Raising Our Kids to be More Tolerant

Shadows of friends holding and raising hands  together

‘During the last presidential election season, I visited a dear friend. In her front yard, I saw a sign for a candidate whom I vehemently opposed.

“Are you kidding me?” I thought, in a moment of disbelief. I knew my political views were different from those of my friend, and I have also known her for over ten years as a kind, generous, salt-of-the-Earth kind of person.

You might be wondering which candidate it was, but that’s not the point of this story. The point is about my attitude: While that sign wasn’t the end of our friendship, a similar sign on a stranger’s lawn might have deterred me from wanting to get to know them, and that’s concerning.

I’m not alone, for this is a time of intense political partisanship. One  new study from Stanford University even found that most Americans now identify more with their political parties than their religion or ethnicity—a mindset that, if unchecked, can breed hostility and discrimination.

As a parent, I don’t want to model this kind of dismissive thinking for my child, and thus contribute to an even more polarized future. So, how do we avoid programming children to think badly of people they’ve never met? How can we help them to keep open hearts, in part so that they can make up their own minds about the issues they’re going to face as citizens, as they grow?’

To read more click, ‘Recent research points to some clues.’


Ditching the Combustion Engine

chevy bolt

‘GM’s goal is to abandon the internal combustion engine entirely. At some yet-unspecified point, all of its products will draw power either from batteries or hydrogen. Fuel cells are sometimes referred to as “refillable batteries.” They rely on devices called stacks to combine hydrogen and oxygen from the air to produce water vapor and electric current. That power is used to drive the same sort of motors used in battery-cars.

Government mandates are clearly driving the industry’s current push to electrify.  And pressures are growing overseas. Several countries, including Norway and India, now plan to ban internal combustion engines entirely. The U.K., France, Germany, and China are considering similar moves. China has just laid out new guidelines for alternative propulsion and is now the world’s biggest market for electrified vehicles.

The key question is one of consumer acceptance. Last year, all forms of electrified vehicles, from hybrids to battery-electric vehicles accounted for barely 3 percent of the U.S. new vehicle market. Pure electrics, like the Chevy Bolt, generated only around a half-percent of total volume. But a number of recent studies have suggested that could top 30 percent or more within a decade.’

To read more click, ‘Leading the way’

Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid with Solar?

Tesla - Solar City

‘Renewable energy entrepreneur Elon Musk says he could rebuild Puerto Rico’s shattered electrical infrastructure with his solar energy technology.

The vast majority of the island territory remains without power, weeks after it was hit by Hurricane Maria.

On Twitter, Mr Musk said his technology, which powers several smaller islands, could be scaled up to work for Puerto Rico.

The island’s governor responded to Mr Musk with the message: “Let’s talk”.

“Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your Tesla technologies? Puerto Rico could be that flagship project,” the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, said.’

To read more click, “Let’s talk.”

Some Good News for the Environment in 2016!

solar panels

‘When it comes to the environment, 2016 brought a steady stream of grim news.  At the same time, it’s not all bad news out there. The year saw some clear signs of environmental progress, too. Rare though they were, these five environmental stories were true bright spots:’

1) Global carbon emissions appear to have stopped increasing.

2) Worldwide, wind and solar are booming.

3) World leaders seem determined to combat global warming (well, most world leaders).

4) Technology is providing a glimmer of hope.

5) The oceans are finally getting the attention they deserve.

To read more click, ‘A blockbuster year for solar energy’ 




Covey Cowan, Mill Valley, California

The Original Affluent Society

People carry a great deal anxiety these days about their jobs being taking over by automation.  “What will happen to our sense of purpose in life if we no longer have our jobs?”  There is another way:

‘The possibility that our hunter-gatherer ancestors might not have endured an unremitting struggle against the elements first came to public awareness in 1966.  It followed a series of studies conducted by a Canadian anthropologist, Richard Borshay Lee, among the Ju/’hoansi “bushmen” of Africa’s Kalahari.  He was surprised to learn that the Ju/’hoansi spent only 15 hours a week securing their nutritional requirements.’ 

 It showed that they had an unyielding confidence in the providence of their environments and knowledge of how to exploit this.  As a result, they only ever produced enough food to meet their immediate needs confident that there was always more available.  Though the Ju/’hoansi did not have to work particularly hard, they were neither indolent nor bereft of purpose.  They found profound satisfaction from the work they did.’

To read more click, ‘And used their free time to make music, create art, make jewelry, tell stories, play games, relax and socialize.’


Covey Cowan, Mill Valley, California

Preserving Our Most Precious Resources

angeles arrien 4

‘As Angeles Arrien describes it, the goal of her Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research is to work in as many countries as possible to preserve some of the most precious resources imaginable: indigenous cultures, perennial wisdoms, water, seeds, and trees.’

You might ask yourself, “Indigenous cultures, perennial wisdoms, water, seeds, and trees? What do the first two items on that list have to do with the last three?”

Plenty, says Angeles, who has spent her lifetime considering the links between the earth and that most valuable fruit of human experience: wisdom.’

To read more click, “Because at a certain point, we have to give back, otherwise, life is empty.”



Poverty in America “Does Not Make Sense.”

warrren buffet

Talking about poverty in the United States, Buffet summed it up with bold simplicity: “You expect unequal results in a market economy, very unequal.  But you really shouldn’t have an economy with over $50,000 in GDP per person and have lots of people living in povery who are willing to work.  I mean, that does not make sense.”

To read more click, “America’s poor are poor by global standards because we’ve decided to leave them so,”


Covey Cowan, Mill Valley, California