thenextwave

The future flood

Posted in climate change, emerging issues, environment, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 27 November, 2009

Source: New Civil Engineer

I blogged a couple of years ago about the Doncaster floods of 2007 being the ‘first 21st century flood‘. The argument was that they had been caused not by high sea levels or accumulated water run-off, but because the water table and local river systems had been unable to absorb the sheer weight of rain that had fallen. There’s an excellent graphic in a story in New Civil Engineer (inserted above, click on it to enlarge) of the Cockermouth flooding which tells exactly the same story. The article also explains why the bridges collapsed.

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The auction from the future

Posted in culture, future, methods, politics, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 19 November, 2009

Which objects from our recent bonfire of the economic vanities will seem so strange in 2059 that they would become collectable? That’s the entertaining question posed by the artists Hollington & Kyprianou in their project with Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery, called, ‘Adams & Smith, auctioneers of late-capitalist period artefacts‘. It’s part of the Arnolfini’s ‘100 Days’ series, in the countdown to Copenhagen. The objects range from a packet of upmarket cigarettes to a golf ball and tee. (There’s a full list below the fold).

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The problem with carbon trading

Posted in climate change, environment, trends by thenextwavefutures on 18 November, 2009

A short post to note the Friends of the Earth report critiquing carbon trading, “A Dangerous Obsession” (opens in pdf).

In summary, these are the problems:

  • It is  ineffective at driving emissions reductions.
  • It fails to drive technological innovation.
  • It leads to lock-in of high-carbon infrastructure.
  • It allows for, and relies on, offsetting (rather than promoting carbon reductions).
  • It creates a risk of subprime carbon.
  • It provides a smokescreen for lack of action on climate finance by the developed world.

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Challenging Britain’s energy assumptions

Posted in energy, environment, oil, reports, trends by thenextwavefutures on 16 November, 2009

3864480994_c83f4b3209No sooner had I published yesterday’s post on the wide disagreement about future oil production, than Britain’s Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security has called on the government to reassess its currently dismissive view of the risk of oil shortages. The Taskforce produced the Oil Crunch report which I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

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Fudging the oil numbers

Posted in blindspot, energy, environment, oil, reports by thenextwavefutures on 15 November, 2009

WEO Oil Prodution Forecast_0

The row over whether the International Energy Agency has or has not nurdled its oil data to (a) prevent financial market panic or (b) appease the Americans or (c) neither of the above, is interesting but a bit of a sideshow. What’s more interesting is how fast the notion that ‘peak oil’ is imminent has moved from being a contested minority view to being mainstream.

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Rupert versus the internet

Posted in business, digital, media, technology by thenextwavefutures on 14 November, 2009

Rupert_Murdoch_-_WEF_Davos_2007It’s difficult to know at first sight whether Rupert Murdoch doesn’t understand the internet, or whether he is just going through contortions to to delay the likely loss of value it represents for his multi-billion dollar media business. The evidence for the former is that News Corp was late in engaging with the internet, despite his well-publicised splash on MySpace. The evidence for the latter is that News Corp’s businesses tend to be built around businesses where value can be defended through infrastructure, and his latest remarks are designed to defend this. There’s a third theory as well; that he’ll make deals wherever they make sense.

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Down to the ground

Posted in economics, history by thenextwavefutures on 6 November, 2009

8-sept-2009-niesr-recession

Whether you’re alarmed or reassured by this chart, from the National Institute for Esonomic and Social Research, probably depends whether you’re a glass half-full or glass half empty sort of a person. It shows the comparative paths of five recessions – the red tracks the 1930s, the incomplete black line tracks the present  slump. It scared me.

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Banks ‘too big to save’?

Posted in banks, economics, finance by thenextwavefutures on 6 November, 2009

Copy of FP96133@1146 NY 050902 d023

Allen & Overy is the London banker’s solicitor of choice, so when its senior partner offers a view on the future of the banking sector it’s probably worth listening. Especially when that view seems some distance away from the platitudes offered by the politicians about the success of the bank bail-out.

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