It’s important to keep tabs on the ways in which politics interact with trade in very deliberate ways. In this case, the interaction is directly tied to the journalism industry and democracy. While the printed newspaper is pretty much already dead, this move to make newspaper costs substantially increase by the Trump administration is going to hurt community journalism the hardest. Community journalism involves reporters on the ground who contextually know what’s going on in each city like the back of their hand. They’re so necessary for checks on government. This tariff change, no matter how it’s presented, is a direct hit on media which means less watchdogging city, state, and federal governments.
In other news (ha, see that transition there), don’t let big companies fool you. Solar energy just hit a record-breaking low price in the U.S. It’s below 2 cents per kilowatt hour. What about the federal solar investment tax credit (at 30%), you ask? Okay, so it’s still 2-3 cents per kilowatt hour! That’s one-third the cost of building new coal and HALF the cost of building new “natural gas” power. Also notable: these are record low prices, not averages, but it does paint a pretty clear picture of where things are headed in the energy industries. Even if the Trump administration wants to *again* use tariffs, specifically imported panel tariffs, to impede innovation.
But some new not-so-exciting numbers are also in. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been monitoring 98 coastal areas, and the frequency of coastal flooding from high tides has doubled in the U.S. over the past 30 years. They also give warning to even higher flood frequencies for this year and 2019. “The longer-term trend is even more certain, NOAA said, with melting glaciers, thermal expansion of sea water and altered ocean currents pushing the sea level steadily higher and causing further floods.” As climate change also causes more hurricanes, those hurricanes exacerbate oceanic floods to the point where they’re chronic. So, basically, we’re dealing with more incoming water due to multiple factors that all link back to climate change. Funnnn.
Let’s not end things on a negative note, though. I got some serious woman empowerment vibes from the news that Kathy Griffin—yes, the one who did a photoshoot featuring the decapitated head of Trump—is coming to Portland, Oregon, with fire in her heart and grit in her teeth despite the backlash bruises from her shoot. She lost gigs, was investigated by the Secret Service, and publicly denounced.
She has defiantly taken back her apology, says the controversy over the photo represents an assault on free speech, and calls her treatment an example of going through ‘the Trump woodchipper’…”All the same old white guys that had me do their charity events…all ditched me,” Griffin says. “And they could have lifted a finger. I needed someone to lift a finger. I needed one of those guys to pay it forward.”
It’s clear that, in the event it’s not paid forward, she’s still defiantly doing it herself. Can I get an “amen”?
I recommend finding a 9-year-old and settling in with Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” on Netflix. It’s a heap of fun exploring astronomy, physics, biochemistry, the history of science, and so much more.
Scientists modeled alien civilizations to see how they might handle changing planetary conditions. The results broke down like this:
- Most common—the die-off—as the civilization used energy, populations exploded, overshot the planet’s carrying capacity, and up to 70 percent of people died. Cosmic Easter island.
- The soft landing—the population grew, but the people managed to transition to a new equilibrium without massive die-off. Whew.
- Full-blown collapse. Like the die-off, population and energy use exploded, but the civilization never managed a new equilibrium. It just went extinct.
When you think of hunter-gatherers, do you imagine men out hunting big game to feed the tribe while women and children gather a few nuts and berries? Turns out, the men may not have brought home the bacon. Rather, the food that mothers and grandmothers gathered was critical to survival. Which may be why women continue to have longer life expectancies—we evolved for long-lived women because grandmothers were more important to child survival than were fathers.
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Nigerian-Americans are one of the most successful immigrant communities in the US. There’s just 376,000 of them, but they are making a mark.
I’ve always thought Bitcoin was kinda dumb (not to mention enormously energy-intensive), so it’s gratifying to see a computer expert lay out a full list of reasons why Bitcoin is dumb.
In most countries, as productivity goes up, hours worked goes down. Not so in the US.
In case anyone thought that the investigations into US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s behavior were just partisan posturing, prominent conservative groups are now taking out ads calling for his ouster. In another rare act of bi-partisan resistance to petro-state government, leaders from both parties are calling BS on a House Republican plan to fine states that refuse to allow drilling off their coastlines.
When I’m feeling really down about the state of the planet, I also like to bust out Cosmos as a reminder that in the long run, we’re all dead anyway (yes, for whatever reason, this really does make me feel better). Here’s another good bigger-picture reminder from a prominent astrophysicist:
This recognition — that in the long term the Earth will abide without us — does not absolve us from the need for urgent action. It is not an excuse for climate denial or ecological hooliganism. It also does not mean we are free to just impose suffering on Earth’s other creatures. Instead, it’s an acknowledgment of the true scale of our planetary responsibilities. It means we must become the agent for something the Earth has not seen before — a biosphere that is also awake to itself and can act for its future with both compassion and wisdom.