It Should Only Take a Decade or Two…

It’s been a year since I last posted, by far the longest I’ve gone without sharing public writing since 2015. A lot has happened, of course, and I’ll spare everyone my takes on the war in/on Ukraine, carnage in the financial markets, inflation and Fed policy, etc.

A lot has happened for me personally as well: My partner and I are now officially living between Bombay and New York City (I’m writing from the former right now), and I’m now regularly being described as a “prolific angel investor” – life is strange! But if you’re working on something related to climate finance, climate data, or at the crypto-climate intersection, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

I’ve continued to be very involved in the fight for climate policy progress in New York City. (Tl;dr – the Adams administration is a train wreck, but we’ve successfully fought back and checked the worst of the mayor’s attempted abuses/rollbacks, and will continue to push in 2023 to protect our landmark victories – chief among them, Local Law 97 – and win more of them.) If you’re interested in this work, please do reach out to me, as we can always use more supporters, volunteers, etc. As one easy step, if you’re a New Yorker, you can add your name to this sign-on letter.

I’ve also continued to be very involved in crypto, which lots of people hate these days (!!). What a difference a year makes. Many of the people who hate it also know little about it, have had limited personal exposure to crypto, etc., etc., but “the industry” also hasn’t been doing itself any favors of late. Let’s see how these systems perform with the seeming end of near-zero interest rates, etc., but there are certainly a lot of ill-informed hot takes out there, as is there a lot of conflation (e.g., of centralized, unregulated, mostly offshore financial entities that happen/ed to deal in crypto with decentralized crypto protocols). Crypto is neat; it’s where finance meets sci-fi. It’s also a frontier of sorts, which has attracted a lot of charlatans and scammers. It’s also wildly technically complex, which makes it hard to understand. It’s also a convenient scapegoat/bogeyman to deflect criticism away from the existing financial system. Subsets of crypto people also have very bad politics. Etc. In short, smart, conscientious folks will disagree – as do Matt Stoller and Fred Wilson. In the meantime, I’ve been neck deep in ReFi since its emergence last fall, and am happy to be in touch with folks who have an interest in all things crypto-climate.

Revisiting my post from the 1st of January last year, I’m reminded that – although it may not be in the news – the potential collapse of the Thwaites Glacier remains as ominous as ever. At some level, beyond the very busy year I had personally and professionally, I trace my hiatus from public writing to the sense that, on the one hand, with respect to climate, the global “we” seems to have unequivocally moved out of the wait-and-see/head-in-the-sand phase, and into the complex, contradictory, muddled, and necessarily incoherent process of transition, while on the other hand, that same “we” is clearly in a messy, sometimes frightening, and (when you’re living through it) chaotic period of concomitant uncertainty. My own preoccupations remain more or less the same: Climate action at scale, the future of democracy and the future of India, the relationship between the US and China, and the divergent impacts, with respect to human flourishing, of novel technologies and the destabilization, through the breaching of planetary boundaries, of the Earth system. On the last point, it feels like trying to figure out what happens when you multiply infinity by zero.

In the spirit of avoiding bad hot takes (I’m looking at all of the pundits and public intellectuals who said and wrote a lot of hideously stupid things about the COVID-19 pandemic, and never bothered to own them) and know-nothing-ism, I find my interest drawn increasingly to dry, thorough reports like this one from the Urban Green Council (an admirable if corporatist player in New York’s climate scene) on “Exploring Equitable Electrification“; long, in-the-weeds hearings, like this Manhattan Community Board 2 meeting on the Army Corp of Engineers’ “New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Study” (a mouthful, but important, as, among other things, the Army Corps was considering fully damming the mouth of the Hudson River in ten years time!); and of course, the nicely balancing content from the Monthly Review and Nature Climate Change. I also think a decent bit about outlier events, and how important it is not to let their rarity blind us to their significance.

I thought this piece from Bill McKibben was nice, and will quote its title for effect: “Someday the climate fight will be dull–and that’s how we’ll know we’re winning”; I do think that’s what’s rapidly starting to happen.

Interested in getting more involved in climate work? Here are a bunch of resources:

  • #NotTooLate – “a project to invite newcomers to the climate movement”
  • Th!rd Act – “building a community of experienced Americans over the age of sixty determined to change the world for the better. Together, we use our life experience, skills and resources to build better tomorrow”
  • Climatebase – “Discover jobs at thousands of exciting climate tech companies and nonprofits around the world”
  • Work on Climate – “an action-oriented Slack community for people serious about climate work”
  • Terra.do – “building the world’s largest platform for climate work”
  • MCJ – “born out of a collective thirst for peer-to-peer learning & doing [… w]e attract an amalgamation of people with very different backgrounds and points of view who all care deeply about solutions to climate change”

Or if organizing is more your thing, there are always 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, New York Communities for Change, Food and Water Watch, WE ACT, NYPIRG, etc., etc., etc. For New York City-based orgs, I’m happy to facilitate intros.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out the brilliant and inspiring work that my partner Neelu continues to do around birth justice. This post, sadly, remains relevant. Who could have guessed that Governor Hochul – Andrew Cuomo’s loyal lieutenant, who is now trying to install a conservative judge as New York’s next Chief Judge of New York’s highest court – wouldn’t prove a progressive champion…

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