If you drive a car, you'll almost certainly have insurance to pay for any damage caused by a road accident. Driving comes with risk — of damage to personal property, and even death. But driving presents another risk. Emissions from our cars, factories and energy systems are making the planet a more dangerous place. And that risk won't be covered by your insurance policy, no matter how comprehensive it is. Unlike the consequences of a dangerous driving incident, the environmental damage caused by fossil fuel emissions is likely to fall on someone else. These are often people who live in parts of the world who haven't benefited from fossil-fuel driven development: subsistence farmers in Africa; the inhabitants of remote, low-lying islands disappearing under the Pacific Ocean; or Caribbean coastal communities unable to cope with ever-more frequent hurricanes, to name just a few. Yet some of these people — or their governments — are taking out their own insurance policies … [Read more...] about Climate risk: Insuring against the inevitable
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Three years ago a group of Kenyans on the island of Lamu organised a beach cleanup, collecting more than 30 tonnes of plastic waste. Out of that rubbish was seven tonnes of flip-flops. Those shoes now form part of the Flipflopi, the world’s first dhow (traditional sailing boat) to be made entirely out of discarded plastic. The rainbow-coloured boat, which an academic from Northumbria University’s School of Design helped design, set off on its 500km maiden voyage from the Lamu archipelago on 24 January, and is expected to reach Zanzibar, Tanzania on 7 February. To find the best way to process and shape the material for the dhow, the team drew on academic expertise. Simon Scott-Harden, a senior lecturer in design for industry at Northumbria University, helped process the materials in a way that could be reused and repurposed. “That’s the key message,” says Scott-Harden. “Plastic is great but we need to look after it and work out ways of giving it a … [Read more...] about Can a boat made of flip-flops stop us using so much plastic?
Giant among imaginative promoters of the ideas of interplanetary travel, the colonising by man of nearby planets and the urgent need for peaceful exploration of outer space, Sir Arthur C Clarke, who has died aged 90, was pre-eminent because of his hard and accurate predictions of the detailed technologies of spaceflight and of the use of near-earth space for global communications. Yet, in spite of Clarke's deep seriousness, JB Priestley described him in the 1950's as the happiest writer he had ever known. Tallish, bespectacled, rather big-eared and increasingly thin on top, he tended to be described by his friends as a beaming and highly articulate shambles of a chap, a man to whom convention meant very little. Yet his mind was like a razor. Unlike earlier writers on space travel, his imagination and creativity sprang, not from fantasy, but from sharp scientific and technical insight, unfettered by the arbitrary limitations of the perceptions of his time. Clarke's amazing career was … [Read more...] about Sir Arthur C Clarke
Nintendo tricked us all. For years, it gave the impression that it was content to live in its own little corner of the gaming world, making well-received updates to its own franchises, without really caring about what the wider industry was doing. Now we know that for all that time, it was watching and learning. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the result of that examination: a game that marries the best bits of the franchise’s long history with the best bits of the rest of the gaming world, and produces something even greater than the sum of its parts. At its heart, Breath of the Wild is an open-world exploration game, in the vein of titles such as Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and FarCry 4. After completing the small starting area (and these things are, of course, relative: that area feels about as large as the entire Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time), Link is thrown into a world scattered with quests to complete, people to meet and monsters to defeat. He can find and climb … [Read more...] about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Link has never been set so free