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Category: Science (Page 1 of 17)

Hating Bill Gates

Bill Gates has been the Emmanuel Goldstein of the anti-vaccination movement for years. But why are so many other people suddenly jumping in?

Boy that Bill Gates is an evil dude. Or so you might think if all you read is Facebook and Twitter. US commentator Candace Owens (whom I otherwise like and admire) has called him a “vaccine criminal,” while conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he is “Satan’s benchwarmer,” the “placeholder for the anti-Christ.” Gates is hell-bent on depopulating the world so the elite can take over and live in unimaginable luxury while the common folk live as slaves. His chosen method for this depopulation is vaccines, and COVID-19 was created to trick or force everyone into getting the vaccine that will either kill them or track them using microchip implants.

What makes it even worse is that he has publicly announced his intentions, and has been carrying out this plan in plain view, if people would only look. He even owns patent WO (for World Order) 666 for implantable tracking technology, but people are sheeple, and refuse to believe what is right in front of them.

It’s a great plot for a movie. Tom Hanks has to uncover the secret and save the world in the nick of time.

You can’t get much more evil than all that. If all of this is true.

So let’s look at some of the claims being made about Bill Gates, and see how much truth is in them. But first, let’s consider another, related post that has recently done the rounds of Facebook and Twitter. This tells the story of Robert F Kennedy Jnr bravely facing down the CDC and showing that “The CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. The agency owns more than 20 vaccine patents and purchases and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines annually.”

Hmm.. sounds worrying. Let’s check. First of all though, let’s understand what patents are.

Patents protect a creator’s design, product or process, so that the creator can invest in research and development, and be confident that some ratbag is not going to come along and steal their work and profit from it by using the process or manufacturing the product without having done the creative work and research. For example, there are over a thousand patents which protect the latest iPhone.

Vaccines are hugely expensive to create, and just as hugely expensive to test, then to package and bring to market. In the same way many patents may protect a product like an iPhone, many patents may be needed to protect a single vaccine. These may cover the antigen itself, adjuvants, packaging, manufacturing processes, method of delivery, etc. Patents can be licensed to other companies or individuals. iPhones include technology licensed from other companies, as well as technology developed by Apple itself.

The CDC owns a large number of patents related to medical technology. This is because the CDC does a huge amount of medical research. Some of these relate to vaccines. This is because from time to time a researcher will discover, for example, an antigen that provokes an immune response to a particular pathogen, or a method of inactivating a virus for use in a vaccine, or a new adjuvant.

The CDC lists all of its patented technology which is available to be licensed. Given it is a publicly funded organisation, why would the CDC patent these things? Why not just let people use them? There are three reasons. Firstly, it stops anyone else from patenting the CDC’s research, profiting from it, and stopping others using it. Secondly, licensing this technology protects the integrity of the manufacturing process, assuring end users of the quality of the product. And thirdly, licensing royalties provide a small return to tax-payers for their investment in the CDC’s research.

The CDC owns patents, not on vaccines, but on vaccine technology (amongst many other things), which it licenses to manufacturers and to other research bodies. There are fifty-seven such patents currently listed. So far, Robert Kennedy Jnr is roughly, sort of right. The CDC does own more than 20 vaccine-related patents. Everything else he said in the interview in which he made that claim, and everything else in the Facebook post in which these claims appear, is false. As we go on to consider the Bill Gates conspiracy theories, we will see that this is a very common anti-vax tactic: Make one true, or near true, claim, then by exaggerating, missing context, or simply making data up, proceed to make claims which are completely false, and because false, dangerous. Dangerous because they are an attempt to dissuade people from receiving life-saving treatments and preventatives.

The CDC does not sell vaccines. In fact it spends nearly half its annual budget (in 2017 $4.1 billion out of a total $11.9 billion budget) on buying vaccines. Which it then sells at a profit, right? No. Which it then gives away:

“CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.”

But it still makes money from its vaccine technology patents? Yes, although it does not manage the licensing of those patents directly. This is handled by National Institutes of Health Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), which is responsible for licensing all of the patents generated from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC. If we want to be picky, we should note it is the Department, specifically the Secretary of the Department, which owns the patents, not the CDC itself.

Last year the OTT reported income of $78.2 million for all patent licensing from the NIH, CDC and FDA. Let’s say that half of this was licensing of CDC patents, and half of that was generated by vaccine technology patents. The CDC has another six research areas in which patents are available to license, so this is a very generous estimate. That means the CDC’s income from vaccine-related patent licensing was no more than $19.55 million, and probably less.

There are three things to note about this. Firstly, the CDC does not make $4.1 billion selling vaccines. It doesn’t sell vaccines. It SPENT $4.1 billion on vaccines, which it gave away. Second, the maximum of $19.55 million which the CDC made from royalties on vaccine-related payments is less than one fifth of one percent of its budget. Thirdly, all of those royalties went back into further medical services and research. If you think less than one fifth of one percent of the CDC’s budget is enough to corrupt an entire organisation whose purpose is improving health, whose personnel are there and are recruited because they want to make world a better and healthier place, many of whom put themselves at considerable risk in order to do so, then allow me to suggest politely that you have rocks in your head.

This does not mean the CDC is above criticism. It is sometimes slow to react, and sometimes gives contradictory advice. Like all very large government organisations it has become top heavy and bureaucratic. It has lost focus on its original mandate to research and assist with infectious diseases, and broadened into other medical fields. But there is no evidence to suggest it is corrupt or in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies.

Considering these claims by Kennedy has given us some useful background to the conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, and the venomous rage those stories generate.

Let’s start with patent WO666. Microsoft Technology does own patent WO2020060606A1. That is the little bit of truth in this story. It isn’t owned by Bill Gates. Bill Gates hasn’t worked day-to-day at Microsoft since 2008, and retired from his position as Chairman of the Board in 2014. The WO doesn’t stand for World Order, it is an abbreviation for World Intellectual Property Organization, the largest international patent issuing organisation, and is the preface to all patents issued by that body. The A1 at the end indicates that the patent has not yet been granted; it has been applied for and published so other patent holders can review it before the patent is granted. The 2020 indicates the year in which it was published. The patent number is 060606. These are issued sequentially and have no meaning other than being an index/reference. The number does include three sixes, but you have to ignore the other eight letters and numbers to get “patent 666.”

What is the patent application for? Microchipping humans, right, so they can be tracked? No. There is nothing in the application which suggests any kind of implant or any sort of geo-location or tracking.  It is an application for digital technology which could be included in a watch or fit-bit type device, which would reward users with crytpto-currency for physical activity.

Most crypto-currency, bitcoin is an example, is “mined” using computer GPUs. This process uses considerable electricity, estimated at over 60 terawatt hours per year; more than the entire country of Switzerland.

The Microsoft proposal would reward people with crypto-currency for keeping fit. It is that simple. It is also worth noting that the patent hasn’t been granted yet, and that while Microsoft had a fitness band, released in 2014, it stopped producing them in 2016, and has announced no plans to produce another. If granted, the technology patented in WO2020060606A1 would likely be licensed to other companies like Fitbit, rather than in a new product made by Microsoft itself. A company which in any case, as noted above, Bill Gates is no longer involved in running.

“But Bill Gates and Dr Anthony Fauci sent $7.5 million to the Wuhan lab to research altering bat viruses so they would infect people, and Bill Gates owns the patent for Coronavirus!”

The little bit of truth in this is that since 2014 the National Institutes of Health has granted $3.7 million to a well-respected research organisation called Ecohealth Alliance to fund research into coronaviruses. Since 1984 Dr Anthony Fauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of twenty-seven bodies which make up the NIH. Dr Fauci has never been in Wuhan, and it is not clear whether he had any role in the grant to Ecohealth Alliance. He certainly had no role in The Ecohealth Alliance’s decisions about where that grant money was directed. Bill Gates, incidentally, has nothing to do with the NIH. The Gates Foundation has made one grant of $1.5 million to Ecohealth Alliance, but that was in 2020 and was for agricultural development.

Funds from the NIH grant were divided between the Wuhan lab, and institutes in Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. This is a list of published papers based on research partially funded by that grant.

Most of the recent virus scares have come from zoonotic infections, that is, infections which have jumped from animal hosts to humans. Examples include Zika, Ebola, Plague, and West Nile Fever. Research into coronaviruses is important because of their ability to jump from animal to human hosts, often with deadly results. Many ordinary colds result from one of the four common coronaviruses: 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1. Most people will suffer from one these at least once, with nothing more than a mild fever, a cough and sniffly nose.

However, coronaviruses can also be killers. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are both examples. Because these diseases are highly infectious and have high mortality rates, many health authorities were concerned that the next major pandemic could be a coronavirus, and offered grants for study into their genome and infection pathways. If a new, deadly coronavirus appeared (and it has – that is what COVID-19 is), this research would help us be better prepared.

China’s behaviour in deleting records of the genome, denying the outbreak, and then denying the risk of infection, were reprehensible. China should be held to account. It is possible that the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab. This needs to be carefully and independently investigated. But the research itself was worthwhile and deserved to be funded. There was nothing nefarious about the funding at all. Also, Bill Gates had nothing whatever to do with it.

But then how does he happen to have a patent for coronavirus that dates from 2014? Surely that proves this pandemic was all planned in advance?

The normal anti-vax conspiracy practice, as we have seen above, is to take a little truth, and then add several large lies. In this case, there is no truth at all, just several wild assumptions.

There are many coronaviruses. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds many medical services and research organisations. One of these is the Pirbright Institute in England. The Pirbright Institute has received two grants from the Gates Foundation, one in 2013 for research into diseases affecting livestock, and one in 2016 for research into a more effective flu vaccine.

In 2018 Pirbright was granted a patent which covers the development of an attenuated (weakened) form of a coronavirus that causes respiratory diseases in poultry, which they hope might be used be used as a vaccine to prevent respiratory diseases in birds, including avian infectious bronchitis. The vaccine is not owned by Bill Gates, the funding his foundation provided was for completely different purposes, and the weakened avian coronavirus for which Pirbright holds a patent is a completely different pathogen from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

In the last couple of months the Pirbright Institute, which has considerable experience with zoonotic and respiratory infections, has collaborated with researchers at the University of Oxford and Public Health England, to try to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Bill Gates has nothing to with that either.

“But still, everyone knows Bill Gates experimented on African children with untested vaccines.”

The trouble with claims like these is that they are easily made, and easily passed on. Just create a meme with a happy looking picture of Bill Gates juxtaposed with a dying black child, and another child being poked with what looks like a horse needle, and you are guaranteed a viral response. People are less inclined to read referenced articles, or to look carefully for facts in government or local medical reports. It is easier and more fun to repost that story about the horrible Bill Gates, because, like, it’s probably true, and even it isn’t he deserves it because everyone knows he has done so many other horrible things. Then you can feel indignantly self-righteous for a few minutes, be pleased with the number of likes you get, and go back to cat videos and complaining about the government.

Except that Bill Gates Bill Gates doesn’t own any vaccine patents, he doesn’t sell vaccines, and he doesn’t conduct any research into vaccines. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds health services and research including sanitation, vaccines, clean water, anti-biotics, birth services, and diagnostic and treatment centres. Mr Gates has no role in the day-today determination of which bodies receive grant funding, and no role at all in determining how grant recipients spend that money.

This experiments on black children story seems to have started with a 2017 non-peer reviewed article on international law and the accountability of NGOs, (non-government organisations).

In that article, the author, Sharmeen Ahmed, claims that several programmes funded by the Gates Foundation resulted in “numerous deaths and injuries, with accounts of forced vaccinations and uninformed consent.” She offered no references to support these claims.

If true, this would show that some organisations which have been part-funded by the Gates Foundation need to operate more carefully and openly, and perhaps that the Foundation needs to vet grant-receiving organisations more carefully. But Ahmed’s claims are not true. They were known not to be true six years before they were published. Sadly, like most anti-vaxxers, Ahmed has no interest in what is true.

Her story related a mishmash of distortions about a trial of HPV vaccination that was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which ran in India, Peru, Uganda and Vietnam. Let’s note first off that it was not a trial of an untested or experimental vaccine, as is often claimed in various Farcebook references. Gardasil had been approved for use in the USA in 2006, following many years of research and clinical trials, and Cervarix in 2009. They have been hugely success in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer. By 2010, when large numbers of girls began to be vaccinated through the trial programme, both vaccines had solid research support, had been approved for use in most Western countries, and had been proven in the field to be both safe and effective. The purpose of the trial funded by the Gates Foundation was not to assess the vaccine itself, but the practicalities and costs of  widespread vaccination in very poor rural and densely populated urban areas.

All went well, until a small number of girls in India, seven out of 23,428, died within four months of receiving the vaccine. This story was picked up by local, then national media. A furore was created, and the trial halted. A government review was undertaken. Sharper readers may already be wondering whether seven girls out of 23,428 in impoverished areas of India dying in any four month period was anything out of the ordinary. Sadly, they would be right to do so.

To quote from the official government report:

“There were a total of 7 deaths, 5 from the AP and 2 from Gujarat. A detailed review of death cases were undertaken from the available records in the form of FIR, Clinic/hospital prescriptions/records and the autopsy. Out of the five deaths reported from Andhra Pradesh, two died due to consumption of organo-phosphorus poisoning (autopsy proven) and one died due to drowning in a well.

These three girls died after 45, 97 and 49 days after the last HPV vaccine dose respectively. The fourth case developed symptoms 96 days after receiving the third dose of the vaccine and had died of unrelated disease which cannot be linked possibly to HPV. The fifth case had started symptoms 23 days after the last dose and possibly died of severe malaria after eight days of treatment in health facilities. Similarly at Gujarat, one case died of snake bite and the other case died of severe malaria.

… The background death rates among girls 10-14 years of age in both Vadodora and Khammam districts did not show any increase rate. In fact in Vadodora district the death rate has significantly decreased in 2009 compared to the past years.”

None of the deaths of any of the seven girls was related in any way to the Gardasil or Cervarix vaccines they received as part of the trial. We have seen the same kind of irrational panic over the last month in relation to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. “It causes blood clots!” No it doesn’t. The rate of dangerous thromboembolism is no greater in vaccine recipients than unvaccinated populations. See the WHO review here:

And my own earlier comments about relative risk and COVID-19 vaccination here:

Just as an aside, another of the programmes funded by the Gates Foundation was MenAfriVac. This programme, which cost $70 million, was one of the most successful African health initiatives ever. Between 2010 and 2019, 315 million people in Africa’s meningitis belt, an area extending across the width of sub-Saharan Africa, received the vaccine. Cases of meningitis A have dropped almost to zero. According to the WHO, the vaccine is “expected to eliminate meningococcal A epidemics from this region of Africa,” Meningitis regularly killed thousands of people during outbreaks. Not any more. Without MenAfriVac, hundreds of millions of Africans would be vulnerable to a disease that can kill within hours and leave survivors paralysed, blind, and intellectually disabled.

If anti-vaxxers cared about the truth, they would be gasping for breath right now. Sadly for their victims, they don’t. They only care about ammunition. Here is the last gasp.

“But Bill Gates has publicly said he intends to use vaccines for population control! He is lulling people into a false sense of security before forcing everyone to be vaccinated with a vaccine that isn’t a vaccine, will permanently alter their DNA, and will kill half of those who receive it.”

To paraphrase Theoden of Rohan, “What can people do against such reckless stupidity?” Is it even worth trying to answer such manifest irrationality? Well, perhaps briefly.

Firstly, just because a vaccine operates in a different way from previous vaccines does not mean it is not a vaccine. The mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines developed against COVID-19, are designed to provoke an immune response just like other vaccines. They just shortcut a couple of steps in doing so, and this has the potential to make them faster and more reliable. Neither mRNA vaccines, or any other proposed COVID-19 treatment or preventative does or even can alter human DNA.

“Yeah, well, Bill Gates still said he was going to use vaccines to eliminate half the population.”

No, he didn’t. So where the heck did that come from? In 2010 Bill Gates said “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”

Does this mean he intends to poison vaccines, or implant tracking devices in them, or slow release killers to be activated by the 5G signal?  I am not going to link to any of the fantastically dishonest or relentlessly stupid and baseless videos which make this claim. You can find them, or friends will send them to you.

Instead, here is a link to Bill Gates explaining exactly what he meant, which is pretty much exactly what it was obvious to me and every rational person on the planet he meant. As infant and youth mortality improves, families have fewer children, so over time the rate of population growth declines, and even becomes negative. This is true of every developed country in the world. There is nothing remotely controversial about this. What this means is that doing everything possible to improve infant mortality and health does not mean unsustainable population growth. The evidence shows exactly the opposite. The healthier we are, the more stable the population becomes.

None of this means that Bill Gates is perfect. He is human. He gets things wrong. His Foundation will get things wrong. They fund some programmes I believe are inappropriate. But this does not make him a monster. Despite the occasional misallocation (in my view) of funds by the Gates Foundation, it is still a huge influence for good. See the MenAfriVac programme briefly described above for one example. What we should be concerned about, and doing everything we can to combat, is the repeated, lazy and vicious misrepresentations of anti-vax lobby groups. Anti-vaxxers kill children. If anyone deserves contempt, it is they.

More from the Anti-vax Tinfoil Hat Brigade

It was interesting to see a few hundred tin foil hatters turn out to the million people anti-mandatory-vaccinations comedy sessions around the country.

Void of purpose from the start, since no COVID-19 vaccine in Australia is mandatory.

Bu of course, the “I’m not anti-vax, but…” crowd are not really about objections to mandatory vaccination, they want to scare people off vaccines altogether.

This in unmitigatedly, inexcusably evil.

It isn’t woke, or clever. People who are anti-vaxxers don’t know more than others. They haven’t “Done their research.” They are not concerned about your welfare, or that of your children.

But, they wail…

COVID-19 vaccines are experimental. No, they are not.

COVID-19 vaccines contain cells from aborted babies. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines change your DNA. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines contain tracking devices. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines have terrible side effects the government and bug pharma are hiding from you. No, they do not.

COVID-19 vaccines are part of Bill Gates and the Cabal’s plot to reduce world population. No, they are not.

COVID-19 vaccines don’t stop you getting the disease. Yes, they do.

COVID-19 vaccines won’t save lives. Yes, they will, and already are.

None of the above complaints has any basis in science or reality. They originate with scumbags, scroungers and scammers like Andrew Wakefield, Joseph Mercola, Robert F Kenned Jnr, Sherri Tenpenny, etc.

I have said this before, and it is worth saying again, if you are telling people not to get a proven, life-saving medication or procedure because you don’t understand that post hoc ergo propter hoc (after, therefore must be because of) is a fallacy, or because you would rather pass on Facebook memes that agree with your prejudices, or you can’t be bothered checking your views with genuine science and medical authorities, then you are either astonishingly stupid, or simply evil. There is no other option.

You don’t get to try to talk people out of life-saving medical treatments on basis of unchecked dim-wittery from known shysters, and then claim to be concerned about others.

By all means don’t get the vaccine if you don’t want to. But this is not just a decision that affects you. You are in exactly the same position as those who refused to refused to follow Ignaz Semmelwiess’s guidelines on handwashing between examinations. “There’s no reason it should work!” “You can’t make me wash my hands!” “You can’t experiment on me!” “It’s just a conspiracy to sell carbolic acid!” They were the what anti-vaxxers are now – promoters of fear, disease and death, and for the same reasons.

There are limits to how much a society can tolerate deliberate, dangerous, dishonesty when it comes to health and safety. So again, don’t get the vaccine if you don’t want to. No one will make you. But understand if people need to put other precautions in place to protect themselves, their families, their workers, their clients and residents, and those who are genuinely unable to get the vaccine from the demented selfishness of the anti-vaxxers.

Antivaccination Hysteria – Dangerous Evangelising Ignorance

I have always regarded the anti-vax movement as either bafflingly stupid or deliberately malicious. Perhaps that is not entirely fair.
Some parents genuinely believe their children suffered serious adverse effects as a consequence of being vaccinated. In vanishingly rare instances they may be right. And some anti-vax propaganda is glossy and convincing. I remember the first time I encountered the argument that Japan had reduced its incidence of SIDS to zero by stopping early childhood vaccinations. It was well-presented and convincing, with carefully laid out photos, graphs and tables.
Of course it only took about ten minutes to confirm that the claim was completely false. During the couple of years in which Japan reduced its childhood vaccination programme, the number of children dying from SIDS increased, not decreased. What changed was that none of these deaths could be blamed on vaccines.
I understand parents whose children become ill a few hours, days, weeks or even years, after being vaccinated, wondering whether that illness was in some way connected. Some time ago I posted the story of a child taken to a paediatric practice in Perth for a routine vaccination. While the practice nurse was drawing the vaccine into the syringe, the child began to convulse. If this had happened a few minutes later, no one would have been able to convince the parents that the convulsions and the vaccine were not connected.
But children (and adults for that matter) get sick all the time, and sudden infant deaths occur during the period when most children receive their first batch of vaccinations, so it is natural that some parents will make a connection between the two. In the same way, no blame attaches to people who are initially taken in by glossy and apparently detailed anti-vax websites and publications. People are entitled to ask questions.
But it only takes a little effort to go to genuinely science-based websites or publications, or to talk to a paediatrician, and get factual answers. What people are not entitled to do is to pass on dangerously misleading and counter-factual propaganda.
I have a rule that I try to behave in online conversations as in real life conversations; to be careful and polite in all interactions. Anti-semites and anti-vaxxers are the two exceptions, both online and face to face. Both of those philosophies are so false, so dangerously false, and so easily checkably false, that anyone who contributes to their spread is either irretrievably stupid, lazy to the point of being maliciously careless with the well-being of others, or deliberately vicious.
If you have no medical or scientific expertise (and even if you do) you have an absolute moral obligation to check carefully, and ensure that you are not passing on falsehoods which will endanger the lives and health of other people. If you continue to forward information which is out of context, misleading, or deliberately false, as all anti-vax information is, then you forfeit any right to be considered a truthful or decent person.
One of the regulars in the anti-vax line-up is the argument that you can’t trust big pharma – just follow the money! But big pharma have been forced to admit their products are harmful in an insert to vaccine packaging. They just do it in a way that makes sure no-one reads it because it is in such tiny print. In fact, anti-vaxxers say, most doctors have never read a vaccine insert, or if they have and keep giving them, they are just in it for the money, so you can’t trust what they say either. Sometimes you will read a story of a brave mother who insisted on her rights, and demented, sorry demanded, the doctor read the vaccine insert before giving the vaccine to her child. At which point the astonished doctor realised the error of his ways, and vowed never to give another vaccine again. I’ll take things that never happened for $500, please Alex.
Another is the argument that vaccines are full of poisons. Anyone who makes this claim might as well put a big sign on their head saying “I know nothing about science and can’t be bothered learning.”
If you are interested in reality, as opposed to dark fantasies and conspiracy theories, here are a couple of science and research based web pages about vaccine inserts and “poisonous ingredients” to read through. Of course the anti-vaxxers won’t because 1. They don’t care, and 2. They prefer their loony Facebook posts to reality.
If you want the world to be a better place, reality is better.
And finally, I am pleased to be able to report that I have discovered the actual source of most Facebook anti-vax material. See photo below.
The stinky sewer of antivax propaganda

Every Day in Every Way …

“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better” was the catch-phrase of Émile Coué, French psychologist and pharmacist, who believed people could be healed and their lives improved through the power of aut0-suggestion.

His theories have long since fallen out of favour. But what is true is that every day, in almost every way, the world is getting better and better; cleaner, safer, healthier, happier.

The driving forces behind this change have been free trade, rule of law and secure property rights.

It is interesting how much of this progress towards a cleaner, safer, healthier, fairer world has been accomplished by three types of industry; pharmaceuticals, oil, and agri-science. Yet, those are the three types of companies the luvvies love to hate.

Free trade, rule of law and secure property rights are a recipe for a better world.

Free trade, rule of law and secure property rights are a recipe for a better world.

Cheap energy and science help too!

Cheap energy and science help too!

Climate Change is a Moral Issue

Vain attempts to stop completely natural climate variation – aka global warming – kill millions of people in developing countries. 4.3 million people die every year from indoor pollution casued by burning wood and dung on open fires for cooking and heating. Yet  greenies actively work to stop poorer nations developing the electricity supplies and other forms of cheap energy they take for granted.

“The grim irony of the pursuit of “green” energy is that it may be placing millions of people in poor countries at risk of living much shorter, unhealthier lives due to air pollution, according to a new report from The Global Warming Policy Foundation.”

The report, by eminent epidemiologist Mikko Paunio, says that international bodies and NGOs are trying to prevent poor countries from expanding their use of conventional fuels, have abandoned the so-called “energy ladder” — the gradual shift to cleaner types of fuel that underpinned the clean up of air quality in industrialised nations. As Dr Paunio explains, this will have devastating consequences:
“Indoor air pollution from domestic fires kills millions every year. But instead of helping poor people to climb the energy ladder and clean the air in their communities, the poorest people are being given gimmicks like cookstoves, which make little difference to air quality, and solar panels, which are little more than a joke.”

What is worse, the greens inside and outside the development community are blaming air pollution on power stations, industry and cars, as a way to prevent any shift to industrial power production. As Dr Paunio makes clear, most air pollution in poor countries is in fact caused by burning low-quality biofuels and coal in domestic stoves:
“Trying to blame power stations for indoor air pollution might make greens feel they are saving the planet, but the reality is that they are allowing millions of deaths from air pollution to continue. The body count is going to rival that of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century.”

And of course, the ones who shout loudest about the need for government and other people to “do something” about global warming are the ones who do least themselves.

Doctors Remove 132 Pound Ovarian Tumour

A 132-pound ovarian tumor was removed from a 38-year-old Connecticut woman this year, according to two doctors involved in the case.

The patient, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that the tumor began growing at a rate of about 10 pounds per week in November. A medical team, including 12 surgeons, removed it in a five-hour procedure February 14 at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, according to Dr. Vaagn Andikyan, a gynecologic oncologist for Western Connecticut Health Network and a lead surgeon on the case.

Surgeons remove 132lb tumor

Surgeons remove 132lb tumor

How terrifying to feel something growing inside you at 10 pounds every week. Thank God for science and modern medicine.

Changes in Climate Have Nothing to Do With Changes in Atmospheric CO2

CO2 is not a driver of climate. Climate changes constantly. There is no long-term correlation between rises in CO2 and subsequent rises in globally averaged temperatures.

CO2 is vital for all life on earth. At levels below 300 ppm, plant growth and productivity begins to be severely impaired. Optimum levels for plant growth seems to be about 1000ppm. This is the level greenhouse operators aim for to give maximum growth and yields. Humans and other animals cope easily with levels as high as 4,000 ppm. Our exhaled breath contains as much as 35,00ppm and is safely used for CPR.

Atmospheric CO2 is currently at near its lowest level ever on geological timescales.

Atmospheric CO2 is currently at near its lowest level ever on geological timescales.


Changes in CO2 do not drive changes in climate.

Changes in CO2 do not drive changes in climate.

Renewable Energy?

So called renewable energy is not renewable.

When you take into account the cost of construction, installation, maintenance, transmission, and the need to keep real energy sources running constantly to make up for fluctuations in supply caused by the unreliability of wind and sunlight, any wind or solar installation has a net cost in energy. No real contribution at all. Zero. Except to make governments and activist groups feel good about themselves. This is why, once the subsidies stop, wind and solar installations cease to function, and rust into the ground. The little they produce is not even enough to cover the cost of maintaining them.

Wind turbines produce less than one percent of the world’s energy, solar panels even less.

The cost of energy to consumers has to increase to cover the massive expense of these vanity projects. The more “renewable” energy in the mix, the higher the retail cost of electricity.

They are expensive and produce no net gain. Time to call it quits. Just stop taking tax-payer money to prop them up, and they will go away. And then private enterprise will have an incentive to invest in infrastructure that really works, and in researching new and efficient forms of energy production and distribution.

“Renewable energy” puts a brake on development in the West, and keeps millions of people in developing nations powerless and in abject poverty. Climate justice is exactly the opposite of justice.

Atheism is Irrational

I have some friends who are atheists. They seem like normal intelligent people most of the time, so it baffles me that they can accept so bizarre and irrational a belief system. Of course, most of them would be thoroughly confused by that statement. “We’re not saying we believe in anything,” they might say. “We are just saying we don’t believe in something, namely, God. What’s irrational about that?”

But that is not good enough. God explains stuff. Like Life, The Universe and Everything. If you remove God as the explanation, you have to come up with another one. If you want your theory to be convincing, it has to explain the evidence better than God. “What evidence?” atheists might ask. “I don’t see anything that needs explaining.”

To be clear, I am not talking about the impact of religion on society and history and individual lives, and whether it has been positive or negative; that is interesting, but it is another discussion. Nor am I talking about the content of other belief systems. Theravada Buddhism, for example, doesn’t believe in a damn thing, including God, except that there is not a damn thing to believe in, including yourself. Others believe in a variety of gods or spirits. Some people like the idea of angels, but have no idea where angels come from or what they do. I am not (at the moment) interested in any of those things, but only in the question of whether everything we see and experience is better explained by belief in God, or by some other theory.

Nor am I talking about the fact that atheism means that human life, art, suffering, work, families; the whole of human effort and endeavour, is pointless. In the end everything we do and feel will amount to nothing, mean nothing. Or that atheism means there is no objective morality. Morality, right and wrong, is simply whatever we believe it to be. There is no good or bad, just differing opinions. Societies can agree on some things and make them into laws, other societies can agree on different things and make them into laws. They can even call each other names because they disagree. It doesn’t matter. There are no objective standards, so outside your own culture’s view, it is meaningless to talk about right and wrong.

Many if not most atheists simply ignore these corollaries of their beliefs. Most of them still try to do what is right, and act as if their lives and lives of the people they care about had some meaning. That is interesting, but it is not why atheism is irrational. Atheism is irrational because it is not a reasonable explanation of the facts.

Let’s think about the tooth fairy for a moment. The tooth fairy explains something; that from time to time teeth disappear from under a pillow and are replaced with money. If you decline to believe in the tooth fairy, then you need to offer a credible and economical theory which also explains this phenomenon. By economical I mean a theory which does not require the invention of some other unseen entity or entities for which there is otherwise no evidence. This is a rephrasing of William of Ockham’s famous “razor”: when trying to explain something, do not multiply entities beyond necessity. Or, don’t make up more stuff than you need to. Or, the simplest explanation is often the best.

For example, an alternative explanation which required the existence of an entirely new class of supernatural beings would not be acceptable. For example, OK, there are no tooth fairies. What is actually happening is that there is an alternative universe inhabited by creatures called Morbongs. There is a serious deficiency of calcium in their universe, and they have invented machinery which can detect loose teeth in ours. When they find a tooth under a pillow they open a portal between their universe and ours, take the tooth, and leave something in exchange. Usually money, but sometimes a button or a bit of cat hair. The appropriate response to this explanation, even though it explains the phenomenon completely, is to suggest its proposer has had a bit more bong than is good for him.

The tooth fairy is trivial. That is, believing or not believing in the tooth fairy won’t affect your life much at all. Belief in God is not trivial. Theism or atheism is not a choice people can ignore. No, let me refine that. It is not a choice a thoughtful person can ignore. Nothing can make more difference to your understanding of what your life, and life in general, is about, than whether you believe in God or not. Either there is a God who has created the universe for some purpose and (at least in the Christian and Jewish view) invited you to share in that purpose both now and for all eternity; or we make our own way, nothing is objectively right or wrong, and nothing we do or decide matters anyway. This a bigger difference than between living in Antarctica and living in North Queensland. Your daily life would be different, your sense of the world around you would be different, even little choices, how far can I walk or cycle, what clothes do I wear, what food is available, are vastly different. The difference between believing the universe has a purpose which you can be part of, and believing the universe has no purpose, couldn’t care less about you, and you are not ultimately part of anything, is orders of magnitude greater. Thoughtful consideration of the evidence for theism and atheism is incumbent upon every intelligent adult.

Atheists need to be able to offer a credible and economical theory which explains:

Why there is anything rather than nothing?

Given that there is something, why is the universe so finely tuned for life?

Why is there such abundant life on earth and in so many forms?

To limit the extent of this discussion, I am not going to discuss the first. Atheists can decide for themselves whether they believe in an infinite regression of causes, or if they don’t like that idea, that some things just happen, with no preceding energy or matter or cause at all. Nor am I going to discuss the third. It is clear the earth is very old – billions of years old. I have no argument with that. But it is also clear that neo-Darwinism (the combination of evolution through natural selection and Mendelian genetics) has none of the explanatory power high-school textbooks ascribe to it, and is in serious trouble. That is a (very long) discussion for another time.

So let’s focus on this one question: How and why is the universe we inhabit so finely tuned for life?

The theist’s answer is simple; God made it that way. What do atheists have to say?

How finely tuned is it? What does that even mean anyway?

I will review the ruminations of Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS, FREng, FMedSci, a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, and was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010.

In his book Just Six Numbers, Professor Rees notes the extraordinary extent to which the values of six key variables mean the universe conforms to just those requirements which enable the formation of stable atomic structures and other factors without which galaxies, stars and life itself would be impossible.

This is there merest flick through each of those six numbers (you don’t have to understand all of these, so skip this section if you want):

N, the ratio of the strength of electromagnetism to the strength of gravity for a pair of protons, is approximately 1036. According to Rees, if it were significantly smaller, only a small and short-lived universe could exist.

Epsilon, a measure of the nuclear efficiency of fusion from hydrogen to helium, is 0.007: when four nucleons fuse into helium, 0.007 (0.7%) of their mass is converted to energy. The value of ε is in part determined by the strength of the strong nuclear force. If ε were 0.006, only hydrogen could exist, and complex chemistry would be impossible. According to Rees, if it were above 0.008, no hydrogen would exist, as all the hydrogen would have been fused shortly after the big bang. Other physicists disagree, calculating that substantial hydrogen remains as long as the strong force coupling constant increases by less than about 50%.

Omega, the density parameter, is the relative importance of gravity and expansion energy in the Universe. It is the ratio of the mass density of the Universe to the “critical density” and is approximately 1. If gravity were too strong compared with dark energy and the initial metric expansion, the universe would have collapsed before life could have evolved. On the other side, if gravity were too weak, no stars would have formed.

Lambda, commonly known as the cosmological constant, describes the ratio of the density of dark energy to the critical energy density of the universe, given certain reasonable assumptions such as positing that dark energy density is a constant. In terms of Planck units, and as a natural dimensionless value, the cosmological constant is on the order of 10-122. This is so small that it has no significant effect on cosmic structures that are smaller than a billion light-years across. If the cosmological constant were not extremely small, stars and other astronomical structures would not be able to form.

Q, the ratio of the gravitational energy required to pull a large galaxy apart to the energy equivalent of its mass, is around 10-5. If it is too small, no stars can form. If it is too large, no stars can survive because the universe is too violent.

D, the number of spatial dimensions in spacetime, is 3. Rees claims that life could not exist if there were 2 or 4 dimensions of spacetime nor if any other than 1 time dimension existed in spacetime.

Simply put, while the possible settings are calculated in different ways, the odds of the universe having just the variables it has are less than 10-120. To get a (very rough) idea of just how unlikely this, imagine covering the whole of mainland Australia with 5c pieces. One has been painted red. Then imagine a blind man tossing a dart out of an orbiting space station and hitting just that 5c piece. Then imagine the space station circling round again, another blind man tossing a dart out at random and again hitting the only red 5c piece. Then imagine this happening ten times in a row. Would it be rational to believe this “just happened” or happened by chance?

Professor Michael Turner, astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab and President of the American Physical Society in 2013, said “The precision (of the fine-tuning of the universe) is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bulls eye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.”

Atheists are in the position of having to say this is just co-incidence.  Co-incidences happen all the time. A guy buys a lotto ticket for the first time, using his and his wife’s birthdays as the numbers, and wins. Two sisters with blonde hair are playing golf on different sides of the world. They are both struck by lightning at the same time. But the unlikeliness of these events vanishes into insignificance compared with the unlikeness of our universe.

Fred Hoyle, another famous British astrophysicist, said: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Another quote from Fred Hoyle: “The chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids is similar to the chances of a star system full of blind men solving Rubik’s Cube simultaneously.”

And from a few others (these are just for reference. It’s not important to read all of them if you don’t want to; just the first few and the last few will do):

George Ellis (British astrophysicist): “Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word ‘miraculous’ without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word.”

Paul Davies (British astrophysicist): “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming.”

Paul Davies: “The laws [of physics] … seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design… The universe must have a purpose.”

Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy): “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”

John O’Keefe (astronomer at NASA): “We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”

George Greenstein (astronomer): “As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”

Arthur Eddington (astrophysicist): “The idea of a universal mind or Logos would be, I think, a fairly plausible inference from the present state of scientific theory.”

Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics): “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.”

Roger Penrose (mathematical physicist, Professor of Mathematics, Mathematical Institute, Oxford): “I would say the universe has a purpose. It’s not there just somehow by chance.”

Tony Rothman (physicist): “When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.”

Vera Kistiakowsky (MIT physicist): “The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine.”

Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics): “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.” Since he wrote this, Tipler since has converted to Christianity, see his latest book, The Physics of Christianity.

Ed Harrison (cosmologist): “Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God “the design argument of Paley” updated and refurbished. The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one…. Many scientists, when they admit their views, incline toward the teleological or design argument.”

Edward Milne (British cosmologist): “As to the cause of the Universe, in context of expansion, that is left for the reader to insert, but our picture is incomplete without Him [God].”

Barry Parker (cosmologist): “Who created these laws? There is no question but that a God will always be needed.”

Drs Zehavi and Dekel (cosmologists): “This type of universe, however, seems to require a degree of fine tuning of the initial conditions that is in apparent conflict with ‘common wisdom’.”

Arthur L. Schawlow (Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1981 Nobel Prize in physics): “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious. . . . I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”

Henry “Fritz” Schaefer (Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia): “The significance and joy in my science comes in those occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, ‘So that’s how God did it.’ My goal is to understand a little corner of God’s plan.”

Wernher von Braun (Pioneer rocket engineer) “I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”

Carl Woese (microbiologist from the University of Illinois) “Life in Universe – rare or unique? I walk both sides of that street. One day I can say that given the 100 billion stars in our galaxy and the 100 billion or more galaxies, there have to be some planets that formed and evolved in ways very, very like the Earth has, and so would contain microbial life at least. There are other days when I say that the anthropic principal, which makes this universe a special one out of an uncountably large number of universes, may not apply only to that aspect of nature we define in the realm of physics, but may extend to chemistry and biology. In that case life on Earth could be entirely unique.”

Antony Flew (Professor of Philosophy, former atheist, author, and debater) “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

See Flew’s book There is a God, in which he describes (in lengthy detail) how both science and philosophy finally convinced him God was the best and only complete explanation of real world and rational evidence.

Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics): “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”

Robert Jastrow (astrophysicist): “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

Of course there are still some who cling, kicking and screaming, to their bizarre and outdated atheism. Stephen Hawking is one. He and some others agree that it is simply impossible that the universe we inhabit is a  product of chance. There is no arguing with that. Their alternative is to posit the existence of an infinite number of universes. The argument goes like this: our universe is ridiculously unlikely. The number of alternate configurations which would not give rise to stable structures or life is greater than the number of atoms in the universe. Therefore there must be an infinite number of universes, so that for anything that is possible, there is a universe in which that possibility is realised. This theory is called the multiverse, or sometimes, the Landscape.

In inventing an infinite number of universes, physicists like Hawking are in the same position as our earlier friend who invented the Morbong and their calcium-deficient universe to explain the disappearance of teeth from under pillows. The amusing thing is, if Hawking and his chums are right, a calcium-deficient universe populated by intelligent Morbongs who steal teeth from a neighbouring universe really does exist. So do tooth fairies. There is a universe, in fact millions of them, in which Morbongs and tooth fairies compete for dwindling tooth supplies. It is not those who believe in God who believe in the tooth fairy, but atheists like Hawking. Their own theory requires them to.

If they don’t want to believe in God, atheists have to believe one of these two things:

* We live in a universe which, quite by chance, has exactly the variable settings needed for complex life to develop, even though the chances of that are less than one in a number billions of times more than the number of atoms in the universe; or
* We live in one of an infinite number of universes for which there is no evidence whatever, including one in which desperate Morbongs open inter-universal portals to hunt for lost teeth, one in which everything else is the same except you got up ten seconds earlier this morning, one in which the lump of snot you blew into your handkerchief yesterday was a hundredth of a gram lighter, one in which …  Well, you get the idea. Enough universes so that everything that possibly could happen, happens.

The first choice is irrational. The second choice is free of any evidence, and so bizarrely uneconomical that William of Ockham would have thought you were mocking him.

Neither of those choices makes sense. There is only one that does.

Transformative Development on Kangaroo Island

Proposed Jetty at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island

KI Plantation Timbers (KPT) is planning to build a deep water jetty at Smith Bay on the North coast of Kangaroo Island. This plan has been controversial, mainly because of the possible impact of changes in water quality on the abalone farm which occupies land adjacent to the proposed jetty.

I will consider the reasons this development is being planned along with reasons for the choice of this site. I will then list some of the possible benefits to Kangaroo Island if the project is successful, before discussing some of the objections, both to the site, and to the proposal as a whole.

I have no personal interest in KPT whatever. This discussion is motivated by a desire for fairness and accuracy in discussions of development on Kangaroo Island, and for the best possible outcome for KI and its residents.

Why Build a Jetty?

Just under four percent of Kangaroo island has been planted to renewable timber. About two-thirds of this is native hardwoods, and one-third Pinus Radiata. Almost all of these plantations are located West of Parndana. The estimated value of harvestable timber is a completely renewable $50 million per year, of which $20 million per year will flow back as direct income to Kangaroo Island. That value is only realisable if a cost-effective way can be found to transport harvested timber off the island. Taking wood chips or timber in trucks across the length of the island for transport on Sealink ferries and further transport from there to a deep water jetty is not economically viable. Even if it were financially sustainable, wear on kangaroo Island’s roads, and additional environmental and safety concerns, particularly during tourist season, make this an undesirable option. A deep water jetty in proximity to plantations is the only realistic option.

Why Smith Bay?

A dozen different sites have been considered by KPT. The project needs a sheltered site on the North coast as close as possible to existing timber plantations, where land is reasonably level, and with rapid drop off into deep water so that large vessels can berth reasonably close to shore. Smith Bay matches all these criteria. In addition, adjacent land is already cleared, so there is minimal impact on land environment, and the seabed where the jetty is planned has previously been dredged, meaning minimal impact on the marine environment.

What are the Potential Benefits to Kangaroo Island?

Once operational, KPT will directly employ people in 120 FTE (full time equivalent) positions in timber planting and maintenance, sawmill operation, transport, administration, jetty operation, etc. In addition a further 100 FTE positions will be created in direct support; contract and supply, etc. With family members, this is likely to lead to the addition of over 400 people to Kangaroo Island’s population. This means additional rates income for Council, additional money spent in local businesses, additional students in local schools, possibly to the extent of its being feasible for Parndana to offer classes up to Year Twelve again. In total, some $20 million additional income to Kangaroo Island, not as a once off, but in perpetuity.

A project which has the potential to bring such major and ongoing financial and social benefits to Kangaroo Island should not be rejected unless there are overwhelming, compelling, evidence-based reasons to do so.

What are the objections?

Does Kangaroo Island Really Need a Port of This Size?

This is not really an objection, although it is sometimes framed as one. Firstly, it is not a port, it is a jetty. And at a planned 150m in length, it is about two-thirds of the length of the jetty in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island’s main town. The simple answer to the question is yes. The jetty needs to be 150m in length for large ocean-going vessels to be able to berth.

The Planned Port is a Monstrosity Which Will Ruin the Look of the Bay.

Firstly, it is not a port, it is a jetty. Secondly, the look of the bay has already and tragically been destroyed by the establishment of an industrial-type complex right on the foreshore. And finally, is Christmas Cove a monstrosity? Is the Vivonne Bay jetty? On the contrary, Kangaroo Island’s jetties are some of its most loved and photographed landmarks.

An International Port is a Major Quarantine and Exotic Pest Risk.

It is not a port, it is a jetty. Any overseas vessels berthing at the Smith Bay jetty will already have passed customs and quarantine inspection at Fremantle or Port Adelaide. This is the same process that applies to cruise ships which currently visit the island. Cruise liners visit the island in similar numbers to those planned to dock at Smith Bay, but are much larger vessels.

Before considering other objections it is worth noting that the abalone farm at Smith Bay is a completely inappropriate development for KI, both from an environmental and an aesthetic point of view. It should never have been approved. It has changed a lovely rocky bay on the North coast into what looks like an industrial wasteland, one which pumps millions of litres of high nitrate, high bacterial waste into the ocean. The World Wildlife Fund has raised a number of concerns about land-based abalone farming, including noise, odour and dust, high energy use (How much energy? Yumbah was quoted $1.35 million for electricity for operations in SA in 2017), unsustainable kelp harvesting for food, or use of fish meal and algae in manufactured feed, the impact of waste disposal including the pumping of waste water directly into the ocean, including waste nutrients, chemicals, shell grit, faeces and sludge, and the risk of disease. Unlike some claimed objections to the proposed jetty, these are real, evidence based concerns. An outbreak of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis, traced to a land-based abalone farm at Port Fairy owned by Southern Ocean Mariculture Pty Ltd, has devastated wild abalone along 1200 kilometres of the Victorian coast and continues to spread at a rate of about 5kms per month. An abalone farm in Santa Barbara, California, released Candidatus Xenohaliotis Californiensis into the environment, causing devastation to native black abalone populations. That species is now listed as endangered. Why would anyone want this on Kangaroo Island?

In addition, the abalone farm makes a minimal financial contribution to KI. It is owned by Yumbah, which also owns abalone farms at Port Lincoln, Narrawong and Bicheno. Profits are not returned to the island, and abalone grown here is not marketed as a Kangaroo island product.

Sadly, the time to make these objections, and to launch a campaign to save Smith Bay, was before the abalone farm was established. It is now an operational business, and any concerns or objections it has need to be considered. However, I will just add that the proposed jetty site at Smith Bay is not only the obvious, most economical and most environmentally appropriate site on the North coast, it has previously been dredged and used as a jetty/landing. Due diligence prior to the establishment of the abalone farm would have shown this to be the case, and suggested that another site would have been a better option. To establish a business adjacent to a site previously used as a jetty and likely to be used as a jetty again, and then complain because your business is incompatible with a jetty, is like buying a house next to the airport and then complaining about flight noise.

Worst Case Scenario – A Ship Sinks or Capsizes Resulting in Major Spill of Fuel or Cargo

The plan is for twelve ships per year to berth at a sheltered deep water jetty. Roughly the same number of ships will berth at Smith Bay as cruise liners visit the island each year, except that cruise liners are substantially larger. This is about the same number of ships that dock at Penneshaw every weekend, carrying far more hazardous cargo. In no business or endeavour is it possible to proceed by inventing the scariest possible scenario and then claiming that anyone in favour of the project wants this dreadful thing to happen. Risk assessment has to be based on historical evidence and the real, assessable likelihood of various possibilities.

Ports and Shipping are Incompatible with Aquaculture.

No, they are not. China is the world’s largest producer of farmed abalone, and much of its aquaculture takes place near major shipping lanes and population centres. Many Australian abalone farms are in close proximity to ports; Port Lincoln, Port Fairy, Narrawong – directly across the bay from Portland, to name just a few.

The Federal Government is Deeply Concerned About the Environmental Impact of this Project.

A recent letter to The Islander claimed that “the Federal Government is so concerned that they have placed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act controls over the project.”

It is not a matter of being “so concerned” at all. The Act is triggered whenever an issue is raised about the potential environmental impact of any development. In this case, there have been reports that the proposed jetty may impact nesting areas of endangered birds. This concern is answered simply by pointing out that the bird species reported as potentially impacted do not nest in any area that will be disturbed or affected by the development.

Water Quality Will be Negatively Affected

It is important to understand exactly what is being planned. The jetty at Smith Bay will be operational for two months of the year. During that time it will service between ten and twelve ships. That is, the Smith Bay jetty will service as many ships in a year as travel to and from Penneshaw in an average weekend. Ferries docking at Penneshaw carry, load, and unload creosote treated timber, gas, oil, petrol, building materials, fresh produce and livestock, as well as passengers and vehicles. The ships at Smith Bay will load only an entirely natural product, treated with no artificial fertilisers or pesticides. Natural timber will be stored temporarily on the site, sufficient for the next load. If there is rain, runoff from sheltered timber stacks is no different from rain falling on natural native forest. Nonetheless, the site will be designed to ensure that any runoff is collected and secured.

Water quality at the jetty at Penneshaw is consistently high. There are hundreds of times more ship movements than are planned at Smith Bay, with far more hazardous products, on a shallow sandy bottom, yet the water quality is unaffected. In fact, the water inside the rock wall where the ferries dock is frequently clearer than outside, for the simple reason that the protection offered by the rock wall reduces the amount of sand and organic matter picked up by wave motion, and helps to ensure consistent water quality in the protected area.

In addition, abalone farms in China, South Africa, Australia, the US and other countries operate in a wide variety of locations, with widely varying input water quality and temperature. Input water is filtered, usually through a sand filter, and temperature controlled as required. Provided inputs and filters are managed correctly, they can, and already do, cope with natural day to day changes.

KPT is conducting and will continue to conduct ongoing tests of water quality at the proposed site. The only likely change once the jetty is operational is that there may be a slight reduction in the amount of sand and other suspended matter because of the protection offered by the jetty. There is no objective, evidence-based reason to believe there will be any long term changes which will affect the operation of the abalone farm.

Even if all the Above is True, Water Quality Will Definitely be Affected During Construction.

Two of the advantages of the Smith Bay site are that it slopes steeply down into deep water, and that some dredging has already taken place. The use of a floating pontoon also reduces the need for disruption to the sea bed. Nonetheless, some dredging will need to take place, and large quantities of rocks will need to be placed to construct the jetty out of mostly natural materials.

Fortunately, a wide variety of mitigation procedures are available to minimise silt plumes. These include hydraulic dredging, use of a closed clamshell, ensuring there is no barge overflow, use of silt curtains, and dredging and construction only when tide or current is flowing away from critical areas. Other measures may be available to the abalone farm to alleviate any concerns it has about water quality during construction, including changes to filtration processes, moving or extending water intake locations, enhanced use of water storage and recycling, etc. KPT has employed consultants to consider all available options, and has offered to meet with representatives of Yumbah (the owners of the abalone farm) to discuss these and other measures to ensure the abalone farm is able to continue to operate without interruption. So far this offer has not been accepted.


Objections offered so far either have no basis in real world evidence and experience, or in the case of temporary changes in water quality during construction, can be mitigated to ensure continued safe operation of the abalone farm. The development of a jetty at Smith Bay offers substantial ongoing social and financial benefits to the residents of Kangaroo Island and should proceed.

Science is a Creation of the Christian West

People seem not to realise that religious belief was essential to the development of science.

1. The belief that the world is real, objective, and largely independent of our perceptions, and not simply illusion (maya in Sanskrit). That is, that there is something real and enduring there to investigate.

2. The belief that the world is reasonable, and organised in a reasonable, that is, orderly and consistent way, not not simply according to the whim of ancestors or nature spirits or fickle and jealous gods.

3. The belief that the material world is good, and therefore worth investigating, as opposed to the view that the material world inferior, something to be spurned or escaped from.

We take these beliefs so much for granted; that the world is real and objective, that it is ordered according to laws which can be investigated and understood, that nature/the universe is good, and that investigating and learning its laws and systems is a good and worthwhile endeavour, that we forget that only one culture has ever held these views consistently over a long enough period for science to develop.

Science is a creation of the Christian West.

The more science drifts from Christian theology, that is, the more it drifts from understanding reality as independent and objective, and the more it drifts from believing truth is an absolute value in its own right, the more it will be become empty, political, and corrupt.

Tonga, or Not So Tonga

Tonga pleads with the world: Global warming is real and is affecting us today. Save our pacific island 😢

Two different islands, neither in Tonga

Two different islands, neither in Tonga

There’s only one problem: the picture shows two different islands, neither of which is in Tonga.

The top photo is Kwajalein Island and the bottom photo is Ebeye Island. Although both in the Kwajalein Atoll they are not the same island and are part of the Marshall Islands, a long way from Tonga!

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