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Tag Archives: Ecological crisis

The conferment of an honorary doctorate at Helsinki University: my speech.

This is a speech delivered to the staff of the University of Helsinki, and to hundreds of students awarded masters’ and doctorate degrees, on the auspicious day of 22nd May, 2022. One of the requirements of the conferment committee was that all speeches should include another language. I therefore began mine in Afrikaans. After the pause below, I summarise the content of the opening paragraphs, so bear with me… Ek wil net kortliks sê dit is n baie lang pad van die klein dorpie,...

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Rentier capitalism is profoundly risk-averse

The following article is based on my speech notes for a presentation to University College London’s Global Business School for Health on 22nd February 2022. The webinar was titled: Health Innovation through Capital and Private Equity Markets webinar. The question panellists were asked to address was this: “….whether capital and private equity markets are actually driving forward better and sustainable health innovation?” I argued that private capital and private equity markets – far from...

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Climate crisis, global debt, and the Fermi paradox – a proposal to the IMF

This article first appeared in the Indian journal Economic and Political Weekly on 13 November, 2021. Fermi Paradox In a recent article, Yıldızoğlu (2021) reminded us of the Fermi Paradox, which can be summarised as: Although the probability of the existence of other forms of life in the universe is sufficiently high, why have we not met any? Enrico Fermi, the Italian–American physicist and the creator of the world’s first nuclear reactor, was probably not the first person who asked: “but...

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Bill Gates: Save the jetset

Bill Gates: How to avoid a climate disaster : Review for the Times Literary Supplement, published on 12 March, 2021. When I first began to use computers in the 1980s, my Techie pals in the opensource community were dismissive of Microsoft’s ‘clunky’ and vulnerable software and advised me against using its products. But I disagreed. In the eyes of geeks, the software may have been badly coded but it was accessible for me, a non-geeky beginner. For each glitch I just hit ‘update’ and...

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Bill Gates: How to avoid a climate disaster: review for the Times Literary Supplement

When I first began to use computers in the 1980s, my Techie pals in the opensource community were dismissive of Microsoft’s ‘clunky’ and vulnerable software and advised me against using its products. But I disagreed. In the eyes of geeks, the software may have been badly coded but it was accessible for me, a non-geeky beginner. For each glitch I just hit ‘update’ and Microsoft programmes were patched up. Bill Gates brings those breezy and accessible characteristics to his book How to avoid a...

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Bill Gates: How to avoid a climate disaster: review for the Times Literary Supplement

When I first began to use computers in the 1980s, my Techie pals in the opensource community were dismissive of Microsoft’s ‘clunky’ and vulnerable software and advised me against using its products. But I disagreed. In the eyes of geeks, the software may have been badly coded but it was accessible for me, a non-geeky beginner. For each glitch I just hit ‘update’ and Microsoft programmes were patched up. Bill Gates brings those breezy and accessible characteristics to his book How to avoid a...

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Billionaires & the pandemic: in happy alignment

There are two global forces positively thriving – despite today’s crises. They are the lethal coronavirus and the world’s billionaires – engaged in a form of ‘co-production’. Why are they thriving? And why do their interests align so happily? The ‘interests’ of a lethal virus are clear. The microbe’s supreme ambition is to spread as fast as possible, infect millions of humans, accelerate the process of transmission and evolve into a global pandemic. Never mind the consequences. How can this...

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COP26: US gifts Wall St the Green New Deal

This article first appeared on Substack. Last week the Biden team delivered their first press conference on the Democrat’s much-anticipated Climate Plan. The good news is that Climate Envoy, John Kerry and Advisor, Gina McCarthy are talking about the Climate Plan delivering “Good paying Union Jobs”. All hail to that ambition. The bad news is that this ain’t no Rooseveltian New Deal. Roosevelt confronted Wall St from the get go. His administration systematically drained the Street of power,...

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The case for an Ecological Interest Rate

Between the Anglo-American political horror shows of 2020 and the raging pandemic, something much less theatrical drifted centre stage to play a more than usually important role: interest rates. There is one obvious reason: like waiting to witness a rare celestial event there is a high likelihood that rates will do a shocking, unusual thing and go negative. But there is another important reason that hasn’t, to date, been part of mainstream economic commentary. With more focus than ever on a...

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COP26: system change to sustain life on earth

The UN’s conference takes place in November 2021and will be led by the British government. It is apparently committed to “uniting the world to tackle climate change”. It needs to achieve far more. To tackle climate change and protect the ecosystem that sustains life on earth, we need to do more than just bring down emissions, and reimagine the economy.  We must transform the current globalised financial system. Why? Because the spigot of (largely) deregulated global credit fuels global...

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