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.


That’s a Big Sigh of Relief

Saying goodbye to the covfefe years, flattening the plague cycle, and more

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

This is an extract from our bi-weekly newsletter, What Could Go Right? Sign up to receive it here.

“Enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward.” –President Joe Biden

It’s official: Biden is in and Trump is out, even though just how “out” he’ll stay remains to be seen. There might be plenty of Trump-themed drama ahead, but it’s still relieving to say good-bye to the covfefe years and hello to precedented times once again. And to the Paris Agreement. 

On Biden’s docket, among many, many other things, is reengaging in international diplomacy. We’ll consider how his administration might create a sensible and humane US foreign policy next week at our event with TPN Members Anne-Marie Slaughter and Andrew J. Bacevich. It’s free to attend.

We also now have our first Black, Indian-American, woman Vice President, plus the most Black representatives in Congress, ever. (Here’s a graph that charts that progress—2019 was the first year the numbers reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the population.)

We don’t mind a hastily constructed Photoshop image every now and then.

We suppose there is something to be said about the Internet being a marginally better place recently. Online misinformation dropped by 73% the week after Trump was banned from Twitter. Wikipedia, everyone’s favorite bastion of peer-checked information, just celebrated its twentieth birthday. And the Internet did what the Internet does best yesterday: this is just in case you haven’t seen the Bernie’s mittens memes.

Of course, the pandemic is still with us. Are you freaking out about the COVID mutations? First, read this calming Atlantic article about how we can still stop the virus. Second, this remarkably positive New York Times newsletter that our Members have been passing around on social recently. (Star quote: The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are “essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease,” Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said. “It’s ridiculously encouraging.”) Third, the good news, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, that J&J’s one-shot COVID vaccine is showing promise.

Last but not least, ground yourself in the long-term narrative. It might not seem this way at the moment, but in the match-up between humanity vs. infectious disease, we’ve emerged the winner, with all the tools at our disposal for a total knock-out in the future. TPN Member Charles Kenny with the story of how we did it here, along with some fascinating historical anecdotes and a healthy reminder of all the ugly deaths and disfigurements vaccines (and sanitation, and toilets, and condoms) have saved us from.

The first reported vaccination. Charles Kenny has all the info on what’s going on in this painting here.

From us: How can we push for the foreign policy we’d like to see? Join us on 1/28 for A New Foreign Policy. We’ll consider letting go of military dominance, keeping gender equality in mind, and more.

In our latest Member interview, learn why, even in the midst of COVID-19, Charles Kenny gives humanity a passing grade in the fight against infectious disease.

Read the entirety of this week’s newsletter.

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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.