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Links for October 27th through November 2nd

by Mel Starrs on November 3, 2010

in News

These are my links for October 27th through November 2nd:

  • Landlords forced to insulate homes | News | Inside Housing – "Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne will announce new measures today to force landlords to make ‘reasonable energy efficiency improvements’ to their properties from 2015 onwards. The new powers will be contained in the Energy Bill, due for publication next month."
  • – via Rory Bergin, a lovely visualisation of CO2 flows in the atmosphere by way of a bath. Genius.
  • This state-hating free marketeer ignores his own failed experiment | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian – Monbiot not so keen on Ridley's book (I'll still read it): "Last week, Ridley published a new book titled The Rational Optimist. He uses it as a platform to attack governments that, among other crimes, "bail out big corporations". … Has there ever been a clearer case of the triumph of faith over experience?<br />
    Free-market fundamentalists, apparently unaware of Ridley's own experiment in market liberation, are currently filling cyberspace and the mainstream media with gasps of enthusiasm about his thesis….He dismisses or denies the environmental consequences, laments our risk-aversion, and claims that the market system makes self-interest "thoroughly virtuous". All will be well in the best of all possible worlds, as long as the "parasitic bureaucracy" keeps its nose out of our lives.<br />
    His book is elegantly written and cast in the language of evolution, but it's the same old cornutopian nonsense we've heard one hundred times before"
  • Findings – Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons – – Sounds like a fascinating book. Added to my wishlist: "Our progress is unsustainable, he argues, only if we stifle innovation and trade, the way China and other empires did in the past. Is that possible? Well, European countries are already banning technologies based on the precautionary principle requiring advance proof that they’re risk-free. Americans are turning more protectionist and advocating byzantine restrictions like carbon tariffs. Globalization is denounced by affluent Westerners preaching a return to self-sufficiency.<br />
    But with new hubs of innovation emerging elsewhere, and with ideas spreading faster than ever on the Internet, Dr. Ridley expects bottom-up innovators to prevail. His prediction for the rest of the century: “Prosperity spreads, technology progresses, poverty declines, disease retreats, fecundity falls, happiness increases, violence atrophies, freedom grows, knowledge flourishes, the environment improves and wilderness expands.”"
  • Where’s Your Windmill? – Malcolm Fraser on fine form: “To level VAT across construction at about 5 or 6% would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, because repair is more labour intensive, it would reinforce existing communities, it would be about sustainable urbanism and would bring hundreds of thousands of empty flats and houses back onto the market, so a lot of what we talk about around housing is a sort of displacement activity – we just think we’re doing something important if we talk about eco-windmills and pediments and good urbanism, going and knocking down old buildings and saying ‘we know how to do this, let’s drive this forward and build new communities’. We’ve got communities and we’re turning our back on them, we need to care for these rather than concern ourselves with bullshit about knocking down and building new communities.”
  • Interview: Bracing For A Warmer Future With Bill McKibben | Green Prophet – "You have proposed that in order to build resilience in the coming decades, it is necessary to localize communities, pick up a pitchfork and some seeds, and move away from carbon-dependent agriculture. How can we apply this model in the Middle East where such a small percentage of our land is arable?<br />
    In the future we’ll need to pay more attention to what is and isn’t possible in our particular areas, instead of pretending we can do the same thing everywhere. (This is already starting to happen–the Saudis abandoning their dairy industry, for instance). In the harsh terrain of the mideast, people will need to make careful use of every bit of fertile soil and every drop of water–that is, to go back to the careful habits of a slightly earlier time."
  • Climate Change – Sustainability – The Royal Society – "Climate change continues to be a subject of intense public and political debate. Because of the level of interest in the topic the Royal Society has produced a new guide to the science of climate change. The guide summarises the current scientific evidence on climate change and its drivers, highlighting the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some debate, and where substantial uncertainties remain."