While Trump is retreating on climate, Volvo just made a bold move away from oil.

Volvos.

Photo by Shirley 501JFW/Wikimedia Commons.

Once preferred by sushi-eating, latte-drinking Hollywood-loving elitists, much like sushi, lattes, and Hollywood, they've now gone mainstream. U.S. sales of the Chinese-owned, Swedish-made vehicles grew by 18% last year, thanks to the most American of car models, an SUV (the popular XC90).  


If all goes according to plan, they're about to get a whole lot cleaner.

The company intends to make all new models introduced from 2019 on either hybrid or fully electric, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In a statement, Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson heralded the move as "the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car."

While bombastic predictions from top executives about their company's impact might not be anything new, the commitment to transitioning away from pure fossil fuel power is.

While efforts to combat climate change have had a rough few months, many companies are continuing to plug along with efforts to limit emissions.

On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, the EPA continues to attempt to delay implementation of methane emission regulations and reduce global warming to a matter of debate.

Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson. Photo by Jonas Ekstromer/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, not only is Volvo seeing green in a transition to green, several major oil companies, including ExxonMobil, recently announced support for a carbon tax, and utilities across the country are accelerating their push to incorporate more renewables.

With the world's second-biggest polluter essentially giving companies a run on the emissions store, the fact that much of private industry is saying, "Eh, we're good," is a hopeful signal.

Despite its lefty rep, Volvo isn't doing this solely out of concern that emissions are devitalizing the dawn aura of Mother Gaia.

Uh oh. Photo by Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons.

The luxury carmaker faces competition from companies like Tesla, whose Model 3 is expected to start at $35,000, a still-expensive-but-way-more-affordable-than-previous-Teslas price point.

In a weird way, the cynicism of the move is perhaps the most encouraging sign of all.

It might feel icky to see saving the Earth reduced to cold capitalist calculus.

Still, absent a quickie smashing o' the industrialist class hegemony, if a major car company believes there's money to be made in transitioning away from fossil fuels, so much the better.  

Hopefully, more car companies will catch wind of that sweet, sweet money trail and follow Volvo's lead.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images.

The fossil fuels might be going away. Thankfully, the cupholders for your grande skinny soy aren't.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

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The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

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