Just a thought

Vaclav Smil has a book coming out. In it he argues that economic growth cannot continue because dematerialisation isn’t happening. We still use resources to have growth, resources are limited, therefore growth will stop.

Well, yes. Except he goes and measures the resources we are using. The one thing he doesn’t look at at all is the resources that we’re not using. That is, by definition, he’s only looking at the resources we’ve not dematerialised the economy from.

I’m pretty sure that, for example, that the global economy is entirely dematerialised from the use of the guano that built Tyntesfield.

If anyone knows of – I’ve already asked USGS – a database of natural resources that we used to use but no longer do then get in touch.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just difficult

That the one entrepreneur can’t make it work doesn’t mean that it’s impossible:

Sir James Dyson is pulling the plug on his flagship electric car project after two years of work because it is not commercially viable.

For that’s rather the point of having markets and competition, that many people try to solve the same problem.

But let’s say that it does mean that the solution is non-obvious. Which does rather mean that this idea that we’ll stop producing ICEs by 2030, or 2040, whatever the target is, is looking a bit hopeful.

On the subject of capitalism and pollution

Thick crude oil that has stained hundreds of miles of pristine Brazilian beach in recent weeks probably originated in Venezuela, the Brazilian government has said, in an accusation likely to further strain relations between the two countries.

Brazilian authorities have been investigating the growing disaster for more than a month, as the oil has spread to more than 130 beaches across nine states.

It is true that as people do stuff then accidents happen. This is true even under capitalism. But to truly cock things up environmentally you do need socialism…..

Gosh, how does this work?

Heavy rains over recent days in the Bolivian Amazon have helped put out forest fires that have raged for two months across the land-locked South American nation, charring more than 4m hectares of land, local authorities said on Monday.

Fires in the Amazon. Which aren’t the fault of the newly elected right wing government and the slide into fascism.

How unlike Brazil.

Complaints over the government’s handling of the crisis have dented the popularity of Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales.

Well, obviously, as Bolivia doesn’t have a newly installed, fascist, right wing government. But it’s possible to just vaguely mutter that perhaps it wasn’t the fascism, nor the government, that caused the Brazilian fires?

Well, yes, he’s right you know

The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication received widespread attention this week with its claim that the disease could be eradicated by 2050. This would be a very welcome achievement, as malaria currently kills about 435,000 people – predominantly children – each year.

The report argues that the key to eradicating malaria is the application of existing and new technology, coupled with £1.6bn extra annual funding. Unfortunately, this solution is unlikely to be successful because it fails to address the underlying causes of malaria: grinding poverty and state incapacity.

The actual solution being to drain the wetlands. But how are you going to get that past the environmentalists?

Very tee hee

Eco-activists targeting fossil fuel firm barricade offices of green energy company by mistake

Sigh. But ain’t this the truth:

A worker at the company told the Evening Standard: “They’re protesting against Drax, but they don’t live here anymore. I understand [the protester’s aims] but it helps if they check the facts.”

But then if they checked all the facts then they’d not be eco protestors, would they?


The inequalities of race, class, and gender that lace through fossil fuel capitalism would be challenged head-on.

To take just gender. There was more or less inequality of gender before the use of coal? Before or after that freeing of labour from the necessity for male musculature? Or perhaps race, it being the steam engine that did more than anything else to kill off slavery.

Ignorant pillock.

Mathew Lawrence is director of Common Wealth


Talking crap

Demand for luxury toilet roll trumping shopper’s environmental concerns, new analysis shows

Hmm. Seems that they’re using less recycled in current bog roll:

The major brands are using far less recycled paper than they did in 2011 amid a growing trend for high quality ‘four-ply’ toilet roll known for its softness.

Only five of the nine major supermarkets, including Sainsburys and Waitrose, are offering their own-brand recycled toilet paper, analysis from Ethical Consumer magazine found.

In 2011, just under 30% of total fibre used by Kimberly-Clark, one of the biggest suppliers of toilet tissue worldwide, was from recycled fibre, but by 2017 this figure had fallen to 23.5%.

Well, OK, if that’s what the punters want then why not?

It recommends Ecoleaf, Essential, Traidcraft and Who Gives A Crap as more environmentally friendly alternatives to the fashionable quilted toilet rolls.

Because the manufacturers of the more expensive and worse stuff would like some sales please, that’s why not.

And this bit is entirely talking crap:

It comes as experts warn that the large-scale use of virgin paper in the production of “luxury” quilted toilet roll is heavily contributing to deforestation rates and destroying animal habitats.

Bog roll comes from especially manufactured plantations. Which wouldn’t exist if they weren’t to be cut down for bog roll. It’s like saying don’t eat bacon to save pigs – pigs wouldn’t be farmed if we didn’t want bacon.

Suppose so really

We’re running out of sand says Nature. With this piccie:

OK, so, water inflow at the top remains the same, logically. Meaning that a deeper and wider channel creates slower water flow. Which leads to greater sand deposition and…..

What’s the bit I’ve got wrong here?


What’s the point of voting Tory then?

Fracking should be banned, the UK must take global leadership on the climate emergency and a royal commission should decide how to build homes in an environmentally sustainable manner, an influential group of Conservative MPs has said.

The Conservative Environment Network (CEN) set out a manifesto on Tuesday that they said must govern the UK’s policies to prevent climate catastrophe and allow for greener economic growth.

If you get the same idiocy from them as everyone else?

Say that again?

Last month, Carrefour and waste recycling company TerraCycle launched an initiative to tackle the problems of plastic waste threatening to destroy the environment.

To litter the environment, yes, obviously, to pollute it, sure, but destroy? Slightly de trop in the rhetoric there, no?

Amazing, eh?

When Tony Juniper was interviewed for the job of Natural England chairman, he vowed to leave decades of eco-activism “in the past”.

The former Green Party candidate is now facing questions, however, over whether he may have broken that promise on his very first day.

MPs and campaigners have raised concerns over the timing of a controversial decision to ban the shooting of a number of birds widely acknowledged as pests, including pigeons and crows.

The announcement was made without warning last month only hours after Mr Juniper, the former head of Friends of the Earth and self-described “eco warrior”, took up his post.

Who could have guessed that Tony Juniper would do something stupid?

Good point

Far from prosperity being the problem, it is the answer. It weans people off habitat-destroying dependence on burning wood, and it leads to reforestation, the creation of nature reserves and the return of wildlife. Why are wolves increasing, lions decreasing and tigers now holding their own? Because wolves live in rich countries, lions in poor countries and tigers in middle-income countries.

No doubt the Senior Lecturer will come by to prove causality to us – lions make a place poor, wolves rich.

Err, George?

And I’m struck by the amazing variety of ways in which cars have ruined our lives.

Let’s abandon this disastrous experiment, recognise that this 19th-century technology is now doing more harm than good, and plan our way out of it. Let’s set a target to cut the use of cars by 90% over the next decade.

It’s a classic, isn’t it? George gets by just fine without a car – although as I recall he didn’t in rural Wales with a small kid – and therefore the rest of us should. Project much George?