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Guardian slips

Exactly when the Guardian made the transition from serious newspaper to neoliberal propaganda sheet is a matter of debate.  Some would argue it goes back to the mid-1990s and the rise of Blair’s New Labour; others say that is only since 2008 that it changed for the worse.  Whatever, the …

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Why Britain desperately needs a big freeze

The UK government’s version of a green new deal is very likely to go the same way as its strategy for responding to a pandemic… and mostly for the same reason.  Rather like the pandemic plan, it looks good on paper, so long as nobody gets into the fine detail …

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The narrative problem after peak oil

North Sea oil decommissioning

In the 1970s, the developed states were shaken by oil shortages.  Although largely artificial – the result of OPEC flexing its muscles, and later the Iran-Iraq war – the oil shocks briefly caused people to take seriously the prospect of running out of oil.  The shock was all the more …

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Britain has more than enough hot air

Critics of the UK government were quick to point out that the promised £160m to kick start Britain’s transition to 100% renewable electricity was woefully inadequate.  For example: “Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said: ‘For decades, Greens have been arguing that the UK is ideally placed to become …

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Why don’t lions chase mice?

This is the introduction to Tim Watkins’ latest book: Why Don’t Lions Chase Mice? No, it is not a trick question. Indeed, the answer you gave is probably the correct one. A lion is a very large and powerful animal whereas a mouse is a very small but surprisingly nimble creature. …

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Failing to square the circle

    The arithmetic is simple enough.  Fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – make up 84.5 percent of our energy consumption. Hydroelectricity accounts for 7 percent; nuclear 4.5 percent.  Wind and solar – the supposed salvation of human civilisation – provide 3 percent; with other renewables adding one …

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The symptom of our disease

Imagine that you had to fight a pandemic without a theory of germs (some readers, no doubt, will point out that we don’t need to imagine, we just need to look at the cack-handed government response).  Anyway, you might get a few things right, albeit for the wrong reasons.  You …

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A brown new deal

Those lucky enough to die of old age often fall into a very peaceful state – not dissimilar to the deep relaxation sought after by meditation practitioners – from which they simply slip away.  Since 1958, though, one of the ways in which modern civilisation has sought to cheat death …

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A little knowledge is a terrible thing

One reason why nationalist populists like Trump are able to get away with calling mainstream media “enemies of the people” is that those outlets all too often fabricate stories.  This has more to do with falling advertising revenues and increased competition for people’s attention than with grand conspiracy (although that, …

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Be careful what you wish for

With the world’s great and good flying off to Davos to lecture the rest of us on lowering our carbon footprints, everyone from tech companies to hedge funds is suddenly keen to go “carbon neutral.”  Could it be that hard-headed billionaires have had their hearts melted by Greta Thunberg’s pleas? …

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