Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Resource depletion and The Limits to Growth

My reading of Britannia Unchained, on which I posted a few weeks ago,  has  nudged my recent studies on to the subject of resource depletion. The following caught my eye:-

"The Limits to Growth, written by a team of MIT researchers, published in 1972, argued that humanity's food and resources would soon run out. By 1992, the authors predicted, world supplies of zinc, gold, tin, copper and oil could be exhausted." (Britannia Unchained, Location 208 in the Kindle edition, in which page numbers don't show)

Actually, they didn't predict any such thing. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts on Sandy the Frankenstorm

I've been struck by how the news coverage of Sandy has generally failed to make a link with global warming. From what I read in Climate Progress, (one of the blogs I visit daily) this is normal in the US. I wonder if this will change in the next few days as the news of the event and its immediate aftermath give way to reflection.

This lack of a link to global warming is reflected also in the talk of the likely effects on the presidential election. One would have thought Sandy was perfectly-timed to remind people that the climate is obviously changing and that one of the two candidates has sided with those who turn a blind eye to climate science. I haven't come across any mainstream news coverage picking up on this point - only on the opportunity for Obama to appear presidential.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another photo published

This snap got published in this week's West Sussex County Times. I took it last Sunday. It was a glorious, frosty morning with lots of mist so I went out with my camera before breakfast to see what I could find. I took lots of shots of the mist and the frost and this seemed about the best.

I also saw a fox, but it saw me first so I didn't get a decent snap of it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More on the "halt" to global warming

An issue I discussed in my recent critiques of a speech by Nigel Lawson (here and here) has now surfaced elsewhere - initially in the Daily Mail and then ThinkProgress via SkepticalScience.

The issue is about whether global warming has ground to a halt. Lawson and the Daily Mail point out that there has been no warming trend over the past 15 years. I showed how the trend over one 15-year period is a spurious measure. ThinkProgress and SkepticalScience blogs do the same.

They do it much better than I did but it's nice to see my points validated by others.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Britannia Unchained - more for me to disagree with

The long train journey up to Aberdeenshire (see yesterday's post) gave me a chance to read the recent offering from five young Tory MPs, Kwasi Kwarteng et al, entitled Britannia Unchained, in which they set out a critique of the British economy, thoughts about the social and political sources of its weaknesses and suggestions of how experience in other countries could point the way to the sort of changes we need to make here if we are to recover our competitiveness in world markets.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Time off in Scotland

Click on this to view it properly.

I've just got back from a delightful couple of days in Aberdeenshire. I took this on Monday morning, which was clear and frosty. It shows a short stretch of the Dee, between Aboyne and Banchory.

I've never taken a really good landscape shot. This is about as close as I usually get. Apart from the beautiful light and the touch of remaining frost, I was helped by the glorious variations in colour between the recently-harvested crop fields and the green pasture, with the beginnings of autumn colours in some of the trees.

I took this with my long zoom lens set at 90mm, which I think would be the equivalent of 130mm on a 35mm camera. People seem to talk about a wide-angle lens as being ideal for landscapes but I'm  fascinated by the compressing effect of a long lens. A wide-angle lens can make molehills out of mountains.

We're not quite in the Highlands here. I think of this bit of Scotland as a scaled-up version of the Yorkshire Dales, with which I'm more familiar from my childhood in Bradford. My wife and I come here most years, mainly to visit friends but the landscape is a big draw too.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I've made it into print

The fox photo I took a couple of weeks ago has made it to this week's West Sussex County Times.  Click on the picture to make the caption legible.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Is unlimited growth a thing of the past?

This is the title of a recent article in the FT by Martin Wolf. In it he describes some work by the distinguished American economist, Robert J Gordon, in which he warns that the productivity gains we associate with the three main spurts of technological innovation - the original industrial revolution from around 1750, electricity, the internal combustion engine etc from around 1880 and the information revolution from about 1960 - were all one-off events. For instance, we don't travel much faster now than we did in the 1960s, by which time the there were plenty of Boeing 707s in the skies.