Empty half the Earth of its humans. It’s the only way to save the planet | Kim Stanley Robinson

There are now twice as many people as 50 years ago. But, as EO Wilson has argued, they can all survive in cities

Discussing cities is like talking about the knots in a net: theyre crucial, but theyre only one part of the larger story of the net and what its supposed to do. It makes little sense to talk about knots in isolation when its the net that matters.

Cities are part of the system weve invented to keep people alive on Earth. People tend to like cities, and have been congregating in them ever since the invention of agriculture, 10,000 or so years ago. Thats why we call it civilisation. This origin story underlines how agriculture made cities possible, by providing enough food to feed a settled crowd on a regular basis. Cities cant work without farms, nor without watersheds that provide their water. So as central as cities are to modern civilisation, they are only one aspect of a system.

There are nearly eight billion humans alive on the planet now, and thats a big number: more than twice as many as were alive 50 years ago. Its an accidental experiment with enormous stakes, as it isnt clear that the Earths biosphere can supply that many peoples needs or absorb that many wastes and poisons on a renewable and sustainable basis over the long haul. Well only find out by trying it.

Right now we are not succeeding an aerial view of houses in Florida. Photograph: Alamy

Right now we are not succeeding. The Global Footprint Network estimates that we use up our annual supply of renewable resources by August every year, after which we are cutting into non-renewable supplies in effect stealing from future generations. Eating the seed corn, they used to call it. At the same time were pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate that is changing the climate in dangerous ways and will certainly damage agriculture.

This situation cant endure for long years, perhaps, but not decades. The future is radically unknowable: it could hold anything from an age of peaceful prosperity to a horrific mass-extinction event. The sheer breadth of possibility is disorienting and even stunning. But one thing can be said for sure: what cant happen wont happen. Since the current situation is unsustainable, things are certain to change.

Cities emerge from the confusion of possibilities as beacons of hope. By definition they house a lot of people on small patches of land, which makes them hugely better than suburbia. In ecological terms, suburbs are disastrous, while cities can perhaps work.

The tendency of people to move to cities, either out of desire or perceived necessity, creates a great opportunity. If we managed urbanisation properly, we could nearly remove ourselves from a considerable percentage of the the planets surface. That would be good for many of the threatened species we share this planet with, which in turn would be good for us, because we are completely enmeshed in Earths web of life.

A farmer at work near the village of Lok Ma Chau, outside Shenzhen, Hong Kong. Photograph: Jerome Favre/EPA

Here Im referring to the plan EO Wilson has named Half Earth. His book of the same title is provocative in all the best ways, and I think it has been under-discussed because the central idea seems so extreme. But since people are leaving the land anyway and streaming into cities, the Half Earth concept can help us to orient that process, and dodge the sixth great mass extinction event that we are now starting, and which will hammer humans too.

The idea is right there in the name: leave about half the Earths surface mostly free of humans, so wild plants and animals can live there unimpeded as they did for so long before humans arrived. Same with the oceans, by the way; about a third of our food comes from the sea, so the seas have to be healthy too.

At a time when there are far more people alive than ever before, this plan might sound strange, even impossible. But it isnt. With people already leaving countrysides all over the world to move to the cities, big regions are emptier of humans than they were a century ago, and getting emptier still. Many villages now have populations of under a thousand, and continue to shrink as most of the young people leave. If these places were redefined (and repriced) as becoming usefully empty, there would be caretaker work for some, gamekeeper work for others, and the rest could go to the cities and get into the main swing of things.

The seas have to be healthy too vessels set sail after a four-month fishing ban on Chinas Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea. Photograph: Fang Yi/China News Service/VCG

So emptying half the Earth of its humans wouldnt have to be imposed: its happening anyway. It would be more a matter of managing how we made the move, and what kind of arrangement we left behind. One important factor here would be to avoid extremes and absolutes of definition and practice, and any sense of idealistic purity. We are mongrel creatures on a mongrel planet, and we have to be flexible to survive. So these emptied landscapes should not be called wilderness. Wilderness is a good idea in certain contexts, but these emptied lands would be working landscapes, commons perhaps, where pasturage and agriculture might still have a place. All those people in cities still need to eat, and food production requires land. Even if we start growing food in vats, the feedstocks for those vats will come from the land. These mostly depopulated landscapes would be given over to new kinds of agriculture and pasturage, kinds that include habitat corridors where our fellow creatures can get around without being stopped by fences or killed by trains.

This vision is one possible format for our survival on this planet. They will have to be green cities, sure. We will have to have decarbonised transport and energy production, white roofs, gardens in every empty lot, full-capture recycling, and all the rest of the technologies of sustainability we are already developing. That includes technologies we call law and justice the system software, so to speak. Yes, justice: robust womens rights stabilise families and population. Income adequacy and progressive taxation keep the poorest and richest from damaging the biosphere in the ways that extreme poverty or wealth do. Peace, justice, equality and the rule of law are all necessary survival strategies.

Homes in Palm Springs, where the average daily water usage per person is 201 gallons more than double the California average. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Meanwhile, cities will always rely on landscapes much vaster than their own footprints. Agriculture will have to be made carbon neutral; indeed, it will be important to create some carbon-negative flows, drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and fixing it into the land, either permanently or temporarily; we cant afford to be too picky about that now, because we will be safest if we can get the CO2 level in the atmosphere back down to 350 parts per million. All these working landscapes should exist alongside that so-called empty land (though really its only almost empty empty of people most of the time). Those areas will be working for us in their own way, as part of the health-giving context of any sustainable civilisation. And all the land has to be surrounded by oceans that, similarly, are left partly unfished

All this can be done. All this needs to be done if we are to make it through the emergency centuries we face and create a civilised permaculture, something we can pass along to the future generations as a good home. There is no alternative way; there is no planet B. We have only this planet, and have to fit our species into the energy flows of its biosphere. Thats our project now. Thats the meaning of life, in case you were looking for a meaning.

This week, the Overstretched Cities series examines the impact of the rush to urbanisation, which has seen cities around the world explode in size. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/20/save-the-planet-half-earth-kim-stanley-robinson

Leaked Memo: EPA Shows Workers How To Downplay Climate Change

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday evening sent employees a list of eight approved talking points on climate change from its Office of Public Affairs ― guidelines that promote a message of uncertainty about climate science and gloss over proposed cuts to key adaptation programs.

An internal email obtained by HuffPost ― forwarded to employees by Joel Scheraga, a career staffer who served under President Barack Obama ― directs communications directors and regional office public affairs directors to note that the EPA “promotes science that helps inform states, municipalities and tribes on how to plan for and respond to extreme events and environmental emergencies” and “works with state, local, and tribal government to improve infrastructure to protect against the consequences of climate change and natural disasters.”

But beyond those benign statements acknowledging the threats climate change poses are talking points boiled down from the sort of climate misinformation EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has long trumpeted.

“Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner,” one point reads. “The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

The other states: “While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.”

The email was sent under the subject line: “Consistent Messages on Climate Adaptation.”

In a Wednesday statement to HuffPost, the EPA confirmed the memo and said the agency’s “work on climate adaptation continues under the leadership of Dr. Scheraga.”

Later Wednesday afternoon, Liz Bowman, an EPA spokeswoman, disputed HuffPost’s characterization of the email. 

“This is not an official memo; this is simply an email among colleagues, based on information developed by someone in our office,” she said, adding that “implying we are telling people to downplay climate change is a gross over misrepresentation of the facts.” 

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
President Donald Trump invites Pruitt to the podium after announcing his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement on June 1, 2017.

The delivery of the talking points comes a week after Pruitt announced plans to restrict the agency’s use of science in writing environmental rules, barring the use of research unless the raw data can be made public for other scientists and industry to scrutinize. That directive would disqualify huge amounts of public health research conducted on the condition that subjects’ personal information will remain private. Two former top EPA officials called the move an “attack on science” in a New York Times op-ed published Monday.

Last year, the EPA reassigned the four staffers in the policy office who worked on climate adaptation, shuttered its program on climate adaptation and proposed eliminating funding for programs that deal with rising seas and warming temperatures.

Pruitt personally oversaw efforts to scrub climate change from EPA websites, and staunchly defended President Donald Trump’s decision last June to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. In October, Pruitt proposed repealing the Clean Power Plan, one of the only major federal policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agency had also suggested zeroing out funding for most of its major climate and regional science grant programs, only to see Congress reject most of the cuts in the budget bill passed last week.

The assertions made in the new EPA talking points are not rooted in science. Ninety-seven percent of peer-reviewed research agrees with the conclusion that emissions from burning fossil fuels, deforestation and industrial farming are enshrouding the planet in heat-trapping gases, and are the primary causes of rising planetary temperatures. A research review published in November 2016 found significant flaws in the methodologies, assumptions or analyses used by the 3 percent of scientists who concluded otherwise.

But for the past three decades, a Big Tobacco-style misinformation campaign funded primarily by oil, gas and coal interests has fueled political debate over the integrity of the scientific consensus.

“Administrator Pruitt encourages an open, transparent debate on climate science,” the final point states.

Here’s the full email (emphasis theirs):

Dear Colleagues:

During the recent meeting of our Cross-EPA Work Group on Climate Adaptation, several individuals suggested it would be helpful to develop consistent messages about EPA’s climate adaptation efforts that could be used across all Program and Regional Offices. I’m pleased to report that the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has developed a set of talking points about climate change that include several related to climate adaptation. These talking points were distributed today by Nancy Grantham (OPA) to the Communications Directors and the Regional Public Affairs Directors.

The following are the talking points distributed by OPA. I have highlighted those relating specifically to our adaptation work.

  • EPA recognizes the challenges that communities face in adapting to a changing climate.
  • EPA works with state, local, and tribal governments to improve infrastructure to protect against the consequences of climate change and natural disasters.
  • EPA also promotes science that helps inform states, municipalities, and tribes on how to plan for and respond to extreme events and environmental emergencies.
  • Moving forward, EPA will continue to advance its climate adaptation efforts, and has reconvened the cross-EPA Adaptation Working Group in support of those efforts.
  • Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.
  • While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.
  • As a key regulatory voice, it is important for the Agency to strive for a better understanding of these gaps given their potential significant influence on our country’s domestic economic viability
  • Administrator Pruitt encourages an open, transparent debate on climate science.

Best regards,


Joel D. Scheraga, Ph.D

Senior Advisor for Climate Adaptation

Office of Policy

This story has been updated with statements from the EPA. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/epa-climate-adaptation_us_5abbb5e3e4b04a59a31387d7

I’m mentally ill and I will not be your mass shooting scapegoat.

In the wake of yet another act of domestic terrorism, Donald Trump’s proposed solution was not gun control, but “tackling the difficult issue of mental health.”

He tweeted, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior.”

I am not quoting this out of context. That was the clear angle of his comments on the matter — that this was an issue of one mentally ill individual, not cause for large-scale gun reform. It was a marked difference from his reactions to acts of terrorism committed by a brown Muslim man, wherein he called for immediate legislative action.

But that’s what mental illness is: the ultimate conversation killer.

Nothing makes people uncomfortable like the idea that the human brain is as vulnerable and fallible an organ as any other.

That’s why we like to make it sound like an anomaly — one that makes you immediately, inherently bad. We are attached to the idea that to have a flawed brain is to have a flawed character, mostly because it takes the work out of examining and interrogating our bad behavior. People who do bad things do them because they are crazy, we reason, not because they are people. The adversary is not our own flawed norms, but rather an individual outsider whose crimes are of an external origin.

According to Trump, the Parkland shooting didn’t happen because it’s ridiculously easy to obtain an unconscionable range of lethal weaponry in this country. It’s not because we’ve fostered a culture where men feel powerful and entitled enough to exact violent revenge on others who have “wronged” them.

No, it’s because the dude was “crazy.” Nothing to see here! Just another “deranged individual” who couldn’t possibly have been acting with a shred of his reality intact. We don’t share our reality with people like that, and theirs has nothing to do with ours — so the only problem, really, is that those kinds of people exist in the first place.

Society clings to the delusional idea that there is evil lurking in a brain merely because it is a brain that is different.

We’ve been vilifying mental illness for as long as we’ve been telling stories with villains in them. Where do all the bad guys in “Batman” go when they’re caught? An asylum. The Joker was deemed insane, and poor Two Face was the smart and sensible Harvey Dent before injury and trauma rendered him “deranged.”

Some of the villains of “Harry Potter” are the Dementors, aka physical embodiments of depression. Of course, Voldemort himself was a bad apple from the start, the nonconsensual product of a love potion — never mind that more complicated bit about his being aided and abetted by the wizarding media and government. (Sound familiar?)

While it’s certainly true that there are mentally ill people who do bad things, we are also the heroes, the bystanders, the victims — the human beings who make up every part of every story.

1 in 25 adults lives with a serious mental illness (I’m one of them!), and 1 in 5 experience some form of mental illness like anxiety or depression in any given year. Only 3–5% of violent acts can be attributed to this huge portion of the U.S. population, yet neurodiverse people are 10 times more likely than their neurotypical counterparts to be victims of violence.

Anyone with a modicum of sense could tell you that the stereotype simply doesn’t add up.

The issue here has far less to do with mental illness than it has to do with the very human proclivity for violence, hate, and destruction.

Mentally ill people are certainly capable of such things, seeing as we are just as human as anyone else. But we’re also capable of the equally human virtues of compassion, empathy, and creation — often in ways that are informed by our experiences living with and being marginalized because of mental illness.

And if we dig a little deeper than the “crazed” antagonists of popular culture, we can find mental illness woven between the lines of our heroes and saviors and all the normal people that fill up the gaps, no matter how convinced we may be that mental illness is monstrously abnormal.

We don’t talk about how Harry Potter’s PTSD made him a resilient and passionate agent for change. We forget Batman’s phobic origins and his many parallels to the Joker. Hannibal Lecter is what a certain beloved band might call a “psycho killer,” but Clarice and Will both serve as protagonists with far-from-typical neurologies of their own.

We struggle to see the diverse and deeply relatable experiences of mentally ill people already imprinted onto our stories because we only ever look for them when we’re trying to find someone to blame.

Mentally ill people are not separate from us — they are part of us.

1 in 25 people is about eight people in every full movie theater, three in every church congregation, and two in the average college classroom. Rarely are we the armed and murderous person who walks in and massacres all of those people. We are far more likely to kill ourselves than we are to kill another person. If there’s any mental health problem in this country, it’s a severe lack of accessible and affordable mental healthcare, which — last I checked — the Trump administration is actively seeking to make even more inaccessible.

Mentally ill people aren’t the problem. The people in power are — from Trump to the NRA to the “lone wolf” white male terrorists our sensationalist media encourages and excuses.

They’re just pointing at us so that people will stop looking at them.

This article by Jenni Berrett originally appeared on Ravishly and has been republished with permission. More from Ravishly:

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/i-m-mentally-ill-i-will-not-be-your-mass-shooting-scapegoat

These teachers work up to 6 jobs. Now they’re fed up and ready to walk out

(CNN)Craig Troxell steps precariously across a customer’s roof, marking hail damage from yet another Oklahoma storm. He still smells of the freshly cut grass from the swanky side of town, where he had just mowed lawns to make a few extra dollars.

“Teacher morale gets worse every year,” said Troxell, who also drives a school bus before and after school. “I’ve heard a lot of my (teacher) acquaintances walk away and get a different job. They don’t want to do it anymore.”

    Why Craig Troxell still teaches in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is among the bottom three states for teacher salaries, where educators often work about 10 years before reaching the $40,000 salary mark. And they haven’t gotten a raise from the state in 10 years.
While educators nationwide have seen slight paycheck bumps over the past decade, when adjusted for inflation, teachers have actually lost 3% of their income from 2006 to 2016, according to the National Education Association.
Lawmakers agreed on an average teacher raise of $6,100, $1,250 for support staff and a $50 million increase in education funding — a measure Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Thursday.
But many teachers say it’s not enough. So on Monday, Troxell and thousands of other teachers will walk out — prompting some schools to shut down indefinitely.
    “We’re at the end of the rope,” Troxell said.
    He’s far from alone. Several teachers told CNN they’re working multiple jobs in food delivery, retail, rideshare driving, restaurants and even surrogate pregnancy to pay the bills. Some now rely on a food bank to feed their own children.

    The teacher with six jobs

    Almost every morning, Jonathan Moy’s two daughters ask him the same heartbreaking question:
    “Are we going to see you today?”
    He gets visibly emotional thinking about how many days he tells them no.
    “It’s really tough when your daughters get sad because you tell them you’re not going to see them,” said Moy, 40. “And it almost breaks your heart, because it’s not their fault. It’s not my fault. It’s the situation that we’re in.”
    Moy teaches high school algebra, drives a school bus in the afternoon, coaches football and wrestling, umpires Little League baseball and drives for rideshare services.
    All of that combined, Moy said, brings home about $36,000 a year after taxes.
    “Last night I drove Lyft and Uber for six, seven hours,” Moy said. “When you have to do that to help supplement your income, it’s tough when you don’t get home when your kids go to bed.”
      But he fights off the exhaustion by the time the bell rings at Yukon High School, just west of Oklahoma City. As 32 teenagers fill his classroom, Moy’s demeanor is as cheerful as the yellow and blue lights strung all across his ceiling.
      “Half of teaching is having them just enjoy coming into school,” Moy said. “If you can actually get them to enjoy coming into your classroom with your atmosphere, your jokes or just having a good time, that’s half the battle.”
      When explaining a new algebra concept, Moy draws analogies to jelly beans and tacos. He plays “Hotel California” and “Roll With It” as students practice factoring polynomials.
      Moy’s unorthodox style has paid off.
        “I was looking at your STAR (standardized) test we took,” he told his class of mostly freshmen. “You started the year at a 7th grade level. Now you’re above a 12th.”
        Freshman Zach Ennis said Moy has made algebra easier to learn.
        “I really like him, he’s a really good teacher. He explains stuff really good,” Ennis said.
        Ennis said he supports his teacher walking out next week, even though he might have to make up school days in the summer.
        “It’s kind of sad that he has to do that many jobs,” Ennis said. “He should be able to concentrate just on teaching.”

          What drives Jonathan Moy to stay in education

        Moy said he wants to keep teaching in Oklahoma, where he was born and raised. But he and his wife Kendra, who’s an elementary school teacher, can’t understand why educators in their state are paid so little compared to neighboring Texas and Arkansas.
        “The salary in Fort Worth (Texas) is starting at $51,000 to work at Fort Worth public schools,” Moy said. “In Oklahoma, the starting pay is $31,000. And even if you’ve been teaching 25, 30 years, it’s really tough to get to that level of income as a teacher.”
        Despite their meager incomes, the Moys said they spend a combined $2,000 on their classrooms each year — including crayons and glue sticks for Kendra Moy’s 3rd grade students. At her school, the entire student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch.
          Their 10-year-old daughter Karlie said she wishes her dad could go to more of her basketball and softball games. But she understands why he keeps teaching and working so many jobs.
          “I just want him to do what he likes,” she said. “He’s just trying to help our family out.”

          The teacher who’s also a surrogate mother

          When Allyson Kubat started teaching at Mustang High School, the school had no debate program.
          Just three years after launching one, Kubat’s getting ready to take her undefeated debate team to the most elite tournament this June.
          “We’re going to nationals this year, which is kind of crazy,” said Kubat, 29.
          It will be her final act as a teacher.
          “I decided, as hard as it is, that next year I’m not going to be teaching anymore,” Kubat said.
          She realized the 60 to 90 hours a week she works to support her kids meant that she rarely got to see her kids. The epiphany came when her 9-year-old daughter called her after school one day.
          “She said, ‘Mom, are you coming home today? Or are you going back to work?’ Because I leave work (at the school) and I go to my second job, or my third job, and I don’t get home until she’s in bed or almost in bed.”
          Kubat’s other jobs include event coordinating, food delivery and surrogate motherhood — a venture that puts a significant strain on her body but pays more than her teaching salary of about $33,000.
          “One of my students asked, ‘So what’s your other job?’ Because the kids in this state know that their teachers are not just teachers,” she said. “They know that we have to do something else to survive.”
          Her husband, Clint, is an office manager who doesn’t make much more than his wife’s teaching salary. Before she started her second surrogate pregnancy this week, he said, the couple had already budgeted for that income.
          After this school year, Kubat will become a full-time event planner — a bittersweet move, given how passionately she loves teaching.
          “It is hard to give up what I’ve worked so hard to become,” Kubat said. But she’s tired of sacrificing crucial family time for teaching.
          “It’s time to stop being a martyr.”

          The rookie teacher and waitress

          By 8 a.m., Jennifer Winchester is teaching language arts to 5th graders. By 8 p.m., she’s hoisting trays of enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant.
          As a first-year teacher, Winchester “always understood” she would struggle financially.
          “In college, they would show us the pay increments … from zero to 25 years,” Winchester said.
          She said a guest speaker came into her college class and “literally begged us to stay in Oklahoma,” telling prospective teachers to think of the kids and realize “it’s not their fault.”
          So Winchester pursued her passion, even if it meant moonlighting as a server to help pay the bills.
          “I can remember back in the 4th grade, my teacher told my mom at a parent-teacher conference, ‘If she doesn’t become a teacher, I’ll be very disappointed.’ Even in the classroom, I’d help other students,” Winchester recalled.
          Now, as a professional teacher, she again finds herself going the extra mile for students. Despite her $31,000 teaching salary, she spent about $1,200 getting her classroom in shape for this school year, buying new shelves and books and replacing worn-out desks.
          “I tried to stop tracking those receipts, because it depresses me,” she said.

            Why Jennifer Winchester wants to keep teaching

          Winchester’s long-term goal is to be a high school counselor. But she doesn’t want to take on a master’s degree in counseling until she’s paid off her $23,000 in student loans.
          For now, she’s hoping her nearly 10-year-old car “with as many dents as you can find in it” doesn’t break down, since that could spell financial disaster.
          She fantasizes about owning a slightly nicer car one day.
          “My goal is to have automatic windows and locks,” she said.

          The teacher with 2 degrees and 2 mall jobs

          Shontée Branton has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education. But when she gets to the checkout lane at the grocery store, she has to turn around.
          “In my mind, I’m like, ‘What do I need to put back?’ Because I know I can’t afford all of this,” said the 1st-grade teacher at Epperly Heights Elementary.
          “Maybe I want the strawberries, but I can make it without.”
          Branton, who’s been teaching for nine years, said she makes about $36,000 a year.
          She supplements that by tutoring, teaching summer school and working at Macy’s — both on the retail floor and in the human resources office.
          “Normally, I leave from the school and go straight to Macy’s and clock in,” she said. ‘”There’s times I leave my house at 7 in the morning, and I don’t come home until 10 o’clock at night.”
          That’s when her 3rd-floor apartment looks more like a mountain summit.
          “I literally come home and sit in my car for 30 minutes because I can’t muster the strength to go up the stairs,” she said.
          Branton said she’s thinking about moving to Texas, where a teacher with her experience and education can earn about $20,000 more a year. But she feels a calling to teach in Del City, where she grew up and where all the students at her school qualify for free or reduced lunch.
          “I grew up with a single-parent home; both parents struggled with drug abuse,” she said. “When I see those kids, I see myself. And I had a teacher or two who believed in me.”
          Branton said she’s walking out Monday not just for teachers’ raises, but for another key demand: more funding for education in the state. She said she never wants to teach an overstuffed class of 34 students with only 25 textbooks again.
          “A lot of people are saying we’re walking out on our kids. And that’s been one of the most hurtful things, because we feel like we’re walking for our children,” Branton said.
          “People are expecting us to do a job without the proper resources. And not only is it not fair to educators, it’s not fair to the kids.”

            Why Shontée Branton still teaches

          “It would have to be the kids. I mean, that’s non-negotiable,” Branton said. “Yes, I need more money. I’m tired of working multiple jobs. But in the grand scheme of things, if we educate these kids, then that’s better for society.”
          If neither of those demands are fully met, Branton said, Oklahoma could lose yet another teacher.
          “If it’s not passed, I probably will leave,” she said. “It would be the hardest choice.”

          The state superintendent’s response

          Joy Hofmeister says the teachers’ frustration is justified.
          “Our teachers are right — they have been underpaid,” the state superintendent said. “We know that the frustration is high, that it’s something that comes after a decade-long reduction to public education funding.”

          The Oklahoma teachers’ union wants:

          • $10,000
          • raises for teachers

          • $5,000
          • raises for support staff, such as janitors and cafeteria workers

          • $200 million
          • in education funding

          What just got signed into law:

          • Average teacher raises of $6,100
          • $1,250 raises for support staff
          • $50 million
          • in education funding

          But “the legislature can’t reverse in one bill the cuts that have come over a decade.”
          She said the main reason why it’s been so difficult to increase spending for teachers and education is because in 1992, the state constitution was changed to require a supermajority approval — 75% of the legislature — before taxes could be raised.
          “It’s been 28 years since Oklahoma has raised taxes,” Hofmeister said. “We’ve been operating with the same dollars as 2008, but with more than 50,000 more students.”
          She said it’s “unconscionable” that some teachers work three to six jobs to make ends meet.
          “Our teachers deserve better,” she said. “And that was answered with this historic teacher pay raise. This is an important step forward. But it’s not the only thing that is needed.”

          The food bank that serves teachers

          Lori Decter Wright admits there’s a stereotype about those who rely on food banks. Maybe they work at fast-food restaurants. Maybe they got hit with an unexpected medical bill.
          Then, starting around 2015, she noticed a shocking trend: teachers, including some with master’s degrees, also needed supplies of cereal, beans and canned vegetables.
          “We have teachers near the poverty level,” said Decter Wright, executive director of Kendall Whittier, Inc. — a ministry that runs an emergency food pantry in Tulsa.
          “I really had to start asking the question, ‘What is going on in Oklahoma that full-time, working professional teachers have to rely on services like ours to make ends meet?”
          Michael Turner is one of the teachers who came in to the food pantry, embarrassed that he needed assistance.
          “You’re used to taking care of yourself. No one likes to ask for help, and that’s pretty tough,” said Turner, a recently divorced father of a special needs daughter.
          Turner said he “answered a call to action” when he became a special needs teacher.
          “There was a big push in the state of Oklahoma to hire veterans to teach special ed at the middle school level,” he said.
          “It’s very, very difficult to be a teacher … I knew that it was hard, but teaching today is much more difficult.”
          And when he comes home to his own child, he faces the guilt of seeing a kitchen pantry with empty shelves.
          Turner says he’s grateful for the food bank’s assistance and regrets not reaching out for help months earlier.
          “I always fought the notion that I would be the one asking for services, asking for help,” he said. “I’d much rather be giving it.”

          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/31/us/oklahoma-teachers-profiles/index.html

          Boeing Hit by Cyberattack, Says Jetliner Production Not Affected

          Boeing Hit by Cyberattack, Says Jetliner Production Not Affected

          Updated on

          • Planemaker says it ‘detected a limited intrusion of malware’
          • Seattle Times cites memo on problem ‘metastasizing rapidly’

          Boeing Co. said it was hit by a cyberattack, following a Seattle Times report that some manufacturing equipment used to build its 787 Dreamliner and newest 777 wide-body jets could be crippled.

          Aircraft production and deliveries aren’t affected, the Chicago-based planemaker said Wednesday. Some reports on the attack “are overstated and inaccurate,” said Linda Mills, a spokeswoman at Boeing’s commercial airplane division.

          “Our cybersecurity operations center detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems,” Mills said in an emailed statement. “Remediations were applied and this is not a production and delivery issue.”

          The assembly lines potentially affected by the software problem include those of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner North Charleston, South Carolina, and the 777X Composite Wing Center, the Seattle Times report indicated.

          “It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down,” Boeing engineer Mike VanderWel wrote in a memo cited by the newspaper. VanderWel said he was concerned that the virus would hit equipment used to test jetliners before they roll out of the factory for their initial flight and potentially “spread to airplane software.”

          The automated spar assembly refers to a state-of-the-art new tool at Boeing. Robotic machines there lay down rows of carbon-fiber tape over what will become the 108-foot-long spar that runs down the center of the wing for the 777X, an upgraded jetliner due to debut in 2020.

          A cyberattack last year compromised companies such as FedEx Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. and crippled parts of the U.K.’s state-run National Health Service.

          Boeing rose less than 1 percent to $321.55 in late trading.

          Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-28/boeing-hit-by-wannacry-ransomware-attack-seattle-times-says

          Pay rise agreed for 1.3 million NHS staff

          Image copyright Science Photo Library
          Image caption Nurses will be among more than one million staff to benefit from the three-year pay increase

          More than one million NHS staff, including nurses, porters and paramedics, are being offered increases of at least 6.5% over three years – with some getting as much as 29%.

          The deal has been formally agreed by union leaders and ministers on Wednesday and will cost £4.2bn.

          Staff will now be asked to vote on the deal, with rises backdated to April if they agree by the summer.

          The deal is tiered with the lowest-paid in each job receiving the biggest rise.

          The agreement covers all staff on the Agenda for Change contract – about 1.3m across the UK – which is the entire workforce with the exception of doctors, dentists and senior leaders.

          ‘It won’t solve every problem’

          The agreement is complex. It means that:

          • half will get a 6.5% pay rise over three years
          • the other half will receive rises of between 9% and 29% because they are not at the top of their pay bands
          • the lowest full-time salary – paid to the likes of cleaners, porters and catering staff – will rise by 15% to more than £18,000
          • these groups will get an immediate £2,000 rise this year
          • a nurse with one year’s experience would see their basic pay rise by 21% over three years, giving them a salary of up to £27,400
          • the deal includes a commitment on both sides to reduce the high rate of sickness absence in the NHS

          Sara Gorton, lead negotiator for the health unions, said: “It won’t solve every problem in the NHS but it will go a long way towards making dedicated health staff feel more valued, lift flagging morale and help turn the tide on staffing problems.”

          Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said “compromises” have had to be made but he predicts the deal will make the NHS a “desirable” employer once again.

          What happens next?

          The unions, which represent staff from all over the UK, have been in talks with English negotiators.

          The deal will now be put to staff in England with the results of that consultation expected by July.

          If they agree it will be backdated to April.

          Twelve health unions have backed the deal, but the GMB has not.

          GMB national officer Kevin Brandstatter said the deal promised “jam tomorrow” and did not do enough to make up for the squeeze on pay since 2010.

          “Long-serving, dedicated health service workers have had thousands of pounds swiped from their pay packets since 2010 by the government’s cruel and unnecessary pay cap.”

          It will be up to the devolved governments to decide whether to implement the deal outside England.

          Scotland has already given its lowest-paid staff bigger rises, so there could be some divergence in how the terms are introduced elsewhere.

          How good is the deal for staff?

          When the unions entered talks, they were asking for 3.9% a year.

          Under the deal agreed on Wednesday, pay will increase by 3% in the first year, but the future years will see smaller rises.

          Once you take into account inflation – forecast to be 2.4% in 2018, then 1.8% and 1.9% in the following two years – it is likely the rises will be fairly small in real terms.

          But what is important – for the unions at least – is that many will get much more.

          How much depends on where individual staff are on their pay bands.

          NHS pay is split into nine bands, each with quite broad ranges.

          Those at the very bottom of their pay bands could get up to 29%. Those close to the top are likely to get in the region of 9%.

          ‘I’ only getting the minimum rise, but I back it’

          Image caption Tracey Budding will only get 6.5% more over three years as she is at the top of her pay band

          Tracey Budding works as a senior nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit and is an active member of the Royal College of Nursing.

          She is at the top of her pay band so will only get the 6.5% minimum.

          But she is backing the offer.

          “It is a good deal,” she says. “It recognises the fact we have not been getting the pay rises we should have.

          “It makes it easier for nurses to move up the pay bands and that in turn should help attract and retain nurses.”

          The pay deal has been a long time coming

          The government first announced it would lift the public-sector 1% pay cap in September for police and prison officers, and then followed that with a promise in the Budget that NHS pay would be looked at, lifting the 1% cap a year early.

          The NHS has been under pressure to retain staff, after it was revealed that one in 10 nurses was leaving the public sector in England every year.

          The Royal College of Nursing claims average pay for nurses has fallen by more than 14% in real terms since 2010.

          Statistics obtained by the BBC from NHS Digital showed 33,000 nurses walked away in 2017, piling pressure on understaffed hospitals and community services.

          Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the cost of the rise would be covered by the Treasury rather than coming out of the NHS budget.

          “The agreement reflects public appreciation for just how much they have done and continue to do,” he added.

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          Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43481341

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