Monday, July 27, 2020

Lets make sure our children and grandchildren get the very best of jobs

My greatest passion has always been to hand something good onto our young people , What a privelege to have so much to share.   Your responses to this element of my lifes work would be most welcome , Write to me for the full lecture 


Monday, July 13, 2020

Coming -- a few stories from the past , If all else fails , study failures

We live in strange times . I have just been to a science and technology conference where catastrophism was discussed. You can join in here  
No we didn't all agree about what this modern phenomenon meant,  but , because we were christians we  knew how to fight well,  without too much noise and with a focus on what might be  true and whether fear was indeed a good tool  esp in the hands of media and polys  ,
Thankfully to discuss whats good bad and unhelpul are still not forbidden subjects at a conference where" religious"ideas are just part of the normal discussion 

My aim within a few days is to list a few historical examples of Disaster and disaster preventions I have been involved in  .
The idea is,  in the face of fear and uncertainty, we can look back with some confidence for clues for the future ( the conference theme) s Please come back later 

Threbo landslide  



Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Nature is not our mother, but our sister

We and our non human associates should be friends,  who get to know each other and respect our roles 

Disturbing simplicities have crept into public understanding and fears about natural forces . The forces of nature  maybe subtle  but they are complex and strong enough to crush us .We have ignored them and continue to ignore them to our peril .   
Is the modern reaction to the ignorance and exploitation of nature by our forebears( often two different things )valid ? Too simple ?and not even always relevant now/
Are we dealing with a reactionary  glass half empty view  .   The reaction of "don't touch" or even "fear of interfering"  is taking over public doctrine of whats good for us in our relations with nature  .  

What those of us who work comfortably with nature have noticed over the last 40 years is an actual lack of respect for nature.  In its common form,  its a failure to really understand natural force and counter forces  complexity . Wannabes now talk glibly of ecosystem protection without knowing how ecosystems work creating  too much political nonsense ( valid in theory but not in practice 
This confusion in direction and support  has come to a head in conflict and wasteful ineffective public investments and  changes of direction  many times in the last few decades 

The above  are all to be respected elements of microbial associations with us -- but are they understood and promoted publicly? No    See this example 
A recent example is listed  here where political and purist natural imperatives appear to have failed to accept the normal accommodation of the microbial community into real world disease and health control.
Earlier examples include public pressure to review the known benefits of immunization , There ae many others , 

The 2020  example here shows us why there in panic and confusion  - the so called threat /value of immunization is discussed in confusing ways . Not only that, simplicities about how we get infected tested and die are now challenging known microbiological  principles. 



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Saturday, June 16, 2018

If only we could get over it

If only we could get over it .... our ambivalent relationship with nature
We know, with our great power, we can hurt nature.

So the right question is; 
When we do damage ( I mean really long term)        what do we do to stop it? 
The Greens would have us take a sacred  " no touch approach ", which is fine,  except its not at all  practical . Such ideas may fill us with a sense of righteousness when we are full but they do not fill our bellies or even our brains .....when we are not sitting with a screen in front of us.
You see , you need durable hardwood ( or perish the thought treated pine ) to build this wonderful sensible and sound walkway.
-- we need a thoroughly realistic approach to working with nature.

We have teeth to decompose but we don't have rumens to do it properly in our chosen ecosystems ( Grassland in Australia)  We can't all be vegetarians and vegans and it may not even be good for us to do so.

--- to be realistic we need to study our relationships with nature much more closely and wisely.
Instead of pretending we all need to live in bark huts and eat herbs we need to work together more

The Victorian State government are under Green political pressure again to stop grazing in the high country
This was my response.

 It would be great ,wouldn't it, if all conservationists agreed . 
It would be absolutely fabulous too, if our government actually employed people who knew what they were talking about on this critically important area - and not just hired them . 
It would be just so helpful if we didn't have to daily remind the Greens, and now our ignorant politicians, that THEY now go off half cocked and simple about so many complex land management issues. 
Yes grazing animals do create some minor damage around water holes in summer and protection of species and grazing pressure must be monitored, but ruminants provide a sound and necessary counter to the acidification forces that naturally degrade high country ecosystems and the water that flows from them .
All this is of course IS news to Greenlabor who now run the environment portfolio for their...friends 
THIS IS  Tragic stupidity perpetuated by both parties in complete ignorance of the poor legacy they are giving to our children  Not clever country - 

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Pain , strain, sprain and sparing the rod

The West will come to regret not studying the Old testament and supporting its teaching.  Muslims need no such reminder as they see the consequences of not punishing of pushing back in our now feelings based decision/non-decision making culture .The good book says you don't love a child if you don't punish it .
Surprisingly for western based reactionaries that review will include what was once taught in formative books like Genesis  about man and nature and  best ways to understand and work with it . You see ,to see HOW we can move on ,you have to understand why the West has been so keen to resist the natural forces of nature.
You even need that understanding of pushiness before you can improve on what wrongs humans have done before - in any culture or context .Yes science is important but we seem to be talking here about feedback  mechanisms  that we don't know fully just yet - but need to find ways to act on them/with them. .
Just a bit of background
 While many "Greeks "will make much of the old books  many words , the idea with most of the authors is very simple. God is busy trying to redeem  his wayward and recidivist  creation.
Despite much careless slander to the contrary , the Creator doesn't believe in making life hell with his creating and setting up heaps of rules  for them to follow .Otherwise we would be cutting off hands when someone  walked out of the supermarket,  or gouging out eyes in the theatre.
 To go back to rules would be to deny the very reason given for his creating these pesky creatures in the first place  - their freedom to be creative ,
First lesson ; man is a part of nature but he's designed to try and master both himself and the garden . Its more complicated than drivers cause hes meant to train those drivers ( physiological etc)

Where pain comes in.
People with experience try to warn their offspring of the dangers of just acting on their feelings
. It comes as a bit of a surprise to most of us that pain seems to be needed  to effectively do this with our offspring . We hate pain and don't generally like it or know naturally how to limit it to the needed amount. The first thing we know from experinec and observation is that you cannot care for a young thing without steeping in  to stop some action/ reaction /resistance  ( causing pain)

While it is not the objective of this note to say how much the purpose is to state and restate the case for pain and resistance to the will of others - esp those being trained as young ones . Love calls for intervention

Where resilience comes in
Another matter for anotherday 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Blaming Nature for Disasters can blind us to our role

It will be twenty years this year since the many deaths from 2 building failures at Thredbo created Australia's biggest Coronial enquiry. 
The photo shows the now empty site from the Alpine way above the 2 buildings involved. I wrote a suggested and finally proved correct basis for the tragedy to that Coronial enquiry. 
My work is in remote sensing ( predictions based on geology soils slopes, landscapes runoff, infiltration and vegetation from maps/ photos ;
As its very hard to get real " landslides" in weathered granite ( which this was ) I just couldn't see how the slope failure would happen without negligence of some kind. I knew many examples of both " "natural "and man made "slope failures" ( the proper term)
In 1997 when it happened, I had been looking after the prediction and remediation of landslides in the biggest landslide area in Australia.. You win some you lose some .
While many want to call it Australia's biggest natural disaster ( and blame nature not ourselves? ) , I wrote in 1997 that it was probably an avoidable planning disaster - which is what it proved to be .
Even today, there is still a high risk of slope failures simply because we don't plan the use of soils and water runoff very well.

 Clearly there are more disasters not only waiting to happen , but people and politicians unwilling to admit their role in playing wolf

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Working with or against Nature?

Both sides of politics accuse the other of working against nature ,
Whose right?
The thinking left accuse the right of exploiting nature and blame capitalism for its driving of the careless use of the earth's resources.   The thinking right  accuse the left of working against human interest  by adopting a cynical view of human nature and transferring that onto the people who work with the environment .The left are on safe ground provided they adopt a no touch policy for themselves  . Its head in the sand ,impractical and projection  politics while they do that.
As a earth processes risk management  planner , I agree that both parties have critical points to make. There is no more exploitative and dangerous  driver of damage  to our sensitive destructive environment than rampant capitalism .

We desperately need  a diverse way of running the economy that doesn't just accept capitalism or the over governance and loss of freedom that comes from the lefts way of thinking.
There is however no excuse
--for the ignorance and arrogance of both sides when it comes to real life decisions about risk.
- for politicians telling us how to do environment . As if they are qualified to do the doctoring !
--for extremes of not doing anything ,or for giving carte blanche to industry

The right are wrong to keep giving trump cards to those who find new ways to justify careless pressing of the flesh,
The left are wrong to continue with no touch policies which  protect them from ever having to face the fact that death and droughts occur and trees and ecosystem phases must die to live. The carbon in trees must be harvested to be sequestered . and so on . No touch can mean we do silly things like pretend change is not inevitable like trees  dying and rotting and creating acid water and the poor soils of our country
Explaining the Controversy and Confusion?
Both parties are beset by forms of blindness derived from their own prejudices and  not respecting the complexity of earth management and those who study both sides of the story properly . The wannabes wouldn't try to tell doctors how to do their job- why do they try to tell us ours !

No touch policies lead to forms of blindness and denial ;they can mean we resist the inevitable . Like soil moving down hills and mountains falling into the sea .
Such is the temptation of all those who let themselves be persuaded by the idealists on the left

Instead of blaming man,  the left are prone to blaming nature
In 2016 we had a wet October in on the Great Ocean Road, but we often  have very wet Octobers . Deep soils will move off the slope quite naturally under such rainfall
The no touch policy of the left can mean we do silly things like pretend change is not inevitable or even worse --that we should resist change or not work with it

Landslides on the Great Ocean Road   October 2016  
The biggest landslide of the 120 named  can be blamed on  BOTH nature and people . Neither the inevitability of nature or the careless work of man can be the sole target.
The reality that has yet to be faced on the Wye -Sep section facing the GOR is that the soil wants to move across the road and the  current left government is making every effort to stop it .

I would suggest we work with nature and help it across , The alternative to a few weeks work is millions trying to hold it there .The alternative is to spend a lot of money on consultants and engineering when the rocks, the shallow soils and me agree its time to part company
We and the West ( through our history to date ) can only afford one way to work with nature and that is to work with it .

The only way to do that is to have people in the system who know and accept both political realities and force consideration of sound practice ( not unsound prejudice ) by knowing the risks in the situation .By training big picture planners .
Neither parties have been doing that so they spend time going around in circles.  Offering to throw money at problems they poorly perceive and will never fix .

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