In a development that illustrates the global dynamics of climate change China’s emissions now exceed those of the entire developed world put together.

Since at least the 1990s the basic nature of a global deal to control climate change has been clear. States like Canada with the highest historical and per capita emissions need to cut their fossil fuel use dramatically. At the same time, rapidly developing countries need to choose a lower carbon development path than the states that preceded them.

Canada is massively reneging on this deal. We have never hit our climate targets and our leaders continue to act as though continued fossil fuel development can somehow be compatible with climatic stability. We also treat the emissions from the fossil fuels we produce as someone else’s problem, just as we treat the emissions that go into our imports (some of those Chinese emissions are making stuff for the benefit of Canadians, and people in all rich countries).

Persisting with the status quo is a suicide pact, yet states and citizens have not yet displayed the wisdom of recognizing and acting upon that. With so little time left to change course and avert the worst impacts of climate change we cannot keep accepting governments that abstractly promise that emissions will fall in the far future while working in practice largely to protect business as usual.

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One element of a science fiction future which I expect to see in my lifetime is the ability to directly connect human brains with computers and share instructions back and forth.

That seems especially plausible now that Neuralink has demonstrated a high bandwidth BCI with two tetraplegic people.

This evokes the idea of a Ghost in the Shell future where people can use their disembodied minds to control computer systems, robots, and prosthetics. Even just being able to control a computer with the rapidity of thought is essentially a superpower, since it would allow people to perform calculations and other tasks which their unaided brains could not manage. Beyond that, a transhuman future beckons.

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Someone recently posted a link to the Graduate Association of Students in Political Science (GASPS) email list to the University of Toronto’s School of Graduate Studied Data Dashboards.

There is data on admissions, enrolment, funding, degree completion, and career outcomes.

The data on people doing the PhD in Political Science specifically is quite interesting:

Elements that jump out at me: it seems like about 25-30% of people admitted never complete the program, the median time to a degree is 7.33 years, and most people finish in 5-8 years.

The chart on average gross income for domestic students in the polisci PhD program is also interesting:

The dark blue is the funding package which gets halved in year 6 and eliminated thereafter. The medium blue shows external awards, which are substantial for people in years 2-5. You really can really see the limited degree of income for people in years seven and beyond, almost all of which comes from teaching and research assistant work (the light blue), which while financially necessary for most probably hurts the completion rate for people who reach those years.

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This week’s issue of The Economist has Taiwan on the cover and describes it as the “most dangerous place on Earth”.

It is widely reported that a central purpose behind China’s military buildup and particularly the acquisition of naval and amphibious warfare capabilities is the country’s ambition to conquer its democratic neighbour. The implications thereof could be profound, including in terms of China and Taiwan’s domestic politics, Taiwan’s crucial global role as a microprocessor manufacturer, and the confidence of America’s regional allies in America’s security guarantees. If their confidence is sapped by a Chinese takeover, increased regional militarization and perhaps nuclear proliferation are plausible.

China’s conduct toward Taiwan may also be illustrative of its long term geopolitical role as it continues to rise in affluence and military strength, potentially going beyond maintaining an oppressive, nationalistic, and militarist system at home into the actual domination or conquest of foreign territory (though China’s government asserts that Taiwan has been part of China all along).

The question of China and Taiwan also influences domestic national security policy in countries including China. Based on recent decades of use, the likely role for new military platforms like the ships being built for the navy and next-generation fighter jets long under contemplation would be a combination of continental defence under NORAD (arguably with no nation states as plausible enemies in this sense) and expeditionary use in multilateral coalitions for peacekeeping or (as in Afghanistan to begin with) warfighting. If China is developing into a threat that western countries will need to meet with military force, however, it will be indispensable to have advanced weapons and forces capable in their use ready before the conflict begins.

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Blue door

2021-05-03

in Photo of the day

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2021-05-01

in Photo of the day

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