Why we need to listen to terrorists

[Update: the attack on London this Saturday has only increased the suffering of families and those injured, but I think this makes it more important to have this conversation]

Why do terrorists really hate us? Is it because they hate our values? Does our democracy stick in their narrow-minded, freedom-hating throats? A few, sure; but couldn’t there be something else? Have we – I’m just throwing this out there – have we done something​ to offend them?

The answer, of course, is ‘yes – have you not been paying attention at all?’ Read more

What John Missed

Last Week Tonight failed to mention an elephant in the Trump-Putin room

I have a confession: Trump provided one of my favourite moments this week, and for once it wasn’t at the expense of his brazen ignorance or childlike hands. But before we begin, a statement that I hope is uncontroversial: the US government has a lot of blood on its hands. If you’re in any doubt about that, dip your head into this voluminous list of countries the US has invaded or destabilised.  With this in mind, you may have seen defenders of the American Dream jumping through some pretty big hoops to deny this record of invasion and brutality, and Fox “News” is among the worst at this. So the look on Bill O’Reilly’s face when Trump admitted that “we’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think – our country’s so innocent?” was like a warm hug from a blanket made of unexpectedly honest kittens. Read more

What’s Barack ever done for the world?

Obama’s climate legacy

I have a feeling history is going to be kinder to Barack Obama than he deserves, and not only because of the caterpillar-haired, climate-denying demagogue who’ll take his place in January. The president’s record on climate is a lot more nuanced than the White House would have you believe, but my guess is these subtleties will be swept aside the moment Donald steps into office, making Obama a climate saint by default.

Before that tide of fear-induced nostalgia washes over us, it’s worth taking an honest look at what Obama has done, and what he’s failed to do. There’s the bittersweet possibility that all the positives will be undone come January, but that’s the bed America has made; it will have to share with a large orange man and his angry friends for at least four years. Read more

The Gift of Not Giving (Socks)

How to give a crap instead of giving crap

“Only a few more days of shopping left before your family finds out how little you know them” –internet meme

There are only so many novelty robot pepper shakers and cat manes you can receive before you realise Christmas involves giving too much crap. There’s an easy answer to this, and it doesn’t involve gift vouchers, otherwise known as the ‘handshake without making eye contact’ of the gift world. This year I’ll give some money to a charity for each of the folks I want to buy for, in place of a substantial gift.

Wait, seriously? Read more

No more heroes

Stop expecting the US to lead the way; they were adrift before the Sea of Trump

Watching Leonardo DiCaprio in Before the Flood being uncomfortably grilled on the American way of overconsumption by Sunita Narain, words landing like hammer blows on his eternally perplexed features, she asked something that made me sit up and pay attention: “what is America going to do about this?” It’s a fair question: given America carries the much-vaunted title of highest-consuming nation (and are past holders of the Biggest Polluter Award), it seems reasonable to expect them to carry the heaviest burden of all in fixing the problem.

Except it isn’t. Read more

A letter from: Donald

A letter from president-elect Donald Trump to the people of the world


[Letter dictated but not read, 10/11/2016. Links added by outgoing secretary Janet, because you still owe me two months of backpay.]

Some of you may be shocked to see me about to step into the oval office in a few months, and I can tell you – no-one is more surprised than me. I have the most surprise. But we ran a good race, me and Mike and I. Well mostly me, because Mike doesn’t like to talk so much, do you Mike? It’s a rhetorical question Mike, you don’t have to answer. Read more

The $1 billion drop in a warming ocean

Fossil fuel companies have just pledged to invest one billion dollars in renewable energy investment over the next ten years. Wait, really? The fossil fuel companies? The ones who directly profit from burning ancient marine life and try – sometimes laughably – to smear renewable energy? Why would an industry actively fund its successor / competitor? That’s like handing your girlfriend’s number to the guy who’s been making eyes at her from the bar.

Read more

Death by Air

How long before we treat fossil companies as murderers?

I’ve always thought that ice would make a pretty fine murder weapon, given that it disappears swiftly after you use it. Lava would work well too, though it tends to be in short supply when you most need it, and luring your enemy to an open volcano can be tricky at best. But I feel the modern, cost-effective way to off somebody is to hand them a one-way ticket to parts of India, or Iran, or China, given their current levels of air pollution – true, it may take a while, but at least the trail of evidence leading to your door is slim at best. Besides, there would be plenty of coal company CEOs in line to take the fall before you. Right? Read more

A Climate of ‘Free Speech’

This is our truth; feel free not to tell me yours.

Tom Harris is worried about free speech. He believes we should all have the freedom to disagree with the science on climate change, without being boxed in by all those pesky fact things. After all, it’s not like he’s involved in any organisation that’s supposed to be based in science, right? Oh wait – he’s the head of three. All with suspiciously similar sounding names ending in ‘Climate Science Coalition’; he simply couldn’t make up his mind on where he’s representing, so he settled on International Climate Science Coalition. Which I’d say was a good choice – after all, if you’re going to cherry pick data and make questionably pseudoscientific claims about global warming, it’s best to at least imply you have some international weight behind you.

Mr Harris treats the unprecedented scientific agreement on global warming as if it were that guy in the pub who always knows what’s true because he once met a man who saw it on the Discovery Channel. Read more