From The Editor

“As this bushfire season has claimed lives and thousands of homes, Professor Garnaut has become a focus on the debate around climate change and the Government’s response.That is because in 2008 he conducted a widescale review into the impact of climate change on Australia and its economy, and came to a conclusion: the nation would face a more frequent and intense fire season by 2020.” The above quote is from an  ABC News Breakfast interview  by Patrick Wood, first posted 13 Jan 2020, 11:07am, Updated 14 Jan 2020. The original has a Video and links to interviews with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  See below Australia can have zero emissions and still profit from minerals.

The need for a national scientific approach to Australian bushfire control is set out in a January 23, 2020 article in The Conversation by David Bowman, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, University of Tasmania, and Ross Bradstock, Professor, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, University of Wollongong. A national scientific monitoring facility would fill a critical gap in Australian bushfire science, by reporting on the timing, cause, geographic extent and severity of bushfires across all land tenure, vegetation and fuel types. Such basic data are essential to determine the trends in bushfire extent, changes in causes of fires (particularly lightning and arson, which have been hotly debated topics this summer), carbon emissions from bushfires and effectiveness in reducing fuel loads.” See below Australia needs a national fire inquiry – these are the 3 key areas it should deliver in.

“Shortly after returning from the US to work in a state government agency, I received a bureaucratic culture shock. As a director of a public health unit, I was preparing to release information on childhood lead exposure. It was considered “sensitive”. About 6pm on the eve of the release, I received an enraged telephone call from the head of another agency. He was appalled at the level of transparency and openness with which I was approaching the release of information. He said the information was going to embarrass the government and that my primary job was “to protect the minister”. This sounded so bizarre that I laughed, which didn’t make matters better.” This quote is from of a January 13, 2020 ScienceDaily article  by Dr Craig Dalton, who is a public health physician and conjoint associate professor at the University of Newcastle. He has over 20 years of experience in government dealing with risk communication in controversial environmental health settings. See below,  Are we too worried about embarrassing the minister? Relaxing about ‘sensitive’ information can strengthen government. 

The following quote is from a  January 27, 2020 article in The Conversation by Ellen Heyting, PhD student in Education and Head of Years 11 and 12, Monash University. “If I think about what improved in my classroom because of my new year’s resolution, the biggest gains in my students’ and my own thinking came from discussing my failures.” See below,  How a year of trying to buy nothing made me a smarter shopper and a better teacher.

 

Current Issue

Articles in the current Issue cover:

Australia can have zero emissions and still profit from minerals

“The way you make aluminium in a zero-emissions world economy is to use renewable energy to turn bauxite and aluminium oxide into aluminium metal.

Australia is by far the biggest exporter of aluminium ores and iron ores, [and] when the world is producing aluminium and iron without emissions, we’ll be the place that’s done. So it will be positive for the economy.” 

Australia needs a national fire inquiry – these are the 3 key areas it should deliver in

“To substantially reduce loss of life and property from bushfires, individuals and communities need to be well prepared. Yet this requires much greater training and investment in local groups. Programs for community preparation are currently run by overstretched bushfire management agencies. .

Are we too worried about embarrassing the minister? Relaxing about ‘sensitive’ information can strengthen government

The first time I excised politically motivated statements from departmental media releases and requested they would better be delivered by ministerial offices, I thought the sky would fall. But the statements just disappeared. Slight nudges can change the system and make it easier for bureaucrats, our minister, and the community.,”

How a year of trying to buy nothing made me a smarter shopper and a better teacher

“At the beginning of this new school year, I don’t pretend to have all the answers about living sustainably. But as a consumer and as a teacher, there’s a lot I can do. I can support my students’ activism, including if they choose to join a Fridays for future school strike for the climate. I can support – and challenge – their critical reasoning capacity in our classrooms the rest of the week. Each of us can make a difference – and we can all start by practising what we preach.

 

QESP Blog

Last Saturday 25th January 2020, saw yet another celebration and recognition of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns, “Rabbie” to his friends, born 25th  January 1759.  Burns is now known worldwide for his political and environmental poetry, which resonates today. According to Google Books, “There are more statues of Robert Burns in the United States than there are of any American poet.” His poem and song  A Man’s a Man for a’ that  has been translated into other European languages. Yet there are questions about how Robert Burns has been adopted in Scotland and internationally by groups with opposite opinions on what his works mean (including the Ku Klux Klan)

An entertaining  paper at the 2014 Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS), Conference on The Poetry of Robert Burns, asks the question about one of Burn’s most popular poems, Tam ‘O Shanter, A Tale.

“This poem about sex, gender, alcohol culture and wild imaginings is able to appeal to teenage audiences and to older audiences – Why?… Is there something disquieting about having the man who wrote this as our National Poet.”

(A fair question since Robert Burns had 12 children by four women – nine by his wife Jean Armour. Seven of his children were illegitimate, including the first four by Jean Armour, legitimised by their parent’s marriage in 1788.) See Why the Poetry of Robert Burns Is Relevant Today

 

Events

ACOSM 2020: Responsible Business Conduct

A heads-up for ACOSM 2020, which will be a full day Conference in Sydney on 5th May 2020.

Hilda has been working on responsible conduct in business including corporate social responsibility. This subject is highly relevant due to the recent and ongoing damage from climate change and the new risks facing Australian businesses, large and small, and including State and Federal Governments. QESP will be partnering with ACS, PMI, CSIRO and the Sydney Universities in an ACOSM 2020 Program which includes Keynote Speakers, Forums, Networking Lunch, and Post-Conference reception.

Watch this space!

Quotes 

Quote of the Day 

It’s ok to have your eggs in one basket, as long as you control what happens to that basket – Elon Musk 

Quote from Yesteryear 

“Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet’s continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995.

 

Ted Smillie

QESP Chair