What we learned this week

Since those on lower incomes spend more of their earnings on energy, opposing energy efficiency disadvantages the poorest most. Good article on energy efficiency and justice from Brian Kahn in the Guardian.

Is the bell tolling for the wood burning stove in cities? Apparently two thirds of Londoners would support a ban on them.

In the 1970s it looked as if Nepal’s forests were going to be lost entirely. They have recovered spectacularly, a result of switching from government management to community control. The Verge has the story. (A good reminder that the choice between government control and privatisation is a false binary, and the best solutions are often the democratic and inclusive ones in the middle.) It’s not a one-off either, as studies are validating similar approaches in Brazil.

If you’re in the area, the Cambridge Festival has a series of interesting climate and environment events coming up in March and April, including talks and discussions on things like re-freezing the Arctic, the future of meat, and climate impacts in and around the city.

The Big Green Hike is a fundraising day organised by Just Giving in support of a range of environmental charities. It’s on Sunday the 2nd of April, which is enough time to organise something locally if you’re so inclined.

Quick shout-out to a novel that I won’t be writing a full review about, but wanted to mention – Goliath, by Tochi Onyebuchi. It’s set on a future earth that has been more or less abandoned by those who can afford to seek a better life elsewhere. Onyebuchi is interested in those who remain, and those who return, shaping a life for themselves in the the stuttering remains of human civilisation and a slowly recovering nature.

The book functions partly as a reflection on ‘white flight’ on a planetary scale, and also a comment on the themes of science fiction itself, and whose stories get told. While the privileged are off on space stations or terraforming Mars in the movies and books, what’s happening to those left behind?

Goliath isn’t driven by plot, it’s fair to say, and thus it’s not going to be for everyone. Instead, it’s full of vignettes of relationships and communities on the edge of survival. It’s told from multiple perspectives, often letting characters tell stories themselves during a pause in their work or on a journey, and it’s rich in little details and neatly observed Black culture. A complex and thought-provoking work of speculative fiction.

Highlights from this week

Seven heat pump myths

Heat pumps are an important technology in reducing carbon from Britain’s heating. As a country we have made good progress on reducing emissions from electricity. Heating is a bigger challenge. 85% of homes have gas boilers, and gas is of course a fossil fuel. We need to reduce and eventually eliminate gas boilers. In typical…

How the green economy is rebalancing UK inequalities

‘Levelling up’ is a favourite phrase of the Conservative government. (Or at least it was under Johnson. Hard to tell these days.) In theory, levelling up is about rebalancing the economy across the regions, ensuring that nobody is left behind – a “plan to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts…

Building of the week: Minor Homes

Tiny houses are entirely normal in many parts of the world. In developing countries, they’re very much a lifestyle choice, and in recent years a bit of a movement has emerged around the idea. Living in a tiny house is about simplicity. There’s no room for lots of stuff, and you have to be deliberate…

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