Weekly Roundup – December 2nd 2016

What I’m reading, watching, enjoying this week.

  1. Allan Savory fighting desertification
    • “Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk, How to fight desertification and reverse climate change. And it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.
    • Similarly, Joel Salatin is often cited talking about how good hoofed animals are great for the soil.
  2. Marty Baron’s message to journalists in the Trump era, “Just do our job.
    • “After the release of the movie Spotlight, I was often asked how we at The Boston Globe were willing to take on the most powerful institution in New England and among the most powerful in the world, the Catholic Church. The question really mystifies me—especially when it comes from journalists or those who hope to enter the profession. Because holding the most powerful to account is what we are supposed to do. If we do not do that, then what exactly is the purpose of journalism?”
  3. Amazon, Cyber Monday and the flywheel of doom
    • Amazon, however, is picking up steam…This is unprecedented — we have never seen a retail business at this size growing at this rate…As it grows, Amazon is getting better and better at doing its job. I would also recommend checking out Brad Stone’s book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon to learn more about this the man behind this amazing company.
    • In a related note, Amazon Scares Poo Out of Retailers. The graph below shows the % of population within 20 miles of an Amazon Fulfillment Node. Amazing!
    • amazons-footprint-20161130
  4. How Humans Became “Consumers”: A History
    • In the spirit of Cyber Monday, here’s in interesting read from The Atlantic.
  5. Cubans live as long as Americans at a tenth the cost
    • Cuba has long had a nearly identical life expectancy to the United States, despite widespread poverty. The humanitarian-physician Paul Farmer notes in his book Pathologies of Power that there’s a saying in Cuba: “We live like poor people, but we die like rich people.” Farmer also notes that the rate of infant mortality in Cuba has been lower than in the Boston neighborhood of his own prestigious hospital, Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s.

      All of this despite Cuba spending just $813 per person annually on health care compared with America’s $9,403.