Managing comments on the website

By | Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Food & Wine, Health, History, Humour, Language, Media, Music, Politics, Religion, Research, Road Safety, Society, Sport, Theatre | 12 Comments

I’ve had to think hard about how best to moderate the comments on this website. A number of the recent posts have had more than 100 comments, and one has passed 200. Just following them is a decent amount of work, and it gets in the way of other writing important to me. My own practice has been to respond to anyone who I think is seeking a real answer to something, or who has found a weakness in what I have written, or who seems to have misunderstood what I wrote. I learn from such encounters. If I find I…

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‘Well, why do all the scientific academies support the AGW issue as something that governments and the world must deal with?’ #11 My perspective on ‘climate change’

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 189 Comments

Sooner or later someone on the orthodox side will call out that ‘all the world’s scientific academies agree that the warming is real, due to humans and a threat’. That is supposed to be a discussion-stopper. There is plenty of support for the cry if you go to the web. Here is the beginning of a very recent NASA statement on ‘climate change’: Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 per cent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the…

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Towards ‘a mature discussion’ in Australian society

By | Climate Change, Education, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 165 Comments

At the discussion on arts funding that I mentioned the other day, one of the panel spoke well about the need for ‘a mature discussion’, in which each side really listened to the other, and thought about what they had heard. I was reminded at once of an encounter I had experienced at the University of Canberra, in my last year there. My resourceful deputy, Meredith Edwards, who knew a great deal about how you can translate good research ideas into effective policy, suggested that we meet with two union leaders under a neutral arbiter and have a ‘mature discussion’ about matters…

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‘But aren’t 97 per cent of climate scientists sure that humans are causing global warming?’ #10 My perspective on Climate Change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 265 Comments

One of the most frequently used rhetorical devices to avoid answering the questions of the critics of the AGC scare is the proposition that there is a astonishing scientific ‘consensus’ on the point: some 97 per cent of climate scientists are said to agree. By implication, the other 3 per cent are simply ignorant, mavericks or troublemakers, to be lumped in with other people who fall into the category ‘climate deniers’. We are thus asked to accept the authority of the consensus, and to cease and desist from questioning anything about global warming or ‘climate change’. To deal with this part of the debate…

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‘Kill Climate Deniers!’ More on public funding of the arts

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Theatre | 33 Comments

Back in 2014 I wrote a piece about accountability, which began with the news that the ACT Government had funded a theatre project with the title as given above. I knew nothing about the play, but its title led me to ask what redress any of us sceptics had, if and when it were conclusively shown that the AGC scare was just that, a baseless scare. As taxpayers we had been forced to contribute to large amounts of expenditure that was simply wasted, on the advice of people who claimed to know the truth. Then Andrew Bolt took up the question…

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‘But wouldn’t it be useful to move to alternative energy anyway?’ #9 My perspective on climate change

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Media, Religion, Research, Road Safety | 136 Comments

The quotation in the title of this essay comes from something I noted down in 2010. It was part of a comment somewhere, and it carried the implication that even if you didn’t think AGW was a real problem there were good reasons to go down the alternative energy path. Why was alternative energy a good thing? Well, it was said to be ‘free’, would continue forever, and didn’t require the use of fossil fuels, which were not sustainable even if they weren’t bad for the planet. I had a particular interest in solar energy, because the Australian Research Grants…

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Who to vote for? That is the question.

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 64 Comments

I do an occasional op. ed. for newspapers, and for a pair I did for The Canberra Times early in the year I invented, as a stalking horse, a rational non-partisan voter who just happened to be a woman. I feel her presence again after an opinion poll or two last week. The last Newspoll suggested that Labor is slightly in front of the Coalition in the estimation of the electorate, while the Roy Morgan poll showed the Coalition ahead, but not by much. It would be reasonable to guess that the two parties are roughly equal. We could be in for a…

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Free speech on university campuses

By | Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 127 Comments

An essay of mine last week on free speech caused a lot of comment, and I had to confess at the end of it that I had been unable to say anything about a new and disturbing attack on free speech that I had referred to at the beginning. So this is that extra contribution, and it has been prompted by news both in the USA and Australia about what is allowed and not allowed within universities. And I want to start by going back to my own undergraduate period, in the mid 1950s. I don’t think anyone talked about ‘free…

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Why do so many people believe in all this? My perspective on ‘climate change’ #8

By | ABC, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, Religion, Research, Road Safety | 124 Comments

Five years ago I wrote a piece for Judith Curry’s Climate etc website called ‘How did we all get into this?’, which was my attempt at an analysis of the dynamics underlying what seemed then the general public acceptance of AGW and the need for governments to do something about it. The essay was quite long, and received more than 700 comments. Some were supportive and others were critical (and others still galloped off in different directions). But I learned a lot from the discussion, and would have written a much better essay had I had the opportunity to do a second…

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On the freeness of speech

By | ABC, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 133 Comments

This essay has been prompted by some questions on an earlier post, and by the coincidence of material about free speech in the USA — or rather, the increasing lack of it. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Those who want Bills of Rights in our country usually want a version of…

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