Education

Democracy dies in darkness indeed

democracy dies in darkness

The Washington Post’s motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” How classic that the newspaper editors allowed the first headline before the spectacular backfire that caused them to adjust it to the one on the right.

The opinion piece noted, “The current process is clearly flawed, but what would be better? … A better primary system would empower elites to bargain and make decisions, instructed by voters.

At least the paper’s true colours came out that regular voters mustn’t have the requisite intelligence to make such important decisions that highly educated liberal elites obviously do. Way to go!

Maybe WaPo should change the masthead to “Sunlight is the best disinfectant“.

 

Declaring a Climate Emergency without many scientists

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On Feb 14-15, the likes of Dr Keryn Phelps, John Hewson, Peter Garrett, Michael Mann, Adam Bandt, Jane Caro and others assembled in Melbourne to pontificate at the National Climate Emergency (NCE) Summit where they slammed the table and demanded we hold politicians accountable under a new democracy!

While we vigorously defend their right to free speech, we question the glaring lack of scientists that wanted to participate as speakers at this event. This was the breakdown of the 100 speakers.

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That is right, there were as many high school student activists as people who could profess to be legitimate professional climate scientists. There were even more lawyers present. In fact, media (the majority who have worked or work at the ABC), activist/lobby groups and politicians made up 67% of the total. Therefore one can work out quickly enough that there were precious little scientific-based facts behind the agenda.

At the very least, several poets were invited to speak to add to diversity. Many academics who spoke weren’t actually from climate fields.

Here are a few speaker profiles in no particular order:

Recently elected Darebin councillor, Trent McCarthy, had written in his profile, “Trent is the proud parent of two primary school student strikers.

Another panellist, Costa Georgiadis was referred to as “a TV personality and landscape architect. Since 2012, he has hosted the ABC’s Gardening Australia

Bernie Hobbs is an award-winning science writer and presenter at the ABC.”

“[Paddy] Manning has more than a decade of experience as a journalist for the ABC, Crikey, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review and The Australian.”

“Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award winning science journalist, presenter, and podcaster with the ABC.”

“Leigh Ewbank is the current Act on Climate coordinator at Friends of the Earth.”

Precious little diversity of thought among the 100 speakers.

Yet we have seen this type of shallow content activism before. Remember when we reported that 268 Australian academics cosigned an open letter supporting the Extinction Rebellion.

While the content was predictable, the statistics were anything but convincing. We noted,

Perhaps the most hilarious signatory to the letter was Matthew Flinders of Flinders University. Unless the university website has another Matthew Flinders listed as an active member, our esteemed explorer seems to have navigated his way back to life…simply adding to the total lack of credibility of the cabal of 268 academics who believe they have some sort of intellectual superiority over us. If one ever wanted proof of our judiciary leaning hard left, 12% of the people that signed this document were in law-related fields.

“…Many of the woke academia come from fields such as stand up comedy, poetry, arts/education, sports management, archaeology, LatAm studies, sex, health and society, social services, veterinary biology, culture, gender, racism…are you catching the drift of those supporting XR? Even Monash University’s Campus Operations Manager and Telephony Application Administrator signed it! Wonderful individuals but should we hold our educators to such high standards when anyone’s opinion will do?”

“…Eerily, over 90% of the signatories do not appear to be renowned experts in teaching science, much less climate science. Which means, why weren’t the scientists in these universities willing to commit their names to a cause that fits their ideology? Who needs them when one faculty member from Monash University deals with ‘Imaginative Education‘?…”

“61% of the signatories were from universities situated in the Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria. Within that, 65 (more than all those that signed from NSW universities = 63) of those 164 names from Victoria were from RMIT, the school where the lecturer offered bonus points for sending selfies from the school climate strike. Precious little free thought one imagines.  Monash had 44. So two universities in Melbourne made up 109 of the 268 Add La Trobe University and half of the signatories are from Victoria. Premier Dan Andrews must be proud.

Tinonee Pym, a research assistant at the Swinburne University of Technology in NSW helped pen,

C’mon, no one wants a dick pic’: exploring the cultural framings of the ‘dick pic’ in contemporary online publics

Undoubtedly this research has only certified climate science credentials at Swinburne University to convince sceptics of the validity of XR.”

Once again, the force of numbers means absolutely nothing. We are often told by climate activists that we should listen to the climate scientists. We would most gladly do so provided events like this managed to herd a much larger representation of such expertise, including those with dissenting opinions. As it stands when only four scientists attend, including those with very contentious records, there is little hope for sensible debate.

As it stands, the NCE Summit was nothing more than a confirmation bias gathering of activists trying to swing policy to suit their crony capitalist desires.

The NCE forum only wanted to indoctrinate, not educate. Is it any wonder FNF Media was blocked from XR Australia. Identical mentality.

Net zero heroes won’t save us

What is it with net zero emissions by 2050? It is so simple for politicians to blurt out these words as near as makes no difference none of them will be in office to take responsibility for any outcome.

As for Australia, PM Scott Morrison has a point that it should be technology led. However let’s think logically about the “cost” which he says Aussies have right to know about.

First of all, no one has worked out how to decarbonize steel. Carbon fibre is derived from petrochemicals. So that is two vital structural materials taken out. Aluminum is hideously power intensive to produce despite recyclability. Scrub the 170,000 jobs in mining. Manufacturing? Another 840,000 roles no longer needed.

No steel or fossil-fuel derived plastics will make it complex for tradesmen to be able to construct let alone repair homes or buildings. Glass also requires a lot of energy. As does gyprock. Bin 1.1mn jobs in construction.

What of a net zero carbon emissions world in other areas?

Let’s start with tourism:

$60bn industry. 8.5million visitors came to Australia in 2018. 1.4m from China. 789k from the US, 733k from the UK and 470k from Japan.

These numbers don’t include Aussies that want to take holidays abroad. 9.5m trips were made by Australians to overseas destinations.

Still to get to net zero, we need to ban air travel. With that, might as well stop Badgery’s Creek airport construction immediately. No point building such extra capacity if we won’t have much time to use it. Wasteful spending.

Tourism? Throw another 1m jobs into jeopardy.

Hotels? Bring your own towels and sleeping bag.

Coffee? Bring your own mug only.

Retail? No carry bags and no goods that are derived from fossil fuels can be sold. Gone. Of the 1.3m jobs in retail, most no longer needed.

Restaurants? There will be no gas to cook your meal. Bring your own utensils.

We need to ban long distance trucks and the haulage business. Forget those living in remote areas who rely on road trains. Forget your out of season fruit and veg at Woolies. Another 600,000 jobs.

Cars? Get rid of them too. The batteries in EVs create 150,000km of CO2-e in the production process before leaving the factory. For safety, cars will be required to use materials to meet crash standards. Even if autonomous driving succeeds, it won’t be 100% foolproof. Better off banning cars outright to meet 2050.

Synthetic rubber in the tyres and door seals made from fossil fuels. Out. Brake and electric motor materials – all made from fossil fuels. Scratch. Air bag with pyrotechnics? Fossil fuel derived. Dashboard, seats, seat belts or iPad centre console? Petrochemicals.

The power grid to charge them? All fossil fuel derived – from wind farms to solar panels and the equipment to make the charging stations. If there are miscalculations on power needs after Dec 31st, 2049 then too bad. Rationing will be required.

No TVs or smart phones or computers. All fossil fuel derived.

No hospital equipment or life saving medicines. All made from petrochemical and fossil fuel derivatives.

In short, in order to decarbonise to net zero by 2050 we’d need to spew carbon emissions like there was no tomorrow to meet the crushing penalties that would result.

Why are governments even entertaining such ridiculous stupidity?

We only want to see Mad Max in the cinema, not in real life.

Here is a picture of HK International Airport check in last night for a bit of context on how a virus can slam an economy before we bother with net emissions

Bernie Sanders should be a Republican if he studied the facts

Bernie Sanders posted the following to his social media platform today:

Today, the 3 wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of our people, and income and wealth inequality is worse now than at any time since the 1920s. This is a moral outrage and bad economics. Unacceptable.

Despite Bernie Sanders’ net worth of $2.5mn, there is an irony for him to act like hr speaks for the poor and oppressed.

The funny thing is that many Americans aspire to be as successful as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Undoubtedly the Bottom 50% use/have used Windows, have ordered something on Amazon or used products that sit in the portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway. Bezos, Gates and Buffett all came from relatively humble beginnings. So it isn’t a system that has gifted their success.

What Sanders is forgetting is that the net worth of the Bottom 50% has improved substantially since Trump took office. What is often overlooked by politicians is the simple fact of “lived experience.” Sanders can cry about the”gap” all he wants but if a growing number of people feel less under a rock, they’ll gladly overlook the bluster of Trump and his loose Twitter fingers if he keeps delivering for them. It works the other way too. Telling voters how great they have it when they don’t has the opposite effect.

Since the series began, the St Louis Fed shows the Bottom 50%’s aggregate wealth peaked in 2Q 1991 at $4.3 trillion. In Q1 2009, that net wealth plummetted 61% to $1.7 trillion. It sunk to a rock bottom of $300 billion in 2Q 2011, 93% down.

Under Obama, net worth for the Bottom 50% declined from $1.7 trillion in 1Q 2009 to $1.1 trillion, down 35% over his two terms. This might do some explaining as to why the “forgotten” wanted large scale change.

Under Trump, the latest net worth is back to $1.6 trillion. Still well off the highs of 3-decades ago, but one imagines if things keep improving out to November, then these people won’t want to risk their fortunes reversing again.

Of course, many will ponder the unfair wealth gap of the Top 1% at $34.5 trillion in the latest figures.

Sanders should be outraged that the ultra-wealthy have done much better under Obama with a 100% gain in net worth under his term vs the paltry 15.3% so far under Trump.

Best he become a Republican instead!

Coronaveristy Cash Crunch will lead to cost-cutting

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Almost 1 million foreign students attend Australian educational institutions.  Of that 28% are from China according to the Dept of Education.

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New commencements are at half a million. These are not small numbers. We are already seeing universities start to fret over the economic impacts.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that in 2017–18, international education was worth $32.4 billion to the Australian economy, up from $18.9 billion in 2008–09.

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In fees alone, foreign students have forked over $7.4bn in the 2017/18 year from $2.9bn in 2008/09.

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As a % of total university fees, foreign students now represent over 23% from  15.5% in 2008/09.

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By university, we can see where foreign students are most concentrated. Victoria holds 5 of the top 10 destinations for foreign students.

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By number, Victorian universities hold the top 3 places for absolute foreign student numbers, and 31% of the national total. NSW has 25% of all foreign students inside Australia.

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Things will undoubtedly settle down. It is unlikely all of these students will pull the plug and not turn up at Australian universities when Coronavirus issues eventually come under control. As far as attrition rates go in Australia, local kids are far more likely to drop out than overseas students.

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We are already seeing some universities announce they are tightening the purse strings until the situation normalises.

An interesting side topic is a fall-off in permanent residency visas offered by the Dept of Home Affairs to foreign students that graduate in Australian universities. The decadal low numbers don’t seem to have affected foreign student interest.

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Graduate visas have picked up sharply. It will be fascinating to see the post-Coronavirus trends of visas from the DHA.

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Ultimately, Australian schools have been living high off the hog. While the trend of international students has been robust, have any of these schools conducted proper contingency planning if a global recession, pandemic or shock was to ensue?

After 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth, something suggests that most universities have not seriously considered what might happen if the well dried up. Sadly, when such an action plan should have been in place, we will probably see knee jerk cost-cutting in all the wrong places. So much for the educators preparing their customers for the future…

Not a Paris Accord signatory but the US is the best performer

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that the United States achieved the largest absolute decline in GHG emissions in 2019. Once again proving that one doesn’t need to sign up to the Paris Accord to achieve reductions and pay for other nations who can’t get their own house in order. Isn’t it funny how the free market is more efficient than feel good regulation where tokenism is enough?

The IEA wrote,

“…a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period. A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%. Overall electricity demand declined because demand for air-conditioning and heating was lower as a result of milder summer and winter weather.a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period. A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%. Overall electricity demand declined because demand for air-conditioning and heating was lower as a result of milder summer and winter weather.”

Now if only people would pick on China to get it to reduce its emissions which are, by its own admission, not stopping until 2030 at the earliest.

Perhaps Australia should ponder the fact that although we have all of the raw inputs on our door step to lower emissions and cut electricity prices, we think tokenism via renewables is the way forward.

Yes, we’re often thrown stats that renewables could have powered ‘x’ number of homes for ‘y’ number of days but the reality is taking a snapshot at the rare attainment of “peak” output and celebrating it as though it is the average is misleading. That is why so many countries, including Japan, are building more coal-fired power stations.

FNF Media thinks that renewables should be true to the zero emissions cause and be built under guidelines that they mustn’t use any materials from the fossil fuel world nor use coal or gas fired electricity in their production. On top of that recycling of wind and solar must be included in the price.

Bernie voters by age group in New Hampshire

Yet more old people who clearly must not get it.

Another example highlighting how the current generation believe that they’re smarter than the previous one as well as the one that will follow them.