Posts by Alan Simpson

‘Do Look Up’: a time to change everything

2022 is not going to be the year I turn into a film critic. But if you haven’t seen the film ‘Don’t Look Up’, do so now. This isn’t just because the film offers a terrific satire on the conflicting political influences of science and spin, or because there really is a meteorite heading Earth’s…

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Democracy: the Writing on the Road

Forget the shenanigans about Tory Party partying, something far more insidious it taking place; something eating away at the foundations of British democracy. Socialised distraction is just a cover for doing so. As Boris Johnson knows all too well, insecurity is the handmaiden of authoritarianism. Create it and you erode public confidence in an array…

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COP26 and ‘The Great Law of Peace’

Don’t blame them; the sherpas, the civil servants and Ministers. They did their best, struggling to get commitments (rather than conditional brackets) out of COP26 negotiations. Surviving on caffeine and little sleep, they genuinely tried to get something meaningful past fossil fuel lobbyists and national vetoes. In the end, everyone had something to grumble about.…

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Living in the Overshoot

“Don’t choose extinction”. This was the simple advice offered by a dinosaur in the UN’s CGI video message to global leaders. The question is whether any have the sense to heed it. The chaotic upheavals surrounding Glasgow’s COP26 gathering suggest the message is not getting through fast enough. To be fair, there were hopeful signs.…

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Keystone COPout

Sometimes there are events that make you rail in anger. Others make you weep. Reading the government’s plethora of ‘net zero’ policy papers ahead of November’s COP26 climate conference, I could barely hold back the tears. It wasn’t their lack of ambition but the absence of a route map (with sufficient resources and urgency) that…

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Men (and Women) in Dark Times

In her book Men in Dark Times, the philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the notion of inner emigration. What was it that stood in the way of so many prominent/influential people challenging the rise of Hitlerism or organising escape routes from it? From the biographies she explored, Arendt concluded that many found the external realities of…

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Are local authorities equipped to reach net zero?

Are local authorities equipped to reach net zero? “Only rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in this decade can prevent climate breakdown” – Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor. This Inquiry could not be more timely or important. Before the last election, I set up scientific briefings for MPs calling for a step…

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Willing the Ends, Willing the Means

The ‘Sun Ship’ (Das Sonnenschiff) is a small community in the Vauban district of Freiburg. Built in 2004, it is one of the earliest examples of ‘energy-plus’ housing; developments that generate more electricity than the community itself consumes. Powered entirely by solar energy (and storage), and designed to high standards of natural heating and cooling,…

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The Turning Point

Something big is happening; really big. All the pillars of smug certainty are beginning to crumble. Nothing captured this more than the ‘waste’ sculpture taunting the G7 Summit in Cornwall. The ‘Mount Recyclemore’ sculpture – made from dumped e-waste materials – symbolised far more than the 53 million tonnes of electronic goods the world throws…

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Net-zero, not-zero and ground-zero

What a mess we are in. Labour loses the Hartlepool by- election with a 16% swing to the Tories. A new North-South divide is opening up. With the exception of London, Labour no longer holds the hearts and minds of its conventional heartlands. So much for new leadership, new vision. What on earth is going…

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