February 2009

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The Story of Stuff

I’ve been intending to write about environmental issues on my blog for some time now (in addition to the socio-political stuff I’ve already covered), but there’s just so much to write about, and so little time! Anyway, until I get around to writing a proper article on this issue, check out this clever site:

The Story of Stuff

Although there’s probably some exaggerations here and there, I certainly agree with the gist of what they’re trying to get across. I think it is especially important to examine these issues in light of the current economic crisis—many people seem to want to put the environment on the backburner until we get our finances in order, but not only can we not afford to do this, I see the destruction of the environment and the financial crisis as symptoms of the same problem: an economic model that is based on endless growth, and encourages ever increasing (over) consumption. We just cannot have limitless growth on a planet with finite resources—at some point, we need to reach an equilibrium with what our planet is capable of sustaining. Switching to renewable energy resources will help a lot, and is essential if we don’t want to face a resources crisis in the near future. Yet even then, we need to ask tough questions about population control and other difficult issues, if we are to survive.

Celebrate Darwin Day!

With all the religiously based days of celebration we have, don’t you think it’s about time we had one celebrating science and reason? Well on February 12, 2009, we have exactly that: Darwin Day. It marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and this year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species as well. What better way to celebrate science and reason than to celebrate the theory that did more to change how we view the world than perhaps any other idea in human history—biological evolution by means of natural selection—as well as the great man behind it? Well, those of us who are enlightened enough to not be religious fundamentalists anyway. :-)

POSTSCRIPT: I would just like to add that I think Charles Darwin is a really great example of what science is all about. He started out with the intention of being a clergyman, but when the evidence led him to doubt the literal truth of the Bible, he went with the facts, even though he knew his ideas would threaten the Victorian establishment—an establishment he was very much a part of himself.

I guess most of you know that I live in the beautiful state of Queensland in Australia. What you may not know though is that recently more than half the state has been under water! Flooding is certainly very normal at this time of year in north Queensland, however the extent and duration of the flooding this year has been extraordinary—some towns have been flooded since the beginning of the year! And while flood waters are now receding in many locations, there is apparently still more to come.

While this has been going on, southern Australia has been experiencing a record drought, which just recently produced a record heat wave. Adelaide has experienced more than a week of temperatures over 40°C (over 104°F), and Melbourne went for 11 days with temperatures over 40°C—both cities’ morgues filled up due to heat related deaths. The heat wave has now ended, but it did so with utterly disastrous results in the state of Victoria. The exceedingly dry conditions resulting from the record drought, and the strong winds that came in ahead of the cool change combined with a 46°C (115°F) day, produced the worst fire conditions on record. And they certainly delivered—untold properties have been lost to ferocious, uncontrollable fires, and the death toll is currently at 181 and counting. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Posts?

It seems my previous What Can Be Done About Israel post was a real blockbuster—60 comments and counting, many of them quite (very!) lengthy. A lot of the comments were really enlightening as well, as is often the case with my very well informed readership. Which has led me to ponder an idea: what if some of my readers were allowed to submit guest posts for my blog? On the one hand, this is supposed to be my personal blog, which would normally mean that I should be the author of all the articles. On the other hand though, the point of a blog is to allow everyone to have their say, and to foster a community—guest posts would seem like the next logical step in this direction. So what do my readers think? Should I allow guest posts here, or should it really just be my personal soapbox?

I should mention that I won’t necessarily have to agree with absolutely everything my guest posters say. However, they will have to have what I would consider to be a well informed opinion, worthy of respect. For example, if you can make a good case for libertarianism—which I respect in principle but don’t think would actually work in the real world—then I may publish your article. However, if you try to say that George Bush was a good President, I will simply delete your submission immediately. :-)