I have just started reading Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. The aim of the book is to explain why some nations are successful and why others fail. The thesis of the book is that institutions matter for economic development, whilst geography and culture play a somewhat limited role. The book's website and associated blog can be found here. The video below is a short talk given by Acemoglu at the Cato Institute about Why Nations Fail.
The Berkeley Earth Project , an independent study of global warming, has found that the earth has become a degree warmer over the past half century. However, the statistical uncertainty surrounding pre-1920 estimates makes it very hard to say much about long-term trends - click here for graph . This is one of my concerns with the global warming debate - we simply don't have trustworthy long-run data which looks at temperature changes over the last millennium (or two). My second concern with the global warming debate is that it is very hard to prove any sort of casual link between global warming and human activity. The scientists may be able to show correlation between global warming and our production of carbon dioxides etc., but correlation is not causation. My third concern with the debate is that those who are sceptical or agnostic are stereotyped as flat-earthers or intellectually-challenged crackpots. This only stifles debate and the progress of science itself.