About me, Dave Clarke, writer of the Ramblings of a Bush Philosopher

Also see
My life
The page created about early 2002, modified 2017/07/07
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com   Google search this site

On this page

Why do I write these pages?
My background
My greatest concern
Two long walks
A fortunate life
Environment and me
CO2 production calculation
CO2 abatement calculation
Buying green electricity
My affiliations
A purpose
The end

What is precious to me?

My family;
The advance of science (and the fight against ignorance and superstition);
Philosophy – including especially moral philosophy (ethics);
The natural world;
The arts;

Truth is of huge importance and it is under siege in this age as much as in any other. Among the enemies of truth are religion and other superstitions. These are delusions. We must examine ourselves and our beliefs, searching for posible delusions.

Science has much in common with truth; it is a method of discovering the truth. The scientific method is probably the greatest discovery of Mankind. Science has shown us how the Universe works and has brought us most of what is good about our present civilisation; it has brought us knowledge. But science is under attack from those who do not like what it is showing us; in particular those religious people who deny evolution and from climate change deniers. These groups prefer to choose beliefs not supported by valid evidence.

Philosophy informs us of how we should live, teaches us to evaluate arguments and to critically look at all beliefs and opinions. Philosophy places everything, including science and truth, into context.

Flinders Ranges
Flinders trees
Native cypress trees
The natural world, our living environment and the non-living part of the biosphere that supports life, must be protected if the lives of all of us, and our decendents, are not to be greatly degraded. This of course includes the atmosphere and oceans (climate change, ocean warming and acidification). The natural world is more under threat today than ever before; at a time when altruism toward nature is required, people seem to be just as selfish and short-sited as ever; will they ever realise that without our environment we have nothing? I have decided to do all I can in the remainder of my life to try to get serious action on climate change.

The arts: Some of the greatest creations of the human spirit;

  • Music: I could list hundreds of pieces here –
    • Borodin Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2 in D Major;
    • Dvorak Part six of his Stabat Mater; Tenore solo, Coro. Andante con moto (Fac me vere tecum flere);
    • Sibelius Finlandia;
    • Pachelbel Canon;
    • Handel Messiah; Ombra mai fu;
    • Jeffes Music for a found Harmonium;
    • Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending;
    • Ennio Morricone & Chiara Ferrau Nella Fantasia;
  • Painting: A very rough selection of a few of my favourite painters in no particular order –
    • Hans Heysen (Australian; particularly known for his paintings of gum trees and the Flinders Ranges);
    • Rembrandt;
    • J. M. W. Turner;
    • H. J. Johnstone (I am in love with a single work of his: "Evening Shadows – Backwaters of the Murray" in the Art Gallery of South Australia)
    • The Heidleberg School; particularly:
      • Tom Roberts;
      • Frederick McCubbin;
      • Arthur Streeton;
Islam's antipathy to the arts is one reason I loathe and fear that religion.

Friends; I don't have a lot. I haven't met many people who think like me. Those I have are precious. A Walk for Solar Power significantly increased the number of people I know who think like me, and, I would like to think, the number of my friends.

Freedom; The freedom to do whatever one wants to do, within ethical limits; freedom of speach; freedom of thought, freedom to pursue knowledge; freedom from institutionalised misinformation as exists in places like China and North Korea, or under an Islamic government; freedom from discrimination; the freedom to die if I want to.

What is loathsome to me?

  • Anti-science
  • Lies
  • Delusion and superstition
  • Ignorance
  • Greed
  • Corrupt government
Rottnest Island wind turbine
Rottnest wind turbine
This is the wind turbine that PM Abbott claimed he found so objectionable.
Anti-science; the activity of the climate science deniers, those who make up lies about wind power, and those who try to discredit science for whatever purpose.

Lies from people who knowingly lie, who cannot support their arguments with valid and rational evidence, or who simply don't bother trying to discover the truth.

Delusion and superstion; the beliefs held without supporting evidence; including minor delusions such as divination and that great delusion, religion. (Of course there are many very good people who are deluded; but they are good in spite of their delusions rather than because of them.)

Ignorance allows the anti-science forces and the liars to get away with their activities. "Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse." African proverb

Greed; the greed of those who can never have enough money (and the power that comes with wealth) is doing great harm to the world. Society should condemn such people, instead there seems to be a twisted form of hero-worship. Governments should be working toward redistributing the wealth that is in so few hands; instead they seem content to allow the rich to become richer and the poor to become poorer. (I've written pages on corporate greed and contribution to society.)

Corrupt government; such as the Australian Liberal governments of Abbott and Turnbull, who have served the short-term interests of the fossil fuel industries rather than the long-term good of the nation, the planet and all people.

Why do I write these pages?

Since about 1985 I've been writing letters to the editors of local, state, and Australian national newspapers because I fealt an obligation to at least try to make the world a better place.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke
"I aimed to make the Earth a better place – and failed miserably"
Professor Harry Messell (However, the world might have been a better place for his having lived.)
When the Internet became a popular way of spreading ideas I started these pages. I'm not sure when I started; two of the earliest pages were on divining and religion, both written about September 2001.

In 2002 I wrote a page on 'The Real USA' because the pandering to the US by Australian governments, both Labor and Liberal, sickened me. I wanted to show that much of what various US administrations had been up to was far from honorable. This was for a few years one of the most visited of my pages.

Early in 2004 I started writing the pages that have become "Wind in the Bush"; my Net pages on wind power. (I had followed the development of wind and solar power with interest since before the construction of Australia's first wind farm at Esperance in 1987.) The aim of these particular pages is to give the facts, and make an effort to dispell the myths, about wind power. I am convinced that the greatest single threat facing the world in the early twenty-first century is climate change and one thing we can do to greatly slow climate change is to replace fossil fuel electricity generation with renewable energy as quickly as possible.

The fight against the purveyors of misinformation is a never ending job; there are many people with many reasons for trying to discredit this major renewable energy technology; and many of them are not above lying in the effort to achieve their ends.

Many of those who are opposed to wind power also deny climate science because they see that climate change demands moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. To oppose wind power is to support the coal industry by default; air pollution from the mining, transport and particularly the burning of coal kills millions of people world wide each year.

My wonderful family and me.  I'm the one with the white beard
My family and me
I am the one with the grey beard
One of my hobbies is photography
There are a huge number of subjects about which I know very little. I write about those few subjects of which I have some knowledge. I have listed those pages of mine that I believe to be the most important.

These pages serve me as a reference, I often look back at things I've written to fill in some detail I had forgotten, or check on where the information came from. They have helped me, by allowing me to put thoughts into writing, decide what I believe to be right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable; and decide on 'my view of the world'. The fact that I rarely find that something I wrote years earlier does not suit my current knowledge and beliefs is interesting; this could mean that I make few mistakes, or is it more likely that it means I am old and fixed in my ideas?

The structure of hypertext reference pages is ideal for filing ideas under headings and linking them together, allowing ready information retreval, and having it all on computer (and the Internet) makes searching easy.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, you've never been in a room with a mosquito."
Annita Roddick
You'd have to say that the above quotes were simplistic, but they are also basically true; that being the case, I, as an unreasonable man, attempt to do my little bit to produce progress toward a saner, more ethical world (or perhaps at least to slow the decline toward insanity and self-destruction).

It seems that the world is run by madmen (in January 2010, when the stresses that Mankind is placing on this planet should be obvious to all, the leaders of the two dominant political parties in Australia have both said that they believe Australia needs substantially more people, and quickly. Perhaps it is more than coincidence that these two men, Rudd and Abbott, are deeply religious.)

The election of Donald Trump as President of the USA in 2016 greatly strengthened the impression that the world is run by madmen; and that many voters were remarkably stupid.

My writing talents are ordinary, my intelligence likewise, my public speaking abilities nil; but if, by these pages, I can influence half a dozen people to give up superstition or try a bit harder to move the world away from its present race to environmental disaster, or even just to examine the world from a more rational or less selfish point of view, all the writing might have been worth-while. I feel I must try anyway; I dream of a better world.

A disability:
Why write and not speak publicly?

I have never been a good speaker. I have always hated public speaking and always have trouble thinking of the words that I need at the time I need them. When I am debating something I often think of what I should have said about ten minutes after I needed to say it.

Consequently, I avoid radio interviews and making public statements at inquiries, etc.

I suspect that this limitation is sufficient to be called a mild disability. (Maybe it's more than a mild disability; maybe many people have the same disability?)

My background

I was born in the mid 1940s near Adelaide in South Australia. For eight years after leaving school (I loathed high school) at age 15 I worked on the family dairy farm; where I educated myself (a very patchy education) from a set of Encyclopedia Britannica (one of my best ever investments), taught myself some general science, some mineralogy and the qualitative chemical analysis of minerals, lapidary and astronomy and a little mathematics.

Aurland Fjord, Norway
Aurland Fjord
The life of a dairy farmer is hard and the hours are long – I gave it up and got a job with the Adelaide Metropolitan Fire Brigade. After realising that working as a fireman suited me no better than did dairy farming I lived and worked in the bush in the mineral exploration industry for a while, finding that a year in the Australian bush living under canvas can be a great learning experience as well as very enjoyable. In this period I also did a seven week stint studying geology at a summer school in the University of Tasmania.

Travelling overseas for eight months, returning from Europe by the overland rout via Yugoslavia (as it was then), Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore was another once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The last thirty years of my 'working' life was in the hydrogeology (groundwater) field for the South Australian public service.

In this period I taught myself computer programming, first in BASIC and then Pascal; applied this to hydrogeology and wrote two books in Elsevier's Developments in Groundwater Science series: "Microcomputer Programs for Groundwater Studies" and "Groundwater Discharge Tests: Simulation and Analysis".

The Public Service in South Australia at that time discouraged technical officers in hydrogeology from computer programming; computer specialists were employed to do that. (Of course they new nothing about hydrogeology and would have been quite incapable of doing the more important of the work that I did. Such is the public service.) However, I was lucky enough to have encouragement from several superiors (who I have listed under Influences).

Since 'retiring' most of my time is taken up with gardening and looking after the family property, Elysium, and working on this Internet site, especially the wind energy pages.

Gleeson Wetlands at Clare
Aerial view
One of my favourite places
Since late 2012 I have become involved with Lions and since June 2014 I have been particularly involved – through the Lions Club – with Gleeson Wetlands.

Since September 2013 I've also been "Walking for climate change awareness"; removing rubbish from roadsides. The dumping of rubbish on roadsides is similar to the dumping of waste (greenhouse gasses) into the atmosphere.

My greatest concern

I believe that our civilization is quite unsustainable and is heading toward a catastrophic collapse due to climate change (together with ocean acidification) or by one or a combination of those unsustainability problems listed by Jared Diamond in his book Collapse and repeated on my Compare Disasters page (I have added more to Diamonds list here). Such a collapse would probably include terrible wars, mass migrations, famines, and losses to our culture; at worst I can imagine a fall back to barbarism.

Of course it is not only humanity that will suffer due to the errors of humanity; climate change will cause the extinction of many species; not, I suspect, including humanity.

If our civilisation does collapse, and we sink into barbarism, then climbing back to a civilized state could be very arduous, because all the easily mined fuels and mineral resources will have gone – they have been mined out by our society. On the other hand, if our civilisation does not collapse, climate change will result in one of the greatest mass extinctions in palaentological history.

Two long walks

The first long walk

One great experience I had was to walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide in support of a solar thermal power station for Pt. Augusta – to replace the coal-fired power stations that are there now. This took place during the second half of September 2012. One of the best things about it was the people I met. Most of them were young; late teens to early twenties, but there were six others who like me, were in their sixties.

All the over-50s who did the walk
From left to right: Margaret Hender (of CORENA), Pete Gorton, John Bowman, Marty O'Hare, Gaby Jung, Me (Dave Clarke), Bill Gresham, Les Webb. More than two years later I am still in touch with all of them. Note the smoke plume from the Port Augusta coal-fired power station on the left.

I don't have many close friends; I have come across very few people who think like me. The oldies on the walk did think like me! To meet six people who (are roughly my age and) think like me in a group of 60 or so was a revelation! They wanted to see the planet run on ethical principles! They wanted to see serious action on climate change!

The walkers came from all over Australia. There seemed about as many from NSW or Victoria as there were from SA. Others came from WA, Queensland and Tasmania.

How did I handle the walk? (By the way, I was the oldest by about six months.) The first day was only 16km, while the average day was around 23km. I walked the first day with no problems. On the next three days I drove a support car (I was one of the few to have my own car and trailer on the walk) about half the day and walked half the day. From then on I walked all day every day. Raised a couple of blisters on about the ninth day, but apart from that had no problems. Many of the younger people had big problems with blisters and had to take days off.

We met (State) Minister (Energy and Infrastructure?) Tom Coutsantonus on the road. He was very positive about agreeing with our aims, but said that a solar power station at Pt. A. was too big a project for the State Government; money would have to come from the Feds.

There was a lot of media coverage before, during and after the walk. Everyone in SA who had any interest in renewable energy, or in the Port Augusta area, would have heard about it. After two weeks we arrived in Adelaide and there was a rally that started in Rundle Park (Dr Karl Krusetnitski as the main speaker), from there to the steps of Parliament House, then on to Victoria Square. Again, a big media presence.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and it showed me that I am not alone in caring about the world!

The second long walk

Picking up rubbish
In 2014 a few companions and I walked from Melbourne to Canberra to try to get more action on climate change. That walk is described on another page on this site.

A fortunate life

Herat, western Afghanistan, near the Iranian border
There are many ways in which I have been lucky:
  • I was born into a loving family and my parents were intelligent and reasonably well off financially;
  • I was born at a time when science and free thought had largely displaced superstition and religious dogmatism;
  • I was born in one of the more economically progressive, and least religious countries in the world (Australia);
  • I was born in a progressive and wealthy age;
  • I was born before the great concentration of wealth into the hands of a few had corrupted the government of nations;
  • I was born before Mankind's impact on the world had caused the enormous harm that we are facing now;
  • I had the good fortune to learn to question everything – to take nothing at face value. I don't think I can really take credit for this – it just happened;
  • I have a wonderful family;
  • While I have never been wealthy, neither have I ever been poor; I've always had enough income to cover my – and my family's – needs, with enough left over for a few luxuries such as an occasional dinner out and an annual holiday;
  • I have never been a sheep – never cared much about following fashion, always sought to develop my own 'philosophy';
  • I have been lucky enough to not become an alcoholic, not take up smoking, have quite good general health.
I might just as likely have been born into an Islamic country where I would not have had access to a good education, good books, and in which I would have had religion 'pushed down my throat' from a very early age. I might have been born into a poor family in a poor country, in which case I would not have had the oportunity to get an education because I would have to spend all my time trying to feed my family and myself. I might have been born into an earlier age in a Christian country, when religion again would have stopped me from learning a scientific outlook.


Early morning mist, winter, Elysium
Mist at Elysium
Some of the trees we have planted at Elysium

The family property, 'Elysium', in the Clare Valley of 'Mid North' South Australia has a total area of 46ha. We bought it in 1993, when, apart from a small pine forest, it had on it about 50 gum trees and nothing else of note.

It now includes 2ha of shiraz wine-grape vines, about 5ha of olive trees, several plantations of closely spaced eucalypt hardwood trees, and a number of fruit and nut trees. Most of the remainder is now covered with open woodland that I have planted; there would have to be over a thousand gums in total. When these trees mature they will begin to be sustainably harvested for firewood. In 2012 I have noticed for the first time that there is quite a lot of natural propergation of 'my trees' happening. The area beneath and between the trees will be available for grazing animals.

There are several photos of Elysium elsewhere on this site. Clare trees is a page I have written detailing my efforts at tree growing on Elysium.

Tyres floating on my dam to reduce evaporation
Mist at Elysium
Reducing evaporation from farm dams in hot dry areas such as the Clare Valley is an important issue.
This photo was taken on a frosty morning in July 2012 before the dam filled.

The environment and me

George Monbiot once wrote "Show me an environmentalist and I'll show you a hypocrite". He had a point. Some of those who preach about the environment are personally responsible for releasing a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. For example, pop singers write songs about saving the world and then tour the world in private jet planes singing their songs. Famous environmentalists continually fly around the world giving talks on environmental responsibility. Of course we must consider the point carefully – how much good do they do compared to how much bad? Perhaps if they did not fly around the world so much they would achieve much less?

My approach to the environment

First I should say that I owe more than I can ever repay to my wife, Denece, for her never ending support and help.

Climate change and the related ocean acidification are the greatest disasters Man has ever faced. Most Australians seem not to care enough to change their greenhouse gas producing habits. I must admit that in the past I have been content to do more about reducing CO2 emissions than most other people; partly due to Monbiot's statement mentioned above I have come to believe that being a little more responsible than most is not enough, one should do as much as one can.

I would like the Earth of the future to be not greatly inferior to the one that I know and love.

The list below I compiled partly because I wanted to make a list for my own interest, and partly in the hope that it might give others some ideas that they may not have already thought of.

Solar power and heat
Our solar photovoltaic panels and solar water heater at Crystal Brook
Small car and trailer
A small car with occasional use of a trailer will produce less CO2 than a big car. This Mazda 121 has only a 1300mL engine, can comfortably tow a trailer with a 500kg load, and as of April 2011 has done 194 000km and is still going strong. Quality is more important than quantity!
Revegetation we have done on one of many Crystal Brook roadsides
New foliage
Some of the native eucalypt trees that we have planted on our property, 'Elysium'.
Solar and wood water heater
At Elysium our hot water comes from this solar panel in the warmer half of the year and from the wood-fuelled heater in the background when the sun is not shining; no fossil fuels needed.
More eucalypts at Elysium
More of the eucalypts that we have planted at Elysium. Self-sown leucoxylon in the foreground, behind those are camaldulensis, cladocalyx, and globulus; in the background are Pinus radiata that were on the property before we bought it.
Wattle Point wind farm
Wattle Point wind farm on Yorke Peninsula. Wind power is not 'the answer' to greenhouse/climate change, it is 'a small part of the answer'. I do what I can to support wind power.

The closest wind turbine to my home is at Clements Gap Wind farm 14km away.

My efforts to become more environmentally responsible

I have listed many actions that governments, industry, and individuals can take to limit their greenhouse impact in my page on What should be done? Of course I try to follow my own suggestions.

Total energy consumption

Peter Seligman, in his book "Australian Sustainable Energy – by the numbers" gives total energy use in Australia as 200kWh per person per day. Of this 42% is electricity (84 kWh/p/d).

My wife and I use a total of about 12 kWh/day electricity (three meters, figures for 2010); this is 100% green power so would equate to about 13 kWh/day at the generators (wind or hydro) allowing for transmission losses. (If we used fossil fuel generated power then the total energy in the fossil fuels burned to supply our 12 kWh/day would be about 53 kWh/day (12 × 1.1 / 0.25, allowing for transmission losses of 10% and conversion efficiency of 25%).

CO2 production calculation

I have used my Greenhouse impact calculator to calculate how much CO2 I expect my wife and I to be responsible for releasing into the atmosphere in 2006. This section was written in February 2006 and updated in August 2006.

I recommend this exercise to everyone. I learned a lot from doing it. (Most of the figures are at least to some extent estimates; of course now [December 2012] they are dated.)

Activitykg CO2
Holiday in VietnamAir travel 4600
Internal travel1000 Vietnam total 5600
Holiday in Western AustraliaAir travel 840
Car travel720 WA total 1560
Use of carsToyota Corona 500
Mazda 1211800 Vehicles total 2300
Electricity consumptionAt home 2900
At Elysium1100 Elec. consumption total 4000
Building concrete cellarCement 4500
Steel1000 Cellar total 5500
Miscellaneous(Guess) 500
Gross total 19 460
Renewable electricity credits Photovoltaic panels-1825
AGL green electricity-3450 Elec. credit total -5275
Net total14 185 =14.2 tonnes

This table shows how much impact holidays involving air travel have on one's greenhouse gas production. The holiday in Vietnam for two people, at 5600kg of CO2, is 29% of our gross greenhouse gas production for 2006!

Note on the cellar, above. We built a large cellar based on a buried concrete tank in 2006. Producing the cement and steel for the cellar released something like five and a half tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. My page on Wind power problems discusses the CO2 implications of cement manufacture a bit more and contains some references. This is a big, one-off, boost to our greenhouse gas production, but should cut our annual greenhouse production from now on by reducing the need for air conditioning. It will also provide a large cool storage space that will not require energy and therefore will not be responsible for producing CO2 for many years. There is more on this cellar in the Australian section of this site.

Activitykg CO2
Use of carsHonda Jazz 1800
Mazda 121600 Vehicles total 2400
Electricity consumptionAt home 2900
At Elysium1100 Elec. consumption total 4000
Miscellaneous(Guess) 500
Gross total 6 900
Renewable electricity credits Photovoltaic panels-1800
AGL green electricity-3500 Elec. credit total -5300
Net total1 600 =1.6 tonnes
Since writing this, it has been pointed out to me that the amount of the generation of the photovoltaic panels should not have been subtracted from the total.

Average annual CO2 production
WhoHow much CO2 released
Average global citizen1
Average citizen if climate change is to be stopped0.3
Average Australian household is directly responsible for14
Per capita Australian CO2 including all sources, eg. mining, manufacturing, office buildings, commercial transport, etc.27
My wife and I (each) 20067
My wife and I (each) 20070.8
I have read that the average global citizen is responsible for releasing one tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere each year (and that this must be reduced to 0.3 tonnes if climate change is to be limited to a acceptable level). At seven tonnes each in 2006 my wife and I, like most Westerners, are way ahead of the average, and we consider ourselves to be careful! The average Australian household is directly responsible for about 14 tonnes per year, but I believe that if each person's share of the CO2 from things, like manufacturing and mining, etc. was included, the total would be around 27 tonnes per Australian per year.

I have only considered the CO2 that my wife and I are more directly responsible for here.


CO2 abatement calculation

I have used my Greenhouse impact calculator to calculate the abatement from the tree plantings on our family property, Elysium. This calculation was done in February 2006.

PlantationNo. treesAve. mass Annual % increasekg CO2
Bore150100 405500
One Hectare60040 408800
Bog10060 402200
Dam paddock1505 2001375
25 300402750
New paddock3001 250690
Open Woodland400 1250920
80300 408800
Totals1805 31 035

Notes on the table

I have calculated that the native eucalypts that I have planted increase in mass by about 200% per year from the end of the first year to about year 5, then increase by about 100% per year to year 10. Where I have used the relatively low 40% annual increase rate the trees are close enough together to compete fairly heavily. These figures are obviously approximations.

These calculation do not include trees and shrubs that I have planted on roadsides; nor the feral pepper trees that I have killed (they will release CO2 to the atmosphere as they rot, but then they will eventually be replaced by native trees).

The CO2 absorbed by the 'Open Woodland' planting will increase quickly as more trees are planted and their average mass increases. These trees are spread over about 35ha.

What I have learned out of this exercise

It has surprised me that the 1800 trees I have planted at Elysium are probably only taking twice as much CO2 from the atmosphere as my wife and I will be putting into the atmosphere in 2006. A lot of land, time and expense has been devoted to these trees. This shows how hard it can be to balance one's greenhouse gas impact and convinces me more than ever that our society should be taking greenhouse/climate change much more seriously.

Buying 'green electricity'

I have also been surprised at how much my personal greenhouse impact was reduced by subscribing to green electricity. Buying 630kWh of electricity (at Elysium, from AGL) at 5.5c/hWh, a total of $34.65, reduces my annual CO2 production by 700kg. This would have to be by far the cheapest reduction that I have managed.


Of course I cannot list all those people who have influenced me (apologies to any I have missed), but some, in no particular order, are:
My parents
My father and mother instilled in me a basic feel for justice, good, decency, honesty, etc. My mother tried to make me religious (Methodist), it didn't work; but my parents tempered their religion with ethics. I was fortunate in having parents who always, at least so it seems to me now, considered my interests and needs at least on a par with their own.
My wife Denece, my son Ken, and daughter Julia
I owe Denece more than I can say. Ken is one of the few people I feel I can argue a moral, scientific or philosophical issue with. Julia helps to keep me in touch with some big sections of society and ways of thinking that I might otherwise neglect.
Socrates, Plato, the ancient Greek philosophers in general
The first recorded reasoned thoughts about ethics. Every thinking person in the West is influenced by these people, I was especially impressed by an early reading of Plato's Republic.
Down the hill
Down the last big hill on the Tumbarumba road to Tumut
Melbourne to Canberra walk
Walking companions
I walked from Port Augusta to Adelaide in support of solar thermal power in 2012 and from Melbourne to Canberra for climate change action in 2014. The wonderfull people with whom I walked have all influenced me; several have remained good friends. (I don't want to list any here because I don't know where I should stop on the list.)
Ian Roberts and Des Menz
Two Clare locals who are inspirational in their environmental and social efforts.
Sandy Dodds
A friend with whom I have had many interesting discusions on ethics, general philosophy, science, government, and other subjects.
Zac Sibenaler, Don Armstrong, Bob Read and Mike Cobb
I was privileged to work with these honest, intellegent, ethical and kind men. At one time or another they were all my bosses. They didn't go very high in the public service because they held honesty and loyalty to the people below them more important than sycophancy and ambition.
Richard Dawkins
Through his books: The God Delusion, The Blind Watchmaker and The Greatest Show on Earth.
Christoper Hitchens
Through his book, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Bertrand Russell
Mainly through his book, A history of Western philosophy, but also though humanitarianism and his example in pacifism.
Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma 'Great-Souled')
Through his example, his 'civil disobedience' and peaceful protest, his way of achieving great things without hurting anyone. If only politicians tried to follow Gandhi's example in getting things changed without blood-shed.
Peter Singer
Through his books: Animal rights, How ethical is Australia, How are we to live?, One World: the ethics of globalisation, Practical Ethics, The Most Good You Can Do.
The Dalia Lama, Bstan-'dzin-rgya-mtsho
Through his book, The Art of Happiness. He seems to have thoroughly developed the Buddhist art of dispassionate analysis of life.
Howard Zinn
Through his book, A People's History of the United States (highly recommended).
Paul Robeson
Through his long and courageous stand for civil rights for his people and for what he believed to be right and his use of patient, peaceful protest.
Danang kids
Danang kids
How many kids like these were killed in the Vietnam War?
Le Cao Dai
Through his book: 'Memoirs of War: The Central Highlands, A North Vietnamese Journal of Life on the Ho Chi Minh Trail 1965 – 1973'; (which I would highly recommend to anyone wanting a glimpse into the Vietnam War from 'the other side'.)
Jared Diamond
Through his books: 'Guns, germs and steel' and Collapse; every thinking person should read Collapse because of its applicability to the present times.
His philosophy was weak but he had some great ideas. Anyone raised as a Christian in a predominantly Christian country cannot help being influenced by Jesus. Christianity and its successor, Islam, were largely disasters; they stopped people from thinking clearly and freely and they lead to many wars and enormous cruelty and injustice, but Jesus should not be held responsible for this.
Saint Francis of Assisi
For his early (for the West) realisation that other animals are our brothers
Catherine Ingram
Through her book, 'In the Footsteps of Gandhi', which discusses a number of people who have adopted Gandhi's methods of non-violence to bring about change.
The great early scientists, and science in general
Too many to name; where would we be without them, and it? They had a lot to do with saving us from the dictatorship of monolithic Christianity.
Charles Darwin
By explaining organic evolution so well that no reasonable person could doubt its truth he helped to free the world from the God delusion. (God was no longer needed to explain life on earth.)
Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha, Buddhism)
Like all the great religions, Buddhism includes a lot that is nonsensical, however there is a lot that is admirable in Buddhism.
Terry Lane
An exceptionally insightful, well informed, and intelligent ABC radio interviewer; now retired
George Monbiot
A journalist dedicated to honesty, truth and a future for the Earth. Writes for the UK Bulletin and keeps an excellent Internet site.
Jonathan Neale
Through his expose in A People's History of the Vietnam War; one of the great crimes against humanity of recent years.
Hitler, Stalin, George Walker Bush, John Winston Howard, Anthony John "Tony" Abbott
Negative influences: twisted men who believed that power and wealth are sufficient for greatness, that war can be good, that governments can limit freedom of speech and the press when they choose, that people can be locked up indefinitely without trial if that is convenient, that immoral means can be justified by the end (which may never be achieved), and that the only value the environment has is the wealth that can be got from it. They were willing to damage the world for what they saw as the short term 'good' of their classes or for their own glory.

My affiliations

I write these pages with a completely free hand. I am not beholden to any company, lobby group, political party or government; however as of August 2011 I did have the following affiliations:
  • Moderator, Yes to Renewables – Australia;
  • Life member Trees For Life, South Australia;
  • I have financially supported the Australian Greens and was for many years a member of the Australian Democrats;
  • I have given donations to, and continue to support, various environmental conservation groups as well as general charities (from April 2013 Denece and I have given about 13% of our joint income);
  • I am a supporter of 'Death with dignity';
  • I have sold limited rights to some photos, including to wind farm operators;


Many of the books that have influenced my way of thinking are noted above under Influences; others are below...

Ethics in Practice: An Anthology
Edited by Hugh LaFollette, Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies

His Dark Materials
A trilogy novel written by Philip Pullman: apart from being a very good read, it gives a fascinating and novel interpretation of the Judeo-Christian mythology. It is the only story I've ever come across that explored the possibilities in the concept of the overthrowing of God. Published by Scholastic Children's Books.
(Had it been written about Islam rather than Judeo-Christianity it would probably have resulted in the burning of many embasies.)

The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli explored the possibility of divorcing politics from ethics; John Howard and Kevin Rudd could have taught Machiavelli a thing or two.

The Coming Famine: The global food crisis and what we can do to avoid it
Julian Cribb; one of the aspects of the end of the current civilisation is the unsustainability of present farming methods and the increasing demand for higher quality food.

Philolsophy (Beginners Guides)
Peter Cave; Forces questioning of most of the things that one thinks one knows.


About 1988 I started planting native trees along roadsides around my home town, Crystal Brook.

Crystal Brook area

Binney Road
Trees along Binney Road, Crystal Brook
Pepper trees at Bowman Park
Bowman Park. Most of the lower trees on the left are feral pepper trees
The first road I planted was Binney Road west of Frith Road, photo at right. I was not the first to plant native trees along this section of Binney Road, the trees on the south side near Frith Road were already there. I don't know who planted them.

Other roads planted were Frith Road, Darbon Terrace, (and the two apparently unnamed roads on the western side of town that run between Binney and Darbon), parts of Bowman Park Road, the main road to Adelaide (extension of Gadd Avenue), and the track that runs along the creek near the Motocross track.

In the first year I planted Australian native trees that were mainly endemic to Western Australia; after that I only planted species that were endemic to the local area.

Feral pepper trees

Starting about 2002 I began trying to remove feral pepper trees along the Crystal Brook. At first I cut and swabbed trees upstream of Lions Park, not very successfully. Someone else later did more work on these trees.

In August 2003 I started killing pepper trees along the Crystal Brook at Bowman Park. I kept the local council (Port Pirie Regional Council) fully informed of what I was doing. To say the least, Council has not been supportive, although they have agreed that the pepper trees should be removed. I have discussed this in my blog. I intend to continue this project until all the pepper trees along the creek in Bowman Park are dead.

When the pepper trees are gone the native red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) will be able to take their place. Many red gums along the Crystal Brook have suffered greatly from a lack of water in recent years. Killing the pepper trees will make many thousands of litres of groundwater available to the gum trees each year.

The method I have used to kill the pepper trees is drilling and injecting with Garlon. This is done by drilling 6mm diameter holes at least to the cambium layer at about 5cm spacing around the trunk of the tree and then immediately filling the holes with neat Garlon. The holes should slope downward and should be as close to the base of the tree as possible. I have been informed that glyphosate is just as effective as Garlon, but have not yet tested this.

Clare area

Cutting pine
Getting ready to ringbark one of the larger of the aleppo pines in Spring Gully Conservation Park
About 2000 my son Ken and I killed all the feral aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis) in the section of Spring Gully Conservation Park near the spring.

In early 2005 I got permission from the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council to begin removing feral trees and revegetating with natives along a length of the Clare to Blyth road. The section I am working on runs from the top of the hill overlooking Blyth (Lat. S33.84039, Long. E138.55978) about a kilometre down the hill (to Lat. S33.83981, Long. E138.54965).

Blyth Road east of this point is crowded with ferrel trees, mainly aleppo pines, but also olive trees and others; there is very little native roadside vegetation remaining between Scobie Road and the top of the hill. There is a lot of native vegetation remaining along the section that I'm working on, but there is also many ferrels: mainly aleppo pines, olives and briars.

As of April 2006 I have killed most of the aleppo pines. They are easy to kill. The smallest are easiest handled by pulling them out, larger ones can be cut off at ground level, and the biggest can be ring-barked.

Olive trees are much harder to kill. Again, the smallest ones can be pulled out, slightly larger ones can be dug out with a pick. Cutting larger trees and immediately swabbing the stump with glyphosate might kill them. I am intending to experiment with drilling an injecting (as used against pepper trees, above) in future.

Gleeson Wetlands

Starting in June 2014 the Clare Lions Club took part responsibility for looking after the Gleeson Wetlands. I have taken a large part of this on myself.

This section added 2017/07/07

A purpose

Boco Rock Wind Farm, New South Wales
wind farm
Debunking the lies about wind farms has given me a purpose – see the main text.
As I have written elsewhere in these pages I do not believe that there is any ultimate purpose to life apart from that forced upon us by our genes. No open-minded thinking person can place any credence in religion.

Yet it seems to be human nature to crave a purpose, so what purpose can one give to one's life? Apart from the day-to-day necessities of living, can we feel that we have some value? How can we have any self-respect if we see our existence as useless and pointless?

In the first few decades of our lives we are occupied with our education, finding our place in life, and probably finding a partner. Once we have children (supposing we are among those who do have children) we have a purpose in giving them the best possible start in life that we can. (Abraham Maslow produced a hierarchy of needs, which is very relevant to this subject, but too complicated for me to go into on this page.)

But when our children have left home and become independent, and supposing that we are sufficiently financially secure that our immediate needs are taken care of, what purpose remains to life?

My musings on ethics has convinced me that I can and should make an effort to do what little I can to make the world a better place in my remaining years. (I have written at some length about my general background elsewhere on this page, and in relation to my support for a local windfarm elsewhere in these pages.)

I am convinced that climate change and ocean acidification are the greatest threats to the future of life, as we know it, on Earth; and also that humanity could greatly reduce the harm that we are doing to the planet with relatively little effort. Yet we are not making that required effort, and the Earth continues to suffer from our misuse. So I feel that my primary purpose at this point of my life (2017) is to do what I can to try to get action on greenhouse emissions. At the same time I will do what I can to try to improve my local environment.

It happens that the region in which I live is well suited for wind farms, which reduce greenhouse emissions by displacing fossil fuel generated electricity. Some of the local wind farms that are present have been built with little or no opposition, others have had determined and vocal opposition. Many of the arguments put forward by the opponents are either ill-informed, dishonest, or misleading. No one else in my region, apart for those who are building the wind farms, have made much effort to try to counter the misinformation from the wind farm opponents, so I have found a purpose in doing so myself as an independent voice. On another page on this site I have discussed at some length why I support a proposed local wind farm which is suffering from selfish, short-sighted opposition.

The end

My wishes regarding the tail end of my life might as well be recorded here as elsewhere.

If I ever mentally deteriorate, or suffer an injury which causes loss of mental function, to the point that I am no longer recognisably the same person, I want to be euthanised. If that is not legal, I do not want to be kept alive by any means whatever; if I am not capable of feeding and looking after myself, I want to be allowed to die.

I do not want or intend to go into a nursing home. If I become incapable of looking after myself I intend to kill myself. My current thinking is that I will do this by placing a plastic bag over my head and injecting into this bag a flow of an inert gas (such as argon or helium). I believe that the inert gas works to displace the carbon dioxide which would otherwise build up and cause the feeling of suffocation. Anyone killing themselves by this means, I believe, will slip into unconsciousness in a very few minutes and die shortly after.

In October 2012 I signed a form donating my body to science by the University of Adelaide.

Funeral Instructions, apologies to Martin Jabez Leese –
"No fuss or bother. Above all, minimal cost. If you can get away with digging a shallow hole in the garden at Elysium then do so, I might do the plants some good. Alternatively, have me stuffed and placed in your living room as a conversation piece. (If I am holding a tray, people can put things on me.)"
From Pithy sayings; there is great wisdom on that page.



On this page...
A disability
A purpose
A fortunate life
Two long walks
Buying green electricity
CO2 abatement calculation
CO2 production calculation
Environment and me
Gleeson Wetlands
My affiliations
My background
My greatest concern
The end
What is loathsome to me?
What is precious to me?
Why do I write these pages?