The Dictionary of Lost Words
Every now and then a book comes along in which I become totally engrossed. This is one such. Despite its title, the book is a novel, the first by Australian writer, Pip Williams. The background is a period during the creation of The Oxford English Dictionary, which began in 1857 but wasn’t completed until 1928. As evidenced by those dates, it was an enormous task requiring the labours of a team of … Read more
Greenwash is eyewash
2021 must be the year greenwashing dies Fossil fuel companies are adept at pretending to be part of the solution, when they’re actually the cause of the problem. PROTESTERS TAKING PART IN A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST MINING GIANT SANTOS IN DECEMBER 2020 (IMAGE: AAP/DEAN LEWINS) Early this year, scientists will put the final touches of the Sixth Assessment Report from the International Panel on Climate Change. It will not … Read more
…but a whimper
Watching Trump’s refusal to concede the presidency reminds me of the final lines of TS Eliot’s appropriately named poem, The Hollow Men: “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.” Substitute “presidency” for “world”, and that is how I expect him to finally leave the White House. However, there are some who believe he will need to be dragged from the White House on Inauguration … Read more
Our functioning democracy is skin-deep
“Our political system has the outward appearance of democracy, but it is largely controlled by undemocratic forces. We find ourselves on the wrong side of the portcullis, watching helplessly as crucial decisions are taken about us, without us. If there’s one thing the coronavirus fiascos show, it’s the need for radical change.” This article by George Monbiot is about the UK political system, but there are obvious parallels with the Australian system, … Read more
Who will challenge Trump?
In mid-July we will learn who will run against Donald Trump. On current indications, it looks as if it will be Joe Biden. I bet Trump is hoping so. I’m not a fan. He’s too close to the corporate elite, and has a chequered history on women’s rights (voted against Roe v. Wade, for example) as well as supporting cuts to Medicare and social security. As Sanders said yesterday, his presidency would … Read more
Corruption on a gargantuan scale
I cannot describe my feelings on this while I’m living through the worst bushfire season we’ve ever had, with 1000 homes already destroyed, but the influence of the coal lobby in preventing action to ameliorate the adverse effects of global warming can only be described as criminal. Please watch the video (15 minutes) to understand the severity of this issue. Dirty Power: Big Coal’s network of influence over the coalition government … Read more
How many humans can Earth sustain?
“Population-dynamics science tells us two things broadly about invasive animal population trends. Typically, the population of an invasive species that moves into a new area and is freed from predation will boom — it expands beyond what is called the “carrying capacity”, and diminishes the food and resources it needs to sustain itself in the process. In the case of humans, modern medicine and technology have facilitated that boom. Things that used … Read more
Close Encounters of the Hanson Kind
I had the great privilege to be present in the Legislative Council chamber during the opening of the NSW Parliament today. The highlight for me was the Presentation of the Message Stick by representatives of the Aboriginal Languages community, who spoke eloquently and movingly in their language and in English. The lowlight was the Governor’s Opening Speech, which was nothing more than a prolonged and tedious political party broadcast. Why this is … Read more
Show me your climate solution
Greta Thunberg is the Swedish teenager who so dramatically made the world take notice with her candid, incisive calls for action on combatting global warming. Here is a part of Greta Thunberg’s speech that she gave to the British Parliament in April 2019: “Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that … Read more
I became a member of this group not long after it was formed in the UK. At the time I thought it, like so many similar movements, might prevail on the margins of political action, but I liked its objectives and so added my name to its small list of supporters. This past week has been quite an eye-opener. The demonstrations, especially in London, by ER have raised not only the group’s … Read more
Will we survive?
When I was young our existential fear, despite the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, was nuclear annhilation. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, this fear evaporated and for a while we enjoyed a period of relative safety. Only recently have we woken up to an even greater threat to our future wellbeing, namely that of global warming. There is no doctrine to assuage our fears this time, rather we’re faced with … Read more
The actions of the 17-year-old youth in hitting Senator Anning with an egg amounted to assault and he could find himself in court as a result, unless the police caution him instead. The senator’s response, by punching the teenager, was something else. Provoked it may have been, but it was grossly disproportionate. Far too aggressive in the circumstances. When Julia Gillard was our prime minister, she was also on the receiving end … Read more