Why China is achieving more economic prosperity

In the 1950s and 1960s the world perceived the success of the Germany economy as wonderful. The Germans had a word for it – the Wirtschaftswunder, which means the economic miracle. In the past twenty years the economic miracle of the world has been China. Obviously making an economic miracle means working hard and intelligently. Some rich nations become lazy, and lose their desire and hunger. Every poor nation is hungry, and people are prepared to work hard and intelligently but something stands in their way. Continue reading

Where will we get the money from to invest in Renewable Energy?

The United Nations Environment Programme has reported on investment in “green” sectors. They believe that this would produce high growth, decoupled from intensive consumption. I doubt if we will ever decouple high growth from intensive consumption because the “green” sector simply replaces one thing we are buying with another thing, rather than turning out consumer desirables for consumption. However, tow things stand out from the report of which I was not previously specifically aware, but of which I held suspicions. Continue reading

Surveying the climate

There is probably more “cobblers” written about climate change than any other scientific topic. I have almost certainly contributed to some of the cobblers out there, although not knowingly.  When we analyse climate change in our own minds we tend to think disjunctively, selecting the bits of information that suit our prejudices. It is hard for the lay man to approach this difficult topic as a whole, giving appropriate weight to each argument. Continue reading

Summer Time and Double Summer Time

The Summer Time issue is beginning to be debated again. The United Kingdom moves its clocks forward on 27th March 2011. Until then most of us will experience very light mornings and dark evenings. Suddenly on 28th March the mornings will stay darker longer and the evenings will stay lighter longer.

At the moment summer time lasts seven months; I would welcome a change. We should move the clocks two hours forward on 27th March and one hour back on 30th October. I believe there to be environmental benefits in that most people wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. There is a long period of evening when we have to light our homes and offices and that period would be reduced by applying double summer time.

I have never wholly understood the case against this. The argument runs, if I understand it correctly, that those living in the North of Scotland would have to wait until 10 a.m. in winter for daylight and this would make their lives harder, particularly the lives of farmers. I cannot see why; farmers and those living in the north adapt to the available daylight; the clock is an artificial device for dividing the time. Those who live in large conurbations – most of us in the United Kingdom- live by the clock as a convenient means of getting everyone to work, school and where they need to go at the same time or at convenient times.

Whatever the clock says there is nothing to prevent farmers or schools in the North of Scotland starting the days an hour later and nothing to prevent work places from doing this also. I agree that perhaps a million or so people might have to do this, but the benefits would be immense for the remaining sixty million people, who can enjoy longer summer evenings much more fruitfully than they can at present.

Some have mooted the idea of a separate Scottish time zone; I reject this idea. Life is already complicated enough without introducing yet another complexity.


Wood Burning Stoves

Followers of my blog will know that I have been warning about wood burning stoves for some years. Let me make my position clear. There is no harm in having a few wood burning stoves in rural locations where there is a plentiful supply of waste wood. However, large scale deployment of wood burning stoves and boilers is wrong. They have two complimentary faults. They use wood which is better left to decay naturally over a long period of time, keeping the carbon locked in or leached to the soil and they create carbon dioxide emissions when the wood is burnt. Continue reading

The Middle East and Moral Equivalency

The Arab world is an important part of the world to the West. We use its oil for our energy and although there are other sources of oil in the world none is easier to get or more plentiful than the oil that lies underneath the Arab nations.In the West we have many prejudices about the Arab nations and a great deal of ignorance about them, their lands, their way of life and their religion. We do understand their importance. Continue reading

Printing Money and Inflation

Money makes the world go round but money is not the same thing as currency. I received a very interesting newsletter from Stephen Johnston at AGCapita in Calgary Alberta. Mr Johnston argues against the traditional Keynesian view that printing money (now called Quantative Easing) generates growth. Those of you who have read my posts about the economy will recall that I concluded that QE will lead to inflation and will create a problem rather than a solution. Mr Johnston has argued this more succinctly than me and with more force.  Continue reading

Hard Rain is Going to Fall

As the atmosphere of the planet is warming up, (and there is no doubt that it is warming up) so the air can hold more water vapour. Although we do not understand the processes completely, it is becoming clear that more water vapour in the atmosphere will mean more rain clouds and it seems likely that in certain parts of the world we will be experiencing harder and more violent downpours. Continue reading

Wheelie Bins

All over the developed world there is one thing that you see on almost every street. The thing is instantly recognisable whatever language you speak and spends usually twenty to forty hours a week on pavements. They stand like Daleks and litter the streets. They are the wheelie bin. Continue reading

Aircraft emissions – a little hope on the horizon

Emissions from aircraft and shipping are impossible to control under present international law. They are unregulated and will continue to be unregulated unless an international agreement is signed under which each of the nations of the world agrees to charge an aviation fuel tax and a shipping fuel tax. Negotiations involving over 160 nations have not yet started and there are some many vested interests in these fiercely competitive industries that I cannot be optimistic about aviation and shipping emissions being controlled in the foreseeable future. I hope I am wrong. Continue reading