Barnaby

By | History, Media, Politics, Society | 96 Comments

At the time of writing it looks as though Barnaby Joyce will keep his positions as Leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister. The Nationals seem to have given him ‘another chance’, as his deputy put it. Quite what would, after this episode, make its members think otherwise is not clear. Throughout this trial by media two thoughts kept running in my head. The first was why the press gallery had decided to run as a pack after him, and who might be the next MP or Senator to be brought forward for public excoriation. For, as I…

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President Trump and climate change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 82 Comments

Some months ago I agreed to give an address in February this year on the topic ‘President Trump and climate change’. At the time I wondered whether it would be a sensible topic in 2018, but it is, so I’m giving it as asked. This isn’t the address, but it is the sort of mulling around that you need to do before you write your speech notes. It’s not difficult to see what President Trump thinks about climate change, and what he has thought about it. He had said, during the election campaign, that it was a concept dreamed up…

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In weather terms, how did 2017 stack up?

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 99 Comments

As regular readers know, I now do this little examination each year, waiting until Ole Humlum, of climate4you, has assembled the global data from all the climate datasets. Most of what follows has been distilled from his latest bulletin. As always there were excitable people who wanted to tell us, even before the end of 2017, that the year would prove to be the hottest ever, and were asking why we weren’t doing something about it. So a few preparatory remarks are in order. First, the planet has emerged from a notably cool period, often called ‘the little Ice Age’….

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The February Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 62 Comments

This is a thread that allows readers to post their own thoughts on subjects that are not relevant to the current essay. I start it with the note that President Trump, in his State of the Union address to Congress, did not refer once to climate change or global warming, for the first time in nine years in such a Presidential address. That might be expected, given his known views. But the Democratic  right-of-reply sequel, given by yet another Kennedy scion, Joe III, likewise didn’t mention that, or rising seas, or any of the other warming themes. Later: Because of…

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The power of grant money

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 84 Comments

I have been reading an excellent book by Stuart Macintyre and others (No End of a Lesson, Melbourne University Press, 2017) about the ‘Dawkins revolution’ and what happened in the ten years after it. Throughout that period I was at first part of the group making the changes, and then, as Vice-Chancellor, someone who had to cope with them. My own Critical Mass really stops in 1991, when I went from the Australian Research Council to the University of Canberra. Reading No End of a Lesson brought back so many memories of life after the ARC, and indeed during its…

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Australia Day again

By | Other | 126 Comments

Richard di Natale, the Federal Greens leader, has managed to capture the holiday news, or at least the Australian politics section of it, with an almost daily cry to find another date for Australia Day, January 26th being apparently offensive to some Aboriginal people, because it signals the ‘invasion’ of their country. Since the Day remembers Governor Phillips’s planting of the flag close to Circular Quay and only the local Aboriginal people were there to observe, I think there is a good deal of specious talk in all this. Moreover, it is entirely unclear what Australia’s Aboriginal people think about…

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Where do I stand, and why?

By | Other | 27 Comments

Judith Curry, of the Climate etc website, found herself involved in a wide-ranging Twitter debate which prompted her to summarise her position both in American politics and philosophically. I don’t use Twitter much, and am coming to the view that I should simply dispense with it, but I thought her summary position was well expressed, and thought further, why don’t I do the same? So here is mine, using her structure simply as a beginning. I have written about many of these points in the past, but here they are brought together. My politics I grew up in the country, and…

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The January Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 192 Comments

We still seem to be in a weak la Nina, and all the usual bushfire warnings are out. No doubt we will have some fires too. My attention was caught on Judith Curry’s website by a reference to a piece (abstract only) in Nature on the incidence of wildfires in the last two thousand years. The authors used sedimentary charcoal as the evidence and suggest that global biomass burning declined from AD 1 to ?1750, before rising sharply between 1750 and 1870. Global burning then declined abruptly after 1870. The early decline in biomass burning occurred in concert with a global cooling trend and…

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2017 — What’s to Review?

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics | 136 Comments

2017 was not at all my happiest year, though I can feel strength coming back in the sixth week of my recovery from double pneumonia. And while I was ill Australia’s industrious electors discharged their duties in Queensland and in the Federal seat of Bennelong, about which I wrote nothing at all. So perhaps I should venture a comment or two there. All I really observed with respect to the Queensland election result, and that from television, was that the Labor Government had been returned, with a massive swing against the Liberal-National Party Opposition. I thought I ought to have…

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The history of a working life

By | Books, Education, History, Politics, Research, Society | 27 Comments

At high school, and even as an undergraduate, I didn’t give much thought to my future working life. I would be a high-school teacher like my Dad and Mum. I had a clear acquaintance with the school system, and it seemed to have decent holidays, which I was used to. I would finally have to have a job of some kind, and the only one I had any interest in was teaching at school, preferably high school. I managed to get a teachers college scholarship to university, and that seemed to come with a Commonwealth scholarship offsetting whatever costs were…

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