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The wheels on the bus go round and round and are powered by the sun
The news: 389 US school districts across 50 states, D.C., and a swath of Tribes and territories were awarded almost $1 billion this week by the Biden administration to buy almost 2500 electric school buses.
Understand it: When it comes to multisolving, to making the 80/20 moves we need to build something new — this is a big one.
Electrifying school buses is a massive win for climate and for the health of millions of school children around the country who ride them -- including in states where every single GOP policymaker voted against them, you're welcome.
Next up? Building a massively more robust, reliable, and connected grid, and training and hiring thousands -- if not millions — of workers to keep charging infrastructure up and running.
⚡️What We Can Do: The time is now. Join our friends at Pod Save America or the Environmental Voter Project to call/text/donate and vote for people who will continue to build the foundation for a healthier world for kids everywhere
Our shields are down
The news: The potential for a "tripledemic" sandwich grows more likely as the flu and RSV, held in check by distancing and masks for a couple years, and COVID subvariants, held in check by basically nothing, collide. Pediatric beds are already nearly full in many cities.
Understand it: Like with COVID, and however these variants work out, it's helpful to remember that even mild flu and RSV can keep kids home from school and parents home from work, many of whom don't have paid leave or health insurance.
Or, worse: The lack of a safety net means sick kids do go to school and/or suck adults do go to work, infecting others whose immune response may not be so robust. This is not the circular economy I'm interested in.
This is the part where you ask: "Ok, but what the hell can I do about that?"
⚡️What We Can Do: If you lead or even work at a company with paid leave, message everyone right meow to stay home as much as necessary for them and their families.
If you don't — join our friends at Pod Save America or the Environmental Voter Project to call/text/donate and vote for people who actually learned something from the pandemic and will implement America's first real safety net -- for everyone.
TOOL OF THE WEEK
Refind. On occasion, when I'm not making snacks for my children, I get 10 seconds to browse through Refind. The super personalized emails (and the onboarding that gets you there) are great, but it's also an incredible tool to search and explore articles across a huge variety of different categories and tags. For a curious generalist, it's essential. Check it out.
FOOD & WATER
It's better than a hose?
The news: As drought increases across the world, in the places it's not actually flooding, though some places check both boxes, we need to find more and more reliable drinking water.
That's where wastewater comes in. From a New York Times article about the aquifer I drink from every single day:
"Homes and businesses in the Hampton Roads region, in the southeastern corner of (Virginia), are drawing groundwater faster than it can be replenished. The situation has gotten so bad that the earth is sinking in some places.
Officials, though, think they might have found a solution in the sewers. Every day, the region’s sanitation system takes a million gallons of treated wastewater and pumps it back into the Potomac Aquifer, a major source of drinking water for the area. And there are plans to increase that to 100 million gallons in the coming years."
Across the world, everything is coming up wastewater:
From the NYT: "One of the big advantages of wastewater...is that there’s always a reliable supply. Using it to recharge aquifers (is) a complex but effective way of accomplishing a basic goal: returning water to where it came from."
⚡️What We Can Do: 50 years after the Clean Water Act, racial disparities (surprise!) continue to plague the EPA and local water utilities. (Shakes fist) clean water is a goddamn human right.
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HEALTH & BIO
How not to do it
The news: Maternal health hasn't really ever been America's forté.
Mirroring the legendary Onion headline "‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens", a recent CDC report, shared by our friends at The 19th, showed that "80% of the pregnancy-related deaths that occurred between 2017 and 2019 were preventable."
Among those: Mental health, cardiovascular conditions, a lack of representation of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in maternal care (hi racism), short appointments, a lack of Medicaid expansion in red states, and — even in states with Medicaid — a lack of qualified staff to tend to pregnant people in the first year after giving birth.
One solution? Pass Rep Underwood's Momnibus Act. Another? Drastically more midwives and community health centers. Plus: midwives, skilled in out-of-hospital births, could be invaluable as natural disasters rise thanks to climate change (synergy!).
From The 19th: "Midwifery, a profession that was made up of predominantly Black women in the 1900s, is now overwhelmingly White at 85 percent.
As long as the workforce remains that way, said Michelle Drew, a certified nurse-midwife, historian and chair of the Caucus for Black Midwives for Reproductive Justice at the American College of Nurse-Midwives, she’s cautious about its potential impact for Black people and other people of color."
The news: Maybe you're among the 57% of women who feel harassed on dating apps. Or the 76% of girls aged 12-18 who've received unsolicited nudes.
Or maybe you're just a Shit Giver, or an open-source data nerd, or all of the above!
In all cases, we celebrate Bumble open-sourcing the delightfully named "Private Detector", their two-year-old machine learning framework that screens match-to-match images for...unwelcome content.
A reminder: It's not the algorithm, it's the people who write them.
And when the same group that's been doing the IRL and/or cyber-flashing writes the rules, we get what we've got.
We bring our biases to everything we do, from intentionally building highways to redline cities in the 60's to building ML tools in 2022 that deny women raises, Black people mortgages, and democracies the votes they need to, you know, keep being a democracy.
So, from Bumble: "We are extremely proud to release a version of the Private Detector™ to the wider tech community with the hope of democratizing access to our technology and to help scientists and engineers experiencing the same challenges around the world to improve their approach to online safety."
⚡️What We Can Do: Bumble has contributed to a variety of state bills to ban this kind of bullshit, succeeding in places like Texas and Virginia. Use their easy tool to get your state reps on board, and then (ding ding ding) join Pod Save America or the Environmental Voter Project to call/text/donate and vote for people who 1) actually understand the internet and 2) will help build one that's safer for women, LGBTQ+, and children.