I had to have a blood test earlier this week. I’m squeamish about blood and needles – the very word blood makes me feel faint and clot is my least favourite word in the English language. To make matters worse, having cycled to University College Hospital (slightly shaky, with no breakfast, as per the instructions), I was then redirected twice to the phlebotomy unit, which is about half a mile from the main hospital, past cancer care, dialysis, cardiac, urology… (Names that are apt to make me pass out if I dwell on their meaning.)
Last week, we heard Sir John Beddington, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor speak about a Sustainable Future for Food and Farming, at the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI). He painted a pretty stark picture of the world, taking the audience through sobering charts and stats about the challenges posed by climate change, urbanisation and the burgeoning population. The headline figure was that we can expect another one billion people in the world, by 2025, split more or less 50/50 between Africa and Asia. For Africa, that is an increase of 50% on its current population.
Last night the US Department of Commerce announced anti-dumping tariffs of +31% against 59 Chinese solar manufacturers. Though this is a preliminary finding which is subject to change, it is much higher than expected and reflects the Department of Commerce’s view that these Chinese operators are dumping solar panels at less than fair value into the US market. Their proposal includes a 249.96% tariff on all other Chinese manufacturers and is retrospective for 90 days. The final ruling is due in November, but is unlikely to differ significantly from these proposals.
How much is 122 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide? If you think it sounds like a lot, you’d be right – it is more than four times the entire planet’s production of CO2 in 2009. It is also the amount that Italian energy utility Enel reported that it produced in 2009. As the researcher who uncovered this pointed out, any credible attempt to combat global warming will clearly have to start in Italy.
To the surprise of presumably almost nobody, the economic crisis has made the general public more than a little wary of the financial services industry. The latest ‘trust barometer’ published by Edelman suggests that the financial services industry is trusted by only 41% of people in the US, but by only 29% of people in the UK. British bankers in turn should count their blessings. If they were Spanish, less than one in five would believe they were trustworthy.
As the FT pointed out today: “shareholders are revolting, and not in the way Occupy might claim.” One positive consequence of the financial crisis is increased scrutiny of executive pay with shareholders no longer content to sit back and see executives take home excessive pay packages.