All Posts by ‘Paul

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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A conversation with The Professor

Why is Grandad old?

Because he was born along time ago.

But we’re not as old as Grandad. Why aren’t you as old as Grandad?

Because Grandad is my daddy. You can’t be older than your daddy, can you?

No! But Grandad will get older and older and older.

Yes.

And then he will die?

Yes.

And we will get older and older and older and then we will die. But that will be a very very long time.

Yes.

But we mustn’t talk about things like that.

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I am not an animal

I asked The Professor (4) what animals he could see in this picture.

What animals can you see?

He said rabbit. Good, and what else? What about the birds? Yes, he agreed that birds were animals. And what else? The boat and the tractor, he said after a while. No, boats and traction engines are not animals (yeah, the traction engine has a face and is smiling, but let’s overlook that for now). What about the man driving the traction engine? No, people aren’t animals, he insisted. Yes they are, I said. I’m an animal, you’re an animal…

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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 …

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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: …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …