Economics

A somewhat obvious rule of internet security to add to the first three: Against a sophisticated attacker, nothing connected to the internet is secure. Everything is internet now. You should probably worry more about being attacked online by your own government than by any other organization. Sensitive data about you is largely on the computers […]

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Sticky with humidity after 9pm, electricity demand in Toronto must be crazy right now. The Independent Electricity System Operator has data for the whole province: Back in April 2005, province-wide electricity use was 14,890 megawatts: 62% nuclear, 19.3% hydro, 13.5% wind, 4.6% gas. This connects to lots of climate change questions. Can we really afford […]

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It’s crazy how demanding web browsers have become. Both my main computers are somewhat old, but they can run modern 3D games at low graphics settings and perform computationally-intensive tasks like converting RAW files to JPG. Nonetheless, I find both my iMac and my MacBook Pro routinely struggling to run GMail in Safari, Firefox, or […]

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One way in which the lives of contemporary urban dwellers must differ from those of most people in the 250,000 years of anatomically modern human history is in not knowing our neighbours. In a small settlement in a time before widespread travel and privacy, you would probably know everybody. Now, many of us couldn’t pick […]

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I have written before about Norway’s awkward tension between wanting to be a responsible global citizen and wanting to continue to sell oil. Their ongoing election demonstrates the tension starkly. The Green Party, which may end up holding the balance of power in a divided legislature, opposes further hydrocarbon development. By contrast, a slogan of […]

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George Monbiot’s career advice for aspiring journalists may apply at least as much to civil servants and academics: You want to be free? Then first you must learn to be captive. The advisers say that a career path like this is essential if you don’t want to fall into the “trap” of specialisation: that is […]

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One privilege during my time at U of T was to take Peter Russell’s class on Canada’s history as a series of incomplete conquests in 2013. He taught the class for several years running to a mixed group of undergrads and grad students, using it partly to help him refine the new history of Canada […]

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It’s gimmicky and I find it hard to see personal cars and automobile infrastructure as part of a sustainable future, but this video still has historical relevance:

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Through a variety of mechanisms, anthropogenic climate change is worsening wildfires. For instance, warm winter temperatures were a key factor in British Columbia’s apalling mountain pine beetle epidemic, and trees killed by the beetles may be more susceptible to fire. More directly, high temperatures dry out forests and raise fire risks. Page 44 of the […]

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I find the debate about Canadian arms companies selling weapons and vehicles to Saudi Arabia a little perplexing. The media coverage seems to turn on the question of whether the arms and equipment are being used to oppress the civilian population of Saudi Arabia. I find this perplexing because there seems to be ample evidence […]

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