Scientific monitors reported that the gas had reached an average daily level that surpassed 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
Gretchen Rubin has found the secret to happiness. OK, that may be overselling it a bit, but she's made it her literal business to get closer to it through The Happiness Project. Initially a namesake best-selling book, it's since morphed into a series of books (the latest: Happier At Home), a blog, a rapt online community, and an ongoing movement to unify science, psychology, and culture in the pursuit of deeper contentment. Of course, with such an amorphous destination, she's learned the truism behind the cliché that it's "more about the journey" -- but maybe don't use the J-word word around Rubin.
"Some people want to talk about a journey," Rubin says. "Well, that’s not an idea that resonates with me -- I love the idea of a project. That's something that whets my appetite."
Nervous supporters worried that her prescription for happiness might intimidate readers at the starting line; some equated the idea of a "project" with onerous homework. But Rubin, a Yale Law School graduate and former editor of the Yale Law Journal, opened her process to public dialogue and sought to engineer her methodology to apply to any personality type. That dialogue continues to this day on The Happiness Project.
"There’s no one right way to do it, because people are very different," she says. "People have different vocabularies. I love making resolutions, and having lists, and charts -- and for some people that would drive them crazy. But for some people it is about a journey -- so you have to find the approach that works for you, the metaphor that works for you."
We talked with Rubin over the phone about The Happiness Project, and how personal moves toward a happier life can lead to a better, healthier planet for everybody.
Q.What inspired this initial journey to tackle something as all-encompassing as happiness? How did you boil down tackling such a huge-sounding project?
A. I was stuck on a city bus in the pouring rain, and I thought, "What do I want from life, anyway? I want to be happy!" It hit me like a flash. So I went to the library and got this giant stack of books about happiness to figure out what I could do. It seemed very confusing in the beginning, because there’s a million different pieces, and everything’s tangled up with everything else. It was very intellectually challenging to figure out, where do I start and how do I do it in a systematic way. So I drilled down into things like home, possessions, body, neighborhood. Every month I focused on a different aspect of life and figured out what concrete resolutions I could do to make my experience of life happier.
All of which means I approach our theme this month -- Happiness! -- with some trepidation. It's not that we Gristers aren't adept at handling looming catastrophe; we just often swallow it with sarcasm and a black humor more cold and remote than the love of God. When it comes to dancing to the tune of the apocalypse, we've got moves like a teenage Blue Ivy Carter, and an f-bomb or 75 never hurts. When things get really bad, we can just report as-is and do this:
We blab a lot about distributed energy, but ExxonMobil's doing something about it. Its patented delivery system -- now undergoing beta testing in Mayflower, Ark. -- puts energy in your lawn, on water, on birds, and in your pants so you'll never have to go without. Check it:
YO! It's Ted and Jen and we're here to say,
Grist needs your help in a major way.
Dawg, we're cursed, this $#*! is wack!
Gotta speak in verse so we're spittin' rap.
We're way behind and beggin' on our knees. Grist needs your help to earn some G's!
3,000 gifts: That's the magic number,
To break the spell and feed our hunger. Please grind out a gift if you can,
And we will bank another 25 grand.
If Grist has helped you learn or laugh,
Please send some dough on our behalf.
See how this curse got us straight trippin'.
Fresh Ted and DJ Jazzy Jen Grist Master MCs
P.S. Giving online make you a wreck? You're also welcome to send a check: Grist, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 860, Seattle, WA 98104.
P.P.S. If we reach our goal by May 15, Grist will receive $25,000 from a generous donor.
Let's get up to speed. Ahead of its 7th International Conference on Climate Change (which is basically like Burning Man for deniers, but with more peyote and charts), the Chicago-based climate denial think tank launched a billboard campaign on the Eisenhower Expressway that equates belief in climate change to mass murder. It did so by featuring the looming mugs of Ted "The Unabomber" Kaczynski, Fidel Castro, and Charles Manson next to the phrase, "I still believe in global warming. Do you?"
Oh, Denis Hayes and Gaylord Nelson, what hath ye wrought. Though Earth Day was founded with good intentions, the holiday has long since been co-opted by flacks from all trades as another great opportunity to sell shit. And we can't exactly blame them: What doesn't go well with Earth? Seriously, it's the Sriracha of planets.
Here at Grist HQ, we're in the unique position of receiving a press release about every targeted Earth Day campaign in existence. No matter what we say to the collective PR hive mind, come Earth Day they always make sure we're fielding pitches like a young Joe Garagiolo. And bless 'em for it, because with the dire state our atmosphere's in (insert second Sriracha joke here), we sure could use the yuks.
We figured you can, too. Here are some of our favorites this year.
When writer and outdoorsman Mike Lanza realized climate change was staking a full-scale assault on our most beloved national parks, he didn't just lament about how his kids wouldn't get to experience them the way he did. Instead, he saddled up his entire family -- wife Penny, son Nate, 10, and daughter Alex, 7 -- with packs, kayaks, and climbing gear and embarked on a year-long mission to visit them all. His new book Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to explore America's Most Endangered National Parkschronicles the adventure. He took some time to answer a few questions about our changing parks, life-list trip planning, and educating the next generation about climate change through adventures in the great outdoors.