Home > Boneheaded stupidity, Environment > The anti-science right on wind farms

The anti-science right on wind farms

January 27th, 2014

So, Tony Abbott is going to hold another inquiry into utterly spurious claims about adverse health effects from wind farms. Credulous belief in these effects, or silent acquiescence in claims about them, is now compulsory on the political right, particularly among those who, absurdly, describe themselves as “sceptics” on climate science and, more generally, on scientific evidence about actual health risks from genuine environmental hazards. The extreme example, chosen by the Oz to lay down the party line, is James Delingpole whose denial extends beyond climate change to include rejection of the health effects of passive smoking (based on the bogus and discredited research of tobacco-funded “researchers” Enstrom and Kabat). Despite claiming that there is no risk in inhaling a toxic mixture of dozens of carcinogens, Delingpole has no difficulty in believing that noise levels quieter than those of a public library will cause all manner of health risks, including “night sweats, headaches, palpitations, heart trouble”. [fn1]

It’s easy to multiply examples of this kind (Miranda Devine, Jennifer Marohasy, Christopher Booker). What’s more striking is the silence of those who know this stuff is nonsense, but don’t want to offend their allies and supporters

Andrew Bolt is particularly interesting here. He obviously knows that the claims about health risks are nonsensical, and is careful (AFAICT) to avoid mentioning them, while writing in a way that hints at support. So, we get a favorable link to the Delingpole piece, but the pull quote refers to economics not to health issues. Of course, if the politics were such as to demand support for wind, Bolt would make mincemeat of the nonsense Delingpole is putting forward.

A couple of takeaways from this

1. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single climate denialist anywhere in the world who has the minimal consistency and honesty needed to reject nonsense arguments from their own side, even when they take a form (NIMBY claims about unproven health risks) that they routinely denounce when put forward by misguided environmentalists. That can be extended to the entire political right in Australia – I’m not aware of a single person on the right who has called Abbott out on this nonsense. Active liars like Delingpole, and enablers like Bolt are representative of the entire right, even those who would like to appear rational and reasonable.

2. It’s crucial for the left to reject this kind of argument whenever it appears, even when the proponent takes the correct stance on other issues.

[1] This article earned a rebuke from the Press Council, but that merely perpetuates the notion that Delingpole is a journalist and that the Oz is a newspaper. These 20th century categories have ceased to be applicable – the Oz is better understood as a lunar right blog that, for historical reasons, is printed out on broadsheet paper every day.

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  1. Megan
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:33 | #1

    Good points etc….

    But, you have included a link to News Ltd.

    Since they never extend that courtesy to anyone, and since doing so actually gives Rupert money and undeserved credibility – I always advocate against it. They simply do not deserve links.

  2. alfred venison
    January 27th, 2014 at 21:42 | #2

    welcome to the global village – this is the new tribalism marshall mcluhan predicted would characterise society in the era of speed of light communications. it will never again be who is right or who is wrong but only whether he or she “is one of ours”. -a.v.

  3. Ernestine Gross
    January 27th, 2014 at 22:10 | #3

    Wind farms and health risks.

    I don’t believe it is possible to make a categorical statement, of the form Yes or No in answer to the question: Do wind farms entail health risks. I understand there are two questions being pursued. One is noise (unwanted sound). The other one is recurrent patterns of shades (visual).

    I have never looked at the shading aspect. However, I do know that noise as a public health problem is a well developed scientific research program with the 11th International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem (ICBEN) taking place in Japan in June this year. This research program examines a wide range of acoustic pollution – neighbourhood, transport, industrial, …, instrumental sound. Some scientists examine the effect of sound on animals. Some of the medical scientists work with economists regarding arriving at monetary estimates of the cost of acoustic pollution (this is where I had contact with ICBEN).

    Obviously, if the sound of wind turbines – day and night – at a particular location is no more than the ambient noise of a public library (reading areas I assume), then the likelihood of a person being disturbed is small. Without being disturbed in any way it is difficult to put forward the hypothesis that there would be health effects. A Sydney resident would not be disturbed by a wind turbine in Canberra. But beyond such obvious cases, it gets difficult very quickly (without having to employ psychological hypotheses, such as ‘modifiers’). I learned from acoustics experts that it is not only the sound level, as measured by dB or dBA, but the frequency components of the sound that matter (eg hearing the base only of music played at a party a street away).

    It is perhaps not surprising that noise as a public health problem is of greater concern in densely populated geographical regions, such as Western Europe, then in Australia. However, ignoring the findings may not be a good idea when it comes to deciding on locations in Australia. Australia has a choice set for locations that is much larger in geographical dimensions than say Western Europe. It seems to me the precautionary principle could be applied fruitfully in the selection of locations.

  4. Rodney
    January 27th, 2014 at 22:41 | #4

    In your footnote [1], did you mean to say the Oz is a loony right blog?

  5. January 27th, 2014 at 22:51 | #5

    Tony could help the budget emergency by abandoning this inquiry. After all, he saved money by disbanding the Climate Commission.

  6. January 27th, 2014 at 23:33 | #6

    Well, John Brookes, he certainly could do that, but it appears that environmental red tape mustn’t be allowed to get in the way of business, unless it’s a business that gets in the way of coal.

  7. Darryl Rosin
    January 28th, 2014 at 00:29 | #7

    This article earned a rebuke from the Press Council, but that merely perpetuates the notion that Delingpole is a journalist…

    Aren’t we at the point now where we have to accept that what Delingpole and his fellow travelers *are* journalists and what they do *is* journalism? That they are the rule and not the exception?

    There’s a time to fight and there’s also a time when the least bad option is a tactical retreat and burning the fields as you go. Journalism is past saving and framing journalism as an ‘important’ or even a ‘useful’ activity reinforces the legitimacy of people like Delingpole.

    It’s time to start forcefully making the point that complains about “the media” or “the murdoch press” that they are complaining about work done by journalists. Journalists are a significant part of what is wrong with our country and the largest single obstacle on our long road of recovery.

    All that ‘good stuff’ we think we’re defending when we defend ‘journalism’ needs a new name. ‘Blogging’?

    d

  8. January 28th, 2014 at 00:49 | #8

    @Darryl Rosin

    Actually, I think it is more productive to distinguish between good and bad journalism. Take politics. The right loves nothing more than having us believe that all politicians are crooked. Then they can say to their followers, “Don’t trust politicians, but you can trust us”. Similarly if Rupert’s henchmen give all journalists a bad name, then everyone starts thinking they can’t trust journalists, and the worth of good journalism drops.

    People like Delingpole, Bolt, Albrechtsen etc aren’t journalists. They’re not even hacks.

  9. Hermit
    January 28th, 2014 at 06:12 | #9

    I think WTS is a physical manifestation of resentment over spoiled views, missing out on cash and perhaps reduced property resale value. I see at Palmer in the Adelaide Hills ‘good neighbour’ payments of $2,000 (p.a.?) are to be offered to adjoining property owners, a precedent which could change the economics. In southern NSW an adjoining property owner is or was suing for 35% loss of resale value. Those who can get their pound of flesh do so others I suggest get WTS. By the way UK PM David Cameron is another who thinks wind farms spoil rural views.

    My main objection to wind power is that in most places the cost of cost of CO2 avoided is well above the current official price of $24.15 per tonne. If mixed cycles gas fired generation is the benchmark then wind saves say 0.45 tonnes of CO2 per Mwh of wind generation. But you still have the unproductive fixed costs of the idled gas plant while the wind is blowing, say $50. Divide that extra cost by the CO2 saved $50/.45 to get $111. That’s why the wind build will slow perhaps stop if the RET goes. With high future gas prices wind power may be a net cost saver but the bigger issue then is overall cost.

    Perhaps wind opponents don’t formulate the issue in this way but focus on health issues instead. Whether WTS or infrasound is real is not I don’t care for wind farms for two key reasons
    1) wind towers and new transmission spoil rural views
    2) they are not a cost effective way of reducing emissions.

  10. David Allen
    January 28th, 2014 at 06:19 | #10

    Some morons in central Vic stopped an NBN fixed wireless tower because reasons. How long before WTS is Wireless Tower Syndrome?

  11. Julie Thomas
    January 28th, 2014 at 06:27 | #11

    @John Brookes

    I’ve heard them called “knob-polishers’ and ‘hagiographers”.

  12. Julie Thomas
    January 28th, 2014 at 06:38 | #12

    @Hermit

    This is just snobbery and really, there are many things that blight my rural landscape but other people seem to like. Not to mention the smell when my neighbours spread their wonderful mulch on their huge and wonderful vege garden and I have to smell it for a week or more depending on the wind direction.

  13. paul walter
    January 28th, 2014 at 06:49 | #13

    Well, why do these people lie about so many things?

    Is it to do with brain structure, or bad childhood, or what?

    And they seem capable of doing it barefaced. Not so much as the twitch of a muscle.

  14. Ikonoclast
    January 28th, 2014 at 07:07 | #14

    I am amused at the way these delicate right-wingers (mostly males) fear “night sweats, headaches, palpitations, heart trouble” from wind farms. Poor dears! Reach for the smelling salts! However, several reactors at Fukushima go near critical, blow containment, melt down, plume radioactive isotopes over land and pour same into the ocean. The region is evacuated, 160,000 people are displaced. The clean up is dangerous and in many ways humanly and technically impossible to execute. And yet these same wind-farm critics are saying, usually; “Nuclear is safe and we need – insert very large number here – more nuclear power reactors all over the world, especially near coasts and along fault lines because that’s where the people are.

    Sure, wind farms have dangers and problems and induce certain kinds of pollution (e.g. more mining for rare earths) but these problems are a couple of orders of magnitude less than the problems of fossil fuel power. Also, all other forms of electrical power generation require transmission lines. Transmission lines are not unique to wind power so why selectively raise it as if this is a “new” problem?

    As for visual and other forms of pollution, when sea level rise drowns cities I suspect neither that nor the millions of refugees heading inland will be fair to see. Those who think damage and displacement from sea level rise will be incremental are wrong. The main encroachment events will happen during super-storms and the wrecked cities and agricultural deltas will be unrecoverable salt marshes afterwards.

  15. January 28th, 2014 at 10:01 | #15

    People like Delingpole, Bolt, Albrechtsen etc aren’t journalists. They’re not even hacks.

    The word you’re looking for is “propagandist”.

  16. Darryl Rosin
    January 28th, 2014 at 10:06 | #16

    @JohnBrookes

    …everyone starts thinking they can’t trust journalists, and the worth of good journalism drops.

    My point is that you *can’t* trust journalists. I suggest that less than 1% of journalism in Australia is “good” and the majority of it is actively damaging to our society.

    Defending journalism, or trying to keep a “balanced opinion” on “good” and “bad” journalism is like keeping a “balanced opinion” on evolution or climate change.

    Anyone who does good work as a journalist needs to stop calling themselves a journalist. Honestly, after the last few years and particularly the federal election, I cannot understand how anyone with a shred of dignity or pride in their work can call themselves a journalist and look people in the eye. The fact there hasn’t been an enormous walk-out from the profession speaks volumes about the people working in it and groupthink in the industry.

    d

  17. Megan
    January 28th, 2014 at 11:10 | #17

    @Darryl Rosin

    That’s my cue to roll out my old “Anguished Shill Wrestles With Inner Hypocrite” quote:

    “I’m a journalist working for a crappy, rightwing corporate Australian newspaper. I do what I do because I cannot do anything else. Nothing I do makes one iota of a difference but there are millions of people like me in the world who need the money and will do whatever it takes to support our families.

    We aren’t bad people — even though I suspect you think we lack your ideological purity and revolutionary zeal and have, therefore, sided with the “dark side” and probably deserve to die the death capitalism has invented for us.

    Let’s face it, man, most of us humans live in a f*cked world and we get f*cked every day. Whingeing about it has never worked to our advantage. In fact, it’s made matters worse.

    People like me don’t like the “dark side” anymore than we like the “right side” — simply because both sides can be found on the same coin.

    Yours Comrade Jack”

  18. Paul Norton
    January 28th, 2014 at 11:15 | #18

    I used my university’s account to access today’s op-ed by the Australian’s opinion editor, Nick Cater, and I’m puzzled as to whether the article is an accurate reflection of the depth and breadth of his ignorance on anything to do with the environment and sustainability, or whether he is feeding the readers their preferred flavour of swill.

  19. Rob
    January 28th, 2014 at 11:56 | #19

    Paul,

    You forget the most likely answer is both.

  20. rog
    January 28th, 2014 at 12:21 | #20

    The was an exchange between Guy Rundle and Nick Cater, adjudicated by Brendan Oneill, on ABC RN. Both Oneill and Cater came over as pompous twits and made Rundle furious with their fabricated and orchestrated nonsense. I was surprised that RN runs the nonsensical counterfactual Counterpoint program but I guess it serves as a timely reminder at to just how nutty these Very Important People are.

  21. rog
    January 28th, 2014 at 12:23 | #21

    At one stage I did think that Abbott was playing a clever game but his performance at Davos makes me think he is the real deal.

  22. January 28th, 2014 at 12:47 | #22

    Of course, nothing really spoils rural views quite as badly as a farm.

  23. Michael
    January 28th, 2014 at 13:14 | #23

    @21

    And trees.

  24. Darryl Rosin
    January 28th, 2014 at 13:36 | #24

    @Megan

    Megan, you and your friend Jack are, of course, correct. My ever-so-slightly hyperbolic rantings are a reflection of my personal sense of despair and confusion about What Is To Be Done. The world is a difficult place and quests for purity are by and large Not Good Things and I try to always remember that the likelihood that I am utterly wrong is almost certainly higher than I think it is. We have to put food on our tables, money in the accounts of our mortagees and try and guide children to be better people than we are.

    d

  25. Megan
    January 28th, 2014 at 13:53 | #25

    @Darryl Rosin

    Actually, I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote @15!

    I view people like “Jack” as apologists for the propaganda machine they are a vital component of.

    No self-respecting person could work for Murdoch unless they openly admitted to simply being tools of his ideological machine and simply doing it for the money – of course to do so would result in them being shown the door. That’s part of my issue with them, the inbuilt dishonesty.

  26. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2014 at 13:56 | #26

    There’s not a lot of point in linking to the Oz when the article is behind a paywall.

    “the Oz is better understood as a lunar right blog”

    Indeed I see that both Gerard Henderson and Grace Collier now write for the Oz. I suppose, to paraphrase Roy and HG, too much right wingery is never enough. All the Oz needs to do now is to bring back Stuchbury and they’ll have a complete set.

  27. January 28th, 2014 at 14:53 | #27

    They’d also need Tom Switzer to complete the set, Uncle Milton.

  28. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2014 at 15:07 | #28

    @David Irving (no relation)

    Good point about Switzer. The Fairfax papers also have a young right wing woman from Adelaide (Nicole Flint, I think: I wonder if she is related to you-know-who) but she still has her training wheels on and does not (yet) write in the ad hominem favoured at the Oz.

  29. January 28th, 2014 at 22:22 | #29

    I think wind turbines are beautiful; my wife and I often stop to admire them on our drives through the country. Not only are they sleek, slender, and aerodynamic, they are a marvel of engineering, and by God they are making electricity while I watch! I wish there were a few in the hills here in St Andrews. I’ve never understood the argument that they are ugly. Have any of these people ever seen a regular windmill? Damn rusty old things are everywhere, and half of them don’t even work.

  30. jungney
    January 28th, 2014 at 22:57 | #30

    Well, better a wind farm than a CSG well head anywhere near where you live.

    There’s no likelihood of CSG wells being drilled on North Head and none at all of windfarms being built there either; or along the cliffs of Dover Heights, or South Head. If you like ‘em so much, aesthetically, campaign for a farm of the monsters right now, right where you live. See how you like your ridge line moving from afar with blades. Better still, see how you like your horizons constructed of towers of immobile wind gens, burnt out, just sitting there, like in Eastern Ca.

    Wind farms are a joke.

  31. Patrickb
    January 29th, 2014 at 00:17 | #31

    Good on you Jungey, nice to see someone passionately advocating for the equitable placement of these eminently sensible pieces of technology.

  32. Alan
    January 29th, 2014 at 04:34 | #32

    @jungney

    Eastern Canada is a big place. Where, specifically, are these dead wind generators?

  33. jrkrideau
    January 29th, 2014 at 06:34 | #33

    @Alan
    Yes I’d be interested to know too.
    john who lives in Eastern Canada near the big lakes.

  34. Alan
    January 29th, 2014 at 08:18 | #34

    @jrkrideau

    Mind you, don’t be surprised if we learn, as is so often the case, that (1) the claimant remembers reading something about it somewhere or other (2) we don’t hear from the claimant until they make some other claim about something they read somewhere or other maybe, perhaps, whatever.

  35. Hermit
    January 29th, 2014 at 10:14 | #35

    I understand that Greg Hunt wants the RET + Direct Action but the cabinet is cool on the RET. The wind farm health inquiry could be a pretext for dropping the RET. My view is similar to that in the UK that CO2 reduction is the primary objective not any particular technology and that all low carbon energy providers get a comparable deal, in effect price guarantees.

    If the RET goes the new wind build will probably stop. Tas Hydro has said they won’t build the 600 MW King Island project without the RET. Other projects underway including solar farms, wave power and so on may find it difficult to repay even concessional finance without the renewable energy certificate income. Tragic some will say but remember for Australia as a whole it’s tiny compared to coal and gas generation. If the UK approach works maybe it will become the new financing model.

  36. alfred venison
  37. Michael
    January 29th, 2014 at 12:41 | #37
  38. Tim Macknay
    January 29th, 2014 at 13:19 | #38

    @Michael
    And the ABC was trying so hard with its expose of union corruption. You just can’t please some people…

  39. January 29th, 2014 at 13:31 | #39

    “To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single climate denialist anywhere in the world who has the minimal consistency and honesty needed to reject nonsense arguments from their own side”

    Ignorance is bliss, btw I have not meet anybody yet who does not believes in climate….

  40. may
    January 29th, 2014 at 13:57 | #40

    what is really striking about those who do not want to offend their “allies and supporters”is their gullibility in thinking that such people really are their “allies and supporters”.

  41. Uncle Milton
    January 29th, 2014 at 14:02 | #41

    According to a report today in Crikey, the Government is to appoint Alan Moran to a panel investigating the Renewable Energy Target.

    This would be like appointing Oliver Cromwell to a panel investigating Charles I.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  42. may
    January 29th, 2014 at 14:04 | #42

    Mark L :I think wind turbines are beautiful; my wife and I often stop to admire them on our drives through the country. Not only are they sleek, slender, and aerodynamic, they are a marvel of engineering, and by God they are making electricity while I watch! I wish there were a few in the hills here in St Andrews. I’ve never understood the argument that they are ugly. Have any of these people ever seen a regular windmill? Damn rusty old things are everywhere, and half of them don’t even work.

    yup and there you have it.

    “they are making electricity while i watch.”

    it’s one of lifes little mysteries that anything ugly and poisonous that makes money for the “exclusives” is a developmental marvel but anything costing them must be extirpated ,preferably in advance.
    preferably before any one finds out about it.

    too late.

  43. John Quiggin
    January 29th, 2014 at 15:18 | #43

    @phoenix

    “Ignorance is bliss, btw I have not meet anybody yet who does not believes in climate….”

    I let this out of moderation just to point out the kind of moronic snark that passes for debate on the denialist side of the fence.

  44. jungney
    January 29th, 2014 at 16:35 | #44

    @Alan
    Alan, Eastern California, not Canada. I think the dead farm fields were along the highway between Palm Springs and San Bernadino but am not totally confident of that.

  45. rog
    January 29th, 2014 at 16:39 | #45

    @Uncle Milton It’s seems that we will not be able to avoid our GWB moment. Abetz was this morning banging on about wages explosion, when clearly wages are not keeping up with CPI. I can see a whole heap of cliches being trotted out eg militant unionism/Islam & welfare/nanny state, all coalescing into a great big ball of evil that needs a strong leader and a capable government to stamp out.

    So hats the common thread? Is it this evangelical faith stuff?

  46. Tim Macknay
    January 29th, 2014 at 16:59 | #46

    Buggered up the formatting again. Fiddlesticks.

  47. Tim Macknay
    January 29th, 2014 at 17:05 | #47

    Re-posting…

    @jungney
    Presumably you’re talking about the San Gorgonio Pass. How long ago were you there? One of the characteristics of wind turbines is that they are relatively easy to remove, which is precisely what has happened with the obsolete turbines near Palm Springs.

    It’s also not reasonable, IMHO, to compare the virtually unregulated Californian wind farm rush of the early 1980s with more recent developments, or the situation in Australia, where quixotic restrictions have been placed on wind farm developments in NSW and Victoria without scientific justification. Wind farms do have genuine drawbacks (intermittency being the big one), but the ‘problem’ of disused wind farms marring the landscape is pretty spurious, really.

    Prof Q, could you kindly delete the first, borked version of this comment which is in moderation?

  48. Tim Macknay
    January 29th, 2014 at 17:07 | #48

    The direction this thread has taken kinda reminds me of this

  49. Donald Oats
    January 29th, 2014 at 18:41 | #49

    Bugger the windfarm noise: what about the leaf blower guy, the garbage collection truck, the street cleaner, and the peak hour traffic? A modern city is much noisier in places than a windmill, and the noise is erratic, not regular. When someone builds a ruddy great big freeway next to your dream retirement home, it is tough t*tties; but when it is a windmill 2km away, everyone is on the case—if they are of a certain political persuasion. How freaky is that?

    PS: PM A is on the warpath wrt ABC, if the latest footage I saw is to be taken as true (after all, he didn’t write it down).

  50. zoot
    January 29th, 2014 at 19:03 | #50

    @jungney

    Better still, see how you like your horizons constructed of towers of immobile wind gens, burnt out, just sitting there, like in Eastern Ca.

    Do you mean the one turbine which apparently exploded?

  51. Megan
    January 29th, 2014 at 19:39 | #51

    If you search “dead wind farms” you get lots of identical articles (one of which is by Australia’s – arguably – highest paid climate science critic, Andrew Bolt, from February 2010).

    They appear to originate from Senator Barnardi’s favoured scientific body, the Heritage Foundation.

    The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles — but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy’s California “big three” locations — Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio — considered among the world’s best wind sites.

    Maybe that’s where the vague and unattributed claim originates?

  52. alfred venison
    January 29th, 2014 at 20:59 | #52

    i don’t think this guy is making it up. but not 40,000.

    http://www.airphotona.com/image.asp?imageid=17801&catnum=0&catname=All%20Categories&keyword=&country=&state=&pagenum=7

    they’re looking pretty dilapidated to me – i think companies that put them up should be compelled to take them down if they stop using them, bankruptcy no excuse, set up a sinking fund or something to cover the possibility & stop socialising the costs.

    i grew up in a train station, my first 11 years. to this day the sound of shunting in a yard is strangely soothing to me. i’d take a working railway yard in the distance over a windfarm. -a.v.

  53. Tim Macknay
    January 29th, 2014 at 21:13 | #53

    @alfred venison
    Alfred, that’s what the turbines looked like shortly before they were replaced with new ones. Look up ‘Ka Lae’ on Wikipedia.

  54. alfred venison
    January 29th, 2014 at 21:39 | #54

    thank you Tim Macnay for clearing that one up for me.

    this guy – webecoist – appears to be not a wowser. his post is from 2009.

    There are dozens of wind farms scattered around the Western rim of the Mojave Desert near Tehachapi pass. There are over 5,000 wind turbines in the area thanks to the wind rush of the 1970s and 1980s.

    Many companies have come and gone, been bought, or gone belly-up. Some of the hundreds of turbines not spinning have been derelict now for decades. There is no law in Kern County that requires removal of broken or abandoned wind turbines, and as a result, the Tehachapi Pass area is an eerie mix of healthy, active wind farms and a wind turbine graveyard/junkyard.

    … there is no law in kern county that requires …

    http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2009/05/04/10-abandoned-renewable-energy-plants/

  55. Alan
    January 29th, 2014 at 21:42 | #55

    @alfred

    I’m surprised to learn that a Hawaiian wind farm is located in Eastern Canada/Eastern California.

    According to this the Kamoa Wind Farm is a going concern that at one stage decommissioned old turbines and erected new ones. According to Wikipedia it supplies 20 Mw to the Hawaii grid.

    It may be a nontrivial fact the the DLP is propagating the myth of dead turbines.

  56. January 29th, 2014 at 23:40 | #56

    I’m shocked to think that the right might be propagating untruths.

  57. drsusancalvin
    January 30th, 2014 at 00:15 | #57

    I’m shocked to think that the right might be propagating untruths.

    I’m shocked to see those untruths published on the internet.

  58. Megan
    January 30th, 2014 at 00:20 | #58

    @alfred venison

    When I open that link I see a photo of wind turbines (OK, with some spots on them), but I can’t tell whether they’re moving or not.

    I didn’t see anything about “40,000″, but all the ‘Heritage’ sourced links had “14,000″ (??).

    I agree that ALL ‘externalities’ should be charged back to their root cause – whether it is CO2, sulphur, radiation or whatever. That would include crappy abandoned wind towers.

  59. Megan
    January 30th, 2014 at 00:44 | #59

    That was the earlier link.

    The later link is from a website run by a company called “evolve”:

    Evolve Media is a vertical content publishing company that leverages proprietary advertising and publishing technologies to build publishing brands under its CraveOnline Media (men) and TotallyHer Media (women) business units. Evolve offer marketers superior custom, integrated and engaging solutions that allow them to reach and impact its audience of more than 95 million people globally each month (comScore).

    They may well be the nicest people in the world, but I wouldn’t be getting my “facts” from any website they run.

  60. Collin Street
    January 30th, 2014 at 06:48 | #60

    They may well be the nicest people in the world, but I wouldn’t be getting my “facts” from any website they run.

    Most valuable demographic of all, to an advertiser, is “easily-manipulated rich people”.

  61. Alan
    January 30th, 2014 at 08:47 | #61

    With apologies to the DLP and Evolve Media, I have discovered a much more urgent problem. These photos of decommissioned Jumbo jets prove beyond any question we must shut down the global aviation industry immediately.

    I believe there are car junkyards as well, but I’m not going to look at those because the implications are just too frightening.

  62. alfred venison
    January 30th, 2014 at 08:52 | #62

    oh Alan – i’m from alberta and i know hawaii is not in ontario: hawaii is where pineapples come from, ontario is where, i dunno, banks come from.

    and hi Megan – yes i agree, i wouldn’t go to them for who won the war of 1812, they appear to be an aggregator for real estate agents among other things. but i will say about them that their story appears to be not sourced from the heritage foundation & is not exclusively about wind farms. that is they appear to have no specific anti-wind farm agenda. i wouldn’t take it further than that.

    it stands to reason that if you use terminology employed by the heritage foundation like “dead wind farms” then you will likely get secondary sources derived from the heritage foundation. i used “decommissioned wind turbines”. but still, the well is dry.

    and hello again Allan – i agree the conservatives are running a scare campaign and that rational argument and reference to facts and authorities does not dint what appeal their message has.

    this is a consequence, imo, of the leveling effect of speed of light communications which are having the effect in our time of undermining the traditional sources of authority and hierarchies of knowledge. authorities and hierarchies hitherto grounded on the 2,500 years of phonetic literacy and the characteristic social institutions & practices evolved to support & perpetuate the ideals & productions of rationality.

    i said this before in other places but in the internet mediated world of speed of light communication & instantaneous transfers of information everyone’s an expert and no one’s an authority – a new environment with, in contradistinction to the one we grew up in, acoustic characteristics, where, as mcluhan put it, “the centre is everywhere and the periphery is nowhere”.

    i alluded to this in my first comment on this thread. for more about the effects of communication media on the mentality of masses and their societies try harold innis “empire and communication”. -a.v.

  63. Val
    January 30th, 2014 at 09:54 | #63

    @alfred venison
    Not sure where you are heading with this Alfred but there are other aspects to consider – eg IT technology has enabled us to both recognise and deal with complexity (eg complex computer modelling and prediction for climate science), but in acknowledging complexity we also have to acknowledge the possibility of being wrong, so the (always misguided but nevertheless common) positivist view of science as something that gave us the “facts” (aka truth) no longer holds.

    In the public health area, there is still some belief in the primacy of ‘correct’ scientific methods such as random controlled trials where you isolate one thing (eg new drug) that you are testing and control to test for that alone. However there is also increasing recognition that life doesn’t actually work that way – there is never just one thing happening. Same with windfarms – maybe ‘objectively’ they don’t do any harm, but if people don’t like them (for whatever reason and no matter what we may think of their reasons) then they may genuinely make them “feel sick”.

    Rather than dismissing this as unscientific or anti-science, I think we need to accept that there is no perfect dichotomy of genuine ethical honest “scientists” vs false unethical dishonest “anti-scientists”, and focus on the political, ethical and interest factors that are affecting people’s actions and policy choices.

    In some ways this whole discussion about the right being anti-science is possibly a diversion, because it distracts from the main point (the most economical explanation in both senses of the word) – the right are doing this not because they are for or against “science”, but because they represent the interests of Big Coal.

    On the issue of ‘post-modern science’ and climate change debates, Ravetz and Jacques are worth reading.

  64. Val
    January 30th, 2014 at 10:09 | #64

    Just to follow up on this briefly, from my reading at the moment the best way to deal with ACC denial is probably not to put “science” on a pedestal, but to be a bit humble and say, we recognise that climate scientists can’t always get it right, but this is their honest and best prediction of what is likely to happen.

    Similarly I guess with wind-farms – we can recognise that some people may not like them, and that this may cause them genuine distress, but still say that as far as we can assess windfarms in themselves do not pose any threat to public health. That is, recognise that emotions and feelings are real things that matter, but also that they don’t have to dominate debates – rather than treating people who feel them as fools or knaves.

  65. Alan
    January 30th, 2014 at 12:47 | #65

    Granting equality between empirical fact and stuff made up by the right gains nothing.

    It gains nothing electorally as the record of the Gillard government shows. It gains nothing for rational debate because the modern right treats any concession as a prelude to surrender. They never concede ground themselves so the movement is always in one direction only.

    There is a direct line from let’s all give the deniers a hug to electing prime ministers who believe that the science of climate change is absolute crap.

    At the end of Gladiator, there is a famous scene where the senate is about to restore the republic after the death of Commodus. The screenplay’s been heavily criticised by historians because the republic had been dead for generations and there was no movement to restore it at any stage after the death of Augustus centuries before Commodus was heard of.

    Ridley Scott’s famous answer was ‘How do you know? Were you there?’

    We have a deeply serious problem with an elite that not only does not know but does not care about not knowing. Let’s not leap into bed with them and started deciding empirical questions by feelings.

    There was a minor intellectual fashion a while ago known as the Enlightenment which found things work a whole lot better if empirical questions are decided empirically.

  66. alfred venison
    January 30th, 2014 at 12:56 | #66

    hi Val, we meet again. let me be clear i’m not a luddite. for one, the internet has allowed me to quickly build up full access, for the first time in thirty-five years, to music previously locked away on vinyl, which had been crucial during my youth in shaping my personality and intellect. getting in touch with this music again after so long has seriously changed my life for the better. certainly the most important thing that has happened to me since i met ms kiewa 25 years ago.

    the speed of light im-mediate communications of our time, mean that people don’t so much look up for information anymore – they increasingly just look around. when the lawn mower is broken they are less likely to read the manual and more likely to watch a video on you-tube. they want it told to them – they want the immediacy of oral interaction – or its electronic analogue.

    this is a consequence of changes in the technology through which we mediate our experiences, through which we know the world, ourselves & one another. radically new conditions pertain today, with the new electronic media of communication putting strains on our institutions & practices of knowledge, economics, politics, &c.

    the last time something like this happened to our civilization was when we changed from a culture that copied manuscripts in latin, laboriously by hand, for a few, to a culture that printed books, in the vernacular, easily by mechanical reproduction, for everyone.

    it is your & my & others habits, and stressed institutions, that sustain rationality in our time, not our primary media of communication.

    as to where i’m coming from – there in an old interview with marshall mcluhan & eric norden in which mcluhan elucidates all this better than i can; i am still dazzled and “in media res”. it appeared originally in playboy magazine in 1969 but don’t let that dissuade you if you’re intersted – it is today extracted from that source, and included in media studies course materials. it is often for that purpose abridged (redacted) to leave out the sections (included in the version I link to) on civil rights, drugs and the vietnam war (which norden was an outspoken opponent of). it is the best most succint & clearest introduction to mcluhan’s thinking re. the effect of communication technology on society and consequently where i’m coming from.

    http://www.nextnature.net/2009/12/the-playboy-interview-marshall-mcluhan/

    (if you want to read this, you may wish to copy & paste it to your word processor for ease of reading. i did. and you may want to do a search, and replace “playboy” with “eric norden”. i did. apart from the dated use of “man” & “mankind” it reads fresh as a daisy.)
    a.v.

  67. Val
    January 30th, 2014 at 13:14 | #67

    @Alan
    Straw woman argument, Alan, I am not suggesting any of the things you accuse me of suggesting. Here are the details of the articles I referred to and a summary of some key points

    Ravetz, J. R. ‘Climategate’ and the maturing of post-normal science
    Futures 43(2): 149-157
    - this might sound at first as if Ravetz is saying the same thing you are talking about – ie all claims are equal – but in fact he isn’t and if you persist with it, the article explains why

    Jacques, P. J. A General Theory of Climate Denial
    Global Environmental Politics 12(2): 9-+

    I’ve put part of my summary including key quotes below. I hope Prof Q doesn’t object to such long posts but in my opinion this is a really good article

    ACC is an ontological and ideological threat. “Climate skepticism comes as an anti-reflexive counter-movement to beat back the ontological threats to Western modernity, organized through conservative think tanks, mostly in the US, with some in the UK”. “I submit that climate change science provides an imminent critique of industrial power, Western modernity, and the ideals of Western progress, just as the study of ecology was at first seen as a “subversive” force because, if it were taken seriously, it would challenge the central workings of “modern” society”

    Discusses Gramsci and risk of implying privileged group of scientists who are right – cannot create strict alternatives of denial vs scientist – acceptance/acknowledgement. It is a matter of competing knowledge and all are affected by class position and ideology (gives example, some climate scientists argue for geo-engineering) “But, even if all science must deal with ideology, not all subjectivities are equally defensible. The subjectivity and choices made within mainstream climate science have intersubjective agreement, where judgments must be accountable to scrutiny, witness, and vetting, not to mention corroboration and revision. Climate denial is mostly expressed in forums where the scrutiny is internal and guided by ideology”.

    Problem with scientists trying to present “united front” is that any mistake or disagreement then can be seen as undermining. “When the mainstream reinforces a binary field, it also defends some of the core Enlightenment politics of science-as-authority and antidote-to-ideology, which may add legitimacy to projects like geoengineering or nuclear energy. When the public is presented with false dichotomies like “acknowledgment” or “denial,” policy choices may become Hobson’s choices”. Also cf Norgaard – people using denial as psychological protection. Conclusion: “Acknowledgment” and “denial” are not the only choices, but this diversity does not make organized and willful denial more ethically or epistemologically defensible. The climate denial counter-movement comes from, I posit, the defensive fear that the possessive individualistic ontology of the West lies uncomfortably in the guillotine”

  68. Val
    January 30th, 2014 at 13:16 | #68

    Sorry my quotes went a bit skew whiff there. Jacques’ conclusion is
    “’Acknowledgment’ and ‘denial’ are not the only choices, but this diversity does not make organized and willful denial more ethically or epistemologically defensible. The climate denial counter-movement comes from, I posit, the defensive fear that the possessive individualistic ontology of the West lies uncomfortably in the guillotine”

  69. alfred venison
    January 30th, 2014 at 13:33 | #69

    hi Alan – the obvious retort to ridley scot is “no, i wasn’t there, but i read a book by someone who was there”. when the obvious reference to a book to settle a dispute is not a viable option we clearly have crossed a threshold.

    no one gave anyone anything, and no one received anything. the ground has shifted under everyone. i do not endorse or approve of what is happening but its happening. the conservatives choose to play to irrationality to win votes. progressives will be hard pressed to counter that with facts & figures when the core communication technology of the world makes chit chat easy.

    wasn’t there a rhyme once about cecil b de mille and moses and the war of the roses. i’ll see your “gladiator” and raise you an “argo” for directorial hubris and lying about the past. -a.v.

  70. Tim Macknay
    January 30th, 2014 at 13:57 | #70

    On Ridley Scott: Alien and Blade Runner were excellent. Prometheus, not so much. I’m getting old…

  71. alfred venison
    January 30th, 2014 at 13:59 | #71

    all the organisation and planning and work and co-operation, that would go into a responsible global response to climate change, could not but validate to millions the basic tenets of socialism: planned economies and mutual co-operation between & amongst people around the world in the interests of achieving a goal shared by all.

    a realistic and credible response to climate change means at least co-ordinated international co-operation & national plans.

    i believe that a realistic & viable response to climate change would be a prelude to socialism around the world.

    i believe they know this.

    p.s. – notwithstanding, i accept the science because i am persuaded by the evidence as i understand it.

  72. Ernestine Gross
    January 30th, 2014 at 14:04 | #72

    @Val

    I thoroughly disagree with your approach as expressed in your post @12, p.2. Rightly or wrongly I call it the weasel word approach of public relations, which has never solved any problems but created a lot. [1]

    To the extent that your reading of my post on p 1 might have contributed to your perception of what the problem is, I’d like to refer you to one empirical study on how acoustics scientists go about examining reported complaints about wind turbines. This study was carried out in the USA in the mid-1980s; a time, a.v. and others might agree, when trust in public policy was linked to scientific authority more so than today.

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/old/1166.pdf

    Scientific studies, like this one, do not lend themselves to generate pro- or anti- wind farm arguments. They do not lend themselves to pre-judging the emotional state of people (ie their ‘attitudes’). They start off with the assumption that unless proven otherwise, it cannot be ruled out that the complaints have a basis in physical reality.

    It is from detailed studies, like this one, that technical improvements (wind turbines in this case) and improved planning and environmental guidelines result.

    I should hope, this study is sufficient to clarify what I mean when I say there is no simple Yes or No answer to the question: Do wind farms present health risks?

    [1] My opinion is based on my direct experience (observations) of going through environmental impact statements regarding noise impacts, edited by weasel word merchants.

  73. BilB
    January 30th, 2014 at 14:05 | #73

    That is an important point AV, a point not said often enough. The empirical evidence warns of rapid environmental change. The science validates and quantifies what is blatantly obvious.

  74. Luke Elford
    January 30th, 2014 at 14:17 | #74

    @Val

    Actually, researchers studying the health (non-)effects of wind farms are perfectly aware of how expectations of health effects can result in symptoms (or heightened awareness of them) and cause genuine distress–knowledge that they have of course gained through use of the scientific method. Why you criticise those who point out the baselessness of people’s fears, rather than the anti-wind farm groups which peddle the lies and cause the unnecessary pain, is beyond me.

  75. Val
    January 30th, 2014 at 14:31 | #75

    @Luke Elford

    Why you criticise those who point out the baselessness of people’s fears, rather than the anti-wind farm groups which peddle the lies and cause the unnecessary pain, is beyond me.

    possibly because it’s not what I’m doing?

    I’ve suggested before that this blog is sexist – well I have today made several lengthy and quite complex points, only to have three examples of male-name commenters accusing me of saying something very simple and pretty stupid, and then telling me off about the thing that they’re saying I said. So I get the impression that for at least some of the men on this blog, it’s not important to read the things that women actually say, but it is important to tell them off?

  76. Val
    January 30th, 2014 at 15:17 | #76

    @Luke Elford
    the three commenters I refer to were yourself and Alan on this thread, and Hermit on the nuclear thread (just wanted to make it quite clear that it didn’t include AV, with whom I have interesting conversations even when we strongly disagree)

    and in all fairness, Alan and Hermit didn’t tell me off – just misrepresented what I was saying (Alan), and subjected me to some rather patronising sarcasm, as if I was a bit stupid (both).

  77. Ikonoclast
    January 30th, 2014 at 15:24 | #77

    @Val

    This quote resonates with me.

    “I submit that climate change science provides an imminent critique of industrial power, Western modernity, and the ideals of Western progress, just as the study of ecology was at first seen as a “subversive” force because, if it were taken seriously, it would challenge the central workings of “modern” society”

    For some time I have felt that the imminent collapse of global civilization (as I believe will happen) actually annuls the human civilization project in its entirety. I mean this not only materially and objectively but also from a moral philosophy perspective. It leads to me conclude that civilization is to be rendered, in retrospect, meaningless. I make no claims about pre-civilisation human life one way or another. I am too far removed from it to be able to know or claim anything about it.

    It is not just Western Modernity taken together or separately that are called into question. It is the civilisation project itself in all of its guises including the ancient, arisrocratic, theocratic and modern technocratic. Of course, hindsight is 20-20 vision but it is clear now civilisation was always doomed precisely because it is inherently and unavoidably environmentally destructive.

    Why this is so is an interesting question. More than anything civilization seeks to release humans from the natural ills and the natural limits. Proximally it can achieve this by creating greater order and complexity in our civilised spaces, in town or field. But it always does this at the expense of greater disorder (destruction, degneration) elsewhere in the biosphere away from our civilised spaces.

    The Holocene biosphere was a relatively well-ordered and complex place. Its benignity of climate and level of useful order (meaning useable resources) for humans suited the development of civilisation. This is a one-off endowment which is now nearly destroyed. Not only will advanced modern human civilisation collapse but no other such civilisation can possibly arise again as the necessary endowment has been spent.

  78. Ikonoclast
    January 30th, 2014 at 15:43 | #78

    And if anyone wonders further why I don’t think some form of sustainable civilisation is possible, I would answer that the doctrines of defensive realism and offensive realism are both valid (in my view as part of a continuum) and explain why we cannot live in complete cooperative global harmony. The resulting intra-species conflicts preclude the comprehensive global cooperation which would provide our only hope. The continued focus on militarism, alliances, containment, conflict and attempted global or regional hegemony results in too large a diversion of resources from our real existential problems. Any existing nation that diverted all resources to the real existential environmental and social problems (as would be needed) would be conquered, pillaged and dismembered in short order. The conquerors of course being blind to the fact that they will soon follow the conquered into oblivion.

  79. paul walter
    January 30th, 2014 at 17:01 | #79

    Yes, Ikonoclast.. your comment resonates very deeply.

  80. Megan
    January 30th, 2014 at 18:35 | #80

    @Ikonoclast

    Have you read: ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia’ by Bill Gammage?

    I’ve read some of it and intend to read the whole thing. Also heard a great interview with him on 98.9fm.

    I suspect the long-term future (if there is one involving humans) will resemble the long-term past.

    Whether that agrees or disagrees with your comments depends a bit on what definition of “civilisation” is used.

    IIRC, Peter Costello or someone made a comment about Aborigines not being civilised because they didn’t invent ‘the wheel’ (??) – which immediately made me think: “What use would it be?”

  81. January 30th, 2014 at 18:43 | #81

    @Ikonoclast
    I think your comments are really interesting, but I don’t agree that the problems are due to civilization as such – I think they are related to the particular kinds of patriarchal societies that have dominated our planet in the last few thousand years. By patriarchal I mean societies that are competitive, hierarchical and ruled by men.

    I am not suggesting that this is due to the “essentially” bad nature of men, or good nature of women. Rather that in the rise of patriarchy, a lot of important human qualities, like cooperation, care and nurture, got relegated to second order status along with women.

    If we can create societies where women and men are genuinely equal, I believe we will also see these qualities restored to their real place as being of primary importance. Then we could see again societies where care for each other and care for the earth are seen as the most important tasks of humanity, as they were for thousands upon thousands if years in gatherer hunter societies.

  82. January 30th, 2014 at 18:45 | #82

    Snap Megan. I was precisely thinking of the biggest estate on earth, which I love.

  83. alfred venison
    January 30th, 2014 at 19:41 | #83

    the wheel!? the romans for all their chariots couldn’t get it together to invent the stirrup and that was the end of them. -a.v.

  84. Ernestine Gross
    January 30th, 2014 at 19:44 | #84

    Regarding Val’s post @ 23, where Val suggests that this blog is “sexist”, (blokes have the say) I’d like to add to my post, which is in modertion (possibly because I’ve linked to a scientific study) that I am female.

  85. Ikonoclast
    January 30th, 2014 at 19:55 | #85

    I haven’t read “The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia” but perhaps I should. I have some general awareness from other sources of the issues Gammage is writing about. BTW, I am thankful for not being flamed as a nihilist for questioning the civilisation project. At the same time, I am a “child” of this civilisation and clearly could not survive without it. Civilisation spoils us in the sense that we no longer have the knowledge, resources or hardiness to survive without the aids of civilisation. We also outlive the span of survival common to hunter-gatherer societies.

    My definition of civilisation is the orthodox one. It refers to polities which combine the basic institutions of formal central governance, ceremonial centre(s), a system of writing and a city or (cities). This is not to say that aborigines were uncivilized in the imprecisely pejorative sense which means savage or uncouth. In fact, one can argue that savage and uncouth behaviour at least sometimes increases with civilization.

    The point in favour of the Aborigines is that they managed Australia sustainably for some 40,000 years (probably a conservative estimate) and there is every likelihood they could have continued for another 40,000 years. Civilisation on the very longest view has developed and lasted about 10,000 years and is due to collapse imminently having wrecked the biosphere in the process. More than anything civilization has been about extending the power of some over others and widening inequities.

    An interesting idea to speculate about too is what prevents civilisation arising not just what facilitates it. Is the prevention merely the lack of a benign climate or the lack of seasons or the lack of progressive inventions for example? Or is the prevention a strong, positive attachment to land, roaming and dreaming that precludes permanent settling and indeed makes it palpably obvious and present what will be lost by settling? Drawing a long bow perhaps… but sometimes I wonder.

  86. Ikonoclast
    January 30th, 2014 at 20:30 | #86

    Gammage writes;

    “In northern Australia, Aborigines knew about farming. For centuries Arnhem Land people watched Macassans (trepang fishers from Indonesia) plant and harvest rice and other crops;
    while Cape York people traded regularly with gardeners on nearby islands. In both areas Aborigines may have tried gardening at one time, but in 1788 none showed any inclination for it. Instead they maintained the sorts of associations typifying the rest of Australia—notably plains beside swamps, ringed by scrub or forest. If anything, hunter-gathering was moving north into the Cape York islands, rather than farming moving south. Clearly people thought their management superior to farming.” – “…far more happier than we Europeans”: Aborigines and
    farmers – Bill Gammage.

    This all in the context of aboriginals managing the landscape with fire-stick methods. It supports the idea that they consciously stuck to their ways of life with a clear assessment it was better for them and the land and all its denizens.

    The title quote comes from James Cook. “In reality they are far more happier than we Europeans…They live in a Tranquillity which is not disturbed by the Inequality of Condition: The Earth and sea of their own accord furnishes them with all things necessary for life… they seem’d
    to set no value upon anything we gave them nor would they ever part with any thing of their own for any one article we could offer them this in my opinion argues that they think themselves provided with all the necessarys of Life and that they have no superfluities… ”

    Of course, Cook had no idea they were managing the land. And no doubt when you see a people on a good day or in a good season things always look easier for them than in reality they are.

  87. Megan
    January 30th, 2014 at 20:38 | #87

    @Ikonoclast

    That’s where it gets interesting on a philosophical level. For example – “writing”. Having a tradition of spoken knowledge could fulfil the purpose, perhaps? And “cities” – what better than travelling light wherever you need to go, doing it on foot or by canoe for ‘free’?

    There were apparently seasonal, cultural and (in our sense) ‘commercial’ purposes for moving around rather than staying in one place until it was ruined and even then refusing to move. The fish traps of Brewarina or the Bunya festival are good examples.

    Disposable and renewable houses, tools, transport… An entirely renewable system in the purest sense.

  88. January 30th, 2014 at 21:13 | #88

    @Ikonoclast
    I think there are questions about the distinctions you draw between “civilization” and Aboriginal society. For example there was a system of law and ethics and local responsibilities in what we call the dreaming (there are some good articles about this on The Conversation https://theconversation.com/dreamtime-and-the-dreaming-an-introduction-20833) – Gammadge says this also functioned as a kind of system of governance and land management for the whole country (that’s why he writes about it as one estate). Moreover there wasn’t written language but art conveyed a whole lot more than just aesthetics – I think it functioned like a kind of higher level written language in a sense.

    Also there may not have been cities but there were villages and also meeting places, and people used to come from long distances for meetings which included trade and ceremony.

    I’m not sure that these distinctions between civilization and non-civilization hold up all that well really.

    Also apparently Diane Bell has written about how there much more equality between men and women in Aboriginal society than our white ancestors realised, because they (white invaders) super- imposed their ideas about male leadership on what was actually happening – but I haven’t had time to read that yet.

  89. Tim Macknay
    January 30th, 2014 at 22:34 | #89

    Got the Gammage book for Christmas. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  90. Ikonoclast
    January 31st, 2014 at 07:54 | #90

    @Ernestine Gross

    In the early days of his activist development, Noel Pearson travelled around with a mentor with whom he had long discussions (according to Pearson). I don’t recall the name of this mentor. Pearson related a discussion where they agreed we all are racists to some degree and it was a matter of fighting this racism internally and externally. This is IIRC.

    By the same rigorous measure, we all are sexists to some degree. The issue is to delineate degrees and fight against sexism in our selves and in our culture. IIRC, Val was telling us we were sexists if we did not support Julia Gillard. Julia Gillard was attacked with vicious, unwarranted sexist campaign from the right wing in this country.

    This did not mean that on balance I could support her when she sided with a few capitalist mining bosses and reactionary elements in the Labor Party and Unions, to remove a PM prepared to tax mining super-profits more adequately. That was the greater principle. The material ability of reactionary males to exert undue controlling power over women in our current stems very considerably from the unequal distribution of ownership of the means of production. Any step which enables, enhances and consolidates that power (Julia Gillard’s policy in this regard) is a step in the wrong direction.

  91. may
    January 31st, 2014 at 12:20 | #91

    this subject has a lot of polyps attached.

    things like abbots unpatriotic/unaustralian trial balloon.

    (what next,tones? unchristian? uncatholic?)

    something like 89 or is it 85 individuals controlling assets equivalent to the assets of half the worlds population.

    paying for scripted media mouths is a doddle.
    so railing against them is a heads i lose,tails i don’t win situation as long as the script is given the benefit of the doubt.
    (driving down the value of alternative energy sources makes them easier to snap up.
    after all it’s not the energy source that is important,it is the control of the energy source)

    the ability to gretch an institution,again not a problem.
    nasty suspicious mind is looking at the current situation re missing votes before the court here in the west.
    1300 rather large pieces of paper don’t just disappear into thin air.
    our electoral system specialises in making sure they don’t just disappear into thin air.

    but.

    nsm thinks how easy it would be for one or two not-so-ethical,for maybe a couple or hundred mill into a nicely tucked away account,to betray the electoral system and every honourable person in it.( who would know).
    the damage done ? shit happens?

    bleh.

  92. may
    January 31st, 2014 at 12:24 | #92

    ohr yeh and on the ABC at the mo.

    we are given “teach-the-controversy” “the-public-can-make-up-their-own-minds re the latest refugee fiasco.

  93. Ken Fabian
    January 31st, 2014 at 12:57 | #93

    I haven’t read Gammage’s book either. could be worth a look.

    I’ve heard of Polynesians classed as primitive by early anthropologists (?) because they failed to develop pottery; apparently living on coral atolls without clay didn’t figure into that assessment. On agriculture in pre-european Australia, I’ve read that the unreliability of rainfall was critical. The droughts were too long and the years of reliable rain for crops too far between, especially in the southern regions that had the better soils. Without either exceptionally large granaries in reserve or trade and transport between areas with excess and those in need it was doomed to failure. It seems a reasonable supposition.

  94. Ernestine Gross
    January 31st, 2014 at 13:02 | #94

    @Ikonoclast

    I noticed my previously in moderation post is now on-line. As you can see, the gender of commenters is not a good predictor of agreement on methodologies and methods.

  95. kevin1
    January 31st, 2014 at 18:57 | #95

    @Tim Macknay

    Bill Gammage, whose life has been about investigating Australian indigenous and settler history, is a great guy to yarn with. Can be found at Canb Folk Fest at Easter.

  96. January 31st, 2014 at 19:00 | #96

    @Ernestine Gross
    Hi Ernestine I’ve been trying to reply to your earlier post but for some reason I keep getting security issues. Anyway maybe later.

  97. January 31st, 2014 at 19:10 | #97

    @Ikonoclast

    IIRC, Val was telling us we were sexists if we did not support Julia Gillard.

    Sadly I have to admit my ignorance here – what does IIRC stand for? I can’t work it out.

    This sounds to me as if you are talking the same garbage as John Quiggin previously did ie that I’m just some idiotic emotional female who can’t bear any criticism of her heroine. If not, could you please clarify?

  98. January 31st, 2014 at 19:30 | #98

    @Ikonoclast
    And I’ve been accused of being some sort of totally unethical pragmatist for talking about the lesser of two evils here before, but can I point out to you that Tony Abbott is busy allowing dumping on the reef, delisting Tasmanian forests and allowing open slather for mining companies and Big Coal.

    One of my key points here was that you guys were so busy dumping sh-t on Gillard that you missed the real enemy. And from my experience in politics (not huge but real) a lot of people here have no idea how politics actually works.

    You think you’re making all these important points about “I don’t hate Julia Gillard because she’s a woman, I just hate her and have to say really nasty things about her at every opportunity because she failed to get a mining tax that I approve of” but what most of the public hears is “even her own side hates her and thinks she’s an incompetent fool/bitch”.

    As my experience suggests, for a lot of men ( and some women) it’s really important to point out to feminists how wrong and stupid we are. But you know, a) we’re not b) there are much more important tasks than telling feminists off (like ensuring the planet doesn’t become uninhabitable for all of us, for example).

  99. kevin1
    January 31st, 2014 at 19:52 | #99

    @Val

    Val, what I and others find irritating is not that you argue “like a woman” but you argue like a petulant child. Sorry to be so blunt but you don’t see that your style is disruptive to rational argument.

  100. alfred venison
    January 31st, 2014 at 20:16 | #100

    speaking for myself, i did not miss the real enemy, i never took my eyes off the real enemy. -a.v.

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