious.
Is it true that the Opposition climate plan could cost extra $24b, as proposed in a study by the Department of Climate Change? Has anyone studied the study, and done a piece for the opinion pages, as opposed to a bit of glib coverage?
The ABC's AM program's response was to head off to Penrith to do a vox pop of the good citizens, all talking about how it was going to cost them, and how there might be a change of representation at the next election.
Splendid journalism guys. That's the way it's been done since time immemorial. Cut together a few random citizens confronted on the street, and call it insight, and a guide to the thinking of the common man and common woman, not so much a straw poll, as a feather-weight poll.
A pigeon feather at that.
And the rest of the coverage has been the same. Yadda yadda costs, yadda yadda small businesses, yadda yadda not enough compensation, yadda yadda 'me, me, me', yadda yadda extremely disappointed, yadda yadda impact and suffering and woe woe poor pitiful me, and price rises, and shock horror and consternation.
What's the bet the sun will rise tomorrow?
If you ever wanted clear-cut evidence of navel gazing in the Australian media, then these past few days have provided exceptional examples, and the ABC, supposedly more inclined to in-depth coverage, has led the way in Chicken Little poll-driven, help 'the carbon tax and the cookie monster are upon us' hysteria.
But Fairfax isn't far behind.
Confronted with real stories about climate science, what would you do to highlight what's happening in the world?
That's right, you'd headline Alan Jones, dipstick denialist of the first water, advising that the notion of global warming is a hoax, to a humble collection of 150 people on the steps of the Victorian parliament, peddling his usual nonsense.
The emptiest, silliest parrots make the loudest noise, like a clashing cymbal or a gong, and there's Fairfax providing the amplification, but not much in the way of alternative insights. (well done Ben Cubby with Climate change a hoax, Jones tells tax protestors)
On any given day, the pond oscillates wildly between hope and despair, but today the temptation to run a headline saying "The Australian media is a hoax, this isn't reporting, it's jibber jabber witchcraft, common sense will tell you most of it is rubbish" was mighty strong ...
No need for Gina to worry, the job's in hand ...