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14 February 2021
Elizabeth Kolbert’s third book is now out! Under a White Sky is “a book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems.” These problems are environmental problems – they are instances of nature becoming less natural. As humans build cities and plant crops and make waste, we alter the world we live on, the ecology we live within. In Kolbert’s previous book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning …
25 March 2020
Humanity faces a crisis today, and we struggle to find the right way to deal with it, to solve it, to live meaningfully within the constraints it imposes. You might think I’m referring to coronavirus, but it’s actually climate change that’s on my mind. Hope Jahren, author of the incandescent Lab Girl, has a new volume out, on the unsustainability of modern Western life, and what actions we can take …
8 May 2019
A book review of one of the runners-up for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction: Elizabeth Rush’s chronicle of modern sea level rise.
25 March 2019
I’ve been fortunate lately to get to meet and interact with Phil Torres, independent scholar of existential risks. At my prompting, Phil came to a GSW meeting where Peter Brannen was talking about mass extinctions, and later he came to my class to talk to my Historical Geology students at NOVA about risks humanity faces. I figured it was about time I read his books, and now I can report …
7 June 2017
I have some questions for you. You answers determine whether you’re ready to begin talking about climate policy. Do you believe that carbon atoms exist? Do you believe that carbon can bond to oxygen? Do you believe that the bonding of carbon to oxygen is an exothermic reaction? Do you believe that exothermic reactions make heat? Do you believe that heat can be used to boil water? Do you believe …
27 April 2017
A quick exercise in deconstructing the argument of a “elevated CO2 is good” video on YouTube by identifying its logical fallacies. Pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn, and join us in the critique!
8 March 2017
Who are “the 3%?” A reader question prompts a conversation with “Skeptical Science” guru and cognitive scientist John Cook.
24 December 2016
It’s bonfire season here in the Fort Valley. I live in a forest, and that forest is full of dead and downed wood. Motivated by a desire to (a) reduce forest fire risk and (b) clear out some of the area under the trees for unobstructed recreation, I gather it up and periodically burn it off in batches. We time these blazes to the weather – before or after after …
23 November 2016
Yesterday, I mentioned climate change visualizer extraordinaire Zack Labe. As delineated then, he’s a PhD student at U.C. – Irvine in the Earth Systems Science department. He’s producing some really excellent #dataviz on climate change. Today, I’d like to share a short exchange I had with Zack about his work. 1) Please give Mountain Beltway readers a sense of your background, leading up to what you’re working on …
22 November 2016
The amount of sea ice on planet Earth is much, much lower than ever recorded at this time of year. Will this anomaly turn out to be a relatively minor “weather” event? Or is this what a sea ice tipping point looks like?