It takes decades

It takes decades for significant change to be realized. This has serious implications for urban policy and leadership because the timescale of political processes by which decisions about a city’s future are made is at best just a few years, and for most politicians two years is infinity. Nowadays, their success depends on rapid returns and instant gratification in order to conform to political pressures and the demands of the electoral process. Very few mayors can afford to think in a time frame of twenty to fifty years and put their major efforts toward promoting strategies that will leave a truly long-term legacy of significant achievement.
Geoffrey West, Scale, 2017

Speed

I first came to the United States in September 1961 to attend graduate school in physics at Stanford University in California. I took a steam train from King’s Cross Station in London up to Liverpool, where I boarded the Canadian steamship the Empress of England and sailed for almost ten days across the Atlantic, down the St. Lawrence River, eventually disembarking in Montreal. I stayed overnight before taking a Greyhound bus that deposited me in California four days later, having spent one night at the YMCA in Chicago, where I changed buses. The entire journey was an extraordinary experience that transported me across many dimensions, not least of which was anamazing introduction to the variety, diversity, and eccentricity of American life, including an appreciation of its immense geographical size. Fifty-five years later I am still trying to process everything I experienced on that road trip as I continue to grapple with the meaning and enigma of America and all that it stands for.
Geoffrey West, in his book 'Scale', 2017

Everything nowadays is ultra

Everything nowadays is ultra, everything is being transcended continually in thought as well as in action. No one knows himself any longer; no one can grasp the element in which he lives and works or the materials that he handles. Pure simplicity is out of the question; of simplifiers we have enough. Young people are stirred up much too early in life and then carried away in the whirl of the times. Wealth and rapidity are what the world admires…Railways, quick mails, steamships, and every possible kind of rapid communication are what the educated world seeks but it only over-educates itself and thereby persists in its mediocrity.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1825 From Goethe's Letters to Zelter, London: George Bell & Sons, 1887 (as quoted in Scale by Geoffrey West, 2017)

A shadow of what they once were

But extinction is not the only tragedy through which we’re living. What about the species that still exist, but as a shadow of what they once were? In “The Once and Future World,” the journalist J.B. MacKinnon cites records from recent centuries that hint at what has only just been lost: “In the North Atlantic, a school of cod stalls a tall ship in midocean; off Sydney, Australia, a ship’s captain sails from noon until sunset through pods of sperm whales as far as the eye can see. ... Pacific pioneers complain to the authorities that splashing salmon threaten to swamp their canoes.” There were reports of lions in the south of France, walruses at the mouth of the Thames, flocks of birds that took three days to fly overhead, as many as 100 blue whales in the Southern Ocean for every one that’s there now. “These are not sights from some ancient age of fire and ice,” MacKinnon writes. “We are talking about things seen by human eyes, recalled in human memory.”
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here by Brooke Jarvis, New York Times Magazine, 27 November 2918.

Shifting Baseline Syndrome

A 1995 study, by Peter H. Kahn and Batya Friedman, of the way some children in Houston experienced pollution summed up our blindness this way: “With each generation, the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation takes that amount as the norm.” In decades of photos of fishermen holding up their catch in the Florida Keys, the marine biologist Loren McClenachan found a perfect illustration of this phenomenon, which is often called “shifting baseline syndrome.” The fish got smaller and smaller, to the point where the prize catches were dwarfed by fish that in years past were piled up and ignored. But the smiles on the fishermen’s faces stayed the same size. The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall.
From The Insect Apocalypse Is Here by Brooke Jarvis, New York Times Magazine, 27 November 2918. Astonishing, moving and deep, with many thoughts about human perception, scale, and change.
The title character was introduced in the show’s theme song: ‘Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!’ Resembling an ordinary kitchen sponge wearing shorts and a necktie, SpongeBob had big eyes, two teeth and oversize pair of shoes. He lived in a pineapple under the sea at Bikini Bottom, with his pet snail, Gary, and was beamingly proud of his job making Krabbie Patties at the Krusty Krab eatery.
‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ creator Stephen Hillenburg dies at 57, Washington Post, 27 November 2018

Democracy without citizens

The point at which politics becomes hard to understand is the point at which it is no longer politics but just competitive play, a Risk-style board game. Once there is only a handful of self-qualified players, we no longer qualify as a democracy, or perhaps even a polity. To cover political life as a game played between elites tells citizens that politics is a spectacle to be watched, not an activity to be participated in. Such coverage creates what scholar Bob Entman refers to as a ‘democracy without citizens.’
We'll Be Paying For Mark Halperin's Sins For Years To Come, by Eve Fairbanks, Buzfeed, 22 November 2017

The future cannot take time to be properly imagined

Their endless drumbeat of meaningless micro-scoops helped create the impression we are living at the edge of time, where the present is as momentous as anything that has ever occurred. The future, in this context, cannot take any time or energy to be properly imagined.
From Eve Fairbanks' searing critique of celebrity political journalism We'll Be Paying For Mark Halperin's Sins For Years To Come, Buzfeed, 22 November 2017

(And she was commenting on a time before social media.)

It is amazing how much a trained human can tell from just looking at a single frame of a surgical procedure. A well-trained surgical resident can walk into an operating room where a surgery is underway, and can glance up and with one look at the screen know what kind of procedure it is, what step you are at in the procedure — they know what’s going to happen next, and they can tell if it’s going well or not, using clues like if you’ve got a lot of blood in the field, or from looking at the body language of all the people in the operating room. Is the surgeon stressed out? Has the music been turned down? Are people still talking? What are they saying? There’s all kinds of clues.
Medical doctor and engineer Catherine Mohr, in How will technology transform humanity, New York Times, 16 November 2018
Humans are mainly a temporary container for their genes
— Tim Urban, Wait But Why, Your Family: Past, Present, and Future, 28 January 2014

In context,

Writing this post has really hammered home the point that humans are mainly a temporary container for their genes. In 150 years, all 7,100,000,000 people alive today will be dead, but all of our genes will be doing just fine, living in other people.
Insights are essentially fresh knowledge that comes in the form of new and often surprising solutions, often to a known problem. Insights typically do not follow from an analytical process where we break down what we know into parts and then put it back together. Solving a problem using insights requires cognitive restructuring and reinterpreting one’s view of the problem.
— From …using the LEGO Serious Play method by Per Kristiansen and Robert Rasmussen

The Correct Sarah Connor

If The Terminator were set in today’s world, the movie would have ended after four and a half minutes. The correct Sarah Connor would have been identified with nothing but a last name and a zip code—information leaked last year in the massive Equifax data breach.
— From In cyberwar, there are no rules: Why the world desperately needs digital Geneva Conventions. by Tarah Wheeler, Foreign Policy magazine, Fall 2018

"They are the only experts"

Expertise is unfashionable right now, partly because our society is not very good at understanding who is expert at what, so we give too much power to some people and not enough power to others. […]

Sadly, we don’t see residents as experts. This is a critical and corrosive mistake. Of course, they certainly are not experts in how to reduce greenhouse gases, or pave roads, or pick bike routes. They should not be picking beams for a bridge.

But citizens of a city do know how the built environment makes them feel, and how they would like to feel.

They are experts in how increasing taxes will stress them out. They are experts in hidden secrets of their streets and alleys. They are experts in the amenities they want for themselves and their family. They are the only experts. Their expertise should be respected.”

From Most Public Engagement Is Worse Than Worthless by sustainability consultant Ruben Anderson, August 6, 2018

"But I don't want your hope"

Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’

But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.
— Greta Thunberg, 16, to the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland (transcript)

Thunberg continues,

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Either we do that or we don’t.