Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues
The statistics of war and the politics of counting
How many deaths are acceptable in warfare and how many are excessive? Does having a lower body-count automatically mean you win a war? And most importantly, who does the counting. On Big Ideas, Oxford historian Erica Charters challenges the quantitative approach to war. The metrics of warfare developed in the early European wars many centuries ago – but numbers remain at the core of military decision-making to this day.
After the pandemic: opportunities for a better Australia
Is there a silver lining in the seemingly never ending COVID-19 pandemic? Might there be opportunities, if we can learn right lessons, to emerge from the pandemic with a determination build back better? Some hope, ultimately, the pandemic will help re-invent our cities, improve public health, reinvigorate the economy, and tackle social disadvantage. Paul Barclay talks to Peter Doherty and Andrew Wear about the post pandemic possibilities
Plants to power sustainability
Can I interest you in some pasta fortified with crickets or a burger made from plants which looks like meat? This may not sound immediately appetising but, as the world population grows and climate change bites, the hunt is on for alternative sources of protein. We hear from plant scientists who are hard at work developing climate resistant crops with the added benefit of new sources of fuel and fibre. And projects to grow insects for food.
Science, public trust and disinformation
Do you trust scientists or question their independence? Science historian Naomi Oreskes investigates how funding shapes scientific research and how climate science in particular has been misrepresented by fossil industries. She says science needs both public trust and public awareness of the potential use of science to further special interests.
Who is to blame for the environmental crisis, and what needs to change?
For too long ordinary people have been singled out - their actions, and consumption habits, blamed for climate change. Instead, we should be pointing the finger at large corporations, and growth-based economics. So believes writer Jeff Sparrow, whose book Crimes Against Nature argues that unless the economic system changes, no amount of recycling, or individual action, is likely to achieve much. He tells Paul Barclay that, despite this, he is optimistic, because he believes collective action can bring about real change.
Australia’s foreign relations and international responsibilities
Can Australia better manage international relationships and responsibilities in a changing world? Climate change, human rights abuse or COVID-19 for example require a coordinated international response – a coalition of the willing. But is Australia playing its role? Our country has been labelled a ‘rogue nation’ by some. But how bad is our reputation overseas – really?
There’s always something interesting or challenging in this podcast. It’s utterly compelling. So many different guests and topics. Fantastic content from ABC. Love listening to this and other content from Australia here at home in Scotland. Thank you for bringing the world closer when everything seems further away.
A great podcast for people who want to be inspired!
I love this show. I have listened to it regularly and enthusiastically from the UK and Germany for 3 years now. But I am mystifies by the editors' decision to feature nothing on the corona virus. I keep refreshing every two days and can simply not understand it. I've stoppes tuning in. This show is normally so amazingly topical: what has happened? Hope everyone is OK. xx