Climate Change, Entertainment, and Student Loan Debt: EHS Weekly Readings Today
We try to think about spring and all the wonders the season has in store for us. It’s hard when it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit and there’s so much evil, evil and ugliness in the world.
Difficult problems unfortunately do not yield easy answers or clear consensus. There’s a lot of trial and error and probably heightened emotions as well. But we try to remember as much as anyone else that behind those words is passion and the desire to know more.
We like to think that climate change and college tuition affordability have more in common than division, and we hope new ideas will help unite us. The prospect of a better world for ourselves and our posterity is something we strongly support, and we hope to see progress towards it in the not too distant future. In the meantime, we seek to inject more joy and laughter into our lives.
We hope these stories inspire you as much as they inspire us for better days and a new perspective on the present.
(Climate) change is coming
Two new reports released this week help quantify climate change, but understanding them is another matter.
After a slight delay, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also released a report, its third in less than eight months. (Read more about the previous IPCC report here.) The report warns that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the limit agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement, will require greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025. Methane should also be reduced by about a third.
“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea said in a statement accompanying the report. “Without immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, this will be impossible.”
On Monday, the White House said that by the end of the century, climate change could cost the US federal government about $2 trillion a year. In addition, the government could spend an additional $25 billion to $128 billion each year on related expenses, such as coastal disaster relief, flood insurance, health insurance and flooding at federal facilities, according to an analysis of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which administers the federal budget. This is the first time in its history that the OMB has formally factored climate change risks into the federal budget.
These reports call for immediate changes to mitigate the effects of climate change. They are also timely and could help President Joe Biden. Last week, it released its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, which included $44.9 billion in new funds for climate change, clean energy, clean transportation and environmental justice programs. It’s going to take a lot more money, cooperation and coordination to limit global warming, but it’s at least another step in that direction.
Instructions for more fun
This guide, released in late December 2021, came at a time when the omicron variant was tearing the country apart. But the advice is timeless, especially given the state of world affairs.
Over the years, we’ve heard statistics about how few people laugh every day, especially compared to babies and children. We didn’t think much of them until a rare moment when a laugh broke out. It felt good to laugh, both in that brief moment and for the rest of the day; it’s as if this little laugh had completely changed our outlook.
The author of this how-to article, Catherine Price, spent 5 years doing fun research for her upcoming book, The power of pleasure: how to feel alive again. She explains that having fun is not just a matter of laughing. In fact, she thinks there’s a formula she describes as real fun, like “when we experience the confluence of three psychological states: playfulness, connection, and flow.”
“Play, connection, and flow have been shown to improve people’s mood and mental health when experienced alone,” Price writes. “But when people experience all three of these states at once – in other words, when they’re really having fun – the effects they report are almost magical. When people are really having fun, they report feeling focused. present, without anxiety or self-criticism, they laugh and feel connected, both to others and to their authentic selves.
Price offers four simple steps that can help you channel more pleasure. We won’t spoil the fun – pun intended – by sharing them here. But what we can say is that it’s a bit like losing weight: we pretty much know what we have to do. Whether we choose to listen or seek alternatives or workarounds like diet pills and shakes is another matter. Both endeavors take quite a bit of effort, but we try to remind ourselves that we are worth it. After all, we only have one life. Why not live it to the fullest and, dare we say, the most fun.
Read the full guide here.
Student loan repayments delayed again
At the start of the pandemic, Congress quickly drafted and President Donald Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which offered numerous short-term measures to support a nation facing an unprecedented health crisis. One provision has been further extended: the suspension of government-backed student loan repayments.
As of March 2020, monthly payments and interest have been suspended, giving millions of Americans some respite. That forbearance period was set to expire next month, and we’ve already seen some publications churning out compelling stories about what forbearance has meant to millions of Americans. (The White House announced earlier this week that it had been extended for a seventh time, through Aug. 31; there are already calls from members of Congress and other advocates to extend the pause until the end. of 2022 and even 2023.)
Here is an anecdote representative of a reality that many face: Anthony Portesy is a 35-year-old lawyer in Long Island, New York, whose student loan payments amount to more than $700 a month. Since his loans were put on hold, he’s been able to pay off his $1,500 in credit card debt, max out his Roth IRA, and start saving for a house. “I can start thinking about getting married and starting a family,” he told Bloomberg. “It made me feel like a more productive member of society.”
There are a lot of strong feelings about college, tuition, and student loans. We won’t go into these, but we want to highlight the important role it plays in the US economy and in the minds of approximately 43 million Americans.
Student loan debt has skyrocketed in the United States from $200 billion in 2003 to over $1.6 trillion in 2021. In other words, student loan debt is higher than auto loans, credit cards and home equity debt, according to the US Federal Reserve. Before the pandemic, one in five adults with student loans were in arrears, and delinquency rates will likely rise as the forbearance period ends.
This is an evolving situation, and one that is complicated by high inflation, shortages of semiconductor chips and rising house prices. Millennials are between the ages of 23 and 38, a time in their lives when many would move into their first apartment, buy cars, buy a house, get married or start a family. This student loan debt can also prevent them from reaching these important milestones, which has repercussions for the rest of the population.
Read the Bloomberg article here.