Copenhagen climate change blues

Posted in climate change, economics, sustainability, trends by thenextwavefutures on 14 March, 2009

The news on climate change from the emergency science summit in Copenhagen is unremittingly gloomy. Worst-case climate change scenarios appear increasingly likely; the body of opinion seems to be that we’re already failed to restrict warming to the ‘manageable’ level of a two degree increase, and the cost of addressing climate change has increased since Nicholas Stern’s Review. The summit was attended by 2,500 experts from 80 countries. Stern, meanwhile, is perplexed, or perhaps dismayed, by the lack of response by politicians, and the failure of imagination it represents. At least some of the climate change economists are now a bit more cheerful.



America’s 2025

Posted in China, climate change, global, politics, reports, scenarios, trends by thenextwavefutures on 29 November, 2008

The National Intelligence Council’s four-yearly report to the incoming President is worth noting this time around because it appears to represent such a sharp shift in world view in such a short time. Suddenly, the “official” view of the world projected by the NIC, which fronts for America’s multiplicity of intelligence agencies, is projecting a world of energy scarcity and resource shortages along with challenges to America’s global  leadership. Such a sharp shift, in fact, that it makes you wonder if there’s a different “Phoenix” version which would have been pulled out of the drawer had McCain won the election.


Refugees and climate change politics

Posted in climate change, global, migration, politics, reports, trends by thenextwavefutures on 2 July, 2008

A short post to note the latest UN refugee data (pdf), which shows a worldwide increase in 2007 of 3m – almost 10% -in the number of refugees forced from their home by conflict. It is a second successive increase after a period of decline. The UN describes the data as ‘unprecedented’, and says it will get worse. And according to the Commissioner climate change is now one of the significant sources of conflict: while this seems plausible, the report doesn’t address this issue, for reasons which are discussed below the fold. The report does, however, underline the extent to which refugees end up as a regional problem – in their own region.


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Making the Transition locally

Posted in books, climate change, emerging issues, environment, future, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 9 April, 2008

I’ve meant to write before about the Transition Initiative, which is in my view one of the most radical things happening in the UK at the moment – radical because it is local and community-oriented, radical because it is a thought-through response to both impending energy shortage and climate change. (If only the government was as coherent). Now the movement’s ‘founder’, Rob Hopkins, has written a book which is a combination of handbook, textbook, and manifesto.

And now for ‘peak coal’

Posted in climate change, economics, emerging issues, energy, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 12 March, 2008

Just as we’ve got used to the idea that the moment of ‘peak oil‘ might be upon us (at the moment 2005 is the year of highest oil production) new figures suggest that the figures for world coal reserves might have been inflated. The widely held view that we are sitting on hundreds of years’ supply of coal may be wrong. This could be good news for climate change.


Homesick without leaving home

Posted in blindspot, climate change, environment, health, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 27 January, 2008

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.


The history of energy use

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, history, sustainability, trends by thenextwavefutures on 10 January, 2008

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.


Ice skating rinks and the ‘return of the repressed’

Posted in climate change, consumers, leisure, social, sustainability, trends by thenextwavefutures on 21 December, 2007

Obviously the winter outdoor ice skating rinks which increasingly crowd the UK’s public spaces are right on trend. Just tick them off: the shift from services to experiences, the rise of shared social meaning, and the commercialisation of parts of the public realm that would otherwise be commons. But – having just come back from an ice skating session at London’s Natural History Museum – it’s hard not to conclude that there’s a deeper social meaning playing out as well.


Britain’s carbon emissions – rising not falling

Posted in climate change, consumers, environment, reports, sustainability, tourism by thenextwavefutures on 15 December, 2007

A team of researchers at Oxford University has recalculated Britain’s carbon emissions since 1990 – and found that they have increased by 19%. (News report here.) The official figures – calculated according to the UN’s method – say that emissions have fallen by 15% over the period. However, the researchers, led by Dieter Helm, included UK contributions to international aviation demand, tourism and overseas business, and emissions generated abroad in the production and distribution of goods destined for the UK market. (more…)

Steps towards sustainable business

Posted in business, climate change, environment, organisational, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 20 November, 2007

It must be the season for newspapers and magazines to look at how well businesses are doing in greening themselves. The New York Times and the Guardian have run supplements, while Fast Company and Business Voice have prominent articles. The NYT looks most interesting in terms of trends; it suggests that we have reached the third phase of businesses improving their environmental impact.