Back to the Future: A wind powered shipping revolution?

While the aerospace industry has attracted much attention given the terrible blow it was dealt by the Coronavirus crisis, another giant transport industry has also been seeking to adapt to the challenges of this century: the shipping industry. The globalization and intensification of trade links, accompanied by the emergence of transitioning economies, along with a growing culture of consumerism and delivery culture has resulted in cargo ships handling 11 billion tons of product per year. These range from raw materials to manufactured goods and amounts to 90% of the world’s global trade. The cargo shipping industry is now caught in between the pressure of a growing demand for goods and the imperatives of climate change. Nearly everything around us has once been on a boat meaning that ships and ports are a key part of the infrastructure on which our ways of life rely. As such they represent an important source of reducing our environmental footprint. The solution of wind-powered cargo ships is slowly making its return after being replaced two centuries ago by the coal-powered steamships. 

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The paradox of abundance: the future of work in the face of automation and degrowth

In the coming years, the climate crisis will present a myriad of problems and challenges for our societies to overcome. As humanity is forced to abandon perpetual economic growth, we will have to find new policies to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources among all people.

In recent years, the threat that automation poses to workers has risen to prominence within Western political discourse. This is nothing new. From the Luddites rebelling against the mechanisation of the textile industry to fears that the US’s ‘Green Revolution’ in agriculture would leave farm labourers destitute, technological change in our economic processes has always been met with fears of job losses. This presents a specific challenge to efforts to roll-out measures such as a ‘Green New Deal’, aimed at limiting further growth in order to mitigate the climate emergency.

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A European Dilemma. Austerity or Democracy for Greece?

A few months ago this author wrote that enforced austerity in Greece was undermining democracy. That, even if loans were repaid and debts exacted, the political cost of pushing people towards anti-European and anti-democratic radicals, would be so much greater in the long run for the future of Europe that no monetary sum was worth the risk. Instead, it argued, Europe should give Greece the economic space it needs to grow. In the heat of this latest crisis, it is necessary to examine first whether this prophecy has come true, that of greater radicalisation, and also whether the prescribed medicine is still the correct one. Continue reading “A European Dilemma. Austerity or Democracy for Greece?”

The Radical Right: A Political Annoyance or a Cause of Cultural Intolerance?

Paranoia about the rise of the radical right has penetrated the minds of voters, the platforms of politicians, and the pages of the press and it is overshadowing pressing democratic and economic issues. However, is the radical right really in a position to make a genuine political difference? Continue reading “The Radical Right: A Political Annoyance or a Cause of Cultural Intolerance?”