Gary Kendall

Postcard from a recovering China

Preparing to leave Beijing last week after a splendid fortnight’s rail tour of the two neighbouring (and confusingly named) provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi, I was startled to find evidence of a very different China to the one that is often portrayed in mainstream English-language media – “never mind the quality, feel the growth!” What’s…

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South Africa on the brink

Two weeks into the truckers’ strike and South Africa stands on the precipice of serious societal breakdown. The Marikana massacre was undoubtedly a tragic event in its own right, although it may prove to have merely been the spark that lit the fuse. The powder keg waiting to explode is the imminent shortage in liquid…

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Dear Fossil Fuel, I want a divorce!

Dear Fossil Fuel, There is no easy way to do this, so I’ll just say it: I want a divorce! Writing this letter is very painful for me, but the contents will not come as a great surprise to you. Our relationship has been wondrous at times, with ups and downs like every marriage. But…

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Realising the potential of electricity

As the latest climate change conference in Bonn draws to a close today, the full implications of commitments made at COP17 are beginning to sink in. The nations of the world find themselves united by a challenge that is both eye-watering and conceptually simple: hold the global average temperature increase below 2°C versus the long-term…

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Unstoppable forces and immovable objects

“That’s my new house,” my Chinese tour guide gestured toward a row of featureless apartment blocks beneath our vantage point overlooking the river, “and that’s where I used to live.” She showed me a photograph of a modest two-storey structure within the walls of the ancient city of Fengjie. It presumably remains intact, albeit more than…

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China’s alternative to an American addiction

Last week saw the launch of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, a rich seam of energy industry stats that journalists, analysts and academics will spend many hours mining for nuggets of data that support their chosen narratives. The Financial Times led with “China becomes leading user of energy” – hardly a revelation to even…

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