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Monday Message Board

January 7th, 2013

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

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  1. Hermit
    January 7th, 2013 at 11:53 | #1

    The PM is visiting fire ravaged southern Tasmania after unprecedented 41C temperatures. This is probably not the right time for awkward questions but I would like to ask Ms Gillard the following … are Australia’s 300 million tonnes of annual coal exports helping or hindering the fight against climate change? Thankyou.

  2. Fran Barlow
    January 7th, 2013 at 12:14 | #2

    @Hermit

    are Australia’s 300 million tonnes of annual coal exports helping or hindering the fight against climate change? Thankyou.

    Without wishing to defend the ambition of the regime on CO2e abatement she could probably argue that they make almost no measurable difference. If Australia were to ban coal exports they would probably be sourced elsewhere — possibly at a trivially higher price. Also, we don’t necessarily know how the grades of coal would compare if import substitution took place.

    The pressing need is for the major coal users to act to put a proper price on CO2e emissions and for Australia to play a key role in that by doing it in our own market, and concluding multilateral deals with others inclined to act similarly.

    That all said, I’d have no political problem with banning coal exports. It would be a pretty impressive statement and certainly, our near waters would be safer.

  3. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 13:58 | #3

    Here are some quotes from Clive Hamilton’s book, ‘Requiem For A Species – Why we resist the truth about climate change.’

    “Since the year 2000, the growth rate of the world’s CO2 emissions has almost trebled to 3% a year. At that rate annual emissions will double very 25 years.”

    “If global emissions do peak in 2020 and then decline by 3% each year … could we head off the worst effects of climate change, or even keep it to ‘safe’ levels? The answer provided by Anderson and Bows, and backed by other analyses, is a very grim one indeed. … (This) would not see atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases stabilise at the ‘safe’ level of 450 ppm. … They would in fact rise to 650 ppm! … That level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will be associated with warming of about 4 degrees C by the end of the century, well above the temperature associated with tipping points that would trigger further warming”

    - End of quotes -

    So, basically it seems certain that our goose (planet) is already cooked. The only rational response is to declare (probably under UN auspices) an immediate global emergency and depower out of all fossil fuels [1] totally in 10 years. If we don’t do this, we aren’t serious about preserving the biosphere in a condition to support global civilization.

    NOTE 1. Realistically speaking, police, amubulance, fire fighting, emergency services, military services and civil aviation would need continued access to hydrocarbons. Coking coal for steel making might be exempt but thermal coal certainly would not be exempt. Alternatively, new processes for steel making might be needed to also avoid large scale coking coal use.

  4. Hermit
    January 7th, 2013 at 14:05 | #4

    @Fran Barlow
    I think a possible solution to the big coal users sourcing elsewhere is to slap a carbon tariff on their finished goods. A coalition of ‘good guys’ could impose the tariff of an arbitrary 10% or 20% ad valorem until the ‘bad guys’ step into line. China for example spewed 9.4 billion out last year’s 34 billions tonnes of manmade CO2. The carbon tariff will hurt us too because we’ll pay more for their goods.

    A major problem is the ‘good guys’ aren’t so good, notably the EU with it’s flakey emissions scheme. Then there’s subregions like BC within Canada that can’t inhibit trade with the rest of the nation. Bizarrely the US Pacific southwest coast of California is a good guy but the northwest coast of Washington state is getting more heavily into coal exports. The whole thing is shizophrenic.

    No doubt someone will say China is subsidising solar panels and building wind farms. They’re also building another 200 GW of coal fired stations. We want global CO2 cuts yesterday not decades more discussion. I’d also invite China and other countries to do the Aussie mateship test by voluntarily paying equivalent carbon tax on our coal, about $55 a tonne on thermal and $62 on coking coal. If they don’t they’re not our mates.

  5. Hermit
    January 7th, 2013 at 14:07 | #5

    Sorry for the possessive apostrophe in ‘it’s’. Edit button needed.

  6. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 14:26 | #6

    Also, I thought I would use Monday message board to talk about New Year’s resolutions. Are they a good idea? I think they are. We take personal stock and try to think of some area in which we can improve. Mine is the perennial diet resolution. Starting at 88 kg (a bloated BMI of 27.77 for me) I am attempting to lose 18 kg of fat and gain 5 kg of muscle to level out at a fitter 75 kg.

    My method is the one-meal-a-day diet which this time I intend to follow until I shuffle of this mortal coil. I eat a normal balanced evening meal of moderate size and healthy offerings but no dessert. About one to two hours after the evening meal, I eat a breakfast cereal high in fibre and low in sugar with low fat milk. The next morning breakfast is a small glass of orange juice (50% juice and 50% water) plus a cup of coffe with low fat milk and one sugar. Through the rest of the day I will (do) subsist on glasses of water and a few more cups of coffee (or tea sometimes) again made with low fat milk and one sugar. The tea I drink sugarless and sometimes even black with no sugar.

    Daily exercise is a walk of about 45 minutes. Sometimes (about twice a week) the daily exercise is pushing a mower or using a line trimmer for about an hour (I have a lot to mow) or other work yard work including tree felling, chopping up logs and loading a trailer. I don’t count the time spent sitting on my ride-on mower as exercise.

    One week of this has seen me go from 88kg to 85 kg though I suspect about 1 kg of this at today’s weigh-in was dehydration (despite drinking about a litre of cold water before weigh-in).

    Eventually, i hope to jog once I get down to jogging weight. I want to know John Quiggin’s PB for a 10 k run. This PB has to be since you turned 50, John, and for a run only (so nothing left in the tank for the other legs of your triathalons). I figure a reasonable goal would be to match JQ’s 10 k time. I have no pretensions of doing a triathalon. I can barely swim 200m and bicycles are machines I don’t really like although I can ride perfectly well.

    Final note, my real test tends to come after about 8 months at which time I tend to fall off the diet and exercise wagon. So I have to be on my guard when September rolls around.

  7. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 14:36 | #7

    @Hermit

    I agree. We need a carbon tax at home on greenhouse gases emitted and we need a carbon tariff on good imported from countries which lack proper pricing. It is not had to calculate and deem implicit emissions for a manufactured product or agricultural product for that matter.

    And yes, we need a coalition of carbon taxing nations with carbon tariff regimes well. Emissions trading schemes are always dodgy and flakey. The neoCONS and market libertarians push for these schemes because they can be gamed and cheated and used to delay effective measures.

  8. John Quiggin
    January 7th, 2013 at 15:56 | #8

    “I want to know John Quiggin’s PB for a 10 k run. ”

    47:45 in the 2012 BridgeToBrisbane. No need for the 50+ qualification – I never ran more than 5k before I was 50.

    As a matter of interest, run leg is always last in triathlon, so the problem is having enough in the tank when you start. My best is 55:23 in Noosa last November.

    My NY resolution was to lose 3kg, but so far have gained 1 :-(

  9. rog
    January 7th, 2013 at 16:36 | #9

    @Ikonoclast BMI needs to be applied with caution, as you gain fitness and fat converts to muscle weight gain can be experienced. In addition BMI makes no allowance for frame size or age.

  10. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 16:58 | #10

    @John Quiggin

    “My NY resolution was to lose 3kg, but so far have gained 1 kg.”

    Maybe so, but I am 99.9999% percent certain you started from a much better base than me! :)

    Is Bridge to Brisbane basically a flat road run or a hilly road run or something in between? I assume it’s not a cross-country.

    The time of 47:45 sounds good for your age which equals my age within a year or so. I will go for hitting or breaking 48 minutes. That will do me. I think a bit in the old money so 10k = 6 miles. And 48 minutes / 6 miles = 8 minutes per mile = 7.5 mph which is a decent clip for an old crock like me. Hmm, actually the more I think about it the tougher this goal looks, I better make my first goal a 10 k run in one hour or I might get a bit dispirited. I reckon I might need to pare down to about 72 kg to do it.

  11. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 17:06 | #11

    @rog

    I am naturally of a light frame and gracile bones for a bloke (ectomorphic build when not obese) so my 88 kg was even worse than it might sound. Luckily, just a week of light eating and moderate exercise has me down near 85 kg. My ticker is fine, recently had that checked so there is no reason not to go for it. Bit worried about foot pain (in the joints) but no obvious inflammation or calcification except for hallux rigidus of one big toe broken twice playing football at high school. Back then I was a light halfback with heaps of endurance, a dogged cover defender but no other real skills. ;)

  12. Fran Barlow
    January 7th, 2013 at 18:06 | #12

    @Hermit

    In principle, Hermit, I’d have no problem with your proposal, but as you say, it has to be something everyone — or at the least — all significant jurisdictions do. If Australia were to be one of a handful doing that, then the impact would be trivial. I’d be OK with us having a go, but I suspect most wouldn’t.

    One option might be to impose the tariff, hypothecate the funds and then use them to fund genuine low carbon or human development projects in the jurisdictions to which the tariffs attach. Thus, if we were imputing a carbon cost on imported Chinese goods, we would be using these funds to fund education, housing and health in rural China or supporting low footprint energy or industrial projects in China.

    Such a tariff might pass the WTO’s non-discrimination test (Art. XX IIRC) and might actually make a difference.

  13. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 19:03 | #13

    @Fran Barlow

    I no longer accept that we (a relatively small nation of 22.8 million) should help China who are;

    (a) a superpower in population terms at 1,347,350,000 people.
    (b) a superpower in economic terms with GDP at PPP (purchasing power parity) ranked 2nd in th world.
    (b) a superpower wasting money on a large military, nuclear weapons and space exploration which it could be spending on its own citizens.

    To put it bluntly, we would be mugs to attempt to “help” China. In fact, any country that gives foreign aid to China is being suckered. They effectively say “thank you very much, that frees up more money for our ever-growing military and to oppress and conquer the peoples of Tibet etc.

    China claims it is still a developing nationrequiring aid. Well, let them cut their military budget and cease oppressing and conquering other peoples like the Tibetans.

    China’s richest 22 million are far richer than Australia in toto. Let them give. We need to apply all our aid to our own indigeneous people, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.

  14. Fran Barlow
    January 7th, 2013 at 20:47 | #14

    @Ikonoclast

    Yes, but China’s poorest 220 million are as poor or poorer than our poorest people, and in any event, the want of a tariff on coal exports or CO2-intensive imports is not what is stopping us helping our poorest folk. That’s political.

    What we would be doing would be helping poor people with money taken largely from wealthier folks — and that is always good, no?

    We have more control over our fiscal choices than those of China, Ikono.

  15. January 7th, 2013 at 21:03 | #15

    I usually visit “the automatic earth” and “the oil drum” every few days.

    Compared to the shrivelled state of Australia’s MSM landscape, it’s like finding out there isn’t really a ‘Santa’, the Emperor has no clothes and the Wizard is just an old man with techno-tricks behind a curtain all rolled into one.

    - China is at 20% non-fossil electricity! (OK, sure, they have the tragic three gorges hydro project online and a huge amount of nuclear – but it’s still 20%)

    - When thinking of Peak Oil it is important to include the “ELM” (ie: “Export Land model” – ‘Export Land’ is a metaphorical oil exporting country. As they become wealthier they use an increasing percentage of their oil production domestically for their own industries & transport etc.. so that their % NET exports decrease even as production is still steady/rising but exports fall steeply when production falls).

    “automatic earth” from 2/1/13 had some extracts from a Der Speigel interview with Meadows (and some good commentary from ‘Illargi’):

    ” SPIEGEL ONLINE: Professor Meadows, 40 years ago you published “The Limits to Growth” together with your wife and colleagues, a book that made you the intellectual father of the environmental movement. The core message of the book remains valid today: Humanity is ruthlessly exploiting global resources and is on the way to destroying itself. Do you believe that the ultimate collapse of our economic system can still be avoided?

    Meadows: The problem that faces our societies is that we have developed industries and policies that were appropriate at a certain moment, but now start to reduce human welfare, like for example the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change. ”

    ” You see, there are two kinds of big problems. One I call universal problems, the other I call global problems. They both affect everybody. The difference is: Universal problems can be solved by small groups of people because they don’t have to wait for others. You can clean up the air in Hanover without having to wait for Beijing or Mexico City to do the same.

    Global problems, however, cannot be solved in a single place. There’s no way Hanover can solve climate change or stop the spread of nuclear weapons. For that to happen, people in China, the US and Russia must also do something. But on the global problems, we will make no progress.”

    I’ll avoid using the word and stick with a dictionary definition instead, but it seems our goose is indeed cooked unless we have: a “complete change; such as that caused by the overthrow of a government or political system”.

  16. Ikonoclast
    January 7th, 2013 at 22:36 | #16

    @Fran Barlow

    There are more poor indigenous Australians, Papuans and South Sea Islanders than we can probably help let alone 220 million poor Chinese. Imagining we can help such huge numbers from such a low comparative population and wealth base as Australia possesses smacks of a lack of perspective and a parochial and egregious over-estimate of our own power, wealth and significance. It involves thinking Australia is much bigger, far more imporant and more influential than it really is.

    In reality we are small change, very small change. The notable northern hemisphere nations never think about us from one year to the next. I spent 6 months in the UK and Europe in 1991 where among other things I watched a bit of TV and read a lot of English newspapers and The European (in English). In that whole time I saw not a single mention of Australia in any form whatsoever in any media except one edition of one tabloid English newspaper which had, quite literally, a man-bites-dog news story from Australia. That is how important we are… not!

    We don’t rate. We don’t exist. We don’t count one iota. The Northern Hemisphere could not care less about the whole of the southern hemisphere except perhaps Brazil. Other than to use us a quarry and mine that is. We ought to wise up and see what we can do to help in our own backyard (Oceania) where we actually do count for a little.

  17. January 8th, 2013 at 00:26 | #17

    @Ikonoclast

    Really?

    Why shouldn’t we throw our weight around?

    Pissy little crap Israel only has a population of about 7.5 million and look at the influence they have on world affairs and Western policy (not to mention the $3 Billion they pick up from the US tax-payer each year!).

    Why can’t we be ambitious? We should have at least three times more influence on world affairs than Israel.

    (By the way, shouldn’t we also get US$9 Billion – to make it fair?)

  18. Nick
    January 8th, 2013 at 02:51 | #18

    Exactly, Megan. Australia can be as influential as it chooses to be. 1991, Ikon?? You mean like totally before the internet, and when there were still only a tiny handful of globally syndicated news services…what were you expecting? Your average Australian in 1991 still pictured Europeans as quite literally getting around the streets in their national costumes :) Happy new everyone!

  19. Nick
    January 8th, 2013 at 02:52 | #19

    year!!

  20. Ikonoclast
    January 8th, 2013 at 05:46 | #20

    @Megan

    Q. “Why shouldn’t we throw our weight around?”

    A. Because realistically we don’t have any weight.

    The US and Chinese economies each grow by more each year than Australia’s total GDP. California compared to other country GDPs has almost the GDP of Russia (since its partial collapse), equal to Canada, greater than Australia and Spain and again almost that of India.

    Commenting about Israel is always fraught with danger but I will take the risk. The implied question is “Why is Israel influential in world affairs?” The issue puzzles me a bit too but here is my best offering.

    1. The major religion of the West is derivative from Judaism. This gives the nation of Israel a major place in the collective imagination of the West; a place it had even when, for about 2,000 years, it was not a nation but a dispersed people.

    2. The persecution of the Jews and particularly the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany (a nominally Christian, Western country) has left another indelible mark and a persisting feeling of guilt and horror on the collective imagination of the West.

    3. Israel is now a beleagured armed camp in a central strategic position in the Middle East, a focus of conflict (armed and ideological) and a heavily militarised David-sized nation with a Goliath-sized military including at least 250 nuclear weapons.

    4. The Jewish people have now both a concentration and a dispersal giving them a nation and a wide sphere of influence. They are also highly (“homogenous” is not the right word as they are quite diverse) imbued with solidarity and a sense of mission and purpose which might come from being beleagured outsiders for so long and from their religion.

    5. The Jewish people appear to demonstrate or have some particular high occurrence of individual genius which is out of proportion to their numbers. I am not sure if this actually so but seemingly an extraordinary number of very prominent thinkers and scientists have come from a Jewish background.

    6. Because of Israel’s strategic position near great oil reserves, the history of Israel and the West (especially British and American imperialism in the Middle East) and the fact that Israel and the Imperial West are now allies, this means that Israel is pivotal in the resultant conflicts.

    7. Israel has powerful and rich friends, notably the Jewish and pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. and U.S imperialist policy sees Israel as a vital ally.

    8. Just as Great Britain was seen, by the U.S. in particular, as the unsinkable aircraft carrier off the coasts of Nazi dominated Europe, Israel can be seen as the unsinkable, impregnable air base and land base on the coastal edge of but almost geographical centre of the Middle East.

    Compared to that what global prominence does Australia have? Very little I venture to say. It hurts the ego of people who set too much store on nationalism to admit their country is not very important in world affairs but facts are facts.

    Indeed, we are entering a world age when being inconspicuous and out of the way might be no bad thing. I would not be too eager to jump up and down and try to make the world notice Australia.

    The geographic size of Australia (which is mostly desert and semi-arid zones largely useless for modern human purposes unless we go for 100% solar power!) gives a false impression of our place in the world of nations. It would be instructive to use an application like Google Geochart and resize national areas first according to population and then according to GDP. This would give you a better idea of our distinct lack of prominence.

  21. Ken Fabian
    January 8th, 2013 at 06:40 | #21

    Hermit, I agree that coal exports of the world’s largest coal exporter is a serious matter. Include the exploitation of otherwise unmineable coal by other means (CSG) progressing from zero to huge at a staggering pace, and with no intent to replace any direct use of coal with it’s alleged lesser emissions. Very disturbing to me that big new mines – and export coal facilities – are still being proposed, approved and developed with strong backing of governments, state and federal as well as the gleeful approval of the finance sector and that supposed measurer of economic health, the markets.

    To me that indicates that, at heart, the climate and emissions problem’s seriousness is not really appreciated by mainstream policy makers even if the extent of change needed, by those with vested interests – finance, industry and commerce in general – is evident in the willfully blinkered attitudes that range from carrying on as if it didn’t exist to organised sabotaging, via lobbying, PR, advertising and tankthink of every serious mainstream effort to act early and effectively.

    I still think that willful refusal to accept the seriousness and urgency by those in positions of trust and responsibility is the biggest obstacle – and it flows through to sustaining complacency and opposition to action within our society. For those who hold such positions of public responsibility to actively support keeping the community confused and misinformed for their own political or financial gain is a profound betrayal of trust.

  22. Will
    January 8th, 2013 at 07:20 | #22

    @ Ikon

    I don’t believe that the line of California being one of the world’s largest economies can be taken 100% at face value. For starters, any US state benefits from a significant network effect as being part of that nation – eg. risk-free capital and labour flows, use of the US dollar, overpowered military and dearth of feasible external enemies, quality educational centres. If California were to declare independence tomorrow, how much labour and capital would flow out of the country? Would extremely high value Silicon Valley have developed if it were placed in an independent nation? This concept makes any meaningful comparison between US states and independent countries very difficult. To draw a tenuous analogy, the per capita income for a two adult two child family might be $30,000 per year – the figure is literally true but misleading.

  23. Ikonoclast
    January 8th, 2013 at 08:46 | #23

    @Will

    I understand your objection and it has some validity. Yet many small to mid-size countries also benefit from being parts of significant networks so it’s not really a great objection. In any case, the object was merely to point out the relative insignificance of Austalia economically speaking, at least compared to the “big boys”.

  24. Ootz
    January 8th, 2013 at 09:13 | #24

    Ken Fabian :
    …….. , the climate and emissions problem’s seriousness is not really appreciated by mainstream policy makers even if the extent of change needed, by those with vested interests – finance, industry and commerce in general – is evident in the willfully blinkered attitudes that range from carrying on as if it didn’t exist to organised sabotaging, via lobbying, PR, advertising and tankthink of every serious mainstream effort to act early and effectively.

    Ho ho ho ho, this is your Santa speaking. We are currently flying back to the Reindeer farm from our successful mission in 2012. I am happy to report that, looking from above, the climate is fine and the Earth greener than ever. We hope you enjoyed our jingle bells and copious consumption we offer. Please keep the faith, put your stockings out and a little recompense for Rupert the long nosed …..!
    https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/288024961426264064

  25. Ootz
    January 8th, 2013 at 09:15 | #25

    Ken Fabian
    “”…….. , the climate and emissions problem’s seriousness is not really appreciated by mainstream policy makers even if the extent of change needed, by those with vested interests – finance, industry and commerce in general – is evident in the willfully blinkered attitudes that range from carrying on as if it didn’t exist to organised sabotaging, via lobbying, PR, advertising and tankthink of every serious mainstream effort to act early and effectively.”"

    Ho ho ho ho, this is your Santa speaking. We are currently flying back to the Reindeer farm from our successful mission in 2012. I am happy to report that, looking from above, the climate is fine and the Earth greener than ever. We hope you enjoyed our jingle bells and copious consumption we offer. Please keep the faith, put your stockings out and a little recompense for Rupert the long nosed …..!
    https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/288024961426264064

  26. Fran Barlow
    January 8th, 2013 at 09:31 | #26

    @Ikonoclast

    Your summary of the reasons predisposing Israel’s apparent influence doesn’t really start to look serious until about #6. #7 is derivative and I’m going to say #8 is arguable. As romantic and appealing a vision as it is, the role of imagination in “nations” is overstated. Yes, it can and does shape cultural choice, offering a starting point for how how questions are answered, but this tends to be more on internal rather than external questions. Australian policy was shaped by the notion of “Britishness” and counterposition with Asia and also with the indigenous people, and in these senses coloured Australian views of “external” (later “foreign”) affairs. Pre-1942, there certainly was a strong impulse to give priority to protection of the “mother country” — the crimson thread of kinship as Deakin had it — but by 1918, this was in decline, and the fall of Singapore dealt it a mortal blow. It’s hard to accept that the US would identify with Israel primarily as a consequence of a shared religious ethic. It’s worth recalling that the US declined Jewish refugees “boat people” in the run up to the holocaust. That would have been inconceivable if the refugees were Anglo-Brits either here, or in the US.

    Doubtless, the holocaust generated enormous sympathy but really, the Cold War and the desire to outmanoeuvre the Warsaw Pact was really the principal source of Israel’s ongoing support from the US. The significance of Arab nationalism and the threat this posed to the price at which the west could obtain oil made it important for the US to protect not only Israel but through that, indirectly, the semi-feudal Arab feifdoms supplying them the oil. As long as Israel existed, these autocracies could harness nationalism and avoid anything like nationalism and even resist modernity. This pattern of interest served fractions of the US boss class that otherwise could scarcely have cared less about the fate of Israel. Enormous amounts of money were to be made in defence and energy from incipient instability in the Middle East.

    Israel’s influence is therefore largely about geography and the conflict between the USSR/Russia and the US over a primary resource — oil, and the one loophole that even rightwingers accept as passing muster in government spending — defence. What Israel chooses to do in any area of policy unrelated to these things is of roughly zero interest to anyone outside Israel. They have a lot less influence than Australia in these fields.

    Australia is a substantially sized economy. Yes, it would be ludicrous to propose that any policy we might adopt could coerce the world to follow us, even to the extent that the US or the EU might. On the other hand, Australia is non-trivial. Stuff we do that appears to work and opens a path to things that might work for others stands a good chance of being taken up. If we can engage other significant jurisdictions with common carbon abatement schemes that have significant ambition Australia’s example will start to set a pattern for others in abatement talks and the major holdouts may start to join up with existing functional schemes. I’ve never thought that a discussion involving 190 or so jurisdictions was realistic. What you need are substantial agreements including jurisdictions accounting for 60%+ of World GDP and spread across each of the major regions with each major subgroup encompassing manufacturing, services and resources. Achieve that and the hold outs risk becomng isolated. Australia certainly could begin to initiate such a group in South and East Asia.

  27. January 8th, 2013 at 11:24 | #27

    Nick @ 18, I think “Happy new everyone” is a damn fine idea. There’s no need for a correction.

    Apropos which, I’ve embarked on becoming a happy new Dave. Like Ikonoclast, I need to lose weight. (I’d be almost satisfied with his current 88kg … ) I’m currently waddling around at just over 100kg, and need to be somewhere around 75kg, which is what I estimate I weighed when I was discharged from the regular Army in 1989. (When I joined in 1977, I weighed 10 stone in the old money, and was much the same build but considerably more muscular when I got out.)

    My middle son (who has lost almost 20kg in the last 6 or 8 months working on a dairy) has advised me that a low-carb, high-protein diet and plenty of exercise is the way to go. Oh, and cut back on the amount of piss I drink. I managed to lose 1kg in a week of helping him herd cows just after Christmas, so there’s hope.

  28. Ikonoclast
    January 8th, 2013 at 11:26 | #28

    @Fran Barlow

    I certainly agree that we should set an example by keeping coal in the ground and going for solar power. It is up to the rest of the world to follow us (if they do) and thus save them and us.

    With regards to Israel, the points you agree are important certainly are certainly very important. I woudn’t go as far as you in discounting the other points though. I say this as an agnostic bordering on atheism and as one who has little sympathy for Zionism or Israel’s pugnacious, aggressive and oppressive behaviour. That said, they have been persecuted and subjected to pogroms for millenia, endured the Holocaust, endured the British Manadate, endured the mortal enmity of Arabs and various wars and threats to their very existence (which said behaviour by the Arabs was in turn provoked by Israeli aggression and atrocities which in turn was provoked by theor holocuast experience which in turn… etc in a seemingly endless chain of causes going right back in history). It’s a tangled mess, a wicked problem with no real absolute right and wrong and no real solution.

  29. Jim Rose
    January 8th, 2013 at 12:00 | #29

    see http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424127887324374004578217682305605070-lMyQjAxMTAzMDAwNDEwNDQyWj.html?mod=wsj_valettop_email for gary becker and murphy on Have we lost the war on drugs?

    they argue that after more than four decades of a failed experiment, the human cost has become too high. It is time to consider the decriminalization of drug use and the drug market.

  30. Fran Barlow
  31. Fran Barlow
    January 10th, 2013 at 07:30 | #31

    Year 2012 — a record smashing year for US Temperature, Climate extremes

    The U.S. government reported the average U.S. temperature in 2012 was 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th-century average, and 2012 was the second worst on the Climate Extremes Index. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the data reflect a longer-term trend of hotter, drier, and potentially more extreme weather.

  32. Fran Barlow
  33. Fran Barlow
  34. rog
    January 10th, 2013 at 21:07 | #34

    @Ken Fabian As Kevin Rudd found out, it is political suicide to run head first into the mining industry. A groundswell of public opinion is needed first and the mining industry is busy negating any ill feeling. The only breakaway is CSG.

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