Month: May 2014

Carbon Crash Solar Dawn

Bring it on.

Paul Gilding

I think it’s time to call it. Renewables and associated storage, transport and digital technologies are so rapidly disrupting whole industries’ business models they are pushing the fossil fuel industry towards inevitable collapse.

Some of you will struggle with that statement. Most people accept the idea that fossil fuels are all powerful – that the industry controls governments and it will take many decades to force them out of our economy. Fortunately, the fossil fuel industry suffers the same delusion.

In fact, probably the main benefit of the US shale gas and oil “revolution” is that it’s keeping the fossil fuel industry and it’s cheer squad distracted while renewables, electric cars and associated technologies build the momentum needed to make their takeover unstoppable – even by the most powerful industry in the world.

How could they miss something so profound? One thing I’ve learnt from decades inside boardrooms, is that…

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The political economy of climate change

Leemings to the climate cliff.

The Australian Independent Media Network

Image courtesy of 'I fucking love science'. Click on image to enlarge

Environment writer and academic Nicole Clark looks at how climate change sceptics’ views are promoted in Australian print media, concluding that the content generally reflects the ideals and best interests of the elite.

In the mass media, the political economy perspective is centred around the principle notion that the media is owned and run by elites that seek to mandate the distribution and dissemination of media content, in accordance with their own ideological values. Most notably, those values that reflect a more right wing political sentiment (Herman and Chompsky, 2008). Therefore, political economy is synonymous with the view that corporate news structures own the right to media content and therefore own the right to the message. Under these pretences, corporate news bodies are able to frame content according to the best interest, concerns and needs of the elite (Herman, 2009).

Freedom to act and freedom…

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Monsoon Disrupted By El Nino + Climate Change as India Suffers Deaths, Crop Losses from Extreme Heat.

Hard to ignore climate change.

robertscribbler

May is the month when the massive rainstorm that is the Asian Monsoon begins to gather and advance. This year, as in many other years, the monsoon gradually formed along the coast of Myanmar early in the month. It sprang forward with gusto reaching the Bay of Bengal by last week.

And there it has stalled ever since.

On May 25-27, an outburst of moisture from this stalled monsoonal flow splashed over the coasts of India. But by the 29th and 30th, these coastal storms and even the ones gathering over the Bengali waters had all been snuffed out. The most prominent feature in the MODIS shot of India today isn’t the rainfall that should be now arriving along the southeast coast, but the thick and steely-gray pallor of coal-ash smog trapped under a persistent and oppressive dome of intense heat.

Monsoon Disrupted

(MODIS shot of India on May 30th. See the…

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What Abbott Taught Us

It’s an important lesson Abbott has taught us.

The Australian Independent Media Network

DontDoItAgainI know it’s going to be really hard for most of Australia to be convinced that Tony Abbott has done us a favour, because everything so far that he has done for Australia since becoming Prime Minister has been the opposite of a favour. However, it has occurred to me that Abbott, unbeknownst to himself, has, through being the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, done us the favour of teaching us some lessons that I hope are taught well enough that we won’t forget. So that we don’t go and make the same mistake twice in 2016. Here are some of the key lessons Abbott has imparted so far in his first shambolic, chaotic term:

Conservative Liberals are conservative Liberals.

If it walks like a conservative Liberal, talks like a conservative Liberal and quacks like a conservative Liberal, I hope we have all learned that it’s a duck…

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A Failure of Moral Leadership

Moral leadership lacking in Global leadership.

The Australian Independent Media Network

riotThe recent review into the events on 16th-18th February at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre that led to the death of 23 year old Iranian Asylum seeker, Reza Barati, raises several questions about the responsibilities incumbent upon the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and its minister, Scott Morrison.

But, more importantly, it also raises questions of political leadership generally.

Commissioned as it was by the Department, the report has been criticised as short on detail and containing little that had not been reported already by New Matilda, the ABC, the Guardian and Fairfax. According to Max Chalmers of New Matilda, the report by former Robert Cornall is a farce.

Despite acknowledging serious deficiencies in the treatment of detainees including the overcrowded conditions, failure to process claims and failing to give adequate answers to questions raised by detainees as to their future, the report offers little by way of…

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The clarion call to action on climate change will be made by the next generation

Wake up before it’s too late!

Small Epiphanies

Closing the extreme weather generation gap brings climate change reality to the public in a way that no amount of demagoguery can defeat

When it comes to doing something about it, the most intractable climate change problem is grass-roots political support. Without a clear mandate, there can be no substantive legislative progress. It’s a brave politician indeed who supports a course of action pretty much guaranteed to terminate his career. A clear, unequivocal mandate is a must: it’s absence to date is the biggest barrier to meaningful and enduring political action.

The reasons are diverse. Foremost in the democratic nations is the divisive nature of the debate, a crucial issue when those divisions are ideological. Scientists, pundits and activists alike may desire more public support based on scientific evidence, but it seems clear that such evidence doesn’t impinge much on the broader public discourse, one way or another.

After all,

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What connects Edward Snowden, climate change, GCHQ and lemmings?

We’re leemings heading for the climate cliff.

Small Epiphanies

In today’s Observer, John Naughton ponders the apathy of the British public to the GCHQ revelations after Edward Snowden let the cat out of an enormous bag (Public apathy over GCHQ snooping is a recipe for disaster). Under the headline, the stand-first tells us: “The lack of public alarm at government internet surveillance is frightening, but perhaps it’s because the problem is difficult to convey in everyday terms”. (Frankly, we should probably be more afraid of sub-editors and their penchant for hyperbole).

Anyway, after setting the stage by describing how, when explaining complex and technical issues to a lay audience, Naughton belatedly figured out that you have to find ways to make arcane subjects relate to the audience’s own experiences, this is how he comes upon his topic:

“One of the things that baffles me is why more people are not alarmed by what Edward Snowden has been…

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Alternate Visions: Some Musings on Diversity in SF

Great read. Thank you.

Antariksh Yatra

I was recently in the remote Alaskan town of Barrow for an academic project.  Barrow is profoundly different from any place I have been: at 71.3 N latitude, it perches at the edge of the Arctic Ocean.  During April, when I visited, the ocean is frozen as far as you can see.  The tundra is white and flat, and there is no vegetation.  Most of the people who live there are Inupiat Eskimos.  It is as far removed as you can imagine from Delhi, where I grew up, or for that matter, Boston, near which city I now reside.

I was wandering through the bright hallways of Ilisagvik college in Barrow, looking for someone with whom I hoped to speak, when I found an efficient young administrative assistant.  She assured me she would find the person I was seeking, and took my name down.  As is usual in…

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