Nuclear paper published

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 fission is an important transition technology, useful to smooth the transition to a low-carbon global economy. It may also be that it is a subsidized, dangerous boondoggle and a distraction from superior options.

The full text is available here (PDF). Comments would be appreciated.

Oxford graduation

As of today, I am officially a graduate of the University of Oxford. My name was read in absentia at the ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre today. As such, I am now a member of the Convocation.

Admittedly, it is somewhat anticlimactic to finish my degree in this way. It was, however, the sensible choice. The things I miss most about the place are the conversations, the engaging seminars and lectures, the overlapping social spheres, and places including the botanic gardens, Natural History Museum, and various canals.

Graduating from Oxford

Given the following:

  1. I am doing as much as possible to avoid air travel, due to the carbon emissions associated.
  2. If I were going to fly, it would be (a) to deal with some kind of emergency or possibly (b) for an extended visit to a previously unseen part of the world.
  3. You only get one chance to graduate at Oxford, either in person or in absentia.
  4. There is no particular urgency in formally graduating.

Should I apply to have my name read in my absence and receive my diploma in the mail?

The option of a week in the woods

Bridge support beams

For some reason, it is intensely satisfying to live in a way that satisfies these two conditions:

  1. Being able to walk from your home into a wooded area where you have some hope of going a week without seeing anyone else.
  2. Having the gear and experience required to actually do so.

Vancouver easily matches the first criterion. Crossing the first row of North Shore mountains lets you into an area of proper wilderness. Oxford does relatively poorly on the first criterion, though there is still an appreciable amount of wild space about, especially given the high population density of the UK.

Ottawa, I know less about. My experience with outdoor clubs here have been disappointing so far, and personal expeditions have largely been confined to cycling. Hopefully, this summer will involve some camping and exploration in Gatineau Park, if not father afield.

Information for Oxford freshers

Quite a number of people (mostly Canadians) have been contacting me recently with questions about Oxford. In an effort to aid them, I am working on a new page on the wiki:

General information about Oxford

The aim is to express – in a concise form – some of the things I have learned about Oxford as a place and as a school. It includes fairly brief sections on funding, accomodation, the city, and Wadham College. Information on my specific program (the M.Phil in International Relations) and on my thesis can be found through this wiki page.

Those with comments about the content of the page – or suggestions about things to add – should feel encouraged to leave comments on this blog post.

Monuments for heretics

At University College, Oxford, you can see a large memorial to Percy Bysshe Shelley. Those who have seen The Saint may remember it as the place where the lead characters meet. Its presence is a bit odd, however, given that the college and university expelled him because he refused to deny writing a pamphlet called The Necessity of Atheism.

The Vatican is now aiming to do one better than University College, erecting a statue of Galileo close to the apartment where he was imprisoned in 1633 on allegations of promoting heliocentrism. His Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems can be read online.

Nicholas Stern video

Emily kindly sent me a link to the video of Sir Nicholas Stern’s presentation in the Examination Schools at Oxford in February of 2007. I was lucky enough to attend in person; I even got to speak with him at the exclusive reception afterwards. My notes are on the wiki. This is your chance to compare a verbatim record of the talk with my notes and thus determine my particular strengths and failings as a note taker.

The talk is well worth watching, not least because Stern is obviously very well informed and quite a capable speaker. His report is fully deserving of its status as the seminal discussion of the economics of climate change.

First photo in a book

Graffiti in North Vancouver

After asking my permission, a group of authors used one of my photos in their book Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior. The photo in question is of a Soviet automobile in the Occupations Museum in Tallinn. I am not sure of the precise context in which it was used, but they have offered to send me a copy.

I will post a photo of the page including my photo when the book arrives. I am generally happy for people to use my photos with permission and proper attribution. The pleasantness of this experience stands in contrast with the unauthorized publication of one of my photos in The Oxford Student.