The British government's Nudge Unit, which uses insights from behavioural psychology and economics (see Nudge website for further details) to improve public policy, has been partially privatised (story here). Employees now own one third, the government owns one third, and Nesta, a charity set up to stimulate innovation, owns the other third. It seems that demand for the Nudge Unit's services from foreign governments and non-government institutions has been one of the reasons for this move. Another reason could be that this new ownership structure is applying some of the insights of behavioural economics in terms of incentivising employees of the unit. The Nudge Unit has been nudged!
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.