Forked Lightning – the deadly global scenario on the horizon

Flags are lining up that could herald another global financial crash.

In the initial module of Growing Foxes* we introduce students to the art of identifying drivers/flags which can turn the world around them upside down. Think of a driver or flag as the first of a line of dominoes. If it is toppled, all the other dominoes in the row topple too. We not only want our students to improve their ability in scanning the horizon for the equivalent of the first domino to fall; we also want them to trace the causal chain linking it to the other dominoes before they fall too. That demands foresight to play the relevant scenario

Say, “Jeez!”

A smiling politician is a sign something ill is probably afoot.

Alright, we’ll come clean: the image above isn’t real. It’s the iconic work of activist artists Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps, best known for creating photo-art in response to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But it points to a key move popular with politicians, celebrities, and, it must be said, activists: the photo op (short for photo opportunity), usually carefully crafted to send a specific message. In political days gone by, messages were simple, as were the photo ops. Message: that a politician identified with voters (photo op: eating simple food in a cafe),

The angry hornet

The Middle East is a hornets’ nest, and Trump just hit it with a big stick.

There are few parts of the world more worked-up than the Middle East; it bristles with centuries-old cultural and religious quarrels that have scarred the region with endless wars. It will not find peace in the near future. But there are ways to calm things down, such as negotiating with the major players. The diplomatic logic is this: treat a player as an outcast and it will act as such. Iran is such a player. For three years, and until last week, the international community had been enjoying a

An inconvenient wipe

Environmental awareness pitches concern against convenience.

The truth about being environmentally aware is that it is inconvenient; how much so depends on those expressing concern. Tying yourself to a tree to stop deforestation is highly inconvenient, firing off a tweet in support of those hugging the trees less so. But there’s always a trade-off. Smartphones are packed with rare earth metals. These don’t grow on trees. They’re buried deep underground, and the ore is often laced with radioactive materials. That’s pretty nasty stuff. Separating the metal from the ore requires huge amounts of carcinogenic toxins including sulphates, ammonia and hydrochloric acid. It’s estimated that processing one

The new rule of life being absolutely free

A new rule has emerged from the collapse of the traditional retail business model.

Imagine this scenario. You drive your car to the local shopping mall and you park it in a pay zone. You go into a supermarket in the mall and every aisle is full of advertisements on screens as you make your way around the shop to buy food. You notice that the content on the screens changes for each customer depending on his or her gender, stylishness of clothing and age. You sense you are being targeted according to your profile. When you reach the till, the staff member waves you through saying that the food is all

You, cancer fighter

The fight against cancer has a new weapon: you.

If you want an idea of the power in your hands, know this: less than 50 years ago NASA ran an entire space programme that put astronauts on the moon, using the combined computing power that’s a minuscule fraction of that of your smartphone. And here’s the kicker - most of your smartphone power is wasted. But now you can do something about that. Here are some dots, see if you can connect them: Dot 1: Research into cancer produces eye-wateringly huge amounts of data that need to be processed on large, very powerful, computers. Read More

Scratching backs

It’s negotiation, not nogotiation.

At the end of April the unbelievable happened: the leaders of North and South Korea met, shook hands, planted a tree, and had a cup of tea and a nice long chat. In full view of the media. It was both a puzzling and encouraging sight. It was also really long overdue - the two countries are technically still at war. Wars rarely end abruptly with one side surrendering and the victor determining the terms. Normally, wars fizzle out towards an agreed cessation of hostilities. Then protracted negotiations normally form part of a peace settlement. The Korean War started in June 1950 and

Never forget the rules of the game in the global economy

The game you're playing has rules; ignore them and you'll pay the price.

I know that what I am about to say sounds conservative and it is cool to talk about breaking all the rules. Yet, if you want to succeed in life, you have to abide by certain rules of the game. The most basic ones are those that govern ethical behaviour. These have more or less remained unchanged for centuries because of their religious origin. Obviously, specific rules of conduct have been revised over time as we have recently seen in the case of what constitutes improper behaviour by men towards women. Many lives of famous people are being destroyed

Will Kim drop the bomb of mutual disarmament on Trump?

A U.S.-North Korea summit will be both bizarre and welcomed.

Watching the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un, step over the 38th parallel on 27 April – the first time a North Korean leader has done so since 1953 – was an historic occasion to say the least (watch the moment here). To welcome him onto the South Korean side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in Panmunjom, was South Korean President, Moon Jae-in. There, they shook hands in a sign of unity that none would have thought possible in 2017. The occasion was surreal, especially considering that just nine months ago North Korea tested a

The shocking truth about plastic

The advantages of plastic are looking decidedly thin.

The statement by former solo yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur "there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050", has taken centre stage in world media recently … and with good reason. Plastic pollution has reached epidemic proportion. The rampant growth of plastic production – particularly in single-use plastics – is finally being recognised as one of the greatest risks facing the environment and mankind's wellbeing. Not only is plastic burying the earth's surface under a layer of non-biodegradable waste, it is also saturating our oceans and soils with tiny plastic particles. While plastic debris is finding its way into the