Lots of significant climate news

CPSA is keeping me busy, but there have been some interesting news stories in the last few days:

Overall, recent developments are worrisome. We know how short a window there is for action capable of hitting the Paris Agreement’s targets, and yet we continue to make contradictory policy choices.

Expletives do not suffice

In one of my most boneheaded moves ever, I lost my wonderful Fuji X100s camera at the Canadian Political Science Association conference.

I was at a morning panel on “Natural Resources, Energy, and Climate” and because the desks were small I put it on the one behind me. At the end of the session, I walked to my next event, sat down, realized I didn’t have the camera, and rushed immediately back to find it gone.

I checked both the Ryerson and Congress lost and found locations and asked all the nearby staff members. I also emailed everyone on the panel, in case one of them picked it up.

The camera’s serial number is 33A04584 and it is clearly labeled in two places with my name and email address. Perhaps someone picked it up and has yet to contact me.

It’s an extremely painful thing to lose: worth about four months of my rent or well over a quarter of a year’s tuition. Over 4,000 photos I’ve taken with it since I got it in November 2013 are on Flickr.

[Update: 7:30pm] In a hugely relieving development, one of my fellow audience members — recently appointed to a tenure-track job at uVic — saw the abandoned camera, picked it up, and has now restored it to me.

UTAM’s first ESG report

As called for in President Gertler’s “Beyond Divestment” decision, the U of T Asset Managament Corporation (UTAM) recently released their first report on incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the management of the school’s $9 billion portfolio (PDF).

I’m pretty tied up with the Canadian Political Science Association conference from tomorrow to Thursday, when I will be presenting a paper on pipeline resistance, but I will give it a close look afterward.

The original student group that primarily implemented the U of T divestment campaign has dissolved, but there are still efforts at subsidiary bodies like colleges and CUPE 3902 and there is at least some student interest in reviving a university-wide campaign.

Our emotions respond strangely to time

One danger with relationships — from the professional to the familial — is to focus too closely on the recent past when deciding how to feel about them.

I find that I have a tendency to feel like the emotional trajectory of the last few days or weeks offers the best chance for estimating what the future timbre of the relationship may be like.

It’s more prudent, I think, to take a hint from calculus and consider instead the integral, the total area underneath the function you are evaluating (shown here as the area ‘s’), rather than the direction of the last bit of the line:


We don’t judge every burrito or cheese sandwich we have ever eaten on the basis of our most recent serving, and yet the tone of our most recent interactions with any particular person has a strange ability to permeate and alter all our memories about them. Perhaps it’s something we can consciously mitigate or reverse.

I think this tendency to emphasize the short term is linked to another cognitive distortion. When we like someone to the point that we can pleasantly imagine spending a lot of time with them, it can be easy to take on a feeling of entitlement — a sense that they owe us that time and if we don’t get it we are being deprived by their decision.

The world would probably be a lot saner if we all naturally thought that any time experienced with such people is a gift and that, while further engagement might be a hopeful aspiration, it’s not to be considered owed or expected.