Productivity in the context of academic research is an unusual phenomenon. While elements like data entry may have a pretty direct and straightforward relationship between effort and outcomes, coming up with new ideas and writing can both involve a lot of unpredictability and spontaneity. Academic productivity is also social, or at least networked. The extent […]


Perhaps a central virtue for the world of the future will be self-denial, and specifically channeling covetous feelings toward sustainable ends: not collecting 10,000 Barbie dolls or flying into low Earth orbit, but doing instead things that will enrich and distinguish you in the community without heavy ecological effects, like writing, making art, and theatre. […]


Today I was at a conference on “Building a Post-Carbon Future” by 2050. It was certainly not bad, but I felt there was a huge disjoint between the Paris Agreement targets frequently referenced (to keep global warming to less than 1.5–2.0 ˚C above pre-industrial levels) and the scale and ambition of the policies and actions […]


One virtue of anxiety is sometimes you do come up with a new approach to solving a problem the 1000th time you think it over, even if you haven’t learned any pertinent information in the interim. The new approach is probably bad, but at least the rate of new ideas never falls to zero and […]


Something occurred to me as I was walking through the snow this morning. There’s an episode of Yes Minister (The Bed of Nails) in which the hapless minister Jim Hacker is charged with implementing an integrated national transport policy. His savvy and manipulative chief civil servant explains: It is the ultimate vote loser… If you […]


today we have a set of such prophecies and for all the average person understands they may just as well have emanated from the delphic oracle


After [redacted by the CIA] left, Boris had to keep introducing harsher and harsher methods, because Abu Zubaydah and other terrorists were trained to resist them. In a democracy such as ours, there is a glass ceiling on harsh techniques that the interrogator cannot breach, so a detainee can eventually call the interrogator’s bluff. And […]


One criticism of the climate activist movement is that it continues to rely on tactics which were either never effective or which have lost effectiveness as opponents of decarbonization have learned to counter them. This is a central part of the thesis in Micah White’s book The End of Protest, in which he argues in […]


I have written before about the cognitive and emotional (and insomniac) downsides of checking the news too often. It seems worth re-emphasizing how twitter is a worst-case scenario in this regard, at least for people more interested in developments in matters of public interest than developments in the lives of friends and acquaintances, where facebook […]

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Blair King has added another post to our back and forth discussion about climate change politics: Let’s face it hypocrisy matters in the pipeline and climate change debates. He’s still discussing his claim that people who advocate for decarbonization while still relying on fossil fuels are hypocrites: There is no denying that an activist who […]