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The Climate Crisis: Breaking the Fossil Fuel Habit The promise, and challenge, of shifting to alternative energy

Think of it as worldwide addiction. At least 80 percent of the energy people use to drive, heat their homes, and power gadgets comes from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and the consumption of all of the above contributes to global warming.

Cleveland’s convictions come not only from his own research, but also from a series of eight seminars that brought environmental experts from universities in the United States and Europe to BU throughout the 2010–2011 academic year. The John E. Sawyer Seminars on Energy and Society were sponsored by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“We will have to engineer the transition,” says Cleveland. “And we’ve never really done that in the history of humanity.”

Some countries, however, have done better than others. In 2011, China invested $51 billion in alternative energy technologies and led the world in renewable power capacity with 70 total gigawatts, according to the international nonprofit Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. That same year, the United States put $48 billion in such technologies and achieved total generation of 68 gigawatts. Germany, the third greatest investor in alternatives, spent $31 billion and reached total capacity of 61 gigawatts. Most other countries lagged far behind. No country has sworn off fossil fuels.

And while the federal government has not established benchmarks for wind and solar production, many states have. Here in Massachusetts, the legislature passed the Green Communities Act in 2008, requiring that 15 percent of the commonwealth’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2023. Massachusetts plans to generate 2,000 megawatts of wind energy within the next seven years and 250 megawatts of solar power by 2023. While far from reaching its wind energy goal, the commonwealth reports that it’s 90 percent of the way to accomplishing its solar goal. The commitments have helped Massachusetts tie with Texas for fifth place nationally in a 2012 Ernst & Young report on promising renewable energy markets.

Nuclear power, another low-carbon energy source, currently provides 3 percent of the world’s energy, Cleveland says, but its hazardous waste disposal and safety risks make it less desirable than wind and solar. “Nuclear energy has a higher life-cycle cost than wind and fossil fuel, because it’s very capital-intensive,” he says. “A routinely operated nuclear plant is benign, compared to a coal plant, but it does have this small possibility of going Fukushima on you.”

The United States has 65 operating nuclear power plants, most of them concentrated along the East Coast and in the Midwest and all of them built more than 30 years ago. Cleveland says that makes planning a new one relatively unknown territory, because there are no current price comparisons. It’s also politically risky, as most communities don’t want one in their backyard and are hesitant to adopt a technology that produces radioactive waste with a half-life of thousands of years.

Biomass—such as switchgrass, corn, or sugar cane converted to biofuel—is another alternative source of energy, but Cleveland is discouraged by the carbon exchange of the biomass process. “It involves removing vegetation from the Earth’s surface,” he says, “and humanity has a very poor track record of causing lots of other environmental problems when you start monkeying with changing land cover.” As a source, he prefers energy-rich sugar cane to corn-based ethanol, because corn is grown industrially with large inputs of oil, which increases carbon emissions.

“When you compare the energy in the ethanol and all the energy it took” to plant, cultivate, transport, and process it, “it’s only a very modest win,” he says. “It’s certainly way less than the energy gain you get from just producing oil directly from crude.”

What does Cleveland’s research tell him about the best way to break the fossil fuel habit? The first step, he says, should be using fossil fuels to build a sustainable energy infrastructure. “You need to shift away from coal and oil to natural gas in the short run, and probably leave a lot of coal in the Earth’s crust,” he says. “And you need to use fossil fuel to radically ramp up renewables and/or nuclear.”

That means “sticks and carrots, a lot of them,” he says. “If you want the transition to happen faster than it otherwise would, you’re going to have to alter incentives. And you’re going to have to change the price of carbon.”

Gas tax hikes, like the one Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently proposed, or divestment from fossil fuels are moves in the right direction. Cleveland thinks federal legislation taxing carbon or an international cap-and-trade system would put a bigger dent in emissions.

Finally, he says, politicians have to address the “third rail of U.S. energy policy”—demand. People need to know that their choices can have a negative impact on the environment. “Working 30 miles from home and driving a Hummer to work alone in the morning is probably one of the most absurd, extravagant behaviors,” he says. “We’ll look back and say, ‘Oh my God!’ The excesses of the Romans will look like Romper Room.” Commuters can do that only because “energy is dirt cheap. People are going to in the long run live closer to where they work and play.”

And perhaps more people should start thinking like Howard T. Odum, Cleveland says. The ecologist and author of A Prosperous Way Down argues that to survive, the human species must learn how to decline prosperously.

“No one wants to think that way, because we connect happiness and well-being with increases in the physical consumption of goods and services,” Cleveland says. “It’s a conversation that should be had, but good luck getting elected on that platform.”

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The Climate Crisis: Measuring Boston’S Carbon Metabolism

The Climate Crisis: Measuring Boston’s Metabolism CAS researchers track the city’s carbon digestion

In the video above, Lucy Hutyra, a CAS assistant professor, and Nathan Phillips, a CAS professor, discuss how their Boston ULTRA-Ex (Urban Long-Term Research Area Exploratory) project tracks the city’s carbon digestion.

Imagine looking at Boston and its people as one living, breathing organism. The city consumes energy in the form of resources and services, processes them into gross domestic product, and produces waste. Some of that waste, the carbon dioxide spewed from industrial smokestacks, vehicle exhaust systems, buildings, and even people, contributes to global warming.

Now imagine tracing that carbon through space and time. That’s what Lucy Hutyra, Nathan Phillips, and a team of researchers plan to do, in an effort to understand the origin of Boston’s carbon emissions, how carbon is stored, and what the net balance of these activities means for the future of the city—and the planet.

Carbon is “like the life blood that’s flowing through the system,” says Phillips, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of earth and environment. “Understanding cities and their overall carbon emissions is absolutely crucial to understanding the global carbon cycle and global climate change.”

“If we are going to have a prayer of actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions, meeting commitments, and creating these international treaties,” says Hutyra, a CAS assistant professor of earth and environment, “we need to know where carbon dioxide is coming from within cities.”

Hutyra says nearly 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from cities, which cover only 3 percent of the Earth’s surface but are home to more than half of the world population. That would seem to make cities the obvious place for ecologists to study global warming, but until recently, few scientists were studying urban areas as unique ecosystems.

In 2009, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service announced a two-year grant that would support research in what they call an Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA). Hutyra and Phillips applied as co–principal investigators and were among a select group of scientists who landed a $300,000 exploratory grant for Boston. Their project, aptly called the ULTRA-Ex: Metabolism of Boston, has since expanded to include more than 50 scientists from BU, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and UMass. Funders now include NSF, NASA, the Environmental Defense Fund, and IBM Smarter Cities.

ULTRA collaborators measure such things as carbon emissions, carbon storage, land cover change, and how growing seasons are extended by urban heat islands—metropolitan areas that are warmer than their surroundings because of human activities—all of which should yield a picture of how the city consumes, digests, and spits out carbon. While conclusions are still far away, the team has already had a variety of aha moments.

One of the first involves Phillips’ measurement of atmospheric carbon. He and other researchers established six observation towers in and around Boston—at BU, the Prudential building, UMass-Boston, Nahant, Worcester, and the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Mass.—and rigged each with a Picarro instrument, which records carbon dioxide levels multiple times a day.

Phillips found that the levels reflect human activity and the seasons, registering higher during rush hour traffic and peak winter heating months and lower during weekends and summer vacation times. Not surprisingly, readings in rural sites like Harvard Forest are consistently lower than those at urban sites like BU. “We’re coupled in this kind of dance with carbon,” he says. “What becomes clear is that you can’t think of the human side of emissions and the natural systems in isolation from each other.”

Atmospheric carbon levels can easily be measured, but their sources are harder to identify. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that nearly 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from vehicles. Yet Hutyra says there is no reliable method for accurately pinpointing these emissions over space and time—information that’s crucial if governments hope to monitor and control emissions at the level of cities, states, or nations over confined periods. As noted in a paper written by one of Hutyra’s graduate students, Conor Gately (GRS’14), and published in January in Environmental Science & Technology, accepted models used to estimate emissions vary by up to 30 percent.

“Understanding cities and their overall carbon emissions is absolutely crucial to understanding the global carbon cycle and global climate change.”

Gately wanted a better model. As the project manager of the IBM Smarter Cities challenge in Boston, he worked with IBM engineers and city officials from the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) to funnel the city’s existing traffic and congestion data through a public website, to be unveiled this summer. He hopes the new database will spark innovation, inform public policy, and support research that improves emissions estimates—and soon, given that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) has set a goal of reducing the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2023.

Hutyra’s contribution to ULTRA overlaps with her study, funded by an NSF CAREER Award, of how differently plants behave in urban and rural environments. Boston is a relatively green city, with about 28 percent canopy cover, she says. That’s important in terms of global warming because trees remove carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis and provide shade, which reduces the urban heat island effect and air conditioning’s energy demand.

Since 2010, Hutyra, postdoctoral associate Steve Raciti, and graduate assistants have gone into the urban forest (which could mean two elms along the side of a building) to measure tree circumferences and take soil samples to determine their chemical composition. They published their findings last year in the journal Ecological Applications, writing that carbon concentrations in urban vegetation and soil were higher in a city’s forested regions than in residential and other developed land areas. Hutyra thinks urban trees are adapting—and possibly growing faster—in this carbon dioxide–rich environment.

Soil covered by pavement or concrete doesn’t fare as well. Raciti, Hutyra, and Adrien Finzi, a CAS professor of biology, wrote last year in Environmental Pollution that soil under impervious surfaces in New York City contained 66 percent less carbon and 95 percent less nitrogen than that found in exposed soil. Perhaps most disturbing, says Hutyra, is that “we don’t know where it went. The soil was also for many purposes dead. There was no microbial activity remaining.”

Knowing how much carbon is stored in trees and the soil will help determine the amount released into the atmosphere through land development or deforestation. That’s where remote sensing, the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from aircraft or satellites, comes in handy. ULTRA collaborators Mark Friedl, a CAS professor of earth and environment, and Curtis Woodcock, a CAS professor and chair of earth and environment, are using satellite imagery to reconstruct how land cover has changed around Boston since the 1980s. Development alters the Earth’s surface so that pavement, sidewalks, and buildings replace existing vegetation. Satellite imagery reflects such changes, and once stitched together, can provide a time-lapse map of Boston and the metropolitan area.

Deforestation results in “a net release of carbon to the atmosphere,” Friedl says. “Depending on the age and size of trees in a forest, it could be substantial.” The reverse is true as forests flourish in previously developed spaces.

Friedl also uses remote sensing to track seasonal change. As spring arrives earlier and fall later, plants have a longer growing season and absorb more carbon dioxide. This change is visible through satellite imagery, which Friedl double-checks through a system of cameras that take daily pictures of places like Storrow Drive and Boston Common. In 2010, he was stunned to see how big an effect the urban heat island, and resulting longer growing season, had on city trees. Those in Boston Common leafed out nearly three weeks before those in Harvard Forest—just 70 miles west.

BU’s ULTRA research is complex and diverse, but “if you put this all together, you can start to get the metabolism” of Boston, says Hutyra.

“This would be an ivory tower exercise,” Phillips says, “if it didn’t have an applied goal. And that applied goal is to increase sustainability in Boston and in other cities as well.”

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Activists Have Shut Down Two Major Fossil Fuel Pipelines—At Least For Now

The CEOs of the companies responsible for the project, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, announced they were cancelling the pipeline. “A series of legal challenges to the project’s federal and state permits has caused significant project cost increases and timing delays,” they wrote in a press release. The companies cited “increased legal uncertainty” and the cost of fighting litigation as reasons for giving up on the project.

Then, on Monday, a federal judge declared that the Dakota Access Pipeline must cease its flow of oil in 30 days, by August 5th. The decision is a follow up to a March ruling that required the Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency overseeing the project, to prepare an environmental impact statement, but left open the question of what to do with the pipeline in the interim.

The Dakota Access Pipeline project became a high-profile environmental justice case in 2024, when the Standing Rock Sioux and other Native American tribes filed a lawsuit about the pipeline on religious freedom and historic preservation grounds. In particular, activists and indigenous people were concerned about a portion of the pipeline that routes under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River at the border of North and South Dakota. They argued that the risk of oil leaking into water supplies, along with the destruction of indigenous burial sites, had not been adequately considered. 

The Obama administration blocked construction of the disputed segment of the pipeline in late 2024.  But early the next year, President Trump quickly revived the project, allowing oil to start flowing soon after. Later in 2023, the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribes brought a new case arguing that the Corps should have prepared an environmental impact statement before proceeding with the pipeline. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this thorough environmental review document is required for projects that could have “significant” environmental impacts. 

In March of this year, the court found that because the pipeline’s effects were “likely to be highly controversial” based on “concrete objections to the Corp’s analytical process and findings,” and the Army Corps needed to go back and prepare an environmental impact statement. Judge James E. Boasberg announced at the time that he would hear out both sides on what to do in the interim—it would take the Corps about 13 months to prepare the necessary report, but oil was already flowing. Now, the court has ruled that at least until the report is ready, the pipe must cease operations. “When it comes to NEPA, it is better to ask for permission than forgiveness: if you can build first and consider environmental consequences later, NEPA’s action-forcing purpose loses its bite,” wrote Boasberg in the court decision.

“The Court does not reach its decision with blithe disregard for the lives it will affect,” Boasberg wrote. “It readily acknowledges that, even with the currently low demand for oil, shutting down the pipeline will cause significant disruption to DAPL, the North Dakota oil industry, and potentially other states. Yet, given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease.”

Robin Kundis Craig, an environmental law professor at the University of Utah, says that the decision is a consistent application of environmental law, and Dakota Access doesn’t seem to have sufficient legal grounds to appeal. “To conclude that [the pipeline] was going to have no impacts was probably clearly erroneous,” says Craig. “Shutting down the pipeline until a proper environmental impact statement is drafted is the standard NEPA response.”

Oil and gas pipelines seem to be under close scrutiny these days, and the two pipeline shutdowns demonstrate the increasing legal challenges that energy companies face. In the case of the Atlantic Coast pipeline, the statement released by the company specifically cited recent court decisions that froze the use of Clean Water Act nationwide permits allowing the dredging and filling of wetlands. Because of the increased legal pressure, the energy companies would have to pay for the preparation of an individual permit under the Clean Water Act, which is more costly. “The prospect of having to go through an individual form or permit process was a significant factor in deterring the project,” adds Craig, “which perhaps suggests that some of these projects are operating on a pretty razor thin cost benefit analysis to begin with.” 

As for Dakota Access, it’s future will likely now be decided in 2023, when that environmental impact statement gets published and whoever’s in the Oval Office then decides whether to grant the energy company permits to proceed. There may also be reason to worry about the impacts of rollbacks to NEPA, which could make it easier to push through projects without review. For now, it seems, activists can breathe a small sigh of relief. 

The Us Ban On Hydrofluorocarbons Is A Climate Game

A lot of climate change-fighting strategies focus on removing air pollutants, or preventing them from reaching the atmosphere at all. While pretty much everybody these days can recognize carbon dioxide and methane as two of them, the US just joined around 130 other nations to take a big step in knocking out a third: hydrofluorocarbons, also known as HFCs. 

Some experts are marking the move “the most significant environmental treaty that the United States has joined in at least a decade.” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer called it, alongside passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, as the “strongest one-two punch against climate change any Congress has ever taken.” But the push to get rid of the extremely potent group of greenhouse gases has a history decades in the making. 

Thinning (and fixing) the ozone layer

HFCs first came onto the scene in the 1980s and 1990s to replace chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in refrigerators and air conditioners. Those earlier substances were invented in the 1920s to make cooling and foaming agents. They had uniquely non-flammable, tasteless, and odorless properties, as well as a low boiling point close to zero degrees Celsius.

But CFCs were also a nightmare for the environment. The synthetic, which was also found in aerosolized products like hair spray, depleted the ozone layer by releasing chlorine into the atmosphere. Not to mention, the compounds produce a super-powered greenhouse gas that can warm the planet up to 10,000 times as much as carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t persist as long in the air).

[Related: 5 famous environmental disasters where humans and nature healed together]

By 1974, researchers has figured out how bad CFCs—but the action didn’t really kick in until the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987. This agreement phased out the super powerful ozone killer and climate warmer, with goals for developed and developing countries to fully phase them out by 2023 and 2030, respectively.

But just as society will have to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, something has to come in to substitute for CFCs. Enter HFCs, a slightly less toxic, ozone-safe option. Or so it seemed.

HFCs turn out to be a powerful greenhouse gas

The difference between HFCs and their predecessors was the fact that they lacked chlorine, the main ingredient in ozone depletion. But the newer chemicals came with their own environmental baggage. As far back as the 1990s, atmospheric scientists were also aware of the global warming impact that the compounds could have. “The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned that rapid expansion of the use of some HFCs could contribute to global warming,” National Research Council (US) Subcommittee to Review Toxicity of Alternatives to Chlorofluorocarbons wrote in a report in 1996. “Nonetheless, use of HFCs offers lower overall risk than use of CFCs, as well as a reduction in the time needed to eliminate CFC use.”

Nevertheless, HFC use grew. The ones that replaced CFCs now represent about 1 percent of total greenhouse gas warming, and can potentially warm the planet hundreds of thousands times more than than carbon dioxide, based on mass, according to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. According to the UN, HFC emissions are growing at a rate of around 8 percent every year, and annual emissions are projected to rise to 7 to 19 percent of global CO2 emissions equivalent by 2050. 

Since 1990, the Montreal parties have phased out 98 percent of ozone-depleting substances, allowing the Earth’s protective layer to recover.

Since 2009, however, members of the Montreal Protocol have been negotiating the phaseout of these global warming menaces, resulting in the 2024 signing of the Kigali Amendment. Countries from the Montreal Protocol, including big players like India, the European Union, and China, agreed to add HFCs to controlled substance lists and approve timelines to knock down usage 80 to 85 percent by 2040. Developed nations started their reductions in 2023, with developing nations to follow a few years behind. 

But notably, not the US. Donald Trump refused to sign it in 2024, even though it had bipartisan support and the backing of industry groups. Research from the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute even found that signing it would increase exports of goods with HFC alternatives by $5 billion by 2027—and net thousands of US manufacturing jobs. 

Another major step for US climate policy

Thankfully, a lot has changed in the past two years with climate policy. On September 21, 2023, the Senate quietly voted 69-27 to finally ratify Kigali and bring the US back on board with the the modern version of the Montreal Protocol. US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry called it “a profound victory ​for the climate and the American economy.” 

[Related: Scientists think we can get 90 percent clean energy by 2035]

If the Kigali Amendment follows in the footsteps of its CFC-focused predecessor, the impact could be major. Since 1990, the Montreal parties have phased out 98 percent of ozone-depleting substances, allowing the Earth’s protective layer to recover. (It’s estimated to be fully sealed up again by the 2050 or 2060s.) In the US alone, that means preventing 443 million cases of skin cancer, 2.3 million skin cancer deaths, and 63 million cases of cataracts by 2100. 

Assuming the US government fully follows through on Kigali, it could be the single largest contribution by people to keeping the planet below two degrees Celsius of warming—the threshold associated with keeping the planet livable for humans and other species. Wiping out HFC use under this agreement can help prevent more than 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which means avoiding up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100. 

Of course, there is still much to be done on climate change policy at home and abroad—but the ratification is a massive victory to climate-minded policymakers and activists. “This action will encourage other countries to join the agreement,” Dan Lashof, the US director of the World Resources Institute said in a release. “[It will] send a strong signal to the rest of the world that the nation is serious about addressing the climate crisis and investing in a cleaner, more sustainable economy.”

We Need To Talk About The Mental Health Crisis In The Nft Community

All good comes with bad, and the rise of web3 has brought a tsunami of both. In many ways, the last two years of web3 have been incredible. We’ve had amazing stories of rags to riches come ups, people pulling themselves and their families out of crippling debt, and others making a significant impact in their communities. Most importantly, we’ve seen a pivotal power shift between individuals and centralized corporations, placing more wealth and freedom into the hands of talented creators than ever before. 

But there’s also a dark side that we’d be remiss to neglect. The NFT industry is facing a mental health crisis. 

Whether you’re a seasoned trader, project founder, artist, or a novice learning the ropes, you’ve likely felt waves of stress at some point in your web3 experience. If you can relate, don’t worry. You’re not alone. 

In an industry fueled by FOMO, FUD, luck, and deep emotions, web3 can be taxing. Life-changing sums of wealth can be made, lost, or stolen overnight. In any other environment, this would be front-page news. In web3 it’s the norm. This abundance of opportunity draws in new entrants at a rapid pace, many with good intentions. Simultaneously, many will fall victim to their emotions, making FOMO-induced rash decisions, and investing money they cannot afford to lose. 

“My journey had been mostly in a vertical line, being super lucky and climbing up quickly. I started making a good amount of money and spend most of my time searching for bigger home runs. Right at my pinnacle is when I felt the most stress and emotion about missing out on gains, instead of focusing on preserving wealth. The more money I made, the more stress I had,” said Jay Kingston, an experienced NFT trader to nft now.

There’s a running joke within the industry that days in web3 are like months in the web2 world. As exaggerated as it seems, it’s also true. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to keep up with all of the information. Anyone who’s started from nothing in web3 will tell you first-hand stories of their beginner mistakes, feeling overwhelmed by information, and painful UX learning curves. Without setting proper boundaries, the desire to learn and open up doors can lead to exhaustion, overextension, and burnout. 

For this article, we’ve spoken to founders, artists, and investors within the NFT community to hear their own mental health experiences and pass their learnings along to you. 

Between selling and scaling their vision, soliciting new brand deals and partnerships, building a team, and interacting with the community, the work of an NFT founder never stops. Regardless of the project size, one thing is certain for founders: the pressure is always on and without proper load management, burnout is inevitable. 

Stacey Yael – Founder of Visible Women NFT

Visible Women

Stacey Yael, the founder of Visible Women NFT, has spent less than a year in the space, but immediately noticed a shift in her day-to-day life. 

“There is a big adjustment phase entering the NFT space because it is a global community and it’s a bit like Vegas- as it’s going 24/7. While the upside and opportunity for engagement are amazing, it can be hard to find a balance between building in the virtual world and living IRL.

When I first entered the space in December, I was shocked to hear how many members of the NFT community (especially women) were focused on mental health and balance. Day by day, I realized how hard it was for me personally to find balance. The abundance of opportunities to connect with others was taking a toll on my personal life. I’ve heard early adopters can often burn out before fully realizing their potential, and that would be a shame for all of us working so hard as founders and creators.”

Wil Lee – Founder of The Littles

For others like Wil Lee, founder of The Littles, the workload is manageable but the outside noise from the community makes an impact.

“Community is a double-edged sword. There’s never been a situation where the community doubles as your investors and has such close access to you as a founder. This allows you to get real-life feedback around what works and doesn’t. If you do something great, you are the hero. If you build something that needs improving, you’ll only hear the negative side. As you’re trying to build the ship, sometimes being able to deal with these unrealistic demands is very difficult. The space never sleeps and our team is global. At any hour of the day, you are consumed with feedback, meetings, and endless work. That itself blurs the line between your personal and professional life. This lack of boundaries led to my own experience with burnout.”

Alejandro Navia – Co-founder of nft now

“Burning out at one of my last startups helped me recognize my lack of prioritization of mental health. I  became an executive coach during COVID to help others make better decisions about freedom and fulfillment in their lives. When I came into the NFT industry, there was so much connection and symbiosis. But because of the pandemic, most of this was over the internet. It wasn’t until I met everyone in person for the first time at Bitcoin Miami that I started to see the warning signs of overextension and overworking. At nft now, our team treats mental health as a priority and is dedicated to helping others do the same. You need to preach what you practice. 

Cooper Turley – Operator Collector and Music NFT Investor

“Come to peace that you will not catch every win. It is impossible to be involved with every win, so instead learn to recognize what’s in your control, and what you must live without. Great habits lead to great mental health. I practice meditation every day and read every night before bed. Find small routines to center yourself and the outcome feels much more manageable.

But that’s only the business side. Many creators in the web3 space are artists at heart. Creating comes naturally, but the business side isn’t as easy. Regardless if you are launching a full project or operating as a solo artist, you’ll always be operating as a business. Sales, marketing, and administrative tasks are always top of mind.”

KingPickle.ETH – Artist and co-creator of The Snack Shop

The Snack Shop

Managing the weight of these added business duties has been a learning experience for chúng tôi the co-creator and artist behind The Snack Shop. 

“Overall, the NFT space has had a positive impact on my mental health. The real pressure comes in when I have to start managing elements outside my area of expertise within our project, which unfortunately just comes with the territory of starting a business on a tight budget!

Web3 has given TREMENDOUS power to creatives by allowing them the platform to finally protect and distribute their work. But this power isn’t something that is given freely. It is really hard work to execute on all the levels needed right now to be successful in the space.”

Bachziti.eth – Member of the FRAKTHQ DAO Comittee

While everyone we spoke to above has dedicated their full-time living to web3, others like chúng tôi dabble in Web3 on a part-time basis. As a member of the FRAKT HQ DAO committee, he engages with the community, listens to feedback, educates newcomers, participates in DAO council meetings, and organizes events. Still, he warns about trying to do too much too soon.  

Breaking Down Silos: Career Technical Education In The Era Of Common Core

The national conversation on “college and career readiness” — driven in part by the development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards — has the potential to shine new light on, and bring new respect for, the role that career technical education (CTE) can play in preparing all students for success in the global community.

Unfortunately, as Donna Pearson argues in the March 2024 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, our Common Core implementation efforts have not yet broken down the silos that traditionally separate the academic subjects from the knowledge and skills of CTE. As Matthew B. Crawford describes the situation:

After all, as a November 2014 survey of CTE teachers by the American Federation of Teachers points out, nearly 80 percent of CTE programs offer connections between secondary and post-secondary courses (and most that don’t are offered at the middle school level). And more than half (55 percent) take local labor market needs into account in program planning.

CTE programs offer students a relevant context for applying academic knowledge to the real world, which can both motivate and engage them (answering the dreaded question, “Why do I have to learn this?”), and help them transition to post-secondary and career experiences.

But note that while they may be written regarding the Common Core, they can also be thought of simply as best practices — ways to break down the silos that exist between CTE and academic subjects in many of our nation’s schools. They are:

This dichotomy is certainly false, as Crawford points out, “If diagnosing machines could be reduced to simply following rules, a diesel mechanic working on heavy equipment in the North Dakota oil fields would not be earning $100,000 a year.” And it doesn’t have to exist. Pearson offers three actions that states and districts can take to tap CTE in meeting the potential of the Common Core State Standards.

Toledo Technology Academy

One place that has put these actions into practice is Toledo Technology Academy (TTA). This career-tech school, part of the public school system in Toledo, Ohio, formed in 2002 as the result of a partnership between the district, local unions, and the business community. The school offers a STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math) for grades 7-12.

And in addition to traditional academic subjects, it offers courses in subjects like robotics, technical communications such as technical sketching and CAD (computer-aided design), electromechanical devices, computer-integrated manufacturing, and much more.

But early on, the school had a major problem: While they went through the motions of working together, teachers didn’t get along. Academic teachers (who tend to have college degrees in teaching) and technical teachers (who tend to come from industry) had trouble seeing eye-to-eye, lacking a common point of reference.

The faculty’s differences frustrated a series of administrators, until the school’s governing board hired Gary Thompson, a 34-year veteran of GM with a background in facilitating labor-management partnerships. A graduate of a vocational high school, he was also sensitive to the divide between the academic and technical worlds.

And he approached his job at TTA in the way he had always worked — listening to others, helping them find common ground, getting them to realize that they were on the same team. For example, he brought together the entire faculty weekly to discuss students and plan lessons. He made sure academic and technical teachers talked to each other daily, asked questions about what their colleagues taught and looked for ways to connect and support each other’s instruction.

Today, the school has a strong culture that emphasizes the importance of working together among both its faculty and its students.

The Bottom Line

As we move forward in the era of college and career readiness, we should look to schools like TTA that respect and prioritize both academic learning and CTE for inspiration. Their students — half of whom come from low-income families — are thriving.

Approximately 96 percent of graduates continue in some form of post-secondary education, with many working while doing so. And all graduates leave the school with a career portfolio that, in addition to a high school diploma, includes certifications showcasing professional expertise and letters of recommendation from teachers and the company where they did their school-sponsored internship.

The portfolio is perfect for presenting to either prospective employers or college admissions officers. In other words, they truly are “college and career ready.”

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