Trying a thing – a weekly Tab / Brain Dump

I obsessively make notes in my laptop, but I stil l haven’t found a sensible way to share them. so I’m sharing this post here, in the hope that it’ll force me to clarify my thoughts as I read stuff, and eventually get to some state a bit like being able to follow the Memex Method, creating a common place book, as described Cory Doctorow.

Stuff I recently read

China crossed a milestone where its non-fossil capacity exceeded its fossil capacity

This sounds great initially, but it’s important to understand that capacity and generation are not the same thing, so this turns out not to be as great as it sounds just yet. Only about 14% of power generated comes from renewables in china right now, compared to coal making up 61% of generation.

Still one thing that might speed this shift is that next year the way markets buy and sell power is changing:

The country is also slowly shifting from an “equal share” dispatch system to an “economic dispatch”, which is more responsive to consumer demand. (CREA notes that the “equal share” system is another barrier to greater flexibility.)

It adds that there is “no shortage of physical capacity”, with Chinese coal plants running an average of 52% of hours in the year (4,600 out of 8,760 hours). CREA continues: “Thus, simply adding more coal capacity across the whole of China may not fundamentally address the power shortages in China.”

Source: China Briefing 15 June 2023: CBAM fight; New energy milestone; Extreme heat – Carbon Brief

For context, this shows how generation is changing. Wind and Solar are growing, from a small figure, but they are growing exponentially.

A breakdown of electricty generation by source - coal still dominated, byt the green is growing

Germany still behind on climate goals, and is now abandoning sector-specific targets in favour of a single budget that’ll can be traded between sectors

This caught my eye recently, because sector specific goals are a really useful tool for comparing different countries to each other, and they tend to highlight when a corporate lobby is pushing really hard to kneecap any canges that might force them to act faster on climate.

At the core of the reforms now proposed is a shift away from Germany’s current focus on annual emissions reduction targets for each economic sector, and obligatory short-term measures if the targets are missed – to a cross-sectoral view and a focus on 2030. This move was heavily pushed for by the three-party coalition’s smallest member, the Free Democrats who are in charge of the transport ministry. This means if a target in one sector such as industry, transport, or buildings is missed, another sector can compensate for it.

Source: New climate action package fails to get Germany on course for 2030 targets

New observability options for running smallish setups:

We use a combination of Grafana, Prometheus and Loki at work, to make it easier to understand what’s going on in our system, comprised of a few servers. We use it because its design is simpler and quite a bit cheaper than a number of competing observability platforms, and also because understanding how it’s put together lets us have informed discussions about how you would instrument servers for sustainability metrics.

I recently came across a new tool, Observability AI, that had we started the green web foundation tomorrow, we might use instead.

Observablilty AI is an open source observability package, combining logs, metrics and traces, packaged into a single, easy-to-deploy Rust binary.

Under the hood, it’s using sled as a local database, which then offloads to object storage for archival storage of records.

There’s also an affordable hosted service, and this introductory blogpost on their site explains why you might use it.

Here’s how they describe their own project:

OpenObserve is an open source, cloud native observability platform that provides ~140x (YMMV. Could be higher or lower based on data entropy) lower storage costs compared to Elasticsearch. Use cases include real-life log data, significantly reduces operational costs, and improves ease of use. It can scale to petabytes of data, is highly performant, and allows you to sleep better at night 😴. If you are looking for an observability tool for logs, metrics, and traces, take a look at OpenObserve and how its approach towards observability could help you build better software and save money on observability costs.

Source: Revolutionizing Observability – Unveiling OpenObserve, the High-Performance, Cloud-Native Platform

bullshit jobs and batshit jobs

Bullshit jobs are ones where if no one does it, it’s not actually a problem for society. Batshit jobs go further:

Staying within planetary boundaries means that our consumption patterns must change. This is ever so true when it comes to environmentally highly detrimental activities such as flying. But today’s reasoning goes that if we reduce flying, not only do we give up on enjoyable pursuits as consumers, but we also jeopardise the livelihood of those working in the industry.

The work that destroys the environment for the sake of short-term profit is often called a “batshit job”. How can we transform these industries for the sake of ecological sustainability while providing a just transition for those employed in them?

Source: Transforming batshit jobs: Just transition in aviation – Halliki Kreinin and Tahir Latif

Ok, that’s it for now!