Daily Archives: May 18, 2020

World Telecommunications and Information Society Day

CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Published on May 18, 2020

Climate information services (CIS) helps smallholder farmers better prepare for shifting and extreme weather events. Acess to CIS, however, is not equitable, making agriculture an even riskier proposition for vulnerable groups, such as women. Learn how reserach, like that led by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), brings a gender lens to CIS, making it more available and useful for both women and men

Astronaut Sends Message Down To An Earth Facing Pandemic | NowThis

NowThis News

Published on May 18, 2020

In US news and current events today, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy revealed the important lesson everyone on Earth can learn from those in space about uniting in the face of COVID-19.

From his vantage point on the International Space Station, Cassidy has a unique viewpoint on our pandemic-stricken planet, and from where he’s floating, things don’t look all that different. While the Coronavirus pandemic upends earth, Cassidy and his fellow ISS astronauts bring a message from the peaceful depths of space about cooperation and unity in the face of the Covid 19 Coronavirus outbreak.

2020 Earth Optimism Digital Summit

Earth Optimism

May 15, 2020

Join our hosts to learn about Bird Friendly Coffee and hear some young leaders share their own stories of action and success.

Jasmine Fuller
Economics Ph.D Program, Howard University, Washington DC
Presentation Title: Shaping Earth Optimism using Environmental Data

Robert Posont
Comparative Stress Physiologist, PhD student at George Mason University & Research Fellow, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Presentation Title: Translating Success – Optimism in enclosures and publishing for public knowledge.

Yohanis Lamere
MS Program in Social Enterprise at School of International Service, American University, Washington DC
Presentation Title: The power of Experiment: Looking for the different meanings of climate change

Anthony Julian Gomez
Biology Undergraduate Program, University of California Santa Barbara
Presentation Title: Geographic Variation in Island Scrub-Jay Vocalizations

Storytelling in Scaling Conservation Success

Earth Optimism

May 6, 2020

Host: The Changing Landscapes Initiative, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Ari Gratch – Ariel Gratch, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media, Utica College
Brooke Tully – Behavior Change Marketer
Amy Enchelmeyer – Media and Web Content Specialist, Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Tim Popa – Communications Director, Nelson Byrd Wolz, Landscapes Architects
Will Stolzenburg – Independent Wildlife Journalist
Carlyle Howard, Facilitator – Communications and Outreach Coordinator
The Changing Landscapes Initiative, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Description: By using simple strategies presented at the beginning of the workshop by Dr. Ari Gratch, scientists and expert communicators working in similar fields will brainstorm effective stories for their respective projects in order to communicate at local, national, and global scales.

See related:

Coronavirus shows us it’s time to rethink everything. Let’s start with education | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

The pandemic is a tough lesson in the workings of the natural world – and proves how vital a knowledge of ecology really is


Tue 12 May 2020 11.04 EDT Last modified on Wed 13 May 2020 06.46 EDT

See also: University of Life

Imagine mentioning William Shakespeare to a university graduate and discovering they had never heard of him. You would be incredulous. But it’s common and acceptable not to know what an arthropod is, or a vertebrate, or to be unable to explain the difference between an insect and spider. No one is embarrassed when a “well-educated” person cannot provide even a rough explanation of the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle or the water cycle, or of how soils form.

All this is knowledge as basic as being aware that Shakespeare was a playwright. Yet ignorance of such earthy matters sometimes seems to be worn as a badge of sophistication. I love Shakespeare, and I believe the world would be a poorer and a sadder place without him. But we would survive. The issues about which most people live in ignorance are, by contrast, matters of life and death.

I don’t blame anyone for not knowing. This is a collective failure: a crashing lapse in education, that is designed for a world in which we no longer live. The way we are taught misleads us about who we are and where we stand. In mainstream economics, for example, humankind is at the centre of the universe, and the constraints of the natural world are either invisible or marginal to the models.

In an age in which we urgently need to cooperate, we are educated for individual success in competition with others. Governments tell us that the purpose of education is to get ahead of other people or, collectively, of other nations. The success of universities is measured partly by the starting salaries of their graduates. But nobody wins the human race. What we are encouraged to see as economic success ultimately means planetary ruin.

Large numbers of people now reject this approach to learning – and to life. A survey reported this week suggests that six out of 10 people in the UK want the government to prioritise health and wellbeing ahead of growth when we emerge from the pandemic. This is one of the most hopeful results I have seen in years.

I believe that education should work outwards from our principal challenges and aims. This doesn’t mean we should forget Shakespeare, or the other wonders of art and culture, but that the matters crucial to our continued survival are given the weight they deserve. During the lockdown, I’ve been doing something I’ve long dreamed about: experimenting with an ecological education.

I can’t claim to have found it easy, or to have got it all right. As millions of parents have discovered, there’s a reason why people undergo years of specialist education and training before qualifying as teachers. Persuading children to see you as a parent one moment and a teacher the next is especially challenging. But, working with an eight- and a nine-year-old (my youngest daughter and her best friend), I’ve begun to discover that my dream is not entirely ridiculous.

I’m not talking about teaching ecology as an isolated subject, but about something more fundamental: placing ecology and Earth systems at the heart of learning, just as they are at the heart of life. So we’ve been experimenting with project-based learning, centred on the living world. We started by constructing a giant painting, composed of 15 A4 panels. Each panel introduces a different habitat, from mountaintops to the deepest ocean, the forest canopy to the soil, on to which we stick pictures of the relevant wildlife.

The painting becomes a platform for exploring the processes and relationships in every ecosystem, and across the Earth system as a whole. These, in turn, are keys that open other doors. For example, rainforest ecology leads to photosynthesis, that leads to organic chemistry, atoms and molecules, to the carbon cycle, fossil fuels, energy and power. Sea otters take us to food webs, keystone species and trophic cascades.

We’ve done some fieldwork in soil ecology, an extraordinary and neglected subject, upon which all human life depends. You can study it at home or in the park. It introduces basic scientific principles and experimental design, which then – as we compare and record the results from different samples – leads us into various aspects of maths and writing.

We’re now making a model landscape, to demonstrate the water cycle, river dynamics, stratigraphy, erosion, soil formation and temperature gradients. To the greatest extent possible, I’m letting the children guide this journey. But because of the circular nature of Earth systems, it doesn’t matter where you begin: eventually you go all the way round. As on many previous occasions, I’m struck by children’s natural affinity with the living world. The stories it has to tell are inherently fascinating.

There’s nothing radical about the things we’re learning: it’s a matter of emphasis more than content – of centralising what is most important. Now, perhaps, we have an opportunity to rethink the entire basis of education. As local authorities in Scotland point out, outdoor learning could be the best means of getting children back to school, as it permits physical distancing. It lends itself to re-engagement with the living world. But, despite years of research demonstrating its many benefits, the funding for outdoor education and adventure learning has been cut to almost nothing.

This is the time for a Great Reset. Let’s use it to change the way we see ourselves and our place on Earth. The conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote that “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen.” But if everyone has an ecological education, we will not live alone, and it will not be a world of wounds.

• George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

We’ve got an announcement …

… on our progress as an organisation. In service of the escalating climate emergency, we have made an important decision – to renounce fossil fuel advertising, becoming the first major global news organisation to institute an outright ban on taking money from companies that extract fossil fuels.

In October we outlined our pledge: that the Guardian will give global heating, wildlife extinction and pollution the urgent attention and prominence they demand. This resonated with so many readers around the world. We promise to update you on the steps we take to hold ourselves accountable at this defining point in our lifetimes. With climate misinformation rife, and never more dangerous than now, the Guardian’s accurate, authoritative reporting is vital – and we will not stay quiet.

You’ve read 48 articles in the last six months. We chose a different approach: to keep Guardian journalism open for all. We don’t have a paywall because we believe everyone deserves access to factual information, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.

Our editorial independence means we are free to investigate and challenge inaction by those in power. We will inform our readers about threats to the environment based on scientific facts, not driven by commercial or political interests. And we have made several important changes to our style guide to ensure the language we use accurately reflects the environmental emergency.

The Guardian believes that the problems we face on the climate crisis are systemic and that fundamental societal change is needed. We will keep reporting on the efforts of individuals and communitie.s around the world who are fearlessly taking a stand for future generations and the preservation of human life on earth. We want their stories to inspire hope.

We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable

Top U.S. & World Headlines — May 18, 2020

Democracy Now!

May 18, 2020

CDC Estimates More Than 100,000 Deaths By June 1 | Morning Joe | MSNBC


May 18, 2020

As portions of the country’s economy are set to reopen, the director of the CDC says the U.S. is now on track to have more than 100,000 deaths by June 1. Aired on 5/18/2020.

How covid-19 could change the financial world order | The Economist

The Economist
May 12, 2020

America has dominated global finance for decades. But could covid-19 tip the balance of financial power in China’s favour? Further reading: Sign up to The Economist’s daily newsletter to keep up to date with our latest covid-19 coverage: https://econ.trib.al/YD53WI6
Find The Economist’s most recent coverage of covid-19 here: https://econ.st/2QXX9sJ
Read Matthieu Favas’ special report here: https://econ.st/3fAPKu1
How the pandemic is driving America and China further apart: https://econ.st/2SRk2Pl
Fu Ying: why China and America must co-operate on covid-19: https://econ.st/2YTYhma
Read our article on China’s aim to launch the world’s first official digital currency: https://econ.st/2SThC2Y

How Will COVID-19 Change the World? Historian Frank Snowden on Epidemics From the Black Death to Now

Democracy Now!

May 18, 2020

Pandemics, like revolution, war and economic crises, are key determinants of historic change. We look at the history of epidemics, from Black Death to smallpox to COVID-19, and discuss how the coronavirus will reshape the world with leading medical historian Frank Snowden, author of “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present.” He is a professor emeritus at Yale University who has been in Italy since the pandemic began, and himself survived a COVID-19 infection.

Fox News just got pulled off the air in Britain because hardly anyone watched it – The Washington Post

The News Corp. headquarters and Fox News studios in New York. (Richard Drew/AP) By Amanda Erickson August 30, 2017 at 1:08 p.m. EDT
For the few viewers in Britain who tuned into Fox News, Tuesday was a dark day. Starting at 4 p.m., the channel was pulled from British airwaves.

The reason? Too few viewers.

On Tuesday, Fox News’s parent company announced that it has pulled the channel off the air in Britain, thanks to low ratings. “It averages only a few thousand viewers across the day,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement provided to CNN. Which is not surprising, the company noted, because most of the Fox News shows target a U.S. audience. “We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K.,” the statement said.

Dwindling viewership was not the station’s only problem. The channel was regularly criticized for breaching Britain’s strict television code.

In 2015, a Fox News pundit’s observations about the threat of terrorism in Europe prompted several complaints. Steve Emerson, described by Fox News as a terrorism expert, said Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, was “totally Muslim,” a place “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.” Those comments, demonstrably untrue, prompted social media ridicule.

Fox apologized but Ofcom, the British telecommunications regulator, ruled that the network had committed a “serious breach” of the British television code.

Last year, the regulator dinged the network again for airing pro-Brexit views on the day of the referendum. (Rules ban networks from airing any segments on election and referendum issues during polling.) Also in 2016, Ofcom noted that Fox News repeatedly violated the requirement that news programs offer impartial coverage and give time to different views when it came to Donald Trump.

The regulator pointed to three episodes of Sean Hannity’s nightly show, which “included a number of highly critical statements” about candidate Hillary Clinton. The show referred to her as “the queen of corruption” and “reckless and crooked.” It also aired clips of Trump calling her refugee plan “insane.”

“We considered that the programs presented an overwhelmingly one-sided view [in support of Trump] on a matter of major political controversy and a major matter relating to current public policy,” Ofcom said at the time. “There was no unanimous support expressed for Donald Trump and his campaign,” it added, but there was “a high degree of unanimity in the viewpoints expressed within the programs.”

Most recently, Fox got into trouble in Britain for failing to clearly label a segment on “Fox & Friends” as advertising.

But some critics suggest there are more nefarious intentions behind Fox News being pulled off the air in Britain. 21st Century Fox, led by Rupert Murdoch, is trying to take over Sky, a satellite company that reaches 22 million customers in Europe. In June, the deal was delayed by British regulators, who wanted to review it to see whether it would give the Murdochs too much control over Britain’s media landscape. (Already, the family owns three U.K. newspapers: the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times.)

The “timing of the announcement is, of course, the interesting feature,” Toby Syfret of Enders Analysis told the Hollywood Reporter. “It cannot harm the bid — indeed, [it] may help a little — from the regulatory perspective regarding the question of broadcasting standards; though I cannot see it affecting the plurality issue and related competition concerns.”