Not a religious lot. Do a head count of politicians when it comes to questions where religious leaders have strong views and you might think that Australians are quite a religious lot. From abortion to gay marriage a majority of politicians tend to scurry towards conservative change nothing positions. Which is rather strange in one respect because all the evidence suggests that the views of a clear majority of people are different to those of the religious zealots.

The latest evidence of the attitude of Australians towards religion comes from a just released international survey by WIN-Gallup International that asked people in 57 countries the following question: “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious persons or a convinced atheist?” Australia came in as one of the seven countries where people were less inclined to call themselves religious. And the proportion of committed atheists put Australia in the top ten list of non-religious-believers.

Bottoming out at last? Perhaps the great housing construction decline is coming to an end at last. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures this morning show that while the trend estimate for the total value of dwelling finance commitments excluding alterations and additions was flat (0.0%) in June, in seasonally adjusted terms, the total value of dwelling finance commitments excluding alterations and additions rose 2.4%.

Preparing for the worst. I unfortunately find myself in agreement with this gloomy call to action published this week in London’s Financial Times. Howard Covington and Chris Rapley, respectively a trustee of London’s Science Museum and chairman of the UK’s national mathematics research institute at Cambridge, and a professor of climate science at University College London, make the depressing case of the need to prepare for the ravages to come from global warming.

“The evidence suggests that humanity is locked into a course that it has limited capacity or appetite to alter. Modern economies are built on fossil-fuelled growth. Changing this model materially and quickly has proved to be untenable in the absence of a disaster. Business-as-usual emissions growth is the consequence. This may well produce a disaster that we will be powerless to redress.

“Those with a more optimistic view of human behaviour or of the impact of new technologies and practices may see better prospects of meaningful action to prevent such a disaster. They must be encouraged. Yet we must also prepare for the challenging times ahead. The Science Museum in London plans to create a forum for the public to discuss the issues with leading climate scientists. Such efforts are essential. We must begin to discuss the risks and impacts of a climate disaster, since our institutions and processes appear incapable of preventing it.”

A memory of Marvin Hamlisch. From the score of The Sting to the original song and original score for Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were there’s plenty to choose from to remember Marvin Hamlisch who died overnight. I’ve been listening again to his musical A Chorus Line.

A quote of the day.

“The new job of art is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.”

– Robert Hughes

Some news and views noted along the way.