Activists, Bernardi, Refugees + much else – January in #Climate History

The All Our Yesterdays project is doing (at least) a blog post a day to show that the climate policy battles of today are repeats/mash-ups of the last thirty years. We have always been ignoring the scientists, blowing hot and cold on carbon pricing, blowing hot and cold on support for renewables, pretending mother nature isn’t getting mildly irked etc etc.

Each blog post lists one main thing (captured in the title) but most blog posts also have other events from other years (this is especially true after January, which is traditionally a slow month in Australian politics).

If you have any events that happened on days in future months, let me know, via the comments on this page. Happy to hear other comments to (but I don’t feed trolls).

Jan 1, 2003- NSW ‘Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme’ implemented

Jan 2, 1995 – Carbon tax on the cards, says BCA boss…

Jan 3, 1992 – Greenpeace vs POTUS on Climate Change

Jan 4, 1995 Liberals say planting trees beats a carbon price…

Jan 5, 2006 – Labor MPs release climate refugees paper ‘Our Drowning Neighbours’

Jan 6, 1995 – Business says ‘other nations are doing little, so should Australia’

Jan 7, 2013 – Frontline Action on Coal activist sends out spoof ANZ press release…

Jan 8, 2013 – Prime Minister Gillard connects heatwave and climate change

Jan 9, 1995 – Efficiency is better than a tax, says business. Of course.

Jan 10, 2011- flooding hits Queensland

Jan 11, 2008 – NSW Minerals Council tells industry to sell sustainability

Jan 12, 2006 – Protests at “AP6” talks in Sydney

Jan 13, 2009 – Aborigines to feel climate shift the most

Jan 14, 2006 – Scientist asks IPA if it supports *any* regulation…

Jan 15, 1990 – Liberal Party feels it got shafted

Jan 16, 2006 – Liberal Treasurer supports a carbon price. Or does he?

Jan 17, 1995 – Economic ministries throw their weight around on carbon tax…

Jan 18, 1993 – ‘Greens Jobs in Industry Plan’ of ACTU and ACF…

Jan 19, 2016- outgoing chief scientist says tougher greenhouse targets inevitable

Jan 20, 2010- Greens propose a tax to salvage the CPRS car crash

Jan 21, 2014 – Government legislates against further temperature increases

Jan 22, 1992 – “greenhouse action will lead to poorhouse” warning

Jan 23, 2013- Australian coal mining versus the planet….

Jan 24, 1989 – Greenhouse is not simply an energy issue says Resources Minister

Jan 25, 1995 – greenhouse and electricity reform policies battle. Greenhouse loses…

Jan 26, 1989 – “Hole in the Greenhouse” reports the Canberra Times

Jan 27, 2009 – Cory Bernardi launches ‘Thank God for Carbon’

Jan 28, 1992 – Ros Kelly admits it’s a long way to Toronto

Jan 29, 2004 – Skeptic author John Daly dies

Turnbull, #climate and the National Press Club #auspol

Jan 30, 1989 -coal might get restricted?!

Jan 31, 2009 – Australia’s first Climate Action Summit begins…


Inscribed capacity described

“As Allen (1997) has shown, power can be conceptualized in a variety of ways – as an ‘inscribed capacity’, a collectively produced resource mobilized by groups to achieve particular ends, or as a mobile and diffuse phenomenon realized as a series of ‘strategies, techniques, and practices’.”
(Lawhon and Murphy, 2011: 367)

Who does the inscribing? On what material? Sand, paper?  (Latour’s immutable mobiles etc etc).

In invisible ink? On paper that crumbles?  It’s like a fountain, isn’t it – constantly needing new inputs to stay even looking the same, let alone get bigger.  Flows and nos…

And who says organise says tyrannise, according to Bob Michels, anyway… though Osterman, P. 2006. Overcoming oligarchy: culture and Agency in Social Movement Organisations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1 (1), pp. 63-85 looks like it is worth a read…

“A case study of the Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation is used to examine how a mass-movement social organization has been able to avoid the consequences of an oligarchic leadership structure, which previous scholars have claimed leads inevitably to loss of membership commitment, “becalming,” and goal displacement. The case describes this network of community organizations, which has a very strong and self-perpetuating authority structure but has nonetheless maintained the commitment and involvement of its membership for many decades as it addresses issues such as school reform, living wages, training programs, health insurance, and physical community infrastructure. The case shows how the organization maintained its membership commitment and a clear focus on its original objectives by enhancing the membership’s sense of capacity and agency and building a culture of contestation within the organization that encourages the membership to push back against the elite who dominate the organization.”

Here’s an Allen reference that looks mighty fine. Probably #afterthethesis though…

“Bel-Ami” – brilliant brilliant book about journalism, life, image, etc

How did I not know about this book?  Why was I not told?  Eh?  This is up there with The Wire as “cultural artefacts that everyone will have to engage with when I am chief fascist dictator”.

It’s by Guy de Maupassant, a French writer (mostly of short stories) who died from syphilis in the early 1890s after a short but brilliant and prolific career, writing about French society in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1.

Bel-Ami follows the ever-upward trajectory of Georges Duroy (the name changes in the course of the book). We first meet him basically starving on the streets of Paris. He meets an old army acquaintance who offers him a hand-up – an invitation to dinner, and money to hire the right clothes for such a dinner.  There is a wonderful scene, full of insight where Duroy climbs the stairs feeling the clothes ill-fitting and himself to be obviously a fraud. He bumps into an extremely elegant young man, beautifully turned out…. his reflection. And he learns to fake it till you make it (It would have been great if Maupassant had lived long enough to get down with Siggie Freud).

Duroy is a cad, a bounder, an  outrageous user of women.  He becomes a journalist (somewhere between Scott Templeton meets Sammy Glick) and the novel follows his ascent, alongside and over the bodies of various women (Duroy is as priapic as de Maupassant was).

There is fantastic stuff about corruption, appearances, hypocrisy, love, obsession.  The use of a painting of Jesus walking on water becomes a skilfully-used motif.

Really, this is a book to re-read every year.  Just amazing.

“Metrologies” – can you relate?

Stonking paper, that has helped me understand the various theoretical options available for understanding/describing transitions, (evolutionary, relational and durational), and some of their strengths and weaknesses.  Yes, the paper does underplay that the MLP is shot through with durational perspective to make a cleaner (if not clearer) distinction, but nonetheless, hugely impressive and useful.

Garud, R. and Gehman, J. 2012. Metatheoretical perspectives on sustainability journeys: Evolutionary, relational and durational. Research Policy, Vol. 41 pp. 980-995.

There are heaps of important bits of theory and empirics (the two imbricate, obvs). Here’s one (I am a sucker for new words, especially frenchies).

The relational approach also highlights the importance of metrologies, or the network of humans, devices and calculations through which sustainability is measured, and by extension, debated and demonstrated. Not everything can be accounted for.

Accordingly, a key question concerns what is internalized and accounted for in these calculations. For instance, how many degrees of separation between actors do we consider in our deliberations or what constitutes an externality? It is through such bracketing that sustainability is defined and performed.
(Garud and Gehman, 2012: 991)

PS Turnheim et al 2015 is amazeballs too-

Turnheim, B. Berkhout, F. Geels, F. Hof, A. McMeekin, A. Nykvist, B. and van Vuuren, D. 2015. Evaluating sustainability transitions pathways: Bridging analytical approaches to address governance challenges. Global Environmental Change, Vol. 35 pp. 239-53.

“Powerpoint and Strategy” #afterthethesis

So, gonna use this site to bookmark stuff I will read After The Thesis. First up, this

Kaplan, S. 2011. Strategy and PowerPoint: An Inquiry into the Epistemic Culture and Machinery of Strategy Making. Organization Science, Vol. 22 (2), pp.320-46.

PowerPoint has come to dominate organizational life in general and strategy making in particular. The technology is lauded by its proponents as a powerful tool for communication and excoriated by its critics as dangerously simplifying. This study takes a deeper look into how PowerPoint is mobilized in strategy making through an ethnographic study inside one organization. It treats PowerPoint as a technology embedded in the discursive practices of strategic knowledge production and suggests that these practices make up the epistemic or knowledge culture of the organization. Conceptualizing culture as composed of practices foregrounds the “machineries” of knowing. Results from a genre analysis of PowerPoint use suggest that it should not be characterized simply as effective or ineffective, as current PowerPoint controversies do. Instead, I show how the affordances of PowerPoint enabled the difficult task of collaborating to negotiate meaning in an uncertain environment, creating spaces for discussion, making recombinations possible, allowing for adjustments as ideas evolved, and providing access to a wide range of actors. These affordances also facilitated cartographic efforts to draw boundaries around the scope of a strategy by certifying certain ideas and allowing document owners to include or exclude certain slides or participants. These discursive practices—collaboration and cartography—are part of the “epistemic machinery” of strategy culture. This analysis demonstrates that strategy making is not only about analysis of industry structure, competitive positioning, or resources, as assumed in content-based strategy research, but it is also about how the production and use of PowerPoint documents that shape these ideas. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Coal, snow and the desert of the real #auspol

Scott Morrison, Australian Treasurer, brought a lump of coal to the show-and-tell at school today.  Sorry, I mean, to the House of Representatives.  It was a big lump of coal, metaphorically if not literally in the shape of a wedge.  Because this was about trying to make the Labor Party look weak/green/out-of-touch.  Meanwhile, in the real world, there is a heatwave of the real that is sending those rich enough to have them and afford them to their air-conditioners.  (Can the desert be far behind?).

Journalists are bewildered. Katherine Murphy began her piece thus

There is no way you can write the sentence, “The treasurer of Australia, Scott Morrison, came to question time with a lump of coal on Thursday,” and have that sentence seem anything other than the ravings of a psychedelic trip, so let’s just say it and be done with it.

Scott Morrison brought coal into the House of Representatives. A nice big hunk of black coal, kindly supplied by the Minerals Council of Australia.

The obvious link, which I’ve not seen made, is with another buffoon in another country, almost two years ago.

These seem like desperate claims by desperate men, who are the epitome of the political class (“out of touch”) using props to try to build to their constituents, earnestly proclaim themselves to be “real”(1) and ‘authentically working class’ (In July 2014 Senator Ian MacDonald came to parliament in a fluorojacket, provided to him by the same people who gave Morrison his lump of coal).

What does it all mean? These are bids for a foundational ‘common-sense’, for ‘authenticity’ by a dinosaur breed that can’t accept that the meteor has struck.   There is going to be a mass extinction event.  The only question is what – if anything – is on the other side. Bye Brasil.


Update- a further thought – The Liberals and Nationals have clearly “decided” – as far as you can say there is a central organising intelligence- that they cannot win on price or emissions reductions. Instead they are remorselessly focusing on only one of the three legs of the energy trilemma – namely security of supply.  It may “work” politically. It will not on any other metric – economics, environment…


(1) Gramsci, Baudrillard, Derrida and that crowd would have a field day.

Emergent, emergency, urgency. “Properties for sale…”

Hmm, am puzzling over the distinction between synergy and emergent properties. I found this –

“Today, unfortunately, the term emergence is used in a bewildering variety of ways, often as a synonym for synergy. However, I side with the early theorists; emergence should properly be confined to those forms of synergy in which different parts merge, lose their identity and take on new physical or functional properties. Thus table salt has emergence properties…”
(Corning, 2003: 23)
Corning, P. 2003. Nature’s Magic: Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

and I guess it’s about a dialectic – where the “two” “opposing” “forces” are both/all changed into something – ‘rich and strange‘.

And being able to leverage and guide ’emergent properties’ – either to monetise them or Save The World  (“transition management and other forms of hubristic cock-pitism).  Well, I reckon the former is easier than the latter, sadly…


Meanwhile, the coincidence (?) between emergent and emergency rattled my brain and out popped two song lyrics.

“And it happens to be an emergency
Some things aren’t meant to be
Some things don’t come for free”
Put down that weapon by Midnight Oil


“We need all hands helping, the urgency is overwhelming” (TV Smith, Home Town)

That’s just how my (odd?) memory works, as distinct from beserk autobiographical memory.

See also –