Science

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 […]

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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 — […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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I have mentioned methane before in the context of agriculture (specifically the meat industry) and in terms of the so-called “dash to gas” in Europe. More broadly, the desirability or undesirability of gas is a major issue in environmental politics. On the basis that electricity produced using gas produces fewer emissions per kilowatt-hour than electricity […]

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft, designed to study Jupiter’s magnetic field to help us better understand the planet and solar system, will be burning its main engine to circularize its orbit around the gas giant later today: At about 12:15 pm PDT today (3:15 p.m. EDT), mission controllers will transmit command product “ji4040” into deep space, to […]

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Compared with trying to counteract climate change resulting from greenhouse gas pollution through solar radiation management (SRM) — essentially reflecting sunlight away, as with stratospheric sulfate injection — actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere by weathering rocks which form carbonates seems more attractive in many ways. The SRM approach may cause major side effects in […]

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I just finished Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. This eloquent, captivating, and informative book provides an intimate account of her life with manic depression, including her work as a doctor and a researcher of mental illnesses. At times the book is lyrical and poetic, both when providing rich […]

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The presidential committee at the University of Toronto just recommended divestment! They lay out criteria for excluding stocks based on their climate change impact and “recommend… that the University of Toronto instruct its investment managers to divest immediately” from such holdings. They specifically identify ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, the Peabody Energy Corporation, Arch Coal Inc., Alpha Natural […]

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A bit of what I have seen online so far: Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments — George Monbiot James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’ Why James Hansen is wrong on COP21 Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era […]

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