From 1331 to 1353, gypsies, Jews, foreign travelers, and lepers were hunted down and killed because they were blamed for the pandemic.

Finger-pointing is nothing new in times of plague, but putting the blame for the Pandemic of 2020–2025 on President Turnip, the Wuhan Lab, or Facebook has modernized the practice.

In the 2007 film The Reaping, Hilary Swank’s character explains the 10 plagues of Egypt this way:

In 1400 BC, a group of nervous Egyptians saw the Nile turn red. But what they thought was blood was actually an algal bloom that killed the fish, which prior to that…


The Edinburgh study found pet food was responsible for more climate pollution than 147 nations.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is a meme made popular by Carl Sagan, paraphrasing Laplace’s “the weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness.

Last week I stirred some emotions in readers with my noir homage to our felinious friends. This week I will revisit the numbers in greater detail. Many people, especially cat lovers, may find this boring. Climate wonks should love it.

I start from the first principle Alan Savory uses in Holistic Management — to assume you are wrong. This exercise is not to prove or disprove what I wrote — let’s…


You may not want to give up flying or have fewer children. But are you ready for this?

Maybe you were shocked by the “heat dome” temperatures in Juneau, Stockholm and Moscow. It was 90°F (32.2°C) inside the Arctic Circle. One billion marine animals died. A mountain town in British Columbia got hotter than Las Vegas has ever been and set new heat records for all of Canada on three consecutive days. Then it burned down.

Or maybe you are contemplating the massive droughts, wildfires and mortality in Australia, Brazil, and the American Southwest. Maybe you’re thinking about no longer buying beachfront property on Miami Beach. Whatever this is, it is not how the future once seemed. …


Digital atomization of the human family brought forward a primal longing for belonging that fed a toxic tribalism.

A million years from now, when the descendants of microbes that hitchhiked on a Chinese manned mission to Mars return to Earth and try to reconstruct what happened, maybe the distant descendant of a whale will tell them it was Facebook.

Said the whale to the Chinese lab leak:

They were a magnificent race and arguably you might never have existed without them. The social adaptations that led to advanced sciences and space travel evolved from a context of small, land-dwelling, hunter-gatherer…


The places of greatest biodiversity are a result of, rather than in spite of, long human disturbance of the environment.

Over the past few weeks, we have been taking a deeper dive into biophysics, looking at energy and climate returns on investments in renewables and drawdown tech, landscape restoration, and lifestyle change. Trillionization is well underway, as predicted at the time of the Paris Agreement, but I am not the only one to say most of that money will be scandalously wasted.

During the pandemic, novelist MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezo’s ex, gave away $10.7 billion of her settlement to a…


The trees have beards hanging from their limbs and fur on their bark. Even the rocks are covered in moss or mottled with lichens.

When John Liu was a teenager growing up in Indiana he was a year younger and much smaller than the others in his grade, many of whom found his intelligence annoying. In 1970, he has kicked off the debate team because he refused to cut his hair. His high school teachers kept wanting him to shut up. One of them told him very frankly that he had to stop telling her she was wrong when she…


If a fox spends more energy to catch rabbits than those rabbits return in calories, it will not live very long.

Last week I left off my story of a young graduate student setting fish traps in a North Carolina stream, weighing the fish he captured, and estimating the oxygen use by the fish and also the ecosystems in which they lived, and concluding that sunlight would not be enough to pay for the consumer culture of the fish in New Hope Creek — and maybe not for the greater consumer culture that humans have become accustomed to.

Charles Hall said from that moment he first inventoried New Hope Creek he knew what his life was going to be. …


Renewable energy is unlikely to support civilization at its present scale. We know this by looking at fish in a mountain stream.

In a frantic search for some way out of the climate crisis, governments, scientists and creators are throwing time, money, and people at carbon dioxide removal by natural and artificial means. Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Johan Rockström says quite frankly, “there is no plausible chance of an absolute zero landing by 2050.” The best we can hope for is a rapid decarbonization of the economy — by half every decade — followed by…


“Our recipes for a prosperous future are a prediction of what society will be forced to consider.”

Recently I had the good fortune to listen in on an interview with one of my favorite climate scientists, Kevin Anderson of the Tyndell Centre. I have often quoted Anderson in these pages and I profiled him in my books, The Paris Agreement (2015) and Burn: Igniting a New Carbon Drawdown Economy to End the Climate Crisis (2019). In this interview of May 13, 2021, Anderson brought home these salient points:

The political challenge is an order of magnitude different than from what most people would interpret from The Paris Agreement.
***
If you want to hit the 1.5°C target, the world…


“If, when they came out of camp, they found hostility and their house vandalized, their tenancy cancelled, then this, despite its evidently traumatic nature, was a survivable change of fortune.”

— Simon Winchester, speaking of the Japanese internment experience during WWII, in Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World, chapter 4 (2021).

In May 2000, the distinguished ecological systems thinker Howard T. Odum presented a paper at the international workshop, “Advances in Energy Studies,” in Porto Venere, Italy, that turned out to be the final contribution of his life. Two years after he died, it was published…

Albert Bates

Emergency Planetary Technician and Climate Science Wonk — using naturopathic remedies to recover the Holocene without geoengineering or ponzinomics.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store