Christine writes:

Hello TWiV,

Does Dr. Despommier know that he was quoted in Le Monde today? I guess so, since they interviewed him! It’s behind a paywall but I got a PDF of it (attached).

Kind regards,



in Nashville

A l’échelle mondiale, la réflexion sur l’agriculture verticale a pris son essor il y a une vingtaine d’années, sous l’impulsion d’un microbiologiste américain, Dickson Despommier. L’auteur du livre The Vertical Farm (2010, non traduit) et professeur émérite de l’université Columbia, dont les cours et conférences font salle comble, est profondément convaincu que les cultures étagées peuvent, à terme, réduire l’empreinte des zones urbaines sur la planète. « Les villes ne sont autonomes ni en eau, ni en énergie, ni en alimentation, explique l’écologue au Monde. Elles rejettent du carbone et n’en séquestrent pas. Elles sont un véritable poids pour la Terre. L’idée de l’agriculture verticale est de rendre les villes compatibles avec la nature, en restaurant des terres. »

Ben writes:

Hi Twisters from Switzerland, where it was a frosty 4 degrees Celsius for my morning bike ride but a glorious 20 degrees on the way home in the afternoon!

It is this time of year again where you wear gloves in the morning and short sleeves in the afternoon. I love it! The only downside is the hay fever.

I have been an avid listener for quite a few years now, listening to every episode of TWiEVO all the way back to the first one. After the pandemic struck I started listening to TWIV and TWIM as well and haven’t stopped, yet. I also became a regular patreon donor because I could not, with good conscience, continue listening to so much good stuff without giving something back.

I love what you are doing with the Incubator.

I am just listening to Twiv 890 – looking into a booster crystal ball.

You were talking about “the public” being misled by the term “breakthrough infection”. Mislead because you, as experts, know that it is quite common that you get mild reinfections with other viruses after vaccination. I was discussing this with my wife and we both, as lay persons, were actually not aware of that. At least from our perspective, it was not the term which raised wrong expectations but lack of knowledge of long term vaccine effects.

So here some questions to get us some education:

What other common vaccines allow for reinfection? What symptoms would you typically have? Do we have any hard data on how common this is? Or a lack of data since the infections are so mild that people wouldn’t even go to the doctor? Or lack of testing?

Thanks for all you do! I’m looking forward to seeing prof Racaniello live at a public lecture in Zürich, soon.

Ben (Biolution on YouTube)

Millie writes:

Hi Vincent and crew

The discussion at the end of the podcast about the Atlantic was interesting. And it picks up a thread from earlier in the year when you were all enthusing about the Atlantic.

I’m from Australia and I read some articles from the Atlantic and have done so for a few years. It’s not totally behind a paywall. There are 5 articles free per month or thereabouts.

On Foreign Affairs, I think that Vincent will have no trouble understanding it. I have a few of their free articles via their newsletter links and they are very interesting – such as recent ones on Ukraine.

Speaking of nerdy podcasts and your listener base, you guys got a mention on the Sinica podcast (which is about China and has lots of interviews with China watching academics).



Maria writes:

Hello 🙂

I have been catching up on the episodes and today I finished listening epitope 881. At the end, Dr. Racaniello mentioned a notebook brand that uses calcium carbonate paper. Although it reduces the amount of trees pulp used paper, it is not the most eco friendly option. Currently, many paper producers use not only FSC paper, but also include up to 60% recycled paper to produce new. Of course, not all do so whenever we buy something that has paper, we have to research what type of paper it is made of. There is a real recycling industry of paper, that is why it is so important to segregate it correctly and shredded paper is not accepted. On the other hand, calcium carbonate paper uses plastic to keep the paper structure, making it a mixed material immediately. This makes it impossible to be recycled and as far as I know, there isn’t any recycling plant accepting it. Only some brands like Karst accept it but you will find that they don’t explain what exactly they do with it. It sounds a bit of what Terracycle does for some brands. Could it be recycled? In theory, yes; but not in reality. Recycling is a business and if the process is too complicated or expensive and the product is too little and there is no buyer for it, no one will do it. As simple as that. You can read more about in the following link:

Paper Made from Calcium Carbonate | Paper Alternatives ( 

Also, it has been proven that plastics emit greenhouse gases. The study of Royer and collaborators (2018) shows that HPDE (plastic 2) produces methane and ethylene when exposed to sunlight while incubated in water. Also, although this type of paper is sometimes suggested to be left to photodegrade (which we both know is not the same as biodegrade) it would keep contaminating the atmosphere and creating a nanoplastic issue in the soil where it is left. Finally, the petrochemical industry is responsible for a huge amount of carbon emissions in the US ( ) and HDPE, as all plastics, come from fossil fuels.

I understand that this is a complicated issue. I would never suggest using virgin resources for disposable things. So, I would suggest getting notebooks, books, print or write on paper in a less impactful way. First, avoid it, then reuse already existing things (second hand books, print or write on the back of printed paper, I used to erase my calculus practice notebook for every semester in college and I have used old but empty planners rewriting the number of the day on it), and finally use new stuff made from recycled materials.

I’m not an environmental engineer, just a Biologist but I like to research on this topic. So, sure there are things that I might not be taking into account but I hope that my analysis will help others question the description we are given by the companies regarding environmentally friendly products.

Best regards,

MariaRoyer SJ, Ferrón S, Wilson ST, Karl DM (2018) Production of methane and ethylene from plastic in the environment. PLOS ONE 13(8): e0200574.