Category

Climate Change

The ‘Great Debate’ on Climate Science

By | Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 144 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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

At least, a real debate on climate change (I hope)

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 139 Comments

Slowly the Western world is facing up to the real possibility that the catastrophe that was supposed to lie in wait for us, as a result of our use of fossil fuels, might have been over-egged, and that climate change may not even be accessible to human action, let alone caused by it. Germany is having trouble with its push to make alternative sources the core of its electricity production. China has stopped subsidizing solar panels. A newly elected provincial government in Ontario is set to wipe out carbon-pricing rules. The UK has seen two weeks of nil power from…

Read More

The June Off-Topic Thread

By | Climate Change, History, Other, Politics, Research, Society | 57 Comments

(1) I’ll start this one with a reference to a new paper and a flashback to one of my own essays. The IPCC developed a concept for its last report called ‘Representative Concentration Pathways’ (RCP), which are scenarios  about what might happen given certain assumptions about the control of carbon dioxide. The scariest of these is RCP 8.5, which is, not coincidentally, the most favoured pathway if you are an alarmist writer. I wrote about it here. RCP 8.5 is not, as often claimed, a ‘business as usual’ scenario, but a highly unlikely scenario requiring people like businessmen to behave…

Read More

The unfolding saga of Peter Ridd

By | Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Research, Society | 61 Comments

I have written a couple of times about Peter Ridd, here and here. Professor Ridd, a well-published academic whose fields of research include coastal oceanography, reef systems and peer review, has been for ten years the Head of the School of Physics at James Cook University (JCU). When he drew attention to what he saw as exaggerations in the way fellow academics at his university were describing the condition of the Great Barrier Reef he was ‘disciplined’ by JCU, told that he was being uncollegial, and that if he did it again he would be charged with serious misconduct. He subsequently…

Read More

Three cheers for Pollyanna

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics, Society | 85 Comments

One commenter to my last essay thought that I had ‘a Pollyanna view of the world’. I didn’t think it was a compliment, but it gave me the focus for another essay, which follows naturally from the last two. What has been most interesting in the Comments to these two essays about progress has been the determination on the part of some readers to continue to see the world as bad, dangerous, awful, unequal, unfair, what you will, in the face of good global data that don’t say the opposite, exactly, but make the point that for the great majority out…

Read More

Why aren’t more people ‘factful’?

By | Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, Health, History, Media, Politics, Research, Society | 68 Comments

I have written about the Swedish medico and educator Hans Rosling before, and have greatly enjoyed his TED talks, especially this one. He and his son and daughter have produced a book, Factfulness. Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. I had learned from the inside back cover that he has died, and that his book is a kind of summary of his world-view, and his earnest hope that people will become more optimistic about the future. They should, because his story, based mostly on data produced by agencies of the UN…

Read More

The May Off-Topic Thread

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 22 Comments

This thread is for ideas and comments that are not directly relevant to the weekly essay. I’ll start this one with a link to another essay written by Michael Schellenberger, a well-known American environmentalist, who is running for Governor of California. It is not really about the US at all, but about the way in which alternative energy sources are affecting (upwards) the price of electricity, and is therefore directly relevant to we who live Down Under, because the same elements apply. Somewhere I have seen a Part Two, and when I find it I’ll link it too. How Solar…

Read More