A Serious Math Problem

Far Middle episode 94 begins with a remembrance of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. whose birthday is today, and the anniversary of his passing was also marked this week, 98 years ago this past Monday.

In a Far Middle first, Nick dedicates this episode to a day, specifically the memorable sports headlines from June 17, 1994, which included Arnold Palmer playing in his final round of a U.S. Open, Ken Griffey Jr. launched his 26th long ball of the season to tie Babe Ruth for the most home runs before June 30th, the World Cup got underway in the U.S., a tough-to-watch New York Rangers ticker tape parade, the Knicks and Rockets played game five of the NBA Finals, and the day culminated with the low-speed O.J. Simpson chase.

That day was the outset of what would be the trial of the century, and the start to when we began seeing some statements from O.J. that just didn’t add up. Those statements set the stage for this week’s Far Middle connections. Fast forward to today, and there’s something else not adding up: the zero carbon commitments by global corporations.

Nick proceeds to examine a survey by Bain & Company of 137 global companies from the fourth quarter of 2022. The survey found less than a quarter of those surveyed plan to buy carbon credits to meet their emissions pledges. At the same time, 90% of respondents pledged zero carbon commitments by 2050. Nick delves into how these two results expose a serious math problem and the underlying sham of carbon pledges.

All business and economic activity has a carbon footprint on a scopes 1 through 3 basis, and there’s no way global corporations will be net zero carbon without buying massive volumes of carbon offsets and credits, argues Nick. And if all these companies were to buy credits, credit prices would dramatically increase, and those costs would ultimately trickle down to those who can least afford higher-priced goods and services.

In the second half of episode 94, Nick looks at the evolution of Scientific American, and moves on to a few unconventional Far Middle topics.

Nick explains his opposition to the death penalty, using a wrongful execution surrounding serial killer John “Reg” Christie as an example why. Incidentally, if you haven’t seen the film 10 Rillington Place, based on Christie’s murders, add it to your watch list, recommends Nick. Staying on the topic of death, Nick recounts the strange worldwide tour and eventual burial of Eva “Evita” Perón’s embalmed body.

In closing, Nick looks back at the film Clue and its all-star cast. By the way, keep an eye and ear out for a future “best board game list” from Nick!