38 Comments
Mar 24Liked by Tomas Pueyo

A few important points:

1. It is not possible for the UK to lose its freedom of speech because it has never had it. I think it would be worth thinking from first principles about speech and about freedom to understand this statement.

2. In the AI robotics section you imply that power and freedom are always good. I would make to same suggestion as I did in point 1, but substitute power for speech.

3. “Capitalism is the only way out of out climate emergency” sounds like a good example of solutionism and also of black and white thinking. I agree that capitalism may be an important part of the solution, but the world is grey and that does not preclude using other partial solutions as well.

4. The discussion with Bianca and your recent article on free speech are getting much closer to an understanding of The Problem so I feel more confident you will get there eventually.

5. It is obviously time I read and commented on some of your climate change articles.

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1. Ah yes, of course. Thx!

2. Why?

3. I have a draft for how this could be done politically. But it won’t.

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Mar 22Liked by Tomas Pueyo

"As long as we can pay for them with our non-existent jobs."

This is an enormous caveat. It was presented as an afterthought but may be worthy of an article in its own right. The future of work with AI is already the subject of a lot of writing but the economics of it haven't really been thought through. Robots are expensive to build, expensive to run and expensive to maintain.

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Yes! One of these things for which I have had a draft for ages. In fact I have had a draft for this for 6 years now. It might be time to publish it.

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Mar 19Liked by Tomas Pueyo

And he was sentenced for basically trying to set up an anti state organisation where racism and antisemitism was a core value. This is a guy that was openly dreaming of a para military oganization. Also he will appeal in court.

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Ah if it's for that then this is valid.

Thanks for pointing this out.

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SORRY!!

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Nuclear energy is also great for reducing crime rates. An irradiated spider bit Spiderman and the criminals live in fear

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Hahaha

Have you been watching Into the Spiderverse again??

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Mar 20Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Re: SO2: Study or Act?

On 12/07/23, James Hansen, et al. in ‘“A Miracle Will Occur” Is Not Sensible Climate Policy’, was succinct: “This reduced albedo [reflectivity] is a BFD (a big deal). It is equivalent to a sudden increase of atmospheric CO2 from 420 ppm to 525 ppm”. 

He continues to explain their interpretation into January here:

https://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

‘Separating cloud feedbacks from aerosol induced cloud changes might be a Sisyphean task, if not for the “experiment” initiated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) when it placed a constraint on sulfur content of ship fuels beginning January 2015 and tightened it in January 2020’.

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Correct! Except that's in the troposphere. But yes! Still an informative test

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Mar 20Liked by Tomas Pueyo

The quote by Voltaire is not actually by Voltaire, but by Evelyn Beatrice Hall which describes his way of thinking, not making a direct quote.

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Thx!

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Mar 20Liked by Tomas Pueyo

The solar PV cost graph has 2 remarkable features in it.

There's a plateau in costs from mid 90's to ~2009. There must have been a fundamental change towards the end of the 200x decade which then allowed significant cost reductions from 2010 onwards. I don't think that was a wordlwide policy change, but rather a technological change (though I don't know what that might have been).

Since 2010 price is dropping like a stone and there is no sign of leveling out in a new plateau! Current technology seems to be good for even more reductions to come. Excellent news.

Would be interessting to see a similar graph for battery costs and whether one can see changes in technology there. Packaging seems to become denser by about 10% per year (at least for the battery of my car). Lithium batteries are evloving, but sodium batteries follow their path. Would be interesting to see a graph for both.

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Will share one!

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Sent you some more thoughts by mail.

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Great updates!

There's a great episode from The Happiness Lab on why our brains don't fear climate change enough. Don't want to spoil it for you, might be worth a listen.

In The dark side of environmental activism study you linked there were only snippets and I didn't want to fall down a rabbit hole but I wonder if it's not a chicken and egg problem. How much of this is nature (ie you're born with these traits) and how much is nurture (you tried the conventional routes to bring about change and resorted to more aggressive solutions when you realized nothing else works.)

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Do spoil! I can’t listen to enough podcasts.

I’m no psychologist but my understanding is that these traits are pretty fixed in people. They barely change. If they do, I don’t think experience with the problem is the kind of thing that causes these changes. It takes much bigger events such as divorced and stuff like that.

Again no expert, it’s just my way of sharing that I think your hypothesis has low probability of being true.

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Alright well, on the podcat the host brought on a Harvard psychology professor and the short of it is that we're simply not equipped for it.

We're not the only ones impacted (so the fact that others have to deal with it too and we can diffuse responsability makes it easier to ignore.)

We don't feel morally wronged, as in, it doesn't violate our moral sensibilities.

And it's not imminent - future people's problem, not ours.

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Ah yes, I agree with that. Climate change is uniquely structured as a hard pbm to coordinate against.

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Mar 19·edited Mar 19Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Re solar: Utility scale solar power will become insanely cheap per kWh produced (system costs from transmission and backup/storage are and will remain expensive however imho). Will we find applications for extremely cheap but intermittent solar power directly next to the plant to use the low LCOE?

Re nuclear: As you said, data centres can be built next to nuclear plants, which provide continuous, autark energy supply with a multi-reactor plant. Which means that you completely avoid the transmission and distribution costs, which make up 30-70% of electricity costs. So data centres and nuclear are truly a match made in heaven, since data centres will only pay the LCOE of NPPs with >90% load factors!

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Another reader suggested also that panel costs are now so cheap that they don’t matter as much but labor and land do. Eventually these prices will predominate, and we might be there already. I’ll explore this soon.

Solar also avoids transmission costs thanks to batteries. Battery prices are shrinking faster than solar.

But nuclear is the best!

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Mar 20Liked by Tomas Pueyo

We are approaching the point where module cost decreases lose importance, yes. Even more true for rooftop solar. Here is a cost breakdown, could be useful for your exploration: https://www.nrel.gov/news/program/2021/documenting-a-decade-of-cost-declines-for-pv-systems.html

In 10 (?) years construction of low risk&certification, low complexity, standardized infrastructure could become a lot cheaper with AI and advanced robots. This should help reduce installation and maintenance costs for large utility solar powerplants to low levels as well. Utility scale solar+batteries seems best-suited for early adoption of automated construction compared to all other energy forms.

I agree about nuclear with current and even more advanced techs. Breeders+Seawater extraction give it very low land use, high EROI and infinite (in human terms) scalability.

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The solar thing has come to my attention over the last few weeks. I will write about this. Thanks!

It's clear however that nuclear has a future. What you say is an example. But also things like data centers will take more and more share of electricity consumption and nuclear is better suited for them

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Re. your governments-are-pretty-dumb statement. Whole heated agreement that frequently what they end up doing is not great. But they -- at least Democratic ones -- suffer from vastly more & worse constraints than corporations. I honestly doubt that very many German politicians personally thought shuttering nukes was wise.. Just like no literate pol in the US actually believes corn-ethanol makes sense or that a carbon-tax isn't a slam-dunk. But if you say those things out loud, you're no longer in "the room where it happens.". Cost of representative govt.

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Oh look up the German Green Party! I've written about them in the past. This is core to their beliefs! Some articles where I touch on this

https://unchartedterritories.tomaspueyo.com/p/why-germany-wont-keep-its-nuclear

https://unchartedterritories.tomaspueyo.com/p/will-the-german-nuclear-reactors

https://unchartedterritories.tomaspueyo.com/p/german-nuclears-main-takeaways-latest

I'm also pretty sure plenty of Republican politicians think a carbon tax is not good, because CO2 is not worth it vs the GDP cost.

But you're right that sometimes they don't think this and they just represent the opinions of their constituents—or simply the lobbies, as is the case for corn-ethanol.

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Actually it's not. In cars, like in cereal, there are cost savings in the manufacturing process itself that are separate from tech advantages that come from say learning how to make something smaller and fitting more on the chip itself. In semiconductors you can drive savings in both. In solar, is a panel today more efficient than a panel made 2 years ago - surface area being the same. If it were the same in solar as it is in chips, I would need smaller and smaller panels to get the same KwH of energy. Or for the same roof size, I could get more and more energy from the same area. So my original comment related to whether we are getting more and more efficiency from the same unit area of solar panel.

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I think one issue for solar, as it strikes me as a home owner who is trying to decide when / if to jump in, is whether solar is getting cheaper because we are making more (supply & demand) or is the cost per KwH / area coming down too because the underlying tech is improving. Solar doesn't seem to message "Now get Solar 2.0" the way other tech does, so it keeps itself as a commodity. Even those like the Tesla roof it is hard to determine whether they continue to make the tech better - or just look better.

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I’m not sure I understand your quandary. This is a cost reduction due to learning because the more you produce, the more you learn how to reduce costs. Same as cars or transistors.

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The UK guy done for being a horrible racist was found guilty of (from the crown prosecution service website):

"Publishing or distributing material intending to stir up racial hatred.

Encouraging or assisting the commission of the offence of racially aggravated criminal damage."

I'm all for freedom of speech but not unconditionally. There is a difference between challenging people with your speech, and singling them out for hatred because of their ethnic origin/colour of their skin. This idiot should be a lesson to others considering embarking on a career of racial hatred - it won't be tolerated.

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I like the US definition of freedom of speech covering most stuff that won’t result in immediate physical violence. It’s a clear cut definition. Any other definition needs to be as clear cut or else the government can decide what is rightspeak.

Did he incite immediate violence? If yes, go to prison. If not, I’m not sure he should. The guy might be an idiot, but who guarantees that the next government will not consider you an idiot too?

So what’s your clear-cut rule?

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He has not been prosecuted for being an idiot has he? He was prosecuted for the crimes I noted. And it's not the government that makes the decision to prosecute him for those crimes, but the justice system, which should be at least partly independent from the government once the law is made (my view as a UK citizen is that our justice system is pretty independent, perhaps not perfect but good enough).

I take your point that generally you want laws to be clear cut, for absolute clarity. In this case though, I don't think there is a clear cut rule to be made with freedom of speech laws, and there is room for nuance if you trust your justice system.

I'm not sure you can use the immediate physical violence requirement to determine whether you prosecute. Are the people you're inflicting the hatred on empowered to react/capable of violence? Or are they marginalised members of society already just wanting to go about their life? If two people do the exact same racial hatred action, and one is accompanied by violence and the other isn't - has only one of them committed a crime despite doing the same thing? It's all very much shades of grey, and I think the law should (and in the UK perhaps does judging by this verdict) reflect that.

I agree it is not enough to hurt someone's feelings to be prosecuted for speech. But (for me) this type of behaviour goes beyond that, and risks divisions that we should be seeking to improve, not worsen. I believe that's the spirit of the laws used here.

Fair challenge though Tomas, I don't think I've properly thought through this type of question before so very useful exercise for me! Thanks for engaging.

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BS. Nuclear energy only is cheap if you don't calculate long-term costs like storage of nuclear waste and damage to others and the environment.

The cheapest energy is renewable. The only problem now is that we're in what you could call stone age of energy storage. solve that problem and there'll never be a lack of energy.

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When you have just had a melanoma removed what you need is a therapy, not a vaccine. Because it's safe to assume that the disease is not completely eradicated (i.e. there are still, invisible, surviving carcinoma cells that are continuing to reproduce, and which will manifest themselves as a new tumor mass in the future, even after years). Indeed it's very unlikely to get (a different) melanoma twice! (this would be if the cells of the new tumor were not clones of those of the previous one). A vaccination is a preventative action you take *before* you get sick. When you take an antibiotic for a tooth abscess you are not "vaccinating" yourself against the abscess, you are undergoing therapy.

They call vaccine everything nowadays, it's hilarious.

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I’m no immunologist, and immunology was the hardest part of COVID, so I might get this wrong. But here’s my understanding.

A vaccine puts into the body agents that the body must learn to attack. In the case of mRNA vaccines, the agents are not the actual bad thing, but instructions to make parts of the bad thing. The body is the one making the bad things. These bad things are usually parts of the thing you want to avoid.

In this case, it creates several parts of the patient’s own cancer cells. The idea is that the massive amount of such proteins will cause the body to create massive amounts of immune cells against these proteins.

Normally, in a cancer, the body does not produce enough of these, for many reasons. I assume one of them is the cancer cells reproduce faster than the immune system can produce measures against it. Another reason is that cancer cells develop ways to neutralize immune cells.

By forcing the production of an overwhelming amount of immune cells against the precise melanoma to be treated, there are enough immune cells to stop the cancer.

Note that the article says this is in combination with a treatment. The treatment prevents cancer cells from neutralizing immune cells, by binding to the cancer cell protein that is responsible for the neutralization.

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