Mad Teddy's website: It's still not easy being green

Mad Teddy's web-pages

It's still not easy being green

This page commenced Monday, 30th October 2006

On radio and TV today came the news that Sir Nicholas Stern, former World Bank Chief Economist, has stated in a document entitled the "Stern Review" that global warming/climate change may well cost the world NINE TRILLION DOLLARS.

Well, if you've read other pages in this website, I'm sure you can imagine what my first reaction was to this revelation: that of a bull to whom had just been exhibited the proverbial red rag.

Not, as some may think, because of the prodigious amount of money involved. Not because it's approximately the combined cost of the two World Wars. Not because its effect may be greater than that of the great depression of the 1930's. Not even because it represents about a fifth of the total wealth in the world.

No: simply because it is so typical of the early 21st Century world in which we find ourselves that some financial big-wig presumes to reduce the fact that our planet is in dire peril - with life as we know it at severe risk - to dollar terms, as if that will do any good at all.


However, after a while, when I had calmed down a bit, I thought: "Hang on a minute - in a world run by people who do think like that, if one of their own expresses the problem in language that even they can understand, perhaps the money-grubbers might finally begin to understand that this really is no laughing matter...?"

Well, we can only hope. So, lucky you: you've been spared another of my rants. Instead, what you'll find here is basically an account of my own coming to awareness of the world's condition over some 36 years.

However, just before getting off the subject of money, I can't resist a passing shot:

"Nine trillion" is 9 followed by twelve zeros. You can think of it as "nine thousand billion" or "nine million million".


In a world which has become accustomed to prefixes like "giga-" and "tera-" with reference to computer memory, we can express this obscene amount of money as "nine teradollars". [According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, eighth edition (1990), the prefix "tera-" comes from the Greek word "teras", meaning "monster".]

Perhaps now would be a really good time to declare a "war on tera"...

This page finally uploaded on Saturday, 11th November 2006


I may be getting on a bit, but my memory (long-term, at least) isn't too bad at all. I remember a lot of "milestones". So now, join me on a trip down "Memory Lane"...

In 1970 - my second year at matric. college - somehow a copy of a publication came into my possession. It was a crudely-produced booklet consisting of ten quarto sheets, stapled together. It was packed with typewritten articles and poems, along with several bleak monochrome cartoons (its front cover, above, is a typical example). It was produced by the "Axis" newspaper committee at my old high school; quite clearly, a lot of thought and effort had been put into it, making good use of the comparitively primitive resources available at the time.

Amazingly, I still have the old thing over a third of a century later! (It shares a shelf with my various school, college, and university year-books.)

Quite clearly, it was produced in the wake of the first "Earth Day" in the United States, which occurred on 22nd April, 1970.

The following links together provide a good background of this event:,21428,c_earth_day,00.shtml

I remember reading it with a vague sense of unease. The term "pollution" was already current at the time as a buzz-word (Tom Lehrer's song about pollution had been recorded in 1965); but this all seemed a bit "over the top".

However, over the next year or so, it became clear that "the environment" was becoming a serious issue.

Seven years earlier, in 1963, the Tasmanian State Government applied for - and was given - a Commonwealth grant (i.e. from the Australian Federal Government) of $5 million, to build a 55-mile (about 88-km) road into south-west Tasmania, in order to survey the area for possible hydro-electric development.

Tasmania has a history of hydro-electric power going back to the late 19th Century. Click here to visit my "Power to the People" page; this is largely concerned with Launceston's old Duck Reach power station which commenced operations in 1895.

South-west Tasmania was known as a rugged area, much beloved of bushwalkers, with mountains and wild rivers - and a small, exquiste lake named Lake Pedder. This lake was roughly square in shape, with its eastern and western shores each about 3km in length, and its northern and southern shores each slightly longer.

Lake Pedder was remarkable in many ways. It was surrounded by mountains, giving it an incredibly isolated, peaceful ambience. The water was often so still that the reflection of those mountains in the lake was just about perfect.

But the most remarkable feature was surely the white quartz sand (with a tinge of pink) which surrounded the lake, extending along the eastern shore into a magnificent wide beach. The lake was an inland sea in miniature - an absolute treasure.

To see some photographs of the lake, visit the following web-pages:

If you read through the text accompanying the last two of those links, you'll know why I've been referring to Lake Pedder in the past tense. The tragic fact is that the little gem no longer exists!

As mentioned above, in 1963 the south-west was under investigation for possible hydro-electric development. In 1967, the go-ahead was given. Please visit the following web-pages to read more:

Now, being somewhat of an urban type myself (as opposed to the "bushie" type), I wasn't in a position to go in and see the lake myself initially. But with the growing public protest around 1970, and having seen the "Earth Day" magazine mentioned earlier, I began to take an interest.

My chance to visit the lake came in the Easter break of 1972. With the dammed water already rising toward the lake, there wasn't going to much more of a chance to see it if one didn't act fast. So I went with a party of church people and members of a Christian student fellowship with which I was involved at the time.

Early in the morning, a convoy of cars set out for Scotts Peak, where one of the dams was being built. This was the standard port-of-call for people wanting to make the trek into the wilderness and visit the lake - a hike of about 7 miles (11km) westwards along a track over the button-grass plain.

I had my little Brownie Starlet camera with me, and took a total of fifteen photographs during that long day. Some were of my fellow-travellers, rather than of the landscape per se; however, I took enough "scenery" pictures to warrant including those here.

In those days, it was fashionable to take slides; so that's what I did. Slides taken with a camera of this type looked like this:

Compared to most slides, the film area is big - 3.8cm square, within the standard 5cm square frame. (The 9V battery is just there for size comparison.)

The slides shown above are some of my Lake Pedder shots. In August-September 2006, I took my Pedder slides (along with a few others which also mean a lot to me) to a local photographic shop and asked if they could be copied onto CD. One young gentleman named Luke who works there took an interest in the project, and produced a magnificent set of JPEG's from my old slides. Some of the slides were a bit the worse for wear, and Luke did an excellent job of restoring the quality of the pictures. Luke, if you're reading this: Thanks, mate - you're a genius!

Following are reduced versions of those restored Lake Pedder pictures which basically feature scenery. (I've deliberately chosen not to include pictures in which individual people can be readily identified, for privacy reasons.)

Because of the shape of the pictures - i.e. more-or-less square, as opposed to rectangular, as is more usual - I've decided to make them available in two sizes: 640 pixels wide, and 480 pixels high. You can click on the links to see these bigger versions.

The track from Scotts Peak approached the lake from the south-east; and indeed one's first view of the lake was from its south-east corner, at the southern end of that magnificent wide beach.

One of the first things to notice was the way low clouds draped themselves over the tops of some of the mountains, against the backdrop of an otherwise cloudless sky - a bit spooky, but very beautiful.

640 wide   480 high                              640 wide   480 high

Our little party had a well-earned rest and a bite to eat. (The clean water from the lake was perfectly acceptable for preparing hot drinks.)

Having recuperated a bit, some of us went for a walk along the beach toward the lake's north-east corner.

640 wide   480 high                              640 wide   480 high

Somebody had set up camp at the northern end of the beach; there was even a light plane parked nearby.

The brown vertical object (at the centre of the right-hand picture above) was a monument to Truganini, a woman claimed to be the last full-blood Tasmanian Aborigine. This was erected by the Lake Pedder Action Committee. It consisted of a bust of Truganini on a pedestal, on which were inscribed the following words:

Truganini 1803-1876

When we reflect on the beauty and dignity of Truganini
we must deplore the destruction of her people.

Let us then reflect on the beauty of this lake,
dedicate it to the memory of Truganini
and her people, and resolve to keep it
unspoiled for the benefit of mankind.

To read more about Truganini, and thus appreciate her importance in the history of Tasmania, visit these web-pages:

If you've had a look at some of the panoramic photos of Lake Pedder on other web-sites whose links were given above, you may have noticed that there was a smaller lake just to the east of the northern end of Lake Pedder's wide beach. This lake, Lake Maria, drained into Lake Pedder via a shallow channel named Maria Creek.

The monument to Truganini was placed into the sand near Maria Creek on 13th March 1972, three weeks before our group came here.

Just by the way, to clarify the issue: there is still a thriving Aboriginal community in Tasmania, descended from the original Tasmanian Aborigines. They will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that rumours of their demise are greatly exaggerated!

At some stage during the few hours that we were there, the plane mentioned above appeared over the lake, and I took a picture of it. (The "close-up" of the plane in the right-hand picture below is actually part of the un-reduced JPEG created from my slide.)

640 wide   480 high                                     640Î480              

I wandered a bit further, along the north shore of the lake, and at some point I looked back toward the east and took what may well be my best, most characteristic picture of the area. Just look at the reflection of Mount Solitary and that beautiful blue sky in the still water of the lake!

640 wide   480 high

All good things must come to an end. Having been totally captivated by the lake and its surrounds for just a few hours, I rejoined the group, and we began the long trek back to Scotts peak.

At some stage, as the afternoon wore on and the shadows lengthened, I took a picture of the button-grass plain over which we were travelling:

640 wide   480 high

- and later, one last picture - toward the west, just before the lights went out:

640 wide   480 high

By the time we reached Scotts Peak it was completely dark. Fortunately, one or two of our group had torches, so we could pick our way over the rough track through the clumpy grass without too much trouble.

Then came the long drive back to Hobart. It had been a full day, and everyone was very tired.

How any of us got back safely I'll never know. At least one car took a wrong turn in the darkness and ended up in a small town which was definitely not on the way home, and had to back-track for a considerable distance.

I was a passenger in one of the cars. I couldn't stay awake; every now and then I'd wake up briefly and become aware of headlights passing us, apparently very close by, going in the opposite direction. The fellow who was driving later told me he didn't know how we made it home alive. But we all did, somehow!

Please visit the following link:

which gives more details about the Pedder story in a rather poetic style.
(Note the reference to "Pedder Pennies"; more about these shortly.)

In the early 1990's, as mentioned in the web-page just cited, a team of divers conducted a scientific study at the site of the original lake. Their conclusion was that things are more-or-less intact down there; the lake could be restored to its former glory.

But - as that page's author asks: should it be?

I'd love to see it happen in my lifetime, but somehow I doubt very much that it will. Nothing has happened in 34 years; now in my fifties, I doubt that I'll last another 34 years - or perhaps more - that it may take for a wiser administation to make the hard decision to undo this colossal, stupid mistake.

I must say that, even if the decision to drain the area were made tomorrow, I'd have some misgivings about it, because I don't believe the world is yet ready to have the lake restored to it.

When all this was starting to be an issue, there seemed to be an unwritten law that visitors to the lake should step lightly. In particular, people took their rubbish out with them. When I was there in 1972, the place was clean, as you can see from my photos above - and our group made a point of following the example of others.

But I just wonder...

I see a vision (perhaps a nightmare-scenario is a better term) of a future in which a four-lane highway pushes busily into the south-west, bringing in hordes of well-to-do tourists to stay at one of several large, glitzy hotels overlooking that amazing beach. I see the beach itself littered with bottles, tins, condoms, syringes, and all the other trappings of our throw-away society, with fast-food wrappers and other lightweight garbage floating in the lake. - And I shudder.

No: from my perspective at present, I think that the area is safer under fifteen metres of water, where our wacky world can't easily get at it - at least for the time being. If the scientists are right, it should be okay down there for a while longer. To my mind, a sensible way of thinking about the lake-site in these benighted times is summed up thus:

We know you're still there; it may take time -
but we will get back to you...

When I think of that submerged treasure, I'm reminded of Claude Debussy's piano masterpiece "La Cathédrale Engloutie" ("The Sunken Cathedral"). (Click here to download an .mp3 of the piece.)

Have a look back over the pictures above - or others of the area on other websites - while listening to this. Also, visit this web-page to read some poetry: tributes to the drowned lake; and lamentations for the folly of our greedy, thoughtless times.

I have a confession to make.

One of the reasons for taking the trouble to walk to the northern part of the beach was that I'd heard of "Pedder Pennies": small, flattish pebbles with a brown centre surrounded by a darker brown ring. These were to be found along the north shore of the lake.

They were, apparently, a collector's item. So I went looking for them. I'd heard that probably the "best" had already been taken; so it was a case of seeing what one could find. (A bit like finding conkers under a horse-chestnut tree, perhaps?)

Here's my collection of thirteen of these little rocks:

I'm not exactly proud of having taken them, in retrospect. Basically, I just behaved like any other rubberneck tourist!

Of course, I can always rationalize it as follows:

"Everyone knows the lake is going to be flooded anyway. So what the heck - if I grab a few of these, I'm probably performing a service, because 34 years from now, when the dumb world begins to wake up, I'll have my own website and post a picture of them; and everybody who sees it will be really affected by it, want to see the lake restored, and thank me for being so public-spirited."

 Yeah, right...  

It is possible to see a picture of some Pedder Pennies in their natural habitat - right here! (There are twelve excellent Lake Pedder pictures on that page; the one at the lower left is the one with the Pennies in it.)

So there goes my excuse!

There's more. Have a look at this:

That's right - I also swiped some of the pink sand from the beach! (Does that make me a Walrus or a Carpenter?)

Okay - here's my pledge. If the lake is restored in my lifetime, and if I'm not too decrepit to make the journey, I'll take the sand there and put it back. (Not sure about the oyster-like Pennies - I'll have to think about that... )

It wasn't easy being green. We lost Lake Pedder; but looking on the positive side, the people involved in the attempt to save it ultimately gave rise to what has grown into the international Green movement.

A political party called the United Tasmania Group (UTG) was formed. Click here for a brief synopsis, or here for lots more in-depth information.

In April 1972 - shortly after our trip to Lake Pedder - there was a Tasmanian State Election. The UTG stood a number of candidates, without success. During the campaign, a large UTG banner was placed on the front of the University of Tasmania's Student Union building. Still "trigger-happy" from my trip to the lake, and wanting to finish off the film and get my Pedder slides developed, I took a picture of it:

By the way - see that other building, up the hill at the left-hand side of the picture? That's Hytten Hall. It's now occupied by the University's Education Faculty; but back then it was a men's residential college (1959-1980). It was while staying there that I first became known as "Teddy". (Just thought you'd like to know.)

In Tasmania, the battles continue. In the early 1980's, the south-west again came under attack by another government determined to build even more hydro-electric dams. But this time, a decade on from Lake Pedder, the public was ready.

The government held a referendum, giving the people a choice between two schemes: "Gordon-below-Franklin" and "Gordon-above-Olga". Either way, pristine wilderness would again be devastated. The government refused to include a "no-dams" option.

Demonstrations were held. (I remember attending a large rally in central Hobart in 1982.) The government knew what to expect: a large "write-in", with people refusing to rubber-stamp either of the two options provided, but determined to make a statement nevertheless. A ballot-paper was produced which was almost completely covered with verbose, overblown "information" and instructions on how to mark the two boxes. Quite clearly, the idea was to leave no room for people to do anything else.

When the referendum was held, lots of people refused to be intimidated. I - and many thousands of others - wrote "NO DAMS" in large letters on the ballot paper regardless. I also made a point of solidly filling in both boxes on my paper with the pencil provided, to make sure that no-one else would be able to tamper with it after the event without the vigorous use of a large eraser.

Of course, the government simply ignored the "write-in", as we all knew it would. Work began on the "chosen" site - but this wasn't the end of the saga.

In 1983, there was a Federal Election, which resulted in a change of Federal Government. The new government used its powers to knock the new dam on the head. Successful grass-roots environmental action had finally arrived.

Predictably, the Tasmanian Government launched a High Court challenge to try to reverse the result. However, the High Court, in a 4-3 decision, upheld the Federal Government's authority to intervene. Victory at last!

It still isn't easy being green.

Since 1972, the same year that Lake Pedder was flooded, woodchipping has been practised in Tasmania. Initially, the visible result was simply the ugly scarring of areas of the Tasmanian landscape after clear-felling.

It continues apace, to the horror of many Tasmanians - and not just "greenies", "hippies" and so on. Have a look at this web-page and be prepared for quite a surprise!

Not a "hippie", a "greenie", or any other kind of "radical". Just a decent, ordinary citizen, trying to live a decent, ordinary life - and with enough courage to stand up for her human rights, in the teeth of corporate greed, government complicity, and bureaucratic savagery. Prepared to run afoul of the criminal justice system if need be, in the name of a "fair go".

Have a good look around that site (links to other pages within the site are at the top of the page cited above). In particular, have a look at some of the pictures of the after-effects of logging operations.

Next, visit this website to see more of the same:

The Tasmanian Government doesn't want you to see that website. It has its own website, basically intended to promote Tasmania to tourists, with a very similar URL: without the dash (-), and with ".au" tagged on the end. When this one appeared on the scene, the Government got very cross and tried to get it closed down via legal action. It failed; democratic freedom of speech prevailed, and the site remains. Of such little victories is life made up, for the ordinary citizen.

UPDATE, Sunday 26th November, 2006

In this week's Sunday edition of the local newspaper, a full-page advertisement shows graphically what is happening in our home state. The following URL is presented in that advertisement:

Within that home page is the following link:

(you can get there by just clicking on "Press" within their home page) - which in turn contains a link tagged thus:

Where the Bloody Hell Are We

If you click on that, you will download a .pdf file which contains the advertisement itself. Please, do have a look.

UPDATE, Monday 7th July, 2008

It's a while since I last checked those last links to see if they still worked; and - sadly - it seems they don't. However, I've just been made aware by email of another website which is well worth a visit. Have a look at this:

Have a good look around the site. In particular, may I suggest that you start with the "About me" page, a link to which is on the home page just given. Then you can see for yourself just what we Tasmanians are expected to put up with.

Thanks to the TAP people for making me aware of this. (You can read more about TAP - Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill - further down this page.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is happening in Tasmania's forests has become an absolute orgy. A company which was once basically known as a northern Tasmanian hardware shop has in recent times become widely known as a major player in this ugly game. Both major political parties support this outrage; there seems to be nothing that the ordinary citizen can do. Tasmania no longer belongs to ordinary Tasmanians; it has been stolen and sold off to voracious vested interests.

At present (late 2006), we are waiting to hear the result of an enquiry into a proposed pulp mill in northern Tasmania. Lots of people don't want the mill - for good reason. The city of Launceston is sited in the "Tamar valley", a region surrounded by mountains which can create conditions somewhat akin to those in Los Angeles (albeit on a much smaller scale). Temperature inversions regularly cause bad atmospheric conditions in the area. It is feared that a pulp mill in the vicinity, pumping out chlorinated dioxins and furans, will simply make the situation much worse.

2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, C12H4Cl4O2 (TCDD)

TCDD is the most toxic of the class of compounds known as "dioxins". (The basic p-dioxin group is the central ring of four carbon atoms and two oxygen atoms. The p stands for "para", which means that the oxygen atoms are at "opposite ends" of the ring.) This, and related compounds, are commonly formed as a result of organic processes involving chlorine - for example, pulp and paper bleaching.

TCDD also has the dubious distinction of having been the primary component of Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the Vietnam War - from the long-term effects of which many old soldiers - and their offspring - still suffer.

To see a web-page detailing these and other facts about this truly nasty substance, click here.

2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzofuran, C12H4Cl4O (TCDF)

In TCDF, the central dioxin group has been reduced to a five-member furan group, with only one oxygen atom. (Also not a pleasant substance.)

We can expect some TCDF to find its way from the pulp mill into our living space, along with the TCDD, if the mill goes ahead. Aren't we lucky?

At first, we were led to believe that the proposed mill would be "state-of-the-art", with no chlorine bleaching. Then, guess what - it turned out that we were going to get basically the old chlorine-bleaching type after all - for "economic reasons".

Two sides of the same broadsheet

(click on them to see bigger versions)

Thanks to TAP for permission to include these

On Saturday, 16th September 2006, my wife and I attended a rally in Launceston's Civic Square. As is always the case, the organizers claimed a number of attendees which was probably somewhat of an over-estimate, and the corporatocracy claimed a number which was almost certainly a gross under-estimate. What I can say is that there was a crowd large enough to hold up the city's traffic for quite a while, as people marched from the Civic Square to the City Park, a couple of blocks away.

The mood was festive. It didn't feel like an angry political demonstration - more like a community event. Total strangers with a common cause talked and joked freely. (You may bet I took the opportunity to tell quite a few people about this website, and was quite pleased to see the counter on my home page registering quite a few hits over the next few days. )

In spite of the "feel-good" ambience of the occasion, there was nonetheless a sense of grim determination. Of course, people are angry about the very land under their feet being misappropriated and abused. Of course, people don't want anything like Agent Orange anywhere near their homes or families. Quite frankly, people are fed up with being expected to forgo their rights as citizens in a society, and to meekly assume, instead, an insignificant, meaningless r¶le within an impersonal economy.

So you can bet people are angry. But this kind of anger doesn't tear communities apart; it brings them together. And when you boil it all down, that's precisely what civilization is all about, n'est-ce pas?

No doubt the corporatocrats would have loved to see a violent incident or two to parade before the media, so as to be able to deride the event and pour scorn on the "rent-a-crowd ratbags" who took part, but they were disappointed. Tough luck!

But that's not all. Just a few days after the rally, a big story hit the headlines. Click here to "read all about it". (Pardon the page's typos; just get the gist of the story.)

...And the beat goes on...

UPDATE, Thursday, 21st June 2007

Last Saturday (16th June), another rally to oppose the pulp mill was held, in Launceston's City Park. This was attended by between 10,000 and 12,000 people (the correct figure is probably close to 11,000; what is not in dispute is that it was a big crowd and the park was pretty full). After several speakers had addressed the highly-focused but good-natured crowd, we marched via a "dog's back leg" course through the city streets to the Civic Square, holding up quite a number of frustrated - but probably mostly sympathetic - motorists who obviously hadn't taken the day's much-publicized events into consideration when setting out. After a few closing remarks by organizers and some items by local musicians, the gathering broke up.

My son took this picture of me and my suitably nerdy placard when we arrived home from the rally.

There were quite a number of placards which drew attention to toxic chemicals - including dioxins and furans - which can be expected to find their way into the food chain if the mill goes ahead. One placard summed the matter up very succinctly:

Only when the
last tree has died
last river poisoned
last fish caught
will we realise
We cannot eat money

In the days leading up to the march, it had become public knowledge that the mill company's scientific advisors had underestimated the amount of dioxins to be released into the environment by a factor of approximately 1,400 times.

Launceston's Albert Hall. (The City Park takes up the remainder of the large block behind the hall.)

As a direct result of a petition of over 1,000 signatories presented to the Launceston City Council, last evening (Wedneday 20th June) a public meeting was held in the city's Albert Hall. About 1,100 of us turned up and overwhelmingly passed four resolutions basically calling on the Council to withdraw its support for the mill. Now we wait...

If you'd like to read more about the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill, visit TAP's own website:

Also visit this website which provides good background information:

UPDATE, Thursday 29-11-2007: The saga continues. In recent times, there have been more protests by various groups about the mill, including a very high-profile event at the Batman Bridge, about 30km north of Launceston - and only a short distance from where the mill will be built, if it goes ahead. To read more, click here and scroll down until you come to the Saturday, 29th September 2007 update, and also the following one added added on Monday, 26th November 2007.

UPDATE, Tuesday 29-4-2008: This evening, there's to be a public meeting in Launceston. This follows on from a recent meeting in Hobart, which addressed the way Tasmania is being governed. Tonight's event promises to be at least as well-attended. You can be sure the still-unresolved pulp mill issue will get some attention. To read about the latest developments, visit this page.

It'll probably never be easy being green.

I'll admit to having become very cynical. It seems that almost every major decision by governments over the last few decades simply takes things from bad to worse.

However, in late 2006, it seems that even rabid right-wing governments are finally beginning to realize that we've pushed our luck too far, and that we need to step back and draw breath, with our world at the brink of disaster. Finally, climate change is being recognized in high places as a deadly serious issue.

There's a long way to go; our own stubborn Federal Government refuses to see the importance of setting an example by doing something as sensible and logical as ratifying the Kyoto protocol, making us one of only two industrialized western nations to take this stand (guess which the other offending nation is?). They think they can do a better job by basically playing money games to fix the problem. "A strong economy", according to them, is the solution to any problem, no matter how hard; and anything that might "damage" it is taboo.  

To be sure, there is talk of the latest technology: recent exciting developments in solar cells, the partial use of non-oil-based fuels like ethanol etc. - but always with the caveat that there will "no harm" to "the economy". However, the Howard Government remains convinced that coal-burning must still form the backbone of any solution, albeit with reduced emissions - and then there is their favourite hobby-horse of the moment: nuclear fission reactors.

I'm all for technological partial-solutions, especially solar. But I don't believe that such measures can be more than a band-aid, while we work seriously toward a permanent solution.

Technology is great. For the record: I'm not a "greenie", in the classic sense of the word which implies a stereotyped politically-correct tub-thumper, preaching to all and sundry about the evils of modern scientific discovery, and how we all need to give up the lifestyle to which we have become more-or-less accustomed over the last century or so, and live out our lives monastically, in guilt and remorse.

I'm with the late Isaac Asimov, who in his ironically-entitled essay "Best Foot Backward" [originally published in "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction", November 1975, and later in his book "The Planet That Wasn't" (Sphere Books Ltd., 1977)], espoused his belief that science does hold many of the solutions to the world's most serious problems. Sure, some of those problems (for example, ozone-depletion) have been unwittingly caused by technological advances; but the intelligent approach is to learn from our mistakes, do more and better science, and set about fixing such problems, with a determination to be always improving the way science is done.

I can't see any percentage at all in making a moral issue out of our difficulties. We don't have time for that. We simply have to accept the fact that there is a job to be done in order to fix things, and just get on and do it - in the best, wisest way we know how to, at any stage, always prepared to learn from any mistakes we may still make along the way.

As for nuclear power:

It's not a modern idea. The first nuclear reactor, a graphite-block based device, was built in 1943 by Enrico Fermi and his team. In spite of refinements and more developments, it remains a fundamentally dirty, dangerous, expensive, justifiably unpopular way of providing energy. If accidents do occur, they can cause massive damage and sickness over a large area for a long time. I, for one, do not intend to accept any government "spin" which attempts to minimize the horror of Chernobyl.

Building nuclear reactors is a long-term project, if it is to happen at all. The view of many, myself included, is that the time, money, and resources would be far better spent leaving fission technology behind, and looking ahead to real developments into safe, sustainable, cheap energy technology.

Saturday, 4th November, 2006

Climate change: International Day of Action

Today, in Sydney, 12,000 people marched to draw attention to this issue, and demand action. In Melbourne, the number was 10,000 (according to ABC-TV news).

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard, talking of sources of energy, described nuclear power as "the cleanest and greenest of them all." He also made it clear that he would like to see Australia "going nuclear" within the next 15 years or so.

I'll return to this matter shortly - read on!


What about nuclear fusion reactors? On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea. The reactions involved don't create radioactive materials which will take millenia to decay to a safe level.

The process is akin to that which occurs in the sun and other stars. There is a real sense in which solar energy is essentially fusion energy. So what's wrong with trying to duplicate the effect on a smaller scale, in sustainable, controllable reactions, right here on our own planet?

Probably nothing, in principle. The fact is, however, that research into doing just that has been going on for something like thirty years; but, so far, without much in the way of practical success. It always seems that the big breakthrough may be expected to occur some time in the next decade.

If somebody eventually cracks the problem, and shows that it can be done safely, cleanly, and at reasonable cost, I'd be all for it. At the very least, it would give us some breathing space while research continues into something even better.

So let's cut to the chase: is there ever going to be a "something better", which finally solves the energy problem once and for all?

Having spent the last few years learning as much as I can, I believe that there may well be. If you've had a look around this website, quite possibly you will have seen many references to something called "zero-point energy".

If I'm reading it right, this may well provide the possibility of every household in the world having its own small, safe, independent power supply, with no need to be on a "grid" - and the chance to do some major surgery on the oil industry, resulting in vastly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a real chance for the Earth to begin to recover its equilibrium, before the damage becomes permanently entrenched.

I have a page in this website which addresses that very issue, right here. Indeed, my main reason for creating the site over the last couple of years is to present the matter to as wide an audience as possible for serious, timely consideration. If you haven't already visited the page just mentioned, may I urge you to do so now.

This photograph is probably the last one ever taken of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the strange, brilliant scientist and inventor whose researches paved the way for the very technology by which you are now viewing this website.

All through his life, Tesla dreamed of a world in which electrical energy would be readily available to all. Even as a young man in the late 1800's, he realized that the world could not go on using polluting energy sources for ever.

If you've already had a look around this website, I'm sure that by now you will have realized that its main raison d'être is to point to the fact that Tesla's dream needs to become a reality very, very soon, if we are to have a future in this world.

To read more about Tesla's astonishing life, click on any or all of the following links:

If you'd like to read even more, check out some of the other references to Tesla within this site - or use an internet search engine to find lots of other Tesla-related websites.

Tesla had many successes, but he never achieved his main goal. People like him have never fitted easily into society, and are frequently misunderstood and not given the recognition they deserve. He died, poor and alone, on 7th January 1943, with few remaining friends other than the pigeons he fed at his hotel-room window. He was 86 (most sources say 87, but since he was born on 10th July 1856, it follows that he was just 86.5 years old at his death).

He was a deep thinker, and always expressed himself poetically. He genuinely cared about his world, even though that world didn't honour him as it should have done. I'm quite certain that he would have been absolutely devastated if he could have forseen that the technology he did manage to promote would have led to the destruction of something as wonderful and magical as Lake Pedder.

If we add another 86 or 87 years to the date of his death, that takes us to around 2030 - about a quarter of a century from now. I don't know if I'll still be around then; but if I am, I have my own vision that I'd like to see become a reality:

I'd like to see research into what Tesla called "radiant energy" (which is now more commonly referred to as zero-point energy, or ZPE) lead to practical, affordable power-supplies for every household and business, if at all possible long before John Howard's nuclear fission power stations commence operations.

With no further practical reason for the continued inundation of the region surrounding the original Lake Pedder, I'd like to see the area drained and its rehabilitation well under way.

I'd like to see the monument to Truganini, with its inscription suitably updated, restored to its original position on that incredible pink beach near Maria Creek.

Finally, I'd really like to see another monument there: this one in honour of Nikola Tesla, whose dream of a world in which sanity, decency, common sense, and dignity for all would have at least started to become a reality.

Now that would be the icing (green, of course) on the cake!

UPDATE, 4th February 2007


It's time for the nonsense to stop. There is no longer ANY EXCUSE.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has met in Paris over the last few days; and the outcome is sobering:

90 per cent of the world's scientists agree that global warming is man-made.

This morning I bought the Sunday edition of Launceston's newspaper, The Examiner, and read all about it. Surely, this should be front page news; then why, oh why, is it only on PAGE FOUR?!!!

Let's look at some of the details:

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has said that the report released on Friday (2nd February)

confirmed what President George W. Bush had said about
"the nature of climate change, and it reaffirms the need for
  continued US leadership in addressing global climate issues".

Er - run that by me again...?

...confirmed what President George W. Bush had said about
"the nature of climate change, and it reaffirms the need for
continued US leadership in addressing global climate issues".

(emphasis added)

Okay - let's take that on board for the moment, and see what else has been reported this fine day. On the same page, in a small box sporting the headline "US wants global discussion", is a short item in which these words appear:

The US is responsible for one-quarter of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide and uses one-quarter of the world's crude oil.

- this immediately following a paragraph quoting the same Sam Bodman just mentioned saying:

"We are a small contributor when you look at the rest of the world." ... "It's really got to be a global discussion."

The article concludes with these words:

A unilateral US programme to cut emissions might hurt the economy and send business overseas, Mr. Bodman said.

Oh, dear...

What about Australia's position in all this?

There are a few bits on page four about it; but basically, there's not much to add to what I've said in other pages within this website. The Howard Government's position is to champion nuclear fission power, while making itself out to have the ultimate in clean, green credentials.   

At various times throughout 2006 I added a number of updates to my page about zero-point energy, beginning when the Australian federal government finally realized that it was no longer going to be able to bluff its way out of the global warming issue. I later moved them into a page of their own. If you'd like to read those comments, click here.

Elsewhere on page four of the Sunday Examiner of 4th February, French President Jacques Chirac is quoted as follows:

"Soon will come a day when climate change escapes all control. We are on the verge of the irreversible."

It's "get real" time. Mr. Bodman's "global discussion" has been going on for a long time - at least as long as the refusal by the US and Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and thus relinquish any possible leadership either country may once have liked to claim for itself (despite pompous protestations to the contrary - see above). We can talk about these things until doomsday; and our ruling politicians and their offsiders can lie and cheat their way out of any responsibility, and claim credit for solving the very problems they help to perpetuate (such deception is known as spin in Australia) - but in the meantime you, I, and our whole planet are increasingly in dire peril.

So what do we do?

Whatever we can. For my own part, I've utilised my command of the English language, and my strong interest in "nerdy" or technical things, to put together this website over the past couple of years. I've also done some mass-emailing to every politician in the Australian Federal Parliament who has the remotest interest in getting the present truly foul administration out of office and into the oblivion it so richly deserves, asking them to address issues such as education, fairness, truth in government, and (especially) the condition of the world we all share - and, also, to please visit my website and give some serious consideration to investigating possible solutions - in particular, the exciting propect of zero-point energy.

I'm not wealthy, so I can't throw money at the problem. I'm not a famous entertainer or sporting personality, so I can't grab a media headline and make vast numbers of fans sit up and take notice. I don't have a senior position in an organization whose authority is widely respected, so I don't have that kind of platform from which to make attention-grabbing pronouncements. But what I can do, I'm doing.

How about you?

Return to Unequivocal ursine utterances menu

My home page     Preliminaries (Copyright, Safety)