Abortion – Mexico City Policy

In general, I write about the differences between the UK and New Zealand. In this case the similarity is striking. Donald Trump’s decision to issue an executive order re-imposing the ban on NGOs that provide abortion services or offering information about abortions if they receive US funding, has been stridently condemned in the UK and in New Zealand.

It is the lead opinion piece in The Guardian today. And it is the lead article on Stuff. Both take aim at this picture in particular:

This might, of course, be the usual luvvies in the Main Stream Media – but it is an opinion shared by my those I talk to here. Summed up nicely by Martin Belam, Social & New Formats Editor at The Guardian, who tweeted; “As long as you live you’ll never see a photograph of 7 women signing legislation about what men can do with their reproductive organs”.

Presumably this will be reversed by the next president. In the meantime it is hard not to worry that this will not prevent abortions, but it will prevent safe abortions.


New Zeland Electoral Role.

I have just received a letter from the electoral commission her in New Zealand informing me that if I qualify as an elector then I am “required by law to be on the electoral roll”. Actually, I do not qualify. Though I will qualify if , as planned, I gain residency in New Zealand later this year. Two thoughts came to mind.

First; I do not know how they knew of me; bank account, driver’s license, house purchase, work visa? But, I am impressed that the electoral commission is sufficiently on the ball to know that I exist. Further, the letter came from a named person with a phone number and an email. An exchange of emails confirmed that I do not [currently] qualify, within a day. How easy is that!

Second; what a good idea to make it compulsory to be on the electoral role. It takes all the debate about sections of society being under-represented on the electoral role completely out of play. Also, it allows time to ensure that the electoral role is not begin tampered with in some way. If there is a rush of registrations leading up to an election, it will inevitably be difficult to check for fraudulent registrations. However, over the parliamentary election cycle, three years here in New Zealand, it is clearly possible to do a more thorough job.



Global Temperatures – A Curiosity

2016 was the warmest year since reliable records began in 1979. It exceeded the previous hottest year, 1998, by 0.02°C. The surface of the earth (the lower troposphere to be precise) has been warming by 0.001°C per year over the last 19 years. There was a significant El Nino associated spike in temperature early in 2016. December 2016 was the coldest month since September 2014.

What is curious is the coverage. Here in New Zealand there has been coverage on national television and in the press. We turn to NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research) as our primary source for data relating to New Zealand. They inform us that 2016 was 0.8°C above the 1981-2010 annual average. This is a big number. Sadly, they use a “seven-station series”. These are ground stations, and given the liberties that have been taken with the ground station series for the world as a whole, it is difficult to be confident that this figure is all it seems. Satellite data for New Zealand is available and NIWA could, and should, be using that.

For interest the satellite data for the world shows that the world was 0.5°C hotter in 2016 than the 1981-2010 average. And, remember that 1981-2010 is a very odd reference period. It includes a period, 1981-1998, when the world was warming; and a period, 1998-2010 when the world was not warming (actually cooling very slightly).

And in the UK . . .  Well not a lot. A search of the Guardian and Independent websites brings up nothing. Do they feel that the current cold conditions in Europe make this a bad time to run their usual global warming narrative? Are they disappointed that the rise is so close to zero as make no difference? Are they worried that 2017 seems destined to be cooler than 2016?

This last possibility deserves a little clarification. How can I be so certain on Jan 10th 2017 that 2017 will be cooler than 2016? Well, 2016 was a exceptional year, as was 1998. No other years come close. And 2017 is starting cold. So 2017 would have to change from being cool by recent standards to being exceptionally hot by recent standards, for it to compare with 1998 and 2016.

Whilst the Global Warming crowd work out how to play this, the rest of us may remain sceptical.