Category Archives: Research

A less than usual election coming up

By | Climate Change, Education, Environment, Health, History, Politics, Religion, Research | 60 Comments

On October 15th the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory will go to the polls to elect their representatives, and through them their Government. No one much outside the ACT will pay much attention, but I do, since I live there and will be voting. Of course, the result, whatever it is, will be seen as a pointer to the next Federal election, and denied by the other side, dismissing it as simply local. But there are a number of reasons why those interested in politics at all should watch what is happening, because this one is not simply the usual poll….

Read More

The distinction between true scepticism and denial

By | Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, Health, Language, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 201 Comments

I came across the phrase in the title, and followed a link to a recent journal article which for once was available on open access. Entitled ‘Science and the Public: Debate, Denial, and Skepticism’,  it looked interesting. You can read it here. The four authors come from different fields, and propose to outline ‘the distinction between true scepticism and denial’. They also offer some guidelines to help researchers, and interested members of the public, decide how to deal with enquiries, on the one hand,  and problems which people see in published science, on the other. The reader is brought into the area of ‘climate change’…

Read More

Arguing at cross purposes

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 282 Comments

I have something else to write about for next Monday, but in the last few days I have been involved in someone else’s website, that of John Quiggin, a respected economist. He has taken a pro-orthodox position on ‘climate change’ for a long time, and is a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority. I remember his dismissing me and my Planning Institute of Australia speech in 2008, but otherwise I have not encountered him in the blogosphere, apart from my offering him space here a couple of weeks ago to put forward his own views on ‘climate change’ and…

Read More

The role of the citizen scientist

By | Books, Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 109 Comments

In a recent post I mentioned a fine book by Aaron Wildavsky, and said I would return to it in due course. I knew Wildavsky’s name once I started postgraduate study, because with another young graduate student Wildavsky had written a little book on Australian politics in the 1920s. In those days nothing very much had been published on Australian politics so of course I read Wildavsky’s small piece on the 1926 referendum. He’d gone back to the US by the time I was ready to talk with him, and I didn’t finally meet him until I gave dinner in his honour…

Read More

#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…

Read More

The perplexity about the election outcome

By | Climate Change, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 94 Comments

As I write, on Sunday afternoon, it is pretty clear that Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues will be able to govern in their own right, at least as far as the House of Representatives is concerned. The current state of the likely Senate is unclear, but both the Government and the Opposition seem likely to lose seats, at the expense of Nick Xenophon, the Greens and One Nation. As I said in my last essay, the Prime Minister will need to develop some pleasant and effective negotiating skills, or find a few colleagues who already have them. All sorts of…

Read More

It doesn’t have to be a circus

By | Climate Change, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, History, Politics, Religion, Research | 32 Comments

The driver who took us home from the airport suggested that the election result was a bad thing because the outcome was uncertain. I said the result was the result we had, and that the politicians would simply have to make it work. That was, after all, what their jobs were about. Politics is the art of the compromise. He was unpersuaded. A clear outcome was what he had been seeking, and it seemed to him, I thought, that anything else was bad for the country. We didn’t solve that one before the car arrived at our freezing house, unheated for…

Read More

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…

Read More

Brexit and after

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Media, Politics, Religion, Research | 26 Comments

The possible link between the Brexit vote and the Australian election a few days later has exercised a few commentators. Some think there will be no flow-on effects. Some think it will benefit the Coalition. The financial effects are thought to be short-term. Some think the new Britain will want to buy more from us. An occasional comment suggest that this is the end of the world as we have known it. Some seem to think it was all a conspiracy by climate change sceptics. What fascinated me was the fury of the Remain brigade at the outcome. How dare people…

Read More

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…

Read More