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Articles by Andy Brett

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  • Inside the Bush-Blair ‘working dinner’

    While I don't know exactly what is being discussed when President Bush and Prime Minister Blair meet, sources indicate that the two items on Blair's agenda ahead of the G8 Summit are aid to Africa and climate change. Item one has taken the front seat at the moment, but it also seems to be nearing a resolution.

    Blair has his work cut out for him on the second one though. Even the "working dinner" failed to bring the two any closer on the issue.

    For all his inaction, I think Bush does realize that it would be good to reduce emissions, all other things being equal. And maybe he honestly believes the tradeoffs that may come with reducing emissions will be too great to justify taking action.

    So what's a prime minister to do? If I might be so bold as to offer a one sentence suggestion on strategy (aside from drilling home the point that the choice is not the economy or the environment), it would be to engage Bush on his own terms.

    Further instructions for Mr. Blair below the fold.

  • Using lilacs (and other plants) to study climate change

    If you're still looking for ways that you can do your part to stop climate change but you've already cut all the carbon emissions you possibly can, check out the National Phenology Network. They use data collected from lilacs (and other plants) around the country to determine global patterns in climate, by recording when plants at different latitudes go thorugh different cycles of blooming. Send in your request for lilacs and then report when your plants go through different phenological events.

    (Thanks to Tammy for the link!)

  • Kelpie Wilson calls out the recent nuclear PR campaign.

    We all know that Grist readers just can't get enough of the discussion about nuclear power. Kelpie Wilson dissertates on that very subject in an op-ed over at truthout.org. Among her many points, she notes that the nuclear industry has seized on the fact that when it comes to carbon emissions, nuclear is squeaky clean. She highlights the public-relations campaign being run by the industry to "rebrand" nuclear.

    So how about it? Have those of us who have been reconsidering nuclear been conned? Swindled? Perhaps even taken in by a fly-by-night salesperson promising us seventy-six trombones?

  • A new way to mitigate congestion.

    We've already heard about pay-as-you-drive insurance, but British Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced today that he is considering a pay-as-you-go plan to ease congestion on some of England's most heavily traveled roadways to avoid "LA-style gridlock." The plan involves using satellites to track cars, which would have to be equipped with a "black box," and charging the driver per mile traveled. Charges would range from 2 pence to over 1.30 pounds per mile.

    Greenpeace UK had their own take: make the system scaled so that gas-guzzlers pay more than gas-sippers. They also expressed dismay that the charge might be a replacement, not a supplement, to existing road and gas taxes.

    The plan is far from being implemented, though. The Observer cites experts estimating the system won't be practical until 2014.

    Personal privacy concerns are obviously relevant here. But I guess if you don't like the idea of the government knowing where you are, you can just stop driving.

    Update [2005-6-9 23:25:53 by Andy Brett]:
    There have been some more articles at BBC news:
    Road Charge Plans to be Outlined
    Road Charge Helps Rural Drivers

    The topic will also be featured on this week's Talking Point; click here to send in comments and to watch the show after it airs on Sunday, June 12.

    And the "you can just stop driving" line was intended to be a little more light-hearted than I think it comes across :)