Archive for December, 2021

Trying To Understand Both Sides – ‘Americans not only divided, but baffled by what motivates their opponents’

Posted in Democracy on December 15, 2021 by darkjade68
Closeup of grunge American flag

I figure, either we try to understand one another, or we split into two countries

Original Article Posted HERE

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Americans not only divided, but baffled by what motivates their opponents

View the report as a PDF

By Eric Plutzer and Michael Berkman

As it became clear that Democrats would win control of the U.S. House of Representatives, pundits immediately began explaining the “Blue Wave.” Some said it was rooted in concerns that President Trump was leading the nation into dangerous territory; others pointed to alarm about health care, or compassion for citizens of color and refugees.  But Republican voters were having none of this, according to a recent Penn State Mood of the Nation Poll.

The nationally representative poll of 1,000 citizens included 307 voters who cast votes for Republican Congressional candidates in the midterm elections.  We asked them, “In your opinion, how many citizens voting for the Democrats did so because they sincerely believe that the Democratic party is best for the country?”

Republicans can’t understand Democrats

Only one in four Republican voters felt that most or almost all Democratic voters sincerely believed they were voting in the best interests of the country.  Rather, many Republicans told us that Democratic voters were “brainwashed by the propaganda of the mainstream media,” or voting solely in their self-interest to preserve undeserved welfare and food stamp benefits.

We asked every Republican in the sample to do their best to imagine that they were a Democrat and sincerely believed that the Democratic Party was best for the country.  We asked them to explain their support for the Democratic Party as an actual Democratic voter might.  For example, a 64-year-old strong Republican man from Illinois surmised that “Democrats want to help the poor, save Social Security, and tax the rich.”   

But most had trouble looking at the world through Democratic eyes. Typical was a a 59-year-old Floridian who wrote “I don’t want to work and I want cradle to grave assistance. In other words, Mommy!” Indeed, roughly one in six Republican voters answered in the persona of a Democratic voter who is motivated “free college,” “free health care,” “free welfare,” and so on.  They see Democrats as voting in order to get “free stuff” “without having to work for it” was extremely common – roughly one in six Republican voters used the word “free” in the their answers, whereas no real Democratic voters in our sample answered this way. 

Among the Republicans who seemed to try hardest to take the perspective of sincere and patriotic Democratic voters, the most common attributions were related to immigration – a topic made salient by President Trump in his campaign stops during the last month of the election.  As in this Republican woman from Washington who said, “Democrats welcome all people into the country whether they are here legally or not.”

Democrats return the favor: Republicans uninformed or self-interested

The 429 Democratic voters in our sample returned the favor and raised many of the same themes. Democrats inferred that Republicans must be “VERY ill-informed,” or that “Fox news told me to vote for Republicans.”  Or that Republicans are “uneducated and misguided people guided by what the media is feeding them.”

Many also attributed votes to individual self-interest – whereas GOP voters feel Democrats want “free stuff,” many Democrats believe Republicans think that “I got mine and don’t want the libs to take it away,” or that “some day I will be rich and then I can get the benefits that rich people get now.”

Many used the question to express their anger and outrage at the other side.  Rather than really try to take the position of their opponents, they said things like, “I like a dictatorial system of Government, I’m a racist, I hate non-whites.” 

Democrats think many Republicans sincere, and point to policy

Democrats, however, were somewhat more generous in their answers.  More than four in ten Democratic voters  (42%) felt that most Republican voters had the country’s best interests at heart (combining the top two bars in the figure below).  And many tried their best to answer from the other’s perspective. A 45-year-old male voter from Ohio imagined that as a Republican, he was motivated by Republicans’ “harsh stance on immigration; standing up for the 2nd Amendment; promised tax cuts.”  A 30-year-old woman from Colorado felt that Republican votes reflected the desires to “stop abortion… stop gay marriage from ruining our country… and give us our coal jobs back.”

Other Democrats felt that their opponents were mostly motivated by the GOP’s “opposition to Obamacare,” “lower taxes” and to support a party that “reduced unemployment.” 

Taking the perspective of others proved to be really hard

The divide in the United States is wide, and one indication of that is how difficult our question proved for many thoughtful citizens. A 77-year-old Republican woman from Pennsylvania was typical of the voters who struggled with this question, telling us, “This is really hard for me to even try to think like a devilcrat!, I am sorry but I in all honesty cannot answer this question. I cannot even wrap my mind around any reason they would be good for this country.”

Similarly, a 53-year-old Republican from Virginia said, “I honestly cannot even pretend to be a Democrat and try to come up with anything positive at all, but, I guess they would vote Democrat because they are illegal immigrants and they are promised many benefits to voting for that party. Also, just to follow what others are doing. And third would be just because they hate Trump so much.” The picture she paints of the typical Democratic voter being an immigrant, who goes along with their party or simply hates Trump will seem like a strange caricature to most Democratic voters. But her answer seems to lack the animus of many.  

Democrats struggled just as much as Republicans. A 33-year-old woman from California told said, “i really am going to have a hard time doing this” but then offered that Republicans “are morally right as in values, … going to protect us from terrorest and immigrants, … going to create jobs.”

Voters like these – baffled but not hostile – would seem to represent an opportunity. Their answers tell us that they might actually be interested in better understanding those at the opposite end of the political spectrum and that motivation could be the first step of a long journey toward reducing incivility and polarization.  Whether such voters can long endure in today’s media and social media environment is a critical question – if they can endure and even grow, then the prospects for bipartisan cooperation in areas of shared concern will be possible.  If not, polarization will continue to rise.

9 Things You Can Do About Climate Change

Posted in Climate, Climate Change, Climate Crisis, Environment on December 15, 2021 by darkjade68

Original Article Posted HERE

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With so many experts on climate change here at Imperial, many people ask us what they personally can do about it? And how does this fit into the bigger picture? 

We spoke to our scientists at the Grantham Institute and drew up a list of the most achievable ways you personally can make a difference. While individuals alone may not be able to make drastic emissions cuts that limit climate change to acceptable levels, personal action is essential to raise the importance of issues to policymakers and businesses.

Using your voice as a consumer, a customer, a member of the electorate and an active citizen, will lead to changes on a much grander scale.

“Use your voice, use your vote, use your choice”Al Gore


1. Make your voice heard by those in power 

Tell your Member of Parliament, local councillors and city mayors that you think action on climate change is important.

A prosperous future for the United Kingdom depends on their decisions about the environment, green spaces, roads, cycling infrastructure, waste and recycling, air quality and energy efficient homes.

Ultimately, steps to reduce carbon emissions will have a positive impact on other local issues, like improving air quality and public health, creating jobs and reducing inequality. 

What can I do?

Find out who your MP is, and the best way to contact them

This briefing paper and animation highlight the co-benefits of climate action, and why it is particularly relevant for decision-makers in cities and devolved regions. Share it with your local MP.

Join a social movement or campaign that focuses on environmental activities or gets everyone talking about climate change action, such as the Youth Strike 4 Climate or Extinction Rebellion.

There are many benefits to taking action on climate change, such as improved health, growth in the low-carbon jobs market, and reduced inequality.


2. Eat less meat and dairy

Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Studies suggest that a high-fibre, plant-based diet is also better for your health – so it can be a win-win.  

Eat fewer or smaller portions of meat, especially red meat, which has the largest environmental impact, and reduce dairy products or switch them for non-dairy alternatives .

Try to choose fresh, seasonal produce that is grown locally to help reduce the carbon emissions from transportation, preservation and prolonged refrigeration.

Find out more

Check out our blog on going vegan for top tips on making it a success.

And have you thought about eating insects? They are a healthy and environmentally friendly food source, so why don’t we eat them? Researchers at Imperial have been investigating how people in the Western world can be convinced to eat them.

For more details on how eating a more plant-based, seasonal diet can help tackle climate change, support the local economy and help us to live healthier lives, check out our blog: Saving the planet, one meal at a time.


3. Cut back on flying

If you need to fly for work, consider using video-conferencing instead. For trips in the same country or continent, take the train or explore options using an electric car.

When flying is unavoidable, pay a little extra for carbon offsetting.

For leisure trips, choose nearby destinations, and fly economy – on average, a passenger in business class has a carbon footprint three times higher than someone in economy.

Find out more

Read more about why flying shouldn’t necessarily be the default option for international travel, and how businesses can lead the way in reducing the demand for air travel.

How do the cost, time and carbon emissions of a single journey from London to Amsterdam by plane, compare to travelling by train? (Assumptions: the start and end location are the main train terminal in the centre of each city; travel costs are for the cheapest advance tickets bought in advance and include all connecting journeys; carbon emissions are calculated using UK government greenhouse gas emissions factors for short-haul flights, ferry and international rail travel.) 

There are a variety of reputable carbon offsetting schemes that fund sustainable development projects or natural solutions like planting trees. 

Myclimate also compares the carbon emissions of your particular flight, with the maximum amount of carbon dioxide a person should produce per year in order to halt climate change, and the average amount an EU citizen produces each year. It makes for sobering reading. 

Did you know?

Transport has become the largest emitting sector of the UK economy, accounting for 28% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. 


4. Leave the car at home

Instead of getting in the car, walk or cycle – and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits, and the money saved. For longer journeys, use public transport, or try car sharing schemes.

Not only do cars contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but air pollution caused by exhaust fumes from traffic poses a serious threat to public health. It has been shown to affect the health of unborn babies and increase the risk of dementia.

Furthermore, Imperial research shows that poor air quality in the capital leads to around 1,000 London hospital admissions for asthma and serious lung conditions every year, and that air pollution in the United States is associated with 30,000 deaths and reduced life expectancy.

If driving is unavoidable…

Investigate trading in your diesel or petrol car for an electric or hybrid model. Alternatively, if you only need one for a short time, there are some all-electric car hire companies.

When behind the wheel, think about the way you drive:

Switch off the engine when you park up.

Make sure the tyres are fully pumped, and that the oxygen sensors are in good order – this can improve the cars fuel mileage and efficiency by up to 3% and 40% respectively.

Drive smoothly.

Cyclists and a pedestrian on a London street


5. Reduce your energy use, and bills

Small changes to your behaviour at home will help you use less energy, cutting your carbon footprint and your energy bills:

Put on an extra layer and turn down the heating a degree or two.

Turn off lights and appliances when you don’t need them.

Replace light bulbs with LEDs or other low-energy lights.

Make simple changes to how you use hot water, like buying a water-efficient shower head.

Go further

Make sure your home is energy efficient. Check the building has proper insulation, and consider draught-proofing windows and doors. If you are in rented accommodation, lobby your landlord to make sure the property is energy efficient.

Switching energy supply to a green tariff is a great way to invest in renewable energy sources – and could save you money on bills too.  

Double glazing, insulation and low-energy lights are all good ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home


6. Respect and protect green spaces

Green spaces, such as parks and gardens, are important. They absorb carbon dioxide and are associated with lower levels of air pollution.

They help to regulate temperature by cooling overheated urban areas, can reduce flood risk by absorbing surface rainwater and can provide important habitats for a wide variety of insects, animals, birds and amphibians.

They also provide multiple benefits to public health, with studies linking green space to reduced levels of stress. 

What can I do?

Plant trees. The Woodland Trust are aiming to plant 64 million trees over the next 10 years – and need your help. Whether you want to plant a single tree in your garden, or a whole wood, they have tools and resources to help.

Create your own green space. Add pot plants to your window sill or balcony, and if you have your own outdoor space, don’t replace the grass with paving or artificial turf.

Help to protect and conserve green spaces like local parks, ponds or community gardens. Organisations like Fields In Trust and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces have advice and resources on how you can get involved in areas local to you. 

Check out TCV. If you don’t have direct access to open spaces, this community volunteering charity brings people together to connect to nature, and create healthier and happier communities. 

Find out more

Read about the benefits of integrating nature into urban spaces in our expert briefing: Integrating green and blue spaces into our cities: Making it happen


7. Invest your money responsibly

Find out where your money goes. Voice your concerns about responsible investment by writing to your bank or pension provider, and ask if you can opt out of funds investing in fossil fuels.

There are also a number of ‘ethical banks’ you can investigate.  

Find out more

Banks, pensions funds and big corporates often hold investments in fossil fuel companies. However, the discussion around responsible investment – weighing up environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and taking them into consideration when investing money – is growing. 


8. Cut consumption – and waste

Everything we use as consumers has a carbon footprint.

Avoid single-use items and fast fashion, and try not to buy more than you need.

Shop around for second-hand or quality items that last a long time.

Put your purchasing power to good use by choosing brands that align with your new green aspirations. 

Try to minimise waste

Repair and reuse.

Give unwanted items a new life by donating them to charity or selling them on.

Avoid wasting food.

Let brands know if you think they are using too much packaging – some will take customer feedback seriously.

A man by a huge rubbish dump


9. Talk about the changes you make

An Imperial climate expert speaks to a member of the public at a climate change rally

Conversations are a great way to spread big ideas.

As you make these positive changes to reduce your environmental impact, share your experience with your family, friends, customers and clients. Don’t be a bore or confrontational. Instead, talk positively, and be honest about the ups and downs.

Find out more

For some tips on successful climate-based conversations, check out Climate Outreach’s work with climate scientist and communicator Katherine Hayhoe

Winter, Lust And Wonder – Poetry

Posted in Poem, Poetry, Self Publishing, The Written Word, Winter Lust And Wonder, Writer, Writing on December 1, 2021 by darkjade68

10 years ago I created this Writing Blog in order to get in the habit of Writing

During the first few months, I wrote Blog Stories, a Novella and Poetry

In early 2012 I published my first group of Poetry, ‘Winter, Lust And Wonder’

Soon I’m hoping to redo the basic cover, I also hope to start publishing more Poetry from this site

This first and only Book is only part of what I wrote at the end of 2011, when I started the blog

Many Color Covers are available on Amazon right now, links are below

Maroon

Redish

Orange

Dark Blue

Light Blue

Black

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, it’s less expensive to order from me direct, just reply to me below

Thanks for your support

DarkJade- (James Mahoney)