Note — Oct 25, 2020

The Climate Issue

Second issue of the fantastic Parametric Press. I just love this publication, how they operate, the values, and the two issues so far. Super visuals and great ideas of how to expose the stories from each issue, plus the code is available, and the platform is open source. After this first quote about them, quick notes and quotes from the first three prices in this most recent issue.

The Parametric Press is an experiment, a born-digital magazine dedicated to showcasing the expository power that’s possible when the audio, visual, and interactive capabilities of dynamic media are effectively combined.

Your Personal Carbon History

Focused on your own personal history but not to put the emphasis on individual action, to put each of us in a historical context to understand the changes in climate over much longer timescales, very well done and each visual is worth exploring.

Today, we’re perched precariously at the peak of a historically unprecedented spike in carbon dioxide. When future generations look back at their geological history, they’ll see this spike as the moment that ended the stable, moderate climate in which human civilization arose, giving rise to the unstable, extreme climate we’re barreling towards today.

The Corporations Behind Climate Change

On to corporations. I’m always a bit weary when people say that corporations are the biggest polluters since the firms do so in making products for us but this piece actually contextualizes this very well and explains that their processes themselves could be better and that their political influence contributes to the status quo.

Although we frequently discuss how individual consumers and national governments can combat climate change, we rarely shift the burden of responsibility to fossil fuel companies. But the data suggest that a small number of companies are associated with a staggering share of emissions: just 20 corporations are behind 30% of all human CO₂ emissions. […]

People can and should take steps to curb their personal emissions, especially the wealthiest 10% who disproportionately account for half of all individual emissions. There is a tempting immediacy in personal action, with no gatekeeper to convince but ourselves. […]

One person can choose not to own a car, but they can’t reshape urban life around bicycle transit by themselves. The idea that individual consumers can reverse climate change is an overly simplistic idea that ignores the power of governments and companies operating under capitalism.

Tiny Algae and the Political Theater of Planting One Trillion Trees

Planting trees and rewilding are great opportunities to sequester lots of carbon and slide us away from industrializing so much of the planet but trees are not the most effective or, more importantly, fastest way of naturally grabbing that CO₂, algae could do a much better job. The piece explores a number of options in that direction but perhaps most jarring are the visuals for tree cover loss based on The Global Forest Watch’s research.

Trees, and plants in general, are very good at the removing CO₂ part of our fight against irreversible climate change. Many people categorize this as a viable carbon sequestration method. But there’s a problem with planting a trillion trees: we first need the amount of land to do it. We also need to keep them alive long enough to help us. […]

it won’t help us much in the ~10 years estimated by the IPCC that we have left to prevent irreversible changes to the climate. In fact, a team of scientists at NASA estimate that reforesting 1.7 billion hectares of new trees could take between one and two thousand years. […]

Commercial companies such as Pond Technologies are creating new products based on algae such as animal feed, ingredients for cosmetics, and even seaweed snacks. There is even a building in Germany that uses an algae-laced skin around it to power the electricity for the facility.