Climate change

Why a carbon tax and dividend is progressive

Suppose you have a very simple society consisting of just three citizens: Mr Poor lives in a bedsit in Peckham and is very poor. He doesn’t cook, just lives on cereal, biscuits and Dorritos but very occasionally treats himself to a kebab. He gets around by bike or takes the bus. His carbon footprint is 3 tonnes CO2e per year.

Fossil fuels? No thanks.

You don’t often see badges or bumper stickers with slogans like that. The antinuclear ones are all over the place. If future historians look back on this era perhaps they’ll conclude that a major factor influencing our failure to decarbonise rapidly enough was that the environmental movement put its resources into campaigning against the wrong power source. Though other future historians would say nah, don’t be silly. The greens were never that influential.

I is not PAT

Here’s an equation, a nice simple little equation: I = PAT The equation was developed in the 1970s during the course of a debate between Barry Commoner, Paul R. Ehrlich and John Holdren. This little equation has had a big effect over the years on environmentalists and how they think and talk about the problems we face and how we should be trying to tackle them.

Earth 2100

In 2100 my son will be the same age my father is now. When my father was born the world was emitting just under a billion tonnes of carbon per year. When my son was born we were emitting almost 9 billion tonnes a year and global CO2 levels had increased by about 30%. Questions: How old is my son? How old is my father? What will the world be like in 2100?

The three Goldilocks

Three Goldilocks planets discovered orbiting the same star. They’re all in the Goldilocks zone where water can exist in liquid form, which is supposedly necessary for life as we know it. Perhaps any kind of life. Almost certainly for any kind of advanced life, though who can be sure? So if advanced civilizations developed on one or more of those planets they would quite likely visited the other life-supporting planets in their system at an early stage of development, the stage we’re at know, and perhaps in learning about those other planets that were quite like their home planet they…

The weather in Iceland

A strong gale warning (more than 20 m/s) is in effect for many parts, except in the east. There’s a snow storm outside at the moment. I took a walk around the back gardens of the flats I’m staying in. There’s a semi-communal grassy area with benches, though this evening the grass has become covered in snow. It’s just gone midnight. The wind has become stronger. It was a struggle walking against it back to the back door of the flat.

Uzupio Kavine, Uzupio

Sitting in the Cafe de Paris yesterday drinking a coffee and old Lithuanian guy sat next to me and started talking to me, in Lithuanian at first. He asked me if I was writing a book on my laptop, and then started talking about rock music. He said he got lots of emails telling him the latest rock music news. I asked him what kind of rock music and he said the old stuff. I said like what and he said donovan. But then he mentioned Steppenwolf, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Nazareth. Nazareth were Scottish, he said. I…

Cafe Esplanad, Helsinki, Finland

In the Roger Otip story “Executioners from the future” (which was originally titled “Ignorance is no defense” but the former title was felt by the publishers to be more marketable in Yankeeland and more likely to lead to a movie deal) the judges and the bailiffs (who carry out the arrests) and the jury are all presented as being very short grey skinned individuals with large black eyes, like the popular image of aliens. Apparently Otip was hoping that Tom Cruise would play the lead prosecutor but Cruise turned down the role because it didn’t fit with Scientologist ideology, and…