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This chilling image, which I saw first at Core 77, is a visualization of space-junk by the European Space Agency. The images (there’s a series) show all the satellites and human-made debris now orbiting space as a result of 51 years of launching devices since Sputnik – a total of 6,000 rocketloads. If you think […]

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Heathrow chaos: time to start digging?

The chaos at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is an excellent example of what happens when the logic of finance interacts with the logic of large complex systems. As Will Hutton wrote at the weekend, shareholders in British Airways (its sole tenant) and BAA (which runs the airport) demand perpetually growing dividends. Financial returns on this scale […]

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From food miles to fabric miles

Killjoy environmentalists would have us stop shopping to save the planet. What a relief, then, to find a website, shopmodify.com, that teaches us how to shop and save the planet at the same time. I especially like their green shopping tips for Spring: “buy a hot eco-friendly outfit, or choose not to take an ATM […]

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Ecocidal hen parties eating chocolate-covered waffles

The USA is usually vilified as the arch despoiler of the biosphere, but is little Britain actually the number one bad guy? Tony Blair used to assert that Britain is reponsible for only two per cent of global emissions – but it depends which numbers you add up. The chart above, for example, plots the […]

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Measuring what matters in France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recruited two Nobel economists, Amartya Sen of India and Joseph Stiglitz of the US, to advise him on changing the way French economic growth is calculated. “We must change the way we measure growth,” said Sarkozy, adding that “the way gross national product is calculated should take into account the […]

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Drops in the bucket

Further to my note yesterday on the UK going nuclear, my attention was drawn to Charlie Hall’s celebrated (in energy circles) balloon graph. As Kurt Cobb explains, “it is not always obvious to modern industrial people that it takes energy to get energy. The more energy we spend on finding, extracting, refining, and transporting energy […]

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UK goes nuclear

Yesterday’s announcement that Britain is to ‘go nuclear’ was a foregone conclusion, but is nonetheless a dispiriting reminder of the institutional inertia that stands between us and a radically lighter economy. As Polly Toynbee points out in The Guardian today, “no voice in cabinet queried this decision. Faced with persistent cabinet and industry lobbying, and […]

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Wikinomics vs Getting Real

Don Tapscott’s new book Wikinomcs gallops along at a heady pace. “The knowledge, resources, and computing power of billions of people are self-organising into a massive new collective force”, it gushes. This marvelous news is tempered by the suspicion that either I, or the Web 2.0 world, is afflicted by a severe reality deficit. Wikinomics […]

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