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On this episode of Fuzzy Logic we had three researchers from the Australian National University (ANU):

Alena Kimbrough a paleoclimate scientist who has been researching rainfall in Indonesia over the past 380, 000 years by analysing stalagmites from caves in Sulawesi.

Katharine Grant,also a paleoclimate scientist who uses ocean sediment cores to gain understanding of the earth's past climate even further back in time.

Rebecca Colvin,  a social scientist who is working to understand how human group behavior effects our relationship with issues such as climate change.


As population soars in a rapidly deteriorating global environment, it's hard to remain optimistic. We ask ourselves, what does it mean to have hope? Do we give up and fall into despair?

This is the question our two guests touch on in these interviews. Clive Hamilton is a the well-known author of books such as Requiem for a Species and Earthmasters. Robyn Williams is the renowned presenter of the ABC Science Show.

Interviews by Rod.


Peak Oil

Peak Oil, remember that? Back in 2008 we interviewed Robert Rapier, a respected analyst in the energy business. It's interesting to look back and see what has - and hasn't changed since then. Oil is as dirty a source of CO2 as it ever was. Or arguably, it's dirtier now because it requires ever more energy to extract as easier sources are depleted.

Fears of Peak Oil have largely faded as unconventional reserves are exploited, especially in the USA. But, the day must come when oil declines. In a recent blog post, Robert Rapier refers to US shale oil: "depletion of the best drilling locations, and too many wells drilled too close together for the slowdown."

Robot Hand

The mountains of waste we produce are a growing problem. Surely we can do better than just burying all that stuff in a hole. Recycling is an obvious part of the solution, but it's tricky because waste usually arrives as unsorted piles. To recover the value, first we must sort it.

That's what David Hinwood aims to do with his robotic hand. For now, he's focussing on sorting textiles, which is more complicated than it looks at first sight.

Brought to you by Caroline and Rod.

Back in 2013, Sustainable Population Australia hosted the Fenner Conference, featuring a stellar cast of speakers. It's fascinating to hear Dr Jane OSullivan, Dr Haydn Washington, Dr Simon Michaux and Dr Michael Lardelli as they talk about the environmental challenges facing Australia and the world.

It's instructive to think about what has - and hasn't changed since then. World population continues to surge, having grown from 7.2 to 7.7 billion. Peak oil has been deferred, largely due to fracking in the US, where production has grown significantly. Populist demagogues hold power in major nations, either denying or ignoring climate change while the Murdoch press has been relentlessly hostile.

In spite of that, the cost of renewable energy has plummeted to the point where it is now out-competing fossil fuels, and installed capacity has vastly increased. Climate change activism has grown into an international movement as people become aware of the dire threat it poses.

Meanwhile, the question of population has remained a fringe issue at the national level although locally, Australians are becoming increasingly concerned.

Interviews by Rod (a SPA member), with thanks to Jenny Goldie from SPA.



I can dance

On Fuzzy Logic we get into the science of dancing. With movement, music, biomechanics and helping us age disgracefully, we learn that science is as much about being alive as it is about cold numbers.

Professional dancers Liz Lea and Philip Piggin describe how science informs their work - and how their work communicates science.

To learn more about Dance for Wellbeing which helps people with Parkinson's, Dimention and other conditions, visit BelconnenArtsCentre.com.au.

Liz Lea is Creative Director of Ausdance ACT www.ausdanceact.org.au

Luckily you can't see Rod's Jive during this interview.

How many people?

Political leaders are fond of saying we need a Big Australia, but what does that really mean? How long can our beautiful arid land keep supporting more and more people? Do we need to keep growing to pump the economy?

Lish Fejer from ABC local radio interviews Rod from Fuzzy Logic.

During the broadcast, Lish mentions Worldometers which shows startling real-time numbers for world population and other statistics.

A human body is a complicated thing, so it can be really difficult to know what happens when you stuff things - food - into it. We eat so many different things that each interact, and we don't even remember exactly what we ate in a day...let alone honestly tell a researcher.

New Scientist recently ran a story, highlighting the nutrition muddle caused by endless conflicting advice. What are we to make of this? 

Dr Nenad Naumovski and Nathan D'Cunha from the University of Canberra join Tom to untangle some of this.


If growth is good, lots of growth must be very good. If we like people, then lots of people must be good, right?

It took 123 years from 1804 to 1927 to add a billion people to the world's population.
It took 12 years to 2011 to add another billion, and now there are over 7.5 billion people on the planet.

Michaeal Bayliss from Sustainable Population Australia talks us through some reasons why we should care. But is that racist? Why not just recycle?

Music we play during the show are from his band Shock Octopus.

Interview by Rod and Tom

This week, Andy is talking with the many wonderful people running events in an around Canberra for National Science Week 2019. 

Find events near you here: https://www.scienceweek.net.au/

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