Some things to read

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It is time for me provide my somewhat irregular list of reading material.

A lot of people are now claiming that coal growth is coming to a halt in China. Mostly this is just a narrative set up to serve political ends, it serves to take some ammunition out of the hands of those favouring climate inaction. Greenpeace after all is the source of the recent claims, not a bunch of academics.

The key thing here is to recognise that China’s statistics are notoriously unreliable. If coal consumption only grew by around 2.5% you must first ask if the statistics are to be trusted. So I recommend reading this piece that shows that China’s coal consumption is unlikely to have grown by such a low amount given how much its economy, industrial output, steel production, and electricity production grew.

We now subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of half a trillion dollars a year, far more than renewable energy. Or so we are often told. This claim however does not survive much scrutiny. My go to deconstruction of fossil fuel “subsidies” is this piece by David Steven. I highly recommend it.

When it comes to energy few people are more worth listening to than Vaclav Smil. Here he is in discussion with Jeffrey Ball. If you want insight, not vacuity or wishful thinking, read Smil.

I have come rather late to reading Jonathan Meades, but his prose collection Museum Without Walls is one of the best things I have read in a long time on the built environment. Meades’ humanism, urbanism and dislike of all forms of bullshit is very potent when combined with his tight prose.

And here is something different. The Girl Hunt from the musical The Band Wagon, a remarkable piece of cinema first introduced to me when reading Clive James’s website






One thought on “Some things to read

    Ray Martin said:
    April 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for the subsidies article – I always suspected something fishy about claims made by renewables industry. One of them has just been on Sky News making this claim unchallenged.


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