The Economist: Special report

Special report

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Directing the disruption

THE PRINCIPAL message of this special report is that companies everywhere urgently need to step up their action against climate change. Its physical impact is already causing many of them serious damage. Pushed by voters, especially younger ones, governments around the world are introducing ever tougher regulations. Lawsuits could yet make firms’ lives...

Guilty by emission

“MAN HAS A time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” That is a summary of James Black’s research on climate change. He was a scientist at ExxonMobil and shared his findings with his bosses in 1978, while underscoring the scientific consensus on global warming. The...

The great disrupter

For more coverage of climate change, register for The Climate Issue, our fortnightly newsletter, or visit our climate-change hub FOR MOST of the world, this year will be remembered mainly for covid-19. Starting in Asia, then spreading across Europe and America before taking hold in the emerging world, the pandemic has infected millions and killed...

Cheap cheats

CARBON OFFSETTING is in vogue. The practice involves giving money to a green charity that takes action, such as planting trees or building solar panels, to stop emissions entering the atmosphere or to remove them from it. In 2018 around $296m was spent buying the equivalent of 98m tonnes of CO2 offsets in the “voluntary” market (ie, outside government-mandated...

Green machines

“WE LOOKED for big industries that exist on inertia,” recalls Kathy Hannun. She used to work at Google X, the tech giant’s moon-shot division. Heating with fossil fuels was an example of an industry ripe for disruption. The distribution system is convoluted, argues Ms Hannun. Natural gas or fuel oil is taken from the ground, shipped across the world...

Costs of carbon

SUPPORT FOR solar panels in Georgia came from a surprising point on the American political spectrum. In 2013 Georgia Power, the local electricity monopoly, was reluctant to increase the use of solar panels. That irked Debbie Dooley, a preacher’s daughter and co-founder of Atlanta’s Tea Party, a hard-right Republican faction. She wanted more energy independence,...

A grim outlook

IN 2012, WHEN post-tropical storm Sandy devastated New York, the city was left in darkness. Among the few buildings still lit up was the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, which had a 25,000-sandbag wall and a backup generator. Gary Cohn, then the bank’s president, said one problem was how to get staff into the office in a shut-down city. In 2018, after...

The search for a cure for dementia is not going well

PERFORMING HIS autopsy on Auguste Deter in 1906, Alois Alzheimer noticed three unusual features of her brain. It was at least a third smaller than normal. Many neurons, the nerve cells, had vanished. He also saw abnormal deposits inside the remaining cells, especially in the cerebral cortex, the thin outer layer of grey matter. Between a third and a...

Might dementia tourism to lower-wage economies become a trend?

IN 2001, WHEN Martin Woodtli’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he was living in his native Switzerland. His father, who had a history of depression, had found himself living with a partner who no longer always knew who he was. He killed himself the next year. An only child, Mr Woodtli quit his job with a refugee-integration service, to become...

No country has found a sustainable way to finance dementia care

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to quantify the most important of the costs of dementia: the losses to people living with the condition. In a forthcoming book, “The Great Demographic Reversal”, Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan, two economists, suggest that surveys could be used to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of plans to spend more on dementia. A sample of...

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