Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Sustainability

Five Forms of Retreat

In the Roman Empire, during the Crisis of the 3rd Century, everything began falling apart. The army was swapping emperors out left and right, and the political system could no longer generate the legitimacy or stability that had prevailed in the two centuries prior. Chunks of the empire lost faith in the ability of the central authority to restore order, and began looking to their own defences. It was bleak:

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What’s Going on with the Dakota Access Pipeline?

There are protests in North Dakota over the half-complete Dakota Access Pipeline. The plan is for the DAP to carry 400,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to existing pipeline infrastructure in Illinois. This is about half the capacity of the larger Keystone XL Pipeline, which President Obama cancelled in response to protests from environmental groups. While Keystone was planned to transport Canadian shale oil, the DAP is a domestic pipeline transporting American¬†fracking oil. Because it is a domestic pipeline, regulatory standards are not as high for the DAP, and this has made it easier for the pipeline to secure the relevant permits. While there has been some media coverage, the DAP protests have been pushed to the periphery of the American political agenda by the US presidential race, which has at this point devolved entirely into horse race reporting–who is winning, why they are winning, what the loser needs to do to turn things around, etc.–with no serious policy emphasis. This does the issue a disservice, so I’d like to take a closer look at it.

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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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Fight Climate Change with Tax Cuts

A few days ago, I wrote a rather depressing post about climate change. There was, I concluded, very little that can be done to reduce emissions short of a comprehensive international treaty (which the signatories actually abide by) or the creation of a superstate to enforce strict emission regulations. Then yesterday, I had this idea. We can actually help business and fight climate change simultaneously. Here’s how.

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Keystone Pipeline: To Build or Not to Build

An interesting new report is out from the US state department about the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed oil pipeline running from Canada’s tar sands to the United States. Key to the report is this line in particular:

Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development of the tar sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.

This may have some interesting implications for the question of whether or not the pipeline ought to be built. Let’s discuss them.

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