September 2009

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

It’s nice to post a good news story for a change! According to a group of scientists from Australia’s Antarctic Division, the ozone hole over Antarctica is now shrinking. This must surely to be a direct result of the Montreal Protocol to ban chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which caused the ozone hole in the first place. I think this clearly demonstrates two things: human activity can indeed have serious effects on the global climate, and human co-operation and positive action can solve those problems. Imagine if George W. Bush were the President at the time. Would the Montreal Protocol have been agreed to? I’ll bet it wouldn’t have—he would have said there was no proof that CFCs damaged the ozone layer, and that the Protocol would have a negative effect on business, jobs and the economy.

Which brings me to the next part of my good news story. At the recent G20 summit, the leaders of the top 20 economies in the world agreed to a very simple measure that I feel will have far reaching consequences—to end fossil fuel subsidies. I’ve always felt it was both extraordinary and ridiculous that—when we really need to encourage the development of alternative energy—the governments of the world are still subsidising fossil fuel production. I am also proud to say that Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spearheaded these changes, even though our economy is currently very highly dependant on fossil fuel exports (particularly coal and gas). It’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago, both Australia’s Prime Minister and the American President denied climate change, and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Once again, if they were still in government, it is hard to imagine that the lifting of fossil fuel subsidies would ever have been agreed to (for the reasons cited above).

Of course, that isn’t the only good news to some out of the G20 summit: it is also good to see such widespread co-operation in dealing with the economic crisis (which already appears to have averted another great depression), and that they are taking affirmative action to try and prevent corporate greed from creating such a situation again (such as the measures to control executive salaries).

One thing that’s always amused me is how willing creationists are to use lies and deceit to support their beliefs. I mean, if what they believe really is true, then why would they need to? The fact that they do so often have to do this is clear evidence that the facts are not on their side. A really great example of this is Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s special 150th anniversary edition of The Origin of Species—complete with a 50 page preface full of lies and deceit to “represent the other side of the story”. As well as the stuff mentioned in ZOMGitsCriss‘s video above, I note they also repeat the lie that Einstein believed in a personal God (plus the other scientists they cite lived at a time when not believing in God was unthinkable, and would have resulted in their death if they said so). Personally, I find their accusations that Darwin was a racist particularly outrageous, given that he was a great humanist, and campaigner for freeing the slaves conservative Christians wanted to keep in chains.

Fear Of Common Sense?

Thanks to a tip from Firefly, I’ve just learned about the ridiculous controversy sparked by President Obama’s recent address to the students of America. Although (as the video above shows) it was a completely non-political pep talk, conservative parents tried to prevent their children from watching it, and some schools in conservative areas provided their students with opt-in forms, requiring their parents to give written consent for their children to watch the President’s speech! They say it’s to prevent their children from being brainwashed by a left wing political agenda, but once again, there was no political content in Obama’s speech whatsoever. I think what it’s really about is a fear that if their children watched Obama’s speech, they might find that what he says makes a lot of sense, and that—heaven forbid—they might actually like him. Is there any better example of how the far right tries to suppress even the most basic information, for fear that it may expose their fragile beliefs? After all, if their belief system wasn’t so fragile, then why are they so afraid of open discussion and information, even when it’s completely apolitical, or just plain common sense? How can they be so hypocritical as to cite freedom of speech, while suppressing any speech from anyone on the left?

Image courtesy of Reuters: Sukree Sukplang (file photo)

With my blog’s birthday, my own birthday, an update on my activities and the launch of my Amazon wish list, last month ended up being a little bit “me me me!”. So I’d like to return my blog to normal transmission this month, starting with turning my attention to someone for whom I have a great deal of admiration: Aung San Suu Kyi. I’m sure she’s somebody who doesn’t need any introduction to regular readers of my blog—let’s just say that she’s an icon of democracy, peace and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and a woman of extraordinary courage and strength. Read the rest of this entry »