Category Archives: ABC

Dodgy tyre operators

It was disappointing to have to leave the ABC. Budget cuts are something with which you can not argue, however.

As I counted down my last days, I was working on this story. I handed over all my leads to my colleague Sam, encouraging him to follow it up.

I was delighted that he did. And the story linked to here is the result

He was very kind to put my byline on the online version of the story. Thanks Sam!



Regional Forest Agreements

Regional Forest Agreements are 20 year old agreements that were supposed to assure timber supply for foresters and help the environment. Both sides of that debate are not especially happy with how they’ve turned out. Particularly the environmentalists.

Despite this, the government has said it will roll them on for another 20 years without reassessing the details.

7 ways environmentalists have had it wrong

A GRAND NEW VISION for how humans can exist on this planet without destroying the lives and homes of the creatures with which we share it has been published by some of the most noted earthenvironmental thinkers alive today.

But the document, “An ecomodernist manifesto”, is likely to upset a lot of environmentalists working hard to save the planet. So much of their work is the entirely wrong way to bring about planetary salvation, according to the ecomodernists…


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Australia’s role in the outlook for world energy

China coal

By the cheers, you’d think that the joint US-China announcement on climate change meant that it was mission accomplished. Job done. Sea level rise, ice melt, crop failure and natural disasters averted.

Of course, it’s nothing of the sort. It’s only the first step on a long, difficult road to fixing climate change. The significance is that they’ve taken that first step. After years of squabbling about who should go first, the USA and China have linked arms and tentatively made a start together.

A quick look at the World Energy Outlook, released this week by the International Energy Agency, illustrates just how rocky that road will be…

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Feral cats force the spotlight onto Australia’s environmental future

feralcats_feature_illo“ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT isn’t rocket science, it’s a lot more complex.” So said Nick Dexter natural resource manager at Booderee National Park on Radio National’s Off Track program more than two years ago.

Nowhere is that more apparent than the problem of feral cats. Scientists tells us that they are causing a new wave of extinction across the Top End; that they kill 75 million Australian animals every single day — more than 27 billion creatures in a year.

But the question of what to do is a lot more nuanced than “shoot ’em”.

Read more… here 

Racking up environmental credit card debt

IMAGINE THERE’S A bright young thing, fresh out of school. Let’s call her Brenda. She’s polished her shoes and worn a nice shirt to the interview and, she’s landed herself a job. Well done Brenda!

Now let’s imagine her starting salary is nothing excessive, but it should be enough to get by comfortably.

And for a while, everything is going well. Brenda is paying her rent on time, she’s putting food on the table, and there’s a little left over for a nice pair of new shoes.

But then, Brenda finds she needs a new shirt. She’s a bit short that month, so she pops it on the credit card. It’s OK, she’ll pay it off next month.

But then she would really like a telly. So she puts that on the credit card too. And she buys some new sheets on the credit card. And while she’s there, a nice set of bedside tables.

Soon, Brenda is racking up some serious debt. Brenda the Spender. But it feels so good to have nice things, and the credit card company doesn’t seem to mind that her bill only grows each month.

If you were Brenda’s parents, or bank, you might start having a word with her about her spending. Older, wiser folk know that living on a credit card is not a sustainable way of life. Many of us did it when we were younger but pretty soon found we were in financial trouble that took years to sort out…

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The Frankenstein monster that was Australia’s price on carbon


“You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.”

This is the first sentence of a classic novel which I think rather neatly sums up the whole sorry tale of Australia’s carbon tax: Frankenstein.

The original Frankenstein was written by an 18-year-old Mary Shelley in a scary-story-writing competition amongst friends, one rainy summer holiday in 1816.

The more familiar version of Frankenstein is not quite faithful to the original. The inarticulate monster with bolts in his neck (“It’s Aliiiive”) being burned by a mob with pitchforks is the 1930s film reimagining of the original text.

But in all versions the monster is cobbled together from the parts of corpses by Dr Frankenstein…

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Concern for climate change is rising

a thermometer showing 35C with sky background

AUSTRALIANS ARE MORE concerned about climate change than they were last year, according to the latest Lowy Poll. Concern is up five per cent.

It is a predictable public response given the past history of this measure: as action on climate change goes up, concern goes down.

Almost every year for eight years, the Lowy Institute, largely funded by shopping centre tycoon Frank Lowy, has asked a sample of Australians what they think on a number of issues. Climate change is always one.

Agreement that climate change should be addressed has not dipped below 80 per cent since the poll began, but the urgency with which it is addressed has fallen.

Back in 2006, 68 per cent of us agreed with the statement “Global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs.”

In 2014, that’s down to 45 per cent. But it’s an increase from its all-time low of 36 per cent in 2012…

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What are the odds on climate science?

TOMORROW, IN MELBOURNE’S hallowed ground, the MCG, the rockin’ and rollin’ Dockers will take on the mighty fighting Hawthorn. Who will win? Good question, and there’s a lot of money riding on it.

But let’s pretend for a minute, that you had a super computer that can run a predictive mathematical model, like the one at the headquarters of the Bureau of Meteorology across the CBD on Collins Street. Never mind what the bookies calculate, this machine can do 53,912 gigaflops when it’s really trying.

What data would you punch into the machine? You’d take assessments of how the teams had fared against each other previously, and how they had fared in the kind of weather we expect tomorrow. But the BoM’s computer can take 23 million pieces of input data. So you could punch in a lot more than just that. You could plug in data about each individual player, their injury history, their playing style, their speed and their accuracy.

Let’s pretend that you found 23 million pieces of information about the teams and conditions to plug into the computer and you programmed it to run a simulation of the game.

It says the Dockers win. How confident would you be about the result? You’re right, Hawks fans, let’s run that thing again…

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No surprises in climate agencies’ dismantling

DURING THE LEAD-UP to the September 7 election, Tony Abbott promised a “no surprises government” and to dismantle the carbon tax. Having been sworn in as Prime Minister yesterday morning, he has wasted no time in implementing those promises.

The yelps of alarm can be heard across the country as today Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced he could commence the closure of both the Climate Commission and the Climate Change Authority.

Leader of the Greens, Christine Milne called it “cowardly”. Contender for leader of the Labor party, Anthony Albanese immediately branded it, “a shameful act”.

But what exactly did we expect?

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