Monday, April 18, 2016

David MacKay

I was very sorry to read today about the death of Sir David MacKay, FRS.

In what I write on my blog etc. I often refer firstly to the urgency and importance of tackling the threat of climate change and secondly on the difficulty of doing so. My thinking on the second point is derived almost entirely from David MacKay's book, Sustainable energy - without the hot air, which I first read seven years ago and frequently refer to.

You can read his obituary, by Mark Lynas in the Guardian.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The future of work

This evening I went to an event at the New Economics Foundation featuring a discussion between Ed Miliband (former leader of the Labour Party) and Nick Srnicek, co-author with Alex Williams of Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a world without work, which I have read. I found the book and the discussion stimulating in a number of ways.

My policy interests centre on climate change and its economic implications and I am increasingly finding that the biggest challenge in dealing with it is political. Climate change is an intrinsically difficult political problem because the people who will suffer the worst consequences will be future generations and few people seem to think they have a personal interest or a moral imperative to help tackle it. Furthermore there are some rich and powerful people who have - and pursue vigorously - a vested interest in our not tackling it. This has parallels in other policy areas, including the one discussed in the book.

The central argument of the book concerns the spread of automation and its implications. The authors say that the left should embrace automation and aim to use it to allow people to work less or not at all, with a universal basic income making this possible.