Andrew Sullivan: My Distraction Sickness — and Yours

Since the invention of the printing press, every new revolution in information technology has prompted apocalyptic fears. From the panic that easy access to the vernacular English Bible would destroy Christian orthodoxy all the way to the revulsion, in the 1950s, at the barbaric young medium of television, cultural critics have moaned and wailed at every turn. Each shift represented a further fracturing of attention — continuing up to the previously unimaginable kaleidoscope of cable TV in the late-20th century and the now infinite, infinitely multiplying spaces of the web. And yet society has always managed to adapt and adjust, without obvious damage, and with some more-than-obvious progress. So it’s perhaps too easy to view this new era of mass distraction as something newly dystopian.

But it sure does represent a huge leap from even the very recent past. The data bewilder. Every single minute on the planet, YouTube users upload 400 hours of video and Tinder users swipe profiles over a million times. Each day, there are literally billions of Facebook “likes.” Online outlets now publish exponentially more material than they once did, churning out articles at a rapid-fire pace, adding new details to the news every few minutes. Blogs, Facebook feeds, Tumblr accounts, tweets, and propaganda outlets repurpose, borrow, and add topspin to the same output.

Paying for Urban Infrastructure in Canada

Local governments in Canada are on the front lines of climate change impacts, but the cost of adapting infrastructure to flooding and other climate-driven challenges is a barrier to implementation. This report, developed by ACT through a project supported by Natural Resources Canada under the program of the Economics Working Group of Canada’s Adaptation Platform and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, identifies and analyzes the applications and suitability of funding sources available to Canadian local governments that can be used to pay for urban climate change adaptation, as well as innovative measures that may be implemented in the future under certain conditions.

The Future of Oil Supply

The Future of Oil - Mad Max

This study by Richard G. Miller and Steven R. Sorrell for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (a scientific journal with 350 years of research behind it) is provided here for two reasons. First, the study is thorough and fascinating, a valuable resource for anyone in the industry or considering divestment. However, the second reason I have provided it here, is that it also represents a time capsule of sorts. The study was published in 2013, which is not long ago, but in climate and energy landscape in the world, it is a very long time ago indeed. In 2013, the question was still, 'when will we hit peak oil'. Now, the question is, 'How soon can we divest from oil before it is worth more in the ground?' Also, it will be interesting to return to this article in a few years hence to see just where it stands in relation to the petroleum industry (and age) at that time.

The Petroleum Industry through the Lens of Mythology

Water makes life possible, while oil is toxic to most life. Water in its pure state is clear; oil is dark. Water dissolves; oil congeals. Water has inspired great poetry and literature. Our language is full of allusions to springs, depths, currents, rivers, seas, rain, mist, dew, and snowfall....We think of time flowing like a river. We cry oceans of tears. We ponder the wellsprings of thought. Oil, on the contrary, has had no such effect on our language. To my knowledge, it has given rise to no poetry, hymns, or great literature, and probably to no flights of imagination other than those of pecuniary accumulation.