On the way to fascism? Climate change and media concentration

· Ecology and evolution, Economics
Authors

Humanity. Drawing by Klaus Rohde.

© Klaus Rohde

West Papua: Coral sea paradise faces ruin from mining

July 2nd, 2011 by Klaus Rohde

Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens, recently drew attention to the fact that about four fifth of Australian mining is owned by foreigners, and that consequently much of the profits are exported overseas. He used this as one justification for a mining tax, to be used in upgrading infrastructure such as roads, development of a high-speed train network, etc. A mining tax is also supported by the Labour Party, but opposed by the opposition (Tony Abbott: just another “big new tax”) and the rightwing press.

But one has to be fair, Australians also own mining interests overseras. Extracts from the Sydney Morning Herald July 2-3, 2011:

“Coral sea paradise faces ruin from mining”

“One of Australia’s richest men. Clive Palmer, is buying nickel laterite ore for his Yabulu refinery from an Indonesian company that is defying a ban and mining in Raja Ampat, the world’s most ecologically diverse marine environment”. ….  which “undercompensates landowners, has allegedly paid bribes…”…”landowners receive less than 0.3 per cent of estimated revenue…”…”After promising interviews, Queensland Nickel and Yos Hendri, the director of PT ASP and PT ASI, withdrew their offers and declined to answer detailed emailed questions”.

Notre Dame University and climate change

June 30th, 2011 by Klaus Rohde

Notre Dame University, with campuses in Sydney, Broome and Fremantle, is an Australian Catholic University. According to its website:

“Notre Dame follows the tradition and practices of Catholic higher education which, for centuries has offered leadership in university education. It is committed to a personalised education, underpinned by pastoral care and support for all its students. Degrees and courses are offered in the following disciplines: Arts & Sciences, Business, Education (Teaching), Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Physiotherapy and Philosophy & Theology.”

The richest woman in Australia (although located in New York), the mining billionaire Gina Rhinehart, with huge interests in coal mining etc., who has earlier attempted to influence public opinion against a mining tax and effective measures to combat climate change, now sponsors a lecture of the “famous” climate change denier Lord Monckton at Notre Dame University of Western Australia, a man without scientific credentials, but – whenever required – at the forefront of  the misinformation  campaign about climate change. She also bought a substantial share of Fairfax, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the only widely distributed Australian newspapers which so far have given more balanced information about climate change, although even these are fairly right-wing. Is the move of the previous editor of the Daily Telegraph, one of Murdoch’s misinformation sheets, to the Sydney Morning Herald the first fruit of Rhinehart’s efforts?

Is the public aware of the dangers to democracy which such developments pose?

A letter protesting against inviting Lord Monckton, who had earlier in the USA referred to the distinguished Australian economist Professor Ross Garnaut as a Nazi because of his active involvement in climate change policy,  to present the lecture was signed by about 50 scientists and students, to date apparently without having achieved anything. Interestingly however, the famous Brisbane Broncos football club, according to the Sydney Morning Herald 1 July, has “withdrawn its venue from the Lord Christopher Monckton speaking tour of Australia after complaints from its members….. “..in 15 years he had never received so many complaints from members about a speaker”. It seems that the club can well do without the cash from Monckton’s sponsors.

Also according to the SMH, Australian industry is now pushing “to wipe out carbon price”. Even before details of the government’s plans are known, an alliance of some of the biggest Australian industry organisations is “prepared to spend at least Austr.$10 million” on an anti-carbon price campaign, following up on last year’s $22 million campaign against the mining tax which contributed to the downfall of the then prime minister Kevin Rudd.

(Read my earlier posts on the developments in the debate on climate change and the concentration of the press in Australia).

Murdoch in Britain

January 25th, 2011 by Klaus Rohde

In Murdoch’s attempt to acquire total control of yet another media outlet, two undercover agents met with the then British minister in charge of  media, a Liberal, who told them he would oppose the takeover. Responsibility for this portfolio was promptly handed over to a conservative by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. A laughing matter? Hardly. World-wide a cancer-like encroachment on balanced media reporting. News Corporation in the U.S., News of the World in Britain (some recent scandals involving phone tapping of the former Prime Minister Brown, etc.), The Australian and Daily Telegraph in Australia, to mention only a few. All extremely right wing, dangers to democracy.

Media control: Australia better than USA

December 15th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

The US Airforce has blocked access to the websites of the New York Times and other media containing WikiLeaks documents. To my knowledge, Australia has not done this with the Sydney Morning Herald. So, the “land of the free” (Noam Chomsky) should rank behind Australia if you want to rank countries according to the degree of freedom of information they provide. Is there a convergence between countries like China and USA in this respect?

Freedom of the Press Australian Style?

December 8th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

Mrs. Rhinehart, who lives in New York, owns a huge portion of the Australian mining industry and has, in the past, financed much of the media campaign against the mining tax, has now invested $50 million in  Fairfax  (The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) and bought a considerable slice of shares of Channel 10. Now less than half a dozen people, all with  a strong rightwing agenda, practically own and run the Australian media. Freedom of the Press Australian style? – Interesting that two of the media magnates, Murdoch and Rhinehart, live in the USA.

Freedom of the Press and the Australian Elections

August 23rd, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

Murdoch-owned titles account for nearly two-thirds (64.2 per cent) of metropolitan circulation and Fairfax-owned papers account for a further quarter (26.4 per cent). Both groups are fairly right-wing, but Murdoch far more so. – In Queensland, for example, the only widely available newspapers (The Australian and the Courier Mail) are Murdoch owned. Almost all other Western countries, in contrast, have a wide range of newspapers available in all cities and towns, that cover a wide range of political views, from left to right. – The same applies to news channels. The most popular private news channel in Australia, Sky, is Murdoch owned. Even the state financed channels seem to me fairly one-sided, as shown by the disproportionate time allocated to the Coalition on ABC A.M.

According to Reporters Without Borders in 2006, Australia is in 35th position on a list of countries ranked by Press Freedom; well behind New Zealand (19th) and United Kingdom (27th) (but well ahead of the USA, ranked 53rd).

Not without reason the future Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met Murdoch in New York before the previous elections.

Hence, any surprise about the outcome of the elections? No chance (or at least much more difficult) to be elected if you step on the toes of the alliance of big mining bosses and the press (and perhaps the Catholic hierarchy?). A mining tax and market driven carbon pollution tax, a stimulus package at a time of economic crisis, all evidently in the interest of the country and supported by eminent economists, killed or ridiculed by a coalition smear campaign, only possible if supported by a compliant press.

Murdoch crosses the line

August 19th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

Rupert Murdoch has donated 1 million US$ to the Republicans for the mid-term elections. The Democrats’ response: he has crossed the line from impartiality. But has he ever been impartial? How can somebody who owns Fox News be impartial?

See here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11014504

See my earlier posts on the role of the press in Australia.

Fishing for the fishing vote

August 18th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition and ‘leader of the nation hopeful’, is now angling for the fishing vote by pronouncing that a coalition government would remove some of the national parks along the coast in which fishing is restricted. He appeals to the professional and recreational fishermen claiming that fishing is an Australian way of life. He conveniently forgets that, in the long term, fishing restrictions improve fish stocks (clearly shown by scientific studies) and it would therefore be in the best interest of fishermen to maintain and expand national parks.

Surprising? Of course not, Abbott also considers human induced global warming to be “crap”, although the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that it is a fact.

The Coalition is running a hate campaign against Labour accusing it of economic mismanagement and waste. Stigliz, the eminent Nobelprize-winning American economist, during a recent visit to Australia expressed his surprise about the fact that Australians do not seem to appreciate the effectiveness of the stimulus package (”The envy of the world for its design and effectiveness”), the justification of the proposed tax on mining companies, etc. Perhaps he is not familiar with the Australian media: the right wing Murdoch press and TV channels (The Australian, the Daily Telegraph, The Courier Mail, etc., Sky) have a virtual monopoly in large areas, and even the state run radio channels (ABC, SBS) seem to be fairly biased. It struck me that in the ABC A.M. program, a disproportionate time is given to coalition politicians (but I admit, the sample size is small). – As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, a visit to Australia by a prominent British climate-change denier was given extensive media coverage, whereas a visit by a leading American climate scientist was hardly mentioned.

Big business and a right wing press, and Tony Abbott a dangerous demagogue fishing for short term election advantages, completely disregarding the nation’s future (the same, by the way, with regard to the fast broadband option to be introduced by the government).

Causes of catastrophic fires in Russia

August 11th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

The most important causes of the huge bush fires in Russia, which have killed many and destroyed large areas (7600 square km), apparently are the extreme heat in those areas (measurements by NASA satellite “Terra”: more than 12 degrees higher than usually at this time of the year), never experienced in historical times, and the large scale deforestation that has occurred after privatization of the forest industry.

http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,711072,00.html

One should not use single events to make sweeping statements. However, the fires in Russia, flooding in Pakistan (also apparently never experienced before), accelerating melting of Arctic/Subarctic ice sheets, etc. etc., and in particular the evaluations of scientific evidence by large groups of climate scientists, are certainly suggestive of things to come.

Freedom of the Press, and Separation of State and Church in Australia

August 8th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

In today’s Daily Telegraph, Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, had the following to say about the elections, when asked for advice on how to vote.

It is not really my role to give advice on how to vote, however, one should consider the personalities of the parties’ leaders. And: the Greens are antireligion, their philosophy is that of the “notorious” Peter Singer (Australian, Professor of bioethics at Princeton University, USA, and laureate Profressor of Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, probably the most prominent advocate of animal rights today), who believes that humans are not unique and differ from animals only in the complexity of their minds, and who advocates euthanasia, among other things.

Although Cardinal Pell claims to be concerned about the environment, he says the Greens’ policy is poisonous because it disadvantages the poor. He had earlier, in a different context, said that “some of the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming are also a symptom of pagan emptiness…..belief in a benign God who is master of the universe has a steadying psychological effect….In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand reduction in carbon dioxide emissions”.

There are about five million catholics in Australia, and Cardinal Pell’s “advice” will have some influence. So much about the separation of church and state, for which, since the Enlightenment, people in Europe have fought with some success in many countries.

This leads to an even more important question, that of the role of the press in Australia.

The Daily Telegraph, in which this and earlier articles by Cardinal Pell were published, is a tabloid newspaper with a circulation of about 409000, the largest in Sydney. It belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, along with The Australian, Australia’s only nationwide non-tabloid paper, and the most popular metropolitan dailies in all other Australian metropolitan cities. It is obviously (like Fox News in the US, also owned by Murdoch) totally (I would say ridiculously) biased to the right. In the current elections, the bias towards the Liberals is what I would say extreme.

In other words, there is no freedom of the Press in Australia in the sense that objective and accurate information is disseminated. But there is freedom for Rupert Murdoch to disseminate his views.

Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition, and Joe Hockey, his deputy, both devout catholics, appear to base their view on climate change (“crap” in the words of Abbott) not on science but on the dogma of the Church. One can only hope that the electorate will see through the spin, although I doubt it.

New book on the biogeography of parasites

August 6th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

image001-58

The book contains a chapter by me:

Rohde, K. (2010). Marine parasite diversity and environmental gradients. In: Morand, S. and Krasnov, B. eds. The Biogeography of Host-Parasite Interactions. Oxford University Press, pp. 73-88.

The Danger of Large Collaborative Research Projects supported by Government and Business

August 6th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

The oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may have large-scale environmental impact. Scientists involved in assessing the damage have to sign confidentiality statements which threatens their independence, since the research is supported by government and BP.

See here:


http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57610/

How many environmental impact studies in Australia are supported by companies that have a direct interest in the outcome of the research?

Stimulus package prevented another Great Depression

July 29th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

An analysis by two influential economists has shown that the US bailout has saved over 8 million jobs and a slide into another Great Depression. What about the Australian bailout and the “asinine” discussion about it now? How stupid is the Australian public?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jul/28/us-bailouts-prevented-1930s-style-great-depression

Oceanic phytoplankton steadily declining over last 100 years

July 29th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

A report in Nature shows that phytoplankton has declined substantially and steadily over the last 100 years, probably as the result in temperature rises.

See here:

http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57576/

Politics, climate change, big business and the press in Australia

July 26th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

Political developments in Australian politics over the last months have been quite revealing. They raise some important questions concerning the power of big business and the press, and the status of democracy in Australia.

1) Numerous reports in the Australian press dealt with the so-called “climate-gate” scandal. Several thorough investigations have now found that there was no scandal, the reputation of the scientists involved is intact. However, reports in the press on these investigations and their outcome have been minimal.- There can be little doubt that the “scandal” has had a significant impact on Australian politics, contributing to the downfall of the Rudd government and Turnbull as leader of the opposition (Tony Abbott rode the waves by claiming that man induced climate change was “crap”).

2) There have been wide-spread press reports on the government’s intention to spend 30 million $ of taxpayers’ money on countering a press campaign by the big oil companies spending 100 million $ on a propaganda campaign against the announced big oil tax. How many reports have there been making it clear to the public that these 100 million $ are tax deductible, in other words that the Australian taxpayer has to pay for it?

So, who is running the country? A democratically elected government or the combined power of big business and the press?

Man-induced climate change revisited

May 16th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

In previous posts I drew attention to the fact that media reports claiming falsification by researchers of data showing man-induced global warming, coincided with the Copenhagen conference on climate change. No falsification had been shown, but the aim was achieved: a general cooling towards the idea that steps to counter warming were essential.

Now, 255 members of the US National Academy of Science including 11 Nobel Prize laureates issued a very strong statement (according to the Sydney Morning Herald 7.5.10) “defending the rigour and objectivity of climate science. They called for an end to “McCarthy-like threats” of criminal persecution of researchers.”

We all know what the reactions in Australia were. Tony Abbott, the leader of the Opposition (a former environment minister) called man induced climate change “crap” and went as low as announcing to primary school students not to worry, the world was warmer at the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Kevin Rudd, the prime minister, “postponed” legislation to introduce an ETS scheme, after it had been blocked in the Senate by the Opposition and Greens (by the latter for being too weak). Are there any other countries were discussion has descended to such a low level? After all, we are dealing with a problem that may have very serious consequences for future generations. We cannot afford to wait until we are 100% sure about the evidence, science does not work that way.

Perhaps it was too optimistic to expect that the electorate would see through the stupidities, but is it not extraordinary that Tony Abbott and his party were awarded with a high jump in popularity in the latest opinion polls? Senator Fielding of the Family First party, who waved around a poster showing the supposed temperature decline in the last decade (a poster which he had picked up at some meeting in the US) and Abbott were apparently duped by the press reports about falsification of climate data. After all, according to some press reports, the (in)famous climate change denier Lord Monckton (who is not a climate scientist but a business consultant etc.) appeared in the media 455 times during his recent visit to Australia, the scientist and head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, appeared just 61 times. Four out of five books denying climate change, according to a press report, were linked to conservative think tanks and there were few PhD’s among the authors.

Godlessness and Nazism, Stalinism etc.

April 2nd, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

According to the Sydney Morning Herald (April 2-4, 2010), the Archbishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher, launched a scathing attack on atheism in his inaugural Easter message. “Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating.”-”Nazism, Stalinism, Pol-Pottery, mass murder and broken relationships: all promoted by state-imposed atheism or culture-insinuated secularism”.
Sorry, this is sheer nonsense, at least as far as Nazism is concerned (and perhaps one should not forget that Stalin began his career at a seminary for priests in Georgia, although he later became the chief preacher of atheistic Marxism-Leninism).

I quote from “Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941-1944″ (English translation by Norman Cameron and R.H.Stevens 1953, A Signet Book, The New American Library).

It is important that these conversations were not meant for publication and can therefore be accepted as expressing Hitler’s real beliefs.

Some quotes:
page 36: “Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this all-mighty, which we call God (that is to say, the dominion of natural laws throughout the whole universe). The priests, who have always succeeded in exploiting this feeling, threatening punishments for the man for the man who refuses to accept the creed they impose”.

page 86: “I envisage the future, therefore as follows: First of all, to each man his private creed. Superstition shall not lose its rights…”

page 158: “Christ was an Aryan…”

page 330: “If my presence on earth is providential, I owe it to a superior will. But I owe nothing to the Church that trafficks in the salvation of souls, and I find it really too cruel. I admit that one cannot impose one’s will by force, but I have a horror of people who enjoy inflicting sufferings on others’ bodies and tyranny upon others’ souls.”

Somewhere (I could not find the reference) he says that the justification of the war against the bolsheviks really was their atheism. This explains, of course, why the catholic church was fairly ambivalent about Hitler. Even Cardinal Graf von Galen, Bishop of Münster during the Nazi era and a close friend of the later Pope Pius XII, supported Hitler’s war against the Soviet Union, in spite of his opposition to other aspects of Nazism.

So, does this sound like an atheist? Hitler certainly was not a Christian and he was a fanatic antisemite, but he certainly was not an atheist.

The most violent opponents of Richard Dawkins, the high priest of contemporary atheism, argue, like the archbishop above, that atheism is at the root of all (or much) evil. It seems that in their opinion one needs to be threatened with punishment in Hell to be good. Well, Hitler did evil without being an atheist. (see here:http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/richard-dawkins-the-god-delusion-terry/xk923bc3gp4/60#edit)

Man cannot destroy the Earth, only God can.

March 13th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

Listen to this one: http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/people/aggie/blog/?p=181#comments

I wonder how many of the so-called climate change deniers are influenced by this sort of thinking.

Haiti

January 19th, 2010 by Klaus Rohde

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, January 19, Pat Robertson, one of the leading American evangelicals, has the following to say about the reasons for the earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti:

” Haiti had been cursed by a pact he said its slave founders made with the devil two centuries ago to overthrow their French rulers.”

For the historical background, click here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/18/aristide-haiti-mandate-recovery

Don’t be fooled by the media

December 9th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

A few days before the beginning of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, the media are full of reports on supposed falsification of climate data at the University of East Anglia, England. Where did the information come from? Apparently, professional hackers broke into large numbers of emails between climate change researchers and put a selection of those emails on climate skeptic websites, just in time for the conference. Certainly not cheap, who paid the hackers? Have a guess.

Any evidence that there was indeed falsification of data? Not as far as I am aware. But does it matter? The damage is done.

In this context, a number of years back, the media were full of reports on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction etc. What were these reports based on? Among the most important pieces of evidence, apparently, were a student essay, and a conversation between passengers which an Iraqi taxi driver overheard and reported two years later. All this comes out again now at the hearings in Britain about the Iraq war. A few million dead! Don’t bother, it all was done in the interest of whom?

For details see: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,665944,00.html

http://www.guardian.co./uk/2009/dec/08/iraq-chilcot-inquiry-scarlett-blair

New evidence Blair misled MPs on Iraq

November 26th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

An inquiry into the Iraq war has begun in Britain. An article by Richard Norton-Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald, November 24, deals with it.

The article claims that evidence will be presented that the “invasion was ill-conceived and preparations were sabotaged by Tony Blair’s government to mislead the public”. Among other things, military commanders were shocked by the lack of preparations and worried that they might be prosecuted for war crimes because they could not protect civilians as outlined in the Geneva convention. – Blair claimed in 2002 that the goal was not regime change but disarmament. – “Deep hostility of British military commanders towards their US allies”, etc.

In the meantime, some press reports have claimed that a full and open inquiry cannot be expected and that it will just be another whitewash.

What is new?

“Intervention” in the Northern Territory according to John Pilger

November 23rd, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

John Pilger received the Sydney Peace Prize some days ago (an “embarrassing day for Sydney”, according to one press report!). The full text of his speech on receiving the prize here.

I found the references to the policy of “intervention” in the Northern Territory of the Howard government particularly interesting. This policy was supported by claims “of sex slavery and paedophile rings in “unthinkable numbers” ( the then minister for indigenous affairs).

John Pilger mentions the following numbers, according to him hardly reported in the press.

“Out of 7433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, 39 had been referred to the authorities for suspected abuse. Of those, a maximum of four possible cases were identified. So much for the “unthinkable numbers”. Of course, child abuse does exist, in black Australia and white Australia. The difference is that no soldiers invaded the North Shore suburbs; no white parents were swept aside; no white welfare has been “quarantined”. What the doctors found they already knew: that Aboriginal children are at risk – from the effects of extreme poverty and the denial of resources in one of the world’s richest countries.”

Pilger further said, drawing attention to what he thinks is really behind the intervention:

“The Territory contains extraordinary mineral wealth, especially uranium. And Aboriginal land is wanted as a radioactive waste dump. This is very big business, and foreign companies want a piece of the action.

It is a continuation of the darkest side of our colonial history: a land grab.”

Beware: Left-wing conspiracy

November 21st, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

Beware! According to Nick Minchin, the leader of the liberals in the Senate, all the fuzz about global warming really is nothing but a left-wing conspiracy. Lefties who lost their cherished Communist cause now need a new one, and they found it: global warming.

I am deeply grateful to Nick for this insight. I now know where I stand.

I am always amazed how cocksure global warming skeptics are about their cause: no doubt whatsoever! I wished they were right and I could stop worrying about the Great Barrier Reef, the possible huge population movements, etc. Their seems to be something in the human mind that prevents rational reactions to events for which evolution has not pre-programmed them. Not really surprising if you think of it.

Another point of evidence for evolution by natural selection?

Climate change: New Orleans doomed?

October 26th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

This is a follow-up to my previous post on climate change:

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2009/10/14/coral-reefs-and-climate-change-close-to-catastrophic-collapse/

Storm threat to New Orleans out of our control, says general
• Flooding can’t be stopped, says chief of city defences
………….

Extracts of an article in the Guardian.

“New Orleans can no longer be protected from hurricane storm surges, according to the US army general in charge of the city’s defences.
General Robert Van Antwerp, chief of the US Army Corps of Engineers, said …………….
“If you ask can I protect the city, the answer is no. Can I reduce the risk? Yes.
“We can develop better early warning systems, better evacuation plans, better levees to hold back most of the water, but we cannot stop levees being overtopped and the city flooded.”

…………

“The vast Mississippi delta is sinking a centimetre a year. Sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate, and will be two metres higher by the year 2100. Much of the delta is less than a metre above sea level, so most communities will be submerged.
The oil and gas industry’s massive canal and pipeline network, which provides 35% of the country’s gas and oil, cuts through the state’s freshwater swamps and marshes, allowing vast quantities of sea water from the Gulf to wash into the delta and kill many of the trees and plants that protect the land from storm surges.”
………..

“We have broken the ecosystem. What we are doing to restore it is a drop in the ocean of what is needed,” Macaluso said.”

………

“Prof Gerald Galloway, from the department of civil engineering at the University of Maryland, said: “We are facing catastrophe. The challenge now is to see if anybody will do anything about it.”

………

“”There needs to be dramatic changes in policy and attitude, but time is running out.”

Full article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/25/usa-natural-disasters

Coral reefs and climate change. Close to catastrophic collapse?

October 14th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

Professor Alexandra Grutter, University of Queensland, sent me this:

The coral reef crisis: The critical importance of less than 350 ppm CO2

By Veron et al. 2009. Marine Pollution Bulletin 58, 1428-1436.

“Abstract
Temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 320 ppm. When CO2 levels reached 340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events. Recovery was dependent on the vulnerability of individual reef areas and on the reef’s previous history and resilience. At today’s level of 387 ppm, allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline. Mass bleaching will in future become annual, departing from the 4 to 7 years return-time of El Niño events. Bleaching will be exacerbated by the effects of degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events. In addition, the progressive onset of ocean acidification will cause reduction of coral growth and retardation of the growth of high magnesium calcite-secreting coralline algae. If CO2 levels are allowed to reach 450 ppm (due to occur by 2030–2040 at the current rates), reefs will be in rapid and terminal decline world-wide from multiple synergies arising from mass bleaching, ocean acidification, and other environmental impacts. Damage to shallow reef communities will become extensive with consequent reduction of biodiversity followed by extinctions. Reefs will cease to be large-scale nursery grounds for fish and will cease to have most of their current value to humanity. There will be knock-on effects to ecosystems associated with reefs, and to other pelagic and benthic ecosystems. Should CO2 levels reach 600 ppm reefs will be eroding geological structures with populations of surviving biota restricted to refuges. Domino effects will follow, affecting many other marine ecosystems. This is likely to have been the path of great mass extinctions of the past, adding to the case that anthropogenic CO2 emissions could trigger the Earth’s sixth mass extinction.”

Full report here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.09.009

See also: http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2009/09/16/if-obama-cant-defeat-the-republican-headbangers-our-planet-is-doomed/

Nobel Prize for Economics

October 13th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

Two days ago I published a post referring to the fact that the
Nobel prize for Economics has been given largely to conventional economists with a “classical” neoliberal outlook. The prize therefore strengthened the belief that this branch of economics is “correct”. Politicians, as a consequence, were inclined to “privatize”, “outsource” etc. as a remedy for any problems. Anybody disagreeing was labelled an ignorant: out of touch with modern developments in economic theory. This year’s prize has now been given to two economists who have shown that “outsourcing” often is not the best way to go, and that community administered resources are often better distributed than privately owned ones. In other words, privatization and leaving everything to free markets are not always the best approach. – I arrived at the conclusion that free market economics has flaws, i.e. that each case in economy has to be treated individually, some time ago based on a comparison of ecological and economical principles. See my knol:
http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/free-markets-and-free-trade-ecology-and/xk923bc3gp4/86#

Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. Why did he get it? Does he deserve it?

October 12th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

There has been much discussion in the media about the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision to award the prize to President Obama. Here is one view, by MJ Rosenberg, Senior Fellow Media Matters Action Network, October 11, 2009.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/nobel-prize-means-no-us-o_b_316939.html

Extracts:
Nobel Prize Means No US or Israeli Attack on Iran”

“And that pretty much means that the Iran nuclear issue is going to be resolved diplomatically. Either diplomacy will convince Iran to drop plans for a bomb — if it has such plans. Or else we will accept Iran’s right to a bomb under the same terms and restrictions as the other nuclear armed signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
President Obama was not inclined to attack Iran’s facilities or to allow Israel to do so before winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The early awarding of this prize will only strengthen him in that resolve. The “bomb Iran” option is off the table.”

See my earlier posts on Iran under the relevant categories (Iran/Iraq, Politics, Middle East)

“Nobel” Prize for Economics and Conservative Bible Project show us that Free Market Economy is right

October 9th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

The “Nobel” Prize in Economics has been a very effective instrument in directing economics research into a certain direction, i.e. that of neoclassical free market economics. But, apparently, this is not sufficient. Why not, therefore ask for help from the Bible.

Nobel Prize for Economics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/08/economics-nobel-women-bailout-stockmarket

“The Nobel prize for economics may need its own bailout
“Nobel prize has been a useful tool not only to proclaim the conceptual advances supposedly made by “the dismal science” but also to encourage certain types of economic analysis and research. So its power extends beyond public recognition, altering the very production of economic knowledge.”

“The political effect of the prize in the profession has been undeniable. There has been overwhelming domination of neoclassical economics, to the exclusion of alternative streams of thought, with only a few nods in the direction of broader and more socially embracing approaches. This has encouraged more conservative approaches in research and teaching.
Monetarist and free market approaches have been disproportionately rewarded, often at crucial times….”

The Bible

In a recent post I produced some funny quotes from Heinrich Heine. The Huffington Post, from time to time, produces equally funny ones. Have a look at this one:

From: The Huffington Post | Rachel Weiner
First Posted: 10- 5-09 02:26 PM | Updated: 10- 5-09 03:38 PM


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/05/conservative-bible-projec_n_310037.htm
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Some extracts (bold by me):

“Lo and behold, the Bible has gotten too liberal, according to a group of conservatives. And it needs a little editing.

That’s the inspiration behind the Conservative Bible Project, which seeks to take the text back to its supposed right-wing roots.

Yes, even scripture is not orthodox enough for the modern conservative. Not that it’s the fault of the author(s), exactly. The group cites a few reasons why the Bible is too progressive: “Lack of precision in the original language … lack of precision in modern language” and “translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.”

So how can the Bible be conservatized? The group has proposed a Wikipedia-like group editing project. Some of the ideas would only bring the translation closer to the original. But others would fundamentally change the text.

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level

4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.

6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.

7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

Among the words to be eliminated: “government.” A conservative columnist at Beliefnet described the effort as “just crazy … like what you’d get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin’.”

Concerning the recommended Wikipedia style: I have commented on the serious flaws and biasses of Wikipedia in a knol:

http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/wikipedia-oder-knol-meinungsfreiheit/xk923bc3gp4/73#

Concerning the free market propaganda to be incorporated, is this blasphemous?

Bilingual education in the Northern Territory

September 10th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

According to press reports, the few schools for aboriginal children now using bilingual education (with the native language used first) in the NT will now be forced to use English for the first four hours every day. This is supposed to improve the English background of aboriginal children and therefore their job prospects. However, an educator with long experience in the NT writes (Sydney Morning Herald 10.9.09) that this is contrary to all experience, such bilingual schools have, in the past, in fact done sometimes better and certainly not worse than the many schools with English only. A number of academics also have objected to the move.

It seems to me that the changes would be a continuation of the “lost generation” chapter in recent Australian history and more generally of colonialism in earlier history. I believe that what aboriginals need is pride in their language and culture, which can be best achieved by bilingual education with native languages first.

Irankrieg im Kommen?

July 6th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

In einem Knol habe ich darauf hingewiesen, wie gefährlich es sei, Spieltheorie auf die Lösung internationaler Konflikte anzuwenden, weil es praktisch unmöglich ist, vorrauszusagen, wie der Gegener reagieren wird und welche Konsequenzen zum Beispiel ein Angriff haben wird. Ich habe den Iran als Beispiel benutzt. Siehe hier:

http://knol.google.com/k/klaus-rohde/spieltheorie-nash-gleichgewichte-in/xk923bc3gp4/36#

Es scheint Ernst zu werden, wie ein heute im Spiegel veröffentlichter Artikel zeigt:


http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,634415,00.html

Auszüge hier:

Israel forciert Pläne für Militärschlag gegen Iran

Am Ende, so die Analyse der Regierung in Jerusalem, kann nur ein Militärschlag Teheran vom Bau der Atombombe abhalten. Die Vorbereitungen dazu laufen auf Hochtouren.

Groß war daher die Hoffnung, die Jerusalem Baradeis designiertem Nachfolger entgegengebrachte. Der Japaner Yukiya Amano machte Karriere im diplomatischen Dienst und wurde schon deshalb in Israel mit Wohlwollen betrachtet, weil er kein Muslim ist und als Japaner “dem Westen” zugerechnet wird.

Umso enttäuschter zeigten sich die Israelis, als nach Amanos Wahl am Donnerstag die erste Wortmeldung des neuen IAEA-Direktors über die Agenturen lief. Auf die Frage, ob er glaube, dass Teheran an einer Atombombe baue, sagte Amano nur: “Ich sehe dafür in offiziellen IAEA-Dokumenten keinerlei Beweise.”

Netanjahu machte bereits bei seinem Amtsantritt in Washington vor eineinhalb Monaten deutlich, dass er die Politik des Dialogs von US-Präsident Barack Obama für einen Fehler hält. Es gelang ihm, Obama das Zugeständnis abzuringen, Verhandlungen würden nicht unbegrenzt ausprobiert, sondern nur “bis Ende des Jahres”. Stolz verwies Netanjahu nach dem Gespräch mit Obama auf diese “Deadline”.

Wie die in Militärfragen stets gut unterrichtete “Sunday Times” berichtet, soll es der israelischen Regierung gelungen sein, die stillschweigende Zustimmung Saudi-Arabiens zu einer Militäroperation bekommen zu haben. Demnach habe der Chef des Mossad, Meir Dagan, aus Riad das Zugeständnis erhalten, für eine solche Operation saudischen Luftraum durchfliegen zu dürfen.

Einen Militärschlag wahrscheinlicher erscheinen lässt auch die Nachricht, dass Washington kürzlich dem Verkauf von F-35-Kampfjets zugestimmt hat. Der moderne Tarnkappenbomber ist in der Lage, in feindlichen Luftraum zu fliegen, ohne vom Radar erfasst zu werden. Ein strategischer Vorteil, der umso schwerer wiegt, wenn es darum geht, Ziele an verschiedenen Orten zu bombardieren.

Warnungen westlicher Diplomaten, ein israelischer Angriff könne einen regionalen Flächenbrand auslösen, schreckt die Verantwortlichen in Jerusalem nur wenig, ebenso die Aussicht auf eine iranische Vergeltung mit Raketen. Zum einen wurde kürzlich mit Hilfe der Amerikaner in der Wüste Negev ein neues Raketenabwehrsystem stationiert. Zum anderen setzt der jüdische Staat auf Abschreckung. Jüngst schickte er – für die ganze Welt sichtbar – ein U-Boot der “Dolphin”-Klasse vom Mittelmeer durch den Suez-Kanal in das Rote Meer.

Vier der zehn Torpedorohre wurden auf Wunsch der Israelis vom deutschen Hersteller so ausgestattet, dass sie auch Raketen mit Nuklearsprengköpfen abschießen können. Für eine solche Drohung seien die Iraner empfänglich, glaubt man in Jerusalem. Schließlich würde Teheran selbst in erster Linie wegen der Abschreckung an der Bombe bauen, sagen die israelischen Militärstrategen, und nicht um sie wirklich einzusetzen.

Soll man die deutsche Firma, die die Torpedorohre zum Feuern von Atomraketen umgebaut hat, als zukünftigen Kriegsverbrecher vormerken?

Wichtig ist auch, dass der neu ernannte Direktor der IAEA, der Japaner Amano, keine Beweise für ein iranisches Atomwaffenprogramm gefunden hat, und das selbst Israel meint: “Schließlich würde Teheran selbst in erster Linie wegen der Abschreckung an der Bombe bauen, sagen die israelischen Militärstrategen, und nicht um sie wirklich einzusetzen.”

US-Präsident verweigert Israel Erlaubnis für Angriff auf Iran

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,634852,00.html
Verwirrende Signale aus der US-Regierung: Barack Obama hat seinen Stellvertreter Joe Biden öffentlich zurückgepfiffen. Washington werde einen israelischen Angriff auf Irans Atomanlagen nicht dulden, stellte der US-Präsident klar. Sein Vize hatte zuvor eine andere Linie vertreten.

On the Way to Socialism? The Guardian: Twenty-five people at the heart of the meltdown

January 27th, 2009 by Klaus Rohde

In a previous post I drew attention to some people exposed by the present financial and economic crisis.

An article in the Guardian discusses 25 people (politicians, bankers, economists, etc.) responsible for or warning against the present meltdown. Alan Greenspan heads the list of the culprits, George Soros and Nouriel Roubini are among the warners.

See the full article here.


Here is what the article says about Roubini (bold by me):
Professor Nouriel Roubini¨Described by the New York Times as Dr Doom, the economist from New York University was warning that financial crisis was on the way in 2006, when he told economists at the IMF that the US would face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, oil shock and a deep recession.
He remains a pessimist. He predicted last week that losses in the US financial system could hit $3.6tn before the credit crunch ends – which, he said, means the entire US banking system is in effect bankrupt. After last year’s bail-outs and nationalisations, he famously described George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke as “a troika of Bolsheviks who turned the USA into the United Socialist State Republic of America”.

The Wars in the Congo and Amazon

October 30th, 2008 by Klaus Rohde

Here are two excerpts of a report in the Huffington Post:

“The deadliest war since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe is starting again — and you are almost certainly carrying a blood-soaked chunk of the slaughter in your pocket. When we glance at the holocaust in the Congo, with 5.4 million dead, the clichés of Africa reporting tumble out: this is a “tribal conflict” in “the Heart of Darkness.” It isn’t. The United Nations investigation found it was a war led by “armies of business” to seize the metals that make our twenty-first century society zing and bling. The war in Congo is a war about you.”
“These resources were not being stolen to be used in Africa. They were being seized so they could be sold on to us. The more we bought, the more the invaders stole — and slaughtered. The rise of mobile phones caused a surge in deaths, because the coltan they contain is found primarily in Congo.”

Full text here.

According to various press reports, the private arm of the World Bank has decided to support a company with a multi-million Dollar loan for extending its cattle ranches in parts of the Amazon in which illegal deforestation has occurred in the past. Is this the function of the World Bank ? Why not give the money to poor African farmers for improving their farming practices?

In the Congo and the Amazon, environmental destruction on a grand scale! This concerns us all: experts have estimated that damage to the environment will have far greater economic consequences than the present financial crisis.

Wilhelm Busch: Über Dummheit (On stupidity)

November 4th, 2008 by Klaus Rohde

 

Wilhelm Busch: Über Dummheit. Ausgewählt aus der Zitate-Sammlung im Projekt Gutenberg, der Spiegel:

“Dummheit, die man bei den anderen sieht,
Wirkt meist erhebend aufs Gemüt.”

“Wenn andere klüger sind als wir,
Das macht uns selten nur Pläsier,
Doch die Gewissheit, das sie dümmer,
Erfreut fast immer.”

hinten-1.jpg

 “Von hinten” Zeichnung von Klaus Rohde.

© Klaus Rohde


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