Is the World Slouching Toward a Grave Systemic Crisis?
Ignore the title, this post is instead a Foreign Policy analysis and strategy tour de force. Highly recommended reading.
I LOVE Vox's thoughtful and readable analysis of technical carbon emission reducing proposals. Highly regarded read... And please vocally support SB775!
Impressive article - I don't agree with everything but I respect a member of Labour's centre-left who articulates a vision for Britain's future rather than advocating a return to its past. Wes Streeting is someone to keep an eye on.
In the report that paved the way for the modern welfare state, William Beveridge said that “a revolutionary moment in the world’s history is a time for revolutions, not for patching” – it was true then and it remains true today.
So just as the Attlee Government built the welfare state from the rubble of the Second World War, so too the Labour Party today should embrace the challenge of reshaping post-Brexit Britain, re-imagining social democracy to meet the big social and economic challenges of this century.
Beveridge’s five giants of want, squalor, ignorance, disease and idleness have a modern relevance as we seek to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, build the housing and infrastructure that our people and our economy need, equip people with education and lifelong skills for the 21st century, address the health and social care crisis and consider the future of work in the age of automation.
Great quote from a very insightful article. Trust will become more, rather than less, important in an age of AI, blockchain and automation.
trusting relationships should be celebrated, not scorned. When we believe in someone and they betray us, our friends might call us a sucker, an easy mark, a loser. But shouldn’t we celebrate these efforts to trust others – just as entrepreneurs talk up the value of failure on the road to innovation? Isn’t the correct response along the lines of: ‘I see why you trusted them, but isn’t it is terrible that they let you down?’
A truly admirable and optimistic way to think about American exceptional-ism. I wouldn't expect anything less from President Obama, whose world view is both profound and aspirational, almost to the point of naivety. This is an important phrase that historians will refer to when evaluating the shifting geopolitical dynamics of the world today.
So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.
Some instant classic lines here. Wickedly funny.
“Kudos to the owners … for turning the Siddhartha, one of history’s great proponents of self-deprivation, into Paris Hilton.”
Incredible news - this will allow India/China/Sub-Saharan Africa to continue to industrialize rapidly, raising people out of poverty without relying on the burning of fossil fuels for the first time in human history.
The overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants. 2 There's also the issue of providing power in the peak evening hours after the sun goes down, which is less of a concern in countries with widespread energy poverty. But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said Liebreich.
An important retort for those who (fairly) question how much carbon is emitted in the production of solar panels. Also just an amazing example of public-private industrial development at its finest.
Exactly how much carbon dioxide was emitted during the manufacture of a panel will depend on where it was made, as well as when. How much emitted gas it has saved will depend on where it is installed. A panel made in China, for example, costs nearly double the greenhouse-gas emissions of one made in Europe. That is because China relies more on fossil fuels for generating power. Conversely, the environmental benefits of installing solar panels will be greater in China than in Europe, as the clean power they produce replaces electricity that would otherwise be generated largely by burning coal or gas.
Once the team accounted for all this, they found that solar panels made today are responsible, on average, for around 20 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of energy they produce over their lifetime (estimated as 30 years, regardless of when a panel was manufactured). That is down from 400-500 grams in 1975. Likewise, the amount of time needed for a solar panel to produce as much energy as was involved in its creation has fallen from about 20 years to two years or less. As more panels are made, the manufacturing process becomes more efficient. The team found that for every doubling of the world’s solar capacity, the energy required to make a panel fell by around 12% and associated carbon-dioxide emissions by 17-24%.
Important lessons that need to be shared widely. I'm certain I will need to refer back to this in the not-too-distant future.
For those who are unhappy that Trump was elected, the easy part — the donations, the Facebook and Twitter posts, the initial broadcasting of outrage and solidarity — is over. Actual resistance, actual organizing, is harder. “I think that the evidence across the political spectrum is that you need to get people involved beyond just their computers and beyond just sending in money to have any impact,” said Fisher. And that takes difficult, careful, on-the-ground-work.
A quarter of outstanding global corporate debt, or as much as $3.4 trillion, is linked to the utility- and auto-industry bonds that rely on fossil fuel activities, the ratings agency wrote in a report published Tuesday.
Batteries have the potential to “tip the oil market from growth to contraction earlier than anticipated,” according to Fitch. “The narrative of oil’s decline is well rehearsed -- and if it starts to play out there is a risk that capital will act long before” and in the worst case result in an “investor death spiral.”
Remarkable article and situation in Washington. I understand the desire to implement a carbon tax as part of of broader progressive movement, but Climate Change is too important to be thwarted as part of an ideological crusade. We need action as soon as possible, and this policy appears to me the most effective way to do just that. The political landscape today is impossible for moderates to navigate, to everyone's detriment.
We're going to miss a President who can embrace abstract concepts and encourage intellectual pursuits while balancing them with pragmatism and a need to evaluate/mitigate potential negative consequences. Incredible.
Thinking about Jevons paradox - with increases in efficiency driving higher consumption, sometimes leading to a net negative impact - is going to be crucial for politicians.
Simply eliminating the drivers from cars, and keeping everything else about our system the same, will be a disaster. Picture zombie cars — those with no one in them — clogging our cities and our roads, because it will be cheaper to keep them moving than to pay for expensive urban parking, and cheaper to bring retail to a customer than to pay rent on a retail store. While the number of vehicle miles driven skyrockets, our transportation infrastructure revenues, dependent on the gas tax, parking, fees, and fines will disappear. Unemployment will spike as professional drivers will be be laid off in droves. It will be a nightmare of pollution, congestion, and social unrest.
Fantastic critique on the homogenization of the contemporary aesthetic that has arisen in the Instagram generation. I hate to admit it, but I am one of the Airbnb-using, Toby's Estate drinking people who seek and admire authenticity while appreciating convenience and familiarity that need to reflect on what an Airspace lifestyle is actually accomplishing.
Airbnb’s early website design, when it was still called AirBed & Breakfast, was Craigslist-rough and functionalist, promoting shots of hosts or scenery over interior decorating ("better than a cheap hotel," its embedded title text read). By late 2012, it settled into the house-porn format it embraces today, with high-resolution, full-bleed images that could have been pulled from the pages of Dwell. The listings are presented not just as convenient hotel alternatives, but places where users would love to live permanently. The aspirational quality helped the company to blow past predecessors like Couchsurfing.org, which championed the experience of intruding in someone else’s life rather than roleplaying being a local. In a sense, Airbnb became an interactive lifestyle magazine.
I've never been to a Momofuku restaurant, but after reading about how David Chang thinks about food, I think that needs to change...
When you eat something amazing, you don’t just respond to the dish in front of you; you are almost always transported back to another moment in your life. It’s like that scene in Ratatouille when the critic eats a fancy version of the titular dish and gets whisked back to the elemental version of his childhood. The easiest way to accomplish this is just to cook something that people have eaten a million times. But it’s much more powerful to evoke those taste memories while cooking something that seems unfamiliar—to hold those base patterns constant while completely changing the context.
Anyone who has read 'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell would probably disagree with the below, but I accept the point that true "sci-fi" in the Asimov-style has become the exception, rather than the rule.
The possibility that sci-fi could be breaking in favor of the near-future is especially surprising, given that prophetic boldness has often been seen as one of the genre’s signal features. If, as the critic Northrop Frye has argued, the job of science fiction has been “to imagine what life would be like on a plane as far above us as we are above savagery,” what does it mean that so much recent sci-fi has been taking place on a plane that’s relatively proximate to ours?
Making Uber / Bike-sharing schemes / Public transport integrate more fluidly is a massive opportunity. Something I am particularly interested in.
“Yes. Exactly!” That was the point: it failed because it couldn’t integrate into existing systems. It was ahead of its time, but also outside of its time. Hyperloop Tech has to be wary of falling into the same trap.
Yes, there are boundless riches being thrown at new dining concepts. And yes, new restaurants keep opening—in numbers that are “the highest we’ve seen in 10, 20 years,” says Doug Washington, a partner in San Francisco’s Stock & Bones restaurant group. But there’s also the sense that we’re due for, if not an outright restaurant rapture, what Robert Wright, general manager of Octavia and Frances, terms “a culling of the herd.” The numbers aren’t adding up, particularly for traditional, service-intensive, mid-priced-restaurants. “Absolutely, people are worried,” the GGRA’s Borden says. “Everyone is looking around, wondering who it’s going to be. There is going to be a correction in the market at some point. It’s just not sustainable at this level.”
Has San Francisco reached Peak Restaurant? Leary laughs at the question. “I think we’re a little past it,” he says. “Peak Restaurant was last year.”
Fantastic article. Shame it also makes clear that this playbook can't be repeated given the likelihood of a more conservative funding environment.
A rational competitor would have bought speed alone — buy as many users as you can as long as CAC is less than LTV. It’s the prudent (but wrong) thing to do in this case. The problem is that this strategy only works if the other competitors do the same. And Uber didn’t just buy users, they bought a network. It cost an order of magnitude more, but is worth infinitely more in a winner-take-all or winner-take-most space. It’s the difference between finance thinking and system thinking.
Uber used money as a weapon not as a tool.
Very intelligent, market-based policy proposal to counteract opposition to development.
Clever policy, however, can help balance the concerns of NIMBYs with the broad benefits of growth in productive places. One approach is simply to neutralise local opposition to development by compensating neighbours for the costs they bear when new construction is approved—to bribe, them, in effect. David Schleicher, a professor of land-use law at Yale Law School, has proposed the use of “tax increment local transfers”, or TILTs. New buildings normally generate extra property-tax revenue for the city once they have been completed. Some portion of the expected rise in the tax take associated with a proposed new development (the tax increment) could be promised to nearby residents in the form of a temporary property-tax rebate, scheduled to last ten years, say, if the development went ahead. As Mr Schleicher notes, TILTs would enhance the signalling value of local opposition to new projects: residents who fight against a proposed development despite the prospect of direct financial gain from it are more likely to have reservations worth addressing.
A theory in which rising inequality eventually triggers countervailing social dislocations feels intuitively right, but it also leaves many important questions unanswered. When is war, rather than revolution, the probable outcome of inequality? Are governments at the mercy of the cycle, or can they act pre-emptively to flatten out the waves and avoid crises of high inequality?
You soon see how privilege can exert influence in goal-driven behaviours. In this light, the notion that hard work and passion are all that is necessary for success begins to seem woefully naïve. In almost every case, but particularly where slack is in short supply, it’s advisable to plan for a setback. ‘It’s important to plan in advance to fail,’ do Vale told me. ‘Perhaps we should call failure something different – a moment of indulgence, a moment of rest, a saving of willpower.’
Phenomenal insight into Obama's worldview.
Like Mr. Musk, Mr. Bezos talks about Blue Origin less as a business than as part of a glorious future for humanity, with millions of people living and working off the planet. It is also a path, he asserted, that humanity must pursue if it is to continue to prosper.
His argument was simple: Energy consumption has been rising at 2 or 3 percent a year. Even at that modest rate, within a few centuries, the energy usage would be equal to the energy produced by high-efficiency solar cells covering the entire surface of the planet. “We’ll be using all of the solar energy that impacts the Earth,” he said. “That’s an actual limit.”
But there is much energy and raw materials to use elsewhere in the solar system, and eventually, he prophesies, there will be the “great inversion.” Instead of factories on Earth manufacturing sophisticated components that go into tiny machines that go into space, the heavy manufacturing will all be done elsewhere, and Earth, he joked, would be zoned for residential and light industrial use, allowing much of Earth to return to a more natural state. “It’ll be universities and houses and so on,” he said.
The Yin and the Yang of culture subversion and appropriation is perfectly encapsulated in this article - and it offers the best description of gentrification I have seen to date. I'm recommending this after reading it for a second time, and it is just as fresh today as 6 months ago.
The construct of the ‘good hacker’ has paid off in unexpected ways, because in our computerised world we have also seen the emergence of a huge, aggressively competitive technology industry with a serious innovation obsession. This is the realm of startups, venture capitalists, and shiny corporate research and development departments. And, it is here, in subcultures such as Silicon Valley, that we find a rebel spirit succumbing to perhaps the only force that could destroy it: gentrification.
Short answer: Yes. There is literally no downside to implementing a revenue neutral carbon tax, if implemented broadly.
Great profile on Mr. Money Mustache. While I will never be as extreme as he, I do find inspiration in the idea of saving a disproportionate percentage of disposable income and not becoming restricted by golden handcuffs.
In the grand scheme, Adeney’s idea of deprivation is secular and mild. “I’m pro-gentrification,” he told me. “If people say the world isn’t getting better, they haven’t looked at the beer aisle recently.”
Specifically, as you go through your 30s, you will make four major commitments, and your life depends on how you do with these four things.
First, a commitment to your spouse and to your family. Second, a commitment to a career and a vocation. Third, a commitment to your faith or philosophy. Fourth, a commitment to a community and a village.
Impossible to wrap my head around how big China is until something like this puts it in context. I'm just waiting for them to buy Lyft and witness this global ride sharing battle play out in the US as it is in China!
Last year it arranged 1.4 billion rides in China, more than Uber has done worldwide in its history.
Great piece that talks about Obama's accomplishments and how vastly underrated they are in enacting real change. I've been an unwavering fan of the President's, and he will definitely be viewed upon more positively from an historical perspective than he is today. Unfortunately, the outcome of the 2016 will hold massive repercussions for Obama's ultimate legacy, which is why I think it would be better for Hillary to win the Democratic nomination (as the more favorable candidate to win the general election) than Bernie, despite agreeing with Bernie on more issues than any other candidate.
The prevailing media narrative of his era has been all about Washington paralysis, but the prevailing historical narrative is much likelier to focus on social and economic change, for better or for worse. For those of us who follow policy and politics in real time, that gap between perception and reality in the Obama era ought to be a BFD.
The Economist nails this analysis of how to build a vibrant 21st Century city in typical fashion.
To drink in the pubs of its medieval old town is to mix with angel investors, Nobel prize-winning scientists and professors plotting their next startup with PhD students. A can-do spirit floats in the dank Fen air.
My good friend Ian really knows how to capture the essence of an idea, here the idea of reflecting and re-reflecting on good advice. Not only that, but the good advice he reflects on is remarkable itself. Wonderful writing.
After revisiting this letter, one section of Thompson’s response struck me again, and demanded to be recorded for safe-keeping
Sweet, simple and effective.
My first introduction to Asimov - a perfect short piece that demonstrates why he is regarded as the best sci-fi writer of all time.
Highly unconventional yet ingenious way of looking at water. Danco lays a framework for a future we can all hope comes to fruition - read this and then re-read it.