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August 24, 2014

Free Market of Ideas: 2014

Free Market of Ideas

Date Post / Link Title


22 Link Slavery Inc
21 Post An Australian Purge
13 Post Fair, Balanced and Inaccurate
11 Post Climate Change 2013: Future Global and Regional Climate Change
1 Post Who Speaks For Earth?


30 Link The Collapse of Western Civilization
21 Post The Getting of Wisdom
15 Post The Cult of Risk
The Enemy of Truth
3 Post The Masters of Mankind


28 Post Climate Change 2013: Detection and Attribution of Climate Change
27 Post The Happiness Pill
19 Post Sacred Taxation
18 Post Climate Change 2013: Drivers of Climate Change
10 Post The Costs of War
5 Link Investing in a fossil fuel free future
The first nation on Earth to abolish a carbon price
2 Post American Vengeance


28 Link Common threats make common ground
27 Post The Rationalist Delusion
26 Post Religion as a Team Sport
22 Post Airstrike
17 Post Choosing Inequality
6 Link One in Forty


30 Post Direct Action
29 Post Budget of the Century
Spreading the Pain
Link Australia: A Nation of Freeriders


30 Post KNOCK OFF wind turbines
ABOLISH the Renewable Energy Target
Link STOP investing in clean energy
REWARDING POLLUTERS to stop polluting
29 Post 10 Days to War
27 Post A Decent Open-Hearted People
23 Post A Question of Culture
6 Post The Secular Dharma
Link Secular Buddhism Arising
2 Post Shit Happens
1 Post The Price of Austerity
Link Options for big cuts in emissions by 2050
Australian coal investments at risk of becoming 'stranded assets'


27 Link Tim Flannery
Scientists Who Lie
22 Post Enemies: Foreign and Domestic
12 Link How Do You Construct A Voice?
Has Money Taken Over American Politics?
Why Can't We Talk About An Injustice?
Growing up


30 Post The Ethics of Power
Link Transition to sustainable growth
The common ground of love
The Israeli Terminator
29 Post The Engine of Progress
22 Link The Political Origins of Banking Crises
No more range anxiety
21 Link Life stories from North Korea
8 Post The Nature of the Mind
Inequality and Progress
The Origin of the Origin of Species

Link Refugees: Where Do They Come From?
Swiss executive pay referendum nears
Federal popular initiative "against excessive remunerations"


27 Link An Ode to Capitalism
24 Link Can Grandmothers Change The World?
23 Post Murdoch and Political Power
In Life

Link How Do We Cultivate Women Leaders?
Does Body Language Shape Who You Are?
22 Link Can One Girl Challenge The Traditions Of Her Village?
I Am Malala
7 Link The 21st Century is Australia's for the Taking
6 Post Four Degree World: Ecosystems and Biodiversity
5 Post Four Degree World: Water Resources
3 Link What Should We Tell Our Daughters?
The New Untouchables — Paris
The New Untouchables — Romania


30 Link Objectivity and Dissent
28 Post The Eye of Murdoch
Leading the Free World
26 Post An Australian Hero

Link Boat Person
22 Link Phone Hacking: Murdoch's Tragedy
21 Post Betting against the climate
Media Godfather

Link Zoe's Law
20 Post Who pays for solar?
18 Link Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
14 Post Knowledge is Power
10 Post The Age of Collectivism

Link Second wave feminism
The Linguistic Turn in Philosophy
Roma history
Syria — from peaceful protest to civil war
7 Link Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908)

Link Charities commission faces the axe
Foresight over Hindsight
Stop the Boats
Henry Parkes: Father of Federation
Multinational Tax
Being Roma is not a crime
ABC wages revealed
4 Post Canary in the Coal Mine

Link Noel Pearson
Ian Dunlop
Can the Tea Party govern?
Seafood and the brain
Cuba without Castro
Constitutional reform
Broken Nation: Australians and the Great War
Business and the Carbon Tax repeal
Gonski and teaching
1 Link George Pell and Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

Satyajit Das

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Heinrich Heine:
Money is the God of our time.

John Maynard Keynes
We have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle having blundered into the control of a delicate machine — the working of which we do not understand. …
Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone. …

Jay Gould [Financier]:
[The trick is to h]ire one half of the working class to kill the other half.
(March, 1841)

The Masters of Mankind

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk (2011)
Adam Smith:
All for ourselves, and nothing for anyone else seems, in every age, to have been the vile maxim of the Masters of Mankind.
(p 320)

Kenneth Galbraith:
The salary of the chief executive of the large corporation is not a market award for achievement.
It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.
(p 315)

Empty words like governance and oversight masked a lack of adult supervision of business and markets.
[It was management by neglect: a business culture that] presided over increasing debt, greater leverage, higher risk, lower capital, and accounting fudges. …
(p 290)

[In 2006, t]he average weekly wage of investment bankers was $8,367, compared to $841 for all private sector jobs.
(p 313, emphasis added)

In Fairfield County, Connecticut, where many hedge funds were based, the average pay was $23,846 a week.
{[In 2007, t]he leading 20 hedge fund and private equity managers earned … $12.6 million a week [— equivalent to] the $29,500 average annual income in the US in just over 8 minutes [or] the President's salary (around $400,000 per year) in less than 2 hours.}
[T]he combined remuneration at the five major Wall Street investment banks alone exceeded the world's total foreign aid budget [for 2007] of $850 billion. …

… CEO of Macquarie Bank Allan Moss … earned $35.5 million in a single year …
(p 314)

Larry Summers believed that the market allowed skilled talent to capture their fair share of returns, consistent with productivity and contribution to economic outcomes.
Between government jobs, Summers earned $5 million at hedge fund DE Shaw & Co, playing down his role a mere part-time job. …

Large bonuses were based on high profits, the product of excessive risk and leverage.
Some of the earnings were imaginary, based on mark-to-market accounting, not true cash profit. …

In 2006 [Dow Kim, head of Merrill Lynch's] fixed income business, including mortgages, received a bonus $35 million on top of his salary of $350,000. …
Merrill ultimately lost vast sums when the basis of the profits, mortgage investments, fell sharply in value. …
(p 315, emphasis added)

Merrill was taken over by [Bank of America,] after a short and troubled period with John Thain at the helm. …
(p 201)

[Thain, distinguished himself by spending] $1.2 million redecorating his office [as] Merrill slipped closer to insolvency.
(p 330)

Joining CitiGroup after his term as Treasury secretary, Robert Rubin was paid $20 million a year as a non-executive board member with poorly defined duties.
During the tenure of Rubin and CEO Chuck Prince, Citi lost over $50 billion and its market value fell by more than $60 billion, ultimately requiring a government bailout.
(p 315)

[Prince,] a lawyer appointed to deal with regulatory problems, lacked the requisite risk skills. …
Prince's nickname was "one Buck Chuck," a reference to the fact that Citi's stock price barely moved $1 under his leadership.
Losses on mortgages drove Citi's stock price perilously close to the one-buck figure as the bank struggled to survive.
(p 201)

[On leaving Citi, Prince] was paid an exit bonus of $12.5 million, additional to $68 million already received in stock and options, a $1.7 million annual pension, as well [as] an office, car, and driver for up to 5 years.
Prince signed a 5 year noncompete agreement.
Citi may have benefited more by allowing their former CEO to manage a competitor, give the results of his tenure at the bank.
(p 315)

The top five executives of Bear Stearns and Lehman [Brothers] pocketed cash bonuses exceeding $300 million and $150 million respectively (in 2009 US dollars) [even though] the earnings on which the remuneration was based were reversed in 2008 …
(p 316)

… Lehman's Richard Fuld and Bear Stearns' James Cayne, took nearly 2 decades to become multimillionaires and finally billionaires. …
[By contrast,] Brian Hunter, responsible for energy trading at hedge fund Amaranth before it imploded, earned between $75 million and $100 million [in one year,] ranking him a middling 29th highest paid in his profession [for 2005.]
Several hedge fund managers routinely earn $1 billion each year.
(p 318)

[Remarkably, Richard Fuld] did not use a computer and did not have the ability to open attachments on his BlackBerry.
(p 290)

In 1994 Warren Buffett tried to stop bonus payments until Salomon Brothers' profitability returned to satisfactory levels.
Buffet was forced to abandon the proposal when many senior staff left, joining competitors.
(p 319)

In 2009, Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs … who earned $54 million for a year's work just before the crisis, remained unapologetic about the firm's behavior.
In [an Orwellian] piece of of historical revisionism … Goldman Sachs claimed that it never needed government assistance and would have survived the crisis without it.
(p 364)

Ponzi Prosperity

Economics is not a science.
At best, it's an ideology.
And, at times, a very dangerous one. …

Generally these people are influenced by one of two novels.
There are two novels that can change a bookish 14 year old's life, like Ben Bernanke.
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Ayn Rand's, Atlas Shrugged.

One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes; leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.

The other, of course, involves orcs. …

(The End of Ponzi Prosperity, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 23 May, 2012)

A Financial Singularity

James Kunstler [17 October, 2005]:
The mortgage industry, a mutant monster organism of lapsed lending standards and arrant grift on a grand scale, is going to implode like a death star under the weight of these nonperforming loans and drag every tradeable instrument known to man into the quantum vacuum of finance that it creates.
(p 203)

John Maynard Keynes:
[T]he market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.
(p 249)

Adam Smith:
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
(An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776)
(p 252)

Alan Greenspan:
[G]overnment regulation cannot substitute for individual integrity
[T]he first and most effective line of defense against fraud and insolvency is counterparties' surveillance [eg] JP Morgan thoroughly scrutinizes the balance sheet of Merrill Lynch before it lends. …
(p 279-280, emphasis added)

Alan Greenspan was mistaken …
Creditors can be just prone to greed as the latest wizard of Wall Street [and] they are often the last to understand the risks that would ordinarily help fear counterbalance greed.
(Quoted by Peter Temple, Hedge Funds: The Courtesans of Capitalism, John Wiley & Sons, 2001)
(p 282)


The Masters of Mankind

The Cult of Risk

Debt Slavery

Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction

(LIBOR^2 x 1/LIBOR) — (LIBOR^4 x LIBOR^-3) = ?

Inside Job

August 20, 2014

Free Market of Ideas: 2013

Free Market of Ideas

Date Post / Link Title


30 Link Lisa Wilkinson
23 Link How Adolescents Make Decisions
10 Post Sugar Man
Ethnic minorities in China, India and the US
9 Post The Honored Dead
Link The Palestinian Struggle for Self Determination and the Ordeal of Occupation
7 Post The Last Tree
Link Is Australia still the land of the fair go?
6 Link Epidemic of ink
Roads for Trees
Deep Sea Mining
Can democracy survive a disappearing middle class?
4 Post Local (Mal)Adapatation
3 Post (LIBOR^2 x 1/LIBOR) — (LIBOR^4 x LIBOR^-3) = ?
Link Greenway votes
How Does A Person Go From Believer To Atheist?
2 Post Supernatural — Natural
1 Link Making Climate-Science Communication Evidence-based — All the Way Down
What Does It Mean To Be A Teenage Feminist Today?


30 Post Culture of Greed
Debt Slavery
Link Is Conflict Good For Progress?
29 Post Economic Irrationality
Link Can Hacking The Stratosphere Solve Climate Change?
Can Hacking The Brain Make You Healthier?
What Are The Dangers Of A Single Story?
What Makes A Good Story?
What Are The Clues To A Good Story?
What Do China And The Banjo Have In Common?
28 Post Killing our way to Perfection
Link Afterlife
27 Link WA traditional sites lose protection
Assessing water resources
26 Post Cultural Theory
The Foundation of Civilization
24 Post The Righteous and the Wicked
Andrew Harper, UN operations leader in Jordan
Greed, Ideology and Antiscience
Are Engineered Foods Evil?
24 Link Albinisim in Tanzania
23 Link Col Allan returns to Australia
Kim Williams leaves News Corp
Kristi Mansfield, philanthropic fundraiser
Paul Davies, physicist and cosmologist
Alison Wolf, Author of The XX Factor
22 Post Freedom of Communication
Link Science and Global Warming
20 Link Faith leaders demand commitments on climate change
Churches condemn Opposition and Government asylum seeker policies
Pope Francis says church should not be "obsessed" with abortion, birth control and gays
The upsurge in Islamist violence
16 Link Spider Woman
The early years of the mobile phone in Australia
Patents are only inventive sometimes
Attributions to climate change
Innovation policy
Media in India
Quid Pro Quo: News Corp and the 2013 election
Speaking for the Dead
15 Post Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
Link Change and the Integrity of Science
14 Post The Fallback
Link Mongrel Nation
13 Link Russia and the middle east
Legacy of Swami Vivekananda
Philip Nitschke's memoir
Pink Sari Revolution
The moral case on Syria
Child jihadis and other threats to childhood
Do the middle class want democracy?
Should the West intervene in Syria?
8 Post Food Security: Availability, Access, Utilization and Stability
Link Migration in the 21st century
Women and sexuality in global conflicts
The war on female sexuality
Middle East meltdown?
China and the world's environment
JFK's last year
6 Link Australian Apartheid
5 Post Fighting the GM Food Scare
Link The storms of James Hansen
4 Post Simplistic Ideological Solutions
The Love of Power
Link The Political Economy dispute at Sydney University
Great Australian political speeches
Bennelong Sings
3 Post Moral Codes
The Future of Work
Say No to Crime!
2 Post George W Bush: Gentleman
George W Bush: Ethical Failure
Link You're never too young to be targeted
1 Post The Folly of Manicheism
George W Bush: An Honest Man?
A Path
Link David Cameron, Lynton Crosby and Philip Morris International

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Green Army: Research and Development

Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (Summary For Policy Makers)

Drivers of Climate Change

The total anthropogenic [Radiative Forcing] best estimate for 2011 is 43% higher than that reported in AR4 for the year 2005.
(p 9, emphasis added)

Detection and Attribution of Climate Change

Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes (Figure SPM.6).
This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4.
[There is 99% confidence] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
(p 12)

There has been further strengthening of the evidence for human influence on temperature extremes since the SREX.
It is now very likely that human influence has contributed to observed global scale changes in the frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes since the mid-20th century, and likely that human influence has more than doubled the probability of occurrence of heat waves in some locations. …

There is high confidence that changes in total solar irradiance have not contributed to the increase in global mean surface temperature over the period 1986 to 2008, based on direct satellite measurements of total solar irradiance.

No robust association between changes in cosmic rays and cloudiness has been identified.
(p 13)

Future Global and Regional Climate Change

Relative to the average from year 1850 to 1900, global surface temperature change by the end of the 21st century is projected to …
  • likely … exceed 2°C for RCP6.0 and RCP8.5 (high confidence) …
  • as likely as not … exceed 4°C for RCP8.5 (medium confidence).
(p 15)

Adapted from Table SPM.2, Table SPM.3 and Box SPM.1

(b) Cumulative CO2 Emissions (GtC)(c) Surface Temperature Change (°C)(d) Sea Level Rise (m)
(a) Scenario
(ppm CO2e)
Mean (Range)
Global Mean (likely range)
(Relative to 1986-2005)
RCP2.6 (475)270 (14-410)1.0 (0.4-1.6)1.0 (0.3-1.7)0.24 (0.17-0.32)0.40 (0.25-0.55)
RCP4.5 (630)780 (595-1005)1.4 (0.9-2.0)1.8 (1.1-2.6)0.26 (0.19-0.33)0.47 (0.32-0.63)
RCP6.0 (800)1060 (840-1250)1.3 (0.8-1.8)2.2 (1.4-3.1)0.25 (0.18-0.32)0.48 (0.33-0.63)
RCP8.5 (1313)1685 (1415-1910)2.0 (1.4-2.6)3.7 (2.6-4.8)0.30 (0.22-0.38)0.63 (0.45-0.82)

Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) (a) are identified by their approximate total radiative forcing in year 2100 relative to 1750:
  • 2.6 W m-2 for RCP2.6,
  • 4.5 W m-2 for RCP4.5,
  • 6.0 W m-2 for RCP6.0 and
  • 8.5 W m-2 for RCP8.5.

Cumulative CO2 emissions for the 2012–2100 period (b) compatible with the RCP atmospheric concentrations simulated by the CMIP5 Earth System Models.
  • Most of the CMIP5 and Earth System Model (ESM) simulations were performed with prescribed CO2 concentrations reaching 421 ppm (RCP2.6), 538 ppm (RCP4.5), 670 ppm (RCP6.0), and 936 ppm (RCP 8.5) by the year 2100.
  • Including also the prescribed concentrations of CH4 and N2O, the combined CO2-equivalent concentrations are 475 ppm (RCP2.6), 630 ppm (RCP4.5), 800 ppm (RCP6.0), and 1313 ppm (RCP8.5).

Projected change in global mean surface air temperature (c) and global mean sea level (d) rise for the mid- and late 21st century relative to the reference period of 1986–2005.
  • The total increase [in combined land and ocean surface temperature] between the average of the 1850–1900 period and the 2003–2012 period is 0.78 [0.72 to 0.85] °C, based on the single longest dataset available.
    (p 3)
  • Based on current understanding, only the collapse of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, if initiated, could cause global mean sea level to rise substantially above the likely range during the 21st century.
    There is medium confidence that this additional contribution would not exceed several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century.

[The decrease in surface ocean pH due to ongoing ocean acidification] by the end of 21st century is in the range of
  • 0.06 to 0.07 for RCP2.6,
  • 0.14 to 0.15 for RCP4.5,
  • 0.20 to 0.21 for RCP6.0 and
  • 0.30 to 0.32 for RCP8.5 (see Figures SPM.7 and SPM.8).
(p 19)

Carbon budget required to limit global surface temperature rise to less than 2°C
(531 [446 to 616] GtC was already emitted by 2011)
LikelihoodMaximum cumulative CO2 emissions since 1861-1880 (GtC)

Climate Change Research Centre:
In 2000-2009, about 350 [GtC of CO2 were] emitted …
(Abrupt Change, Tipping Points and Past and Future Climate, The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009)

[Annual emissions of CO2 alone] have grown between 1970 and 2004 by about 80%, from 21 to 38 gigatonnes (Gt), and represented 77% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions in 2004.
(Climate Change 2007, Synthesis Report, p 36)

A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale …
{[Up] to 40% of emitted CO2 will remain in the atmosphere longer than 1,000 years.}

Surface temperatures will remain approximately constant at elevated levels for many centuries after a complete cessation of net anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
[O]cean warming will continue for centuries.

It is virtually certain that global mean sea level rise … due to thermal expansion [will] continue for many centuries.
[For] scenario RCP8.5, the projected rise [by 2300] is 1 m to more than 3 m (medium confidence).

Sustained mass loss by ice sheets would cause larger sea level rise …
There is high confidence that sustained warming greater than some threshold would lead to the near-complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet over a millennium or more, causing a global mean sea level rise of up to 7 m.
Current estimates indicate that the threshold is greater than about 1°C (low confidence) but less than about 4°C (medium confidence) global mean warming with respect to pre-industrial.
(p 20, emphasis added)

Abrupt and irreversible ice loss from a potential instability of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in response to climate forcing is [also possible.]

[With respect to geoengineering, t]here is insufficient knowledge to quantify how much CO2 emissions could be partially offset by [Carbon Dioxide Removal] on a century timescale.

[Solar Radiation Management, if realizable, has] the potential to substantially offset a global temperature rise, but they would also modify the global water cycle, and would not reduce ocean acidification.
If SRM were terminated for any reason, there is high confidence that global surface temperatures would rise very rapidly to values consistent with the greenhouse gas forcing.
(p 21)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The Parties to this Convention,
Acknowledging that change in the Earth's climate and its adverse effects are a common concern of humankind,

Concerned that human activities have been substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, that these increases enhance the natural greenhouse effect, and that this will result on average in an additional warming of the Earth's surface and atmosphere and may adversely affect natural ecosystems and humankind,

Noting that the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries, that per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low and that the share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet their social and development needs …

Recognizing that various actions to address climate change can be justified economically in their own right and can also help in solving other environmental problems …

Recognizing further that low-lying and other small island countries, countries with low-lying coastal, arid and semi-arid areas or areas liable to floods, drought and desertification, and developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change …

Affirming that responses to climate change should be coordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner with a view to avoiding adverse impacts on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty …

Determined to protect the climate system for present and future generations,

Have agreed …
Article 2: Objective

[To stabilize] greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Article 3: Principles
  1. [To] protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
    Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof. …

  2. [To] take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects.
    Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. …

Article 4: Commitments
  1. (a) [To] adopt national policies and take corresponding measures on the mitigation of climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs.
    These policies and measures will demonstrate that developed countries are taking the lead in modifying longer-term trends in anthropogenic emissions consistent with the objective of the Convention, recognizing that the return by the end of the present decade to earlier levels of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol would contribute to such modification …

    (b) [To communicate] detailed information on its policies and measures referred to … above, as well as on its resulting projected anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol … with the aim of returning individually or jointly to their 1990 levels these anthropogenic emissions of … greenhouse gases …
(UNFCCC, 1992)

The Organization

[The IPCC] was established [in 1988] by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
The UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.
The Secretariat [which] coordinates all the IPCC work and liaises with Governments [is] hosted at WMO headquarters in Geneva.

The IPCC is a scientific body.
It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.
It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis.
Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information.
IPCC aims to reflect a range of views and expertise.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body. …
Currently 194 countries are members of the IPCC.
Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. …

Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. …

The Reasons for Scientific Uncertainty

There are many uncertainties in our predictions [due to an] incomplete understanding of:
  • sources and sinks of greenhouse gases [—] which affect predictions of future concentrations,
  • clouds [—] which strongly influence the magnitude of climate change,
  • oceans [—] which influence the timing and patterns of climate change [and]
  • polar ice-sheets [—] which affect prediction of sea level rise.
These processes are already partially understood, and we are confident that the uncertainties can be reduced by further research.
However, the complexity of the system [is such] that we cannot rule out surprises.

(Climate Change: the Scientific Assessments, First Assessment Report, 1990, p 365)


Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
Carbon Capture and Storage

Renewable Energy and Mitigation

Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters

Climate Change 2007

Jonathan Haidt

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Jonathan Haidt:
An ideology of extreme personal freedom can be dangerous because it encourages people to leave homes, jobs, cities, and marriages in search of personal and professional fulfillment, thereby breaking the relationships that were probably their best hope for such fulfillment.
(p 133)

The Happiness Pill

Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment.
Would you take it?

Suppose further, that the pill has a great variety side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy and trust.
It even improves memory.

Suppose finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing.
Now would you take it?

The pill exists. It is meditation. …
(p 35)
(The Happiness Hypothesis, Basic Books, 2006)


The Righteous Mind

The Happiness Pill

February 26, 2014

Rupert Murdoch

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

A Question of Culture

Neil Doherty: Director
Rupert Murdoch:
[O]ur first responsibility [as journalists, is to earn] the trust and loyalty of our readers.
Chris Bryant [Labour MP]:
Do either of your newspapers ever use private detectives, ever bug or pay the police?

Rebekah Brooks [Editor, News of the World, 2000-2003; CEO, News International, 2001-2011]:
We have paid police for information in the past …

Chris Bryant:
Andy Coulson, who was sitting beside her, tried to say:
But only within the law!
And I pointed out it's against the law: bribing a police officer, suborning a police officer …

Andy Coulson [Editor, News of the World, 2003-2007; Director of Communications to David Cameron, 2010-2011]:
No, no, no, without — as I said, within the law.

Chris Bryant:
And then the chairman chose to close the meeting, for some bizarre reason …

Lowell Bergman:
[After the story broke] Rebekah Brooks wrote to the chairman of the parliamentary committee [accusing] The Guardian of deliberately misleading the British public.

(Murdoch's Scandal, Frontline, PBS, 27 March, 2012)

Abbott on Murdoch

Tony Abbott
On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own US television stations.
This resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship.
(21 February, 2013)

Rupert Murdoch
I’m an American citizen and [I] consider myself an American.
I've got a lot of time for Rupert Murdoch because whether you like his papers or don't like his papers he's one of the most influential Australians of all time.
Aussies should support our hometown heroes — that's what I think … Rupert Murdoch is.

(Tony Abbott hails Rupert Murdoch as 'hometown hero', The Guardian, 6 September, 2013)

[Apart from] John Monash, the Commander of the First AIF [who] saved Paris and helped to win the First World War, and [Howard Florey,] the co-inventor of penicillin [who] literally saved millions of lives, Rupert Murdoch is probably the Australian who has most shaped the world …
For our guest of honour … experience trumps theory and facts trump speculation.
His publications have borne his ideals but never his fingerprints.

Rupert Murdoch is a corporate citizen of many countries, but above all else, he’s one of us.
[And m]ost especially … he’s a long-serving director of the IPA

[Tonight we] renew our commitment [and] our faith.
In a hundred years’ time [m]ay it be said of us that we … passed the torch of freedom [on] to our successors …

(70th Anniversary Dinner, Institute of Public Affairs, 4 April, 2013.)

Murdoch on Abbott

Rupert Murdoch

Conviction politicians hard to find anywhere.
Australia’s Tony Abbott a rare exception.
(19 August, 2013)

Great first day by PM Abbott firing top bureaucrats, merging departments and killing carbon tax.
(19 September, 2013)

(Robert Manne, Why Rupert Murdoch Can't Be Stopped, The Monthly, November 2013)

Brothers in Arms

Wendy Bacon: Professor of Journalism, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism

[T]he most critical point … was the hysterical overreaction by News Limited [to the proposed Public Interest Advocate.]
I don't think anyone could read this legislation and think there was anything remotely like a star chamber. …
Tony Abbott:
Not since the days of the Committee of Public Safety have we seen an attempt by a government to do something as Orwellian as the Public Interest Media Advocate is.
[T]he Public Interest Media Advocate, the government's version of the Ministry for Truth, will be vetting every aspect of the media for fairness, accuracy and the professional conduct of journalists.
[This is] a complete distortion of what the law is actually proposing.

[Which] is that, after a whole lot of consideration of different factors, some of which are set down in detail, the advocate would have the power to approve a self-regulatory body.
Which would then, as it does now in the case of the Press Council, take complaints.
There is no suggestion … that this advocate would be in any way dealing with day to day content of the media. …

What we've got here, is News Limited and Abbott in unison … overstating and misleading the Australian public about the powers of the advocate.
The Minister … can't direct the advocate at all.


Murdoch and Political Power

The Eye of Murdoch

Media Godfather

An Australian Hero

A Golden Age of Freedom

November 30, 2013

Live Long and Prosper: Money

Live Long and Prosper

Chuang Tzu:
What would become of business without a market of fools?

Richard Wilkinson [Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham]

[Status differentiation has] deeply ingrained psychosocial effects.
[Inequality is] not just about poverty [or] unfairness.
Its about a response to social hierarchy, social ranking …
It's also about whether people feel valued or devalued.

[I]n the Financial Times 100 companies that go into the share index, the average pay difference between the CEO at the top and the lowest paid full time worker, is about 300 to 1.
There's no more powerful way of telling a whole swathe of the population:
You people are worth almost nothing!
Than to pay you one third of one percent of what the CEO gets.
And then of course we say:
The problem with the poor is low self-esteem.
(Inequality and Progress, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 5 February, 2014)

Would you like to know more?

Robert Skidelsky

From the start 'scientific' economics had been strongly normative.
By increasing understanding of 'economic laws' it hoped to shift actual economic arrangements towards the competitive ideal which would maximise the creation of wealth; hence the strong association between nineteenth-century economics and the policy of laissez-faire.
Adam Smith and his followers were chiefly preoccupied with the failures of government.
Their idea was that government should keep law and order, and get out of economic life.

By the last quarter of the nineteenth century the mood had changed.
  • The failures of laissez-faire were palpable;
  • the competence and the integrity of governments were much improved; [and]
  • the growth of democracy had increased the pressure on the state to 'solve' or at least alleviate social problems.
[The 'Age] of Collectivism' dawned.
Feeding the growth of collectivism was
  • the growth of the social sciences, and
  • the parallel emergence of an activist intelligentsia, claiming a right of direction, vacated by the aristocracy and the clergy, by virtue of superior intellectual ability and expert knowledge of society.
(p 455)

The central claim which emerged from the confluence of these two tendencies was that society was a machine whose working could be improved by deliberate action, with unintended side-effects being equally amenable to correction and control, much as a mechanic fine-tunes an engine.
It was the vision … that we can make of our lives and world the world what we wish.
(p 456)

(John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman, One Volume Edition, Penguin Books, 2003)


The Masters of Mankind

The Cult of Risk

Choosing Inequality

Inequality and Progress

Heads I win. Tails you lose.

(LIBOR^2 x 1/LIBOR) – (LIBOR^4 x LIBOR^-3) = ?

Culture of Greed

Debt Slavery

Gambling with Civilization

Economic Irrationality

Modernization and Progress

Rich Man, Poor Man

True Progressivism

Buy food and energy

Restoration of the Plutocracy

Inside Job

Financial Alchemy

November 24, 2013

Australian Broadcasting Commission: Radio National

Australian Broadcasting Commission

The Unscrupulous Rich

Paul Piff [Researcher, University of California, Berkeley]

{Wealthier individuals [are] less likely to see the kinds of risks that are associated with acting unethically.}
[They're also better able to] afford lawyers [and] to pay for the downstream consequences of [their] behaviour.
[The upper echelons of society are] are more likely to think that the pursuit of self-interest and greed is a moral and positive thing.
[As] a result of those more favourable attitudes towards greed [they are] more inclined to behave unethically.

Politics and the Murdoch Press

Mark Lewis [Lawyer]

[The initial prosecution into phone hacking was the responsibility of] Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman.
[He subsequently left the Metropolitan Police to become] a journalist for The Times newspaper which belongs to Rupert Murdoch …
[H]e wrote an article which said, the phone hacking investigation in 2006 [‒ which uncovered one 'rogue reporter' ‒] was a 'proper' investigation [in which] 'not a stone was left unturned'. …
[His article was reprinted in the News of the World ‒] the very paper he should have been investigating …

Hidden Agenda

Bernard Keane [Canberra Correspondent,]

Kim Williams [CEO, News Limited] is smart enough to know that there's no threat whatsoever from the self-regulatory proposals put forward by [Stephen] Conroy about journalistic standards [ie free speech].
The real problem for News Limited, and other media companies, is in the Public Interest Test …
[This introduces] a new hurdle which media companies have to get over in addition to … competition policy [and the] media ownership laws we already have.

[No one knows how a] Public Interest Media Advocate [would] come out on particular media mergers. …
News Limited would ultimately like to take out Telstra's share of Foxtel and have that highly profitable asset unto itself. …
There's nothing in the current media rules that say News Limited couldn't wholly own Foxtel.
But, under the public interest test … we don't know how the public interest in such a transaction would be interpreted.
Would it be a substantial lessening of diversity?
Would there be a public benefit to it to outweigh the reduction in diversity? …
Media company lawyers [and media diversity advocates] don't know. …
[There's uncertainty] how this test would play out.

(Reporting on yourself — media coverage of its own reform and regulation, Media Report, 14 March, 2013)



All In The Mind

Background Briefing

Big Ideas

Body Sphere

Boyer Lectures



Future Tense

Health Report
Late Night Live

Life Matters

Media Report
Mongrel Nation

National Interest

Ockham's Razor

Philosopher's Zone

Rear Vision

Religion and Ethics Report
RN Drive
Saturday Extra

Science Show

Spirit of Things

Sunday Conversation

Sunday Extra

Sunday Profile

November 9, 2013

Australian Centre for Independent Journalism

Green Army: Research and Development

Kim Carr [Minister for Science]:
We don't have to accord superstition and wishful thinking with the same status as science.
This is much more than fairness requires, and much more than reason permits.
(Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, 2010)

Philip Chubb [Associate Professor of Journalism, Monash University]:
… I'm accusing The Australian of ideological bias.
All the evidence is there.
It's absolutely clear.
It has ceased to function as a news outlet according to the ordinary meaning of that term.
(George Munster Award Forum, Big Ideas, ABC Television, University of Technology, Sydney, 2 December, 2010)

Wendy Bacon [Investigative Journalist]:
The underpinning of journalism is the pursuit of the truth. …
(Climate Change Policy, A Sceptical Climate, 2011, p 19)


Wendy Bacon

An Australian Purge

[Mike] Steketee examined the [climate change] sceptic claims and found them wanting in evidence and logic.
He then investigated the issue of what interests might be behind them.
This is exactly what a independent and professional journalist might be expected to do.
Some time later, Steketee was told the paper no longer wished to publish his column.
Not long after that he left News Corp. …

Other journalists who had written strong reports on climate science had also left.
One of these was rural reporter Asa Wahquist who left the paper in 2010.
Crikey later reported that she had told a journalism education conference that it was “torture” trying to report climate change at The Australian.

In addition … Leigh Dayton a well respected science reporter who had written many reports on climate science left the paper in 2012.

The Australian’s coverage of climate change has come at a cost.
It has [been forced to sacrifice] some of its best reporters [in order] to pursue its political agenda on climate change.
(p 171-2)

Would you like to know more?

News Corp Australia vs Fairfax Media in Melbourne and Sydney

The newspaper that most actively promotes climate scepticism is also the biggest selling newspaper in Australia, the Herald Sun. …
The next most sceptical publication is The Daily Telegraph
(p 91

[A]udiences of The Age and the SMH are more likely to read news about climate science and reports of peer reviewed research and features quoting a range of sources with competing perspectives.
They rarely receive climate sceptic material and are more likely to have read investigations of the economic interests underpinning climate scepticism. …

[On the other hand, c]limate science reporting in the News Corp tabloids [the Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph,] is dominated by [sceptical commentary and scathing attacks] on journalists and scientists who research and publish material that accepts the climate consensus position. …
Apart from occasional news stories based on press releases from climate research organisations, readers receive almost no information that would enable them to understand the complexities or likely impacts of the impact of climate change domestically or internationally.
The research findings of climate scientists are largely rendered invisible for News Corp audiences [and there is] no critique of the sceptic position.
(p 133)

Australia Leads the Way

  • Australia … emits more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than any other country in the OECD.
(p 5)

  • Australia may have the highest concentration of [climate change] scepticism in its media in the world.
    James Painter [Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University]:
    Australia had the most articles, and the highest percentage of articles with sceptics in them, ahead of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Norway and India.
    This finding tallied with a previous report we had published which strongly suggested that climate scepticism was common in the English-speaking media in countries like the UK, USA and Australia.
    It is nothing like as common in the media in developing countries, such as Brazil, India and China, and in France.
    (Climate Change in the Media: Reporting Risk and Uncertainty, I B Taurus, Oxford)
(p 20)

The Australian
  • Publications targeting high-income readers, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian, provide more coverage of climate science than those targeting lower income readers [ie the tabloids.] …
  • The Australian … is Australia’s only national newspaper targeted at a general audience {[and] casts itself as a national agenda setter.}
(p 11)

  • [Out of 602 articles making a significant mention of climate science published across two three month periods in 2011 and 2012, The Australian] produced 24% … compared to 15% in the Sydney Morning Herald, which had the second highest number of articles. …
  • Nearly half (47%) of the articles and 50% of the words in The Australian’s coverage did not accept the consensus position. …
  • While only 5% of articles [rejected] the scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change [45%] of articles [questioned] the scientific consensus [or asserted] that its validity was a matter of debate.
(p 23)

  • While scientists overwhelmingly agree on anthropogenic climate change, The Australian represents climate science as matter of opinion or debate …
  • The Australian was more sceptical in 2012 than 2011 …
    [In 2012,] 59% of the words allocated to climate change coverage either suggest[ed] doubt or reject[ed] the scientific consensus …
    {[In particular, c]ommentary about climate science … increased in 2012 and was more sceptical [than in 2011.]}
  • A substantial proportion of the articles that [accepted] the consensus position were written in ways that undermined the credibility of climate scientists and those that support climate change policies opposed by The Australian.
    [Articles which ostensibly] accepted the scientific consensus position or specific scientific findings … underplayed their seriousness [and the] need for urgent action. …
    {[Findings] that suggested climate change impacts [might] be less than previously reported [were highlighted. …]}
  • News articles published by The Australian were less sceptical than commentary
    [That being said, the] news articles that questioned the scientific consensus position [were, on average,] 51% longer than [those] that accepted it. …

    {News selection tends to favour angles that are negative towards climate science organisations and climate scientists.
    [Coverage focuses on] scientific findings that suggest less urgency or cast doubt on the reliability of climate scientists and advocates for action.
    (p 145)}

  • Commentary about climate science published by The Australian was almost equally divided between [that which accepted] the consensus position [and that which] did not. …
(p 24, emphasis added)

  • The Australian attacks journalists at Fairfax Media and the ABC who [accept] the scientific consensus position …
  • The Australian promotes … the work of climate sceptics without critiquing their work or the interests they promote. …
  • The Australian frames the climate science in terms of an ideological battle and its critics as dogmatists who threaten free speech and rationality.
(p 25, emphasis added)

Would you like to know more?


Wendy Bacon

Market Share by Readership

(Adapted from Figure 1, p 23)
News Limited3,707,00065%
Seven West Media547,00010%

[Conservative / neoliberal newspapers control 75% of the media market including 65% by a single owner.]
News Ltd [the Australian subsidiary of News Corporation,] dominates the newspaper market and in four state capital cities owns the only metropolitan newspaper.
Fairfax controls one national business paper and three metropolitan newspapers, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times. …
(p 61)

The two biggest News tabloids — The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph [combined readership 2,282,000 or 40% of the market] — have been so biased in their coverage that it is fair to say they ‘campaigned’ against the [Clean Energy Future package] rather than covered it.
[Furthermore,] The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph columnists are syndicated across News Ltd mastheads including some regional ones.
They also publish blogs, which carry a large amount of material in similar vein to print material and regularly appear on television and radio, supported by corporate marketing techniques designed to amplify their impact. …

Bias is an editorial accomplishment achieved through a variety of journalistic techniques including
  • headlining,
  • the selection and prominence of topics and sources,
  • [the] structuring and editing of stories, [and]
  • [the] selection and promotion of commentators, editorials and cartoons or other visuals.
(p 62)

The issue is not one of free speech or the right of a few individuals to push their ideas but the market power of a dominant company to build support for particular policies and ideas. …
Particularly important is the media’s role in determining the visibility or invisibility of groups and sources and the ways in which different audiences are told (or not) what interests are at stake.
[B]usiness sources were afforded far more access than those of civil society …
Little space was given to sources, including business sources, which argued that the carbon policy would bring economic and environmental benefits.
The fossil fuel business lobby were featured prominently, often with little scrutiny of their claims. …

[That] 31% of news and feature articles [relied on] no more than one source indicates that many sources [were] not held to account. …
[T]his opens up possibilities for well-resourced interests to gain high visibility for their views through press releases including commissioned research and consultants reports tailored to the news cycle.
Private power as well as government power needs to consistently scrutinised by journalists.
[T]he success of big business sources is certainly aided by their interconnected advertising, public relations and lobbying activities.
(p 63)

The Editors:
For a newspaper to censor or deliberately avoid points of view, such as these, because they conflict with or undermine its own position would be a fundamental breach of trust.
Fairfax editors must hold their readers in such low esteem that they will only share with them information that will help shape pre-determined opinions.
What a deceptive manipulation of public discourse and an insult to the readers.
What disregard for the essence of news and journalism. …
(The Australian, June, 2011)
[T]he results of this study [indicate] that both the SMH and The Age [are] more likely to be neutral and [evenly balanced] than The Australian. …

It is clear that The Age is a more progressive than The Australian but there is no evidence in this study that The Age engages in censorship.
Indeed it appears to be considerably more balanced than any News Ltd paper. …

To be positive or negative towards a policy does not imply that a journalist loses impartiality, fairness or a critical approach.
Columnists such as the News Ltd’s Mike Steketee, Fairfax’s Ian Verrender and Peter Hartcher wrote a range of incisive pieces making critical points about both sides of the carbon policy debate.
The SMH’s Lenore Taylor held Abbott’s policy and the claims of industry up to scrutiny more consistently than nearly all other journalists.
(p 65)

{[Thirty years ago,] the Norris inquiry into Victorian print media had also found dangerous levels of concentration but no definite evidence of bias.}

[T]wenty years ago, a Parliamentary Select Inquiry investigated the Australian print media and found that while the media was highly concentrated and this had an impact on diversity, the Inquiry could find no evidence that the media, in particular News Ltd was biased. …

Is it in the public interest for a media organisation that dominates the market to ‘campaign’ as The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun have done, on an issue which a huge majority of the world's scientists have found threatens the lives of millions?
In what circumstances does a lack of diversity and balance, represent a threat to democracy?
(p 66)

[The evidence] suggests that many Australians did not receive fair, accurate and impartial reporting … in relation to the carbon policy in 2011.
This suggests that rather an open and competitive market that can be trusted to deliver quality media, we may have a case of market failure.

Would you like to know more?


Climate Science

Climate Policy

This work by peaceandlonglife is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Australia License.