60 Magnificent Years
In 1951 Tom Rolt and other dedicated enthusiasts started a world first: a preserved railway. The line they saved was the Talyllyn Railway in Wales and the date of re-opening was in May 1951, making this year the 60th anniversary year. The tale of this line is one of hard work and dedication by a few and one that has inspired many people over the world to take their local transport into their own hands. The line is still running in the rural Cardigan Bay coast area of Wales and runs through some beautiful countryside. Things have come a long way over 60 years and one wonders if the preservation pioneers really knew what they had started?
So we have a financial crisis that is rocking the global economy: the USA has debts of around 14.3 trillion dollars (that is 14,300,000,000,000 dollars) and they cannot afford to service that amount of money any more. Today we have a solution: Congress is to borrow even more to help finance that debt by raising the debt ceiling by a further 2.4 trillion dollars. It hardly seems a sensible, or a sustainable, solution to a problem that is just so large for almost anyone to comprehend. What will the impact be on the rest of the global economy?
Europe is already having to review Greece’s debt levels and they have recently received a 109 billion Euros for bailing it out despite only being bailed out in May. The problems persist in Ireland, Portugal and Romania for example. In Spain the country is experiencing around 20% unemployment adding to the pain there. Europe’s Eurozone problems are quite different when compared to the USA but the fact that the Euro tries to create a consistent currency in countries where outputs and productively very greatly suggests that there is a two-tier Europe that exists in a two-tier world where there are fast growing economies in the east and fast declining economies in the west. The west needs to re-invent itself onto a truly sustainable economic track: how this is achieved is not easy to say considering the scale of the problem.
Having a more focused view on the fact that the global economy is very much fuelled by hydro-carbons should allow us to at least address the issues of peak oil and how we need to re-invent our future to be one where we are not dependent upon oil reserves to drive the economy. In 2000, Colin Campbell, a geologist from the UK stated “There is, I think, a strong danger of some ill-considered military intervention to try to secure oil. A stock market crash seems inevitable, as some investment managers are now telling us. The global market may collapse because of high transport costs and global recession. Self-sufficiency will become a priority.” See this link. Perhaps this is the time to look at resilience and self-sufficiency for the future?
Forecast: 150 years on
It was 150 years ago in the Times newspaper that the first forecast was made. It was a probabilistic forecast from Robert Fitzroy. It was first published in the Times newspaper and got the forecast correct. This was not to last and Fitzroy, who had been involved with the Beagle voyages with Charles Darwin, ended up taking his life in 1865 as he was under much pressure to improve his forecasts. Even today, with 150 years experience and much computing power it is difficult to forecast the UK weather, but Fitzroy had pioneered a probabilist forecasting method that is the basis for modern weather forecasts. See this link for a brief history of Fitzroy, a noble pioneer who left a real legacy.