152 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. TC has an excellent article on, science and research based, on Aboriginal occupation of Australia googleable as ‘ Who we should recognise as First Australians in the constitution which traces the genealogy of right wing attempts to undermine Aboriginal culture by suggesting that others were here first, etc and so on, back to the 1930’s and thence to Quadrant and sundry other sources of darkness (Windschuttle). It provides evidence:

    The first Aboriginal full-genome study in 2011 showed an unbroken Aboriginal lineage over 2500 generations, or about 60-75,000 years, the longest continuous lineage outside Africa. It identified a number of genetic signatures that were unique to Australia.

    Which sure is some claim to authenticity.

    The article offers that:

    Stories of European exploration, settlement and the ANZAC spirit are important, but spanning only half of one per cent of human history on this continent, they are the tip of the iceberg.

    That’s good data: ‘half of one per cent of human history on this continent’.

    Simultaneous to this we see that Abbott has done a deal with Barnett to slide Federal responsibility for Aboriginal welfare across to the state with the most interest in ethnically cleansing Aboriginal people from potential mine sites. Of course, all in there best interests.

    The right wing commentariat is trying to frame this as a necessary discussion to be held in a sober and restrained atmosphere which ignores the atmosphere created by Toxic Tony in his utterances. I don’t buy the line that he is clubfooted and hamfisted; it was a rehearsed declaration to his handlers and owners, the mining industry, that his word is good.

    JQ: I hope you don’t see this as a contentious subject to mention. Aboriginal history has a significant economic component mostly to do with their exclusion from the labor market. I’m guessing that you know:

    In1968 the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ruling on equal wages in the cattle industry came into force. And that when the case was being heard in 1966 the Commission accepted the employers’ evidence that ‘many of them expect[ed] to change over to white labour if Aborigines are to be paid at award rates’. This did happen and many Aboriginal stockmen faced unemployment for the first time.

    Just sayin’ that political economy needs to be inclusive.

  2. Just listening to Dr Karl on the telly urging us to think about how to continue economic growth. I’ll leave that to others instead I’ll think about living with no economic growth.

  3. A good article by Mark Lynas about how greenslime have only adopted (then misused) climate change as an issue because it fits in to their anti-capitalist agenda. On other science issues, like nuclear and gm, the greenslime use the exact same tactics as the chemtrails/anti-vax/organixc food crowd.

  4. @Hermit

    Dr. Karl accepts all the flawed premises of the IGR and all the flawed premises of neocon economics. This demonstrates that he is neither a demographer nor an economist. In addition, he apparently accepts the flawed premise of endless growth which means he is not a real scientist either. So what is he? I am not sure. Perhaps the kindest thing one can say he is a well-meaning fellow who popularises demographics, economics and science and gets it all entirely wrong.

    Sadly, Dr. Karl’s kind of egregious disinformation is unrealistic and leads us in a disastrous and unsustainable direction.

  5. I don’t buy the line that he is clubfooted and hamfisted; it was a rehearsed declaration to his handlers and owners, the mining industry, that his word is good.

    Like I keep on saying: we see the way they carry on their internal disputes, when presumably they’re on their best — most objective fact-centred — behaviour.

    I can’t for the life of me see that they act any different in private than in public. Their terrible rhetoric and ham-fisted posturing are not an affectation or an pretense: it’s how they genuinely think the game is played.

  6. Endless growth is not a problem as it can occur with less resource use. I’m surprised by how some come can’t grasp this obvious and readily observable fact.

  7. I said this last week but I suspect it went under the radar so I’ll try my luck repeating it.

    I think Australia should be open to almost unlimited immigration. The only restrictions that I would like to see Australia have on immigration are as follows:-

    1. We should not let individuals into the country if they are a clear threat. eg convicted violent criminals, suspected terrorists.

    2. We should not let individuals into the country if they present a serious health threat to the general community.

    3. Immigrants should make an upfront contribution towards public infrastructure. By my calculation the correct figure is about $25k. We should waiver the fee for a given number of humanitarian cases each year. And for nationals from selected countries (eg New Zealand) where bilateral immigration agreements dictate.

    4. Citizenship should not be granted easily to immigrants. Specifically the waiting period between becoming resident and becoming a citizen should be much longer. Ten years or more.

    5. Except for immigrants coming under humanitarian programs welfare payments (eg pensions, unemployment benefits) should not be available until they become citizens.

    Interested to know what restrictions, if any, other people here think that Australia should place on immigration numbers. Especially keen to hear from those that favour completely open immigration.

  8. I favour a balance for Australia. Immigrants plus genuine refugees & asylum seekers should approximately equal emigrants. In other words, our migration stance should be neutral. There is no need to rush to a large population. However, if our natural increase became negative I would increase immigration to prevent de-population and maintain stability.

    With limits to growth imminent and even Australia close to exceeding its sustainable ecological footprint, further rapid population growth will be counter-productive. The world is badly over-populated now (in overshoot) and the situation is ecologically unsustainable.

  9. @jungney
    That gells with a recent teev doco involving genetic markers, that places the move out of Africa of modern humans occuring after about 75,000 years ago, via the Ice age narrowed Red Sea.

    For me it will remain a question to be answered, as to whether the Lake Tobe mega volcano eruption about 75, 000 years ago created a nuclear winter that exacerbated the Ice Age to the extent that travel from Africa to the Arabian peninsular, then other parts of the world became possible.

    As for the rest, the focus on Abbott has shielded Barnett from the exposure he warrants. He is a true Tea Party Redstate gubernatorial type, imho.

  10. Why am I funding other people’s lifestyle choices to drive big diesel vehicles long distances in the country? Why blow public dough on roads they’re only going to tear up and down on, burning their subsidised diesel and polluting the public air. If they can’t afford the diesel out in the country, they can always move to the city. But, you say, how will they run farms in the country if they are living in the city? Not my problem, says the PM.

    Oh…sorry, mixed up the words Aboriginal and agriculturalist, then got a big confused…thought the PM was onto something for a minute there.

  11. I am intending to reflect on the attributes a Prime Minister and State Premiers should have. Opinion polls might be framed in terms of prospective national leaders according to a set of criteria to which respondents could evaluate on a scale of 1 to 5. An open question can added to effect: What other qualities does the office holder, or candidate, have that will allow add to their performance? It would be interesting to see how Albo, Bill Shorten, Julie Bishop and Malcolm would evaluated. (If opinion polls do this already, I am not aware of it.)

    What are the essential skills and knowledge a PM should have? What particular qualities does Tony bring to the job? I find his attack on the President of the HRC and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, not to mention Aboriginal people, as utterly unacceptable.

  12. Faust Notes was right to criticize my Maori statement, a few days ago, in that the term Maori was only used after European settlement of NZ ,and it was used to refer to the many different tribes as if they were one people. Also it is not certain what happened to the first to land there -Maori creation myths dont help with that.

    What is happening to Aborigines in general ,and in WA in particular ,is a big deal .After 200 years of dispossession the final drive to remove the last of them from their land of continuous occupation is being made .We are told that they are drunken pedophiles and to be saved, need more choice in their lives . The mining companies of the future will thank Abbott. Lang Hancock, who openly advocated Aboriginal extermination ,will be smiling down on us.

    @TerjeP
    Would Libertarian immigrants fall foul of your rule 1 and 2 ? But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ? With the current level of scientific development ,I dont like the idea of unlimited growth of economy or of world population ;- given that it is not clear if they are linked to human happiness levels much anyway. I do generally like the idea of immigration (and emigration) though. Mixing of different communities is good.

    @Apple
    Greens only ‘adopting’ a concern for the environment ? Do triangles only adopt 3 sidedness as a convenience ?

  13. @ Ikon in Tasmania they now have growth-by-fiat, even incorporating it into the name of their new super department
    http://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/
    In WW1 deserters and PTSD sufferers were shot for cowardice or lack of moral fibre. Perhaps in future non-growers will face the firing squad.

  14. @Ikonoclast
    Dr Karl’s response to criticism is to say “I am not a Liberal Party stooge” which is a tough gig when the prima facie evidence is to the opposite. Apparently he had to do it for the unique reason of the money. Well, I’ll be.

    When science is under such extraordinary attack from the Coalition it is hardly a show of solidarity to take on the highly political task of selling what all serious commentators have described as the highly political hogwash of the IGR. But a contract is a contract, it seems, and the show had to go on. His clownish clothes during the presentation let the cat out of the bag as to what he is.

  15. @Hermit

    Eventually, Tasmania could have more inter-state migrants than it wants as people flee the near-impossible climate of mainland Australia.

    “In Sydney and Brisbane, the apparent temperature has increased by 1C since the 1950s, but the actual temperature has only increased by 0.5C. This means that what felt like 29C in the 1950s now feels like over 30C, on average. This is because the humidity has increased and it is slightly less windy on average in both locations. These muggier conditions make the weather feel hotter, as the body is unable to shed excess heat as effectively.” – The Conversation.

    “The largest changes will be in Australia’s southeast, where climate models suggest that for the millions of people in Melbourne and Sydney, future summers will feel like they are warming even faster than the real temperature suggests, because of an increase in humid days. Residents in these cities will therefore be at a higher risk of heat stress when a heatwave strikes.

    Human-induced climate change is happening and we are already starting to feel the effects. Coping with the infamous Australian summer is already difficult, but in the future it might become even more stressful for some.” – lifehacker, Stephanie Jacobs and Ailie Gallant.

  16. @Ikonoclast
    I am being nice 🙂 but collaborating with the Coalition is too much.

    As to climate change and the heat – I live in a hot and humid valley area where three major rivers come off Barrington Tops. For me, outdoor activity in peak heat summer is no longer possible so the day starts with a predawn rise, a long indoors break with fans blasting and the house closed, and a little evening gardening when the heat is off. We managed summer better this year than last running the ac on seven days only. But it is tough and unpleasant. Summer is now a season to be managed and endured for me.

  17. dr karl has more science degrees than you guys. you guys should take your knuckles off the ground and put your hands in your pockets before you turn into liberal party idiots. -a.v.

  18. The International Energy Agency notes that

    economic growth and energy related CO2 emission growth decoupled in 2014

    , for the first time.

    The IEA says:

    The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.

    This appears to support Professor John Quiggin’s thesis that with some measured policy tweaks we can get on top of climate change and that the miserabilist fantasies of the hairshirt brigades is nothing more than a distraction.

    In fact I would go further and say that the miserabilists are unwittingly giving ammunition to the anti-science right and us moderates should pack them off to Coventry.

  19. @alfred venison

    I assume you are being ironic and just forgot your irony quotes. It is true that Dr. Karl has a “lot” or maybe “several” science degrees. “He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mathematics, a Master of Biomedical Engineering, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, he has studied Computer Science as well as reading for a Master of Science (Qualifying) degree in Astrophysics.” – Wikipedia.

    Nevertheless, both the orthodox and heterodox economists all pretty much agree that the IGR is falsely framed at a number of levels and tells us nothing useful about future challenges due to demographic changes (or anything else). Dr. Karl’s understanding of public debt is also clearly flawed or else he is peddling the standard neocon line on public debt knowing it to be false.

    False premises equal false conclusions even when a person has 5 science degrees.

    “Dr Kruszelnicki said: “I agreed to do the campaign before I read the report.”

    He agreed to do it to support long-term policy making and because he gets paid “bugger all” by his employers, the ABC and the University of Sydney, he said.” – SMH.

    A bloke with 5 degrees needs to make better decisions and/or offer better rationalisations than that if he wants to retain any credibility at all. His credibility (if he had any before) is clearly shot now.

  20. @Apple

    There are absolute denialists and relative denialists or lukewarmists. Lukewarmists are in fact the ones in effective collaboration with the denialists. Denialists are saying “It’s not happening.” Lukewarmists are saying “It’s happening a little bit but it doesn’t matter. A few tweaks will suffice.”

    “Annual carbon dioxide emissions showed a strong rise of 2.5% on 2013 levels, putting the total emitted this year on track for 40bn tonnes. That means the global ‘carbon budget’, calculated as the total governments can afford to emit without pushing temperatures higher than 2C above pre-industrial levels, is likely to be used up within just one generation, or in thirty years from now.” – Guardian (Data from the Global Carbon Project).

    “Emissions for 2014, according to the research, are set to rise to 40bn tonnes. That compares with emissions of 32bn tonnes in 2010, showing how fast the output is rising.” – Guardian (from the Global Carbon Project).

    The situation is clearly dire when measured and assessed scientifically. Lukewarmists deny this. Lukewarmists are denialists.

  21. @alfred venison
    Knuckle dragger? I’m going to sulk off to the backyard now to recite The Epic of Gilgamesh to Irwin’s cattle until I compose myself.

    In fact, against my will and through peculiar circumstances, many years ago I spent far too much time in the man’s company. It would be improper for me to recount my experiences. However, I can report with satisfaction that this episode confirms for me the truth of Sun Tzu’s comment that “if you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by”.

  22. I think Quiggin and I both agree that GHG emissions do matter a lot, but they can be dealt with through modest policy changes that won’t have much of an impact on global economic growth.

    The Global Carbon Project figure for 2014 is at this stage a projection, we’ll need to wait and see if their final figure contradicts the IEA figures for energy related emissions.

    Chris Mooney, a science literate moderate leftist nails it:

    For anybody who cares about the planet, that’s very good news. After all, the previously tight link between economic growth and the use of more energy — leading to more emissions — has seemed an almost invariant fact of the modern industrial world. Indeed, observations like these have driven some on the environmental left to posit that economic growth itself is incompatible with environmental protections.

    According to the IEA, in the last 40 years, “there have been only three times in which emissions have stood still or fallen compared to the previous year, and all were associated with global economic weakness.” But the global economy was in good shape last year — and grew 3 percent.

    This is how progress in saving our planet is measured — as two lines on a graph that no longer follow one another.

    But it is interesting to see that folk like Ikonoclast so willingly point an accusatory finger at folk like John Quiggin and shout “collaborator!” The far left have always used this tactic and the consequence has always been destructive.

  23. @Apple

    What is your evidence for anyone shouting “collaborator”?

    Are you some undergraduate kid hanging around some uni bar?

  24. @Ikonoclast

    In a sense there should be endless growth as civilisation improves it’s technology.

    Growth can occur in quality as well as quantity. The earth may not be able to cope with growth in quantity, but this does not mean growth can occur in quality.

    For example moving from huge mantel valve radios (pre war) to today’s integrated circuits may well represent a drop in resource use per radio, but yet a growth in utility. This is reflected in price.

    Shortly after the war, many people had to use hire-purchase to afford a radio. Now kids can buy then at Dick Smith with their pocket money. And you get a lot more out of today’s radios than you did 50 years ago.

  25. @Ivor

    Yes, I have long accepted and even made the argument that qualitiative growth can continue after quantitative growth ends. However, quantitative growth must end and that does imply a very different economy. The capitalist economy and its control systems are extremely poorly adapted to making the necessary changes to a non-quantitative growth economy just as they are extremely poorly adapted to making the changes necessary to permit or retain a healthy biosphere. If we don’t retain a healthy biospehre there will be no or few people and certainly no modern civilization or economy.

    The capitalist economy is comitted to endless physical growth and over-consumption whilst depleting the earth’s natural capital. This committment is not just ideological it is structural and systemic. It is embodies in the logic of the capitalist system itself. Capital must replicate itself and grow. That is its sole reason for existing and sole mode of operation. Any capitalist company which avoided the promotion of over-consumption and unsustainable production (while natural capital remained available to exploit) would be out-competed and would fail. The firms which obey the laws of over-consumption and unsustainable production succeed and flourish and will continue to do so until they generate a complete collapse of the biosphere and thus of the system (capitalism) dependent on the biosphere.

    It’s just my opinion of course, but I hold that the collapse will have to seriously and unambiguously manifest itself before any kind of revolution is possible. Greece is probably the canary in the coal mine right now.

  26. Faust Notes was right to criticize my Maori statement, a few days ago, in that the term Maori was only used after European settlement of NZ ,and it was used to refer to the many different tribes as if they were one people. Also it is not certain what happened to the first to land there -Maori creation myths dont help with that.

    What is happening to Aborigines in general ,and in WA in particular ,is a big deal .After 200 years of dispossession the final drive to remove the last of them from their land of continuous occupation is being made .We are told that they are drunken pedophiles, and to be saved, need more choice in their lives ;- which is handy because we should stop wasting taxpayers money on them too . The mining companies of the future will thank Abbott. Lang Hancock, who openly advocated Aboriginal extermination ,will be smiling down on us.

    @TerjeP
    Would Libertarian immigrants fall foul of your rule 1 and 2 ? But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ? With the current level of scientific development ,I dont like the idea of unlimited growth of economy or of world population ;- given that it is not clear if they are linked to human happiness levels much anyway. I do generally like the idea of immigration (and emigration) though. Mixing of different communities is good.

  27. @Ikonoclast
    The terminology used for “growth” could be the hidden point of contention in many discussions. For me, “economic growth” usually means GDP expansion, whereas “economic development” could be the alternative meaning that other people are referring to by the word “growth”?

    Your “qualitative growth” versus “quantitative growth” is also a reasonable differentiation 🙂

  28. Pyne’s clumsy blackmail attempt has hit a roadblock in the senate. While I have a lot of sympathy for the scientific and non-scientific staff who are directly affected by the refusal to release the 2015 block funding for major research facilities, I really hope the opposition senators do not buckle and cave in on this.

    Pyne should never have linked the bill and the research funding. He did, and the consequences are already being felt. He has simply followed the Morrison playbook, the research funding playing the role of the children in detention. Each time the LNP knuckleheads do these bizarre strategies, the collateral damage to real people, to real lives, is lost in the debate. When the LNP finally backflip, capitulate, or win their point, by that time a significant cost has been borne by people who have done nothing to deserve it. Pyne is simply doing the LNP way: scorged Earth wherever their foot falls next. Scientists and support staff have been sacked up and down the country already, thanks in large part to last year’s nasty budget; so, how will it play out with this year’s budget only a few weeks away?

  29. @Apple
    There are numerous trenchant and correct rebuttals of Mark Lyna’s conversion on the road to Damascus. What intrigues me is his trajectory from ‘Earth First!’ crop destroyer to cocktail waiter for corporations which suggests to me a serious lack of intellectual integrity. In his January 2013 l3cture to the Oxford Farming Conference he said:

    … in 2008 I was still penning screeds in the Guardian attacking the science of GM – even though I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding. I don’t think I’d ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science…

    So, from the horses mouth, he is a lifelong practitioner of the double standard.

    Two articles stand out: a rebuttal titled ‘The Lynas School of Pseudo-scientific Environmentalism – Twenty-two Pieces of Junk Science from the Lynas Manifesto’ (Permaculture Institute) and one titled ‘Of Myths and Men: Mark Lynas and the intoxicating Power of Technocracy’ (Huffpost).

    As to his claim that the left has snuck under the skirts of environmentalism in order to advance an anti-capitalist project: the left, in particular Barry Commoner and Murray Bookchin, but there are others, has been advancing an ecologically informed critique of capitalism for rather a long time and making no bones about it. There is no sneaking in of ideological agendas, it’s right up front. So, I won’t accepts Lynus’s demand that political elements should vacate the field in favour of technocrats. I know too much about the failures of the state to do that.

    Most abjectly, however, he fails to mention that the entrenched funders of climate denialism are exactly the agents of a particular form of oligarchic and authoritarian capitalism whose stranglehold on media outlets and parliaments around the world is precisely what prevents serious discussion about what to do.

    Climate change is crap, right? Remember that? That’s the voice of the fossil fuel industry right there.

  30. @Garry Claridge

    presumably GDP expansion is a market measure. So if a business invests a million dollars and employs 1,000 for a profit of 200,000 producing food, does this mean that your growth is positive if the million dollars is moved where it employs only 20,000 workers producing luxuries, but profit is double?

    Possibly a capitalist would say growth is positive.
    So, I guess a Marxist would say growth is negative.

    Which does society want?

  31. Lukewarmism vs fact checking. The BBC reckons world emissions were 32 gigatonnes in both 2013 and 2014
    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31872460
    a 0% increase but last year world GDP went up 3%. Not sure where the Guardian’s 40 Gt came from. A couple of observations
    1) IPCC emissions horror scenarios like RCP 8.5 may be fanciful
    2) it’s too early to say if energy and GDP are henceforth ‘decoupled’
    What we could be seeing is belt tightening or trimming the fat. Let’s see if GDP still grows with -5%, -10%, -20% changes in energy use.

  32. @Hermit

    It depends what is included in the measure. The most comprehensive estimated measure in CO2(e) or CO2 equivalents as per the IPCC is;

    (1) CO2 from fossil fuel use and other sources; plus
    (2) CO2 from deforestation, decay and peat; plus
    (3) CH4 from agriculture, waste and energy; plus
    (4) N2O from agriculture and other sources; plus
    (5) F-gases.

    In 2004, the total from all the sources was estimated at 49.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    Oftentimes, you will see estimates which only cover estimated CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. These estimates give figures for example of;

    2013 : 36.1 GtCO2-eq/year.
    2014 : 37.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    I can’t quickly find a 2013 or 2014 estimate for CO2 equivalent emissions from ALL sources but presumably it is well over 50.0 GtCO2-eq/year and maybe even up to 60.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    It seems to me that this number still might not even include increasing methane releases from the tundra and seabed methane clathrates.

  33. Postcript to above post:

    “Total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 with larger absolute increases between 2000 and 2010, despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 have reached 49 ± 4.5 GtCO2 eq/yr.” – IPCC Summary 2014.

  34. Ikon I’ll take your word for it at this point. Manmade emissions should exclude methane from tundra (a feedback process) but include fugitive release from coal or gas mining since humans were the direct cause, not the indirect cause. Now I call upon our federal environment dept to publish user friendly emissions series for Australia. Since 2000 is the agreed base year graphs should start there not 2004. For each series it should be clearly stated what is in and what is out.
    http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/ Confusing or what?

    Not that I’m saying Greg Hunt is a dissembler but I suspect he uses whatever series looks best for him. Since there are several to choose from the public is bamboozled. The greenhouse accounting people should have the cojones to tell politicians which is their preferred data set for trend purposes.

  35. @jungney
    Taking that quote on-board, he demonstrates several things: i) very sloppy to non-existent standards for fact checking and verification of his sources for his articles he published in The Guardian; ii) no intrinsic interest in the field he was working in at the time; iii) The Guardian should have been more active at the editor level, refusing to publish articles which weren’t properly cross-checked on their assumptions/facts, and at the least should require journalists to provide, with every article, a bibliography of source articles, especially scientific ones, cited in the article. They don’t have to publish it, but it gives the editor(s) ammo if a journalist is fudging their output.

    All in all, both the journalist, by his own admission, and the newspaper’s own processes, are at fault. I suspect this is far from isolated, and this is more likely the current standard operating procedure for online and traditional news media. Scientific basis for so-called facts used in a news article should be cross-checked as a matter of course; it isn’t really that onerous, just a matter of using some online science databases, and making sure the cited article says what is claimed. Blanket claims in a news article should automatically require several high profile legitimate scientific and/or academic references to back them up, whether the references are just filed away or a published along with the news article.

  36. @Hermit

    “Manmade emissions should exclude methane from tundra (a feedback process)…”

    That’s a moot point and one could look at it either way. If all the standard CO2 equivalent emissions, as taken into account by the IPCC, lead to feedback methane emissions from the tundra and seabed, then mankind is still responsible for them, at least secondarily. Whichever way you look at it, these feedback methane releases will add to the effects on our climate. The final sum effect will be what counts for physical, biological and economic impacts.

  37. While reading another blog this afternoon I came across this:

    Thomson suggests they do not understand the crippling effect of the infrastructure costs imposed by population growth. On this, he cites the work of US economist Lester Thurow and University of Queensland agricultural economist Jane N. O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan has argued that these costs, amounting to some A$200,000 of infrastructure per extra Australian, dwarf the supposed economic advantages.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_Thomson#Political_theorist
    That’s a bit more than $25k.

  38. @Ikonoclast
    He has certainly lost me. (Not that I am a good judge, only high school level education). But really, how scientific is it to support a ‘report’ before reading it. Not only do we have this government treating us like mushrooms, they even have a scientist doing it. i am struggling to think of how this would be acceptable in any field of science and deserves as much pushback as the IGR is getting, at the very least.

  39. > Absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters.

    Then you’re going to have to start banning people or you’re going to see the level of debate collapse. Your choice which, but “reasonable debate, forms of politeness, open to all comers” is very much a “pick any two” situation.

  40. @jungney
    When you say “the man’s company” do you mean Dr Karl himself? I also spent many years down the corridor from him and had a good relationship. However, I am really dissapointed by the IGR stuff. I cringed to see him in the clip. He has certainly lost credibility, and never really was big enought to fit into the shoes of Sumner-Miller. Dr Karl is more of a trivia wiz than a science wiz. It is a pity that popular science is represented by either the white lab-coat wearing dork, or the clown. Neither is cool. Neither inspires smart kids. Steve Jobs is more of my kind of science presenter. Young kids these days deserve better. And now that Karl has sold out for the money to the worst mob in the land, well, … I guess he had to fund his habit somehow.

  41. I see Turnbull wants to reduce, even further, media ownership diversity.

    Dorling has an “Exclusive” in The Age.

    The British Government has suppressed the release of secret documents relating to Rupert Murdoch’s dealings with a French-Australian conman and KGB operative four decades ago.

    Rupert Murdoch is a fascist. News Ltd is a fascist propaganda outfit.

  42. Dr Karl has every right to earn an income, and if he chooses to do so in a manner which (probably) dents his reputation as a scientific straight shooter, taking easy cash from the goon squad, well that’s his call. Let’s face it, having a scientific background is poison in the current environment, as is being an independent scientific voice. Under the current dictatorship, scientific reputation counts for nought—except as propaganda, it’s only value to the goon squad. As a scientist, the options are to espouse scientific outcomes popular among the goons, keep your head down and hope to survive until better days arrive, or change careers, either by choice or by being sacked in one of the great purges. Dr Karl has chosen the path which keeps him employed.

    Actually, I’m rather sad to have heard of this, especially the agreeing to it without knowing the content beforehand. The funny thing is that the use of Dr Karl is unlikely to sway LNP voters, for they already distrust scientists and are going to vote LNP anyway; Dr Karl is also unlikely to sway LNP opponents, especially because it looks like a propaganda stunt and not an independent assessment of the IGR. So all up, Dr Karl gets the gig and the cash, while the LNP achieve very little for it, beyond the value of tarnishing yet another scientific voice (and to the LNP mindset, there is value in that, definitely).

    We have been incrementally dismantling our best public science in the stupidly persistent belief that only economically exploitable things matter, as if people undertake intellectual pursuits simply because of money—ha! Anyway, with the big universities now stuck with a market for students, there is less and less use for widespread research across all faculties; I fully expect the big traditional universities to restrict research to economically valuable areas, jettisoning research of public value, of intellectual value, but of no obvious immediate economic value. This is the biggest change to sweep through Australian universities since their inception, as far as I can see. The ALP must share in the blame for this happening, as it was their HECS system which started us down this path, coupled with the absurd “promotion” of the old CAEs as part of the unification of the tertiary sector (CAE = College of Advanced Education). It made little sense at the time, and still doesn’t, quite frankly. Research absorbs money; requiring all these institutions to act as research organisations simply stole from their quite competent teaching facilities, and didn’t give back. The CAEs were absorbed by the newer universities, especially the Institutes of Technology, in their go for growth phase. The whole sector is a shambles now, helpfully made worse under the LNP.

    And PR offices for university research? Don’t get me started…

  43. Donald: it is an interesting juncture. There was a time when it was perfectly reasonable to be a scientist and vote for the Coalition. Not any more. How could any rationally trained person vote for a sitting government that is opposed to both rational thought and to furthering that ability among the population through, for example, science education. As you say, for this government the only purpose of science is to provide a gloss of legitimacy for propaganda.

    I haven’t yet seen an adequate account of from whence these dark forces, anti-Enlightenment forces, originate. Class analysis, sociology, political philosophy are inadequate to the task of accounting for their hatred of anything that contradicts their worldview, including facts. Moreover, they are ruthless in tearing up the rule book of convention. We’ll discover in time that they were far worse than we imagined.

  44. I did not mention focus groups, which are reactive after the fact. They do not promote good candidates for Prime Minister. However, swinging voters participating in these activities have strongly condemned Tony Abbott’s handling of the job.

    Similarly, there is implicit strong objections coming from the office of the Indonesian President with implications as to whether Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan will live or die.

    It seems to me that Tony Abbott is not learning from his mistakes to the point that seems clearer now that previously that is tenure in the position is just matter of time. (Monday Reflection)

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