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The aim of scientists, unlike businessmen, lobbyists or politicians, is to find the truth

Considering the grave implications of their decisions, you would think that parliamentarians, who have no specific qualifications or expertise, would listen to the best advice available.

But no.

Experienced public servants who might suggest “that is a bad idea” are replaced by people who advise “this is how you can sell it”. Experts are ignored in favour of lobbyists.

In October 2015, just after Malcolm Turnbull had staged his leadership coup and in the lead-up to the Paris climate change talks, some of our country’s world-leading climate scientists travelled to Canberra to brief representatives from all parties on climate science.

Global Change Institute director and marine biologist and coral reef expert Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg obviously had similar hopes to many of us that Turnbull might make a difference.

“With the change of leadership [to Malcolm Turnbull] the issue has advanced rather smartly. It has moved from anti-science to something more like a competition between the three parties [Liberal, Labor and the Greens] as to who can be the most responsive to the issue.”

In a separate meeting, three of the scientists also provided a briefing to the Coalition’s backbench committee on the environment led by former footballer Craig Kelly who, in his infinite ‘wisdom’, decided to invite along three representatives from the IPA to make their own presentations to provide ‘balance’ and to ‘debate’ the experts.

Dr John Church, a world-leading scientist on sea level rise from the CSIRO, said “It was not what I would call a debate – that is a contest of ideas. Rather the loudest and shrillest voice was what prevailed and playing the person seemed more important than the quality of the facts.”

Prof Hoegh-Guldberg described the meeting as “unpleasant”.

“We had people shouting. We have heard all of the old arguments before a million times – ‘CO2 is plant food’ … ‘climate change isn’t happening’ … that sort of thing. It was disappointingly uninformed. The scientists were from premier institutions taking time to address the committee. Then we had three people from the IPA – clearly lobbyists. What they were saying was not based in reality or science – it was an anti-intellectual environment.”

What a difference two years has made.

We are now living in a crazy world where those backbenchers, along with the Joyce-led Nationals, are calling the shots and Malcolm Turnbull is championing coal. We have a ‘wind commissioner’ to listen to all the people who think wind turbines are making them sick. All mention of climate change has disappeared, replaced by the apparently more serious conundrum of how to keep using the coal no-one else wants and how to afford the gas we own but which the government allows to be shipped offshore.

Thanks to Turnbull’s completely unnecessary double dissolution election, Pauline Hanson’s band of miscreants are extracting increasingly weird promises in return for support for totally unrelated legislation. Nick Xenophon, who could always be counted on to vote whichever way was most popular with focus groups, has seen his main chance at being important being provided by a blackout in South Australia, so off he heads to save the day. How will be revealed at some time after he sniffs the wind (so to speak).

The aim of businesses is to make a profit. The aim of lobbyists is to help them do that. The aim of politicians is to get re-elected (or to make the contacts for future employment). The aim of scientists is to find out the truth.

Our goal should be to be discerning about who we listen to and who we vote for.


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  1. Miriam English

    Perhaps we need to be governed by scientists.
    Trouble is, you’d have a hard time finding one that wanted to touch the rotten fish that is politics.

  2. Keith

    Mining companies provide large donations to political parties, which also has an impact on views expressed by politicians.

    Modelling is not that far off providing good information:

    Analysis: How well have climate models projected global warming?

    Conservative politicians state they wish for small government, privatisation, and deregulation. Ideology doesn’t work, displayed by the current energy mess; where gas is being exported, and the spin is that there is a shortage in Australia.

    Taking Stephen Colbert’s Late Show satire seriously, about discussing climate science; for every one denier in a discussion there should be 33 promoting climate science (97% consensus). “Discussion” on the basis of not being able to debate when one side can only provide opinions previously debunked.

  3. helvityni

    I do not trust politicians who make deals with Pauline, I’m sure our ABC is not happy either….

    Turnbull keeps repeating: MY government will make you feel SAFE….yet his pronouncements are making me more and more anxious… more anxious by the day…

  4. Vikingduk

    Be discerning you say. F#ck that, why change now? Far easier to continue on in our ignorant, brain dead, morally bankrupt merry way. All the inequality to foster, f#ck, look over there, refugees waiting to be villified and bashed, science to deny.

    and, of course, 17 more women killed in domestic violence, too many don’t agree with this hard right rightness, get em up against the wall, let ignorance, cruelty and f#cking traitors at the heart of government rule, more fear we need, oh jebus, more fear.

    would you like sauce on your shit sandwich? some added ignorance, a dollop of stupidity? simply done, just be australian, accept the status quo, be one of us, one of the evil, black hearted true australians.

  5. Glenn Barry

    Miriam English – fortunately for science, the vast majority of scientists cherish integrity, unfortunately our current government’s politicians discarded their integrity at the first opportunity, those that had any to begin with…

  6. Andrew J. Smith

    Truth in science of global warming and/or fossil fuel impacts is compromised when education e.g. science, data and critical literacies are ignored, discouraged or removed from school curricula, while related university research along with social sciences, have been white anted for a generation from within, and targetted by politic PR media as ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ that cannot be trusted versus conservative PR, opinions, beliefs and emotions.

    Koch’s et al. have been onto this for years, and also resonates with same white conservative Christianity community which is being corralled through culture wars and white nativism, actively promoting the same and acting as a praetorian guard (precluding grounded policies), for the top people.


    Jane Mayer of Dark Money and NY fame has already highlighted this phenomenon of ‘media assembly line’ starting with compromised or unethical academics and university based institutes or think tanks; can also be observed in Australia eg. IPA. I knew one example where a university state funded institute (we won’t mention names), an academic had been churning out ‘research’ raising doubts or antipathy to change public perceptions, publicised by media, lobbied to MPs/advisors and then reinforced by word of mouth.

    Although highlighted by related stakeholders for by passing research ethics and methodology, while misinterpreting and/or misrepresenting data; still continue yes and even cited in The Economist this week with PR patron.

  7. The Pied Piper

    Aint necessarily so that scientists are interesting in telling or searching for the truth
    There are plenty of scientists out there paid by powerful corporations who are more than willing to promote countless numbers of lies.
    Toxic Sludge is Good For You being a good example.

  8. Matters Not

    Thankfully, most serious and informed scientists recognise that their ‘findings’ should be regarded as ‘tentative’ – certainly not as ‘truth’ in any absolute way.

    As for scientists as governors, I think not.

    Take climate change as an example. There, the findings of scientists are essential in telling us about the problems we face and what needs to happen, if the problem is to be addressed. (A need to reduce or eliminate the emission of greenhouse gases.) But how that goal is best achieved in a democracy is way beyond the role of a scientist(s). Fact is, reducing ‘greenhouse’ gases is achievable in any number of ways.. On a hypothetical continuum, there could be a total ban on any emissions (perhaps on the pain of death) at one end and perhaps paying people not to pollute at the hypothetical other. In between there are any number of policy options.

    The point being that scientists have no particular expertise when it comes to policy formulation – which is (or ought to be) the role of government.

  9. Miriam English

    Matters Not, I think I have to disagree with you, and with my earlier statement. I’ve been pondering this more.

    Health used to be an elusive term and it was thought much safer to restrict research to disease. But now science has a very good understanding of what constitutes health.

    It wasn’t long ago that it was thought impossible to have science talk about emotions, but we now have scientists studying happiness and making great advances. See the book “Stumbling on Happiness”, by Dan Gilbert. See also his TED talks that discuss a small number of the findings presented in his wonderful book.


    Now, thanks to some degree to Sam Harris, we have science studying morality and I think it will open the way to great discoveries. See his book “The Moral Landscape” for an understanding of how complex, but solvable morality is, as a scientific question.

    I’m starting to think that politics might lend itself to scientific analysis. It certainly could benefit us all to take it away from corrupt politicians. Matters Not, don’t be deceived in thinking that scientist can’t deal with complex decisions. They deal with complexity far beyond the powers of your average politician’s ability to even imagine.

    Imagine if we had rational decisions made that reduced greenhouse gas emissions as efficiently as possible while maximising benefit to the economy and the people.

    Imagine a rational government investing in the people of our country instead of milking and discarding them.

    Imagine a rational government of scientists finding the triggers for the racism that disadvantages Australian Aborigines, then developing ways to mitigate such hindrances and using the right combination of outside help and self-determination to let them be equal in all ways to the rest of the population.

    Imagine a rational government of scientists that studied the reasons for and the solutions to wife beating and managed to put resources into prevention instead of patching things up after a woman is beaten half- or entirely to death.

    Imagine a sensible solution to drugs and an end to this idiotic, wasteful “war on drugs”.

    Imagine a government that sat down with people to genuinely worked out solutions to problems instead of using scapegoating and distraction to lie and coverup while stealing and feathering their own nests.

    It could be done if we had scientists studying these as problems to be solved rationally.

  10. Matters Not

    Miriam English, I always welcome ‘disagreement’. Presumably, it’s why you and I are here. So, when you say:


    blockquote> Health used to be an elusive term …

    And now that definition of ‘health’ is not ‘elusive’? Thus I am intrigued as to how, and when, the definition of ‘health’ became ‘scientific’ – implying the definition of ‘health’ is somehow ‘value free’?

    (For some reason, my computer won’t allow me to post further at this point – but I will return.)

  11. Kaye Lee

    “scientists have no particular expertise when it comes to policy formulation”

    Scientists play a role by advising the legislators. That is my point. I am pretty certain that any genuine scientist would find the idea of wasting time sitting in parliament absolutely abhorrent.

    Is it too much to ask that the politicians consider expert advice when formulating policy or does policy now mean what might get us elected?

  12. Matters Not

    It’s not the role of scientists to advise legislators. Seems to me it’s the role of legislators to seek ‘knowledge’, ‘information” and ‘expertise’.. And do so before making decisions.

    So I am in broad terms agreeing with your point KL.

    (But I confess at this point I am more interested in ME’s position that science can somehow solve ‘moral’, ‘ethical’ and what are clearly socially constructed ‘problems. But I can’t get this effing computer to behave.)

  13. Glenn Barry

    Matters Not – the Finkel review was commissioned to accomplish all of the elements which you state are beyond the purview of scientists regarding policy formulation – the coalitions refusal to adopt the CET element so as to attempt to wedge Labor illustrates perfectly where the obstruction originates – the coalition’s corrupted machinations

  14. Matters Not

    ME re:

    have science studying morality and I think it will open the way to great discoveries … (and)

    And their definition of ‘morality’ is? Are these scientists coming from a deontological, teleological or perhaps an existential perspective. And when they (somehow) reach a conclusion , then how will we evaluate same – using notions of ‘right/wrong’ or perhaps ‘good/bad’?

  15. Kaye Lee

    Morality is a real problem for science.

    Are scientists responsible for how their discoveries are used – thinking about fission? Should they quash research for ethical reasons- thinking about stem cell research and animal testing? Should medical advances to prolong life ignore quality of life?

    But if we are talking climate change, we ALL have a moral duty to act.

  16. Matters Not

    Glenn Barry, re Finkel. As the nation’s Chief Scientist, he debased his position by becoming involved in a ‘grubby ‘ political debate. Scientists should attempt to preserve their (relative) value free status and not become involved in trying to solve political problems – except as being ‘expert’ advisors.

    Finkel should have stood above the ‘mob’.

    KL. I have noted your last post, but my computer, and the way it’s behaving, handicaps me.

  17. Matters Not

    KL, Nobel ‘discovered’ dynamite and was appalled at the destructive way it was used. Then there was the atomic bomb. Then there was … and is. And the future is …

    As for scientists and the way their discoveries are used, is (to me at least) a great and ongoing problem. No easy answers here.

    On the other hand ME is apparently of the view that science, (a methodology) will somehow solve that problem free from values.

    I think not. But, then again, I’m not in the business of outsourcing my responsibility for moral decisions or ‘meaning making’ for that matter.

  18. wam

    Don’t think truth is in the science realm, Kaye because truth is what you believe.

    Currently Australians do not believe climate change is worth voting on and why would a government not have the 3 year cycle uppermost in decision making?. We were, for my truth, ready in 2009 but the lemon was too gutless to test the truth so the climate lost to the greens and he lost to what should have been a long successful government but she lost to the most inept pollie and greatest liar Australia has ever had

    ps hahaha spot on matters not miriam is as elusive as health truths
    I can imagine the truths stumbling happily from person to person, culture to culture and church to church with the clipboards flashing data for the use of(perhaps written in newspeak?):

    Arguably science can only get us deeper into the drugs they got us into??

    How about leaving politics to AI???? Then we are certain to get decisions for the common good.

  19. Miriam English

    Matters Not, you are as predictable as Harquebus. I know you think there is no such thing as actual real truth out there, but there is. And it is the job of scientists to approach ever closer to it. Often they genuinely gain indisputable-stands-for-all-time-truth; often they merely move toward it; on rare occasions they temporarily go on a wild goose chase, but the movement toward objective, provable truth is inexorable.

    The machine you are reading my comment on wouldn’t be possible without the kind of objective truths that you so readily deny. Are you aware — even hazily — how many things must work precisely as intended in order for you to do such a seemingly simple thing as read this? I could fill a book with all the knowledge that it rests upon. Michael Faraday did just that on something far, far less complex: The Chemical History of a Candle. That book began as a series of lectures he gave in 1848 and it still stands.

    The reason science is so very powerful is that it works.

    Philosophy is fun and interesting, and it can lead to genuine discoveries, but to a very large degree most philosophers seem forever lost in debating angels on pinheads. Philosophy is best conducted on a solid base of science. Shouldn’t philosophers begin by understanding what is real and what is not before making leaps into the unknown?

    wam is of a similar mind, except he/she, like our awful politicians, believes that truth is in the eye of the beholder, and that we create our own truth. No. That way lies delusion and madness.

    Years ago I loved a woman who lives on a knife-edge. Every year in spring, for some reason nobody has been able to illuminate yet, she tends to go crazy. When she does, she believes things that have absolutely no connection with the world around her and she has to use antipsychotic drugs to bring her back down to reality. She hates the drugs, but hates “going off the air” even more.

    I have numerous friends who believe in utterly ridiculous things such as contrails, an autism-vaccine link, Bowen “massage”, chiropracty, homeopathy, and on and on. The list of idiocy that people are prey to seems almost endless. No. Truth and reality are not negotiable. As I said to Matters Not, science is so amazingly successful because it is able to uncover objective truth.

    I suspect you made your final comment about leaving politics to AI as a snarky joke. In fact my great hope is that AI will find its greatest use in exactly that. We’d better hope we get there soon too. Despite my usual optimistic outlook, I have a horrible feeling we may soon be reaching what, in discussions of the Fermi Paradox is sometimes called the “great filter”.

  20. Terry2

    Just reading the townsville Bulletin after the announcement of the Adani FIFO centre :

    Townsville City Council has pledged up to $18.5 million over the next two financial years, matched by Rockhampton Regional Council, to construct and own the airstrip.

    As part of this commitment, the council has signed an arrangement with Adani to ensure that 750 Townsville residents secure a mine job.

    If Adani cannot honour that arrangement, the miner will be required to pay the council a rebate.

    So, the airstrip is to be jointly funded by the Townsville and Rockhampton councils and the rail connection to port will be paid for by a one billion dollar NAIF loan. What exactly are Adani going to pay for ?

    After the demonstrations against Adani all around Australia, it is reasonably clear that thinking Australians have seen through the Adani dream of jobs for everybody.

    It seems that the only redeeming political argument if favour of this mine is that it will provide thousands and thousands of jobs. Perhaps we need to look more carefully at all these jobs before we go any further with this crazy adventure.

  21. Miriam English

    Our politicians, if they’re not completely stupid, appear to have become “wedged” by their own lies. The people they have been buying votes from by promising them jobs are the con out of control of the very politicians who were wielding it. The politicians seem unable to stop the lies because they’d then lose those votes. Never mind that it is going to cost the poor average folk tens of millions of dollars more than a thousand million when you add the “loan” from the NAIF (which I expect the government will never see repaid).

    It’s interesting that Adani boast that this will be among the most highly automated mines in the world. That means almost no jobs at all — certainly no jobs for the locals.

  22. Joseph Carli

    Miriam wrote…: ” I know you think there is no such thing as actual real truth out there, but there is. And it is the job of scientists to approach ever closer to it.”
    If one was to break down the essence of what a”truth” really is, I would say that “a truth” is that moment of revelation on a subject or object that- gives strength to – that subject or object.
    Whereas a lie or deceit – subtracts strength from- the subject or object, and will weaken or destroy the desired revelation.

  23. Joseph Carli

    BLOODY HELL!!…Brown snakes everywhere around here!..seen about five in five days..huge bleedin’ Western Browns!…Nearly trod on a five footer outside the chook yard..scared the shit out of me!…and another in the feed shed where I mix the hard-feed for the horses…they’re everywhere!!!!

  24. Michael Taylor

    Nearly trod on a five footer outside the chook yard..scared the shit out of me!

    They tend to do that.

    Did same with a Peninsulus (spelling?) Tiger Snake on Kangaroo Island. They luv them chook yards.

    Cripes! Our neighbour has a chook pen. The chooks are silent! Ominous.

  25. Johno

    Yep, just been cutting grass around chook pen. Daughter saw a big brown yesterday. Way better to stroll around when grass is very short. A friend saw two snakes doing the wild thing so it’s all go.

  26. Kaye Lee

    There is a huge diamond python lives in my back yard. The first time I came across him, after crapping myself, I rang the local wildlife people and they said what do you want us to do? I said come get him. They said no – that’s where he lives and they aren’t aggressive so don’t worry about it.

    I know they are right but he stills scares the crap out of me and I can’t let the dogs go in that part of the yard now. Oh well, that’s the price you pay for living in the bush I spose.

  27. Greener

    Miriam, Adani – while not the biggest white elephant in the room, it’s an obvious financial disaster in the making. So how is it that our politicians, scientists, business leaders and media are not doing due diligence on the project?

    Adani has invested $3.5B to-date of which 100% is sitting as debt in Adani’s Aus businesses. Shareholders are in the hole for about negative $458M. If the NAIF issues $1B for the rail project then what’s the next stage of the saga? Our govt underwriting all of Adani debt? That scenario plays out the day Adani lenders declare they are not going to refinance. The NAIF $1B loan then morphs into $5B underwriting. http://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Escalating-Financial-Risk-of-Adanis-Abbot-Point-Coal-Terminal.pdf

    It’s become one big face-saving exercise.
    For the Qld government it’s about re-election; for Canberra it’s about being seen to lay out the welcome mat for foreign investment, even if that means wasting resources and increasing debt for no good reason. In the meantime, tens of millions tonnes of resources are being given away to a company that has a track record of not paying tax.

  28. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, consider him/her your pet. ?

  29. Michael Taylor

    Saw what I thought was a baby snake (about a foot long) in the passage-way in Canberra (I lived next to open fields). Put it in a large jar and called the Wildlife Service. The fellow came around – studied it for a short while – and said, “What you’ve got here is an animal so rare it’s not just on the endangered list … it’s on the extremely endangered list. You’ve caught yourself a pink-tailed legless lizard.” (I couldn’t see much pink, but I took his word for it).

    We walked through the long grass towards the creek and let it go.

    I wondered how many of these innocent little creatures were killed because people thought they were a snake.

  30. Miriam English

    Where I grew up there was an absolutely gorgeous little creature called Burton’s legless lizard. It has the most beautiful, intelligent, little face. One day, for some long-forgotten reason, I walked from the railway station near home to the next station. I used a newly constructed wide strip of road — part of the upgraded Pacific Highway. Along the way I was dismayed to find hundreds of beautiful Burton’s legless lizards squashed while attempting to cross that stretch of road. Horrifying. Now whenever I travel by road I keep thinking of all the animals that are killed that people don’t even notice. Tragic. I long for the day we either stop travelling so much or put all roads underground.

  31. Miriam English

    Johno, electric cars already leave the hottest internal combustion cars in the dust. This is rather funny:

    Running On Lithium – White Zombie vs. Corvette

  32. Miriam English

    Greener, it is a complete trainwreck. There’s no way this ends well, unless we can force the state and federal governments to shut up and pull out. I wonder if their reluctance could be explained by some ministers perhaps having personally invested huge amounts in it. I wonder… It would explain a lot.

  33. LOVO

    Miriam, read link I posted and wonder no more 😉

  34. Joseph Carli

    A tad off-topic, but it being Sundee an’ the talk about chooks and things..:

    “Saffron The Brave”.

    The last of the old hens passed away today..That just leaves two of the young ones left..I made a note to buy another two soon, while I went to get the long-handled shovel to bury the old girl..I did the deed in the “Domestic Cemetery” where we bury all the lovely creatures that pass through our lives, left to while away their time in eternity under the sighing boughs of mallee trees.

    While I placed a piece of iron and some heavy rocks over “Caroline’s” grave, I couldn’t but notice just nearby the final resting place of Saffron..called “The Brave”. Saffron was a male ginger tabby of stupendous build, desexed, yes, but he failed to notice that and he kept the verandah of our old residence at Meadows clear of stray cats and toms for many a year. Many a morning we would find him asleep in his bed , tired and battered but not beaten from the nights patrols..brave Saffron.

    When we moved out here to the mallee, he was already past his prime and the area being so much bigger to patrol, he relinquished his authority to the several feral cats that controlled the old property. Fortunately, one by one the ferals disappeared and in the end we had only Saffron and his tortoise-shell long-hair sister to keep us company. Till one night, while engrossed in an episode of “Foyle’s War”, a scratching sound was heard on the fly-wire screen door..There , elusive and emaciated was a tiny black cat with a tip of white on it’s chest and tail.

    When we gained her confidence and she joined our little troupe here , we called her “Alice”..a tiny little thing, she immediately attached herself to Saffron as his shadow, and on his part, he gladly took her under his wing and would set about “training” her in the cat-arts of stalking, leaping and gnashing required of a good mouser. I would sometimes catch them at their “lessons”..Saffron would move to an object, give it some vigorous strikes with his paw, then move away a tad and sit sternly observing while Alice went to the same object and repeated the action shown by her mentor.

    In this way over the months Saffron and Alice became an inseparable pair..if Saffron was there, little Alice was sure not to be far behind. The one thing Saffron couldn’t help Alice with was her strange tail..unlike the usual cat’s tail, that stood straight up when aroused or active, Alice’s was like a stiff rod from her behind right along parallel to her back so the tip would nearly touch the back of her head..she would sometimes suddenly spot the tail there and try to spin around to grab it..it made for a humourous sight !

    Unfortunately, Saffron wasn’t getting any younger and a bad kidney complaint laid him low..He was ill for some time and even the vet had shaken his head sadly in his prognosis..all we could do was make him as comfortable as possible while he saw out his last days..it was touching to see little Alice cautiously approach Saffron’s cat-bed, sniff at his nose and even give him a cautious “nudge” with her paw..perhaps it wasn’t really a nudge, but I like to think it was.

    We buried Saffron in the “Cemetry” alongside “Cindy’s” foal that died soon after birth..On a broad piece of iron held down by a border of rocks, I printed the words : “Saffron The Brave”..and we said goodbye to a prince of cats.

    Alice was all at sea after the passing of her mentor..Saffron had never really completed her “education” and she was clumsy and naïve at her job…It wasn’t much longer that this lack of knowledge got her into a fatal situation with a snake. She didn’t live long after the bite, as tiny as she was I suppose she just didn’t have the build to withstand the poison…I had her on my lap as she passed away, her little body just going limp and her head drooping over my knee.

    I buried her next to her mentor and scrawled “Here lies Alice” on the sheet of iron over grave. The one thing that didn’t alter when she died was her tail…still stretched along her back , I left it so when I buried her there.

    Oh well…I suppose I’ll have to give Cooper’s a ring and see if he’s got a couple of chooks for when I next go past.

  35. diannaart

    If a scientist noticed a brown snake near a climate denier and warned of the potential danger:

    Would the climate denier ignore her/him?

    Ask for opinion from the IPA?

    Run like the dickens?

    This is a wee bit rhetorical as I know it is better to make a loud noise and, hopefully, the snake will slither off somewhere more peaceful.

  36. Miriam English

    Actually a loud noise wouldn’t help. Snakes are deaf. But stomping on the ground should work. It would feel the vibrations through its belly. I grew up in bush where there were lots of brown snakes, tiger snakes, and death adders. We learned early that if you’re in vegetation where you can’t see ahead on the path, stomp with your steps.

  37. Miriam English

    I’d tell the climate denier that if there’s a snake next to him it’s proof of climate change. That way we could be assured they would ignore it. Naughty, but still…

  38. diannaart


    That’s right, I remember its the vibes not the sounds to warn off snakes.

    …and I like the way your mind works, in essence the climate denier has been warned…


  39. Michael Taylor

    Speaking of snakes, here’s something I wrote about Tony Abbott years ago. (https://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/its-official-tony-abbott-is-an-idiot/)

    Tony Abbott said:

    “Ever since I was old enough to understand the term, I have regarded myself as a conservationist. As a child, I used to play in the gullies and creeks surrounding the Lane Cove National Park. I wasn’t as careful then as now about protecting fauna, such as the red-bellied black snake, but I loved the bush for its potential for adventure and sense of solitude. In the valley behind our house, I first learnt to sleep under the stars. On canoeing trips, I learnt to read a map. On student bush walks, I developed a sense of direction.”

    So … he no longer kills red-bellied black snakes … No wonder people such as Andrew Bolt rate him more credible than most of the world’s scientists. Scientists spend at least three years studying at university to become knowledgeable in their field. Tony Abbott reads maps. While floating down a river. How could you doubt him? How could you doubt a person who has a sense of direction because he walked in the bush yet needs a map to paddle a canoe?

  40. diannaart

    I think I know someone who learned to paddle a canoe while reading maps, but maybe I just imagined it…

  41. Miriam English

    Red bellied black snakes are timid. I’m pretty sure there’s never been a case of anybody being bitten by one. I’ve had many encounters with them and they always take off at high speed away from the human.

  42. corvus boreus

    I would more describe red-bellied black snakes as non-aggressive than strictly timid.
    When I encounter them (a semi-regular occurrence) their usual reaction is to slowly slither away, or to lay still and wait for me to go away. The latter reaction is a bit more common at this time of year, as they are active, but still somewhat torpid.
    Occasionally, however, when I have loitered to observe one, my curiosity has been reciprocated, expressed through a flicking of the tongue, which is probably an attempt to suss out my intentions by reading my smell.

    Ps, there are usually a small number of bites from red-bellies reported and treated each year (mostly from accidentally stepping on the snake or being tagged whilst trying to kill it), but there have been no confirmed fatalities.
    An example; http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/2016408/snakes-alive-man-bitten-by-red-belly-45-minutes-after-killing-it/

  43. Matters Not

    ME re claims made above:

    science has a very good understanding of what constitutes health .

    we now have scientists studying happiness and making great advances

    have science studying morality and I think it will open the way to great discoveries

    Correct me if I’m wrong, are you seriously claiming that scientists already ‘know’ the unarguable definitional ‘truths’ of what constitutes (subjective and cultural definitions) of health, happiness and morality . If so, then perhaps you could provide links to same.

    Seriously, I can only assume you are road testing a ‘plot’ for a future, fictional writing. (But I don’t think it has credibility.)

  44. Johno

    LOVO.. Thanks for the link. Excellent stuff from the Townsville ratepayers.

  45. Johno

    Miriam.. I see what you mean re electric car leaving the combustion engine in the dust. When will this cross over to Formula 1 etc..

  46. Miriam English

    Corvus, thank you for the correction. I appreciate it. I should have checked my facts. I’ve encountered many red-bellies and they’ve always been very timid. I shouldn’t have extrapolated from simply my own experience.

  47. Miriam English

    Johno, it will be interesting to see if it does cross into other racing forms. Electric cars have the great “disadvantage” of being almost silent.

  48. Miriam English

    Matters Not, if you’re too short on time to google the info here are a few videos to gain quick insights:

    Dan Gilbert researches happiness (33min)

    Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness (21min)

    Much, much more information is to be found in Dan Gilbert’s brilliant book “Stumbling on Happiness“. It presents an enormous quantity of findings in easily readable form.

    Sam Harris – Science can answer moral questions (23min)

    Sam Harris at the Center for Inquiry in New York City (1hr 47min)

    His book “The Moral Landscape” goes into much greater detail and supports his argument with much more information.

    Julia Galef has made a number of videos about Bayesian thinking which helps with making value judgements. Here is one of my favorites (11min):

    That’s a start. If you want more, let me know.

  49. Harquebus

    I am a scientist and no one takes any notice of me either and yet, a lot of what is complained about today was forewarned decades ago and still, no one takes us seriously. It’s too late now anyhow. ‘Grave’ consequences are unavoidable.

    “”The reef is in strife, and to say otherwise is bullshit,” he tells me at Rivendell. “Half the place is dead already. It won’t be here in 15 years.” Contrary to public opinion, he says, runoff from nearby farms is not nearly as big a threat to the reef as climate change, embodied most recently in the proposed Carmichael coal mine, in north central Queensland.”
    “We are being led by idiots,” Veron says. Former federal environment minister Greg Hunt is “the most stupid man you could ever hope to meet”. Tony Abbott is a “moron”
    No one ever listens to me, I’m just a marine scientist
    “There will be immense social disruption, mass starvation, resource wars, cyclones the likes of which we’ve never experienced.”
    “There is a quite high rate of depression among scientists. We see it ourselves. We have been trying to get the message out for 30 years. We are going over a precipice, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

    “Vladimir Putin has defended climate change deniers and hailed the economic potential of the melting Arctic.”
    “Mr Putin also defended the appointment of a global warming sceptic to the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.”

    “We aren’t doomed — we are choosing to be doomed by failing to respond adequately to the emergency.” —- Margaret Klein Salamon

  50. Kaye Lee


    I thought you were a computer technician? The reason I don’t take you seriously is you can never back up your claims with any credible scientific research. I have invited you many many times to show me some credible research and you just bombard me with links to blogs. You say “peak oil mate, peak oil” or “you can’t beat physics” or “EROI” or “no breeding for 10 years”. You completely ignore other information you are shown to just stick with your over-repeated, solution-free, mantra of destruction. I see absolutely no point in that unless you are making viable suggestions.

    For example, did you see the recent Catalyst program about restoring the reef?

    “Southern Cross University researchers say they have made a breakthrough that could help save the Great Barrier Reef.

    Project leader Peter Harrison has been working with a team to repair degraded reefs in the Philippines by encouraging the reproduction of coral larvae.

    The researchers grow millions of coral larvae in tanks and place them onto reefs in large underwater mesh tents.

    “We’re using the spawning of corals, collecting the eggs and sperm from the corals, growing the larvae and then putting millions of larvae back onto the reef to try to start the restoration process,” Professor Harrison said.”


    I do understand the challenges we are facing and I am extremely thankful that our scientists continue to work hard on ways for us to improve. I have no interest whatsoever in blaring klaxons whose only input is to tell us we are all doomed.

  51. Miriam English

    Harquebus, you are not a scientist. You don’t even understand basic notions of avoiding confirmation bias. Science is about questioning your assumptions and being open to information. You do neither.

  52. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    I saw the Catalyst show, It was crap and did you notice that, ‘could’ is not the same as ‘will’.
    As for the research, I will get around to that. In the mean time, I ask you the same. Where is the yet to be seen scientific research to support your claims?
    You don’t not even class ecology as a science.

    Miriam English.
    “Computer and Information Science” is clearly written on my diploma and it is you that does not apply scientific reasoning to your own biases. You are too gullible.

  53. Miriam English

    Kaye, I don’t think H is a computer technician. He was unable to understand the most elementary concepts of an information economy. I think he uses computers and has gained some ability with some aspects of certain programs, but he misapplies that sense of skill to overgeneralise his idea of what he knows.

    I’ve learned more than 20 different computer languages, built some of my first computers with soldering iron, have a clear understanding of the electronics behind logic gates and how they connect together to make a microprocessor, and I’ve programmmed at the level of the microprocessor itself. I’ve programmed 3D graphics at the lowest level of matrix maths and at the high level of a 3D language.

    The thing is though, that I’m acutely conscious of giant gaps in my knowledge. Twenty languages might seem like a lot, but there are hundreds of computer languages. I don’t understand microcode — the code inside some microprocessors that lets them take the numerical instructions of “machine code” and interpret them as loading or fetching registers or memory addresses and performing logic functions upon them. I don’t know ARM assembly language. My understanding of the discrete cosine transform (DCT) that underpins all jpeg pictures and mpeg movies is a bit fuzzy. Faced with all there is to learn about computing, I’m an utter ignoramus.

    One of H’s biggest flaws is that he overlooks the missing parts in his knowledge. While he continues to do that he will never advance… because as far as he’s concerned, he already knows the answers. He’s like a religious person in that way.

  54. Kaye Lee

    “I saw the Catalyst show, It was crap and did you notice that, ‘could’ is not the same as ‘will’.”

    That is the nature of RESEARCH. sheesh. They work out what is possible and they are very very careful before they interfere. No scientist would ever launch into large scale action without researching consequences first. Could you explain why it was “crap”? They were showing what they have achieved and talking about what may be possible so I assume you have some scientific objection to the possibility or the method?

    “Where is the yet to be seen scientific research to support your claims?”

    Ummm….which claims, I write about a lot of stuff but it’s hard to show you scientific research that hasn’t been written. (rolling eyes)

    “You don’t not even class ecology as a science.”

    Says who? Of course it is a science.

  55. Roswell

    Harquebus, just go away.

  56. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    “information economy”. I am up to speed with that now and have to say, it is just more rubbish from you and those who can’t handle reality. Dreams are lot easier.
    I wouldn’t go around throwing too many stones whilst you advocate things like that. It’s worse than MMT which, is another bullshit distraction for the gullible.

    Kaye Lee
    EROEI, a concept that was derived from ecology is, according to you, a nonsense and is not to be factored.
    “but it’s hard to show you scientific research that hasn’t been written.” No shit?
    Why do you promote untested theories and research that only make things worse by providing false hope. We have to do serious reductions now, not wait for science to come up with a solution.

  57. Kaye Lee


    I am not an expert at anything. I majored in Maths in my science degree but got to do a whole heap of great stuff on the way through – biology, chemistry (inorganic and organic), physics, astronomy (in the year Haley’s fizzer came), genetics (my laundry was full of breeding drisophila melanogaster), natural disasters…I even did a year of economics with Tony Abbott.

    When it comes to computer languages…we learned BASIC and I remember handing my box of punch cards to a white coated technician in the room that housed the computer…later I collected the stick drawing of a cat that my program produced. I know nothing about how they work…I am still wondering how telephones and faxes work (well not really…I’m just astonished how clever they are).

    The scientific and technological world changes so quickly, so many new things to read and learn about every day.

  58. Kaye Lee

    F*ck you are annoying. I have never, and would never, say ecology is not important. You just make shit up. Of course I am aware that EROI came from ecology as you already know since I told you about it a couple of weeks ago. I brought it up – not you – when I suggested that being a fish expert does not make you an expert on renewable energy.

    What am I promoting? If you want a discussion then tell me what we are discussing. What false hope are you referring to?

    Of course we need to reduce consumption. You would be aware of how dramatically energy efficiency is improving. We need to do much more about reusing and recycling and waste management. We need to reduce packaging. Sustainability should be a consideration in pretty much everything we do. There is much to do. Got any practical suggestions or do you just strut around saying “it’s all crap and you know nothing”.

  59. Miriam English

    Harquebus, “I saw the Catalyst show, It was crap”
    Well, gosh, you’ve convinced me with your eloquent argument and compelling evidence.

    ” ‘could’ is not the same as ‘will’ “
    Piercingly observed. But did you also notice that without ‘could’, ‘will’ almost never follows?
    Have you also noticed how many things look incredibly difficult until someone actually succeeds?
    If those who attempted the difficult were instead put off by those who pronounced their attempts “crap” how much would be achieved?

  60. Miriam English

    H, so… you’re “up to speed” on the information economy enough to know that it’s “all rubbish”. Well, that would be news to all the people who work in it already — who have been working in it for decades. It would be nice if you did just a little bit of research into something before “authoritatively” pronouncing it rubbish.

  61. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    I can’t find the page but, you ridiculed the concept of EROEI because, it was derived from ecology and according to you, this does not qualify it as an analysis tool for renewable energy.

    Renewable energy = false hope.

    I and others are in a battle to save humanity and your delusions are in the way. It’s not nice having them shattered I know but, the sooner you and others come to your senses and get over it, the sooner we can get on with doing what is required. My annoyance is nothing compared to what planet Earth will do to us if you and others of your ilk don’t.

    BTW: I am aware of the history and origins of the EROEI concept. I could have told you.

  62. Kaye Lee

    I absolutely never did such a thing. I understand the concept of EROI. I asked for a link to a scientific paper that supported your claim that renewables use more energy than they produce. You gave me a link to something from the fish expert who coined the term when talking about what fish eat. I think he was clever to think of that as an analytical tool. Where you lost me was in thinking that made him an expert in applying the same concept to renewable energy. If you have a better link to a scientific paper backing your claims about the EROI for renewable energy then please provide it, remembering that the Ferroni paper has been discredited. Are there any others you can show me because I can (and have) show you a kazillion disproving your claims.

  63. Miriam English

    Wow H, you really believe that you’re in an epic battle to save humanity… by denying solutions… Talk about delusions!

    You know, the Hari Krishnas believe that repeatedly chanting something achieves some actual result. It seems you have something in common with them.

  64. diannaart

    The really disturbing part of the Catalyst’s look at problems facing the GBR, was one of the possible solutions, being used in Hawaii – the most notable aspect of their reef is the lack of coral diversity – the GBR is so diverse, the solution of breeding warm temperature polyps would save the structure of the reef (as was noted by the scientists) but at the cost of loss of the fantastical life-forms – many which must have symbiotic relationships with other life-forms (apart from the necessary algae) – how many fish, fish larvae, crustaceans and who knows what else are dependent on the coral types which will not cope with increasing ocean temperatures?

    Hoping this comment isn’t too much of a ramble – have been having a relapse – from which I am recovering (again). However this issue (climate change) is so big and it appears to me (not a scientist my degree was in applied science) that humans, collectively, lack the ability to work together to use the existing sustainable technology to counter and prepare for changes in our climate.

    Just reading H’s nonsense and he claims to believe in human impact on climate, leaves me just shaking in disbelief. We know we have to work around the Abbotts, Duttons, Turdball’s and this is not impossible but how do we collaborate with the obsessed – by which I mean those who think they know ALL the answers – from the religious to the nutters. We don’t need to convince everyone to work together, but we do need a strong united effort from ground level.

    On my imaginary island of survival, I’m definitely including Miriam, Kaye Lee, Michael & Carol but will appoint constant vigilance to repel any who refuse to consider the world of possibilities and admit we will always be learning.

    Miriam, did you read Heinlein? I abandoned him after my teen years because his male protagonists were just so freaking alpha-male always ending with a harem of beautiful women – when I think of H I think of the literary H without the harem.


  65. diannaart


    On Formula One – the smell of petrol, burning rubber and ridiculous levels of noise is in the blood of the sports-car obsessed – I know, my sister and her entire family are unashamed petrol-heads. I believe F1 will continue on as a ‘special’ past-time for those wealthy enough.

  66. Karl Young

    Freud would have had a fascinating time working on a Harquebus.

  67. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Yep, and losing and I only reject non solutions.

    Time and time again, I also have shaken my head in disbelief at the stubborn, pig headed refusal of some here to actually learn some things for a change. Once more, I can empathize with you.

    Here is the latest article that I have read containing the word “reef”.

    “Now, based on current trends, these ‘rainforests of the ocean’ are well on the path to extinction and, within the next 30 years, most of the world’s coral will be gone. Yep gone, like gone, extinct, nada, nothing left”
    “it was claimed that 29% of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef died in 2016 alone.”
    “Everything on our planet is connected, and with each collapsed ecosystem we’re pulling one more card from house of cards and one day we’ll pull enough of these cards that the whole thing simply collapse.”
    “Rather than a single apocalyptic incident, the collapse is unfolding over decades, accelerated by sudden disruptions/shocks (ecosystem collapse like coral reefs is an example of just one of these shocks).”
    “The whole thing rests on the premise that everything must grow exponentially, and if it’s not growing then it’s crashing and we all suffer.”
    “There are an increasing number of tools we have at our disposal for creating these alternative/virtual/parallel systems, and there are already some promising projects developing. We just need to learn how to work together toward the common goal of greater societal resilience and making Earth healthy again.”

    Some Practical Thoughts on Mass Suicide, Eco-anxiety and the Encroaching Collapse


  68. Kaye Lee

    Google reef….post links. Care about sources? No. Quantity is far better than quality in H’s world.

    At least listen to your own link….”There are an increasing number of tools we have at our disposal… and there are already some promising projects developing.”

    And that is where you fall totally apart H. You don’t want to hear about solutions.

    I note AGAIN that you are unwilling or unable to provide any scientific research backing your claim that solar and wind have EROI of less than 1.

    Oh and BTW, your diploma in Computer and Information Science does not make you a scientist any more than my science degree makes me a scientist but I get the feeling I have a far better handle on scientific method than you.

  69. Rapideffect

    @Kaye Lee

    Even if solar and wind have an EROEI greater than one it is still not a solution to the energy problems. The resources used to build solar and wind are non renewable, just like coal, gas and oil are non renewable.

    Replacing one problem for another is not a solution.

  70. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, the energy used to make devices to harvest solar and wind energy doesn’t care where it comes from. It can come from renewable sources, as it increasingly is.

    What you’re saying is like someone at the beginning of the automobile revolution saying that the automobile won’t really get anywhere because horses are used in mines, they’re used in transporting materials — the automobile depends upon horses. Well, we know how that ended.

    The same is happening with renewable energy. It is growing at an amazing rate. In less than a decade it will have largely supplanted fossil fuels and will be the dominant energy source. At that time we will be using renewable energy to manufacture renewable energy harvesting devices.

  71. Kaye Lee

    I do understand that we live in a world of finite resources Rapideffect. My view always is, if a complete solution is not currently available, work towards improvement.

    I doubt anyone would disagree that renewable energy is preferable to burning fossil fuels so let’s start there while our scientists work on better ways to do things. Success should be measured as small steps towards a destination we will never reach.

  72. Miriam English

    diannaart, yes, I used to read a fair bit of Heinlein. I completely agree that his stories are aggressively macho. I can find my way past that. A lot of people thought that way back then. What really got up my nose was the combination of that bullish male plus his right-wing politics. I have to admit he came up with some great story ideas though. I’ll have to re-read some of his stories again and see if I still find his philosophies and characters as abrasive.

    Some of my very favorite writers from science fiction’s “golden age” didn’t succumb to that sexism though. John Wyndham really stands out. The women in his stories are always the equals of the men, and he wrote them with a gentle strength that I love. I wish I’d met him. Isaac Asimov’s robot stories always had Dr Susan Calvin the creator of the robots’ positronic brains as the voice of reason. Henry Kuttner’s stories were often actually co-written with his wife Catherine Moore, an accomplished fantasy writer herself. Their stories focus on humor and sometimes tragedy, and the sex of the protagonists is incidental (the short story “Vintage Season” is one of the most affecting stories I’ve ever read, but don’t watch the movie based on it — terrible). James Tiptree Jr (the pen name of Alice Sheldon) was one of the most brilliant short story writers who lived, in my opinion. She never descended to cliche.

    And I never managed to thank you for your earlier compliment about my writing. I can’t find it now, but I appreciate it greatly.

  73. Egalitarian

    Rapideffect Why must it be so black and white? Surely we have to have a holistic view on renewables and we need to be all working together and not having to fight Extreme Capitalism who is only interested in turning a profit.If every building in the world had solar panels we could then start seeing where we are at?

  74. diannaart


    I agree, Heinlein could tell a very good tale; “Stranger in a Strange Land” remains with me. While I can reread Asimov, Wyndham, Tiptree and still love Vonnegut, I cannot stomach Heinlein’s heroes – bleh.

    Speaking of fiction, is Rapideffect a separate individual from H? Neither are able to comprehend much of anything that is posted about either renewables, their sources and the fact that sustainable technology uses way less of our non replaceable resources than any of the fossil fuels.

    No one has claimed that manufacturing solar panels, extra heavy duty batteries, wind towers or the like can just be magicked up – however this use of resources is far more effective than just burning up our non renewable resources. If we act now and act carefully, there is no need to grab our wooden spears and find a convenient cave.

  75. Rapideffect

    @ Miriam English

    The materials used to build renewables are non renewable. The steel, concrete, cobalt, copper, aluminium, etc are all non renewable. Some materials may be recycled using vast amounts of energy, but you always end up with less material after it’s recycled.

    “The same is happening with renewable energy. It is growing at an amazing rate. In less than a decade it will have largely supplanted fossil fuels and will be the dominant energy source. At that time we will be using renewable energy to manufacture renewable energy harvesting devices.”

    More of your made up stories… Renewable energy only produces electricity, liquid fuels like oil have no substitute and are needed to run the global economy (jet planes, cargo ships, freight trains).


    “Renewable power (excluding hydro) grew by
    14.1% in 2016, below the 10-year average, but
    the largest increment on record (53 mtoe).”

    “Oil provided the largest
    increment to energy consumption at 77 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe), followed by natural gas (57 mtoe) and renewable power (53 mtoe).”

    @Kaye Lee

    Renewable energy just like fossil fuel energy is not an improvement, just more consumption of non renewable resources and destruction of the ecosystem/biosphere.

    Scientists don’t have the best or better way to do things, nature already has all the solutions except humanity tried to live outside the laws of nature.

  76. Kaye Lee

    So are you suggesting we eliminate humankind so we don’t use any resources? Nature made humanity. We evolved into what we are. Moaning about that is pretty pointless.

    “liquid fuels like oil have no substitute and are needed to run the global economy (jet planes, cargo ships, freight trains).”

    The 3100 TEU Marlin-class containerships are currently under construction at the General Dynamics’ NASSCO shipyard in San Diego for TOTE Shipholdings. These $US350 million vessels will measure 764 feet in length when completed late next year, making them the largest ships primarily powered by LNG ever produced.


    Last month the Navy Research Lab powered a radio-controlled P-51 model using a “gas to liquid” process that takes seawater and turns it into fuel. “In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”


    “the aim of a new proposal is to electrify railroads, run them on renewable energy, and use rail corridors as electricity superhighways to carry power from remote solar and wind installations to population centers.

    The proposal, called Solutionary Rail, has been developed by a team of rail experts, economists, and public interest advocates assembled by the Washington state–based Backbone Campaign.


    Just to mention a few examples that show you how saying ‘never’ is foolhardy.

  77. Matters Not

    ME, thanks for your ‘links’.

  78. Miriam English

    Rapideffect I guess this shows you never learn. We’ve been over all this before and it has been proven that you’re completely wrong. Of course you don’t remember. Seems you have the same learning problem H has.

    Electric cars are being produced now by every vehicle manufacturer. Electric trucks have been made for decades and now Tesla are getting into that business too. Electric planes are now being built, after prototypes showed that they worked just fine. At some point I expect we will have electric ships, but I haven’t heard of any yet. Electric rail… well, that’s been around for ages. Oh, and you’ll love this, Elon Musk wants to use a standard workhorse rocket for, among other things, transporting passengers around the world. It would mean anywhere on Earth would be less than an hour from anywhere else. And the best part? He wants to use renewable energy (wind and photovoltaic) to generate the fuel — oxygen and and methane — from carbon dioxide and water. Of course it’s burning it to carbon dioxide and water again, but it isn’t increasing the atmospheric load the way jet fuel does. He showed this video at the space conference in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago:
    BFR – Earth to Earth

    He’s hoping to have this running in about 5 years.

    Rapideffect, if you don’t believe scientists have access to any better ways of doing things and that nature knows best, what are you doing typing away on a computer on the goddamn internet like a hypocritical little prick? Go and live in a cave wearing furs. Oh, and of course you don’t need medical help from those pesky medical scientists either.

  79. Kaye Lee

    Ok I have serious doubts about Abbott’s sanity after reading this.

    Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has suggested climate change is “probably doing good” in a speech in London in which he likened policies to combat it to “primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods” .

    Abbott told the group the ostracisation of those who did not accept climate science was “the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages”. He also reprised his 2009 assertion that the “so-called settled science of climate change” was “absolute crap”.

    “At least so far,” he said, “it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm. Climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.”

    “There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide – which is a plant food after all – are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”


  80. Freetasman

    Kaye, i read it on the news and have arrived to the same conclusion, he need help.

  81. Kaye Lee


    Abbott’s speech bore an amazing resemblance to a speech delivered by George Pell over a decade ago.

    Pell stated in his 2006 Legatus Summit speech:

    “Some of the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming are also a symptom of pagan emptiness, of Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature. Belief in a benign God who is master of the universe has a steadying psychological effect, although it is no guarantee of Utopia, no guarantee that the continuing climate and geographic changes will be benign. In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.”

    Tin foil mitre

  82. Kaye Lee

    Also from Pell…..

    “Radical environmentalists are more than up to the task of moralising their own agenda and imposing it on people through fear. They don’t need church leaders to help them with this, although it is a very effective way of further muting Christian witness. Church leaders in particular should be allergic to nonsense….. I am certainly sceptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. Uncertainties on climate change abound … my task as a Christian leader is to engage with reality, to contribute to debate on important issues, to open people’s minds, and to point out when the emperor is wearing few or no clothes.”

    Just like in the marriage equality debate, deniers cast themselves as victims.

  83. Möbius Ecko

    Abbott’s speech is contradictory, stating there’s climate change, but it’s beneficial, whilst saying deniers are facing an inquisition for denying it, and the science is not settled.

    He raised the same denier arguments that have always been recycled. There’s an ever-growing list of debunked denier arguments, and Abbott cites several of the most commonly used ones.

    The one that gets me and the one that is raised by a lot of deniers is the religious argument invoked by Abbott. The incongruity of that argument is it’s really the deniers who are basing their stance on faith as the proponents base their stance in science.

  84. Kaye Lee

    In July 2009, in a front-page story in The Australian headed “Abbott – we have to vote for ETS”, he was quoted as saying:

    “The [Rudd] government’s emissions trading scheme is the perfect political response to the public’s fears. It’s a plausible means to limit carbon emissions that doesn’t impose any obvious costs on voters.”

    However, by September 2009, with Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership on the rocks (remember Godwin Grech?), Abbott made a fateful trip to Beaufort in rural Victoria, and discovered that the room loved him saying “climate change is absolute crap”. The weathervane had made an abrupt about-face.

    …businesses can do little but despair at the handful of recalcitrant MPs who have nominated climate policy as the ditch in which they will die, in service of the culture war.


    Everything is political for Abbott – he is not a leader’s bootlace.

  85. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    What does the “L” in LNG stand for?

    Rapideffect is correct. No fossil fuels equals no renewable, ha, energy devices. Using precious non renewable fossil fuels to build and maintain them is a waste. Conserving them as much as possible whilst powering down, reducing consumption to subsistence levels and addressing population growth is, in my opinion, the only way to repair the environmental damage and provide a truly sustainable future.
    Growth and jobs be damned and so what if a few billionaires go broke.

  86. Freetasman

    Kaye, you can expect that Pell and people that have been brainwashed with religion teaching come with so insane statements which separate them from reality, but Abbott?
    Can be that he also was brainwashed or he is just suffering a kind of dementia?
    Time will tell and perhaps it is a combination of the two above factors.
    It is a worry how this kind of people can have a position of power or influence in the masses but some how they get there.

  87. Kaye Lee

    It seems to be the same people who deny climate change, are against marriage equality, were against the Apology to the Stolen Generation, are against renewable energy, are against stem cell research, are against dying with dignity, are against women’s reproductive rights, are anti-immigration, are against halal food, are against mosques, are against gambling reform, are against quotas for female representation….. This country would be a much better place without people like Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton and George Pell – and take Ray Hadley with you.

  88. Roswell

    Can someone please tell me that Abbott didn’t give that talk? Tell me I’m dreaming.

  89. LOVO

    I’m glad Abbott gave that speach. It just adds to the way history will remember him. 👿

  90. jimhaz

    [Can be that he also was brainwashed or he is just suffering a kind of dementia]

    Dementia pugilistica induced by the hard knocks of the game of politics and the closed circled of like minded team mates they keep.

    The most senior in two main parties definitely view politics as if it were a sport and they are all as immoral as drug cheats – they try and addle peoples minds with illogical fantasies and nightmares to scare them….all just for the purpose of beating the opposition. When things don’t go their way or they want to unsettle the opposition or an opposing argument, they chuck tantrums like McEnroe, Kyrgios ‎and Tomic.

  91. diannaart

    Australia still looks for those with imagination and ability:

    Finalists have been announced for the 2017 Banksia Sustainability Awards, the world’s longest running and most prestigious Australian sustainability awards covering 11 categories from Large Business Sustainability through to Sustainable Cities and Indigenous Leadership.

    Banksia Foundation CEO Graz van Egmond said. “The judges were delighted to review such diverse and disruptive thinking high-quality projects.”

    “This year has been challenging yet exciting to judge a wide range of extremely competitive entrants, but we were able to narrow down the list to 39 finalists across 11 categories.”

    Entrants were nominated for a range of topics from socially and environmentally sound furniture (Winya) through to beer produced to environmental and social standards (Stone & Wood Brewing Co). And making an appearance to disrupt the energy market is Eden, producing world-first nano-filtration devices which provide low cost, off-grid energy solutions.

    The prestigious awards are run by the Banksia Foundation, which has been bringing together the most innovative and effective people in sustainability in Australia for 29 years and are Australia’s leading sustainability awards and the longest running Awards of this nature in the world.

    39 award-worthy sustainability ideas announced

    We can beat the bastards – who needs prevaricating politicians and doomsday-sayers?

    “Progress not perfection”

  92. Rapideffect

    @Kaye Lee

    What I am actually saying is nothing like what you stated. The Australian Aboriginals lived for tens of thousands of years sustainably, working with nature not trying to control it. Global civilization works against the laws of nature and is not sustainable.

    Having a ship run on LNG is not a solution, it is still a non renewable fossil fuel.

    Changing seawater into fuel to power a radio controlled plane is not proof of concept. Until a full scale commercial example exists that is economically viable this is nothing more than a dream.

    Trains running on renewable energy would require massive amounts of infrastructure to be built. If all the freight trains in Australia could run on renewables, it still would only be a drop in the bucket, road trains, cargo ships and jumbo jets won’t run on renewables.
    The proposal you linked to is just that, a proposal. I’d like to know how this would be implemented on a world wide scale…

    Renewable energy requires non renewable materials to be built and maintained, this is not sustainable.

    So it is foolhardy to say these are solutions when clearly they are not.

    @Miriam English

    You have proven nothing other than your arrogance. There is no need to get abusive when someone doesn’t believe your opinion, you seem to let your emotions cloud your thinking. I don’t believe in anything unlike you, I require evidence something you think you have but actually it’s nothing more than unsubstantiated claims. I am also not a hypocrite, I am as much of the problem as anyone else that consumes non renewable resources.

    Yes Elon Musk hopes lots of things will happen, so far his track record is poor.


    All you have is false hope…

  93. Jack

    Elon Musk is a smart capitalist. He always manages to get investors/governments to pay for his adventures, whether they will work or not. The Oz taxpayers are the latest

  94. diannaart

    …and the good news is that “peak oil” may never have to be an issue:

    West identifies 5 major trends, all contributing to intensified market competition and – one might add – potentially devastating consequences for the oil majors:

    Alternatives to oil, especially in the critical transportation sector, will make oil vulnerable to behavioral and technological disruptions (table above);
    Electric vehicles – increasingly charged from renewable sources – will begin to eat into internal combustion engine’s (ICE) dominant market share (Fig on page 8) – a trend that many expect will accelerate once EVs move mainstream and a charging infrastructure is in place;
    Oil subsidies, once prevalent in many countries – are expected to dwindle or be phased out entirely as already witnessed in a number of countries

    Cheap solar (Fig on page 7), wind and gas- fired generation will reduce oil demand in the global electric power sector; and
    Travel demand will dwindle (Fig on page 7) due to aging population and the rise of “virtual travel.”

    … namely a prediction that peak oil demand may be a reality much sooner than many in the mainstream are predicting – less than a decade away.

    For example, there is little disagreement that oil subsidies, once prevalent in many rich and even few non-rich OPEC countries, are being reduced and/or gradually phased out in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Mexico, Egypt, Iran – to name a few.

    Peak oil? Sooner than you think

    For the interim, we will continue to require oil in manufacturing. However, using oil simply to burn is becoming history.

  95. Roswell

    The Australian Aboriginals lived for tens of thousands of years sustainably …

    Indeed they did, Rapideffect, that is true.

    But it’s comparing apples with oranges. The Indigenous population before the European invasion was not greater than one million people. We now have over 23 million people.

  96. Freetasman

    Roswell even if we compare 1 million indigenous with 1 million european people, the european consume many times more.
    It is impossible to compare but having say that if we learn to live a simple life and consume less we can slow or reverse the present trend.

  97. diannaart

    Likelihood of 23 million 21st century Australians choosing to live off the land (which has seen much degradation since Invasion Day) OR take action to protect contemporary life while adapting to climate change and finding ways of living more sustainably?

    Anyone care to give odds?

  98. Miriam English

    Actually it is a myth that the Aborigines lived sustainably.

    Sure, they didn’t ravage the land as vigorously as the later white-skinned invaders, but they certainly weren’t sustainable. They exterminated all the large animals, radically changed the landscape, were most likely largely responsible for the desertification of much of the country and as a result the loss of the inland sea. It took them 60,000 years to do so instead of just 200, but they didn’t learn much from their mistakes. They were still “managing” the land with fire when the European invaders arrived. This is why most of Australia has little or no topsoil — what potential humus doesn’t burn to carbon dioxide and ash, blows away on the next wind, or washes away in the next rain.

    In 60,000 years they took a country that was a paradise of forests supporting large grazing herds of diprotodons (volkswagon-sized wombats), many top predators — marsupial lion, Bullockornis (a stocky 2.5 meter tall carnivorous bird with a huge, wicked beak, often appropriately called the Demon Duck of Doom by paleontologists), and some carnivorous wallabies — as well as numerous other large animals in broad, cool forests, and they turned it into this parched, dry land.

    I don’t know why people fantasize that earlier people are somehow in tune with their environment. They are just people like us. Maybe it’s guilt for the truly horrific things “our” people done to “their” people and to this country.

    We need to fix the problem, not just make up some sort of stupid back-to-nature fantasies.

  99. Freetasman

    Miriam, to fix the problem we have to reduce our consumerism which considering the greed of humans it is a dream.
    Ignoring that it is a really “stupid fantasy”

  100. Michael Taylor

    I’ll have to disagree with you, Miriam.

    The Aborigines didn’t exterminate the megafauna – a fallacy that is widely believed. Of all the thousands of ancient campsites across the country there is evidence in only one – one – where megafauna was cooked for human consumption. There is more archaeological evidence that the megafauna died out because of changes to the/their environment. They did not graze in a “paradise of forests” … most of them were savannah grazers. So when the savannah disappeared, so did they.

    Fire-stick farming was actually quite good, by the way. It was controlled burning that reduced the risk of bushfires. It also encouraged new growth in the forests which in turn attracted more animals.

    I really can’t see how Aborigines contributed to the loss of the inland sea. The sea was gone long before Aborigines came to Australia.

    Many lakes, such as around Lake Mungo, supported what are called lacustrine (spelling?) societies for over 25,000 years. These particular lakes dried up about 15,000 years ago and the communities moved on. They did not dry up because of the local Aborigines.

    Aborigines were great conservationists. They destroyed no lands, and as far as I’m aware, they wiped out no species.

  101. Freetasman

    I agree with you Michael, perhaps those that doubt it can read Bill Gammage book The Biggest Estate on Earth on How Aborigines made Australia.
    Bill Gammage is a historian and adjunct professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University

    Chances are that there is a copy in the local library for those interested.

    Few years ago he written an article about the subject in the Conversation
    link: https://theconversation.com/the-biggest-estate-on-earth-how-aborigines-made-australia-3787

  102. diannaart

    I wasn’t making any claims about how sustainably (or not) aborigines lived before European intrusion. I was countering rapideffect’s claim that we can just turn our backs on all our knowledge, technology and return to living sans modern accoutrements.

  103. corvusboreus

    Michael Taylor and Miriam English,
    The extent of human responsibility for the extinction of Australian megafauna (eg the Diprododon, or ‘Giant wombat’), and a number of other species (eg Thylacoleo, or ‘marsupial lion’) has not really been settled one way or another.
    The dates roughly coincide, and we humans do tend to wipe out other species when we arrive en-mass, but there was also the factor of climatic shifts occurring during the same period.
    However, majority human responsibility for most of subsequent extinctions (and decreases in size, range and populations) of other species in later times (both pre and post Euro-colonial) becomes increasingly certain the more recently they have occurred.
    As to the impact of human habitation upon our vegetation, the predominance of pyrophytic plants was probably heavily iinfluenced by ‘fire-stick farming’, but this also seems to have been an acceleration of existent processes (mostly climatic shifts).

  104. Kaye Lee

    You cut to the chase there diannaart. There is no point saying we need to live as the Aborigines did because we aren’t going to. I want practical suggestions about the future – things that are actually doable.

    I don’t understand 3D printing but I know lots of clever people are excited about the possibilities it offers. Researchers are coming up with new ideas every day in so many directions it is impossible to keep up.

    All civilisations evolve but we have a finite existence – the sun will expand in its death throes one day. Let’s see what we can do to last as long as we can. Let’s not jump forward to the apocalypse, let’s just try to improve every day.

  105. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    I guess I haven’t been very clear.

    I don’t believe we need to live as Aborigines did.

    I do believe in searching for doable solutions, I have provided a couple of links to people doing just that in comments above.

    I do try to improve every day – this bit I am not so good at.

    I was simply responding to rapideffect.

    But, hey, let’s all argue about whether aborigines caused the extinction of mega-fauna.

  106. Freetasman

    There is no need to live like the indigenous people lived in different parts of the world many years ago and yes we can learn a lot from them about how to manage nature is a sustainable way and continuing evolving.
    We have to stop that obseción of growth which like anything in nature have a limit and start concentrating in development.
    The obsession of pursuit growth have only financial benefits for a very small percentage of the world population and it is maintained by consumerism.
    Why people do not what to accept that is something that I cannot understand and until I do not have a good answer IMHO it is greed.

  107. Miriam English

    diannaart, sorry, my outburst wasn’t aimed at you. I agree with everything you said. Rapideffect gets right up my nose.

    I hear this excuse given all the time: No, the Maoris didn’t exterminate the Moas — it was climate change. No the Native Americans didn’t exterminate the megafauna — it was climate change. But you can trace the spread of humanity everywhere around the globe by the mass extinctions of large animals that always occur suspiciously soon after humans enter the scene. We humans are wicked smart. We really need to face it. We see something, we are utterly brilliant at working out ways to destroy it.

    Fire is the absolute worst way to cultivate. In the short term it looks good, but it has 3 really bad effects:
    – it prevents humus building a fertile soil
    – it decimates slow-moving populations
    – it changes the dynamics of evolution so that plants that are easily damaged by fire die out and those that flourish under it proliferate, creating a highly flammable landscape.

    The conveyer belt theory of rainfall shows how inland forests depend upon coastal forests to survive. If the coastal forests collapse then everything inland from there dries up. Australia is fragile. The wind systems, particularly in the west, don’t deliver large amounts of rain. Overkilling the diprotodons and other megafauna would have wrecked the ecology that depended upon them, and much of the vegetation would have disappeared. Remove grazing animals from grassland and it often turns to desert. Put extra burden on it by burning it and you could damage it fatally. Once begun, it is difficult to stop. Without the vegetation shielding the ground and holding water the rivers would dry up, and also the inland sea.

    I’m not saying the Aborigines are terrible people. I’m simply saying they are just people, like us. We humans are the most dangerous thing that has happened to this planet. The Aborigines can be excused somewhat because they didn’t have books and science to let them keep track of what was happening. We don’t have that excuse. Our technology makes us hundreds of times more destructive and we have clear information showing us the truth… but we mostly ignore it. We have no excuse.

    I grew up in the bush. I saw what people did to that… utter destruction.

  108. Kaye Lee

    diannaart, I was agreeing with you. That’s why I said you cut to the chase.

  109. Johno

    I am reading bill gamage’s book now. It blows me away how well aboriginal society had the burning technique sorted. The Anglo invaders stumbled upon a ready made farm and secured it with force and terror.

  110. Harquebus

    Not content to obliterate large land animals, we are now doing the same to those in the ocean.
    I read an article recently how African elephants are producing more tuskless young. From memory, tuskless elephants made up 6% of the population. I can’t remember the current figure but, it is now much much higher due to selective poaching of ivory hunters.

    It is also my understand that firestick farming took over where large animals left off in removing excess vegetation but, don’t quote me on it.

    BTW: What’s with this moderation thingy? No abuse, no derogatory remarks and no threats. Just express my frustrations and opinions and you do this. It only makes you look bad.

  111. diannaart

    Kaye Lee & Miriam

    Thank you for your clarifying comments.

    I have been (still am a bit) having a flare up in my SI (Stupid Illness) as well as it being completely physically painful, tiring, blah, blah, it causes a kind of brain fog and sometimes I am not sure if I am making any sense at all. I read through what I write, I think it makes sense, but I’m not really sure.

    However, my brain is still triggered to react to B/S – the kind that rapideffect & Harq keep repeating. No matter what is offered they retreat to the same mantra.

    I agree Aborigines managed the land within their knowledge at that time. We know the pattern of decimation of mega fauna after human arrival. Humans have become very good at altering their environment to suit themselves without considering there are consequences for everything. Hunting species to extinction was just a warm-up to digging up carbon (via coal, gas, oil) and releasing carbon atoms into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate. Suggesting we can simply return to subsistence living (deliberately) is a nonsense, partly because the environment is nothing like it was when aborigines lived throughout and when there remain many opportunities to learn and work within the constraints of our environment instead of trying to alter it.

    Without scientists and those who understand the scientific method of learning and discovery, we’re f#cked. Then we may well have to learn to live with what remains of our culture.

  112. Rapideffect


    It is a good comparison, one culture sustainable and the other culture unsustainable. The point that I am making is that global civilization cannot be sustainable and will not be changed into a sustainable civilization.

    The fact that people understand that over seven billion people can’t live like indigenous people (sustainable or very close to it), but fail to grasp the idea that this overpopulation is unsustainable and will collapse civilization is troubling.

    It could be argued that since humanity discovered fire, that this was the start of being unsustainable.


    You didn’t counter anything, I never made the claim you said I made. You just made my point for me, civilization cannot be turned back into a sustainable hunter gatherer civilization.

    Global civilization is unsustainable and there is no way to change it.

    @Kaye Lee

    You like to deny the fact that humanity is unsustainable, and hope someone will come up with some technology that will let civilization carry on a bit further.

    There are no doable solutions…

  113. jimhaz

    [The Australian Aboriginals lived for tens of thousands of years sustainably …]

    Via tribal fighting and a lack of technological development, which kept potential non-sustainable numbers down.

  114. Freetasman

    jimhaz, do not mention tribal fighting, because on that subject we are more effective and sophisticated
    The technological development, wars and consumerism have killed and will kill more people and fauna that any previous damage done by the indigenous people world wide.
    I do not claim that the solution it is going backwards but our care for the environment and nature is not good at all specially considering the knowledge that we have now.

  115. Roswell

    What tribal fighting, jimhaz?

    I wasn’t aware of that. Perhaps you could enlighten us.

  116. Jack Straw

    jimhaz We have 8 suicides a day in Australia. Modern times does it’s bit to keep “non-sustainable numbers down”.

  117. diannaart


    I do apologise if I have misinterpreted what you have been saying. I just want to be clear.

    I had the impression you believed that we had to stop our use of technology… which equates to living as our ancestors did. Instead you are just saying we, the human species, have no future at all? That we cannot save ourselves? Our knowledge and creative abilities will not make any difference?

    Is this what you are claiming?

  118. Miriam English

    Freetasman, sorry to disagree with you, but that’s another widely held misconception. Deaths from aggression have been falling ever since we exited the stone age. Even with the horrendous massacres of the world wars, we still don’t come close to the levels of death from aggression of tribal people living closer to nature… and that’s without considering all the additional deaths from accidents and disease those people incur. Our civilisation has many problems, but increased death from aggression is not one of them.

    I can’t really comment on deaths from consumerism. I haven’t read any studies on that, but I expect the same thing would be true. The fact that we can all reasonably expect to live to our 80s, whereas tribal people are generally lucky to make it past their 30s indicates to me that no matter how bad a thing consumerism is, it doesn’t do much to affect the death rate. (I must add that I am deeply repulsed by consumerist culture.)

    Rapideffect, you say that Kaye denies civilisation is unsustainable. Your inability to comprehend what people say amazes me. Kaye has never said that current civilisation is sustainable. She, and most of the people here have great fears for modern civilisation precisely because as it stands right now it is unsustainable. What we do say is that there is hope. We can see all the good things being done by smart and capable people to fix the problems facing us and all the other life that supports us. We urgently need to work on those solutions, not run in circles like headless chickens shrieking that we’re all screwed, discouraging those who are helping repair the damage.

    By all means, go and believe that it’s all over and that everything’s going to come crashing down. You have my absolute blessings to believe such nonsense, but it’s just cruel to shout it to others who want solutions. Go away somewhere else and cry into your beer. Don’t do it here.

    Dianna, I don’t wish to speak out of turn, but for years now I’ve had big problems with my fingers hurting like hell, especially when typing on the keyboard, and worsening in cooler weather. I’ve noticed that fasting, which I’ve been doing for other reasons entirely, has surprisingly stopped my hands hurting. I’m normally a very thin person who generally doesn’t eat a lot anyway, which is why I was so surprised that it had such a beneficial effect on my hands. I’d previously thought it was just something I was going to have to put up with getting worse as I age. This gives me new hope. Maybe this is entirely inapplicable to you. I just thought if my experience can be any help I should pass it on. I sure hope you’re better soon.

  119. jimhaz

    [Perhaps you could enlighten us]

    It would be most unusual if there was not.

    The long history of Aboriginal violence — Part II

    I have a feeling you are more likely to seek PC confirmation bias in the anti-Blaineyist crowd.

  120. diannaart


    No, you did not speak out of turn. I suspect our S.I.’s are different.

    If you wish to share experiences and wonderful books we have read, I give Michael permission to forward my email address to you.

  121. Joseph Carli

    ” Via tribal fighting and a lack of technological development, which kept potential non-sustainable numbers down.”

    I have a theory that reproduction never reached unsustainable levels in the Aust’ indigenous world due to -besides maternal deaths- the fact that there was not an imperative driving force to copulate as feverishly as the European West..Think about it..: There was no need for a standing army, no roaming threat from man-killing beasts, no need to expand territory for conquest of riches or consumables..hence no need for a large population.
    And the other missing ingredient is a lack of promotion of sexual desire through pornographic imagery..no promotion of sexual acts as a “norm” of cultural activity as in ancient Greece or Rome and elsewhere in the Mediterranean countries. “What the eye doesn’t see…”?
    The Germanic tribes needed a surplus of young men for its raiding parties to the south in winter..the Romans needed huge numbers for its armies as did the Grecian nations, hence the need for a heightened state of erotic awareness..hence ; pornography and the like.

  122. Freetasman

    Miriam, for pollution related to consumerism alone (and going by one study only) thousands of people die
    Then again, if we take into consideration a 2014 WHO report the figure is twice to the one in the Guardian’s article

    Add to that the extermination of flora and fauna that affect the ecosystem and human life and can be millions more

    For reference purposes I think that people we find interesting the IHME second annual report on the Sustainable Development Goal indicators

  123. jimhaz

    [The technological development, wars and consumerism have killed and will kill more people and fauna that any previous damage done by the indigenous people world wide]

    For human killings that does certainly sounds highly probable, but it is possible that it is not if one thinks in terms of percentages per period per group rather than numbers. Often what we might be seeing with indigenous peoples is the aftereffects of earlier damage. I’m not sure – I was not there and evidence is too scant and difficult to assess.

    In terms of “will kill” that is what I fear if we do not act to reduce population pressures.

    In terms of global environmental damage yes modern people do far more harm per person than ever before.

    [I do not claim that the solution it is going backwards but our care for the environment and nature is not good at all especially considering the knowledge that we have now]

    Yep, we must evolve through the current circumstances, not regress technologically. If we are incapable of doing so in a manner that eventually leads to higher non-sustainable consumerism then we are not evolving advantageously.

    Sadly I do not have high hopes. Lately I’ve been wondering if the world is doomed and the DAVOS crowd knows this so are now very actively creating the sort of plutocracy that will save them from the shortages and damages that are bound to ensue – with the rest of us left with 1984 style lives. Only the rich will have access to the natural beauty in the world. We’ll then become two species – and with robotics now supplying services to the rich the less wealthy group will die off or be severely culled.

  124. Roswell

    Thank you, jimhaz. That was an interesting read. I took from reading it that it was not so much actual tribal fighting, but punishment for violating sacred laws, and retaliation to Indigenous dispossession by the European invaders.

    I was going to raise another point, but you beat me to it when you said in your later comment that “evidence is too scant and difficult to assess.”

    Yes indeed. The early ethnographers were not always reliable, and they certainly were guilty of ethnocentrism. That is, they viewed the world through their eyes and beliefs only.

    I read on a blog somewhere (I think it might have been here or on Cafe Whispers) where a person was quoting a Native American who long ago said “I’d rather do battle with a hundred soldiers than one anthropologist.” (My apologies to whoever quoted that on the blog … I’m going by memory so I could have misquoted you).

    I liked that quote. I think it could be applied to Indigenous people in Australia too.

  125. jimhaz


    [I have a theory that reproduction never reached unsustainable levels in the Aust’ indigenous world due to -besides maternal deaths- the fact that there was not an imperative driving force to copulate as feverishly as the European West.]

    Sorry, Joseph I think they copulated just as much. My view is that that reproduction constantly reached unsustainable levels in the Aust’ indigenous world, however this unsustainability never lead to breakthrough technological advances that would have allowed higher populations. With the European cultural mixing and conflict a single people did not have to do ALL the inventing themselves, they could copy and adapt technology from others. This was not available to the aboriginals here.

    Fire-stick agriculture did not solve a population problem, it just alleviated it. Much of the land is so dry that populations never would have been able to become the critical mass that would allow technological advance (that would allow for thinkers and planners and then ambitious leaders, not just hunters) – and this had an effect culturally – they never developed the cultural meme of there being a need to “grow grow grow” – as that would have just meant starvation and fighting others for resources.

  126. Joseph Carli

    jimhaz…there are several posits that could be incorrect in your thesis..: First, it is not whether YOU THINK they copulated as much, as to how to prove they did..If we accept that even though there was a kind of contraception used, the chances of over population was a risky factor..given that universal proof is known from historical sources that an excess of males leads to formation of militant groups and trouble, there would be knowledge amongst the elders to prevent such happening. Such overpopulation would lead to a record of territorial wars with larger groups predatoring upon the smaller..ergo, the creation of standing armies which would necessitate the need to etc…there is no evidence of such.
    ” Much of the land is so dry that …” a bad mistake to presume for much of the coastal environment and here in the mallee districts of SA. The many extant remnants of Eu. Largiflorens about the lowlands of this area show a swampy environment before Euro settlement, where a host of water birds and such would have thrived..the clearing of land and damming of creeks have created an artificial dry land where there once was plenty.

    I have also written (here) on this subject..: https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/an-advanced-society-2/

  127. jimhaz

    [Yep, we must evolve through the current circumstances, not regress technologically. If we are incapable of doing so in a manner that eventually leads to higher non-sustainable consumerism then we are not evolving advantageously]

    oops…I meant the other way round. Meant sustainable, not non-sustainable. I want humans to gain more and more control over nature so consumption per se is not so negative (though it can be if not moderate), but if non-sustainable then that means it is not moderate at the macro level.

    [That was an interesting read. I took from reading it that it was not so much actual tribal fighting, but punishment for violating sacred laws, and retaliation to Indigenous dispossession by the European invaders]

    Just about all tribes fight (there are only a few exceptions). A longer than normal drought would have meant that neighbouring tribes raided less affected areas. Tribes can also have personalities – some tribes find a percentage of resources through taking it from others, thus become aggressive and will repeat such exercises. Hatred develops into a kind of tribal racism.

    Even the violent treatment of women seemingly in many tribes, might have been a result of acclimatisation to violence due to tribal fighting.
    At the same time I’d reckon there would have been some tribal groupings where the circumstances and inter-relationships did not lead to much fighting at all.

    All this stuff is still present today in western cultures and individuals – but there is less need for it to be actioned with personal violence. Lol – we like to “raid” Asian tribes for their women.

    [The early ethnographers were not always reliable, and they certainly were guilty of ethnocentrism]

    Yes, but it does not mean automatic discounting – just sceptism about the degree of contextual accuracy or completeness. Many seemed to be trying to be scientifically minded. In order words maybe 70% overall was factually correct even if limited, not a lowly 25% thus giving justification to toss the whole lot out.

  128. diannaart

    Hmmmm, thinking globally; greater biological knowledge, increase in medical intervention, increased food production,, increased education among populace, less superstition, stable cultures (in comparison to previous centuries) and, as Miriam points out less outright slaughter – with the exception of Hitler and Pol Pot, more equality (however, at present this may well change there are those who clearly are enamoured of the feudal system).

    Unless something, somehow wipes out all human knowledge, we are not ending up back in the caves. Even nukes will not wipe out all knowledge – there will be pockets of people remaining who are able to research, create, build…

  129. Michael Taylor

    jimhaz, so the land was dry, hey? This might interest you:

    Burke and Wills perished in outback Australia. No food. No water.

    Legend has it that the year they died was considered a bumper year for food by the Aborigines. Legend also has it that Burke and Wills refused food that was offered by Aborigines.

    When I say “legend”, these were stories handed down through the generations from the local Aborigines.

  130. Miriam English

    diannaart, excellent point. Whenever I read an informative article online I save it to my computer. Whenever I find a good book on Project Gutenberg, or elsewhere, I save it to my computer. Likewise, diagrams, talks, documentary videos, and more. And I back everything up.

    I’ve been doing this for about 3 decades and have a vast library of information on an incredible number of things centered mostly around my interests in computers, electronics, artificial intelligence, psychology, astronomy, many aspects of biology, low energy systems, and sensible house design. My backup drives are only ever connected when I’m retrieving data from them or backing up data to them.

    I’ve been experimenting with putting together various very low energy computing systems so that none of it needs to be connected to the mains and can run entirely from solar panels with batteries (or hopefully supercapacitors soon).

    I had a nightmare recently where there were tornadoes in the valley where I live. Other than my dog, what did I take with me when fleeing in this awful dream? My hard drives. 🙂

    I very much doubt I’m the only person with this kind of obsessive collection. As you say, any calamity will not result in us losing everything.

  131. Johno

    Jimaz.. The south east of SA was saturated with lakes and lagoons and plethora of flora and fauna. The settlers dig a huge pattern of large drains to the sea. The European made oz dry. Where I live swamps were common as, now most drained and so on.

  132. Johns

    Bulldozers, chains and fire is another method we use to clear vast swaths of native vegetation, now happening in Qld. This has and will create a drier landscape. Study is proving a warmer clime will release more carbon into atmosphere from the soil. This is not good. We need to stop clearing vegetation

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