Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Family moves to Canberra to escape ‘atrocious’ temperatures in Western Sydney

She might be disappointed. Canberra is pretty hot in summer

Sydney has always been a hot place. As Watkin Tench recorded, it got so hot in 1790 (Yes. 1790. not 1970) that birds and bats were falling out of the trees dead. And that was in coastal Sydney. Inland has always been even hotter. So the lady's claim that she is escaping anthropogenic climate change is tendentious. There were no SUVs or power stations in 1790

An Australian climate scientist who specialises in heatwaves has told of how she moved her family to a new city to escape “atrocious” temperatures due to climate change.

University of NSW climate scientist Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick shared her story in the documentary series Life at 50 Degrees, available to stream on Flash News.

The mother of two said she was so concerned about the extreme temperatures her family endured where they lived in western Sydney, that she made the decision to relocate.

“I have experienced days of 45 and 47 degrees celsius and that was appalling, it was atrocious. You couldn’t do anything,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said. “The only way we could stay cool in Western Sydney was to have the aircon running all day and that was a hard thing for me to do.”

She said she made the extreme decision to move her family to Canberra, where the climate is much cooler, for her daughters, aged 2 and 4.

“It really bothers me that the world that they’re experiencing now is a lot different from my childhood,” she said.

“During my first pregnancy, it was so hot that I actually struggled to put the washing on the line. “While I was literally about to bring this child into the world, I was thinking what will the summers be like for her in the future.”

According to Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, temperatures in Western Sydney already experience 10 degrees higher than in the city’s eastern suburbs. The region’s local government areas (LGAs) including Penrith, where Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick was living, are expected to be the worst affected with a forecast of an average of four extra days of extreme heat by around 2050.

The climate scientist said the outlook for the area forced her to take action and make the move. “As a scientist, I know how bad the future looks. I understand all that, I comprehend all that. That’s what I do for a living,” she said.

“But as a mum, as a person, as a human being, I really struggle with just how bad those impacts will be.”


Sydney University academics’ fury over dumped departments

This is just about a new boss wanting to make his mark. The only possible reason for the rejig is to increase cross-disciplinary contact and co-operation. But that is a snark. It already happens when the parties concerned want it. I studied and taught in a "School" that comprised people from psychology, sociology and anthropology -- the School of Behavioral Sciences at Macquarie university. And I saw no instance of research co-operation across those disciplines.

Arts and social sciences academics at Sydney University are furious about a plan to refashion the faculty’s departments as disciplines, with many saying they have never seen such anger in decades at the institution.

Sixty senior faculty members, including more than 20 chairs of departments – including history, philosophy and English – and almost 30 professors within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, or FASS, have written to the university’s administration to express their alarm.

It is the first major skirmish between university management and academics under the rule of new vice-chancellor, Mark Scott.

Chair of Archaeology Annie Clarke said it would be more than a name change.

Departments were as old as the university itself, and were an integral part of its intangible heritage. She warned the proposed “disciplines” were nebulous and risked damaging the university’s reputation. She has been at Sydney since 2003 and said “I’ve never seen people so upset”.

“All the major universities in the world have departments, and this slippage into a different kind of culture around disciplines is increasing centralised control of what we do,” Professor Clarke said. “For us, it’s a line in the sand.”

A proposal presented to FASS academics this month said the faculty regularly failed to meet budget targets for domestic students, and only two of its schools – economics, and media and communications – attracted significant numbers of overseas students.

Those schools cross-subsidised the rest of the faculty, but, as COVID-19 border closures showed, the international market was volatile. Costs were growing at 2.8 per cent a year but revenue was only climbing by 2 per cent a year, which was unsustainable. “It makes sense for us to consider changes in the way we work,” the proposal said.

FASS is divided into six schools, which are in turn divided into departments, with a chair of each. In 2019, only two of its schools returned a surplus: Economics ($41 million) and the School of Languages and Cultures ($6m), the proposal said.

The loss-makers were the schools of Literature Art and Media ($91,000), Education and Social Work ($532,000), Social and Political Sciences ($5 million) and the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry ($13 million).

The proposed changes involve re-naming schools and shifting the subjects within them. A new School of Humanities would take in subjects from the old School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, while adding linguistics and religion but losing gender studies to social sciences.

All undergraduate units with fewer than 24 students would be scrapped.

The departments within schools would be renamed disciplines, to “move away from the administrative and financial silos”, increase interaction between similar subjects, and reduce internal competition. The department chair would become a discipline lead.

Other universities, such as Melbourne and Monash, have also adopted the “discipline” approach. The university defines a department as an organisational unit, and discipline as a sub-field of knowledge. Departments don’t have their own budgets.

However, academics are worried this will curtail their ability to manage their own subject.

The letter from angry FASS academics said the discipline concept was nebulous and risky, and their views had been ignored. “There is no clear reason or benefit for the proposed change, as no specific problems with the current structure have been identified,” it said.

Professor Clarke said students, alumni and staff strongly identified with departments. The new structure would lead to an “erosion and loss of identity,” she said.

“There is an increasing centralised control of academic life. In departments we have a fair degree of control over what we teach our students, what we do, and public facing, the engagement work we do. We feel that there’s a slow erosion of the structures of a university that we feel are really important.”

Not everyone agrees. Sociologist Salvatore Babones, who was not a signatory to the letter, said his colleagues were justifiably concerned about the consolidation of smaller departments into bigger ones.

“But relabelling departments as disciplines is the epitome of pro forma reform: departments become disciplines, department chairs become discipline leads, and the rest is business as usual,” he said. “It’s yet another missed opportunity for a genuine reexamination and long-overdue modernization of how we educate the next generation.”

A spokeswoman for the university administration said the FASS proposal involved significant consultation with staff, and the latest version involved smaller changes with no redundancies or reductions in employment.

More consultation was underway. “Like other institutions, we need to look for ways to ensure ongoing sustainability alongside continued high-quality teaching and research,” she said.

“The proposal to change from departments to a disciplinary structure – and to merge a very small number of disciplines – will allow our academic staff to collaborate more easily, reduce administrative double-up, produce a more consistent and flexible student experience and contribute to securing the future of our smaller disciplines.”


How the pandemic changed our population

The article below clearly favours high levels of immigration. But why? The claim is that there is a shortage of workers in some occupations -- such as care of the elderly. But there is only a shortage at current pay rates. Pay more and you will get more workers. The only valid reason for immigration that I can see is to enable family reunions.

It is true that paying more for services to children and the elderly will increase the costs to users of those services but that could usually be prevented by reducing the burden of regulation on such services. Requiring that people tasked with the care of little children have a university degree is one example of the towering stupidity in current regulations.

And traffic congestion and the price of housing can only be worsened by an increased population. And both of those things are already hugely problematical in Australia -- mainly as a result of past high levels of immigration

Disputes over population are a staple of Australian politics. So, it’s no surprise there are plenty of views about what to do about immigration policy now that pandemic restrictions on international borders are being lifted.

Some urge a rapid catch up. A leaked briefing prepared by bureaucrats for new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested he push for “an aggressive resumption of immigration levels”. It proposed Australia welcome 2 million migrants over the next five years. That’s 400,000 annually or nearly double the pre-pandemic rate.

High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challenges
High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challengesCREDIT:NICK MOIR

Others want a much more gradual build-up in migration numbers following the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. This would help drive up demand for local labour and revive wages growth which has been sluggish for nearly a decade, they argue.

And as always there are those calling for much lower migration levels, or even none.

On Monday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that from next week eligible visa holders including overseas students, skilled work visa holders and working holidaymakers will be allowed to enter Australia for the first time in almost two years. The government anticipates this will pave the way for around 200,000 new arrivals in coming months.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back,” Morrison said.

The Federal Government appears to have rejected the idea of an immigration catch-up period. But nor will there be a go slow. The May budget forecast net overseas migration to bounce back to pre-COVID levels (235,000 per year) by mid-decade and remain around that level into the early 2030s.

That strategy will have far-reaching consequences.

Since the 1970s Australia’s population has been expanding at an average rate of 1.4 per cent a year which is relatively fast compared to other developed countries. But growth has come to a virtual standstill thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In the year before the pandemic hit Australia added 357,000 people, but that plunged to 36,000 in the year to March 2021. According to official estimates the national population increased by just 0.1 per cent last financial year and is forecast to grow by 0.2 per cent in 2021-22.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver says the hit to population growth delivered by COVID-19 means that Australia “will be 1 million people smaller than expected pre-coronavirus”. Longer range forecasts show Australia is now expected to have 35.3 million people in 2050, which is 2.5 million less than forecast in 2015. The population will also be older than otherwise would have been the case.

The pandemic has affected another important population driver – the fertility rate. The number of babies born per woman in Australia is expected to fall temporarily because of the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Official forecasts for Australia’s long-term fertility rate have also been subject to major downward revisions, largely unrelated to the pandemic. Back in 2015 the federal government assumed women would have an average of 1.9 babies over the next 40 years but this year it was cut to 1.62 babies per woman.

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen says the pandemic’s simultaneous disruption to both net overseas migration and the fertility rate will be noticeable for many years. Things as basic as family formation have been interrupted by the way COVID-19 put a stop to the way we normally mix socially.

“What’s happened to Australia’s population during the pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary,” says Allen. “We’ll be able to look back in generations to come and actually see the impact on the composition of our population.”

Even the way population is distributed across Australia has been affected. Terry Rawnsley, a demographer and urban economist at KPMG, says population growth in many regional areas, especially those relatively close to capital cities, will be much stronger than expected before the pandemic.

“The surge in people working from home has made a move to a regional area much more attractive,” he says.

Dr Allen says overseas migrants will form an essential part of Australia’s post-pandemic recovery and is fundamental if Australia is to maintain a healthy population profile in the longer term.

“What’s really concerning is that the composition of the population’s age structure has become more problematic during the pandemic,” she says. “Prior to COVID we were struggling with an age structure that meant we had insufficient people for our workforce needs, and that’s even more pronounced now. That’s going to put pressure on the nation in the post-pandemic recovery phase.”

Migrant labour is crucial to many services industries including the care of the young, the elderly and the disabled. A recent study found just over 37 per cent of paid frontline care workers were born overseas in 2016, up from 31 per cent in 2011. Another survey found 60 per cent of migrants in caring occupations were on temporary visas, and around 38 per cent arrived on student visas.

Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 aged-care workers within the next decade according to research published in August by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). The study concluded Australia is unlikely “to get anywhere close” to meeting its aged care workforce needs without migration.

“We require a workforce to sustain the nations needs and at present that means we require immigration to help us,” says Allen.

“Because of our age structure we don’t have a sufficient number of people ageing into the workforce to fill the gaps left by those ageing out, that’s the reality.”

Australia’s permanent migrant intake is capped at 160,000 per year, down recently from 190,000 a year. Skilled workers are favoured for permanent migration, although a growing share of places has been allocated under a program designed to boost business investment. Australia grants a further 13,750 permanent visas under a separate humanitarian program to resettle refugees and others overseas who are in humanitarian need.

A separate temporary migration program is largely uncapped (except for limits on working holiday visa grants for some countries) and demand driven. The stock of temporary migrants - which includes overseas students, working holidaymakers, skilled temporary residents, seasonal workers, and others - has increased by about 50,000 each year over the past decade.

Economic change along with Australia’s increasing integration with global trade and commerce has helped make population flows more complex. Knowledge-based industries which make up a growing share of our economy require skilled foreign workers to be able to come and go much more than in the past. The rise of the international education sector has added to this complexity. During the past 20 years it has emerged as Australia’s biggest services export. But overseas students are also part of the temporary migrant labour workforce (and are sometimes blamed for suppressing wages). They also increase demand for local housing and other services.

“Population can be a complicated issue,” says Allen.

Immigration is routinely blamed for a clutch of problems including traffic congestion, crowded trains, high-rise property developments and rising property prices.

A survey conducted for The Age and the Herald by research firm Resolve Strategic found 58 per cent favour restarting migration at a lower level than before the coronavirus while 20 per cent supported a return to the pre-pandemic rate.


Brisbane developer wins approval to build $300m tree house

image from https://content.api.news/v3/images/bin/0a259b875644ed79af440aa6dcd46c4c

A Brisbane developer has received approval to build one of the world’s greenest residential buildings in the heart of the city.

A Brisbane developer has finally been given the go ahead to build what it claims will be one of the world’s greenest residential buildings — an apartment tower with “backyards in the sky” covered in more than 500 trees and 25,000 plants.

Designed by internationally renowned architect Koichi Takada, Aria Property Group’s $300 million “The Urban Forest” project will be a 20-storey building with 194 apartments in the heart of South Brisbane.

Plans for the development were lodged with Brisbane City Council in June last year and have just been approved, with 90 per cent of all submissions in support of the proposal.

The development was originally designed to have 32 storeys, but was scaled back due to the council raising concerns about height and scale during the approval process.

Aria development manager Michael Hurley said the project had attracted “overwhelming” interest, with more than 800 inquiries domestically and internationally since the development application was lodged.

Mr Hurley said the project would be “Queensland’s first stand-alone five-star green star design and as-built residential development” and a sustainable landmark for Brisbane in the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic Games.

“Urban Forest will redefine apartment living, with the best residences we have ever delivered, iconic recreation spaces and innovations such as a two-storey fitness centre with basketball and squash courts on the rooftop,” Mr Hurley said.

“Demand for buildings like this moving forward will be huge. We hope this could lead the way for other (developers) to follow.”

The project’s major green initiatives include a 1450 sqm public park at the base of the building and a recycled greywater system that can save up to 50,000 litres of water a week.

‘The Urban Forest’ will offer 3700 sqm of resident amenity including a rooftop ‘canopy club’ with 360 degree views across South Brisbane, Musgrave Park, the CBD and Brisbane River, and Australia’s first rooftop basketball court.

Architect Koichi Takada said he hoped the project would inspire the next generation to work towards a more sustainable future.

“Urban Forest will change the way we live,” Mr Takada said. “We designed away the barrier between the building and nature resulting in the greenest residential building ever with generous backyards in the sky and offering a healthier lifestyle.”

Construction is set to begin mid-next year and is expected to be completed by late 2024.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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