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.
🎉 Season 4 is here!
👉 Calling all doomscrollers, defeatists, and cynics! Zachary Karabell and Emma Varvaloucas are back to host the fourth season of the What Could Go Right? podcast.
Our first episode sifts through the good indicators we see for 2023.
🙏 Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform for future discussions with Rutger Bregman, Wajahat Ali, Alissa Quart, and many more constructive thinkers.
Love bites (less than it used to)
Fun facts about being a woman: In England just 200 years ago, if your husband got tired of you, he could sell you to the highest bidder. It was up to him if he wanted to throw the kids in as well.
Fun facts about being LGBTQ: In England just 70 years ago, you could be prosecuted for homosexual sex. Indeed, British mathematician Alan Turing, famous for breaking German encryption in World War II, chose forced sterilization over a prison sentence.
“Many of our current social victories in the progress of love feel unintuitive to comprehend as victories, largely because we see them, and rightfully so, as triumphs over unquestionably egregious conditions that should never have existed in the first place,” writes Tony Morley for The Progress Network (TPN) on the last two centuries’ victories of love. But victories they are nonetheless, Morley says, from trends in the legality of domestic violence to the decriminalization of homosexuality to the sustained decline in child marriage. In other words, love bites a lot less than it used to.
We are starting to see change, for instance, even in countries where opposition to LGBTQ rights has been historically strong. The government of Sri Lanka, for instance, has just agreed to decriminalize homosexuality, and following a court decision last summer, Slovenia has now officially legalized same-sex marriage and adoption, the first eastern European country to do so. Perhaps feeling FOMO after the Church of Wales agreed to bless (but not conduct) same-sex marriage in 2021 and the Church of Scotland agreed to conduct them in 2022, the Church of England has just voted to bless them. The Church will also soon review the ban on clergy “entering into same-sex civil marriages and a celibacy rule for clergy in same-sex relationships,” reports The Guardian.
And family policies, too, are slowly changing. In a Valentine’s Day gift much better than flowers, on Tuesday Singapore’s government announced that it would pay to double paternity leave from two to four weeks, for companies that want to offer it. Paternity leave was introduced in 2013, and now more than half of Singapore’s fathers use it.
Last but not least, if you really want to feel the love this week, here is TPN Member Arthur Brooks on bringing back the old-school romance of reading to your partner—having recently done this, I can attest to it—and Member Courtney Martin on why she changed her mind about marriage.
Before we go
Space discoveries: Jupiter just found out that he has more moons than he thought he did.
Climate progress: The world’s largest producer of wind turbines says it has developed a chemical formulation that recycles wind turbines, which if true would solve the issue of old turbines sitting around in landfills. (The ones that aren’t being turned into benches and bus stop overhangs, anyway.) And the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that even though the next handful of years will see more electricity demand than ever before, renewables and nuclear energy will cover it completely, meaning that we will not see increased emissions from the increased use of electricity.
Below in the links section, yellowfin tuna are celebrating a big win, AI is decoding a 2,000-year-old lost book, more people are living to be centenarians, and more.
Now is the best time in history to love and be loved
The incredible social and human rights improvements over the last two centuries are powerful evidence that further progress remains possible. | Read more
Good indicators: A bird’s-eye view of 2023 | S4 E1
What’s going on with “the economy”? Is now the best time to be in love in all of human history? Should we be worried about the global state of democracy? “What Could Go Right?” hosts Zachary Karabell, TPN’s founder, and Emma Varvaloucas, TPN’s executive director, take a look at the world as it currently is and as it could be in 2023. | Listen to the episode
Other good stuff in the news 🚀
Energy & Environment:
- Renewables will be world’s top electricity source within three years, IEA data reveals | Carbon Brief
- EVs can now power your home for three days | The Washington Post
- Several universities to experiment with micro nuclear power | AP
- John Deere unveils quieter electric riding mowers | Freethink
- The cities built to be reusable | BBC
- Deal to curb harmful fishing devices a ‘huge win’ for yellowfin tuna stocks | The Guardian
- Love of sea turtles turns Philippine poachers into protectors | Reuters
- ‘Audacious’ reforestation effort grows in Brazil | Conservation International
Science & Tech:
- AI is deciphering a 2,000-year-old ‘lost book’ describing life after Alexander the Great | Live Science
- Starship: SpaceX tests the most powerful ever rocket system | BBC
- NASA rover finds ‘clearest evidence yet’ of an ancient lake on Mars | CNN
- Sea life bounced back fast after the ‘mother of mass extinctions’ | Nature
- Tech volunteers rush to save Turkey’s earthquake survivors | Wired
Politics & Policy:
- Major victory for immigrant workers in the US | Human Rights Watch
- Madagascar to expand access to social protection for extremely poor households | The World Bank
- Minnesota House passes ‘universal’ school meals, providing free breakfast, lunch to students | CBS News
- Peru makes headway in the fight against wildlife trafficking | Dialogo English
- In post-Roe world, these conservatives embrace a new kind of welfare | The New York Times
- Tennessee Gov. aims to raise minimum salary for teachers to $50,000 by 2027 | Chalkbeat
- Incarcerated Coloradans could get released early by going to college | Chalkbeat
- Eliminating neglected diseases in Africa: there are good reasons for hope | Gavi
- More people are living to be 100: Here’s why | The Hill
- In large study, a single antibiotic dose slashed rate of sepsis in childbirth | STAT
- Australian researchers find protein in lung that blocks COVID infection | Axios
- Cherokee Nation announces plans for $18M treatment center | AP
Society & Culture:
- The changing face of Congress in 8 charts | Pew Research Center
- In a first, some CSX railroad workers to get paid sick leave | AP
TPN Member originals 🧠
(Who are our Members? Get to know them.)
- Could your life story use an update? Here’s how to do it. | Bruce Feiler
- Police brutality is not always about race | John McWhorter
- No, 90% of new businesses don’t fail. Here’s why. | Jason Feifer
- How do you serve a friend in despair? | David Brooks
- What does it mean to be Black? with journalist Tavis Smiley | John Wood Jr.
- Can developing economies have high growth without coal? | Jason Bordoff
- The teen mental illness epidemic began around 2012 | Jonathan Haidt
- Stop weapons of mass deception | Diane Francis
- Lessons from ‘balloon-gate’ | Ian Bremmer
- Journalist Amanda Ripley on ‘good conflict’ | Krista Tippett
- Ro Khanna on the progressive case for patriotism and capitalism | Yascha Mounk
- Disinflation | Scott Galloway
- Practical Buddhism: How to not drown in the suffering of life | Emma Varvaloucas
Until Next Time
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