🌎 #292: A love letter to my e-bike

Quinn Emmett
September 16, 2022
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Welcome back, Shit Givers.

And good afternoon to the 603 new readers that've joined us since last Friday!

Your favorite Action Step last week was submitting your company as a White House partner to transform our food system to end hunger and improve health.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

Scooter

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Vroom vroom goes the scooter

The news: The future of transportation is electric cars, and hopefully lighter, smaller electric cars, but also way, way fewer cars.

Disclaimer: I love my e-bike so much. SO goddamn much. I've had it for 2.5 years, it's this one.

A million new models have dropped since I got mine (more on that below), but before we get too excited about my belt drive, let's talk about what's happening with cars and micromobility in America, the country with eight parking spaces for every car:

Speaking of bikes!

  • Just this week, Boston set a goal to "to put 50% of the city’s population within a 3-minute walk of a protected bike lane within the next three years"
  • And across the pond, London said they'd make pandemic bike lanes permanent

It's possible, it's repeatable. Amsterdam used to be car hell. Japan ended their "Traffic War" by building reliable bullet trains, losing on-street parking, and incentivizing tiny cars and walking — all of which provides for cities far safer for ADORABLE CHILDREN.

⚡️What We Can Do: Our friends at Pique made another fantastic 4-minute short, this time on Statiq, the Indian startup electrifying transportation. Watch it, and then check out Ride Review to find your e-bike or scooter!

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COVID

Man in fog

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Vaccine Equity Update 9-16-22

Our World in Data

It's all kind of foggy

The news: As America's few remaining pumpkin spice-fueled teachers barrel towards Halloween and white collar offices start to (for real this time) demand workers come back, it's worth checking back in on Long COVID, and specifically "brain fog" (which disproportionally affects women for some reason):

From Ed Yong at The Atlantic

"20 to 30% of patients report brain fog three months after their initial infection, as do 65 to 85% of the long-haulers who stay sick for much longer. It can afflict people who were never ill enough to need a ventilator—or any hospital care. And it can affect young people in the prime of their mental lives.

It is not psychosomatic, and involves real changes to the structure and chemistry of the brain...it is almost always a disorder of “executive function” — the set of mental abilities that includes focusing attention, holding information in mind, and blocking out distractions.

Most people with brain fog are not...severely affected, and gradually improve with time. But even when people recover enough to work, they can struggle with minds that are less nimble than before."

Ed's entire article, as usual, is worth a read. We can't take care of each other if we don't try to understand how we can help.

Also worth your time: one of the new boosters.

We're doing a shit job marketing them, and an even worse time providing people with the time off to get them, but they're fantastic, and protect you against current variants, maybe future ones, and Long COVID, to boot.

⚡️What We Can Do: If you've got any managerial responsibility whatsoever, give your people the good news, and then give them the time off to protect themselves and each other from both COVID and the flu.

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FOOD & WATER

Soil and crops

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That's not it, Gary

The news: I saw a tweet the other day (I know) that (paraphrasing) asked, "If there's worker shortages, why haven't we cancelled pandemic-era SNAP benefits?"

Shit Givers, please do not do this.

You are more thoughtful than this. The labor shortage is not because of fucking SNAP benefits.

Please understand:

  • At least a million Americans died of COVID since March 2020, including 380,000+ in the last year alone
  • At least a half million, and up to 2-4 million Americans are missing work right now thanks to a huge variety of Long COVID symptoms (or they're caretaking for someone else who has them)
  • Millions of people retired, many early
  • Millions of Americans can't afford childcare
  • Millions of Americans can't afford housing near the millions of jobs that are open
  • Net immigration to the US is the lowest it's been in decades, despite massive need on both sides. Immigrants equilibrate local labor markets and fill labor shortages.

As my friend Isaac wrote at Tangle:

"We need more immigration judges. A lot more...There are 1.8 million pending immigration cases and only 576 judges to process them. That's 3,125 cases per judge, with 715,797 new court cases recorded in 2022 so far. You can do the math."

Anyways! Let's finish this section with a quick rundown on our complex (but delicious) food system:

Globally:

  • There are more than enough calories for everyone
  • But food is unevenly grown and distributed
  • Meat is an emissions nightmare
  • Smallholder farmers (especially in Africa) are priced out of fertilizers
  • Many of the crops are unhealthy or not actually used for food
  • We waste a hell of a lot of it
  • We need more carrots and sticks to affect everything above
  • Oh and food's extremely vulnerable to climate impacts

And specifically:

  • Pakistan's food was under threat before historic floods
  • Energy-intensive vertical farms are in vogue as farm crops suffer
  • Kernza could 1) be delicious and 2) help restore soils
  • More VC's are throwing cash at food waste startups
  • California's water preservation requirements could help and possibly bring on another Dust Bowl?

⚡️What We Can Do: Our friends at World Central Kitchen are on the ground everywhere, from Jackson Mississippi to Pakistan and (still) Ukraine. Volunteer or setup a new monthly donation here.

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HEALTH & BIO

Reproductive supplies

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They don't care if you don't care

The news: I'm not going to waste your time here. 

Everyone's favorite accountability journalist Judd Legum would very much like you to know which corporations are backing the sponsors of a national abortion ban:

Companies supporting abortion ban

Popular Information

You get it, let's do this.

⚡️What We Can Do: Read the article, and then post the article on your Facebook, and then the company's FB and Twitter pages, add their contribution total, link to it. Burn it down.

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BEEP BOOP

JFK airport tarmac

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Airdrop me your SSN

The news: It may not surprise you that border agents are grabbing data from Americans' phones at airports, seaports (if that's your thing), and border crossings.

It may surprise you that they're doing it without warrants, and then storing your data and making it searchable to thousands of officers at the Department of Homeland Security, and for 15 years.

From Gizmodo, by way of The Washington Post:

"U.S. Senator Ron Wyden says his office was informed this summer that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is building a massive database with content seized from Americans’ cellphones at the border.

Without warrants, the agency permits thousands of employees to search the database “for any reason,” the Oregon senator said.

Wyden, who is a 20-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that DHS employees are keeping virtually no records describing the purposes of these searches, an oversight that commonly engenders abuse, and makes auditing the practice impossible."

I have been relentlessly covering data privacy and data ethics for a long time and don't plan on backing off anytime soon.

America's surveillance apparatus, kickstarted by the Patriot Act so long ago and having fueled more than a couple trillion dollar companies, affects every part of our life -- often without our knowledge, much less our permission.

⚡️What We Can Do: Call your senators and insist they support S.2957, Senator Wyden's "Protecting Data at the Border Act" to prohibit accessing digital contents of electronic equipment of a US person at the border without a warrant.

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10 THINGS FROM MY NOTEBOOK

  1. Fossil fuel majors lied and lied about climate misinformation
  2. Ethereum's gone green. Right?
  3. Live in the UK? Check out Terra.do's UK Climate Job Fair on 9/29
  4. We hit 1 million organ transplants. We need many, many more.
  5. Sony's going to drop OTC hearing aids this year
  6. What's AC hopping?
  7. Can we diagnose diseases from people's voices?
  8. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard gave the company away to fight climate change. Haters gonna hate.
  9. The teachers fighting misinformation in the classroom
  10. A Louisiana court vacated air permits for a hugenormous petrochemical complex in Cancer Alley. Support Earthjustice and the other local organizing groups who never gave up

Thanks for reading, and thanks for giving a shit. Have a great weekend.

-- Quinn

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