There Are Just Not Enough Problems for the Solutions We Have

jurriaan kamp

‘Despite all the misunderstanding, the mainstream media may cause with their focus on whatever goes wrong, this year proved once again that we live in a time of unprecedented opportunity. No generation before us has had such an access to ideas and growth. Why?

Sharing, exchanging has always been the driver of progress. In 1776 Adam Smith identified in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations one primary cause for progress: “The propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” Two and a half centuries later, trade is a multitude of times easier than it was in the days of the Scottish philosopher.

Borders have mostly disappeared—at least for goods and services. And what that means is well described by Matt Ridley: “Exchange is to cultural evolution as sex is to biological evolution.” We know what happens when people have sex. We are now witnessing what happens when ideas have sex. It leads to an ongoing and ever-increasing explosion of new ideas, inventions, discoveries, and innovations. When the telephone had sex with the computer the Internet was born.

The world of ideas has a never-ending positive feedback loop. Solutions keep coming. In fact, if you follow The Optimist Daily from day to day, there’s only one conclusion: There are just not enough problems for the solutions that we have.

See our list of the best news of 2017 below. From planting trees and protecting the fish in the ocean, and from multigenerational living to a new record low price for solar energy, the list inspires and uplifts. And uplifted and inspired minds will create more innovation and new solutions.

For 200 years pessimists—from the Luddites who fought against the industrial revolution to the manure-worriers a century ago and today’s climate change defeatists—have received most of the attention (and bestsellers and Nobel Peace Prizes) despite the fact that optimists have far more often been right.

We need to realize what a gift we give ourselves and the environment and the community around us when we let go of the pessimism bias and embrace what’s our inherent problem-solving, optimistic nature. There are 7 billion of us. Each with her or his contributions and solutions and all of us increasingly connected. We can only fail because we don’t act and we don’t open ourselves to the world of possibility around us!’ – Jurriaan Kamp

To read more click, We wish you a Happy New Year with many new solutions for people and planet.’


Helping Students to Believe in Themselves


“She’s just going to be a maid anyway.”

‘This was the reason given to me by a fifth grade teacher as to why I, a student teacher at the time, shouldn’t give extra help to a child who was working hard to improve her reading.

Once my shock at this disturbing statement wore off, I realized that the teacher’s beliefs and assumptions were potentially jeopardizing the quality of life and future aspirations of this student. Bar none, reading skills are essential to life. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with domestic work, what if this student wanted to become a cancer researcher or an airline pilot or a Pixar animator?

As educators, the most important—and rewarding—part of our work is to recognize the vast potential within our students and to help them see it within themselves, and then support them in reaching that potential.

In other words, we need to help them cultivate hope.

Hope requires two components: pathways and agency. A “pathway” is a roadmap to reaching a goal, one that is created by the student and that includes alternate routes when obstacles arise. “Agency” is the student’s belief, motivation, and confidence that he or she can achieve the goal.Researchers have taken hope, a somewhat ephemeral concept, and made it practical.
Hope is about one’s ability to achieve goals. It has been linked to greater academic achievement, creativity, and problem-solving skills, as well as less depression and anxiety.

While both pathways and agency are central to hope, new research being published soon by the journal Learning and Individual Differences suggests that agency might be the more critical part of the equation.’

To read more click, ‘3 ways to cultivate hope’


Covey Cowan, San Francisco, CA

Community Powers the Transition to Solar Trains

’10:10 colleagues Alice Bell and Leo Murray have co-authored a new report on solar-powered trains with Nathaniel Bottrell, an electrical engineer at Imperial College.’

“It’s exciting stuff. We think solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There’s scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester too, and there’s no reason it should just be a British thing either. We’re especially excited about possibilities in San Francisco, Mexico City, India and Spain, but trains and trams all over the world could be running on sun in a few years time.

It’s also a genuine world first. There are a few solar stations – Blackfriars Bridge being by far the coolest – and some trains in India even have solar panels on their roofs, but that’s just to power equipment like lights and fans. No one’s moving the trains themselves with solar. Yet.

What’s especially interesting is how our new innovation came about – in particular the role community energy groups have played in its development (often despite policy support, not because of it, or in response to policy constraints). Looking ahead, there are also important questions to be asked about what role these community groups might play in its deployment.

The idea came from a community solar group in Balcombe, West Sussex, formed in response to the first anti-fracking protests in the UK, in the summer of 2013. After the drillers, the activists, the press and various other hangers-on had left, the villagers were left with a question our current energy system lets most of us ignore: how should we power ourselves?”

To read more click, ‘It’s the public who are driving change, often despite the actions of policy-makers.’


The World Bank Says No to Oil

‘The World Bank announced its plan to discontinue its financing of upstream oil and gas projects in 2019. The announcement came at the One Planet summit and on the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement.


This is yet another blow to the fossil fuel energy industry, and a seemingly significant win for environmental advocates. The economics surrounding the energy sector are increasingly making it more attractive for entities to switch to renewable energy. Across the world, it has become cheaper to build new renewable energy installations than to operate and maintain existing coal power plants.

The Paris agreement is a major factor in the decision. The One Earth summit was planned on the two-year anniversary of the historic agreement, which was looking uncertain after the President of the United States, one of the major financial and influential member nations, decided to withdraw. Even so, the agreement looks to be thriving, even in the US, which may reach the goals laid out in Paris.’

To read more click, ‘Against all odds’


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.”