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07 April 2016 |
The passing of Bob Ellis recalls his faithful accompanying of the 1984-1985 royal commission into the British nuclear tests conducted in South Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. His article on the Wallatina hearings described what he named as the commission's 'worst story of all': Edie Milpudie's telling of herself and her family camping, in May 1957, on the Marcoo bomb crater. Re-reading the Ellis article, tears stung my eyes. It's so good when truth is recognised and held up for our freedom.
10 March 2016 |
The best known examples of framing come from American cognitive linguist George Lakoff. He argues that George W. Bush replaced the phrase 'tax cuts' with 'tax relief' to reframe paying tax as an affliction. Embedded in those two words is a neo-conservative worldview against government intervention in the private sphere. If you accept the term, you absorb the worldview. In a similar way, a few words could build political will to tackle climate change. The problem is no one is sure what they are.
14 February 2016 |
It would have made a great April Fools joke, if it wasn't February. On Wednesday, we woke to the news that Greg Hunt, environment minister in the most anti-environment government in Australian history, had been awarded 'World's Best Minister' at an international summit in Dubai. But maybe the award had nothing to do with Hunt's track record at home. In the grubby way of politics everywhere, maybe it is a favour returned. A thank you from an oil-rich nation for making it look good in the past.
09 February 2016 |
The South Australia Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle will give its interim report at the Adelaide Town Hall next Monday. It is likely the Commission will recommend that the South Australian Premier's plan to import international high-level radioactive waste proceed, despite obvious risks and clear dangers. It would be a mistake for anyone living outside of South Australia to think that this is just a South Australian problem. Transport and containment risks are hugely significant.
08 February 2016 |
News about climate change can be depressing. But it was downright shocking to learn that budget cuts to CSIRO have led to the decimation of the agency's climate science. Australia is one of the worst global emitters, yet Australian citizens have outsourced responsibility for climate protection, as they have for refugees. The ease of bipartisan agreement on such crucial dilemmas confirms the point. A dormant electorate creates a negligent, sleeping, self-satisfied and corrupt government.
17 December 2015 |
It has been an exercise in managing optimism and reality in the week after the Paris Agreement on climate change. One thing that can be certain is that COP21 is pivotal in terms of the model it offers for solutions to global problems. The Paris summit departed from a top-down approach, enabling the 43-member Climate Vulnerable Forum, led by current country-chair the Philippines, to work persuasively. 'We were more united,' says Tony La Viña, dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila.
10 December 2015 |
Twenty years ago I was hopeful that countries would take strong and sensible action to address climate change, just as we had in 1987 when we faced the major depletion of the ozone layer. The following years slowly erased this hope. The Church did not do enough to stem disappointment, or to affirm that 'stewardship' alone was not going to provide sufficient grounds for the needed changes. By 2010 I was resigned to devastation. But Pope Francis has provided me with a ray of hope.
10 December 2015 |
The state of Nevada continues to show its resolve by its longterm refusal to host a national nuclear waste dump. Such is their success that President Barack Obama has continued to back their opposition. It would certainly be beyond their comprehension that any community, any government, would volunteer to take other countries' nuclear waste, which remains radioactive for thousands of years. Yet in Australia, this is what nuclear proponents, the SA premier, and now the prime minister are backing.
22 November 2015 |
The safety features of self-driving cars could save many lives. But driving also involves making decisions, including ethical ones. Imagine you're in your self-driving car, travelling at speed on a highway. Suddenly an oncoming road train swerves into your lane and thunders head-on towards you. You may just be able to swerve, but unfortunately five men are standing on the side of the road, and you will surely hit them. Should the self-driving car kill five people, or stay the course and kill you?
17 November 2015 |
It's no surprise that three of the federal government's shortlisted sites for the proposed national radioactive waste facility are in South Australia, the 'expendable state'. And it's disturbing to find that the owner of at least one of the sites has been misinformed, believing 'It's basically only a medical waste facility.' In fact the farmer and Indigenous opponents of the sites are right to be concerned. The intermediate level waste housed at such a facility will be hazardous for thousands of years.
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