‘Climate change’ and the election

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 33 Comments

I await each morning radio news with the expectation that Mr Shorten will have a new expensive promise for us, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. What does disappoint me is that his accounts of how his party would be able to pay for them are so empty, and there is never a mention of reducing the budget deficit. No journalist seems able or interested in asking questions of this kind. On the one occasion when one did, Mr Shorten’s response was that the wealthy would pay more in tax, and they could afford to. Surely somebody, somewhere, sometime…

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Pssst! Do you want some RCP8.5?

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 19 Comments

For some time now I have been wanting to write a piece on something called RCP8.5, which is a scenario about what might happen to humanity in the 21st century and the effects it might have on the various indicators of ‘climate change’ — temperature, sea-levels, precipitation and the like. The RCP8.5 climatic world is dire, and many of the AGW scare stories (for example, here, here, and here) are built on the supposition that it is going to happen. Another article, published very recently, has pushed me to do delve further into RCP8.5. Written by Pat Michaels and David Wojick, both…

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Trumping Australian politics

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Media, Politics | 12 Comments

Here in the national capital we are getting a daily diet of Australian electoral politics, with an occasional foretaste of the ACT election race we will have in October. At the same time, across the Pacific Americans are watching the build-up to national conventions that will select the presidential candidates for the two parties in the November elections there. Actually it is already clear who they will be, Hillary Clinton (Dem.) and Donald Trump (Rep.), because each has built up such a lead in the primaries that no one else can supplant them. Indeed, Trump is now the only Republican candidate, since…

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What sort of election campaign are we having?

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Indigenous, Language, Media, Politics, Society | 9 Comments

I was a young (in fact the youngest) member of the political science department when I was invited to join a senior colleague in commenting on the ABC’s 1966 election night extravaganza; James Dibble was the anchorman. I had not appeared on television before, and it was all new and somewhat forbidding. Once it started, though, I forgot about the cameras. I did know a lot about elections and vote counting, where seats were, who the candidates were, and so on. There were a couple of politicians on our panel, but I can no longer remember clearly who they were. Perhaps…

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George Orwell on our present discontents

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Language, Politics, Religion, Research | 28 Comments

In a comment the other day I mentioned that I had come across a long preface to Animal Farm, George Orwell’s dystopian novel about the takeover by pigs of a farm, and what happened thereafter. It was a satire on the Soviet Union, and was much in vogue (via the Penguin edition) when I was a student. Orwell planned the book in 1937, but did not finish it until the end of 1943. He couldn’t get it published, initially, because its tone and plain reference to the USSR was at odds with the wartime alliance with ‘Uncle Joe’ and the brave…

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Understanding the Federal Budget

By | ABC, Economy, Environment, History, Language, Politics, Society | 33 Comments

My own first budget as a CEO meant a lot of learning for me. As budgets went, it wasn’t all that much — a hundred million or so — but I was responsible for it, so I needed to understand it, and the way it was set out. Where did all the money come from — and where did it all go? And why? Plainly it was intimately related to last year’s budget, when I hadn’t been at the University. What about the year before that? When I thought I understood it all I decided to write about it for the benefit…

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‘When is it ‘weather’ and when is it ‘climate’?’ #12 My perspective on climate change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 42 Comments

One of the frustrating aspects of the ‘climate change’ debate is the confusion between two frequently used terms — ‘weather’ and ‘climate’. NASA distinguishes them this way: Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time. Some wag said that climate is what you expect, weather is what you get. You won’t find much more helpful definitions than these. Conventionally, ‘climate’ is the average over thirty years. ‘Climate change’ is therefore conventionally defined as what we learn by comparing thirty-year periods. Unfortunately, we don’t have…

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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 | 43 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 | 190 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 | 170 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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