Already figured out

A list of things we have already figured out, ways of living that support the planet’s future, to be quite frank about it.

Fast(er) trains – take the best one in the U.S., the Acela in the northeast corridor. We should have deeded it over to France or Japan years ago. They would charge us less, the trains would already be faster and more efficient, likely easily spread south and west for obvious reasons, displacing an over-reliance on regional airline traffic. Because we… see title.

Live close to work, school and play. This supposed magic to happy living requires no reverse engineering, and actually very little engineering at all. Just incentives and penalties, zoning, bikes lanes, public transport, and host a host of things we… see title.

Eco-friendly products, ‘perils’ of greenwashing (who’s, exactly?), and renewable energy generation. The barriers holding us back to realizing these are… the decisions not to embrace them. It’s very much akin to not funding pre-K or other early childhood education that we already know works really well. They all exist right now and have for decades. Renewable energy is in its early adulthood, and the so-called ‘perils’ are only fueling the corporate campaign to delay changing anything:

The peer-reviewed paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, analyzed all known climate predictions produced or reported by scientists at ExxonMobil and its predecessor from 1977-2003, and found that they were “at least as skillful” as those by independent experts (Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999). Like those independent models, most of Exxon’s proved to be accurate.

“They didn’t just vaguely know something about global warming decades ago, they literally knew as much as independent academic scientists did,” said Geoffrey Supran, the paper’s lead author, who recently left a research position at Harvard University to become an associate professor of environmental science and policy at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science. “We now have this airtight, unimpeachable evidence that Exxon accurately predicted global warming years before it turned around and publicly attacked climate science.”

How much longer we’ll have to let the debates about ESG rage on, die off, and make comebacks are more about the fate of business news operations and PR than they are about investments in viable products, power, or even politics. Getting past what we’ve already figured out is the only route to splashy new breakthroughs like, hey, the coral reefs might actually survive.

Image: ACC Transportation and Public works

How to Ctrl-Shift the Labor Force

I take this is essay in Foreign Policy, via, on the imminent “death of macho,” as mostly another set-up to establish the ever-present victimization of the most persecuted sub-species in the history of the world as seen through the prism of the last 2000 months: the white male. If it can be established to a reasonable doubt that the era of patriarchal hegemony is over, then the ground work can begin to rehabilitate, if not re-establish, its dominance.

Most titans of finance, captains of industry, even ‘fishers of men’ have sought to identify with the working man. Our bizarre allergy to elitism itself originated in what is perceived, from above, as the upward insecurities of the blue collar man, even though this phenomena resembles more a refusal to demean one’s position and accept certain peers, than any contempt for learning or the finer things. Still, the shift from an industrial- to an information-economy, while I might cheer the re-kindled emphasis on the mining of words, does appear to be a leveler from both directions, as the unwanted skills one group disdained and the other couldn’t afford begin to pile toward the center of the plate as the new source of growth and progress.

For several years now it has been an established fact that, as behavioral finance economists Brad Barber and Terrance Odean memorably demonstrated in 2001, of all the factors that might correlate with overconfident investment in financial markets—age, marital status, and the like—the most obvious culprit was having a Y chromosome. And now it turns out that not only did the macho men of the heavily male-dominated global finance sector create the conditions for global economic collapse, but they were aided and abetted by their mostly male counterparts in government whose policies, whether consciously or not, acted to artificially prop up macho.

Fine. I’m not going to disturb children fighting dragons with paper swords. But these kinds of built-environments, where fields of straw men bleed seamlessly into subdivided new attacks on old resentments, are sprinkled with acknowledgements of collapse and economic re-alignment. And there, we should welcome the cover fire, even if it is just a sound effect-mimic from the mouths of babes.

How will we shift the labor force, from the chairman’s suite to the break-truck, from burning things to making things? What does that even mean? It’s not just green, of course,  but a whole slew of implications about all the things we’ve built society on that we’ve got to stop doing. And yet, people will still need jobs – more to the point, people will need education, healthcare and the raft of other social services that we have always needed but which been downgraded on the payscale and prestige-o-meter to the point where we ignored them and THAT became as much of an explanation for our deplorable state of waste and natural illiteracy as much as the machinations of a single gender.

So, godspeed the death of macho, if that’s going help facilitate the shift. But I would fear, from the straw sticking out of his sad, thread-bare Zegna, that reports of its death are indeed an exaggeration.