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Thoughts on the train to Paris

Not sure why I’m going. The climate talks are happening, but I don’t suppose I’ll be able to get into any of the events. I’m not planning on standing outside demonstrating either, and I think demonstrations are banned here anyway.

The people inside know there are people who care about climate change. They also know there are plenty who aren’t really that bothered, particularly in the rich countries. How much will the deal that emerges (and there has to be some sort of deal this time, doesn’t there?) affect the electoral prospects of governing parties in the UK, or France, or Germany, or the US? How many people would say “I’m never voting Tory again, not after the terribly weak deal that came out of COP21”?

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The fear of genetic modification

Genetic modification is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just like dating. It used to be a pretty hit and miss affair. You’d show up at parties hoping to meet someone single, attractive and attracted to you. You’d invariably be disappointed. But now, with online dating, you can browse a load of profiles, get hooked up with the ones you like and who like you. Far more scientific, far more likely to result in a good match. I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to the day when there’ll be a merger of dating websites and 3-D printing technology. Compare that with the brain implants that could read your dreams and after dreaming of some leggy blonde (of whatever gender is your preference) you could wake up and go downstairs to your kitchen to find that same leggy blonde has prepared breakfast for you, and just the way you like it.

People these days walk around talking to themselves, but they’re not really mad, the majority of them. If you look closely you see they’re wearing earpieces. How long before these earpieces are inside the skull rather than outside it? How long before an earpiece would be small enough to inject into the inner ear? No need for an anaesthetic. A one-hour install, tops. That’s all.

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Evidence and altruism

Evidence is our connection with reality. Without evidence our ideas are just prejudices floating around in a non-existent ether, a bit like Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

Evidence is on the outside and has to be accessed. You have to go and get it. You can’t intuit it and it’s not just going to drop down from the sky and hit you on the head. And there’s no room for choosing what evidence you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject. It’s all or nothing, and it really has to be all because everything rests on evidence.

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WMAP by NASA
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Can there be a God of an infinite universe?

Not the kind of God that most people imagine. Not the kind of God listens to your prayers and maybe answers them, not the sort of God who might tell you to do certain things, like strap explosives to yourself and blow up a bus full of people. That kind of God couldn’t exist in …

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How do you talk about climate change?

Should we even be talking about it? People obviously don’t want to talk about it so maybe we should respect their wishes. Why force them to talk about something they don’t want to talk about? Everyone’s in favour of green stuff anyway so what is there to talk about? Climate change is really bad! Who wants to hear that? What’s the point?

That’s the standard politician’s argument. There is no political capital to be gained from talking about climate change. Not unless you have a solution to climate change. If you had that then talking about climate change would be easy. The fact that not only do we have no solution to it, we can’t even imagine what a solution might look like. Global international agreement on a scale the world has never seen before. (Except perhaps the Montréal Protocol to ban CFCs causing ozone depletion, but CFCs weren’t an integral part of our economy the way fossil fuels are.)

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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 …

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Building an ethical Lego mousetrap

There’s a mouse in my kitchen. The ethical mousetrap I bought in the local hardware store a few weeks ago hasn’t worked. Despite the bait, the mouse won’t go in it, or it has gone in it but managed to avoid triggering the trap door.