Culture & Ethics

Gifts We Receive Daily

Our everyday gifts: a livable climate, clean water and air, and biodiversity.

This is a time of year when by religious tradition or secular custom, many people exchange gifts. It’s worth remembering that we also reach receive daily gifts in the form of what economists call public goods. I thought it might be worth reposting some Holiday Season musings on that subject. After all, the holiday season …

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Uncovering the Origins of False Claims in the Solar Geoengineering Discourse

ISO, the International Organization for Standardization

The story behind a recent news article reveals how activist groups—with the media’s help—cause misleading and false assertions to arise, persist, and spread.

Originally posted at Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program. Much of my work concerns solar geoengineering, a set of proposals to block or reflect a small portion of incoming sunlight in order to reduce global warming. Unfortunately, the discourse is rife with specious, misrepresented, and outright false statements – many of which are consistent with intuition – …

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Governing New Biotechnologies for Biodiversity Conservation

Cover of "Genetic frontiers for conservation" from the IUCN

The fourth in a series examines how international institutions have responded

The previous two posts in this series described how and why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be introduced into wild populations, either “typically” modified ones that would transmit their altered genes ineffectively or those with “gene drives” whose changes would quickly propagate through the entire population. In both cases, their potential applications include helping conserve …

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The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene

The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene

My book is now available!

I interrupt my ongoing blog series on new biotechnologies and their governance (1, 2, 3) to announce that my book The Governance of Solar Geoengineering Managing: Climate Change in the Anthropocene is available today from Cambridge University Press. The brief description is: Climate change is among the world’s most important problems, and solutions based on …

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Economists vs. Environmentalists: Time for Deténte?

You don’t have to love economics to see it as a possible ally.

Cost-benefit analysis has long been the target of environmentalist ire.  But one lesson of the Trump years has been that economic analysis can be a source of support for environmental policy — it is the anti-regulatory forces who have to fudge the numbers to justify their actions.  Most energy and environmental economists are aghast at …

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What DO You Call Someone Who Rides a Scooter?

The Dangers Of Pigeonholing

  Meredith’s now-classic post on scooters buried within it a crucial question: what do you call someone who rides a scooter? Meredith herself suggested “scooterist” or “scooter-rider.” The hard-working staff here at Legal Planet fiercely debated the issue. I originally thought that the name for someone who rides a “scooter” is…”scooter.” The point is that …

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Not Quite The Analogy We Wanted

Kurt Vonnegut and Seeming Futility

My rapidly accelerating senility means that I have to catch up on reading I should have done when I was younger. So I just started Kurt Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse Five. And right at the beginning, this exchange jumped out at me. The protagonist tells a big Hollywood producer that he is thinking about writing a …

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The 2019 Oscars Has a Climate Change Contender

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed nominated for best original screenplay  

Clear your calendar and prepare your popcorn – the 2019 Oscars will be awarded on Sunday night. This year climate change has a contender, and no, it’s not An Inconvenient Sequel. In the category of original screenplay, Paul Schrader has been nominated for First Reformed, a contemporary tale about the struggles of a priest in …

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The Carbon Emission Upanishad

Can Pseudoscience Be Used To Foster Climate Action?

The new issue of Science has a disturbing but unsurprising report on science under India’s Hindu nationalist government: The most widely discussed talk at the Indian Science Congress, a government-funded annual jamboree held in Jalandhar in January, wasn’t about space exploration or information technology, areas in which India has made rapid progress. Instead, the talk …

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Your Religion and Science Post of the Day

An Important Philosophical Argument

It’s a fair point:

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