Saturday, September 05, 2020

Weekend Reading: The Heat Wave Edition

We're heading into a heat wave. I am sitting at my dining table sipping my morning tea so it is not super hot yet... but it will be. We happened to be getting the heat pump that replaces our aging furnace installed this week. It was supposed to be operational yesterday afternoon, and since heat pump also means AC, we were expecting to have air conditioning this weekend. But something was wrong with the circuit board or something went wrong during the installation and fried the board. They looked to see if they could get a replacement, but none were in stock at their supplier, so they'd have to order from the manufacturer... so no AC yet. We had resigned ourselves to a hot weekend. After all, we've been in the house for 13 years (almost exactly - we moved in on Labor Day weekend 13 years ago!) and have survived several heat waves.

This morning, I heard my husband's phone buzzing. He was still asleep, so I picked it up. I saw that it was the owner of the company that is installing our heat pump. They found another unit they could take the circuit board from. The installer is going to come fix our unit today. Maybe we'll have AC after all? In which case, the new standing argument in our household will be about whether to turn on the air, and if it is on, what to set the thermostat to. (My husband likes it 76. I think that is ridiculous cold and think we should set it at 78 and probably wouldn't turn it on until it was over 80 in the house.)

We are genuinely grateful that the installer is coming out on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and that the owner is arranging for it. We suspect they are making the same calculation all the solar panel sales folk make when they see our house: Tesla in the driveway, no solar panels on the roof. These people will be buying solar panels soon! The company installing our heat pump also installs solar panels, and they know that we selected an all-electric heat pump and prioritized energy efficiency over low cost. They have to be fairly certain we'll be getting solar panels soon. And they are right! That is next on our list. 

Anyway, let's have some links. I don't have many this week, but here's what I have:

I decided that we needed to replace our furnace with a heat pump after listening to Ezra Klein talk to Saul Griffith about how electrifying everything is a path towards decarbonization. This week, I listened to Klein's new interview with Griffith about his plan for how we can rapidly decarbonize. It is a good, inspiring interview. We are already feeling the effects of our changing climate (hello, heat wave!) and we are running out of time to act. Griffith's plan is a plausible way we can act - it doesn't assume huge and unlikely lifestyle changes. He has some interesting ideas about how to get the existing energy sector to stop fighting the needed changes, too. 

The woman who was filmed being surrounded by protesters while she ate her dinner wrote a really good response to what happened - I agree with her that this was a local event that didn't need to become a national discussion. I think we need to relearn how to keep some things local.

Derek Lowe has an excellent round up of where things stand with the various COVID-19 vaccine efforts

Pharma companies are also apparently planning to pledge not to send their vaccines for FDA review without extensive safety and efficacy data. That they feel the need to issue such a pledge is a sad statement on what has happened to our federal scientific agencies in recent years. It is particularly apparent to us now during the coronavirus crisis, but similar pressure for politics to overrule science has been happening at the EPA for the entire Trump presidency. 

Anyway, given how the Trump administration is behaving, I think this is a good move from the companies. I've seen a lot of cynical takes, but there are two reasons I think this is on the level: (1) it is in pharma and biotech companies' interest for the public to remain confident in the FDA approval process, and (2) pharma and biotech companies are full of people who understand the science of the pandemic and know that an effective and trusted vaccine is our only way out of this in the long term. Their work has been seriously disrupted by the pandemic. They have reduced the number of people who can be in a lab at the same time so lab time is scheduled and not readily available, they are wearing masks at work and working from home when not in the lab. Clinical trials for treatments for non-COVID diseases were put on hold for awhile. It is no in their interest to rush out a vaccine without solid efficacy and safety data and the trust of the public.

And now for things that made me happy:

Here is a nice reminder that the world is full beauty and awe-inspiring things if we can still see them:

And here is another, funnier reminder of the same:

This little girl is wonderful:

And she got her wish:

Embroidery bunny!

Real bunny:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I hope you have air conditioning! I'm quite comfortable at 78-80 degrees too so I suspect we'd have some differences of opinion on setting that thermostat here as well if we had any a/c.
    Sure do wish I'd known about heat pumps a few years ago. We replaced our furnace a few years ago and it cost way more than we can afford to just scrap it after a few years. We'll have to find other ways to be more environmentally better but that would have been an excellent way to incorporate it into our normal everyday.


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