Home' Greymouth Star : October 12th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, October 12, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1870 - Robert E Lee, commander of the
Southern armies during the American Civil
1915 - British nurse Edith Cavell is executed
in Brussels during World War One.
1928 - The first “iron lung” used at
Boston Children’s Hospital.
1933 - US bank robber John
Dillinger escapes from a jail in Allen
County, Ohio, with the help of his
gang, who killed the sheriff.
1940 - US silent film star Tom
Mix is killed in car crash.
1967 - Sixty-six people are killed when an
airliner crashes in the Mediterranean.
1984 - Five people are killed when an
IRA bomb explodes at the Grand Hotel
in Brighton, England, during the annual
Conser vative Party conference.
2000 - Seventeen sailors are killed in a suicide
bomb attack on the US destroyer Cole in
2002 - Bombs explode in a resort area on
the Indonesian island of Bali, destroying two
nightclubs and killing 202 people, including 88
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
England’s King Edward VI (1537-1553);
James Ramsey MacDonald, English
labour leader (1865-1937); Luciano
Pavarotti, Italian opera singer
(1935-2007); Sam Moore, US soul
singer, (1935-); Trevor Chappell,
former Australian cricketer (1952-
); Hugh Jackman, Australian actor
(1968-); Martie Maguire, US
musician of the Dixie Chicks (1969-
); Marion Jones, US athlete (1975-); Josh
Hutcherson, US actor (1992-).
“The wise man is astonished by anything.”
— Andre Gide, French author and critic
“ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from
all unrighteousness.” — (1 John 1:9).
scythed through the
status quo of the
Council — retaining only four of the previous
council and giving an over whelming mandate
to Dr B M Dallas to take over the reins of the
mayoralty. Besides a tremendous vote in favour
of Dr Dallas the emergence of Cr R L Trainor
as the next most popular man in civic affairs
came as a surprise.
It was an obvious mandate in favour of “youth
and change” with the well known names of Mr
H Hutchinson and Mr J W Greenhill being
ousted completely from the council — the
former after 21 years’ continuous ser vice. Mr
Hutchinson remains in striking distance being
71 votes behind the last man to make council,
before special votes are counted.
Dr Dallas’s majority of 1716 votes over his
next opponent, Mr J E Stokes is the largest on
A most unusual feature about the
composition of the new Brunner Borough
Council is that brothers are mayor and
deputy mayor. Mr S W Gillman was returned
unopposed as Mayor of Brunner, and his
brother Mr N E Gillman, seeking a local body
post for the first time, was successful in gaining
one of six council seats.
And, as he gained the most votes, he is likely
to become the deputy mayor.
Mr Durham Dowell, the 43-year-old new
Mayor of Timaru, has close ties to the West
Coast. He is a former resident of Hokitika,
the son of the late Mr Edward Dowell, a
well-known Hokitika resident. His uncle, also
Durham Dowell was a Greymouth publican
for a number of years.
uFood for thought
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Negotiators have several terms for
the way they plan to enforce any deal
reached at global climate talks in Paris
this December. “ Peer pressure” and “co-
operation” are a couple. “Race to the top” is
the American buzzword.
What you will not hear mentioned is the
word “sanctions”. Or “punishment ”.
For all their efforts to get 200
governments to commit to the toughest
possible cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,
climate negotiators have all but given up
on creating a way to penalise those who
The over whelming view of member
states, says Christiana Figueres, head
of the United Nations Climate Change
Secretariat, is that any agreement “has
to be much more collaborative than
punitive”, if it is to happen at all.
“Even if you do have a punitive system,
that does not guarantee that it is going to
be imposed or would lead to any better
action,” Figueres said.
To critics, the absence of a legal stick
to enforce compliance is a deep — if not
fatal — flaw in the Paris process, especially
after all countries agreed in 2011 that an
agreement would have some form of “legal
They warn that a deal already built upon
sometimes vague promises from member
states could end up as a toothless addition
to the stack of more than 500 global and
regional environmental treaties, while
the rise in global temperatures mounts
inexorably past a UN. ceiling of 2degC,
with the prospect of ever more floods,
droughts and heatwaves.
That fear finds its sharpest expression
in a proposal from Bolivia’s socialist
government for an International Climate
Justice Tribunal with powers to penalise
countries that break commitments.
Diego Pacheco, Bolivia’s chief negotiator,
said anything less would be “dangerous to
But the idea is a non-starter with almost
every other country going to the Paris
talks, from November 30 to December 11.
Even the European Union, which has
long argued for a strong, legally binding
deal, is increasingly talking about a “pledge
and review ” system under which national
commitments would be re-assessed every
five years against a goal of halving world
emissions by 2050.
Elina Bardram, head of the European
Commission delegation, insisted that
strong compliance mechanisms were vital.
“ Weak rules would undermine the whole
structure,” she said.
However, many developing nations
oppose reviews of their goals, wanting
oversight to be limited to the rich.
Nick Mabey, chief executive of the E3G
think-tank in London, says a Paris deal
is likely to be more like international
agreements limiting nuclear weapons
than accords under the World Trade
Organisation, which can impose sanctions.
A watchword of nuclear non-
proliferation — “trust but verify” — could
be the basis, he said.
Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ former
top climate official, said he remembers
the moment when he realised that the
principle of sanctioning countries for non-
compliance was dead.
In 2001, as a senior member of the
Dutch delegation, de Boer attended a
closed-door meeting of environment
ministers in Bonn, Germany, that was
designing rules to enforce the UN’s 1997
Kyoto Protocol, which obliged about
40 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas
He recalled being struck by the strength
of objections, even from once-supportive
countries such as Australia and Japan, to
any attempt to punish those who fell short
of emissions commitments.
“The agreement was to be legally
binding, but it became very clear that a lot
of countries did not want sanctions,” he
Despite the opposition, a sanctions
regime was agreed later in 2001. It
required any developed country that
missed its greenhouse gas targets between
2008 and 2012 to make even deeper cuts
in the future.
But even those sanctions were an empty
act of bravado by rich nations angered by
US President George W Bush’s decision
in March 2001 to stay out of Kyoto, said
Jan Pronk, a former Dutch environment
minister who chaired the Bonn meeting.
“There was a political feeling that the
United States can not just kill something
that is so important internationally,” Pronk
recalled. But now that even the flawed
Kyoto agreement had expired, he added,
“sanctions don’t mean anything any more”.
He noted that Japan, Russia and Canada
— which was set to break its pledge —
have simply abandoned Kyoto in recent
years, without suffering sanctions.
“ Kyoto was the high-water mark for the
idea of sanctions in climate agreements,”
said Alex Hanafi of the US Environmental
Both China and the United States, the
two top carbon emitters crucial to any
effective agreement, made clear from
the start of the current negotiations
they would not agree to any form of
international oversight. The US position
instead speaks of a collective “race to the
top”, in which countries push each other
to see who can be the greenest.
Nor do the loose commitments being
made by countries lend themselves to
easy enforcement. Russia’s pledge, for
example, says only that limiting emissions
to somewhere between 70 and 75% of
1990 levels by 2030 “might be a long-term
All countries agree that that the
emissions curbs pledged so far are too
small to get the world on track to limit
warming to 2degC.
That means a strong mechanism will
be needed for ratcheting up pledges after
Critics say that simply shaming outliers
will not ensure compliance and that, unless
there are costs for non-compliance, any
country can share in the global benefits
of reduced temperature rises while leaving
the hard work of emissions cuts to others.
But Figueres, the UN climate chief,
believes that cuts in greenhouse gases can
ser ve countries’ economic self-interests.
China, for instance, can improve the
health of millions by shifting from
coal-fired power plants that cause air
And sharp falls in the costs of solar
and wind power also mean that greener
technologies can help, rather than hinder,
economic growth, benefits that were not
so evident under Kyoto, she said.
The Paris accord also holds out carrots
for participation by developing nations,
including a new mechanism to fund loss
and damage from hurricanes, droughts or
rising sea levels.
De Boer, who now works for the
Global Green Growth Institute in South
Korea, said that ditching sanctions was,
ultimately, part of the price of getting a
broad, global agreement.
“The sting has been taken out of the
process ... That means the chances of a
deal are much better.” — Reuters
How do you enforce a global climate deal?
Workers in China unloading coal.
report with an
on Thursday :
research by the
Lab, “digital amnesia” is gradually
blotting out our brains.
The report surveyed 6000 adults in
six western European countries, as well
as 1000 people in the United States,
about things such as the phone numbers
they memorise and what they do when
they need to remember a fact. Among
Americans, half said they would try to
look up an answer on-line before trying
to remember it, and 29% said they would
probably forget it again right after.
Europeans were not quite so bad, but
pretty similar: 36% said they Google first
and think later; 24% admitted they would
forget the Googled thing as soon as they
closed their browser.
Across the board, everybody’s obsessed
with their smartphones: More than 40%
say their phone contains “everything they
need to know.”
Granted, you probably do not need a
laboratory study or a large-scale sur vey
to confirm a phenomenon you have
obser ved yourself. How many people
memorise phone numbers any more?
How many get around without consulting
But while it is undeniably true that we
rely on technology as a sort of memory
aid, the jury is still very much out as to
whether that is a positive or negative
thing. After all, the issue can be framed
in two different ways: Either the internet
is replacing our natural mental capacity,
or it is augmenting it.
That may seem counterintuitive, but
consider two oft-forgotten facts about
how memory works. First off, memory
endeavour, constrained to your head.
Research suggests that we have always
relied heavily on other people, as well
as on tools like diaries and post-its, to
remember all kinds of biographical and
general facts. This is called “transactive
memory,” and it basically means that
we store information not just in our
brains — but in the objects and people
Second, “remembering” is not an
inherently good thing, and forgetting isn’t
inherently bad. It doubtlessly does not
seem that way when you are punching
in repeated wrong PIN numbers at the
ATM. But generally speaking, your brain
has only so much space to store memories
— rather like your phone. At some point,
you have to delete all those old photos
and apps to take new ones.
This brings us back to the spectre
of “digital amnesia”: the idea that our
computers somehow hurt our memory.
But when you remember that we have
always stored memories in outside people
and things, and that we do not have the
capacity to remember everything, the
phenomenon looks less like amnesia and
more like prudent outsourcing.
That was, in fact, the conclusion of three
psychologists who studied the “Google
effect ” in 2011: Although their results
were widely interpreted as evidence that
Google makes us forget, the researchers
themselves were far more optimistic.
“ We are becoming symbiotic with our
computer tools,” they wrote, “growing
into interconnected systems that
remember less by knowing information
than by knowing where the information
can be found.”
The technologist and Columbia law
Professor Tim Wu has written what
is perhaps the clearest defence of this
development: If a time traveller from the
early 1900s encountered a modern-day
person with a smartphone and spoke to
her through a curtain, what would he
He would be amazed by her ability
to solve complex equations, to answer
obscure trivia questions, to quote
things in foreign languages. To him, the
smartphone user would seem like some
kind of genius. (To us, she would just
seem like some chick with a phone.)
“ With our machines, we are augmented
humans and prosthetic gods,” Wu writes,
“though we’re remarkably blase about
that fact, like anything we’re used to.”
Besides, raw human memory is not
all that it is cracked up to be. Take this
amnesia report from Kaspersky: It came
out four months ago — long enough for
us to forget the first round of coverage
and start reanalysing.
— New Zealand Herald
Google making us forget
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