Medley 270: Climate, Ethereum, Nuclear, Media Bubbles, California, Science...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

DeFi Orientation is off to a fantastic start. There are about 300 people in the program now, and everyone's been asking questions and sharing tips in the Discord. It's been really seeing more people dive into this world.

And on that note, I published a piece last week on Ethereum 2.0, and how its Proof of Stake model will cut its energy usage by 99.95%, solving the environmental concerns.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of Climate Change

This was one of the better (and funnier!) pieces on climate change I've read in a while.

There are two points in it really worth highlighting. One, that California might completely burn down this year which is mostly the fault of politicians. And two, that politicians who really care about climate change need to be pushing for nuclear.

California is supposed to have some millions of acres of forest burn per year. Wildfires are a natural part of the ecosystem. But politicians have tried to completely stop the burn which has created a backlog of tens of millions of acres of unburnt forest, which means that when a fire does start, it will be way worse.

Solana says it well here:

"Global warming is just our leadership’s excuse for their own committed incompetence... California needs a housing policy that facilitates an increase in urban density, and a well-funded strategy for controlled burning. There is presently broad aversion to such housing strategy among state leaders, and Gavin Newsom just cut 150 million dollars from our wildfire prevention budget."

What makes it worse is that while politicians are blaming problems they created on global warming, they're preventing actually good solutions to global warming from being implemented. Specifically, nuclear power.

"The FernGully left’s obsession with eradicating nuclear power is the point at which the fight against global warming most obviously diverges from anti-consumerist environmentalism... we need to expel from government every single idiot who argues the world is going to end in a decade because of carbon in the atmosphere while at the same time working tirelessly to dismantle our only safe, reliable, abundant source of carbon-neutral energy."

There's really no way to look at all the data on nuclear and the advances in technology and not be blown away by what an incredible solution it could be to our climate crisis. Anyone who argues nuclear is dangerous, or risky, or won't work, just hasn't looked at the data, or is trying to win an election.

Steven Pinker has a great longer piece on it, and if you want a laugh, check out the deaths per terawatt hour from all energy sources. Solar kills more people than nuclear!

And yes I know the Taleb fans are going to say something about "tail risk." But it's so incredibly manageable, especially in the US. Even if a nuclear reactor somehow re-created a Hiroshima sized explosion, that's not actually very big. Chernobyl was a scary event for sure, but surprisingly few people died. And that was ancient, hilariously bad technology compared to what they can do now.

Nuclear is incredible, it's such a slam dunk solution. Politicians saying we need to do something about global warming who aren't also pushing for more nuclear energy care more about their votes than actually saving the world.

The World of Discourse

Zeynep Tufekci wrote a good piece on the Media Bubble surrounding the lab leak hypothesis and how that dialogue has shifted on that topic over the last year.

"The media coverage has been so bad, and so motivated in one direction in especially traditional liberal media, that when people suggest that the lab location is curious, they are met with the argument that there is nothing suspicious to the location simply because labs are set up where the viruses are."

This topic is interesting to me because it's the latest in a string of rapid media consensus shifts that we can watch play out in real time, and which with a little reflection, continue to raise questions about whether we can trust our institutions to be honest or give us good advice.

A year and a half ago, you were crazy if you thought COVID was going to be a big deal.

Then, you were crazy if you were wearing a mask. I think it took less than a month, maybe less than 2 weeks, for the narrative to switch from "masks don't work, don't be ridiculous" to "If you don't wear a mask you don't believe in science."

Then you were crazy if you thought COVID might have come from the Wuhan lab. Now that's acceptable, and we're just gonna ignore (or change) the headlines from last year and forget the social media censorship around asking that question.

Until the last 10 years or so, we didn't have access to real-time information from people all over the world with which to come to our own interpretations of things. Now we can, and that access to information is exposing just how unreliable many of our oracles are, whether they're legacy media institutions, government officials, or academics. Those oracles have gotten so many things wrong over the last year and a half it would be unscientific to think that whatever the narrative is today is accurate.

So what's the next thing being labeled as crazy that in a year will be broadly accepted?

The Ivermectin case is interesting, and I wouldn't be too surprised if that turns out to be it. Discussion of Ivermectin gets censored on most social media since it gets lumped in with all of the "un-scientific" COVID management topics.

But the limited evidence we have so far for using Ivermectin as prophylaxis or early treatment looks really promising. More promising than anything else we've tried so far. But the research is still early and there aren't any proper randomized controlled trials out yet, so there are legitimate criticisms of drawing conclusions at this point.

What's concerning though is that this is a discussion about science, by scientists, who are trying to figure out how to manage this disease, and it's getting censored because it's not currently in the Overton window. It's not clear why one class of solutions is allowed to be discussed and another isn't, but it's concerning. And it's actively getting in the way of helping save people from death or chronic illness.

It feels like we're going to fragment more and more into our own information worlds. There will be a mainstream left media bubble, a mainstream right media bubble, then lots of little satellite bubbles based on where you get your information from, and dialogue across bubbles will be almost impossible because the source of truth is so different.

It's the same problem as discussions of faith across religious lines. Someone who looks to CNN for their 5 daily prayers can't communicate with someone whose Sunday Service involves catching up on InfoWars. They're in different worlds. Neither is necessarily more informed or the one who "believes in science." They've both abdicated decision-making to a preacher they align with.

But staying up on everything happening in the world is impossible, so we have to pick a preacher. We have to pick a bubble. Otherwise, one gets chosen for us.

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,

Nat

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