Anything other than renewable energy a distraction

John Bushell writes: Re: “The evolution of ‘Direct Action’: soil magic to magic pudding” and “How Bill Gates is engineering the Earth to resist climate change” (yesterday). Direct Action, geoengineering, adapting to climate change (let me know how you go breathing pure carbon dioxide), carbon capture and storage, and most biofuels are all vested interest group-generated digressions from the real work needed to survive on this planet.

Irrespective of global warming, everything we dig out out of the ground is finite, therefore, eventually we will have to garner all our energy (for both static and transport purposes) from low-carbon renewable energy. The reality of global warming just puts a critical timeline on this endeavour. Deviating from the critical task of developing 100% renewable energy is a textbook example of ignoring the opportunity cost of capital (heaps of which have been wasted over roughly the last 15 years). We need to focus our endeavours on achieving the long-term big picture and resist the siren calls of “quick fixes” that divert resources from achieving our long-term goal.

How many abortions?

Janet Eades writes: Your article “DLP Senator’s anti-abortion bill likely to have little impact” (yesterday) states that there are no credible numbers on gender-based abortion. I would add that there are no credible numbers on abortion full stop. I could be out-of-date, however dilation and curettage or D&Cs used to be Medicare coded as the same procedure as pregnancy terminations. I remember some pro-choice senators stating this maybe five years ago.

So the figures Tony Abbott lists as abortions are (or certainly were) a combination of D&Cs and terminations. I would be grateful if you would be able to verify this as with an election coming — I’m sure the statistics will be bandied about a lot, and it would be good to confirm if there is any truth in it.

Marcia Langton, mining money and ‘racism’ 

Thiago Oppermann writes: I read with interest the piece on the “Academic spat” on AASnet, I just wish to make a small correction — I am no longer at the University of Sydney. I currently work for a land council, but I comment on AASnet in a private capacity. My views do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. It would be helpful, for the sake of people such as myself to be able to engage in public discussion, if you could identify my views as simply that of a private individual.

John Hughes, AASNet co-moderator, writes: Your article says: “Transcripts of a closed Australian Anthropological Society debate — obtained by Crikey — reveal a heated exchange between Langton and her academic peers over an article by Professor Boris Frankel published in the latest Arena Magazine, ‘Opportunity Lost’.”

AASNet is not a closed mailing list, nor does it have any formal links with the Australian Anthropology Society (AAS). It is an open, public e-mail listserver open to all with an interest in anthropology in Australia, and it’s membership is much wider than members of the AAS. Anyone can join and contribute to discussion, and opinions expressed are strictly those of the posters.

Maggie Walter writes: While we hear of all the indigenous jobs being created by mining companies (“Marcia Langton sparks academic spat over charges of ‘racism‘”), there is very little detail available of just what these jobs are (i.e. are they full time, part time, casual, at what level, etc). We know only too well of any claimed indigenous jobs in other sectors being often short term or specially constructed. Is it possible for Crikey to ask for more details on the jobs or run Langton’s and mining company claims through your wonderful fact checker?

John Ley writes: This is a fine piece of journalism. I have met Professor Marcia Langton and have nothing against her personally. Until these articles I had no idea of the close financial association between the big miners and Langton and her academic institutions, but reading these two articles enables me to see a major reason for Langton’s staunch support of the big miners and her criticisms of a number of those who have questioned some of her statements. The failure of the ABC as well as Langton to acknowledge her financial associations is reprehensible.