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Lowe Tech

Lowe Tech column

Laying Clean Energy Foundations

By Ian Lowe

A review finds that Australia is a late adopter of clean energy.

The independent review of the proposed Clean Energy Foundation has given it a very strong endorsement. The team conducting the review was led by Reserve Bank board member Jillian Broadbent, so it certainly wasn’t a group of trendy greenies out of touch with commercial reality. Its main conclusion was that Australia needs a mechanism of this kind to catch up to where the rest of the world is going.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

A Short-Cut to Milford Sound

By Ian Lowe

Locals are sceptical of the benefits of plans to increase tourist accessibility to a World Heritage area in New Zealand.

One hundred and fifty years ago Otago’s first provincial geologist, Dr James Hector, walked from Martin’s Bay on the South Island of New Zealand’s west coast up the Hollyford Valley and crossed the mountains to reach Queenstown. Impressed by the timber and indications of mineral riches, he recommended a road be built along the route he had walked. The estimated cost proved an insurmountable obstacle and the road was never built.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

Like a Rinehart Cowboy

By Ian Lowe

Will more anti-climate change cowboys ride into the media spotlight following Gina Rinehart’s purchase of a stake in Fairfax?

I have been concerned for some time about the refusal to accept the science of climate change by determined ideologues, and the level of attention The Australian gives to those fringe views. Until now, the science has usually been given a fair run in the Fairfax newspapers. But I worry about how long that will continue.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

White Washing Energy Policy

By Ian Lowe

The draft energy white paper would have looked out of date 25 years ago, when we already knew about the problems of “peak oil” and climate change.

The draft energy white paper was released quietly in the pre-Christmas silly season by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. He was right to try to play it down. It suggests that energy policy is still being written by the so-called “greenhouse mafia” documented by Guy Pearce in his book High and Dry.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

Plimer’s climate change book for kids underestimates science education

By Ian Lowe

Ian Plimer says kids are being taught activism, not science.

The forces of climate science denial have geared down a level. Having failed in their attempt to confuse adults and stop the parliament adopting a timid first step in response to climate change, they are now trying to get at schoolkids.

Ian Plimer, a geology professor and expert mineralogist with no background at all in climate science, has published a new book, “How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters”.

Some Spice Added to the Uranium Export Debate

By Ian Lowe

Do Australian uranium exports to India set a precedent for exports to other non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

There has been hot debate about the proposal by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to approve the sale of uranium to India. The previous government position has been to refuse to supply countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, thus excluding India as a non-signatory.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

Politicians Abandon Science, Community Abandons Politicians

By Ian Lowe

Should we trust bureaucrats more than elected politicans or scientists to make decisions about new technologies?

Science and technology featured prominently at the Adelaide Ideas Festival in October. Former Chief Scientist Penny Sackett delivered the opening address, and then discussed the issues she raised with broadcaster Philip Adams, immunologist Peter Doherty and local science educator Barbara Hardy, to whom the festival was dedicated. The session was recorded, so the plea for rational debate and proper attention to science reached a wider audience than the group packed into Adelaide Town Hall.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University.

Newspaper Biased Against Climate Change

By Ian Lowe

An analysis of The Australian’s coverage of climate change reveals overwhelming bias towards denialists.

In a recent Quarterly Essay analysing Australia’s national daily newspaper, The Australian, Robert Manne devoted 17 of his 115 pages to the paper’s coverage of climate change. He had conducted a detailed study of all the news articles published in a 7-year period up to April 2011.

Astonishingly, he found only 180 articles that were favourable to the idea of taking action to slow down climate change. These were overwhelmed by 700 that were unfavourable: a ratio of about 4:1 opposing action.

Coal Industry Uses the Dope Dealer’s Defence

By Ian Lowe

The coal industry needs to take responsibility for the consequences of selling their product.

I recently appeared as an expert witness in the environment court of one state. The case concerned a proposal for a massive new coal mine. If approved, it would result in the release of at least 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the global atmosphere – about as much as New Zealand will release between now and 2050. The proponent – and their expert witnesses in the court case – advanced what can be called “the dope-dealer’s defence”: if we don’t supply it, somebody else will, and in any case we aren’t responsible for what the buyers do with our product.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

Victoria’s “Scientific” Grazing Farce

By Ian Lowe

Is Victoria’s alpine grazing trial any different to Japan’s whaling “research”?

Japan’s “scientific” whaling program has justifiably earned international condemnation. While whale hunting has allowed Japan to dominate the field of spurious science for economic and political gain, we now have a local challenger. In what appears to be a move to repay the Mountain Cattlemen of Victoria for helping them to win the last state election, the incoming Coalition government allowed cattle grazing in the alpine national park.