London, United Kingdom

Delirious in London

I just hopped off an eleven hour flight from San Francisco and I feel like I’ve drunk a couple bottles of wine by myself. I’m waiting for my hotel room to open up so I can crawl under the bed, roll up into a ball, and sleep for an eternity.

Right now though I’m sat in a cafe and passing the time by reading week notes from Paul and Andy, as well as becoming one with this piece on the climate crisis in Miami and the booming real estate market there. I’m also trying to parse this piece by Luke Jackson all about how to avoid building yet another React app but I feel like I need a couple of days to myself to unwind from web tech stuff and curl up with a few books and long stories instead.

Speaking of which, on the plane I read my extremely-online pal Robinson Meyer’s piece on how Democrats plan to make climate policy exciting. It’s from way back last year but it’s marvelous and Rob perfectly describes the difficulty with passing legislation for a problem like the climate crisis:

I have come to think of this tension as climate policy’s Boring as Dirt problem: the BAD problem. The BAD problem recognizes that climate change is an interesting challenge. It is scary and massive and apocalyptic, and its attendant disasters (especially hurricanes, wildfires, and floods) make for good TV. But the policies that will address climate change do not pack the same punch. They are technical and technocratic and quite often dull. At the very least, they will never be as immediate as climate change itself. Floods are powerful, but stormwater management is arcane. Wildfires are ravenous, but electrical-grid upgrades are tedious. Climate change is frightening, but dirt is boring. That’s the BAD problem.

Some version of the BAD problem probably exists for every issue. Paying for exorbitant cancer drugs is an outrage, but advocating for state-level insurance laws that could reduce their cost is onerous. In a way, addressing the BAD problem is part of what elected officials are supposed to do in a republic. But it’s a special problem for climate change, with its all-encompassing cause and countless diffuse harms. To fix climate change, you have to pass laws about dirt. Then you have to keep them passed.

Rob then digs into how you pass that kind of legislation: give people superpowers. It’s a great piece and I don’t want to spoil any more of it. Just go read the dang thing.

I got coffee with Rob last week on a rather blustery and rainy day in the city. As we watched folks outside fight the rain we joked about writing and journalism, what makes us petty, and how we pick fights that we’re almost always going to lose.

Anyway, I’m rambling and delirious but it was one of those rare moments where someone who I admire and deeply respect popped out of the Internet and instead of being an attention seeking jerk they happen to be just as charming and brilliant as they are online.