The perfect essay on climate change

By | Books, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Politics, Religion, Research | 147 Comments

Every now and then I come across someone else’s work that is so good I want everyone to read it. This essay, by Richard Lindzen and William Happer, is one such. They are supremely eminent scientists, and their current status is given at the end. Yes, they don’t give references, but then neither do most alarmist speakers, like Steffen, Karoly, Mann and so on. They are speaking from a position of intellectual eminence. Like a few others who are outspoken in their sceptical cause, they are retired. No deans are complaining to the university president about these two. So read…

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Voting and talking

By | Climate Change, Environment, Humour, Media, Politics, Research | 140 Comments

The Canadian humourist Rick Mercer has had a series called ‘Talking to Americans’, and in one interview he asks a group of women what they think about the Russian proposal to bomb Chechnya and Saskatchewan. ‘Should they bomb both, or only one?’ There is a pause and then one of the women says, ‘They should bomb both.’ The others then agreed. Now his program is designed to make Canadians laugh, in this case at the sheer ignorance of those below the border. There’s a moral in it as well. People will feel that they ought to have an answer, especially…

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Climate catastrophes are still twenty years away

By | Climate Change, History, Media, Politics | 99 Comments

Prince Philip was, among other things, a sceptic about the horrors of climate change, which made him a useful foil to his son, who is a renowned alarmist. The media do not seem to have mentioned the Duke’s attitudes to this supposed modern apocalypse, but Prince Charles is quite often quoted in his warnings to us about how little time we have left. And that contrast between father and son coincided with my coming across a list of 79 predictions, most of which have not come to pass, and I thought it might be useful to look at them, their qualities…

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The best job I ever had…

By | Books, Economy, History, Politics, Research, Society | 14 Comments

We were sitting around the dining table, dinner over, really, but still chatting. I threw into the discussion a theme I had been talking about with my driving son on a recent Saturday. My companions are used to me doing this sort of thing. ‘What’s the best job you ever had?’ They looked at each other. One is a retired graphic artist, another is a retired gas fitter, a third is a former Treasury guy, and the fifth is a former Army officer, and he spoke first. He’d only really had one job, in the army, and he’d enjoyed it, rising…

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Angels and Demons

By | Economy, Environment, Politics, Society | 8 Comments

This is not a critique of Dan Brown’s best-seller, or of the film of the book. Rather it is an exploration of the twin forces that drive us, and drive any collectivity to which we belong. It is connected to the paired notions of ‘tough-minded’ and ‘tender-minded’. It comes from a lengthy discussion I have been having with my elder son on our Saturday drives in the bush. And it provides a useful lens through which to view our politics and the society we are part of. I’ll start with tough-minded and tender-minded, categories that the 19thcentury American psychologist and…

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The Lord of the Rings

By | Books, Environment, History, Language, Society, Theatre | 13 Comments

For the last few days I have been revisiting the mammoth film version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I first encountered the story via a three-volume Christmas present from my wife in 1961 (I think), and was immediately enthralled. The depth and the breadth of the story were beyond anything I had ever read before. It took some days to read it, to go into the appendixes, and to marvel at the thoroughness of the detail. Then I read it again, and kept going back to it for some years. A few years later I…

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How feasible are these 2050 targets?

By | Climate Change, Economy, Environment, Politics, Society | 286 Comments

The year 2050 is the target moment for those who want an end to greenhouse gas emissions, and a lot of countries have signed up to it. Ours hasn’t yet, thank goodness. The target year is a long way away, and nearly all of those who have signed up to it won’t be alive then, I should think. I shan’t be there — I’d be 113 if I were, and that is rather unlikely, to say the least. How is the process of transition going to work? I haven’t seen any detailed plans for implementation. I doubt there are any,…

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The Day of the Social Justice Warrior

By | Humour, Politics, Society | 119 Comments

One of my sons has begun to refer to ‘social justice warriors’, and the other day I came across the short form: ‘SJW’. The term applies to anyone who thinks he or she, or someone they like, has been hardly done by, and something should be done about it. Exactly what should be done is not always clear, but who should do it is always obvious: ‘they’, usually meaning the government, council, corporation or whatever. Sometimes it is an opportunity for the ceremonial wringing of the hands, as in ‘we ought to be able to do better than this’ and…

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What to do with Christian Porter

By | Health, Politics, Society | 23 Comments

The case of Christian Porter is a difficult one. He is the Commonwealth’s Attorney-General, and it is said that thirty or so years ago, when he was seventeen, he raped a sixteen–year old girl who was also part of a debating team. The girl killed herself many years later. She did report all this much later to the NSW police, who took no action, partly because the alleged rape happened a long time ago, partly because she made no sworn statement, and partly because of her assumed mental condition at the time of the police interviews. It was not long…

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Quarantine and Immigration

By | Other | 22 Comments

One of my correspondents, who has been a research biologist and a senior Treasury official in Queensland, sent me a set of notes on the subject of better ways of dealing with the quarantine issue. I was so struck with them I asked could I publish an edited version, to which he agreed. I have only published a few such pieces since the website started in 2012. My guest is Dr Paul McFadyen.   A new way forward Quarantine in commercial hotels in major cities has demonstrably failed, with four outbreaks in four states. Covid 19 restrictions have also severely…

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