from the world's big
Should the United States Issue a Formal Apology for Climate Change?
It’s 2017 and the newly elected President of the United States is apologizing to the world for its contribution to environmental injustices at home and globally. Could this happen? Should it happen?
OP/ED from a UK Environmental Attorney
It’s 2017 and the newly elected president of the United States is apologizing to the world for its contribution to environmental injustices at home and globally. Could this happen? Should it happen?
There’s a long list of historic environmental injustices that the United States has inflicted upon its own peoples and cultures, and globally. Environmental racism (where environmental laws, policies and practices have differentially affected individuals, groups of communities based on race or colour), the watered-down approach of American companies toward corporate social responsibility, and its significant contribution towards climate change all form part of an embarrassing environmental scorecard.
As a proud and courageous nation, the United States should be honest with itself. It’s time for the damaging and dangerous notions, fantasies, and myths of American exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny that continue to influence some elements of the nation’s political ideology to be confined to history.
Without doubt, some former presidents have shown the world the way of good environmental leadership, making a positive and lasting contribution to protecting the planet. Former President John F Kennedy, a true visionary, declared that more than any other people on Earth, the United States bears burdens and accept risks unprecedented in their size and their duration, including for all those who wish to be free.
Richard Nixon ushered in the decade of the environment and established the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton built on the public lands legacy started by Theodore Roosevelt. It was Roosevelt who recognised that the environment had a direct connection to democratic ideals and that the conservation of natural resources was a duty we owe to our children and our children’s children. For Roosevelt, conservation was a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation.
But other presidents have advanced/pushed pro-growth, anti-regulatory, anti-environmental agendas, politicizing the scientific debate by ignoring scientific evidence, distorting facts, and leading to the censorship of scientists and reports — doing so at the peril of the United States and the world, leading to morality-based politics.
I believe the sense of belonging to a community and showing an allegiance to it carries with it a moral obligation to make amends for a nation’s past wrongs. That is patriotism. And with that sense of belonging comes responsibility. It is not really possible to claim national pride if there’s no will to acknowledge any responsibility for carrying the nation’s story into the present, and discharging the moral burdens that come with it.
So, why apologize?
Over the past few years, there have been a number of political apologies offered by nations for historical and more recent injustices.
As a nation, any empathy toward its neighbours brings with it feelings of shame and guilt for some aspects of its way of life. Through apologizing, that dignity and self-esteem could be restored.
Our fragile planet demands that we renew and focus our energies on the resolution of conflicts, and that it is done in a way that does not simply submerge the resentments that inevitably accompany such conflicts but acknowledges and responds to them. I believe that apologizing can help in that effort.
But apologizing is more than merely an acknowledgment of offences together with an expression of remorse. It is an ongoing commitment to change the nation’s behaviour. It is a process that requires of all parties attitudes of honesty, generosity, humility, commitment, and courage.
It is an inconvenient truth that the United States has contributed significantly more to current climate change than any other nation. The nation needs to find new ways to communicate with the peoples of the world, with belief in its hearts, to be better understood. The nation can invest in, and redefine, its spiritual and moral values. It must not let its past mistakes dictate its future. And it must right the wrongs of its past.
Paul Collins is an environmental lawyer and author of The Apology, to be published in the fall 2015 by Moon Willow Press.
 Byron, W. and Sussman, G. (2010) White House Politics and the Environment, Texas A&M University Press.
 Mihai, M. and Thaler, M. (2014) On the Uses and Abuses of Political Apologies, Palgrave Macmillan. Sandel, M. (2010) Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? Penguin.
 Lazare, M.D. (2005) On Apology, Oxford University Press.
Photo Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS / Getty Images
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think.
Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?
In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
Parental anxieties stem from the complex relationship between technology, child development, and the internet's trove of unseemly content.