Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Global Warming

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party are the Best Choice for Canada

Canada has a federal election on October 19. Back in August, I wrote a post detailing why Stephen Harper needs to go–his austerity program and fixation on developing Canada’s mineral resources have resulted in chronic under-investment in Canadian infrastructure and social programs, and they have resulted in an unnecessary recession. But the Canadian election is a three horse race. Should Canadians choose the New Democratic Party (NDP) or the Liberal Party? Over the past month and a half, I’ve been pondering this quite a bit. Both the NDP and the liberals have interesting policy ideas, and there are good arguments to be made on both sides. But ultimately, I think that if you are going to vote in the Canadian election or know someone who is, the liberals are the better choice. Here’s why.

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Does the US/China Emissions Deal Make a Difference?

Recently the United States and China agreed to a carbon emissions reduction deal to combat global warming. Under the terms of the deal, the US agrees to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025, while China agrees to reach peak emissions by 2030, and to generate 20% of its energy with zero-emissions technology by that year. Diplomacy is notoriously difficult, and consequently any deal on climate change heartens those who watch international politics. But are these emissions reductions sufficient to avert the worst of what global warming potentially has to offer? I’m not seeing much coverage of the deal from a climate science perspective, so I decided to look into it.

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American Voters are Completely Out of Touch With Economic Experts

I recently ran across a remarkable survey of prominent US economists on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package Obama passed at the beginning of his presidency. The results are striking for two reasons–they show a clear consensus among economists that the stimulus was a success, and they completely contradict popular opinion.

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Science Gandalf: When Technology is Indistinguishable from Magic

As human technology develops, the way our gadgetry operates grows steadily less accessible to laypeople. Before the industrial revolution, it was relatively easy to understand how most human tools worked. Hammers hammer, hoes hoe, plows plow. As we’ve industrialized, we’ve begun to rely on more complicated scientific principles. Chemistry, electricity, non-Newtonian physics, computing, these things all grow steadily more important, yet only a very small portion of the population truly understands how any portion of these things operate, much less all of them. The rest of us live largely in the dark, and this has a curious effect–we increasingly blur the conceptual distinction between science and magic.

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The Firing Squad Case

Today I’d like to evaluate the firing squad case, a hypothetical scenario used in moral philosophy in an attempt to demonstrate that individuals are morally obliged not to participate in collectively harmful activities. A collectively harmful activity is an activity that is harmful, but is only in aggregate. For instance, driving your car is not individually harmful, but it is collectively harmful–while your emissions will make no difference at all to the future climate of the planet, the emissions of everyone together will make a difference. Let’s have a look at the case.

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