I am weary of forever reading and listening to doom merchants. They are everywhere, on the TV, radio, and all through the written press – not to mention the internet.
We hear of global warming, floods, extreme weather, wars, pandemics, bad acting politicians, corrupt businessmen and bureaucrats, disadvantaged Aborigines, and high energy prices. The list is endless. However, in all that doom and gloom it is really difficult to find some concrete information – practical, deep, thought-through and profound suggestions on how to respond to these problems.
The media seem intent on knocking political positions, technical concepts, social ideas, political actions or inactions (which may be in opposition to their ideas) while pushing concepts and policies because they favour a particular politician or organisation. Conversely, they deny assertions made by people they do not trust, believe, or even like.
I hear statements made in interviews that are patently incorrect, or which are at the best highly debatable. Still, they are presented as gospel truth upon which a false story is then built on shaky foundations. There never seems to be an understanding that when insufficient data is available then there may be many interpretations that could be correct, or they could all be incorrect, or there could be more than one solution to a problem and when the problem is complex then there is bound to be many possible approaches to improve a situation.
We move from a stated situation to a single favoured policy or action, without describing why, how, and when.
It is easy to slip into that way of responding to actual or supposed problems. I have to control myself and consider a situation before I can respond and often my initial response may be either suboptimal or even incorrect.
In fact, often the problem is not analysed, completely leaving it unidentified.
Bushfires and floods are caused by global warming… Some other disaster is caused by burning coal, or plastic packaging. All Aborigines are disadvantaged because of colonisation, racial prejudice, and displacement. And the usual solutions all include throwing money at the problem.
So, I now revert to the lessons I learned in the industry.
Analyse the data and consider whether it is sufficient on which to base an opinion. Conduct some research to determine whether more data is available, and if not, what may be required. Develop an hypothesis and check what opposing, or supporting, opinions there may be, with the problem identification made by others. Never be too influenced by qualifications or position, whether academic, social or political, of others who are supposedly experts or specialists in a particular field. Try and find the root cause of a problem. It is only then that possible solutions can be investigated. This is much easier for technical matters than it is for social, or even political matters, but it does actually work, at least it helps to get closer to some form of realistic understanding of the problem.
As an aside here, I suggest that many of the problems that we are experiencing, especially such topics as global warming and environmental damage, are a result of the ever-expanding human population and their demands for ever higher standards of living, alongside profligate waste production.
I would love to hear what the advocates for reducing carbon dioxide emissions suggest is an acceptable atmospheric carbon dioxide level and how do they determine and justify, that value.
I would like to hear how advocates of shutting down our current thermal power stations propose to replace the electricity, especially as they are also advocating electric road vehicles which will require a huge increase in generation. I don’t want to hear about possible technologies which are either unproved or non-existent. What amount of environmental damage are they prepared to accept to achieve their targets? They might also explain how much effect Australia may have in a world where we only produce about one per cent of all carbon dioxide in the world, a value which as a percentage is reducing almost daily. I would also like to hear why gas burning is acceptable but coal burning is not. They both produce carbon dioxide emissions.
I would like to hear not just that world temperatures are rising; possibly correct but the actual values are very much still questionable; but what are the disadvantages and advantages of that increase and what should we do now to address whatever problems may result? Even if rising temperatures are due to human activities, how long will it take to control or limit any temperature rises and what actions are required to achieve that?
What are the immediate proposals to address bushfire control and flood mitigation? Hand wringing over the events, and blaming global warming, without any supporting evidence, is of no use to anyone. Recent flooding events in Queensland and NSW are not unprecedented and have occurred more than once in my lifetime, even in this century.
All of the above are technical questions, with political overtones, which can be quantified, which require a technical response, not some emotional, feel-good drivel.
And what about Aborigines. What are the problems and therefore what are the possible solutions? Can they be resolved by governments or are more local solutions required? The Uluru Statement from the Heart is full of good-sounding words but it does not address any specific problem, it just suggests a soft solution that will only kick the can down the road. We need better than that.
I know that to address any of these problems and others, requires more than a ten second sound bite, a fifteen minute TV interview, or a one thousand word article. They are complex. The problems are difficult to identify correctly and the solutions can be many, especially when considering such matters as cost, time, national and international responsibilities, and maintaining standards of living.
Unless we can be specific about the problems that some people seem to believe do exist, then we can never address those problems. Perhaps the idea is that we never should resolve problems because it reduces the number of threats, takes power away from advocates and teaches us that solutions, even a middle ground, can be reached.
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