South Korea’s Local Basic Income Experiment Demonstrates Success

Due to the economic fallout of COVID-19 a city in South Korea decided to create its own kind of universal basic income. Instead of just getting cash, the payouts are done on a special credit card that only works with local owned businesses, meaning you have to spend locally and help your local businesses survive the economic downturn. In the video above you can see how successful this program has been and that one federal politician is hoping to make the program national.

To stimulate its pandemic-hit economy, a province in South Korea has been experimenting with universal basic income programs by regularly giving out cash, no questions asked. Now, some politicians want to go national with the concept.

A Team Cools the Planet by Sending Heat to Outer Space

desert and stars

Aaswath Raman, a material scientist at UCLA, has looked into the past to solve today’s problems. He has led a team that’s created an impressive device that uses radiative cooling to help cool anything by sending heat into outer space. This sounds like it’s right out of science fiction, but it is very real and is based on sound science that’s been ignored for decades. A basic example of radiative cooling is how temperatures drop on buildings overnight due to the lack of sunlight, in this case the heat just goes into the atmosphere. Using Raman’s new device the heat can get transferred into outer space because the material used reflects a very particular wavelength which won’t get trapped in the atmosphere.

In a few years the Stanford group had its first prototype. Placed outside in the hot California sun, it felt cold to the touch. It was a giddy, counterintuitive sensation, even to Raman.

Yet even after he convinced himself that daytime radiative cooling was possible, it wasn’t until a trip to visit his grandmother in Mumbai that Raman started to see how it could also be useful.

A growing number of homes in Mumbai had air conditioners in their windows, something he rarely saw during childhood visits. That’s an unqualified victory for people’s health, Raman said; exposure to extreme heat can lead to a range of illnesses, from respiratory illness to psychological distress.

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Fleeing the City During This Pandemic? Do so Sustainably

the suburbs

Inequality has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we ought to be conscious about this. Wealthy individuals can work from home and afford to move, while others need to be physically at work and can’t move. As a result the prices of houses outside of cities have risen has more people look for more space to accommodate working from home.

We also know that the suburbs are drivers of regressive political attitudes and horrible environmental damage. We ought to be conscious about this too. Since people want to keep working from home and move further from sustainable infrastructure, what should we do? Over at Fast Company they explore this 2020 conundrum.

As we face a climate turning point for which our post-COVID-19 behaviors are especially crucial, it’s important that higher-income individuals who move outward live in an eco-friendly way, especially when many essential and lower-wage workers must stay in cities and, often, climate hotspots. “COVID-19 has illustrated a sad truism: We may all be in the same boat, but we all do not have the same paddles,” Daniel Kammen, the other Berkeley study author, wrote in an email to Fast Company. Affluent individuals in New York and San Francisco have the financial means to insulate themselves from climate risks, such as wildfires and unsafe air, by working from home and relocating, he explained. “Multiple properties, often larger suburban and rural homes, and longer delivery chains all mean that individual emissions of the affluent rise when they take the extra precautions they can afford.”

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Weather Doesn’t Matter Where There’s Good Bicycling Infrastructure

a couple, bicycles

People opposed to multiple transit solutions often argue that it’s not worth building bicycle lanes because nobody rides in the rain. They couldn’t be more wrong. A new study from Germany looked into the use of bikes during poor weather and found that places with good bicycling infrastructure had more cyclists during when it rains compared to cities without safe roads. Now we have scientific evidence that building bike lanes keep people on their bikes, so let’s build more of it!

Between cities and regions, not only cycling levels differ, but also the reactions of cyclists to adverse weather conditions. Using data from 122 automated bicycle counting stations in 30 German cities, and a composite index of adverse weather conditions that consists of air temperature, precipitation, wind speed, relative humidity, and cloud coverage, we calculate city-specific weather elasticities of the level of utilitarian cycling. The results show that these weather elasticities vary significantly between cities. Our next step is to analyze various determinants of weather elasticities, which reveals that the share of young inhabitants and the density of the cycle network have a positive impact on weather resilience. Based on the notion that resilience to adverse weather conditions reflects a revealed part of a city’s bicycle culture, the weather elasticities can be used to create a ranking of bicycle cities. This ranking is positively correlated with a ranking based on the modal share of cycling, as well as with other rankings based on stated preference surveys or external conditions such as infrastructure or cycling safety.

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It’s Good to Understand the First 5000 Years of Debt

How can we make sense of governments around the world taking on more debt during the COVID-19 pandemic when beforehand they were repulsed by the concept of going into debt? Step one is to look at our assumptions of debt.

About a decade ago David Graeber wrote a book called Debt: The First 5,000 Years which explores the history and cultural practices around debt. If you don’t have time to read the whole book you can watch a summation of the main points in the talk he gives (embedded above). Trust me, it’s worth your time to at least watch his presentation.

While the “national debt” has been the concern du jour of many economists, commentators and politicians, little attention is ever paid to the historical significance of debt.

For thousands of years, the struggle between rich and poor has largely taken the form of conflicts between creditors and debtors—of arguments about the rights and wrongs of interest payments, debt peonage, amnesty, repossession, restitution, the sequestering of sheep, the seizing of vineyards, and the selling of debtors’ children into slavery. By the same token, for the past five thousand years, popular insurrections have begun the same way: with the ritual destruction of debt records—tablets, papyri, ledgers; whatever form they might have taken in any particular time and place.

Enter anthropologist David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (July, ISBN 978-1-933633-86-2), which uses these struggles to show that the history of debt is also a history of morality and culture.

Watch it above or on YouTube.

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