By Nick Lane: Why is life the way it is?

Nick Lane, my favorite science writer, recently gave an updated version of his talk on the origin of life and why life is the way it is. This talk summarizes his most recent book “The Vital Question” which I reviewed here. The big ideas are: The emergence of life is probable and simple single-cell life, … Continue reading “By Nick Lane: Why is life the way it is?”

book review: The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane

Nick Lane has long been one of my favorite science writers, setting aside Varki of course who will always have a special place in my heart. Nick Lane’s last book “Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution” discussed the 10 most important inventions of evolution: the origin of life, DNA, photosynthesis, the complex cell, … Continue reading “book review: The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane”

On Jordan Peterson

I recently started paying attention to Jordan Peterson. This Canadian professor of psychology has built a huge international following, and his YouTube videos have millions of views. Peterson is filling a hole in our culture about the importance of individuals taking personal responsibility for living an ethical life, and how this is the only path … Continue reading “On Jordan Peterson”

On the Origin of Life

Here are a few fabulous talks on the latest thinking about the origin of life. By Eric Smith : Inevitable Life? (2007)   By Eric Smith: New Theories on the Origin of Life (2015)   By Michael Russell and Bill Martin: Origin of Life Animation (2010)   By Nick Lane: The Origins of Complex Life … Continue reading “On the Origin of Life”

It’s Really a Shame

I’m almost finished The Vital Question by Nick Lane. I may write a book review but the punchline is that bacterial life is probably common throughout the universe. Complex eukaryotic life, on the other hand, is probably very rare. And human-like intelligence will be even rarer if Varki is right. We are wrecking a very … Continue reading “It’s Really a Shame”


Start Here Welcome un-Denial Manifesto: Energy and Denial Why my interest in denial? Denial Theory (video version) Denial Theory (short version) By Alex Smith: Radio Ecoshock interview with Ajit Varki Darwin & Varki On Burning Carbon: The Case for Renaming GDP to GDB You know you are in trouble when… What would a wise society … Continue reading “Favorites”


Ajit Varki and Danny Brower What fascinates me most about our predicament is that we do not acknowledge or discuss it, let alone plan or act appropriately. Ajit Varki and Danny Brower have proposed a theory that explains the existence and uniqueness of humans, and their denial of reality. I’m a huge fan and frequently … Continue reading “Acknowledgments”


  Notice the tight correlation between CO2 emissions per person and standard of living: That’s not a coincidence as physicist Tim Garrett has explained: So if we ever decide to do something effective about climate change (assuming it’s not already too late due to self-reinforcing feedback loops) then that solution must include some combination … Continue reading “Mashup”

By Tim Watkins: Climbing Everest in High Heels (aka “It’s the overshoot, stupid”)

Tim Watkins today published a superb essay on our overshoot predicament. It’s enough to temporarily restore one’s faith in humanity to find someone who thinks and writes as clearly as Watkins. Britain has – apparently – been thrown into crisis overnight.  Meanwhile across the channel, French president Macron is desperately trying to extinguish the … Continue reading “By Tim Watkins: Climbing Everest in High Heels (aka “It’s the overshoot, stupid”)”