Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Good Things

Posted from Culver City, California at 6:18 pm, March 31st, 2011

There is a line in the James Clavell book Shogun that I’ve always liked:

“Always remember, child,” her first teacher had impressed on her, “that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort.”

In a world where the country is fighting three wars, the economy is looking at its third straight bad year, and the environment is seemingly headed to ruin, it can be easy to overlook good news, but there are a lot of things going on that are worth feeling positive about:

  • After disappearing for nearly one hundred years, 62 miles of the Owens River is now flowing again. In another victory for the Eastern Sierra, after losing forty-five feet of water depth and 99% of its ducks and geese, Mono Lake is slowly being restored, and with record snowfall this year it should gain a few more feet of water depth. In both cases the original devastation was due to diversion of water for LA, but for the most part the restoration has been done without diminishing LA’s water supply.
  • Habitat loss has had a damaging effect on migratory birds, but the Nature Conservancy is working with farmers in Washington state to allow flooding of fallow fields during bird migrations, providing stopovers for wildlife without affecting the land’s usefulness for crops. Early results show improved bird habitat and increased soil fertility. Similarly, the conservancy also restored twenty-five square miles of floodplain in Louisiana by removing a levee, apparently helping to reduce the downriver severity of a major flood in 2009 as a result.
  • After years of delay, the Boeing 787 will finally launch later this year. It offers 20% better fuel efficiency than comparable older planes, meaning that a flight that previously would have burned 10,000 gallons of jet fuel will now be using 2,000 gallons less. At the same time it’s a quieter plane, which is nice for those of us living in the flight path of a large airport.
  • An eradication of brown rats on South Georgia Island is underway. While this is obviously bad news for the rats, since arriving with whaling ships in the early 1900s they have decimated many of the native nesting birds, and with the retreating of glaciers on the island it is inevitable that they will spread and destroy even more bird colonies. Thus, the prospect of their removal is a hopeful one for the future recovery of the island’s amazing native wildlife.
  • In 2008 LA approved a sales tax increase to fund transportation projects over the next thirty years. The mayor then proposed accelerating those projects through the 30/10 plan, in which LA would borrow funds from the federal government against the future sales tax revenue in order to implement in ten years what would have taken thirty. Since building rail, highways, and subways in 2011 dollars is cheaper than doing it in the future, and since there are immense benefits to having better transit options now rather than later, AND since this is a loan that is backed by a revenue stream that has already been voter-approved, the plan is moving forward quickly and seems to be supported from both the left and the right, with those of us living in LA set to benefit from much-needed infrastructure improvements in the coming decade.

It’s nice to step back occasionally and get a reminder of why, despite constant predictions of doom and gloom, the future continues to be a hopeful one. The comments link is available for anyone wanting to spread some additional positivity, as good news should definitely be shared.

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