The grading saga continues, with tomorrow as the slightly-stretched deadline. It’s going to be a long 24 hours, followed by dealing with plagiarism cases and calculating participation grades.
Over the weekend, I did photograph this year’s Massey Christmas Gaudy. Some preliminary, minimally-edited photos are already up.
Tomorrow we are being graded in our Judo class, for possible advancement to yellow belt. They actually taught us more than the assigned syllabus includes. My technique certainly isn’t great (especially for escaping hold downs and smoothly transitioning between them), and I will need to do a bit of vocabulary cramming tomorrow.
Once I am done with this term’s TA duties, I need to turn back to my PhD work. I will be working as a research assistant, but need to decide if I should also try to get some (considerably better paying) TA hours next term. Next year my departmental funding gets cut by half, and then it goes away altogether the year after.
P.S. It was good to see the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reject the easement requested for the Dakota Access Pipeline, pending an environmental assessment. There are no permanent victories in the fight against fossil fuel infrastructure, but anything that delays project and increases risks for investors hold out hope for helping us avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Sometimes paired with the fallacious argument that only people who use no fossil fuels can legitimately oppose fossil fuel development is the statement: “We won’t stop using fossil fuels tomorrow”.
The logical error associated with using this statement to defend new fossil fuel infrastructure like fracking wells and bitumen sands pipelines (as well as new fossil fuel vehicles or power plants) is so obvious that it may seem unnecessary to state, but the quip is so popular among those trying to delay adequate action on climate change that it requires a quick rebuttal.
It’s true that human society is dependent on fossil fuels, and not only for discretionary activities that people can legitimately be asked to give up. That said, it’s now entirely evident that climate change threatens human civilization if unchecked, to say nothing of the profound damage it’s already doing to non-human nature. Preventing the worst impacts of climate change requires a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, and that is fundamentally incompatible with building new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Under contraction and convergence, it is plausible that some poor places can legitimately build a modest amount of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. This is most defensible in places that have low per capita emissions, low historical emissions, and where new fossil fuel use will address basic human needs instead of luxuries. None of these conditions apply in Canada or the United States, where per capita and historical emissions are both unconscionably high, and where most citizens routinely make heavy use of fossil fuels for trivial purposes.
The line about not giving up fossil fuels tomorrow is rhetorically appealing because it makes the speaker seem like a level-headed pragmatist and suggests that anyone who disagrees is out of touch with reality. In actual fact, our existing dependence on fossil fuels is an argument against new fossil fuel infrastructure, not for it. The media, members of the public, and decision-makers need to accept this.
The Economist has published an interesting article about Christian churches supporting the water defenders at Standing Rock: Standing Rock is a new turn in Christian ties with native Americans.
Thanks to my family and my friends Andrea, Mehrzad, and Amanda, I had a very pleasant 33rd birthday, with kind and thoughtful gifts, lunch at Massey College, Masala Dosa (accompanied by a couple of Hive-LM games) for dinner, and raspberries.
As a coincidental birthday gift, I finally received my September, October, and November pay today. The first order of business: pay off my frightening credit card balance.
I won’t be able to spare much time for celebrating today, as I am still embroiled in my second big wave of grading for the term. Once this finally wraps up, I will be able to focus on my neglected PhD work.
Every year, Massey College holds a (more serious) Coffee House and (more silly) Tea Hut talent show.
My photos from this year’s Coffee House are online.
Tonight Toronto350.org organized a vigil to resist the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, which took place along with 44 others across Canada.
Justin Trudeau is going to find that his promises about indigenous reconciliation and restoring Canada’s environmental reputation require him to stop further bitumen sands extraction and export. If not, he will end up as confounded as the Harper government.