The purpose of LEAN is to make concern for the environment and climate change an essential part of Labor’s DNA. I’d say with the roomful of awesomely talented people we had at Lane Cove, the prospects look bright. Certainly the ALP branches around and near the suburb I live in are already there. Mark Butler is held in very high regard by the people who know him.
Second comment, I’m from the Silent Generation, according to this listing. At the meeting there was a pleasing quota of Millennials, of Gen Y (born 1977-1995). I’d never encountered them in sizable groups before. I found that a cluster of Millennials talk very fast and laugh all the time. I saw an article recently (not this one) that said human speech varies culturally from just over four phonemes per second to just under six. That’s nearly 50% faster, and not what my brain is used to.
I learnt a lot, and was not myself silent. In fact I worried I had too much to say, given I was basically a guest of the meeting.
Sydney is like a huge ants nest, but at the Quest North Ryde our room looked out over the tree tops of Lane Cove National Park. Easy to take.
The standard of service in the hospitality and transport sectors was amazing.
Call it empathy, call it compassion, but our needs were their first concern. Many of the people who helped us were ethnically Asian. However, my wife went to Manly on Saturday to meet up with a nephew and his wife who were staying there for a celebration. It’s Tony Abbott country. No racial diversity there.
2. The origins of us
This is from the New Scientist:
Vanessa Hayes of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, and her colleagues gathered more than 1200 DNA samples from people in southern African. The samples were all mitochondrial DNA, which people only inherit from their mothers. The team used this to create a family tree showing when ancient populations split.
They concluded that the oldest lineage emerged about 200,000 years ago, which they interpret as the origin of our species.
The team found little evidence of mixing between groups, so they concluded that populations have probably not moved much since they were established. Based on where the oldest variants are found today, they argue that our species’ homeland was a vast wetland called Makgadikgadi-Okavango in Botswana.
This wetland doesn’t exist anymore, but there is clear evidence it once did. The region is now a vast salt pan, created when Lake Makgadikgadi dried up. This huge lake existed from 2 million years ago until about 10,000 years ago.
From the ABC story, this is where they think it all came to pass:
This is what it looks like now:
Does this settle the matter?
Seems not. We really need analysis of the full genome, which is humungous:
Mitochondrial DNA is relatively short, consisting of a modest 16,000 DNA base pairs — compared to the three billion base pairs of our regular genome, found inside the nucleus.
And some old bones would really help.
Years ago I heard it argued that our subcutaneous fat and relatively hairless skin compared to other apes bespeak watery origins.
3. Australia’s big dry
We focus a lot on El Niño and La Niña (ENSO) in our broader seasonal weather thinking. ENSO is neutral at present, so scientists have taken a renewed interest in the Indian Dipole, which is strongly positive, meaning dry weather where it has an effect. See The Culprit Behind East Australia’s Big Dry. Here’s the graph for recent years:
Here’s the longer view:
There seems to have been a step change around 1960, and another in the 1990s. Certainly the seasons are more erratic now. This century we’ve oscillated from droughts to floods for much of the time. This quote is telling:
- “We are perturbing the atmosphere in a profound way with greenhouse gases,” England says. “How this changes our modes of variability is uncertain.”
In other words we really don’t know what is happening or what to expect.
If you go to the BOM drought page you can get maps like this one for the last 18 months:
Here’s stream flow in September 2019:
Back in 2016 some clever people found that Antarctic ice shows Australia’s drought and flood risk is worse than thought.
Way worse. What happened at times in the last 1000 years before the instrumental record in much worse than has happened since.
However, a 2018 study found Recent Australian droughts may be the worst in 800 years
I haven’t been following government drought in detail, but I got a heads up to the Q&A Special on Drought. Here’s an excerpt from Fiona Simpson of National Farmers:
- The need is absolutely critical out there at the moment, but we have no plan. We don’t really know… We’re in unchartered waters, and because the farming industry is so diverse and communities are so diverse and the needs are so diverse, then…and we haven’t got the data about what’s worked in the past, we haven’t got the assessments and the rigour around those decisions, then it’s really, really hard.
It doesn’t get better. Maryanne Slattery says the Murray Darling agreement is a train wreck, the dairy industry is collapsing, with breeders being sold to China. She and Joel Fitzgibbon accused minister David Littleproud of giving incorrect and misleading information. Just add “deliberately” before “misleading” and you may not be wrong.
Slattery says The only thing as certain as drought in Australia is the stupid call to build new dams. The Bradfield Scheme is getting another outing.
Poor fellow my country!