Coal and climate change

In this post I briefly summarise my recently-published paper by the same title, in which I address the question ‘What is the future of coal in the context of climate change?’. In the paper I

  1. Explore the changing geographies of coal consumption and production; and
  2. Review the academic literature, focussing on social science perspectives.

You can access the published version of the paper at Please contact me if you would like to read it but are unable to access it.

Some tips for visitors to Delhi

This post has a simple purpose: to compile in one place some useful information for visitors to Delhi. Despite the plethora of travel blogs and websites these days, in the run-up to my recent trip I found it hard to sift the helpful and current information from the dated or just downright wrong advice. So these are my first-hand thoughts and experiences (with a few minor updates in bold italics from my July 2019 trip).

Extract text, join lines, and enclose in quotes on a Mac

My work involves a lot of reading and note-taking, and I regularly extract key quotes from papers I’m reading to store with the reference in my reference manager (most recently, Zotero). Academic papers are often multi-column PDFs, which means if you copy a key quotation you can waste a lot of time formatting, particularly manually removing line breaks, then enclosing the quote in “quotation marks”. So for a long time I’ve used TextWrangler to semi-automate this process. It’s a simple AppleScript which takes the content of the clipboard, pastes it into TextWranger, replaces line breaks with spaces, encloses the text in quotation marks, then cuts it back to the clipboard:

tell application "TextWrangler"
	replace "\\n" using " " searching in text 1 of window 1 options {search mode:grep, starting at top:true, wrap around:false, backwards:false, case sensitive:false, match words:false, extend selection:false}
	replace "(.*)" using "\\“\\1\\”" searching in text 1 of window 1 options {search mode:grep, starting at top:true, wrap around:false, backwards:false, case sensitive:false, match words:false, extend selection:false}
	select text 1 of window 1
	cut selection
 end tell

This did the job, but it required that I (a) have TextWrangler open, (b) do a CMD + C, (c) switch to TextWrangler, (d) run the script (using a keyboard shortcut, of course!) and then (e) switch to my reference manager and paste the text block. I always thought there must be a faster and better way. It turns out there is, using just a few commands in the terminal!

A Polanyi Snippet

“The outstanding discovery of recent historical and anthropological research is that man’s economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets. He values material goods only in so far as they serve this end.”

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 1944
(p. 48 in the 2001 Beacon Books edition)

International Climate Justice Conference, Edinburgh

On Wednesday I attended the ‘International Climate Justice Conference’ hosted by the Scottish Government at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The dress code was listed as ‘business’, which for some reason amused me. The event was attended by around 150 delegates, drawn from the public, private and third sectors. Headlining the conference were Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and the Former President of Ireland and now climate justice advocate Mary Robinson.

Alex Salmond didn’t actually manage to attend despite receiving prominent billing on the programme – he was instead in Windsor at the invitation of the Queen launching the Baton Relay for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games – but in a video message used the event as a platform to announce that Scotland would double the funding of its Climate Justice Fund from £3M to £6M. But Mary Robinson was there, and used her keynote address at the start of the day’s proceedings to argue that “the time for radical leadership on climate change is now”. “Transformative leadership is needed, not business as usual”, she said.

Multidisciplinary Workshop on Climate Ethics

Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend the Multidisciplinary Workshop on Climate Ethics at Villa del Grumello at Lake Como. Organized by Marco Grasso (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca) and Ezra Markowitz (Princeton University), the workshop examined the ethical dimensions of climate change policy from a range of disciplinary perspectives. It was fascinating to see how scholars from disciplines including philosophy, economics, psychology, law, political science and geography are engaging with the many complex ethical questions that climate change poses. A steady supply of espresso was certainly required to maintain focus over two full but very stimulating days, which concluded with a Skype presentation from Benjamin Hale (University of Colorado, Boulder) on how to bring the normative dimensions of climate change to a wider audience. I’d encourage everyone to check out his project, called The Shifting Frontier, which aims to introduce a general audience to some of the tricky ethical questions climate change raises through a series of 12 short video episodes.