China’s Efforts to Fight Pollution are Working

Back in 2014 China decided it was sick of producing so much pollution and decided to do something about it. China started to close coal plants, spent $120 billion cleaning air in cities and launched similar initiatives throughout the country. The results have been longer life spans for people in impacted areas and a more efficient economy. The rapid pace of change is impressive even for China as no other country has been so quick to reduce pollution, that being said China has a long way to go to reach WHO standards seen in the rest of the world.

Although most regions outpaced their targets, the most populated cities had some of the greatest declines. Beijing’s readings on concentrations of fine particulates declined by 35 percent; Hebei Province’s capital city, Shijiazhuang, cut its concentration by 39 percent; and Baoding, calledChina’s most polluted city in 2015, reduced its concentration by 38 percent.

To investigate the effects on people’s lives in China, I used two of my studies (more here and here) to convert the fine particulate concentrations into their effect on life spans. This is the same method that underlies the Air Quality-Life Index that can be explored here. These studies are based on data from China, so they don’t require extrapolation from the United States or some other country with relatively low concentrations of pollution.

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Jaywalking Shouldn’t be Illegal

So far in 2018 a car driver has killed a person every week; if this continues Toronto will see yet another year in which more people die from vehicles than guns. Automobile advocates argue that it’s the victim’s fault for dying and demand stricter punishment for trivial things like jaywalking. Clearly, the debate in Canada needs to change. In America the situation is worse, the pro-car (and historically pro-wealth) policies around pedestrians for walking are being used for reasons beyond protecting drivers from hitting flesh. Sadly, in the USA jaywalking is used by police to target minority populations – and people are already working to change this.

The solutions is clear: don’t let trivial issues like jaywalking be policed the way they are today.

Jaywalking is a trivial crime, one that virtually every person has committed multiple times in their life. This makes it susceptible to arbitrary enforcement. Sacramento’s black residents are five times more likely to receive a jaywalking citation than their non-black neighbors. Seattle police handed out 28 percent of jaywalking citations from 2010 to 2016 to black pedestrians, who only make up 7 percent of the city’s population.

Eliminating jaywalking and similar offenses won’t lead to anarchy on American roads. It’s not illegal in countries like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, for example, and both countries enjoy markedly fewer traffic fatalities than the United States. It’s not clear how much money flows into state coffers from pedestrian tickets, but it’s likely far less than traffic tickets for drivers. Any lost income may also be offset by the savings for police departments. Fewer unnecessary contacts between officers and citizens means fewer costly lawsuits and officer dismissals.

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Resistbot Makes it Easy for Americans to Reach Politicians


The inability to easily take action is a leading factor in why people don’t engage in political change. The creators of a new service, Resistbot, want to make it simple for Americans to have their voices heard. Resistbot is a bot you can interact with via SMS or using it has a plugin to Telegram or Facebook Messenger. For now, it has simple services but has it grows more abilities are being added to help people connect, organize, and have their voices heard.

Text RESIST to Resistbot on Telegram, Messenger, or to 50409 on SMS* and I’ll find out who represents you in Congress, and deliver your message to them in under 2 minutes. No downloads or apps required.

After I help you write or call Congress, your state governor, or the White House, you’ll discover more of what I can do: like town hall lookups, daily reminders, and opportunities for volunteering. New features are being added all the time.

So keep it personal, unscripted, and be persistent. Here are a few users who’ve gotten letters back or read more frequently asked questions.

Check out Resistbot.

Teens are Fighting for our Collective Climate Future

teen computer

Teens today are doing something their parents didn’t do: act on the knowledge that climate change is happening. Boomers did a great job of gobbling many of the worlds resources and dumping carbon into the atmosphere, subsequent generations dealt with proving that to be true. Now the current generation of teens is sick of dealing with the trash of previous generations and is doing something about it. These teens are standing up for their future and are already having meaningful impact.

May they continue to find success while inspiring their elders!

“Teenagers like me have often wondered how to combat climate change,” McGregor recently tweeted. But he believes activism alone no longer works: “The ones who are speaking out must be the ones that change … and do the work themselves.”

It seems as though fearlessness among teenagers who haven’t yet reached voting age is one symptom of the cultural and environmental anxieties their generation is steeped in. Scientists agree that the world is fast approaching — and perhaps already past — key climate turning points, and that actions in the next few yearswill have centuries-long ripple effects. Combine that near-inevitability of radical environmental change with a federal government that holds climate denial as an official position — and you’ve got a generation that accepts radical political change as the only reasonable option.

“The powerful thing about youth is that I don’t have a hidden agenda,” says Margolin. By default, teenagers’ only vested interest is their future. “I don’t get paid for this, I’m not lobbying on behalf of anybody. I’m only doing this because it feels so urgent.”

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For Inspiration Follow the Local Learning Process of a Gardener


Bees are amazing little creatures that have been around far longer than humans but now they need our help. As byproduct of industrialization and the overuse of pesticides colony collapse disorder has hit the bees and hard. There is something we as individuals can do to help the bees -start gardening. One person in Toronto has set out to document how she goes about designing her garden to help bees (and other insects) and share that knowledge with everyone. It’s a great site filled with some fun nuggets of information.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your garden check it out. Her most recent post looked into why bees are amazing and how to identify them:

Over the summer, the native flowers we planted attracted a wide range of pollinators, including a number of native bee species. Using the City of Toronto’s useful (and well illustrated) resource, Bees of Toronto: A Guide to Their Remarkable World, I’ve done my best to identify these garden visitors in the photos below (hint: click the photos to seem them at full size). Once you start to look for these charismatic little creatures, they’re surprisingly easy to find.

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