Author Archives: Moth

Abbott plays blame games to defy the democratic process

The fallacy is better known as a Red Herring.

I know that I said I would move away from politics (primarily because the topic is career limiting to say the least – good luck democracy!) but how could I avoid the relentless march into absurdity that encapsulates the mob entrusted to make decisions on our behalf?

The straw that broke this camel’s back is the waste of taxpayer funds to advertise a red herring as obvious as dog’s… um…

Our fearless (if myopia can be called that) leader unveiled a mobile billboard yesterday. It reads; “East West Link Scrapped and you’re… Stuck in traffic! Blame Labor.”

Who is he kidding? It will no doubt stir up rage in the average fan of Andrew Bolt, but arguably most Victorian’s get that another toll road is not what the state needs at this point in time.

Actually, it’s not subjective; Victorians knew what they were voting for in the 2014 election; The East West Link (Coalition) or Rail upgrades (Labor). The parties made no secret that this was one of the main contests and the East West Link lost.

Victoria, not just Labor, rejected this toll road.

Building new roads instead of improving public transport is at odds with 21st century urban planning. Our devoting to roads is weird. If we continue to be stuck in traffic, it’s because our Federal government refuses to fund what the people voted for (and again, democracy takes a hit).

To give an example, Eastlink caps a one way trip at $5.84. If you used CityLink to the CBD from the Monash Freeway, one way would cost you $7.20. A return trip would land you $11.68 or $14.40 respectively, with the stop-start pain of peak hour on either the Eastern or Monash Freeways.

By contrast, a full day trip that covers zones 1 & 2 (most regions) will set you back a modest $7.52, without additional fuel, wear-and-tear and the overwhelming threat of being involved in the next accident (too often the result of impatience).

With Melbourne’s population growth projections expecting as much as 7.8 million people by 2051, we can’t expect each person to ride alone in our cars to work. No amount of roads could cope.

The people stuck in traffic are those who don’t have access to good public transport and those who need their cars for work. Reinforce the public transport system and most of the former will convert, leaving the roads for the latter.

And yet, here we are with a PM refusing to part with promise funds to the state. It’s a bitter revenge for rejecting his state counterparts and more toll roads that we don’t need or want.

Instead, he’s loose with cash for a political stunt that flies in the face of Victorian voters. He does so, of course, not to play state politics, but to try to get one state one side in the lead up to next year’s election. It’s negative rhetoric and what he does best.

A better person might acknowledge the will of the people and act accordingly.

We can only hope that this red herring is transparent to Victorian voters. We can hope that they show this PM, just as they did the former Premier, that they will not cave into 20th century thinking.

When you’re stuck in traffic, I hope it gives you enough time to reflect on who is truly to blame.

Watch “Five More Stupid Things About Climate Change Denial” on YouTube

Fuel in the skies: has sequestration finally found its market?

I just came across an article stating that Audi have just done something pretty awesome.

Using water, renewable energy and atmospheric CO2, they have generated a synthetic diesel.

Read the article here.

Personally, I see it as a much bigger deal than simply a cleaner, more efficient fuel, which of course it is.

It’s actually sequestration. Moreover, it’s sequestration with potentially strong market influences. It’s also sequestration that brings a cyclic relationship to our carbon-based fuel.

Given strong global leadership on it, there is even a potential for us to modify the atmospheric CO2 concentrations to counter long term climate trends that could impact us negatively. Through controlling what we burn or store, we would be able to influence our climate for our benefit.

I recognise that I might be getting carried away with this news. However, depending on how this story unfolds, it could be a genuine game changer.

Why temperatures never go up in straight lines

Beautifully presented, yet tragic GIFs that show what’s happening to our oceans

TED has a great page with a number of animated images. These paint a picture of what is happening to our oceans.

It’s easy to overlook such a massive tragedy from our vantage point.

image

See the rest here.

Welcome to the new (er) New Anthropocene

I’m staggered to learn that, in my absence, the traffic has remained. For months on end.

That my efforts on here for the past four years continues to be of value is the very best compliment I could ask for.

I had a spike last week (three times my running daily average), with about a third of that traffic directed towards my fluoridation work. I honestly don’t get the controversy. Capital cities in most states and territories of Australia have had fluoridated water since the 1960’s or 70’s.

Compare such places to Brisbane (not fluoridated) for signs of the supposed adverse reactions of fluoridation and be astounded in the boredom… We don’t see the drop in IQ or increases in cancers or whatever boogeymen you wish to imagine. We do, however, see a reduction in cavities in fluoridated areas.

In reality, that should be the end of it. But that’s the problem with any anti-science movements.

The ABYSS

I’ve learnt a lot in the past year. Unfortunately, I’ve become a little more cynical as well. My writing, I was informed by a potential employer (which they came across in a standard background check), is a liability. This is especially so with the political writing – the only stuff that professional outlets seem to want from me (unpaid, of course). To a lesser extent, the same is true with my rebuttals to anti-science (apparently, I show up on climate denial and anti-vax websites), which sully my name in association.

Moreover, to take a quote I’ve used before; you shouldn’t debate with idiots. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.

As such, I will no longer smash my writing efforts against the wall of cognitive dissonance required to hold on to any ideology, be it religious, political or anti-science. It’s sad that many find the unknown so daunting that they need to prop up idealistic models of reality at any cost rather than to trust solid evidence.

If I’m going to writing, it may as well be useful.

Still, I am back!

I have a new job (outside of environmental science) and I am getting close to regaining enough free time to spend on NewAnthro (the past year was spent in a very insecure role where all my free time went to family or, more often, relentless job searching).

NewAnthro will finally get back on track with what it was intended to do; provide an outlet for discussion concentrated on the overwhelming fact that we are now in the Anthropocene and thus a force of nature. What we do about yielding this influence must be targeted towards prosperous outcomes over degradation.

For my kids sake, I’m not interested in a low / no impact life, because that is honestly a pipe-dream suitable for Qi fanciers. The only answer is medium to high impact; like a farmer who increasing the production of a landscape, human activity must aspire to promote biodiversity, thus biological services, thus prosperity for all.

My own efforts will be shared, as a video journal as well as writing, as I try to achieve wins within my fence line. The Sustainable Cities Collective remains one of my favourite gems on the internet.

Right now, I’m working on a home-made, off-grid, weather station which will also water my garden (you can take me out of environmental science, but can’t take the field out of me!) and plan to develop videos along the way. I might share snippets and trial segments on the NewAnthro FB page. If you would like to provide feedback to these test runs, please follow.

I hope the shift will be one that interests you!

Movie Wish List for #auspol – What they missed out on as children

For a whole host of reasons, I’ve been unable, even reluctant, to write.

Firstly, the survey flopped. I managed to get around 40 people to sign it within the first couple days. However there wasn’t enough interest to obtain 2nd and 3rd generation participation. All up only 50 people signed it which simply wasn’t enough to comment on.

Secondly, the job front has been stressful and disheartening. That it has been relentless has meant that it has required more and more of my time and energy. I’ve even wishfully mused over monetising NewAnthro through minimal advertisements and looking into Patreon so that I can dedicate my entire efforts to it. This would allow me to move into different media (eg. video production, podcasting, etc) and genuine reporting.

Of course, I’m enough of a realist to see that I don’t have weight enough for this bud to fruit.

Thirdly, the last year in politics has left me speechless. I don’t know if I’m more surprised that my predictions have largely been proven right or that enough of the population (46% is not a mandate, mind you) didn’t see it coming. From Pyne’s attempted wordplay of ‘schools’ or school’s’ regarding funding, to Morrison’s mute reply to every horrendous truth that we eventually learn of on his watch…

Moreover, that many members in the general public honestly think any refugee could be considered a “queue jumper” and that sending their children alone half way around the world is anything but traumatic (only achievable in that it is less traumatic than leaving them at risk of death in a war zone) or that our disadvantaged are “bludgers” is a disgraceful badge on the Aussie culture.

Perhaps I’m the odd one.

I’m not sure what might follow with my writing. However there is one thing I want to say for now.

I suspect our political class collectively suffered a deprived childhood that could have helped to make them better people. Here are a few movies / TV series they could have seen that may have helped them to learn valuable moral lessons. It’s by no means a complete list; please feel free to suggest others.

Movie Life lesson
The Emperor’s new groove Compromise and cooperation (indeed even building regulations) can lead to greater positive outcomes for all parties than pure selfish, individualistic, pursuits.
Aladdin While our political class might have the lesson “bee yourself” sorted, this only applies if ‘yourself’ is someone willing to share with those less fortunate.
The Little Mermaid Be wary of making deals with powerful magnates. They are where they are only because their deals favour themselves more than anyone else.
The Lion King Without genuine, fair and empathetic leadership, scoundrels take over and erode the quality of life for all.
Full House / The Brady Bunch / The Smurfs Pretty much every moral question imaginable over their many seasons.
Bob the Builder / Thomas the tank engine Hard work and consideration for those around you builds lasting personal and professional relationships.
Gremlins Prevention is more cost effective than a cure. This is directly concerned with nutrition and the advice of experts, but applicable elsewhere.
The Dark Crystal Draining the vital resources from the vulnerable is only a short-term move which will lead to escalating social problems.
The Labyrinth Imprisoning children to get your way will ultimately outrage those you seek to impress.
Spiderman With great power comes great responsibility
Snow White Obsessing over popular opinion leads to poor decision-making.
Pinocchio Telling lies only leaves you looking like an ass.
Ghost busters Adequate funding of science, even if you don’t personally understand the field in question, is essential in mitigating larger problems in the long run.