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Breakfast tour

Breakfast tour map

Like all of you, I got a little stir crazy over the last year. I made it outside plenty, but I still felt cooped up now and then, and I dearly missed going new places and seeing new things.

On another note, I really, really like breakfast. Like, a lot.

So naturally, I put these together and went on a breakfast tour. Last fall and winter, once or twice a week, I threw a dart at a map of San Francisco, looked up cheap breakfast joints with outdoor seating, grabbed a book, and headed out.

It was a blast. I explored a ton of neighborhoods in the city that I hadn’t spent much time in before. Sea Cliff was foggy and mysterious, Portola was dense and vibrant, Dogpatch and Mission Bay were friendly and spacious and new, Treasure Island was full of construction, the (new) Presidio was a manicured golf course, Fisherman’s Wharf was oddly deserted. Hunter’s Point was so many things I didn’t expect – lush and green, quiet and suburban, funky and bustling, newly developed – all within a couple square miles. Continue reading

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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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