Thursday, December 26, 2019


Today, Boxing Day 2019,  is 15 years since the Indonesian tsunami, the most destructive natural disaster in recent years.

Less well remembered is that its about 8000 years since the Storegga Slide, which caused a much bigger tsunami. It could happen again but we're not good at dealing with low probability high impact risks.

Should we have a tsunami warning system in the North Sea?

The idea will be dismissed.

1. It would cost money.
2. Politicians and other decision makers will be probably not be thanked for promoting the idea as they are likely to be retired, even dead, before anyone benefits.

However, as we learnt in Economics 101, there actually is a money tree. Money is created out of nothing more substantial than government policy and then circulates round and round the economy. The true cost is the amount of energy and physical resources used. And that would not be much.
Government takes seriously the defence of its citizens in the face of perceived threats from foreign powers and devotes substantial resources to the armed forces and even warning systems for low risk high consequence events such as nuclear missile strikes. Natural threats are given a lower priority.

The short term thinking of political decision making is a deep flaw in our system of governance. Decision makers get little benefit from taking decisions that benefit citizens beyond the time-frame of their period of office. 

The Storegga Slide and its consequent tsunami must have devastated the coastal communities of the already shrinking landmass of Doggerland. For those who are less familiar with the Early Holocene, start research on the Storegga Slide, as ever, at Wikipedia and take it from there.

The Lincolnshire Time and Tide Bell Community Interest Company is developing a project, called 'Doggerland' that takes the long view from 10,000 years ago to 10,000 years hence, combing the arts and sciences to learn from history, inform current policy-making and prepare a future fit for our descendants. Find out more, and perhaps get involved yourself, at the Doggerland webpage.

Should we have taken the action on global heating that the science demands?

The idea was be dismissed.

1. It would cost money.
2. Politicians and other decision makers will be probably not be thanked for promoting the idea as they are likely to be retired, even dead, before anyone benefits.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The UK is not a Democracy

plutocracy noun
plu·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ plü-ˈtä-krə-sē \

1: government by the wealthy
2: a controlling class of the wealthy


Democracy is harder to define but here is a good description from the Council of Europe.
It certainly goes a lot further than getting people to vote one way rather than another.

An essential aspect of democracy is that the citizens are well informed and understand the truths of the matter and so will vote for some combination of their personal benefit or the common good, those two aspects usually coinciding.
In the UK, and in many other places, we now find many, even a majority, of the citizens are ill-informed. They have been continuously, consistently and deliberately misled and even lied to. The whole framework in which the news media work is owned by a wealthy few and it acts to drive people to vote not in their own interests or those of the common good but in the interests of the wealthy few.
Those who have been so duped will, of course, deny it. How could they not?
But the truth is that we do not have a democracy. Our society is a plutocracy. Government is by the wealthy for a controlling class of the wealthy.

The UK is not a democracy.
In the light of the 2019 General Election in the UK an understanding of the forces operating has become urgent and vital. Here's George Monbiot introducing some ideas.

Other words are available:


Look 'em up.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Neo-Climate-Denialism Part 3

Neo-climate-denialism is the acceptance that global heating is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions but not accepting we have to rush into doing sufficient about it. In summary: people who talk of net zero sometime in the future (probably when they are retired if not dead) are in denial. The truth is that we have to get the CO2 in the air down from the 415ppm we say this year back down to 350 and below. Pretty Damn Quick.

Some first thoughts following the end of COP25 in Madrid (and the outcome of the UK election)

Myself and everybody in my social bubble are pretty devastated by the election result.


We should focus now on the existential crisis facing all humanity. COP25 just ended (I watched the 4 and a half hours of the plenary this morning, finding the documents about as slowly as some of the delegates!) and the baton has been handed over to the UK.

The failure of agreements (particularly Article 6, see this for explanation) at COP25 puts an enormous responsibility on what passes for a government in the UK to get agreement on climate before the Glasgow COP26. It is quite hard to see how the UK has the international standing to succeed in this anymore but lets maintain hope

Over the coming months our attention needs to be directed towards every move our government makes on the climate crisis. Mr Johnson, like Mr Cameron before him, mentioned that phrase 'greenest government ever' If he fails he will be culpable of genocide and crimes against humanity. That last was a phrase uttered this morning by the delegate from Tuvalu and the sentiment was echoed by many other nations' delegates. If COP26 fails it will be game over for horrendous numbers of the human population. The UNFCCC process is deeply flawed but it is the only game in town and from today, for better or worse, it is in Mr Johnson's hands. It's up to us to see that he doesn't drop it.

On the 1st of December 2019, António Guterres @antonioguterres tweeted "I expect a clear demonstration of increased #ClimateAction ambition & commitment out of #COP25. Leaders of all countries need to show accountability & responsibility. Anything less wold be a betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come".

As Michael Flammer @Jumpsteady pointed out, following the failure at COP25. "I guess it’s officially okay now to call #COP25 a “betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come.”

Here's Part 1
and here's Part 2

The Keeling Curve - the most important graph in the world
Regard it as the chart at the end of the patient's bed.