Free Speech and Climate Change – Guest post by Douglas Spence

imageThe issue of Free Speech has been much in the news in Australia with the Federal Government proposing amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act to give greater protection to the expression of views which some regard as “offensive” or ” insulting “.
It has correctly been said that free speech is the first and most important of our freedoms. Totalitarian regimes always muzzle the media and seek to control free expression of opinion.
But Free Speech is under attack in Climate Science, in a more subtle way than the introduction of laws restricting dissent from the “settled science”.
No claim has been more widely asserted in the hypothesis of Dangerous Man-made Global Warming than the mantra, “The debate is over. The science is settled.”.
That claim is totally false as anyone with a knowledge of science or history will attest.
On 23 February, Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, in evidence before the US Senate said:-
…..”There is no scientific proof that human emissions of Carbon Dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof as it is understood in science exists.”
A significant number, albeit a minority, of dissenting scientists around the world share that view.
They may be wrong but the danger to free speech from suppressing their opposing views is malign and damaging to science.
Attempts to stop debates and the publication of the views of so called ” deniers” are apparent daily. In the UK, it was proposed that discussions on the BBC should not give “weight” to the statements of Lord Lawson on air. Today, a Chair of the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee has also sought to exclude the opinions of contrarians.
In March, 1939, a meeting was arranged in New York between Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller and Leo Szilard. There were 2 issues on the agenda of these nuclear scientists:-
1. Was a nuclear chain reaction (and an atomic bomb) possible from neutron induced fission, given recent experiments?
2. Should the Fermi/Szilard experiment results be published in the Journal, ” Physical Review”? -the risk was that it might alert the Nazis to the possibility of an atomic bomb.
The others had approached Niels Bohr because his prestige was sought to coax the US Government to pursue the bomb.
The meeting was inconclusive because Bohr was insistent that we would never succeed in producing nuclear energy. In this he was wrong as both Einstein and Rutherford had been before him.(Rutherford called it ” moonshine”). Einstein later saw the truth.
About secrecy in science, Bohr was monumentally right.
“He had worked for decades to shape physics into an international community, a model within its limited franchise of what a peaceful, politically united world might be. Openness was its fragile, essential character, an operational necessity, as freedom of speech is an operational necessity to a democracy. Complete openness enforced absolute honesty: the scientist reported all his results, favourable and unfavourable, where all could read them, making possible the ongoing correction of error. Secrecy would revoke that charter and subordinate science as a political system….” (Richard Rhodes, ” The Making of the Atomic Bomb”).
Niels Bohr insisted that secrecy must never be introduced into physics, although he hated and feared the Nazis to an obsessive degree.
Today, we have a political organisation the UN IPCC reviewing and censoring the drafts of scientists in climate science, a sub-set of Physics. The result is then presented to the world as the “overwhelming” opinion of the participating scientists, even when, as occurred last September, a draft stating that Climate Models had for the last 10-15 years failed to reflect the pause in atmospheric warming, was expunged.
As the Climategate e-mails showed, one prominent scientist said to Stephen McIntyre who was seeking his underlying data, and codes, “why should I give you my data, when you are trying to prove me wrong?”

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The heartbreak of creativity: a public service announcement

I love this writer.

Drinking Tips for Teens

ross jobs Hello, I’m Ross Murray, beloved columnist, salad dressing connoisseur and author of the best-selling self-help book Don’t Kid Yourself, Mister. Today, I’d like to talk about a condition that afflicts 2 out of 6 Canadians and in some areas as many as 1 in 3. I’m talking about… creativity.

Creativity can strike anyone, anytime, though probably not before 10 a.m. Creative people are just like you and me, except with weirder clothes and occasionally dubious hygiene. Creativity is a highly distracting affliction, but, with regular treatment and flattery, most creative people lead full, productive lives… Let me try that again: most creative people lead full lives.

There are two types of creativity. Some people are born creative, although early creativity remains difficult to diagnose. Many parents become convinced that their child is creative based on adorable fridge drawings and elaborate theatrical productions involving stuffed animals, but thankfully most children grow…

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Cee’s weekly photo challenge – perspective

Vieille ville, Antibes.  This is just one of many similar streets in the old part of Antibes.Image

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Tasting notes – Prieuré Lichine (Margaux) 2009 vs Phélan Ségur (St. Estephe)



To borrow a phrase from The Wall Street Journal and more lately, “the drunken cyclist” blogger, it was OTBN, open that bottle night, in our household over the weekend.  The two Bordeaux wines were chosen by hubby from our wine fridge, a Vintec, which holds about four dozen bottles.  Retirees, we are at a stage of our lives where there is not much point in storing 2000 bottles of wine.  My only fear is that the first and second growths will go off to special lunches hubby has with his mates and I will miss out on these divine wines.

Both our chosen Bordeaux wines were lush and delicious.  However, the general consensus in our small group of four, was that the Phélan Ségur, classified as a Cru Bourgeois only, and from the northern most part of the Médoc wine growing region, was smoother and more rounded than the Margaux, a higher ranked fourth growth, which had a slightly astringent taste.  Perhaps the Margaux needs more time to develop.

However, we all agreed that the 2009 Château d’Issan we’d tasted the week before, outstripped both these wines!

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A walk around the Cap d’Antibes

On Cap d'Antibes walk

At start of Cap d'Antibes walk

At start of Cap d’Antibes walk

25 Promenades Randonées Alpes-Maritimes

25 Promenades Randonées

Showing the walk from Plage de la Garoupe around the Cap.

Showing the walk from Plage de la Garoupe around the Cap.


One of my favourite books that can always be found in the small bookcase next to my side of the bed is “La Côte d’Azur …à Pied”, or in English the Côte d’Azur on foot. A handy little reference guide, it is filled with an assortment of walks, randonnées, of varying degrees of difficulty.

Finding myself with a full house one weekend in the spring of 2010, I decided the best way to entertain the more energetic members of the household was by way of a littoral walk around The Cap d’Antibes. I also had an ulterior motive in wanting to see Château de la Croë, the former home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They had purchased it in 1938 after his abdication from the English throne and the former Mrs Wallis Simpson had spared no expense in transforming it into a palatial abode. Part of my walk would go alongside the walls of the old Château.

We were quite a large group – American cousins who were sharing our Juan les Pins holiday rental, dutiful daughter who had flown over from her then home in Dusseldorf to join us, and a couple of French friends who had given us most recently a guided tour of the Marais district of Paris. Ange was indeed a qualified tour guide.

It was an interesting time. Eyjafjallajökull, the Iceland volcano had closed all the airports and the French rail system seemed to be suffering terribly under the strain of the additional traffic. Nice airport at times resembled a camp site. It was a good weekend to stay close to home.

The only disappointment of the walk was Château de la Croë which looked like an abandoned home hidden behind high walls and a wild, overgrown garden. A year later it was bought for a cool, “throwaway” price of £15 million by the Russian oligarch, Abramovich:-

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Holidays in Antibes

On a Cap walkOn a walk between Antibes and Plage de la Garoupe.

Near plage de la Salis

Small sailing club next to Plage de la Salis.

Bacon RestaurantBacon

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A recipe from the past – Pla Cian – Thai style fried fish

Nang's recipe

Pi Nang’s Pla Cian recipe written out by her when she first came to Australia

A recent photograph, 2014, of our former Khon Kaen home, now very dilapidated.

A recent photograph, 2014, of our former Khon Kaen home, now very dilapidated.

Pi Nang, Brisbane, circa 2011.

Pi Nang in Brisbane, circa 2011.

I was doing a bit of a tidy-up today, looking for something else, when I came across some old recipes from the seventies when I lived in Thailand.  Our cook, pi Nang as we called her, was one of the best in this small town located in the north-east of the country then one of the poorest regions and the recipient of much foreign aid as the government sought to counter the threat of communist insurgents.

Nang came to us by chance.  She had been reserved by another family.  However, a no-show by them due to the usual bureaucratic delays meant pi Nang was left in the lurch and out of work.  Luckily, we were looking for someone.   She never really left us, staying on as a Nanny when my marriage broke up and coming to Australia where she eventually worked as a chef in a couple of up-market city restaurants buying her own home along the way.   She stayed for over thirty years only returning to Thailand a couple of years ago.

The recipe is one of her old ones that she wrote out for us not long after her arrival in Australia. However, she continues to evolve as a true cook, never ceasing to experiment and inventing new recipes each year, always delicious. She may not even remember this recipe. I must ask her opinion next time she visits.

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