The Lancet is a medical journal that is known for its direct and terse reports, the are perhaps best known for their detailed account of the death toll in Iraq (as a result of the American invasion in 2003). Now they are calling the Canadian government to task. PM Stephen Harper is known for his ideological drive to destroy Canada (and the global environment) and now it’s having a very adverse impact on global health. This is where the Lancet calls on Canada to step up and account for its horrible behaviour.
It’s good to see that there are organizations that exist which try to bring attention to ongoing institutionalized negative behaviour brought to bear from the powers that be.
Previously a leader in freedom of information, Canada is frequently cited for its decline in openness, most recently by the Center for Law and Democracy, in co-operation with the Madrid-based Access Info Europe, which ranked it 55th of 93 countries, down from 40th in 2011.
Harper defends withdrawal of federal funding for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are critical of governmental policy, a reversal of a 50 year tradition of non-partisan support for civil society, saying: “if it’s the case that we’re spending on organisations that are doing things contrary to government policy, I think that is an inappropriate use of taxpayer’s money and we’ll look to eliminate it.” Consistent with this logic, the Government was able to continue funding NGOs skeptical of global warming and supportive of the asbestos industries.
Read more here.
The NSA is the world’s largest employer of mathematicians and now there is a movement from some mathematicians calling for a protest against the spying agency. We don’t know what they work on at the NSA but we do know that mathematicians contributed extensively to the Orwellian mass surveillance of people around the world. The revelations from Edward Snowden as shown that the NSA’s surveillance efforts have increased security risks for anybody who uses the internet.
If you’re a mathematician please don’t go work for agencies like the NSA, GCHQ, or CSEC because their unethical and immoral behaviour as institutions is certainly not a good thing. Stopping mass surveillance is.
At a bare minimum, we mathematicians should talk about this. Maybe we should go further. Eminent mathematician Alexander Beilinson of the University of Chicago has proposed that the American Mathematical Society sever all ties with the NSA, and that working for it or its partners should become “socially unacceptable” in the same way that working for the KGB became unacceptable to many in the Soviet Union.
Not everyone will agree, but it reminds us that we have both individual choices and collective power. Individuals can withdraw their labour. Heads of university departments can refuse staff leave to work for the NSA or GCHQ. National mathematical societies can stop publishing the agencies’ job adverts, refuse their money, or even expel members who work for agencies of mass surveillance.
At the very least, we should acknowledge that these choices are ours to make. We are human beings first and mathematicians second, and if we do not like what the secret services are doing, we should not cooperate.
Read more here.
The Worldwatch Institute has just released their 40th anniversary edition of the State of the World, and this time it’s titled Governing for Sustainability. In it, this year the institute looks at how governments are reacting to people demanding environmental action in defiance of powerful and monied corporate interests pushing environmental concerns to the side.
In this edition, contributing authors examine the potential for improving governance by analyzing a variety of trends, such as local and regional climate initiatives, energy democracy, and corporate responsibility. They argue that sustainability depends on action in both the economic and political spheres. Financial industries need to serve as public stewards again. Unions can help ensure that the transition to sustainability is socially just. Most importantly, citizens must take responsibility and empower themselves.
“Ultimately, it seems to us, all governance begins with individuals in communities. Humans are no more isolated actors in politics than they are the independent molecules of mainstream economic theory,” says State of the World 2014 co-director Tom Prugh.
“Pressure to improve governance, at every level, can come only from awakened individuals, acting together, dedicated to making their communities sustainable places,” adds State of the World 2014 co-director Michael Renner. “From there, it may be possible to build communities in a way that affords every person on Earth a safe and fulfilling place to live, and offers future generations the same prospect.”
Read the report here.
Baby Boomers are just like their parents – they complain about all the problems they think the youth are causing (as if it’s the youth fault the planet is experiencing irreversible climate change and the economy was maladjusted a few years back). The older generations often accuse younger people to be lazy and doing everything “wrong” – well, those Boomers couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out that young adults today are kinder, more ambitious, more caring, and are looking for more satisfying lives than their parents.
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett recently wrote a great piece on what it’s been like studying and working with the 18-29 year old demographic for the last couple decades. It shows that the future is in good hands!
The ‘selfish’ slur also ignores how idealistic and generous-hearted today’s emerging adults are. In the national Clark poll, 86 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreed that: ‘It is important to me to have a career that does some good in the world.’ And it is not just an idealistic aspiration: they are, in fact, more likely to volunteer their time and energy for serving others than their parents did at the same age, according to national surveys by the US Higher Education Research Institute.
Today is Earth Day which is a day that calls people to be conscious of the environment and find ways to help or protect nature. It’s a great intuitive that has been around since 1970 and it’s impact continues to grow. One issue that a lot of environmental organizations run into is transitioning people’s knowledge of negative environmental behaviour into direct action.
This where a new web service called Rallyware can potentially help out. It looks alright and is one of many initiatives we’ve seen attempt this – hopefully this service will be a great success.
According to Rallyware CEO both small and large environmental organizations miss out on important business goals because they don’t engage their online supporters, fans and followers with these four easy steps:
STEP #1: CREATE BITE-SIZED TASKS
Create small, easy-to-accomplish offline tasks that must be checked off on the way to a bigger offline goal.
STEP #2: TRACK PROGRESS ONLINE
Even though actions are occurring offline, online tracking allows everyone to know in real-time how they are performing.
STEP #3: CREATE INCENTIVES
Motivate your supporters with physical rewards, status upgrades, and peer recognition for a job well done.
STEP #4: ENGAGE AGAIN
Because the support of a follower or fan erodes with inactivity, always have the next set of tasks ready to go.
Earth Day Canada
Earth Day on Wikipedia