The 9pm Bonus Ouroboroworm of Despair, from Scams to Afghanistan

A dog’s heart infected with parasites at the Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo. (Photo: Andrés Monroy-Hernández)

Technically this episode isn’t part of the Late Winter Series, because there’s no special guest and it wasn’t scheduled, but here it is. It’s the Full Moon, and I’m in a mood.

Continue reading “The 9pm Bonus Ouroboroworm of Despair, from Scams to Afghanistan”

The 9pm The Earth is On Fire and We’re All Going to Die with Ketan Joshi

Ketan Joshi looking relatively optimistic about the future. (Photo: University of Sydney)

The Late Winter Series 2021 of the Edict continues as Planet Earth continues to burn. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling it a “code red for humanity”. We dig into that with Ketan Joshi. He’s a communications consultant working with NGOs in Europe, and also a freelance writer covering climate and energy.

Continue reading “The 9pm The Earth is On Fire and We’re All Going to Die with Ketan Joshi”

Weekly Wrap 117: Cheese, booze and virtualisation

My week Monday 27 August to Sunday 2 September 2012 was spent in San Francisco, and as I write this on their Labor Day holiday Monday I’m still there. Here. Whatever.

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 152, “Geo-engineering: fixing climate for just US$6 billion?” A conversation with Dr Caspar Hewett, visiting researcher at the University of Newcastle in the UK, and Danish author and political scientist Dr Bjørn Lomberg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre in Washington.

Articles

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

VMware’s VMworld was such a large bunch of stuff that it deserves its own section.

  • VMware covered the travel and accommodation, including flights Sydney to Los Angeles to San Francisco, and back again San Jose to Los Angeles to Sydney. A car is being provided for today’s drive from downtown San Francisco to San Jose airport. Four nights accommodation was provided at InterContinental San Francisco.
  • Food ranged from the truly frightening breakfasts in the conference’s media rooms Monday through Wednesday to gorgeous canapés and cheese platters like the one pictured above at the evening cocktail parties. The latter were held at the InterContinental on the Sunday before this week commenced, the St Regis Hotel on Monday, and the Temple Club on Tuesday.
  • On Tuesday night I also went to the Sourcefire cocktail party at the Marriott San Francisco. That’s their cheese platter pictured above.
  • The big VMworld party was Wednesday night and featured Jon Bon Jovi, but I didn’t go because I was exhausted and the last thing I needed was to be in a room with 15,000 drunk nerds. Sorry.
  • The conference backpack contained a VMworld-branded t-shirt, hardcover notebook and ballpoint pen, along with a sheaf of sponsor-related crap on paper. Pretty much all of the latter was thrown out.

I think I gained about 20kg in weight, 75% of which was my liver.

Also this week:

The Week Ahead

I leave San Francisco on Monday evening. That’s tonight. The limousine is scheduled collect me at 1745 PDT to take me to San Jose airport for a 1945 flight to Los Angeles, from where I take the 2250 Qantas flight to Sydney. I arrive in Sydney at 0740 AEST on Wednesday morning and will be heading straight to my hotel to collapse.

Wednesday night is the conference dinner for the ACCAN National Conference. I’m speaking at that event on Thursday afternoon.

Symantec is launching the Norton Cybercrime Report at Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum at 1100 Thursday morning, and I plan to be heading to that.

The rest of the latter part of the week will be full of an awful lot of writing, I imagine.

[Photo: Cheese platter at the Marriott San Francisco, courtesy of Sourcefire.]

ABC chair Newman out of line on climate change

ABC chair Maurice Newman, who is not a climate scientist or even any kind of scientist at all, is pleased to hear more non-scientists talking about climate science. I reckon that apart from being a tool he’s way out of line.

He clearly has no clue about how the ABC, as the national broadcaster, should be helping the public understand this complex issue. And by speaking directly to staff about how they should be covering a specific highly-political issue he’s undermining the role of managing director Mark Scott.

Yesterday Newman (pictured) told ABC staff that the scientific consensus on climate change and anthropogenic global warming was “conventional wisdom” and “group think”.

Judging by the ABC News report, Newman’s speech was riddled with contradictions. He contrasts “wisdom and consensus” with “other points of view”, as if he does understand that there are those with actual knowledge of the field, versus those who just have an opinion.

But later…

“I’m not a scientist and I’m like anybody else in the public, I have to listen to all points of view and then make judgements when we’re asked to vote on particular policies.”

No, Newman, you don’t listen to “all points of view”. You only listen to those who know what they’re talking about.

If I need medical advice, I might seek a second opinion from another doctor, maybe a specialist. But I don’t seek out the views of a kitchenhand, a hairdresser and an architect. For “balance”.

Similarly, if I’m after an understanding of climate science, I ask climate scientists. If I’m the national broadcaster, then I find a good science broadcaster who can turn the complex jargon into a clear narrative. That’s what broadcasters do, and maybe Robyn Williams or one of his colleagues is up for the job.

Climate change is one of the most important issues facing us globally. Even if you still “have an open mind” and are “waiting for proof either way” — and what would that proof have to look like, Mr Newman? — you owe it to Australians to present a clear, reasoned perspective. And that’s not about “balancing” properly-developed scientific knowledge with every swivel-eyed serial fabricator with a media profile.

You owe it to Australians to have the ABC weigh up the validity of these points of view and present the best consensus you can — not just dump an unsorted mess onto the public’s laps and expect them to sort it out.

Yes, the ABC and its staff should be free to say, in their own voices, that some opinions are wrong. They shouldn’t live in fear of being branded “biased” simply for applying rational analysis. That the ABC has become so cowed through endless political attacks is disturbing. As its Chair you should be encouraging greater boldness, not this enfeebled “balance through mindlessness”.

It is outrageous that you’re suggesting we waste more of the public’s time and money on these self-promoting fuckwits. Their little repertoire of cherry-picked factoids has been comprehensively debunked so many times already, and our climate scientists have better things to be doing with their time.

Even if you have doubts, the risk analysis is so simple even a merchant banker and “close personal friend of John Howard” could understand it. If you don’t get it in that 10-minute video, try the follow-up.

The risk of not acting on real climate change vastly outweighs the risk of having spent money on addressing climate change which then turns out to be false — because the worst that’ll happen is we end up with a safer, more efficient society anyway.

Or if an amateur video isn’t your thing, try today’s piece in The Drum, Climate debate: opinion vs evidence, where Stephan Lewandowsky explains why your notion of “balance” is just plain wrong.

And once you’ve done that, Mr Newman, butt out. Directing the ABC’s staff is the Managing Director’s job, not yours. Your job is to somehow move beyond the blatantly political nature of your appointment and ensure the proper corporate governance of the ABC. For all Australians, not just your old mates at the Australian Stock Exchange.

[Update 9.30am: I’ve just discovered that there were more of Maurice Newman’s comments on last night’s edition of PM.]