Friday, 29 August 2008

Ethics man

A slightly adjusted strip, first published in Ethical Consumer

The lecture below is a great primer - from Jim M. Craven (Omahkohkiaayo i'poyi), Professor of Economics and Business Division Chair at Clark College/Vancouver. It's long, but worth it. Settle in. Eat some snacks. Thanks to Calvin Jones for finding it

Here's an unused illustration for an article on assisted migration by Emma Marris on Nature Reports Climate Change
Thanks to Olive Heffernan.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


For me personally the Eighties are all a bit of a blur - vaguely contained in squats and caravans, punctuated by alternating bouts of intemperance and complaining and enlivened by the occassional slurry-bombing of a Cruise missile convoy. So I'm no authority. But those of you who were more alert at the time might see some distinct similarities....both of risk, more risk and opportunity.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Reciprocal altruism and barbarous apes

Whilst wealthy primates pillage the poor, the monkeys show us the way. Perhaps we've mislaid something along our evolutionary path. Or maybe we just chose to set it aside.

and...Apparently Neandethal technology was no less efficient than our own (in the practical business of securing game) during that brief period when we shared the same safe European home. - so I wonder what could possibly have caused their extinction.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Business as usual, as usual?

A report by Omega suggests that merely offseting our continued carbon emissions by slipping a few quid to some dodgy entrepreneur may not be the panacea some people hoped it would be. It looks like we'll have to actually do something about our own gluttonous debauch of a lifestyle.

There has been a lot of talk of late, notably in the FT, about the dominance of authoritarian capitalisms in the previously western dominated marketplace. The discussions acknowledge that the growth pattern presupposes an element of middle class comfort and power as a prerequisite to any wider social empowerment on the recent western model, but declines to acknowledge that this was also the western experience. Britain rode to economic power on the backs of a massive unrepresented slave class in its mines and mills; The US grew to superpower status in an era of segregationalism and as bloody a record abroad as Britain's had been. Both powers (and others in Europe and elsewhere) also depended on destabilising resource rich client states which they stripped without conscience. This is not an abberation of the capitalist experience. This IS the capitalist experience. The tone of the discussions seems to ask the reader to believe that (for example) Victorian Britain was some sort of egalitarian utopia whose only wish was to give comfort to the poor and needy. None of the commentators believe this to be true, nor say so explicitly. It is implied by association.
Now we as punters are all supposed to throw up our hands and say "it's not fair" whilst the wealthy continue to pour money into repressive regimes in the name of sound business and the poor become reliant on cheap goods from these same sources. So what's changed?
It's the model itself that is at fault. Pushing it until it blows, whilst expecting love and flowers, is foolish. A creative dismantling and re-engineering of our practical philosophy is a greater challenge, but it requires everybody's active participation.
Or just go shopping.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Eat my dust

Last week, as part of World Water Week, the Stockholm Environmental Institute, the Stockholm International Water Institute, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Water Management Institute released a collaborative paper detailing how we pour half of our resources straight down the toilet.
In India, tens of thousands of protestors threaten Tata's plans to tarmac the subcontinent. These two stories, in tandem, seemed to sum up so much. Pity I couldn't articuate it.
Here's an earlier 'toon on the subject - from January.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Slopping out

The environment agency warns that 17,000 containers for radioactive waste designed to last till Hell freezes over are likely to corrode and fall to pieces by Tuesday week, on account of them being constructed largely out of tupperware and plasticine. The rest should last till Spring. Seeing as we'll be needing millions more of these in order to avoid the absolute horror of lowering our expectations, this is something of a blow to the hopes of the Nuclear lobby.

Meanwhile the UK falls into the sea, whilst throwing away any leadership in may have claimed on CO2 reduction due to its dirty coal habit

Assisted Migration?

Some people have suggested giving the polar bear a helping hand by shipping it to the other end of the planet in an attempt to stave off extinction. I'm not sure the penguins would appreciate that. It's part of a wider assisted migration notion that seems to be a large scale re-arrangement of biological deck-chairs whilst the Titanic steams full speed ahead into the multiplying ice-bergs.
This illustration was for an article by Emma Marris and belongs to Nature reports Climate Change and should not be published without their permission. The one below was a standby which was not used in the end.

Throbgoblins International have just got back from a brief visit to Shambala, where we were supposed to help present a cartoon workshop (with Polyp and Kate Evans) at the excellent Rebel Soul Cafe. Throbgoblins were obliged to back out and have since put our collective back out, courtesy of a poorly packed rucksack and the luggage rack on the 12.25 from Market Harborough.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Another amended re-up (back at work, no time) concerning denialism. I was listening to BBC Radio 4's Any Questions the other day and was struck by the usual double standards on display. When asked about GM crops the panellists rushed to ridicule the Prince of Wales and repeated the mantra that "I'm not a scientist, so I'll trust the experts on this", even though the concensus level amongst scientists was agreed to be relatively low. When it came to the inevitable half witted question about climate change, however, their scientific reticence all but diassappeared, and most were perfectly comfortable in dismissing the overwhelming concensus of the world's climate proffessionsals. Funny what a vested interest will do.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Anthropocene (again)

A slightly amended re-up inspired by the ongoing jogging-on-the-spot that is denialism.
It nudges me into a Dawkinsesque apoplexy, which I am trying very hard to find amusing. Whatever happened to prudent caution in the face of danger?

'We are all best impressed by evidence of the type with which we are most familiar' - (Charles Richter)

On an unconnected and rambling aside - I think the reassuring, patronising coddling that we are subjected to by the great pandering toad that is the advertising industry is the peddler of most of the disinformation passing as evidence. It soothes us with palliative madness which passes under our collective radar to persuade us of our general and specific innocence. It is the pimp that steals the possibility of virtue. It says that it cannot be us. It must be ......(insert the time-wasting, diversionary bollocks of your choice).

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Green crude?

This is an old cartoon that I've re-upped to point at the continuing developments in this area at Sapphire energy and TMO renewables

and because I like it.

Human sacrifice

I originally inserted a quote here that is usually attributed to Nelson Mandela, but which turned out to be by one Marianne Williamson (of whom I know nothing),
It was the one ending...
...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Never mind. You know what I mean.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Chariots of fire

I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand.....'til OUR celebrity sporting millionaires have shaved barely perceptible milliseconds off of meaningless and random distance records and sold a few billion more pairs of fashion-victim footwear to people with far more pressing demands on their money and their time. Bollocks. Shiny suited, masturbatory bollocks.
I spent some years as a gym instructor in a secure unit and am well aware of the therapetutic and general health benefits of organised, disorganised, individual and collectice sporting activity. But nevertheless - bollocks.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Morbid Speculation

There was an interesting and (as usual) depressingly uncritical investigation into oil trading on BBC radio 4 last night. That and a superficial, inconsequential and thoughtless Grauniad article gave rise to the following rant. If you ignore me I might go away.

Capitalism is a great way of amassing and concentrating wealth in the hands of a powerful clique whose self-interest may or may not be served (good old contingent circumstance) by re-investing and re-distributing that wealth in projects condusive to the common good. When it suits the rich (and that includes us) to thus deploy their largesse, capitalism is the most powerful engine of promisary, exchangable wealth yet conceived - undeniably. Whilst we in the west have had a massive pool of exploitable labour and resources in the global south in nations that facilitate but are excluded from high comsumption lifestyles , it has been possible to pretend that it all makes sense. Once there is no one to exclude - no one to pay the externals (and this happens with the abandonment of racist and fascist ideas that have permeated western history)- then the cracks become wide enough to drop a planet through. We all have to factor in the externals, and this means a collective responsibility which inevitable places limits on personal license. If that is not to become a blanket suffocation of individual liberty (in a resurgence of Imperialist or totalitarian brutalism) we must all engage in the process of dismantling - of re-imagining a technological, economic and social infra-structure that we can live with. Does it have space for the freedom of millionaires to push up the price of staples beyond the reach of millions - plunging them into crisis, starvation and death? Who would say yes to that? And if there are those who will say yes to that - what does that imply? Who are these people? The truth is that we live in a society that accepts, applauds and rewards such behaviour - and we have a big job ahead of us to turn that around. All the religious, social, scientific, philosophical and political insights of humanity through the ages have been directed at either advancing or countering this widespread human behaviour. It's the constant battle -the internal dialogue of our species - the individual versus the collective. There are no simple answers, no messiahs, no "cheats", no single system get-out-of-jail-free cards.
Capitalism is not the answer. Engage

Ooh, hark at him! On his high-horse again. Who asked ya?
Ho hum - back to the knob gags....

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Love amongst the insects

Some things are so far beyond parody that the humorist is reduced to the ghastly depths of abject disneyfication. The Tory think- tank, Policy Exchange -brainchild of the wierd and sickly Michael Gove - has advised that Northern towns be abandoned on the grounds that they're not Oxford. This is so stupid and feudal and fundamentalist that it merits including a link to the Daily Hate.
Elsewhere bees are leaving the planet in droves, and taking our chances of survival with them.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Cantankerous Frank meets the Chocolate Fireguard

We live in interesting times - both the best and worst of times. Across the more adventurous media there are tantalising glimpses of what needs to be done and the new technologies available to accomplish these things. It all starts to look promising and then the Caucasus goes up in a ball of flame and shrapnel because the same old bastards blah blah bloody bollocking blah. Oh well. That's humans for ya. Like the Yugoslavian conflicts, this jabs harder at the Eurocentric heart, as the victims look like Mrs Crump from the Bingo or that bloke from the Off-License - and not people from impossibly far away with strange and tortured histories.
Common purpose, eh? There's nothing like it!

Leslie Berliant's fine Celsias article focuses attention nicely

Suggestions for the exact contents of Frank's list would be welcomed. It might be interesting.I say that in the certain knowledge that no bugger will reply.

Oh - and Bollocks to the Olympics!

On settlers, prospectors and pioneers.

This is an illustration for a book of climate change resources currently being put together by the hard working Manchester Climate Forum (which is a space for discussion as well as a source of information). It is to be entitled "Only PLanet" - (not to be confused with my New Internationalist cartoon strip of the same name, which is not nearly so useful) and the piece in question (sent to me by Marc Hudson) deals briefly with the motivations of 3 broad consumer/producer demographics. Broadly speaking I think of these as Arseholes, hippies and cattle. But I may be over-simplifying.
I wish I'd known this stuff earlier - as I could have begun manipulating the masses for my own evil purposes much sooner.
As it is, I'll start first thing tomorrow. Unless something comes up.

I haven't produced much this week as I've been trying to get my average sized intellect around the big stuff so easily tossed around by the large brained individuals at RealClimate
I rarely come across impressive intellects in person, in my daily life (as I deal largely with Occupational Therapists) and this is an uncomfortable humbling - as I find myself re-reading and re-reading with the barest glimmer of understanding. This is complicated stuff. Which is why, of course, the media avoid it, or simplify it, or deny it.

Charles Shultz (of Peanuts fame) said that if he'd been better at drawing he would've been an artist, and if he's been better at writing he would have been an author - but as it was he had to settle for being a cartoonist. If I was a better cartoonist I'd have been Charles Shultz. But I don't have that option, so I'll settle for not being, well... a settler.

(with apologies to Cleese, Barker and Corbett of TW3)

Friday, 8 August 2008

Bridging the divide

This was an illustration for an article by Gavin Schmidt of Nasa and Elisabeth Moyer of the University of Chicago - commissioned by Olive Heffernan of Nature Reports (ClimateChange) and belonging to them (so not to be used without their permission). It was the starting point for some lively exchanges on RealClimate, when republished there. Thanks to Gavin Scmidt

Thursday, 7 August 2008

I shall thcream and thcream and thcream untill I'm thick.

Whilst the best advice available to the Government is that they are not doing nearly enough to avoid a 4 degree rise and a runaway rolling catastrophe, the plan seems to be to keep shtum and let the market find replacement indulgences that don't set off a mass entitlement-tantrum amongst the conspicuous consumers (that's us).
Of course more sustainable technology is good news - but the problem remains of replacing and doubling the entire planet's fleet of cars, building massive infrastructure etc. The pressing restructuring issue is not addressed with this sort of like for like replacement.

It seems that only denying people the ability to act destructively can actually stop people from acting destructively. Apparently it's OK if the market does this by flushing the economy down the toilet - but its definitely not OK to use taxes for the same purpose. Because that would create a budget for structural adaptation (which is evil and communistic) rather than a private profit bonanza (which is next to godliness). Heaven (and ideological purity) forbid that we should mix and match.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

generation gap

The Government are trying to spin Kingsnorth and the myth of clean coal as a matter of keeping the lights on. Perhaps they are pre-occupied with the conundrum of what damage a toothless government might do to itself should it ever decide to bite the bullet

What if 'the lights went out' and nobody noticed?
Hoards of brave men and women are amassing at Climate Camp for a bit of police harassment. The police harassing the people, that is, let's be clear. Never before have so many "people like us" decided they must go, whoever the "us" may be. Not the usual suspects at all (officer.)
Even left and right unite. But the 'overactive policing' tactics will backfire. The fear factor is only increasing the resolve to attend.
This is a good thing. At this point in history anyone can see (even without the lights on) that fossil carbon is best left undisturbed.
A nice little twist, mostly overlooked, is that the thousands at the camp who consider the climate crisis far more vital than the dratted "lights
going out" will all be fine this week, in the event of a power cut! The camp is crammed full of renewable energy sufficiency. Perhaps it is the camp technology that 'those in power and addicted to it' wish to confiscate.
(Dave Hampton - letter to the Independent))

If you create your own heat, electricity, food and water, then you
create your own politics. (Pete Myers)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Bloody monkeys!

We are a troubled young species - lashing out at our family and indulging in reckless self-destructive behaviours. We'll be lucky to reach maturity. Never mind, - plenty more where we came from. Oops - no there isn't.

At the Camp for Climate Action the boys in blue are serving their masters to the best of their ability. It's a shame that the ordinary people haven't got a police force to represent them, isn't it?!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Manichean delusions

There is no need to actively engage in the workings of a democratic state, or to commit oneself to understanding, questioning and influencing the decisions of governing elites through a perpetual process of mass-education, consideration, argument and action - if all the problems of the world are down to the bogeyman.
The existence of a bogeyman makes the whole thing moot, because any questioning becomes disloyalty.
Thus democracies lose their vigour and flop uselessly back into elective aristocracy.
The malaise of western democracy is a gullible sloth.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A chance well worth taking

The odds are so poor that the bookies won't touch it and the Insurance companies are running for the hills. This is usually a sign that the chance isn't worth taking. In our risk society we are all familiar with what this scenario means. The best information points to caution, ie - not being gormless reckless fucks with our common wealth. It's simple enough. Yet some - usually the scientifically illiterate with the TV viewing habits of poorly adjusted 14 year olds - insist that the cost (of being arsed to take action) far outweighs the benefits (of still having a planet to inhabit.) They believe that nothing should be done to forestall ireversible chaos untill ireversible chaos arrives at our door and announces itself like a Hollywood biblical epic. These people would, presumably, drive vehicles that every respectable mechanic has written off as deathtraps, use gas appliances certified as lethal and ingest medicines declared illegally toxic by the medical community. These people are dangerous. Don't let them drive. Don't let them babysit. Don't put them on Juries. Don't let them vote.
This is not a call to abandon research or to silence dissent. I love a bit of dissent, me - it's my default position. In fact it pains me to find myself entering the mainstream in this matter. But what can you do. Eggs is eggs, and there's no point in pretending they're not.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Rights and Wrongs etc

As Climate campers prepare to get their collars felt in an effort to prevent an infinitely greater crime, the Police are sandwiched between the carbon age and an age of new realism. Many of them, no doubt, are as worried as working people anywhere -or at least as worried as their knowledge and individual attention spans allow. I wonder- will they be deployed with such fervour and over-timed expense when it is the likes of E-on who are in breach of the law. Or will the old order be maintained, regardless of the cost?
I suppose we'll know whether we're actually serious about tackling this once the answer to that is clear

Evidence of the 6 degrees of separation theory is being collected. It occurs to me that maybe these small efforts of mine could easily be spread to everybody everywhere in no time at all. I have 6 readers. The rest should be child's play.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Climate Camp

Climate camp is setting up this year at Kingsnorth, where industrial folly on a grand scale is due to be perpetrated in the interests of no one. Frank has other plans, but if you get the chance please go along and lend support, bear witness, join in etc

Stolen Joke

Throbgoblins all went to see Daniel Kitson - which is always an uplifting experience - and stole a joke. This is it.
I'm referring to a particular kind of corporate creature, obviously, but the contagion is not confined to the boardrooms of giants. "Business" is an ugly and duplicitous word and conceals a whole world of evil as it is concerned only with money. Enterprises and initiatives with wider and deeper purpose need not take offence.

Optimism abounds, in small measures; MIT announce new breakthrough in solar technology, Doha collapses and the nuclear barons shoot themselves in the feet - whilst Centrica PR men make arseholes of themselves in every conceivable way

Now perhaps we can get on with the important stuff

From GreenHumour; courtesy of Noel Lynch -

Tribal Wisdom vs Government

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to
generation, says that, "When you discover you are riding a dead horse,
the best strategy is to dismount." However, in government, education,
and in the corporates, more advanced strategies are often employed,
such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead
horse's performance.
10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve
the dead horse's performance.
11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is
less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes
substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course the favourite.... .......
13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.