All Posts By

Don Aitkin

How not to argue about climate change

By | Other | 226 Comments

A couple of years ago Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, published a cartoon which sent up the ‘climate change’ orthodoxy in a merciless way. If case you’ve never seen it, here it is. Needless to say, such a publication, from such an eminent cartoonist, was bound to get up the noses of the orthodox, and it did. It has taken some time, but there is now a rebuttal, from the Yale people (Yale Environment  360). Trouble is, it seems to confirm the argument of the original comic strip. You can read the whole piece here.h Written by Ross…

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What is human life for, anyway?

By | Other | 13 Comments

W My apologies to those who wondered what had happened to their comments. I was getting weaker and weaker, and was suddenly packed off to hospital for a long rest, which has done me a lot of good. There may need to be a return, but so far I am doing well. Apart from sleeping, I read, and one of the books I read, indeed, am re-reading  for the third time, I think, was The Seasons of a Man’s Life, written by Daniel Levinson and others, and published in 1978. My copy’s pages have turned yellow with time, but the content remains everlastingly…

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An Indian view of climate change, and where it led me

By | Other | 1,065 Comments

In Australia, and more generally in the Western world, we are accustomed to take seriously only opinions that come from our own languages and cultures. We will notice what the Americans say, the British, and the Dutch, for example. But if the opinions come from Russia, or China or India, we discount them. If they come from Brazil or Chile, we are unlikely even to know about them. A knowledgeable friend (peer-reviewed, yes, and an IPCC reviewer) pointed me towards an op ed piece in The Times of India, and I read it with some interest. The author is Sanjeev Sabhlok, who…

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Good government and Federalism

By | Other | 11 Comments

Good government and federalism This essay rises from musing about British PM Boris Johnson, Brexit and the European Union, and of course musing about our own situation in Australia. Since human beings came to settle in villages, grow crops and domesticate animals there have been two competing forces affecting ‘power’. The first, and certainly the earliest, was that power resided in the headman, the warrior-chief, and then the king. The second, and the weaker, was that the people of the village were able to make their own decisions, perhaps with the guidance of the headman or the elders, but they…

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Some further thoughts on EVs

By | Other | 25 Comments

Two conversations a few days ago made me think again about the electric vehicle, that proposed panacea for all our energy ills. One of my granddaughters has an important role in the advertising of the new VW concept car series that promises just about everything, and she is excited about them. She lives and works in New York City, and the cars are not yet for sale. What none of them has is a long run before recharging — about 500 km seems to be the limit. Anyway, the series is said to be launched in 2020, and when Australia…

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My mixed feelings about the Eucalyptus

By | Other | 15 Comments

My mixed feelings about the Eucalypt A few days ago some Canberra citizens in newly planned suburbs  asked the ACT Government not to plant eucalypts as street trees. My sympathies were entirely with them. I don’t dislike the trees at all, but I think they have no place in streets or backyards. In a bushfire the oil in their leaves becomes volatile, catches fire easily, and a strong wind behind the flames can send fire travelling at frightening speed. In the great Canberra bushfire of 2003 hundreds of houses were lost because of this tendency. More, eucalypts are territorial, and a…

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What would it take for me to cease being a sceptic about the horrors of ‘climate change’?

By | Other | 792 Comments

W I wrote an essay on something like this subject a few years ago, but I don’t seem to be able to find it. I felt the need to write another one, anyway, and if I can find the earlier one, I’ll be able to see whether anything much has changed.  Because I have been a data-monger since my early twenties I regard good data as the essence of any attempt to assess the value of a proposition, accompanied by good and relevant argument. What I see as the lack of both good argument and good data in the domain of…

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On Sympathy, Empathy and Action

By | Other | 8 Comments

This is the last of a series of essays dealing with some social issues that emerge again and again in our society, not just Australia’s but in the ‘developed’ Western world. Concepts like sympathy and empathy are built into other concepts like ‘poverty’, ‘inequality’ and ‘care’. Indeed our whole social welfare system, the details of our education system, and the mammoth public health services, constantly growing, make no sense unless there are real meanings for sympathy and empathy, and the action following these sentiments. In 1958, my History Honours year, I studied a difficult book, The Idea of History, by the…

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How the message gets embedded

By | Other | 390 Comments

Somewhere in this or a recent thread an alarmist asked me did I think there was some massive conspiracy involving learned societies, universities and governments, all of whom were missing the points I was making. I said No, I don’t have much truck with conspiracies, small or massive. The notion that the choice was binary — either you thought there was a conspiracy, or you accepted the alarmist position — stuck in my mind, and this essay is a response to that common orthodox position. First, there has to be a message, and it has to be of some moment,…

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Thinking about things

By | Other | 314 Comments

Thinking about things When I was an undergraduate I was not excitedly exploring the life of the mind. Far from it. I was studying in order to become a high-school teacher, like my parents. I was doing the subjects that would equip me in time to become a subject master, and I did whatever my teachers required me to do. It was not until my honours year (and I was lucky to get into it) that I began seriously to ask questions about life, nature and the rest. My History teachers had equipped me for such work: I was always…

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