Category: Science and Technology

Drawdown, by Paul Hawken

Interesting new book for solarpunk peeps and environmentalists which talks about carbon drawdown strategies (because 100% renewable energy, even if it could be achieved, would not pull out the stuff that’s already in the air)—Drawdown, by Paul Hawken. Haven’t read it yet, but here’s some of what came up in the interview.

Top of the list for reducing emissions isn’t cars or planes or making things last—it’s disposing of refrigerators and air conditioners when they get too old. 90% of CFC and HCFC leakage happens when the coolant system is starting to conk out and die. No big loss to get rid of that machine, which was already breaking down. If we can convince people to do that instead of trying to stretch it out (maybe because of cost, maybe because of a laudable but in this case misplaced desire to conserve), and can dispose of it safely, that keeps 90-100 gigatons of CO2 equivalents out of the air between now and 2050.

A carbon capture strategy I hadn’t heard of before is Silvopasture, which is farming trees and grazing animals simultaneously. In other words, your pasture has trees on it (sylvan). This makes you more money if you want to sell the trees. It keeps your animals healthier (cows for instance like the shade) and your land healthier. And it sequesters carbon. If you’re writing optimistic SF, maybe include domesticated animal herds in managed forests. (There are other direct carbon capture mechanisms being explored, but the the only method that is currently reliable is photosynthesis.)

Finally, peace has a carbon dividend. Wars are terrible for the environment, and not just in a “they’re bombing the land to pieces” way. Sometimes cynical people think “well, at least this is decreasing population” and think they’re being analytical and brave to say something so horrible. But they’re wrong. Wars use a lot of energy. Wars destroy ecosystems. Wars grind through every resource you can think of, even to move the soldiers and fleeing people around. Peace is much better for preventing global warming.

Bob Massie for Massachusetts Governor

The next Massachusetts gubernatorial election isn’t until November 2018, but candidates on the Democratic side have started fundraising and forming exploratory committees. (On the Republican side, it’s assumed incumbent governor Charlie Baker will be the candidate.) One of the early declarers is Bob Massie.

There is probably nobody in the U.S. with more experience combatting climate change through legislative and business initiatives. (Executive director of Ceres for almost two decades.)

Also, he has had hemophilia from birth, so you know he cares about protecting people with pre-existing conditions. (Also, he was on the ethics advisory committee of Boston Children’s Hospital. Also, he’s an Episcopal minister, and this is core Episcopalian stuff.)

Also, he’s a Fullbright scholar who wrote the go-to history of U.S.-South Africa relations during Apartheid.

This guy, I’m telling you—check him out. His face is boring, but his biography is not. If anything, Governor of Massachusetts seems like too small a job for him.

Here’s his twitter.

Sonya says: I’ve heard him speak. Not a lot of flair, but solid intellectual content, which right now I am much more for than style. Also, that biography is ridiculous.

Romie: Yeah. If he was in some SF I was editing, I’d tell the author to split him into three characters. And even then, tone some of it down.

Mexico’s Tachoma Triumph

Nice job, Mexico!

In a significant public health victory, Mexico has succeeded in eliminating a disease which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that Mexico is the first country in the Americas to eliminate trachoma as a public health issue. The disease, caused by a bacteria, affects the eye and repeated infections can lead to scarring and even loss of vision.

Mexico Eliminates Infectious Disease Which Is Leading Cause of Blindness” (Bethia Kwak, NBC News)

When a Wall is a Dam on the Floodplain of the Rio Grande

Turns out a 30-foot-tall concrete wall in a floodplain is a dam.

Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding” (Morning Edition, NPR)

Rex says: None of the border states want a wall. Trump has no idea. It is a whim. If he didn’t have such great hair I would doubt a lot of his plans. But that hair is great! Mt. Rushmore great. Build that wall !!

Eternal Youth and the Blood of Babies

Blood from human babies makes brains of elderly mice young again” (Alice Klein, New Scientist)

Are were sure this was scientists? Stealing the blood of Christian babies to inject into animal familiars so that they become ageless? Has climate change led to a loss of habitat for the witches who live in the woods and driven them into cities to rummage through our unsecured garbage cans and scientific journals?

Provocative headline aside, the thing that’s been discovered is that the enzyme TIMP2, which is present in umbilical cord blood but can be synthesized in a lab, might be able to slow or stop the progression of Alzheimers. My usual caveat: MOUSE STUDY. But this could be great news, and does not require vampires out for young blood.