#231: So You Need A New Truck

Quinn Emmett
May 21, 2021
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Welcome back, Shit Givers.

A hearty welcome to the 1403 new Shit Givers that have joined us since last week!

This newsletter pairs curated science news with analysis and Action Steps so you understand what’s happening and what you can do about it.

The evidence-based Action Steps we recommend will both repeat and vary over time, building into a portfolio of steps you can take to feel better, and build a radically better world -- for everybody.

In brief: An electric truck for the masses; India’s vaccine production stays home; better cancer screening; beef emissions

This Week

There's nothing quite like a great couch.

But fancy couches are...expensive. My lord. And cheap ones are essentially futons, and look, I did my time. I’ll hold onto the memories forever but don’t need to actually re-live them.

What about a nice, used couch? Is that a thing?

Kind of. Craigslist’s been doing it forever.

A reputably-sourced, well-made used couch is smart: you get the same quality, and we don’t pillage the environment to build you an entirely new one.

But if we want to really reduce our collective footprint, we need to produce and buy way, way, way less new stuff.

So furniture, for example, needs to be built to last, with sustainably-harvested materials, and assembled by workers paid a living wage.

It’s a tall order. But with so many more folks shopping with sustainability in mind, it’s a massive opportunity.

There’s never been a better moment to try and check all those boxes.

We’re in a discontinuity, for better and worse, and we’re living it on every front: from food to water, electrical production to crypto, from Slack to Shopify, from lumber to COVID, drought and cement, and shortages in everything from PPE to nurses to semiconductors.

We’re more connected than ever, and we’ve consumed everything, everywhere, at massive cost to our air, water, roads, food, lands, forests, and people.

If you think sustainable couches are in short supply, don’t get me started on sand.

The complexity, necessity, and immediacy of the problems we’re facing are truly unlike anything we’ve ever faced, but, again, the market opportunities are historic.

Want to build a front-end marketplace for used, high-quality couches?

Start by requiring less-expensive brands like Ikea to build more sustainably, and for the long-term, so young people who give a shit but are pretty pretty strapped for cash actually have brands they’re excited about, and can be loyal to.

We can only get away with so much, for so long, and furniture can’t be just allowed to fall apart after a couple years, destined for the trash heap.

From new industries like carbon offsets to old ones like aluminum, everything we make and buy is under the microscope, now.

We can Do Better Better. What role will you play?

Climate Change & Clean Energy

You gotta feel it, it’s electric!

Understand this: Let’s set the table: just about 30% of US emissions are from transportation.

And the most impactful, equitable way to reduce those and accomplish some serious environmental justice is to:

  • Drastically increase public transportation volume and access
  • Make it free
  • Reduce cars exponentially
  • Increase safe walkability
  • Increase safe bike-ability
  • Subsidize e-bikes
  • Electrify buses everywhere

Cars kill people. Trucks definitely kill people. In like 400 different and creative ways.

But now that we’re on the same page, the new Ford F-150 Lightning is fucking awesome.

It’s fast, it’s powerful, it’s got 300 miles of range, it’s got a “Mega Power Frunk”, it starts at $40,000 (!), and it can power your entire house like a battery, because it’s basically a huge battery.

What it means: After Secretary Pete helps accomplish the other mandatory stuff above -- selling a hell of a lot of these trucks could be the second-biggest lever we pull for transportation emissions.

Why?

Because the dinosaur-bone version has been the best-selling automobile in America for decades.

Americans bought 800,000+ emissions-spewing F-Series trucks just last year. WHEN WE WERE TRAPPED AT HOME.

Have no doubt: the electric version of this truck will 100% kill people, too.

But in 2015, in the US alone, transportation emissions were responsible for over 22,000 deaths.

We have to transform our economy and society, but we also have to meet people where they are. With Biden considering point-of-sale rebates for EV’s, this truck could be a big first step.

⚡️ Action Step: Need a truck? Reserve a new F-150 Lightning for $100 right here.

COVID

Pardon the interruption

Understand this: The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer is contracted to build billions of COVID doses for COVAX, the U.N.-coordinated effort to vaccinate up to 60 low and middle-income populations around the globe.

The problem?

They’re in India.

What it means: The Serum Institute said two months ago that it would postpone exports due to India’s own tragic COVID outbreak, and this week reiterated that it would be late 2021 before it could restart exports.

The US is sending millions of doses abroad, but it’s nowhere near enough -- and especially compared with China. The time to step up is yesterday.

⚡️ Action Step: Let’s help get India back on their feet.

Donate to organizations pre-screened by volunteers for coverage (across geographies and targeted to groups that would otherwise be underserved), track record, and urgency.

Once again, we’ll match donations up to $1000. LFG.

Medicine & Biotech

Now screening

Understand this: Colorectal cancer is the #3 cancer killer in the U.S., with an estimated 52,980 deaths projected in 2021, which makes it among my many mortal enemies.

Good news: Fresh guidelines from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force calls for screenings to begin at 45 instead of 50, in hope of catching it earlier.

Which we need to do, because rates for Americans 45-50 are on the rise, and are even higher for Black Americans (see: Black Panther).

What it means: The updated, official guidelines means insurance companies are way more likely to actually cover colonoscopies and five other tests.

American healthcare, for the win.

⚡️ Action Step: Are you or someone you love between 45-50 years old? Call your primary care doc and ask for a referral to a gastroenterologist for your first screening right meow.

Go Deeper

Want to work on the frontlines of the future?

Question for you: Does all this talk about a transformational moment in history have you looking for a new, more impactful job in climate, clean tech, food & water, AI, biotech, or public health?

Or are you a founder or CEO hiring in those fields?

If any of the above applies to you, do me a favor: reply to this email and let me know how the job or hiring hunt is going. Where are you looking? What are you finding? What's missing?

We’re building some awesome new tools to bring Action Steps to life, and your opinion could go a long way to making them a reality.

Food & Water

It’s not about the burger

Understand this: Sure, Impossible Burgers or Beyond Sausage aren’t that much better for you than grass-fed beef or pork.

But that’s really not the point.

From The Washington Post:

“A first-of-its-kind study shows that air pollution from Duplin County farms is linked to roughly 98 premature deaths per year, 89 of which are linked to emissions directly caused by hogs.

Those losses are among more than 17,000 annual deaths attributable to pollution from farms across the United States, according to research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Animal agriculture is the worst emitter, researchers say, responsible for 80 percent of deaths from pollution related to food production.

Gases associated with manure and animal feed produce small, lung-irritating particles capable of drifting hundreds of miles.”

What it means: It means completely unnecessary deaths are on the rise. And not just from marginalized, underpaid, underinsured workers in the meat supply chain.

“These emissions now account for more annual deaths than pollution from coal power plants.

Yet while pollution from power plants, factories and vehicles is restricted under the Clean Air Act, there is less regulation of air quality around farms.”

“Big Meat” spends millions every year to crush climate policy. And now we know why.

⚡️ Action Step: Much of the animal agriculture problem comes down to demand, and so a good attack point is bulk procurement.

Unfortunately, meat’s not currently in Biden’s climate plan, so we’ve gotta do it ourselves.

That’s where your town comes in, and that’s where Friends of the Earth’s “Meat of the Matter” municipal guide to climate-friendly food purchasing comes in hand.

Use their blueprint to reduce meat consumption, costs, and associated pollution deaths.

The Round Up

Hurricane and wildfire seasons are just getting underway, and FEMA’s spent

Black in AI, Queer in AI, and Widening NLP won’t take Google funding any longer

From The 19th: women are leaving health care in droves

Half of Mexico’s unharvested irrigated crops are at risk of being lost due to water shortages

What will hospitals look like in the age of climate change?

Banks want to screw Black farmers, version 6383

We’re in the era of the genome. So. What is it?

Don’t sweat the variants.

Making mRNA vaccines isn’t just about dropping IP protections.

Exxon Mobil wants you to know it’s all your fault. Fuck them.

Maybe sperm isn’t on the down and out, after all

Just a dozen asshats are responsible for almost all of the COVID disinformation online

We’re learning how to better track viruses -- and just in time!

America’s first major wind farm is ready to get to work

Pod Guests - In The News

Hana Kajimura on Allbirds’ carbon footprint label

The Honorable Lauren Underwood has got Illinois finally considering Black maternal health

Dr. Sam Scarpino on the Yankees outbreak woes

Varshini Prakash wants to shut down Cancer Alley

James Rogers and Apeel talk to Bon Appetit about one-upping Mother Nature

Our friends at Terra.do are welcoming a new cohort of students for their flagship “Climate Change: Learning for Action” online course. It closes June 11. Get through.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for giving a shit.

-- Quinn

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