Friday, March 18, 2022

Eco-grief a burden for some

These credulous people deserve little sympathy. Instead of wailing about a theoretical future they would a do lot more good agitating for measures that might make a real environmental difference -- such as agitating for more preventive measures against forest fires -- such as regular off-season back- burning

And I am always delighted to hear that the fears and grief of such people deter them from having children. It helps to improve the gene pool as far as I can see

The planet has heated by 1.1 degrees and Australia’s land mass has warmed by an average of 1.4 degrees since 1910, according to the CSIRO.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change last year issued a “code red for humanity”. The group’s most recent report on March 1 said climate change will cost Australia’s economy hundreds of billions of dollars in coming decades.

Various terms have been coined to describe the psychological distress which accompanies climate change. There’s climate anxiety and eco-anxiety, as well as solastalgia (from the Latin “solacium” for comfort and the Greek root “-algia” for pain, coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003 to describe a “homesickness you have when you are still at home”).

Although its use dates back to the 1940s, perhaps the most apt term for the modern state of affairs is “eco-grief”.

“That’s the grief that people are feeling as we watch our planet die around us,” explains Dr Kate Wylie, chair of the Royal Australian College of GPs’ climate and environmental medicine group.

Wylie says GPs are seeing an increase in people of all ages presenting with psychological distress they attribute to concern for the climate.

“One of the interesting things about it is not really an anxiety disorder: it’s an extremely rational response. It makes sense to be sad,” Wylie says.

In its position statement on climate change, the Australian Psychological Society says it believes the phenomenon “involves serious and irreversible harm to the environment and to human health and psychological wellbeing”.

Concern for the climate becomes climate anxiety when it interrupts a person’s life.

The climate crisis has led some young people to reconsider what their futures should look like, including whether they should bring children into the world, Professor Cavenett says.

A 2019 survey of about 1600 young people aged 14 to 23 found 82 per cent believed climate change would “diminish their quality of life” and 80 per cent reported being “somewhat or very anxious” about climate change.

Macheon Smeaton, a 24-year-old university student from Sydney’s inner west, says he “struggles to imagine” what the world will look like when he is 50.

“I have two nieces and I’m already thinking about their future and how difficult parts of their future will be because of what’s already set in motion,” he says.

Asked what form the mental stress he experiences from climate change takes, Smeaton says it is more sadness for himself but anxiety for his nieces.

“I guess getting involved in activism, whether or not we are actually making a huge difference, does help,” he says.


English teachers told to focus on grammar, punctuation as writing declines

English departments will be chiefly responsible for teaching grammar, sentence structure and punctuation, under a draft new syllabus, after the decades-long approach of sharing the job among teachers from all subjects contributed to a steep decline in writing standards.

The draft NSW English syllabus for years 3 to 10 will intensify focus on literacy skills amid concerns writing has been neglected in high schools, leaving even the brightest students struggling with crucial skills such as writing clear sentences and expressing ideas.

But the English Teachers Association (ETA) said the changes - to be released for consultation on Friday - would hand them an unnecessary burden because literacy skills differed from subject to subject.

“Returning sentence structure and all of that kind of stuff purely to English I think is unfortunate,” said Eva Gold, executive officer at the ETA.

The changes follow a NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) review, revealed by the Herald, that found writing had been neglected in the state’s high schools and in 2019 year 9 students were the equivalent of five months behind their peers in 2011.

A survey of more than 4000 teachers found many - especially science teachers, but also two in five English teachers - felt they lacked the skills and confidence to teach writing.

Among the reforms in the draft years 7 to 10 syllabus, students will be taught ways to interpret unfamiliar words and use grammar to clarify complex ideas. They will also read a wider range of texts, including non-fiction and essays. They could include George Orwell’s Why I Write, which is an HSC text.

The new syllabus will also address concerns about reading. After the kindergarten to year 2 syllabus focused on phonics, the year 3 to 6 one will increase emphasis on vocabulary - key to reading comprehension - and require teachers to ensure students in years 3 and 4 can read fluently and decipher new words quickly.

The focus on reading skills also aims to foster enjoyment of reading.

Peter Knapp, an expert in teaching writing, said sharing responsibility for teaching writing between different subjects was introduced 30 years ago, and was never enacted properly. Science did not think to teach sentence structure, and English did not think to teach scientific report-writing.

“The reality is that no one is doing it,” he said.

Maureen Abrahams, the head of English at Asquith Girls High School, said students often have brilliant ideas but cannot express them because of limited writing skills. She said English would still focus on literature, but welcomed the new responsibility for literacy. “I feel with writing and literacy, there are deep connections to English as a subject,” she said.

But Ms Gold said writing styles differed between subjects and English teachers should not have to teach skills better left to other faculties. Science, for example, used the passive voice, which was avoided in English. “We like students’ writing to be active, to be vibrant, and not to be detached or removed unless we are asking for it,” she said.

“Often students who perform only in a mediocre way [do so] because they are not confident of the language of their discipline, and it’s not up to English to teach that.”

Head of humanities and English teacher at Northholm Grammar, Rebecca Birch, said she understood the new approach. “This is knowledge and understanding that until now we have assumed students come with when they arrive in high school, but obviously a lot of students don’t,” she said.

However, many English teachers were themselves never taught skills such as grammar at either school or university, and NESA would need to address a skills shortage. “Three years of studying literature won’t cut it under this new syllabus, so universities need to step up in their offerings,” she said.

NESA will also release a draft years 3 to 10 maths syllabus, in which some times tables will be introduced in year 3 and the rest in year 4. There is controversy over times tables, with the federal government saying Australia’s national curriculum - to which NSW is aligned - should follow Singapore’s lead and introduce them in year 2, and have students master them in year 3.

The new high school curriculum will also scrap a three-tiered approach to maths in years 9 and 10, in which there are syllabuses of varying difficulty, and instead have core subjects that equip students for HSC standard maths, and more difficult options that prepare students for harder subjects.

A NESA spokesperson said the recommendations are being integrated across the new NSW curriculum.

“The new content will embed, more explicitly, writing skills across all subjects. To equip teachers delivering the new curriculum, NESA is providing teachers with enhanced support materials which will include teaching advice,” the spokesperson said.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said draft English and maths syllabuses - to become mandatory in 2024 - would create room for deeper learning, put more focus on reasoning and problem-solving in maths, and better prepare students for HSC courses.

“Our focus is on lifting standards in reading, writing and numeracy so providing all students with a great education and the benefits that brings,” she said.


Nuclear energy key to jobs, says union boss

The mining and energy union has proposed replacing ageing coal-fired power stations in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley with small modular nuclear reactors, saying it would create 810 direct jobs and 1600 construction jobs over a decade.

The Victorian branch secretary of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division, Geoff Dyke, said nuclear power would provide “secure, reliable, low-cost power”.

He said turning the Latrobe Valley into a nuclear region would help stem the 2600 job losses from the closure of the Hazelwood and Yallourn coal-fired generators, warning there would be fewer jobs if the region became a renewables hub.

“If we were to repurpose sites with small modular nuclear reactors, 2770 megawatts of small modular reactors would create 810 direct, well-paying, ongoing jobs,” Mr Dyke told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the closure of coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley.

“About 1600 jobs in the Latrobe Valley would be required for construction over a decade. The construction jobs would add an estimated $240m per year to the region in income.”

Mr Dyke claimed nuclear power was “cost competitive with coal” and had a lower carbon footprint than renewables.

“It has the lowest greenhouse gas intensity of any energy source; it is even lower than renewables, because more materials go into building renewables, and more energy,” he said.

The CFMEU’s pro-nuclear stance is shared by the Australian Workers’ Union but federal Labor is opposed to lifting the prohibition on the energy source.

Outgoing Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon and Victorian senator Raff Ciccone are among a small number of Labor MPs who believe the ban on nuclear energy should be reconsidered, while a majority of Coalition MPs want it lifted.

Scott Morrison has ruled out lifting the prohibition on nuclear energy unless he receives bipartisan support from Labor.

Grattan Institute energy and climate change program director Tony Wood said there was no evidence small modular nuclear reactors produced energy that was cost competitive with coal generators.

“No one has yet built them at commercial scale,” Mr Wood told The Australian. “They are coming. There is a lot of speculation that they will have the advantage of being smaller, they will be less of a problem from a waste proliferation and a weapons perspective.

“The argument they could be more economic is you could make them in a factory and churn them out, where as every one of these big power stations is made bespoke every single time.”

In November hearings in the Victorian town of Traralgon, Mr Dyke also endorsed building new coal-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage to create a hydrogen hub in the valley.

“There is the potential to make 225,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year. It has the potential to decarbonise transport,” he said. “The cost of making hydrogen with coal is 40 per cent of the cost of making it with renewables, so it is 2½ times as cheap and there are near-zero greenhouse gas emissions with carbon capture and storage.

“With carbon capture and storage, if a pipeline is developed for that industry, we could attract new carbon-intensive industries to the Latrobe Valley, for example cement manufacture, and store their CO2 in (the) Bass Strait.”

The Hazelwood Power Station closed in 2017 while the Yallourn plant is due to close in 2028.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has backed renewables projects to fill the void from the death of coal in the Latrobe Valley.

But Mr Dyke said the 2375 megawatts of renewables and 540MW hours of batteries that are slated for the region would “only create about 14 direct jobs” in the Latrobe Valley. “We estimate that the Energy Australia 340MW-hour battery would create two jobs on an ongoing basis, AGL’s 200MW-hour battery another two jobs, the 300MW Delburn wind farm five jobs, and the 75MW Toongabbie Frasers solar farm five jobs,” Mr Dyke said.

“The Star of the South 2000MW offshore wind farm claims to have 200 ongoing jobs, but they are all outside the Latrobe Valley,” he added.

Mr Dyke said that renewable power was not dispatchable and “energy storage is insufficient in the Latrobe Valley for what is being ­proposed”.


Tesla-driving Leftist politician tells Aussies to buy electric cars to avoid rising fuels costs - but here's why they will NEVER catch on in Australia

Bill Shorten has urged Australians to buy electric cars because petrol prices are so high, while blaming Scott Morrison for the unaffordability of EVs.

The former Labor leader has called on the government to make electric vehicles, more affordable as a solution to the high cost of living.

Mr Shorten, who is paid $211,250 of public funds per year as a federal politician, drives a taxpayer-subsidised $60,900 Tesla and said he enjoys not facing the same rising fuel expenses as most Australian drivers.

Petrol prices have surged to record highs in recent months, nearing an eye-watering average of $2.11 in Sydney and were $2.19 in Melbourne.

The number of Australians who rate petrol as their most stressful expense has reached its highest ever level, said on Tuesday.

Shorten told Karl Stefanovic and Chris O'Keefe on the Today show on Wednesday morning that the government should do more to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles.

'We've done nothing on electric vehicles so poor people can't get electric vehicles and I blame the government,' Shorten said.'At the moment I'm driving an electric vehicle, and the price of filling up my vehicle with electricity is so much cheaper than petrol, we're long overdue to do something about it.'

O'Keefe quickly fired back at Shorten's suggestion that EVs are the answer. 'Telsas cost a fortune. I don't know if Bill Shorten is going to get in his Tesla... and drive from Melbourne to Canberra, he won't get half way.

'Are you going to plug it in at the Maccas?'

Shorten replied: 'Do you know why they cost a fortune? Because the government hasn't done anything to make electric vehicles cheaper.'

But O'Keefe said electric vehicles are not a viable solution in Australia due to the country's sheer size. 'I still can't drive more than 300km without having to plug it in, wait 45 minute, and eat a three-course dinner and wait to charge it up.'

Shorten acknowledged the war in Ukraine has impacted petrol prices - but said prices were headed north before the conflict. 'There's no doubt that the price of petrol is a barbecue stopper at the moment, it's north of $2 a litre.

He claimed a 'longer-term solution' is needed because 'we knew that energy shocks would come.'

Shorten's comments come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he won’t be 'forcing anyone' to drive an electric vehicle. 'If you want to drive one and buy one, good for you, that’s great, I think that’s your choice,' he said. 'If you don’t want to drive one, that’s fine, keep driving the car you’ve got.'

Mr Morrison reiterated that his government’s emissions reduction policy is about 'choice, not mandates'.

'It's not about taxes, it's about technology, and the technology will move at the pace of the consumers and what they want.

'I'm not about to be subsidising those costs. I mean, if you buy an electric vehicle, you don't pay fuel excise for start. So there is already an inbuilt advantage of going down that path, if that's what you want to do,' Morrison said.

'But my opponent, the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, said that he is going to encourage electric vehicles by abolishing the import tariffs on them.

'There aren't any import tariffs on electric vehicles. That's what comes when you haven't done a budget before and you've never had a financial portfolio.'




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