topic: fossil fuels

false dawns

To anyone worried about climate change the announcement by Lockheed Martin that it is developing a fusion reactor that will be ready for market within ten years could be seen as a cause for hope. Though I’ve yearned for this development for years, now I’m not so sure. Our technologies are causing ecological degradation and climate change. But what is technology except an amplifier of the effects that our minds have on the world? It […]

Daoism’s Uncarved Block and the state of our world

The Dao De Jing, the ‘bible’ of Daoism, in various places refers to the Uncarved Block that loses something essential when it is carved. The Uncarved Block could be a baby free to become any version of themselves before their upbringing, their experiences and the culture they are raised in ‘carve’ them into the person that they grow up to be. (This interpretation resonates with a previous exploration of how a thought remains fluid until […]

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 […]

a bite of the cherry

policeman in front of a picture of Mao...

It seems that those of us who live in the West may need to get used to the fact that our economies are not going to return to constant growth. The belief that things are going to always continue to get better – at least in the sense of a constantly growing GDP – has always been a fantasy: constant growth of the kind we’ve experienced, that consists of consuming the Earth’s resources, presupposes that […]

arrival in Istanbul

I hate flying. I hate flying for several reasons. For one being transported like sheep in a truck. For another the being processed like a parcel – moved around on conveyor belts, weighed and stamped, shunted from one tedious wait to another. The apparently glamorous ultra-modernism of grand airport terminals is hardly a compensation, saturated as they are by advertising and all the vulgar excesses of rampant consumerism. Worse of all is that, like the […]

Copenhagen #2…

Here is a link to an excellent article in the Guardian that sets the stage for the drama that Copenhagen might turn out to be… I’m sure you’re as concerned as I am about the threat to our planet from global warming. I can’t say that I have great hopes for the meeting that is opening today at Copenhagen to come up with any definitive progress. However, I have become heartened by the way this […]


Here’s another of those wonderful graphics (discussed in a previous post). It instantly makes many things clear. Not least how responsible we are in the West – the US and Europe in particular – for the predicament we find ourselves in. Also how little China and India and Brazil, the new ‘bad boys’, are responsible. And most crucially, how little time there is… Then, when you combine it with this other graphic… noting especially the […]

fossil fuels as slaves

Preindustrial societies relied on muscle power for work: if not your own, then that of some animal, or of another human. Combustion of fossil fuels has largely become the ‘muscle’ that does most physical work: electricity powering machines that replace the jobs, for example, carried out by slaves in the ancient (and not so ancient) world… petrol pulling our carriages and ploughs. As recently as the American Civil War, people killed to keep their slaves. […]