Category Archives: ABC

The sort of prediction one should never make

By | ABC, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 176 Comments

Apart from the banal exercise of predicting that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that I am 90 per cent likely to have a cappuccino in the next day or so, I do my best to eschew predictions. They so often fail spectacularly, and I wrote an essay about failed predictions about climate change some time ago. But I recently came across such a beauty of the kind that I thought it was worth following up. On August 1st 2008, more than eight years ago, someone called Andrew Simms wrote a piece in The Guardian which told an apprehensive readership that there were…

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‘Global warming’ or ‘climate change’?

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, History, Politics, Religion, Research | 88 Comments

At the beginning of the home page’s Perspective on Climate Change I wrote (in 2015) as follows: I have written a large number of essays on ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ (AGW) and its later sister ‘climate change’, a term which came into use in about 2004, when dedicated Climate Botherers could see that warming was refusing to rise as it had done, while carbon dioxide accumulations in the atmosphere were indeed rising as they had done. A couple of commenters took exception to my statement that there had been a shift in the use of these terms at that time. On re-reading (and…

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What caused the great SA power outage?

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 111 Comments

I write about this event with some personal involvement, because my wife and I are in it. We left Robe, on the southern coast of South Australia, to pay a brief visit to a winemaker at Cape Jaffa, who told us that he too was going to Adelaide, to collect his children early (a couple of days before the holidays) because of the big storm that was coming. We knew from the press that some weather event was in prospect for us, but at that moment the sky was blue, the air was crisp, the sun warm, and the notion of a storm that…

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The present politics of marriage

By | ABC, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Society | 131 Comments

At the time of writing there are two intersecting debates going on about marriage in our country. In the first, those talking about ‘marriage equality’ (code for gay marriage) are opposed by those wanting Australian society to adhere to the ‘Christian’ form of marriage that has been our lot for a few hundred years, one reserved for a man and a woman, whose ostensible purpose is the production and protection of new human beings. If all that sounds somewhat qualified, it is, and I’ll return to it later. In the second, the issue is whether the question is to be resolved by…

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Brian Cox versus Malcolm Roberts on Q&A

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 154 Comments

I did not watch the celebrated Q&A program in which Brian Cox, an astrophysicist and science communicator, had an argument with Malcom Roberts, the recently elected Senator who is apparently responsible for the ‘climate change’ policies of One Nation. I’ve watched a couple of these Q&A programs in the past, but felt that they were so manipulated and stacked that one would rarely get any value from them (apparently, however, there was a good one on Shakespeare last week). I did see extracts from the Cox/Roberts program, but that is all. I think Q&A is a good example of the peculiar…

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#16 A Summary

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 65 Comments

Introduction: This is the last essay in this series, an attempt on my part to set out what I think about the ‘climate change’ issue. It is based on the fifteen previous essays in the series, each linked in the text with (#x), which are in turn based on ten years of reading and thinking about the matter, plus half a working lifetime in the research policy and funding domain. I do not claim to be right about all of this, or indeed of any of it. ‘Climate change’ is an incredibly complicated business, involving the areas of study of the…

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The election in Fairyland

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 41 Comments

For the last three weeks I have been in Queensland, and no one much there wanted to talk about the election. When the time came for me to vote, in Townsville a week before the poll, even the how-to-vote people outside were reluctant to talk about the likely outcome. I missed Bill Shorten at a Cathy O’Toole rally in Townsville by a minute or two, but later saw a big sign declaring that ‘Only Bill Shorten and Cathy O’Toole can deliver the Stadium!’ For those unaware of this election-winning slogan, Townsville would like a decent stadium just like Sydney and…

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My perspective on Climate change #15 ‘But what about the precautionary principle?’

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 48 Comments

I was at a dinner once where one of the guests gave vent to his objections to genetically modified foods, on the grounds that he didn’t want to eat chemicals. I’ve forgotten what we were eating, and our hostess pointed out quickly that her bill of fare contained no synthetic or other ‘tampered with’ food. I stayed out of that one, but I did wonder what the complainer knew of chemistry. Everything we eat, and indeed everything that we are, is a complex of chemicals. Human beings have  become quite skilful at determining the nature of some chemicals, and creating…

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Books that have been important to me #1 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

By | ABC, Books, Education, History, Language, Society | 23 Comments

I’m starting a new series of essays on books that have been important to me, those  to which I return for another read, which is probably the test of an important book. I was a voracious reader from an early age, and would read anything at hand, including encyclopaedias. I studied English at the honours level at high school, and then spent three years studying English literature as an undergraduate, which put me off reading books for pleasure for a decade. Well, not quite. I turned to science fiction, and read widely in that genre, and went into detective stories too. In 1964…

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Yet another test of ‘really existing’ academic freedom

By | ABC, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 47 Comments

The Great Barrier Reef is nearly always in the news, and from time to time I wonder if out there there isn’t a spinmeister who checks the media reports to make sure that the GBR never drops out of public gaze. It is of course an icon (the term comes from the Greek word for a religious image — I say no more). We tremble lest the UN decide that we aren’t looking after it properly and take it away from us, amid the righteous scorn of the rest of the world. Richard Branson tells us that it has become an industrial dump….

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