Category Archives: Science

Sunday Reads #8: All things climate, environmental and politics

Firstly, I need to plug my survey again. I had a great response on Friday, but yesterday saw little movement. If the question and the answer matters to you, please try to get at least three friends or family members to spare 60 seconds to fill it in and a couple additional minutes to get three more to follow on.

Survey: Does the Aust Gov have a mandate on Chaplains in Public Schools?

Coalition’s Green Army passes the Senate

Having worked as a retail “trainee” when I was 19-20 in what was clearly a way to get around minimum wage restrictions, I am concerned by this, but not surprised at the bi-partisan support, sadly.

Carpark run-off cheaper to drink than desal water

Thinking for the 21st century!

Changing what we eat [relating to sustainability climate change]

Great to bookmark and refer to the future.

This Is What Your Grocery Store Looks Like Without Bees (PHOTOS)

Expect this message to become a bigger issue over the coming decades.

Fiji accuses global community of abandoning the Pacific on climate change, singles out ‘selfish’ Australia

Unfortunately, our leaders are not listening.

The jobs of yesterday: Abbott’s roads rear-vision

Sorry, second plug. This is my latest article on the Climate Spectator.

Power bills to drop 8pc in Tasmania if Senate approves carbon tax abolition

When the Gillard government introduced the carbon price, Abbott said people would pay thousands more a year in energy costs. He then said he would save people on average $550 a year in energy costs. Tasmanians’ are set to save $164 a year from the latest estimates.

For me, this is a clear indicator that reality is likely to be about 20% the estimate offered by our current PM.

Coal’s share of world energy demand at highest since 1970

And this is a genuine tragedy for the coal rich country down under, regardless what the short-term economics might say.

 

The jobs of yesterday: Abbott’s roads rear-vision

The following is the start of an article that Climate | Business Spectator published yesterday.

The weeks are few and far between when there isn’t news of job cuts, be it primarily manufacturing, services or research. A few hundred here, a couple thousand there, a revamp (with a subtle job loss undertone) for the rest.

And our brave Prime Minister stresses with his Canadian counterpart that job and economic growth are his primary focus. He wants to be the “Infrastructure PM” after all, and if we would all just chip in for his fuel tax, he would open the doors to a plethora of roles in road construction.

There is just one problem with this logic. Just because they’re fruit, it doesn’t mean an apple and an orange are the same. Just because he talks of jobs, it doesn’t mean an out-of-work postie, ex-Holden worker or researcher will be suitable fodder for his new roads projects.

Keep reading here.

Sunday Reads #7: All things climate, environmental and politics

Why electricity prices continue to shock people

Something a lot of us have been saying for some time; the maths simply doesn’t add up. The costs of energy in Australia are not largely the result of the carbon price. We will not be better off with the carbon price gone. We certainly won’t be better off with additional fuel taxes and GP co-payments.

Hunting for Hunt’s Direct Action costings

This government clearly failed when they told us they would be one of “no surprises”. If they had told us they would be one of “no modelling” they would have been spot on.

The Liberals’ radical turn on climate change

An interesting back story the shifting Liberal ideology.

IR debate hijacked by the right

Everything you thought you knew about the supposed “wage explosion” is nothing more than spin designed to undermine workers rights.

Unleash metrics on the climate change sceptics! Met Office chief wants scientists to turn to poetry to promote research

Julia should spend more time exploring blogs and YouTube. There are plenty that have long known this.

Tony Abbott missing signs of world’s switch to carbon trading, experts say

No-one is convinced by the claim that countries are moving away from a market based approach.

Dear Millennials, We’re Sorry

I’ve wanted to write a response article to this, if time permitted. In short, great read, but I disagree with attacking the aged so heavily. Yes, a large proportion goes to them, but we have an aging population. More importantly, have we forgotten the point of “we are the 99%”?

There are massive problems with the distribution of money. More equal societies and a combination of super and taxation ought to support individuals throughout their lives. What kills that is when you live in a society that sees no fundamental problems with some having billions in personal net wealth among their communities.

People-Oriented Cities: Three Keys to Quality Public Transport

Another one to bookmark. The “Aussie dream” for the 20th just doesn’t work in the 21 centuryst. How we manage the expected population growth in Australia over the next century will make or brake our cities.

Sunday Reads #6: All things climate, environmental and politics

Real Density Versus Experienced Density in Paris

I know I’m part of a very small group in Australia who believe discussions will need to focus on higher density on the coming decades, but all the signs are there. I am certain Australia a century from now will have it’s capital cities and many satellites with densities much the same as places like many of the biggest cities today. A massive rethink on how we envision cities and indeed the “Aussie dream” need to be on the cards sooner or later.

This is excellent fuel for thought. As is;

Transit Oriented Development Needs More than Just Location

Making Aussies pay more for fuel to invest in more roads is worthy of a face palm. We will need TOD’s for our growing population. Planning ahead while density is low and land is being chewed up from sprawl makes for excellent timing.

Five Exciting Designs Chosen for New Garden Cities

Of course, higher density can be beautiful, if planned ahead.

Saving Trees in Tropics Could Cut Emissions by One-Fifth, Study Shows

Why not? They are productive lands (assuming landholders don’t rip them up – little nutrients actually in the soil).

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank joins super funds in fossil fuel rethink

The shift is happening, regardless how much some might resist it.

Science funding cuts are generating fears for jobs and research output

Something I can relate with. Being a job searcher hearing CSIRO cutting jobs, various universities cutting non-academic roles, outsourcing, outsourcing, outsourcing. Let’s just say, it’s hard being green….

Abbott deserves to be punished relentlessly for his broken promises

And yet, a mad side show between Turnbull and a couple neo-conservative commentators are taking up the discussions. Speaking of which;

Reading the crazy illogical Turnbull-Jones-Bolt brouhaha

Another shameless plug. The Climate Spectator picked up my article and ran with it.

Richard Denniss: Hey Joe Hockey, while we’re on the subject of debt …

“Australia faces choices about climate change, not dilemmas.”

Sunday Reads #5: All things climate, environmental and politics

Don’t like the budget? Your options aren’t limited to voting

While some in the government are calling the actions of many disappointed Australians “socialism” in truth, civil disobedience and peaceful protesting is an essential element to a fully functional democracy. Of course, the opposition, when they have no genuine rebuke, will resort to name calling, so let them have that, at least.

Pyne short on maths when it comes to ‘prestige’ degrees

For those who care about the quality of the minds of future Australian who will be in charge when we are old and needing assistance (hoping that we haven’t made them selfish and apathetic). The best point of this article, for me is the simple point; if university graduates are likely to earn 75% more, why not add a tax to those currently earning 75% more to support those who follow them?

It avoids the debilitating debt the current proposal will create and it will avoid further insult to the disadvantaged – those who may not make the supposed 75% more, women who take time off to have children, people who suffer an unforeseeable health problem down the track when they have already completed university and are unable to work in the same fashion, etc.

Climate change by any name is economics

A little shameless self promotion…

Why ethics won’t help cut emissions

An excellent article to support a carbon price

Rules to cut carbon emissions also reduce harmful air pollution

What’s more, CO2 isn’t the only thing that comes out of exhaust pipes. Reducing carbon emissions reduces all other relating chemicals and particulates. A decarbonised world makes for healthier lungs!

Carter and de Lange’s GWPF sea level report plagiarises their own heartland funded NIPCC propaganda

This made me laugh… But we must give them a little room. After all, they have such a small resource base to work from that this type of this is inevitable.

‘Damage already done’: Climate Change Authority staff quit amid uncertainty

My initial thought in reading this was, “Well, I’ll happily apply for a role!” (noting, obviously, my skills sets are probably not a great match)

I’ve written numerous articles over the years about the how poorly the Australian Green Sector has established itself. Since 2009 it went downhill for some time and I had a sense last year that again momentum was indeed rebuilding.

Nowadays, I’m careful of whether or not I include the words “climate change” or certain publications in an application. We all have mouths to feed and lives to live. The cuts to research and anything relating to climate by our current government is an effective tool to undermine the confidence of the sector.

Global survey: Climate change now a mainstream part of city planning

And despite the strange behaviours in Australia, the world is building cities to that buffer them from future climate change… it feels a million miles away from sprawling urban Australia.

Abbott pedals against the global climate awakening

And there you have it.

Climate change by any name is economics

The Independent Australia has kindly posted my newest article.

LET’S BE HONEST. We all know the “budget crisis” is little more than spin. We have a minuscule debt, enviable among the OECD countries.

That’s not to say that the budget doesn’t have its problems.

The truth is that Labor successfully navigated us through the global financial crisis and the Coalition has successfully got the nation talking about a spending habit no longer suitable beyond that period…

Continue reading here.

Sunday Reads #4: All things climate, environmental and politics

How green spaces could stop cities from overheating

Biophilic cities provide a wealth of services to the local population

Bank won’t fund port expansion due to reef fears

Telling when those in the money business won’t back a business initiative that the Government approves of.

Australia’s road to a low carbon economy

We have the financial position, the otherwise wasted resources, the ingenuity and the moral imperative (noting that Australia already has a harsh climate) and yet, there isn’t the political will to become a world leader.

This made even more important, due to…

China Targets 70 Gigawatts of Solar Power to Cut Coal Reliance

Seems China is weaning itself off of our dirty fuel. A great thing for a number of reasons. Firstly, the sun gives its energy away for free (damned socialist sun!) and secondly, it will go a long way to improving the air quality and thus health of the population.

Achievements of the Abbott Government To Date

And amazing list for less than a year’s effort. The best thing about this list is the links. It actually serves as a great resource for supporting material.

Budget inequality is bad for business

What does more for the economy; one individual hording $20b, or 10 million families with an extra $2000 over a year to put towards their expenses? Social science is conclusive; large amounts of social inequality negatively impacts everyone – including the top end. Japan and Sweden are better places to live that Australia on a measures that matter to people (eg. child mortality, life span, trust, drug abuse, crime etc) and this budget will only take us further away from those examples.

And if you doubt the inequity of the 2014 Budget, Bernard Keane tweeted this image.

budget distribution

Inequality and the Empathy Gap

This might explain the laps in better judgement illustrated in Abbott’s achievements above and discussed in the link above. Moreover, most of the defense I’ve heard on the 2014 Budget would fit into this category. All in all, I see it daily…

Three Cities Demonstrate the Role of Transport in Shaping Public Space

Abbott wants to be known as the “Infrastructure Prime Minister”. I will know him only as the PM who dedicated future generations to servitude; investing heavily on roads while increasing the cost of fuel; at least one road – the Melbourne East-West link – will be a toll road.

People need to move around their urban landscape and this PM wants to help them… at a cost. A cost “that goes up and up and up” (yes, I’m quoting Abbott on his rejection of the carbon price).

Other cities have a more humane approach to this need to move around cities and what’s more, they are making places where people want to stay.

Budget 2014: My advice to an aspiring uni student

Following the 2014 budget, I am glad that I’m no longer a tertiary student and that more than half of my HECS debt is repaid. As the first of my family to not only have a degree but to actually finish high school, I understand the fears this budget can incite within a ‘working class’ student better than most.

“But you don’t have to pay it back until you’re making money.”

This retort is idiotic. I find it repugnant that people shrug off the proposed deregulated course fees and increases to HECS interest rates (that begin as soon as you gain the debt, not earn enough to pay it back) with such a comment.

Debt is debt. My environmental science degree is likely to double in price. I know that I wouldn’t have selected it if I knew it would lead me more than $40k in debt. Of course, with higher interest rates, the cost of the loan would be even greater again. This actually means that those wealthy enough to pay upfront get a discount.

As for a career in environmental science….

For me, I have an excellent track record, for example;

  • having control of a project of more than $150k in which I built what became an exemplary environmental / climate research facility within the national academic research network,
  • I have designed new equipment to support the research objectives of PhD students,
  • Developed detailed spatial data packages of the aquatic flora assemblage of Victorian estuaries,
  • I have also developed much of the background project management infrastructure, such as project databases, Standard Operating Procedure Manuals (both of which have been adopted by other research groups) and various data validation and management systems

In short, my input to various projects have been valuable and my initiative has allowed for new avenues that soon become standard. Moreover, I’ve proven myself to be a successful science and policy commentator, now with articles appearing on various professional media outlets as well as my work being quoted even further. Alongside this, my promotion of research and ability to produce interesting multimedia content is also proven.

I am successful with wide ranging capacities beyond my core roles.

Still, I’ve known nothing but job insecurity. I have had contracts of as much as 3 years and as little as 3 months. I’ve done all I can to demonstrate my value, only to lose hours due to cut backs.

Since January, I’ve dedicated much of my free time to job searching (hence why NewAnthro is fairly quiet). Despite my wide ranging skills package, my very helpful networks and all the application assistance I’ve had on my side, I haven’t even had a single interview.

I can’t even scroll through the news of late without hearing of more cutbacks in research and natural research management, leaving me at a loss in a career that was suppose to be the industry of the 21st century (as I was sold prior to selecting my degree).

My advice

As for what I would suggest, it’s difficult to admit, but I wouldn’t take my path if I knew back before my uni days what I know now.

To a student currently hoping to enrol in an environmental degree, I would suggest a general science degree instead where you can major in courses that suit your interests, skills or desired career path as you go along.

If you, like me as a student, plan to work in applied science, choose something core to human activity.

For instance, instead of conservation, focus on primary industry. Instead of climate, focus on urban design or engineering or something relevant.

You can influence the same necessary behavioural changes, but under a different title which have greater employability.

Lastly, be clever with your protesting.

Hijacking Q&A when Christopher Pyne was a guest. The presumed violence towards Julie Bishop on a recent uni visit. These are worse than ineffective, they are detrimental.

Being an advocate for climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as equality for a number of years has led me to mull over this problem for some time.

In this case, the protesters could mirror the response; this has been to morally disapprove the behaviour of these students.

Collect the data and campaign on the fair and equal rights of all Australian students to develop their skills. Going to uni isn’t simply personal. Tertiary education improves the standard of living and revenue of the country as a whole (how else do you end up with skills shortages than through reducing support for education?). It is an investment where the individual and the Commonwealth both benefit.

The marching this month is great, but social media is a powerful tool as well. Education through concise multimedia and easy to understand memes can reach the voting public in ways that scuffling with politicians on uni grounds simply won’t.

Uni students are a large cohort of the public, with numerous resources at their finger tips (eg. libraries and access to research behind pay walls for instance) and being primarily Gen-Y, they are tech savvy.

These are the strongest weapons in the students’ arsenal.

Sunday Reads #3: All things climate, environmental and politics

Delays on climate change have cost us $8 trillion

Non-trivial…

Hockey exposes us as fair weather friends

I, for one, am uncomfortable looking like a heartless bludger.

Federal Budget Summary 2014: The Abbott Government sets its agenda

Good summary

Five things we learned about … the Far Right and renewables

Disturbing insight

Federal Government proposes changes to EBPC

If the mining lobby think it’s a good idea, you can make a safe bet that Australian’s and Australian landscapes will be the losers.

Landcare on Green Army

Replacing a working model for something untested that exploits cheap labour… hmmmm…

Budget 2014: ACCC gets $10 million to monitor carbon tax repeal

Perhaps the only positive in a bad situation; it will certainly help prove that Australian’s will not be better off with this government’s budget ideas.

Sunday Reads #2: All things climate, environmental and politics

CO2 ‘significantly reduces’ nutrients in major food crops

Dr Sridhar writes an excellent article on food security, in contrast to the sceptical claim that our CO2 emissions equal plant food. I did see an article a few years ago which found the same thing with grain crops; growth might increase, but food quality dropped.

We can’t count on plants to slow down global warming

John Abraham discusses how sequestration alone won’t save us.

Climate change affects us all. So what’s stopping us joining forces to act on it?

Climate change mitigation isn’t impossible, unsustainable, unsafe or expensive. We can define a new, vibrant and sophisticated 21st century. Solutions exist.

The fossil fuel industry and who really runs Australia

Sandi Keane provides us an example of some of the main players keeping us embedded in outdated technology.

Barack Obama’s emissions plan comes under new line of attack

Even more on the war to keep us locked into a fossil-fueled dark age.

China’s Mega-Cities Are Combining Into Mega-Regions, but They’re Doing It Wrong

In my opinion, this is a sneak peak of one of the major problems much of the rest of the world will face mid-century. Planning ahead of time (while simultaneously planning for a low-carbon urban environment) early will lead to wealthier and healthier populations by the end of the 21st century.

Welcome to the Idea of Carbon Removal

Pretty interesting video

Govt releases climate action draft bill

All indications show that Abbott’s government should keep on with the current policies….

I try to tweet all the articles that I read, when I’ve read them. Follow me on twitter to get even more updates.