Eric

I Hate You Seattle: A Love Story,” by Tyrone Beason captured so well my own feelings about my city, as I suspect it does for many of us Gen Xers. Great piece of writing.

In the face of mounting research-based evidence that Facebook is psychologically harmful to many users, the social media platform is releasing an app to help users manage addiction to Facebook.

Kelsey H.

In the midst of Orca J-35 carrying her poor deceased child for nine days and counting, The Atlantic published a huge piece focused on marine and animal life woes, due mainly to our own progressions. When it comes to animal welfare, we often take responsibility only for the animals directly under our care: pets and livestock, ones in labs and in zoos. But when it comes to wild animals, the ethical debate often begins and ends at how they were killed. Feature writer J. B. MacKinnon explains in his piece how little we consider animals as we create new places and spaces for ourselves. Even if just for houses and farms (not to mention the scale when done for profit). Many view it simply as “a respectable trade-off: human needs v animal inconvenience.” But a 2017 study of land clearing in Australia showed it’s far more than inconvenience. “Those that flee their homes (many are surprisingly reluctant to do so) are often run over on nearby roads, entangled in fences, die of exposure, or are made easy prey for predators. You don’t really want to hear this, but tree-dwelling species may cower in their holes up to the moment they pass through the sawmill or the wood-chipping machine.”

“Everyday life for a growing roster of wild creatures has become so unpleasant, on our watch and by our hands, that their suffering calls for consideration by reasonable people…Marine Biologist Scott Kraus, the vice president for research at the New England Aquarium, pulled up an image on his computer screen of the U.S. East Coast, covered with a matrix of lines that crowded into the Atlantic…Nearly a decade ago, Kraus nicknamed the right whale the ‘urban whale’…If right whales are threatened with extinction, it’s not from a lack of grit. It’s because their home—which spans 2,000 miles of coastline from southern Canada to northern Florida and cannot be described as small or niche—is one of the most human-modified and influenced regions on Earth. With due respect to Kraus, the North Atlantic right whale is not so much the urban whale as the Anthropocene whale…Wild-animal welfare has remained out of mind for so long partly because the harms involved are often indirect or unintentional—no one chose to disrupt the right whales’ food supply, or give them chronic stress disorders. The sheer scale of potential responsibility also encourages willful blindness. David Fraser, the research chair in animal welfare at the University of British Columbia, calls the hurt we heap on wildlife through our day-to-day machinations ‘the huge, neglected issue of the century.’”

So, what does America specifically use all of its land for? Bloomberg created multiple uh-maze-ing color-coded maps from records to paint the picture. It’s astounding. The majority of land use? Pastures and ranges (at 654 million acres). Agricultural land takes up about one-fifth of the country.

But where there’s no more land left on Earth, there may be on Mars. Scientists discovered a subglacial lake on the red planet, and one creative writer used it as an opportunity. Chuckle along and read Namwan Leavell’s “Earthlings Found Our Lake And Now My Martian Neighborhood Is Already Ruined.” Most notable: the lake’s name.

Anna

Social psychologists Leaf Van Boven and David Sherman ask: If Democrats and Republicans generally agree about the reality and implications of climate change, why do they disagree about climate policy? Their answer: Political “tribalism.” They write in the NYT:

“As we and our colleague Phillip Ehret argue this month in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, our research suggests the problem is not so much that Republicans are skeptical about climate change, but that Republicans are skeptical of Democrats—and that Democrats are skeptical of Republicans.”

In other words, the human brain is twisted. Republican opposition to climate policy is powerful, in part, because climate policy has been a Democratic issue.

Described as “the woman trying to solve the housing crisis by making construction cool,” YIMBY forerunner Sonja Trauss is featured on NPR’s Planet Money podcast, Yes In My Backyard.

  • The Years Project, in collaboration with the The Center for Public Integrity, released #BigOilKnew, a new series of videos revealing what the oil industry knew (and when—this goes back nearly 60 years!) about climate change. See also: CPI’s report on a long reign of influence over US policy and policymakers by the American Petroleum Industry (the biggest fossil fuel lobbying group).

    Aven

    Everyone should read the NY Times Magazine special report on how close we came to solving the climate crisis thirty years ago, and how spectacularly we failed:

    Is it a comfort or a curse, the knowledge that we could have avoided all this?

    Because in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for our current inaction had yet to emerge. Almost nothing stood in our way — nothing except ourselves.

    I’m not gonna lie, reading that right after this rejected academic paper on the current likelihood of ecologically-induced social collapse makes for pretty dark thoughts. But maybe necessary ones?

    And the 2018 Farm Bill is shaping up to be one more ecological nightmare.

    But hey, at least ketchup packets may soon be compostable.