I blogged at the start of the month on Martin Jacques’ observation on the extent to which China was now more significant than the US in the politics of Asia in all aspects other than military. Since then, I’ve noticed a post on the IFTF blog which argued that as China and India become the dominant trading partners across Africa and Asia that we are reverting to the trading patterns seen before European colonisation.
It’s worth noting an article that the Guardian’s economics editor Larry Elliott filed earlier this week from Davos. Although he acknowledges that it is possible to construct an argument which is sanguine about the current prospects for the world economy, it is not the most likely outcome. One of the reasons, he suggests, is that the movers and shakers are still living in a “dream world” propped up by “at least five big fantasies” about the global economic system.
One of the things you learn working as a journalist is that most news is predictable – a point satirised by Michael Frayn in his outstanding novel The Tin Men in the 1960s. But sometimes headlines do still surprise you. One such was the news that British car exports had reached record levels last year.
The most interesting new word I’ve heard so far this year is ‘solastalgia‘, buried in some notes that Matt Jones made at a recent lecture by Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG. It was coined five years ago by an Australian, Glenn Albrecht, and seeks to capture notions of place-related distress. Albrecht was quoted in an Australian article thus:
Solastalgia describes the pain experienced when the place a person lives is under assault and destruction, a loss of a sense of belonging to a particular place and a sense of desolation about its disappearance.
One of the things you notice when you work with stakeholders on futures projects is that some professional cultures seem to find it harder to engage with than others. Economists in particular seem to find futures anathema. I’ve just stumbled on a plausible explanation as to why.
Two manufacturers have caught the eye at the current round of car shows – and they’re not from Europe or the United States. At the Delhi Auto Expo, Tata has been been breaking visitor records with its Nano car – at 100,000 rupees (less than £1,500) a time. In Detroit, meanwhile, Toyota is talking the sort of language which is more familiar to transport campaigners.
I’ve just noticed an interesting article on the recently re-launched ‘History & Policy‘ site which suggests – by looking at the historical evidence – that our chances of reducing energy consumption without sanctions or limits being imposed is, frankly, wishful thinking. Even though we have in the past achieved the energy efficiency gains needed now to reduce CO2 emissions dramatically, energy consumption has kept on increasing.
The Guardian filled its G2 supplement on 2nd January by asking contributors to reflect on the decade so far, probably so its sub-editors could recover on New Year’s Day. Most of the comment was as you’d expect. But Martin Jacques’ brief comments on China’s burgeoning political influence caught something deeper – and suggested that the West had missed much of it because it had been distracted by the Middle East.