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    How Local Fonts Can Save The Environment web kevq.uk
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    This topic was bullshit in the earlier post and is still bullshit. People are streaming 4K videos to their phones, and you save a few hundred kilobytes… Not that I don’t like small fast loading pages, but that is usability.

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      Surely this post being on Lobsters front page has cost the environment more than the change helped.

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        This post being on lobsters could result in more change.

        Still, I think this is just green virtue signalling. If you want to reduce energy output you go to the top of the list not the bottom: space heating/cooling, transportation, reducing luxury consumption

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      By comparison, if you’re in the UK, 100kg of CO₂ is likely to be around a tenth of what you use for heating your home annually.

      I think that as engineers, we like to think of scenarios where our skills can help to address a problem. Consider that for most of us, when it comes to the environment, our impact is greatest if we apply ourselves as

      1. Activists
      2. Voters
      3. Consumers
      4. Programmers

      Probably in that order.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think we should ruthlessly optimize core infrastructure, as power savings in, say, openssl will pay dividends on millions of devices. But if we work on ‘edges’ like personal websites or line of business software, the impact of our work will be dwarfed by other things we can do.

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        good list; note that programming can be activism

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          As we tend to be well remunerated individuals,

          1. Giving money
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            If giving money solves a problem, one could set up a giving circle where each person gives money to another back and forth until the problem goes away.

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              I’d put this under activism. And I’m a bit skeptical that a middle-class salary can make a dent in this problem.

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                I am by no means an expert in this area, and I haven’t done thorough research (would love to read a survey though), but my general understanding is that donating money usually is the most effective way (by a large margin) to affect positive change. Roughly, there’s usually a several orders of magnitude difference between what you can personally do, and what is the most efficient action in principle, and donations can bridge that gap.

                For CO2 emissions specifically, this article tries to give some numbers: https://www.founderspledge.com/stories/climate-and-lifestyle-report (but, again, I haven’t done research myself and I haven’t read any meta-analysis here, and any single source can be misleading).

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                  Oh, under the EU emissions trading scheme, I (and I think this is not even limited to EU citizens) can buy emission rights. About 21 euros per tonne of CO₂ - it’s hard to compete with that. But then, as with charities, you have to believe in CO₂ accounting.

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            Let me say this again: It’s crazy to think how much the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda of pushing blame on to the individual has worked. Heck, we think our websites are killing the planet, when only about 70% of emissions can be attributed to only 100 fossil fuel companies..

            Some reading:

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              when only about 70% of emissions can be attributed to only 100 fossil fuel companies..

              That’s a misleading statistic. They’re counting downstream use as part of those emissions. If you head your home with natural gas mined in Russia that counts as “Gazprom’s emissions”.

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                If the utility only provides natural gas mined in Russia, then there’s nothing I can do. That’s the point, and that’s why downstream accounting matters here.

                As a consumer, we do have some responsibility, but at the end of the day, we consume what’s available. We have the responsibility to ask for something different, but we do not have the blame for not getting them from the marketplace. Unfortunately, the industry propaganda has managed to invert that.

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                  Of course there’s something you can do: you can set your thermostat lower or you can have a smaller dwelling (or even share one where you otherwise wouldn’t). If you own a dwelling, you can do a great deal to change its thermal characteristics.

                  I don’t think relying on individuals to do such things is unlikely to be effective, but also believe individuals have a lot of responsibility and that “I can’t do anything” is typically wrong. I suspect many people will think that last sentence is obviously inconsistent. I may be wrong but I’ve thought a bit about it and believe it’s completely consistent.

                  (FWIW: I personally do less than I think I ought to, which is awesome for the intellectual consistency of my worldview and bad for “me feeling like I’m a superb human being”)

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                    You setting your thermostat lower will do exactly nothing to change how that heat is being produced.

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                      It will have an expected effect of reducing the amount of gas used, thereby resulting in an expected reduction in carbon emissions (expected because there may be some kind of step function where the utility ramps production up or down by large volumes. In that case, your actions would have a low probability of having a large effect. I don’t honestly know if that’s true of utilities).

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                  It’s a decent argument that’s typically presented in this very inflammatory, self-defeating way. I think it’s more sensible to rephrase it as a question of supply and demand.

                  Fossil fuels and electricity are incredibly fungible, and there are about nine billion potential consumers. If a few of them voluntarily reduce their demand, it’s very likely that other consumers will increase their consumption, and demand will stabilize.

                  Supply, however, is controlled by a relatively small number of companies and government. If supply were to be reduced (going against the direct financial interests of the controlling parties), demand would have to follow.

                  The ‘demand’ knob has to overcome substantial negative feedback before it leads to significant and lasting reduction of carbon emissions. Interestingly, this is the one most people are talking about.

                  The ‘supply’ knob will work abruptly, and while the market will try to stabilize supply, it’ll take decades for fossil fuel production capacity to recover. Who advocates this? ‘radical groups’ like Extinction Rebellion and Ende Gelände. I actually think they have it right.

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                  And why do those companies emit those CO2? To make things for YOU to consume.

                  Reduce consumption, reduce production, reduce emission.

                  I see so many people demanding changes while they themselves are not willing to change.

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                    That’s a very valid point. It’s very human to turn this into a blame game, but it’s good to remember that all human activity emits CO₂. Let he who is without sin, etc.

                    Starting by reducing consumption is unlikely to be very effective; market forces will work against us. We actually need these companies’ cooperation to reduce production of fossil fuels. Treating them as war criminals may be emotionally satisfying, but it can easily backfire.

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                      Starting by reducing consumption is unlikely to be very effective;

                      Why?

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                        I’ve explained elsewhere, but price elasticity of demand for fossil fuels. Let’s say all programmers agree to stop taking international flights to conferences The price of crude oil drops a few cents, but this makes it more attractive for a farmer in the developing world to drive to market twice a month, instead of once a month. Fossil fuels have myriad of uses, and there are billions of people in the world who can improve their quality of life substantially by consuming more of them.

                        So before you’ll see global demand drop, you’ll have to overcome that elasticity. It’s possible - we recently saw the oil markets crash during the worldwide pandemic lockdown - but it’ll keep working against you until everyone agrees to either voluntarily reduce or stabilize their consumption of fossil fuels.

                        Reducing (and eventually shutting down) fossil fuel production avoids this. It means that any growth in our energy consumption has to come from renewables. It means prices might rise to the point where we might actually have to prioritize heating our homes over international flights instead of doing both. It also means that poorer people might see a serious reduction in their quality of life.

                        Don’t get me wrong, reducing your own consumption is a prosocial thing to do, and I think it’s worthwhile to do it. I just don’t see it as a very effective strategy for reducing global consumption.

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                          So you r argument is that if you reduce somebody else will increase consumption.

                          The farmer drives to the market once a month only because he couldn’t afford to. Now he can go twice a month. His life is better.

                          So by reducing consumption you end up with 2 outcomes. Total consumption is reduced, or somebody’s life is better.

                          It’s a win-win.

                          If your argument is welfare doesn’t matter then the solution is to kill everybody on earth, which will reduce consumption to zero.

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                            Like I said, it’s a social thing to do, and I definitely feel that we should - especially if you (like me) expect others to reduce their quality of life. I just expect the outcome of this to be a very limited reduction of fossil fuel emissions.

                            It also requires people to define a ‘reasonable’ level of energy consumption (which they will typically define by looking at their neighbours, not at some global average). It then requires them to budget and account for this (some people are terrible at this even with money, to the point that they end up homeless.), Since a big chunk of their carbon footprint comes from goods and services, you’ll have to rely on producers’ information, who are quite happy to lie if it makes their customers feel good

                            Yes, a voluntarist approach is the moral thing to do. The climate, however, is not a moral agent, and will not give us points for sticking to our principles.

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                              By your own argument, then it’s impossible to reduce co2 emission then.

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                                Unfortunately, this fits observed CO₂ emissions :(

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                      What I’m saying is not that individuals don’t have any blame, but that individuals don’t have all that blame. In fact, industry documents themselves reveal the propaganda.

                      I’ve gone vegetarian, don’t drive, try to talk to my friends, live small - all because I do think people need to change their consumption habits. But, when the average person turns on the light, they’re not thinking about where the electricity is coming from.

                      That’s a production side problem. Do yes, we can turn off the lights when we don’t need them. But when we do need them, we can’t make it clean.

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                    How pretentious and detached to propose fonts as tools for eco activism.

                    Watching a YouTube undoes a thousand people doing this…

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                      I like to use generic font specifiers like serif or monospace when I can get away with it. In addition to the benefits of not sending fonts down the wire:

                      • As someone that chooses default fonts in my browser settings I like it when websites respect them instead overriding with an arbitary stack of generic fonts
                      • 80% of the time I really don’t care what font is used as long as the result is reasonable
                      • We should be able to trust the user agent to have a set of default fonts that look good together

                      Unfortunetly, the last point doesn’t seem to be true in practice. If only a CSS property could say “only override the font choice if you’re going to use your rubbish default”.

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                        Ah, how about an ugly font bit, just after the evil bit. I’ll submit an RFC for it now.

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                        You saved the world! Congratulations!

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                          I think the issue here is the word “Save”, it implies not doing so is a danger. I personally think the referenced article and the discussion was interesting, especially because my perfered practice is what’s less harmful to the environment, even if this difference is practically negligable.

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                            An alternative would be to self-host and subset the fonts you use. pyftsubset from fonttools can do that. I am always reluctant to use only system fonts as it makes hard to match the body font with the monospace font.

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                              Thats a good idea - I didn’t know that was a thing, I might give that a try in the future.

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                              Save the world, make it a better place, for you and for me.

                              Now, back to my Java app, using 32G heap on each 100 nodes it runs to calculate which ad segment should be targeted with braindead shit. 1 ms of running this is probably producing as much CO2 than 1024 devs with their non local fonts.