6th January 2006



Back in March 2005 I made an attempt to predict the effect of global warming on the environment.  Among others there was a prediction that "The North African desert could migrate north across the Mediterranean as the equatorial jungle expands into the Sahara.  Spain, France Italy & Greece might suffer diminished rainfall.  The climate in the northern countries (Germany, Poland, Benelux, UK) might improve (warmer and wetter).  However there is a big caveat: the warm transatlantic current might change.  If that happens, the climate in northern Europe might not alter much, or might get colder."

Since than various researchers put together an expedition (quite coincidentally, I am sure, since they have not cited "AUSTRALIAN DIARY") to find out whether the transatlantic current had changed.  They discovered that the warm transatlantic current had significantly diminished.

It is noted that Southern Europe is in the middle of a drought, and that Northern Europe has had heavy snowfalls and extreme cold.  Other parts of that prediction were that rainfall in northern Australia would increase as rainfall diminished in the south.  Anecdotally, Sydney seems wetter and warmer than usual, and there are reports that north Australia has had good rain.


Ariel Sharon had a second stroke on 5th January, and there is a medical assessment that he will be out of politics for good.

Sharon is hated by the Palestinians because he negligently allowed some small tribe in south Lebanon to massacre a refugee camp of Palestinians when Israel withdrew from Lebanon some decades ago.  (I have always wondered just what the Palestinians had done to that tribe to make them so vengeful.)

Although Sharon was originally responsible for the "greater Israel" concept, with borders from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea, he had recently about faced.  He withdrew from Gaza, and foreshadowed further Israeli withdrawals.

In the last few months he had created a new political party, and was gaining approval from all over the political spectrum.  Those expert in such matters reckoned that he would be able to form his own government after the elections, without depending on traditional interests that have been curtailing his strategy.

This is a bad time for Sharon to die.  Iran's new leader is destabilizing the whole region, and I believe that destabilization might help promote a hawk to power in Israel.  That new leader might well launch a prophylactic attack (with stealthed missiles) across Iraq.

- H5N1 -

Bird Flu seems to be spreading more easily.  In Turkey, four children from one family became infected, of whom two have died to date.  It is rumored to be rife in China.  Somebody from Taipei flew into Sydney recently, and was quarantined, and it was emphatically reported that he did not have H5N1.

Scary to think that it could be spreading here already.  It probably takes at least four days for an infected person to become infectious (i.e. start infecting others), so (depending on how many people each person infects) there is a window of comparative safety of at least eight days after the first infected person (the "Index person") arrives, which is probably the time it would take for the authorities to confirm H5N1 in the Index person.

As a rough guide to calculations:  Assuming a four day incubation period between being infected and becoming infectious, and if the strain is highly infectious, (i.e. assuming each infected person infects an average of  > 100 new persons before being detected) then there would be approaching one million infected people twelve days after the Index person arrived, giving ~ 20% chance for a person (in Sydney) to be infected.

The assumed infectivity rate of 100 is probably an upper limit.  If a conservative figure for infectivity of 10 were chosen, and the days from being infected to spreading infection were assumed to be 7 days, then it would take 49 days after arrival of the Index person to reach a total of 1,000,000 persons infected.

22 January 2006.  In Turkey, a third child in a family with four children (reported above) has died of bird flu. In one of his posts, Effectmeasure speculated that the 80% fatality rate for H5N1 might be overstated, in that it could be based on data that failed to include unreported cases.  A 75% fatality rate of the children in one family must surely challenge that theory.  The fact that adults were seemingly less affected adds a tragic possibility to the course of the disease.