22nd Century Leadership - Weston Boyles

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Weston Boyles is an adventurer, filmmaker and avid conservationist who in 2012 founded Ríos to Rivers, an environmental activist exchange program that brings young people from different countries and cultures together to protect wild rivers.

Through many years of living and working in South America, he has developed a network of friends and collaborators who are critical in creating meaningful youth exchanges between imperiled rivers. He strongly believes that listening to the local community leaders, creating space for them take the lead, and working with humility is critical for successful exchanges. Weston is fluent in Spanish and is an expert whitewater kayaker. He is also my neighbor in the Patagonian region of Aysen.



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22nd Century Leadership - Kris Tompkins

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins with her dog, Wacho, on a ridge overlooking land that the Tompkins Conservation donated to the Chilean government. Credit: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins with her dog, Wacho, on a ridge overlooking land that the Tompkins Conservation donated to the Chilean government. Credit: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

I’m very excited to introduce our next guest, Kris Tompkins. I first met Kris almost 25 years ago when she moved to a remote valley in a southern Chilean rainforest to live with her new husband, Doug Tompkins, where together they would work tirelessly to become the most important Wildlands Philanthropists in recent history. As of January 29, 2018 when the current Chilean President signed decrees legally creating over 10 million acres of new parklands in southern Chile, they and their teams of dedicated Chileans and Argentineans have been directly involved in the creation of 17 new national parks and over 13.4 million acres of new National Parklands in Chile and Argentina.

This historic conservation victory in Chile creating 5 new parks – including two five-star parks created and donated by Tompkins, Pumalin and Patagonia - and the expansion of 3 other existing parks, is bittersweet, because the vision for this ‘network of parks’ spanning almost 2000 km was was brainchild of Kris’ husband Doug, who had presented it to the Chilean president just before he passed away on a kayak expedition in a remote area of Lago General Carerra in December 2015.

Kris’ story is storybook-like. She was born and raised on a ranch in southern California, except for a three-year stint in Venezuela. At age 15, she met and befriended rock climbing legend and equipment manufacturer Yvon Chouinard, who gave her a summer job working for Chouinard Equipment, his climbing gear company. After finishing college in Idaho, where she ski-raced competitively, she started to work full time for what then became Patagonia, Inc. During her 20 years as CEO, Kris helped Yvon build Patagonia into a renowned “anti-corporation” and a leader in the outdoor apparel industry. Recognizing that manufacturing inherently causes pollution, Patagonia became a model of corporate responsibility, mitigating its ecological impacts and educating its customers about threats to the Earth. In 1993, Kris retired from Patagonia, married Doug, and moved to the wilds of southern Chile where she has been creating national parks, restoring wildlife, inspiring activism, and fostering local economic progress as a consequence of conservation. I got the chance to sit with her for a few minutes in Chile earlier this month in the new Patagonia National Park and recorded our conversation to my iPhone with her dog Wacho looking on.

Also, full disclosure, I’m a proud member of the Board of Directors of Tompkins Conservation, the umbrella organization that houses all Kris’ philanthropic activities. 

- Jib



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22nd Century Leadership - The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith

A conversation between Jib Ellison & Fletcher Harper.

 

Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest, is Executive Director of GreenFaith, an international interfaith environmental organization. He has developed a range of innovative programs to make GreenFaith a global leader in the religious-environmental movement.

In the past four years, he coordinated the 2015 OurVoices campaign, which mobilized religious support globally for COP 21, led organizing of faith communities for the People’s Climate Marches in NYC and Washington DC, helped lead the faith-based fossil fuel divestment movement, supported the launch of the global Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, and co-founded Shine, a faith-philanthropy-NGO campaign to end energy poverty with renewable energy by 2030. He helps lead GreenFaith’s new local organizing initiative, creating multi-faith GreenFaith Circles in local communities globally.

Fletcher accepted GreenFaith’s Many Faith’s, one Earth Award from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2009 and was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2011. He is the author of GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Protect the Earth (Abingdon Press, March 2015).



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22nd Century Leadership - William McDonough

A conversation between Jib Ellison and William McDonough.

 

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William McDonough is a designer, a global leader in sustainable development, and Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. For more than 40 years, McDonough—through McDonough Innovation; William McDonough + Partners, Architects; and MBDC—has defined the principles sustainability. In 2002, McDonough and Michael Braungart co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a seminal text of the sustainability movement; this was followed by The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance (2013). McDonough has received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003), and the National Design Award (2004). In 2007, McDonough and Brad Pitt co-founded the Make It Right Foundation. In 2009, he and Braungart co-founded the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. In 2012, McDonough became the subject of Stanford University Libraries’ first Living Archive.



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22nd Century Leadership - Tom Butler, VP of Conservation Advocacy for Tompkins Conservation

Tom Butler is the vice president for conservation advocacy for the Tompkins Conservation family of foundations and past board president of Northeast Wilderness Trust, a regional land trust. A conservationist and writer, his books include Wildlands Philanthropy, Plundering AppalachiaProtecting the Wild, and Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. His recent book, Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (“OVER” for short), is a photo-format volume depicting how human numbers and behavior are transforming the Earth. Butler curated the new exhibit, “Douglas R. Tompkins: On Beauty” at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, and coauthored the companion book On Beauty: Douglas R. Tompkins—Aesthetics and Activism, about the way that beauty was an animating force in the life and work of Doug Tompkins, founder of Tompkins Conservation.

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10 in 2 - Week of October 30th - the righteousness, if you will

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of October 30th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

...so here we go:

 

  1. Starting the list off today with our favorite environmental news of the week. It’s Rick Perry showing off his brain genius with this quote which explains why he thinks fossil fuels help prevent sexual assault: “When the lights are on, when you have light that shines — the righteousness, if you will — on those types of acts,” (Politico)

  2. A company in India called EnviGreen has created a plastic bag made from no plastic and instead made of materials like natural starch and vegetable oil. If placed in a glass of water at normal temperature, an EnviGreen bag dissolves in a day. And when placed in a glass of boiling water, it dissolved in just 15 seconds. (TheBetterIndia.com)

  3. EPA head Scott Pruitt announced a new directive barring scientists who receive E.P.A. grants from serving on the agency’s advisory boards. This is just the latest move in an agency that has scrubbed its website of all references to climate change, shunned scientists in favor of industry reps, and is soon travelling to the global climate talks in Germany to promote fossil fuels. (Vanity Fair)

  4. Climate change 'will create world's biggest refugee crisis'. Experts warn refugees could number tens of millions in the next decade, and call for a new legal framework to protect the most vulnerable. This is not news to most that are paying attention, but notable because it comes from senior US military and security experts, and was published this week by the Environmental Justice Foundation. (The Guardian)

  5. Back to the good news: China is cracking down on factories that aren't meeting emissions standards. Forty percent of the factories within the country have been temporarily closed in order to cut down on pollution and officials from more than 80,000 factories charged with criminal offences for breaching emissions limits over the past year. (Futurism)

  6. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday proposed lifting a mining ban on land near Grand Canyon National Park as part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to sweep away regulations impeding development. Raise your hand if you think mining Uranium in the Grand Canyon is good idea. (Reuters)

  7. 314 Action, a political advocacy group that is helping scientists run for office, has set up its whistleblower hotline and specifically reached out to 30,000 EPA, NASA, and NSF scientists to let them know who to call. They also set up a website (http://speakoutforscience.org/) and multiple channels for communication, including Signal, WhatsApp, as well as good a old snail mail.

  8. The prolific Jonathan Foley wrote a great plea on Medium this week, asking the fundamental activist question: What’s Limiting Us? Thankfully he some ideas. And I quote: “So when it comes to building a better future, I think we need to change how our culture sees and discusses our environmental issues. We need to replace fear with hope, problems with solutions, and conflict with cooperation and collaboration. That may be the biggest set of environmental solutions of all.” (The Macroscope)

  9. This week the Congressional Budget Office projected that ten million Americans will be "substantially affected" by climate change by 2075, causing government disaster spending to jump to $39 billion annually in current dollars, from $28 billion now. But in the wake of unprecedented firestorms, this news is more than a projection to us here in Sonoma County. (Bloomberg)

  10. Bitcoin's price run to break over $7,000 this year has sent its overall electricity consumption soaring, as people worldwide bring more energy-hungry computers online to mine the digital currency. Bitcoin miners worldwide could be using enough electricity to at any given time to power about 2.26 million American homes. (Motherboard)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of October 23rd - a tad more than the bowling industry

 

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of October 23rd

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating, provided in about 2 minutes 

 

...so here we go:

 

  1. Good news. In many cities the air is getting cleaner. Scientists are using 135 years worth of dead birds to study pollution. Birds from coal heavy periods of history are visibly greyer from the industrial soot and provide new new level of specificity when measuring air pollution over time. The pictures of these birds are beautiful in a sad way, so make sure you go have a look at the city lab post, which is linked from our website. (City Lab)

  2. On the fugitive carbon side of the pollution, New Paris Accord talks are set to take place in Germany next month, which may be awkward for the U.S.. It will be interesting to see if we even show up, and if we do, how our current administration acts at the negotiating table. (NYT)

  3. Bloomberg tells us that you can now charge your electric vehicles at a number of Shell gas stations in the UK. A sure sign that oil companies are waking up to the disruption plug-in electric vehicles will have on their industry. (Bloomberg)

  4. A new report published in the journal PLOS ONE shows, the flying insect population plunged by 76 percent in protected areas throughout Germany, and predicts "our grandchildren will inherit a profoundly impoverished world" The new data comes after studying population levels in 63 nature reserves from 1989 to 2016. How this relates to other countries is still unknown. (Common Dreams)

  5. The entire US coal industry employs fewer people than fast food chain Arby’s, and just a tad more than the bowling industry. That’s basically all you need to know about that. (Washington Post)

  6. You may have heard about the $300 million dollar contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid awarded to a two person company from Montana called Whitefish. Notable is that Sect of Interior’s son worked at a summer job for the company. Even more interesting is that today we learned that the contract includes phrasing that prohibits any government body from having the right to “audit or review the cost and profit elements” of its labor rates. (CNBC)

  7. Yesterday, the New York Times released an interactive story on their website that beautifully tells heartbreaking stories about the relationship between a warming climate and the rising suicide rates of rural farmers. The multimedia mashup of video, text and images is a stunning example of the very real impacts of climate change. Keep your eye out for “The Uninhabitable Village

  8. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Cleaning Products Right to Know Act, which requires cleaning product manufacturers selling products in California to disclose all ingredients used in their products on packaging labels and online, including known hazardous chemicals. The Act will require online ingredient listing by January 1, 2020, and on-package disclosure by January 1, 2021. (California Legislature)

  9. International financial services provider Rabobank launched a $1 billion program to provide clients involved in sustainable agriculture production and forest protection with the financing they need to scale up their efforts, in partnership with UN Environment and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. (UNEP.org)

  10.  Finally, EPA chief Scott Pruitt had the quote of the week which needs no further context: “True environmentalism is using natural resources that God has blessed us with” (ThinkProgress)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of September 25th - strategically imbued with bacteria

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of September 25th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating, provided in about 2 minutes with links to the full stories found on our website.

 

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide remained static in 2016, a welcome sign that the world is making at least some progress in the battle against global warming by halting the long-term rising trend. All of the world’s biggest emitting nations, except India, saw falling or static carbon emissions due to less coal burning and increasing renewable energy. (The Guardian)

  2. In what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, a Denver lawyer and an environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person. If successful, it could upend environmental law, possibly allowing the redwood forests, the Rocky Mountains or the deserts of Nevada to sue individuals, corporations and governments over resource pollution or depletion. (New York Times)

  3. Tropical forests have flipped from sponges to sources of carbon dioxide. Much of that carbon contribution is due to deforestation, but more than two-thirds comes a decline in the number and diversity of trees in remaining forests. These seemingly intact forests can be degraded or disturbed by selective logging, environmental change, wildfires or disease. (Science News)

  4. Blockchain technology is quickly emerging as a vital tool in tackling critical environmental and social issues. Every financial transaction has consequences for the environment — whether positive or negative — but these impacts and their costs are hidden. A new nonprofit called Poseidon will uncover these carbon consequences by enabling a carbon value to be added directly into everyday products. (Sustainable Brands)

  5. Grist set out to document the disaster unfolding in Puerto Rico right now. They talked with people living the realities of climate change. The important piece of journalism is full of quotes like “I’m no climate expert, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence there’s been so many bad hurricanes all at once.” and “How do you rebuild a whole island? I don’t even know what that means.” (Grist)

  6. Relatedly, Inside Climate News writes about how the disaster is exacerbated by long standing environmental justice issues facing a poor, underrepresented minority population on an island where climate experts have long warned of the increasing risks of such a catastrophe.   

  7. While the (now former) Secretary of Health and Human Services is taking private planes to lunch, Tesla is quietly shipping hundreds of battery packs to be paired with solar panels to Puerto Rico. Tesla employees are currently installing the batteries and repairing solar systems, as well as coordinating efforts with local organizations. (Eco Watch)

  8. Scientists have detected hundreds of Japanese marine species on US coasts, swept across the Pacific by the deadly 2011 tsunami. Mussels, starfish and dozens of other creatures travelled across the waters, often on pieces of plastic debris. Researchers were surprised that so many survived the long crossing, with new species still washing up in 2017. This is news because there is so much plastic debris in our oceans, and anything more biodegradable would have disintegrated before it reached the US this long after the original event. (BBC)

  9. A new study carried out by researchers at Columbia University suggests that the United States could harvest 325 gigawatts of power — around 70 percent of the power it currently produces — by using evaporating water from U.S. lakes and reservoirs. To do this, they have developed a muscle like material that uses plastic bands strategically imbued with bacteria spores, which expand when they are exposed to moisture and contract when dried out. (Digital Trends)

  10. On September 19, a bowhead whale carcass washed ashore the remote Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve off the Northern coast of Siberia. Nearly 1 percent of the world’s polar bears, (about 230) amassed beside it for a Siberian feast. (Gizmodo)

 



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22nd Century Leadership - Rick Ridgeway, VP of Public Engagement @Patagonia

Listen to our latest interview in the series: a conversation between Rick Ridgeway and Jib Ellison.

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RICK RIDGEWAY is Patagonia’s Vice President of Public Engagement and represents and promotes the company’s core values with external stakeholders.  In this role, he is one of Patagonia’s key spokespersons in all its global markets. During his 12-year tenure at the company he has worked with teams to develop and launch environmental and sustainability initiatives within the company, including Freedom to Roam, the Footprint Chronicles, the Responsible Economy Campaign and Worn Wear.  He also was founding chairman of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, today the largest apparel, footwear and home textile trade organization in the world.

 

In addition, Rick is recognized as one of the world’s foremost mountaineers.  With three companions, he was the first American to summit K2, considered the hardest of the world’s high-altitude mountain to climb, and he has done other significant climbs and explorations on all continents including the first direct coast-to-coast traverse of Borneo and a traverse of the Tibet’s Chang Tang plateau on a route never explored. His magazine articles have appeared in National Geographic and Harvard Business Review, and he is the author of six books, including Seven Summits, The Shadow of Kilimanjaro and Below Another Sky.  National Geographic honored him with its “Lifetime Achievement in Adventure” award.   He serves on the boards of Conservacion Patagonica and the Turtle Conservancy, and is on the Advisory Boards of World Wildlife Fund, Unilever USA, and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

 

Rick lives with his wife Jennifer in Ojai, California, they have been married for 33 years, and they have three grown children.

Rick on the cover of National Geographic, May 1979

Rick on the cover of National Geographic, May 1979



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10 in 2 - Week of September 18th - transgenic wilderness

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of September 18th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. Park rangers in Indonesia may have spotted an animal thought to live only in folklore and history books: a Javan tiger, declared extinct more than 40 years ago. The sighting offered a rare bit of positive environmental news to a country in which natural places are being destroyed at an alarming rate (NYT)

  2. Erhai Lake of Yunnan Province in southwest China has long suffered from pollution and enormous algae blooms caused by agricultural fertilizer runoff. The local government is determined to fix it by limiting abuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on the main local cash crop of garlic. Two experiments were launched, one in which fertilizer use was reduced by thirty percent and in the second, chemical fertilizers were abandoned completely.  In both experiments, in addition to the reduction of toxic run off the nutritional content and value of the garlic was elevated, giving hope to farmers who want to make money while doing no harm to the ecological system. (china.org.cn)

  3. California-based distillery Misadventure & Co. is working to reduce food waste in a completely unexpected way — by transforming discarded Twinkies and other dump-destined baked goods into vodka. Recovered products are blended, mashed and pitched with yeast to ferment into alcohol, before undergoing the distillation process where it is filtered into vodka. (Sustainable Brands)

  4. A recent study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that people who trip on psychedelics are more likely to be environmentally conscious. The study reported that "there is strong reason to believe that psychedelic substances increase nature relatedness as a function of their ego-dissolving effects." (Salon)

  5. The cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP, to pay billions in compensation for past and future flooding, coastal erosion and property damage resulting from climate change. The suits claim the extraction and development of fossil fuels prompted a significant increase in global warming, and are the first, but likely not the last of their kind. (SF Gate)

  6. Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley technology startup incubator that’s that offered early funding for Airbnb, Dropbox, and many others, has its eyes on backing an even bigger potential disruption: basic income. The firm just completed its year long feasibility study and is embarking on a 5 year study with 3000 participants. For more on basic income, listen to this week's 99% Invisible podcast for a great story on The Finnish Experiment and how design thinking led them to basic income. (Inverse) (99 Percent Invisible)

  7. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup announced they will get all of their energy from renewables in a few years in another show of corporate support for climate action. Both banks also are joining RE100, an initiative that brings together over 100 large companies that are working towards only running on clean energy. (Bloomberg)

  8. The dawn of a 'transgenic wilderness' is upon us. Genetically modified hybrid animals could rehabilitate ecosystems that have been harmed by human development. The controversial idea, sometimes called "facilitated adaptation," posits that damage done to the planet's wildlife can be managed, and even reversed, by manually retooling the genes of threatened species for survival. (CNET)

  9. Fetal deaths rose and fertility rates dropped after Flint, Michigan switched to lead-poisoned water. Economists Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University and David Slusky of Kansas University estimate as many as 276 more children would have been born among babies conceived from November 2013 to March 2015 if Flint did not switch water sources. (Business Insider)

  10. The Denver Post has learned that Colorado landfills are illegally burying low-level radioactive waste from oil and gas industry. Health officials are trying to stop the practice and make new rules for low-level radioactive waste. Regulators said they don’t know of any “imminent” threat to public health, but we doubt that is making anyone feel better about the situation. (Denver Post)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of September 11th - moving to the country, not gonna eat a lot of peaches

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of September 11th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

  1. According to a study done at RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan, a simple and inexpensive way to significantly increase a plant's drought tolerance is to grow it in vinegar-laced soil. Given trends associated with climate change, this could be a game-changer. (Popular Science)

  2. The Baker Institute, a thoroughly mainstream policy think tank, argues in Forbes that we should fund disaster relief by FEMA and other local agencies with a tax on carbon. Since excess carbon is a contributing factor to the increasing ‘once in a thousand year’ weather events, it just makes sense. It is just a matter of time before we have no choice but to internalize the growing costs of renegade carbon in the atmosphere. (Forbes)

  3. Uber launches Clean Air Plan for a greener future. The plan is specific to the UK,  includes goals of ensuring every car available on uberX in London will be 100% hybrid or fully electric by the end of 2019, and in the larger UK by 2022, and fully electric by 2025. In addition Uber is pledging  £5,000 towards the cost of upgrading their driver’s cars to a hybrid or fully electric vehicle, and expects to pay out £150m over the life of the fund. (Uber)

  4. A fungus with an appetite for plastic has been discovered in a garbage dump. Scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre and the Kunming Institute of Botany in China think the fungus could help deal with our waste problem by using enzymes to rapidly break down plastic materials. (Agroforestry World)

  5. On September 7 a video went viral on Chinese social media sites Weibo and WeChat showing a river of mud and grass moving through what social media users recognized as the Dimye village on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Since the video began circulating, many have speculated that the flow was caused by the melting of permafrost. (National Geographic)

  6. New Delhi-based Ant Studio made a zero-electricity air conditioner to combat the brutally hot summers in India’s capital. This low-tech, energy efficient, and artistic solution to the sweltering heat harnesses the power of evaporative cooling. The innovative honeycomb-like installation is made with conical clay tubes that naturally reduce the surrounding temperature. (Inhabitat)

  7. The Red List of Threatened Species, maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has declared the Christmas Island pipistrelle, a bat species found only on that island, extinct. Meanwhile, due to habitat loss and human pressures, Thailand’s Thongaree’s disc-nosed bat, Madagascar’s Rumpelstiltskin pygmy grasshopper and 5 species of African antelope have moved to the critically endangered list. On the positive side, the Rodriguez flying fox and the snow leopard are moving back from the brink. (New Scientist)

  8. A study published in the journal Biological Conservation, shows that in the last 35 years, the population of western monarchs has plummeted from about 10 million living along the west coast to approximately 300,000. Even more concerning, if present trends continue, the butterflies face an 86 percent extinction probability over the next 50 years. (Sierra Club)

  9. 2017 has been a bad year for peaches in the Peach State. Georgia’s disruptively warm winter caused the loss of an estimated 85 percent of the peach crop. Climate change, and the loss in winter chill that can come with it, poses a particular threat to fruit and nut trees and the farmers who depend on them. Farmers who grow annual crops, such as corn and wheat, replant every year and might be able to adapt more nimbly. (538)

  10. Israel-based startup StoreDot has some weird ‘organic’ battery technology that they claim can charge an electric vehicle in 5 mins, and they just raised $60 million led by Daimler. However, when it comes to claims of “battery breakthroughs”, it’s extremely difficult to distinguish what has real potential and what is simply PR fluff. (Electrek)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of September 4th - wild dogs vote by sneezing

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of September 4th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. Mars, the privately held chocolate company has pledged to spend $1 billion on its "Sustainability in a Generation" plan. It aims to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and promoting sustainable farming. Mars wants big companies around the world to follow its lead, which will include investments in renewable energy, food sourcing, cross-industry action groups, as well as directly in support of farmers. (Business Insider)

  2. According to Forbes, Sustainable food startup Memphis Meats received $17 million in Series A financing from notable investors including Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and more. The company is developing “real meat grown directly from animal cells.” A new trend in food that is designed to significantly reduce the environmental, social and moral footprint associated with industrial scale meat production. (Forbes)

  3. The Netherlands has become an agricultural giant by showing what the future of farming could look like. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States. All of this is made possible by a commitment to sustainable food systems and technological research in the face of the global population boom. (National Geographic)

  4. In a related story, SoftBank-backed startup Plenty is out to build massive indoor farms on the outskirts of every major city on Earth. In the world they are imagining and attempting to create, food could go from farm to table in hours rather than days or weeks. The startup is on track to begin deliveries from its pilot vertical farm to grocers in the bay area by the end of 2017. (Bloomberg)

  5. Nonprofit Democracy Earth’s Sovereign app is poised to completely change how people vote. Employing blockchain technology, the app allows people to securely and easily vote on important issues at a country or company level.. The first test of Sovereign allowed users to vote on an unofficial deal between Columbia and a rebel group. A number of South American political groups have reportedly already expressed interest in the app, which could help trigger a more widespread adoption of internet-powered democracy. (Democracy Earth)

  6. In a related study published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, African wild dogs vote over pack decisions by sneezing - the more sneezes there were, the more likely it was the pack moved off and started hunting. This differs from the Democracy Earth news in one crucial way: the study suggested some sneezes hold more weight than others, and much like many humans, the dogs haven't yet figured out what blockchain is, exactly. (BBC)

  7. Another nonprofit story: OpenSourceSeeds based in the German town of Marburg has just launched a licensing process for open-source seeds, to create a new repository of genetic material that can be accessed by farmers around the world, in perpetuity. The idea is to separate seeds from the private domain, in direct response to the increasing trend towards monopolization of genetic resources.

  8. Zach saw a tweet this week that gave solid reasoning for his preponderance for arguing with people online despite the next to zero chance of changing their minds. Reason one, to change the minds of less- committed onlookers. Two, to give comfort to onlookers who are glad to have allies in the fray. Three, to reinforce the valuable norm of sharing one's opinion.  And four, to model polite and reasonable argumentation. So get out there, and politely hammer on climate skeptics. (@juliagalef)

  9. A new study published in the journal Risk Analysis found that Americans across the political spectrum are more likely to support policies designed to mitigate climate change after viewing news articles and images that inspire hope. Articles that provoked fear, on the other hand, encouraged people to be more willing to compromise on the issue, particularly conservatives who are less likely to support climate change policies. Anger had the opposite effect, spurring people to stick to their beliefs and remain divided down political lines. (Wiley Online Library)

  10. Understanding the link between climate change and the recent apocalyptic weather around the globe really comes down to one figure: the air can hold 7% more water with every degree Celsius that the temperature rises. A warmer ocean makes a warmer atmosphere, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, thus the same storm in a warmer planet would give you more rainfall. (Time)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of August 28th - industrial melanism

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of August 28th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. An experimental conservation project that was abandoned and almost forgotten about, has ended up producing an amazing ecological win nearly two decades after it was dreamt up. A juice company dumped 1,000 truckloads of waste orange peels in a barren pasture in Costa Rica back in the mid 1990s, which eventually revitalised the desolate site into a thriving, lush forest. (Science Alert)

  2. IBM has partnered with a group of major retailers and food companies to explore how blockchain technology can enhance food safety, transparency, and traceability across the global food supply chain. The consortium of companies involved includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart.(IBM)

  3. Lauren Duca wrote a piece for Teen Vogue about why Harvey must be a turning point for how we respond to climate change. She wrote “Our current approach is like sitting next to a sandcastle, pretending we had no idea it was going to get swept away — only the sandcastle is civilization, and we know damn well that the waves are coming in.” (Teen Vogue)

  4. After issuing the world’s harshest ban on plastic bags, Kenya adjusts to life without them. Punishment for carrying, manufacturing, or importing plastic bags ranges from about $19,000 to as much as $38,000 or a jail term of up to four years. (QZ)

  5. Scientists have succeeded in combining spider silk with graphene and carbon nanotubes. The most mind blowing part about this advancement is that the spider itself spins the web after it drinks water containing the nanotubes. These advancements could lead to a new class of 'bionicomposites' including parachutes and other innovative applications. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  6. More graphene news you probably don’t want... Unbreakable rubber bands that are 200 times stronger than steel are coming soon: Alliance Rubber Co., a 94-year-old company based out of Alliance, Ohio, has announced a new partnership with the University of Sussex to infuse graphene into its rubber bands. (Science Alert)

  7. The colors the National Weather Service uses to show rainfall on its weather map couldn't represent the deluge in southeastern Texas, so the NWS added two more purple shades to its map. The old scale for a storm topped out at more than 15 inches; the new limit tops 30 inches. (NPR)

  8. The turtle-headed sea snake usually sports beautiful bands of alternating black and white. But for decades, researchers have been puzzled by populations living near Pacific Ocean cities that seem to have lost their stripes. Now a new study may finally have an answer: The pigment in black skin may help city snakes rid themselves of industrial pollutants.  This de-striping phenomenon is one of several micro evolutions taking place in animals that live in close proximity to cities, and scientists are now referring to the changes as “industrial melanism” (National Geographic)

  9. Giving every adult in the United States a $1,000 cash handout per month would grow the economy by $2.5 trillion by 2025, according to a new study on universal basic income. According to the report by the Roosevelt Institute, the larger the universal basic income, the greater the benefit to the economy. (CNBC)

  10. Increased temperatures from climate change will reduce yields of the four crops humans depend on most—wheat, rice, corn and soybeans—and the losses have already begun, according to a new meta-study by The National Academy of Sciences. (Forbes)



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10 in 2 - Week of August 21st - bad for the land dwellers

 

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of August 21st

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. Alaska’s permafrost is thawing. The loss of frozen ground in Arctic regions is a striking result of climate change. And it is also a cause of more warming to come. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. (NYT)

  2. China has already reached its solar energy installation target for 2020, reaffirming its position as the largest producer of solar power on earth. In the last two months alone, China has added 24.02 GW of solar capacity. To put that into context, The US currently has a total capacity of 44.7 GW. (Futurism)

  3. Ahead of the launch of iOS 11 this fall, Apple has published a research paper detailing its methods for improving Siri to make the voice assistant sound more natural, with the help of machine learning. Jib is ultimate Siri hater, so I will let you know if this update can get him back on board. (The Next Web)

  4. The first American settlers cut down millions of trees to deliberately engineer climate change. After being disappointed by the harsh climate of the new world, they tried to make the northeast more temperate through deforestation in an effort to woo more colonists. Oh, humans. (Timeline)

  5. Nine states agreed on a plan Wednesday to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The pact includes New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. (Washington Examiner)

  6. Brazil's government has abolished a vast national reserve in the Amazon to open up the area to mining. The reserve is larger than Denmark and about 30% of it will now be open to mining on previously protected indigenous lands. WWF's report on the project said that a "gold rush in the region could create irreversible damage to these cultures". (The Guardian)

  7. A Russian tanker has traveled through the northern sea route in record speed and without an icebreaker escort for the very first time, highlighting how climate change is opening up the high Arctic. (The Guardian)

  8. A stunning chart from NASA shows that the ground beneath our feet is warming twice as fast as oceans. In the past sixty years, land temperatures have risen at a rate of nearly  one half of a degree per decade. Good thing we live in the oceans. I feel bad for the land dwellers. (ThinkProgress)

  9. Your personal information is now the world's most valuable commodity. These huge amounts of data are controlled by just 5 global mega-corporations that are bigger than most governments. Traditionally, antitrust regulators would step in, but the data economy is presenting new challenges to that model. (CBC)

  10. Now that they own the Whole Foods, Amazon is begging to lower the prices at the chain, beginning next week. I am pretty curious about what we will call the store, now that dads who laugh at their own jokes may no longer be able to call it “whole paycheck”. (Next Big Future)



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10 in 2 - Week of August 14th - Crown Shyness

 

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of August 14th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. Our current favorite blog site this week is called Ecosophia and is hosted by a druid, yep, a druid. In fact he was the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and is current head of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. John Michael Greer is a prolific author, known best for his work and thinking about post-industrial society. We find him to be surprisingly rational. Check out his recent blog called Hate is the New Sex which is particularly relevant given our current President and the events in Charlottesville over the weekend. (Hate is the New Sex)

  2. We like MOOCs - Massive Online Open Courses, or said another way free courses of on the internet - because they democratize learning. However, the vast majority of people don’t take advantage of this because they don’t have a mindset of growth. Check out Sal Kahn’s short essay on shifting one’s mindset. Just by reading it you’ll be on your way. (struggle is good)

  3. In times like these it’s good to return to the master essays. One of these is Buddhist Economics by the late, great economist E.F. Schumacher, where he compellingly argues that individuals need good work for proper human development. (Buddhist Economics)

  4. Crown shyness, a naturally occurring phenomenon, results in crack-like gaps in the tree canopy. Trees with “crown shyness” mysteriously avoid touching each other. No one is quite sure why certain trees exhibit this unique behavior, but the most prominent theory is that the gaps prevent the proliferation of invasive insects. For images of this photogenic phenomenon, just Google it. (My Modern Met)

  5. HBR published a piece this week by our friends at Semler Brossy. They argue that it’s time to tie executive compensation to sustainability, as shareholders are ratcheting up their demands on environmental and social issues, consumers are registering their concerns about how companies make their products, and talented millennial employees are voting with their feet by leaving laggard companies behind. (HBR)

  6. A new study has found more intelligent people are quicker to learn (and unlearn) social stereotypes. Because pattern detection is a core component of human intelligence, people with increased cognitive abilities may be equipped to efficiently learn and use stereotypes about social groups. This makes me question what we define as “intelligence”. (British Psychological Society)

  7. Health benefits of wind and solar offset all subsidies, and the estimated economic benefits of renewables in the US is $87 billion. As they edge out fossil fuels, renewables are reducing not just carbon emissions, but also other air pollutants. And the result is an improvement in air quality, with a corresponding drop in premature deaths. (Ars Technica)

  8. Silicon Valley billionaire Stewart Butterfield voiced support the week for universal basic income. The founder of Slack joins Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg as a public supporter. He said a basic income would be part of a “new social contract for our generation”  (Independant)

  9. Recommended Netflix viewing: Chasing Coral. The film offers a breathtakingly beautiful look at some of the Earth's most incredible natural wonders while delivering a sobering warning about their uncertain future. Rotten Tomatoes rating comes in at a paltry 100%, so you know it’s terrible. (Rotten Tomatoes)

  10. For number ten this week, a shout out to Senior Editor at The Atlantic, James Hamblin, who had the tweet of the day. The simple and tired sounding sentence reads “This concludes infrastructure week.” (twitter)



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22nd Century Leadership - David Crane

We’ve been producing podcasts now for a while, focusing most recently on a weekly 10 in 2 report – 10 things that interest us this week, provided to you in 2 minutes, or in as short a time as we can. Now we’re unveiling a new periodic podcast we’re calling Leadership in the 22nd Century.

Our current social and economic systems were designed in and for a different time. Namely the 19th and 20th centuries. A time when there was a lot less people changing life on earth a lot slower and less systematically. Today, each day we add approximately 200,000 new humans to the 7+ billion people occupying our beautiful blue orb floating through space. Add to this the addition of tech innovations associated with machine learning, DNA manipulation, and flash stock trading, and we are living in the midst of a volatile cocktail that has manifest in unusual politics and a broad sense of dissatisfaction.

For the last 15 years we’ve worked with CEOs, corporations, non-profits, foundations, and even a city, on taking action to build long-term resilience and sustainability in light of these trends. Along the way, I’ve met a lot of interesting people engaged in what I’ve come to call the act of History Making. These are leaders who are actively transforming the way that human beings ‘see the world.’ Known examples are people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Desmond Tutu. In our case, we are going to focus this podcast on a subset of these History Makers. Namely, leaders who are actively working to help people appreciate the beauty, utility and fundamental necessity of a healthy environment to a thriving human economy and existence.

These 22nd century leaders are applying the best of human leadership capabilities to successfully helping their fellow humans through the what is sure to be a very turbulent transition from an economics built for 19th century realities to a society and economics built for 22nd century realities.

We began this podcast a few weeks back with an interview with pioneer Biodynamic Farmer, Paul Dolan, and today we’re shifting towards the energy sector with an interview with my friend David Crane…

David currently is the senior operating executive at Pegasus Capital Advisors, a New York City-based private equity firm focused on investment in sustainability and wellness. As part of his responsibilities at Pegasus, David is chairman of Impala Holdings, a renewables development company focused on sub-Sahara Africa, and GVL, a biological lighting joint venture. David is also focused, on behalf of Pegasus, on new investment in clean energy technology, including distributed generation, energy storage, energy efficiency and EV infrastructure.  

Prior to Pegasus, David Crane was CEO of NRG, which he led out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003. He transformed NRG over his 12-year tenure to be a Fortune 200 company, engaged not only in conventional power generation and competitive retail electricity services but also green retail, large scale renewables, home solar, EV charging and portable solar. David pioneered the yieldco asset class with the IPO of NRG Yield in July 2013.

David was awarded the Corporate Environmental Leadership award by GlobalGreen in 2014 and the Equinox Solar Champion Award and more recently The C.K. Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Business Leadership in 2015. He is also editor at large for greenbiz.com and leads the B Team's corporate "net zero" initiative.


 

For further reading on David Crane, start with this interview with GreenTech Media



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10 in 2 - Week of August 7th - a range of visual and audio concepts

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of August 7th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. U.S. consumer credit-card debt just passed an ominous milestone, with outstanding card loans reaching $1.02 trillion in June, beating a record set just before the global financial system almost collapsed in 2008. (Bloomberg)

  2. The Orlando City Commission unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday establishing a goal to move Orlando to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. Orlando is now the largest city in Florida to make such a commitment and joins a growing movement of more than three dozen cities nationwide that have committed to a 100 percent clean energy future. (Eco Watch)

  3. The environmental impact of our diet on the planet is well known, but new research shows that the impact of our pets is substantial. The study found that the roughly 163 million pet cats and dogs in the United States eat about a quarter of the meat produced in the country. (Smithsonian)

  4. Scientists announced the birth of 37 pigs gene-edited to be better for human transplant. The black-and-white piglets are now several months old, and they belong to a breed of miniature pigs that will grow no bigger than 150 pounds—with organs just the right size for transplant into adult humans. (The Atlantic)

  5. The most ambitious project to reintroduce jaguars into habitat where they once roamed freely has reached a new milestone with the addition of Tania, the fourth jaguar in the program. The project, part of Conservation Land Trust Argentina, is to breed formerly captive jaguars and then release their offspring into the vast 3.2 million acre Ibera National Park wetlands. Supported by Tompkins Conservation and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, this program is the first of its kind in South America. (CLTA)

  6. HP is spearheading a Virtual Reality project that is crowdsourcing an effort to conceptualize and simulate life on Mars. As you contribute concepts and models, they will draw upon your feedback, ideas and skills to create a Virtual Reality experience that offers an exploration of our combined imagination. Sign up for the early stages at launchforth.io or by following the link on the accompanying blog post for this episode. (HP)

  7. New fossil discoveries show that prehistoric “squirrels” glided through forests at least 160 million years ago, long before scientists had thought. Flowering trees did not yet exist, so there was no fruit to eat. Instead, the earliest mammal gliders may have leapt from tree to tree to feed on the cones of conifer trees or the soft parts of giant ferns. (NYT)

  8. Google’s DeepMind has developed an AI that teaches itself to recognise a range of visual and audio concepts just by watching tiny snippets of video. This AI can grasp the concept of lawn mowing or tickling, for example, but it hasn’t been taught the words to describe what it’s hearing or seeing. This project takes us closer to the goal of creating AI that can teach itself by watching and listening to the world around it. (New Scientist)

  9. EDF outlines 7 ways global warming is affecting daily life. You’ve heard about the long-term, large-scale changes predicted by scientists. But climate change is already pervading our daily lives. The list includes ways that crucial beer ingredients like water, barley, and hops are threatened and how many homeowners whose houses were destroyed by natural disaster are having a hard time getting insurance again. (EDF)

  10. Starbucks has saturated the American market so much that it’s now losing sales competing with itself. On average, for every Starbucks location in the US, there are now about four others within a one-mile radius to compete against. As a result, a Montreal-based investment bank this week downgraded its view of Starbucks’ stock. (Quartz)

 



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10 in 2 - Week of July 31st - Happy Earth Overshoot Day

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of July 31st

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating

 

...so here we go:


 

  1. Happy Earth Overshoot Day. According to analysis conducted by the Global Footprint Network and the World Wildlife Foundation, on August 2 we human beings officially used up our annual sustainable allowance of resources such as water, clean air, and soil for 2017. According to the model, if natural resources are life’s capital base, we are now eating into the principle with five months to go in the year. (Independent)

  2. Bacteria that eat methane have been discovered in an Antarctic lake that has been isolated from the atmosphere for thousands of years. The bacteria's presence could significantly reduce the potential risk of warming posed by reservoirs of gas locked up in the ice. (Newsweek)

  3. Games are emerging as an effective tool for fighting fake news by helping users learn how to tell the difference between misleading headlines and factual claims. Digital creative agencies, journalists, developers, and academics are teaming up to create games that create a seemingly unnatural combination of Tinder, Politifact, and Pokemon Go. The games are part of a larger effort spearheaded by the Knight Foundation to combat fake news. (Nieman Lab)

  4. According the McKinsey Global Institute, China is far and away the largest ecommerce market and is a leader in virtual reality, autonomous vehicle, robots, 3-d printing, drone and artificial intelligence venture capital funding (McKinsey Global Institute)

  5. In one of the most surprising examples of rapid genetic adaptation to climate change to date, scientists have been studying a common lizard living on the Texas-Mexico border, which, in just the span of a few months, underwent a dramatic genetic transformation in response to cold weather. (Science Magazine)

  6. Peak oil demand can’t be far away when the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies says his next car will be an electric vehicle. But, that’s exactly what happened yesterday when Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden predicted oil demand may peak by 2030. (Think Progress)

  7. This week the Atlantic noted that if everyone ate beans instead of beef, the U.S. could almost meet greenhouse-gas emission goals, even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed—and even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese. (The Atlantic)

  8. India’s government wants to ban self-driving cars to save jobs - “We won’t allow driverless cars in India,” said India’s minister of transport, Nitin Gadkari. “I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs." (Singularity Archive)

  9. The New York Times makes the claim this week that Cryptocurrencies are this generation's pensions. After watching markets disintegrate in 2008, millennials are betting heavily on digital coins. Obviously not everyone is bullish, but it is clear that the path to financial stability is no longer limited to traditional investment. (NYT)

  10. Kevin Kelly, the futurist, author, founder of Wired Magazine has alerted us to the existence of website called HVPER.COM, which is the internet distilled into a single page. He recommends that we all forgo social media, TV, and Newspapers, and visit the site once a day, the irony being he posted this recommendation to Facebook, which is where we saw it.



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10 in 2 - Week of July 24th - Binary in a coal mine

  • This is our 10 in 2 report for the week of July 24th

  • 10 news stories from the week that think are important, interesting, or infuriating, and decidedly not about Trump.

 

  1. Bacilli string. Blowing out birthday candles increases cake bacteria by 1,400 percent. But if you are attending a birthday party this weekend, don’t stress. If birthday cakes significantly contributed to the spread of deadly diseases, it’d be obvious by now given the ubiquity of the practice. (The Atlantic)

  2. Runoff selection. Heavier rainfall will increase water pollution in the future. Researchers anticipate harmful nitrogen outputs to increase as a result of precipitation changes. This is especially true globally, where nitrogen application is higher than in the US. (National Geographic)

  3. Yes yes no I will not give you my credit card number. Popular podcast “Reply All” devoted this week's episode to a months long process of discovering the people behind a tech support scam. It’s an amazing piece of internet radio, which involves hundreds of phone calls to a Delhi based company, and eventually, a trip to India to meet one of the scammers. (Reply All)

  4. Two scoops of Ethics. Researchers have demonstrated they can efficiently improve the DNA of human embryos. Using CRISPR, the scientists are looking to cure a range of diseases, from HIV to muscular dystrophy. After successfully completing the experiment the embryos were destroyed, with no intention to implant them. (MIT Technology Review)

  5. Binary in a coal mine. How We Get to Next, is starting a new multimedia project called “Human Machine” with a look into how new, ubiquitous technologies which change human behavior are demonized by those who dislike them. They are going to show how things are, of course, a little more complicated than good and evil. Subscribe to the newsletter at howwegettonext.com

  6. Gross-erie store. You can experience a staffless, cashless, AI powered convenience store in Beijing. A video on YouTube shows a journalist entering the store, allowed inside only after facial recognition scanning, and a screen inside greets her by name, giving us an interesting glance into the inevitable future. (YouTube)

  7. To our new best friends. While we are on the subject of AI, Carnegie Mellon University's head of machine learning, Manuela Veloso, talks in new video about the challenge AI robots present for humanity, why humanity and AI will be inseparable, and what Siri and Alexa might look like in 2021. (YouTube)

  8. Flight club. NASA Is uploading decades of archival footage to YouTube. Spanning decades, the footage is no-fluff documentation of some of the most important flight tests and aircraft developments in NASA and Air Force history. Check it out, it’s really fun to browse through. (YouTube)

  9. Total eclipse of the heart. In the 1970s, a small group of astronomers used the first prototype of the Concorde to pursue a total eclipse across the Sahara at twice the speed of sound. If seen from the ground it would have lasted 7 minutes, but their careful planning allowed them to witness the eclipse for 74. They succeeded in their goal, and was a lot of fun, but the research led to no new clarity regarding our understanding of solar events. (Motherboard)

  10. Shoot more, read less. There is a popular article on Medium this week that starts out as what I thought was a whiny and regretful self help think piece like we have all have read several times. However, it gets to a point that we think is important: The author outlines how he started replacing his consumption activities with creation: Writing over reading. Shooting video over browsing YouTube. Meeting people rather than spending time on Facebook. Sage advice...so you probably should stop listening to this, and go make your own thing. We’re conveniently okay with that, because this is the end of this week’s episode. (The Mission)



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