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Legendary Cosmologist Martin Rees on Science, Religion, and the Future of Post-Human Intelligence…

 

Legendary Cosmologist Martin Rees on Science, Religion, and the Future of Post-Human Intelligence . “Fundamental physics shows how hard it is for us to grasp even the simplest things in the world. That makes you quite skeptical whenever someone declares he has the key to some deeper reality.”

“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire,”trailblazing astronomer Maria Mitchell observed in contemplating science, religion, and our conquest of truth at the end of the nineteenth century. “If we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we came from, we will have failed,”Carl Sagan wrote a century later in his exquisite meditation on science and spirituality. And yet the longing for stable answers and thorough understanding — or, as Hannah Arendt memorably framed it, the propensity for asking unanswerable questions — might be one of the hallmarks of our species. After all, for as long as modern science has existed, scientists have attempted to answer such unanswerable questions by trying to either reconcile science and religion, like Galileo did in defending his theories against the Inquisition and Ada Lovelace did in considering the interconnectedness of the universe, or at least to relegate them to different realms of inquiry.

Adding to the canon of these meditations is the celebrated English cosmologist and astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees — the last European court astronomer in his position as Astronomer Royal to the House of Windsor and science adviser to the Queen of England.

In We Are All Stardust: Leading Scientists Talk About Their Work, Their Lives, and the Mysteries of Our Existence (public library) — Austrian physicist, essayist, and science journalist Stefan Klein’s fantastic compendium of interviews, which also gave us Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg on simplicity, complexity, and the unity of the universe — Rees reflects on his rather unusual entry point into the question of science and spirituality:

The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality

 

From Church and State

For millennia, female inferiority was presumed, and mandated, in virtually every human culture. Through most of history, the brawn of heavier males gave them dominance, leaving women in lesser status – often mere possessions of men, confined to the home, rarely educated, with few rights.

Many were forced to wear veils or shrouds when outdoors, and they couldn’t go outside without a male relative escort. Fathers kept their daughters restricted, then chose husbands who became their new masters.

Sometimes the husbands also had several other wives. In a few cultures, unwanted baby girls were left on trash dumps to die.

In Ancient Greece, women were kept indoors, rarely seen, while men performed all public functions. Women couldn’t attend schools or own property. A wife couldn’t attend male social events, even when her husband staged one at home. Aristotle believed in “natural slaves” and wrote that females are lesser creatures who must be cared for, as a farmer tends his livestock.

Up through medieval times, daughters were secondary, and inheritances went to firstborn sons. Male rule prevailed. Anthropologists have searched for exceptions, with little success – except possibly some Iroquois tribes in Canada, where women reportedly had some rights.

In the 1930s, the famed Margaret Mead thought she found a female-led group in New Guinea, but she later reversed her conclusion and wrote: “All the claims so glibly made about societies ruled by women are nonsense. We have no reason to believe that they ever existed…. Men everywhere have been in charge of running the show.”

The very concept of sin comes from the Bible…

 


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Here is a list of people of the Salem Witch trials and their fate…

 

From Wikipedia

This is a list of people associated with the Salem witch trials, a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, most of them women.

Surnames in parentheses preceded by “née” indicate birth family maiden names (if known) of married women, who upon marriage generally took their husbands’ surnames. Due to the low population of the Massachusetts North Shore at the time of the trials, a significant percentage of local residents were related to other local residents through descent or by marriage. Many of the witchcraft accusations were driven at least in part by acrimonious relations between the families of the plaintiffs and defendants. Unless otherwise specified, dates provided in this list use Julian-dated month and day but New Style-enumerated year (i.e., years begin on January 1 and end on December 31, in the modern style).

 Accusers

“Afflicted”

Over-population is the real cause of climate change – it’s killing us all off…

 

GROWTH: India’s population is expected to exceed 1.27bn this year and is growing at more than 6.5m a year.

From Irish Independent

Despite all the warnings of global warming and imminent disaster, it is unlikely that we will change our ways until a real catastrophe actually occurs.

We have all read about the storms, droughts, melting ice caps and rising sea levels occurring worldwide, while here in Ireland, during last winter’s floods and gales, we experienced a small foretaste of what might well become the norm.

But are we prepared to do anything meaningful about it?

Probably not, is the simple answer.

A lot of hot air will be generated during debates, but if changing the way we behave requires a reduction in our living standards, then nothing will happen.

If the worst occurs and the prophets of doom are proved correct, by then it will probably be too late. Our children will be faced with wars, famine and destitution as strong nations attempt to take over the scarce resources available in other countries and in the poorer areas of the globe, people will simply starve.

Woman With Fatal Condition Caused By Faith Healing Wants Her Parents Prosecuted

 

 

From Friendly Atheist

Mariah Walton, a 20-year-old woman awaiting a heart and lung transplant, said she thinks her parents and other faith healers should face criminal charges for “treating” her with prayer instead of medicine.

It’s a tale as old as time: girl is born with a small hole in her heart, her parents refuse to get it fixed and instead ask God to oversee her well-being, girl is now permanently disabled due to years of being refused care. The twist, however, is that Walton — unlike many faith healing victims — lived on to call for her parents’ prosecution and to condemn the practice in general.

“It would have been solved. If I had a surgery when I was one year old, I would have been just fine,” Walton said in an interview with KTVB News. She said she can’t run, misses a lot of school, and gets sick easily because of her weakened immune system.

Wide Open Eyes…

 

From Resilience

Three months before his death from pancreatic cancer in 1994, the British playwright Dennis Potter was interviewed for the BBC by broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. In obvious pain and taking regular swigs from a bottle of liquid morphine, Potter explored a wide range of questions about his work, politics, family and feelings—given that he was already in the terminal stage of his illness.

I was spellbound by the raw honesty and energy of his answers, but there was one section that catapulted me into a different state entirely. It came when Potter described the plum tree blossom outside his study window:

“Looking at it, instead of saying ‘Oh that’s nice blossom’…I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know, there’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance…the fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.”

I knew immediately what he meant. Potter had a complicated relationship to religion, and he didn’t use overtly spiritual language to describe his experience that day, but that’s how I felt it. He went on to say that this new state of consciousness had given him more clarity and serenity, along with the ability to stay fully focused in every moment. “Almost in a perverse sort of way”, he told Bragg, “I can celebrate life” so close to death.

These feelings of joy, compassion, clarity and connection are characteristic of mystical experience, but Potter’s story raises an intriguing question: why wait so long to enjoy the fruits of a fully awakened life? Shouldn’t we be living this way for as long as is possible, despite the constraints imposed by mortgages and college fees and all the drudgery of convention that surrounds us?

Epicurus: Happiness…

 

From FFRF

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are able and willing.

“If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent.

“Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?” —Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.), Aphorisms
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Kurt Vonnegut Ponders Why “Poor Americans Are Taught to Hate Themselves” in a Timely Passage from Slaughterhouse-Five…

 

 

From Open Culture

Amidst what is now an ordinary day’s chaos and turmoil in the news, you may have noticed some outrage circulating over comments made by erstwhile brain surgeon, former presidential candidate, and current Secretary of HUD Ben Carson. Poverty, he said, is a “state of mind.” The idea fits squarely in the wheelhouse of Carson’s brand of magical thinking, as well as what has always been a self-help tradition in the U.S. since Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Consider, for example, the immense popularity of a book written during the Great Depression, Napoleon Hill’s 1937 Think and Grow Rich, which has increased in popularity every year since its publication, selling around 100 million copies worldwide by 2015. Hill’s prolific self-help cottage industry occupies a prominent place in a distinctly American genre, and an economy unto itself. Books, videos, seminars, and megachurches promise the faithful that they need only to change themselves to change their economic outcomes, in order not only thrive but to “grow rich.”

The notion has had purchase among wealthy opponents of a welfare state, who find it a convenient way to blame the poor for circumstances outside their control. But it also, as robust sales indicate, has wide appeal among the not-so-wealthy. Why? One reason—the presciently, acerbically insightful observer of American culture, Kurt Vonnegut might argue—has to do with the fact that Americans think of poverty as a personal failing rather than a social condition, and conflate wealth with intelligence and capability.

In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

 

“The garden of life is strewn with such dormant seeds and so much of art blossoms from their unwilled and unwillable awakenings.”

And now for something a bit out of the ordinary: When editor Andrew Blauner invited me to contribute to an anthology of essays by some of his favorite writers about their favorite Beatles songs, I did something I rarely do — I accepted, because a particular Beatles song happens to be a significant animating force in my family story.

The anthology is now out as In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs (public library), featuring contributions from wonderful writers like Pico Iyer (“Yesterday”), Rosanne Cash (“No Reply”), Rick Moody (“The End”), Rebecca Mead (“Eleanor Rigby”), Roz Chast (“She Loves You”), Jane Smiley (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”), and Adam Gopnik (“Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Field”).

Here is my essay, as it appears in the book.

Richard Dawkins: Religion is the Root of All Evil?

 


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Oklahoma Republican Declares That Rape Is The ‘Will Of God’

 

From Church and State

Women should get as far away from Oklahoma as soon as possible because Christian Sharia law is about to make their lives a living hell.

If Oklahoma state GOP Rep. George Faught has his way, rape will be on the path to being legal in the state. At least that’s what rapists are hoping for after Faught made a frightening statement on the subject during a debate on House Bill 1549, which restricts abortion.

Democratic Rep. Cory Williams masterfully cornered Faught during the hearing by asking him if he believes rape and incest are the “will of God” since the legislation has no exceptions for either, meaning women would be forced to give birth to their rapist’s baby.

Faught’s reply is absolutely appalling and demonstrates once again why women should never vote for Republicans, especially Republicans who want to base our laws on the Bible.

Trump presidency is over. Buh bye! Hatch now getting security briefings…

 

“Trump’s Presidency Ended May 9th” – Hatch Getting Security Briefings
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Facebook Has Been Regularly Shutting Down Atheist and Ex-Muslim Groups…

 

From HeatStreet

Yesterday, Facebook restricted and then shut down the public pages of Ex-Muslims of North America (24k followers) and Atheist Republic (1,6 million followers) –groups that advocate secularism and provide support to “apostates” (people who leave Islam and who often face persecution).

In fact, the ex-Muslim group claims that for the last several years, Facebook has been continuously blocking groups like it. The ex-Muslims have written an open letter to the social media giant, calling on it to “to stop exercising intellectual persecution” against atheist and ex-Muslim organizations and to “whitelist” such vulnerable groups from organized false flagging attacks.

On Monday, Muhammad Syed, the president of the Ex-Muslims of North Americatook to Twitter to report that the Facebook pages of Ex-Muslims and Atheist Republic were restricted (and the next morning shut down) “in violation of Facebook’s community standards”. No details were given as to what standards were violated. On Tuesday, after appealing the case, both groups were able to regain full access to their pages.

Syed believes the pages had been targeted in coordinated attacks by Muslim fundamentalists using “simple and effective” Facebook flagging tools to report that pages falsely for standards violations. Facebook, Syed said, isn’t doing enough to protect “groups vulnerable to malicious attacks”.

In the open letter to Facebook, which was revealed to Heat Street, Syed pressures the social media company to take measures to improve its reporting mechanisms and to protect ex-Muslim groups.

The Trump Team: They are all going to jail including many in GOP…

 

https://patribotics.blog/2017/05/11/designated-survior-sources-russia-probe-should-result-in-president-hatch/


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TODD WALTON: Bumble Buzzing

 

Spider Web photo by Todd

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“That buzzing-noise means something. You don’t get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without it’s meaning something. If there’s a buzzing-noise, somebody’s making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee.” A.A. Milne

Yesterday I went out to the woodshed to get firewood. The shed is fourteen-feet-wide and sixteen-feet-long with a high ceiling and a plywood floor. When I picked up a few pieces from the Small Log section, I heard the sound of small waves crashing on a distant shore. Then the sound stopped. So I picked up another couple little logs and the sound came again, only this time it sounded more like a choir of Tibetan monks singing far in the distance.

I carried the wood into the house and wondered what could be making those strangely beautiful sounds. So I returned to the woodshed and removed a few more small logs, and the sound came again, but only for a moment; and for the first time I thought the makers of the sounds might be bees. I then retrieved wood from another part of the shed, and this removal did not cause the bees to sound. Thus I was able to say with some assurance that the hive, if that’s what I had disturbed, was located in the southeast corner of the shed behind firewood created from a few small redwood trees we had felled last year.

Thinking Marcia might enjoy hearing the strangely beautiful sounds, I fetched her from her studio and we went to the shed where my removal of a log caused the loudest humming sounds yet. Marcia backed out of the shed and said, “I’m scared.”

Thom Hartmann: How Republicans Quietly Sabotaged Obamacare Long Before Trump Came into Office

 

 

From Thom Hartmann

Billions that should go to Obamacare are missing, thanks to senators like Marco Rubio.

Donald Trump suggested that the Affordable Care Act was a clever ruse by our first black president and his Democratic friends to have a successful health-care system in place for his own presidency, but was set up to fail in the first year of the next president’s term.

Trump said (on 3/10/2017) that this year “would be a disaster for Obamacare. That’s the year it was meant to explode, because Obama won’t be here. That’s when it was supposed to be, get even worse. As bad as it is now, it’ll get even worse.”

While most people are rolling their eyes (why would President Obama do that, particularly when everybody expected the next president to be Hillary?), there’s actually a substantial grain of truth to Trump’s assertion. However, he has identified the wrong culprit as the person who poison-pilled Obamacare for 2017. That distinction would go to Marco Rubio (and his Republican helpers in the Senate).

Let’s step back to 2015 for the entire story, which is bizarre and fascinating.

Joan Baez: Nasty Man

 


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Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl — Animated Book Summary

 


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The National Blues

 

 

From James Kunstler

While the news waves groan with stories about “America’s Opioid Epidemic” you may discern that there is little effort to actually understand what’s behind it, namely, the fact that life in the United States has become unspeakably depressing, empty, and purposeless for a large class of citizens. I mean unspeakably literally. If you want evidence of our inability to construct a coherent story about what’s happening in this country, there it is.

I live in a corner of Flyover Red America where you can easily read these conditions on the landscape — the vacant Main Streets, especially after dark, the houses uncared for and decrepitating year by year, the derelict farms with barns falling down, harvesters rusting in the rain, and pastures overgrown with sumacs, the parasitical national chain stores like tumors at the edge of every town.

You can read it in the bodies of the people in the new town square, i.e. the supermarket: people prematurely old, fattened and sickened by bad food made to look and taste irresistible to con those sunk in despair, a deadly consolation for lives otherwise filled by empty hours, trash television, addictive computer games, and their own family melodramas concocted to give some narrative meaning to lives otherwise bereft of event or effort.

Why should you read War and Peace?

 

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The Materialism Trap

 


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I Grew Up In A Fundamentalist Cult — ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Was My Reality

 

From The Establishment

It was a cold morning on the campus of the little Christian college I attended in Western Pennsylvania. Along with about 20 other students, I’d trundled in and unwrapped my coat and scarf. Now we all sat there sipping our coffees, waiting for the hardest class of the year to get rolling.

Our literary criticism professor paused as he announced the optional reading titles on our list for the next week, a funny look on his face.

“This one,” he said, “you may not like. It was written in 1984, published in ’85 or ’86, and was a reaction against the rise of the religious right — against the values that places like our school stand for. It’s pro-feminist, and anti-complementarian — against traditional gender roles. It sort of parodies what we believe in, in an interesting way. I’m curious what you’ll make of it.”

The shade thrown by my usually soft-spoken professor caught my attention. I had to read this book.

And so I did, unwittingly cracking open the beginning of the end for meek, conservative Christian me.

Carl Sagan Predicts the Decline of America: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “Without Noticing, Back into Superstition & Darkness” (1995)…

 

From Open Culture

There have been many theories of how human history works. Some, like German thinker G.W.F. Hegel, have thought of progress as inevitable. Others have embraced a more static view, full of “Great Men” and an immutable natural order. Then we have the counter-Enlightenment thinker Giambattista Vico. The 18th century Neapolitan philosopher took human irrationalism seriously, and wrote about our tendency to rely on myth and metaphor rather than reason or nature. Vico’s most “revolutionary move,” wrote Isaiah Berlin, “is to have denied the doctrine of a timeless natural law” that could be “known in principle to any man, at any time, anywhere.”

Vico’s theory of history included inevitable periods of decline (and heavily influenced the historical thinking of James Joyce and Friedrich Nietzsche). He describes his concept “most colorfully,” writes Alexander Bertland at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “when he gives this axiom”:

Men first felt necessity then look for utility, next attend to comfort, still later amuse themselves with pleasure, thence grow dissolute in luxury, and finally go mad and waste their substance.

The description may remind us of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man.” But for Vico, Bertland notes, every decline heralds a new beginning. History is “presented clearly as a circular motion in which nations rise and fall… over and over again.”

Neil Tyson tired of God…

 


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Neil de Grasse Tyson on the afterlife

 


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Talking Heads: Take Me To The River…

  


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Sam Harris: How To Defend Donald Trump

 


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WILLIAM EDELEN: More Robert Ingersoll

 

 

From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

One of the joyful rewards of writing a column is to receive the delightful letters that arrive in response, with often developing new friendships. After my column on Robert Ingersoll, many wrote, or called, saying the column brought back a bit of nostalgia, because “I remembered how my father (or grandfather, or mother) used to rave about Robert Ingersoll… and I had forgotten.

Since my last column was primarily introducing the man to those who had not heard of him, I did not have space to give examples of the gems that flowed from his pen.

Women: “The men who declare that woman is the intellectual inferior of man, do not and cannot, by offering themselves in evidence, substantiate their declaration. Husbands as a rule, do not know a great deal, and it will not do for every wife to depend on the ignorance of her worst half… It is the women of today who are the great readers. No woman should have to live with a man whom she abhors. I despise the man that has to be begged for money by his wife. ‘Please give me a dollar?’… ‘What did you do with the 50 cents I gave you last Christmas?’ he asks.”

Government: “I despise the doctrine of state sovereignty. States are political conveniences. Rising above states as the Alps above valleys are the rights of man, the sublime rights of the people… Nothing is farther from democracy than the application of the veto power. It should be abolished… I do not believe in being the servant of any political party. I am not the property of any organization, I do not believe in giving a mortgage on yourself or a deed of trust for any purpose. It is better to be free.”

Church and state: “Church and state should be absolutely

What’s the greatest pop song of the 20th Century?

 

From Jeff Cox

So I’m thinking–what’s the greatest pop song of the 20th Century? Is this even a valid question, since the answer might vary from day to day, from mood to mood, from mindset to mindset?

I thought long and hard about it, since I like everything from George M. Cohan tunes to Gershwin, to Harold Arlen to Cole Porter to Richard Rogers, from early rock to psychedelia to the present day. But when it came down to a decision, I chose a tune that combines everything:

Great guitar playing that references the lyrics, and perfect drumming, lyrics that are simultaneously accurate, snarky, satirical, and brilliantly spiritual, Layer upon layer of meaning, References to madness, lyrics and music that hits you in all seven chakras at once, references that shoot all over the place (even to the Beatles with Goo Goo Ga-Joob), references to Yankee baseball and heroic disappearance, all put together with a fantastically ingenious melody, sung by two great harmonizers. And a song so creative and original that there’s never been anything like it since.
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If Euthanasia Had Been Legal In This Country My Mother’s Suicide Could Have Been Avoided…

 

From HuffPost

‘Suicide’ implies irrationality, mental fragility; as opposed to ‘euthanasia’, which implies a deeply considered, mature and rational death.

I’m still angry. That my mother died by suicide. Left me, abandoned me, when she was elderly and I was in the thick of drowning in busy-ness as a middle-aged working mum — desperately trying to keep all the balls, somehow, in the air; and feeling like I was failing at everything.

My life in a nutshell a few years back: Four young kids. A full-on job as a novelist and columnist. A husband. A dog. And an elderly mum with chronic pain. Something had to give. And with my beautiful mother, Elayn Gemmell, it often felt like she came sixth in this very crammed life. Which shouldn’t have been the case.

Elayn had had painful feet for years, after a childhood of ballet classes and decades of wearing the most fashionable high heels. It all came back to haunt her in her seventies. A year before she died she had an operation to fix her foot agony. It made the situation worse, much worse.

Is it a religion or a cult?

 

 


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Day in the Life of Joe Six-Pack Republican…

 

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good, because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take, because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents, because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan, because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat, because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

You have two lives…

 


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What Traffic Fumes Do To Our Kids

 

From Monbiot.com

A short, simple factsheet on the impacts of traffic pollution on children’s health

I wrote this short factsheet for a local school suffering high levels of air pollution, that are caused in part by the parents, sometimes driving their children just 100 metres up the road. Part of the problem is that many people are unaware of the link between pollution and health issues.

When I looked for a summary – in clear and simple language, that most parents can quickly understand – of the damage that traffic pollution can do to children, I could not find one. Nor could the transport campaigns I consulted. So I decided to write my own.

Please feel free to reproduce it, adapt it and use it as you wish. Please also let me know whether and how it can be improved.

If you find it useful, you might like to ask your school to circulate it among the parents by email or on social media, or to print it out and stick it in places (such as classroom doors) where it is likely to be seen.

If we could circulate such materials widely among schools, we could make a material difference to the health of our children (and the rest of the population).

Fight Trump. Work From Home…

 

From Mother Jones

Remote jobs are great for work-life balance—and democracy.

At the dawn of the Donald Trump era, good ideas are being traded on how to fight back, stand up for marginalized people, and defend the planet: Run for the local school board. Donate to Planned Parenthood. Support investigative reporters (ahem).

Here’s one you might not have considered: Ask your boss to let you work from home.

Take climate change. President Trump’s pick for the Environmental Protection Agency is a climate science denier, but you don’t need the EPA to tell you that the hours you spend in traffic are hurting the planet. Transportation accounts for a quarter of all US greenhouse gas emissions each year—the equivalent of 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide—mostly from cars, pickups, and other light trucks. If a chunk of people chugging gas to the office were able to log in from home instead, would it make a difference?

About 135 million Americans commute to work, and according to a 2016 survey by research firm Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), 50 percent of them have jobs they could do remotely at least part time. If all those workers skipped the commute just every other day, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as we would by taking 9 million cars off the road.

Lots of people hear “work from anywhere” and imagine either startup techies in chic coffee shops or bloggers in ratty PJs sitting on worn-out couches. But major employers across a wide range of industries have gotten in on the act; some even help employees set up fully connected home offices. Xerox, Aetna, and American Express came out on top in a 2014 survey of companies with the most flexible remote options for workers. By 2020, Dell hopes that half its workforce will be doing at least some remote work. A report released by the company in June 2016 found that thanks to telecommuting, 35,000 US employees each saved the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon dioxide on average every year—even when you consider the extra energy required for heat and lights in a home office.