#11: How's Earth Doing Today?

First, some housekeeping. It's come to my attention that a not insignificant portion of our weekly updates have been going to your spam.

So, two things:

1. We're coming to you from a fancy new email address that's less likely to be blacklisted just between PornHub and Wayfair (I love Wayfair).

2. Please add news@importantnotimportant.com to your address book, to be double-sure.

And here we go.

Look. It's not that we're doing nothing to help the Earth and, consequently, ourselves survive. It's that we're way late, and shit's been adding up, but not even for that long -- like a couple hundred years. At best. That's it! That's how quick we fucked things up. The Earth is 4.543 billion years old and, so in the grand scheme of things, we fucked it up, instantly.

It's one thing in 1850, when the tiny UK was leading the world in emissions, and we didn't really know shit. Yay for industry! But when it's the second half of the 20th century and we're generally terrible at long-term planning because of our reptile brains and car companies know they're selling us one collective death sentence...yeah. That's not great.

So where are we now?

Here's a fun excerpt from a 2015 Vice article:

In 2009, a group of 28 scientists from around the world came together to create the "planetary boundaries framework," which identified nine processes that need to be monitored in order to maintain life on Earth. The processes were ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater composition, land systems change, nitrogen and phosphorous flows, and atmospheric aerosol loading.

Crossing the recommended thresholds for any of these processes could generate abrupt and possibly irreversible environmental changes.

Humans have surpassed the safe threshold for four of these boundaries, researchers say.


So -- again, it's not like we're not trying. Especially lately. Paris, Tesla, Obama, etc. But it's the bottom of the ninth and we are somehow still chipper and believe in ourselves despite the fact that we're getting fucking creamed because we left a bunch of fastballs up in the zone and the Earth just crushed them to deep left. 

This is what I want you to walk away with. We need to do more. We need to do everything. And we need to do it yesterday. Nothing. Else. Matters.

On to the news!


1. To go with our Olympic-themed coverage, it's only June and we've smashed seven climate records already in 2016. USA! USA! USA! - The Guardian

"3) India recorded its hottest day ever on 19 May. The mercury in Phalodi, in the desert state of Rajasthan, rose to 51C (124F), as a nationwide drought that has affected more than 300 million people marched on, leaving armed guards at dams, and reservoirs well below their usual levels."


2. Great news! We can now measure vertical movement along the San Andreas fault line. Bad news! It's moving (because, of course, that's what tectonic plates do). - LA Times

"The study, however, isn’t expected to help scientists suddenly predict the precise time and location of the next devastating quake. “It’s pretty much impossible to say when the next one will happen,” Howell said."


3. A relatively human picture of climate change, from the next generation. You know. The kids we're fucking over. - The Nation

Victoria Barrett. 17 years old. Active since age 14.
Plaintiff, US Youth vs. United States Government White Plains, New York

Victoria is an Action Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education. She was instrumental in an effort to mandate climate education in New York City. She is also one of 21 youth plaintiffs suing the US government over the climate crisis. 

"It’s hard to condense all the feelings, thoughts, and experiences that come with living as a young person facing the harsh reality of climate change. There are moments of hope and confidence. There are also days and experiences that make you wonder if the fight for a sustainable future is even worth it.
Every time I see an ad for BP or get an emergency drill test for Indian Point Power Plant on my television, I’m suspended in this moment of disbelief—disbelief that not everyone can care as much as I do about the planet that we live on and the people who will inherit it. These moments in which I lack confidence are always refuted by a text from a friend that I made on this activism journey, or an update on the lawsuit, or even just a text from a school friend."


4. Wind and solar will be cheapest power by 2040. So great! Wait for it... - Technology Review

"Investments in renewable energy will total $7.8 trillion between now and 2040, Bloomberg forecasts, dwarfing the $2.1 trillion that will go into new fossil fuel plants. Again, though, that’s not enough: “On top of the $7.8 trillion, the world would need to invest another $5.3 trillion in zero-carbon power by 2040 to prevent carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rising above the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s ‘safe’ limit of 450 parts per million.”"


5. Alright, goddammit. It's Friday. Let's end on some good news. Who wants to read about the first, tiniest baby step in curing every disease ever? - Scientific American

"Mildred Cho, a bioethicist at Stanford University in California and an RAC member, says that safety work in animals for a new therapy will take researchers only so far. “Often we have to take the leap of faith.”"