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When green gets real

The great thing about life in the decades after the signing of the Kyoto protocol was that nothing really changed.  Sure, politicians talked up targets for getting to “net zero” at some point in the future.  But besides that, we all kept consuming; and as our demand for goods and …

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Seeing the harness but not the horse

You can count on one hand the number of economists who have even the slightest inkling of the role of energy in the economy.  So whenever I come across an economist who appears to give energy an important role, I am always interested to read what they have to say.  …

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Mere statistics

In the current political climate, fossil fuels are deemed to have no redeeming features.  The fact that everything we take for granted, from abundant food to high life expectancy and from clean drinking water to an absence of slavery, is based on fossil fuels is entirely overlooked.  The transition to …

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Upsetting a delicate balance

Until the 1860s, whale oil had been the main fuel for lighting and for use as a lubricant.  Until recently it was believed that excess hunting had resulted in the decimation of whale populations by the mid-nineteenth century.  However, while hunting had taken its toll, it appears that whale populations …

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A zero sum game

As a young child I remember being gripped by the unfolding drama of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.  Coming in the wake of two successful moon landings, the Apollo 13 mission appeared routine.  It was all too easy to forget just how dangerous space flight was – and still is.  …

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Jevons in the fall

In the 1860s, some British economists began to wonder if the economy was about to enter a steady-state.  With so much of its economic activity automated with coal-powered steam technologies, surely Britain could rest on its laurels.  Instead of having to dig ever deeper to extract ever more coal – …

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Texas trip

Once again, the moral and intellectual degeneracy of the failing US Empire has resulted in science being subordinated to politics.  This time it is the freak freezing weather and its aftermath in Texas which has provided the pretext for division.  First came the knuckle-dragging wing of climate change denial; asking …

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The other side of the story

For the first time, the UK generated more electricity from renewables than from fossil fuels in 2020.  The obvious fly in that otherwise green ointment is that it depends on a definition of “renewables” that includes decimating North American forests and shipping the wood across the Atlantic to be burned …

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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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