This page is a non-exhaustive, not necessarily up-to-date account of my positions on some important issues
where I think my views are both 1) somewhat informed and 2) somewhat uncommon [among people in Western society].
I try to briefly justify these views,
but ultimate this page is intended to be short statements of what my views are rather
than thorough accounts of why I have these views.
Like many people I am anti-climate change (by which I mean we should try to avoid changing the climate).
The book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air greatly influenced my thinking on this.
Relative to most people though, I think:
We should not rely on long-term technological solutions to climate change (e.g. nuclear fusion, geo-engineering, massively more efficient solar cells). We do not know if these technologies are feasible and it is foolish to just bet on these. Plan A should be to deploy solutions which exist now.
We should increase nuclear (fission) power, which in most countries means building new plants. Sources like wind and solar are unlikely to meet all our energy needs: the energy density is just too low (“Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” makes this argument in more detail). Obviously nobody is a fan of nuclear waste, but unless we dramatically reduce our energy consumption I think we must choose between nuclear energy or risking catastrophic climate change, and that the former choice is safer overall.
The Paris agreement is bad because it doesn’t require firm commitments and “fills the space” which could be better served by a more forceful agreement. See this post for more (note: link may be broken in the future).
I think the narrative of addressing climate change being a “cost” is misleading: doing nothing will likely have enormous costs (e.g. large coastal cities being submerged).
Although most emissions come from industry, these industries produce and support activities of everyday people. Therefore I think the narrative of climate change being the fault of large corporations is misleading. People should take individual responsibility to reduce emissions (in addition to pushing for government regulation and change at large companies, not as a substitute for this).
Tail risks (e.g. simultaneous poor harvests on multiple continents) are scary and under-discussed.
I do not abstain from animal products but generally support consuming fewer animal products.
This is mainly for environmental impacts (meat and cheese produce a lot of greenhouse gases)
but also for ethical reasons (most meat in supermarkets is produced in factory farms
which engage in many acts of animal cruelty).
Ethical obligations of scientists
I think that everybody who calls themselves a scientist should have a strong ethical
obligation to produce and disseminate truth as much as possible. This means:
Don’t exaggerate claims to sound alarmist or make results seem more impactful.
Don’t mislead people so that they act in a certain way.
Do focus your research on important and impactful problems whenever possible (not all truths are equally valuable).