I HAVE complained in the past about the state of Newcastle beaches environment, particularly the approaches and infrastructure near the beaches. Bar beach is a case in point with cracking concrete and wooden slats on seats not secured in the shade shelters. Is any maintenance done here? Negative, I would say from recent observations. The effluent from the excellent external shower facilities is allowed to flow to or near to the seating (which is also in need of repair) on the lower level. I mentioned to a fellow bather how uncomfortable it was to walk on 50-year-old concrete and was told I should wear thongs. I have often wondered why everyone was wearing them, and now I know. As I said in my previous communication, the environment and infrastructure is in my opinion reminiscent of 1950-60's Scotland.
I have holidayed in Spain, Portugal and France and the difference in facilities is like night and day. Please don't tell me your beaches are the best in NSW; I don't disagree, but it is the infrastructure I am talking about. And dogs at or on the beach? Don't get me started.
Bill Livingstone, New Lambton
A THEORETICAL CHALLENGE
CARL Stevenson's letter (Letters, 7/2) misuses the words "theory" and "facts" in a confusing way, which I believe damages the tone of the rest of his letter.
For those with scientific training, theory is a perfectly legitimate word for a general statement anchored to, and explaining, observable and verifiable phenomena, commonly called facts. However, in the vernacular, theory is given a negative meaning as in the expression "it's just a theory". That type of theory has no credibility and is likely just plucked out of thin air without substance.
Mr Stevenson seems to exclude facts, so obviously he is not using "theory" in the scientific sense. He must be using the word in the vernacular, but without real justification, which usage does he intend? The two are opposite; one positive, the other negative. For the sake of clear expression, I think the word should have been avoided.
Remember that facts do not speak for themselves. It is up to us, the human race, to collect and study facts, and make sense of them. We may, in our wisdom, choose to ignore facts, even to our peril. We cannot make scapegoats of "theory" or "facts', to conceal our own failings.
Mati Morel, Thornton
LET'S PASS FAITH AND DOUBT
AS fires continue to ravage Australia, debate must move beyond whether this disaster is a product of climate change to what actions are required by all of us to prevent similar consequences in the future.
The debate seems stuck, including in the media, on whether one "believes" or "denies" climate change. The loudest protagonists approach the issue with something akin to religious conviction.
The overwhelming majority of scientists are not asking us to believe; they are asking us to read, consider and act.
We have to be guided by science and data. As a manager I need information on the impacts climate change will have on my organisation. Where will we see more frequent and intense droughts and floods and storms? Will there be an increase in desert areas, and where? Which towns are unlikely to have a permanent water supply?
I believe our leaders and the media have not explained well enough why staying under a 1.5 degree increase from pre-industrial averages may avoid the tipping point. This sort of information will help lift community discussion beyond celebrity deniers or believers. Let's focus on the science predicting the outcomes from the natural mechanisms to aid organisations to adapt to the changing environment.
Greg Budworth, Compass Housing group general manager
ANGUISH NO SALVE FOR ACTS
While we all feel compassion for Andrew Constance and indeed all Bega residents over the horrific bushfires, it's a bit early for making judgments about him, Darryl Horne (Letters, 7/2). And now, he's being touted as a future Coalition premier!
Mr Horne's description of Constance as "obnoxious and self-absorbed' seems spot on in my opinion, and leopards don't change their spots.The effects and damage caused by the public transport scheme inflicted on us by Mr Constance and Michael Cassel will be with us for many decades.
Mr Constance has spent most of his working life (almost 17 years, from the ripe old age of 29) in Macquarie Street. Yet ironically, Labor MPs are often criticised for having little or no experience in the "real working world" outside the union movement.
Keith Parsons, Newcastle
MEANINGS MATTER IN DEBATE
CARL Stevenson (Letters, 7/2) misunderstands the relationship between theory and fact. In science, a theory is a well-established concept that explains a fact. It is not an educated guess, as many assume.
A fact is a single observation or result, whereas a theory is a rigorously-tested explanation that both explains the fact and allows for predictions about what future experiments should show.
For example, it's a fact that if you drop a pencil it will fall to the floor. The theory of gravity explains that fact and predicts with confidence that if you drop the pencil again, you will get the same result.
It is also a scientific fact that climate change is occurring, and the theory of anthropogenic climate change is the explanation for why that change is occurring. Just as with gravity, this theory is considered settled science.
Predictions of the theory of anthropogenic climate change have been tested over and over again, and they have consistently come true. Scientists are certain that climate change is a fact and humans are the cause.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
SEISMIC SHIFT IS REQUIRED
A FREQUENTLY asked questions section of Centennial Coal's website states they will conduct a sub-bottom profiling survey and then describes this as a type of sonar technology. This is at odds with the project's review of environmental factors, which states that a sparker will be used and it will produce noise levels of 227 decibels.
My understanding is that this is way beyond the threshold of damage for marine species. The review of environmental factors states "There is extensive evidence that marine species can be impacted" ('Mine delays seismic tests', Newcastle Herald 1/2). It is misleading to present the process as benign. The company's website also cites the similarity of their proposed process with that used in planning the dredging of Swansea channel, but it has been clarified by Transport for NSw in the Herald that NSW Maritime uses echo sounders and not sparkers ('Environmental group calls for longer delay', Herald 7/2). I believe there was scant consultation over proposed survey and planning should start over again.
Peter Morris, Save Our Coast director
SHARE YOUR OPINION
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 0427 154 176 (include name and suburb). Letters should be fewer than 200 words. Short Takes should be fewer than 50 words. Correspondence may be edited and reproduced in any form.
IN reply to Wal Remington (Letters, 1/2), I was a student at Newcastle East Public School in Bolton Street in the 1940s and '50s. I lived across the road from The Star of the Sea School. No goodie two shoes there. We were constantly thrown the line "Catholics, Catholics ring the bell; Protestants, Protestants go to hell". I'm glad times have changed and there is no such division in our society these days, or I hope there isn't.
Dianne Davies, Merewether
I'M not exactly sure why we are evacuating potentially-infected people back into our country ('Virus evacuees headed for Darwin', Herald 8/2). Would it be best to test them first and then decide so globally we have a better chance of being able quarantine a major outbreak? Seems madness.
Paul Jensen, Garden Suburb
WHO is fooled by Mr Morrison's royal commission proposal into bushfires ('Firies reject Morrison's national inquiry', Newcastle Herald 15/1)? The states did an amazing job. The firefighters were courageous. If you ask me, the royal commission idea is a smokescreen to cover a lack of leadership at the highest level.
John Butler, Windella Downs
IF Carl Stevenson (Letters, 7/2) is not convinced that climate change is real and happening now, nothing will ever convince him.
Mac Maguire, Charlestown
PERHAPS it is actually Don Fraser (Short Takes, 6/1) who still has things to get over. In criticising Susie Johnson (Short Takes, 3/2) over the recent Bridget MacKenzie debacle, he harps on about the Ros Kelly affair from over 25 years ago. Mr Fraser, in case you missed it, and unlike Morrison, Keating's personal advisors were not involved and the latest poll showed Labor and Albanese ahead. It's the government and Scott that are in trouble.
Colin Fordham, Lambton
MARVYN Smith (Short Takes, 8/2) suggests I should write to the relevant state minister. Clayton Barr is the state member for Cessnock, which includes Cameron Park, so it falls within his duties. For the record, Mr Barr has now replied to me since my letter was published.
Ian King, Warners Bay
DENNIS Crampton (Letters, 8/2) is right that we have always had heat, droughts and floods, just as we have always had dingbats telling us that rain follows the plough, warming is good, and climate change isn't happening.
Don Owers, Dudley
AT last we have an honest politician, a man who was prepared to put the truth ahead of his political career. I believe American Republican Senator Mitt Romney knew, like every other Republican senator, that the president should have been impeached, but he was the only one who had the guts to stand up and say so. He will be called a traitor by his fellow senators, but when he looks in the mirror every morning he knows he is looking at an honest man. Too bad some of our politicians do not have the backbone and put the truth first and the party second.