SGR Newsletter 40

Autumn 2011

Feature articles cover: nuclear power after Fukushima; war in Libya; military robotics and drones; the low energy society; geoengineering; shale gas; science commercialisation; militarisation of EU research; nuclear weapons treaties; low energy buildings; Millennium Consumption Goals; risks of emerging technologies; and the Luddites anniversary

Feature articles

  • The race for the nuclear exit
    In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident, many countries are undertaking major reviews of their energy strategies – with Germany announcing the most ambitious intentions. Prof David Elliott, Open University, looks at the radical changes that are afoot.
  • War in Libya – the role of the arms and oil industries
    The UK and other NATO countries claim they took military action in Libya for humanitarian reasons. Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, asks whether the situation was really that simple.
  • Automating warfare is ethically dangerous
    Prof Noel Sharkey, University of Sheffield, outlines the disturbing trends in military robotics.
  • Millennium Consumption Goals: guiding the rich to contribute to sustainability
    Prof Mohan Munasinghe, Munasinghe Institute for Development, recently proposed a progressive development concept at the UN, that would mirror the Millennium Development Goals for the poor with a complementary set of targets for the rich, enabling them to contribute towards sustainable development.
  • Why we must prepare for a low energy society
    Dr Mandy Meikle suggests that the focus on a low carbon future is sending us down the wrong path.
  • Emerging technologies and risk: the social, cultural and political dimensions
    Dr Bronislaw Szerszynski, Lancaster University, argues that when it comes to new technologies, technical risk assessment is not enough.
  • Geoengineering the climate
    Prof Joanna Haigh, Imperial College London, outlines the range of options currently being investigated by researchers and technologists to modify the climate system to try to prevent dangerous climate change – but finds that there are no ‘magic bullets’ here.
  • New Anglo-French nuclear weapons treaties threaten disarmament
    Prof Peter Nicholls, University of Essex, highlights how two new 50-year treaties could undermine nuclear disarmament.
  • European security research – it is time for change
    Martina Weitsch, Quaker Council for European Affairs, shows how arms companies – including those from Israel – have obtained public EU research funds, despite military research being specifically excluded from the formal R&D framework.
  • The impact of university research: public or private good?
    Prof Philip Moriarty, University of Nottingham, asks whether the practices now followed by UK research councils are doing little more than enabling the government’s policy to further commercialise academic research.
  • Shale gas: will it undermine progress on tackling climate change?
    Martin Quick CEng critically examines the rapidly expanding shale gas industry, in particular its claimed role in helping to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Energy conserving buildings – the human factor
    With energy use in buildings being a major contributor to carbon emissions, reducing that energy use is a goal that is gaining considerable support. However, Genevieve Jones DipArch, argues that if there is too much focus on using technology to achieve that goal, and not enough on considering human behaviour, energy use may actually be increased rather than reduced.
  • The Luddite uprisings – lessons for technology politics now
    It is 200 years since the Luddite uprisings in northern England. Dr David King argues that the motivations of the Luddites have been misrepresented, and that we need to look again at their legacy.
  • After the tsunami
    Michael Poteliakhoff was visiting Japan when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck on 11th March. Luckily, he was not caught in any of the danger zones, but gives his impressions of the first few days as the devastation became apparent and the emergency at the Fukushima nuclear plant began to unfold.

SGR News

  • A few words from the Director...
    Dr Stuart Parkinson discusses 50 years of the military-industrial complex, including the so-called ‘war on terror’ and war in Libya.
  • Details of SGR’s involvement in a new international campaign to ‘Commit universities to peace’
  • Updates on SGR activities covering issues such as climate change and energy, and security and disarmament
  • SGR’s new National Co-ordinating Committee and updates on SGR sponsors

Event and publication reviews

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