How Nations Worked Together to Address the Ozone Hole

Way back in 1987 nations of the world signed the Montreal Protocol to address some environmental problems. The biggest environmental issue discussed at the time was the hole in the ozone layer and thanks to everyone confronting it the hole in the ozone layer is basically gone. It’s proof that if the political will is there then we can solve any global environmental problem by working together!

We don’t hear much about the hole in the ozone layer anymore. That’s because we’ve all but fixed it, thanks to consumer choices and a massive international agreement called the Montreal Protocol. Can we learn anything from this environmental success story that will help us fix climate change?

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A Community-Driven Map of Pre-Colonized Land

maps

If you’ve ever wondered about the history of the land you’re on then this website (and app) is for you! The website Native-Land collects historical data from around the world of what peoples claimed what land so any curious individual can investigate some cartographic history. Layers on the map include territory, language, and treaties which cover North America. Mapping territory can complicate reconciliation issues as it may inadvertently rewrite history; to counter this the online teacher’s guide brings up good resources and questions.

Temprano emphasizes that Native Land maps are constantly being refined by user input, and he welcomes data submissions. On the website, he also cautions about the nature of mapping. “I feel that Western maps of Indigenous nations are very often inherently colonial, in that they delegate power according to imposed borders that don’t really exist in many nations throughout history. They were rarely created in good faith, and are often used in wrong ways.”

Reorientation to the Indigenous perspective, though, just might offer an entirely new way to experience this continent.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Need a Job? Let’s Give Jobs to Everybody!

Interview

Underemployment runs rampant in too many sectors of our economy; and this contributes to a long-term unsustainable economic system. For example, people born in the 1980s are now the brokest generation since the Depression (for reasons why see this post). With these problems in mind, some thinkers are calling for a radical solution by providing jobs to anybody who wants one. It’s like universal income but for work.

To advocates, the payoff from this kind of program would be immense: In a single stroke, the government could not only eliminate involuntary unemployment but also alter the private job market. The wages and benefits at guaranteed public jobs would effectively set a floor for private employment. With more workers fully employed at higher wages, there’d be less demand for social services like food stamps. And although the program would require a significant initial investment, it would ultimately spur economic growth, as workers go out and spend their new paychecks.

Advocates of a jobs guarantee are clear on the need for on-the-ground leadership. The CBPP plan calls for federal administrators of a jobs guarantee program to work closely with state and local governments, and it advises that project proposals be developed “in conjunction with community leaders, local government officials, labor organizations, and local residents.”

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These Millionaires Want Higher Taxes

Office room

When it comes to taxes Americans love not paying them, but now some millionaires want to change that. The Patriotic Millionaires call on the rich to pay their fair share, and they call for that attitude to permeate the globe. Developed nations tend to tax money made through labour at a higher rate than money made through investments, meaning rich people can get richer by not working. The chair of PM, Morris Pearl, recently wrote a good op-ed explaining why he thinks the rich should be taxed and has a new book out.

Most of the ultra–rich make the vast majority of their money through capital gains, not income. They don’t work in the way most Americans work, because they live off of their investments. And it’s a lucrative path, because the top capital gains rate is barely over half of that paid for ordinary income.

That means a billionaire whose investments earn him millions of dollars while he sits around at the beach and goes to fancy cocktail parties pays a lower tax rate on his earnings than almost any working American.

Investing is not inherently more valuable than labor, and it’s simply not true that investing in the stock market creates jobs.

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America Might Find Salvation in Satire

protest

2016 witnessed the election of Donald Trump thanks in a large part to Russian meddling in the American democratic process. One of the most effective things that the Russians did was lie and spread contradictory information to make it hard for people to discern reality. Trump’s marketing skills made use of these Russian efforts to convince people to vote for him (by a very small margin and still lost the popular vote). How do we get out from the propaganda launched by Russia, Trump, and others?

The answer might just be late night comedians. Yes, a country run by a celebrity famous for being born rich will be saved by other rich celebrities. At the very least it’ll be great to see elevated discourse!

This is all to show that there is now proof that the mainstreaming of lies in the Trump era is indeed rotting our brains. It was first thought that one way to prevent the spread of false information would be to flag it by third-party fact checking, but the study cited above showed that that effort did not sufficiently help.

And that’s where the comedians come in. Thus far there have been no studies that have compared cognitive processing of satire with cognitive processing of falsehoods. But there is significant research to show that it may well be true that the best cognitive defense against Trump era falsehoods is satirical comedy. We know, for instance, that those who consume sarcasm are smarter, more creative and better at reading context. All are useful tools to process lies.

What is most interesting is that processing falsehoods and processing certain types of satire appears to follow a very similar cognitive path. In both cases, the brain has to be able to distinguish between what is said and what is true. And in both cases the brain has to reconcile ambiguity, incongruence and the misuse of words. It further has to process tone, context and body language to infer meaning.

We knew back when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were on Comedy Central that their viewers were among the most informed on issues of any group consuming news. But now the role of satire in informing the public may be even more important — satirists may be the one thing that is keeping analytical thinkers engaged.

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