Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

56 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Couldn’t resist. Truth stranger than fiction departmemt.

    Q: What marsupial has S.D. initials?

    “Marxist marsupial: Germany’s left draws hope from an unlikely hero

    “Radicals are enjoying a resurgence, but their most popular activist is a communist kangaroo

    “The Kangaroo Chronicles, a quartet of comic novels by slam poet Marc-Uwe Kling that has sold millions of copies in Germany over the last 10 years, is a classic man-meets-beast buddy story in the vein of Seth MacFarlane’s 2012 comedy Ted – only that its animal protagonist is mainly vulgar in the Marxist rather than the foul-mouthed sense.

    “The communist kangaroo lives in a flatshare in the heart of counter-cultural Berlin with Marc-Uwe, a bohemian slacker whose anarchist principles are “so mild, he might as well join the [centre-left] SPD”.

    “A big-budget film based on the cult books opened in German cinemas last week, 

    “Anyone who sees The Kangaroo Chronicles will know that a broad-church German left setting its eyes on government in 2021 will meet similar turbulence along the way. “We can be friends,” the movie’s marsupial hero says to his more moderate political ally, before whispering to himself: “Until after the revolution, anyway.”

  2. New estimates of coronavirus death rates from Swiss epidemiologists via Kevin Drum:
    Stereotypes aren’t always wrong: the Swiss really are more conscientious and nit-picky than most, so I reckon this is pretty credible.

    The overall death rate is 1.6%, one order of magnitude worse than regular flu. It rises to 10% for those in their 70s like me. For comparison, the battlefield casualties in Normandy in June/July 1944 on the Allied side were 9.2% (120,000 / 1.3m).

    The worst case scenario for the USA is 96m infections and 480,000 deaths (some guy at the American Hospitals Association). This seems to assume a comprehensive failure of public health action. Roughly correct for the federal government, but many states are much better. But it will I fear be worse overall than China of Europe, which have effective governments. However, there are structural weaknesses specific to the USA: lack of paid sick leave and comprehensive primary care make many Americans much more vulnerable. Trump voters trust Trump, which in the circs could be a fatal mistake.

    From a distance, Australia looks more like Europe than the USA, but it does have a similarly clueless federal government and much of the press. Reassure me.

  3. Some pretty numbers from Pollyanna!

    – EV car market shares for February in Europe: UK 5.7%, Germany 6.9%, France 7.95%. Sweden 24.3%, Norway 68.1%.
    ( and earlier posts by the same author)
    These are for BEVs plus PHEVs, ignoring plugless hybrids,a cop-out with some air pollution benefits. Purists scorn PHEVs, but from a climate point of view they are almost as good as BEVs, since most trips are short and can be done just on the small battery.
    I don’t have numbers for buses, but the switch is coming along nicely. Example London:
    I’ve not seen European numbers for electric vans and light trucks, still dawdling it seems. But I saw a young couple in a Malaga restaurant the other day, with their electric scooter parked by their table. Scooters, mopeds and e-tuks don’t get the attention they deserve.

    – Share of renewables in German electricity production in February: 61.2%
    ( I don’t recall reports of unusual power cuts; these are almost unknown in Germany and Denmark, with SAIDIs around 10 minutes a year. Nor has Germany been investing heavily in grid storage, which just isn’t needed yet. The country does have massive gas storage in salt caverns at Etzel. In time this can be switched to renewable syngas.

  4. James Wimberley,

    I can’t reassure you. Australia’s governments, state and federal, are indeed as clueless as the US government. The neoliberal program has gone a long way in Australia too. That means government willingness and capacity to respond to crises have been seriously degraded. Our sick leave provisions are far worse than those in Europe. Temporary workers get no sick leave. For these people it’s work or starve. They will go to work and spread coronavirus. Many work in the hospitality industry. Australia has about three “industry” sectors: hospitality, entertainment and tourism, as one sector, plus foreign students and mining. That’s about it. And complete dependence on China. What a wonderful, diversified economy neoliberalism and free trade have given us! (That’s sarcasm, obviously.)

    Our governments are going full-steam ahead subsidizing and running sporting and public events still at this very late stage. The Melbourne Grand Prix is going ahead with equipment and teams (up to 200 personnel) straight from Northern Italy. You know the country whose north was locked down yesterday and whose entire nation both north and south is locked down today.

    Chinese students have been permitted to flood in to Australia if they spent 2 weeks in another country after leaving China and before coming to Australia. You know, all those other countries which now also have COVID19 cases, often more than Australia had at the same stage. It is now known or strongly suspected that 2 weeks quarantine is not always sufficient. And what value is “quarantine” in an infected place?

    Australia is sitting on a disaster scenario which will break out very soon. There is no way, in my opinion that our underfunded hospitals will cope. Our politicians are clearly committed to keeping the money machines going for the rich and well-connected. Their disregard of ordinary people is complete. However, they may have miscalculated this time. This could backfire big-time on the Aussie elites. Mind you there will be plenty of collateral damage too. At 66, with no pre-existing conditions, I give myself about a 90% chance of being alive in 2 years time. That’s as a summation of all dangers including COVID19. That may even be too sanguine but I always look on the bright side. 🙂

  5. However Iko, on the flip side – look at the latest new cases in China – *40″; yes that’s 4 with only 1 zero. Even if that claim is an order of magnitude optimistic, it’s a remarkable turnaround in containment.

  6. The number of new cases bounces up and down too much to be a useful indicator, but the number of China’s active COVID-19 cases is heading down. Which is very good news.

  7. Troy: But look how they fid it. Draconian mass screeing and quarantines, rhthlessly enforced – and a clear policy of putting public health ahead of the economy. The Chinese people have gone along with this, after a lot of criticism of the initial neglect and cover-up. Much of this is not replicable in Australia, perhaps anywhere outside Confucian Asia.

  8. Ikon said “The Melbourne Grand Prix is going ahead with equipment and teams (up to 200 personnel) straight from Northern Italy. ”

    Saw that on the bix and GP ceo said ” we got special dispensation for 150″ – from moderna in lock down.

    To paraphrase “the money is important”.

    As Crikey says above, statistically remote. Sars -$52 bn
    Corvid 19 – probably 200bn + markets crashing.

    And Angus Taylor re ‘panic” deal w US, this morning w Fran Kelly who had to ask 2 or 3x for acrualy answers – paraphrase – “we have 72 days petrol in the pipeline” but not if shipping ceased.


  9. James, we are in a far better situation than China to contain the Coronavirus. We are forewarned, we have a far more capitalized public health sector per capita, and — despite the current government’s best efforts — we have a higher level of trust in our government than the Chinese population. We can even use the armed forces resources without fearing a future coup from a popular general or colonel. There isn’t really anything that is effective that China has done that we can’t do. (Hopefully we will skip over the potentially counter productive repression.)

    But of course, bad political decisions still have the potential to result in disaster.

  10. Interesting that Taiwan has very few cases. You’d think they’d be among the worst countries affected. But they acted early (31 December) and decisively.

  11. akarog, if you read what the Constitution itself says, you will find that nowhere in the Constitution does it say ‘the only function of the High Court is to interpret the Constitution’, or anything equivalent to or approaching that. If somebody told you that the only function of the High Court was to interpret the Constitution, that person was simply mistaken.

    When I find out that some aspect of how the world works is different from how I thought it was, I usually try to think about how I made that mistake and whether I can learn any lessons about how to make fewer mistakes in the future. It would be silly if my usual reaction was ‘The world should always work the way I think it works, and whenever it doesn’t that must mean there is something wrong with the way it works.’

  12. I don’t have to take anything up with the Parliamentary Education Office. They say ‘main’, they don’t say ‘only’.

    Mind you, there’s no good reason to rely on the description given of the High Court’s function by the Parliamentary Education Office when the High Court’s own website gives a different (and more precisely accurate) description.

  13. No barrister would ever be silly enough to appear in the High Court and say ‘the High Court shouldn’t even hear this case because that’s not the sort of thing akarog things it should do’; but also, no barrister would ever be silly enough to appear in the High Court and say ‘the High Court shouldn’t even hear this case because it’s not part of what the Parliamentary Education Office says is the High Court’s main function’. The High Court would never pay any attention to such a silly argument, and neither should it.

  14. I’m also interested in what Jeremy Gans wrote. I notice that he didn’t write ‘the High Court shouldn’t even take this case’ (he mentioned that one possible outcome is the HIgh Court deciding not to take the case, but he didn’t suggest it was more likely than other outcomes, or that it would be the correct outcome).

  15. “ The main job of the High Court of Australia is to interpret the Australian Constitution and to settle disputes about its meaning.”

    This may be so, in the sense that its most important job is to interpret the Constitution. But the great majority of cases that it hears are not about the Constitution. For the most part, it’s job is as the final court of appeal in civil and criminal cases.

  16. The full text from the PEO is as follows;

    “The main job of the High Court of Australia is to interpret the Australian Constitution and to settle disputes about its meaning. The High Court has the power to consider federal (national) legislation (laws), and decide whether according to the Constitution the federal Parliament had the power to make that law. The High Court can invalidate (cancel) any legislation or parts of legislation that it finds to be unconstitutional.

    Interpretations of the Constitution by the High Court have evolved over time. To find out more you might like to look at our Closer Look paper about The Australian Constitution.”

    Those without any visible legal expertise may wish to debate.

  17. The High Court’s website says ‘The functions of the High Court are to interpret and apply the law of Australia; to decide cases of special federal significance including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws and to hear appeals, by special leave, from Federal, State and Territory courts.’

    Those without any visible legal expertise may wish to debate.

  18. High Nitrogen Court.

    This is important, especially for the GB Reef. Those without any visible runnif expertise may wish to debate. Such as christensen and katter. Henry the Farmer is past debating.

    “Farmer Quits Synthetic Nitrogen, Goes To N-Producing Microbe In Corn – AgWeb

    “Henry is changing course in 2020 and plans to use Pivot Bio Proven across all his corn acres. So why fix what’s not broken?

    Proven is the agriculture industry’s first sustainable nitrogen-producing microbe for corn. It is applied in-furrow at planting and is 100% available to a growing corn crop, unlike many traditional nitrogen sources.

    That’s not the case with Proven; it does not degrade, runoff in waterways or volatize into the air.

    “Through nearly a decade of research, we understand how microbes work in nature before they adapted to heavy fertilizer use. We take that knowledge and enable these naturally-occurring microbes to work as nature intended again.”
    – Alvin Tasmir, Chief Science Officer and Co-Founder

  19. Anyone in Melbourne Friday 24 April? And innovative ticket / donation. 

    “Professor Ross Garnaut in conversation with Per Capita’s Emma Dawson about his new book Superpower: Australia’s low-carbon opportunity

    Join Ross and Per Capita’s Emma Dawson for a conversation about these issues and more.

    Friday 24 April, 6pm

    The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

    This is a GREAT IDEA! (Hint JQ)-
    A Solidarity Ticket

    Fees will be calculated before you place your order.
    Sales end on 24 Apr 2020
    If you are able and would like to help us increase the number of Concession Tickets available, please consider purchasing a Solidarity Ticket.

  20. akarog says COVID-19 saves lives.

    Alchol doesn’t.

    “At least 27 people have died from alcohol poisoning in the Khuzestan and Alborz provinces of Iran trying to prevent infection of the coronavirus, Iranian news agencies reported on Monday.

    “Some of the citizens of Ahwaz had heard that drinking alcohol could help them fight the coronavirus, so they used it as a preventive measure,” said Ali Ehsanpour, spokesman of Ahwaz University of Medical Sciences, according to the Mehr News Agency.

  21. Re KT2 12:21pm “Farmer Quits Synthetic Nitrogen, Goes To N-Producing Microbe In Corn – AgWeb. See:

    Some domesticated plants ignore beneficial soil microbes
    Domestication yielded bigger crops often at the expense of plant microbiomes
    Date: March 10, 2020 Source: University of California – Riverside

    Summary: A review by biologists finds that plant domestication has often had a negative effect on plant microbiomes, making domesticated plants more dependent on fertilizer and other soil amendments than their wild relatives. To make crops more productive and sustainable, the authors recommend reintroduction of genes from the wild relatives of commercial crops that restore domesticated plants’ ability to interact with beneficial soil microbes.

  22. Svante. Thanks. One to watch.

    Danger! Autonomous vehicles. Stop or go…

    “In a 2018 paper, “Robust Physical-World Attacks on Deep Learning Visual Classification,” researchers described an experiment in which they “perturbed” a stop sign with a few small decals that to a human look like graffiti but that made an object classifier see the octagonal red sign as a rectangular black-and-white sign that said “Speed Limit 45.” It isn’t hard to imagine the kind of chaos one of these perturbances could cause in a future world of autonomous cars.”

    I’ll bet darpa has that paper and will use it.

  23. Democracy & Dress.

    “Technology and the internet threaten to undermine democracy

    “The many possibilities associated with technology and the internet make them ripe for exploitation, writes Paul Budde.

    “THE RESULTS OF a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre stated: 

    “About half of those surveyed predict that humans’ use of technology will weaken democracy between now and 2030 due to the speed and scope of reality distortion, the decline of journalism and the impact of surveillance capitalism. A third expect technology to strengthen democracy as reformers find ways to fight back against info-warriors and chaos.,13675

    Slow down surveillance. A bit like slowing the curve of corvid19 though. Depressing though never being private. Might buy an invisibility cloak. It’s just never ending oak and daggers catch up.

    “Dressing for the Surveillance Age

    “As cities become ever more packed with cameras that always see, public anonymity could disappear. Can stealth streetwear evade electronic eyes?

    “Goldstein’s invisibility cloak clashed with the leopard-print cell-signal-blocking Faraday pouch, made by Silent Pocket, in which I carried my phone so that my location couldn’t be tracked. As a luxury item, the cloak was far from the magnificent Jammer Coat, a prototype of anti-surveillance outerwear that I had slipped on a few weeks earlier, at Coop Himmelb(l)au, an architecture studio in Vienna. The Jammer Coat, a one-of-a-kind, ankle-length garment with a soft finish and flowing sleeves, like an Arabic thawb, is lined with cellular-blocking metallic fabric and covered with patterns that vaguely resemble body parts, which could potentially render personal technology invisible to electronic-object detectors. ”

    “Students at M.I.T. printed a three-dimensional model of a turtle with a textured shell that fooled Google’s object-detection algorithm into classifying the reptile as a rifle. In a 2018 paper, “Robust Physical-World Attacks on Deep Learning Visual Classification,” researchers described an experiment in which they “perturbed” a stop sign with a few small decals that to a human look like graffiti but that made an object classifier see the octagonal red sign as a rectangular black-and-white sign that said “Speed Limit 45.” It isn’t hard to imagine the kind of chaos one of these perturbances could cause in a future world of autonomous cars.”

  24. Looks like Joe Biden has the Democratic nomination locked up.

    Bernie Sanders has not attracted the young vote that he needed. It’s not that they’ve voted for anyone else, they just haven’t voted. And for whatever reason, black voters just won’t vote for him.

  25. Pollyanna can’t resist this:
    Samsung researchers have announced (at a conference in London run by Nature Energy) progress on a solid-state battery with twice the energy density of today’s best li-ion ones. Early days, but Samsung are a first-tier global battery producer. They may still hit fatal snags, or be overtaken by a rival chemistry. But the odds of big improvements in batteries in the next five years have just gone up.

  26. PS: IMHO. the Samsung claim is made more creditworthy through being presented by the actual researchers to a scientific meeting. A corporate PR flack caught out in a lie can just move on. A corporate scientist caught out in the same lie may never work again. Bias to the positive, sure, but that’s endemic to all scientific work.

  27. How much labour do you command?

    Historical wealth: How to compare Croesus and Bezos

    “I wrote a post on wealth comparisons overtime. I have done such a comparison myself in “The haves and the have-nots” and have used Adam Smith’s argument that person’s wealth ought to be measured in the amount of labor he commands. In other words, wealth needs to be measured in its historical context. I gave two examples of misleading wealth comparisons: over time, when we try to use the same bundle of commodities to compare Croesus and Bezos, and when we conflate wealth and power.”

    “Nordhaus and DeLong have constructed fairytale scenarios that greatly exaggerate progress since 1800, before which they seem to believe that people lived like cavemen. These views are fundamentally wrong.”

    The best books on
    Economic Inequality Between Nations and Peoples
    recommended by Branko Milanovic

  28. Not happy, Mr Lee!… “No private player invites TAFE onto their premises”

    What else is going to be pushed through whilst we look at corvid19?

    ‘Privatisation by stealth’: TAFE campuses to be opened to other skills providers

    “A spokeswoman for Mr Lee said the government was open to industry leaders such as Microsoft, IBM or Apple for example visiting TAFE classes to share their knowledge with students.

    “Labor’s spokesman for skills and TAFE Jihad Dib said the minister’s proposal was part of a “slow creep towards a privatised model of TAFE through the delivery of courses by private providers on TAFE campuses”.

    After the hearing, Greens MP David Shoebridge said “if the government was serious about being even-handed in the VET sector it would not be forcing TAFE to open up its campuses to competitors. No private player invites TAFE onto their premises”.

  29. You’ll have to take your observations up with the Parliamentary Education Office.

    It may interest you to know that I emailed the Parliamentary Education Office and pointed out the discrepancy between the information on their website and the information on the High Court website. Do you think they replied that information appearing on the office of the Parliamentary Education Office must be correct? No! They wrote back to let me know that they were reviewing the information appearing on their website. What lesson do you think we can learn from this?

  30. James, it is good battery news, but I wouldn’t call it Pollyannish. Just battery business as usual these days. Big EV manufacturers are apparently paying close to $150 Australian per kilowatt-hour for battery cells and the cost of putting them into battery packs is falling fallen rapidly and might be $33 per kilowatt-hour. Home battery systems with 10-20 kilowatt-hours of storage for under $5,000 are already baked into the technology cake.

  31. Corvid19 on the negative side;

    Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

    Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?

    Here’s what I’m going to cover in this article, with lots of charts, data and models with plenty of sources:

    How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?What will happen when these cases materialize?What should you do?When?

    This is one of the most important charts.

    It shows in orange bars the daily official number of cases in the Hubei province: How many people were diagnosed that day.

    The grey bars show the true daily coronavirus cases. The Chinese CDC found these by asking patients during the diagnostic when their symptoms started.

    Crucially, these true cases weren’t known at the time. We can only figure them out looking backwards: The authorities don’t know that somebody just started having symptoms. They know when somebody goes to the doctor and gets diagnosed.

    What this means is that the orange bars show you what authorities knew, and the grey ones what was really happening.

    On January 21st, the number of new diagnosed cases (orange) is exploding: there are around 100 new cases. In reality, there were 1,500 new cases that day, growing exponentially. But the authorities didn’t know that. What they knew was that suddenly there were 100 new cases of this new illness.

    Two days later, authorities shut down Wuhan. At that point, the number of diagnosed daily new cases was ~400. Note that number: they made a decision to close the city with just 400 new cases in a day. In reality, there were 2,500 new cases that day, but they didn’t know that.

    The day after, another 15 cities in Hubei shut down.

    View at
    Via 3QD

    And thanks akarog – (I had20 tabs open!).

    On the positiive side;

    “Strangely, this disruption could also have unexpected health benefits — and these benefits could be quite large in certain parts of the world.  Below I calculate that the reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved twenty times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country. ”

  32. Positive side? It needs be asked: Without cooling caused by air pollution (aerosols), would we already have achieved 2050-level global mean temperatures in 2020? Global temperature over the last century increased by a little more than 1°C, but that measure never includes the possible extra 1°C of contemporaneous cooling provided by anthropogenic aerosol emissions increasing the Earth’s albedo. In the past twenty-some years the rate of global heating increased markedly. The rate of anthropogenic ghg emissions also increased markedly. The rate of cooling atmospheric aerosol emissions increased similarly. It stands to reason that aerosols hold down temperature increase more now than ever they did over the last century. So without the cooling aerosols emitted at the current and increasing rates add another, say, 1.5°C to the 1.5°C global temperature some expect by 2030. Add maybe at least 2°C to the at least 3°C that global heating is estimated to be currently on target to cause by 2050. 5°C in 2050. Be careful what you wish for. The number and degree of global disease pandemics required to halt agh global climate destruction is a horror number, and the calculated staging necessary less pretty. Clean air is a great idea, but between a rock and a hard place don’t hold your breath for a pandemic fix, please. Nature bats last, after all.
    Do the climate effects of air pollution impact the global economy?
    Aerosol emissions are dangerous to human health, but by cooling the Earth, they also diminish global economic inequality

    Date: February 18, 2020 Source: Carnegie Institution for Science
    Summary: Aerosol emissions from burning coal and wood are dangerous to human health, but it turns out that by cooling the Earth they also diminish global economic inequality, according to a new study.

    “…”Estimates indicate that aerosol pollution emitted by humans is offsetting about 0.7 degrees Celsius, or about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, of the warming due to greenhouse gas emissions,” said lead author Zheng. “This translates to a 40-year delay in the effects of climate change. Without cooling caused by aerosol emissions, we would have achieved 2010-level global mean temperatures in 1970.”

  33. EVs.
    What to expect when you’re expecting electric transportation
    Study explores strategies that could help reduce emissions from the transport industry

    Date: February 25, 2020 Source: Hiroshima University

    “…In one scenario where countries produced only electric vehicles (including cars, two-wheelers, buses, and small trucks) and also implemented a carbon pricing strategy, the global mean temperature increase peaked at 1.82 degrees Celsius in the year 2090 and settled at 1.8

    degrees Celsius in 2100.

    This figure is lower than the 2 degrees Celsius climate goal that all countries in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have proposed to constrain global warming to, relative to pre-industrial levels, as part of the Cancun Agreement. The results in this

    scenario with carbon pricing strategies could help meet the climate change mitigation goals.

    “An electric vehicle policy is good for macroeconomic systems, but the condition is that we need a supporting policy and that is carbon pricing or renewable energy,” said Zhang.

    While a carbon pricing policy initially revealed a negative impact on the economic system (i.e. gross domestic product loss), when carbon pricing was coupled with policies that mandated electric road transportation, this electric vehicle policy ultimately alleviated negative

    impacts of carbon pricing on the economic system.

    The study also revealed how carbon pricing strategies were more significant in reducing emissions than a high preference for renewable energy sources. However, a high preference for renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, still facilitated growth in

    the power sector,”
    Wall Street investors react to climate change

    Date: February 18, 2020 Source: University of Texas at Austin
    Summary: Institutional investors are factoring climate risks into their investment decisions.

    “…The survey also reveals how institutions are starting to act. Their tactics range from asking companies to catalog carbon emissions to backing shareholder resolutions. If institutions are not satisfied with executives’ responses, a few are divesting their shares.

    Such measures are only the beginning, the survey suggests. Within five years, fully 91% expect climate risks to be financially material to their investments.

    Of executives who filled out the survey, 31% were C-level. Forty-eight percent of the 439 respondents managed more than $100 billion in assets. Institutions’ responses paint a mixed picture of how important they consider climate risks. Only 10% rank it as their top

    concern, compared with standard financial and operating risks. But three kinds of climate risks are rapidly rising in urgency:
    •The risk of new regulations is already having financial consequences for 55% of respondents.
    •Within two years, 66% fear physical impacts on their assets from extreme weather, rising sea levels or wildfires.
    Within five years, 78% expect technological effects, as greener technologies unseat carbon-burning ones.

  34. They gave Scott Cam $350K for being Scott Cam, the other Scotty (from marketing) is off to the footy while Italy is suffering for being too slow to act.

  35. Equality.

    We need a web that works for women and girls on 31st bithday.

    A new Web Foundation survey reveals that more than half of young women and girls have experienced online abuse and harassment.

    But, today, as the web turns 31, it’s becoming clear we will not achieve our mission without tackling the growing crisis of online abuse and discrimination against women and girls.

    The Web’s 31st birthday — Social kit

    On the web’s birthday, Thursday, March 12, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee will publish an open letter warning that a growing crisis of online abuse and discrimination against women and girls is threatening global progress on gender equality. Please join us to share messages on social media about the urgent need to tackle these threats and make the web work for women and girls everywhere.

    Share the letter with the hashtag #WebWeWant and the link

  36. Bill Bowtell is correct. We are very possibly within a few days to a week of looking like Denmark or Italy. The weather has just cooled. This might be exactly what the virus needs to persist in the environment, on surfaces etc., and multiply infections. If we permit mass gatherings this weekend, like football matches, that will be like throwing petrol on a fire. The contagion will explode.

    Our foolish leaders still want to go to football matches and to permit and encourage people to do the same. Many more people will die in the coming months because of this very decision if it is actually carried through. I look at pictures of the Townsville Football Stadium and think, “If only that had been an infectious diseases unit and ICU for that money instead of another self-indulgent and socially useless football stadium.” Think of the concept “opportunity cost”. If you build stadiums then you don’t have enough hospitals and staff for health emergencies such as this.

    A nation which continues to spend profligately on sport, football, gambling, drinking and all kinds of self-indulgent consumption instead of on renewable energy, sustainable processes, science, medicine and social spending is a nation that is going to collapse in the new, more challenging future of decreasing available resources, increasing climate change and increasing disease threats. There is great disruption ahead. Epidemics flourish in disrupted societies and themselves cause more disruption.

    The only thing I hope for is that this will be a salutary lesson to the populace and to the political class. I have been banging on for some time about how we need salutary lessons from nature to reduce our fecklessness, hubris and blind belief in our neoliberal capitalist system. This system places money (for the rich) before all other people and before all environmental concerns. These salutary lessons from nature will show us that we cannot proceed further on this path.

  37. Maths is the new frontier in the science wars, it seems. The MAGA and deplorables crowd don’t like the maths in which, because each infected person passes the virus to two-to-three additional people on average, rates of infection can increase by multiple orders of magnitude in just a handful of generations of the virus—a matter of weeks.

    In their own special maths, the virus just chugs along infecting and killing the same number of people each month, so it’s no big deal.

    The Australian newspaper is giving them succour, unsurprisingly.

    The stupidity evident in the comments on this twitter post is just sad:

  38. I’m currently “discussing” the pandemic response with my boss. He is heeding the Prime Munster’s call for everything to continue as normal with the exception that the usual working from home one or two days a week is suspended until the crisis is past. At this stage I’m inclined to just stay home (or “self-isolate” for you jargon lovers), but that does depend on my boss calming down over the weekend.

    I fear this will be common, from a combination of not wanting to appear like the TP panic buyers, a desire to prove their right-wing credentials by following the god-botherer in chief rather than those left-wing reality-based idiots, and a bit of “pretend it isn’t happening because I’m scared”… a set of responses that are well established as climate catastrophe reactions as well.

  39. The Prime Munster has just changed his tune… again. Gatherings of 500 or more for non-essential activities are to be banned from next Monday. Why not from today? Well because the Prime Munster wants to go to the footy this weekend and because he already said he would. It’s more important apparently to risk some more lives than do a verbal climb-down and admit error. I was hoping that someone at the press conference would ask him, “Should you be going to the footy during a national crisis which is evolving hour by hour? Is this just another one of your “Hawaii” moments?” It seems R&R is still more important to the PM than being at the helm of the ship of state during a crisis which shows every likelihood of turning catastrophic within weeks if not days.

  40. Worse than covid 19. How is it po6ssivle James & Pauli get the camera?

    “… dangerous’: One Nation’s tactics at family law inquiry concern women’s advocates

    “The only authorised video stream of this week’s federal parliamentary hearings into Australia’s family law system was broadcast on Pauline Hanson’s Facebook page. The camera was operated by Hanson’s aide James Ashby, the stream captioned like an official broadcast but published with hundreds of unfiltered live comments from apparently aggrieved fathers, who called witnesses and MPs “man-hater” and “dirty snake” .

  41. “Ivanka Trump works from home after meeting Peter Dutton”

    Sudden onset PTSD?

  42. Svante at 6:37 pm

    “Positive side? It needs be asked: Without cooling caused by air pollution (aerosols), would we already have achieved 2050-level global mean temperatures in 2020?”.

    And drowned? Wow. It is complex and nuanced.

    “Black-carbon reduction of snow albedo Odelle L. Hadley* and ThomasW. Kirchstetter
    “Climate models indicate that the reduction of surface albedo caused by black-carbon contamination of snow contributes to global warming and near-worldwide melting of ice1,2”

    “Black carbon is an atmospheric pollutant. The very small particles are formed through the combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel and biomass, and settle from the air slowly. Also known as soot, this material absorbs solar radiation, trapping heat in the atmosphere and contributing heavily to global warming. A recent study in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics traces black carbon transport from the Gulf War Kuwait oil fires of January to November 1991 to the atmosphere and ice core at Muztagh Ata Mountain on the remote northern Tibetan plateau”.

    It looks like both could be correct. I would now like to see a citation incorporating both snow albedo decrease and aerosols atmospheric albedo increase. 

    Here is a contender;
    “Aerosol direct, indirect, semidirect, and surface albedo effects from sector contributions based on the IPCC AR5 emissions for preindustrial and present‐day conditions

    “Although the overall effect of aerosols on solar radiation and clouds is most certainly negative, some individual forcing agents and feedbacks have positive forcing effects.

    “… can be isolated on a regional scale, and they often have opposing forcing effects, leading to overall small forcing effects on a global scale. Although the surface albedo effects from aerosols are small (0.016 W/m2), triggered feedbacks on top of the atmosphere (TOA) radiative forcing can be 10 times larger.”

    My intuition tells me soot will eventually end up – how long? – settling back on the eath’s surface. I may be wrong. And I may be right. Not my reseach focus, yet very interesting problem.

    Any other input?

  43. KT2 – “My intuition tells me soot will eventually end up – how long? – settling back on the eath’s surface … My intuition tells me soot will eventually end up – how long? – settling back on the eath’s surface.”


    Situated above most cloud forms in the stratosphere, the planetary wide anthropogenic aerosols high in the sky that add to the Earth’s albedo (vs. soot on snow covering a far smaller fraction of planetary surface and less a contributory heating factor in arctic ice area shrinking than the now regularly wide wanderings of circumpolar winds giving rise to much of the wild new extremes of northern hemisphere weather) are suspended there for only a few months vs. years, decades and a century or more for anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The stratospheric situated aerosol albedo effect relies on a continuous supply of human caused aerosols whereas long term global heating increase due anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions does not. The cooling aerosols and heating gases arise from mostly the same human related activities. The rock and a hard place we now live between is that after a few months of reduced or nil aerosol additions the related albedo effect decays and global temperature then rises very rapidly by >1°C immediately after then continues to increase at a rate faster than before now – even without any further anthropogenic ghg emissions.

    Some believe it could be staged balancing reduced ghg emission reductions without too bad a heating problem arising. If that is actually physically possible I doubt snafu humans could manage it satisfactorily and for some of the same reasons that the heroic schemes for geoengineering mitigation via aircraft spraying aerosols or orbiting sun shades &etc have been rejected outright so far.

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