What we learned this week

  • I’ve been curiously watching this story for years, and it’s finally getting somewhere – the first lab-grown beef burger is due to be cooked and served next week.
  • “As long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine” says Peter Buffett in this thought provoking essay on philanthropy.
  • “Over 35 percent of Americans are now clinically obese. That’s partly because of diet, but also because we’ve designed our cities for cars.” Good.is on walkable cities.
  • This Norwegian valley town has fitted giant mirrors to the mountain-top so they can enjoy more sunshine in winter.


  1. I couldn’t agree more with Peter Buffet’s essay on philanthropy. But how can misused power be overpowered? I do not know and in despair I return to ‘ look instead at the plank in your own eye.’

    1. Buffett’s own answer, as a philanthropist, is to fund new ideas that challenge the status quo. That’s my approach too, although in writing rather than funding – to flag up new ways of doing things, experiments, thinkers. I don’t think misused power should be overpowered, but undermined.

  2. The cultured beef adds to my view that human ingenuity is the solution to the problems we face. Of course I expect the eco-luddites and the farming lobby to try to stop it. How long before the scare stories come out as with GM. This will never be ‘organic’.

    1. The farming lobby maybe, but the environmental groups should be behind this if they know what’s good for them. It’s an answer to land degradation and deforestation, meat adulteration and animal cruelty all at once – and since the neo-luddites are already vegetarian, it’s no skin off their nose to support it.

      I’m going to write more about it next week, when they’ve actually cooked the thing.

      1. I think ‘should’ in the key word. Many environmentalists are pretty anti-capitalist too and so will see this as big farming (one of the complaints against GM) so while they should support it I’d put money on there being an outcry.

        Vegetarians won’t like this either. Cows still have to be farmed and killed for this, just far fewer (That’s in the article). An absolutist mentality can’t accept that.

        And I’ll bet the Prince Charles’s of this world will hate it because it isn’t ‘proper’ farming.

        1. Quite, and I wish the environmental movement was less absolutist and better at picking its battles. One thing I find slightly ironic is that many people are revolted by the whole idea, but would happily eat the lab-produced blocks of mycoprotein known as Quorn.

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