Trade is not the answer to global poverty

“Trade Not Aid” is the mantra of many campaigners against global poverty. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment should encourage a different view. It will do no good whatsoever to impoverished nations if they destroy their ecosystems in pursuit of trade, which is what the rich nations are encouraging them to do.

Campaigns ought to recognise that quality of life is more important than monetary wealth. A rush for development at the expense of the environment is a step backwards, not forwards — and the plain fact is that most “development” involves precisely the destruction of natural habitats for farmland and industrialisation.

Trade should happen, but not unfettered trade. It needs to be constrained and informed by an overriding concern for the long-term future of the planet, since our own long-term future depends on it. Overall, there needs to be less trade, not more. More freedom of trade, but less quantity, because Earth will not sustain us all if we continue to consume the amount we do in the “developed” world.

Mozilla Firefox tips

For ages I’ve been wishing it were possible to highlight part of a webpage and just view the source for that part, rather than scouring the whole page’s source for the relevant section. Now I discover, to my annoyance and delight, that Firefox can do this… sort of…

If you hold down the CTRL key and left click on part of a web page, that section of the page will be highlighted. If you right click on the selection and choose ‘View selection source’, the source code for that part of the page will be displayed.

That comes from a tips & tricks article on the MozillaZine Forums, which is crammed full of useful snippets like this. Many of them have been sorted into this knowledge base article, but I didn’t see the above one in there.

It’s not quite accurate. ctrl-click actually selects a table cell, not any arbitrary block. So this limits its usefulness. But it’s helpful for sites that are still using masses of nested tables for layout.

The two extensions I cannot live without are Web Developer and Session Saver.

Double-slit experiment in time

The moment I saw the headline in New Scientist, ‘Double-slit effect seen over time too’, it struck me that this was a hugely important discovery, a pivotal moment in an ongoing paradigm shift, and an indicator of a bigger idea whose time (sic) is coming, or has come. I have no idea why. It’s like some part of me knew this already and has been waiting for it to be found. Very rarely do I perceive something so strongly as a Sign (of the Times, ha ha).

PhysicsWeb has the full story of the experiment. I have to take them at their word on its validity, ie that there is no chance it’s just a spatial effect after all (given that it’s a moving pulse, I’m not sure how this can be ruled out).

The result should be totally unsurprising, given that we are all familiar with the concept of spacetime. Perhaps it’s just that we have to overcome the deeply ingrained “feeling” that time is different to space.

Are Child Trust Fund accounts the best investment?

Having read through some information sent to me by The Childrens Mutual, and done some more digging, it looks to me like non-stakeholder CTF accounts (which are the only option for those wanting a truly ethical/eco investment), seem to offer very poor value for money — and even stakeholder accounts aren’t that great. If you intend to put aside a regular monthly payment for your children, you might be best to put it somewhere other than a CTF account. Continue reading Are Child Trust Fund accounts the best investment?

Trading Nothing

Reading through lots of financial rubric in search of an ethical/eco Child Trust Fund, I am struck firstly by how the fund managers ensure that they make a profit whether or not the investment does, taking both an initial charge and an annual charge; and secondly by the extent to which a huge proportion of the financial industry is a house of cards on foundations of sand.

The complex instruments which the industry has created have no basis in existence — they are so many stages removed from anything tangible or truly important to humanity that they might as well be vacuum. The whole thing revolves around finding ever more inventive ways to re-package and re-sell money itself, with everyone taking a percentage at every opportunity. But money itself, divorced from the goods for which it might be exchanged, is ultimately worthless. Unfortunately, the people who usually find this out the hard way are the people at the bottom, the small investors, the impoverished pensioners etc. The system is designed to move wealth from poor to rich, as if by gravity.

So I somewhat despair at having to put a CTF into one of these dodgy investment vehicles in the first place… but since we have no choice about that part, it’s all the more important to choose one which does have a connection to the real world, so that if/when the markets collapse, perhaps it won’t be the end of the world.