Behold the dawn of the Anthropocene

It’s not quite done and dusted, but the scientists on the official working group have overwhelmingly declared that the new ‘epoch’ of the Anthropocene has begun in the geological time scale.

Years ago I recall a caller on talkback radio saying that in 50 million years time the only sign of humans will be a layer of toxic slime in the geological record. Stratigraphy is what we are talking about here, so it’s serious. Humans are leaving an imprint on the earth’s crust that will be there forever, or until the dying sun expands, and burns the planet to a crisp. Continue reading Behold the dawn of the Anthropocene

Greens: time for a rethink?

After the election their was a sharp and somewhat bitter exchange between Greens legend Bob Brown, and a rejoinder from NSW Green Mehreen Faruqi. She joined the Greens because of Bob Brown, she said, and now he had broken her heart.

This incident was a symptom of a deeper cleavage. Perhaps the Greens need to decide whether they will chase votes, or will stick to principles and try to bring voters with them. Has the sainted Bob Brown moved from the first camp to the second? Continue reading Greens: time for a rethink?

Saturday salon 27/8

1. Fruit loop advises Trump on foreign policy

A few months ago Michele Bachmann joined Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. Now she says she is advising him on foreign affairs.

    Bachmann believes the September 11 attacks represented God’s judgment on America; President Obama and gay rights advocates are bringing about the End Times; homosexuality is “personal enslavement” and “part of Satan”; gay people want to change laws “so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually”; and Obamacare death panels will literally kill people any day now.

    Her foreign policy ideas are driven by her belief that the Last Days have arrived.

Continue reading Saturday salon 27/8

Climate clippings 181

1. Solar delivers cheapest electricity ‘ever, anywhere, by any technology’

Half the price of coal!

    In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Continue reading Climate clippings 181

Asylum seekers: time to close the bloody camps!

Arguably the biggest story on the Australian political scene last week was the protesters interrupting Malcolm Turnbull in a speech in a posh Melbourne hotel telling the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (ceda) that Good budget management is a vital component of our economic plan as if they didn’t know.

Protestors infiltrated the venue, posing as media:

image-20160817-3578-1iah8tq_550 Continue reading Asylum seekers: time to close the bloody camps!

Increasing the Use of Public Transport May be Harder Than We Think

“Increase the use of public transport”  is an easy response to Brisbane’s transport problems.   However, once I realized that only 10% of car commutes went to the CBD the picture became more complex. Public and active transport was no longer the answer to everything. Continue reading Increasing the Use of Public Transport May be Harder Than We Think

Should we call the whole thing off?

The spectacle of the Rio Olympics has raised a raft of questions, from whether it is at all ethical to spend public money on elite sport, to whether Australia’s performance is bad and getting worse, and the difficulties of being a host city.

The morality of funding elite sport

Rio has brought forth a couple of ads on Gruen that cut to the chase (thanks, John D for the link). Logically the Group Hug video comes first. It introduces us to a thief in Rio dedicated to stealing any gold medals our athletes might win. So they should aim for bronze. The Mr Mumbles video comprises ironic comments from the bereft and the homeless, essentially pointing to the pointlessness of the whole exercise. Continue reading Should we call the whole thing off?

Census farce caused by spectacular blunders?

Patrick Gray, described by CSO Magazine as a “respected information security journalist and podcaster” has put forward an account of the Census crash that varies from the official version.

His “sources” told him that the DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack experienced at 7.30pm came from inside Australia, not from the United States as claimed. Continue reading Census farce caused by spectacular blunders?

Saturday salon 20/8

1. International Index of Ignorance

Behold, the 10 most ignorant countries in the world.

Polling firm Ipsos MORI surveyed people about the demographics of their countries and published the results its “Perils of Perception” report. For example, they asked people’s perceptions on average age in the country, the percentage of immigrants and the percentage of people overweight.

The results are sobering. The British think 43% of 25-34 year-olds live with their parents. The actual number is 14%. Brazilians were particularly bad at judging age, saying that the average age of people in their country is 56 when it is actually 31. Obesity tends to be underestimated. Saudis, for example, think that just over a quarter of their country is overweight, when in reality the figure is around 70%. Continue reading Saturday salon 20/8

July 2016 Earth’s hottest month may herald step change in climate

Seasonally planet Earth is hottest in July. Northern summers are hotter because of the greater land mass in the Northern Hemisphere. This July was a scorcher, being the hottest single month since records began:

July_1 BiO14C2v1sMcuYJECnH1QA_600

The cool spot below Greenland is now average. Continue reading July 2016 Earth’s hottest month may herald step change in climate

Climate clippings 180

1. Tesla car drives owner to hospital, saves his life

Missouri lawyer Joshua Neally was driving his Tesla Model X home from his office when he suffered piercing pain in his stomach and chest. Rather than call an ambulance he set his Tesla Model X in self-driving mode and headed for a hospital 20 miles (32km) down the road. He was able to park it and check himself in.

He suffered a pulmonary, a potentially fatal obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs. Very probably, the car saved his life. Continue reading Climate clippings 180

Senate terms decided by the major parties

To suit themselves, largely. Pauline Hanson, Nick Xenophon and his mate Stirling Griff, plus Jacqui Lambie will get six-year terms. The rest of the crossbench will have to front up again next election.

The Greens, who had argued for a ‘fairer’ method, lose out. Only Richard Di Natale, Scott Ludlam and Peter Whish-Wilson get 6-year terms. Continue reading Senate terms decided by the major parties