All Posts By

Don Aitkin

The ‘Great Debate’ on Climate Science

By | Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 145 Comments

Some time ago Anthony Watts opened his website to what purported to be a ‘great debate’ on climate science, between William Happer, emeritus professor of physics at Princeton and very recently an adviser to President Trump (Professor Happer and I have corresponded from time to time), and David Karoly, a professor at Melbourne University who has been involved in a number of IPCC reports. I had a particular interest in this debate, because I had debated Professor Karoly myself, some years ago. Apart from saying that there was a lot in what I said that he would agree with, Professor…

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On Faith

By | Books, Climate Change, History, Media, Politics, Religion | 53 Comments

I have never met Cardinal George Pell, nor heard him speak save in television grabs, but I have read a number of his essays, and each of them seemed to be lucid, clearly expressed and sensible — the latter not in every respect, because I do not always agree with him, but logical and forceful in the way his argument is put forward. If you don’t agree with him, you have to be able to argue against him. That is not easy. In the most recent issue of Quadrant Cardinal Pell reviews a book about the situation of the Christian Church…

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Thoughts on our present discontents

By | Other | 49 Comments

It was a bit of a shock for me finally to see the TV news and hear the words ‘Prime Minister Morrison’. Yes, I knew it had happened, but some days had passed, and here I was back in the land of the living. What else had happened? Much is still unclear. ‘Envoy’ positions for Mr Abbott and My Joyce may keep them quiet and out of harm’s way. They may also heal some of the hurt. I don’t know, and I doubt that anyone else does either. Are we going to have an early election? My sources say No,…

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Rimsky-Korsakov

By | ABC, Books, History, Music, Society | 13 Comments

A week ago I found it hard to deal with pain, and went to hospital, which fixed things up pretty well after three days. Those three days included the implosion of the Turnbull Government, and all that followed, about most of which I was quite unaware, and when I did know, cared less. Recovery from the pain episode is continuing, and I decided I would write again about something that has been part of my life since I was about eighteen, Western classical music, and in this instance, the life and music of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. Why him? Well, not so…

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Electric vehicles again

By | Other | 60 Comments

In the week since I last wrote the NEG has been replaced by the leadership issue as the principal topic of political discussion in our country. The search for agreement that I wrote about has failed. There is none. What we have is a reversal of aspects of the Prime Minister’s proclaimed policy, and a challenge to Mr Turnbull’s leadership by Minister Peter Dutton, which failed by a few votes. Every day there is a new story. I said that sooner or later someone would have to face the reality of the energy problem. No one has said anything about…

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Perhaps the worst policy botch ever

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 169 Comments

There is one over-arching imperative about the National Energy Guarantee: there must be agreement. The Prime Minister says so. The Leader of the Opposition says so. The media say so. The reason is quite clear. Once there is agreement the energy issue can be put aside for a while, and people can get on with other business. Unfortunately the issue itself won’t go away. It has nothing to do with Tony Abbott. The NEG has an utterly fundamental flaw, in that its two elements are incompatible. You cannot both produce lower, cheaper and more reliable electricity and gas, while at…

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Waste Not, Water Not

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Society | 13 Comments

First, a note about my capacity to deal with comments. The treatment I am on causes fatigue, and means also that everything else I do that might once have taken ten minutes now takes twenty. So I’m progressing slowly with responses to comments, and also writing a new piece every few days, not to mention completing a new book. I seem to slip behind everywhere. Where I think I ought to comment I’ll do so in time. Waste  The ABC seems to be hammering me, and all other viewers and listeners, about its ‘war on waste’. The last episode was…

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Climate science in perspective

By | Other | 80 Comments

Judith Curry has provided us with her take on an eight-year old paper by Carl Wunsch, a highly regarded oceanographer. I am sure I have read it before, but I certainly have not referred to it. I think her summary is excellent reading. I have made a few editorial changes. Introduction From one point of view, scientific communities without adequate data have a distinct advantage: one can construct interesting and exciting stories and rationalizations with little or no risk of observational refutation. Colorful, sometimes charismatic, characters come to dominate the field, constructing their interpretations of a few intriguing, but indefinite…

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The August Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 53 Comments

A little on Pain. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong — avoid it, fix it up, and the pain will go away. We learn about it through toothaches, cuts, breaks and things like that. I have a spinal fracture, and fractures take six to eight weeks to fix up. I am in week seven, and it may take eight or nine or ten weeks to fix mine up because I am old. Old bodies don’t heal so well. Even then I may still have painful episodes. So I have chronic pain, and pain is…

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The changing Australian culture

By | Books, Economy, Education, Food & Wine, History, Language, Media, Politics, Society, Sport, Theatre | 22 Comments

To write a new website essay is now a challenge, but I feel up to it. And I’ve wanted to write about this subject at a little length, rather than as a series of asides. It is built around a most interesting book by the always interesting John Carroll, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University. Land of the Golden Cities is published by Connor Court, and my copy took me a month to acquire. And then I got ill. But reading it brought back a platoon of memories. Here are three. Late 1950s. Two of us, senior undergraduates,…

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