Thoughtful words from Michael Chabon, who is stepping down as Chairman of the Board of the MacDowell Colony, about the place of art in today’s world. Surprise, it’s not to make the world a better place. Click through for the full account.

These feel like such dire times, times of violence and dislocation, schism, paranoia, and the earth-scorching politics of fear. Babies have iPads, the ice caps are melting, and your smart refrigerator is eavesdropping on your lovemaking.


Today was an incredible day of action in Canada with Montreal leading the way and Toronto showing a huge energetic crowd.

Now I dare hope that this show of resolve will convince at least some voters to make climate the number one electoral issue, if not the candidates that they cannot get elected without strong climate plans.

250 academics from Australian universities publicly endorse the Extinction Rebellion movement:

“When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship,” the letter says.

“The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.”

Greta Thunberg’s speech at the U.S. Congress was really good. In a genius move, she painted the United States as “the country of dreams” and made references to Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. And then she brought everything back to reality:

But the problem we are facing is not that we lack the ability to dream, or to imagine a better world. The problem now is that we need to wake up. It’s time to face the reality, the facts, the science.

All of it is worth a read but I can’t help quoting some more of it here. About our chances of succeeding in tackling the climate problem, she said:

I guess that hardly any of you have heard that there is a 50 per cent chance of staying below a 1.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise […]

So a 50 per cent chance – a statistical flip of a coin – will most definitely not be enough. That would be impossible to morally defend. Would anyone of you step onto a plane if you knew it had more than a 50 per cent chance of crashing? More to the point: would you put your children on that flight?

In a speech delivered in the United States, she brilliantly referred to the “united science”:

And why is it so important to stay below the 1.5 degree limit? Because that is what the united science calls for, to avoid destabilising the climate […]

I love how she schooled them on the IPCC report:

So where do we begin? Well I would suggest that we start looking at chapter 2, on page 108 in the IPCC report that came out last year.

On the carbon budget that we have left before catastrophe is irreversible:

Four-hundred and twenty Gt of CO2 left to emit on 1 January 2018 […]. Now that figure is already down to less than 360 Gt.

These numbers are very uncomfortable. But people have the right to know. And the vast majority of us have no idea these numbers even exist.

I’m both amazed and grateful that she has this opportunity to say all of those things in such a clear and impactful way.

Today my wife gave her university English class students an extra credit assignment on the climate crisis. The writing prompt?

Write 1-2 pages about what happens with the world after the Global Climate Strike taking place September 20-27, 2019.

This can be dystopian, utopian, science fiction, or even someone’s journal entry expressing themselves about the future. Was the Climate Strike a success? A failure? Why?

Can’t wait to read the submitted pieces! ❤️

This is your reminder that most of the usual services on the Internet track you and own your data, so try more ethical alternatives.

I don’t use Google, I use DuckDuckGo instead. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, but I’m on Mastodon. I’m not on Instagram, I’m on PixelFed. A lot of people are on these services and it’s growing.

Another things is that you can have total control over who you follow, what you read and in what order. Try an RSS reader. I‘ve been using Feedly for years to aggregate the sites and people I’m interested in and it’s lovely.

And you know what? Without Google/Facebook/etc, life goes on just fine. Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

I was in Georgia last weekend and I learned that the general minimum wage is $7.25, with tipped workers being treated to a lofty $2.13. Two fucking bucks. That’s just 29% of the general wage, and that means the employer of a full time waiter/waitress is only on the hook for about $4,400 for the entire year. Blows my mind. Compare and contrast with Ontario, where I live, with the tipped vs general minimum wage ratio is $12.20 / $14 so about 87%.

Today I set up my dad’s browser to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google. Less tracking and data collection is good for anyone but especially the less computer-savvy, so we’ll see how he likes it.

I looked it up and I think I’ve been using DuckDuckGo since 2012 and made it my default search engine not long after. Didn’t realize it had been that long!

Fracking is such a weird idea. Not content to pollute and mess with the very air that we depend on for survival, why not also destabilize the very ground we stand on? Makes perfect sense.


I read today that people cried to see Notre-Dame go up in flames but few tears are being shed over the Amazon forest and I couldn’t agree more.

I’m also appalled that most of what I hear is throwing the Brazilian government under the bus. But all countries are watching this disaster and doing nothing.

“How can we help?” is what I want to hear. The Earth and the Amazon belong to all of us. We should offer help, money, resources and people to make things right.

I don’t know how I missed this speech by Harrison Ford at last year’s Global Climate Action Summit. He said it all. Powerful words.

I feel a mixture of dread and hope for the next Summit in New York on September 23rd. Looking at pretty much any of the vital statistics—carbon emissions, loss of habitat, temperature records, you name it—close to zero progress has been made. No more talks. We need drastic action now.

Sean Holman’s open letter:

On May 6, the United Nations released a scientific report warning that around a million species are threatened with extinction due to human activity, including climate change. […]

It turns out that most of the country’s other major broadsheets concluded that proof of a dying planet was less newsworthy than puffery about a [royal] baby.

This interview with Sean Holman, following his open letter pleading for Canadian media to report on climate as an emergency, is full of well-articulated thoughts.

And in the media we, generally speaking, don’t have any hesitation about naming a crisis when it is a crisis. […] So why are we hesitant about saying the climate crisis is a crisis?

I love the tone and style of this declaration of independence in The Intercept:

We, therefore, the Sane People of this Planet, […] do solemnly publish and declare that all the world’s Leaders are hereby relieved of their positions

It’s all tongue in cheek but with yesterday’s dire warnings in Nature that we have to kill all fossil fuel projects now, the failures and/or refusals from governments everywhere to act accordingly are spelling out ever more clearly that they simply are not there for us.

It is irresponsible and rich for CBC to be shy about using the word “crisis” when it’s been used for so many other things before:

“The ‘climate crisis’ and ‘climate emergency’ are words that […] sort of imply, you know, something more serious, where climate change and global warming are more neutral terms.”

I gave up on CBC as a serious news organization a while ago, but I’m still not impressed.

Thought process:

Ah enjoying the deck this summer. And the red umbrella is almost completely white from the sun. And I thought about the whitened American flag on the moon. And I wondered if the pattern is stitched on it, so you’d still be able to tell it’s an American flag. And if not and it’s all white, that’d be fitting to represent all of humanity.

Then my wife asked what I wanted for breakfast—screeching rewind—and she burst out laughing seeing my eyes unwind back to reality.

Mary Annaise Heglar writes that the conversation around climate change incorrectly assigns guilt to the people:

The belief that this enormous, existential problem could have been fixed if all of us had just tweaked our consumptive habits is not only preposterous; it’s dangerous. […] It’s victim blaming, plain and simple.

Given better options, people will make better choices.

September 20th. It’s time to fucking stand up as a planet and call bullshit on our own self-destructing way of life.

[O]ur choices will determine the future for tens of thousands of years: how high the seas will rise, how far the deserts will spread, how fast the forests will burn.

An encouraging report from Clean Energy Canada says that oil and gas is not as important to our economy as headlines and politics make it appear to be:

But here’s the thing: Oil and gas have never really defined Canada’s economy. Crude oil, for example, accounted for just 2.6 per cent of Canada’s GDP as of 2017.

Vice put up a 30-minute video documenting what the youths have been doing behind the scenes to organize the worldwide climate strikes. The media pays a lot of attention to Greta Thunberg, but there are many inspiring young leaders in this movement.

Such a great call to climate action by the kids. I hope this gets reprinted by other news outlets:

To change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we urge the adults to join us. On September 20th we call for a global general strike.