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Showing posts from December, 2020


Bless this Mess and Merry Christmas 2020

  Not the usual Christmas display  Not exactly a White Christmas Downunder but it’s raining hard in this little corner of the world. I won’t complain. It’s better than the drought and bushfires of last Christmas. It also makes cooking and eating those traditional Christmas dinners with roasts and doughty puddings a lot more pleasant and appropriate. Christmas will be more subdued this year. Gatherings will be smaller. There won’t be the great scramble of holiday makers and visitors. The pandemic still stalks the land -Sydney has new outbreaks, mostly courtesy of returning travellers, though we are still better off than many, especially those in the USA and the UK.   Many Australians and others are also still stranded overseas or in quarantine. We hope you’ll manage to catch a bit of Christmas cheer too. Same goes for those still in detention here or elsewhere, those stuck in refugee camps and those who have no home to go to. If you are wondering why I am in the middle of a mudd

Extreme Weather – 3. Dealing with floods

  Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay As I write there are flood warnings out for southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales with many small towns being evacuated and promises of more rain on the way. While there have always been floods, their number and intensity has increased as the world warms. Higher temperatures of both sea and land lead to increased evaporation and increased rainfall and the number of days of heavy rain have increased every decade in line with global warming. Unfortunately Australia has front row seat when it comes to climate change and should serve as a warning to other countries. Should you have doubts take a look at the video "Hell to Highwater" produced by the BBC earlier this year right after the bushfires.* The number of flood deaths has also been rising, not just here but in the USA as well. It is the second highest cause of death from weather related phenomena after heatwaves. The USA has recoded an average of 86 deaths a year

Human Rights Day – December 10

  It’s the season of Peace and Goodwill and it’s also a frantically busy time of year – it's the end of our the school year, there are concerts, workplace functions, Christmas Holidays to get ready for and  compulsory get – togethers with family and friends. There have also been so many Commemorative days crammed into the last month or so that I have no hope of covering them all. Nevertheless, I will do my best to mention at least a few of these starting with Human Rights Day which was on December 10. This year’s theme is “Recover Better, “about using the extraordinary involuntary opportunity with which Covid has presented us to improve life for as many people as possible. For those at the back of the class who may be unfamiliar with the concept of Human Rights we’ll start with a brief outline about the origin and content of the Declaration of Human Rights (see video below) and then I would like us to spare a thought for those who are not able to enjoy those rights, particula

kindly reprinted from The Conversation

Could traditional architecture offer relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf? Erwin Bolwidt/Flickr , CC BY-NC-SA Amin Al-Habaibeh , Nottingham Trent University Temperatures in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Iran could soar to uninhabitable levels during the course of this century, according to a new study . Already, places such as Al Ain and Kuwait can experience temperatures of up to 52℃. But the study predicts that the effects of global warming and the increase in greenhouse gases could push the average temperature up to the mid 50℃s or lower 60℃s. Currently, many residents of the gulf can find refuge in air-conditioned homes, shopping centres and cars. But as temperatures increase, so does the need for cheaper, more sustainable, less energy-intensive ways of staying cool. Fortunately, the region’s past offers a rich source of architectural inspiration. A history of heat Historically, the inhabitants of the Gulf were eit