July 1st 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY 'Safe Schools' and every school's duty of care

CANBERRA OBSERVED Catholic education: not gone but Gonski'd

EDITORIAL Oh dear, Prime Minister, Brexit is harder now

ELECTRICITY Blueprint author did not ask about the weather

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Call for referendum after Taiwan court backs same-sex marriage

EUTHANASIA Death-dealing bills break out like hydras' heads

GENDER POLITICS New breed of young women takes on the United Nations

CULTURE AND HISTORY The past is a foreign country

LITERATURE The Road to Wigan Pier and the roads beyond

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY The 'Brisbane line' and other scandals

MUSIC Carla Bley: sophisticated lady

CINEMA Churchill: The regrets of a Lear

BOOK REVIEW Charting 15 years of changing emphases


GENDER POLITICS The Pied Pipers of gender dysphoria

Books promotion page


News Weekly, July 1, 2017

Energy sense?

Tom King’s defence of coal (News Weekly, Letters, June 3, 2017) makes good sense – apart from advocating carbon dioxide sequestration. Carbon dioxide is an essential part of our life cycle on earth. With more of it, plants grow faster, need less water and farming is more productive.

Palaeontology shows that carbon dioxide levels were much higher in the past and supported larger plants and larger animals than we see now; and with many indicators of a benign climate – certainly not run-away global warming.

Carbon dioxide sequestration is a bit like pouring out expensive drink-offerings to Gaia. We worship mother earth, to our own detriment, in the deluded hope that we are preventing catastrophic climate change by limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Yet both recorded history and palaeontology show that climate has been significantly warmer than it is now without the sky falling on our heads.

Peter Newland,
Mitcham, Vic.


Finkel wrinkle

The Finkel review of Australia’s energy needs headed by neuroscientist Dr Alan Finkel makes one glaring omission. It fails to call for a royal commission on climate change to test the veracity of current global warming claims.

Thirty-five years ago there seemed to be a simple connection between the rising carbon-dioxide levels and rising temperatures. However, since then, temperatures have gone sideways, despite the fact that over the past 19 years carbon-dioxide levels haven risen from 363 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to 409ppmv.

A quick search of the internet reveals a wide divergence of opinion in the scientific community over the causes of climate change. There is no fabled 97 per cent consensus and the science is far from settled.

Even in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report there are conflicting opinions on climate variability. The current levels of carbon dioxide seem to pose no immediate threat to the planet. Before we rush in and spends tens of billions of dollars on slavishly following the Paris Accord (which, incidentally, was not approved by Parliament), the Government should re-examine the science behind the claims made for man’s carbon emissions, which account for only one particle out of every 100,000 in the planet’s atmosphere.

A review of current obsession to close down coal-fired power generation is a matter of national urgency.

Alan Barron,
Grovedale, Vic.


Climate candour

I refer to Dr Walter Starck’s very good and pragmatic article, “The Great Barrier Reef is dying? …Again?” (News Weekly, June 17, 2017). He correctly points out that the Great Barrier Reef didn’t exist 10,000 years ago because the sea level was 140 metres lower, caused by the last ice age. Despite all these efforts and money to save the GBR, it will disappear once again over the next couple of thousand years as the sea levels fall again when we enter the next ice age.

Brendan Godwin,
Templestowe, Vic.


Snorkelers’ wonderland

We read Dr Starck’s article (The Great Barrier Reef is dying? … Again? News Weekly, June 17, 2017) with interest. We live in Cairns and are regular snorkelers around the Frankland Islands, just south of Cairns. We noticed a complete bleach all around High Island in March this year, but it is easy to miss because the first phase is a change to beautiful pastel blues, pinks and greens – quite pretty.

We noticed a similar bleach around Mana Island, Fiji, about 10 years ago. A subsequent visit showed healthy coral re-growing.

We really don’t know what causes bleaching, but I’m not convinced it’s a rise in the sea temperature because we have seen healthy coral in the Port Vila lagoon, where the water is quite salty, because of evaporation, presumably, and also palpably warmer than the sea around Cairns. It seems that bleaching is a natural irregularly regular occurrence, and that’s why live coral is based on a pile of old coral.

Interestingly the Nemos (clownfish) haven’t abandoned their bleached anemones; perhaps they know quite well that it will all regrow.

Dr Tim Coyle,
Cairns, Qld.


Let’s start now!

I am in no position to judge whether skeptics or alarmists are correct about climate change. But I think that cleaning the atmosphere is very good for humanity irrespective of who is right. Economic setbacks would be reversed by more and better ways of producing renewable energy. Sources of renewable energy are immeasurably vaster than oil, coal and gas.

It is good to try to depend on renewables while we still have non-renewables as a stand by. One day there will be no oil, coal, gas and what have you left to depend on in unavoidable failures in the early development of the new energies?

Albert Said SJ,
Kew, Vic.


Thank you for insights

Thank you for your wonderfully insightful magazine, June 17, 2017.

I particularly appreciated the article on “Low job prospects keep a generation at home” (my children range from 19 to 24 and, though gainfully employed, will struggle to get into the housing market).

The article by Anne Lastman on Cardinal Pell showed great integrity, as did the great overview by Walter Stark of the Great Barrier Reef.

To balance your fabulous publication you reviewed the poems of Andrew Lansdown to demonstrate, I’m sure, that there is still great beauty in the world.

Moira J. Tulloch,
Briagolong, Vic.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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