FJehn

Hi, I’m Florian. I am enthusiastic about working on large scale problems that require me to learn new skills and extend my knowledge into new fields and subtopics. My main interests are climate change, existential risks, feminism, history, hydrology and food security. I hope to find a place where I can work on some (or all?) of these topics, apply my data science skills, work in a team and share my knowledge by writing articles and giving courses and presentations. If you have similar interests or know of an organisation I would fit in well, let’s get in touch!

More info at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/florian-ulrich-jehn-b03a4011b/

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FJehn's Shortform

This comment was mainly inspired by the revolutions podcast: https://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/revolutions_podcast/2017/08/707-the-hungry-forties-.html

FJehn's Shortform

Are the potato famine and the revolutions of 1848 an example for the fragility of the modern world?

Recently I came across the potato famine and how it contributed or even caused the revolutions of 1848. I wondered if this is an good example to show how cascading failures lead from an natural event to an agricultural crisis, to an economic crisis, to an financial crisis and finally resulting in a political crisis.

 So what happened?

In the 19th century potatoes became a staple crop in Europe, because they were easy to plant and harvest, cheap and filled you up quite nicely. However, there were very few varieties at that time and this made them vulnerable to disease. In 1845 a new potato disease spread all over Europe and destroyed much of the yearly harvest. This was especially a problem in Ireland (because they almost exclusively used potatoes), but most parts of Central Europe were at least a bit affected. This basically left Europe without potatoes until new varieties could be developed.

In 1846 bad weather also affected the wheat and rye harvest. This lead to rising prices all over Central Europe, as now all major food crops had considerably lower yields. These food shortages forced people to kill most of their livestock, as they did not have any feed for it. But as many people slaughtered their animals at the same time, prices for meat plummeted (though they were still way to high for poor people).

This agricultural crisis lead to an economic crisis, as everybody had to use most of their money for food. Therefore, there wasn't anything left to buy other consumer goods. This in turn increased unemployment considerably, as many people in the consumer goods industry lost their jobs. Especially in cities this was a problem, as many people had moved their in the last decades and could not find any jobs to sustain themselves.

So, after the agricultural crisis in 1845 and 1846 were followed with an economic crisis in 1846 and 1847, next came an financial crisis in 1847. The financial crisis was mainly driven by the bursting of a bubble around building railroads. In the 1830s and  1840s many railroad projects were started, but most were crap. The bubble burst in 1847 after states started to rise interest rates to consolidate their finances in the economic crisis. In addition, the food crisis diverted funds away from the railroads and this showed that most of the projects could only continue if they got more money continuously. When this did not happen they crashed and with them everyone who had invested their money. This again led to more unemployment as all the railroad companies closed and due to a lack of available loans many smaller businesses went bankrupt, making even more people lose their job.

So in 1848 you had a crashed economy, a debt crisis, still some famine and massive unemployment. Many people all over Europe faces several years of fear, hardship and poverty. They looked for someone to blame. This brought many people to politics. And finally in 1848 we can see revolutions in most states of Central Europe. Some being successful (France), while others failed (Germany). Still, it seems like an new potato disease basically started a chain of events that led to a drastic change of the political landscape in Central Europe.

This is a bit harder, as awards are usually given for a specific piece of research and as long as you haven't produced anything, you cannot get an award. However, there are some opportunities. For example, on conferences there are often things like poster awards for work in progress research you can participate in. 

Even if it is less random than I think, I'd still argue that people should be more proactive when it comes to applying to awards. 

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research
  1. That's what I meant, sorry if I phrased this incorrectly.
  2. I did not mean to say that they did not look at specific temperatures at all. I meant that they did not look at it in the amount the probability of the specific warming would make sensible.

Is your critique that we used "severly neglected", but you would have been ok with "neglected"? Or is your model that the scientific community does the right amount of research for different temperatures,  given the likelyhood of reaching these temperatures?

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

The Sherwood reference was only included during the review process, as it was not yet published when we originally came up with the analysis.  As you probably know, going from an idea to a published paper can take quite some time and you cannot read and update on all the papers that are published during that time. 

I would agree that today the picture looks better as in comparison when we started working on that paper. However, predicted temperatures and mentions in the IPCC still don't overlap and therefore we still have a research gap, albeit a smaller one. 

I don't see how this makes the paper wrong. 1) You are only referring to impact literature. It's great if we know what impact climate change will have, but we still have a problem if we do not know how to mitigate it at higher temperatures. 2) Comparing emission scenarios is good, but every  scenario has a wide range of possible temperatures. Therefore, it is also important to look at specific temperatures. 

Common Points of Advice for Students and Early-Career Professionals Interested in Global Catastrophic Risk

Thank you this post! This kind of collection was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

Thank you for your feedback!

It is true that our phrasing around Sherwood et al (2020) can sound a bit misleading. However, this was not in bad faith. We did not intentionally leave out the decreased tail risks. 

Overall, your criticism mainly seems to be the fact that current estimates of climate sensitivity have a smaller range that the one we used. This is true. It does not change the point of our paper though. While the range decreased, the mean basically stayed the same and if you look at our figures, this still means that there is likely to few research for the higher temperatures. 

To your last point, I wasn't aware that the impact literature mainly compares those two scenarios. However, as we look at all parts of the IPCC reports this seems to get drowned out by the other parts of the reports. We are currently doing some new analyses that try to look into this in a bit more depth. 

How to best address Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

One thing I find very useful but I haven't seen recommended anywhere is simply adding a second mouse to your computer. It allows you to easily switch between both hands. This gives your main hand some rest, but doesn't overuse the other one.

Betting on the best case: higher end warming is underrepresented in research

Unfortunately, I cannot really provide conclusive answers here, as our paper only looked into the amount of research overall, but not into specific topics. Getting an overview of this is basically a major research project itself. However, a student of mine looked into this a bit and her preliminary results seem like it is more of a general problem and not specific to certain fields of research.

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