Reasons to be cheerful

One reason to be hopeful that positive action on curbing global warming might just be achievable is that the technologies required to build a low carbon future offer potentially huge economic opportunities.

And while the delegates at Copenhagen will be arguing, scratching their heads and wonder how on earth they will ever agree, MPs back in the UK will today be attending an energy and climate change committee session looking at the role low carbon technologies could play in a green economy.

And for practical, green applications of engineering common sense look no further than the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, which this week hosts a three-day conference investigating and promoting the many uses of natural fibres and materials. While days one and two will consist of a series of presentations designed to raise awareness of the diverse engineering properties of natural materials, day three will offer delegates a chance to visit the Building Research Establishment’s Innovation Park in Watford to see first hand the use of natural materials in construction.

Finally, the relationship between government and its scientific advisors will be under the microscope again this week. The snappily titled ‘Government’s review of the principles applying to the treatment of independent scientific advice provided to government’ follows the recent sacking of Professor David Nutt from his role as chairman of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). Surely the irony of commissioning a bunch of scientists to advise the government on how it should treat advice from scientists can’t have been entirely lost on whoever commissioned this particular piece of research

Jon Excell

Deputy Editor