Where there’s a will there’s a way

The following article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 4 September 2007. Coal and gas-fired power stations could be much cleaner if creative technologies were combined with sound political leadership John Harris writes of a “new coal rush”, and to a degree he’s right. There is a renewed interest in coal-fired […]

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Journalists or terrorists?

The following article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 8 August 2007. Two Kurdish political activists have been sentenced to death in Iran, and it’s not only the Tehran hardliners who have it in for them. The BBC reported last week that “two dissident Iranian journalists” from the country’s Kurdish minority […]

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Cannabis: the big lie

The following article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 20 July 2007. Skunk may be strong, but it’s no stronger than the high-quality hashish that has been smoked in Britain since time immemorial. Virtually half the Brown cabinet have now declared that they once smoked dope but didn’t like it. What […]

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Darwinian interludes and biotech futures

The following article was commissioned by the Guardian, and published on the Comment is Free website on 19 July 2007. My attention was recently drawn to an interesting if somewhat rambling essay by the physicist and futurist thinker Freeman Dyson. In his article, Dyson focuses on biotechnology and the benefits it could bring to humanity […]

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Alcohol-proof fence

The following article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 21 June 2007. The Australian prime minister’s approach to dealing with child abuse within Aboriginal communities is nothing short of jackbooted political opportunism. Apologies to Phillip Noyce for corrupting the title of his outstanding film on the human consequences of early 20th […]

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Reefer madness revisited

The following article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 11 June 2007. On the BBC News website last Thursday there was a report that hospital admissions in England due to cannabis-induced psychosis have risen by 85% under Labour. The story was covered also by the Daily Telegraph and Scotsman newspapers, among […]

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Nobody expects the Scientific Inquisition*

The following article was commissioned by the Guardian for Comment is Free, and published on 3 May 2007. A recent reaction to a climate change denial documentary broadcast on primetime TV displays contempt for free speech, and political ineptitude. Bob Ward, a former press officer at the Royal Society, has published an open letter to […]

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Marxism, Flat-Earthism and email of the week

The following letter was published today in the Guardian newspaper: “Keith Flett citing Paul Dacre as the reason why he remains a Marxist is little different to someone justifying membership of the Flat Earth Society on the grounds that it keeps the geometry nice and simple.” The background to this silliness may be found here, […]

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Saving the world from religious idiocy?

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 12 January 2007. It will take a lot more than shouting at the radio to defeat the forces of darkness and superstition. On Tuesday evening there gathered in protest in central London a few hundred Christian fundamentalists, together with a small number of […]

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