Enviro portal

29 01 2010

Traditional print media have always filtered the news through the various sections of the paper – Business, sport and so on.  And it has always worried me that there is no “environment” section in most newspapers.

Almost as frustrating was the termination of the Earthbeat programme on ABC radio national some years ago.

Finally, however, the ABC (Australia’s public broadcaster) has introduced an environment portal which aims to gather all of the relevant stories and resources from across the network of TV, Web and Radio stations.  Added to the expansion of it’s Web and TV presence, “Aunty” is  having a cracker of a year.

It’s here:




Sleek freaks and links to critiques

19 11 2009

flickr user: Rusty Sheriff

I’ve been watching the Superfreakonomics saga unfold with interest.

I confess that I have not read either this book or the earlier Freakonomics, that kicked off the franchise. I have however, observed the exuberant confidence with which the field of micro-economics has taken on new subjects and new challenges in modern times, to some extent spurred on by this bestselling first book. For me this is of great concern. I have always been worried about the way economics has divorced itself from its fellow social sciences and how it dominates decision making and consulting in the halls of power. Perhaps this is best represented by the tip-of-the-tongue familiarity of names like Stern (and Garnaut to Australians). How odd that politicians have sought sagely advice from economists about the unfolding crisis of climate change (as opposed to other thinkers – political scientists, geophysicists, biologists, ecologists and so on).

Also concerning is the claim to this new form of micro-economics to being “value-free” or agnostic on morality. This is not true. Any decision to emphasise or frame matters is coloured by values. All the more dangerous that the authors cannot see this. There is no doubt that the power of statistics in highlighting causal relationships is something that can be put to good use. But the idea that this is new ior revolutionary is insulting to the statisticians, epidemiologists, sociologists and so on, who have used powerful statistical methods to draw such conclusions in the past.

With a major financial collapse just starting to ease, now is the time for the discipline of economics to take up its most important challenge – shaping economic systems that serve the people and nourish the living world. Systems which do not require further growth in energy consumption or resources. Some have started down this path. But until the mainstream of the profession grasps the new realities of material and energy constraints, it will indeed remain the dismal science.

Here is a great collection of links to blogs and media discussing Superfreakonomics. (Most are critical, some defending the book).

Ecology lessons from traditional cultures

15 10 2009

While the term “racist” is a little too loosely thrown about, Ariel Salleh, a sociologist from the University of Sydney, makes the case for a far more radical sustainability discussion to the one that dominates the mass media right now.  Click the link to stream the audio from Radio National.

Is our sustainability science racist?

Heroes @ Westminster

12 10 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Heroes @ Westminster“, posted with vodpod

Climate Change & the Torres Strait

8 10 2009

Eddie Mabo

Economist  Ross Garnaut discusses the “unmeasurables” of climate change; like the cultural heritage and homes of thousands of Torres Strait Islanders.  If Tuvalu is beyond our horizon, surely we can help our fellow Australians in the Torres Strait.

Eddie Mabo occupies a large place in the history of relations between indigenous and other Australians. He played that role because he was a man of exceptional capacity and tenacity and also because he was part of the minority of indigenous Australians whose original home was in the islands of the Torres Strait.

The Torres Strait and the adjacent lands of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and the people who live there, share many things, including exceptional vulnerability to climate change.

continued here.

Ups and downs

21 07 2009

The good:

  • World leaders agree that we should attempt to keep global warming limited to 2 degrees
    Celsius or less (even if their actions don’t fit their stated goals).  It’s a little odd though that the Australian govt. enthuses about a goal of 80% carbon reduction (for developed nations) by 2050 yet only plans to reduce by 60% itself.
  • The Powershift youth conference is a huge success and harnesses the vitality and energy of young Australians.

The bad:

Powershift 2009

23 06 2009