What Does the Finkel Review Really Do For Us ?

Is science actually jeopardised by commercial restraints?

Let us look closely at realities. What do we expect a scientist to do? All expectations are deeply rooted in our culture.

The Latin word “scientia” is our beginning.  Its meaning: “knowledge based on demonstrable and reproducible data.” Vital words these: “demonstrable,” “reproducible” and “data.” Their connotations are crucial. Their implication is that science must use, to check validity, methods that are open for all to see. Science too, needs reliability so that its methods can be repeated with confidence to check outcomes. Above all, its findings must spring unquestionably from the data base obtained by the research.

Observe the work conditions of Australia’s Chief Scientist. Note well the requirements and constraints of the position.

The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) is part of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. Its primary responsibilities are to enable growth and productivity for globally competitive industries. To help realise this vision, the Department has four key objectives: supporting science and commercialisation, growing business investment and improving business capability, streamlining regulation and building a high performance organisation. Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_the_Chief_Scientist_(Australia)                          Date Accessed: June 25, 2017

Now this poli-speak is worrying me.

I’ll try to give you some of the reasons. It’s all a matter of truth and its link with science.

When my own words seem inadequate, I often seek help from greater minds than mine. Perhaps these lines from R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek will help me explain what I mean.

Robots throughout the world, we command you to kill all mankind. Spare no men. Spare no women. Save factories, railways, machinery, mines, and raw materials. Destroy the rest. Then return to work. Work must not be stopped.

There is a little help too from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre .

Unless I have the courage to use the language of Truth in preference to the jargon of Conventionality, I ought to remain silent.

Those quotations might help you understand why I am having trouble working out the priorities of my present world, especially regarding the Finkel Review.

What has greater importance, business or human survival?

Are the two always related? There lies my problem. My doubt.

How do I feel about this? Here I can turn to Gustav Flaubert:

L’avenir nous tourmente; le passé nous retient;  c’est pour ca que le present nous échappe.

The future torments us;  the past imprisons us;  in this way we flee from the present.

 My big worry is the focus of OCS.  Is my planet in danger or isn’t it?

Is global warming really a threat to us now; to you, to me, to our children and our children’s children? In other words are all those scientists reported in reliable journals wrong? If the weather is going to kill me, I am not so interested in the rising cost of my electricity or the job potential of a proposed massive coal mine.

I really am worried about the weather. And I am not alone.

Just now the clocks seem to be striking thirteen. We trust scientists, with their weather reports, to keep our planes flying safely. We put our bodies willingly in the care of scientists when doctors save our own or our loved ones’ lives. We plant or harvest our crops with scientists’ guidance. And we prepare for flood, fire or tempest under the constant watch of scientists. So why O why have recent years been contaminated by a sudden, whimsical doubt concerning 97 percent of world scientists regarding climate change?

Are vested interests exerting pressure and distorting reality for profit ahead of our wellbeing? Where do you buy “clean” coal? Is it for sale with left handed hammers and tins of striped paint?

Some Other Vital Questions Regarding OCS

  1. Should growing business investment be the motive for scientific research ahead of universal human problems such as illness, pain, suffering or death?
  2. Should growth and productivity control evaluation of scientific data ahead of benefits to lessen human suffering?
  3. Are “streamlining regulation” and “high performance organisation” better scientific objectives than needs based validity and reliability?

Now Here Are Some Other Causes Of Concern

  • I cannot understand why, after the recent review, Australia will still be among world leaders in per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate change inertia, and trading in coal, gas, iron ore, uranium and methanogenically-derived meat. Is commercial gain or sustainability unduly influencing this science? Why do Dr Alan Finkel and team confirm gas and coal use for 50 years?  Eventually 2067 will see GREAT BIG NEW TAXES to repair the damage, will it not?  

I x Y = RC x D

(Inertia x Years = Repair Cost x Disasters)

  •  The Finkel Review sees coal-fired generators as being part of our lives until 2050. But we need to get to average zero emissions by then if we are to keep up with the Paris Agreement.
  • The media clearly neglect Australia’s renewable energy successes already achieved. Australia is now a leader in per capita solar installation for homes. South Australia has 40% renewable energy, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) approaches 100% renewable energy and water stocked Tasmania also aims for 100 % renewable energy. Look around you at the individual solar fittings on the rooftops of ordinary people.
  • A vast storm involving several cyclones massively damaged South Australia’s energy system in September 2016. The ensuing blackout was falsely blamed by the federal government on failure of renewable energy sources. Despite the organised lies, the South Australian Government stayed relatively calm and rapidly moved to ensure back-up power with batteries and (alas) promised a new gas-fired power plant.
  • Finkel’s Review favours gas as a reducer of emissions. My information is that natural gas is grubby energy containing 85% methane that has a global warming potential 105 times greater than CO2 over twenty years combined with the expected impacts from aerosol.
  • To know is to be responsible! This was Mordechai Vanunu’s stated reason, a long time ago now, for whistleblowing about Israel’s atomic weaponry. It makes me sad to think that distinguished scientists, when reporting on the state of things in our world, would not focus in detail and with great energy on the dangers of air pollution as well as global warming. The  World Health Organization tells us that seven million people die each year from air pollution. World production of coal was 7, 823 million tonnes in 2013 of which 336 million tonnes  were Australian coal exports.  The use of this  coal  for energy or metallurgy is linked to about half of the 3.5 million outdoor pollution-related deaths annually.

Now the next bullet reveals a disturbing link from the web. I share it here for you to assess. The source is:  Dr Gideon Polya  of countercurrents .org

  • 10 billion people may die this century in worsening climate genocide. Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia Hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have estimated that only about 0.5 billion people may survive this century because of unaddressed, man-made global warming. If we note that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, we will see these estimates translate to a climate genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including roughly twice the present population of particular mainly non-European groups, specifically 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. DARA has estimated that presently 0.4 million people die annually from climate change  but this may be a considerable underestimate because presently 17 million people die avoidably from deprivation in the developing world (not counting China) that is already impacted by climate change . 

A Final Question

Shouldn’t the line between certainty and doubt concerning a people’s wellbeing be something more than the bottom line of a stock market report?