Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Water shortage to hit 4 billion people


"We find that two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Nearly half of those people live in India and China. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round. Putting caps to water consumption by river basin, increasing water-use efficiencies, and better sharing of the limited freshwater resources will be key in reducing the threat posed by water scarcity on biodiversity and human welfare."

This is scare. And it's another reason to worry about anything that might hurt the fresh water supply, like fracking.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Experts weigh in on Universal Basic Income (UBI)


"My favored model is an unconditional basic income, high enough to cover a person’s basic needs and given to every man, woman, and child as a right of citizenship. There are many good ways to finance it. I favor taxes on resources and rents. Start charging the market rate for the broadcast spectrum instead of giving it away; the Fed should make money off the banks instead of vice versa; land value should be taxed; all forms of pollution should be taxed; and so on. But there are other ways to raise revenue. A wealth tax is a great idea, but you could also finance a basic income with an income tax—even a flat income tax. All of those are workable, good ways to do it, and all of them will effect redistribution from the very wealthy to the middle and lower classes."

"I approach UBI by dividing people into three age groups: You have children, you have elderly, and then you have adults. Children should receive allowance handed out by the parents. Elderly people receive old-age pensions, which are often already a kind of basic income. And adults would get the universal basic income. One approach would be to have it replace all other adult benefits. If you’re going to do that, you could make it pretty high, probably equal to 10% of GDP."

A good starter conversation for this topic.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Does social media help or hurt activism?


"Here is what [Ghonim] concluded about social media today: 'First, we don’t know how to deal with rumors. Rumors that confirm people’s biases are now believed and spread among millions of people.' Second, 'We tend to only communicate with people that we agree with, and thanks to social media, we can mute, un-follow and block everybody else. Third, online discussions quickly descend into angry mobs. … It’s as if we forget that the people behind screens are actually real people and not just avatars.'
'And fourth, it became really hard to change our opinions. Because of the speed and brevity of social media, we are forced to jump to conclusions and write sharp opinions in 140 characters about complex world affairs. And once we do that, it lives forever on the Internet.'
Fifth, and most crucial, he said, “today, our social media experiences are designed in a way that favors broadcasting over engagements, posts over discussions, shallow comments over deep conversations. … It’s as if we agreed that we are here to talk at each other instead of talking with each other.'”

I think the lesson is that if you have 1 simple goal, social media can help you reach that.  If you have a complex goal, like turning a country from dictator to democracy, that is where things break down.