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    Plant Blindness and You

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    Can you tell the difference between a big leaf maple and a Japanese maple tree? If not, then you may suffer from plant blindness. Hopefully you can tell them apart when looking at them though. The concept of plant blindness is not so much being able to name every species as it is to appreciate the variety of species that exist. It’s also very easy to cure – just go look at plants.

    One key to reducing plant blindness is increasing the frequency and variety of ways we see plants. This should start early – as Schussler, who is a professor of biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, puts it, “before students start saying they are bored with plants”. One citizen science project aiming to help with this is TreeVersity, which asks ordinary people to help classify images of plants from Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.
    Everyday interactions with plants is the best strategy, says Schussler. She lists talking about conservation of plants in local parks and gardening.

    Read more.

    May Day: When Rules Don’t Apply

    Unions have got a bad reputation in North America for reasons I don’t understand. Counterintuitively, large corporations have convinced millions of workers that their jobs are negatively impacted by workers helping each other. It’s been proven that when CEOs talk about how much they make their average wage goes up; those same CEOs don’t want their own workers doing the same. Indeed, silicon valley CEOs went out of their way to ensure that the people they hire cannot even get paid more at other companies.

    Today is May Day and a good chance to think about the history and value of the labour movement. We still need to work together today for a better tomorrow and this is a chance to celebrate our successes.

    Top executives of leading tech companies secretly agreed among themselves not to hire each other’s employees, thereby restricting wages and job opportunities of the very people to whom they owed their success.

    Government investigators discovered the conspiracy and brought charges against the companies, using antitrust law to protect labor rights.

    Read more and check out the film.

    1.2 Trillion Trees can Balance a Decade of CO2 Emissions

    Forest

    The anti-conservation “conservative” Ontario government recently announced they cancelled a program that helped plant 28 million trees. The goal of that program was to plant 50 million trees to reduce flooding (which parts of Ontario are currently suffering from), clean the air, and protect wildlife. Fortunately there are smarter governments outside of Ontario that realize we need trees to breath and live.

    A study by ETH Zurich has revealed that if we plant 1.2 trillion trees we can essentially cancel out a decade of anthropogenic carbon emissions. That might sound like a lot of trees but we do have space for them and can easily reach that goal, as long as governments that care about people are voted in. You can act locally and plant a tree in your yard (if you have one).

    There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a?new analysis?by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

    The research,?presented?at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington, D.C., argues that planting additional trees is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

    Read more.

    Play the Trolley Problem in Dr. Trolley’s Problem

    Long time readers of Things Are Good will know that I like philosophy and moral actions. In fact I like that stuff so much I made a game about it called Dr. Trolley’s Problem which is all about the trolley problem which we’ve previously looked at.

    The game tests your moral fortitude. Dr. Trolley’s Problem brings the classic philosophical quandaries of the trolley problem to life and asks you to make life or death decisions on the fly. Explore your moral fiber in ways you never imagined (or asked for)! I’ve created 50 situations that are all based on the famous trolley problem, with more coming.

    Dr. Trolley’s problem is available for both Mac and PC.Check it out.

    The UN Cares About Your Local Housing Crisis

    Without a doubt a global housing crisis is hurting all of us. In the majority world basic housing needs aren’t being met while in the richer minority world owning a home is out of reach for the average person. These issues might seem worlds apart but that’s not how the United Nations approaches it.

    Leilani Farha, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, is leading the charge against profit hungry landlords and arguing for shelter for everyone. She’s featured in the documentary Push (video above) and since the filming she’s still going strong holding evil corporations to account.

    “Their business model, of which Blackstone is a frontrunner, is becoming the industry standard. Properties that are deemed ‘undervalued’, which generally means affordable to those living there, are being purchased en masse, renovated, and then offered at a higher rental rate, pricing tenants out of their own homes and communities. Landlords have become faceless corporations wreaking havoc with tenants’ right to security and contributing to the global housing crisis.”?

    The experts said they had heard countless stories of tenants’ whose buildings had been bought by private equity firms and whose rents had skyrocketed almost immediately afterward, sometimes by 30 or even 50 percent, making it impossible for them to remain.

    Read more.

    Watch Push at Hot Docs.

    Thanks to Delaney!

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