Do More In Less Time

a lifehacker's lament

Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think.

I went to a very intense music camp in Michigan when I was a kid. We wore uniforms that included navy corduroy short pants, so I was onside from the get go. The camp’s motto was Do More In Less Time. They played reveille at 6:15 AM, and days were packed with activities and lessons and concerts. Somehow I managed to learn classical guitar, watch obscure foreign films, obtain my lifeguard certification, realize I actually hated classical violin, develop a major crush on a contrabassoon player, and see about 40 concerts in a mere eight weeks. I imagined it would be impossible to maintain this pace year-round, but they now have a boarding school, so who knows.

Phrases imprinted on my brain when I was young seem to stay there, like tacky glass pebbles on the bottom of a fish tank. I come back to Do More In Less Time on the regular, even if there’s a sort of lifehacky striveyness to it that I don’t love. I think it’s because, despite every deep-breathed effort to slooowww myself down, I like the idea of doing more in less time. It means there’s lots of leftover time to do even more.

When it comes to climate, I’m interested in the ways we can do more in less time because we don’t have time. When I started thinking about how I could best work on climate full-time, I searched for the work that would have the quickest and most meaningful impact. For me, the answer was carbon pricing. An instant global carbon tax would do so much in so little time. Even the IMF has said as much.

While I have forbidden myself from using the phrase “silver linings” with regard to Covid, I’m curious about how it can get us to do more in less time. We talk of shovel-ready/shovel-worthy green projects. What are the things we can do quickly? After initially rebuffing all efforts to expand and expedite Toronto’s pedestrian spaces and cycle paths, our Mayor has done an about face and now plans to quicken the pace of our cycle grid installation. This, when every few kilometres of bike lanes in this town normally require 72 years and 45 minutes of deliberation. Do more in less time! Or in the parlance of our Mayor, fasttrack it! (He likes to add the word track to the end of any transit project.)

I “attended” two great talks this week that gave me hope that there are things we can do immediately. From electrifying our vehicle fleets to retrofitting our built infrastructure, there is so much we can get going on in relatively short order. The trick: we need to do the right more in the smallest amount of time possible. 

Though emissions have fallen for the wrong reasons, Carbon Brief’s revised projections of an annual decrease of 8 percent give us headwinds. And the Covid fallout has given us the opportunity to spend like the wind. We need to use this small window of opportunity to do so much more than status quo. We need to use this time to restructure and decarbonize as quickly as possible. I’ll play reveille at 6:15 if it’ll help.

How can you do more in less time? LMK

Hope you are safe and healthy and better at baking bread than I am,


Cute Humans Dancing

I don’t know what this even is, but I like it -

When you know you have officially lost it in isolation!! 😂😂 #canwegooutsidenowplease
May 5, 2020