A recent ONS survey of well-being in the UK has produced some interesting findings. Northern Irish people are ‘happier’ than people from other parts of the UK on nearly every measure of subjective well-being (click here for the details). This is despite the fact that using standard economic measures of well-being, such as GVA per capita, Northern Ireland is the worst region in the UK apart from Wales. This is also despite the continuing legacy of the ‘troubles’. So why is subjective well-being so high in Northern Ireland compared to other parts of the UK? Is there something different about our culture compared to the rest of the UK? Is Northern Ireland a less congested and more pleasant place to live? Is Northern Ireland more egalitarian and less socially divided than other parts of the UK?
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.