Marching again for fossil fuel divestment at U of T

Tomorrow, and are holding our second march in support of fossil fuel divestment. The one we held back in November 2014 involved about 200 people.

Right now, Toronto’s weather is pretty miserable. After today’s dentist appointment I swung by MEC to get a waterproof silicone cover to protect my backpack (better than my crude black garbage bag cover) and some ‘Darn Tough Vermont’ merino wool socks.

Hopefully, tomorrow’s evening weather will be OK and we will see a strong turnout. The march is timed to coincide with a meeting of the Governing Council, who will hopefully be walking out of Simcoe Hall at the same time as we have people giving speeches there.

Operant conditioning

When I see people out walking dogs, I like reaching a hand out to the creatures and seeing their reactions. Usually the humans are happy about this and volunteer information about the dog’s name and breed. Occasionally, there are people who pointedly ignore me and yank hard on the leash to punish the dog for noticing me.

These people are bad animal trainers.

On the amazing AnimalWonders Montana YouTube channel, Jessi Knudson has done an amazing job of building relationships with a wide variety of animals. She is easily able to encourage a Brazilian prehensile-tailed porcupine to get into his crate for a veterinary appointment, and has taught a dog how to painlessly have its nails cut.

She has a video about clicker training: a form of operant conditioning where the sound of a click is used to teach an animal about the precise behaviour which you are tying to encourage or discourage.

She has two videos specifically about operant conditioning: Law of Effect and Operant Conditioning.

Learning more about operant conditioning seems potentially helpful when it comes to motivating climate volunteers, working with photographic subjects, and teaching students. When things are a bit less hectic, I will need to make a preliminary foray into the literature.

Open thread: Trudeau on climate

Now that he has been elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is going to have to make some crucial decisions on climate: how much fossil fuel infrastructure he will allow (including for export); the degree to which he will promote zero-carbon energy; whether he will establish a price on carbon; how he will engage internationally; etc.