Archive for April, 2010

One of the most peculiar aspects of the contemporary happiness debate is the obsession with Bhutan. Those who advocate happiness as a key social goal often hold up the Himalayan kingdom’s advocacy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a good model to follow. Relatively few details of what GNH means are available so I was […]

I was saddened to read of the death of Angus Maddison in this week’s Economist.  He was hardly a household name but his work was of particular interest to economic historians and macroeconomists interested in long-term trends. Maddison’s life work was to calculate economic indicators going back into the distant past. For example, if someone […]

A recent post on the Political Climate blog reminded me of the immense influence of Ulrich Beck, a German sociologist of risk, on the discussion of the relationship about humanity and the environment. The article accurately sums up Beck’s central argument as follows: “modern industry solves the old problem of scarcity, but in doing so […]

Here is my comment from this week’s Fund Strategy.  I also wrote a related cover story although some of it is fairly technical and financial. Philosophical distinctions are often derided as useless. In relation to water scarcity they are literally a matter of life and death. The term “scarcity” is used promiscuously in most discussions […]

Until I read this editorial (article truncated)  in today’s Wall Street Journal Europe (published last week in the American edition) I had not realised the close connections between the founder of Earth Day and opposition to DDT. Evidently Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin senator who initiated Earth Day, was also a leading opponent of the cheap and effective […]

Economist debate on GDP. Andrew Oswald (University of Warwick) defends the motion that GDP is a poor measure of living standards. Steve Landefeld (director of the National Bureau of Economic Research) disagrees. Keynes, the straw man and this irrational, crazy, world, Culture Wars, by Rob Killick. Beware the precautionary principle. Social Issues Research Centre. Hubble […]

The always interesting Indur Goklany takes on neo-Malthusians and environmentalists in this post on the masterresource website. He gives useful statistical examples of how human well-being has improved hugely since 1750 while outlining his environmental transition thesis. The post is the second of a four part series by him. I interviewed Goklany for spiked back […]

Until I started researching the subject I did not realise that the United Nations (UN) approach to water shortages was to designate it as a human right. Although this sounds appealing – everyone needs water to live – it should be resisted. For a start declaring a “right to water” is meaningless if the means […]

Returning to watch the start of the 1973 BBC series on the Ascent of Man on DVD I was struck my how much the intellectual climate has changed since then.  Green ideas have  marginalised the broadly humanistic assumptions which were then prevalent. Even the idea of the “ascent of man” would be seen by many […]

It should come as no surprise to readers that I think Earth Day should be abolished. To me it is a celebration of backward and misanthropic ideas. Environmentalism essentially holds that humanity should agree to be bound by nature. It seems humans as simply another part of the natural world – on a moral par […]