It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Look to Sweden

Ray Pierrehumbert:

How to decarbonize? Look to Sweden
 Bringing global warming to a halt requires that worldwide net emissions of carbon dioxide be brought to essentially zero; the sooner this occurs, the less warming our descendants for the next 1000 years and more will need to adapt to. The widespread fear that the actions needed to bring this about conflict with economic growth is a major impediment to efforts to protect the climate. But much of this fear is pointless, and the magnitude of the task – while great – is no greater than the challenges that human ingenuity has surmounted in the past. To light the way forward, we need to examine success stories where nations have greatly reduced their carbon dioxide emissions while simultaneously maintaining vigorous growth in their standard of living; a prime example is Sweden.  
More at the link.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

How we think we think

I swore to Irene that I'd stay out of politics, at least until summer. And I know many, maybe most, of my friends are Bernie folk so this may irritate some of you.

But this article is IMPORTANT.

https://medium.com/@…/hillary-s-goldman-speech-f243a12c1626…

Anyway, it's not really a violation. Please read carefully.

The article TAKES NO POSITION ON HILLARY VS BERNIE. If you read this article as taking sides in Hillary vs Bernie you are missing the point.

This article is about how we think, how we think we think, and how we are manipulated.

At the risk of violating my "parole", let me be explicit about something this article assumes you understand but does not actually say.

Sanders has excellent points, and it's a good thing that he has put these issues on the table in a way that Mrs Clinton, who actually needs to win a national election in the conventional way, can't. But his success in doing so is in part because the Karl Roves and Frank Luntzes of the world have been planting BS in people's minds for decades about prominent Democrats, and especially the Clintons and Obamas. Are Rove,  Luntz and company actually quietly supporting Sanders? I wouldn't put it past them.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

No point arguing with me

I'm just stubborn


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Improving on Silence

I find an attribution of this idea from an unexpected direction.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Canada Green Party Revives Social Credit Movement in Canada

Huffington (Canada) reports
The Canadian Medical Association endorsed basic income this past summer and nearly 200 physicians signed a letter to Ontario's health minister calling for a pilot project because "income is the great divide when it comes to Canadians' health."

One of Canada's loudest proponents of basic income has been former Tory senator Hugh Segal. In a HuffPost blog in 2013, he wrote that we can't let "the ideological conceit that a rising tide lifts all boats obscure the hard reality that many Canadians have no boat or access to anyone who has ever had a boat."

The Liberal membership, meanwhile, passed a priority resolution last year calling for the party to "design and implement a Basic Annual Income." However, there is no mention of it in the Liberal's just-released election platform.

The federal NDP have been mum on the subject throughout the campaign, preferring instead to discuss a $15 minimum wage for federal workers — though there have been murmurs that Alberta's NDP government might give it a trial run with support from the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton.
The Green Party, however, has made basic income one of the most important planks of their platform, tying it to their anti-poverty efforts and their elder care strategy. Dubbing their version the "Guaranteed Livable Income" (GLI), the Greens would use "a single, universal, unconditional cash benefit delivered through the tax system" to replace the current complex system of federal and provincial support.

The Greens would then give every Canadian a regular GLI payment and set a minimum income level just above the poverty line. After that point, the GLI would be gradually taxed back until it was eliminated at a ceiling of, say, $60,000.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May:
It's just that as people make more, they get into the range of being tax-paying citizens. It's a good thing to give it to everyone because we eliminate income splitting that Stephen Harper brought in and generally only benefits families that are better off. This is a program that ensures that everyone can live with dignity.
It is very efficient because it costs a lot of money to check up on single mothers to see if she moved in with her boyfriend. It makes much more sense to give everybody a cheque so that you have no economic poverty anymore. People who receive that money are spending that money, they are happy to go out and make more money.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

No Place To Go But Up

I have a longish article on Medium about the future of transportation. It's written from an Austin-centric point of view, and I do think Austin should be the first to try this.

But if you want to try it where you are, more power to you!

My point is that when the roads are full, you have to build alternative transportation off the roads, which means either below them or above them. It's not as if elevated rail were really a new idea.


(Purportedly a view under the Baltimore el, pre-1950)

It turns out that elevated bikeways aren't novel either! (more at the link)

And there's another co-benefit: an emerging car-free commons.
The solutions to our problems lie in alternative lightweight transportation on alternative route networks that minimally intersect with the existing road network and as much as possible are human-powered or externally powered (like electric trains). The best way to achieve this is by putting trains and bicycles above the car traffic. This offers an opportunity to develop delightful above-grade pedestrian and recreation facilities as well.
Blegging for Medium.com likes, please and thanks! I sweated over this piece, and it doesn't target my usual audience.





Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kiribati Bails Out



The low-lying island nation of Kiribati (formerly "Christmas Island") is buying real estate on the larger Fiji Island and planning to move everybody out, on account of, well, you know, water.
The country's outgoing president Anote Tong said the accelerating effects of climate change meant he had given up dealing with the day-to-day issues to concentrate on finding creative solutions for his low-lying country.

He told a climate change conference in Wellington those include building up the atolls, floating islands and buying land in Fiji.
Mr Tong said he had also tried to motivate the 100,000 strong population to prepare and adapt themselves for what he calls migration with dignity.
(Image of failed Kiribati seawall via indaily.com.au)

On unlinking work from sustenance

I think we need it to be possible to get rich from working, but we need to make it impossible to get desperate from not working.

Hat tip to Dan Olner who points to a cogent argument for what I will persist in calling social credit or creditisme [sic], by Paul Mason on the Guardian.
A low-work society is only a dystopia if the social system is geared to distributing rewards via work. 

The automation revolution is possible, but without a radical change in the social conventions surrounding work it will not happen. The real dystopia is that, fearing the mass unemployment and psychological aimlessness it might bring, we stall the third industrial revolution. Instead we end up creating millions of low skilled jobs that do not need to exist.
The solution is to begin to de-link work from wages.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Should We Stop Breathing?

If CO2 CAUSES climate change, and we EXHALE CO2, what happens if a billion people (like CHINA) stop exhaling for a minute? A measurable effect?


Lung capacity is about 3 L according to Lung Volumes and Capacities
Exhaled air contains about 100 times the concentration of carbon dioxide that inhaled air does, or about 4% CO2 by volume via Carbon dioxide comparison between inhaled and exhaled air

So the amount of CO2 sequestered in the lungs of a billion people is 4 % of 3 billion liters or 120 million liters at roughly 1 atmosphere pressure. At 2 g / L (What is the density of carbon dioxide (CO2) at STP if 1 mole occupies 22.4 L?) we get the lungs of China holding 0.002 * 1.2e8 = 240,000 kg.

The entire atmosphere has 5 x 10^18 kg total, of which 0.04% is CO2 so that amounts to 2 trillion kg.

So the fraction of the earth's CO2 in a billion lungs holding their breath is
240,0002,000,000,000,0o0 = about a tenth of a part per million. If they held it forever, they would be uncomfortable, but the effect on CO2 would be so tiny as to be hard to measure.

As a global warming question this is sort of misguided, because CO2 breathed out balances carbohydrates eaten - there is no new net carbon injected into the system. That is, it seems to confuse fluxes and reservoirs, or as economists call it, stocks and flows. In fact, breathing contributes nothing to global warming at all, if food is produced in a carbon neutral way. It makes more sense to look at the carbon footprint of food production than of breathing, though in practice that is quite substantial, perhaps 10% of the total. This link says 9%: Agriculture Sector Emissions

I am sure you are responding to somebody who snarkily suggested we stop breathing. In fact, this boils down roughly speaking to whether we stop eating. If somehow we could live our lives otherwise the same without eating, we'd reduce our emissions by around 10%, and the accumulation in the atmosphere would be somewhat slowed. It's probably not a promising approach, though. But that's all about agricultural practices, not about agriculture itself. It's probably still possible to feed the earth's population entirely in a carbon neutral way.