Sunday, May 24, 2009

Climate change will make us pay - LSE

On the podcast of the London School of Economics (LSE public lectures and events) was a lecture by Professor Geoffrey Heal held on May 6th: Controversies in the Economics of Climate Change. In this lecture Heal goes over the economic cost climate change will cause.

His starting point is that the scientific question about Climate Change has largely been decided. There is wide consensus the climate is changing. Heal's subject is to take these established facts and evaluate, as well as possible, what the cost of these changes are. He emphasizes that these issues are still widely debated, hence the controversies of climate change, but the way he deals with them is by suggesting that only the size of the cost is debatable. There will be costs and they are enormous.

His analysis range from rather accurate like his esteem that the costs of the rising sea level will go over 1% of GDP, to completely unknown. The damages to the ocean, the warming of the climate are factors that he thinks are hard to enumerate. natural disasters and the disappearance of a multitude of species are impossible to range. On all accounts the costs are gigantic. It is not a happy lecture for the worried. Yet one, I feel, you must have heard.

On a side note. LSE also had a lecture called Urban Nomads which pays attention to the enormous stream of migration within China. The audio of this lecture is rather poor, the content is secondary (we listen in on a tape that is being played) and the subject is handled in a very anecdotal fashion. I cannot recommend this particular issue of LSE's podcast.

More LSE Events:
Nudge: decision architecture,
The EU and the Middle East,
The British Mandate in Palestine,
Iran Today,
Science and Religion.

Whale evolution - In Our Time

BBC's In Our Time deserves a review nearly every week. Not always I manage in the same week and as you all know by now: at the end of the week, the podcast has already disappeared from the feed and can only be heard in stream. Such is already the fate of last week's program about The Siege of Vienna. This week's program had me interested immediately and I managed to listen to it this weekend and so here is the review in time.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests addressed The Whale: a History. The whale had long been rather an anomaly in the animal kingdom, a creature that was not easy to fit into any of the categories in the tree of species. New finds and new technologies have helped establish new insights that reveal the evolution of the whale and in a very accessible, concise and interesting way the program orders this for us. At the beginning it is promised, in a way, that we will see how the whale is a kind of champion of evolution and by the end we come full circle and this is summarized completely.

This champion of evolution shows what evolution is capable of. It evolves all the sorts of adaptations it needs in its exceptional environment, the ocean, whereby its appearance takes it far away from its origins and its kin and only series of fossil finds and microbiology and retrace this. And so we learn how the whale is actually part of the strain of hoofed animals, just like horses and deer. In the show it is likened to seals, otters, beavers and eventually we learn what is its closest living relative: the hippopotamus. Very exciting and very well done.

More In Our Time:
Magna Carta,
BBC's In Our Time - always recommended,
Brave New World,
Rafael's School of Athens and the depiction of Plato and Aristotle,
The Boxer Rebellion.