The more optimistic corollary to the above? -B
Maybe it is just a post pandemic malaise but I've been thinking a lot and reading a lot about whether or not we are stuck. This could mean in technology. Or societal progress. Or population. Or productivity. -B
This article, which I collected I think the day it was published (our links queue is hilarious and will never be depleted unless it's deleted), was mostly responsible for my withdrawal from most social media. After reading it I stopped using Instagram, Facebook (again), Twitter, and Reddit. I've allowed Twitter back in, which is the worst of them all. BUT when Mr. Tweet took over I really wanted to be there and watch everything happen.
But AnYwAyz my takeaway from this article wasn't only "turn off my socials", it was also to tune into my daily life more intensely. There are plenty of times I feel stuck, but I feel stuck about things I can actually change. Maybe I'm stuck in a loop of cooking mediocre food because I'm stuck on a project at work that is making me too lazy to spend time meal planning. That's very fixable and un-stickable. Try it, you might like it! - C
More of the excellent Doomberg. -B
Our central existential threat is how small our ambitions are."Conserving energy" we should use 10,000x more energy."Finite resources" space."Overpopulation" there should be 10³⁰ humans."Reducing our footprint" the human footprint should bestride the Hubble volume.
Hyperbole aside the sentiment is interesting. What is society's (secular) goal for ourselves? What are we trying to accomplish? This may not be it (aside from the energy abundance piece which I'm 100% on board with) but let's talk about what it should be! -B
Modern society is awash in stuff. There’s stuff at the grocery store. At the hardware store. At Amazon and eBay. We eat stuff, wear stuff, buy stuff, and store stuff. Click some buttons, swipe a card, tap a phone – and presto! Stuff appears.
An incredibly powerful framework of the escalating energy content from wood to coal to oil to methane. Societal progress has always been tied to moving up the ladder. Our energy transition strategy has to take this into account in order to drive continued prosperity for the globe.
Here's the full blown essay. It is a free link from their archive. The subscription for their current content is $300 per year (WOWZERS) which is about 6x most substackers. But they have such an interesting perspective, although a bit pessimistic for me. -B
Main link is to a wonky and dry paper describing the megaregions. It is interesting.
This link is to a twitter thread where some rando demonstrates exactly the kind of ambition I'm talking about us needing to find to drive increases in individual humans flourishing materially while being good stewards of the planet.
we must immediately start building high speed rail and other transport connections between the cities of each mega region. then infill dense new urbanist style villages between them, so that people have options. then we start re-greening the rest 🌳🌾🍀
I'm in as long as each megaregion elects their own monarch. (If you haven't read / heard my regional monarch political system idea you should catch me a bourbon or two in sometime and ask me "hey what's the deal with you being a libertarian monarchist, that makes zero sense?...). -B
OK, I don't know if I'm allowed in the soap box category. A little 'inside baseball' on this newsletter:
Inviting Brian to write it with me was one of the best ideas I've ever had. There's zero chance I would have stuck with this as long as I have if it weren't for Brian. Every now and again he texts me "we should send out an issue" and I say "yeah let's do it" and then forget immediately.
So if he didn't get in here and write stuff there would never be another one of these. BUT what that means is that when I eventually get around to writing anything he's had his stuff in here for awhile and has no clue what I'm gonna do with it. And then I push the send button.
BUT ALSO oftentimes I log into this software to discover that Brian has created yet another content category and I've just got to roll with it. Since it's more fun to never discuss this, it will continue thusly.
AnYwAyz I think that this is a wonderful new category and I look forward to seagulling (think about it) whatever Brian puts in here right before publication.
To that end, I'd like to say about the megaregions monarchy bit: ok so this is our entire next issue, right? -C
NEPA requires that before any major federal agency action — including approving a permit to drill on public land — the agency must either produce a statement hundreds of pages long detailing the environmental impacts or produce an assessment hundreds of pages long showing that there is no significant environmental impact. Either way, the result is years of paperwork. In my view, NEPA is one of the biggest culprits for the economic stagnation we have experienced since the law took effect in 1970. The law imposes no substantive environmental requirements, but its paperwork requirements result in much-prolonged timelines and a great deal of uncertainty for investors. As Brink Lindsey and Samuel Hammond, our friends at the Niskanen Center, put it, NEPA has had a “chilling effect on investment.”
We should be so much greater as a country than we are. In ways clean and carbon free and energy of all kinds abundant. But we've made it where no one will invest because the process is insane and uncertain. We are smothering our potential. Welcome to the Soap Box..... -B