New platforms, new problems


As promised, Hill Heat is no longer running on the Substack platform, because the leadership there has a troublingly high comfort level with Nazis (actual). I want to give especial thanks to the subscribers who contributed over $1,000 to assist in the move to the new Beehiiv backend. The transition process, to be brutally honest, was more than a bit janky.1 Please email me if you find any issues or have any questions. But it’s easier for companies to improve their quality-assurance processes than to reform the extremist ideology of their founders.

We’ll be celebrating the new Hill Heat home with an extended interview with the remarkable Cory Doctorow about his new book of near-future climate-politics science fiction, The Lost Cause. I think it’s something special, and hope you will too—make sure you’re subscribed.

Boomers: [Push the planetary ecosystem to the brink of collapse, destroy the New Deal policies which built the middle class, and create the conditions for the rise of global neo-fascism] Young people are sad because of their phones

As a rule, Hill Heat focuses on the political challenges of the great transition from the fossil-fuel era, not the practical challenges. But those practical challenges hold the most work, the work that involves all of us in a million different ways. I don’t usually talk about my own life here as an example—there are eco-lifestyle influencers and cleantech conferences and climate-solutions graduate programs and TED Talks galore—but at this moment of transition for Hill Heat I thought I’d open up a little about some of what I’ve been working on.

When my family moved to Washington DC in 2015, our house was all-electric. We upgraded the insulation without too much fuss, and it was a quite easy and cost-effective process to get solar panels installed on our flat roof, supported by DC’s strong pro-solar policies.

As our family grew, we moved to a new house in 2019, which had a gas stove and boiler. It was only last year that I navigated the process of replacing the gas stove with an induction stove, spurred past my preference for procrastination by the threat the stove posed to my children (as documented by Rebecca Leber), the hype about how great induction stoves are, and the cartoonishly fascist Republican defense of gas stoves.

At least for me, the combo of personal threat, personal reward, and political antagonism is a sufficient goad to action. The process of getting the new stove surprised me. Buying the new stove was easier than I expected: while it always seems like there are too many options for any product these days, Consumer Reports ($39 a year) and Wirecutter ($40 a year) helped narrow it down.2 The real challenge and surprise cost was installing a 240V line and convincing the electrician to do the job with the proper permits. And then, no more fumes, faster, more reliable heating, sheer modern magic.

I’ve been working on my bird in flight shots and finally got some of this killdeer I don’t mind. They were flying slow, circling, and screaming presumably because of the kestrel that was also hovering around the area so made it a little easier to track them. They are such good and noisy birds!

This past month, my professional drumbeat of Hill Heat posts about microplastics and forever chemicals broke through my personal procrastinatory membrane. I particularly credit Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who as chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight has been holding hearing after hearing on the plastics crisis, though the incendiary writing of Kate Aronoff also took hold of my brain.

But before I could take any action I had to confront my deep feelings of guilt and terror about what I’ve already let my children be exposed to, with the water they drink, the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the stuffed animals they snuggle.

And it’s very much not a problem that lends itself to individualized solutions—in that direction lies the madness of extremist wellness culture. Plastics are increasingly ubiquitous, there’s no consistent or readily available testing for microplastics, there’s no effective regulatory framework, and the scientific knowledge is only now emerging. (If you want to scientifically measure plastic contamination, you need to do so without using any plastic materials. It’s mind-bogglingly hard!)

We haven’t yet reached the phase where Republicans praise the microplastics in their bloodstreams, but when they do, Hill Heat will be here for you to report on it.

Heres a simple trick even an idiot can do Make a pot of coffee, boil up a bunch of hot dogs in there. You got yourself a feed of jitter dogs. Simple

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. Connect with me—@[email protected], @climatebrad on Threads, and on BlueSky.

In the comments, please share your own stories of transition!

1 You may have noticed the accidental email sent last week, for example. Unfortunately, comments weren’t copied over, even though they were often better written than the newsletters themselves. But I do want to thank the team at Beehiiv for working on making this a successful transition in the end.

2 Consumer Reports and Wirecutter, of course, are institutions designed to survive in our petro-economy. The non-profit CR’s fidelity to its stated mission of consumer protection means that it is starting to raise the alarm about the health risks of gas stoves and the ubiquitous toxicity of plastics, but its economic bread and butter is abetting auto sales. Wirecutter has a commitment to product quality, but is disturbingly value-neutral on health threats, much like its parent company The New York Times, which gleefully collaborates on pro-fossil-fuel propaganda for any polluter signing the check.


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