Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 2nd, 2018

Earth Overshoot Day came early this year. That’s a bad thing.

We consumed a year’s worth of natural resources in just seven months.

Planet Earth overshoot day

We’ve only got one.

Wikimedia Commons

Every holiday has its unique pleasures. New Year’s Eve is a time for confetti, champagne, and promises. The Fourth of July all but demands the pop of a firework and one (or 12) hot dogs.

And Earth Overshoot Day wouldn’t be complete if your existential dread hadn’t tripled by the stroke of midnight.

If you haven’t celebrated Earth Overshoot Day before, be not afraid.

The premise is simple: Earth’s resources are limited. We only have so much water and food, let alone oil and gold.

But humans are using more than Earth has to offer, and have been since 1970.

In 2018, it’s predicted we will use the equivalent of 1.7 Earths worth of resources—a whole Earth more than we have. And the date at which we’ve consumed more than one Earth in a given year is called… Earth Overshoot Day.

Unlike most holidays, like Christmas, which you want to come early, you want Earth Overshoot Day to be as late in the year as possible.

In the 1960s, our consumption was almost perfectly synched to the Earth’s resources, with humanity consuming one year’s worth of Earth’s resources in one year.

By 1971, that number slid backward, and has been sliding ever since. This year, 2018, saw the earliest Earth Overshoot Day yet: one Earth’s worth of resources gobbled up by Aug. 1. (Last year, it happened on Aug. 2.)

This doesn’t mean that we’ve run out of clean water or timber today, and will have to live on scraps until New Year; it’s that by exceeding the Earth’s resources in August, we’re bankrupting our future by consuming materials that are better off preserved for days to come.

How exactly is the overshoot date calculated?

It’s a little fuzzy, but fairly common sense. Earth Overshoot Day is administered by the Global Footprint Network. Using United Nations data about the state of the world year over year, the GFN team divides the amount of ecological resources Earth can currently generate in one year, according to the network’s website. Then, they divide that figure by the total human demand for those same resources.

The final number is influenced by things like the rate of carbon emissions compared to the carbon sequestration offered by land, deforestation and over-fishing, our ability to process waste, electricity and other energy usage, and the size of the human population (current count: 7.6 billion).

It also differs by country. People who live on islands or in deserts have fewer resources to work with, meaning they overshoot sooner than a more expansive place, like the continental United States. Singapore, a densely-populated island city state in East Asia, typically overshoots its biocapacity by Jan. 2 of every year, according to National Geographic.

The results aren’t super precise. “Global Footprint Network estimates that the absolute precision may be within 10 percent to 20 percent,” according to its website. But it’s clear this holiday is about prompting reflection, not impeachable precision.

The exact moment at which we’ve consumed more than the resources the planet has to offer is hard to narrow down for any given year. But we know, in a bigger sense, it’s already far behind us.

Our voracious appetites for consumer goods, especially in developed countries like the United States, Australia, and South Korea, are doing unprecedented damage, and have been for decades.

overshoot day planet infographic

Overshoot days vary my country, as seen here.

Courtesy of Global Footprint Network

Given it’s a made-up holiday, how you celebrate Earth Overshoot Day is up to you. But thinking about how you can reduce your own footprint—by mowing your lawn less (or replacing it outright), compostingreducing plastic consumption, and recycling—is probably the best way to go.

  1. Welcome to , the date each year that humanity’s consumption of ecological resources exceeds what the planet naturally regenerates annually. August 1 marks the earliest Overshoot Day in recorded history.

‘How we started a new school from scratch’

Langley Hall took just months to set up under the Government’s free schools scheme.

Apart from that, it’s like any other primary – only better, claim its founders. Richard Garner pays a visit

Jan. 5, 2013

It was some time after the opening of her new school that headteacher Jane Sculpher was being confronted by a journalist. “I don’t get it. All I can see here is a rather good primary school.”

He was obviously expecting something radical to leap out from the classrooms when he visited one of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s first tranche of free schools.

Sculpher took it as a compliment, though. After all, that was what she and the school’s educational director Sally Eaton had been trying to achieve at the new Langley Hall primary academy near Slough in Berkshire.

She would be the first to admit that there were a few teething troubles. However, one problem the school was never going to have was a shortage of pupils.

“I’d seen in the local newspapers that there was going to be a shortage of 342 reception class places in the area so I knew there was a demand for it,” says Eaton.

“Talking to parents, a lot were travelling to schools outside the area by car – because there were no schools in the direct area for them.”

That was one of the reasons why Langley, which has just over 180 pupils and plans to expand to 360, decided not just to start with a reception class and build up to an all-in primary school. They decided to recruit all ages to the school from the beginning.

“In some cases, it might have been a case of parents just wanting a fresh start at a new school. We didn’t think there would be many parents of Key Stage Two (seven to 11-year-olds) who would want to move their children but they did.”

Recruitment for next year is also buoyant.

Recently a neighbouring primary school was put in special measures by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog ,and Langley’s telephones started ringing.

That incident, though, points to one of the criticisms of the free school system. It will be much more difficult for schools to pick themselves up after failing if they face mass desertion by parents.

Gove and his supporters, though, would argue: why should children be left in an establishment that is obviously failing?

Sculpher is not a critic of the “maintained sector”, though. She had been a headteacher at a local authority maintained primary school for 10 years before accepting the post at Langley Hall.

“Jane Sculpher and I had worked together in the past and she wanted to apply,” says Sally Eaton. “The trustees saw her and thought she was the best candidate and opted for her as head.”

The school does have a distinct vision of the education it offers. Every child, for instance, has to sign up for violin lessons during their first four years. They do not have to show any particular aptitude in advance. “We want to start them from scratch,” says Sculpher.

“All those things that are considered extra curricular we do here. Everybody has drama, dance, swimming and music classes. If they want more, they can take part in a swimming club or play musical instruments. It’s a question of building their skills and confidence. Building your confidence in a swimming pool will make you confident in other lessons, too.”

It works on a theory espoused by creativity “guru” Sir Ken Robinson in an interview with The Independent recently. Sir Ken, who headed a seminal inquiry into creativity in the curriculum just over a decade ago, passionately believes that every child has some talent – it is just up to the school or educator to find it.

The school’s vision is spelt out on its website which says: “Children at Langley Hall learn to be thinkers, enquirers, communicators, open-minded and reflective. They are willing to challenge themselves by approaching unfamiliar situations and learning with courage and have a growing sense of independence.” Langley Hall’s motto is Ad Vitam Paramus, which means: “We are preparing for life.”

Free schools have also been given the green light to have non-qualified staff act as teachers – a decision that has puzzled some observers. After all, why would they want to take on untrained teachers if they are designed to raise the standard of state education?

In Langley Hall’s case, they have used it to boost their drama and music teaching. “Our drama teacher is off playing Cinderella in pantomime,” says Sculpher. “The singing teacher will be away singing in Rome. They’re working at what they do. They’re not qualified teachers but they’ve been taught to degree level and are very, very able teachers.”

Not everything was plain sailing during the first term. For weeks the school did not have a landline telephone and all calls had to be made through a mobile. One day there were 150 messages on the voicemail.

However, compared with the time it takes to plan a new local authority maintained primary school from conception to opening, Sally Eaton believes the 24 new free schools achieved a minor miracle.

“I have run schools and nurseries in the past,” she says, “and I’ve set up schools from scratch.” She also spent time developing childcare training. “Then it became apparent that I’d achieved what I wanted to achieve in that field and I was looking for a new challenge.

“That just happened to be at the time when there was a change of government and the free school initiative was launched.” That was just over a year ago. She enlisted the support of the Tribal group, which is aiding a number of free school proposers with their applications to the Department for Education.

The end result was that Langley got the go ahead to open in former college premises as one of the first free schools in the country, at a time when only about 12 per cent of applications were successful.

Looking back at the end of the first term, Eaton and Sculpher say that one of their proudest moments was staging a drama production of Bugsy Malone just before Christmas. Now they believe the teething problems have been ironed out and the school plans to open for its second term with confidence.

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 227

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page of backlog opinions and events is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

You must select a few tasks that require total concentration during you daily achievement program. The more you learn to focus the more the frequency of good “luck” tends to increase

The more maintenance tasks (at home or in office) you plan in your daily achievement program, and the more in touch you are with real life, and the rarer are the depressive mood swings you say you suffer from

Consider the basic facts of Facebook’s scandal—that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica violated the social network’s rules for third-party apps by obtaining the profile data of 50 millions of users, and Facebook responded ineptly—it’s hard to understand the current level of outrage and disgust.

Just because the feelings are visceral doesn’t mean they’re ill-founded. The outrage that’s driving the #DeleteFacebook movement—as with its predecessor, #DeleteUber—is fueled Not by rational evidence, but by visceral concerns about the growing power, suspect motives, and dubious ethics of the tech firms involved.

Michael Coren looks back at how it took us 90 years to get a 90% drop in human-driven vehicle fatalities.

This week marked the 15th anniversary of the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq. In the New York Times (paywall), Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon movingly relates a harsh truth: “I never thought that Iraq could ever be worse than it was during Saddam’s reign, but that is what America’s war achieved.”

Actually, during Iraq of Saddam, schools and university were free, health care was universal and Iraq was the leading Arabic county to reading what all the “Arabic” countries published.

A quarter of Japan’s population is 65 or older and some of those seniors, particularly women, are turning to petty theft in order to find a place of unexpected community and stability: prison. Shiho Fukada tells their stories in Bloomberg Businessweek

The most educated and well-to-do among immigrants from the Near-East (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine) went to Palestine, and then on to Egypt at the turn of the century, where they were the vanguard in creating daily presses, translating scientific research and the newer technologies,  and disseminating the notion of freedom of expressions and promoting the values of Western Europe in matters of democracy, republic, equality, constitutional political systems, and justice to all under the law…

John Stewart Kenneth wrote:

1. 61% of the US “Arabs” earned the highest university degrees versus 30% of the average US citizens. The “Arab” citizens are mainly Lebanese (40%), Syrians (12.3%), Egyptians (12%), Palestinians (6%), Iraqis, North Africans (or 60% are from the Near East States)… earned the highest university degrees versus 30% of the average US citizens

2. The average “Arab” in the US earn $54,000 versus $43,000

3. 57% of the “Arabs” in the US own single family homes versus 43% of the average ratio.

4. The “Arabs” in the US hold the highest posts and the most private businesses than the other US minorities, including European, Japanese, and Chinese.




August 2018

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