Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Introducing "The TradeOff"

It's official, I've moved my blogging to Substack! Here's a link to my latest posts: 

What you'll find on "The Trade Off" by Ryan Katz-Rosene
Oh great, yet another Substack...

“I’m launching a Substack” has got to be one of the most worn out and obnoxious phrases of the last two years… but I’m joining the club! Here’s why, and what you’ll find here on my Substack Newsletter, which I’m calling “The Trade Off”.

Why I’m launching The Trade Off: One, the social media sphere has changed dramatically over the last couple years. Whereas I once enjoyed crafting Twitter threads - in part to help me relay things I’ve been learning about, and in part to help structure my own thoughts about various topics of interest - that space is fundamentally gone now. Elon Musk’s takeover transformed the space, and caused a great exodus and scattering of people whose opinions I looked forward to reading (to Mastodon, Threads, and now BlueSky, where I have hardly any presence). Meanwhile, I rarely get the engagement on Twitter that I used to after spending time putting together a thread. And moreover, the extra time spent trying to parse everything into sub-thoughts of 280 characters is annoying as heck. So I’m going for the long form! I still plan to post my thoughts on social media, but when I have something longer to say I’m hoping - over the next little while at least, for a trial period - to say it here and then link to it on social media (even if it has to be linked subversively because certain billionaire social media platform owners are so damned sensitive).

What You’ll Find Here on The Trade Off: This substack is going to be about the contentious world of climate politics, and the complexities underlying our ecological predicament and what to do about it. It is about my field of study - ‘Ecological Political Economy’. So many environmental “problems” and “solutions” involve trade offs which are worth further exploring if we want to make informed and robust policy decisions. It can be difficult to parse through the noise, to weigh pros and cons, benefits and costs.

A few examples of trade offs from areas of my research: A nuclear energy scale up could offer really substantial climate benefits because it’s low carbon and (relatively speaking) safe… But it’s also extremely costly, takes long time to build (time we just don’t have in terms of climate change), and faces huge social opposition. What do to about nuclear? Another example: High-speed trains could - if electrified through green energy - provide a greener travel alternative to airplanes in some key corridors, but in a Canadian context there are a lot of conditions which must be met for this to work favourably for the climate. Meat… one of the most environmentally impactful categories of food to produce when compared on a kilogram by kilogram basis… but at the same time it packs a lot of nutrients, a complete array of amino acids, and some form of animal husbandry can support various socio-ecological objectives (like supporting field-bird habitat or food security by enabling food to be produced on marginal lands). What do do about meat and the environment? The examples go on and on; rarely is environmental sustainability a straightforward matter. There is no universal objective “sustainability”, but rather it’s something that we have to hash out and determine through deliberation of benefits and trade-offs. That’s really what this Newsletter is about fundamentally - informing those debates.

I will not be posting often - only when I have the gumption, motivation and time to write something out (maybe once a month at most)… so not to worry about having your inbox filled with Ryan’s screeds! Hope you enjoy!

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