Liked The Swerve (Locus)

The swerve is our hopeful future. Our happy ending isn’t averting the disas­ter. Our happy ending is surviving the disaster. Managed retreat. Emergency measures.

In the swerve, we’ll still have refugee crises, but we’ll address them hu­manely, rather than building gulags and guard-towers.

We’ll still have wildfires, but we’ll evacuate cities ahead of them, and we’ll commit billions to controlled burns.

We’ll still have floods, but we’ll relocate our cities out of floodplains.

Liked Will These Be the Last Polar Bears on Earth? by Ed Yong (

The last surviving member of a species—the individual whose death brings extinction—is called an endling. Those individuals can sometimes be identified, even named. Many more of them live and die unseen. For example, archaeological evidence shows that the woolly mammoth endling lived about 4,000 years ago on Wrangel Island, 87 miles off the coast of Siberia. Mammoths survived there for millennia after the rest of their kind were wiped out by changing climate and human hunters. But eventually, through some combination of factors, including extreme weather events and harmful mutations acquired through heavy inbreeding, they also perished. I thought about them as I listened to Kristin Laidre talking about polar bears.

Bookmarked The Alien Invasion of Antarctica Is Only Just Beginning by Jackson Ryan (CNET)

Stopping an invasion before it begins seems to be the best form of mitigation, but is it impossible? Everywhere humans have stepped foot, we’ve carried aliens with us. The Antarctic is a special place with formidable barriers, but it isn’t immune.

“We’ve been lucky so far,” says Bergstrom, the ecologist from the Australian Antarctic Division. “But it won’t stay that way.”

Bookmarked The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future (

While no solution is a panacea, I believe that some of the components of a new global food system – one that is more resilient, more distributed, more diverse and more sustainable – are falling into place. If it happens, it will be built on our new knowledge of the most neglected of major ecosystems: the soil. It could resolve the greatest of all dilemmas: how to feed ourselves without destroying the living systems on which we depend. The future is underground.

In an extract from Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet, George Monbiot discusses the world beneath our feet and the possible futures for farming. He talks about the paradoxical effect of fertilising to maximise growth in regards to quality of soils.

Soil is fractally scaled, which means its structure is consistent, regardless of magnification. Bacteria, fungi, plants and soil animals, working unconsciously together, build an immeasurably intricate, endlessly ramifying architecture that, like Dust in a Philip Pullman novel, organises itself spontaneously into coherent worlds. This biological structure helps to explain soil’s resistance to droughts and floods: if it were just a heap of matter, it would be swept away.

It also reveals why soil can break down so quickly when it’s farmed. Under certain conditions, when farmers apply nitrogen fertiliser, the microbes respond by burning through the carbon: in other words, the cement that holds their catacombs together. The pores cave in. The passages collapse. The soil becomes sodden, airless and compacted.

Associated with this, Monbiot speaks with those farmers responding to the challenges of global warming and soil erosion by walking away from fertilisers and annuals and instead returning to nature and perenials. For example, Iain Tolhurst has developed what he calls ‘stockfree organic’, a trial and error method of mixing different plants to maintain the nutrients and soil fertility.

Tolly’s success forces us to consider what fertility means. It’s not just about the amount of nutrients the soil contains. It’s also a function of whether they’re available to plants at the right moments, and safely immobilised when plants don’t need them. In a healthy soil, crops can regulate their relationships with bacteria in the rhizosphere, ensuring that nutrients are unlocked only when they’re required. In other words, fertility is a property of a functioning ecosystem. Farm science has devoted plenty of attention to soil chemistry. But the more we understand, the more important the biology appears to be.

Monbiot also discusses this on the Today In Focus podcast, which includes further elaboration on precision fermentation, the production of protein and fat in breweries from soil bacteria, fed on water, hydrogen, CO2 and minerals.

This reminds me of discussions of permaculture and the act of letting nature do its thing. I guess it also offers the next step.

Bookmarked Climate Game (

This game was created by the Financial Times. It is based on real science and reporting — however, it is a game, not a perfect simulation of the future.
The emissions modelling was developed in 2022 by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The scenarios used in the IEA’s “Net Zero by 2050” report were recalculated to track the temperature outcomes for specific pathways used in the game.
These climate outcomes were calculated using the IEA’s World Energy Model (WEM) and Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) model coupled with the MAGICC v7+ climate model.
MAGICC stands for Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change and is used by scientists and integrated assessment models.

Financial Times have created a game based on published scientific research and bespoke modelling by the International Energy Agency to get users to appreciate the challenges required to keep global warming to 1.5C. Along with other stimulus, such as The Ministry for the Future, the Climate Game is a thought provoking exercise and helpful in imagining a different tomorrow.
Watched 2021 American comedy disaster film from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Don’t Look Up is a 2021 American apocalyptic black comedy film written, produced, and directed by Adam McKay, and starring an ensemble cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep. It tells the story of two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization. The impact event is an allegory for climate change, and the film is a satire of government, political, celebrity, and media indifference to the climate crisis.[6][7]

I finally got around to watching Don’t Look Up. I remember it receiving a lot of criticism when it was released. I kind of wonder if all this discussion, even though a lot of it seemed critical, was positive in that it got people talking about the subject of global warming? For me, there were some aspects that were really quite absurd. But as the quote from Peter Goldsworthy’s novel ‘Maestro’ goes, “Cartoon descriptions? How else to describe a cartoon world?” In the end, I think George Monbiot captured it best:

While the film is fast and funny, for me, as for many environmental activists and climate scientists, it seemed all too real. I felt as if I were watching my adult life flash past me. As the scientists in the film, trying to draw attention to the approach of a planet-killing comet, bashed their heads against the Great Wall of Denial erected by the media and sought to reach politicians with 10-second attention spans, all the anger and frustration and desperation I’ve felt over the years boiled over.

Joshua Yaffa explores the dilemmas assocaited with the thawing of the Siberian permafrost. One of the issues is that once the process starts, nature takes over, pushing it forward.

“The problem is, you can’t just turn off, let alone reverse, permafrost thaw,” Natali said. At a certain point, nature takes over. Even the most forward-thinking legislature in the world can’t pass a law banning emissions from permafrost. As Natali put it, “It won’t be possible to refreeze the ground and have it go back to how it was.”

In addition to the release of carbon dioxide, the thawing releases ancient organism, such as the bdelloid rotifer.

Permafrost thaw has brought to the surface all sorts of mysteries from millennia past. In 2015, scientists from a Russian biology institute in Pushchino, a Soviet-era research cluster outside Moscow, extracted a sample of yedoma from a borehole in Yakutia. Back at their lab, they placed the piece of frozen sediment in a sterilized culture box. A month later, a microscopic, wormlike invertebrate known as a bdelloid rotifer was crawling around inside. Radiocarbon dating revealed the rotifer to be twenty-four thousand years old.

One answer to limit the thaw is to bring back bring back mammals to return nature to order:

During the Pleistocene era, the Arctic was covered by grassy steppe, which acted as a natural buffer for the permafrost. The mammals that roamed this lost savanna depended on it for food and also perpetuated its existence. Zimov wants to re-create that ecosystem. “We must return nature to order,” he said. “It will then take care of the climate.”

The theory rests on the warming effect of snow. As Zimov explained, there isn’t much hope of quickly cooling air temperatures. But lessening the snow cover during the winter would allow more cold air to reach the permafrost.

Liked Climate change could take your lawn, so here’s how to future-proof your garden by Smriti Daniel (ABC News)

His advice for climate proofing your garden?

“Really look at designing the garden for extreme heat” – and begin with carefully considering your choice of plants.

“A garden is not a hospital, it’s not there to plant plants that need to be tended or are delicate or need to be mothered along.”

Liked Why carbon taxes really work (Tim Harford)

It seems like a huge leap to decarbonise the world economy, but it is better understood as a trillion tiny steps. From frugal shopping to efficient logistics to renewable sources of electricity, carbon taxes gently steer us towards the greener solution every time, whether we are racked with guilt or blithely unconcerned. They should be at the centre of our fight against climate change.

Liked Hints of New Life in the Shadows of Venezuela’s Last Glacier by Jonathan Moens (WIRED)

“We can use the glacier as a ‘time machine,’” says Luis Daniel Llambí, an ecologist at the University of the Andes and the Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion, who coordinated the research expedition. “As you move away from the glacier, you’re traveling into the past.”

Bookmarked Powerful, local stories can inspire us to take action on climate change (Conversation)

We need to rethink the way we communicate climate change. The best tool at our disposal is a simple one: storytelling. Stories have the power to transform complex subject matters into something that feels personal, local, relatable and solvable.

But stories about the climate crisis – for example, about how people are responding in real time and making a difference – are still few and far between.

That needs to change.

Kamyar Razavi talks about the importance of giving flesh to the facts when it comes to global warming. Although fear can be a useful tool for mobilising people, storytelling helps with engaging at a more personal level.

As journalist Dan Gardner succinctly puts it, the challenge for science communicators is to “help System 1 feel what System 2 calculates” — to make climate change feel personal, relatable and local.

This has me thinking about Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel The Ministry for the Future and the celebration of the all the different projects occurring around the world:

We are all here together to share what we are doing, to see each other, and to tell you our stories. We are already out there working hard, everywhere around this Earth. Healing the Earth is our sacred work, our duty to the seven generations. There are many more projects like ours already in existence, look us up on your YourLock account and see, maybe support us, maybe join us. You will find us out there already, now, and then you must also realize we are only about one percent of all the projects out there doing good things. And more still are waiting to be born. Come in, talk to us. Listen to our stories. See where you can help. Build your own project. You will love it as we do. There is no other world.Page 443

Liked I’m not flying any more | Open Thinkering by Doug Belshaw (Open Thinkering | Doug Belshaw’s blog)

There is one exception to this decision: health emergencies. If a friend or family member is seriously ill, I will take the fastest form of transport to go and see them. Likewise, if I am seriously ill and need help in a specific place, I will consider flying for treatment.

Other than that, I’m done. I’m writing this mainly to point to for those who may ask me in future to attend an event that would have only really been feasible for me to fly to.


Interesting listening to Greta Thunberg after reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future.
Watched Degrees of Uncertainty – A documentary about climate change and public trust in science by Neil Halloran from

A data-driven documentary about Neil Halloran.

As Neil Halloran dives into the world of hard and soft science and askes the question, “when can we be sure enough?” He suggests that we need to be sceptical in order to develop a larger picture of truth. With this in mind, he traces the data and differences associated with global warming, before suggesting that we can be sure enough to say that drastic change is needed. In addition to the captivating narrative, Halloran also provides interactive moments for the skeptical viewer to take their own dive into the evidence and research.

In a separate piece of data journalism, the team at the ABC News Story Lab provide a take on acting now and how this buys us more time later.

So the transition is coming, but if Australia sits on its hands for five years it will waste the best chance it has to create the industries that could turn it into an energy superpower.

If you live in a part of Australia that’s reliant on fossil fuel jobs, it is easy to see the appeal of the message “we can’t turn things off tomorrow”. But if we keep following that thinking, tomorrow won’t be in 2050 — it will be just around the corner.

Liked Humanity Causes a Greater Impact Than Volcano Eruptions by Andri Snær Magnason (

Beneath all we do, a fire is blazing; traffic advances like glowing lava. If we divide the 100 million tons of carbon dioxide that humans emit every single day by the 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide that our volcano emitted, we get the devilish number 666. The emissions of Earth’s inhabitants are like 666 Eyjafjallajökull eruptions, day and night, all year round. If we convert U.S. emissions into volcanic eruptions, nearly 100 volcanos like Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull erupt every day, every night.

Liked Fossils in a Forgotten Ice Core Rewrite Greenland’s Icy Past by Gemma Tarlach (WIRED)

Researchers had long thought that Greenland’s ice sheet, more than 2 miles thick in places, was essentially permanent and had blanketed the island for more than 2 million years. The subglacial sample confirms the massive ice sheet can probably melt far more easily than most models suggest, which would dump enough water into the oceans to raise sea levels by up to 20 feet, all but wiping major cities like London and Boston off the map.

Liked COVID was bad for the climate by Ryan BarrettRyan Barrett (

This decrease is “just a tiny blip on the long term graph.” To keep global warming under 2°C, we’d need sustained emissions reductions in this range every year for the next 20-30 years. The pandemic has been hugely disruptive, but it’s still temporary, and all signs point to a strong recovery. The drop in emissions was largely caused by lockdown, not persistent structural changes that will persist for decades to come.

Replied to How ‘Sustainable’ Web Design Can Help Fight Climate Change (Wired)

But even if small design tweaks don’t zero out the belching emissions of movies or bitcoin, they are still worth talking about. It’s good to shine a spotlight on the CO2 footprint of our daily software—it makes the value of lower-energy code feel tangible. Imagine if websites ditched their tracking bloatware and ran badges boasting about their spiffier performance and lower carbon footprint. Competitors would be green-with envy.

Clive, this discussion of sustainable reminds me of Mike Monteiro’s book on the difficult choices associated with ethical web design:

If the lessons in this book seem hard, it’s because they are meant to be. If the job I’m asking you to do seems difficult, it’s because it is. Hard and difficult aren’t the same as impossible. When it comes down to it, all I’m asking you to do is the job you signed up for.

It also reminds me Greg McVerry’s question critique of responding with a gif:

Do you really need that gif? If we think climate and energy think can I get my message across in text? Each gif uploaded and converted to movie? How much more energy is worth the engagement when the Arctic seacap is melting? #digped