Jackpot

Occasionally I buy some lotter tickets. Not that I really need to win the jackpot to become a happy man. But it’s nice to walk around for a few weeks and fantasize about what I could do with 10 million euros or dollars. I won’t win anyway, never do.

The same happens when I read in the newspaper that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has cost the USA more than 4.79 trillion dollars. That’s only the USA. Add the amounts countries such as France, England, the Netherlands has spent and you may end up a few hundred billion higher. I like to fantasize what we could do with such a jackpot. The two countries together have less than 71 million inhabitants. This means that only the US has already spent $ 63,000 per inhabitant. Suppose you could spend that money on better food, education, homes, healthcare, water and sanitation. Then you still have enough left to give every resident a nice bonus. The amount is no less than 37x the annual development aid budget (of which, a large part flows back to us through the interest on debts that developing countries have to pay us).

Dif is working on a roadmap how to spend this kind of money. Not only the tens of billions that cost wars, but also the money that that 1% of the world’s population has parked somewhere in tax havens. If we want to achieve the goals that make a livable world possible in 2030 (according to the Global Goals 2030 – successor of the Millennium Goals) we need a lot of money and a lot of good ideas. Join us, follow us, download our free magazine Dif Report, and help us to put an end to this craziness.

 

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A Meaty Change

Buy an ounce of steak from the butcher and pay a 50% premium. My father – who was a butcher – would be turning in his grave after asking what percentage would remain for his shop. Not too much pa! A considerable part of it will be used for compensation of Co2 by planting trees for example. Then we must invest in machines to capture the methane produced by those beasts. Welfare is needed for the unemployed farmers and butchers. And of course, the government also wants its part in the form of increasing taxes considerably.

Don’t do this? Yes we should. According to a study by the Dutch environmental organization Natuur en Milieu – published last Saturday – we should be paying considerably more for our meat. The cattle industry is the biggest cause of many problems. It uses too much land to feed the animals. It produces loads of greenhouse gases, and the manure contaminates water and air with phosphate and nitrogen.

In fact, an increase of between 30 to 50% – calculated in the report – is far too little. Increase the price of chicken or meat by 350% immediately. This way animals can be treated more humanly, and actually live a decent life. We will then discover that life without our daily piece of meat won’t necessarily make us unhappy. If we then only eat meat twice a week instead of the widely promoted meatless Monday, we will be going in the right direction.

The Mark Z. anti-climax

It was a bit of an anticlimax, watching the Senate hearings of Mark Z., the face of FB. “I’m sorry, I do not know exactly how to clean up the mess.”

Facebook knows everything about us. And with that data, malicious people may influence us. Say, by letting us elect an idiot. Or by persuading us to buy things we do not really want. They know what we love, what we buy, where we are. But isn’t that a bit odd: are we nothing more than stupid sheep then, easy to influence, easy to make us do things we don’t want to do?

And is what happened in the US senate news?

‘They’ also know everything about me, even though I’m hardly on Facebook. Or on any of those other social media with their obscure algorithms, which earn their money by following us closely. I am an open book because of data gathered from my medical records, marital status, tax returns, security cameras, credit card, debit card, not to mention Google and other companies and browsers who, despite all privacy rules, keep track of my interests and questions. Should we also question all the people who are handling that data? That will be quite a job.

Social media has also brought us good things. It gave us revolutions such as the Arab Spring. Freedom of speech in countries where that seemed impossible. And simple opportunities such as making friends, finding a job or dissipating loneliness. It can also help us mobilize people for a cause, to change the world for the better as we at Dif – and so many others – are trying to do.

Can we let companies like FB and Google continue like this? Of course not. There must be supervision and rules, no matter how much I hate overregulating our society. We must be able to choose, see and determine what people may or may not know about us. Technically, that should be a piece of cake for boys like Mark Z. Bill G., Jeff B., Tim C. and others just like them, right?

we’ll beat the desert

I have seen the Sahara. Through the window of an airplane, while drinking a glass of wine or a bottle of water. Relaxing as, for over two hours, that enormous desert landscape glides by below, with millions of square kilometres of useless land. The rare inhabitants of the desert, the Bedouin, use only 8 litres of water a day to drink, wash and cook. The topic is fascinating when you realise what can be done with all that unfertile soil. That there are people planning to plant a green wall of 7600 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide to reverse not only the desert, but climate change too. That a tree can be grown to maturity in five years with a total of just 15 litres of water. That you can change bare, eroded mountains into lush green ones with old, forgotten farming techniques in China. That you can replace chemical pesticides that kill all life in the ground by special organic pesticides. Solutions that can change the world and diminish problems such as hunger and overpopulation. We have found ten ways in which man can bring all that dead ground back to life. The first issue of our magazine covers this topic. Together with more than thirty photographers, illustrators, designers and journalists, we have created a new digital magazine: dif. You can now download it for free in the Appstore and Google Play store. Join us  at #difconnect on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.