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Monday Message Board

April 28th, 2008

It’s time once again for the Monday Message Board. Please post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

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  1. Domino
    April 28th, 2008 at 10:44 | #1

    Well since we just had the ANZAC day long weekend, I’d like to ask people about their perceptions of this.

    Please take my comments in the spirit they’re intended, which is in no way to detract from the contributions of our service men and women.

    I’ve been in Canberra for 3 ANZAC days but am yet to attend a dawn service. My reason is that I feel memorial services focus on glorifying honour, commitment, valor and sacrifice whereas my own feelings regarding memorial occasions is that I would rather mourn the sacrifice, remember the cost of failing in our efforts to wage peace and to recommit toward that end.

    But perhaps I’m misreading the tone of the service.

    So I guess I’m asking a question: have I read the tone of the service correctly? and raising an issue: should our approach to remembering focus on the honour of our soldiers or the cost of our failure to wage peace? (obviously there’s scope for a combination of both, but I’m referring to which receives greater emphasis).

    Given the sensitive timing, I’m sure people can respect those who have and do sacrifice by discussing this civilly as per JQ’s request.

    Thanks.

  2. gordon
    April 28th, 2008 at 11:05 | #2

    The Brotherhood of St Laurence recently released an estimate of the carbon emissions of poor households in Victoria. They found that rural and outer metropolitan households emitted more carbon than inner metropolitan households of similar income, mostly because of poorer public transport and greater travel distances. The report (downloadable from here estimates that poorer households will have to pay an estimated average extra $938 annually when an emissions trading scheme is introduced – more if they are rural or outer metropolitan. Unless some improvements are made in service provision and/or carbon-efficient transport, rural and outer metropolitan households in particular will have no option but to pay up – taking the bus/train or reducing travel distances won’t be viable options. Pigovian solutions don’t work unless alternative options are available.

  3. April 28th, 2008 at 14:23 | #3

    The aftermath of the 2020 Summit seemed to distract the Australian mass media and the blogosphere from yet another case of U.S. government manipulation of political coverage:the use by the Pentagon of retired military officers to sell the war. For more please visit my blog.

  4. gaddeswarup
    April 28th, 2008 at 17:37 | #4

    It seems that IPL is the not the only place where Australians and Indians are collaborating. Robert Bednarik in “Dawn of a millennium:the Ascent of Indian Rock Art Research” says “… India and Australia were both parts of Gondwana,….rich in specific forms of sand sheters. In both coubtries, these shelters have given rise to rich traditions of rock paintings…. It is therefore not surprising that Indian Rock specialists now collaborate more closely with Australians than with any other colleagues”

  5. Joe
    April 28th, 2008 at 17:41 | #5

    Tony Judt has an article in the New York Review What Have We Learned, If Anything? on war as a negative sum game and how the Americans haven’t realised this yet, though he does not make the point that the American ruling class (excuse the bad language) has done very well out of recent wars.

  6. Donald Oats
    April 28th, 2008 at 17:41 | #6

    Longer form of my letter to editor (it got chopped back somewhat) in Advertiser today:

    “I agree with Professor Barry Brook that there is a dedicated group of climate change deniers, with the goal of disrupting the flow of actual science into the public domain (The Advertiser, pg 19, Fri 25 April 2008). In sporting terms they are running interference for their team, which in this case seems to be some combination of hard right conservatism and free market idolatry. These “scepticsâ€? have a habit of changing facts, mis-quoting research literature, and abusing people’s trust by exploiting the public’s general ignorance of both science in general, and climate science in particular. Most of us don’t have time to check the veracity of the sources used in the climate sceptic’s claims; they rely on this to add a sense of authority to their articles, without actually using the source research to support their claims scientifically.
    Sadly there is not much that the public can do about this, since it is their quite understandable lack of expertise in the subject that is being exploited by the “sceptics�. However, the media outlets that publish these blatant political pieces could at least independently verify the correctness of the material before assaulting their readers with it.
    There are plenty of climate scientists who have integrity and are willing to openly explain areas of difficulty and mistakes as they occur. The tight-knit core of professional deniers are not that group, however.”

    After I submitted this, the Australian had Christopher Pearson banging on about this theme again. A week before the Oz had Philip Chapman give the article that prompted my Brook’s comments; and then the week before that Don Aitkin (Aus Apr 9) was given a turn at the Oz.

    If I was a betting man I would guess either Bob Carter or Ian Plimer is due for another turn soon…

  7. jquiggin
    April 28th, 2008 at 21:54 | #7

    #5 I saw this piece and have been meaning to give it a plug.

  8. Salient Green
    April 28th, 2008 at 22:13 | #8

    A recent online poll showed that 45% of Australians did not believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming, including 11% who did not believe that Global Warming was happening at all.

    I could say that 45% of Australians are stupid but it would be safer to say that 11% of Australians are very stupid.

    Are the 34% of Australians who believe in Global Warming but deny that it’s being caused by Humans stupid, or are the professional deniers very clever with their propaganda, or is it a major failure of environmental scientists to work outside their normal field, into areas like politics, lobbying, marketing, media and economics to not only convince a larger portion of the population that the situation is dire, but provide real solutions?

    If a majority of scientific opinion can’t get the message through it will be left, as usual, for disaster to strike before enough people force Governments to get real about Global Warming.

  9. Socrates
    April 29th, 2008 at 20:47 | #9

    I saw some data recently that first quarter growth in the US was (just) positive. If so technically, that means there wouldn’t be a US recession until Quarter 3 this year, assuming that the second and third quarters see negative growth. I found this odd, given that the spillover of finance problems into the “real” economy in the US is already happening via job losse and house repossessions. Most economists seem to think the US is already in recession in practical terms. So here is the question – does that mean that either (a) the US growth statistics are wrong and/or (b) our definitions of recession are inappropriate or obsolete?

    Before dismissing option (a), I can recall several times when official economic statistics have been wrong before and corrections issued later. Does anyone know if this might be the case in teh US now, sicne the “official” figure seems so counter-intuitive?

  10. Domino
    April 30th, 2008 at 14:40 | #10

    Salient Green,

    I know at least 2 people I consider very intelligent who don’t believe global warming is happening at all. They are both angry that people invest so much effort in dealing with a problem they think is just a big conspiracy.

    I don’t know how to deal with these people. I tend to just point out that at the very least they can accept that sever weather conditions need attention, and pollution is bad, so they ought to be happy with attempts to mitigate pollution and cope with sever weather. But it is quite disturbing.

  11. Salient Green
    April 30th, 2008 at 19:13 | #11

    Domino, I know personally 1 person who is as you describe. He subscribes to a NZ long range weather forecaster who maintains it’s all about sunspots and lunar cycles and we are in for a 1956 style flood next year!

    The thing is that the fight against AGW is also addressing the resource depletion problem by increasing efficiency and moving to a more sustainable world. Resource depletion is far less deniable than AGW so why can’t they just pull their pedantic heads in and go with the flow?

  12. Ian Gould
    May 2nd, 2008 at 11:54 | #12

    Gordon, the obvious answer would seem to be either to increase welfare payments by $1,000 per family using some of the revenue from carbon taxes or, preferably, to reduce other indirect taxes to offset the higher costs.

  13. Ian Gould
    May 2nd, 2008 at 11:58 | #13

    MIT’s Technology Review suggests solar cell prices will fall by 50% over the next several years.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20702/?nlid=1041

    I look forward to the first articles in the right-wing press crowing about the “collapse” in solar cell prices and claiming this means the industry is doomed.

  14. gordon
    May 3rd, 2008 at 12:07 | #14

    Ian Gould, how do you reduce greenhouse emissions by giving back via welfare payments the extra cost arising from an emissions trading scheme? Surely that would just take you back to square one? Ditto with reducing other taxes – that too just acts to make the more expensive petroleum product affordable again.

    If anything, you should spend the revenue on more carbon-efficient alternatives (like public transport) or on more widely-available services which reduce the need to travel.

  15. Ian Gould
    May 3rd, 2008 at 12:55 | #15

    Gordon, the majority of people don’t receive welfare payments.

    The point is to make the majority who can afford it pay higher prices while protecting those least able to afford it.

  16. gordon
    May 3rd, 2008 at 17:28 | #16

    Yes, Ian Gould, I understand the “protecting those least able to afford it” part. I still don’t see the point in returning their money to them as cash – it simply means that they are effectively exempted from the price rise brought about by the emissions trading scheme. The money would then continue to be spent as before – on carbon-intensive travel. No emissions reductions would be achieved. Money needs to be spent on carbon-efficient alternatives before the emissions trading scheme begins to raise carbon prices. Then the poor households have a viable alternative.

  17. Tony
    June 2nd, 2008 at 20:49 | #17

    Salient Green:

    I’d be more worried about the 55%.
    As they say “Todays Minister for Global Warming will be as important in a couple of years as the old Minister for Y2K. (They would have had a Minister for Global Cooling in the 70′s but people back then weren’t that Gullible.

    Tony

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