A hundred billion a year is global chicken feed

Bjørn Lomborg may not be a climate denier, but during this past decade he has certainly been a pain in the arse in the public debate around anthropogenic climate change. Consider, for example, Lomborg’s consummate media tartery, together with his often absurd soundbite rhetoric, and cherry-picking of data to support an error-ridden “sceptical environmentalist” thesis […]

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Henry Rishbeth: a tribute from an old school friend

Following a Google search for online references to his old school friend Henry Rishbeth, whose passing I noted in March of this year, John Harris wrote a few lines in memory of Henry, and offered the text for publication… Henry and I were at were at school together in Cambridge from the age of about […]

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Climate change – not exactly breaking news

More than two weeks ago I cited an interesting paper on atmosphere-biosphere feedbacks and climate change that had just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. That study was considered highly newsworthy by the editors of Nature, such that the paper by Almuth Arneth et al. got a special mention in dispatches emailed to science […]

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Normal people living in abnormal conditions

From an interview with Beijing-based economist Patrick Chovanec… “For most of us, I think, North Korea occupies the same imaginary plane of existence as Mordor. But it is real, and one thing I came to appreciate is that most North Koreans are normal people living in abnormal conditions. It’s the only world they know, and […]

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Blue-sky thinking be damned!

The figure 23,001 should be stamped onto my forehead, it being my membership number for the Cloud Appreciation Society. I have only just got around to joining this community of cultured and fluffy folk who celebrate the patron goddesses of idle fellows. This is more than a year after first watching Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s most splendid […]

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Glorious sights of the Great Wen: the industrial Thames

Industrial jetty on the River Thames near Greenwich (photo: Francis Sedgemore) When in the southeast of England, I do most of my cycling around the rolling hills of rural northwest Kent. But in the past few months some of my rides have been explorations of London’s waterways, including the River Thames and its tributaries the […]

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Old junkies and young

The blogging Zionist cartoon character Snoopy the Goon has given us an affectionate obituary of Winnie Langley, a smoker of this parish who recently inhaled her last, just a week short of her 103rd birthday. RIP Winnie Langley (1907–2010). My maternal grandfather John Boult may not have made it as far as 103 years minus […]

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Science communication and academic brickbats

Tightening of the public purse strings is beginning to filter through to the world of academia, and it would seem that one particular consequence of anticipated spending cuts is a withdrawal of funding for the science communication initiatives known as the Partnerships for Public Engagement (PPE). Funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research […]

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The best MP Scotland never had

So it’s farewell to Jimmy Reid (1932–2010): socialist, trade unionist and self-taught, working-class intellectual. In 1971 Reid led the disciplined Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in which resulted in Ted Heath’s Tory government abandoning its plans to close the shipyards. “There will be no hooliganism, no vandalism and no bevvying.” A one-time member of the Communist Party […]

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