Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran says he is confident there will be an end to Australia's extremely dry weather conditions.
The weather bureau's national climate centre says global warming may have caused the dry conditions to become Australia's normal, rather than exceptional, weather pattern.
But Mr McGauran rejects that suggestion.
"I'm an optimist, of course the drought will break," he said.
"How suddenly or how effectively is another thing all together, so no, I don't yet believe that this is a permanent state of affairs.
"But we're preparing for the eventuality that it is indeed."
22 September 2007
28 August 2007
24 August 2007
Let's Face It
The Warfare State is part of us
The USA’s military spending is now close to $2 billion a day. This fall, the country will begin its seventh year of continuous war, with no end in sight. On the horizon is the very real threat of a massive air assault on Iran. And few in Congress seem willing or able to articulate a rejection of the warfare state.
The warfare state didn’t suddenly arrive in 2001, and it won’t disappear when the current lunatic in the Oval Office moves on.
The warfare state doesn’t come and go. It can’t be defeated on Election Day. Like it or not, it’s at the core of the United States -- and it has infiltrated our very being.
What we’ve tolerated has become part of us. What we accept, however reluctantly, seeps inward. In the long run, passivity can easily ratify even what we may condemn. And meanwhile, in the words of Thomas Merton, “It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared.”
The triumph of the warfare state degrades and suppresses us all. Even before the weapons perform as guaranteed.
It's not just the US; they are the (current) leaders, but many have followed. For example, Australia (indeed, the overwhelming majority of the so-called Free World) have bought into this basic philosophy, following the US into one misadventure after another. I suppose it's Good for the Economy -- military spending has helped support our pyramid scheme of an economic system since WW2 -- which is an all-purpose excuse to justify all manner of behaviour nowadays, from exploitation of the weak and poor to environmental degradation to outright warfare to gain control over natural resources, all in the name of Profit.
One way or another, the current system is coming to an end soon. Let's hope that enough of humanity can survive reaping the mess we've sown to build something new and (hopefully) better.
17 August 2007
Endocrine disruption should be right at the top of the list of most critical technological disasters facing the world today, up with climate change. With little notice, vast volumes and combinations of synthetic chemicals have settled in every environment in the world, including the womb environment. Synthetic chemicals at very low concentrations in the womb change how genes are programmed, cells develop, tissues form, and organs function, and thus undermine the potential and survival of developing animals, including humans. The chemicals threatening the integrity of future generations are derived from the processing of crude oil and natural gas, the same processes that are driving climate change. This is an integral part of the climate change story.If only half of what the author says is true, this spells big trouble. I think the hole we have dug for ourselves just got deeper...
13 August 2007
Liberal backbencher Danna Vale has defended her position as one of the dissenters.
She says she is not convinced there is a connection between human activity and global warming and the report went beyond the committee's terms of reference.
"There's great contention amongst the science community about if indeed there is contribution from human beings or if indeed the degree to which there is," she said.
"So I'm not a scientist but I have real concerns about coming up with the recommendations of a report and then actually finding that we have not taken any evidence on that topic."
I suppose ignorance is bliss...
11 August 2007
The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture, by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions. They're made from petroleum or natural gas with all the attendant environmental impacts of harvesting fossil fuels. One recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.
The problem with plastic bags isn't just where they end up, it's that they never seem to end. "All the plastic that has been made is still around in smaller and smaller pieces," ... unless they've been incinerated -- a noxious proposition -- every plastic bag you've ever used in your entire life...still exists in some form, even fragmented bits, and will exist long after you're dead.
Yay! They damage our infrastructure, contribute to environmental degradation, kill things and, best of all, last nearly forever!
Oh well, at least some of the carbon we extract is being buried...
10 August 2007
A survey of the impact of marketing on children's taste preferences has revealed the marketing power of McDonald's. 63 preschoolers from low-income families in California were presented with five samples of identical foods and beverages - one in packaging from McDonald's and the other in unbranded packaging. They were then asked "to indicate if they tasted the same or if one tasted better". The results? "54.1 per cent of the children said baby carrots served on top of a paper bag bearing the McDonald's logo tasted better than those on a plain bag (23 per cent) - even though McDonald's does not have carrots on its menu," Kate Benson reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. The study authors concluded the results are "consistent with recommendations to regulate marketing to young children".I've seen this several other places, too. More detail here.