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"Papa! Did you know? I got invited to a SECRET SLEEPOVER!!!"
"Whoa, really? What makes it secret?"
"Well, you know. I think we might get to STEAL things."
"Steal things! Huh. Like…what?"
"Oh, you know, just things. Like, a stapler from your mama. Or, a hole punch from your papa."
🤔

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COVID was bad for the climate

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore William Cho

The standard narrative on COVID and the climate is: People worked from home, cancelled travel plans, cut down overall consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions fell drastically. It’s great for the environment! Let’s keep it up!

With apologies to H. L. Mencken, I believe that narrative is neat, plausible, and wrong.

To be fair, it’s absolutely right about the pandemic’s direct effect on emissions. Worldwide CO2 emissions decreased by ~7% in 2020 (paper) relative to 2019 levels – in percentage terms, the largest recorded drop since WWII. That was due to people commuting less, travelling less, and consuming less in lockdown. Transportation and industrial activity saw the biggest cuts, followed by aviation and energy. These were obvious, direct effects of the economic downturn and pandemic-related behavior and consumption changes. So far, so good.

However, this decrease is “just a tiny blip on the long term graph.” To keep global warming under 2°C, we’d need sustained emissions reductions in this range every year for the next 20-30 years. The pandemic has been hugely disruptive, but it’s still temporary, and all signs point to a strong recovery. The drop in emissions was largely caused by lockdown, not persistent structural changes that will persist for decades to come. Continue reading

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The EU…installed the precautionary principle as a guiding light. This superficially sensible idea – that we should worry about unintended consequences of innovation – morphed into a device by which activists prevent life-saving new technologies displacing more dangerous ones. The principle holds the new to a higher standard than the old and is essentially a barrier to all innovations, however safe, on behalf of all existing practices, however dangerous. This is because it considers the potential hazards, but not the likely benefits of an innovation, shifting the burden of proof to an innovator to prove that its product will not cause harm, but not allowing that innovator to demonstrate that it might cause good, or might displace a technology that already causes harm.

– Matt Ridley – How Innovation Works

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Bridgy browser extension for Facebook

Bridgy for Facebook is back! We’ve added Facebook support to the browser extension we recently launched. Feel free to install it (Firefox, Chrome), try it out, and let us know what you think!

Bridgy’s original Facebook support died in 2018 when they disabled a few key APIs that it depended on. We tried a number of alternatives to keep it going, but none of them worked…until this browser extension. We’re back, baby!

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