A history of living conditions on Earth in 5 charts

world-pop-vs-poverty

A recent survey asked “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”. In Sweden 10% thought things are getting better, in the US they were only 6%, and in Germany only 4%. Very few people think that the world is getting better.

What is the evidence that we need to consider when answering this question? The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.

Cynic that I am – even as an optimist – I tend to have a low opinion of my fellow Americans’ commitment to lifetime learning, understanding the world around us. This study makes it clear I should extend that analysis to our species worldwide. 🙂

Actually, things are better than that. But, I can’t resist grumbling – especially on a cold, snowy weekend moving into the mud phase.

RTFA. It serves as the debut for OUR WORLD IN DATA website. Which looks really interesting and useful.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Advertisements

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member quits rather than perform for Trump

❝ A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned in protest over the group’s decision to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying “it will appear that [the] Choir is endorsing tyranny and [fascism] by singing for this man.”

❝ The famous choir, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), first announced its decision to perform at Trump’s inauguration last week. The news sparked controversy among Mormons—many of whom are deeply ambivalent about Trump—but organizers justified the decision by noting that the group has performed at the inaugural celebrations of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

❝ …The reasoning was not enough for at least one performer: Jan Chamberlin, a member of the choir, published a Facebook post on Thursday morning announcing she would rather quit than sing for Trump…

“Since ‘the announcement,’ I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony…I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in choir for all the other good reasons. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.” Chamberlin wrote. “But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.”…

❝ “Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth,” she wrote. “We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.”…

“I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him,” she wrote.

Bravo! A courageous stand against bigotry. An evil Mormons have often faced in their young history. Too bad so many mainstream and evangelical sects in this land haven’t the same sense of history and justice.

Footprints of our early ancestors


Click to enlargeRaffaello Pellizzon

Footprints made by early humans millions of years ago have been uncovered in Tanzania close to where similar tracks were found in the 1970s.

The impressions were made when some of our distant relatives walked together across wet volcanic ash.

❝ Their makers, most likely Australopithecus afarensis, appear to have had a wide range of body sizes.

Scientists say this gives clues to how this ancient species of human lived…

The fossil of “Lucy”, a young adult female who lived in Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago, is perhaps the most famous individual…

❝ “This novel evidence, taken as a whole with the previous findings, portrays several early hominins moving as a group through the landscape following a volcanic eruption and subsequent rainfall. But there is more,” said lead researcher Prof Giorgio Manzi, director of the archaeological project in Tanzania.

“The footprints of one of the new individuals are astonishingly larger than anyone else’s in the group, suggesting that he was a large male member of the species.

“In fact, the 165cm stature indicated by his footprints makes him the largest Australopithecus specimen identified to date.”

❝ At 3.66 million years old, they are the oldest documented bipedal footprint trails…

Other prints were found at the site – including those of a giraffe, rhinoceros and prehistoric horses…

Keep on rocking in the real world. Science leads the way.

Chris Porsz snapped photos in the 1970’s and 80’s – tracked folks down and recreated the originals


Click ONCE or TWICE to enlarge

Paramedic Chris Porsz spent hours walking around the city of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire (Great Britain) in the late 1970s and 80s, taking candid shots of punks and policemen, siblings and sweethearts, traders and teenagers. More than three decades later, Chris has reconstructed a handful of his favourite photos from his collection. He spent the last seven years tracking down the people in his pictures and persuading them to pose once again. His hard work paid off and he has now published his photos in a new book, “Reunions”.

Click through to the article and enjoy. Aside from the photographic journey, the snaps are a gas of a record of 40 years ago almost anywhere in workingclass England.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Mohawks become first tribe to take down a federal dam


Click to enlargeTony David

❝ A century after the first commercial dam was built on the St. Regis River, blocking the spawning runs of salmon and sturgeon, the stream once central to the traditional culture of New York’s Mohawk Tribe is flowing freely once again.

The removal of the 11-foot-high Hogansburg Dam this fall is the latest in the tribe’s decades-long struggle to restore territory defiled by industrial pollution, beginning in the 1980s with PCBs and heavy metals from nearby General Motors, Alcoa and Reynolds Metal plants, a cleanup under federal oversight that’s nearly complete.

❝ The St. Regis River project is the first removal of an operating hydroelectric dam in New York state and the nation’s first decommissioning of a federally licensed dam by a Native American tribe, federal officials say. Paired with the recent success of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux in rerouting a pipeline they feared could threaten their water supply, the dam’s removal underscores longstanding concern over the health of tribal lands.

“We look at this not only as reclaiming the resources and our land, but also taking back this scar on our landscape that’s a constant reminder of those days of exploitation,” said Tony David, water resources manager for the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, which the Mohawks call Akwesasne.

❝ The former industrial site will become a focal point in the Mohawks’ cultural restoration program, funded by a $19 million settlement in 2013 with GM, Alcoa and Reynolds for pollution of tribal fishing and hunting grounds along the St. Lawrence River. The program partners young apprentices with tribal elders to preserve the Mohawk language and pass on traditional practices such as hunting, fishing, trapping, basket-making, horticulture and medicine.

Read this article with joy, take pride in the Mohawk nation.

The Lost Tapes from Pearl Harbor

pearl-harbor-tribute

❝ One style of history documentary — vintage clips plus reminiscences plus talking heads — is so common that it’s easy to forget that there are other options. “The Lost Tapes,” a series the Smithsonian Channel introduces on Sunday night with an episode on Pearl Harbor, effectively employs an alternative that really ought to get more use, especially for history that falls within the era of film and sound recording.

The program consists of just clips and still images with an occasional caption. No academics in office-chair interviews interpret things for you. No survivors grow weepy while dredging up their decades-old memories. No narration intrudes. The idea is to come closer to putting you in the historical moment, to give you a sense of what people experienced and felt at the time.

RTFA. Know what to expect, what to look for, when you watch this – as I plan to do. Never forget.