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China: a test case

How will the Chinese trade off between growth and environmental degradation? Will it be growth at all costs? Or will they begin to think of growth in more-than-financial terms. But I doubt we should be asking that question only of China….

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Tidying up after Yourself

How far should the responsibilities of companies extend? The recycling of ‘old’ televisions and mobile phones should be a good thing. And it would be if it happened properly, rather than ending up on the trash heap or poisoning those who do the recycling or allowing the personal data of the orginial hard drive owners to be revealed. So how much care should the companies responsible for electronic waste take? And what will they now say about what is happening?

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Why are there so many hurricanes?

Hurricanes feed on warm water. Sea temperatures have been rising. Global warming raises sea termperatures. Human activity is contributing to global warming.

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The nature of hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina may cost more than $100b. That is the financial cost alone: what about the human factor? Yet how can human loss ever be calculated? And if apportioning costs is hard enough, what about apportioning responsibility? As extreme weather events become more frequent, will anyone put up their hand and say it was, in part, due to their actions or consumption of energy or planning decisions? Is it really an ‘act of God’?

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Who is neutral about carbon?

Alcoa has announced it will be carbon neutral by 2017. This will not be through using renewable energy, but because transport products will use more aluminium and so be able to reduce opeational energy costs. I wonder whether the train companies, for example, will also claim a reduced carbon burden. And maybe consumers will also be able to claim a reduced carbon burden – they will be travelling on those lighter trains, after all.

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Is Comet Temple uninhabited?

It must be very difficult to hit something 85m miles away; the skill of NASA scientists and technicians must be very great. But what if someone – or something – lives on the comet? I wonder what they might think of it all.

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Tax can be rewarding

The appropriate level of corporation tax has always been something of a mystery. The law is clear that there is no duty to maximise tax paid. But of course there is no duty to minimise it either. Nevetherless, the apparent tax rates for many large companies can approach zero. Interesting then to see the Korean approach to over-zealous tax strategies: give those who report evasion a reward.

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Who is responsible for Tsunamis?

The tsunami of 2004 seems like an “Act of God” over which humans have no control or influence. Except that we do: just not on the causes, but on the effects. Where and how we build and live can affect what happens. And just as many large animals are reported to have left the scene shortly before disaster struck, perhaps, in our own way, we can be more sensitive to hazards. And we could probably get very good at being alert to those which defiinitely are of our own making…

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Thoroughly modern man

Homo floresiensis – a new species of humankind from Indonesia. If any were found alive today, would they be granted ‘human rights’? How far can the concept of ‘rights’ be extended? Does nature have rights? Do we only offend humans when we destroy the world? Some work is being done on this – see Thomas Berry and Cormac Cullinan for example.

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Teaching business sustainability

I seem to be increasingly asked to teach or develop courses on aspects of sustainability these days. So I looked at Chris Galea’s book.

Why is so much sustainabiltiy training so intellectual? It seems to me that emotional resisitance to change – or commitment to the current order is the central problem. Only Molly Brown and Joanna Macy’s chapter in the book seem to come near to the problem.

How can a proper ‘ecopsychology’ be integrated into the business world?