Drawdown – Reviewed

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global WarmingDrawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a hard read, not only due to the dense technical information but also because of the harrowing facts and the task faced by humanity. Drawdown refers to a scenario whereby we have reduced our CO2 emissions so much, that we are removing more than we produce. Negative carbon emissions. Without reading the epilogue, I corrected guessed how to use the book. See what solutions to climate change I can incorporate, into my everyday life. For me personally, I’ve started cycling more/using public transport, investing in ethical funds, growing my own vegetables (with limited success), saving water, reducing food waste (reducing Methane production) and holidaying less (mostly incidental). I have looked into home composting and may do it in the future. I think the biggest change people can make is veganism, vegetarianism or even flexitarianism.

My top/favorite solutions would be educating girls, family planning, farmland restoration, agroforestry (maximising space with more than one crop), silvopasture (integrates trees, pasture, and forage into a single system), regenerative agriculture, managed grazing, walkable cities, bamboo, protecting forests and peatlands. I picked these because of the return on relatively low investment.

And the top coming attractions:solid state wave energy (harnessing wave energy without moving parts), direct air capture, and seaweed feedstock. I’m not overly optimistic about smart highways, because of its most notorious incarnation “Solar Freakin Roadways” was a bit of a joke. Some of the others in this section are pretty farfetched too. Maybe nuclear fusion will save us all?

Some of the best facts have been as follows, Methane is up to 34 times more powerful at warming than carbon dioxide over a hundred year period. This is why in part using it as Biogas has its benefits. When considered over their lifetime, solar farms curtail 94% of carbon emissions that coal plants emit. Plus none of the harmful pollutants are emitted. It’s astonishing for how long humanity has known about anthropomorphic climate change. Alexander von Humboldt described the effects of human induced climate change in the early 19th Century.

What I especially liked about the book was how on each page, it would delve into the history of whatever was being talked about. In one section, it explains how the world shifts between ice ages. CO2 is drawn down by bacteria and other organisms eventually lowering temperatures. Over eons active volcanoes emit CO2 to gradually warm the atmosphere.

Detractors often pooh-pooh renewable energy as unreliable but as the book says, when the sun isn’t shining the wind is often blowing. A multi-faceted approach to energy needs will satisfy the grid well. Plus there are some rather ingenious approaches to power storage such as trapping heat in molten salt, raising water table heights or even mine carts. Critics will decry electric cars, on the basis of the carbon emissions required to make them but over their lifetime they save more carbon, than that that is emitted. Further, that they’re running on electricity generated from fossil fuels. Whilst that may be true, ever more energy is being generated renewabally and electric cars are 4 times more efficient than their counterparts. Electric cars produce 50% less CO2 than gasoline cars when powered from the grid, if the power comes from solar, a 95% reduction in emissions. Not to mention the lack of nitrous oxide pollution.

I didn’t know artificial geothermal even existed, in that rather than using heat from springs you can just go down farther enough and it’ll get warmer, by virtue of being closer to the core. This can provide a stable source of energy. This source isn’t without problems however. Biomass and burning waste are bridge solutions to drawdown, they’re only emitting CO2 captured recently from the atmosphere. Once a champion of Nuclear Fission, the book shows how it’s a regret solution, because of the waste it generates and how expensive it is.

Fundamentally, it comes down to money. Governments and investors seem uninterested in investing in these solutions with the same rigor as non-sustainable projects. Frustratingly, there are so many simple things governments and individuals can do but don’t, they just bury their heads in the sand. People’s attitudes are that, the most catastrophic effects of climate change will be felt by the following generations, even though effects are being felt now.

Currently neo-liberal capitalism especially and perhaps capitalism in general, is poorly equipped to deal with global emergencies such as climate change. So much of which is premised on eternal economic growth, no matter the destruction of the planet. It won’t favor a clean slightly expensive fuel source over fossil fuels (which are often heavily subsidized). Powerful lobby groups and existing infrastructure don’t help either. Even when they are on parity, renewables get a tough time. This is when governments need to step in, whose approaches have largely been lacking and uninspired. The Green Revolution doesn’t need to be about losing jobs and a slowdown in the economy, rather the opposite. When you can invest in these old industrial heartlands with clean, green jobs. Modern farming practices are extremely bad for the environment. Firstly, the carbon emissions from livestock and processing. Secondly, slash and burn practices to remove forests and other carbon sinks. Then the intensive, fertilizer/pesticide driven factory farming degrades soils so that all the stored carbon is slowly released.

What Covid-19 has shown me, is the reason people act for that and not climate change is, people think climate change will affect other people and not them.

I think reading this book in 2016 would have made me an optimist but after Trump has decried Climate Change as a Chinese hoax and pulled out of the Paris Climate deal, it’s cause for concern. Especially as the Paris deal doesn’t go far enough. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we’ve got a lunatic in the form of Jair Bolsarano in charge of Brazil and he doesn’t shy in letting the Amazon rain forest be chopped or burned down.

More info at drawdown.org

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2019 in films part 3

Trainspotting – Rewatch, I forgot how good this was. Begby is a psychopath 10/10
Trainspotting 2 – I delayed watching this because, I see attempts to resurrect old films with sequels into a franchise as a naked cash grab. That aside, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Initially, I didn’t like how it was different to the original but I grew to like it over time. So much so, that it’s on par with the original for me. Begby is even more pschopathic in this one, which I thought wasn’t even possible 10/10
Free Solo – People who do this are insane. It was a nice view into an esoteric world. The protagonist’s girlfriend was quite annoying (she knew what she signed up for) but also cute 8/10
The Hurt Locker – I saw some of this on a flight in 2009. I didn’t think much of it but made a mental note to watch it in full at some stage. This aspiration was realised a decade later and I wish sooner. Excellent storytelling, strong characters, suspense, humor 10/10
Where to Invade Next? – I thought this was a satirical film on where the U.S. would invade next to destabilse and exploit natural resources. Instead it was something better, how to make the U.S. a better country by taking the best ideas from other countries 8.5/10
Moonlight – I liked the first half of it when ‘Black’ was young. I didn’t like the direction the film went in and the ending was a bit of a damp squib 7.5/10
Midnight Run – Quintessential 80s action film. Good plot but I do notice the comic violence, which I assume must have been universal in films like these 8/10
The Manchurian Candidate – I had low expectations due to the slow pace of this but the storyline is unique and incredible, with a nice ending 8/10
Baby Driver – I loved the mood in this film, the music and the Vice City vibes. Lily James is an absolute babe in this. Shame about Kevin Spacey being in it though 9/10
As It Was – What happened after Supersonic. essentially how Liam Gallagher made a name for himself outside of Oasis 8/10
The Kid Who Would be King I love Arthurian Legend and was skeptical of a modern retelling of a classic tale. However, Cornish pulls it off very well. I found the Merlin character quite annoying, I don’t think the poor/mediocre reviews are justified 8/10
Drive – I liked the atmosphere in this film. Though Gosling does appear to be superhuman in this, which is my only criticism 8.5/10

Twas the Nightshift before Christmas – Reviewed

Twas the Nightshift Before ChristmasTwas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not as good as the predecessor but still good enough to read. It’s as though as the publishers gave Kay a call to say, “We need a book for Xmas and we’ll pay you handsomely. Any chance you could scrape together some anecdotes that didn’t make it in the first book?” Ok, that’s a bit mean. I think the problem with this book is, there’s no narrative like in the first one. It’s just a lose collection of anecdotes that don’t go anywhere.

The book was also very short.

I once asked a medical student to shave a patient before an ECG. Fuck knows what the poor patient thought was happening when the student came into his cubicle, removed his five o’clock shadow and tidied up his sideburns.

‘You didn’t ask the right questions,’ he says, every syllable a dunce’s cap thudding onto my head. ‘You see, 99 per cent of the time you’ll get the answer by taking a thorough history, before you even lay a hand on the patient.’
‘Have you recently been using a candy cane as a dildo?’
Of course! I’ll add that to my list of icebreakers.

A couple of paediatric nurses are running around, recruiting volunteers to be Santa for an hour or two in the grotto they’re running in outpatients.I make my excuses. ‘But . . . I’m Jewish!’
‘The kids won’t know!’ the nurse replies, then pauses. ‘Assuming you’re not planning on showing them your penis?’

I drive back home myself, five hours later and two hours late, covered in fluids that would give the most specialist fetish clubs in Berlin a run for their money

This is as close to fame as I’m likely to get: I’m never going to appear on Big Brother – if I wanted to share a sweaty dorm with people whose mental age was twelve I’d have become a scoutmaster.

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Straight Outta Crawley – Reviewed

Straight Outta Crawley: Memoirs of a Distinctly Average Human BeingStraight Outta Crawley: Memoirs of a Distinctly Average Human Being by Romesh Ranganathan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book’s subtitle is memoirs of a distinctly average human being. I am pleased to report that the memoir itself is slightly above average. The book shows in detail how hard it was for him to make it as a stand up. From humble beginnings to Maths teacher and finally a comedian. He also mentions what actually causes his right eyelid to be “lazy” or droopy: an infection as a child. He admits there’s no actual deviation there. He mentions, how he is often critiqued about talking about race too much. He responds on two counts. First, it’s up to him what he talks about, and given he is Asian, he’s hardly going to talk about being white is he? Two, if what he talked about wasn’t funny market forces would put him out of business.

My boss was shouting about how he had let down the school, his parents, himself … It was all very standard except that the boy, apart from looking sorry for himself, kept farting loudly every thirty seconds or so. What confused things further was that the lad kept apologizing, but I couldn’t figure out whether it was for what he had done or for the farts. My uncertainty was settled when my boss said, ‘Now go to bed or the toilet, or whatever the hell you have to do!’

‘Can somebody explain to me why somebody as unfunny as @RomeshRanga keeps managing to get on TV?’ And then I feel the warm glow of knowing that my very existence is making that person angry. The rage might even shorten their life. I feel so fortunate.

Have you watched any Eddie Murphy recently? It’s still amazing if you’re a fan of homophobia.

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