Weds, Aug 30: Geoengineering

– Woke up late, hopped on a CitiBike. It’s a 30-minute ride to work that starts with a taxing climb over the Williamsburg Bridge, followed by a long, pleasant descent into Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The morning air was cool, windy between the trusses, and it made my ears burn a little. The bridge leaks out onto a protected bike lane that runs along First Ave. I took it up to 21st, cut across a few avenues, and drop the bike at a valet station around the corner from my office in Flatiron. Changed into jeans and a t-shirt in the private bathroom, drank two enormous cups of cold brew from the tap, ate Raisin Bran over Siggi’s coconut skyr, and get to work.

– It warmed up by lunch. I got a spiced chicken wrap from Ilili Box, waited for it in the sunshine, tried not to look at my phone.

– After work I took the F to DUMBO to attend a release party for Jacobin, a leftist mag whose latest issue is all about climate change. The party was really a roundtable discussion by authors who contributed to the issue. Before it started, I bought a beer and talked for awhile with the guy sitting next to me, Jonas, a Swedish kid who just moved to New York from Stockholm three weeks ago. Jonas was cool. He’s here to study economics at the New School, said New Yorkers have treated him well so far, that they’re easier to talk to than his fellow countrymen, who are stuck up. He’s a devout leftist and I hope to see him around.

– The panel itself was really compelling. I learned a lot about geoengineering, which amounts to using technology to dampen or even reverse the effects and progress of climate change. People in Iceland have apparently found an efficient way to turn carbon dioxide into limestone, which you can bury in the ground. The problem is that the limestone can’t be commodified, and therefore nobody wants to do this at any kind of scale.

Geoengineering is a hotly contested issue among leftists for a lot of reasons. One is that doing so basically allows tech overlords like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, who are staunchly pro geoengineering, to continue to shape the direction of humanity, and also that a purely tech fix downplays this important opportunity to shift away from capitalism that climate change otherwise insists upon.

My take is in line with most of the panel’s, which is that if we don’t fix this shit we are all going to die incredibly soon, so let’s do what we have to while continuing to fight for a more just society. Hurricane Harvey — any really any natural disaster — creates entry points for some really interesting socialist conversations, i.e. we agree that people who are displaced by the storm deserve a free place to stay, free healthcare, and free food. When should that agreement end? Why should it end?

– I had to pee and I was hungry, so I left before the Q&A session started, waving a quick goodbye to Jonas. They never have food at these things. It was a beautiful night. I found a CitiBike rack nearby, rode home over dark cobblestone streets, through Fort Greene, past the Navy Yard, dimly lit housing developments, trailers that look like the kind you see on movie sets with long lines of poor people waiting for something unclear to me, past restaurants and bars that look inviting that I’ll probably never see again.

– When I got home I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to eat, so I didn’t eat anything. I read a few of the pieces in Jacobin, did a bunch of pushups, gave myself a haircut, took a shower, and went to bed. It took me a long time to fall asleep.


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