If I were into clickbait, I’d call this a story about cancel culture vs. a culture of cancellation, but I’m not. Also, to be honest, I am writing this while insomniac, stressed and exhausted. I am going to make sweeping oversimplifications (“left” and “right” being the most egregious, perhaps). I hope you find some nuggets of wisdom here to inform your thinking nonetheless.

This is a barely structured collection of notes about people and institutions, about good and evil, about the messy processes of progress and harm reduction, and about navigating our way through.

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Eve Tempted by the Serpent, by William Blake.

A flawed greater good

The Guardian newspaper & media institution is in financial trouble, and is asking its readers and supporters to support it in ever greater numbers (spoiler alert: I have). This, by itself, is not newsworthy given our time of decline in journalism, and the context of economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. …

A short course in planetary time, for planetary survival

This is less of a blog post, and more of a howl.

The planetary climate clock, in human time

Let’s start by some human and planetary timescales. I don’t know why we don’t learn them in grade school (I never learned them at all). But they matter. And let’s represent them visually, in a stark, plain way.

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King Canute and Queen Aelfgifu, date circa 1020, from the register of Hyde Abbey, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“_” : this is our unit of time, and it’s 1000 years long.

_ is 10 long human lifespans, 40 generations, the time separating us from the first millennium and the Middle Ages in European history, when Canute of Denmark ruled Britain, before Marco Polo traveled the Silk Road. …

You should always at least try to meet your heroes, especially when they are as immense as Kirk Smith, so when I attended a conference in Berkeley in 2011 (one of my last long-haul work flights), I wrote to him to see if we could meet. Characteristically generously, he said yes, and we made a date for a pizzeria near the University. …


Julia Steinberger

Immigrant, Swiss-American ecological economist at the University of Leeds. Research focus on living well within planetary limits. Opinions my own.

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