Is power ultimately > compute constraint in AI?

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Animal suffering roundup

The moral uncertainty presented by taking a position on issues relating to animal suffering has been a topic of conversation I’ve run into lately. It’s a total landmine of emotional opinions, rightfully so.

I noticed some commentary online lately, thought I would bookmark some of it:

Eric Margolis points out some rather appalling issues I didn’t know existed.

This one is actually tongue and cheek, but relates to the next link..

This conversation opens up a can of worms:

Animals in the wild often suffer a great deal. What, if anything, should we do about that?

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Does water conservation make sense where you live?

Insert Toronto here for exactly how I felt ten years ago in grad school at a water conference where the assumption is the government is not doing enough to incentivize water conservation.

<sarcasm> Because it always makes sense to spend more on water conservation, recycling, and banning plastics.. and you’re not a good person if you want to make economic choices to prioritize environmental spending that doesn’t fall in line. </sarcasm>

Water Conservation for Michigan – Why?

I suppose I should go along with this: I consider myself a conservationist, and I’m running for Oakland County water resources director. I should go along with the Association for Planning, both from a desire for a good environment, and a desire for their support. The problem is, for most residents here and in neighboring Macomb and Wayne County the water can not run out because it is all recycled.

The map below shows the clean water system for south-east Michigan. The high-population areas of Oakland County and surrounding counties (the ones that are colored in the map) get their water from the Detroit River or slightly upstream in Lake Huron. It’s cleaned, pumped, disinfected and carried to your home along the main pipes shown, and after you use the water, it travels back along another set of pipes to the water treatment plant and back into the Detroit River. All the water you use is recycled.

Map of the main drinking-water pipes serving south-east Michigan

Map of the main drinking-water pipes serving south-east Michigan

When the system is working well, the water we dump back into the Detroit River is cleaner than the water we took in. So why legislate agains too much personal usage? So long as a customer is willing to pay for the going rate for pumping, cleaning and delivery, 1.5¢ per gallon, who cares if that customer wastes the water? Feel free to flush twice, or use a high-volume shower head like in this Seinfeld episode. Enjoy it; we can not run out. The more you use, the less everyone pays per gallon.


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Grass fed meat, soils, and sustainability

This one has been hitting paleo blogosphere quite a bit which is so great to see (Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser). But I still have to post up a link to Allan Savory’s TED talk, because it is just so good and such an important message.

This hits home in so many ways for me. For years since I became interested in food and diet from an evolutionary perspective I knew it is about more than just some narcissistic attempt to perfect oneself. The fact that our species is all in on row farming and eating whack foods is holding down the IQ of impoverished populations, destroying soils and disconnecting us from an interest in where we live, is surely to blame for much of current mental illness and diseases, and connects in to the most critical economic issues of our time around asinine agricultural subsidies. I stopped preaching to people around me about what makes sense to eat a long time ago, but it’s very hard to disassociate food from so many other issues.

Having an environmental science background I’ve been wanting to dig in to some writing on food and local/regional environmental management for some time but for now I’m glad to see it get covered. I’m so over exposed to the term “sustainability” at this point that I tend to distance myself from “environmentalists” who often take up the most ridiculous causes. But I hope one day I can fold in more meaningful action into my work and personal life. For now I’m happy to see select folks like Robb Wolf in this post last year take it up and represent thoughtful “sustainability”, and hope that more high profile economists like Tyler Cowen continue to recognize that soil management should be at the very top of the list of environmental issues.

If you’re looking for some inspiration from people with boots on the ground actually managing land properly with pastured animals check out these podcasts with Polyface’s Joel Salatin or Alderspring’s Glenn Elzinga. Scientist Mat Lalonde gets credit for mentioning the disaster of grains in the middle east on many of his gem podcasts as well, such as this one.

Other links:
Savory Institute

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Patrick Moore back in spotlight?

Came to my attention that controversial “environmentalist” Patrick Moore is speaking in Sudbury this May. Looks like he has a new book called Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: the Making of a Sensible Environmentalist. I plan on giving the book a read but it’s a little pricey so I’ll wait until TPL picks it up.

I recall hearing him interviewed a few times and seems like a sensible guy though I haven’t looked at his positions on all issues. Emphasis on trees and forests, and de-emphasizing wind and solar power sounds good to me.

Here’s a fairly recent radio interview.

Here’s Greenpeace ripping on him.



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