February 2009

The Coen Brothers – directors of favourite films of mine like The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou? – have made a short advertisement debunking the notion of ‘clean coal.’ It doesn’t have enormously much substantive content, but it does a pretty good job of saying: “Those promising that coal can be clean […]


I am happy to be able to report on some promising developments, both within my own province and in the giant to the south. Firstly, the Government of Ontario has tabled a new Green Energy Act. There’s a lot to the 75 page document, but one of the most promising elements is the introduction of […]


Over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald has written a piece about the myth that Americans want bipartisanship. While the tone is a bit strident, it does make some good points. Partly, it comes back to the issue of how political systems fundamentally (and necessarily) constrain the expression of voter preferences. The zones of intersection between what […]


Junk in space is an increasingly severe problem, as both the quantity of useless debris and the number of useful satellites increases. Aside from international censure, there isn’t especially much that can be done at present to punish those who make the problem worse, as China did when they blew up one of their satellites […]


My current system is to produce two posts a day (sometimes one on weekends or when I am very busy). The first post includes a photo, and is generally the more substantive of the two. One post comes out at a random time between 7:00am and 8:00am Ottawa time. The other, at a random time […]


In a recent article about Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, The Economist declared that: It seems likely that, eventually, only books that have value as souvenirs, gifts or artefacts will remain bound in paper. Despite being a big fan of electronic content delivery systems, I wholeheartedly disagree with this assessment. There are considerable advantages to having […]


The February issue of the St. Antony’s International Review contains my article: “Climate Change, Energy Security, and Nuclear Power.” The article is meant to be an introduction to some of the important issues surrounding nuclear power, energy security, and climate change. It remains an issue that I am agnostic about. It may be that nuclear […]


In his book Heat, George Monbiot rejects nuclear fission as a low-carbon source of electricity: arguing that it is unacceptably dangerous, and that we could make do without it. In a recent column on his website, he makes it clear that he has joined the ranks of those willing to reluctantly consider nuclear, on the […]


As described in this Slate article, a new site called Academic Earth has brought together a large numbers of lecture videos and made them available online for free. Right now, it includes lecturers from Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale. There is a six lecture series on Understanding the Financial Crisis.


Researchers at MIT have updated their climatic models and reached conclusions generally in line with the Hadley Centre in the UK, in terms of the amount of warming that would occur by 2100 under a business-as-usual case, in which no significant emissions reductions are achieved: [T]here is now a nine percent chance (about one in […]