Wednesday , November 14 2018
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Tim Watkins

Brexit cascade crisis

Brexit collapse

At the beginning of 2018, anthropologist David Graeber predicted that Brexit would not happen.  His reasoning was simple enough: “I don’t think that they were ever serious about [Brexit]. I think that they were just trying to distract attention. People pointed out that most of the things that they would …

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Of rats, cobras and electric vehicles

Cobra effect

During the Vietnam War, American aid workers became concerned about the spread of disease resulting from a big increase in the rat population.  Since the ongoing conflict prevented any serious attempt to systematically eradicate the rats, the aid agencies devised a clever scheme to enlist the help of the indigenous …

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An echo from the Victorian past

California homelessness

Californian cities are full of shit.  I don’t mean figuratively full of shit.  I mean California really does have a public health problem with human shit fouling pavements and drains as a result of the lack of facilities for the state’s exploding homeless population.  As Nathan Robinson reported in the …

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Lest we forget

Last day of WWI

“At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent.” The phrase has been repeated at Remembrance ceremonies and media commentaries around the world so often that the full horror contained in those words is missed by almost everyone who hears them.  For what …

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The hopium of the people

Industrial fans

If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.  That, at least, is the approach I’m taking to the flurry of crowd-funder videos currently doing the rounds on social media, promoting technologies that suck carbon out of the atmosphere.  As with a raft of other faux-green technologies …

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Climate change is not a political issue

Climate politics

One of the biggest threats behind an increasingly likely human extinction is our tendency to compartmentalise (in order to ignore) information.  Each one of us does this unconsciously in a process that psychologist Norman Dixon referred to as “trading safety for peace of mind.”  According to Dixon, when faced with …

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The Budget’s fundamental flaw

Recession

Yesterday’s budget statement by Chancellor Hammond was followed by the usual tired old pantomime media appearances this morning. “I’m ending austerity,” Hammond proclaims. “Oh no you’re not,” says Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell. “Oh yes I am,” Hammond retorts. There is, however, a fundamental point of agreement shared by both politicians.  …

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The royal ribbon problem

Royal ribbon problem

The image of some dignitary cutting a ribbon stands as an icon for the fruits of public spending.  The charity sector has its equivalent in the ubiquitous images of supersized cheques being handed over.  The image is supposed to reassure us that “something is being done,” and that we should …

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Cannibalism will begin before the collapse

Metal theft

There is still considerable disagreement among those who see a relatively near-term collapse of western civilisation as to exactly how that collapse will occur.  At one end of the debate are those who imagine an almost vertical descent into a new dark age.  In this vision an economic collapse far …

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Fracked promises

Fracking

There is an irony to Cuadrilla restarting its fracking activities in the UK in the same week that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its dire warning that we have just 12 years to transition to a zero-carbon economy if we are to stay below the 1.5oC above pre-industrial …

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