To make batteries for EVs, companies need to mine and refine large amounts of nickel. The process of getting the mineral out of the ground and turning it into battery-ready substances, though, is particularly environmentally unfriendly. Reaching the nickel means cutting down swaths of rainforest. Refining it is a carbon-intensive process that involves extreme heat and high pressure, producing waste slurry that’s hard to dispose of.The nickel issue reflects a larger contradiction within the EV industry: Though electric vehicles are designed to be less damaging to the environment in the long term than conventional cars, the process of building them carries substantial environmental harm.The challenge is playing out across Indonesia’s mineral-rich islands, by far the world’s largest source of nickel. These deposits aren’t deep underground but lie close to the surface, under stretches of overlapping forests. Getting to the nickel is easy and inexpensive, but only after the forests are cleared (see the picture, above).
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Friday, September 22, 2023
Newton’s laws of motion relate an object’s motion to the forces acting on it. In the first law, an object will not change its motion unless a force acts on it.
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Speaker, Counter-Cultural Intellectual, Author
Charles Eisenstein is a public speaker, counter-cultural intellectual, and the author of several books including The Ascent of Humanity, Sacred Economics, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, and Climate: A New Story.
His on-line writings have generated a vast following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events, and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts.
Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, and spent the next ten years as a Chinese-English translator.
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
The allegations in the indictment of Donald Trump for conspiring to overturn the election of 2020 represent the American Founders’ nightmare. A key concern of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton was that demagogues would incite mobs and factions to defy the rule of law, overturn free and fair elections and undermine American democracy. “The only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1790. “When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper…is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity,” Hamilton warned, “he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”The Founders designed a constitutional system to prevent demagogues from sowing confusion and mob violence in precisely this way. The vast extent of the country, Madison said, would make it hard for local factions to coordinate any kind of mass mobilization. The horizontal separation of powers among the three branches of government would ensure that the House impeached and the Senate convicted corrupt presidents. The vertical division of powers between the states and the federal government would ensure that local officials ensured election integrity (emphasis added).
Monday, September 18, 2023
This story begins in the 1960s, when high school grads had to go off to fight in Vietnam but the children of the educated class got college deferments. It continues in the 1970s, when the authorities imposed busing on working-class areas in Boston but not on the upscale communities like Wellesley where they themselves lived.The ideal that "we’re all in this together" was replaced with the reality that the educated class lives in a world up here and everybody else is forced into a world down there. Members of our class are always publicly speaking out for the marginalized, but somehow we always end up building systems that serve ourselves.The most important of those systems is the modern meritocracy. We built an entire social order that sorts and excludes people on the basis of the quality that we possess most: academic achievement. Highly educated parents go to elite schools, marry each other, work at high-paying professional jobs and pour enormous resources into our children, who get into the same elite schools, marry each other and pass their exclusive class privileges down from generation to generation.
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Saturday, September 16, 2023
Hey, who knows? It could be the Gulf Stream collapsing or the planet eternally breaking heat records. But whatever the specifics, we're living it right now, not in the next century, the next decade, or even next year. You couldn't miss it -- at least so you might think -- if you were living in the sweltering Southwest; especially in broiling, record-setting Phoenix with 30 straight days of temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit; or in flaming Greece or western China on the day the temperature hit 126 degrees Fahrenheit or sweltering, blazing Algeria when the temperature reached an almost unimaginable 135 (yes, 135!) degrees Fahrenheit; not to speak of broiling Canada with its more than 1,000 fires now burning (a figure that still seems to be rising by the week) and its 29 million acres already flamed out; and don't forget Italy's 1,400 fires; or Florida's hot-tub-style seawater, which recently hit an unheard-of 101-plus degrees Fahrenheit. And though I'm still writing this as the month is ending, July is more or less guaranteed to set the record for the hottest month in history. And don't assume that "record" will stand for long, either.
Who even remembers that this June was the hottest since records have been kept or that July 6th was the hottest day in recorded history (and July 3rd through 6th, the hottest four days ever)? And don't be surprised if 2023 ends up setting a record for the hottest year or assume that such a record will last long on a planet where the previous eight years were the warmest ever. And if I'm already boring you, then one thing is guaranteed: you're going to be bored out of your mind in the years to come.
What to do?
1. Birth control, sterilization, and abortion should be free and readily available globally. Yes, even in Texas.
2. ALL Nations should decommission nuclear power plants immediately. They cannot be operated safely in a normal climate, even less so in a smouldering climate.
3. All militaries and their weapons of mass destruction should be immediately repurposed and decommissioned as well. Same reason as for nuke plants above.
4. The IPCC scientists should be publicly horsewhipped for minimizing the climate crisis since Reagan (Ronnie Raygun). Even though that was the purpose of their creation-to minimize the crisis, & defuse any positive climate activism. Thank you Heartland Institute for helping to murder the planet. Kevin Hester explains that in detail. https://kevinhester.live/2021/09/06/its-time-to-acknowledge-the-spectacular-success-of-the-ipcc/.
5. Any and all pseudo “Green” and “sustainable” energies should be called out for their lies and misinformation. Electric cars, solar and wind, hydroelectric, nuclear, are all NOT green, nor sustainable. They all require MASSIVE amounts of fossil fuels, mining, transportation, and a secure grid-tied infrastructure. Few nations have that, and the US especially lacks a secure infrastructure of any kind. Thanks Heartland Institute for helping to ruin our infrastructure with your greed-based, inhumane policies.
6. Finally, as we (most of us) recognize the existential crisis we are facing, billionaires should be banned from speaking, or having any public presence, or holding public office. There should be no billionaires to begin with, that is an obscenity of capitalism and has led to the destruction of our only home. They are welcome to leave and go to Mars. Today is good.
7. Societal changes:
All humans must be treated with dignity and compassion as we begin to exit this existence. This is simple. Basic needs met for all: housing, food, medical care, safety. We MUST end the houseless/homeless crisis in the US. We MUST provide universal healthcare for all. We MUST ensure our poorest have a basic living income. We MUST have sane gun control in the US (like other nations do) to ensure safe neighborhoods, schools, parks, and shopping areas.
Friday, September 15, 2023
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Viral moments are the coin of the realm in today’s politics, and this topic delivers. Earlier this year, when Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) repeatedly (and accurately) accused Republicans of trafficking in great replacement theory, they spluttered with outrage, leading to widespread media coverage. Taking on GOP “invasion” mania entails making a number of points. One is that as official conduct goes, it’s profoundly deranged to use such terms to describe human beings who are fleeing humanitarian horrors and just want to contribute to our productive economic system (emphasis added).
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
According to the "Liology Institute," liology is "the practice of experiencing life in an integrated, embodied and connected manner." That approach to understanding what our life is really all about is the theme of a recent essay by Jeremy Lent. "Liology" is also the name of Jeremy Lent's newsletter. You can sign up for free.
Many critiques have already been written about the dangerously disruptive potential of advanced AI on a world fraying at the seams: the risk of deep fakes and automated bots polarizing society even further; personalized AI assistants exploiting people for profit and exacerbating the epidemic of social isolation; and greater centralization of power to a few mega-corporations, to name but a few of the primary issues.
But even beyond these serious concerns, prominent AI experts are warning that an advanced artificial general intelligence is likely to represent a grave threat, not just to human civilization, but to the very existence of humanity and the continuation of life on Earth.
In my piece, I argue that to counter that existential risk, and potentially redirect our civilization’s trajectory away from its burgeoning metacrisis, we need a more integrated understanding of the nature of human intelligence and the fundamental requirements for human flourishing.
Monday, September 11, 2023
There is [a] kind of conduct that in my experience can give one the strength to carry on in turbulent atmospheric conditions; even to thrive in the most discouraging historic circumstances, as now. I’m thinking of self-enrichment — not financial but let’s call it cultural or intellectual or experiential self-development as both a means of flowering and of fortitude, and as an end in itself.
Self-enrichment is an antidote to despair
By Stephen Kessler
Kindness, generosity, altruism, good works and volunteering never go out of style. Selfishness, belligerence, ruthlessness, vanity and corruption have unfortunately proved through the centuries to be endemic to the human condition (in Western civilization at least). The quest for self-improvement — spiritual, physical, professional, athletic, artistic — is a perennial theme of personal growth. The instinct to seek better conditions is what drives migrants to pursue the prospect of new lives in countries far from home. All these human traits and behaviors are evident almost everywhere at all times.
There is another kind of conduct that in my experience can give one the strength to carry on in turbulent atmospheric conditions; even to thrive in the most discouraging historic circumstances, as now. I’m thinking of self-enrichment — not financial but let’s call it cultural or intellectual or experiential self-development as both a means of flowering and of fortitude, and as an end in itself.
Self-indulgence gets a bad rap. We indulge ourselves when we commit ourselves to doing what we love. We lose ourselves in the act of engagement, and with luck the result is something useful or beautiful whose existence improves things in some small way. But it is in the process that we are enriched by our absolute engagement with the task, whether writing a poem or drafting a business plan, composing a symphony or designing a home, building a cabinet or cooking dinner. We are learning as we go; we are building experience and sharpening our skills; we are finding pleasure by solving problems. This is the kind of self-indulgence that benefits more than ourselves.
And let’s hear it for narcissism, whose original meaning has been perverted in its appropriation by clinicians to describe a certain kind of personality disorder, and in its contamination by sociopathic individuals who give it a bad name with their bad behavior. I’ve written before of the myth of Narcissus, a beautiful youth whose arrogance is softened by the sight of his own reflection. Although he drowns mistaking himself for another — which is also a parable of the hazards of infatuation — he is saved from a lifetime of meanness and is immortalized as a flower. Today’s pathological narcissists are unable to see themselves in the other, or can see themselves only in the reflection of others’ admiration. They never soften into empathy and can only be gratified at others’ expense.
When I think about what we’re in for in the coming months and years of extreme weather, endless wars, economic turmoil, legal drama, political chaos, social agitation and psychic pain, and wonder what I can do about it, the best thing I can think of is to live as if every minute counts as a chance to do something of value and to appreciate each moment of grace I’m afforded, or can create. In my line of work that has mostly involved using my practice as a reader and writer to enrich myself with tradition and try to transmit that richness in some form that may be of use to others — you, for example — either by revealing something you never thought of before in quite that way or raising uncomfortable questions that cause you to rethink your assumptions or simply providing a bit of interesting entertainment, as I can’t solve anyone else’s problems, change public policy or change the world.
Self-enrichment, for me (and it’s obviously different for different individuals), has come in the form of studying and writing about some artist or author, or gardening, or indulging myself in the pleasures of live music or in conversation with accomplished people from whom I can learn something new. The inspiration I feel, or strength I gain, or delight I take in and from such experience makes me feel less bad about the bad news in the media and gives me the courage to continue without illusions but with an affirmative sense of the present moment and the promise of the possible.