What I've been reading, featuring the remarkable efficiency of the kidnapping industry, the science of suppressing disease-vector mosquitoes, and the monotony of op-eds

Robinson Meyer on the new IPCC report on climate change and land is terrific.

In some ways, this is the most unavoidably political document that the IPCC has ever published. Its report last year, on the dangers of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, called for an unprecedented transformation in the globe’s energy system… But talking about the energy system is, in this context, relatively easy… land is different. It is home, and the possibility of home. The relationship between people and land is the most treasured and unresolved idea in global politics.

…“A lot of countries want to make sure that they see themselves, and their specific interests and issues, in every single paragraph. Land is something that’s so local. People come with the land- and food-security issues in their country. You can tell people in the room care really deeply about these questions, but it has made things incredibly slow. There’s also some really complex political issues at the center.”

The biggest of these issues: Land can’t really multitask.

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What I've been reading, featuring cardiac and social network problems

  • A brief history of artificial hearts, which I learned are not nearly as well-developed as I had thought; they are described as “[challenging] the binary characterization of therapeutics as either successes or failures.” It reads like some of the middle chapters of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s excellent history of cancer, “The Emperor of All Maladies”, in that it has a practitioner framing the egos and recklessnesses of researchers as driving medical advancement:

“In the old days of medicine… that’s the way these guys did things. It was, ‘Well, I have an idea, and I’m the one that knows best, and by golly, I’m going to do it.’ And did that advance the field? Maybe. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely not.”

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