I’m a weekly listener to Russ Roberts and Econo Talk. He is one of the most detailed interviewers that I’ve ever come across. His ability to dig in and hang with experts on so many different topics is amazing to me. Here Russ interviews an economist on the economics of global warming. From polar bears to hurricanes to sea level rise to solutions. Listen to the show HERE, it’s worth digging into a major issue with some rather smart people.
Bjorn Lomborg on the Costs and Benefits of Attacking Climate Change
Jun 10 2019
Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, talks about the costs and benefits of attacking climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lomborg argues that we should always be aware of tradeoffs and effectiveness when assessing policies to reduce global warming. He advocates for realistic solutions that consider the potential to improve human life in other ways. He is skeptical of the potential to move away from fossil fuels and argues that geo-engineering and adaptation may be the most effective ways to cope with climate change.
I stumbled across the acceptance speech from Kenyon College (2005)
From his ‘What Has Meaning’ speech:
Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.
Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear.
Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
The full speech HERE.
The more I dig into this man’s ideas the more conflicted I am of his importance. Like anyone’s work, there is good and bad. His ideas made an impact. His ideas were controversial. His ideas were misinterpreted. His ideas were put forth at a time in the world where science and reason were challenging old held beliefs about religion.
To understand Nietzsche you have to understand the context of when he was writing his books. Clearly he was a genius and when he finally slipped into madness and spent the last 10 years of his life incomprehensible, you wonder if he flew too close to the sun.
For some fun, check out Akira the Don mixing Jordan Peterson reciting Nietzsche’s poem, The Tarantula. The mix is about the slide towards equality above all else. Spooky!
Every great idea has a spark, a moment where it smacks you over the head and you can’t believe you missed the forest through the trees. For me, that moment had to do with the role of schools and what education is supposed to achieve.
One of our Directors started an informal discussion about what the goal of our K8 charter school should be. He posed the question, ‘What’s the goal for our graduating 8th graders?’ If you think about it, by 8th grade, these students have been with us since PreK. Next, to their parents, they are spending more time within the walls of our school than anywhere else. What a simple question. Is our goal memorization, critical thinking, the scientific method, grammar rules, how to write a 5 paragraph essay? The answer was so intuitive that my family actually answered the question a decade ago when we selected our kids’ kindergarten to 8th-grade experience.
When he shared the idea with me, he relayed that the few teachers, admin and parents that he asked came back with one simple answer, ‘TO BE AWARE OF OTHERS’.
There it was, the Golden Rule. The basis of every major religion from Buddhism, to Islam and Christianity and Judaism. Awareness of others. From that moment on fog was lifted in my life and I moved from the tactics of running a school system to the PURPOSE of running a school system. The purpose that hit me that day was that we were here to ensure the academic success of our students AND to help mold and model positive character.
From this idea, I have developed a 9 point character education plan that can help schools to implement research backed theories that improve academic outcomes in students and help to build character in K to 12th-grade students.
To understand what I’m working towards, give this interview a listen.
While we argue about issues like federal intrusion and Common Core, not enough attention is being paid to steps that could bring real improvement to our schools.
DECEMBER 4, 2014 AT 9:00 AM
By Joe Semsar | Contributor
Joe Semsar, a former Teach for America corps member and staff member, is an organization-transformation consultant in Deloitte’s federal government human capital practice.
Last June I attended a debate between the Republican candidates for South Carolina superintendent of education. The two-hour debate featured six candidates vying to lead the state’s public education system for the next four years. While the candidates addressed a multitude of scripted and audience-initiated questions, the bulk of those questions centered around the federal government’s encroachment on state and local education and the future of the polarizing Common Core standards.
As a former teacher, I was dismayed at the narrowness of the debate and left wondering what had been discussed that would directly lead to an improved K-12 educational environment. My time as a teacher made clear to me that state standards alone will not lead to students’ mastery of their material.
Like many young teachers fresh out of college, I got my start as a classroom instructor in a school that had perennially failed. After the Recovery School District of Louisiana seized control of the school and handed it over to a charter management organization, that organization built a new staff, extended the school day to nine hours and adopted a new pedagogical approach grounded in diagnostic assessments and individualized academic tracking.
None of those steps resulted in significant academic gains. So what can state and local governments realistically do to improve educational outcomes? There are many truly effective steps that can be taken, but here are two, gleaned from my experience, that could make a difference quickly at little cost.
First, state and local governments must work diligently to empower teachers with the resources needed to succeed — lesson plans and supplemental resources aligned to each state’s grade-level expectations that can be easily tailored and deployed. The inadequate supply of teachers and the rise of teachers certified through non-traditional alternative-certification programs create a situation in which multitudes of educators find themselves floundering to consistently produce engaging lessons. As a first-year teacher, I was responsible for developing lesson plans for five subjects a day for 36 students; that’s nearly 900 lesson plans over the course of a school year, not to mention the differentiation that must be factored in when creating lesson plans for students on different academic levels.
I understand the “every classroom is different” argument, but let’s be honest: No matter how talented or committed one might be, the development and delivery of 900 lesson plans over the course of a school year is simply too big of an ask. A few successful charter management organizations — such as KIPP schools — create online resource repositories for their teachers that provide instant access to engaging lesson plans, classwork and homework that foster educational environments conducive to learning. Why can’t our states and localities replicate this model on a larger scale?
Second, in many low-income communities classroom management — dealing with bad behavior — is the elephant in the room that no one wants to address. More-engaging lessons reduce in-classroom misconduct, but many disenfranchised students suffer because they have fallen behind and need more than engaging instruction. The schools that consistently outperform their academic expectations leverage positive-behavior incentive systems and school-wide consequence systems to curb bad behavior and encourage positive behavior. Celebrating positive behavior reinforces expectations that lead to an improved communal ethos within schools.
There is much that government leaders and education administrators can learn from those who have led school systems and individual schools to outperform expectations. From a more collaborative educational environment that encourages teachers to share resources to the proliferation of behavior systems that have proved successful, governments need to hone in on the core problems and work to address them while leaving partisan, polarizing issues on the sidelines.
I’ve covered schools in the media for 7 years. I’ve interviewed a string of Superintendents that ran our big, local, bureaucratic school district of 50,000 students. I’ve watched as their average tenure, lasting less than 2 years has produced no clear direction, declining enrollment, and perpetuation of the cycle of poverty and missed opportunities.
It’s sad to watch because behind the squabbling of adults fighting over the political directions of a school district, there are real lives being affected in the kids in the classroom. In the end, it’s the students in the school district suffer through a poor educational foundation that will affect them the rest of their lives.
After the media, I moved into the school choice arena and built a network of 7 schools in two states with 4500+ kids. I proved a model, which was built on two simple ideas could work. Those two ideas happen to be what Adam Smith refered to as the ‘invisible hand of the market’. With a hyper focus on answering these questions every morning, good things happened:
- What do my parents want in a school and
- How do I attract and retain the best teachers I can find.
Just like the grocery store down the street, the plumber who fixed your sink or the coffee shop that you bought a coffee at this morning, each of these ventures had better be waking up each morning asking what their customers want or someone else will step in and put them out of business.
A new brief by David Osborne and Emily Langhorne titled, Fighting Inequality by Reinventing America’s Schools, discusses what 21st Century school systems should look like:
Responsive, choices, accountability, innovation, decentralized. This is the argument for the charter school movement. I’m in in. I can see that it works.
I found this list fascinating. Think of how many times in a day we reference these sayings. Now you know the root of everyday comments. (from UnlockingTheBible.com)
Bite the Dust from Psalms 72:9, “They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.” (KJV)
The Blind Leading the Blind Matthew 15:13-14, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
By the Skin of Your Teeth from Job 19:20. The Geneva Bible translated the Hebrew Literally which read, “I have escaped with the skin of my teeth.”
Broken Heart from Psalms 34:18, ” The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (KJV).
Can a Leopard Change his spots?from Jeremiah 13:23 (KJV), “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
Cast the First Stone from John 8:7, “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Drop in a Bucket from Isaiah 40:15 declaring God’s sovereignty and power over the nations, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he takes up the isles as fine dust” (ESV).
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry from Ecclesiastes 8:15, “because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.”
Eye for Eye, Tooth for tooth from Matthew 5:38, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
Fall From Grace from Galatians 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
Fly in the Ointment from Ecclesiastes 10:1 (KJV), “”Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.””
For Everything there is a Season from Ecclesiastes 3. Ecclesiastes 3 is also the motivation for the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds.
Forbidden Fruit from Genesis 3:3 when Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
Go the extra mile from Matthew 5:41 that says, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” (KJV).
Good Samaritan from Luke 10:30-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword from Matthew 26:52, “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
How the Mighty have Fallen from 2 Samuel 1:19, “The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!”
Let there Be Light from Genesis 1’s creation account.
The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil from 1 Timothy 6:10 and is actually usually misquoted. Here is the ESV translation, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Nothing but skin and bones from Job 19:19-20, “All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am nothing but skin and bones.”
The Powers that Be from Romans 13:1 (KJV), “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
Pride comes before a fall from Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (KJV)
Put words in one’s mouth from 2 Samuel 14:3, “And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.”
Rise and shine is from Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”
The Root of the Matter from Job 19:28 (KJV), “But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the Root of the matter is found in me?”
Scapegoat from the Old Testament Law (Leviticus 16:9-10 specifically) where a goat is chosen by lot to be sent into the desert to make atonement for sin.
See eye to eye from Isaiah 52:8 (KJV), “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.”
Sign of the times from Matthew 16:3 (KJV), “And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”
Strait and Narrow from Matthew 7:14, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Twinkling of an Eye from 1 Corinthians 15:52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
There’s nothing new under the sun from the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV) says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
Wash your hands of the matter from Matthew 27:24 (KJV), “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.”
Weighed in the balance from Job 31:6, “Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity.”
What God has joined together let no man put asunder from Matthew 19:6 in Miles Covedale’s translation of the Bible which says, “Now are they not twayne then, but one flesh. Let not man therfore put a sunder, yt which God hath coupled together.”
Wit’s End from Psalm 107:27 (KJV), “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.” And the Psalm does not refer to the Whit’s End with the Imagination Station.
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing from Matthew 7:15 (KJV), “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Writings on the Wall from Daniel 5. “The writing is on the wall” is now a popular idiom for “something bad is about to happen”.
I’ve spent the past five years embedded in the education field. I am a founder and the prior CEO of a group that manages a charter school network with 4500 students and a staff of 400+. What I’ve learned, from an insiders vantage point, is that TEACHERS are the most important part of educating your child. We focus so much on curriculum and testing as the end all and be all measure of a school. Of course, academics and those scores are important, but the questions parents should be asking is ‘What about the emotional and character education aspect of my child’s development?’ A school that can get both the academics and character right will be full with parents clamoring to get their children in.
We got there through No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top, and Common Core with well-meaning top-down initiatives designed to focus money and attention where it was needed most…or so we thought.
An end of year test is easy administered and a quick way to say this school is good and this school is bad. What we missed in the focus on one big state test is that it leads some schools towards a drill and kill approach to covering facts and driving home standards above all else. In speaking with a seasoned middle school math teacher from one of our areas top academic public schools, I asked her how the academic results were achieved. Her answer was that the entire school focused only on test results. Gone was the art programs, the social studies. Students performed well on the end of year tests in Math and English but when they showed up in August for a new school year, the concepts that were drilled into them without meaning or context were sadly gone.
The hyper-focus on test outcomes by some school systems is actually at the expense of the joy of learning. The power of connection and deep relationships between a student and a teacher can and will lead to greater academic outcomes. The teachers I get the pleasure to work with, day in and day out, make the connections and pour their heart into the students in their classroom. Sure we focus on academic achievement, but we focus just as hard on character development. I have come to learn, from watching and research what works in schools, the dual focus is critical, and without a powerful teacher in the classroom, ready and willing to put the effort into creating a lasting and impactful relationship, neither goal will be achieved.
If you are a parent, think about what you want your child to look like as a young adult. Then look at the school you are enrolled in and ask yourself; “Is My School Focusing In The Right Areas?”