Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. These seemingly grim lines may be the most optimistic in modern literature: life feeds into life, change is constant, and the spring’s rain helps complete the cycle.
A paper by Pearce, Brown, Nerlich, Koteyko (“Communicating climate change: conduits, content, and consensus“, 2015) contains some interesting ideas about effective communication about climate change. They cite one “best practice guide” which explains that: in order for climate science information to be fully absorbed by audiences, it must be actively communicated with appropriate language, metaphor, […]
My family in Vermont sent me Bill McKibben’s 2005 book (updated in 2014) as a Christmas gift. In it, he recounts a meandering trek through the Lake Champlain region of the Adirondacks. It’s part nature writing, partly an account of the history of the region and the ways his neighbours are tying to earn a […]
Sometimes paired with the fallacious argument that only people who use no fossil fuels can legitimately oppose fossil fuel development is the statement: “We won’t stop using fossil fuels tomorrow”. The logical error associated with using this statement to defend new fossil fuel infrastructure like fracking wells and bitumen sands pipelines (as well as new […]
Nothing about my PhD so far has been easy. As long-time readers may recall, my first comprehensive exam was only passed after two attempts and a lot of effort. The strike was painful, and has made me particularly question the quality of undergraduate education that U of T provides, in terms of class and tutorial […]
Surprisingly, the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis may permit the development of a therapy to repair damaged cilia in human ears. A solution containing repair proteins from the anemones has been shown to repair human tissue in vitro.
When we wrote the fossil fuel divestment brief for the University of Toronto, we thought that humans could “pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees”. If we’re aiming instead to stay below the 1.5 ˚C limit aspired to […]
Some people who favour the construction of new bitumen sands pipelines have been deploying a particularly weak argument, which echoes a couple of the points that have long been made by people who don’t want to take adequate action to avoid catastrophic climate change. They point out that — in one way or another — […]
Somehow, this article seems indicative of the low quality of a lot of our thinking about environmental issues: Mesmerizing ‘blue whirl’ from fire tornado could be cleaner solution for oil spills: Scientists discover clean-burning blue flame while simulating a fire tornado in the lab. It seems a particularly questionable application of the idea that technology […]
When making decisions about technology, both false positive and false negative errors are possible. By that, I mean it’s possible for us to miss or ignore how a technology has unacceptable consequences for people and the rest of nature. DDT or the drug thalidomide were such false negatives: wrongly considered to be acceptable for use […]