Climate Change

Residual Emissions

Residual emissions are carbon emissions that are difficult or impossible to (fully) eliminate due to technological or other limitations. These emissions are extremely important, because – given that we effectively cannot avoid them – they need to be compensated with various kinds of carbon removal technologies (mainly carbon capture and storage) to be able to reach net zero (or carbon-neutrality). Carbon removal is very energy intensive, however, and there are limits to how much carbon we can remove. Estimates of these limits vary, but the most optimistic ones are typically somewhere in the neighborhood of 25Gt/year, or roughly half our...
BuddhismPhilosophy

Buddhism, Marxism, and Negating Self-centeredness — Preliminary Remarks on the Philosophy of Neville Wijeyekoon

summary — In 1943, S.N.B. (Neville) Wijeyekoon published a book under the pseudonym Leuke aiming to compare Buddhism and Marxism. It starts out doing so indeed, but the second half of the book presents his own philosophy focused on achieving mental harmony by negating self-centeredness through “merging one’s self in social welfare”. Wijeyekoon’s wrote two more books, and in one of those he further developed aspects of this idea, while eliminating the overt Buddhist and Marxist influence. This long blog post summarizes and comments on two of Wijeyekoon’s books (namely, his first and third). I do not have access to...
Climate Change

Predicting Global Warming for Dummies

Climate scientists use supercomputers and extremely complicated models to predict the future climate, but there is a shortcut that can be used to predict average global warming. The key to that shortcut is the following simple formula: $$ \Delta T_{anom.} = \frac {ECS \times ( C_{atm.} – 280 )} {280} \: – \: \psi,$$ in which \(\Delta T_{anom.}\) is the average temperature anomaly (or average global warming), \(ECS\) is “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity”, \(C_{atm.}\) is atmospheric carbon (in ppm CO₂ equivalent), and \(\psi\) (from Greek ψῦχος, meaning “cold”) stands for various cooling effects. If you have the values of the variables...
Social Issues

Some Disorderly Thoughts on Antisemitism and Related Matters

1 In response to protests at American universities against Israel’s genocidal “war” in Gaza, the United States House of Representatives accepted the “Antisemitism Awareness Act” on April 30. This act codifies the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as well as its attached list of eleven “contemporary examples of antisemitism”. Most of those examples are antisemitic indeed by any reasonable interpretation of the term, but three of those – namely, examples 7, 8, and 10 – are a bit more dubious, largely due to their ambiguity. The text of these examples is the following: (7) — Denying...
Philosophy

Davidsonian Pragmatism

Donald Davidson didn’t like being called a pragmatist. He associated pragmatism with William James’s definition of truth as that what works (or something similar), which he rejected for a number of reasons. Davidson’s understanding of pragmatism and how it contrasts with his own view is probably most clearly expressed in a passage from “Truth Rehabilitated”: Truth is not a value, so the ‘pursuit of truth’ is an empty enterprise unless it means only that it is often worthwhile to increase our confidence in our beliefs, by collecting further evidence or checking our calculations. From the fact that we will never...
BuddhismPhilosophy

Atrekic Buddhism

To be clear, atrekic Buddhism is not a variety of Buddhism. It’s not un-Buddhist either, I think, but we’ll get to that later. The term “atrekic Buddhism” works in a similar way as “methodological anarchism” (famously proposed by Feyerabend) or “metaphilosophical anarchism”. The latter is a – more or less – anarchist approach to doing philosophy. It isn’t anarchism per sé (i.e., anarchism as political ideology), but can be thought of as something like anarchism about philosophy. That said, it could be argued that (political) anarchists should also be metaphilosophical anarchists (but not necessarily the other way around), which doesn’t...
Philosophy

The Jaina Doctrine of Anekāntavāda

In part II of A Buddha Land in this World, I proposed a variety of perspectival realism based on, among others, Yogācāra and the philosophy of Donald Davidson. The term “perspectival realism” refers to a loose collection of theories that are realist, in the minimal sense of recognizing the existence of a mind-independent, external reality, but that reject the idea that there is just one “right” way of describing reality. Rather, descriptions or understandings of or views on reality are perspectival, that is, they are views from particular perspectives, or constructions due to particular conceptual schemes. And because there is...
Climate Change

Carbon-neutrality by 2050

(Originally published on December 15, 2020. First major revision on June 13, 2022. This is the second major version.) A few years after carbon-neutrality became an official goal in the Paris Agreement of 2015, one after the other, governments started to announce that their countries would be carbon-neutral by 2050 or a little bit later. Richer countries generally opted for 2050, while China and India, for example, aimed for 2060 and 2070, respectively. The promise of carbon-neutrality by 2050 (or 2060, or 2070) is a cheap promise, however, as the target is so far in the future that it doesn’t...
Climate Change

Some Further Comments on Climate Sensitivity and Warming Estimates

While preparing an update of Carbon-Neutrality by 2050 (by far the most accessed page in this blog), I had another look at (equilibrium) climate sensitivity (ECS), a topic about which a wrote a few times before. ECS is the expected global temperature anomaly (i.e., the expected global average of warming) at twice the pre-industrial level of greenhouse gases (mainly CO₂) in the atmosphere (i.e., 560ppm, as “pre-industrial” is set at 280ppm). The currently most widely accepted estimate of ECS is that by Steve Sherwood and colleagues, who suggest average warming of 3.1°C (median; 66% uncertainty range: 2.6~3.9°C; 95%: 2.3~4.7°C). However,...
BuddhismPhilosophy

Pop-Stoicism as Ideology

Stoicism was a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium around 300 BC. Stoic philosophy consisted of logic, (meta-) physics, and ethics. There has been a bit of an upsurge of interest in stoicism recently among widely different segments of society, ranging from right-wing extremists and male supremacists to Secular Buddhists and self-help gurus. Typically, this resurgent “stoicism” ignores most of Stoic philosophy and focuses on a simplified version of selected ethical doctrines. (And that selection, moreover, depends on the interests of the group that does the selecting.) The most prominent doctrine of this “pop-stoicism” is the idea...
Philosophy

What is Real? (New Paper)

Published yesterday in Organon F: International Journal of Analytic Philosophy (30.2: 182−220). abstract: Two of the most fundamental distinctions in metaphysics are (1) that between reality (or things in themselves) and appearances, the R/A distinction, and (2) that between entities that are fundamental (or real, etcetera) and entities that are ontologically or existentially dependent, the F/D distinction. While these appear to be two very different distinctions, in Buddhist metaphysics they are combined, raising questions about how they are related. In this paper I argue that plausible versions of the R/A distinction are essentially a special kind of F/D distinction, and...
Buddhism

Is Secular Buddhism Possible?

The question whether secular Buddhism is possible might seem absurd at first. Varieties of what has been, or could be called “secular Buddhism” have been around for well over a century, and there is a sizable group of people who consider themselves “secular Buddhists”. So, of course, “secular Buddhism” is possible. So, let’s be a bit more precise. My question is not really whether there are “things” (in a rather broad sense of “thing”) that could be or have been called “secular Buddhism”, but whether there could be something that is genuinely secular and simultaneously genuinely (a variety of) Buddhism....