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Friday, 29 January


A question about group selection John Quiggin

I’m doing some work on evolutionary models of game theory and need to understand the debate about group selection. It seems pretty clear that the great majority of evolutionary biologists reject the idea of group selection, but I haven’t found an adequate (to me) explanation of why they do so. A crucial problem for me is that the literature seems, without exception as far as I can see, to conflate group selection with co-operation and altruism. But the problem of group selection arises in non-cooperative settings, provided they are not zero-sum.

To illustrate the problem I’m struggling with, suppose that two previously isolated species meet as a result of some change. In one species (peacocks), competition between males for mates takes the form of elaborate, and energetically costly, displays. In the other species (penguins) males compete by providing food to their mates. In all other respects (diet, predators and so on) the two are similar. It seems obvious to me that the penguins, with their more efficient social arrangements, are going to outbreed the peacocks and eventually drive them to extinction.

It seems to me there are only two possibilities here
(a) My reasoning is wrong, and we can’t judge which species, if either, will dominate; or
(b) Even though it involves one group being selected over another, this isn’t what is meant by group selection

I’d really appreciate some help on this. I’m happy to have thoughts from anyone, but I’d most like to hear from actual experts with contact details.


The Weekend Quiz – January 30, 2016 Bill Mitchell – billy blog

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. Workers can enjoy a stable share of national income over time if they secure wage and salary increases in line with the growth in their contribution to production (labour productivity).

2. The tax revenue a government takes in each period has no bearing on the real spending capacity of a sovereign government.


Garnaut – time to write down value of power grids Renew Economy

Listed companies are being forced to write down value of fossil fuel assets in face of falling prices and cheaper renewables. Ross Garnaut argues that grid owners should do the same, given progress of solar PV and battery storage and the shift from centralised generation.


What comes after solar PV? BIPV Renew Economy

Why build a roof and then add solar panels to that roof? Why not simply make the roof and the solar panels one and the same?


Australia’s energy productivity plan promises much, but can it deliver? Renew Economy

Australia has a sorry track record on energy efficiency and policy reform. The productivity plan provides little reassurance this will change.


Records broken as two Melbourne CBD icons make switch to solar Renew Economy

Melbourne Lord Mayor says installation of Australia's highest commercial solar system on CBD skyscraper represents new frontier in shift to solar.


California keeps retail rate for rooftop solar, adds time-of-use Renew Economy

A big win for the solar industry, as California regulators retain retail prices for the output of rooftop solar PV.


Energy switch: Is renewable electricity now driving coal prices? Renew Economy

It’s time we started thinking of renewables as a driver of fossil fuel demand – instead of the other way around.


The moral case for fossil fuels? Let them eat solar panels Renew Economy

Rolling out renewable energy around the world should be the real legacy of the Paris climate agreement.


Infigen cashes in on high LGC price as renewables construction remains stalled Renew Economy

Infigen revenue boosted by rise in LGC prices, but still no new construction of renewable energy projects.


February Forum: Beth Jackson previews the environmental art exhibition – Bimblebox Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Thursday, 4 Feb; 7:00 pm; ] Beth Jackson will present a preview of Bimblebox: art – science - nature, at our first open forum of 2016. Bimblebox is an exhibition that showcases artists interpretations of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge which is currently under threat from coal mining. Inspired by the unique ark of life found at the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, a group of [...] full article »


EcoArts Australis 2016 conference program Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Sunday, 14 Feb to Tuesday, 16 Feb. ] Dear friends I am writing regarding the forthcoming EcoArts Conference. Over the last few months I have been previewing the presentations for the conference and I have been very excited about their by quality and range. They are a visual and aural feast! Ecoarts Australis Conference 2016 draft program 14Jan2016 I hope you may still be persuaded to [...] full article »


Solar Supercharge: the program is out! 13–15th Feb in Brisbane Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Saturday, 13 Feb to Monday, 15 Feb. ] I'm thrilled to announce that the Solar Supercharge program is out! Click here to view the program in full. Solar Supercharge is a 3-day national action summit for clean energy happening in Brisbane, 13-15 February. It's the moment when leaders and volunteers from across the clean energy movement all come together to hear from expert speakers, [...] full article »


First Tesla Powerwall installations in homes begin this week in Australia Renew Economy

First Tesla Powerwalls to be installed in Australiam homes, as the US battery storage maker extends its fast-charging network for its up-market EVs.

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Thursday, 28 January


Listening to past Treasurers is a dangerous past-time Bill Mitchell – billy blog

On January 23, 2016, a former Australian Treasurer Peter Costello (1996-2007) gave a speech to the Young Liberals (the youth movement of the conservative party in Australia) – Balanced Budgets as a Youth Policy – which was sad in the sense that some people never get over being dumped as out of touch and unpopular and was ridiculous in the sense that it is a denial of reality and macroeconomic understanding. He mounted the same old arguments that have been used to justify the pursuit of fiscal surpluses (grandchildren etc) but failed to recognise that his period as Treasurer was abnormal in terms of our history and left the nation exposed to the GFC as a result of the massive buildup in private sector debt over his period of tenure. The only reason he achieved the surpluses was because growth was driven by the household credit binge which ultimately proved to be unsustainable. Fiscal deficits are historically normal and should not be resisted. They are the mirror image in a national accounting sense of non-government surpluses, which historically, have proven to be the best basis for sustained growth and low unemployment.

Peter Costello was the Treasurer in the last conservative government which held office between 1996 and 2007. He aspired to be the Prime Minister to replace John Howard but he never had the numbers to depose the increasingly disliked Howard.

When the Liberals lost power in 2007, he declined to stand as Opposition leader and retired from Parliament. He never really had the heart to see his way through the Opposition years and instead we saw Tony Abbott take over the conservative leadership and become Prime Minister in 2013 (he has now been shown the door by his party).

While Costello was the Treasurer, the government ran fiscal surpluses in 10 of the 11 years is in office.


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Friday, 11 December


AURG Working Bee corner of Jeffery and Douglas Streets, Sunday 8:30am 13 December Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Sunday, 13 Dec; 8:30 am; ] The AURG is holding a Working Bee on Sunday 13th December, 2015. Members and friends this is a short notice call for assistance to spread mulch on the morning of our scheduled Christmas Party. Helen Webb has planted out the remaining seedlings left over from our November working bee. Whilst planting out these, Rob Johnson from Armidale [...] full article »


Black Gully Festival 2015 and Armidale Urban Rivercare Group videos Sustainable Living Armidale

These two videos were shown at our pop-up solar cinema in front of Tatts at Christmas in the Mall. It’s been a big year with over 500 photos published and 5 videos. full article »

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Wednesday, 09 December


Save 700 lives a year by cleaning up air/woodsmoke pollution Sustainable Living Armidale

The Environment ministers meet next week (15 Dec 15) to decide on wood heater “standards”. We need to keep up the pressure to make sure they know how unacceptable it is to have a “standard” set by industry that allows new woodheaters to emit more PM2.5 pollution in a few hours than the average car [...] full article »

Tuesday, 01 December


Armidale People’s Climate Rally – afternoon in video and photos Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Sunday, 29 Nov; 1:00 pm; ] The people of Armidale have created a long banner, a visual petition, a Road to Paris about the world we want to live in and what could be done to limit global temperature rises. It is 60 meters long with drawings and phrases, names and even a few poems. Here is the finished banner to [...] full article »

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