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Karl Kraus: The Last Days of Mankind. God created Man not as a Consumer but as a Human Being

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

We are living in a world in which conflicts, be they economic, military, cultural or religious, are getting worse with little inclination of the various “players” to compromise and find a solution acceptable to all. Each side believes or pretends to believe that it has the right on its side, or, in other words, that it has reached the pinnacle of history. In this, the world situation closely resembles that just before the first world war. If we want solutions, it may be helpful to look at how the world situation 100 years ago was reflected in intelligent/perceptive minds. One such mind was Karl Kraus, the famous Viennese satirist and critic who died in 1936. The “grumbler” or “begrudger” (original German “der Nörgler”, a character based on himself), in his satirical antiwar play “The last days of mankind” (Die letzten Tage der Menscheit, 200 loosely connected scenes largely based on actual events and characters, written during and in the first years after the first world war) says, according to http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/hail-grumbler

God created man not as a consumer or producer but rather as a human being. That the means of life should not be the goal of life. That the stomach should not outgrow the head. That life is not exclusively based on the profit motive. That a human being is allotted time in order to have time and not to arrive somewhere faster with his legs than with his heart.

And, according to: http://thelastdaysofmankind.com/, referring to Kraus’s readings of portions of the play,

organized group travels to the battelfields of the war and the graves of the dead are a disgrace:

“The dead in their millions are hardly cold in the ground. What Kraus reads invokes the sacrifices made in passing, barely, cynically, tritely, before the details of itineraries, highlights, hotels, travel arrangements, their great advantages and pleasures of first class seats and tickets, etc., are expounded with an extraordinary gusto. This is some holiday! It is as grotesque and shameful as Kraus’s reading makes it.”

The play terminates in an apokalyptic scene, the extinction of mankind. Mankind in its entirety is the “antihero”, unworthy of life on earth because it has permitted the cruelties of war.

Kraus had written earlier in the play: “Lord forgive them for they do know what they do.”

 

Not to forget, Kraus wrote for German/Austrian readers and audiences. I am not aware of any English writers, excepting perhaps Thomas Hardy on  a much milder note, who attacked their leaders and compatriots with a similar degree of causticity.

 

Karl Kraus has been largely neglected in the anglophone countries, but translations of some of his works are now becoming more frequent. And considering the situation in the world today, his insights are of considerable importance. Indeed, it seems that little has changed over the last 100 years. The political situation worldwide is now as unstable as it was before the first world war when Karl Kraus wrote his play (conflicts between Russia and the EU over the Ukraine, between China and the USA over Southeast Asian islands; almost total collapse of social structures in Libya/Syria/Iraq/Afghanistan/some African countries largely as the result of wars; overpopulation pressure in Bangladesh and many other countries in Africa and elsewhere leading to mass migrations of refugees into more affluent countries). And: the economic outlook of the populace and its rulers in the so-called “Western”countries is similar: consume! consume! steered into this fallacy by much of the media which are largely under the thumb of the rich “elite”. Elections are won or lost not because of the merits of a policy concerning the future of the nation and indeed of mankind, but because of promises of short-term profits. – The results of the first world war were disastrous, directly leading to the vastly more devastating events of the second world war. However, what is happening now may be even worse: the survival of mankind is under threat if the effects of overpopulation, overconsumption and enviromental destruction, particularly that caused by climate change, are not brought under control.

Abridged English translation: The last days of mankind; a tragedy in five acts. an abridgement translated by Alexander Gode and Sue Allen Wright. New York: F. Ungar Pub. Co. 1974. ISBN 9780804424844.

In the preface to the book edition Karl Kraus wrote ” Die Aufführung des Dramas, dessen Umfang nach irdischem Zeitmaß etwa zehn Abende umfassen würde, ist einem Marstheater zugedacht. Theatergänger dieser Welt vermöchten ihm nicht standzuhalten.” (The performance of the play, which would comprise about ten evenings, is meant for a Mars theatre. People of this world would not be able to take it).

Booms and busts in the global economy. Fuzzy Chaos Modelling in Ecology and Economics

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
This is an article published originally as a Google knol and later transferred to wordpress.com, © Klaus Rohde. It addresses the important question whether globalization increases the likelihood of chaotic fluctuations in the economy, i.e. excessive booms and busts. It is re-published here with the intention of stimulating a discussion.

 

4 Comments

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  1. Gerd Zeitler

    November 27, 2008

    Your comment to my knol “Aussenhandel” — Dear Mr. Rohde,yes, a very unusual but convincing approach to view economic problems in a globalized world. Although the causes of todays recuring problems are very obvious in economic terms. Nevertheless, there seem to be synergies between the two scientific approaches.Best regardsGerd Zeitler

  2. Peter Greenfinch

    January 4, 2009

    Is less fluctuation a goal? — Hello, Mr RodheI’m not too sure that many subpopulations make things more stable, among human beings at least, as the more populations, the more divisions there are, and the more source of interpopulation conflicts might arise. Another thing, quite contradictory to what I just said I admit: the less fluctuation in a system, the more static it is, therefore the less it can evolve and make progress.Where is the truth ? Where does that lead ? I’m all the more interested in your topic that I wrote two related knols: “fuzzy logic” and “democratic globalization” http://knol.google.com/k/peter-greenfinch/fuzzy-logic/2m7299842u04v/44#http://knol.google.com/k/peter-greenfinch/democratic-globalization/2m7299842u04v/50#Peter

  3. Klaus Rohde

    January 30, 2009

    Empirical evidence for my suggestion — Here is empirical evidence for my suggestion that globalization can lead to synchronized global recessions. The Economics Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald writes in “What started the global crisis rolling” on January 31 – February 1, 2009.“This is the most synchronized world recession we’ve had since the mid-1970s. In the world recessions of the early’80s there was a lot of variation in timing between countries. In the world recession of the early ‘90s the US went in first, with Europe following later. – In the mild world recession of 2001, not all countries had a recession.”“Question is, why is the world economy now more synchronized? Is it a product of globalisation – the greater integration of national economies, particularly through greatly increased trade and flows of funds between countries?”He gives the answer in the last paragraph of his article:“ So, yes, globalisation probably has a part to play in propagating the global recession we’re about to experience. But the most obvious bit is media globalisation.”

Deutscher Widerstand gegen Hitler/ German Resistance against Hitler

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Freedom of speech in Australia 2015

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Where is the limit of free speech in a Western democracy? A recent example.

Since the Liberal-National took over government with Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in 2013, worrying trends have emerged to make media reporting even more one-sided than it already had been. Two thirds of printed media are controlled by Rupert Murdoch (of Fox News in the USA fame), whose reporting is ridiculously one-sided, supporting right-wing economics and politics, but this was to a certain degree balanced by the two public broadcasters, ABC and SBS, which followed a more or less “neutral” line. The Liberal/National government, soon after taking office, reduced funding for the two public broadcasters, leading to the dismissal of many staff, changed the rules with the intention of making government appointed members of he boards more directly responsible for broadcasting policy, and forced the broadcasters to rely more on private advertising. Most recently, the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, “drew attention” of the Chairman of SBS to some tweets by Scott McIntyre, a prominent sports-commentator employed by SBS. He claimed not to have asked for the firing of McIntyre, but the result was that he was immediately fired, without discussion, without warning. What were these “offensive” tweets?

ANZAC day commemorations throughout Australia, which commemorate the landings at Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915, by morning services in (more or less) all towns, even small ones, by marches, flights of airforce jets etc. were particularly elaborate this year, the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the failed campaign which led to 10,000’s of deaths of British, Australian, New Zealand, French, Indian, Canadian soldiers, as well as over 90,000 deaths on the Turkish side. They were the culmination of months of almost daily reporting on the first world war, with stories of heroism etc. on t.v. and in the printed media. Scott McIntyre did not like this reporting and published some tweets objecting to it.

According to The Australian, a Murdoch-run newspaper, 27.4.2015:

“An SBS presenter has been sacked over a vicious public attack on Australian Diggers in which he implied that Anzacs were rapists and terrorists. SBS managing director Michael Ebeid labelled the remarks inappropriate and disrespectful, saying they breached the broadcaster’s code of conduct and social media policy. “It’s not tenable to remain on air if your audience doesn’t respect or trust you,” he said. Soccer reporter Scott McIntyre, who has a Twitter following of 30,000 people, shocked followers with a post which implied that Australians commemorating Anzac Day were “poorly-read … drinkers and gamblers”.
He began his tirade about 5pm, calling Australia’s involvement in the World Wars an “imperialist invasion of a foreign nation”.
Later tweets read: “Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.” “Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan,” said another post.”

Here are his tweets as reported by some newspapers:

“The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society.”

“Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.”

“Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.”

“Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki”

“Innocent children, on the way to school, murdered. Their shadows seared into the concrete of Hiroshima”

According to The Australian, “The tweets sparked outrage from Australian leaders, including Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull who labelled his comments “despicable”. “Difficult to think of more offensive or inappropriate comments,” Mr Turnbull tweeted. “Despicable remarks which deserve to be condemned.””

“SBS issued a statement today from its managing director Mr Ebeid and its sport director Ken Shipp that McIntyre had been sacked: “Late on Anzac Day, sports presenter Scott McIntyre made highly inappropriate and disrespectful comments via his twitter account which have caused his on-air position at SBS to become untenable,” the statement read.
“Mr McIntyre’s actions have breached the SBS Code of Conduct and social media policy and as a result, SBS has taken decisive action to terminate Mr McIntyre’s position at SBS, with immediate effect.”

According to The Guardian, 27.4. 2015, “However, some criticised SBS for firing McIntyre, including journalist Hugh Riminton, who is also a board member of Soldier On, an organisation that supports injured soldiers. Riminton said the tweets were untimely, immature and in one case offensively wrong. “But lest we forget, our diggers also died for free speech,” he said.
The human rights commissioner, Tim Wilson, said McIntyre’s freedom of speech was not being curtailed.
“We’re talking about political interpretations of history and that is open for debate,” he said. “And he will be judged very harshly.”

Most comments in various newspapers strongly condemned McIntyre and did not object to his dismissal. For example, the comedian Merrick Watts wrote: “Today’s comments by @mcintinhos are as sad as they are ill informed. Gutless. Stupid. Disgraceful. I am truly furious.”
According to The Guardian, McIntyre had not deleted his tweets by Sunday morning and had favourited several which supported his views including one that said: “Good on you @mcintinhos for posting this. Usual twitter shit storm, as one would expect, from white Aussie bogans.”

Interestingly, a professor of journalism said that McIntyre had the right to free speech but not to keep his job for it.

John Pilger, the well known Australian writer living in Britain, strongly defended McIntyre’s remarks and agreed with the essence of them. Here are some excerpts of an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald 29.4.2015, in which he “saluted not only Scott McIntyre but also the aboriginal freedom fighter Ray Jackson:

“He exposed cynical drivel by offending in the best tradition of freedom of speech.” “Aboriginal campaigner shone a light on deaths in custody for 30 years. Following a week in which the words “heroes” and “heroism” bobbed on a tsunami of raw propaganda, a tribute is due to two unrecognised Australian heroes. The first is Ray Jackson, who died on April 23.
Ray spoke and fought for a truth…… He said this was a land not of brave Anzac “legacies”, but of dirty secrets and enduring injustices that only a national cowardice could sustain. “Conformity is widely understood and obeyed in Australia,” he wrote to me, “freedom is not……… Australia incarcerates black Australians at a higher rate than that of apartheid South Africa……Ray loathed warmongering and would approve of my second hero. This is Scott McIntyre, the young SBS soccer journalist who, in four now famous tweets, set out to counter the authoritarian sludge that demands we celebrate the criminal waste of life in the British imperial invasion of Turkey a century ago, rather than recognise unpalatable truths about our past and present……..Why? Australia, a nation without enemies, is spending $28billion a year on the military and war and armaments in order to fulfil a tragic, entirely colonial and obsequious role, as Washington’s “deputy sheriff”……..
Scott McIntyre drove the Twitter equivalent of a five-ton truck through such maudlin, cynical drivel. He tweeted the unsayable, much of it the truth; and all decent journalists – or dare I say, freedom-loving Australians – should be standing up for him. That Malcolm Turnbull, who made his name unctuously shouting about freedom of speech, should have been involved in the saga with McIntyre’s employer, SBS, in whatever form, is a measure of the state of public and media life in Australia.
That a journalism professor of long standing, John Henningham, can tweet that “freedom of speech meant that journalists had the right to speak without breaking the law but did not have the right to keep their job when offending others” is a glimpse of the obstacles faced by aspiring young journalists as they navigate the university mills.
Many young people reject this, of course, and maintain their sense of the bogus, and McIntyre is one of them. He offended in the highest tradition of freedom of thought and speech. Knowing the personal consequences would be serious, he displayed moral courage. When his union – the MEAA – locates its spine and its responsibility, it must demand he is given his job back. I salute him.”

Professor Gillian Triggs, the Human Rights Commissioner, who a number of weeks ago was asked by the Attorney General to resign from her post because she had criticized the government’s policy concerning children in detention, but refused to do so, is a very distinguished academic lawyer. Her opinion on freedom of speech in Australia, arising from the sacking of a sports reporter by the SBS for tweets he had published on his personal twitter account, was published in Fairfax newspapers including The Age (Melbourne) and The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney).

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/right-to-freedom-of-speech-cannot-breach-employment-contract-20150430-1mwn9f.html

Some excerpts:

“The disciplining or sacking of employees whose emails breach industry codes of conduct – most recently of Scott McIntyre, who alleged crimes by the Anzacs – raise the vexed question of the proper constraints on freedom of speech. Does an employer have the right to sack, demote or otherwise sanction an employee for speech that both breaches its code of conduct and may be substantially inaccurate, in bad faith and deeply hurtful to most Australians?”

“Ask any citizen if they have a right to freedom of speech and they will robustly assert “yes, of course” . However, under Australian law, there is no such formal legal right. While, in practice, everyone is free to say and write whatever they like, this freedom is significantly qualified by exceptions. Prohibitions abound in respect of statements that are libellous or slanderous, in contempt of court, a breach of copyright, obscene or seditious, or that incite mutiny, commission a crime or disclose official secrets.”

“It is probable that …….. decision reflects Australian law in the absence of any legislation confirming the common law right to freedom of speech. While we may say what we please, subject to defined prohibitions, a practical, chilling outcome of freedom of speech is that we must suffer the consequences if that speech is also a breach of an employment contract.”

“……. Public officials, government agencies and contracted service providers will be guaranteed anonymity and immunity if they disclose an abuse of public trust, corruption, acts that endanger the environment, or unjust, oppressive or negligent conduct, among other wrongs. However, the act is significantly limited and does not cover judicial conduct, ASIO or ASIS, politicians or the private sector.
Scott McIntyre may not have the benefit of the “whistleblower’s” law, but it is at least arguable that to be peremptorily sacked is disproportionate to the reasonable interests of his employer. These are matters of judgment in light of all the circumstances.”

Concerning the truth of what Scott McIntyre wrote, see the article by Professor Philip Dwyer, Director of the Centre for the History of Violence, School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle:
https://theconversation.com/anzacs-behaving-badly-scott-mcintyre-and-contested-history-40955?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+Weekend+Conversation+-+2707&utm_content=The+Weekend+Conversation+-+2707+{0}CID_3c5b7c063d17861725846adb514b29fe&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Anzacs%20behaving%20badly%20Scott%20McIntyre%20and%20contested%20history

Returning to our question at the beginning of this post “Where is the limit to free speech in a Western democracy?”, the example discussed seems to suggest that for journalists there is such a limit, at least if they do not want to lose their job. Is this acceptable? Should an academic, for example, fear for his job because he/she publishes posts with which the university does not agree? I know of a case in which an Australian academic was asked by his university to remove a post in which he had criticized the teaching of homeopathy (for which there is no scientific evidence) at his university, which had plans to introduce such a course.

Third book review of Klaus Rohde ed., The Balance of Nature and Human Impact, Cambridge University Press 2013.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The third review of the book edited by me has just been published in Biological Conservation 182, 281-283 (February 2015)
Reviewer is Brian Drayton, TERC Cambridge, MA, USA, who gave me permission to use excerpts from his review.

For earlier reviews see here:
http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2013/11/10/review-of-klaus-rohde-ed-the-balance-of-nature-and-human-impact-cambridge-university-press-2013/

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2013/12/17/2nd-book-review-of-klaus-rohde-ed-the-balance-of-nature-and-human-impact-cambridge-university-press-2013/

This latest review covers two books:

Green Equilibrium: The Vital Balance of Humans and Nature, Christopher Wills. Oxford University Press (2013). xxviii+280 pp.,
and The Balance of Nature and Human Impact, Klaus Rohde (Ed.) Cambridge University Press (2013). xvi+413 pp.

Excerpts dealing with the book edited by me follow:

“These two books make good companions, and it is instructive to read them side by side. In doing so, the reader can reflect upon a central challenge to conservation science, and to the societies within which it carries out its business.”

……………..

“Klaus Rohde’s fascinating edited volume The Balance of Nature and Human Impact offers a snapshot of current research, exploring
evidence for or against equilibrium processes from an array of systems, interspersed with reviews of literature on selected topics. A brief gallop through the table of contents can only suggest its wealth of provocative entries.
Part I: ‘‘Nonequilibrium and equilibrium in populations and metapopulations’’ examines reef fishes ……..
ectoparasites on terrestrial hosts …….. and marine parasites. Part II: “Nonequilibrium and equilibrium in communities’’ examines plankton communities ……, community stability in relation to fire ……., marine and freshwater ectoparasite communities ….. and small mammal ectoparasites …. , and bird populations and communities. Part III addresses ‘‘Nonequilibrium and equilibrium on geographical scales’’ in the context of island flora and fauna …… and arctic vascular plant diversity and spatial variation ……… Part IV: ‘‘Latitudinal gradients’’ focuses on diversity gradients…..reviews the literature providing evidence for and against equilibrium and nonequilibrium explanations,” and ‘‘effective evolutionary time.’’
Part V: ‘‘Effects due to invasive species, habitat loss and climate change’’ is by far the largest section. …….. the section marks a transition, as all the rest of the book looks at ‘‘biocomplex’’ (coupled humannonhuman)systems—where the nonhuman component may include insects … coral reefs ….. , emerging infectious diseases ……., human impacts on biodiversity …… , amphibians …….. , and reptiles ……. Part VI: ‘‘Autecological studies’’ comprises two articles: ‘‘Autecology and the balance of nature—ecological laws and human-induced invasions’’ …… and ‘‘The intricacy of structural and ecological adaptations: micromorphology and ecology of some Aspidogastrea’’.
Part VII: ‘‘An overall view’’ sets much of the foregoing into a larger theoretical and practical context, coming back to the
challenges faced by conservation biology in a world in at least one kind of chronic disequilibrium: anthropogenic climate change. Rohde discusses interspecific competition as a regulator of communities, and the status of evolutionarily stable strategies. Finally, Rohde and co-authors discuss ‘‘How to conserve biodiversity in a nonequilibrium world.’’ Here we come to the crux of the matter. As Wallington et al. (2005) argue, much conservation strategy betrays an underlying ‘‘balance’’ orientation, which often takes the form of creating reserves and assuming that they will ‘‘do the job’’……….; or of reintroducing species or otherwise restoring a system, and then assuming that short-term success will last (also not a safe assumption……………. Rohde et al. argue cogently that in the world we now inhabit, equilibrium assumptions will result in deep design weaknesses in many conservation strategies, and the kind of reflective research represented by this volume as a whole must result in substantial innovation.”

……………

“Both books under review make the case ……. that the unexamined assumption of ‘‘balance’’ has contributed to many of our current ecological crises, and inhibits proper responses to them. In some cases, a naive reading of ‘‘balance’’ contributes to the assumption that in time, any disturbance caused by human activities will be remedied by Nature as it comes back into balance. In other cases, the ‘‘balance of nature’’ is reified without sufficient understanding of ecological systems and their dynamics, so that intended remedies result in further, different disturbance or even system transformation. Our challenge …….. is to convey a much richer, but perhaps just as satisfying, understanding of the way things work, and the implications of that understanding for what conservation must become. As Donald Worster (1994) wrote in his seminal treatment: ‘‘It is a pattern of behavior based on the idea that preserving a diversity of change ought to stand high in our system of values, that promoting the coexistence of many beings and many kinds of change is a rational thing to do. . . .Such a strategy of trying to conserve a diversity of changes may seem paradoxical, but it is founded on a crucial and reasonable insight. We may have to live with change, may even be the products of change, but we do not always know—indeed, we cannot always know—which changes are vital and which are deadly.’’

Australian universities: cracks open up in the ivory towers. Neoliberal economics at its ugliest

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

A number of years ago I was sitting in the breakfast room of a hotel in Münster/Westphalia next to a German professor, we were talking about the university system in Germany. He dropped some remarks about universities in Australia: “yes, and in Australia degrees are for sale, at least that is what I was told by an Australian colleague.” I was sceptical about that remark, because during my active days at an Australian university I did not encounter cases of degrees for cash. But the situation has changed. Governments have cut funding for universities, funding is based on student numbers, and a large proportion of universities’ funding is supplied by fee-paying foreign students. Foreign students represent one of the largest sources of income for the Australian government. Students expect something (a degree, not necessarily quality) for their money, and so standards have continually been watered down, even at the most prestigious universities. Students have even employed agencies to have their essays written for them and employed people to sit in for them at examinations. And these are not exceptions, such cases are widespread. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 22.4.2015 gives a brief and concise overview of what is happening. See here:

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/gaping-cracks-open-up-in-the-ivory-towers-20150421-1mq4do.html

Extracts:
Concerning foreign students: ” Fifty per cent of all work submitted now is plagiarised, according to one source – a huge increase on what was happening only five years ago. Students who can barely speak English are initially failed, and then, when their work is re-marked, are given a pass, allowed to register as professionals, and enter the workforce.”
Lecturers “know which students are cheating, and which are plagiarising the work of others; they know whose English is too poor to pass, and who lacks the knowledge or intelligence to graduate. It is when they attempt to act on what they know in an intellectually honest manner, however, that they find obstructions in their way.”
“Decades of government policies in higher education which have destroyed the traditional university as an independent community of scholars and turned it into a degree factory serving the ephemeral interests of the economy are the real cause.”
“The expectation that all courses in all faculties must have some vocational end in view; the destruction of student life with the end of compulsory unionism; the insistence that all research must have immediate practical application – these different trends, all of them market-based, all of them philistine, have all transformed our universities for the worse.”

The government has plans to make the situation even worse by deregulating university fees, i.e. allowing universities to set their own fees in order to get their hands on more cash. These plans have so far been blocked by the Senate, but the government has not given up. Neoliberal economics at its ugliest!

Don’t support science but obscurantism!

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

If you don’t know the meaning of obscurantism, here it is (from the source of all wisdom, Wikipedia): “Obscurantism (/ɵbˈskjʊərəntɪsm/) is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known.”

This is what the Australian government is doing, in this case represented by the Minister of Education Christopher Pyne. See here:

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/call-for-pynes-resignation-over-4-million-funding-to-climate-contrarian-20150417-1mnp51.html

It cut many millions of Dollars in funding from the budget of CSIRO, the foremost research organisation in Australia which has done much work on the science of climate change, and many other science projects, but is quite happy to invest four million in a centre to be located at the Business School of the University of Western Australia and devoted to misleading the public (officially “The new centre will focus on applying an economic lens to proposals to achieve good for Australia, the region and the world,” said a statement from UWA).

An extract from the article:
“The government would cover roughly a third of the cost for an Australian iteration of Dr Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre at the University of Western Australia (UWA), confirmed Mr Pyne’s office following an investigation by The Guardian Australia.

The news comes on the heels of the Danish economist’s move to the UWA’s school of business and his appointed as Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s advisors on foreign aid.

Labor and environmental activists heavily criticised the appointment, questioning why someone who played down the effects of global warming should be advising on policy concerning developing countries in the Pacific that were exceptionally vulnerable to climate change.”

Dr.Lomborg is not an environmental, but a political scientist and is highly sceptical of the importance of climate change. He has lectured on statistics and the new centre at UWA is in the business and not the science school. He does not deny that climate change is real and human-induced, but thinks it is “not the end of the world”. Climate scientists do not claim that climate change is necessarily “the end of the world”, but Dr.Lomborg’s views differ sharply from those of the vast majority of climate scientists who take the risks much more seriously and want to do something about it. The establishment of the Consensus Centre and the appointment of Dr.Lomborg can only mean that the Liberal-National Government will continue its politics based on the denial of the seriousness of the threat posed by climate change, and shown by the reduction in the clean energy target, the abolishment of the carbon tax, etc.

More about the Copenhagen Consensus Center, the Danish equivalent of the Australan version and run by Dr.Lomborg, and the donors supporting it here:
http://desmogblog.com/2014/06/25/millions-behind-bjorn-lomborg-copenhagen-consensus-center

Australia’s climate change policy all talk and no action

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

See here:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/10/australias-climate-change-debate-all-talk-and-no-action

Extracts:
“The government is refusing to accept a political compromise on the renewable energy target (backed by Labor, the renewables industry and big business) because it thinks the industry won’t be able to reach the target, but the only reason industry wouldn’t reach the target is the absence of a political compromise.”

The government will set a post-2020 emissions reduction target without a policy to get there.

“The government is not including climate change in long-term planning exercises that really should be planning for climate change.”

And not to forget: even the term “climate change” appears to be taboo in government papers. It has been replaced by a term which puts much less urgency on the problem: “climate variability”. All in line with the views of Tony Abbott and some of his ministers, who do not take climate change seriously (in Abbott’s word: “crap”).

Who believes in evolution? Who believes in human-induced climate change?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

What do leading figures of the political Right, i.e. the Republicans in the U.S. and the Liberals in Australia, think about important scientific theories? Here are some answers.

EVOLUTION, views of possible Republican candidates for President of the U.S. (a quote from The New Yorker, February 19, 2015: The Evolution Catechism, by Adam Gopnik):

“none of the likely Republican candidates for 2016 seem to be convinced. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said it should not be taught in schools. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is an outright skeptic. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas will not talk about it. When asked, in 2001, what he thought of the theory, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, ‘None of your business.’ ”

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/evolution-catechism

HUMAN-INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE, views of the then opposition leader and now Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, and the then leader of the Liberals in the Australian Parliament, Nick Minchin (a quote from Klaus Rohde: The Balance of Nature and Human Impact, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013, page 403):
“According to Malcolm Turnbull, a prominent Liberal, the leader of the Australian Liberal party……., Tony Abbott, has publicly declared that man-induced climate change is “crap” (ABC, 2009). Also according to Turnbull, Nick Minchin, the former leader of the Liberals in the Senate, has declared that all the fuss about global warming is nothing but a left-wing conspiracy (ABC, 2009). Lefties who lost their cherished Communist cause now need a new one, and they found it: global warming”.

Compassion and cooperation, not selfishness is at the basis of human evolution, unfortunately missing in neoliberal economics as often practised

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Lynn Margulis proposed a long time ago that cooperation is at the root of evolution even at the cellular level. That is, evolution is more than a selfish struggle between entities (the survival of the fittest). Indeed, cells of which we are composed, consist of components that were originally separate organisms but found it advantageous to live together supporting each other (in symbiosis). Her idea has been supported by much empirical evidence. Other authors have found evidence for the same principle at the levels of individuals and groups of individuals. Now P. A. Spikins and collaborators have found evidence that compassion with other individuals, cooperation between them, has evolved very early in human evolution, indeed – according to her – a sense of aesthetics and cooperation evolved before higher (human) intelligence and selfish behaviour had evolved. Neanderthal men which lived many thousands, and Australopithecines which lived millions of years ago and are our direct ancestors, apparently (indicated by fossil evidence) showed acts of kindness and cooperation.

See here for evidence:

https://www.york.ac.uk/media/archaeology/documents/staff/staffpersonalfiles/Compassion7.pdf

A summary of the research is given in a recent book:


http://www.amazon.com/How-Compassion-Made-Human-Archaeology/dp/1781593108

One should ask: what is the basis of the widespread assumption in neoliberal economics that if we all live and work with our selfish interest foremost in our minds, an “invisible hand” will lead to the best for everybody? The idea that selfishness is our main characteristic is simply foolish and contradicts evolutionary evidence. We are primarily social beings and our survival depends on compassion and cooperation with others.