A referendum on Scottish independence; how would the English vote?

The Scots will be holding a referendum in which the Scottish people will be asked whether they want to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom and become an independent nation again, after three hundred years of Union with England, Wales and Ireland. Continue reading

Solar Rosa and Genersys in New Zealand

The first Genersys thermal solar panels have been installed in New Zealand by Solar Rosa, in Nelson. Last year when we established Genersys in Chile our Chilean partners told us that we were coming to a beautiful country at the end of the world. They were right. Now, Gabriele Gottchalk of Solar Rosa has sent me a picture of an array of Genersys 1000-10 panels installed in what she describes as “this beautiful country at the bottom of the world.” Continue reading

Failed banks and unintelligent governments

The chaps at the Royal Bank of Scotland (which includes NatWest, Coutts, Ulster, Direct Line and Churchill Insurance) actually managed to lose £24billion in 2008. It requires a great deal of incompetence and mismanagement for a bank to lose nearly £30 billion in two years. Apparently only two thirds of the loss came from bad debts, although I have no breakdown as to how these bad debts arose. Continue reading

The Asian Brown Cloud

London used to be famous for its pea-souper fogs; Los Angeles still has a vast haze of pollution that hangs over it for long periods, and Mexico City suffers from an almost permanent haze of pollution. So does Santiago in Chile. These smogs are collections of chemical and physical particles usually from burning processes (energy power stations, heating systems and car and aircraft engines) which through their aerosols create huge clouds of pollution. The three cities I have mentioned cover urban areas (including those outside the city limits) where fifty million people live. That is plenty of people affected by these mixed-particle hazes. However the world’s largest mixed particle haze affects billions of people. It hangs over Southern Asia and the Indian Ocean and is known as the Asian Brown Cloud. Continue reading

Shorting which short changes the economy

Shakespeare wrote “Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall”. In the modern economic context it would be appropriate to change this to “some profit by sin and some by virtue become impoverished”. It would do well for our politicians to understand this, particularly in understanding some practices of banking. Continue reading

Grants for Solar Water Heating in England and Wales

I have always thought it right and proper that public money is spent on supporting individual renewable energy systems. I could write pages on why it is right and proper to do so but I expect many readers will want me to cut straight to the chase and explain the solar water heating grants that are available to those who want to help save the planet and save some of the money that they will spend anyway on energy by installing a solar water heating system. Continue reading

What shall we do with the bank shares?

It is interesting to see how the major political parties view the huge amount of shares which the United Government holds in the two failed banks that the taxpayer rescued – Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB. These enterprises were unfortunately deemed too big to fail and so the government rescued them with our money and now hold the shares.

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Voting and betting on climate change

The weather affects your mood and what you do and how you behave. Friends who operated in the garment industry told me that a long hot summer meant excellent sales and trading. I know that bad weather means in the solar industry, where we get much fewer sales than in warm sunny weather. People react to weather, which is an immediate thing,  immediately and their reactions sometimes defy logic and reason. Continue reading

Redcar’s steel plant is closing

In the North East of England the Corus steel plant at Redcar is closing. I must declare an interest here, because by father in law was a steel worker and a Union Official at the Port Talbot steel works and I have met and admired many steel workers.

Steel came to Redcar because of the geography – coal and iron ore was readily available and deep water harbours were nearby. Now there are many places that make steel and although the raw materials comprise 75% of the manufacturing costs it seems that the plant at Redcar is uncompetitive because of high British labour costs with falling demand in the recession, at least that is the official line on the closure. I have doubts about this. Continue reading

The bankers are back

Our old friends the bankers have been up to their tricks. After needing all kinds of taxpayers’ support in almost every developed country in the world, and getting the support at massive cost to each and every taxpayer, the banks are back to making more than healthy profits. Hooray! Continue reading