FROM OTHER SOURCES: NEWS AND FEATURES FOR AND ABOUT AMHERST (#18).

Editor’s Note: “From Other Sources” offers links to selected articles that might be of interest to Amherst readers. We will update this section every other week, emphasizing different timely topics. We have added a tag called “From Other Sources” so that you can easily find previous editions/links. Simply click the “From Other Sources” tag on the tag menu, found in the right-hand sidebar on any open article.

CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENT/ENERGY

Revealed: One Quarter of All Tweets About Climate Crisis Are Produced by Bots. by Oliver Milman (2/21/20). The social media conversation over the climate crisis is being reshaped by an army of automated Twitter bots, with a new analysis finding that a quarter of all tweets about climate on an average day are produced by bots.The stunning levels of Twitter bot activity on topics related to global heating and the climate crisis is distorting the online discourse to include far more climate science denialism than it would otherwise. An analysis of millions of tweets from around the period when Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement found that bots tended to applaud the president for his actions and spread misinformation about the science. (The Guardian).  

The Fires Are Out But Australia’s Climate Disasters Are Not Over. by Damien Cave (2/23/20). Australia’s hellish fire season has eased, but its people are facing more than a single crisis. With floods destroying homes not far from where infernos recently raged, they are confronting a cycle of what scientists call “compound extremes”: one climate disaster intensifying the next. (New York Times).  

DEMOCRACY

Experts On Activism Say Millions Would Have To Fill The Streets To Curb Trump’s Authoritarian Behavior. by John Haltiwanger. (2/24/20).
President Donald Trump’s behavior after impeachment has alarmed experts on authoritarianism and fascism and led to calls for mass protests. Experts on civil resistance say it would take millions flooding the streets of major US cities to compel Republicans to change their behavior and take a stand against Trump. “Defections don’t happen on their own,” Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard, told Insider. “People don’t just spontaneously do it — they need to be called to do it, and mass, nonviolent protests is a way to call them to do it.” (Business Insider).

The Future of Democracy.  Politics Without Politiciansby Nathan Heller (2/19/20).  The political scientist Helene Landemore asks, if government is for the people, why can’t the people do more governing? (The New Yorker).

HEALTH

You’re Likely to Get The Corona Virus. by James Hamblin (2/24/20). Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain. (The Atlantic).

Twenty Seconds to Optimize Wellness. by  James Hamblin (2/6/20).  How to properly and effectively wash your hands. (The Atlantic). 

How Can the US Confront the Corona Virus with 28 Million People Uninsured? by Sasha Abramsky (2/27/20).  Roughly 28 million Americans lack health insurance. That number has gone up every year of the Trump presidency and will continue to go up so long as current policies are in place that drive immigrants ever further outside the safety net, that encourage states to limit Medicaid access, and that make it harder for individuals to access health care exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. It’s pretty much impossible to rein in a pandemic, especially of a disease that is communicable before a sufferer becomes sick enough to visit the ER, with so many people entirely excluded from primary care coverage. Millions more, who do have insurance, are so under-insured and have such high deductibles that, in practice, they too do not visit primary care doctors nearly as often as they should. (Truthout).

ZERO WASTE/RECYCLING

Free Recycling In Western Mass Is About To End: What People Are Doing About It At The Local And State Level. by Chris Gourdreau (2/19/20). For three years, since China instituted stricter purity standards in the recyclable materials they accept, a single piece of paper has shielded most Western Mass communities from the higher price of recycling experienced in much of the country: a multi-year contract with the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). But come July 1, that contract will expire, and the region stands to be hit hard by that reality, according to Arlene Miller, the vice chair of the Springfield MRF Advisory Board. Located on Birnie Avenue in Springfield, the MRF is a public and private partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Waste Management. (Valley Advocate).

Easthampton Moves Toward Banning Plastic Grocery Bags.  by Bera Dunau. (2/27/20). A ban on a number of single-use plastic items in the city — notably grocery bags — is being considered by the City Council’s Ordinance Committee, which will discuss it at its 6 p.m. meeting on March 10.The ordinance would prohibit retail establishments from bagging their customers’ merchandise in single-use plastic bags, packaging loose food items in materials that are not biodegradable, and dispensing food items in polystyrene or expanded polystyrene containers (which are commonly used for takeout.) Single-use food service ware, including cups and utensils, must also be biodegradable under the ordinance. (The Daily Hampshire Gazette).

Is a World Without Trash Possible? by Robert Kunzig. (March 2020). Can We Save The Planet by Reusing All of the Stuff We Make? (National Geographic).

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