Better than Bad News on Climate: Volume III

Just one link this time. I don’t have a great selection right now, and this one is too good too sit on any longer: “How to decarbonize America — and the world” by Ramez Naam.

Two parts of this piece stand out for me. The first is that it talks about agriculture, where much talk about decarbonization focuses only on electricity and transport. The second is his discussion of electricity grids; This is something I think we should be talking more about in Canada. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Canada’s Really Big. To me this hints that there is access to renewable energy across the country, but a nation wide high voltage electrical grid would allow us to move the generation to where it’s least environmentally impactful, and best deployed (What do the wind patterns look like in the middle of Hudson’s Bay? I legitimately don’t know, but I wonder if it would make an excellent home for deep water wind farms), and then transmit that energy to Canada’s urban centres (and perhaps export!)

Some Better-than-Bad News on Climate Change: Volume II

Another batch of Better-than-Bad News on Climate Change. In this batch I’m writing a little more commentary.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alberta these days. It’s a place I have a lot of fondness for, and could imagine living there again. However, it is a place whose future concerns me. In 2016 the Alberta government said that 42% of the economy was driven by the energy sector. While I understand it’s an enormous chunk of the economy, as an outsider for five years or so, I personally can’t see the energy economy continuing to drive the province the same way for the next 30 years… but I also don’t understand what the province’s plan is to handle that possibility. In an alternate reality, there would be money put away to help with this, but there’s not much.

That long ramble is a prelude to the next item.

  • Germany has negotiated a plan to end its use of coal power plants by 2038. This is a fascinating example of how a consensus plan appears to be possible to do with enough political will. This plan appears to work hard to ensure those people in the coal sector affected by the divestment from coal generation will be helped, and tries to allow as light a touch as possible from the German government about how the actual shutdowns will proceed.

    I would love to see similar kinds of discussions happening in our provinces, but it seems like we’re going through a political backwash right now.

  • In a federal system like Canada, it’s important that different provinces can pursue different plans. This is why I really liked the federal government’s system of “You have to make a system, or we will make one for you”. It gives provinces the choice to deal with climate change how they’d like, so long as they deal with it. I hope the Supreme Court ultimately rules in favour of the federal government.

    In the USA, despite presidential (can you use that adjective?) cries to bring back coal, there’s lots of interesting news happening at the state level.

  • This last one, "The Case for ‘conditional optimism’ on Climate Change” is… only barely optimistic. However, in it, I find the adoption-of-technology curves graph to bring me hope on a personal level. Change can very quickly in the world these days, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

The Globe and Mail and the Web

The Globe and Mail drives me nuts because it is terrible at dealing with the internet.

Consider this story, about an experiment with crowdfunding in the sciences. In the whole article, there’s not a single link. Not a link to the actual crowdfunding site under discussion, not a link to the funding agency being discussed.

It’s not that they can’t link in their CMS. It’s just that they seem to write like it’s still a print publication.


Practical Fatherhood: Early Lessons, Volume III

Photo Sharing and Updates

One of my biggest failures of pre-planning for the baby was deciding on how to do updates and photos. When you have a baby there's all sorts of family who you want to keep up to date, with photos and updates.

My priorities are different than most people's. I wanted to minimize the amount our baby ended up on Facebook, and generally, keep our privacy as a family and as a dad. I didn't really think about how I wanted to accomplish this until after the baby arrived, so I've ended up with a bit of a bodged solution, involving a password protected blog, iCloud photo sharing, and a mailing list.

My recommendation to other future fathers is to think it through better than I did!

Lock In

So how did we choose our baby bottles? I am a little ashamed to say that it wasn't thorough research and decision making. Nope, what happened was that we got a free bottle when buying some maternity clothes. After that, we stuck with that brand because it was easy, and they formed a set.

There's an aspect here of lock-in: Small choices at the beginning, and suddenly you have a dozen bottles of the same brand, two dozen nipples, the bottle warmer, and the sterilizer.

Mostly my point here is that you may find these things snowball.

Prosocial Presence

Messaging applications often provide “presence” support, where your contacts are annotated to show if they’re available, busy, or whatnot.

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When you’re working, there’s some tradeoffs with presence information: It can act as a social forcing function which affects people’s work life balance. There’s a been some pushback on presence.

Being home with the baby, I’ve been thinking a bit about presence for socialization though. I really wish there was a way for me to say “Hey! I’m totally open for video chatting with someone", or “Hey, I’m totally open to texting!”.

Maybe it’s me, but there’s an awkwardness to cold-calls, but I would love it if I was feeling like chatting with someone, and could put it out there in the world, and someone might just call me.

I feel like if this was done right, it would be a way of creating a ‘social media’ that’s more synchronous, but also more personal and fun.