March 19th, 2020

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Mother Tongue

Children need the right to learn in their mother tongue.  The outcomes are dramatically better than if they are deprived of it and forced to learn another language while also being held responsible for learning material presented only in a language they do not yet speak.  In practical terms, they can't do both at the same time.  They learn the language -- if they're young enough -- and lose most or all of the content that teachers supposedly presented.  By the time they learn enough of the oppressing language to decode actual lessons, they're six months or a year behind, if not more.  So then they can't catch up.  They just muddle along until they leave school.
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White Noise for Sleep

Some general thoughts on how it works

Note that sleep hygiene as a concept is good, but universal it is not.  The standard advice to avoid screens for an hour or two before bed would wreck my sleep, not to mention costing me some of my best worktime.  I know this because on occasions when I can't get at my computer -- power outages, travel -- I don't sleep as well.  That's because after I finish working, I noodle around with relaxing things to let my brain wind down.  And while there are other things I can do, like reading a paperback, they don't work as well.  Always check your field results against the lab predictions!  YMMV.
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Noise Pollution

 ... harms dolphins and whales.

A logical solution would be to restrict noisy activities to limited times or areas, and take steps to minimize the noise that routine activities make.  However, it's important not to muffle boat noise too much: the natural shape of the boat already creates a "sound shadow" toward the front that causes whales to swim in front of it.  Muffling the engines would mean really  needing squealers on the front so cetaceans can perceive the danger and avoid the boat.

We could also promote less noisy activities such as surfboards over jetskis or sailboats over speedboats.  While these are different hobbies, if the quiet ones were offered free while the noisy ones cost money, that would redirect a lot of traffic.  Furthermore, a hefty noise tax on things like speedboats could be routed into cetacean care.
neutral

Noise Pollution

 ... needs to be reduced for human safety.

This is one of those situations where people's needs conflict.  Most people need noise kept to "safe" levels, but sensitive people have a much lower "safe" threshold.  Conversely, Deaf people can't enjoy music without cranking it loud enough to feel the vibrations.  That means we need not only protections to maintain a safe average level of noise, but also places designated with lower and higher levels.  Sometimes segregation is the most effective way to meet everyone's needs, but people aren't going to like that.  I suspect they will simply force average rules on everyone, and the people whose disabilities don't fit those parameters will just be screwed.  :/
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Half Earth

Scientists say we need to reserve at least half the planet for nature if we want it to remain functional.  That's a great idea. 

I think we should start with the low-hanging fruit: most governments control large areas of land that are not yet designated as nature reserves but could be.  They're currently used for logging, grazing, mining, etc.  Simply switch the classification and we'd gain a huge amount of nature reserve without needing to oust or even regulate a single private owner.  Ditto oceans, there's a lot in national control that could be switched over.

We could also employ a bunch of people as conservationists just by letting rural folks sign up for a program that would pay them to keep their land in a natural state.  This would make it feasible for people to repopulate a lot of areas that are losing population, thus reducing the flow into already overcrowded cities.  Mine is a bit catch-as-catch-can but it sure has more wildlife than surrounding farms.  Imagine what someone could do with a few dozen or hundred acres in Vermont.  This would also let us convert marginal cropland to healthy shortgrass prairie, without running farmers out of house and home.  Here, we'll pay you to quit trying to grow wheat and grow native grasses instead.