Politics

Motivated reasoning is the Earth’s best friend

Friends of the Earth is no longer fundamentally opposed to nuclear power and neither is the Green party of England and Wales. They still oppose nuclear power, but now because of its cost and how long it takes to build, but they’re quite happy to keep existing power stations running. They no longer see them as inherently dangerous and needing to be shut down at the first available opportunity.

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.

I used to know what I thought about Iraq

Back in 2002/3 when we were demonstrating against the war it seemed so much simpler. Now, though I can see the case for air strikes, that to leave those fleeing IS without air cover could result in massacres which will be filmed and shown to us, it feels like we’re trying to put out a fire with parrafin.

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…

On sharing and toddler nature

The Professor’s mother mentioned how she thought some parents treated their children like little adults. She thought this was wrong. I asked her what she meant. Could she give me an example? All sorts of things could be described as trying to get children to behave like adults. Teaching them to walk, for instance, or encouraging them to walk as I don’t think it’s something you really teach them. A couple of days later she got onto the subject again and it was only then that it was clear she was referring to my efforts to get The Professor to…

Brixton, London

There is a hole in the roof of the house I am living in and people are coming in, down a ladder. I don’t know where they’re coming from but there are loads of them. Some of them I know but most of them are strangers. They’re making themselves at home. I’m not sure if this is my house or not. Maybe it isn’t. Most of these people are quite friendly. I don’t really want to kick them out, and I think if I asked them to leave they would just be baffled.

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