Climate Change

Fighting Climate Change: Cures worse than the disease?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.

I am sure these enourmous efforts were done with the best of intentions, but I am not so sure they are contributing to World Peace. Certainly, a lot of wasteful and harmful policies are being implemented under the guise of fighting climate change.

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Climate Change in Bolivia – Expect Surprises

Climate change has suddenly become a hot research topic in Bolivia (1). The glaciers in the highlands are melting, the lowlands are flooded, and the government has declared a state of national emergency due to natural disasters. It is a good time to ask how climate change might be affecting the poor Bolivians.

But first let’s check exactly what climate changes we are talking about.

The National Meteorological Service ( provides useful data for 33 different stations across Bolivia. They provide daily minimum and maximum temperatures since 1/1/2004 until yesterday, as well as historical monthly averages for the 1961-1990 period, which can be used for comparison. It is therefore relatively simple to calculate daily temperature anomalies for different parts of Bolivia.

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Now you can off-set both carbon emissions and infidelity!

Carbon-offsetting (paying others not to emit carbon into the atmosphere so that you can keep emitting) recently got an absolutely hilarious equivalent: CheatNeutral (

This brilliant initiative allows you to pay somebody else to be faithful, so that you keep going on as usual. Of course it is recommended that you first look for ways of reducing your cheating. But once you have done this, you can use CheatNeutral to offset the remaining, unavoidable cheating. This supposedly neutralizes the pain, unhappiness and heartbreak in the atmosphere and leaves you with a clear conscience.

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The Cynical Economist: Getting Our Priorities Straight

There are many gigantic problems in the world (hunger, diseases, wars, corruption, lack of safe water, pollution, climate change, etc.), but there are also a great many efforts to solve these problems (hundreds of professional development organizations, thousands of NGOs, millions of volunteers, billions of dollars of foreign aid).

So, why is progress towards solving these problems so painfully slow?

One possibility may be that we haven’t gotten our priorities straight. Clearly we can’t fix everything at once (if we could, all the problems would already have been solved), so we should try to apply the limited funds available for fixing global problems to the areas where they can do the most good.

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Managing Change

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” Charles Franklin Kettering

“Some people change their ways when they see the light; others when they feel the heat.” Caroline Schroeder

It has happened to most of us, even the poorest of the poor. We used to feel safe and secure; the things we needed seemed to come to us automatically without any effort on our part. We were living in a care-free world, with no worries, little pain and few threats, cushioned from all shocks.

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WARNING! Excessive use of the Precautionary Principle may be bad for you

The Precautionary Principle basically says that we should not do something unless we are sure it will have no harmful or potentially harmful side-effects.

On the face of it, that may sound reasonable, but in reality it is a one-sided consideration, which completely ignores the benefits or potential benefits of any action/product/invention. The Principle does not weigh benefits against costs; it just says that if there are any costs at all, the action should not be carried out. For example, a new invention which could benefit millions of people, but also might possibly harm a few (people or other species) in the process, should be banned according to the Precautionary Principle.

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