Since I was in high school, I have been reading this British news magazine weekly, and not without good reasons. It is essential reading for university debators in Canada. If you don’t keep up to speed on what is written there, you are likely to get blindsided when your opponents bring it up. While their editorial stances are not always entirely convincing, they do defend them with evidence and good arguments. You will never sound entirely stupid while trying to defend their positions.
The Economist is also a magazine that seems to maintain attention in many other quarters. It is the only magazine I have frequently seen circulated in Ottawa offices. The biggest argument in favour of reading it may be that others do, and that by continuing to do so I keep myself appraised of what is happening. As a way of remaining reasonably well informed about happenings in many different spheres of life, all over the world, it may be a uniquely valuable publication.
There are also arguments against renewal. Some have argued that I would be better off spending more time reading other sources of news. Some have argued that I should read less news altogether: most of it is depressing, and most of it I can do absolutely nothing about.
Time is another issue. Your average weekly issue consists of about 100 pages of small, tightly-spaced text. I find that it takes at least five hours to read carefully, and significantly longer when there are lengthy special reports, technology quarterlies, and the like included. I could probably find ways to use that time that would be more useful or pleasant.
The cost is a bit of a consideration, at more than $400 for three more years. That is especially true given ongoing job uncertainty.
There is also the matter of climate change. The Economist does seem to accept the basic science that says that continuing to burn fossil fuels threatens humanity. Some of the time, the seriousness of the problem is reflected in the positions they take. At the same time, they have definitely failed to demand that politicians prioritize climate change over other issues, particularly economic growth. They have also frequently celebrated the discovery and development of fossil fuel reserves. Increasingly, it seems like they must be covert supporters of geoengineering. They realize that climate change needs to be dealt with, and know what would be involved in achieving that outcome by cutting fossil fuel use. They are unwilling to wholeheartedly endorse the rapid abandonment of fossil fuels, so the implicit position is to their accept the climatic consequences or try to eliminate them by technical means.
So, what do people think? To renew or not to renew?