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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 Just Happened?

Our Members weigh in on yesterday's events at the Capitol, a relieving flu season, 2021 climate change possibilities, 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.

It’s hard to imagine 2021 starting off more intensely than it has. Politico declared this week a “hell week for US politics”—and that was before Trump supporters broke into the Capitol yesterday. Several of our Members have weighed in on the events, including intelligence firm CEO R. P. Eddy in a discussion that aired live. (Pullout quote: “The soft coup has gratefully been run by clowns.”) Member and Foreign Policy editor-at-large Jonathan Tepperman spoke about why we should actually refrain from calling it a coup, and the editorial page of The Boston Globe, overseen by Member Bina Venkataraman, called on Republicans to take responsibility for the dangerous monster they “unleashed on the Capitol.”

Another Member, cyber expert Danielle Citron, successfully pushed for the suspension of Trump’s Twitter account:

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues. Whereas frustrations are mounting with the US’ and Europe’s slow vaccine rollout, Israel has set up vaccination drive-throughs—briefly scroll down in the linked thread for an English-language version of the video—and are moving far more quickly to inoculate their population than even the second- and third-runners up, the UAE and Bahrain. (Israel has vaccinated just shy of 16 out of every 100 people in the country, a useful stat to give vaccine-wary friends. Their efforts are impressive but not perfect, as they currently don’t include Palestinians.)

There is one thing we can breathe a sigh of relief about, which is the 2020–2021 US flu season. Take a look at this oddly uplifting Twitter thread from journalist Helen Branswell, who covers infectious disease for Stat News. Positivity rates for the flu this season are remarkably low. In real-world terms, this means that only one American child has died of the flu so far. With the caveat that it’s hard to compare year-to-date with flu seasons, since they begin at different times in different years, this is just how low positive flu tests are now in relation to recent seasons (Branswell’s chart using CDC data):

In long-term possibilities for 2021, Member Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute has a summary of several reasons to expect progress regarding climate change, a list that includes slowed emissions growth as well as quiet climate policy (did you know that the recently passed COVID relief package included tens of billions in clean energy research and development?) and bottom-up global action. 

On the first point, there is an ongoing debate on whether we hit peak emissions in 2019. Nordhaus has a Twitter thread here, in which he argues that even if we haven’t seen peak emissions yet, we’re about to.

From us: What if journalists made it a habit to report on solutions and not just problems? TPN Member and Solutions Journalism Network cofounder Tina Rosenberg talks to us about what solutions journalism is and isn’t, and how you can advocate to see more of it.

Our December event, Bridging Our Divides with TPN Members David Brooks and Theodore R. Johnson, about how to rebuild our nation’s social fabric, grows ever more relevant. You can now watch the recording.

Read the entirety of this week’s newsletter.

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.