All posts by Brian

Brian Bahnisch, a survivor from Larvatus Prodeo, founded Climate Plus as a congenial space to continue coverage of climate change and sundry other topics. As a grandfather of more than three score years and ten, Brian is concerned about the future of the planet, and still looking for the meaning of everything.

Weekly salon 13/1

1. Saudi teen feared for life while waiting on Australia refugee ruling

Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun had applied to come to Australia.

But she told SBS News the process was taking too long and she feared for her life because her father and brother were in Thailand.

“Yes, toooooo long,” she responded to SBS News, when asked about the length of time. Continue reading Weekly salon 13/1

Climate change by the numbers

In 1999 NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from Imperial to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched. Numbers are important!

When Michael Le Page attempts to sort out the numbers in climate science (probably pay-walled) it’s not as straight forward as you might think. For starters we are given this image:

When ice melts, sea level rises – but how much, and how fast? Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Creative

Sorry, when floating ice melts the sea level does not rise. The caption is misleading. Continue reading Climate change by the numbers

Weekly salon 6/1

1. Australians care if politicians tell lies, but people in the US don’t

Stephan Lewandowsky and others undertook a study which found the people in Australia cared if politicians told the truth, and were likely to take notice of fact checks. When they did the same study in the US they found the effect was 10 times less.

They speculate that this is because politics is much more polarised in the US. Continue reading Weekly salon 6/1

The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

According to the AFR:

    A Shorten Labor government has been tipped to initiate an overhaul of National Broadband Network policy within months or even weeks of a federal election, opting for a more comprehensive fibre-optic cable network than the Coalition’s controversial “multi-technology mix”. Continue reading The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

Towards civilising capitalism

As I noted back in 2014, Immanuel Wallerstein, the great sociologist of capitalism in the late 20th century, has been writing about the instability of the ‘world system’ (a term he coined) for over 40 years. He believes that the ‘world system’ of capitalism has been in decline since about 1968, so that we are now in a transition phase. The new system will not necessarily be better for ordinary people. In an intriguing piece from May 2014 – “The center isn’t holding very well” – he says:

    As our existing historical system is in the process of dying, there is a fierce struggle over what kind of new historical system will succeed it. Soon, we may indeed no longer live in a capitalist system, but we could come to live in an even worse system – a “rough beast” seeking to be born? To be sure, this is only one possible collective choice. The alternative choice is a relatively democratic, relatively egalitarian system, also seeking to be born. Which one we shall see at the end of the struggle is up to us, bottom-up.

Continue reading Towards civilising capitalism

Weekly salon 30/12

1. Man plays piano for elephants


Pianist Paul Barton plays to elephants at the Elephants World sanctuary in Thailand. (Supplied: Khwan Barton)

Google the above phrase and you will find plenty. It is about an English man Paul Barton who plays classical music on the piano to elephants in Northern Thailand. See:

Continue reading Weekly salon 30/12

Climate clippings 229

Climate stories continue to float across my viewing zone, especially lately in the New Scientist, which for us is loo reading. NS articles are usually pay-walled, so I’ll try catch up a bit.

1. There’ll be a domino effect as we trigger ecosystem tipping points

Massive icebergs are one sign that change is on the way
NASA/ Brooke Medley

There are lots of tipping points in ecosystems and the climate, and many are interconnected. That means the massive changes we are wreaking will have many unexpected consequences. Continue reading Climate clippings 229

Christmas newsletter 2018

I didn’t do more than a very few Christmas cards this year. This post is a somewhat enhanced version of a belated newsletter.

For general readers, this is written initially for friends and family, who are apt to say, “That’s a great blog you have there, Brian. I sometimes read it when I’ve got nothing better to do!” (Actual quote.) However, general readers may find it of interest. Continue reading Christmas newsletter 2018

Federal election campaigning has started

As PM Scott Morrison reels from the latest crisis, and polls show that he’s in trouble, two big events signal the election race is up and running.

In brief, we had the ALP National Conference, which ScoMo attempted to disrupt by announcing the next Governor General. Then the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2018‑19 showed the economy producing unexpected riches. However, the media were diverted by NP member and Assistant Finance Minister Andrew Broad’s ‘Sugar Daddy’ scandal, which, according to the Betoota Advocate, his leader Michael McCormack explained was a private family matter and hence none of our business. Meanwhile two opinion polls came out, which were not to ScoMo’s liking. Continue reading Federal election campaigning has started

Weekly salon 15/12

1. Can democracy survive?

Using democracy against itself: Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and US president Donald Trump at the White House in Washington. Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Shaun Crowe has written an excellent review article on Can democracy survive?, based on the following books: Continue reading Weekly salon 15/12