The Bullroarer - Sunday 4th April 2010

Thank you to those who suggested ways to get net access from an off-grid retreat. Getting Satelite will take some time. In the interim, this update is being typed on a notebook that has a broadband 3G connection.
Of course I've had to go to the top of the nearest big hill to get access to a signal - but it is a start. As I get different stages of my retreat sorted out I will blog on the thought processes, as well as the practical issues associated with building a resilient community. - Australia to get its first population minister

THE Federal Government will draw up a national population strategy after growing concerns the number of Australians will rise to unsustainable levels.

Otago Daily Times - Resilience the focus of transition town event

Port Chalmers residents will hold a "transition town" workshop this weekend, to develop practical projects aimed at improving sustainability and building a more resilient community.

The Australian - Finds fuel deep-sea oil rush

THREE significant new oil and gas regions have been identified off Australia's coast, raising the potential for a wave of offshore exploration that could create booming new resources hubs around the nation.

A combination of new technology and the high price of oil has prompted the commonwealth's Geoscience Australia survey body to push technical limits and explore frontier areas in deep water, turning up startling new resource potential.

One of the regions, the South Australian end of the Great Australian Bight, has been opened for exploration and has already attracted strong bids ahead of the April 29 deadline - Rahui Katene: Infrastructure Bill

In this light, the Maori Party supports improved public transport, rather than investment in roading itself.

We want to see more support for integrated public transport networks of buses, trains, walking and cycling tracks. We are concerned now, about the impact of infrastructural decisions on our environment.

And in particular we want to reduce our reliance on oil in the face of peak oil.

SBS - Nuclear energy 'the only answer'

Australia will eventually have to factor in nuclear power from up to 50 reactors if it wants to seriously reduce carbon emissions, energy experts say. - Norman: Govt's $21 Billion Bet On Cheap Petrol

"For the person on the street, this will mean they'll have next to no alternative options for getting to work when oil prices become unaffordable for everyday transport," said Dr Norman. "And this could happen very soon."

This week, Shell CEO Peter Voser joined a growing chorus of voices announcing the end to cheap oil. When asked about whether the theory of "peak oil" was dead the theory that oil production will no longer be able to keep up with demand Mr Voser said "I think what is dead is cheap oil."

ABC - New man-made species could solve energy problems

The moral dilemmas he raised here are big ones and ones that we've been wrestling with for over 2,000 years. It's yet to be seen whether we are able to confront and deal with these big questions at a speed necessary to keep up with developments in science.

And with governments and businesses urging for solutions to climate change, peak oil and energy supply, speed is of the essence

Otago Daily Times - Port Chalmers station gets first train in 40 years

To ensure all goes smoothly at the new stop, two "stationmasters" - Sarah Orchard and Joe MacDonald - will be on duty.

Both are members of a newly formed 50-strong Port Chalmers group called Transition Town, which is promoting ways of combating climate change and peak oil.

Shepparton News - High speed sleepwalking

Sunday's Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been run and won, bringing joy and a financial windfall to just a few, but adding to the complexities of climate change and edging the world closer to peak oil for all.

The dollar cost that you and I paid for the event is, in the broader scheme of life, relatively unimportant, but what really matters is the continuing mindset of the Victorian Government to international corporations and the apparent excitement of the media to the enthusiasts of motor racing.

Rambling Thoughts (Blog) - Save On Car Running Costs – Diesel, LPG, Hybrid or Downsize?

GUEST ARTICLE: This is a very confusing time for car buyers.With all of the talk of ‘peak oil‘, carbon pollution reduction schemes and climate change you may be concerned that petrol will just disappear from the pumps – or worse, become so expensive that you can’t afford to even run your car.

The Australian - Sea hunt for another oil boom

Managing what is shaping up to be a tsunami of resources income will require far-reaching policy reforms that our policy-makers haven't begun to consider. We may even need to go as far as introducing constitutional change to prevent the proceeds from being squandered, as did the US state of Alaska.

Other options include diverting a fixed share of the tax revenue into an offshore sovereign fund so that the surging income doesn't drive up inflation and interest rates, while also crunching other export sectors by sending the exchange rate sky-high.

Or the windfall revenue could be locked away in every Australian's superannuation account, keeping it out of the hands of spendthrift politicians.

ABC - Australia's biggest cities urged to develop urban rail

A new study has found Melbourne and Sydney are two of only a few large cities in the developed world without a high-frequency metro train system.

Radio NZ - Russia, Venezuela sign energy deals

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, have signed a series of deals on energy and military co-operation.

SMH - Climate another blow in a bad era for capitalism

Can capitalism deal with climate change? It's an article of faith for this column that a relatively free market operating in a democratic system will respond more quickly and effectively to climate change than a centralised dictatorship.

Faith is needed, because climate change is proof of colossal market failure. The economy does not value what really matters in life.

Last year when it came to developing an effective market-based response to climate change in this country, instead of responsible businesspeople taking a rational, long-term view of action versus inaction, we got an orgy of rent-seeking and manipulation from the carbon lobby, and a proposed emissions trading scheme so brown it could fairly be called pointless.

RE the nuclear story... featuring the usual suspect (ie Switkowski) wherein:

"We should plan to have our first reactor up and running by 2020 and then go for a fleet as large as 50 reactors by 2050 producing 75 gigawatts of electricity," Dr Switkowski said.

"France already has 59 reactors, Japan 55, the US 104, so 50 for us over the next four decades is within our capabilities."

France has a population of 65 million and exports electricity to its nieghbours. Bravo.

My question is... what population level or consumption level does Mr Switkowski either think we will have or want us to have to justify 50 nuclear reactors?! Obviously, efficiency measures are not featuring in his thought processes.

RE Venter
Commenter M. R. JAMES sums it up. Venter is not the creative genious of his own publicity. However, he has been very clever/succesful at harnessing other peoples creativity.

RE Population Minister. This could go either way...

Easy goals: No flat screen TV I mean Baby "Bonus". Immigration slowed to match real skill shortages, family reunion and compassionate grounds/asylum. The last list of skills needed still claimed that hairdressers and accountants were in short supply! EXCUSE me while I snort in derision. This list has recently been reviewed.

Dissuade more than 2 children domestically (a medicare style levy on the third and subsequent child? A break for singles and childless couples?) and spend money on schools and promote education in developing countries.

If you want some sensible information on nuclear power in Australia go to Brave New Climate,the blog of Professor Barry Brook from Adelaide University.

Tony Burke should actually be named the Minister for Population Increase.This is just another bit of Ruddspin - roll on the election and look out for the baseball bats.

We now have the second Chinese registered and crewed ship in Queensland waters having a major prang due to carelessness,incompetence or just a general couldn't give a stuff attitude.
Last year it was the container ship which lost about 30 boxes overboard in a blow,one of which punctured a fuel tank.
Now it is a coal carrier,at least 15 km off course,running full tilt into a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.This could result in an even worse oil spill than the one on Moreton Island.
The ship is in danger of breaking up and I would guess it would be a touch and go exercise to refloat it even if it remains intact.

It seems that Chinese maritime training doesn't give much weight to a master's responsibility to secure cargo or steer a correct course.

On the Australian side,the lack of compulsory pilotage for foreign ships in the vicinity of the GBR is probably due to the greed of mining and shipping companies who have a big influence on our Growth At Any Cost governments.

From the Australian "deep-sea oil rush" article

National oil production has declined from a peak of 35 billion barrels a year early last decade to about 20 billion at present

Wow! I pointed out in an email to the Australian that this is out by around a factor of 100

No change or response yet

Hi Aeldric,

That's a surreal-sounding group of articles that you've chosen for this Bullroarer ...or is the standard of "debate" on these topics simply becoming more and more whacky all the time?

I certainly was alarmed recently by the surreal thinking of Senator Steve Fielding on Q&A on ABC-TV. The famous aetheist Richard Dawkins was wide-eyed when he realised what sort of person was sitting next to him...

TONY JONES: Steve Fielding can one be a believer in God, as well as a believer in the theory of evolution?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, I'm not an expert on these issues whatsoever and I think people in Australia have different beliefs and their faith may drive them one way or the other. I actually believe in creationism. I think the Prime Minister does as well, so I suppose at the end of the day each person will come to their own conclusion on the issue, Tony.

TONY JONES: You believe in creationism. Because I've never heard you state this, but it's a fact is that you believe in creationism not evolution. Is that right?

STEVE FIELDING: That's correct. But, look, each person will come to their own conclusion and I...



TONY JONES: Richard, you'd like to respond?

RICHARD DAWKINS: Do you believe the world is less than 10,000 years old?


RICHARD DAWKINS: No, do you believe that?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, I think that there are a lot of questions in this area and I think people will come to their own conclusions. I don't want to force people into one way or the other.

RICHARD DAWKINS: You're not being asked to force. You're not being asked to force.

JULIE BISHOP: It's either a new earth creationist or an old earth creationist, so which is it, Steve?


RICHARD DAWKINS: So, you're a young earth creationist, who believes the world is less than 10,000 years old. You're a parliamentarian in Australia, who believes the world you live in is less than 10,000 years old?

STEVE FIELDING: I didn't say that, by the way. You're saying that I said it was 10,000.


STEVE FIELDING: I didn't say that.

TONY JONES: Okay. No, you didn't say that.

RICHARD DAWKINS: Do you? Do you believe it?

TONY JONES: It is an open question, though.

STEVE FIELDING: Look, I think...

TONY JONES: Is that what you actually believe?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, I think that the science today will discover more and more but I think that most Australians come to a view. They either believe that we evolved or we came from creation and I think that, you know, people - you can believe whatever they like on that issue. I'm not trying to force that issue onto anyone, Tony.

TONY JONES: So where did human beings come from?

STEVE FIELDING: Well, you may well ask this guy. He's got firm views on that perspective from there.

TONY JONES: Just in your view, I'm just interested in, before we move on.

STEVE FIELDING: Well, as I said, I believe that people, you know, started from being created. But, look, there are some other views out there about people evolving from other types of animals.

TONY JONES: As in apes, for example?

STEVE FIELDING: Well, that's what others - some believe that, yeah...

Champagne stuff! And Dawkins must have found it quite unbelievable that this idiot could actually hold the balance of power, as one audience member correctly pointed out...

...I mean, in my opinion what you [Dawkins] have sort of done, probably inadvertently, is create a situation whereby people like Steve, who are actually in control of, you know, whether our country has an emissions trading scheme, you know, believing in climate change or not, have to question science over their faith...


Anyway Aeldric, watch out for hypothermia up there on your mountain-top when you're receiving enlightenment from the great god Google...

Steve Fielding has got the Common Touch.

All can be explained.
The left hemisphere of his brain is mal-nourished.
It is pandemic.

You can read all about it here

While Senator Fielding is an embarrassment, Dawkins did come across as a somewhat arrogant prat... and in his own way, absolutist. And to my mind its people with an absolute conviction that are a concern, athiest, agnostic or believer. And I'm absolutely sure about that ;-) ;-)

Democracy doesn't work on who is "right"... it works on who got the most votes. It would help if Fielding didn't choose the dogma of his version of Christianity over the best evidence of science. As Dawkins pointed out, not all Christians (etc etc) are young earth literalists. And Dawkins should be careful with phrases like "Now, as I scientist I care passionately about the truth." Science, as we all know, has had many "truths" relegated to the dustbin... and modern physics suggests that a certain degree of uncertainty will always remain.

So labelling Fielding stupid and publicly shaming him doesn't seem to be the best way of getting him or his suppporters on side... no matter how justified you might think it.

I was equally troubled by this:
JULIE BISHOP: No, I didn't say that. No, I said it's a basis for western morality and thought.

And Julie Bishop is not alone in thinking this. Whatever happened to all that Greek (Democratic) and Roman (Republic) heritage of Western Culture?

Where Dawkins went wrong was where he attempted to ascribe the most dogmatic adherence to Christian doctrine to all Christians (etc). The Christians I know don't hold to most of the nasty bits (see Leviticus). That doesn't make them hippocrites, it makes them human. And that and his tone, not what he said, is why he got canned towards the end of the discussion. His argument was better during the comparative religion/literature part of the discussion.

It would help Dawkins cause if he could hold the incredulous look he sometimes gives. People will always believe funny things... even that Nuclear is the absolutely positively only "solution". ;-) ;-)

What worries me far more than one Senator believing in creation is the other 225 Senators and MPs believing that an "invisible hand" will solve everything.

So true!
And probably none of them have even read Smith.
Niether have I... but I do know he wrote more than Wealth of Nations... his first work was The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Interesting links at Wikipedia.
Adam Smith
The Theory of Moral Sentiments
The Wealth of Nations
From a brief browse of the above... perhaps the "invisible hand" phrase reflects his struggles with his faith?

Aeldric are you running on Telstra? Or Optus?