What we learned this week

It’s the Easter holidays round here, so fewer posts last week and none at all next week. I’m going to take a break for a few days. In the meantime, some miscellaneous links, some highlights from the blog in case you missed them, and a couple of cultural recommendations below.

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is phasing out private planes and night flights as it seeks to be ‘quieter, cleaner and better’. These are the kind of ‘people first’ decisions UK airports, including my local Luton one, could and should be making.

London’s South Bank is planning a series of climate related events as part of their Planet Summer season. It includes art exhibitions, talks from global figures from the climate world, and (checks notes…) the SpongeBob Squarepants musical.

Politico has an interesting long read on how the environmental movement shifted in America over the last decade, and how it had to ‘learn to win’.

Sustainability in Numbers looks at how long it takes to build a nuclear reactor. Let’s just say that Britain’s slow pace is not representative.

Solar powered electric vehicles will – in time – be commonplace across the global south, making use of the sun and reducing pressure on charging networks. That’s my prediction, and these cute little electric vans from Tunisia are a good example.

Highlights from this week

Text links at the bottom if you can’t these visual highlights, BTW

Book review: Carbon Colonialism, by Laurie Parsons

“What comes into your mind when you think of environmental breakdown?” asks Laurie Parsons in the opening to his book Carbon Colonialism. For a lot of people it’s still melting ice and polar bears. If people feature, it’s likely to be forest fires or famines far away. With some notable exceptions, “what your example is…

On the safety of nuclear power

Last week I wrote about the possibility of a new generation of small modular reactors, something a number of governments and businesses are betting on as a reponse to climate change and high energy prices. As is often the case, one of the things that came up in discussion was the safety of nuclear power.…

The countries saying no to new oil and gas

Over the last couple of years the campaign group Just Stop Oil have risen to notoriety. Their tactics are controversial and sometimes absurd, but their single demand is hard to argue with: stop all new oil and gas. If you accept even the basics of climate change, then the most obvious thing to do is…


There are so many books about children befriending large predatory animals at the moment that it’s practically its own sub-genre, but this one’s rather special. SF Said’s Tyger draws on William Blake’s famous tiger poem, as well as his more obscure mythological writings, to weave a story of eternal beings trapped in a time-locked London. The empire has not ended. Slavery is still legal. Mobs ransack immigrant businesses, the powerful enclose the commons, and a quiet resistance runs from an underground library. As well as being a good story, it raises all sorts of questions about prejudice, privilege and inequality – and how the ‘powers’ of empathy and imagination can unlock new possibilities. I read a lot of children’s books with my other professional hat on, and this one feels like a real classic of children’s literature – and is therefore not just for children.

One for those that have Netflix (apologies if you do not.) I’m coming to this a little late, but I was quite impressed with the Polish drama series High Water recently. It tells the true story of a ‘once in a millennium’ flood that struck the city of Wroclaw in 1997. It’s well written, well acted and ambitious in its scope. It also teases out all sorts of social and political complexities around natural disasters. Who do you protect? What does listening to the science actually mean? How do you balance competing risks? Who is most vulnerable, and what if they don’t want to evacuate? These seem like important questions in an age of climate change, where a growing number of cities and governments will face similar dilemmas.

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