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Chicken little forecast

Still Chugging Along

Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.

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What Could Go Right? A life-saving pig kidney

Plus, Norway is on track for 100% electric car sales, #MeToo’s positive effect, companies commit to zero-carbon shipping, and more.

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

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Norway: it’s electric (boogie woogie woogie)
“Norway is out-EVing us.” During last year’s Superbowl, Will Ferrell introduced us all to Norway’s speedy, jealousy-inducing adoption of electric vehicles. Since then, Norway found the time to both respond to Ferrell and get on track to meet their goal of 100% electric vehicle sales three years ahead of target. If sales trends hold steady, Norway will sell its last gas-powered car in April 2022. “It is far earlier than even the most optimistic electric car enthusiasts thought possible,” Thor Egil Braadland, a government representative within the Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF), told Motor, the NAF’s publication.

Your new badly built dresser from IKEA will arrive climate guilt-free soon. (It’s still just cardboard in the back, though.) The furniture and home goods behemoth, along with nine other large companies, including Amazon, Michelin, and Unilever, committed this week to using zero-carbon fuels for ocean freight by 2040. It’s the kind of news that is easily labeled “not enough, not fast enough,” but it’s another positive sign that the world’s power players—that is, companies—are starting to play ball.

Economics, citizen pressure, and a few climate-induced crises have finally gotten Putin onboard with climate change mitigation. Last week, the Russian president said “Russia would stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2060.” While what’s going on on the ground is decidedly mixed, the announcement is indeed a turnaround from a world leader who as recently as 2018, as The New York Times reports, blamed climate change on “cosmic changes, shifts of some kind in the galaxy that are invisible to us.” There is also the pesky fact that Russia would not mind a warmer world to plant crops in.

#MeToo and machismo 
This week marks four years since the #MeToo movement went viral, and it seems to have had a lasting impact. More Americans, especially in the younger generations, now say that they are more likely to speak out if they’re a victim of sexual misconduct or witness it happening, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs research. And more now say that #MeToo’s impact has been positive—45% to the 24% who saw the impact as negative. That has changed quickly. In January 2020, those numbers were closer to 50/50.

Rather than a fight club to help men sort out their feelings, the government of Claudia Lopez, the first woman and the first openly gay mayor of Bogota, Colombia, has opted for something a little more 21st-century: an antimachismo hotline. “Calm Line,” as it’s called, is meant to prevent violence against women by giving men a safe place to talk about their tempers, insecurities, jealousy, control issues, and more, and subtly push back against the idea of machismo, the “often ingrained belief that men must be dominant.” While the psychologists on the other end of the line handle about a dozen calls a day, we respect, too, as an idealistic vision of the future, the perspective of Pedro Torres, a 58-year-old taxi driver quoted in the article, who wasn’t sure if the line would be utilized. “Machismo is on its way out today, due to women’s liberation,” he said. Hear, hear. 

How about a pig kidney with that?
Scientists are up to some weird, amazing, life-saving stuff. Twelve people on the list for kidney transplants die each day in the United States. More than half a million live only through the help of routine dialysis, a time-consuming, exhausting process. Enter the possibility of a kidney transplant—from a pig. For the first time, New York surgeons have successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a person. The kidney, which had been genetically engineered to be accepted by humans, did what kidneys are supposed to do and started to remove bodily waste. In other words, it worked. Immediately. Of course, many questions remain, including how long such a kidney would last or whether it would transplant successfully inside the body—this one was attached externally to a brain-dead patient, and worked for over two days—as well as the ethical debate over the potential breeding of pigs for organ transplants.

Still, “This is a huge breakthrough,” Dr. Dorry Segev, professor of transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told The New York Times. “It’s a big, big deal.” 

Before we go
High vaccination rates? We love to see it. Good going to Australia, several Pacific Island nations, Puerto Rico—which NBC News says has the highest vaccination rate in the US—and Japan, which is celebrating, but also puzzling over its low, low, low case numbers.

Since the 1960s, when Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb predicted soon-to-arrive mass starvation, we have been worrying about overpopulation and food scarcity. Should we be? A new article from HumanProgress shows that while the population is higher than ever, so is food abundance

And, the next time you look at your phone—wait, that could be right now!—thank our search for aliens for the technology. The Wall Street Journal traces the quest to perfect space telescope lenses to the development of our smartphone screens.

Below in the links section, killer whales are back in Vancouver, clean water is (finally) on its way to a Michigan city, China’s space station saw its first female astronaut, and more.


What are some ways you wish you were different? Would these things really change your life or make you happier? Those are just a few of the questions in this interactive exercise from TPN Member Arthur Brooks, which guides you to ponder the real you and apply what you learn to your life. See how others are responding.

Life is convenient, comfortable, predictable, safe, and clean. Why don’t we all have a basic education of how we achieved this? In a new TPN guest post, Jason Crawford, founder of The Roots of Progress, a nonprofit dedicated to establishing a new philosophy of progress for the 21st century, makes the case for progress studies as a civic duty. Read it here.

Progress, Please

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Other good stuff in the news 

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This Week on the Podcast

Does it feel impossible trying to maneuver through the minefield of free speech, inclusivity, and “wokeness”? Or are we experiencing a much-needed disruption to the status quo? Today we’re joined by Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, the leading human rights and free expression organization, to talk about navigating and defending free speech and free expression while also cultivating a more inclusive public culture.

Listen to the episode.

Upcoming Events

New Member Alert

Matthew Yglesias is a writer, editor, and journalist focused on American politics and public policy. He is the author of Slow Boring, a blog and newsletter on Substack, and a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center. Previously, Yglesias was a senior correspondent at Vox, which he cofounded in 2014, and cohost of its political podcast The Weeds. He’s the author of the national bestseller One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger.

Read Matthew’s case against crisis-mongering.

Build for Tomorrow

Want to future-proof your life and career? Check out Build For Tomorrow, a newsletter by Entrepreneur magazine editor in chief (and TPN member) Jason Feifer. In each edition, Jason gives you a new way to be more optimistic about the changes in our lives—by revealing the surprising benefits of things we’re concerned about, and sharing insights from the sharpest change-makers today.

Here are two editions to start with: Jason’s “Fake ID Theory” gives you the courage to try something new, and he reveals why our concerns about “tech addiction” are distracting us from more real (and solvable) problems.

Until Next Time

If you see a murder of crows using tools, there’s probably no caws for concern. 

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas is the Executive Director of The Progress Network. An editor and writer specializing in nonprofit media, she was formerly Executive Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is the editor of two books from Wisdom Publications.