Saturday, 22 December 2007

Bali Climate Change Conference

In 1999, the UN estimated the cost of bringing safe water and sanitation to everyone on the globe who needed it at around US$25bn annually over 8 - 10 years (that is about 7 times the UK-only expenditure on pet food). The UN went on to suggest that contaminated water is responsible for 80% of disease in the developing world and kills a child every 8 seconds. It is a tragedy and a scandal which totally dwarfs the worst possible effects of global warming.

The recent conference in Bali on climate change was reportedly attended by 15,000 people. If we estimate the cost of travel, accommodation, payroll-related costs and incidental expenses for the 12 day conference at US$5,000 per person, then the cost of just these items (quite apart from the cost of the venue) for just this one event was $US75 million or about 3% of the annual expenditure on water that the UN is looking for.

An African housewife carrying 20 kg of water several km a day might be forgiven for thinking that all this global warming stuff is an excuse for Western junketing. Oh, and why Bali? I am told that it is a nice place for a holiday; but camping in an remote part of Africa would have concentrated the minds better, especially if delegates had to dodge the crocodiles to fetch their own water from the river.

Road Deaths

When I was working in what was then called "Accident Research" in the early 1970s, there were around 8000 deaths a year on British roads. In 2005 the figure was about 3200. Even 1 is too many, but I take some satisfaction that our work was not altogether a waste of time.

Friday, 14 December 2007


The cost per loan of a number of London Lending libraries exceed £10. It would be cheaper to hand out Amazon tokens and let people keep the books.

The paper book is unlikely to die any time soon, but the public lending library as a holder of physical stocks of books and journals probably will

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Climate Change - 39000 gigatonnes

We are currently releasing about 8 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere annually as a result of fossil fuel burn. The oceans store about 39000 gigatonnes of carbon. In other words current work on anthropegenic climate change is like trying to detect the footsteps of an ant whilst an elephant is charging around the place.

Monday, 12 November 2007

For my first post, a word of explanation. Vifaa is a Swahili word meaning useful things or maybe appropriate stuff