On the approach of winter

For the night is dark and full of terrors. George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings I often use this blog to point out the turning-points of the cycle of the year. Here in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching the autumn equinox, the point when the nights start to be longer than the daysContinue reading “On the approach of winter”

On population

Malthus has been buried many times, and Malthusian scarcity with him. But as Garrett Hardin remarked, anyone who has to be reburied so often cannot be entirely dead. Herman E. Daly, Steady-State Economics: The Economics of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth (1991) There are several canned responses that always seem to come up whenever theContinue reading “On population”

On the spectacularly obvious

We have to shift our attitude of ownership of nature to relationship with nature. The moment you change from ownership to relationship, you create a sense of the sacred. Satish KUmar Well, I try quite hard not to respond to all the examples of head-banging idiocy I see in the press, because life is shortContinue reading “On the spectacularly obvious”

On domestication

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. George Orwell, Animal Farm If you read any history of the beginnings of agriculture – and if you haven’t yet, I recommend that you do; ColinContinue reading “On domestication”

Book review: Going to Seed

Going to Seed: A Counterculture Memoir by Simon Fairlie (Chelsea Green, 2022), ISBN: 978-1-64502-061-5 You might know Simon Fairlie’s name from his previous book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance (Permanent Publications, 2010), which rather remarkably caused George Monbiot to change his mind about veganism. Perhaps you’ve come across the magazine he founded, The Land, if youContinue reading “Book review: Going to Seed”

On rationality

Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal. Anatole France As a culture, we are unusually fond of rationality. I blame the ancient Greeks. Economists are very keen to stress how rational everyone is, all of the time, and yet this fliesContinue reading “On rationality”

On spring

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of civilisational collapse. Alfred Lord Tennyson (slightly amended) As I write these words, it’s the Spring Equinox up here in the northern hemisphere. From today onwards, the days will be longer than the nights. The clocks will be going forward. The birds are singing,Continue reading “On spring”

Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (Vintage, 1998), ISBN: 978-0099302780 I want to approach this book by means of its subtitle. Specifically, I want to contrast its subtitle with that of another classic text. This may seem perverse, but bear with me. The subtitle of this book is –Continue reading “Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel”

Book review: Overshoot

Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change by William R. Catton Jr., University of Illinois Press (1982), ISBN: 0-252-00988-6 / 978-0-252-00988-4 I believe it was Mark Twain who defined a classic as a book that nobody wants to read but everyone wants to have read. This is a book that everyone ought to have readContinue reading “Book review: Overshoot”

On taking the long view

In the long run we are all dead. John Maynard Keynes, A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923) How long is the long run? At one extreme, there is a principle attributed (perhaps wrongly) to the Iroquois that decisions should be taken in the light of their possible effect seven generations hence, which is at leastContinue reading “On taking the long view”