Recent Posts by Garrett Nagle

Venezuela: How and Why Did It All Go So Wrong?

Venezuela was, until relatively recently, one of the richest countries in Latin America. Due to its vast oil reserves, and the revenue they brought in, they were able fund food subsidies health care and education programmes. Under the presidency of Hugo Chavez (1999–2013) unemployment and poverty halved and personal incomes doubled. Chavez nationalized the oil industry and used the profits for welfare programmes. Chavez dies in 2013 and was replaced Nicolas Maduro, who continued with the spending programme. However, the price ...

Falling Fertility – Good News or Bad News?

The global total fertility rate (the average number of children born to a woman during her reproductive life, at present rates) is now 2.4. According to Sarah Harper, former director of the Royal Institution, falling fertility is to be encouraged. She believes that artificial intelligence, automation (mechanisation) and a healthier, older population reduces the need for a large workforce for economic growth. In a post-industrial country (and even in industrial countries) machines do much of the work that manual labour used ...

Climate Change Talks at Katowice, Poland and Hothouse Earth

At the Katowice Climate Change Conference, December 2018, member countries agreed the ‘rulebook’ for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement into practice – in particular how emissions would be measured and progress in reducing emissions tracked. However, the Conference did not tackle the question of how countries would increase their targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. By 2020, countries must show how they have met the targets that they set back in 2008. Carbon emissions appear to be on the ...

Brumadinho Landslide in Brazil

The Brumadinho landslide occurred on 26 January 2019 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. To date, around 60 bodies have been recovered from the Brumadinho landslide but almost 300 are still missing. Although bodies were recovered it proved very difficult to identify them. The current disaster happened just three years after the collapse of another tailings (waste materials) dam, near the town of Mariana, also in the state of Minas Gerais. It killed 19 people, forced many people to ...

Polar Vortex

By Monday, February 4, 2019 No tags 0

Chicago has been affected by temperatures as low as -30°C in January this year. When the wind chill is added to this, it was said to feel like -50°C. The reason behind these unseasonally low temperatures is the polar vortex. The polar vortex refers to upper level winds which normally keep very cold winds in the region around the North Pole. (It is a winter equivalent to the mid-latitude jet stream which sometimes breaks down forming a blocking anticyclone that ...

Living Planet Report 2018

The WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report has been released (links to the full report and the summary can be found here: https://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/all_publications/living_planet_report_2018/). It makes sobering reading. The Report shows that there has been a decline in the wildlife population of 60% over the past 40 years. It estimates that the value of environmental goods and services to humanity is around US $125 trillion annually. The Report highlights the great acceleration i.e. the increasing impact of human activity on all aspects ...

The New Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZM)

The new 55-km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZM) – the world’s longest sea-bridge, links three main cities in the greater bay Area of China (formerly called the Pearl River Delta). The Bay Area is China’s economic powerhouse, accounting for 14% of China’s GDP in 2017, but only 5% of its population. China’s economy has been slowing down, and there are problems related to inequalities in wealth, an ageing workforce and increasing pollution of air and water. It is hoped that the ...

Burial in China

Around 10 million people die in China each year. Of these about 50% are cremated. The Chinese authorities have looked at ways of reforming burials in China, in order to deal with the lack of space and high prices of burials in certain areas. Each cremation releases around 160 kg of carbon dioxide, so around 800,000 tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year in China, as a result of cremations! As China’s population ages, this amount is likely ...

An End to Peat Cutting in Ireland?

By Monday, December 10, 2018 No tags 0

In November 2018, the Irish peat company, Bord na Mona, announced plans to close 17 of its active peat bogs, and to close the remaining 45 bogs by 2025. The cutting of turf in peat bogs is a traditional form of energy in Ireland, and was widely practiced across the country in its numerous peat bogs, such as in Kerry and Mayo in the west of Ireland. Peat was cut not only by Bord na Mona, but also by individual ...

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