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  • Meredith Miller Vostrejs posted an article
    Co-founder of RPCV4EA Kate Schachter's Letter to the Editor appears in the NY Times. see more

    Kate Schachter, Co-founder of RPCV4EA, had her letter to the editor published in the NY Times. She responded to the news article, “Biden Will Roll Back Parts of Trump Agenda With Strokes of a Pen,” drawing attention to the damage of 'America First' policies and imploring us to work together for the planet. The full text of the letter is below.

     

    To the Editor:

    Biden Will Roll Back Parts of Trump Agenda With Strokes of a Pen” (news article, Nov. 9) gives me hope for the future.

    As a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a co-founder of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for Environmental Action, I have worked in the battle against desertification in northern Ghana and against flooding from melting glaciers in the country of Georgia. These issues were not caused by these countries alone, but also by our own country, through our narrow focus on “America first.”

    For the sake of my children’s future, I have been fighting for improved environmental policy since the first oil crisis in the 1970s and am heartened to see the ideas that President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on. He can count on my group to support environmental justice and climate action.

    I call on all of us to listen carefully and respectfully to one another and to work together as we move forward for the planet.

    Kate Schachter

    Madison, Wis.

     

    This was Kate's first time writing a letter to the editor. Beginner's luck? We think it was her passion and Peace Corps credibility! Get tips to write your own letter to the editor here.

     

  • Is ocean industrial noise a problem for marine life? see more

    The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) won two awards for its co-produced documentary, Sonic Sea, in Outstanding Nature Documentary and Outstanding Music and Sound, at the 38th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards on October 1. And we now have the ability to view the film for free on VImeo. Enter promotion code SONICSEE for free, permanent viewing.

    From the NRDC email announcement:


    Sonic Sea is a first on a number of fronts. The film is the first to so comprehensively document the horrible damage that industrial ocean noise from sonar, commercial shipping, seismic testing, and oil and gas drilling is doing to whales and other marine life — a problem not well known to the public. And we knew we had to find a way to depict the natural sounds — sounds most humans never hear — that these majestic creatures depend on for their survival.

    So we created a series of animations and graphics that visually represent the ocean's sonic landscape — developing sequences at once beautiful and also grounded in scientific fact. And they are matched by a rich and immersive sound design.

    Sonic Sea has already helped:

    • Spur the release of NOAA's long-delayed ocean noise strategy
    • Convince the Canadian government to commit to reduce shipping noise in key habitats
    • Inspire General Electric to help develop an industry consortium to reduce shipping noise
    • Strengthen the fight against seismic blasting off the mid-Atlantic and southeast coasts

       

    See the press release here

    But more importantly, view the film for free on VImeo. Enter promotion code SONICSEE for free, permanent viewing.

     

     

     

  • Kate Schachter posted an article
    Inspired by a Peace Corps Volunteer, Solomon Amuzu Serves Ghana see more

    Call to Nature Permaculture was founded to care for the Earth, care for people, and share resources by implementing permaculture principles and providing a high quality of permaculture education and training. Our vision is a world in which every school has a garden maintained by its students, every community has a garden maintained by its citizens, and everyone thereby has open access to nourishing organic food.

    Learn more about Call to Nature Permaculture here.

    Listen to the 23-minute podcast here.

  • Kate Schachter posted an article
    2019 has been the best year ever.  Do you agree or disagree? see more

    This New York Times article of December 28, 2019 from Nicholas Kristof states that This Has Been the Best Year Ever.  Do you agree or disagree?

    In this op-ed he focuses on gains improving human lives all over the world in many areas Peace Corps Volunteers know a lot about -- education, poverty, hunger, etc. Let's also recognize Greta Thunberg going Twitter-to-Twitter against Trump to defend the planet and coming out ahead, and on the cover of Time magazine.


    [Photo Credit: Allison Joyce, Getty Images] 

    If you’re depressed by the state of the world, let me toss out an idea: In the long arc of human history, 2019 has been the best year ever.

    The bad things that you fret about are true. But it’s also true that since modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, 2019 was probably the year in which children were least likely to die, adults were least likely to be illiterate and people were least likely to suffer excruciating and disfiguring diseases.

    Every single day in recent years, another 325,000 people got their first access to electricity. Each day, more than 200,000 got piped water for the first time. And some 650,000 went online for the first time, every single day.

    Perhaps the greatest calamity for anyone is to lose a child. That used to be common: Historically, almost half of all humans died in childhood. As recently as 1950, 27 percent of all children still died by age 15. Now that figure has dropped to about 4 percent.

    “If you were given the opportunity to choose the time you were born in, it’d be pretty risky to choose a time in any of the thousands of generations in the past,” noted Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs the Our World in Data website. “Almost everyone lived in poverty, hunger was widespread and famines common.”

    But … but … but President Trump! But climate change! War in Yemen! Starvation in Venezuela! Risk of nuclear war with North Korea. …

    All those are important concerns, and that’s why I write about them regularly. Yet I fear that the news media and the humanitarian world focus so relentlessly on the bad news that we leave the public believing that every trend is going in the wrong direction. A majority of Americans say in polls that the share of the world population living in poverty is increasing — yet one of the trends of the last 50 years has been a huge reduction in global poverty.

    The proportion of the world’s population subsisting on about $2 a day or less has dropped by more than 75 percent in less than four decades.

    As recently as 1981, 42 percent of the planet’s population endured “extreme poverty,” defined by the United Nations as living on less than about $2 a day. That portion has plunged to less than 10 percent of the world’s population now.

    Every day for a decade, newspapers could have carried the headline “Another 170,000 Moved Out of Extreme Poverty Yesterday.” Or if one uses a higher threshold, the headline could have been: “The Number of People Living on More Than $10 a Day Increased by 245,000 Yesterday.”

    Many of those moving up are still very poor, of course. But because they are less poor, they are less likely to remain illiterate or to starve: People often think that famine is routine, but the last famine recognized by the World Food Program struck just part of one state in South Sudan and lasted for only a few months in 2017.

    Diseases like polio, leprosy, river blindness and elephantiasis are on the decline, and global efforts have turned the tide on AIDS. A half century ago, a majority of the world’s people had always been illiterate; now we are approaching 90 percent adult literacy. There have been particularly large gains in girls’ education — and few forces change the world so much as education and the empowerment of women.

    You may feel uncomfortable reading this. It can seem tasteless, misleading or counterproductive to hail progress when there is still so much wrong with the world. I get that. In addition, the numbers are subject to debate and the 2019 figures are based on extrapolation. But I worry that deep pessimism about the state of the world is paralyzing rather than empowering; excessive pessimism can leave people feeling not just hopeless but also helpless.

    Readers constantly tell me, for example, that if we save children’s lives, the result will be a population crisis that will cause new famines. They don’t realize that when parents are confident that their children will survive, and have access to birth control, they have fewer children. Bangladesh was once derided by Henry Kissinger as a “basket case,” yet now its economy grows much faster than America’s and Bangladeshi women average just 2.1 births (down from 6.9 in 1973).

    Yes, it’s still appalling that a child dies somewhere in the world every six seconds — but consider that just a couple of decades ago, a child died every three seconds. Recognizing that progress is possible can be a spur to do more, and that’s why I write this annual reminder of gains against the common enemies of humanity.

    Climate change remains a huge threat to our globe, as does compassion fatigue in the rich world, and it’s likely that we will miss a United Nations target of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. Meanwhile, here in the United States, Trump presents a continuing challenge to our institutions, and millions of families have been left behind and are struggling. We should keep pressing on all these fronts (the last one concerns me enough that it’s the topic of my new book), but we’ll get a morale boost if we acknowledge the backdrop of hard-won improvement.

    “We are some of the first people in history who have found ways to make progress against these problems,” says Roser, the economist. “We have changed the world. How awesome is it to be alive at a time like this?”

    “Three things are true at the same time,” he added. “The world is much better, the world is awful, the world can be much better.”

    I also take heart from the passion so many — especially young people — show to make the world a better place. I recently published my annual “gifts with meaning” guide and suggested four organizations to support in lieu of traditional presents. Readers have so far donated more than $1.6 million to those organizations, saving and transforming lives at home and around the world.

    So I promise to tear my hair out every other day, but let’s interrupt our gloom for a nanosecond to note what historians may eventually see as the most important trend in the world in the early 21st century: our progress toward elimination of hideous diseases, illiteracy and the most extreme poverty.

    When I was born in 1959, a majority of the world’s population had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. By the time I die, illiteracy and extreme poverty may be almost eliminated — and it’s difficult to imagine a greater triumph for humanity on our watch.