Erica’s Blog

‘The Grapes of Wrath’

John Steinbeck’s novel was published in 1939.

Eighty years on, after that terrible time in the 1930s that made dust bowls in USA and Canada when droughts destroyed crops, farmers suffered, banks foreclosed and all the warnings about the impact on the ecology of the areas went unheeded, and the Joad family like so many had to take the long, hard road to California, Steinbeck’s title ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ brings those lyrics down to earth. The powerless, like the Joads then, appear the prey today. But people need not be prey. Voters in democracies have power, if we decide to use it well.

And we have had the evidence of our contribution to global warming for so long.

So, where are the signs of hope?

In the Arts and Humanities and Sciences where so many refuse to be silenced.

Rachel Carson’s book has been re-printed!

We need to heed her now.

AND Barbara Kingsolver has woken sleep walkers through ‘Flight Behaviour’.

But, where do politicians stand on global warming? Why, eighty years on from Steinbeck’s warning, are too many politicians listening to a media mogul who jeers at climate change? [Didn’t his employees in USA and in Australia try to blame our terrifying fires on arson?]

Fiery lightning strikes are waking more and more. But not waking enough of those who use their power to refuse to care about the Earth’s ecology.  Look at these English-speaking nations: Canada, where English and French are official languages, Australia and USA.

In Australia a major LNG company is planning fracking on First Nations land. Who remembers ‘Gaslands’ – fracking in American national parks? Those loop holes in the law? There are fears Indigenous owners will be stopped from asking questions at its online AGM.

In USA Trump attacks the EPA in every way. Destroying forests in Alaska. Oil exploration in the melting Arctic. Polar bears moving inland. [Has he just now offered to issue exploration licences?] In Canada, forestry companies are using Monsanto’s toxic pesticide, glyphosate, to spray remote Indigenous forests, when trees and their bio-diversity are our lifeline. And is the Canadian government doing anything to stop it? In Australia our Federal government, funding fossil-fuelled, LNG corporations to the tune of $52.9 million from our revenue, is trying to reduce its responsibility for environmental – with cultural – regulation. And the Prime Minister has cut 29% from funds for Environmental Studies courses in our public universities! Why this attack on education? Why this attack on a core part of learning today for all young and older people?

But the problem with grapes of wrath is that they are sour.

 They feed the bile, make us irritable and liverish, bitter and acrimonious. They do not bring about renewal and regeneration. How do we bring about the change we need?

Where is hope in all of this while the truth of global warming is marching towards us?

There are businesses moving ahead. 64 nations signed the pledge to work to improve bio-diversity. Australia, unhappily, is not one of them. Nor is USA. But ‘green aviation’ is on the agenda in Europe! ‘Future Tense’, on ABC RN, told me about this on Sunday. AND there’s the

Global Battery Alliance – The UN Global Compact

AND the Arts: in drama, painting, plays, music, on film, and always in poetry.

Poets help us find and feel the truths in our humanity.

Judith Wright, one of Australia’s finest poets, called us ‘self poisoners’ in ‘Australia 1970’.

AND, thanks to JoAnne Growney,  https://poetrywithmathematics.blogspot.com

I have discovered an American poet, passionate about environmental science and community.

Leah Naomi Green

Visit her websites.

https://my.wlu.edu/directory/profile?ID=x225 ) and explore some of her work (here is a link to several of her poems:  https://poets.org/poems/leah-naomi-green) !

AND, in the political sphere, despite this pandemic, there is good news. New Zealanders have just voted for a government whose Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has committed New Zealand to zero emissions by 2050.

.

‘It’s not easy being green.’

‘It’s not easy being green’ – as Ray Charles sings – Warming ice. Massive floods. Dust storms. Top soil gone. The Amazon going. Fires in California and Siberia and Australia. Floods in Pakistan. Extreme weather across Africa. Heat waves. Drought in Europe. Fires in southern Europe. Floods in Greece. India – rain storms. Smoke over Bolivia. Logging. Rising sea levels in the Pacific. And in our Torres Strait Islanders’ homes. [This Australian government is not concerned about that, telling the UN it is not a Human Rights issue for the Council.]

‘It’s not easy being green’. Young people, protesting to be heard about climate change, are told by Ministers in the Australian government to get back to class and get an education!!!!

But we live in hope. We have future-supporters increasing bio-diversity through regenerative farming. In Australia, see the work of Charles Massy. His book, The Call of the Reed Warbler shows how he is doing it. He is not alone. He is now influencing so many more to make the change from the old ways. No more petrochemical pesticides or fertilizers. It is a companion book to ‘For the Love of Soil. See my last blog about the work of Nicole Masters.

Still, ‘It’s not easy being green’ when the Australian government prefers ‘blue’ [gas -generated] hydrogen to ‘green’ [‘clean energy generated’] liquid hydrogen. In 2020 why this in Australia? What direction is promoted by commercial media? Lobbyists here push gas as our ‘transition’ fossil fuel? In NSW, Australia, 800 gas wells in a State forest!! America is planning the destruction of a major forest in Alaska!! See my last blog. And in Brazil now!

A section of the Amazon rainforest stands next to soy fields in Belterra, Para state, Brazil. Photograph:Léo Corrêa/AP

Brazil, China, India, Russia, USA and Australia have refused to pledge to work to restore bio-diversity. So much has been lost. All nations have been asked to make this pledge. Australia has refused. Sixty four national leaders have made this commitment. Australia’s Prime Minister says this pledge is ‘inconsistent with our policies.’

While the New South Wales government supports gas, affecting ground water at the expense of food production in its north west, its Department of Planning and the Environment says “The thin, porous skin of frogs and tadpoles makes them sensitive creatures. Through this skin, they absorb chemicals from the air and water. For this reason, frogs are good indicators of environmental damage.” If we do not ruin their habitats with our market-driven madness.

India, Australia, USA, Brazil are democracies! What on earth are we voting for?

The Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr Frank Bainimarama, gave a powerful address calling for Australia to urgently transition to clean energy at the Smart Energy Council‘s Summit “With other countries investing in clean energies, you have the opportunity now to choose: will you lead or will you follow?”

New Zealand is committed to zero emissions by 2050.

Taking a Stand.

Should our future be decided by those who refuse to acknowledge the science?

The situation is dire. The Scientific American is making a political stand for the first time in the history of its prestigious 175 years long life.

Policy & Ethics

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden

 THE EDITORS | Scientific American October 2020 Issue

Credit: Ross MacDonald.

‘Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.’

‘The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.’

AND

See this blog from The Wilderness Society. Look at what Trump has planned for Alaska?

So close to the Arctic! So much evidence of global warming! He destroys carbon sinks!

Blog The Wilderness Society.

3 reasons ramped-up logging in the USA’s biggest national forest could be a disaster.

September 25, 2020

Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council

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Alaska’s Tongass National Forest combats climate change, supports Indigenous communities, provides clean water. A plan to be released by the U.S. Forest Service will set the stage for the federal government to open millions of acres of old-growth temperate rain forest to logging and development.
[Who now is in charge of the EPA in USA?]
The Final Environmental Impact Statement, expected to be issued Sept. 25, is one of the last big pieces needed before the administration can remove protections from more than half of the 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

Proposed changes would exempt the Tongass from a law called the “Roadless Rule,” which is designed to protect the very wildest parts of America’s forests from reckless development. For the most part, people don’t want this to happen: a majority of some 140,000 public comments solicited by the Forest Service about the plan favoured keeping the Roadless Rule intact. And the president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has said this rule-making process “repeatedly disrespected and ignored sovereign tribal nations and their tribal citizens.”  

In Australia, we have loggers calling the shots in Tasmania! We have burnt forests not being allowed to regenerate. When forests are destroyed by logging we lose life! Think of what is being done to the Amazon! Fossil fuels are toxic to us and the planet. The evidence is clear! But

The Australian Coalition government insists on a gas-led post COVID 19 recovery with coal-based carbon capture and storage, not the regenerative possibilities offered in new agriculture. See ‘For the Love of Soil’ in my previous blog. We have a Coalition government determined to use our money, put aside solely for renewable energy, for gas! And they intend to let the Coalition Minister for Energy interfere with how it is used!

This great American voice for intelligence is taking a stand. We need to do the same.

Regenerative Agriculture.

Think of it. What would be better for us and the planet? This?

OR

‘De-risking’, so insurers take on toxic fossil fuel like gas-fired power!

When you can have real carbon capture in agriculture by not clearing land!

And not importing and using petrochemical fertilizers.

New Zealand born Nicole Masters is an independent agroecologist, systems thinker, author and educator. She has a formal background in ecology, soil science and organizational learning studies in New Zealand. Nicole is recognized as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker on the topic of soil health.

See it in WA in Australia, the South Island in NZ, in Nevada in USA. and Canada.

Masters unveils a flawed food production system that is in desperate need of review,” says Graeme Sait, director of Australia-based Nutritech Solutions. “She chronicles the heroic work of the farmers and ranchers who have accepted that challenge and she provides a pragmatic and inspiring game plan for those contemplating that journey.”

Nicole’s book breaks down the complex, technical know-how of soil into more digestible terms. She combines this with case studies from her travels working with farmers and ranchers across Australasia and North America to explain what inspires and enables these innovative land managers to embrace a new land ethic and build “soil capital” on their agricultural operations. Together, they present a compelling testament to the global, rapidly growing soil health movement.

The producers Nicole works alongside are based in some of the most extraordinary and breathtaking landscapes in Australasia and North America. She takes us on a journey to meet farmers and ranchers from the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island, to the wilds of Western Australia, the desert landscapes of Nevada and to the edge of grain production areas in Canada.  What led them to change their practices, how do they achieve their goals and what results are they seeing?

“For years, many of us involved in regenerative agriculture have been touting the soil health – plant health – animal health – human health connection but no one has tied them all together as Nicole does,” says farmer and soil health advocate, Gabe Brown. “She shows us through her own personal experiences and those of farmers, ranchers, researchers and medical professionals all over the world that the answers lie in the soil.”

In spite of the challenges food producers face, Masters’ book shows even incredibly degraded landscapes can be regenerated through mimicking natural systems and focusing on the soil first.

“Our global agricultural production systems are frequently at war with ecosystem health and Mother Nature,” notes Terry McCosker of Resource Consulting Services in Australia. “In this book, Nicole is declaring peace with nature and provides us with the science and guidelines to join the regenerative agriculture movement while increasing profits.”

These stories can offer inspiration to those who love quality food and the environment. We can all support producers, selflessly providing ecosystem services well beyond the farm gate. . . . Now more than ever we all need to catch the soil bug and regenerate our landscapes!’

 In Australia, as in USA, we have Federal governments that refuse to commit to zero emissions by 2050. Both of our Federal governments still listen to the lobbyists for fossil fuels to the extent that here, ‘de-risking’ will mean Australian tax payers taking on the risk of  stranded assets to satisfy the group, including gas with its fracking, calling themselves ‘low emissions’.

Information from the Australian Conservation Foundation. ‘On Tuesday the Morrison government announced $52.9 million in public funding for the gas industry. And then the Coalition revealed a plan to weaken our brightest renewable funds – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – to let them splash cash into fossil fuels.’ Because business is wary of such investment.

Australia’s Prime Minister has offered us zero emissions some time in the second half of the 21st century. For him, jobs equal gas, not other avenues in health and teaching.

Regeneration in land and landscape must mean much less logging of our old forests.

Once more thank you to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National Science Show presented by Robyn Williams.

Full episode 54min 7sec

How to eliminate CO2 emissions from agriculture? The answer lies in the soil!

New Zealand is committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Sustainability – Who cares? Who doesn’t?

Educators do. Children are being brought to understand what sustainability entails. But children can’t vote. And votes make the difference in a democracy.

In Australia ACARA says. ‘The Australian Curriculum places emphasis on Sustainability as a priority for study that connects and relates relevant aspects of content across learning areas and subjects. Cross-curriculum learning is fundamental to: … appreciating and respecting the diversity of views and values that influence sustainable development.’

If educators know the connections needed now, why do too many in politics in democracies continue to fund toxic fossil fuels?

Which nations care about sustainability? Sustainability requires clean energy.

ASU has the USA’s first School of Sustainability. In 2020 what do its students face?

‘Established in 2006, the School of Sustainability’s mission is to foster innovative research, impactful education and engaged communities to achieve environmental integrity, social equity and well-being.’ And its ‘Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, home to the new College of Global Futures, [is] dedicated to designing futures where everyone may thrive.’

Students at Arizona State University png.

Discover how a sustainability degree prepares you for tomorrow’s work environment. The Dean of the School of Sustainability, Chris Boone says: ‘Sustainability is improving human well-being and ensuring social equity for present and future generations while safeguarding the planet’s life-supporting ecosystems.’

Are students going to vote in their November elections? What will they vote for?

AND

The Arizona State University is now connecting Shakespeare and ecology!!! Its foundation Professor, Sir Jonathan Bate formerly of Oxford, was interviewed by Michael Cathcart on our indispensable Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National’s weekly program ‘The Stage Show’ keeping us connected while the virus keeps us apart.

The man who lives with Shakespeare

on The Stage Show
with Michael Cathcart

Sir Jonathan Bate has spent much of his life living with William Shakespeare — he’s dedicated his career to better understanding the work of the Bard. Now the British academic is asking how Shakespeare’s work might help us to save the planet.

Educators are making the connections we need. Why not so many in politics?

Wisdom and Warning.

the ABC’s Science Show presented by Robyn Williams
Extract minerals for clean energy. Lithium batteries conserve energy,

 Lithium processing a new opportunity for Australia

Half of the world’s lithium is found in Australia. Most of the rest is found in South America. After extraction, it undergoes a series of transformations finally becoming the major component in batteries for cars, bikes, and all manner of modern devices. After extraction, the lithium passes along a processing chain, generating increasing profit at each stage. As research fellow Mahdokht Shaibani explains, the profit for the mining company is just half of one percent of the profit generated from other stages along the way. Mahdokht says Australia is well positioned to develop industries and benefit from lithium processing and not just be a miner who sells raw materials for other nations to profit.’ No need to focus on fossil fuels.

Cleaner air delivers LA health and economic benefits

‘Ed Avol has spent his career measuring the effects of bad air on health. He says the $65 billion spent on cleaning up harmful emissions in California has produced savings of trillions of dollars in saved health costs alongside other economic benefits.’

Window closing for action to stabilise the Earth’s climate

Johan Rockström is a Swedish professor of Earth Systems Science. He outlines why the Earth has entered a climate emergency and why urgent action is needed.

audio
Johan Rockström
Professor of Earth Systems Sciences
Director – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Potsdam Germany

English version of the Swedish Radio show Vinter i P1 with Johan Rockström

Listen for free on your mobile device on the ABC Listen app, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or your favourite podcast app

A common future. Do we have one?

Australians have investigated 142 countries to check the value of carbon pricing.

Australia is not pricing carbon to reduce emissions. Neither is America.

New Zealand is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.

What are other countries doing? How are their citizens voting? What are they being encouraged to do to reduce emissions? Consider the information below.

This photograph of a coal-powered station in Germany was chosen by students to encourage the government in Singapore to move to clean energy. The Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times used this photograph to lead an article entitled ‘Go fossil-fuel free’.
Did a Singapore government legislate to reduce emissions? Does it have carbon pricing? Is it one of the 142 nations Australian researchers investigated?

Our public ABC Radio National’s Future Tense’ has provided us with this information.

Australian researchers have done the maths.

The truth about carbon pricing and how to capture CO2. ON Future Tense with Antony Funnell

‘Does carbon pricing work? It’s long been a contentious issue, but Australian researchers have crunched the data from 142 countries and now have what they reckon is the definitive answer. Also, are group purchasing plans the way to fund future renewable energy needs? And, the California research that could give new life to carbon, capture and storage.’ 29mins 7secs. Sun 23 Aug 2020, 10:30am. Sun 30 Aug 2020, 10:30am

This is Australia’s story as I see it. What are the stories in the northern hemisphere?

In 1988 the United Nations published the Brundtland Report. ‘It was the result of the deliberations of an impressive panel of international experts chaired by the Prime Minister of Norway and convened as the World Commission on the Environment and Development. It ought to be compulsory reading for every educator in the world.’ That statement was made by the late Professor Hedley Beare, Professor of Education, University of Melbourne, in The Curriculum for the 1990s. A New Package or a New Spirit?’ published by the Australian College of Education, 1989. It required STEAM at least. Not this 2020 separation of STEM from HASS. Hedley Beare wrote: ‘Since the Earth is a living entity. The Earth can become sick.

He went on, quoting the Brundtland Report: ‘Most of today’s decision-makers – it was 1988 – will be dead by the time Earth feels the full impact of illnesses like: acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or wide spread desertification and species loss. In 2020 we feel it happening. Still, we have corporations, governments ignoring the evidence.

Australian climate change policy to 2015: a chronology.
In 1976 the Australian Academy of Sciences reported – ‘human activities are likely to contribute to warming.’ In 1979 the first International Conference on climate change was held. In 1989 Hedley Beare was encouraging educators to face the future needs of our young people. Brundtland saw young people, in 1988, as needing to lead the charge. How old ARE they now? It is the adults who do the voting!
Australia had a Hawke Labor government From 1984. In 1989 it considered emissions targets. In 1990 we adopted the Toronto Target. In 1992 the government set up the National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS), endorsed by every State in the Federation. In 1994, Australia met its first commitment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – the UNFCCC. [Remember this. Corporations, not wanting to change, had the language softened from the more urgent sound of ‘global warming’.]

Then came 1996 and the influence of climate deniers in the media. Finally, we established a carbon price mechanism from 2010 to 2012. [The Coalition government was defeated in 2007.] ] Our emissions were going down! Then came 2013 and according to the new Australian Prime Minister, ‘climate change [was] crap’. Our human contributions to climate change were rejected. In 2020, we have a Coalition government opening the door to oil and gas exploration in and near the Ningaloo Reef and near Sharks Bay, a World Heritage site on the coast of Western Australia. And there’s logging. This Federal government is talking about a gas-led, fossil fuel so-called ‘transition’, not aiming for zero emissions by 2050! Nor is it willing to establish the independent, national environmental protection authority, as advised in Graham Samuel’s interim report, to save Australia’s fire, drought and flood ridden, fragile environments from State and /or Federal politicking and corporate profiteering. NOW – Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation wants a climate policy!

Professor Hedley Beare gave us this knowledge and made this plea for us 31 years ago!

Regeneration or Degeneration.

Where is there concern for bio-diversity? Is it enough in our governments?

What have our extremes of climate been telling us? Think of our fires. Check NASA’s fire map!

Consider the question on the cover of ‘Encounter 2020’, the Flinders University raises. issue.

The only constant in life is change. But is it in the right direction?’

Regeneration is the direction if we choose wisely.

Fresh green regrowth growing on burnt trees in the morning sun after forest fire in Australia

Found in SENT  –  Internode.on.net Mailbox.

or

Amazon fires increase by 84% in one year – space agency …

www.bbc.com › news › world-latin-america-49415973

The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It is also home to about three million species of 

Logging is ripping apart the Solomon Islands. One man is …

www.nationalgeographic.com › science › 2020/01 › de…

And in Australia! 850 coal seam gas wells for the Pilliga Forest in NSW …

www.youtube.com › watch      2:05

And that is not all, of course. Logging in old growth forest in the Tarkine in Tasmania and protesters. fighting to protect it from the Liberal government and the logging companies, are treated as criminals. It’s not just Liberal. The Labor State government of Victoria has allowed loggers into the areas burnt in bushfires. When the great trees, burnt or otherwise, are gone so are the real carbon sinks. So are the hopes of life for all of us. We are part of the animal kingdom. When we destroy forests, we are – slowly – destroying ourselves. That was the warning in 2016. Now the NSW Liberal government, despite the impact of the fires, is letting Santos go ahead. And this Coalition government is offering our money to help it to happen.

Professor Corey J A Bradshaw is a Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology in the College of Science and Engineering. [See his extensive credentials on page 16.]

He describes the catastrophes. Our massive contribution to mammal extinctions in Australia. The way we approach water management!! Almost 70% of the Earth’s land surface has been altered by humans. What can we do? That is the question as voters we need to consider. It will be no good moaning afterwards if we allow worse to happen. Democracies have to deal with who wins – and why they are allowed to win. Who we hand the power to! And for how long!!

Professor Bradshaw describes what we’ve done and gives answers. ‘We can demand a more responsible government and tougher legislation to protect our native plants and animals.

We can insist on development that does not require additional deforestation and we can restore great tracks of previously stripped land. [All the clearing under Howard and since!]

We can implement a broad network of clean energy technologies to transition our emissions-heavy economy toward one with a low footprint and we can invest in smarter low water agriculture. [ See the post for June 2020 ‘Complexity and Stability’.]

On a community level, during pandemic restrictions, we have been forced to re-think how and where we work, how our food is grown and distributed, and how cities can support this transition – all aspects that can reduce the impact of climate change.’

As I report Professor Bradshaw’s presentation of what we can do, I remember a Year II Drama teacher, Gay Maynard, at Marion High School studying a theme with her English students – ‘Stepping Lightly on the Earth’. That was in the late 1980s. The Humanities were ‘doing their bit’ thirty years ago! The evidence was in teachers in schools knew it. They were making the connections we need. [Those students are voters in their forties now. ]

In Australia now, this Coalition government is going to increase the cost of Humanities degrees by 113% and decrease the cost of degrees in science, maths and IT.  They are going to exacerbate the divide, focusing on STEM! And this Coalition has a gas-focused, fossil- fuelled committee, chosen by the Prime Minister, to look to our future. Besides this fearsome direction, we have loggers and miners, being supported by governments – Federal and State.  All this, while this global corona virus offers time and a chance for us to re-think. Multi-nationals and foreign companies and commercial media moghuls do not have to live with the results of their actions. Cultures destroyed. Fragile environments destroyed. Regeneration made almost impossible. Still. they and their shareholders made money.

A reason to go back to 1984.

To George Orwell’s novel? Perhaps. Secret trials in the name of national security! This pandemic used, in the name of ‘flexibility’, to undermine the conditions of workers?

No! A cry from the heart. Professor Arthur Peacocke, Dean of Clare College, Cambridge. When and where?  In Australia, at the celebration of the Silver Jubilee Conference of the Australian College of Education in Canberra, May 5th – 9th 1984. His subject? On being humanly and scientifically educated. His contribution to the overall theme. The Human Face of Technological Change.

Remember. We were well into that damned ‘two cultures’ divide by 1984.

What Professor Peacocke was observing in 1984 in the UK resonates with me in 2020?

Under the heading Science and Technology as Human Explorations, writing of the role of imagination and intuition in making a new creative synthesis, Professor Peacocke made this suggestion. And here come the questions. ‘Might not the whole atmosphere of the relation between the sciences and the humanities be transformed if the sciences were, once again, to be conceived as an aspect of human culture. as implied by their old-fashioned designation as ‘natural philosophy’? And might not this attitude of exploration be partly conveyed, more than hitherto, by introducing young people – by history, biography and autobiography – to the mental and spiritual journeys of key non-scientific figures in the life of humanity, as well as to the lives and thought processes of central, formative figures in scientific revolutions, such as Newton. Darwin and Einstein?’  Those are his questions.

Now! And listen to his change in tone. ‘Surely this would be better than the enormity that has disfigured the introduction of information technology to young people in my own country, at least, namely, the obscenity that this has occurred almost entirely through computer games centred entirely on violent conquest. Or, to put it another way (and as Socrates might have said today):

Until humanists are technologists, or the scientists and technologists of this

world have the spirit and power of the humanities, and technological greatness

 and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either or

the other, are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils –

no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a

possibility of life and behold the light of day.’   (cf. Plato,  Republic, V) [p. 94]

 In 2020, we separate STEM as though it has nothing to do with HASS in the acronym-based national Australian curriculum. We know about the dangers in this separation. Totally mechanistic. No interest in human consequences.  Here, while the pandemic rages, we have fossil-fuel lobbyists pushing oil, gas and still coal! The world has technologists, owners of great Internet organisations, ignoring questions of ethics and morality. In Australia, the Coalition government intends to increase the cost of a humanities degree by 113%. That is an obscenity! We have computer games of violent conquest. On television, The Game of Thrones!

Evils facing the human race? Might they not only be the exponential rate of global warming? Might they not include the idea of spending on armaments as part of an economic ‘rescue’? In 2020, our Treasurer says he will follow Reagan! How much did Reagan spend on ‘Star Wars’?

The Pilbara – Macquarie University

Moving away from the evils facing the human race, to other human explorations. Back to Robyn Williams and our ABC Radio National Science Show –  And ‘NASA in the Pilbara, WA.’ There is more to this episode besides space travel. ‘The Pilbara, situated in the north of Western Australia, is like nowhere else on Earth.  This is why NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists travelled to there to train for their Mars 2020 missions that will specifically search for life on the red planet.Sep 3, 2019.’ NASA scientists have travelled to the Pilbara to find out more …

Bridging the worlds of science and the humanities.

The Lewis Thomas Award for the Scientist as Poet.

That is the reason behind the International Lewis Thomas Award for Writing About Science, an annual literary prize awarded by The Rockefeller University[1] to scientists or physicians deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement; it recognizes “scientists as poets.” Originally called the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet, it honors individuals who bridge the worlds of science and the humanities. Winners of the Lewis Thomas Prize are celebrated for their ability to express science’s aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing new information and inspiring reflection.

Thanks to our ABC we had the pleasure of listening to Dr Sylvia Earle, a recipient of the  Lewis Thomas Award.

Australia’s Ocean Odyssey: A Journey Down The … – ABC iview

iview.abc.net.au › show › australia-s-ocean-odyssey-a-j…

Our wonderful, publicly-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation and our CSIRO produced this outstanding documentary. Australia’s Ocean Odyssey describes the life of the eastern ocean current from the Great Barrier Reef to the Antarctic. And the impact of global warming on the source of life in the current! We are seeing just what our east current does. Unfortunately, at the same time as we have been watching this documentary, the Australian government is undermining connections by putting the humanities out of the reach of many.

We had the pleasure of seeing and hearing the voice of Dr Sylvia Earle, a great oceanographer. She was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize in 2017. She showed us the importance of marine conservation here.

Dr Sylvia Earle – (photo by Todd Brown)

‘Dr Sylvia Earle is the National Geographic Society’s explorer-in-residence. She has led more than 100 ocean expeditions around the world and pioneered the development of deep-ocean technology, including research submarines. Known internationally as a speaker, author, and advocate for marine conservation, Earle conducts field and laboratory studies that have led to the discovery of new plant and animal species and to the identification of new deep-water ecosystems.’ ‘To understand the oceans, science needs and benefits from great explorers,’ says Jesse H. Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and chairman of the Lewis Thomas Prize selection committee. ‘Sylvia Earle is one of the most important ocean explorers of the last 50 years, and she brings a spirit of inspiration to everything she does. Her writing has inspired people to pursue careers in ocean science and in conservation, and she’s an enormously effective advocate for creating marine-protected areas in the U.S. and around the world.’ We heard from Dr Earle and Australia’s dedicated men and women of science trying to help us realise what we have. [I include Sylvia Earle’s global mission here.]

About Mission Blue – Mission Blue

mission-blue.org › about

BUT, when, in educational terms, we are learning the vital importance of connections. why, in Australia, has our Coalition government decided to separate the sciences from the humanities in this way?  This Coalition government intends to make Australia’s humanities students pay 113% more for their degrees while they decrease the fees for science students And they are to pay this exorbitant amount so there is no cost – ‘zero impact’ – on this government’s budget!

STEM not STEAM. This is the madness facing us ‘down under’.

Why would an Australian government decide to punish those who study the humanities?

Thanks to our ABC and our CSIRO, with Sylvia Earle in our homes, we felt the wonder of how the tiniest life, upwelling, influences cloud and rain. And we saw what happens when oceans are warming! We saw the sea grasses. Grasses that flower in the sea. We saw how the sea grasses are threatened. Scientists as poets, who receive the Lewis Thomas Award, are being acknowledged as great educators.