Tuesday, 24 February 2009

What is really "collectible"?

In a recent post, I mentioned my re-acquaintance with my childhood as a result of an RMIT course.

There is another side to this acquaintance because the books I read as a child are not out of print. Because of my obsession with old county cricket, ever sicne I realised how poorly maintained the State Library's old Wisdens are (though they are a little better now than they were in 1991 when my old county cricket obsession began) I have always wanted to have my own copy of these ancient books. As a result, I know very well, especially as a result of my contact with Yallambie book merchant Roger Page, the collectibility almost all Wisdens except the most modern and least interesting.

Because of this, when I had to look at Time Machine books for my RMIT course, I had to know how much they would cost for sale on eBay. Being as obsessed with statistics as I am, I naturally tried to find out which were the hardest to find - the hardest book in the series to find was Mission to World War II, owing to the collectibility of books on Nazi Germany.

I spent the whole of today at home trying to look at the collectibility of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I have excluded those authors whose books have been reprinted since 2005 because the same stories are still available even if modified. Demian told me that it would be the later books that were most collectible because they were never reprinted. My research, based on experience at certain outer suburban bookshop and thrift shops and on eBay over the last month, shows that Demian is basically right. However, the chart of my research shows that titles between #54 (Forest of Fear) and #70 (Invaders of the Planet Earth) are almost as rare. I have tended to presume this to be because of several authors who never wrote a book for the series at a later date having their books removed from printing quite early in the process and fewer copies having survived than of titles between #71 and #140. Authors of whom this might be true include Meryl Siegman, Ann Hodgman, Deborah Lerme Goodman and Tony Koltz (his Terror Island I have seen sold only by one buy-it-now store on eBay, but Vampire Express is far better-known and was reprinted until the series ended)

Another notable feature is the "You Are..." books tending to be harder to find than others of similar number. You Are A Shark, the first book of this type, is also the only among the first hundred I have not found absolutely anywhere. Later "You Are..." titles are similarly rare.

A lesson in "strong" leadership

The exceptionally intelligent but often criticised demographer Phillip Longman has just co-written a book called The Next Progressive Era.

Although I have no opportunity in the forthcoming future to read the book, I know I should keep a look out for this book as I greatly respect Longman as a person. He seems to be looking rather differently from the way he did in most previous articles like The Return of Patriarchy and his wonderful book The Empty Cradle. At the moment Longman seems to be looking very closely at the problems of exurbanisation, car culture, and the debt and credit crises.

The problem that I can see without having read the book is that aiming too much for thrift and regulation is likely to turn the US into replicas of Europe and East Asia, whose cultures are totally self-centred and defeminised and lack the slightest sense of community. The way I see it, thrift can be as much a route to emotional as purely financial independence, since people in outer suburban Australia need to save extremely little to gain the same living standard as people in Europe gain with very high savings rates and negligible charitable giving.

What still makes me believe Longman is as intelligent a man as ever is the way in which he distinguishes between strong government and big (usually inefficient) government. Longman is right that a strong government's chief role should be to prevent the problems of business corruption that he saw as causing the rise of the Progressive Era in the 1890s. Businesses donating to governments to gain political power is by its nature a very big problem because, if maintained for long enough, it turns even countries with the freest of elections into plutocracies whereby power comes from wealth.

This point really makes me think that leaders in Australia who are called "strong" for doing things like privatising inefficient services and fighting militant unions may not really be that "strong" at all. As the Australia Institute and others have shown, the Liberal governments of leaders like Kennett and Howard did not in the tiniest way stand up to a force far more powerful than unions: the greenhouse mafia. I am sure that Longman would agree that a "strong government" in Canberra would really, firmly stand up to the greenhouse mafia and try to deal with Australia's unacceptable greenhouse emissions rather than be cowardly and soft towards them.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Someone telling truth about Australia - without intent

Recently searching Google I found this article about advice for Englanders on where to settle.

Though it never intended to be done this way (the article aims to compare various palces to live including non-English speaking ones), the following extract if taken in isolation is a remarkably accurate description of Australia. The way its weather is trending nobody in a few years will be saying Australia has better weather than England - the truth is that on average and over the whole Holocene Australia never had weather superior to England's. It was the result above I got straight from google and I liked it so much - agreeing with the notion that Australia really has worse weather than England - that I could not resist making a short post.

A childhood memory that RMIT made me recall and re-read

As a child, virtually my only reading apart from nonfiction was Choose Your Own Adventure and Time Machine books. When I realised the stories were childish and ridiculous, I moved on quite literally and forgot about them.

However, when I had to review books I had read for an RMIT course titled Recreational Literature for Young People, I have had to recollect these books. In the case of Time Machine, I remembered the first few so well I could map them for Demian Katz without re-buying them, but re-reading them did show I had forgotten much. The work I enjoyed so much that I have tried to recall what I still regard as a childish obsession, especially as sites like Wikipedia give me a job to do in the process.

A few days ago I discovered Demian had collaborated on a list of the Top 20 CYOA adventures. I will list them below:

20. Your Code Name is Jonah (1980): This Cold War tale of secret agents has you right in the mix as American and Russian spooks try to unlock the mysteries of a secret whale song. Next find out what's cooler than the soothing mating calls of whales being associated with espionage.

19. The Cave of Time (1979): This first book in the series takes you on a time travel epic from the Ice Age to 3700 A.D., courtesy of series creator Edward Packard. Next find out what's cooler than battling dinosaurs, then later partying with robots.

18. The Abominable Snowman (1982): Frequent series contributor R.A. Montgomery penned this story about your search for the elusive Yeti. Next find out what's cooler than trouncing around Nepal looking for hairy snowbeasts.

17. The Deadly Shadow (1985): In this espionage yarn, you must track a dangerous man named Dimitrius, who has the ability to become a shadow thanks to sinister Russian experiments. Next find out what's cooler than Reagan-era Cold War propaganda for kids.

16. Trouble on Planet Earth (1984): This story has you investigating why aliens may or may not be stealing the world's oil supply. Most fans of the series describe the plot as completely incoherent. Next find out what's cooler than stories that are so bad they're good.

15. Inside UFO 54-40 (1982): In this adventure, you need to escape from aliens who are trying to put you in their zoo. Next find out what's cooler than subtly teaching kids that zoos are oppressive hellholes.

14. The Forbidden Castle (1982): This is a sequel to "The Cave of Time," where must solve a riddle in medieval Europe to find a secret, dare we say, forbidden castle. Next find out what's cooler than slaying dragons, while spending your downtime with the local peasant girls.

13. Prisoner of the Ant People (1983): Here's the deal: You're part of the Zondo Quest Group II looking to destroy the Evil Power Master. Fortunately, you've got a buddy that's like R2D2. Next find out what's cooler than battling huge killer anthropomorphic ants.

12. The Magic of the Unicorn (1985): You've got to find a way to purify your village's water in the year 1507, and since Britain hasn't been invented, it's going to take a horse with a horn to do it. Technically nothing is cooler than a unicorn.

11. The Horror of High Ridge (1983): This story has you and your pals Ricardo and Lisa coming face to face with the ghosts of the clashing Indians and settlers of High Ridge. Next find out what's cooler than children's books that recall bloody land disputes.

10. The Mystery of Chimney Rock (1980): A common adventure-spurring device - a trip to see family - leads you to an investigation of a haunted house occupied by a deceased woman's mysterious cat. Next find out what's cooler than demonic house pets.

9. Mystery of the Maya (1981): Even though you're a kid, you're tasked with determining what wiped out the Mayan civilization. Next find out what's cooler than Guns, Germs, and Steel for kids.

8. Supercomputer (1984): You win a contest and get to hang with a computer (though it's more of a robot), but its incredible power is also incredibly dangerous in that incredibly dated 1980s sort of way. Next find out what's cooler than pretending you're Matthew Broderick in "War Games."

7. Survival at Sea (1982): In this story, you're asked by series regular, Dr. Vivaldi, to investigate the sighting of a dinosaur out in the ocean. Next find out what's cooler than a Loch Ness monster that's got the good sense to not live in a lake.

6. Rock and Roll Mystery (1987): The hippest installment of the series has you trying to rescue abducted members of your rock band, who strangely aren't involved with drugs or obsessive groupies. Next find out what's cooler than rocking in a turtleneck.

5. Outlaws of Sherwood Forest (1985): At summer camp, you find a ring that transports you to Robin Hood times. At one point, you come across a version of yourself that has made different choices. Next find out what's cooler than a CYOA that seems to have been written by Charlie Kaufman.

4. Deadwood City (1980): This Wild West yarn has you mosey into the town of Deadwood City looking for a job, before things start getting interesting. Next find out what's cooler than a good old adventure in the Wild West, free of sketchy brothel encounters.

3. You Are a Shark (1985): During a hike, you come across a forbidden temple, are turned into an animal, and must survive several reincarnations to get to the end. Next find out what's cooler than book titles that get straight to the point.

2. Mountain Survival (1984) This one's plain and simple: You've survived your plane crashing into a mountain; now don't get eaten by a bear or freeze to death. Lastly find out what's cooler than a book that allows you to put all that mandatory reading of Jack London to good use.

1. Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey? (1981) In this mystery, you go to the house of a rich man and soon become involved in a suspected murder case filled with a lot of ins and outs and what-have-yous. Basically, it's "The Big Lebowski" for 10-year-olds, and seriously, what's cooler than that?

Of this Top 20, I as a child read #18, #17, #14, #9, #8, #7 and #2. It is true though that even as an extremely immature child I was repelled by some of the books here, but I was certainly fascinated by Survival at Sea and Mountain Survival, re-reading both many times and enjoying them. As an immature child I felt I learned something from them, too.

I find it odd that Escape was not included, nor was anything by Jay Leibold like Grand Canyon Odyssey (I'm sure it's cooler to meet up with John Wesley Powell or Don Pizzaro or an Indian medicine woman than some of the adventures here). The other major writer unrepresented was Louise Munro Foley, whose Danger At Anchor Mine certainly betters #10 and #4 for an adventure in a remote area (northern Ontario). Moreover, from the perspective of this writer it must be cool to search an old gold mine. Again, Richard Brightfield's The Secret Treasure of Tibet could easily have been among the top few. Its complex tale involves the protagonist as a private investigator seeking a remote monastery where monks levitate but being simultaneously targeted by a violent gang who wants that monastery's gold. These two stories interact with an anthropologist called Sylvia Morrison who specialises in the protagonist's research topic. As a Himalayan tale it betters those included, whilst the side of the book about battling criminal art dealers is unrepresented in this selection.

How past climates show Australia's south coast is heading towards desert status

Although I have long been convinced that global warming will turn Australia's south coast – including southwestern Australia and western and central Victoria – into an arid zone, the weather of the past two and a bit months has made me sure not only that it will happen, but that it is happening now.

Although I have for a long time been very concerned for the fate of southern Australia and for the world's other mediterranean-climate regions because of their biodiversity, it is only now that I am realising that the present carbon dioxide level of 380ppmv is too high for the survival of mediterranean climates. Global warming will also desertify some areas on the fringes of mediterranean climates, such as southeastern Australia and parts of the American West.

Nonexistence of mediterranean climates outside full ice ages is usually explained in terms of absence of cold ocean currents. However, both the arid (BSh, BWh) and warm temperate (Cf) climates that occur on the equatorward and poleward sides of historic mediterranean climates are known throughout geological history regardless of polar ice levels. This means the absence of mediterranean climates implies failure of westerlies to shift equatorward during the winter. Given we know that the temperature changes associated with winter equatorward westerly wind movement still existed during even the warmest epochs (though they were massively less marked), there must have been another factor preventing equatorward movement of the polar lows.

This can be found in a much tighter polar vortex resulting from cooling of the stratosphere. It is known that cooling of the stratosphere results from increased carbon dioxide levels because less heat reaches the stratosphere from the Earth's surface. Those acquainted with polar ozone holes will realise that a cooler stratosphere means ozone is destroyed more efficiently by natural or anthropogenic chlorine and bromine. Thus, during periods when carbon dioxide was much higher than now, global stratospheric ozone concentrations would have been considerably less than the 320 Dobson units observed in the Quaternary. Because ozone losses would have been greatest over the poles, this would have meant that whilst the surface of polar regions in the Mesozoic was up to 40˚C (72˚F) warmer than today, at the tropopause where weather is generated it would have been colder. In the winter, absorption of heat by greenhouse gases in the lower polar atmosphere would have meant even less heat than today for the polar tropopause, which would have kept it as cold as the equatorial tropopause and pushed the jet stream and polar front rainfall close to the poles.

The net result of this tight polar vortex would have been and will be a shift of twenty or so degrees in the location of the subtropical dry belt – turning it into a “midlatitude dry belt”. Along with it would come very warm conditions in the poles as the dry air absorbs heat whilst moving over the dry midlatitudes and picks up moisture which is turned into dense clouds in the high latitudes.

Combined with a powerful monsoon that would be expected from high greenhouse levels, the net result is that areas historically covered by mediterranean climates form the arid zone, whilst historically arid regions become monsoonal. Some evidence actually indicates the arid belt even at mildly higher carbon dioxide levels moves to between forty and fifty degrees from the equator. For instance, there is evidence of savanna (monsoon) climates as far north as Turkey in the Miocene when carbon dioxide was only around 400 ppmv. This suggests that we must expect basically no winter rainfall in southern Australia from this year onwards – and in the absence of summer rainfall years passing without rain, creating deserts more extreme than any in historic Australia right in the middle of major population centres like Melbourne and Perth, plus possibly Hobart, Canberra and Adelaide.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The grassroots are showing no leadership

In a very sensible new article about runaway climate change and the failure of our major parties to take the initiative in reducing emissions, there is a serious fault that people concerned really must grasp.

The article says “Until now, the real leadership on climate change has been coming from the grassroots”. That is bluntly wrong. It is the “grassroots” who support the coal, light metal and car industries in their quests to prevent anything remotely approaching the binding zero emissions target that should have been set Australia the moment negotiations began on the issue back in the 1990s. The deeply-knit communities of outer suburban Australia are not the ones protesting at the terrible government energy and transport policies that have caused the present Victorian fires and Queensland floods. The “grassroots” is, indeed, the group who supports such policies because they are exceedingly effective at lowering the “grassroots”’ housing, petrol and electricity prices to a level that no other country can come close to matching.

The people who organise so-called grassroots protests are in fact wealthy students and academic professors who know far, far too well where Australia is headed if carbon dioxide concentrations are not merely stabilised but reduced.

As I have pointed out in my discussion of Michael Woolridge’s excellent essay on pages 182 to 185 of Two Nations, this deep breach between academia and the rest of the population is one of Australia’s most pressing problems today. As I know from personally living in Keilor Downs and Ashwood from 1987 to 1997, outer suburbanites are never aware of major scientific research that has a critical impact on our future climate.

The manner in which some significant CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology researchers present their findings about rainfall changes to the public seems intended to calm the population by invariably finding a culprit other than man-made greenhouse gases. The evidence of recent climate patterns suggests that this policy might come dangerously close to sedative propaganda.

Those who publish news scientific findings in Australia’s mass media have in current circumstances the gravest imaginable responsibility. It is not their duty to do something intended merely to calm the population and they should not be in any sense displeased if they provoke anger or outrage from the public as they might if they were less willing to pass the buck away from human-produced greenhouse gases.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Radio stations should stop calling it a natural disaster

Today on TRIPLE M, there have been joyful announcements about the amount of money raised to deal with what already ranks as Australia’s worst ever bushfire disaster. It has been surpassed quite a number of times in North America, e.g. the 1871 Peshtigo fire and the 1825 Miramichi fire. The latter fire got closer to destroying the New Brunswick capital of Frederickton than any fire has got to substantially destroying an Australian capital city – even the 2003 Canberra bushfires or the March 1919 fires near Perth.

The problem is that, as I have been saying lately, the current bushfires are not a natural burning of vegetation that occasionally occurs even in wet eucalypt forests. Rather, they are an adjustment to a climate shift that occurred in October 1996 to move vegetation zones poleward or uphill to regions that currently (not before October 1996) have suitable climates.

The point about possible arson and that the frequency of arson is increasing is a question I am willing to discuss, but I will not tolerate dissociation of the basic fact that the fires are an adjustment to global warming that is twelve years and five months late.

The really bad thing, of course, is that even the current bushfires will not be a sufficient adjustment. People are extremely sensibly talking about the prospect of 47˚C or 48˚C days occurring with high winds and fuel even drier than it has been for the past three years. Under such conditions, it would be very easy to imagine such firestorms as are occurring now with not one act of arson.

Whilst I am not ethically opposed to charities to relieve fire victims, if we want to say “polluter pays” then the major carbon dioxide emitters should be the ones to pay the cost of a fire they must be deemed responsible for. It is a pity nobody except me and fringe socialists like GLW are saying anything like this.

During the hottest days, the radio stations were, in contrast to their current over-joyful mood, a little more reasonable about how dreadful the weather was than they usually have been. Perhaps it is unfortunately far too much to ask radio stations to be as blunt about global warming as they ought to be in this situation!

We Australians should get used to dearer food – it’s good for both us and communties abroad

Record floods in northern Australia and the record 46.4˚C day in Melbourne, along with six of the seven hottest days in formerly gorgeous Tasmania shows just how mistaken Australian policymakers from Robin Underwood to Jeff Kennett to John Brumby have been over the past thirty years. Rainfall declines in southern Australia and increases in the north seem to escalate each year, yet scientists do nothing to direct government policy towards zero emissions. Indeed they try to find detours like the “Asian Haze”, the Indian Ocean Dipole and now El Niño Modoki which serve to sedate an already impassive population and make changes in climate more extreme.

It is time we took news of escalating food prices from record rainfalls in Queensland and heat in the southeast as a warning and at the same time, a tip on what we should do. Climate change will soon make coastal Victoria unsuitable for fruit crops since 45˚C days which these crops cannot survive are soon likely to be experienced every summer. At the same time, a monsoon strengthened by global warming could well make keeping crops within the tropics free from flooding impossible. The fact that we have seen major losses to banana crops twice in four years shows where we are headed if nothing is done.

As the Australian says, Australia has for many years, owing to its abundance of flat land and freedom from pests and disease, had extremely cheap high-quality fruit and vegetables that have been the envy of the world. However, global warming is certain to sound a death knell to Australia’s fruit industry: even if water can be piped from the north, heat will always be a risk in the south, whilst the few fertile northern soils of the Wet Tropics and Burdekin delta will either be more heavily leached or trees will repeatedly die from flooding.

What we should come to realise is that we Australians will have to be far less wasteful with fresh fruit. At home, I have many recollections of fruit or fruit products like banana cakes going off. Higher prices for fruit should make Australians more efficient in using it and more careful with their purchases. People in Europe, Asia and the Americas have had to cope with such higher prices since time immemorial. Australia’s culture is, in proportionate to an ecology that dictates exceptionally low-energy species, extraordinarily spendthrift.

What would be a good result from Australia no longer being able to grow cheap fruit abroad is that farmers in Europe, Asia, the Americas and New Zealand - all countries with more reliable rainfall and far superior soils to Australia - would have more chance of competing globally. One thing the availability of natural resources would give to those nations is some hope of restoring their demographic collapses. If the people of Europe, Asia, the Americas and New Zealand could profit from their main natural resource - their rich soils - rather than be out-competed by Australia’s cheap land, there would be much more incentive to have children and avoid the demographic decline resulting from these resources becoming valueless.

Thus, I hope most Australians can be philosophical about increasing food costs and try to imagine the benefits abroad, and for our country’s outlook on life.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Anatomy of a record hot day and dry spell

Although it seemed scorching outside in the middle of today, it was still a genuine surprise to find that Melbourne had broken its previous hottest day by as much as 1˚C and its previous hottest February day by 3.2˚C.

Worse still, it seems likely Melbourne will beat its record forty-day dry spell by Wednesday. No general rain is forecast over Victoria until Saturday. More than that, today was forecast back on Sunday to be only 26˚C, and the record hot Friday before was forecast to be a lot less than it was. If the weather bureau keeps up with this record, Melbourne will have a day of 51˚C next Sunday.

The absence of alarm at these trends is disturbing. It suggests people think these two record hot days are an aberration because the first half of the summer was so cool.

In fact, the record hot weather is a symptom of anthropogenic global warming moving the monsoon southward and strengthening northerly airflows that are extraordinarily hot and dry by the time the cross the Great Divide north of Melbourne. Looking at today’s weather chart, the monsoon that before anthropogenic global warming was centred at around the latitude of Darwin of 12˚S, is now centred normally at the latitude of Tennant Creek or 20˚S. That shift of eight degrees has had the effect of making it much easier for extremely hot airflows to develop over southeastern Australia.

Worse still, Melbourne is in exactly the worst location for these hot northerlies. Being precisely on the southern slopes of the continent’s only significant east to west mountain range means that when powerful monsoons develop Melbourne is precisely on the leeward side of hot winds. In addition, as 2007’s Observed Poleward Expansion of the Hadley Circulation since 1979 demonstrates, atmospheric stability has increased greatly at precisely the latitudes where Melbourne is located. This means much longer times between the passages of cold fronts or other disturbances. Consequently, higher temperatures will be able to develop.

In fact, we con confidently predict that from this year on Melbourne will regularly experience the hottest temperatures in Australia during the summer. It is really likely that by 2020 temperatures in excess of 50˚C will regularly occur in Melbourne.

What one hopes is that, if the public in unwilling to really struggle for immensely reduced greenhouse emissions, government and business will ensure that such conditions areat the very least made more tolerable by improved building and rail design.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Are the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology becoming “industry-funded scientists?”

The ABC is suggesting that the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is what is causing the alarming decline in rainfall over southern Australia since 1997. Research has shown that there has been an absence of negative IOD events that bring heavy rainfall to southern Australia.

However, because rainfall in central-western Australia is closely linked to the IOD, and has continued to soar upwards throughout the drying trend in southern Australia, I am a little alarmed. If positive IOD events produce dryness in central-western Australia as I had assumed, then the large increases in rainfall over that region are hard to explain.

The logical answer to me is that the moistening trend in central-western Australia and the drying trend in southern Australia are both driven from the Southern Ocean. Research has already shown links between a more positive Southern Annular Mode and higher central-western Australian rainfall in the period since 1967. The logical way to approach the rapid drying of southern Australia would then have been to focus on the Southern Ocean and changes that, from my reading of weather charts, have pushed southern depressions twenty degrees southwards since 1966.

What most upsets me is feeling that studying the Southern Ocean instead of the Indian might mean loss of financial support for the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology. Southern Ocean research could quite likely tell even the most sceptical scientist that the changes in rainfall are beyond the tiniest doubt related purely and simply to man-made global warming. This is what the best paleoclimate record strongly suggests, and also what New Scientist has twice shown in the past week. I am indeed starting to fear that many people within the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology are industry-funded scientists whose research is compromised by the need to accept the right of fossil fuel and light metal industries to alter the climate no matter how catastrophic it proves for southern Australia, rather than writing articles demanding that the coal and light metal industries pay for a complete switch to renewable energy by 2020. In the long run if Australia’s carbon emissions keep trending up and up and up gains abroad will be rendered worthless.

When the evidence is too conclusive to accept downright sceptics’ opinions, the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology wrongly calm the public by assuring them the drying of southern Australia is a natural cycle. What they should be stating is that the drying of the climate is due to changes in the Southern Ocean and the position of the Hadley cell induced by man-made greenhouse gases and having utterly nothing to do with any natural cycle. They should say this as forcefully as possible, and focus their attention on conservative outer suburbs presently insulated from academic research.

I am sure that is what scientists from Europe or Japan, who are not watched over by corporate polluters, would say if they were investigating climate change in Australia. I am indeed beginning to think foreign scientists should be encouraged to research climate change in Australia independently. Seeing if they get different results would certainly answer the question of how much industry influences Australia’s status as a laggard in reducing greenhouse emissions.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

100 Greatest Romantic Albums

Recently in the music headlines has been a list of the 100 greatest "romantic" albums of all time.

At first, I was rather suspicious of the list, but looked at again it does contain some of the most undeniable classics, especially given the constraint of the "romantic" theme. Avalon, which was a megaseller in Australia during the time of the huge frosts of July 1982, set a standard of dreamy, melodic beauty that many were to try to emulate in later years. Dummy, with its memorable misheard lyric "You don't get summer for nothing" (if you're a regular reader you will know I really hate hot weather and even more radio stations that praise it), is just as good and its electronic beauty was so new back in 1994. "Iceblink Luck", on Heaven or Las Vegas, is another song that makes me imagine making our weatherpeople more willing to accept that a lovely day is one of fifteen rather than thirty degrees Celsius.

Björk's Homogenic, though I would not call it "romantic", is still a great album, and Solace is a record I do keep coming back to even though it does not sound so eccentric as it did when I first heard it amidst tuneless and noisy grunge back in the 1990s.

The Full List

1. Marvin Gaye - Let's Get it On
2. Nat King Cole - Sings For Two In Love
3. Al Green - Still in Love with You
4. Portishead - Dummy
5. Barry White - Plays for Someone You Love
6. Sade - Lovers Rock
7. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
8. Joao Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto
9. The Carpenters - Close To You
10. Serge Gainsbourg - L'Historie De Melody Nelson
11. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
12. Joshua Bell - Romance of the Violin
13. Otis Redding - Soul Album
14. Jeff Buckley - Grace
15. Sigur Ros - ()
16. D'Angelo - Voodoo
17. Slowdive - Souvlaki
18. Anita Baker - Rapture
19. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
20. Andrea Bocelli - Romanza
21. k.d. lang - Ingenue
22. Blossom Dearie - Blossom Dearie
23. Madeleine Peyroux - Careless Love
24. John Coltrane - Blue Trane
25. Frank Sinatra - Songs for Swingin' Lovers!
26. Billie Holiday - Songs For Distingue Lovers
27. Air - Moon Safari
28. Bread - Lost Without Your Love
29. Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis
30. Josh Groban - Closer
31. Isley Brothers - Between the Sheets
32. Chet Baker - Chet
33. Isaac Hayes - Black Moses
34. Diana Krall - The Look of Love
35. Jimmy Scott - Falling In Love Is Wonderful
36. Dean Martin - Dino! The Italian Love Songs
37. Massive Attack - Mezzanine
38. Roxy Music - Avalon
39. Air Supply - Now and Forever
40. Prince - For You
41. Roberta Flack - First Take
42. Boyz II Men - II
43. Enigma - LSD
44. Depeche Mode - Violator
45. Fiona Apple - Tidal
46. Harry Connick, Jr. - We Are In Love
47. Zero 7 - Simple Things
48. Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See
49. Theivery Corporation - The Mirror Conspiracy
50. George Michael - Faith
51. Paolo Conte - Reveries
52. Lou Donaldson - Lush Life
53. Carla Bruni - Quelqu'un M'a Dit
54. A Touch of Schmilsson in the Night - Harry Nilsson
55. The O'Jays - So Full Of Love
56. The Spinners - Mighty Love
57. Francoise Hardy - Ma Jeunesse Fout L'camp
58. Julee Cruise - Floating Into The Night
59. Nina Simone - Here Comes The Sun
60. The Dramatics - Me & Mrs. Jones
61. Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
62. Willie Nelson - Stardust
63. The Softies - It's Love
64. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
65. John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy
66. Stevie Wonder - My Cherie Amour
67. Billy Ocean - Suddenly
68. Judee Sill - Heart Food
69. Usher - Confessions
70. Red House Painters - Red House Painters (I)
71. Roy Orbison - Mystery Girl
72. Erykah Badu - Baduism
73. Maxwell - Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite
74. John Legend - Save Room
75. Sarah McLachlan - Solace
76. Ray Charles & Milt Jackson - Soul Brothers/Soul Meeting
77. Jean-Yves Thibaudet - Satie: The Magic of Satie
78. Dave Brubeck - Take Five
79. Chris Isaak - Heart Shaped World
80. Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust
81. Bjork - Homogenic
82. Patricia Barber - Modern Cool
83. Nicolai Dunger - Tranquil Isolation
84. Michael Buble - Call Me Irresponsible
85. Jill Scott - Who is Jill Scott?
86. Tricky - Maxinquaye
87. Goldfrapp - Black Cherry
88. Keren Ann - Nolita
89. Shirley Horn - Travelin' Light
90. James Moody - Young At Heart
91. Jens Lekman - When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog
92. Bebel Gilberto - Bebel Gilberto
93. The Cure - Disintegration
94. Enya - Watermark
95. The Postal Service - Give Up
96. Rufus Wainwright - Rufus Wainwright
97. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs, Vol. 1
98. Astrud Gilberto - Look to the Rainbow
99. R. Kelly - 12 Play
100. Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic Exclusive Sessions

One does not know just what a disaster we are headed for without an utterly rigid zero emissions target by 2020

A very recent article in New Scientist and a 2007 article in Nature are confirmation that the rapid drying of southern Victoria cannot be related to the “Asian Haze”. Six years with a decline of 30 percent in Melbourne rainfall have already occurred, and the record forty-day dry spell from 18 December 1954 to 27 January 1955 is already sure to be broken. Most likely it will be beaten by an extraordinarily wide margin compared with what Sydney achieved between 15 July and 2 September 1995 when it beat the previous record by 38 percent. Thus, people who look for solutions in rainwater tanks will find they are as dry as the dams even could they be built so perfectly that they don’t evaporate a drop on a day of fifty degrees Celsius.

Another recent New Scientist article shows that if Australia does not cut its emissions from the highest in the world to absolutely zero within a decade, even improvements abroad or later will be useless because carbon dioxide emitted by Australia, which is still growing, stays in the atmosphere for a very long time.

The achievement of zero emissions in Australia within a reasonable time span really is very difficult, and will have to be based on immense pressure from abroad. Though I do fear personal losses therefrom, if people in the EU, Japan, Canada and New Zealand were serious about curbing global warming they would want to think about not visiting or trading with Australia – or having extraordinarily strict guidelines set for doing so, like not using cars or the electricity grid no matter how inconvenient it is.