A Touch of AUS History

Dr. Martin Crotty, a professor at the University of Queensland, gave a brief lecture on Australian history to my class Wednesday, May 28th. Specifically, he highlighted discovery, settlement, & Australia since 1901 (when it became a federation).

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Dr. Martin Crotty


Déjà Discovery

 

Before Australia became a hotspot for Western Europe, Britain mainly, people had premature ideas of what the great unknown southern land might be like.

Especially after Captain James Cook & Joseph Banks ­­­made the first recorded European contact with Australia in 1770, Europeans were humorously confused by the land Down Under. Crotty said they thought it to be a topsy-turvy place because they couldn’t get a grasp on the wildlife – Crotty explained that Europeans didn’t know where to fit creatures like the kangaroo, very foreign & strange, into their hierarchy of life.

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Like wut? (I think this is a wallaby actually)

During Crotty’s lecture I didn’t think twice about it, but after and currently I had/am having trouble defining exactly what a hierarchy of life is. The easiest way I can explain what I think he meant is: Europeans were extremely puzzled by Australian wildlife Never in their lives did they probably expect to encounter bounding marsupials, kangas.

Penal Settlement

 

Before the lecture I knew Australia was settled to house prisoners, Crotty explained why:

1. Work to be done

First and most obvious: Britain had a lot on its plate now that it had claimed Australia – Setting up camp, growing a population, harvesting resources, etc. What way to take care of said work than to use prisoners?

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Off to Australia mate!

2. Overcrowding

Another factor influencing Britain’s use of prisoners to settle Australia was overcrowding of British prisons.

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Hopeless British prisoners, I think…

3. Couldn’t use America

An easier solution in getting rid of overcrowding prisoners would’ve been to send them across the Atlantic to America – a much shorter voyage from Britain. Unfortunately for Britain, it had just lost its privilege of colonizing America (Revolutionary War). The first British colony in Australia was created in 1788 (in current-day Sydney).

USA USA! (Washington Crossing the Delaware River)

George Washington Crossing the Delaware River (USA! USA!)

Uninvited Americans

 

Crotty brought up the unanticipated tension caused by the presence of American soldiers in Australia during WWII.

This resentment came to be due to liaising between American soldiers & Australian women. The Japanese even played on this tension by dropping instigative propaganda on Australians during the war.

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Japanese anti-American leaflet

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Aboriginal Genesis & More

Mary Graham, a lecturer and Kombumerri person (Aboriginal from Gold Cost, AUS) discussed Aboriginal culture with my class Tuesday, May 22nd. During her talk, I learned about Aboriginal genesis stories & Aboriginals’ relationship with the environment.

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Mary Graham

Land Made Us

Graham was given permission by her Aboriginal peers to share the following Dreamtime story – Many of which are sacred. I’m confident 90% of the below is accurate according to what she said heheh (*nervous laugh).

Approximately 15,000 years ago, there was nothing but land on a flat Earth – no flora nor fauna. Around that time though, life forms began to arise from the land. These beings took the forms of megaflora & megafauna (enormous plants & animals). The flora & fauna shaped the land and each other through their own personal dramas (adventures, battles, etc.).

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An example of megafauna

The last life form to emerge from the land was a proto human. Just like they did to the land and each other, the flora & fauna helped develop the proto human.

With time, the megaflora & fauna returned home as normal-sized plans & animals came to be. At that time is when life started.

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Aboriginal Dreamtime story artwork

Although variations in this story arise among different tribes, the notion that land created plants & animals, which in turn created man, remains consistent as a major theme. In Aboriginal culture there is no God, heaven nor hell.


How to Address Climate Change

Graham spoke a good deal on effective ways in communicating climate change. I assume most of these methods bare effectiveness especially in the Aboriginal community. From what I understand, according to Graham, understanding the science is perhaps less important than the following:

  • Accept uncertainty

Graham said it’s important to realize anything is possible and although one may feel strongly about his/her theory, it’s vital to recognize others theories – even the unthinkable ones. She mentioned Aboriginal culture is non-judgmental and all perspectives are considered valid.

  • Mental preparedness

Also essential is being psychologically strong in the midst of environmental disaster. Graham said along with being able to cope during a hurricane, tsunami, etc., one must be resilient when dealing with aftermath.

During her talk, Graham said Aboriginals don’t believe in faith, just a psychology of life. For some reason, this has stuck with me.

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Study abroad group & Mary Graham – Throwing up our horns Photo cred: Rachel Robillard

‘Till next time

Still Alive/Koala Sanctuary

No worries! I haven’t been eaten by a great white – I’ve just been a lazy blogger.

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Since my last post, I’ve adventured in New Zealand and started my study abroad program in AUS. Let’s just say while in NZ I tried hard living in the now rather than focusing on real-time chronicling.

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Selfie @ Otehei Bay in the Bay of Islands (NZ)

 

I’ll try my best to designate a future blog post to describe my stay in NZ – which was, in fact, amazing. This post, rather, highlights my first 48ish hours in AUS, esp my visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Lone Pine

As the oldest & largest koala sanctuary in the world, Lone Pine is a great attraction and seems to be a reputable haven for koalas and other Australian wildlife.

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A selfie fail I took at the entrance

Sanctuary vs Zoo

The word sanctuary is a bit more humanitarian-sounding than zoo. Although Lone Pine is hardly your typical zoo, boasting open animal enclosures – letting some roam among guests, there’s still that lingering feeling that makes you question how well the animals are really treated. With the sanctuary’s supposed reputation in mind, overall I had a generally good feeling about its practice caring for its inhabitants.

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A koala looking at something idk

My three-and-a-half hours spent at Lone Pine were mostly self-paced. The sanctuary seemed small but I think that’s because of its somewhat natural environment – The towering trees and low, water-filled ravines make you feel you’re really in a forest, not a zoo…or sanctuary…or whatever.

One of my favorite parts of the visit to Lone Pine was walking in an open enclosure (I know, paradox) with kangaroos, wallabies and emus.

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A wallaby in deep thought

My first impression of this enclosure was will this gigantic bird attack me – As soon as I entered I saw a beast of a bird – perhaps almost as tall as me, walking about 20 ft away (nothing standing between it & me, hence open enclosure).

Thank God the ones at the sanctuary didn't look this menacing.

Thank God the ones at the sanctuary didn’t look this menacing.

As soon as I got over the initial fear of being terrorized by emus (there were a handful), I got a glimpse of some of the enclosure’s more cuddly animals – kangaroos & wallabies. Within 5 minutes of encountering these marsupials, we were petting them/in very close proximity trying to take selfies (hehehhh).

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Selfie w bae (a kangaroo I met in the enclosure)

The second most memorable part of the visit was holding a koala. Her name was Vinny (or some spelling variation of that name). I was on the rocks of partaking at first – mostly due to cost. It was 16 Australian dollars (AUD) to hold her/get a photo taken. It’s super lame but I hate feeling like a tourist; so I started second guessing if paying extra to hold a koala for a minute and a half while I pose for a picture was an authentic experience.

A koala called Vinny & her loving father

A koala called Vinny & her loving father – Photo Cred: Rachel Robillard

I caved and have no regrets. The caretaker had to remove Vinny once during our initial encounter because she started to climb up on my shoulders. This, of course, was totally my fault – my hands, acting as a base for Vinny’s bottom, naturally shifted upwards, encouraging her to keep climbing.

What can I say? I’m a natural father.

*4 June 2014: Update – Feeding a Kanga @ Lone Pine


First Impressions of AUS

Here I’m supposed to reflect on peculiar things/instances I’ve noticed/experienced in relation to living in a foreign place (AUS).

NZ definitely prepared me for living/traveling in AUS – Don’t think I’ve had much culture shock since I’ve arrived in Brizzy.

Cars & money are obvious differences I’ve witnessed.

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Here’s what I believe to be the model/make of the car I ‘hired’ (rented) for my NZ trip – A ’98 Nissan Sunny

I haven’t had too much experience on the road in AUS because most of our transportation is pre-arranged. In NZ though, I had behind-the-wheel experience every day – which was a fun challenge for me. Over here, pretty much everything in relation to cars/traffic is opposite than it is back in the States – Driving on the left (sharp left turns, wide right turns), blinker on right side, etc.

NZ currency - I didn't know $ could get prettier

NZ currency – I didn’t know $ could get prettier

Beside the bills/coins being cooler, mostly just because they’re foreign, speaking on money: things are just more expensive here. I cringed when I noticed what I was about to order for brekkie at a café – basically, an egg scramble, was 22 NZD. The exchange rate between the US/NZ/AUS is somewhat similar.

Climate Change & Feedback

This post had me follow up on a PowerPoint presentation we went over in class: Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 1.16.17 AM

Because I’m a noob, I found the presentation’s breakdown of climate change & the greenhouse effect, especially in comparison to one another, very important.

Before reading on, expect to find several Wikipedia links. Yeah yeah, it’s not super scholarly; but I think it’s effective in establishing basic knowledge.

The greenhouse effect describes the process in which (greenhouse) gases absorb and reradiate (re + radiate; to radiate again) energy from the sun, producing an overall warming effect on Earth (Wiki).

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From the presentation, I learned the greenhouse effect is

  • a well-established theory
  • not debated among scientists
  • essential for life on Earth (warmth)

Not to be confused with the greenhouse effect, climate change describes effects (physical, agricultural, economical, etc.) Earth may endure because of its ever-warming state.

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A polar bear and her two cubs in Manitoba, Canada

Farmer in Chiang Saen - Climate Change Impacts Mekong River (Thailand: 2007)

A dying corn plantation in Thailand

 

The greenhouse effect is a main contribution to Earth’s warming. Unfortunately, human activity, esp in relation to CO2 emissions, acts as a deadly catalyst to this naturally-occuring and necessary process.

Because I found it so important, distinguishing different terms that laypeople (hello!) think are synonymous is useful when reporting on climate change.

In my case, I know now the indisputable greenhouse effect isn’t bad, but actually essential, when left to the auspices of nature.


Positive Feedback 

This is tricky to understand in the first place, so explaining it will be…fun #layperson

What I gather is that positive feedback describes a process in which the effect of a certain change/disruption to an environment (non-specific) in turn causes more change/disruption.

A produces B which produces more of A… (Wiki)

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A positive feedback loop

 

This loop begins (and ends) with climate warming. A warm climate causes water vapor via evaporation. Water vapor, the most abundant greenhouse gas, absorbs and reradiates the Sun’s energy. Reradiating of the Sun’s energy leads back to our initial change, climate warming.

Ice-albedo feedback 

This video and its excruciatingly enthusiastic characters explain a positive feedback loop involving climate warming & ice melting.


My area of focus in Australia is the bush. Here’s a positive feedback loop involving climate change I propose occurs there.

1. We start, again, with the initial change, climate warming.

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2. Climate warming causes bushfires.

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A helicopter water bombs bushfires in southern Australia early 2014.

File photo of a koala named Sam receiving water from Country Fire Authority volunteer fire fighter in the area of Mirboo North

Firefighter feeding Sam the koala water, after bushfire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Bushfires cause greenhouse trapping via CO2 production.

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4. Greenhouse trapping leads back to climate warmingta-dah

sun1


Now I’m supposed to interpret & explain what the below graph (last PowerPoint slide) depicts…

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My bff Wikipedia tells me Mauna Loa is a Hawaiian volcano that is monitored for its atmospheric content, well above human-generated influences. Wiki also assures that adjustments are made to account for the volcano’s own CO2 emissions.

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Mauna Loa has historically been considered the largest volcano on Earth (Wiki).

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Mauna Loa erupting

 

Because Mauna Loa’s isolated conditions, along with the quote on the PowerPoint slide, my investigative journalism skills lede (#punny) me to believe the graph gives perspective on the scale of human-influenced climate change.

Yes, parts-per-million is a miniscule measurement. Significant, though, is the consistently rising trend line – More and more CO2 is being released into the atmosphere. What I find to be most significant here, is the context – These measurements weren’t taken in Manhattan or China, places filled with manmade CO2 emitters like cars and factories. This expresses the idea places that don’t contribute as much to climate change face unwarranted consequences.

Climate Change & The Media

This assignment had me analyze coverage two media outlets gave a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report was accepted by the panel March 30, 2014.

Specifically, we’re dealing with IPCC’s Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. It consists of two documents: The Final Published ReportSummary for Policymakers, the latter baring more significance to the layperson in terms of clarity & understanding. Luckily for laypeople like me, a press release & video compliment the report.

Press release – Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability

Working Group II video 

From the press release, I gather the report is similar to many publications we see today regarding climate change – Nothing I read/saw I would call groundbreaking; but perhaps I’m so saturated in climate change science, every revelation/claim seems hyper-realistic.

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This unimpressed kangaroo is judging me for just saying that.

This report in particular focuses on risk in relation to climate change. Here’s what I found significant from the press release & vid:

  • Those living in poverty, especially in the Third World, are more susceptible to the risks of climate change due to their lack of resources.
  • The sooner we implement solutions, the less likely we’ll experience severe risk – Common sense but useful in developing optimism
  • I enjoyed seeing solution efforts implemented, especially the reforestation of South Africa by the local community.
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A reforestation project aiming to offset aprox 50,000 tons CO2 was established in Buffesldraai Regional Landfill Site (Buffesldraii Community Reforestation Proj)

Reforestation Project – Buffelsdraai Community 


The Media

We were to evaluate a New York Time’s article and an NBC News special on their coverage of the above report.

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come – NYT article, published 31 March 2014

Our Year of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home? – NBC News special, published 7 April 2014

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Before I evaluate either source, I’d like to direct you to one of the other maymester students’ blog post touching on media coverage of climate change: Climate Change in the American Media, In a Nutshell

Analysis of the Two 

To start, these media sources are different in form – one is an article, and the other a video sequence (split into six, sevenish-minute segments).

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I thought the NBC special succeeded in portraying the big picture of current climate change findings/happenings. Ann Curry, NBC News reporter, spent a lot of time covering the connection of recent weather disasters, like the drought on the US’ West Coast & the long, harsh winter of 2013/14, with the occurrence of climate change. Is climate change causing these catastrophic events?, seemed to be one of the main questions during the special. From what I gathered, the most-acceptepted answer was, Probably but not we don’t know. The known, of course, includes the fact that Earth and oceans are warming and sea level is rising. The combined effect of the two may be a direct cause of all this severe weather.

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Dried mud flats in San Luis Resevoir near Los Banos, Calif.

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Snow & ice stall traffic in Atlanta on Jan 28, 2014

newyorktimes-logoUnlike the NBC special, Justin Gillis’ NYT article didn’t stray far from the IPCC report – not a bad thing whatsoever. Along with touching on recent severe weather and the vulnerability of the impoverished, he also cited the report’s claim that the effects of climate change may lead to violent conflict over land, water or other resources. IMO this theory is one of the scariest regarding effects of climate change.

Toward the end of the article, Gillis reveals that pressure from several wealthy countries, the US included, caused the IPCC to remove a portion of its report claiming that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change. That portion of the report is significant, Gillis says, because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September. The wealthy countries argue the $100 billion-figure is too high.

Sneaky, America. Very sneaky

Sneaky, America. Very sneaky


 In Relation to Australia 

What key points are most relevant to my Australian adventure?

The coverage, especially by the NBC special, of severe weather relating to drought is extremely relevant. Most of the Australian continent is already uninhabitable because a lack of inland water. Intensifying these already-dry conditions is a looming drought.

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A helicopter water bombs bushfires in southern Australia early 2014.

This isn’t recent but I had to share it:

After responding to a bushfire in early 2009, a firefighter holds a koala’s hand as he feeds her water. The video of the koala later named Sam went viral after being posted online.

 

What ideas occur to you for reporting on your Australian ecosystem?

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Carnarvon Gorge, Australia

My Australian ecosystem, in this case, is the Outback or bush – The students in my maymester were each assigned an ecosystem in which to lead journalistic coverage on. My group will be in charge when we’re at Carnarvon Gorge.

The use of videos & photos will obviously come in handy for coverage. Carnarvon is an oasis of the bush, so we could focus on comparing it to the dryer areas of the Outback. Perhaps if we found an odd dry patch at Carnarvon, we could somehow explain, with visuals, the patch may be the gorge’s new reality if drought continues. Interviews with experts on the region will also be useful. It would be effective to conduct an interview while walking through the bush. Doing so would not only make the interview more visually appealing, but also give more context.

Tbh though this will probs be me trying to conduct a smooth interview, scream and all:

Economy vs. Environment: Americans Side With Latter

This blog assignment required me to choose a climate change poll, or article, from Gallup.com and explain it, in no less than 500 words (blank face), ‘to the layperson’.

Ok, the word layperson has been used about 6fafj922 times in my maymester seminar since we began discussing science.

Layperson – a person who does not belong to a particular profession or who is not expert in some field (Merriam-Webster)

Exhibit 1: Me

Exhibit 1: Me

Ok, jokes aside, I’m a student of journalism, not science. By no means would I ever pretend, or could pretend, that I was an expert of science. BUT, although journalists aren’t science experts, we can still accurately report on scientific happenings, given we do our homework.

Does hw


gnDEFAULT

Gallup is a research-driven company that helps leaders solve their most pressing problems. It aids both the public & private sector, though is most known for its public opinion polls (Wikipedia).

Tbh I was disappointed I wasn’t more familiar with Gallup before this assignment. Gallup‘s research and polls seem to be of the highest regard. The company is very popular come election time.


 

Now onto the poll I chose – It was published 20 March 2014.

Climate and Change: Americans Prefer Environmentalism Protection Over Economic Growth


Play-by-Play

0:00 – 0:34

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After a brief intro complemented by that lovely, yet twerk-inducing, generic news theme music, Gallup‘s Editor in Chief, Dr. Frank Newport, gets down to business. He rhetorically asks, Which should have the priority: Economic growth or the environment? Newport mentions Gallup has been asking this question for years and just updated the current opinion results. He says that although recent results from Gallup polls show a lack of concern and worry in climate change specifically, Americans are now more concerned about the environment over economic growth – This hasn’t been the case in recent years.

0:34 – 1:03

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Click to enlarge

Newport introduces two inversely-related trend lines expressing how Americans have valued the economy vs. protecting the environment since 1985. He mentions that Americans were given a forced choice between the two. The environment trend line starts out overwhelmingly more valued than its economy counterpart. A gradual decline of the environment line, complimented by a rise of the economy line, occurs until 2004-2005. Once again, environment rises while economy declines – just for a couple years though. The Great Recession commences (’07) and Americans prioritize the economy over the environment. The graph ends with economy up and environment down

1:03 – 1:17

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Newport shows the most current poll results and says we’re kind of where we were in the ’80s & ’90s with 50% of Americans saying protection of the environment should be given priority over economic growth. A lesser 41% of Americans now say economic growth should be given priority. Newport also mentions that the shift in position is likely due to a healthier economy.

1:17 – 2:12

Newport concludes by showing a demographic breakdown of those who voted in favor of protecting the environment.

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Young people are more likely to vote in favor of the environment that those 65 & older.

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Republicans are less than half as likely to vote in favor of the environment than Democrats.


What to Take Away from Poll

At least from the POV of the environment, the poll’s results are hopeful. Since the economy has received its attention, perhaps environmental protection will now shine in the limelight. I believe Americans are a bit more satisfied with the economy (at least more so than in ’07-’09) and are realizing the environment, now, requires much-needed help. It’s a shame Gallup‘s polls show a lack of concern in climate change but I think these results are a start. cubs

What’s Happening?!

Will be traveling around NZ w/ this b before studying abroad in Brizzy!

Cam Goes to NZ and AUS

I still can’t believe I’m typing this but….I’M GOING TO NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA THIS MAY!

Yep, only 42 days, people, until 3 friends and I venture to NZ (the North Island, to be specific) to explore for 10 days before we head to Australia with our study abroad group from UT.

McLennan_ATEED_0041 AUCKLAND, NZ Photo by oceanswim.co.nz

lost-world-epic-7-hrs-waitomo-adventure-centre ROTORUA CAVES Photo by waitomo.co.nz

d-54B0D67C-1A4B-7C6E-9A5C9842E055907A-3747524 BAY OF ISLANDS, NZ Photo by Newzealand.com

While in NZ, we are planning to explore Auckland, Rotoura and the Bay of Islands, specifically Paihia. We’re planning to drink beer/wine, go caving/hiking, eat new foods and meet new people along with the obvious getting to see the beautiful landscape of New Zealand! You could say this part of my adventure will be much different than my experience in Australia.

As I previously mentioned, I, along with 11 other UT students and our faculty member Dr. Kris, will be studying…

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