The new draft for a EU tobacco directive is due in time for christmas. Seldom has the political, and lobbying game been so obvious, and ridiculous. Smokers are already harassed in most of the Union. The argument being both paternalistic and the so-called "Environmental Tobacco Smoke", or Second Hand Smoking. As for the former, the health hazards of smoking are unquestionable. The latter is scientifically most questionable. Possibly, the most tangible health effect of chasing people outdoors for a smoke is the risk of pneumonia in this horrid winter.
Welcome back from the desert, north European delegates and activists. You certainly picked the right spot and time, as mostly half of the continent has been suffering from the sudden winter attack and ensuing traffic chaos. Interested people have thus been spending days in frozen airports reading about your courageous battle against warming.
Today's Brussels news consists of the regular traffic jam, especially at Place Luxembourg, because of another tractor manifestation by European farmers. Really not news. Rather regular, by an interest group worried that the current budget process wont allow for the continuation of the economically, environmentally and inhumane Common Agricultural Policy, already accounting for close to half the budget.
Soon, the Comission is due to wrap up the current debate on energy efficiency measures, introducing a GDP based paneuropan standard, somehow intended to be applicable all over the continent. Quite a daunting task, and not surprisingly, both business, Green NGO's and national governments are rather sceptical. This article sums up a lot of the debate.
The division of power in the EU system apparently works sometimes. Today we are expecting a decision by the Council to, if not to trash it all together, at least partly stall the money shuffling for vague climate reasons. Good so.
It's quite natural that all attention is focused on the American elections. In Europe, the focus seems to be two-fold; continuous focus on politics we can't afford and reluctant, though desperate in rhetorics, on what is a real crisis.
Sun power, large-scale, will not be viable as a major energy source for a long time, especially not in industrialized countries, and certainly not in huge, governmental projects.
As military war is possibly the worst threat to humanity and the environment, alongside with famine caused by socialised economies, the Nobel Peace Price, is indeed one of of top events of the year. And constantly debated. This year, as well as previous. The usual questions are: Should it really go to an organisation, and not to an heroic individual? Answer is that it's OK according to Nobel's will, though most of us probably find heroes more exciting. Was it the right choice, and, the recurring question, is it really an honor, given the rather questionable choices previous years. Sure, there [...]
My esteemed colleague Teresa Küchler at SvD in Brussels, draw my attention to the rather awkward debate in the budget negotiations in the European Parliament, concerning the, apparently, no less awkward Copenhagen based, EU financed, European Environment Agency. The EEA, in their own words, have a noble cause: "Our task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. We are a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public." What was up for questioning however, from the committee reviewing the budget, was somewhat different. Anyone on a visit to [...]
About 50 years ago, the book Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson was published, and triggered an environmental debate that has been going on since then. Lot's of articles are written about this these days, and, Cato Institute, among others, has published an essay collection. Carson passed away in 1964, and I do not for a moment doubt her good intentions, but the sad fact is that few books probably have caused as much damage. On the positive side, we can notice that basically all of her alarms turned out to be false. The world in general, has just gotten better, cleaner [...]
Some years ago, my esteemed colleague and friend Edgar Gärtner coined the concept Eco Nihilism, describing it as the worst threat to common sense in the environmental debate, and consequently to the environment. I somehow love innovative, conclusive expressions. This is a new one Noble Cause Corruption, coined by Anthony Watts. (Too noble to take credit, however.) Read the article to get the whole picture, but let me give you some highlights: ANTHONY WATTS: There’s a term that was used to describe this. It’s called noble cause corruption. And actually I was a victim of that at one time, where you’re [...]
by Einar Du Rietz You get Tosca instead. It’s a pity I could not use the brilliant headline from this article: Apocalypse Not, by Matt Ridley, in Wired Science. It sums up a lot. “Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in 972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening redictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us arnings of population explosions, [...]
Oil prices might go up and down, and as for the price of petrol, in most of Europe it's a matter of taxes. When I was a kid, in the 70's, I was told there was some sort of Oil Cricis, and then with everything happening in the Middle East and today it's Syria - and still Iran - and the Arctic...Well, those are all problems, but check out this article on the real situation concerning oil. "As the energy expert Leonardo Maugeri contends in a recent report published by the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, [...]
Unlike other summers, this year is rightfully filled with daily news. The EU, Syria, just to mention a few and disregarding the Olympics. No tabloids with reported aliens or slight nudity in the city. For fans of science, and science fiction, however, we get our fair share.
You might remember the Back-to-Nature movement of the 70's. That was a rather harmless way for people, longing for the genuine way of living, to move into the countryside to enjoy the splendor of bad, or no, plumbing. The thing this year is bee keeping. In the city.