ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +
MARCH 2013


The talk at "Sydney Ideas" on 5th March was captioned:

"CLIVE HAMILTON, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University."

OK. So the guy is a philosopher.  At a recently converted CAE.  We can't really expect him to know anything rigorous in or about science, except what he's been told by whoever he chose to ask.  He was planning to talk about something called "Geoengineering", which Wikipedia refers to as "intervention in the Earth's climate system  .. .to moderate global warming".

Law school Auditorium 101 at Sydney University.  Introduction by a lawyer staff member who divulged that Sydney Uni Law Faculty were considering offers for doing research on regulation of Geoengineering with various US universities.

Clive was an engaging speaker.  After all, he wants to sell you his book (autographed) for $24.99 "at the venue".

Clive had a few de rigueur classical references.  Edvard Munch's "Scream", Mrs. Mary Bysshe Shelley & Frankenstein.

Clive showed lots of diagrams showing that the world might warm by as much as 5C by 2050, and cited a (was it UN?) projection that the world would not be able to feed everyone.  That fact impressed me no end.  The ABC had broadcast an ABARE projection to my car radio on the way to the talk that food prices might rise as much as 10% by 2050.  (That was the best case for farmers.  In the worst case, food got cheaper, farmers earned less).  I am afraid that after the numerous IPCC and UNFCCC fiascos, (see here for my 2007 critique) the UN has got no credibility whatsoever on climate change projections with me.

He described the various methods of geoengineering.  Solar mirrors (a pet love of mine), that would vary the sunlight falling to Earth.  The piece de resistance was sulphates injection into the stratosphere.  (a la volcanism).  Not being a scientific person, he could not really comment on whether the technology would work.  But he could show a fancy artist's projection of what would happen if it went wrong.

Then he got into the ad hominem stuff.  One of the scientists who proposed this solution was used as a model for "Dr Strangelove " of Peter Sellers fame.  Another proposer was called "Dr. Death" (I forget that reference).  They had all allegedly previously worked at the highly prestigious Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, "where the Atomic Bomb and other bad things were developed".  That establishment is operated by the US government, and is one of the foremost "hard science" (as opposed to ad hoc science) in the world.   And these scientists were financed by "Bill Gates and other billionaires" who were (it was implied) clearly were out to benefit only themselves, not the world.

Conclusion.  So far as I know, we still do not know that a 4C rise will do more harm than good to the planet.  Among the casualties.  Mediterranean climates (Freemantle, Melbourne, the Mediterranean countries, mid-California) may have reduced rainfall.  The oceans might become warmer and more acidic, and fish stocks in the oceans might decline.  Among the benefits, most of the world's deserts (Sahara, most of north Australia, South African, Saudi/Jordan) could well have increased rainfall, and the Tundras (Canada, Siberia, Alaska, Patagonia) would probably become productive farmland as they warmed up.  As Carbon Dioxide is a fertilizer, crop yields can be expected to rise.

But (we were told) a 4C fall would bring on an ice age.

But if on balance the casualties outweigh the benefits, if we do decide to cool the planet, Sulphur compounds may well be the answer!


I have had occasion before (East Timor invasion) to complain about the advice given by foreign affairs mandarins to their minister.  Fiji is another case in point.  Fiji has a racial problem.  The indiginous Fijians did not want to work for the British conquerors, so the British migrated an Indian workforce.  By the time of independence, the native Fijians were reduced to about 55% of the population.   This caused trouble, because the Indian Fijians were more engaged with politics.  To rectify the situation where native Fijians felt dispossessed, Bainimarama took over in a military coup in 2006.  Since then he has attempted to restore a democracy that will preserve the rights of ethnic Fijians,

For some reason, the mandarins in Canberra consider the West Pacific islands (and Timor Leste) is considered Australia and NZ back yard.  And they object strongly to Bainimarama's coup and guided democracy.  Ignore the fact that Malaysia is guilty of far worse.  We are applying sanctions of all types to Fiji.

The latest is a charge of TORTURE!!! with supporting
video footage.  Must I mention all of our own transgressions?  Starting with Palm Island?

Perhaps we should send our own police over to advise the Fijians.

Lesson one our police should instruct is: "try to kill the suspect while carrying out the arrest." (Like that poor Brazilian in King's Cross, and all the other, similar "legal homicides" we read about).

Lesson two
our police should instruct is: "execute the arrested person and any witnesses before a magistrate can enquire into police torture/brutality/murders." (But this time, do it RIGHT!)

If the Fijian police follow these lessons, I feel sure our Foreign Affairs mandarins will heve less damaging advice for their minister concerning Fiji.


Julia Gillard (JG), Australia's Prime Minister is up to her Machiavellian tricks again.

In an attempt to take our minds off boat people, she had (allowed?) minister Connor propose draconian legislative powers over the media.  Her minority partners (independents, Greenies) would not be in that, so she had Connor withdraw that proposed legislation

Before that news had hit the press, another close ally of JG (Simon Crean (SC)) intruded into the narrative by asking Julia for a spill, and proposed JG's nemesis and past PM Kevin Rudd as new PM.  He apparently omitted to obtain Rudd's confirmation that he would stand, and SC vehemently denies that Rudd messaged him that he would not stand.  He did say that he would be voting (by secret ballot) for Rudd.

This looks very much like a replay of the last challenge to JG.  As then, JG proposed a pre-emptive (4 hours) spill.

This time Kevin Rudd refused the invitation to contest the spill.  (He is learning fast?)  He cited a need for "overwhelming support".

The media is wising up.  Crean has become very defensive.  I am rather cynical of SC's motives.  He is not a spot on his dad.


I was asked for advice on whether to put a greater proportion of salary into a superannuation fund.  By paying in about $500, the asker would (through taxation rebates) lose only $250 of pocketed pay.  That fund savings would be accessible (after investment) in another 35-50 years.  (I fully expect the retirement pension age to rise to 80+ over the next few decades.)

After investigation, this is my advice.

Money is an extremely complicated concept.  When we speak of money, we really mean "value".

Money isn't gold, although gold was synonymous with money/value for a long time.  Money isn't paper notes that can be inflated or deflated at a politician's whim.  Some people define money/value as labour.  i.e. What will the current exchange medium purchase in terms of service.  Even that is not adequate, because legislatively enforced labour laws can distort service costs, as can the country where those services are to be purchased.

Money/value over time is even more problematic.  Keeping in mind that availability of services (supply-v-demand) determines the cost of something, the value of saved money in the purchase of services is reduced if the population of workers shrinks.  So the amount of money might double, ($1000 becomes $2,000) but the cost of services might quadruple or worse (what did cost $1000 might now cost $4000-$8000).

Currently, Australia is riding a resources boom.  Historically, that will end.  Then our government can be relied upon to seek innovative solutions for revenue raising to pay for the cost of government.  (aka paying their own salaries and pensions).  The "Cyprus solution" springs to mind.  The potential for government regulation of your savings adds further hazards to the amount of money that is irrevocably deposited into a superannuation fund. 

All of which begs the question.  What should be done to prepare for retirement?  Personally, I think that actually holding saved cash or equivalent (in a deflationary period) or owning real estate (during inflationary periods) is the best option.  Both have their own dangers, but both are safer and potentially cheaper than your friendly superannuation adviser (who only takes 1% to 2% of your superannuation capital each year!  See table 3.  Work that out over 35-50 years, compounded!)  The option of switching funds is not of real benefit, because you must keep in touch with the economy to know what to do.  Just as you would if you self managed your own money.

So my advice.  Don't trust any super fund (except that one that the politicians designed for themselves).