Here in the UK, tens of thousands of teens sat the most important exam of their young lives this week – Maths GCSE.
As a tribute to them, this week’s newsletter comes to you in the form of a maths exam.
Please turn over your papers. Do not confer, or scratch. You have five minutes. Answer ALL questions. Then read ALL solutions.
Q1. Millions of parents around the world work office hours – until 5pm on average. Their kids leave school at 3pm. If there are 200 school days a year, how many times a year will the average parent say to him/herself “crap, I’m late.” Solution
Q2. Aviation generates about 2% of global carbon emissions. If the number of passenger flights doubled from 2005-17, how hot will it be in 2085? Solution
Q3. A three-tin pack of tuna typically costs £2. In an unscrupulous New Zealand truck shop manned by outrageous scammers, poor people are charged £15. How many packs must be sold for the chiselling little crooks to make £1m out of others’ misfortune? Solution
Q4. In 2008, Ljubljana recycled just 30% of its waste. If that figure is 68% today, and the average per capita waste produced is 115kg, how much more stuff do we really need? Solution
Q5. Since the start of the war in Yemen, Britain has contributed £770m in aid, and £4.7bn-worth of arms licences to Saudi forces leading the bombing. Plot this on a graph with profits on the x-axis and pride in being British on the y-axis. How would you expect Yemenis to respond to this injustice? Solution
Off at a tangent we go, to inspect a list of the best countries in the world for attracting and retaining top talent. In a world of steadily mounting protectionist barriers and domestic chauvinism, this list tells a story.
Also, the number of deaths from strokes have halved in the UK over the past 10 years. That silver lining does however come with a cloud attached: more people are surviving and enduring severe disability as a result.
What we liked
The Covering Climate Now project, led by the Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation, which aims to galvanise media coverage of “the most urgent story of our time”.
What we heard
Congratulations on your series of positive solutions, and long may they continue.
Can I suggest you cover the role of cooperatives in providing housing, looking at Zurich and perhaps other German-speaking cities. You also may want to cover the potential for electric bikes of all kinds, as they offer a serious alternative for taming the car.
Nicholas Falk, via email
Re (GDP alternatives) I’m sure you’re aware of the Social Progress Index, that looks for more telling metrics about wellbeing.
Lee Mannion, via email
In NZ we have had a number of schools adopt a mentoring programme, where senior students volunteer and are trained to mentor younger students. It’s proven particularly effective for potentially vulnerable students who might be from single parent/financially stressed/marginalised/migrant … families and where [there] is a real need for role modelling, having a confident and an ‘older sister’ or ‘older brother’ in the school / community environment.
One programme was instigated in Nelson, started at Nelson college by groundbreaking social worker the late Celia Lashlie. I have seen first-hand how these mentoring programmes really do assist both younger and older student and work to break down age and social silo barriers and prejudices.
Now, our small rural Golden Bay high school, where there are numerous rural community related stresses for students, is implementing a programme in peer support.
Jude Gillies from Takaka, New Zealand, via email
Where was the Upside?
In Mulhouse, eastern France, which is showing how to reinvent a town centre.
Also, in Argentina and Algeria, which became the 37th and 38th countries to be declared malaria-free.