Michael Tobis

Michael Tobis

Michael Tobis, editor-in-chief of Planet3.0 and site cofounder, has always been interested in the interface between science and public policy. He holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences where he developed a 3-D ocean model on a custom computing platform. He has been involved in sustainability conversations on the internet since 1992, has been a web software developer since 2000, and has been posting sustainability articles on the web since 2007.

Recent Articles

Planet 3.0

Please check out our new Planet3.0 sustainability news site.

I hope the quality of conversation that has emerged on this site, of which I am very proud, can be transferred and scaled up on Planet3.0. We have in mind a number of experiments to facilitate intelligent and informed conversation, but they need a nucleus of participants. [more]

Why They Are Called Numbers

Those of us who have learned the ability of numbers, properly deployed, to explain and illuminate have always had difficulty understanding where the name “numbers” came from.

All you need to do is attend a typical talk by a concerned, active, engaged but not especially informed person on almost any subject of collective importance. [more]

Is Debt Conserved?

Arthur Smith makes an interesting argument.

I don’t understand what a global overall “borrowing from the future” could mean in any physical sense. Maybe you have something specific in mind?

With monetary debt every loan has two sides: the borrower and the lender. There is a promise that the borrower will pay back the loan – with interest, so that’s a promise of future exchange, a commitment by the borrower to redirect some of his future income to the lender. [more]

Shoulda Toljaso

I don’t know if I’m on record at all about this, but I always thought the Euro was a crummy lousy stupid idea for the Europeans.

My reasoning is that of Jane Jacobs, in Cities and the Wealth of Nations: “Jacobs makes a forceful argument that it is not the nation-state, rather it is the city which is the true player in this worldwide game.” as Wikipedia has it. [more]

The US Government Cannot Help the Climate

Jeff Sachs recommends an informal international mostly academic collaboration to come up with actual options and get around the noise-making. He points out that expectations of leadership from the US government are unrealistic in the near future.

Long (over an hour). Intro lasts about four minutes.

h/t Rust Never Sleeps

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22237651 w=400&h=225]

JEFF SACHS from HUCE on Vimeo.

Book Review: A Planet for the President

A Planet for the President, by Alistair Beaton, showed up in the remainder bin at BookPeople in Austin, and thus, inevitably, followed me home.

It’s a dark comedy by a British writer about a US President of the conservative stripe (the name of his party is never mentioned but is obvious) and his cabinet finally coming to terms with the unsustainability of the American lifestyle on a crowded world. [more]

Major Cuts to Environment Canada

From a promising young researcher at the University of Toronto. James emphasizes that he is speaking for himself here, independently of his supervisor and his department.

Canadians, especially, please take note.

Over the past several months we have seen major cuts to Environment Canada that have left it without any real scientific or research power. [more]

Is There a Swarm Solution?

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/12772935 w=400&h=225]

Coalition Of The Willing from coalitionfilm on Vimeo.

It’s a stupid name; about grass roots environmentalism rather than about wars of invasion.

It starts off strong and then gets into some frantic handwaving and saccharine and not entirely well-grounded reassurance and encouragement.

I honestly don’t think the swarm they describe will be enough. [more]

Daily Rainfall Record Exceeded By 60%


While we’re caught in futile waiting for our first raindrop in over a month and perhaps our fourth rain event of the year here in Austin, the northeast continues to be drastically, roll-a-13-ishly wet.

Jeff Masters, as usual, has the scoop:

An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49″ fell yesterday. [more]

Another Anthropogenic Forcing

Rick Perry, among his other interesting attributes, has managed to unbalance the state budget of Texas, you know, the state with the miracle economy, to the tune of $2.5e10/annum; yes that is twenty-five billion dollars. Consequently, the forest service and the volunteer fire departments were among the services substantially defunded as of September 1, and some professional firefighters just recently lost their jobs. [more]

More on Fires

An excellent piece on the Texas fire situation at Texas Climate News.

“In rapidly growing population areas like Austin, as more and more of the desirable land fills up, you get kind of a pushing in and a pressure to build in the zone that everybody knows you shouldn’t be building in,” says George Rogers, a senior research fellow at Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center. [more]