The Final Frontier
Space … is big.
— Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 8, 1979 emphasis added.
(Emer Reynolds, The Farthest, 2017)
(Back To The Moon, Episode 15, 2018)
(Gravitational Waves, Catalyst, ABC Television, 29 March 2016)
Brendan O'Neill [Editor, Spiked Online]:
[Trolling] is a free speech issue.
[What] we have is a situation where people are being prevented from saying certain things — often … just insults or abuse.
In my mind that falls under the category of freedom speech.
And if you're not free to hate someone, then you're not free. …
[I get abused] all the time.
If you put yourself out there, if you express and opinion, if you say what you think — you will get abuse.
But … that's the price you pay for living in free society …
My concern … is that everything gets conflated.
So you have a situation in which trolling can be everything from someone issuing a death threat — which is obviously a serious thing to do — to someone writing an article saying:I don't think climate change is not the biggest problem facing humanity.If we are serious about freedom of speech then we have to allow people to say hateful, obnoxious, racist, sexist things.
(Jonathan Baltrusaitis, Rise of the Trolls, 20 June 2016)
Anthony Grayling (1949):
[Liberty] is not licence … it is open-minded, tolerant and reasonable restraint.
(The Meaning of Things, Phoenix, 2001, p 141)
Bond University's Paul Glasziou chaired a 2015 review of homeopathy by … the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Professor Paul Glasziou:
[The] conclusion we came to was that there was no convincing evidence for homeopathy for any of the conditions that it's been studied in, which is actually quite a few.
So it's not there's no evidence, it's that there's quite a lot of evidence.
It's either poor quality evidence or the good quality evidence suggests there's no effect. …
Carl Gibson [CEO, Complementary Medicines Australia]:
I'm saying the jury is still out on the NHMRC review — it was fundamentally flawed and skewed from day number one.
If we're going to have a proper review, let's have a proper review but to actually set the parameters so high that pharmaceutical studies wouldn't make it through, I think is questionable. …
Homeopathy has been around for thousands and thousands of years …
(Swallowing It, Four Corners, ABC Television, 13 February 2017)
[For] every dollar a man earns … 40 cents goes to the kids and family.
For every dollar a woman earns … 90 cents goes to the kids and family.
(774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio, 22 August 2012)
By 2030, the number of asbestos deaths in Australia is predicted to reach 60,000, equalling the number of Australians killed in the first world war.
(Devil's Dust, ABC Television, 2015)
Julian Porteous (1949) [Catholic Archbishop of Hobart]:
[If] you have a same-sex attraction it's not appropriate for you to be responsible for the nurture of children.
(For Better or Worse, Four Corners, ABC Television, 10 October 2016)
Malcolm Turnbull (1954) [Prime Minister of Australia]:
[We, in the Liberal party,] are not run by factions.
Nor are we run by big business or by deals in back rooms.
We rely on the ideas and the energy and the enterprise of our membership.
(Man on a Wire, Four Corners, ABC Television, 8 August 2016)
Joe Hockey (1965) [Federal Treasurer]:
I find [wind turbines] utterly offensive.
I think they are just a blight on the landscape.
(Power to the People, Four Corners, ABC Television, 7 July 2014)
Scott Heron [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]:
It wasn’t just the El Nino.
2014 was the warmest year on record — an over 100-year record.
2015 exceeded that record by a new margin.
And we have estimates of a 99% chance that we’re gonna break that record again [this year.]
If you are 30 years or younger, you have never experienced a normal temperature month.
(Coral Bleaching, Catalyst, ABC Television, 11 October 2016)
[What] the records show is that global warming isn't something that's coming — it's here … already.
It's pointless … to ask,Is this climate change or natural variability?What we see is one acting on top of the other.
(Taking Our Temperature, Catalyst, ABC Television, 15 November 2012)
The Global War on Science Communications
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (1959): Director, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland
Joan Leach: Professor, Australian National University
Merryn McKinnon: Lecturer, Australian National University
The ABC says the run of the popular science television show, Catalyst, has reached the end in its current format.
In its place, the ABC has proposed it will deliver a series of 17 one hour-long documentaries that will be aired later in the evening than the current [weekly] half-hour science magazine style programming. …
Many documentary makers are somewhat sceptical of the ability of the ABC to follow through on the promise of the 17 documentaries independently produced from outside the ABC.
According to several film makers, one-hour programs take disproportionately greater resources and can have a production time running to years in order to get a good product. …
These changes also run in the face of a recent review for the ABC that suggested short science programs shown early in the evening were more popular than longer programs shown later in the day. …
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has emphasised the critical importance of innovation and science to Australia’s future.
Without an articulate and science savvy population, Australia runs at risk of falling behind in the globalisation stakes.
As climate change intensifies, technology continues to escalate and human population busts, the need for greater understanding of science and its processes will determine whether we are able to seize opportunities or not. …
It’s hard to be a clever country when you’re in the dark.
(What the ABC’s new Catalyst could mean for science on TV, The Conversation, 4 November 2016)
Religion and Ethics
- Stories of Hope, Melbourne Writers Festival, 22 August 2012.
Tim Costello: CEO, World Vision Australia.
- The junk science behind Minchin's climate change denial, 14 March 2011.
- NBN vs 4G: the contest is already over, 17 February 2011.
Rod Tucker, Director, Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, University of Melbourne.
In April 2010, the US Federal Communications Commission issued a broadband vision for America that was not dissimilar to Australia’s NBN. …
Wired networks, including fibre, were targeted to provide most 100 Mb/s high-speed broadband services in cities — with lower 4 Mb/s minimum speeds provided in rural areas.
Australia’s National Broadband Network promises more forward-looking minimum of 12 Mb/s via wireless in rural areas.
Australians are the clear winners — ours is a plan currently being executed rather than just an idea, and the bandwidths on offer in Australia are higher and (through fiber) almost infinitely upgradeable into the future.
The irony … is that Obama has put forward a vision … that is aimed at trying to close the gap between the US and more advanced broadband countries like Australia [yet] the anti-NBN lobby in Australia is fixated on wireless arguing that Australia should move backwards in order to emulate [the US].
- Death Dive: Into The Rings of Saturn, 14 September 2017.
- Coral Bleaching, 11 October 2016.
- Earth on Fire, June 2014.
- Taking Our Temperature, 15 November 2012.
David Jones: PhD, Bureau of Meteorology.
Mark Howden: PhD, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship.
Damian Thompson: PhD, CSIRO.
John Hunter: PhD, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems, CRC.
Karl Braganza: PhD, Bureau of Meteorology.
In Melbourne [in 2009] we saw the previous February record broken by more than 3 degrees.
Melbourne hit 46.5 degrees [C].
Hopetoun hit 48.8.
We broke the Victorian record by 1.6 degrees. …
[What] happened next … became known as 'Black Saturday'.
173 people died in those fires, but they weren't the only casualties of this extreme heat event.
When health researchers went back over the mortality records, it turned out an extra 370 people died during that week than you'd expect.
[They] were tipped over the edge by heat stress. …
[This is called] 'premature harvesting'. …
[The] chance of one month being above-average temperature, is one in two.
The chance of the next month also being above-average temperature, is one in four.
The chance of the next month also being above-average temperature, is one in eight. …
[Since] February 1985, we have had … 330 months in a row of above-average (global) temperatures. …
[There's] only a 1 in 100,000 chance that that would have happened in the absence of human influence. …
Sea temperatures … off Tasmania have risen [by] 2.28 degrees.
Last year, on 28th February, the water [off Rottnest Island] hit 26.4 degrees. …
It killed the coral.
[Has] that ever happened here at Rottnest?
Not that we're aware of.
Not in 40 metres of water.
[It] was part of the biggest heatwave to hit Australia's waters ever. …
In some places, up to 80% of what was there before is now no longer there. …
[It's gone,] dead …
Covered in algae.
[The heatwave] travelled 1,200km [ — from just north of Ningaloo Reef] to the southernmost tip of WA. …
[The] total sea-level rise since 1841 … is about 17 centimetres. …
[If] you raise sea level by just 10 centimetres … you get a tripling of the number of flooding events. …
And if you raise it by another 10 centimetres, it goes up by another factor of three, so that's a total of nine.
[So effectively] we've got nine times … the number of flooding events for structures at sea level than we did 100 years ago …
[There] have been record-breaking floods [recently] in Brisbane, Victoria [and] New South Wales. …
[Over] the last 24-month period … we've seen more rainfall in Australia for a 24-month period than we've ever seen in the historical record. …
[In] the last 15 years … in the south-east of the continent [there has been] a 10% to 20% reduction in [winter (April-November)] rainfall. …
[In] the west we've seen the same thing … since about 1970 …
[About] four decades with much less winter rainfall …
So, every parcel of air, every ocean current, every weather system [on earth] is now about a degree warmer.
[That's] a lot of energy added to the climate system …
- Tree Deaths, 28 April 2012.
Craig Allen: Forest Ecologist, US Geological Survey, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Professor Giles Hardy: Director, Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Woodland and Forest Health, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
George Matusick: Entomologist, Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Woodland and Forest Health, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
Martin Bader: Tree Physiologist, Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Woodland and Forest Health, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
[In the] Rocky Mountains of North America — home to some of the most beautiful, pristine forests in the world [—] the shades of burnt golden reds aren't the changing tones of Autumn; they're dead and dying trees.
We're looking at tree mortality over a scale of tens of millions of hectares in the last decade alone.
[Right] across the globe, there are reports of trees dying in [massive] numbers. …
Last summer was the hottest, driest period on record …
[We] had some hundred and twenty-two days with no rain …
[We] had weeks with over forty-two degrees …
In the Perth hills, we lost approximately twenty-thousand hectares of trees. …
Since the 1990s, trees of many different species have been declining across south-west Western Australia. …
[We] don't fully understand what's driving these declines, but in some areas we're losing a hundred per cent of the trees.
[There] is one … common stressor that could explain why so many trees are dying: higher temperatures with less water.
[South-western] Western Australia has lost fifteen per cent of its rainfall in the past few decades.
Average temperatures have increased by just over half a degree Celsius.
Heatwaves have become longer, more frequent, and more intense.
We haven't seen such scale of damage in the last fifty, sixty years, probably in recorded history.
These are some of … the toughest trees I've ever seen.
Now we're seeing conditions that are going outside their ability to cope.
… Dr Craig Allen [has] documented over a hundred examples of large-scale tree deaths in the past twenty-five years.
[All] around the world [we are seeing] droughts and heatwaves [triggering] mass waves of mortality.
No major forest type is immune.
Across the western US, [the] tree death rate have more than doubled in [recent] decades.
[In] northern New Mexico, we [are seeing] everything from grasses and shrubs to trees dying.
In 2005, the heart of the world's biggest rainforest suffered a drought so hot and severe it turned the Amazon jungle from a carbon sink to a carbon source.
A second once-in-a-century drought happened five years later.
[What] we're seeing … are trees passing the tipping point of stress — the thresholds of mortality.
Unfortunately we don't know very much about these thresholds …
Leaves lose water via tiny holes called stomata.
These … open to draw in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.
But if too much water is lost, the trees [need to] shut down their stomata.
[Shortly] after nine o'clock [on a forty-degree day this] tree basically shut down …
[There] was only a small opportunity [for it to] photosynthesise.
So it can't basically eat.
The tree avoids dying of thirst, but then begins to starve.
[When] we had a couple of days consecutively over thirty [degrees] it was just too much …
Sixty or seventy per cent of the Banksias died last summer. …
What's most alarming is that these die-off events may be just the tip of the iceberg.
We know that [rising] temperatures exacerbate tree mortality, and the climate [projections] are that the world is going to get much warmer …
[We] may be … at the very front edge of what could be wholesale mortality of the world's forests …
Would you like to know more?
- The World Of Asperger's, 28 August 2008.
- Malcolm in a Muddle, 13 November 2017.
- The Forgotten Children, 17 October 2016.
Debbie Whitmont & Wayne Harley.
- For Better or Worse, 10 October 2016.
Quentin McDermott & Ali Russell.
- The End of Coal?, 15 June 2015.
Geoff Thompson & Deborah Richards.
- Power to the People, 7 July 2014.
Stephen Long & Karen Michelmore.
- Rupert, Rebekah and Andy, 30 June 2014.
Marian Wilkinson & Janine Cohen.
- Democracy For Sale, 23 June 2014.
Linton Besser & Ges D'Souza.
- No Advantage, 29 April 2013.
Deb Whitmont & Janine Cohen.
Paul Barry (1952)
- The final Tele tally, 9 September 2013.
The Daily Telegraph: 2013 Australian Election Coverage
Stance Number of Articles Percentage Pro-Coalition 43 16% Anti-Labor 134 49% Pro-Labor 6 2% Anti-Coalition 5 2% Neutral 85 31% Total 273 100%
With Neutral Articles Removed
Pro-Coalition + Anti-Labor 177 94% Pro-Labor + Anti-Coalition 11 6% Total 188 100%
We aren’t the only ones to find the bias in the Tele and some other Murdoch papers a little bit off.
The Press Council received around 200 complaints about election coverage, most of which appear to involve the Murdoch tabloids.
And Kevin Rudd, Christine Milne, Clive Palmer and Bob Katter — that’s everyone except the Coalition — got stuck into the coverage.
- What's in a name? 19 March 2012.