As The Future Melts Away

I’ve always been a sucker for a good time lapse.  This one strikes me as a time lapse within a time lapse.  It’s half a day, compressed into less than 5 minutes, with people flitting around like moths, posing for pictures with an ice sculpture of the future.  Only the time lapse eyes of the camera can see what’s happening.  And by the end the passers by probably can’t even tell what the message might have been.  But the art is a piece of time lapse too.  A century or a millennium compressed into a day of melting.  Even that is a stretch for our attention span.  Even the 5 minute video seems long and slow.  How can we create a society with a more meditative mindset?  With an attention span that reflects the extent of our impacts in deep time?

 

Passive Passion

Passive Passion is a great 20 minute long documentary about the German Passive House energy efficiency standard.  It looks at the roots of the design standard in Germany, and gives a bunch of examples of implementations in Europe, from single family homes to row houses, apartment buildings, public housing, office buildings, etc.  Talks about what makes the standard work: airtight building envelopes, super insulation, no thermal bridging, heat recovering ventilation.  Also looks at a few builders and designers in the US trying to popularize these methods, and do it cost effectively.  Clearly it’s possible, we just have to decide to do it!

Vaclav Smil – Drivers of environmental change: focus on energy transitions – YouTube

Vaclav Smil on the the scale and difficulty of executing an energy transition for the civilization.  “Calculate with me!” he says, before diving into a bunch of order-of-magnitude demonstrations that this is all much harder than we might like to think.  He’s very pessimistic about the large-scale integration of intermittent resources, and also about humanity’s ability to initiate a change voluntarily.  Would like to understand those positions better… and still continue to disagree with them.  The talk is long and rambling, but he’s so clearly engaged and emphatic that it doesn’t matter.

Markets and Morals

A good talk from Chautauqua on the interaction between markets and morals.  Some interesting examples of morally ambiguous markets: countries paying one another to take on refugee acceptance obligations and the outsourcing pregnancy to impoverished surrogate mothers in Gujarat, India.  Sandel argues that in the last few decades we have gone from having a market economy to being a market society.  Markets are now a large portion of our governance, and it’s unclear whether this is really a good thing.

Links for the week of September 11th, 2009

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Links for the week of September 4th, 2009

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Links for the week of Jul 30th

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