My background is as a Science teaching media producer and Senior Lecturer in the communication of Science teaching. I have been in charge of the production of at least fifty books on Science teaching and many books on Mathematics teaching. The following are the premises that form my attitudes. These brief descriptions provide an insight as to where I come from. I welcome challenge to any of my premises and will gladly supply further evidence if you wish. I am a realist inasmuch that I see real dangers ahead if we don't soon change course, but I am the optimistic ant who is grinding away at the rubber-tree plant. I wish I was wrong about 2060, but I see an enviable alternative future in adoption of lifestyles and attitudes like those of the Amish.
Below are some of the books that I have illustrated and co-authored.
Faith. I appreciate my Christian heritage and culture, but describe myself as not being superstitious and not an atheist either, because atheism is a religious description. Political parties, I believe, do not serve democracy well, and I see little differences between the outcomes of our system and the outcomes of dictatorships and anarchism. "Constitutional Monarchies" are irrelevant non-sequiturs. If I could find a good people who would be able to resist the corrupting pressures of government, I'd vote them into government.
Energy. I believe that all fossil fuels will be burnt by 2060 and there is no possible way we can acquire the amounts of energy we need for the kinds of cities for which our near-sighted planners are planning. See "Planning for when we have squandered our fossil fuel treasure" at <file:///Users/menumerouno/Documents/%20Files/%20Home%20page/%20Ray’s%20web%20page%20folder/Planning2060.html>
Population. In 2060, without the energy we need for the kind of civilisation we regard as normal, we will be forced to adopt a far different society. There will be no plastics, metals computers, electricity supplies and so on. Nearly every manufactured item we associate with our society will not be available. Put simply, we will have the kind of problems faced by the people of the mid-seventeenth century when the family would need to live within walking distance from where they produce their food. Then, the maximum population the Earth can ecologically sustain was a half-billion, and the biggest problem is how to reduce the Earth's population to that number. See <http://members.optusnet.com.au/rbsmith3/A%20Laboropolis%20for%20Victoria%20.html>
Global Warming. Despite conflicting data, I believe that we are in warmer cycle as in the medieval warm cycle. The Earth has gone through warmer and cooler cycles before. See: <http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/11/craig-loehle-medieval-warm-period-is.html>
Greenhouse gasses are vital for maintaining an even temperature but there is not a skerrick of evidence that carbon dioxide is the causal factor for global warming. Water vapour and CO2 react to solar radiation in a similar way causing the greenhouse effect. The main greenhouse gas is water vapour, and Global Warming produces more water vapour. Since there is 340 times more water vapour than CO2, so if any greenhouse gas was a factor in Global Warming, any increase in warming should logically be blamed on water vapour. In short, the elephant in the room is Earth's natural cycles, and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will do nothing about that. But it may seem paradoxical, but I support the reduction of fossil fuel emissions because of the proven health issues. In the tenth Century, King Canute had the same problem, all his good lands were being flooded, so his zoologist advisor Sir Timothy told him to burn the witches that caused Global Warming. He did, and sure enough the Earth cooled down. D'you reckon Rudd would warm to this much-less expensive idea, or would he once again seek the ideas of his chief zoologist? It is sobering to ponder on the fact that the Southern ocean shore used to extend up the Murray almost to Kerang. And they wonder why there is so much salt just below the ground level up there. see <http://members.optusnet.com.au/rbsmith3/Climate%20Change.html>
Australian ecology. Before the Aboriginals settled Australia 20,000 years ago, the ecology of the country was very different. Australia had forests of non-fire-dependent trees such as the callitris, beech and casuarina. These forests also created a different, more moist atmosphere above them and in contrast to the eucalypts that burnt quickly, they decomposed slowly into the soils, producing the vast coal fields that fuel our economy today. Then, fire-dependant trees such as the eucalypts were a mere fifteen percent of the macro-flora and they occupied the semi arid areas. The aboriginals, using their fire-farming methods, wiped out the constant growth forests so the eucalypts invaded the newly-created spaces and became the dominant (85%) macro-flora. This resulted in the loss of our topsoils, the valleys and deltas being filled with charcoal-mixed topsoils and a leaching of nutrients. Because eucalypts are sclerophylls the climate above them is dryer than the climate above the native forests were, which also changed Australia’s climate. I believe that instead of protecting our eucalypt forests, we should determine the mix of flora that were our true native forests, then replant them, confining the eucalypts to their original, much smaller, semi arid domains. In time this would build better soil profiles and lessen bushfires and many other positive effects. The down side would be a corresponding change in the fauna mix. See <http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=17823508>
The National Parks of Australia. Another problem we have is the microscopic amount of protected National Parks that Australia has — 3.57 percent of the land surface. On the other hand, Germany’s National Parks occupy sixty percent of the land area. This is because of the different ways in which they are managed. In Germany, the forests can have homes and farms, but the residents must abide by strict management rules — a win-win solution for all. In Australia our National Parks cannot contain private houses or farms, nor can they possibly be adequately managed by the white community. However, the Aboriginals are allowed to live in and farm them and use the same destructive fire-farming techniques. One highlight of tourist tours to Kakadu National Park is a scaling of Obir rock to view the vast nutrient-rich deltas. Another nearby tour is of the soil-denuded rocky uplands. Our National Parks guide didn’t seem to make the connection.
I know well and frequently visit the National Parks around Melbourne. Our best-kept secret is the walking circuit at the Werribee Gorge around the Lions head beach. It reveals much of Melbourne's history amongst the spectacular geography.
Local ecology. Port Phillip Bay is a shallow basin of comparatively current-free water that allowed the deposition of sand to produce our fabled beaches. This was, because across the heads there used to be a retaining weir, the Rip, that contained the sand. But our government breached that weir which is allowing the sand to cascade down into the Bass Straight. Soon we will have no beaches and the Bay floor will be have very little sand to maintain the diversity of marine life we have now. This breach must be soon repaired before it has all gone and the Port relocated to Hastings.
The Mornington Peninsular sand-mining rorts They paved paradise and put in a toxic-waste lot. (With apologies to Joni Mitchell)
The Mornington Peninsular is pock-marked with numerous craters. The main soil of this semi-isthmus is a lode of sandy loam from Oakleigh to the Western Port bay, in many places twenty metres deep. Go behind Karkarook park Moorabbin to the “sand mine", sneak through one of the many holes in the fence and be amazed at the depth of one of the richest lodes of the best kind of soils anywhere in the world. And, as a bonus, under much of it is an aquifer that discharges into the Western Port bay. And what is our great government encouraging developers to do to this precious resource? Developers buy a whole allotment, dig out the soil in the middle, fill the hole with toxic waste that poisons the aquifer, then cover it, plant a few native trees, then sell the land around for housing. Do the pollies know about this racket? Of course they do? Do they care? Why should they when the developers keep paying them?
People who buy home sites on the Mornington Peninsular are blissfully unaware of what they are doing? Go down to one of the toxic waste tips and watch how the employees check the toxicity of the rubbish dumped there. "Any toxic material in that load mate?" "Nah — OK, that'll be $30." It's a joke. The methane gas produced is perhaps the only good thing to happen. This could be easily controlled and turned into an environmentally acceptable money-making asset simply by covering it with heavy plastic, covering the plastic with soil and plants, then piping or bottling the accumulated gas from under the plastic for heating and cooking. But what do they do with this greenhouse gas? They let it stink up the neighbourhood. Great planners this government.
Raymond F. Smith
Senior Lecturer in Communications Media at the Regional Centre for Education in Science And Mathematics, Malaysia.
Area Specialist with the Australian Science Education Project
Instructor in Charge of the Diploma of Advertising Art courses at Chisholm Institute of Technology, now part of Monash University.