Here the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on January 28 in Beijing, with appropriate distancing. Dr Tedros later commented that Xi had a surprising mastery of the detail of what was going on. Two days later the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. People have made up stories about this meeting and the sequence, but it seems to me an orderly progression of events, coming 10 days after China had alerted the world to a person to person highly infectious novel coronavirus, then sealing off and locking down Wuhan on 23 January. Continue reading We need to talk about China
1. Waiting for Godot
Part of my delay in completing this week’s edition was waiting for something that wasn’t ridiculous to happen. There is plenty like Boris Johnson suspending parliament, and Trump attacking Fox News, and Fox News hitting back.
To be honest, I’ve been knocked a bit askew by the David Spratt’s question At 4°C of warming, would a billion people survive? The answer according to some respected scientists is, in brief, probably not, something less than a billion, and 4°C seems to be where we are heading.
That would mean on average more than a million deaths from global warming each week for the next 90 years. Continue reading Weekly salon 1/9
1. Queensland electricity day-time prices to zero six days in a row
We’ve had unwelcome dry weather this ‘winter’ in Queensland but the good news is that electricity prices have dropped to zero six days in a row:
Continue reading Climate clippings 233
1. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, PM
Martin Fletcher in the New Statesman says that Brits have given a con man the keys to the kingdom:
Boris Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street as prime minister signals the end of the UK as a serious country.
Continue reading Weekly salon 11/8
1. Tears in the rain
I don’t often note the passing of famous people, because there are so many. Recently I was touched by news of the passing of Rutger Hauer, who played the replicant Roy Batty who was meant to be hunted down and killed Harrison Ford’s character Rick Deckard in Bladerunner. See the final part of the scene in “I Saw the Future”: Rutger Hauer (RIP) Remembers His Most Memorable Role in Blade Runner. Continue reading Weekly salon 6/8
1. Race is not a thing
Race is a social construct, largely based on culture and language. In biological and genetic terms it simply does not exist. Looking at the genes, scientists simply cannot form racial categories. Angela Saini, of Indian heritage and living in England, has been investigating the issue in her recently published book Superior: The return of race science. See her New Scientist article and in The Guardian Why race science is on the rise again.
In the 19th century there was a common assumption that a hierarchy existed with the European male at the pinnacle. Yet modern science shows that:
There is no gene that exists in all the members of one racial group and not another. We are all a product of ancient and recent migration.
Continue reading Weekly salon 9/6
1. A beautiful big black hole
The New Daily has the short story – Scientists share first ever image of black hole, a more complicated explanation at Astronomy, and a really informative one at the BBC. Continue reading Weekly salon 16/4: general edition
When Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, Chinese media outlets gave him the nickname Tang Bao, which sounds like his surname and means sweet dumpling, according to Lisa Murray in the AFR. Yet the dumpling has turned sour as relations with China are assessed as worse than they were since the Tienanmen Square incident
On Saturday 9 December last year Turnbull stood in a leafy garden and let fly:
Historians may come to mark that day as a turning point, when Australia’s future was put into play, ending later during Bill Shorten’s period as PM with Australia declaring neutrality in relation to both China and the USA. Continue reading China matters: Turnbull puts Australia’s future in play
We are all going to be thinking more about China for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse. Apart from trade we were most recently startled by the notion that China may be about to build a military base in Vanuatu. Fairfax announced that China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications. A day later we had Chinese military base in Pacific would be of ‘great concern’, Turnbull tells Vanuatu. Followed rapidly by denials by China and Vanuatu, both of which were a bit cranky over the suggestion.
However, China is building a cruise ship terminal near a new international airport it is funding, together with a new official residence for Prime Minister Charlot Salwai as well as other government buildings. Then there was a 1000-seat convention centre, a major sports stadium, and a $14 million school that will be reportedly the biggest education facility in the South Pacific. Early last year, Beijing donated 14 military vehicles to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is becoming vulnerable to the “debt-trap strategy” that has left a number of countries swimming in debt Continue reading China matters: Vanuatu
1. China has arrived
The biggest story of the week was probably the Chinese Communist party congress. Leader Xi Jinping is looking to stay for at least another 10 years and putting his “socialist thought” into the party constitution, places him alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the pantheon of revolutionary leaders. But Richard McGregor says the real star is the party itself, and the West should wake up: Continue reading Saturday salon 28/10
That was the headline on the front page of the AFR on Friday.
Households are facing increases of up to 20 per cent, but businesses on five-year contracts signed in 2012 are facing hikes of as much as 83%. Continue reading Climate clippings 209
Donald Trump in announcing that the USA will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement made a big fuss about the Chinese being able to increase their emissions, and that this was unfair to the US economy.
So what are the Chinese doing, and is it enough? Continue reading Are the Chinese doing their share on climate change?