Archive for July, 2008

This week’s BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme, presented by Frances Cairncross, included the most detailed popular discussion of geo-engineering I have come across so far. In broad terms three possible techniques were identified: • Removing carbon dioxide from the oceans. • Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. • Using lenses or mirrors to divert sunlight […]

Eric Rolston, an American science writer, has written a fascinating sounding book on carbon. Despite its sensationalist sub-title – “how life’s core element has become civilization’s greatest threat” – The Carbon Age rightly makes the point that carbon is the building block of life. Despite the element’s key role in the natural world it is […]

Barbara Ehrenreich, a prominent American activist and writer, has added her voice to the debate about inequality in America. This Land is Their Land (Metropolitan Books), her book on American extremes, seems to be receiving a lot of publicity. This includes an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

The following comment by me from Fund Strategy argues it is useful to describe this economic downturn as “mental”. A senior American politician and economics expert got into trouble recently for saying America was in a “mental recession”. Phil Gramm, vice-chairman of UBS and a former senator, was forced to resign from his position as […]

There follows a news story by me from today’s Fund Strategy looking at the recent debate on rising oil prices. Three key reports on the subject have been published this month alone. A key American government report has concluded that fundamental factors rather than speculation have driven up oil prices.* A task force from the […]

Burn-up, BBC 2’s big budget eco-thriller on the oil companies and runaway climate change, was awful in every way: as a drama, politically and in relation to the science. Rob Johnston on spiked has written an incisive review but it is worth outlining the key misconceptions embodied in the drama as they are common in […]

The New Economics Foundation is promoting a Green New Deal which it analogous to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Andrew Simms has also written about it on the BBC website. Just some of the things wrong with it include: • The assumption that the world is facing an […]

A piece on the happiness debate in the Christian Science Monitor (22 July) is blisteringly one-sided. It quotes many of the most prominent advocates of the view that wealth does not bring happiness but no one to put the alternative perspective. The usual suspects quoted include Bill McKibben (author of Deep Economy) and Nic Marks […]

The cover story of the July-August issue of Harvard Magazine is a piece by Elizabeth Gudrais on American inequality. Compare it to last Friday’s post.

Studies of inequality typically overstate the widening of inequality in America according to a study cited in the Economist. The magazine’s Economics Focus column refers to work which argues that the inflation rate for the poor has generally proved higher than for the rich: “A challenge to the conventional wisdom is set out in a […]