topic: population

China’s One Child Policy

Much of the reaction to the recent change in China’s ‘one child policy’ seemed to focus on human rights: specifically the right of a woman to have as many children as she wants. A woman’s control of her own fertility has been dearly bought – for most of history women’s bodies have been controlled by men. In many places today they still are. Nevertheless, it seems to me that this issue has another side that needs […]

the once in a 100 million year experiment

As we consume fossil fuels, we humans are carrying out a once in a 100 million year experiment. The coal, oil and gas we have burned so profligately in the past 200 years or so are a legacy of ancient sun energy laid down in the Earth’s crust by organisms at least 100 million years ago (300 million in the case of coal). We began exploiting these reserves where they were easy to reach; at […]

the experimental past

The study of the history of non-Western societies – especially those that have ‘failed’ – may be one of the most valuable resources that we have to help guide us through the coming ‘time of difficulty’ that we seem to be heading for. Watching a good BBC documentary about Tiwanaku, I was struck by how pertinent to our present climate change woes was the story of these people, not only surviving, but flourishing in an […]

a new renaissance?

Sunday past I went to a performance of Philip Glass’ 1000 Airplanes on the Roof in a hangar, at East Fortune in Scotland, that has been built around a decommissioned Concorde. It was a promenade concert – allowing us to walk around as the piece – a “melodrama in one act” – was acted out, and the music played. I found the conductor Jessica Cottis to be more worth watching than the actor. She conducted […]

gapminder

Now here is something that blew my mind… First take a look at this then have a play with this. I have never come across a better justification for the Web (for computers, even) than this… Gapminder is a revelatory instrument (like a telescope, a microscope): it not only presents statistics in a way that anyone can absorb – but puts it somewhere where anyone with access to the Net can use it… I cannot […]