I can get from my house to the in-laws three different ways: by car, by subway, and by bike.
The drive from my house to the in-laws, according to the Honda app linked to my car, emits about 200g of carbon into the air. That's not including the other externalities such as local air pollution, noise, and just being traffic. It costs about ¥100 in fuel and maintenance. This is only economicaly because a neighbor lets us park on some of their land for free. Otherwise we'd need to add ¥400 - ¥600 for temporary car storage. There is no view, just narrow roads. Depending on traffic, it takes about 20 - 30 minutes and I arrive feeling stressed.
Going by the subway costs ¥252 one way and there's a 10 minute walk on either side. This is more efficient than the car because a) there's many more people riding the same vehicle, b) it's electric (though that power may be coming from coal). The view is nothing, because it's mostly underground. Total trip time is about 30 - 35 minutes.
Lastly, I can go by bicycle. It costs me nothing. It's powered by peanut butter and bananas. The view is rice fields and a river. I arrive feeling happy and calm, because I was looking at nice scenery and getting some exercise.
While the concept of a personal carbon footprint was invented by big oil, each trip we can take that doesn't emit carbon emissions does make difference. Each trip is an opportunity. An opportunity to pick the means of less impact. Less noise. Less pollution. Less traffic. Less carbon.
But it's also an opportunity to inspire your community. It's an opportunity to be the change you want to see. At first it might just be you. But someone might see you and think "I can do that." and take their bike next time. And someone seems them riding their bike and has the same thought. It an opportunity to normalize riding a bike as transport in your community.
More people ride bikes when they see people riding bikes. More people riding bikes means more demand for proper infrastructure. More people riding bikes means less local air pollution and a happy, healthier, calmer community.
When you have the choice, take your bike.
Sushil Reddy, founder of the SunPedal project, is using his legs and the sun to prove that solar power and electric bikes are viable solutions for reducing fossil fuel use and helping to solve the climate crisis.What a cool bike and a cool project. Hopefully they finish it safely. 🙏🏻
Discover contemporary cycling culture in three European cities: Berlin, the unofficial capital of vintage racing bikes. London, where cycle-cafés also hold speed dating evenings and Amsterdam where cyclists stand out from the crowd with style.A great documentary series about cycling from 2018. With interviews and footage with bike couriers in Berlin, cycle fashion bloggers in Copenhagen, it inspired me to take out my cross-bike instead of the eBike mama-chari for the first time in ages. I wish I had a reason to ride it more.
I love the sub-culture around bikes. Not the lycra wearing weekend racers, but the everyday riders. Riding for transport. Or work. Or whatever. Each bike as unique as its owner. And each ride in the city, a small protest against the car dominance that is killing us all.
I mostly drink two things: black coffee and water. Unless I actively think about it, I usually don't drink enough water in a given day. While I enjoy the taste of water, I have a habit of just sipping my coffee and getting a refill from the maker when it runs out.
This isn't a good habit. Sometimes when I go to sleep at night, about an hour after I fall asleep, I'll wake up with my feet feeling sore. Problems if your feet at night cause me alarm. Usually as feet problems can be signs of diabetes.But it can also be cause by having tired feet because you were on them all day and they're tired. Or, as I discovered, dehydration.
Drinking nothing but black coffee, which dehydrates despite being a liquid, is a good way to end up really dehydrated. In an effort to drink more water I've been taking my old Laken water bottle with my coffee upstairs with me when I start work. Doing so has kept me drinking more water and I can't remember the last time I my feet were sore at night.
I love my little Laken. It's forest green. I've had it for probably a decade at this point. It has a dent at the top that gives it some character. The cap has a great clip that I can use to attach it to my bag so it doesn't fall out.
But it's a bit small, only about 500ml. I often find myself needing to buy a bottle of water to refill it, which defeats the purpose. And that clip I love? It's kind of a pain to unhook when I'm walking around town and want a quick drink. The mouth is also a bit small, about the size of a regular plastic bottle, so I always spill a bit when filling it up. And it's not insulated, so it sweats as much as I do during summer.
So I upgraded today to a 946ml (32oz) Hydro Flask. It's the opposite of my first bottle. It's big. It's got double-wall insulation, so it won't sweat and drinks keep cold/hot. I can put hot liquids in it. The mouth is huge. The lid doesn't have a hook, but it does have a loop that I can use to strap it to my bag. It's freakin' purple (technically "eggplant"). It's a tank.
My old water bottle lasted me a decade still has plenty of life left in it. I hope this one keeps me hydrated for many years to come.
Urban transportation is central to the effort to slow climate change. It can’t be done by just switching to electric cars. Several cities are starting to electrify mass transit.It's really great to see how varied the methods of transport they're installing are. The photos are also really great.
Yokohama trialed some fully electric buses recently, but they found trouble with the hills and battery life. I think it was as these were retrofitted buses using 3-old Nissan Leaf batteries. I hope they switch the fleet over to electric asap though, as the noise and fumes at the bus centers are horrible.
“It has become a reasonable position to advocate for less space for cars,” said Felix Creutzig, a transportation specialist at the Mercator Research Center in Berlin. “Ten years ago, it was not even allowed to be said. But now you can say it.”
My favorite quote and I am happy this is becoming the case. Felix, welcome to The War on Cars.
One of my recent quests in life is to reduce the amount of meat that I consume. There isn't a single reason why, but rather it feels like a manifestation of slow culmination of thoughts and beliefs.
Whether it be literal less i.e. physically driving less or buying less junk or less in the sense of slow, the idea of less has always had an appeal to me. Better living with less. This thinking is counter to a lot of those I grew up around and was a constant source of conflict.
Why now? Why meat? I can't give can exact reason for why now, other than, why not now? Why meat? The answer to that is more complex.Each burger we consume comes with a at least of costs baked in: the direct cost of a life of the animal and environmental (cutting down forest to make room for cows, shipping animals across an ocean to get processed in a foreign country, just to be shipped back to their origin for sale).
The first is true no matter what. I'm mostly fine with that cost. It's the circle of life. I'm glad it's not me that has to do it. If it were, I'd probably be vegan. The second, the environmental costs, can be controlled, or at least managed by our consumption choices. Do we go for the cheap back of mince from the super center or do we go for the grass-fed at Whole Foods?
The Power of Defaults
When I was in my teens I was massively overweight. I was well over 100kg and only 172cm. While 172cm hasn't changed, but I'm currently in the low 70's (still too high, but I digress). What made this possible wasn't exercise, but learning about the power of defaults.
If you can change your default, you can make substantial changes with significantly less effort. So if your goal is to lose weight, it's less work to reduce consumption rather than burn off excess calories consumed. By changing my default from burger, fries, and a coke to burger and a diet coke or just burger or maybe the chicken sandwich could shave off 600+ calories, which is at least an hours worth of running. And since it's just a default, if I really wanted fries or a coke that day, I could, but I had to make the decision.
Likewise, I've changed my defaults for meat. As beef as it has a higher CO2 footprint per kilogram than pork or chicken, I mostly stopped buying beef and replace it with pork or chicken. Default changed to not beef. The other default I've been working on default: no meat.
Changing DefaultsMy default breakfast has changed from toast with eggs, and maybe some sausage or bacon to toast with peanut butter and a banana. I can still eat an egg if I want, but I usually don't.
Lunch is harder to default for me, but I've been defaulting to less or no meat dishes. I'll have some pasta (either a butter-soy-garlic Japanese style pasta, or a Naprotian (sans bacon as is traditional)), taco rice (with beans instead of meat or just little meat), or onigiri with a Japanese style omelette (tamago-yaki).
Dinner still typically has some kind of meat or fish component, but it's no longer the main. It's used more like a spice. To replace the gap we've been increasing the variety of vegetables that we buy and eat in it's place.
I don't have a particular goal of becoming vegetarian or vegan (though many creatives I respect are e.g. Moby, Casey Neistat etc..), but I may end up there.
For now it's just a journey of exploring life with less meat. A life with less harm. A life with more veg. A life with different defaults.
The fundamental goal of the adults in any society is to protect their young and do everything they can to leave a better world than the one they inherited. The current generation of adults, and those that came before, are failing at a global scale.I agree with that and I can't understand why the older generation doesn't seem to care. Is it really just "change is hard" and "not gonna effect me"?
Using my talents to make a direct impact to allow for systemic change is my major motivator for changing jobs.
A bit over 4 years ago I moved back to Japan, without a stable job. I had been contracting for 3 or 4 years in the US, but a difference in time zones (GMT+9 vs GMT - 4) made that difficult to maintain. I had heard about a Python shop called BeProud and they were remote friendly.
There weren't many remote friendly companies at the time in Japan, let alone companies that specialized in Python consulting. Being full-remote friendly signaled to me that they'd have a progressive company culture where I'd fit.
It was a fun just over 4 years, my longest tenure to date. My co-workers were great, bosses nice, and the projects (mostly) fun. Work-life balance is taken seriously (I took 6-weeks of (paid) parental leave after my son was born without any issues – something that's still rare in Japan).
If you can speak Japanese and sling Python, they're a great company filled with great people.
So why leave?
Climate change. Like many, for years I've worried about climate change. But I didn't know where to begin, beyond voting for people that take it seriously and reduce flights/driving where possible. But the challenge is bigger than any individual.
The most important change society is going to need to make is is getting our emissions to net zero. As fast as we can. And the biggest leaver is changing how we power (⚡️) our society. Japan currently gets 69% of its electricity from fossil fuels. Any way I can help lower this number, beyond just changing my personal electricity, is something worth spending my time and effort doing.
Like many, while I am worried about climate change and want to help, each time I looked for how I could get involved in non-superficial ways it either required engineering or chemistry expertise that I don't have or in the wrong location or some other factor that didn't line up. Until now.
Octopus Energy, one of Europe's largest investors in renewable energy, is a working to make a "green dent in the universe". They do this in a number of ways:
1. As an electricity provider, they offer dynamic tariffs that move with the wholesale price of electricity. Using data science and machine learning, they then help their customers take advantage of renewables by increasing electricity usage when there's an abundance of energy on the grid (which is usually when there's a lot of renewables producing electricity) and reduce usage when there's less abundance (and usually dirtier, fossil fuels).
2. They're generating their own green electricity that they put on the grid.
3. They sell and service electric vehicles
4. They're making green-Hydrogen as a service.
The system that powers all of this is called Kraken and they're bringing it to the US, Australia, and Japan (in partnership with Tokyo Gas), allowing customers to take advantage of cheap green energy and reduce demand when it's mostly fossil fuels.
Starting in October, I'll be working on the integrations that allow Kraken to be used in Japan and helping de-carbonize Japan's electricity supply. Hopefully over the coming years this 69% will decrease.With any luck, my work will directly contribute to driving that number to 0% as quick as possible.
While I'm sad to leave BeProud and co-workers I enjoyed working for and with, the opportunity to use my skills to fight climate change in a meaningful way is not one that I could pass up. To my new co-workers, I look forward to working together to make our green dent.
Among Giants is a short documentary about a group of activists who lived in the trees of a Humboldt County redwood forest for four years in order to stop logging in the area.4 years. Glad they were successful.
On the need for low-carbon and sustainable computing and the path towards zero-carbon computing.Computing and infrastructure currently use around 11% of the world's electricity and is projected to grow 3 - 4 times over the next 20 years. As makers of software (and hardware) we've got to find a way to extend the lifespan of devices for as long as possible.
Taking into account the carbon cost of both operation and production, computing would be responsible for 10 GtCO₂e by 2040, almost half of the acceptable CO₂ emissions budget
The report about the cost of planned obsolescence by the European Environmental Bureau  makes the scale of the problem very clear. For laptops and similar computers, manufacturing, distribution and disposal account for 52% of their Global Warming Potential (i.e. the amount of CO₂-equivalent emissions caused). For mobile phones, this is 72%. The report calculates that the lifetime of these devices should be at least 25 years to limit their Global Warming Potential.
25-years on the same mobile phone. I can't even imagine. I'd love it if that were possible in today's world. Maybe if it was a "dumb" phone. But even then wireless network's lifespans aren't even that long these days.
I used my iPhone 6S+ for around 4 years until a pin broke on it and I could no longer charge it. "Repairing" it (my first option) would have meant getting a new iPhone 6S+ for half the cost of a brand new iPhone XR. I hope I can keep my phone for at least as long as I've had my current computer (7 - 8 years).