The influence of big business on democracy

Big business has an undue influence over government. What is “big business” depends upon the times. At one time big business was the large trading corporations, often benefiting from a state bestowed monopoly, like the East India Company. Other times it was large industrial manufacturing concerns and at other times mining concerns. The “big” in “big business” is a relative term, not a term of science. Continue reading

The enemy of our enemy is not our friend

There have been many revolutions in human history. A revolution is an overthrow of an established government by another group that subsequently becomes the government. I think that there are two kinds of revolution. The first kind is a revolution led by ideas. The United States of America, the South American states, France and Russia have all experienced revolutions in which the power changed from those to govern to those who became the governors and garnered support by the strength of the ideals expressed. Continue reading

The ice caps are melting more quickly than we thought

Sea levels are rising by 3mm a year. The rise in sea levels is partly due to ice melt, which the latest calculations indicate that of the 3mm sea level annual rise 1.3mm, just under half, is contributed by ice melt.  The latest research also indicates that the ice melt is happening more quickly than predicted by the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change. The remaining rise in sea levels is probably mainly due to the expansion of sea water as the seas warm up. Continue reading

The Libyan Adventure

It started off as a reaction to a belief that Colonel Gaddafi was instructing the Libyan armed forces to kill civilians. The Western nations decided that a “no fly” zone should be created to prevent the Colonel (whom they had feted and bought the oil produced by the nation of which he is leader forty two years) from doing this and quickly the no fly zone was expanded into virtually any form of action upon which the Western Nations and other nations could agree. Not merely was a no fly zone created but aircraft, tanks and some Libyan forces have been destroyed. Continue reading

Iodine radiation in Japanese seas

Governments tell the people not to panic about the nuclear plants at Fukushima, and there seem to be good scientific reasons why we should not panic. Panic is usually counterproductive, but not panicking and being extremely worried are different states of mind. Continue reading

Preventing Legionnaires’ Disease Risks in Large Scale Solar Water Heating Systems

The United Kingdom has very high standards of drinking water. In almost every case the water that you use from your cold tap will be cleaner and freer from bacteria than bottled water. However, even clean tap water contains bacteria most of which are harmless. The bacterium which has the most potential damage to health is legionella pneumophila which is widespread in nature and most of us come into contact with it all the time without realising it and it does us no harm. However, if the bacteria is fed, warmed and dispersed into droplets vulnerable people can suffer from Legionnaires’ disease caused by inhaling the bacterium. Continue reading

How Green Was the Budget?

On Wednesday the British Finance Minister, who is rather grandly called the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the budget for the coming financial year. I have never understood why it is called a budget because a principle of every budget it that it should balance. The economies of the world’s developed nations rarely have balanced budgets; it is all about borrowing and more borrowing. I always look at the budget measures from an environmental perspective, so how green is this budget? Continue reading

Copper reduces hospital infections

Hospitals used to be a place where you went to get better. In the past ten or so years some hospitals have been placed where you may get better of the disease or injury for which you were admitted but you may become ill by reason of having contracted MRSA, clostridium difficile, fungi aspergillus niger or other viruses including the influenza A – H1N1.Hospitals appear to have become lax in their hygiene routines and hospitals have been working hard to persuade health carers to wash their hands. Continue reading

Oil prices and inflation

The price of world commodities is governed by a number of factors. The most obvious factor is the law of supply and demand. An average American manages to get through 25 barrels of oil a year. South Korea, which has a highly developed economy, consumes seventeen barrels of oil per person per year. China at present consumes three barrels of oil per inhabitant each year; in 2006 it consumes only one and a half barrels per person. India consumed four fifths of a barrel of oil a year. Clearly as demand increases with increasing prosperity in China and India, vast nations, so we are likely to expect great upward pressure on oil over the next ten years unless the oil producers can find and bring to market an additional 50% of the oil that they sell each year today. Continue reading

Progressive Energy Tariffs

The British, say the British, have a talent for compromise. This talent for compromise is an over estimated quality; compromise can often be a mechanism for arriving at a solution which encompasses the worst of all possible worlds.

When energy was de-nationalised in the United Kingdom it was done so in order to promote free competition which it believed would drive prices down. But free competition is a consummation devoutly to be wished and rarely achieved, because the freely competitive energy companies would inevitably exploit their quasi-monopoly. They are businesses, not charities. Continue reading