Citizens assemblies are no solution to the climate challenge — we need innovation

At first sight, long-term swings in individual seats in Australian elections are a definite niche interest, one for the real trainspotter. But during a visit to Sydney University’s Complex Systems Institute, I noticed a fascinating piece in The Australian newspaper. The Australian Labor Party had a good result in the 2007 federal elections, and a […]

Extinction Rebellion hates capitalism, but they wouldn’t exist without it

The Extinction Rebellion protesters on the streets of London seemed to consist of two disparate interest groups: pensioners and the young. Their shared connection is that most of them – certainly in the former group – seemed to be affluent. An identical alliance was observed a few months ago in the rather unlikely setting of […]

Time for an honest talk about the costs of climate action

Sydney University’s Centre for Complex Systems does innovative work on a broad range of topics. But spending the last couple of weeks there has also given me a wider perspective on some familiar themes. Climate change is, quite literally, a hot topic in Australian politics. The country melted in 45-degree record temperatures in January, and […]

Surplus is necessary for resilience in an unpredictable world

Our flood management systems are under increasing pressure. In recent years the UK has been hit by several extreme floods which have ruined homes and businesses, and taken lives. Population growth and climate change are expected to make flooding worse: analysis for the 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment estimated that flood risk will increase by […]

Why can’t we confront climate change? Behavioural economics explains

The devastating storms in America have kept the issue of climate change firmly in the public mind. But so far, it has proved very difficult for politicians to persuade electorates to change consumption patterns in ways which many scientists would like to see. More expensive air travel, steeper energy bills – these are not very […]

Valuing the Future. Why Climate Change Agreement is Hard

The two week long Paris conference on climate change seems to drag on interminably.  There are obviously many reasons why such summits find it difficult to reach meaningful agreements.  But a fundamental one is that the electorates of the West are being asked to bear substantial costs right here and now, in return for a […]