- A little bit of good news for once: NYC’s Council voted to ban gas hookups in new buildings which means… more induction stoves! In all seriousness, this is a great move that follows a few other U.S. cities. Natural Gas (a.k.a. methane or fossil gas) is commonly cited - by industry groups - as a ‘transition fuel’, or a fossil fuel in which they can continue to sell. Not only is this ban good for the climate (in reducing the reliance on this polluting infrastructure) but it’s good for the health of people in those buildings: Gas stoves can produce air pollution levels indoors that would be illegal outdoors. Plus, induction is just so much better, folks.
- Closer to home for me, SaskPower (Saskatchewan’s state owned - or crown corporation - provider of electricity) said this week that they’re not passing on the latest Canadian Carbon Tax increase to consumers. Some might read that as the province wanting to reduce energy costs for consumers (fighting back against the feds!!), but the devil is always in the details: “Because of reduced emissions from coal generation, the addition of more than 400 megawatts of wind, solar, and biomass, as well as an improved outlook on hydro generation, SaskPower is able to avoid passing federal carbon tax rate increases on to customers in 2022.” Damn, it’s almost as if the Carbon Tax is doing… exactly what it was meant to do.
“This is not normal” says a CNN meteorologist while he is on air describing how like 250 weather (temperature) records could be broken during this last week because of higher highs and lower lows around the U.S. Damn, you mean to tell me that
things are [the climate is] changing? Ah, but it’s still “hard to believe”. Cool.
- In a fantastic piece at the MIT Technology Review, Kendra Pierre-Louis (one of my favourite climate journalists) details the threats that rising groundwater due to climate change brings to our critical infrastructure. And yes, you read that right - groundwater, not sea water. One more thing to think about! Yay!! (Fantastic piece that is well worth the read, in my honest opinion.)
Here’s another (very) interesting MIT Technology Review article, this time on the changing currents of the Atlantic Ocean - because of climate change - and the knock on effects from those changes. We do love reading the words “global catastrophe” in yet another article this week.
- The opening paragraph on this one is enough for me: “Antarctica’s vast Thwaites Glacier, known as the ‘Doomsday glacier’ due to the grave risk its melting poses, is fracturing and "retreating rapidly” due to the worsening climate crisis, scientists have warned.“
- California is not cutting greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet a 2030 deadline for reductions, according to a new report. Reasons include: transportation (shocker), wildfires (shocker), and reduced recycling (actually… interesting).
- Last week there were tornadoes across multiple U.S. states. This week, storms ratcheted those tornadoes up a notch, killing multiple and (killing) the power to hundreds of thousands of Americans… again, it’s almost as though our infrastructure isn’t prepared for the time we live in.
This Vox piece fits right in with climate anxiety, touching on why we’re becoming so accustomed to working through everything that is changing so rapidly about our world. Our world can be on fire, but if you miss work, you’re the one getting burnt.
- Tangentially related to climate change are electric vehicles (although they definitely, definitely have their issues). But electric vehicles are increasingly coming with… subscription packages for basic features. Lovely. We all need more subscriptions. My take? Don’t buy a car.
- In case you’re interested by the more mundane aspects of policy, there was a mandate letter posted by the PM to the Minister of Emergency Preparedness that lays out some of the institutionalize responses Canada wants to see to disasters and recoveries.
- Heading back to last week’s main story, it turns out that workers at a (Mayfield Consumer Products) candle factory, one of the buildings devastated by the tornadoes in Kentucky, were threatened with firings if they chose to leave early to get ahead of the storm and out of the danger path. I’m honestly lost for words on this one, other than to say… holy fuck.
SkipTheDishes (JustEat’s operations in Canada) is launching their own Canadian fulfillment centres in hopes of competing against grocery and food giants such as Sobey’s and Walmart. That is interesting, but the part that stuck out to me the most in the article was the gall of the executives to complain about their profits being impacted by caps on restaurant commissions - which, in some cases, were reaching as high as 30%. Complain all you want, but the commissions were driving local restaurants out of business - there should be a cap on them. Just like their ‘contractors’ should be employees. But alas, the whole "gig economy” would collapse and companies wouldn’t be able to take advantage of workers any more, killing their core businesses.
- A Canadian oil company is accused of drilling on a Namibian animal reserve against local laws, offering jobs for silence about the project. (See the end of email for a… meme)
- Last week, I linked Bloomberg’s most recent 2021 In Review piece about climate change. This week, I’m taking you back a month to link their 2021 In Review piece on the supply chain shortages/shocks. It’s really just a lot of photos, but if you’re intrigued by global supply chain systems, it’s the piece for you.
- France became the latest state to come out hard against Clearview AI, the company that takes all the images from your accounts and posts to create a mega-database for facial recognition desires. I feel like a broken record, but anytime you have the ability to avoid facial recognition technology, I’d encourage you to do so.
- In what is a wild story about two U.S. military personnel stealing weaponry to sell to the highest bidder… one again ponders: how are there not greater controls on weapons and ammunition in the biggest military in the world?
- Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab discovered that an Egyptian politician was hacked by not one, but two different spyware companies’ software. But don’t worry! Western technology company’s spyware is never used unjustly - CEOs of said companies, undoubtedly.
Here’s a great Ken Klippenstein article on Amazon’s (non-)response to their fulfillment center collapsing from tornadoes last week - detailing how other workers at the company talked about the failure to plan for these events, and the lack of emergency training at the company’s operations. I’m actually surprised (but am I, really?) that Amazon, a company with virtually unlimited resources, cannot find a way of effectively managing weather risk and training employees properly in emergency protocols. I mean, I get that training costs money and time that to the leaders would be better spent shipping boxes, but still - this is insane. Here’s another Bloomberg piece with an Amazon contract driver being told to continue delivering and then “shelter in place” in their van during the tornado.
- Speaking of Amazon, there was a great article in BI this week on their plans for the Ring Camera system, where it would “identify ‘suspicious’ people by recognizing their faces, retinas, skin texture, gait, voice, and even odor”. Can’t imagine this would ever be used in a racist, classist manner, ever. Nope. Not possible. Technology is all good.
- Do you want more about Amazon? How about a Jacobin piece on the nightmarish hell that is Amazon’s HR department, complete with one employee saying, “…her boss had her help create an internal resource for the department on how to handle suicidal callers, as there were so many of them.”
Jamelle Bouie had a great column this week in the NYT on the catastrophic failures of companies during the tornadoes in the U.S., and the “private government” that many in the world are subject to. Definitely some philosophy reading on my list.
- Have you been subject to never-ending media coverage of the “worsening crime” around the U.S. and Canada? Concerned about all those “looters” and “crime gangs” that appear to be robbing luxury stores in places like San Francisco? Well, let’s just say, fears have been way overblown. And by way overblown, I mean corporations and police are manufacturing a crisis to garner support for more police funding and corporate power. No, that would never be the case. Except when it is: an LA Times investigation shows that numbers produced by retail industry groups would, and I quote, “would mean retail gangs steal nearly 25% of total sales in San Francisco and Oakland combined. Can that be right? In a word, no.”.
- Approximately 50,000 people on Meta’s (Facebook’s) platforms have been target by professional surveillance companies (not including Facebook itself), according to one of the company’s newly released reports. Scary stuff.
Gabriele Contessa is out with an interesting thought essay portraying corporations as robots in their pursuit of some end goal with little regard for the impacts that occur along the way, which I think is an intriguing look at the age old question of corporate power. It’s worth a read.
- In Afghanistan, the Taliban shot a 10-year-old dead, a girl with her family who were waiting to be immigrated to Canada. We’ve got to do better after all the destruction we’ve caused.
- If you’re young like me, you’re probably becoming more aware of the inability to purchase your own house anytime soon (or ever). I find this whole - definitely purposeful - transition to renting instead of owning fascinating and disturbing, and this WaPo piece on corporations buying up properties in a community encompasses a lot of my frustrations. In political theory, we often see people transition to being defenders of the system they’re in (i.e., Capitalism) when they have/share a piece of the pie. As we move away from ownership (against many people’s wishes), it’ll be interesting to see the impacts this has on people’s feelings of the society in which they live.
- Here’s an in-depth look at the Saskatchewan Government’s right-wing response to the Regina City Council (rightfully) wanting to restrict some dirty corporate advertising a tinge in their city.
- Lastly, I have an old NYT piece that came up on my Twitter feed this week, that I think it worth a share: New York’s subway is struggling with old infrastructure and overcrowding. The M.T.A.’s failure to modernize its signal system is a crucial example. This article illustrates the problem with all of our critical infrastructure in the minority world - it needs to be upgraded, but doing so requires it being shut down or have reduced capacity for a length of time that would be noticeable on a country’s GDP. But still, necessary.
The Funny Stuff: