all posts tagged 'sustainability'

Seabound: Charting a Course to Decarbonize Shipping

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Seabound’s carbon capture technology diverts a ship’s exhaust gas into a container full of small pebbles of calcium oxide, which chemically react with CO2 in the exhaust gas to form calcium carbonate. In other words, we make limestone onboard ships, effectively locking the CO2 into small pebbles. When the ship returns to port, we offload the limestone and either: 1) sell it for use as a building material, or 2) recycle the pebbles to separate the CO2 from the calcium oxide so that we can reuse the calcium oxide to capture more CO2 on another ship, and then sell the pure CO2 for clean fuel production or geological sequestration.

Our process is unique because we only capture the CO2 onboard and leave it locked in limestone, rather than trying to separate and liquefy the pure CO2 from the limestone onboard as well. These steps of separation and liquefaction are typically the most complicated, expensive, and energy-intensive for carbon capture technologies, which is why we’ve shifted them to shore where we can leverage economies of scale and land-based energy infrastructure.

This is the sort of solution I want to be a part of. How cool of a concept is this?!

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Should we abolish busyness?

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In my explorations of “sustainable business”, I'm often wondering what these two words really mean. I've previously shared some ponderings about the meaning of the word “sustainability”, but what about the word business?

It turns out that it is exactly what it sounds like. The word business originates from Northumbria where the old English word “bisignes” meant care, anxiety or occupation. This evolved into “busyness”, meaning a state of being occupied or engaged. In other words, a state of being busy.

This puts a whole new perspective on the term sustainable business and makes it feel like even more of an oxymoron. If sustainability is the ability to sustain something over the long term, then sustainable business would be to stay busy indefinitely.

Is that viable?

And more importantly, is that what we really want?

As always, Tom’s on point with this essay.

I’m working hard to reduce my wants. Sounds a bit like an oxymoron (no pun intended here), but we’ve all been so conditioned to chase after the shiny thing that we hardly ever stop to ask if the shiny thing is worth coveting.

And it’s really hard to not want to go after the shiny new thing. Getting laid off made it easy to not insta-buy a Vision Pro, but the hype leading up to its release sure got me intrigued.

I’m glad I didn’t, in retrospect, because the reviews aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire.

But this is just one of many examples I can give about being bit by the conspicuous consumption bug.

Another thought: nothing drives me more batty about a job than when you need to track your hours.

The hardest part for me is the obligatory feeling to maximize the time you are claiming you worked.

Let’s say I write down that I spent 8 hours building your website. One of those hours included a meeting where we spent half of it talking about how our weekends went. Ethically speaking, is it wrong for me to charge for an hour of that time, or should I actually say I worked 7.5 hours on your website that day?

Of course, writing this down, it feels silly. Everybody writes down 8 hours.

But if everybody does it, then why do we do it? What gain do we get by tracking our hours? Shouldn’t the final output matter more than how much effort went into building the thing? Is time a useful representation of effort?

I dunno… every time I read Tom’s posts, it feels like there should be a better way to orchestrate our economies. It’s probably time we figure out what symphonies we should be playing before we burn our planet to the ground in the name of growth.

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Is materialism really such a bad thing?

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The French priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin famously said that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. In other words, our minds and souls are having a material experience here on Earth. You would imagine that a healthy society would therefore cherish both sides of this duality - the non-physical and the physical. The strange thing about our modern culture though is that we have rejected almost all concept of spirituality and, according to Watts, we have also forgotten the value of the material world, leaving us with nothing that we truly value.

I just finished bringing 12 full boxes of baby clothes outside for donation.

Twelve boxes of mostly mediocre fabrics stitched together to be worn, what, ten times at the most? And in some cases, never worn at all.

Twelve boxes that contained thousands of dollars worth of labor to purchase them initially, not to mention the thousands of hours of labor to stitch them together in the first place.

And while placing every single item inside those twelve boxes, I hardly felt nostalgic or wasted any time lamenting the loss of anything I was discarding.

I kept thinking of a quote that says, “Look around you. All that stuff used to be money. All that money used to be time.”

And it made me think about my anxiety surrounding my job search. Needing to get myself back into the work force, just so I can keep consuming more stuff?

I think a lot of my anxiety stems from moments where I’m unable to make sense of a given situation (or, at the very least, make peace with it).

This is the system we’re in. There’s only so much I can change about it.

My kids got so much stuff for Christmas this year. Thousands of dollars of toys, books, clothes, games.

And yet, they don’t really care about any of it.

Their Barbie dream house? It’s in shambles, with stickers peeling off the walls and various marker doodles covering the floors.

Their PAW Patrol Lookout? Shoved in the corner along with two complete sets of each of the 7 (wait, 8? wait, no, they added a few more?) characters with vehicles in various states of destruction.

The best I can hope for is that they get a few hours of enjoyment from these toys.

Because someday soon, probably within the next two years, I’ll have to grab twelve more cardboard boxes out of the garage and start placing all of those toys into them.

And there is very little about this situation that makes sense to me.

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Masnick's Impossibility Theorem: Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible To Do Well

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More specifically, it will always end up frustrating very large segments of the population and will always fail to accurately represent the “proper” level of moderation of anyone.

The argument made in this theorem that you can be 99.9% right and still be a colossal failure at scale is beautiful.

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Compounding Optimism

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The core point of this article (incremental progress is vastly underestimated and compound growth is hard to fathom) is solid, but it’s this part that stuck with me:

If you view progress as being driven by the genius of individuals, of course it’s hard to imagine a future where things are dramatically better, because no individual is orders of magnitudes smarter than average.

But when you view it as one person coming up with a small idea, another person copying that idea and tweaking it a little, another taking that insight and manipulating it a bit, another yet taking that product and combining it with something else – incremental, tiny bits, little ideas mixing, joining, blending, mutating, and compounding together – it’s suddenly much more conceivable.

This must be why I’ve been so drawn to finding a community lately.

I find it exhausting and boring being stuck all by myself, chugging through a coding problem with no one to talk to.

Mutating and remixing ideas is what gives me energy. Taking someone’s thought and tweaking it to make it better in some meaningful way. It’s the part of my job I love the most.

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Hope Beyond Rugged Individualism

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Rugged individualism is still deeply enmeshed in American culture.

And its myth is one of our biggest exports to the rest of the world.

What could happen if we replaced the philosophy of rugged individualism with a philosophy of rugged cooperation? What if we swapped out the scripts we’ve learned in an individualist culture with the curiosity and care of a collaborative culture?

And how would your business or career shift if you approached it not as your best way to climb to the top in a flawed system but as a laboratory for experimenting with ruggedly cooperative systems?

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How Olympians Embraced Mental Health After Biles Showed the Way

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The American ski racer Alice Merryweather sat out the 2020-21 season while confronting an eating disorder. She had gone to a training camp in September, hating the workouts and the time on the mountain, wondering where her love of skiing had gone. A doctor diagnosed her anorexia.

“I just kept pushing and I kept telling myself, ‘You’re supposed to love this, what’s wrong with you?’” Merryweather said. “I’m just trying to be the best athlete that I can be.”

Merryweather said that she began to open up to friends and teammates. Most knew someone else who had gone through a similar experience. “I realized, why do we not talk about this more?” Merryweather said. “I am not alone in this.”

The more I deal with my own pressure and anxieties, I wonder this same question myself.

Why don't we talk about this more?

Why is stoicism the preferred method for dealing with mental health struggles?

Why do we pretend that the things we want at the end of the day are different from most any other human?

And when will we learn that the only truly sustainable way to really get the things that you want (and the things that truly matter) is through cooperation?

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