March 2010

James Lovelock, of Gaia Hypothesis fame, thinks we are too stupid to deal with climate change. He has also argued that democratic systems of government may be at fault: But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best […]


Perhaps more slowly than might have been expected, I am making the transition from almost exclusively owning comfortable, functional clothing of the sort that works well for climbing mountains to owning an increasing proportion of the kind of clothes I once owned in singular sets for the occasional wedding, funeral, or high table dinner. I […]


For those with an interest in cryptography, and secure communication generally, a series of recently declassified lectures from the American National Security Agency are well worth reading. The moderately-to-heavily redacted documents from 1973 cover a number of engaging subjects. The first volume covers the importance and practicalities of secure communications, codes, one time pads, encryption […]


Yesterday night, I had an interesting conversation about energy, fossil fuels, agriculture, and human population. The key fact is that global agriculture is now deeply dependent on fossil fuels. They are needed for everything from running industrial farming equipment to producing fertilizer to operating the vast logistical networks through which food is processed and distributed. […]


Not to direct this at any particular organization, but it seems to me that if you want to start repairing your credibility after giving shelter to child rapists for decades, it is pretty clear how you should start. First, admit that you have entirely failed to prevent criminal abuse through your internal processes. Second, openly […]


To me, it seems problematic that people are excessively moved by the initial purchase price of various goods, giving much less consideration to total cost of ownership. For instance, when I used to sell printers at Staples, I observed that a $10 difference in price would often be enough to make a person choose one […]


In the interests of using language clearly and consistently, when talking about climate change, I have written up some personal definitions over at Specifically, I have defined what I mean when I talk about ‘dangerous,’ ‘catastrophic,’ and ‘runaway’ climate change. I hope the post will serve the dual purpose of helping to encourage effective […]


The Economist recently published an article lamenting how little funding is devoted to tracking the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. States do produce bottom-up records of emissions, based on what various facilities and vehicles emit. But it is also possible to track the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere directly, and to […]


During the past week or so, I listened to my first two audiobooks ever. Previously, I had been quite skeptical. To me, podcasts and the like seem to require too much concentration for use when doing anything complicated, but to not really be engaging enough to hold your attention when you are doing nothing else. […]


Now that the Democrats have had a success on health care reform, my thinking turns naturally to what this means for climate change legislation. In one sense, it looks as though an obstacle has been removed. Important as it was to reform health care (and imperfect as the solution that has emerged is), it had […]