Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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August 2019

Climate silence: Why we need to all start talking about climate change

Joe Romm writes: Americans rarely talk about climate change with family and friends. Tragically, research shows that this climate silence reinforces the dangerously wrong belief that climate change isn’t an existential threat requiring urgent action. But a major new study led by Yale researchers finds that just discussing the issue with friends and family leads them to learn more facts about the climate crisis, which in turn leads to greater

Educators must join students in demanding climate justice

Jonathan Isham and Lee Smithey write: Sometimes it’s the students who teach. This week, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City in a zero-emissions yacht, en route to the United Nations climate change summit. The purpose of the trip? Let’s call it a teachable moment. Over the past year, Greta and more than 2 million teens around the world have led school strikes for climate justice, demanding that their

A new strategy on climate: Try to outlast Trump

Politico reports: World leaders and major companies intent on dealing with climate change have settled on a strategy for handling President Donald Trump: snub him. When Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency this week proposed withdrawing Obama-era rules to limit emissions of methane from oil and gas wells or pipelines, major oil companies said they wanted the rules to remain. Some of the world’s largest automakers are ignoring the administration’s attempt to

How Brazil’s nationalist leader built a bond with Trump and won his support in the Amazon fires dispute

The Washington Post reports: President Trump was preparing for the Group of Seven summit in France when he learned that one of his most ardent suitors was trying to reach him. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro needed a favor, and Trump told aides to patch the call through. Bolsonaro got right to the point: The powerful G-7 countries, including France and Canada, were unfairly ganging up on Brazil over their criticism

How Amazon’s next-day delivery network brought chaos, exploitation, and danger to communities across America

BuzzFeed reports: Amazon is the biggest retailer on the planet — with customers in 180 countries — and in its relentless bid to offer ever-faster delivery at ever-lower costs, it has built a national delivery system from the ground up. In under six years, Amazon has created a sprawling, decentralized network of thousands of vans operating in and around nearly every major metropolitan area in the country, dropping nearly 5

How cultural anthropologists redefined humanity

Louis Menand writes: Not that long ago, Margaret Mead was one of the most widely known intellectuals in America. Her first book, “Coming of Age in Samoa,” published in 1928, when she was twenty-six, was a best-seller, and for the next fifty years she was a progressive voice in national debates about everything from sex and gender to nuclear policy, the environment, and the legalization of marijuana. (She was in

Ancient farmers irreversibly altered Earth’s face by 3000 years ago

Mohi Kumar writes: When we think of how humans have altered the planet, greenhouse gas warming, industrial pollution, and nuclear fallout usually spring to mind. But now, a new study invites us to think much further back in time. Humans have been altering landscapes planetwide for thousands of years: since at least 1000 B.C.E., by which time people in regions across the globe had abandoned foraging in favor of continually

Music: Jacob Karlzon — ‘Open Waters’

 

Amazon fires show world heading for point of no return, says UN

The Guardian reports: The fires in the Amazon are “extraordinarily concerning” for the planet’s natural life support systems, the head of the UN’s top biodiversity body has said in a call for countries, companies and consumers to build a new relationship with nature. Cristiana Paşca Palmer, the executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said the destruction of the world’s biggest rainforest was a grim reminder that a

Europe is warming even faster than climate models predicted

Gizmodo reports: Over the past seven decades, the number of extreme heat days in Europe has steadily increased, while the number of extreme cold days has decreased, according to new research. Alarmingly, this trend is happening at rates faster than those proposed by climate models. For most Europeans, this new study will hardly come as a surprise. This summer, for example, temperatures in southern France reached a record 46 degrees

Trump administration limits scientific input on recommendations for healthy diet

The Washington Post reports: The Trump administration is limiting scientific input to the 2020 dietary guidelines, raising concerns among nutrition advocates and independent experts about industry influence over healthy eating recommendations for all Americans. For the first time, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, which oversee the committee giving recommendations for the guidelines, have predetermined the topics that will be addressed. They have narrowed

Trump’s G7 performance suggests he’s either a ‘Russian asset’ or a ‘useful idiot’ for Putin, say U.S. spies

Business Insider reports: “It’s hard to see the bar anymore since it’s been pushed so far down the last few years, but President Trump’s behavior over the weekend was a new low.” That was the assessment an FBI agent who works in counterintelligence gave Insider of President Donald Trump’s performance at this year’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France. The agent requested anonymity because they feared that speaking publicly on the

Bolton sidelined from Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump falters

The Washington Post reports: As the president’s top aides prepared for a high-stakes meeting on the future of Afghanistan earlier this month, one senior official was not on the original invite list: national security adviser John Bolton. The attendance of the top security aide would normally be critical, but the omission was no mistake, senior U.S. officials said. Bolton, who has long advocated an expansive military presence around the world,

Former Tory prime minister to join legal fight to stop Boris Johnson suspending parliament

The Guardian reports: John Major has said he will seek the high court’s permission to join a legal fight to prevent the government from suspending parliament before the Brexit deadline, in an unprecedented legal battle that could pit a former prime minister against the incumbent. The Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, also said they were seeking to join the case brought by the

Myths about the Stone Age

By Stephen E. Nash When most members of the general public think of the Stone Age, they probably envision an adult male hominin wielding a stone tool. That picture is laughably incomplete. It assumes that only adult males made and used stone tools, and that stones were the only materials in these ancient people’s everyday tool kits. Both assumptions are at best questionable; at worst, they are simply wrong. First,

Music: Jacob Karlzon Trio — ‘Bubbles’