David Wallace-Wells Profile picture
Central Park East, New York magazine, THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH.
Ⓢⓒⓞⓣⓣ Ⓚⓛⓞⓞⓢ Profile picture intentionally left b_ank Profile picture Petr Palan Profile picture Molly Pitcher Profile picture Jerry Stock Profile picture 10 added to My Authors
7 Apr
"Individual actions are no panacea. After reading Nicholas’ book, I used the University of California, Berkeley’s Cool Climate Calculator to take a peek at my own carbon footprint." The great @themadstone on the limits of individual climate action. (1/x) grist.org/culture/cuttin…
"I was alarmed to discover that, at around 25 metric tons of CO2 per year, it’s 10 times higher than the 2.5 metric tons per person per year researchers say we need to reach by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F)."
"But when I simulated doing everything I reasonably could do to reduce my footprint in the calculator, including getting rid of my car and going vegan, my footprint only shrank by 3 metric tons."
Read 4 tweets
25 Mar
“The ‘energy transition’ tag is a misnomer. Radically reducing fossil-fuel energy will represent an energy and an economic revolution.” The great ⁦@HelenHet20⁩: (1/x) engelsbergideas.com/essays/the-geo…
“When the first UN Climate Change Conference was held in Berlin in 1995, fossil fuels constituted 86 per cent of the world’s primary energy consumption. By 2019, that proportion had fallen by just two per cent.”
“In 2018, the increase in fossil fuel production was more than three times higher than the increase in renewables. The following year, the annual increase in fossil fuel energy consumption was slightly under that of renewables.”
Read 12 tweets
24 Mar
“More than 18,000 people had to be evacuated in Sydney and the mid-north coast, thanks to what amounted to a ‘100-year flood.’” ⁦@MichaelEMann⁩ on the harsh climate present and brutal climate future of Australia. (1/x) theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
“For the unwashed, that’s a deluge so Noachian in character that it shouldn’t, on average, happen more often than once in a hundred years.”
“But those sorts of statistics are misleading. The statistician in me notes that they make the very tenuous assumption of a ‘stationary’ climate, that is to say, a climate that isn’t changing.”
Read 6 tweets
16 Mar
One thing I left out of yesterday's big COVID piece: a press critique. Hardly any of the retrospective journalistic accounts of the last year have even acknowledged that the U.S. had not an exceptional but a typical experience. A thread (1/x) nymag.com/intelligencer/…
In its way, this is not surprising—Americans contemplating the pandemic year would be foolish to overlook the many failures, mistakes, and unusually American problems that seemed to shape our experience of the disease, beginning with a sociopathically indifferent president.
Those failures are many: the FDA rejecting a coronavirus test the WHO had authorized, the CDC developing a faulty one of its own, the CDC meddled with and muzzled by federal higher-ups...
Read 30 tweets
15 Mar
“Western invulnerability was a myth, of course, but what the pandemic revealed was much worse than just average levels of susceptibility and weakness. It was these countries that suffered most, died most, flailed most.” (1/x) nymag.com/intelligencer/…
“This fact, though not unknown, is probably the most salient and profound feature of what has been a tremendously uneven pandemic with the world’s longtime ‘winners’ becoming by far its biggest losers.”
“For decades, the richest nations of the world had told themselves a story in which wealth and medical superiority offered, if not total immunity from disease, then certainly a guarantee against pandemics, regarded as a premodern residue of the underdeveloped world.”
Read 8 tweets
15 Mar
"In the U.S., the story of the pandemic has been dominated by the president who presided over it so ineptly. But for all his sociopathic indifference, if the story were all about Trump, American failure would look exceptional, too. It doesn't." (1/x) nymag.com/intelligencer/…
"In fact, before the arrival of vaccines, the American experience of the coronavirus was not exceptional but typical — at least among those European nations it typically considers its peers. "
"The metric of deaths per capita is crude, but by this basic standard the U.S. has suffered less than the U.K., Portugal, and the Czech Republic. It sits clustered with a number of other European nations — Italy, Spain, France — near the E.U. average."
Read 40 tweets
15 Mar
There have been, practically, three distinct global pandemics. In Europe and the Americas, disaster. In the global South, high caseloads and low death rates. In East Asia and Oceania, inarguable success containing the disease. A thread (1/x): nymag.com/intelligencer/…
"You can compare countries within these clusters, and wonder why Canada has outperformed the U.S. or why Uruguay has outshone Argentina, why Iran suffered so much or how Japan, which never locked down and never tested all that widely, succeeded so brilliantly."
"But the differences in outcomes between the groups of nations are far greater than those within them, so much so that they appear almost as the burn scars of entirely different diseases."
Read 13 tweets
2 Mar
“Extreme weather patterns and flooding worsened by climate change are adversely affecting the health of babies born in the Amazon rainforest.” (1/x) newscientist.com/article/226957…
In a study of 300,000 babies born between 2006 and 2017 in the Brazilian Amazon, researchers “found that babies in riverside communities were more likely to be born premature (before 37 weeks) and underweight following extreme weather like floods and droughts.”
(“Low birth weights and prematurity are associated with negative outcomes in education, health and income throughout life and subsequent generations.”)
Read 7 tweets
28 Feb
“In what may be the most comprehensive evaluation of the environment in Australia, we show major and iconic ecosystems are collapsing across the continent. These systems sustain life and their demise shows we’re exceeding planetary boundaries.” (1/x) theconversation.com/amp/existentia…
“We found 19 Australian ecosystems met our criteria to be classified as ‘collapsing.’ This includes the arid interior, savannas and mangroves, the Great Barrier Reef, Shark Bay, kelp and alpine ash forests, tundra on Macquarie Island, and moss beds in Antarctica.”
“We define collapse as the state where ecosystems have changed in a substantial, negative way from their original state – such as species or habitat loss, or reduced vegetation or coral cover – and are unlikely to recover.”
Read 6 tweets
25 Feb
“The future will not be like the past. Our models are degrading by the day, and we don’t understand — we don’t want to understand — how much in society could topple when they fail, and how much suffering that could bring.” (1/x) nytimes.com/2021/02/25/opi…
“One place to start is by recognizing how fragile the basic infrastructure of civilization is even now, in this climate, in rich countries. Which brings me to Texas.”
“Two facts from that crisis have gotten less attention than they deserve. First, the cold in Texas was not a generational climatic disaster.”
Read 8 tweets
25 Feb
“A negationist is a conscious liar. It is someone who'd rather live in a fabricated reality based on a fabricated past, even if this may mean negating the suffering of millions.” (1/x) bigthink.com/13-8/science-d…
“A negationist lives in a world that only exists in their mind, usually motivated by self-interest; power or money, mostly. Denial is different. Surprising as it may seem, we are all very good at denial.”
“We may deny that we are sick, or that the person we love doesn't love us back, or that we are not competent to do a job. Sports fans of losing teams deny reality and go back to the stadium with hope refreshed.”
Read 4 tweets
21 Feb
“The findings show that covid-19 deaths accounted for 15-20% of all sampled deaths - many more than official reports suggest and contradicting the widely held view that covid-19 has largely skipped Africa and had little impact.” (1/x)
“They also show that covid-19 deaths occurred across a wider age spectrum than reported elsewhere and were concentrated among people aged under 65, including an unexpectedly high number of deaths in children.”
“The absence of data on covid-19 in Africa has fostered a widely held view that the virus has largely skipped Africa and had little impact. However, this may be an example of the ‘absence of evidence’ being widely misconstrued as ‘evidence of absence.’”
Read 6 tweets
12 Feb
"They're going to be chasing variants around the globe for the foreseeable future, and have made a death pact for endemic spread—it's never going to go away." says @gregggonsalves, in a great podcast with @jameshamblin and @maevehiggins. (1/x) podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6L…
"We're now in a path where we're going to have these cycles of coronavirus outbreaks as there are gaps in vaccination across the U.S. and across the world, and as new variants emerge that might be less susceptible to vaccines that we put out into the field."
"We could be lucky. Maybe these variants don't emerge that escape the ability to be neutralized by the antibodies raised by these vaccines, but, you know, we have hundreds of millions of people infected, and while this virus isn't as great a mutation generator as HIV, but..."
Read 5 tweets
12 Feb
In his book American Crisis, Andrew Cuomo addressed his nursing home policy in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic at some length. It was always a defensive, tone-deaf account; given what we now know about his data falsification, it is outrageous. A thread... (1/x)
"The most painful aspect of the COVID crisis has been its
devastating effect on our elderly in nursing homes," he writes. "Understanding the threat, on March 13, we were taking every precaution that we could think of."
"Even before New York had a single COVID death, we banned visitors from going into nursing homes for fear that they might be transmitting the virus, and we required PPE, temperature checks, and cohorting of residents with COVID."
Read 13 tweets
12 Feb
"Imagine you are setting across the table from two people both of whom are 65 or older, both with underlying health conditions. You have two doses of vaccine, one in each hand...." @mtosterholm on the covid vaccine dosing dilemma. marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolu… (1/x)
"And you say to them I can give two doses to you or to you but then the other person gets nothing. Or I can give one dose to both of you."
"This is what I know. At the very least, one dose is likely to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. Two doses will probably even prevent clinical disease with B.1.1.7."
Read 5 tweets
11 Feb
Seasonality, vaccines, variants, caseloads—the country is in a confusing place right now. I spoke with ⁦@michaelmina_lab⁩, probably the most incisive epidemiological thinker in this pandemic, about all of it. A thread of his many observations (1/x). nymag.com/intelligencer/…
“My personal feeling is we are seeing the benefits of seasonality hit, which I know some of my colleagues don’t agree with.” The conventional wisdom is that seasonality wouldn’t abate before the spring, but “it’s not uncommon for coronaviruses to essentially start dropping now.”
“Most of the known coronaviruses have something on the order of a three-month window where they’re really infectious — when they’re really transmitting.” We may be leaving that window behind now.
Read 38 tweets
9 Feb
“The virus still has a huge amount of kinetic energy out there in society. And what we’ve learned is even when you take the kinetic energy out, there’s just a huge amount of potential energy left.” ⁦@DrMikeRyan to ⁦@HelenBranswell⁩ (1/x) statnews.com/2021/02/09/a-q…
“And unless and until a huge proportion of the world’s population is immune to this virus, the potential energy in the virus will remain. It’s a fact.”
“What I see emerging ultimately is a Covid-19 control program, hopefully integrated into our influenza control program, so we have a much better way of dealing with respiratory viruses as ongoing threats.”
Read 5 tweets
29 Jan
“Pandemic anxiety has turned lately to the question of viral evolution—the possibility that the disease might be outracing our efforts to contain it.” Of all the new strains, the Brazilian variant may be most concerning. (1/x) nymag.com/intelligencer/…
“In the Amazonian city of Manaus, where antibodies had been previously estimated in 76% of the population, there has been a horrifying and deadly dramatic second wave, right in the middle of Brazilian summer in a place believed to have already developed true herd immunity.”
“A new ‘Comment’ published Wednesday in the Lancet surveys what we know about the Manaus variant, and offers four possible explanations for what has happened there. None of them are good. Three are quite terrifying.”
Read 26 tweets
20 Jan
The world has emitted a quarter of all the carbon it has ever produced in the twelve years since Joe Biden was inaugurated as vice-president in 2009.
Since 2009, and the last time a Democratic president was inaugurated, about 400 billion tons of carbon have been emitted into the atmosphere.
Back then, there were 386 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere, 36 above the "safe" level of 350 ppm. Today the figure is 414.
Read 5 tweets
19 Jan
Climate change is much bigger than the U.S., and addressing it much more complicated than electing a new president. But on the eve of the inauguration, a thread to show just what a different world the new president is inheriting. (1/x) nymag.com/intelligencer/…
"The price of solar energy has fallen ninefold over the past decade, as has the price of lithium batteries, critical to the growth of electric cars."
"The costs of utility-scale batteries, which could solve the “intermittency” (i.e., cloudy day) problem of renewables and help power whole cities in relatively short order, have fallen 70 percent since just 2015."
Read 18 tweets
26 Dec 20
The alarming lead story in the New York Times this morning concerns the growth of COVID-19 through Africa, where the cumulative death total from the disease is less than 45 per million. In the U.S. it is 975 per million—more than 20 times worse. nytimes.com/2020/12/26/wor…
The story is primarily about caseloads, since the age structure of Africa means the disease has been much less lethal there.
While official counts underestimate the number of true infections throughout Africa (as they do in the U.S.), the contrast in cases is just as stark: 2,000 per million there, 56,000 per million here.
Read 7 tweets