What happens on June 23rd if the UK Referendum (on leaving the European Economic Community) is a dead heat? Civil War? A War of the Roses? Absurd?! Yes, but so much about this referendum is absurd. Its very nature is nonsense: as if we can choose to “leave” Europe. It should never have been framed. Yet a small world away on the other side of Europe there exists a country in turmoil. A modern industrialised nation just like Britain. In this mirror-image nation of the Ukraine half the people wanted to be part of comfortable old Mother-Russia whilst the rest wanted to be part of prosperous, modern, progressive Europe. It tore that nation apart. What will we do? Continue reading
It sometimes feels like the British public rank a vote for Brexit as having as much impact upon them as voting to name a research ship “Boaty McBoatface”. You know, a bit of a laugh – sticking it to the man. Yet polling shows that in issue after issue we know that Brexit will be a disaster. The economic argument has been won. Yet 58% of voters think that Brexit will have no impact upon their standard of living. We live in economic-denial. We entertain a fantasy where we know that the economy will be poorer but it will be alright because, magically, it will only effect somebody else. Bremain camp have won every battle yet still look like they could lose the war against indifference.
In an early genesis of post-carbon living in 2008 we were influenced by a project called the “Yellow House“. It was a run-down, former council-house, in Oxford that had under-gone a drastic make-over to make it a (self-styled) “environmental dream home”. It’s influence upon us was formative – the work done was so drastic as to turn a home into (what we perceived as) a science experiment. We were so aghast we actually specifically stated that Superhome 59 would NOT be a science experiment. To his credit the home-owner at Yellow House was some six years ahead of us and we came to credit him as somewhat of a visionary. His name was George Marshall. But he wasn’t all about crazy DIY and we soon signed up to his “Climate Denial” blog and soon saw him as the deep-thought on the topic of why we don’t think about Climate Change. Six years later and George has not only re-located to Wales but has written a book about the topic of just why we cannot deal with Climate Change. It is an important read for anyone who wishes to communicate in this area. But is it any good? Continue reading
What happens if America’s brightest dissident philosopher of the left gets to write for the newspapers? In “Interventions” [Penguin 2007 ISBN: 978-0-141-03180-4, review copy 2008 “updated & expanded edition] Noam Chomsky gets his chance to reach out through pages of daily newspapers by writing bite-sized chunks of reality – tiny little logic bombs making noises where they should not. This collection of op-eds was written & published between 2002 to 2008 covering the usual gamete of topics. To give everything a little context there is both an “Editor’s Note” (by Greg Ruggiero) and a Foreword by Peter Hart. These alone are worth the price of admission given that most of the rest of the contents has been churned up from the usual body of canonical Chomsky from that period. So, what should the reader expect? Most media in the USA is like that in the UK – far to the right of the political spectrum yet they define what is “normal” in political discourse. Theirs is the spectrum of acceptable debate. Yet here we have Chomsky’s little hand-grenade. It simply shouldn’t belong. Continue reading
In 2013 I described “The Burning Question” by Mike Berners-Lee & Duncan Clark as “one of the most important books on man-made climate change” yet written. So I was looking forward to reading “The Burning Answer – A User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution” by Keith Barnham (ISBN 978-1-7802-2533-3 Weildenfeld & Nicolson in 2014, 3rd paperback edition, with new preface, April 2015). Although the title of Barnham’s work seems likely to cash-in on the Berners-Lee/Clark book there is no (to my knowledge) mention of it whatsoever in “The Burning Answer”. This is not a direct answer at all! It is an entirely different beast. The author is a Professor of physics and used to work at CERN. Needless to say his work is therefore…, how shall we put it? “Sciencey.” He left CERN mid-career to pursue solar energy research and has given us a book of two halves: one; a long and tedious description of the solar energy development with all the physics, two; an up-to-date critique of UK Government policy pertaining to renewables. It is the latter to which the readers will be rewarded with their attentions. Continue reading
Just how significant was the end of the Cold War? Could we have seen its rapid replacement with the “War on Terror”? In “Deterring Democracy” by Noam Chomsky (ISBN 9780099135012 first published by Verso in 1991, review edition by Vintage in 2006) we learn that, maybe, it was a bit of an inconvenience for all concerned. But business-as-usual prevailed. It remains disturbing to learn how little we know about how the world works. Chomsky’s lengthy 440+ page study was compiled during the time of the Gorbachev reforms of 1989/1990 with an afterword added here from 1991. This is a work of its time: this isn’t hindsight, yet to read it through it is refreshing to see all that followed was comfortably predicted by “the most important intellectual alive” as those historic events were underway. How did he know? Well by simply looking at what Washington and the West were doing in their domains: in Nicaragua, in Kuwait, in Grenada, in the Dominican Republic and all those other places that the USA considers to be its “backyard”. Continue reading