October 2007

Surprising energy fact: a single ordinary laboratory fume hood uses as much electricity as three typical American households. A building full of labs can use as much energy as a small town.


The Mosul Dam is one element of Iraq’s infrastructure that has survived the war so far, but which is apparently seriously threatened. Because was built on gypsum, which dissolves in water, it threatens to fail catastrophically as the result of small initial problems. A report from the US Army Corps of Engineers warned that the […]


For the last while, my aim on this blog has been both to entertain readers and to provide some discussion of all important aspects of the climate change problem. To facilitate the latter aim, I have established an index of posts on major climate change issues. Registered users of my blog can help to update […]


Biofuels are quite a hot topic at the moment. There is an ongoing debate about subsidies for corn ethanol in the United States, and a more general discussion about the overall merits and shortfalls of the biofuel approach. One compound that features prominently in the debate is ethanol: the two-carbon molecule familiar to martini drinkers […]


Over at RealClimate they are talking about geoengineering: that’s the intentional manipulation of the global climatic system with the intent to counteract the effects of greenhouse gasses. Generally, it consists of efforts to either reflect more solar energy back into space or enhance the activity of biological carbon sinks. It has been mentioned here before. […]


Here is an interesting idea: holding a Presidential debate exclusively on science. Having some understanding of scientific issues is certainly essential to effective policy-making in many areas, especially medicine and the environment. A televised debate could allow voters to gain an appreciation for how strong each candidate’s understanding of science really is, when they do […]


The 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz for their work on asymmetric information. One standard assumption in neoclassical economic models is that all participants in a transaction have ‘perfect information’ about the goods or services being exchanged. The field of behavioural economics is now seeking to […]


The Sous Bois hostel in Montreal is quite a lively place. In some ways, it is an unusually good establishment. The atmosphere is positive, there is free wireless internet, the location is good, and the facilities are fairly well maintained. One nice touch is providing a big bowl of earplugs (a necessity in almost any […]


Last night, I got into a brief conversation about the Taliban. It reminded me of a statement quoted at a Strategic Studies Group meeting I attended in Oxford: People are being very careful not to be against the Taliban and ‘keep the balance’ so that they will not be punished for helping foreigners when the […]


So far, Montreal is proving disappointingly soggy – so much so that I fear for my laptop whenever I venture out of cafes. All of today has been marked with persistent drizzle and punctuated by proper downpours at regular intervals. Last night involved some good fireworks, scores of people tramping around the Old Town in […]

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