Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not new but...

...worth being reminded: 'ExxonMobil's revenues are a billion dollars a day. They invest less thean 0.2% of that in R&D. The US President's total resarch budget for renewable energy is less than one day of Exxon's revenues'. -- John Doerr

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

O, great

“More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe,” -- Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq.

John Company

Through all the talk around Tony Blair's time in office, a silver thread of clarity emerges, continuous with much of British history. The man may embrace Catholicism or whatever when he leaves office, but his truest calling would seem to be incarnate (incarnadine?) as an agent for, er, Anglo-Persian in Libya. Ex Africa semper aliquid...

An ice cap in my backyard

The back yard just got bigger, writes Robert Butler.

(but before getting romantic about the Greenlanders, recall that they want to increase their take of whale meat from 450 to 730 tonnes. It's an important part of their cultural life, and culture must never develop, of course).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Climate politics, and a red herring

Articles relating to climate change in the Guardian today are uneven. Hope dries up for Nicaragua's Miskito is more or less below the line advertising for a new Oxfam paper Adapting to climate change: What’s needed in poor countries, and who should pay. (Oxfam says at least $50bn (£25bn) a year in addition to existing aid budgets is needed to help communities like the Miskito adapt to climate change.) The article quotes Nicanor Rizo, a community leader in the Miskito community of Riati on the Rio Coco: "We are a proud people[.] Do you think we want to have to ask for help or depend on handouts from outside agencies?"

All this -- heroic victims with touches of the noble savage to play to unconscious Western stereotypes -- is as fine as far as it goes, but should be read in combination with UK told to pay more for climate change which gives a little more detail on some key money questions and a useful report from WWF on energy efficiency.

But Our blind faith in oil growth could bring the economy crashing down is not up to the columnist's standards (or of some other articles on the UK energy white paper) The idea of general economic collapse due scarce or expensive oil is misguided, as study of the 1970s oil shocks and the options for fuel conversion shows. The Stern Review (part three) is almost certainly right on this if not everything else when it states:
Increasing scarcity of fossil fuels alone will not stop emissions growth in time. The stocks of hydrocarbons that are profitable to extract (under current policies) are more than enough to take the world to levels of CO2 concentrations well beyond 750ppm, with very dangerous consequences for climate-change impacts.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

London as 'the Star Wars bar scene'

in Londonistan calling.

'UK govt loses control of emissions growth'

...If matters had gone according to plan, the 2007 White Paper should have reported on the progress towards the 2020 figures laid out four years ago. Unsurprisingly perhaps, this week's document does no such thing. It barely mentions the 2003 paper and most certainly does not assess whether the 110-120 million tonnes figure is going to be achieved.

Instead, the 2007 document offers a brand new estimate of the likely 2020 emissions. The figure is now 151.2 million tonnes of carbon. Let us be clear what this means – instead of expecting to achieve a reduction to between 110 and 120 million tonnes, the White Paper sees a figure 12% higher than in 2003. A substantial fraction of the increase in the forecast has occurred since the Green Paper of summer 2006. Four years of active policy making, endless initiatives and international conferences too numerous to count have totally failed. The government is finally acknowledging that it has lost control of emissions growth...
-- Chris Goodall on the UK Energy White Paper

P.S. 25 May: Dieter Helm on the White Paper - well worth reading

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

'Don't be panicked into nuclear power'

A sensible letter in The Guardian.

Err Imbalance

In a more or less flip comment on Scott Barrett's latest contribution on the yet-to-prove-itself blog Climate Policy, I wrote "Maybe the American people will rise above parochial obsessions to face the challenges of climate change".

The comment could apply to people almost everywhere else of course, but one could make a case that this is an area in which America leads the word. I recall being surprised and a little shocked quite a few years ago when staying with a good friend in San Francisco who was something of a poet and writer that he was glued day after day to coverage of the O.J. trial. I recalled this today when reading an extract of Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason including the following:
At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just an unfortunate excess—an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time...

While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness.
For an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of The Assault on Reason see Michihko Kukatani's review.

P.S. All is not lost if Citizens for a Better America get their way!


NOAA 22 May: "Experts at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are projecting a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be above normal this year".

Admiral Lautenbacher of NOAA is one of the senior US military types who recently co-signed off on a surprisingly sensible report (for the military at least) about climate change and security issues (see Grapes of Wrath)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Some days in the life

Perhaps China has changed, even in its handling of dissidents. When Hu [Jia]'s father was persecuted, there were not even fake trials. There were public executions.
-- from Enemy of the State by Sami Sillanpää.

'Close your eyes'

Here's your first job: With your eyes closed, try to see our world honestly for what it is and then perform a magical act: Conjure up a new set of previews--fit for a future for which it's worth doing a great deal
-- from Graduates, Close Your Eyes by Tom Englehardt.

Government by "24"

There was a telling moment during the second Republican presidential debate, when Brit Hume of Fox News confronted the contenders with a hypothetical "24"-style situation in which torturing suspects is the only way to stop a terrorist attack.

Bear in mind that such situations basically never happen in real life, that the U.S. military has asked the producers of "24" to cut down on the torture scenes. Last week Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, circulated an open letter to our forces warning that using torture or "other expedient methods to obtain information" is both wrong and ineffective, and that it is important to keep the "moral high ground."

But aside from John McCain, who to his credit echoed Gen. Petraeus (and was met with stony silence), the candidates spoke enthusiastically in favor of torture and against the rule of law. Rudy Giuliani endorsed waterboarding. Mitt Romney declared that he wants accused terrorists at Guantánamo, "where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil ... My view is, we ought to double Guantánamo." His remarks were greeted with wild applause.
-- from Don't Blame Bush by Paul Krugman (18 May)

'Defend freedom of information'

Click here to sign up against an exemption for MPs from freedom of information legislation. (see also Richard Allan and Martin Rosenbaum's Open Secrets)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What a crime... broadcast Mark Thomas's My Life in Serious Organised Crime so late on a Monday night. Few people make a political point so funny.

Security advice for Gordon Brown

You must start the process of reorientating political and security thinking towards the real long-term global challenges. What is interesting is that none of this will cause you substantive electoral problems - indeed the country may well be ahead of the current administration on some of these issues.
-- from SWISH Report (8).

Friday, May 18, 2007

'Intolerant zeal' Edward Gibbon's felicitous phrase to describe some of the philosophes. Anthony Gottlieb revives it in Atheists with Attitude, his review of recent works by Hitchens and co:
When Hitchens weighs the pros and cons of religion in the recent past, the evidence he provides is sometimes lopsided. He discusses the role of the Dutch Reformed Church in maintaining apartheid in South Africa, but does not mention the role of the Anglican Church in ending it. He attacks some in the Catholic Church, especially Pope Pius XII, for their appeasement of Nazism, but says little about the opposition to Nazism that came from religious communities and institutions. In “Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century,” Jonathan Glover...documents such opposition, and writes, “It is striking how many protests against and acts of resistance to atrocity have . . . come from principled religious commitment.” The loss of such commitment, Glover suggests, should be of concern even to nonbelievers...

...The idea that people would have been nicer to one another if they had never got religion, as Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris seem to think, is a strange position for an atheist to take. For if man is wicked enough to have invented religion for himself he is surely wicked enough to have found alternative ways of making mischief.
All this and more is well said, but Hitchens (who I have criticised elsewhere) is continues to show his undoubted talents in his observations on the late Jerry Falwell, attached as comment to this post.

[P.S. 9 June: See also Atheism is pretentious and cowardly by Theo Hobson, and We of little faith by Sue Blackmore.]

Getting climate politics right

In an interview with Andy Revkin, Bill Clinton reflects on what he would have done differently on climate change if he had known in the '90s what he knows now. He says that rather than try a carbon tax, which he says Gore and he did in '93 but which even his own party would not support, or try to go head to head with Detroit and the UAW on vehicle efficiency standards, he would have concentrated on the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency in the built environment. The latter is the central drive of his large cities initiative today.

At first sight it seems strange that the benefits of investing in building stock efficiency were not better recognised in political circles at the time, given that Amory Lovins and others had been talking about the soft energy path since the early to mid '70s. But whatever the reasons that Clinton and Gore neglected this route, studies such as the McKinsey paper A cost curve for greenhouse gas abatement make it virtually impossible to ignore now.

Of course such investments are only one of the first steps, as noted in Winners and losers from climate change. A further report from McKinsey, scheduled for publication today, is said to make this point well.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Ben and Jerry's at the end of the planet

[Norway's] Environment Minister Bjoernoy said she saw no contradiction between showing off the impacts of global warming in the Arctic when many oil companies, such as Norway's state-controlled Statoil, are hoping for new finds as the sea ice recedes.
-- from Arctic Islands Invite Tourists To See Climate Woes. Tourists spent a total of 70,000 nights in the islands last year, up from almost zero 20 years ago. "Bergstrom said tourists were rich", the article continues, "and so could be influential [in the drive to tackle climate change] when they returned home."
Norway wants more world action to fight global warming and last month set the toughest national goal in the world, to become 'carbon neutral' by 2050, with no net emissions of greenhouse gases that come mostly from burning fossil fuels.
The article describes Norway as the world's fifth largest oil exporter. But the US EIA lists it in third equal position (along with Iran and UAE) in 2006, with net exports of 2.5 million barrels per day.

That's 912.5 million barrels per year. The first two rough estimates I have to hand say that burning a barrel of 'average' oil releases between a sixth and an eighth of a tonne of carbon. So while Norway goes for 'carbon neutrality' at home, it is likely to be profiting from the release of 114 to 152 to million tonnes of carbon per year by consumers of its products even if oil exports remain static.

(for something on my own experience on Svalbard see here and here)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Christopher Hitchens is a twat

In his excellent review of Allan Brandt's The Cigarette Century, Robert N. Proctor reminds us that every year five million people die prematurely from smoking and the number will grow to about ten million in the next two decades. A hundred million people died prematurely as a result of smoking in the 20th century and ten times that will die in the present century if trends continue.
It was not until the 1990s that manufacturers admitted any real harms caused by smoking. Part of this about-face was dictated by a change in legal strategy, which by this time had recentered around the argument that 'everyone has always known' that smoking is bad for you--so people have only themselves to blame for whatever diseases they contract from the habit.
What a disappointment after this to come across Christopher Hitchens, opposing a ban on smoking in public places -- or keeping an end of the swimming pool for peeing in.

See also Chris Jordan's Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait
(scroll down for image of 65,000 cigarettes, denoting the number of US teenagers who become addicted every month).


An oD alumnus and an oD associate on CiF: Caspar Melville on Saturday and Danny Postel today. Both good.

Also on CiF a welcome outburst of refusal-to-be-beaten-down-by-mere-reality optimism from Khaled Diab:
And here lies the biggest potential weapon in the Arab arsenal: militant peace. Arabs should dialogue directly with Israelis and tell them clearly and unequivocally that they want to live alongside them in warm peace once they reach a settlement with the Palestinians and Syrians.

Paranoia was the name of the game during the Cold War in Europe. After the Iron Curtain fell, people were confounded that we ever feared the other side so much, especially with many of our former "enemies" now members of the EU. I am optimistic that the same will occur in the Middle East once the Zion Curtain is lifted.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Partners in received logic

Now here is a comparison that some people will find seriously obnoxious, but when John Bolton says:
“Our obligation was to give [the Iraqi people] new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don’t think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war....Helping the refugees flies in the face of received logic.”
and Paula Dobriansky — the undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs — and her colleague Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, "mainly agreed with him", how precisely does this differ from the attitude of the Sudanese government towards refugees from Darfur?

There are an estimated 4,000,000 Iraqi refugees and 'internally displaced persons', about 15% of the population. Since 2003 the United States has given asylum to 701.

(the quotes are from The Flight From Iraq by Nir Rosen)

Evil, and a choice

"I think the real objective (of the US negotiators) is not just to keep the lid on and have nothing happen while President Bush is in office, but they are trying to lay landmines under a post-Kyoto agreement after they leave office...It lies in the hands of Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Merkel, whether it's all sweetness and light or whether they are prepared to stand up and say 'I'm sorry, but the rest of the world is moving in a different direction from you' ".
-- Philip Clapp of the National Environmental Trust as quoted by Richard Black in US seeks G8 climate text changes.


There's fuss about John Sweeney's outburst after he was bullied by Thetans. For a cool, calm and collected approach, try Alex Gaeta's investigation.

Which biofuels? (2)

(Continued from 10 May post)

Since last autumn, it's been reported that Richard Branson is allocating up to three billion dollars for research into biofuels. A long article in the 14 May edition of The New Yorker fails to provide any substantial detail on the nature of the research he is supporting, despite its length.

Tom Goreau of CGRA, Danny Dan of Eprida and others recommend large scale production of biochar. Goreau and others say this may be the only way to avoid dangerous climate change because it can actually reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. 'Merely' cutting global emissions by 80 to 90% within a few decades will not be enough, they say.

An article published last summer in Nature (Black is the New Green, 10 August 2006) reported estimates by Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University that biochar in combination with biofuels could store up to 9.5 billion tonnes of carbon a year. ( Last summer I expressed an interest in investigating this claim for a widely read science magazine. The editor was actively unwelcoming of the idea.)

Goreau and collleagues were promoting char and tidal power on behalf of the Small Island Developing States at the Commission on Sustainable Development meeting in New York finishing 11 May (a background paper is here). Unfortunately I was unable to make it. Media coverage of CSD coverage seems to have been dominated by a row about Zimbabwe assuming the Commission Presidency.


In "Mao II", [Don] DeLillo advanced the startling argument that, in the media age, the terrorist had supplanted the novelist as a cultural force. ”True terror is a language and a vision,” he explained. ”There is a deep narrative structure to terrorist acts, and they infiltrate and alter consciousness in ways that writers used to aspire to.” The writer and the terrorist are rivals: they want to imprint their way of seeing things on the world. The 9/11 attacks and the attendant media spectacle banished novelists to the fringes. Falling Man attempts to claw back some ground...[Fiction] repudiates terrorism’s death drive.
-- Ludovic Hunter-Tilney in a review of Falling Man (FT, 11 May).
Sometimes, during my workday, after several hours’ writing, I lift my head up and think — right now, at this very moment, another writer whom I don’t even know sits, in Damascus or Tehran, in Kigali or in Belfast, just like me, practicing this peculiar, Don-Quixote-like craft of creation, within a reality that contains so much violence and estrangement, indifference and diminution. Here, I have a distant ally who doesn’t even know me, but together we weave this intangible cobweb, which nevertheless has tremendous power, a world-changing and world-creating power, the power of making the dumb speak and the power of tikkun, or correction, in the deep sense it has in kabbalah.
-- David Grossman Writing in the Dark

Friday, May 11, 2007

Two useful pieces the FT on climate change. In yesterday's print edition Richard McGregor says Pressure can spur China into climate action, and in today's Paul Klemperer asks Awkward questions on behalf of our children such as "Is it morally correct to value our great-grandchildren one-tenth as much as ourselves?"


Mario Maestri, "one of the few Brazilian critics who does not reflexively dismiss Coelho" writes:
In spite of belonging to different genres, Coelho's narratives and self-help books have the same fundamental effect: of anesthetizing the alienated consciousness through the consoling reaffirmation of conventions and prevailing prejudices. Fascinated by his discoveries, the Coelhist reader explores the familiar, breaks down doors already open, and gets mired in sentimental, tranquilizing, self-centred, conformist, and spellbinding visions of the world that imprisons him. When he finishes a book, he wants another one that will be different but absolutely the same.
-- from The Magus by Dana Goodyear

'What has sustainable development to do with human rights?'

...asks Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lullaby of Tony

Tony Blair sings The Clash and Tony Blair eats his words (thanks to Nick Edwards for the latter). But, as Michael Goldfarb puts it well, he never made the killer gaffe, and no performance could match his.

[P.S. 14 May: Avi Schlaim says It is not only God that will be Blair's judge over Iraq]

Hatred, betrayal and long shadows

GM Tamás writes (Hatred and betrayal, The Guardian, 9 May):
Eastern European nations still see their politics, 60 years after the end of the second world war, essentially as a confrontation between communism and fascism. So when a former dissident such as myself denounces the desecration of the grave of a former enemy, I am not joined by members of the politburo, still very much alive among us. Perhaps they are too busy on the stock exchange. And so the danse macabre continues.
This reminds me of observations by Istvan Deak (Scandal in Budapest, NYRB, 19 October 2006):
Hungarians continue to face a troubling moral dilemma. Was it right to work within an oppressive system so one could try to encourage reforms or was it better to remain an outsider and thereby condemn oneself to political and professional irrelevance? At what point must one take a stand against oppression even at personal peril? One day each one of us might be forced to make such a decision.
See also Deak's thumbnail description of the historical context:
Perhaps the best way to explain Hungarian history between the collapse of democratic and Communist experiments in 1919 and the reestablishment of democracy in 1989 is that during that period, the country experienced two authoritarian regimes and two tyrannies. The conservative nationalist government of Miklós Horthy between 1919 and 1944 and the greatly relaxed Communist system of János Kádár after 1963 were authoritarian. The far right governments between March 1944 and January 1945 were responsible for the wartime destruction of the country and the killing of a majority of the country's 800,000 odd Jews: the hard line Communist regime between 1948 and 1963 imprisoned thousands and executed many real and imagined enemies.

Which biofuels? (1)

Another trip to the redundant restatement of the bloody obvious department, but here's a point that sometimes gets missed in much of the discussion about biofuels. It's important to distinguish a range of currently large scale aproaches that are currently available and feasible, and the conversion of cellulosic biomass - a technique that may be practicable some years hence if it gets adequate support now.

Biofuels have been high on the news agenda this week after the publication of a UN report expressing concern about their impact (see UN waffles furiously about biofuels, UN warns on impact of biofuels and the report itself).

Moving beyond generalisations such as "the worst idea humanity has had in a long time" (as one leading ecologist has put it), campaigns such as this one in the UK targetting 'deforestation diesel' are well and good.

By contast, conversion of cellulosic biomass may (and this is yet to be proven) offer part of a relatively low-impact, large-scale answer to low-carbon energy future. However a lot of basic research still has to be done. At present, note Chris Sommerville and Donald Kennedy in Science, the U.S. government spends on all of plant physiology just one-hundredth of the research budget of the National Institutes of Health. They say that the importance and the scale of the challenge means research budgets should be greatly increased.

[P.S. See also Which biofuels? (2)

'What the Bush Administration Has Wrought in Iraq'

"Any Iraqi officer who isn't in bed with the insurgents is already dead" -- a US Marine quoted by Patrick Cockburn in the introduction to a new edition of The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The 3% solution

As a new father I am finding little time for coherent thought, and the following may be redundant re-statement of the bloody obvious, but here goes.

The headline figure in IPCC Working Group III summary of a 3% reduction in global GDP in order to stabilise atmospheric concentrations at less than 450ppm does not mean that global GDP would be reduced by 3% every year. Rather, the estimate is 0.12% lower annual global average growth each year up to the year 2030, meaning global GDP would be 3% lower in that year than it would otherwise be (Table SPM.4 on page 14).

The summary further notes:
depending on the existing tax system and spending of the revenues, costs may be substantially lower under the assumption that revenues from carbon taxes of auctioned permits are used to promote low carbon technologies or reform of existing taxes
studies that assume the possibility that climate change policy induces enhanced technplogical change also give lower costs. However, this may require higher upfront investment (page 15)... all analysed world regions near term health co-benefits from reduced air pollution as a result of action to reduce GHG emissions can be subtantial and may offset a substantial fraction of mitigation cost (page 16).
In other words, the cost could be less than 0.12% of GDP per year, and we can afford not to put the planet at high risk of dangerous climate change.

[P.S. Climate curbs: Who will buy? by Paul Reynolds is good as brief analysis goes]

One nation, indivisible

The AIPAC defendants weren’t spies, they were merely ahead of the curve, anticipating the day when a distinction is no longer being made between American and Israeli interests. That is the line we are hearing, as the curtain goes up on the trial of Rosen and Weissman. Whether the jury or the public falls for it remains to be seen.
-- from AIPAC on trial by Justin Raimondo

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bush proposes spending cut on climate change

A colleague of Paul Ehrlich notes:
Tom Brewer has posted a brief analysis of the US administration's proposals for the fiscal year 2008 climate change budget, which is now before the Congress for its consideration. The proposed amounts for the Climate Change Science Program represent a 1.6% real, inflation-adjusted reduction over fiscal 2007 - and 22.8% less in inflation-adjusted, constant dollars compared with five years ago. The proposal for the International Assistance component represents a 10.1% real increase over fiscal 2007 - but is nevertheless 31.5% less in real terms compared with five years ago. These and other details are available for free downloading at

Thursday, May 03, 2007

450ppm would cost '3% of GDP'

Aiming for a total greenhouse gas concentration equivalent to 650 parts per million of carbon dioxide would reduce global GDP by about 0.2% [the IPCC report on mitigation will say], whereas...550ppm would cost about 0.6% of global GDP...

... many climate scientists now argue that only agreeing to keep below about 450ppm can prevent major climatic consequences. The IPCC draft says keeping concentrations at this level could cost up to 3% of GDP.

"I can tell you that the probability for achieving 450ppm in anything approaching the world as it now is is almost impossible," commented Professor Stephen Schneider from Stanford University in California, who helped draft the IPCC's first report this year on the science of climate change. "But a temperature rise over 2-3C leads to potential mass extinctions, serious problems with coasts, mountain glaciers disappearing, melting ice sheets... and one has to talk about stabilisation at 450-550ppm range to have a better than 20-30% chance of preventing that."
-- from Climate Talks Enter Final Phase, Richard Black, BBC online.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"The Ultimate Staff Guy"

“The irony of the whole situation is, he was bluffing,” [George Tenet] Slam said of Saddam on “Larry King Live” on Monday night, adding, “And he didn’t know we weren’t.” Mr. He-Man Tenet didn’t understand the basics of poker, much less Arab culture. It never occurred to him that Saddam might feign strength to flex muscles at his foes in the Middle East? Slam couldn’t take some of that $40 billion we spend on intelligence annually and get a cultural profile of the dictator before we invaded?...

“By your silence you helped build the case for war,” the former C.I.A. officials wrote [to Tenet]. "....Although C.I.A. officers learned in late September 2002 from a high-level member of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle that Iraq had no past or present contact with Osama bin Laden and that the Iraqi leader considered Bin Laden an enemy ... you still went before Congress in February 2003 and testified that Iraq did indeed have links to Al Qaeda. ...your tenure as head of the C.I.A. has helped create a world that is more dangerous. ... It is doubly sad that you seem still to lack an adequate appreciation of the enormous amount of death and carnage you have facilitated.”
-- Maureen Dowd Better Never Than Late.


George Marshall asks Why was the Great Global Warming Swindle was so persuasive? and comes up with some useful and thoughtful observations about media manipulation.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The World Tonight reported that MI5 is tracking some 2000 Islamist extremists in the UK. For each of those under surveillance there may be ten or a hundred sympathisers. So it looks like there are some bumps ahead. As is almost always the case, Steve Bell is on to something, but radicalisation was happening without the 2003 Iraq invasion. Kashmir, Bosnia and Chechnya already offered material for entrepreneurs of rage and hate.

[P.S. 3 May: Catherine Bennett on angst about the UK's national slaggishness]