We live in Interesting Times

The nations of the world are set on growing their economies. It is, they think, the best way to increase prosperity and reduce their debts. Certainly it will increase material prosperity, if growth can be achieved but at the cost of the environment. We live in the environment and as our economies grow and nations become materially wealthier so our the places where their peoples live become more malignant.

What does it profit humanity to gain the whole world if humanity then has no place to live?

Merry Christmas

Very Merry Christmas

Mining Data

One of the most profitable activities in the world today is data mining. Internet companies offer “free” applications for your devices to enable you to search the internet, to buy goods competitively, to arrange your transport and get advice on all sorts of matters. Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch and in return these companies harvest your personal information which they use to sell to advertisers and companies that will try to entice you to buy their particular goods and services using the most sophisticated methods known to man.

One of the better projects of the European Union was to create a directive – in effect a law – which seeks to protect personal information that you may have revealed in the course of your use of the internet. The guiding principle is that such information can only be mined under strict conditions and used for legitimate purposes.

The directive is not written in the clearest language and leaves plenty of scope for EU member states to interpret it in ways that suit themselves and the corporations that mine data the best. As yet there are many aspects of the directive which need to be completed before we can say that the law properly protects our personal information. Perhaps that will come in time.

You can read the directive at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:31995L0046 .

In the fullness of time there will be many court cases which decide the meaning of the directive and volumes of guidance and local regulations will be written, which will reveal whether the directive will really protect citizens or whether it will be watered down.

 

 

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Although recent reports indicate that global carbon dioxide emissions are not increasing it is important to bear in mind that atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing. The most recent daily average measurement of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa is 406.29 parts per million. This measurement is much more precise than the statistics we are given for global emissions, which are based upon assumptions as much as upon measurements.

The International Energy Agency estimates that global energy related carbon dioxide emissions were flat for a third straight year in 2016 due to growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas, improvements in energy efficiency, and structural changes in the global economy. My guess is that overall carbon dioxide emissions are rising, notwithstanding the increase in renewable energy. After all the population of the most intensive creators of carbon dioxide, humanity, is growing very quickly and most humans are living longer than they did in previous generations.

It is ironic that in November 2012 when Mauna Loa reported atmospheric CO2 at 392.81 ppm there was far more interest and general reporting of climate change whereas five years later the issue is hardly reported, except en passant. When I first started writing on WordPress  in 2007 concentrations were around 380 ppm. 250 years ago the concentration was thought to be around 280 pmm.

W H Rhodes Educational Tour to Canada

 

It was fifty years ago that  48  young men  from London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and Glasgow and two school masters set sail to Canada for a month’s tour of Quebec and Ontario, by the generous courtesy of the W H Rhodes Educational Trust. Continue reading

I told you so

According to a new study published by Chatham House burning wood pellets is not carbon neutral and creates more emissions than burning coal. I told you so and have been telling you so on these pages for many years.
Governments do not listen. I told them so too, but they obviously thought they knew better. The UK government created a Renewable Heat Incentive based around burning wood pellets under which they subsidised the fuel and the subsidies, paid out of our taxes were very high indeed. In fact in Northern Ireland the RHI became a source of income as the subsidy was greater than the cost of the fuel.  Continue reading