Friday 26 September 2008


'a vision that uses the environment and its complexity as the focus of all that happens, rather than merely as grim set dressing or allegorical overlay.'

Time magazine nominates science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson as one of its environmental heroes. more ...

Wednesday 24 September 2008

platonic ideal

Clive James does another of those rare interviews with Tom Stoppard.

James: You made philosophy dramatic. So did Plato, of course.

Stoppard: Yes, but I made it funny.

(Part 2: 04.15) more ...

Monday 22 September 2008

green radio

The UK's only green radio station Passion for the Planet has been
in the BT Radio Station of the Year Awards. more ...

hair raising

If every man on Earth grew a beard, the resulting saving in shaving-related energy would be enough by itself to head off disaster. more ...

Thursday 18 September 2008

on his bike

Great post from No Impact Man. An open letter to NY State Senator Jeff Klein, who yesterday called me a f---ing assh-le after nearly hitting me with his Mercedes. more ...

Wednesday 17 September 2008

on target

The National Theatre has set itself a target of a 20% reduction in use of gas and electricity (taking 2006 as a benchmark). Today it published its annual report. So far there has been an 18% reduction in gas and 10% reduction in electricity. more ...

d'oh, baby, d'oh

At the Republican convention in St. Paul, Rudy Giuliani led the delegates in chanting 'drill, baby, drill'. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes:

Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet - is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. "Typewriters, baby, typewriters." more ...

Tuesday 16 September 2008

close, not so close

Global warming? 'I believe it's just God hugging us closer'. Tina Fey does Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. The Daily Dish gives us what Sarah Palin says she says about climate change and what she's actually said. more ...

Monday 15 September 2008

man and beast

If you thought Darwin was a dangerous thinker, the New Yorker reminds us that Machiavelli was equally controversial and just as misunderstood,

The Prince offered the first major secular shock to the Christianized state in which we still live. Long before Darwin, Machiavelli showed us a credible world without Heaven or Hell, a world of “is” rather than “should be,” in which men were coolly viewed as related to beasts and earthly government was the only hope of bettering our natural plight. more ...

Friday 12 September 2008

small brother

Big Brother panders to greed, vanity and voyeurism, says Edward Skidelsky. And from a liberal standpoint, there's nothing that can be said against it. But there's a new ethics emerging,

'One small example can be found at Tinker's Bubble, Somerset. Here, a small community of environmentalists farm 40 acres of woodland, orchards and pasture. The land is held in common. No grid electricity or fossil fuel is used; power comes from solar panels and a wood-fuelled steam engine. The community's aim is to "live lightly on the earth"—to contribute as little as possible to the portending environmental catastrophe.'
more ...

Thursday 11 September 2008

soccer moms pose ethical dilemma

Peter Singer warmly endorses Dale Jamieson's new book on environmentalism and ethics:

'The “soccer mom” who drives her kids to sporting events and music lessons seems to be a model of virtue – yet she and millions of other equally virtuous people are, collectively, bringing about climate change. To take account of these large collective-action problems, we need a radically new set of virtues.' more ...

Wednesday 10 September 2008

the rest is silence

One of the most literate and prolific bloggers around, Andrew Sullivan also articulates a brand of green conservatism. But in the last couple of days, Sullivan's blog has gone almost silent - leaving just a few tantalising clues. One is a quote from Wittgenstein (which translates as 'What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence'), a second is a picture of a sunset, and a third is a clip from Desperate Housewives, where a small boy called Andrew is forced by his mother to apologise to a neighbour. There's feverish speculation among his fans that Sullivan's heated attacks on Sarah Palin have led to calls from his employers at Atlantic Monthly for an apology. And Sullivan won't.
Lunchtime update: 7.27am (his time), and he's back. more ...

Tuesday 9 September 2008

going down

London theatres emit 50,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum and the Mayor's office, Nica Burns from SOLT and the Theatres Trust are confident this can be reduced by 60% (from 1990 levels) by 2025 without any negative impact on the quality of the work. more ...

Monday 8 September 2008

mental exercise

Tom Stoppard says theatre is 'first and foremost a recreation. But it's not just a children's playground; it can be recreation for people who like to stretch their minds.' more ...

Friday 5 September 2008

looks interesting

The best way to get people to go green, says No Impact Man, is to do what Tom Sawyer did,

Tom Sawyer had to paint a fence. So he sat on the ground and concentrated with all his might and made painting look like the most interesting thing he'd ever done. Soon enough, Huck Finn came along, saw how interested Tom Sawyer looked, and asked if he could paint, too. more ...

Thursday 4 September 2008

data doesn't sizzle

One of the characters in the climate-change comedy Sizzle says that too often scientists believe 'the only solution is to use what always works, which is data.'

'Having data is crucial', writes the New Scientist, 'and abandoning scientific objectivity would be a huge blunder. The biggest mistake, as Sizzle makes amusingly clear and real life makes tragically so, is assuming that data and logic alone will motivate people into action.' more ...

Wednesday 3 September 2008

missing tragedy

In his 1968 article 'The Tragedy of the Commons', the science professor Garrett Hardin used the word "tragedy" as Aristotle did:

'to refer to a dramatic outcome that is the inevitable but unplanned result of a character's actions. He called the destruction of the commons through overuse a tragedy not because it is sad, but because it is the inevitable result of shared use of the pasture. "Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all."'

Ian Angus argues that the evidence for this simply isn't there. (HT: Arts and Letters) more ...

Tuesday 2 September 2008

the ether

The director and performer of Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking, David Hare and Vanessa Redgrave, discuss art and politics. 'As a political writer,' Hare says, 'I believe certain things that non-political writers don't believe.' Chief among them, that your circumstances change who you are. 'There is no neutral ether.' more ...

Monday 1 September 2008

green words

Should we say 'climate change' or 'global warming'? I wrote about how neither phrase quite works. BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth picked up on this and interviewed MEP Caroline Lucas, Futerra's Ed Gillespie and myself on what green words to use and what one word or phrase we'd like to ban. Programme repeated at 11pm tonight. more ...