Friday, October 11, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Thinking about Climate Adaptation Edition

I had a particularly good rollerblade today. I made a conscious decision that when people stopped unexpectedly in front of me, rode their bikes down the middle of the path instead of keeping right, and generally just were oblivious to the other people on the path I would slow down or stop, cheerfully say "no worries!" when they looked up in surprise at the existence of another person using the public path, and continue on my way. I would not grumble or grit my teeth, I would be cheerful! And it worked. I was genuinely not annoyed. There's a life lesson in there for me if I care to take it, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the links.

As usual, I assume you can find your impeachment news on your own, and I'm focusing on other things.

Badmomgoodmom sent me a link to the article I've been wanting to read about the blackouts up north. SDG&E has been doing public safety blackouts for several years, and I was wondering why none of the ones down here have ever been such big news. This LA Times article explains: SDG&E is just better at handling the hot, dry, windy weather conditions that cause such high fire risk and prompt public safety blackouts. They have upgraded the infrastructure to be less risky and to have more microgrids so blackouts can be more targeted. This is no doubt due at least in part to the fact that we had big, devastating fires a decade ago, and so SDG&E is ahead of PG&E in adjusting to this reality. I suspect it is also due to some good planning by some people within SDG&E, and I'd love to read their stories.

Watching the news from up north has made me adjust how I think about the solar panels we want to get, though. I had been thinking of them mostly as a "good climate citizen" thing to do, with the potential to save money down the road. Now I am also thinking of them as a climate change adaptation. We wanted to get them this year to take advantage of the tax rebate, but aren't sure we'll have the cash we need. That was the downside of buying the more expensive car! But on the other hand, we're going to drive that car to Arizona for Thanksgiving and that is not something we could do with one of the cheaper electric cars.

In somewhat related news... here's a write up from a chemist about this year's Nobel prize in chemistry, which was for Lithium ion batteries. If you're curious why this was such a big improvement over previous battery chemistry, check out this post.

Updated to add: I meant to include a link to this NY Times interactive graphic about the change auto emissions since 1990. Enter your metro area and see how you've done. San Diego did so-so - emissions per person up 5% since 1990. LA did better: emissions per person down 2% since 1990. But compare us to Phoenix: emissions per person up a whopping 86% per person since 1990!

This article about how San Diego is changing its scooter regulations was interesting. I have noticed an improvement, both in terms of not having to step over scooters when I'm walking around and in terms of not having to deal with rude scooter riders when I'm out rollerblading. I'd say that if the scooter companies can't make things work here, they're in trouble. Our civic leaders have mostly been pretty welcoming of scooters, and looking for ways to make it work.

I found Jim Hines' post about adjusting to being widowed deeply moving.

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's conversation with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about loneliness was really good and thought-provoking. One thing it made me think about was how the sort of changes to cities that some urbanists and climate activists want - like more walkable cities and  the superblocks in Barcelona - might have impacts on health in more ways than we might expect, by making our cities feel more like communities.

This made me happy to see. Good for World Center Kitchen:
This is awesome.
 I know my husband has shown me the original video but I can't remember what the song is. If I can find it again I'll update this post or put it in the comments.


  1. I have also been thinking more about solar panels not as just “a good thing to do” but as a way to mitigate our reliance on the grid (we got a Chevy Bolt last year so we are also more reliant on electricity than most) but I’m having a hard time understanding if we actually get to keep the electricity we would generate if we had solar panels, or if it’s just going to the grid so we won’t get to use it ourselves during power outages (we live in SF). Do you know anything about that? I’m having a hard time finding information.

    If we could keep the electricity we generate for ourselves it would be a huge incentive to spend the money on solar panels, but if all goes to the grid, which can be shut off to us, I’d be less interested in the investment (we are buying out our tenant so we’ll be super strapped for cash for a while moving forward).

    1. I suspect it depends on the details of the solar panel set up you get and the terms the power company gives you, but my understanding is that you could use the energy your panels were generating at the time. In fact, I think you use that energy first, and only the excess is sent back to the grid. If you want to store the energy to use later, you'd need a home battery pack. So you'd probably be able to charge your car during the day. I am not 100% sure about the details, though, and will need to do that research, too.

  2. The song is Party Rock Anthem.

  3. Anonymous2:50 AM

    AFAIK, you always use the produced electricity to cover your own requirements first. If everyone feeds their power in the grid the stress on the grid is much higher, so in some countries there are even incentives to buy a battery with the panels.


  4. Anonymous4:09 PM

    For MANY not ALL solar panels feed 100% in to the grid and you get a credit against your usage. In order to have solar power keep your power on during an outage I believe for MOST you need to have the solar power go into batteries that you maintain and those batteries feed power to your house. SO: for most people with solar power on their roof when the power went off, and they didn't have the batteries, their power was also off. There was no direct flow of energy to the grid or to a battery that fed their house.

    1. My understanding is that this depends on the details of your installation. This is a page I found with some info for my area:


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