Sunday Reading – 11/20/2022

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

8 billion and counting – We never know precisely how many of us are alive at any one time, but this Tuesday is the United Nations’ best estimate on when we’ll reach 8 billion human beings. 

Eight billion. It’s a number too big to imagine but think of it this way: In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, the world’s population grew by around 20 people. 

While the Earth’s population is growing quickly, the growth rate is starting to slow down. Eventually, it will start falling and our societies will shrink. 

Humanity is changing day by day in ways we can’t perceive over short periods, but in ways that will reshape our world over the coming century. 

The world is likely to have a couple more billion mouths to feed in just a few decades.

The UN’s latest projections, released earlier this year, suggest the world will house about 9.7 billion humans in 2050.

“Demographic projections are highly accurate, and it has to do with the fact that most of the people who will be alive in 30 years have already been born,” the UN’s population division director, John Willmoth, says.

“But when you start getting 70, 80 years down the road, there’s much more uncertainty.”

Under its most likely scenario, the UN projects the world population will reach about 10.4 billion in the 2080s.  

But the range of reasonable possibilities in 2100 is considerably wider, between 8.9 and 12.4 billion. 

From there, it’s set to plateau for a couple of decades, before falling around the turn of the 22nd century. Read More > at ABC News

California gas prices are dropping. Here’s how low they could get – Gas prices in the Bay Area and California have dropped about 70 cents since last month, and experts say prices could continue to fall over the Thanksgiving holiday — and possibly through the end of the year.

The drop in prices was due to several factors, experts say, including refineries in the state resolving issues that caused prices to spike as high as $8 in October, as well as the state switching to a winter blend of gas that is cheaper to make. Crude oil prices have also ranged between $85 and $95 per barrel for several weeks.

Demand for gas is also typically lower during the winter months — especially in Northern California, experts say — as temperatures drop and people tend to stay close to home.

Still, California continues to have the most expensive gas in the nation, with the national average price at $3.74 per gallon as of Wednesday, according to AAA.

The average price for a gallon of gas in California was $5.40 on Wednesday — 68 cents lower than a month ago, according to data from AAA.

In the Bay Area, which has some of the nation’s highest gas prices, the city of Napa saw the largest price drop — 81 cents — over the last month, according to AAA data. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Budget whiplash: CA faces $25B deficit – $25 billion.

That’s the estimated deficit Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers will confront when crafting a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal advisor announced Wednesday.

The projection marks a stunning reversal from back-to-back years of unprecedented prosperity: The budget for California’s current fiscal year clocked in at a whopping $308 billion, fueled by a record $97 billion surplus that was by itself enough to treat every state resident to a $7,500 vacation. The year before, Newsom and lawmakers approved what was at the time a record-busting $263 billion budget that included a $76 billion surplus.

Although the outlook is sobering — not since the Great Recession have California’s revenue estimates been so weak, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office — it could be worse, in ways both good and bad.

  • The good news: California “is in its best-ever position to manage a downturn, by having built strong reserves and focusing on one-time commitments” rather than ongoing spending in the last two budgets, H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the California Department of Finance, said in a statement. Indeed, Newsom has for months been sounding the alarm about lower-than-expected revenues, vetoing bills that he said would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars. And due to legislative Democrats’ “responsible approach, we are confident that we can protect our progress and craft a state budget without ongoing cuts to schools and other core programs or taxing middle class families,” Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego said in a statement. (GOP lawmakers had a different assessment: “Democrats overtaxed Californians and grew government while ignoring investments in critical infrastructure like new water storage,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City said in a statement.)
  • The bad news: The Legislative Analyst’s fiscal outlook doesn’t take into account soaring inflation rates or the increasingly likely possibility of a recession. Due to inflation, “the actual costs to maintain the state’s service level are higher than what our outlook reflects,” the analyst’s office wrote. The estimated $25 billion deficit thus “understates the actual budget problem in inflation-adjusted terms.” And, if a recession were to hit, it would result “in much more significant revenue declines,” meaning California could bring in $30 to $50 billion less than expected in the budget window.

A lot could change between now and January — when Newsom will unveil his budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning in July — and between now and May, when Newsom will release a revised proposal following negotiations with lawmakers. They must reach a spending deal by June 15.

But what is clear is that the budget will pose political challenges for Newsom — who has not yet had to govern during an economic downturn — and for California’s newly elected lawmakers, who are set to be sworn into office on Dec. 5.

For one thing, a massive deficit could complicate Newsom’s efforts to levy a new tax on oil and gas companies. And for another, Newsom and lawmakers could be forced to slash, delay or downsize programs they’ve touted as signature achievements.

One program it might make sense to delay: Newsom’s $500 million plan to clean up homeless encampments, Legislative Analyst Gabe Petek said.

  • Petek“That’s a very good example of the type of pause we had in mind.”

But that may not go over too well with Newsom, who is under pressure to make a dent in California’s growing homelessness crisis — a problem he’s tied to the fate of the Democratic Party — and who is set to meet with local leaders on Friday to push them to develop more ambitious plans to reduce the number of people living on the streets. Read More > at CalMatters

Red Meat Is Not a Health Risk. A New Study Slams Years of Shoddy Research. – Studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer for years. But nestled in the recesses of those published papers are notable limitations.

Nearly all the research is observational, unable to tease out causation convincingly. Most are plagued by confounding variables. For example, perhaps meat eaters simply eat fewer vegetables, or tend to smoke more, or exercise less? Moreover, many are based on self-reported consumption. The simple fact is that people can’t remember what they eat with any accuracy. And lastly, the reported effect sizes in these scientific papers are often small. Is a supposed 15% greater risk of cancer really worth worrying about? 

In a new, unprecedented effort, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to various health outcomes, formulating a new rating system to communicate health risks in the process. Their findings mostly dispel any concerns about eating red meat

“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, we found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke,” they summarized.

The IHME scientists had been observing the shoddy nature of health science for decades. Each year, hundreds of frankly lazy studies are published that simply attempt to find an observational link between some action — eating a food for example — and a health outcome, like death or disease. In the end, owing to sloppy methods, varying subject populations, and inconsistent statistical measures, everything, especially different foods, seems to be both associated and not associated with cancer. How is the lay public supposed to interpret this mess? Read More > at Real Clear Science

Poll: Majority Say Mainstream Media A ‘Major Threat’ To Democracy – According to the latest New York Times/Siena poll, a healthy majority of Americans believe that democracy is under threat — and over half of those who believe democracy is at risk say the “mainstream media” presents a “major threat.”

The poll, which surveyed 792 registered voters between October 9 and October 12, asked respondents to select one of the two following statements as aligning closest to their views — even if they did not match exactly: American democracy is currently under threat (71%); American democracy is not currently under threat (21%).

The poll then directed the 71% who believed democracy was under threat in the United States to answer a few more specific questions about where they thought the greatest threats were coming from.

Fewer of those polled believed Republicans in general presented a major threat (28%) compared to Democrats (33%), but more believed that former President Donald Trump presented a major threat (45%) compared to President Joe Biden (38%). But the mainstream media — with 59% of respondents calling it a major threat and an additional 25% calling it a minor threat — was ranked as the greatest danger to democracy among the listed options. Read More > at The Daily Wire

3 Common Myths About Recreational Marijuana Use – As of today, 19 U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana and as many as half of all young adults in the country have used cannabis. With the stigma around recreational use crumbling, it’s important to talk about the mental-health consequences of marijuana use.

The main psychoactive cannabinoids found in marijuana, THC and CBD, are intoxicants. These compounds interact with your brain and body chemistry in complex ways to induce feelings of pleasure, relief, and well-being. Along with its positive effects, marijuana can also stir up negative feelings like anxiety and paranoia.

Moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with marijuana. Consider these 3 false but widely-held myths you need to stop believing to have a healthy relationship with marijuana.

1. “Marijuana is not harmful to your mental health.”

The science is conclusive: The THC concentration in marijuana is on the rise. A recent study published in The Lancet found that this increase in potency brings a slew of serious mental health risks for marijuana users. The study revealed that high-potency cannabis use was associated with a fourfold increase in the likelihood of addiction when compared to low-potency cannabis use. The research is in line with real-world trends in cannabis addiction treatment, which, in the past decade, has seen a 76% increase. According to CDC estimates, around 30% of all marijuana users in the U.S. meet the criteria for cannabis use disorder….

2. “Marijuana cures anxiety.”

Marijuana is touted by some as an almost magical herb that relieves you of anxiety and improves your quality of life. Science, however, finds that reality to be much more nuanced. A study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine found that while CBD may be helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety, THC is not. In fact, THC has anxiety-inducing properties….

3. “Marijuana makes you creative.”

Pop culture is full of anecdotal evidence that marijuana makes you a better writer, musician, or artist. Let’s explore this claim through a scientific lens. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology discovered that while users may think they are more creative while under the influence, the drug had no bearing on the actual creativity displayed… Read More > at Psychology Today

Smoking Cannabis Could Harm Your Lungs More Than Tobacco, Study Finds – Cannabis may do more harm to a smoker’s lungs and airways than tobacco, according to a small Canadian study published Tuesday.

Researchers from the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital looked at chest X-ray scans of 56 cannabis smokers, 57 non-smokers and 33 people who smoked only tobacco between 2005 and 2020.

They found higher rates of airway inflammation and emphysema – a chronic lung disease – among regular cannabis smokers compared to regular tobacco-only smokers and non-smokers.

“Marijuana smoking is on the rise and there’s a public perception that marijuana is safe, or that it’s safer than (tobacco) cigarettes,” Giselle Revah, a radiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, where the research was conducted, told AFP.

“But this study raises concerns that this may not be true.”

She said the higher rates of inflammation and disease among cannabis smokers versus tobacco could be related to the differences in how the drugs are typically consumed.

Despite these possible explanations, the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Radiology, pointed out that some of the cannabis smokers also smoked tobacco, and that some of the lung scans produced inconclusive results, meaning more study is necessary.

As Revah noted, there is very little research on the health effects of cannabis overall, as it is banned in most countries. Read More > at Science Alert

What it’s like living as a female psychopath – Psychopathy is not an official mental health diagnosis and is not listed in the fifth and latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Instead it is grouped under the wider term of antisocial personality disorder, although psychopathy is widely used in global clinical environments. It is broadly understood to be a neuropsychiatric disorder, where a person displays unusually low levels of empathy or remorse, often resulting in antisocial and sometimes criminal behaviour. The term was used by doctors in Europe and the US in the early 1900s and became mainstream by 1941, following publication of the book The Mask of Sanity by American psychiatrist Hervey M Cleckley.

“The world’s leading academics have debated the definition of psychopathy,” says Abigail Marsh, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Georgetown University, in Washington DC. “You’ll get very different explanations of psychopathy depending on whether you are talking to a forensic psychologist or a criminologist.”

Marsh says that criminal psychologists tend to classify people as having psychopathy only when they display violent and extreme behaviour. For her, however, the condition displays itself as a spectrum with other, less dramatic behaviour that can vary from person to person.

Psychologists and psychiatrists generally agree that between one and two in every 100 people in the general population meet the criteria for psychopathy, but Marsh claims that as many as 30% of people in the general population display some degree of psychopathic traits. For those who have psychopathy, it can mean they struggle to maintain close friendships and put themselves in risky situations, but the condition also takes its toll on the people around them too.

“Being around a callous or manipulative person is often devastating for people who are close to them, and exhausting for people living with extreme psychopathy,” says Marsh.

She says that the majority of studies concerning people with psychopathy have been conducted on criminal offenders. Some of these studies point to psychopaths – or those showing psychopathic traits – as making up a disproportionate number of people in prison, although there is some dispute about how prevalent it really is. In general, the research suggests that psychopathy is higher among male offenders (accounting for perhaps 15-25% of prisoners) than female offenders (where it is found in 10-12%).

But it is a field that is still understudied in the general population, while even less research is conducted on women. Read More > at BBC Future

The U.S.’s Struggle to Wean Itself From Chinese Solar Power – Solar accounts for about 4% of U.S. power generation. President Biden and other advocates of green energy are trying to boost that number significantly.

To make that happen, though, the U.S. would need to build a supply chain almost from scratch.

At the moment, the U.S. has little or no manufacturing for almost any component needed to produce solar energy. China, which can produce solar components less expensively, controls more than 80% of the supply chain, dominating the manufacture of solar panels and other vital equipment. In recent years, China has spent almost 10 times as much on solar manufacturing as the U.S. and Europe combined.

In a bid to boost U.S. solar production, President Biden in August signed into law the bill dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides bonus tax credits to renewable-power projects that use American-made equipment, as well as incentives for manufacturing solar panels, wind turbine blades and other components in the U.S. The Energy Department forecasts solar will need to grow to at least 37% of the U.S. power mix by 2035 to hit the Biden administration’s clean-energy targets.

With vast deposits of oil and gas, the U.S. has largely avoided the energy shortages Europe now faces in the wake of the war in Ukraine and Russia’s restrictions on fuel exports. The U.S. government and green energy advocates, however, want to boost energy production from sources that emit less greenhouse gas. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Target: ‘Organized retail crime’ drove astounding $400 million loss in profits this year – Target stores are getting looted, and it’s taking a huge bite out of profits.

The discount retailer told reporters on a call to discuss its third quarter earnings results that inventory shrinkage — or the disappearance of merchandise — has reduced its gross profit margin by $400 million so far in 2022.

“There’s a handful of things that can drive shrink in our business and theft is certainly a key driver,” Target CFO Michael Fiddelke said. “We know we’re not alone across retail in seeing a trend that I think has gotten increasingly worse over the last 12 to 18 months. So we’re taking the right actions in our stores to help curb that trend where we can, but that becomes an increasing headwind on our business and we know the business of others.”

A Target spokesperson told Yahoo Finance via email after the call the shrinkage was mostly “organized retail crime.”

Organized retail crime is not just a Target issue as it has impacted other big name retailers such as Best Buy and Rite-Aid. Read More > ay Yahoo! Finance

A third railroad union rejects proposed contract, further raising the odds of a strike – A third railroad union has rejected a tentative labor deal, a move that further raises the odds that America’s 110,000 freight railroad workers will go on strike early next month.

The rank and file members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers voted against a tentative agreement reached in September, according to the union and the railroads. The precise margin of the opposition to the proposed deal was not immediately available.

The union represents about 300 workers who repair and rebuild diesel locomotives and railroad tracks. It is the smallest of 13 unions that represent more than 100,000 union members at the nation’s major freight railroads. But if any of those unions do strike the railroads, its picket lines would honored by the other unions, which would shutdown a still vital link in the nation’s supply chain.

In October members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes District (BMWED), which represents about 23,000 track maintenance workers, voted to reject a similar tentative deal. So did the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, who maintain the signal system needed to run the railroads. The two unions are set to go on strike as soon as December 4.

A freight railroad strike would create massive problems for the US economy, snarling still-struggling supply chains and triggering widespread bottlenecks and shortages.

About 30% of US freight, when measured by weight and distance traveled, moves by rail. Any prolonged strike could send prices for goods from gasoline to food to cars soaring. In addition, factories could be forced to shut temporarily due to parts shortages. Products that consumers want to buy could be missing from store shelves. Read More > at CNN Business

Chemicals industry warns that rail strike will shut plants and cost economy billions – The U.S. chemical manufacturing industry is one of the largest users of freight rail, shipping more than 33,000 carloads per week, and it is forecasting billions of dollars in economic damage if a labor deal isn’t reached between rail companies and unions before a potential strike in December.

A new economic analysis released by the American Chemistry Council estimates that a rail strike would impact approximately $2.8 billion in chemical cargo that is moved weekly, with a month-long strike resulting in an overall hit to the economy of $160 billion, or one percentage point of GDP.

Chemicals are among the most sensitive cargo moved by freight rail companies, and the first to be dealt with when there is risk of a strike. Strike preparation plans released by the railroads back in September when a looming work stoppage was averted indicated that the freight companies would start securing critical chemicals like chlorine for drinking water over regular cargo seven days prior to the strike date. Ninety-six hours before a strike deadline, all chemical shipments are no longer moved.

“Railroads will stop shipping chemicals that are essential to everyday life well in advance of a strike, including products that are critical to safe drinking water and food production,” Sloan said. “Many chemical facilities would be forced to shut down within the first week of a rail service embargo.”

The ACC says the impact of a potential strike would be felt almost immediately across nearly every sector of the economy. It has asked Congress to step in, using the authority it has to impose a deal under the Railway Labor Act. Its economic analysis projects a spike in a key inflation indicator, the Producer Price Index — which showed signs of cooling on Tuesday — of four percent. Read More > at CNBC

Scientists Have Developed a Wearable Ring That Repels InsectsMartin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) scientists have invented a new type of insect-repellent delivery device. The active ingredient is first “encapsulated” and shaped into the appropriate shape, such as a ring, which may then be worn and releases an agent meant to repel mosquitoes for an extended period of time. The team published their findings in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

The researchers used “IR3535” an insect repellent developed by MERCK, to create their prototypes.

“Mosquito sprays containing IR3535 are very gentle on the skin and have been used all over the world for many years. That’s why we’ve been using the agent for our experiments”, says Professor René Androsch from the MLU.

It typically comes in the form of a spray or lotion and provides protection for several hours. However, Androsch and his colleagues are searching for methods to release the agent over a much longer length of time, such as encapsulating it in a wearable ring or bracelet.

Insect repellent was carefully inserted into a biodegradable polymer using a specialized 3D printing technology, and the mixture of substances was successfully shaped in various ways. “The basic idea is that the insect repellent continuously evaporates and forms a barrier for insects”, explains the lead author of the study, Fanfan Du, a doctoral candidate at MLU.

The rate at which the insect repellent evaporates depends on many different factors, including temperature, concentration, and the structure of the polymer used. After conducting various experiments and simulations, the team predicts that the insect repellent needs well over a week to evaporate completely at a temperature of 37°C (98,6 °F, i.e., body temperature).

While the researchers have proven that it is absolutely possible to develop a wearable insect repellent, the rings and other forms created for the study are only prototypes. According to Androsch, further research needs to be carried out to determine how well the rings function under actual conditions. The encapsulation material could also be further optimized. Read More > at SciTechDaily

Inventing the Crypto King – How the media created the myth of Sam Bankman-Fried – One of the most striking things about the collapse of crypto exchange FTX, once counted among the world’s largest, is the extent to which it caught the supposed watchdogs of the tech industry by surprise. How could Sam Bankman-Fried, the brainiac financial visionary, crowned earlier this year the “crypto emperor” by The New York Times, have steered his armada of crypto firms into the rocks so recklessly? With allegations of an enormous, brazen fraud lingering, the first place to look is at the central role of the media in this fiasco. Through an almost endless churn of fawning coverage, the news media turned an inexperienced—and, it seems, ethically deranged—trader into the second coming of Warren Buffett.

Bankman-Fried’s head has filled the frame of the most coveted business news covers in the world, including Fortune (“The next Warren Buffett?”) and Forbes (“Only Zuck has been as rich (23 billion) this young (29)!”). CNBC star Jim Cramer once compared Bankman-Fried, who has been active in crypto finance for only a handful of years, to John Pierpont Morgan, the giant of industry who worked in banking for nearly four decades before striking out on his own.

Remarkably, some major news outlets have continued to round the edges of the SBF myth, even after the discovery of at least a billion-dollar hole in FTX’s books, the assets seeming to vanish into the crypto ether. This week, Twitter erupted in outrage when The New York Times published what many have described as a “puff piece” on Bankman-Fried, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

The Times story on Bankman-Fried, who allegedly funneled FTX customer money into his private hedge fund, Alameda Research, is couched in passive, soft-touch language reflected even in the headline: “How Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Empire Collapsed.” The Times pieces describes Bankman-Fried’s misallocation of funds—which, if true, amounts to mass-scale fraud—in terms that remove active agency, writing: “Alameda had accumulated a large ‘margin position’ on FTX, essentially meaning it had borrowed funds from the exchange, Mr. Bankman-Fried said.” The piece, which describes Bankman-Fried as “surprisingly calm,” lays little to no blame at SBF’s feet, writing that FTX “lent as much as $10 billion to Alameda.” In contrast, business writer Trung Phan noted in a widely shared tweet that “fraud,” “crime,” “stolen,” “theft,” “criminal,” and “hidden,” make no appearance amid the article’s 2,000-plus word count.

But if critics found the recent Times article full of off-the-charts puffery, previous coverage makes this latest, post-FTX collapse piece look like searing investigative journalism. A May 2022 article by the same writer, The New York Times’ David Yaffe-Bellany, titled “A Crypto Emperor’s Vision: No Pants, His Rules,” jump-cuts from rapt audiences “roaring” with laughter at Bankman-Fried’s wit to his penchant for living “modestly” (in a $40 million Bahamas penthouse) to his chummy relationship with Tom Brady that purportedly began with Brady approaching the unassuming Bankman-Fried at a party to talk crypto. Read More > at Tablet

Not Beyond Coal: Despite Latest IEA Report, China and India Are Building More Coal Plants – On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency released a report on coal which it touts as being “the most comprehensive analysis to date” as to what would be required to “bring down global coal emissions rapidly enough to meet international climate goals.” In a press release, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said “a major unresolved problem is how to deal with the massive amount of existing coal assets worldwide.”

The “Coal in Net Zero Transitions” report is being released during the second week of the COP27 climate meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. And while the report contains a myriad of graphics and charts about how coal use might be reduced, the hard reality is that coal continues to be an indispensable fuel for power generation and industrial production. For proof of that, we need only look at India and China. 

Before doing so, let me quote again from the IEA’s press release, which says that “far from declining, global coal demand has been stable at near record highs for the past decade. If nothing is done, emissions from existing coal assets would, by themselves, tip the world across the 1.5°C limit.” It also quotes Birol as saying “Coal is both the single biggest source of CO2 emissions from energy and the single biggest source of electricity generation worldwide, which highlights the harm it is doing to our climate and the huge challenge of replacing it rapidly while ensuring energy security.” 

Therein lies the rub. And few countries demonstrate how energy security is trumping climate concerns than India, where electricity use averages about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per capita per year. Put another way, the average American uses about as much electricity in a month as the average Indian uses in an entire year. 

Given such paltry electricity consumption numbers, it’s no surprise that earlier this month, the Indian government launched its biggest-ever auction for coal mining. According to a November 3 article in The Hindu Business Line, the government has offered “133 blocks for auction, of which 71 are new mines and 62 are rolling over from earlier tranches of commercial auctions.” The auctions came just a few weeks after Power Minister Raj Kumar Singh said that India would add as much as 56 gigawatts of new coal-fired generation capacity by 2030. That would be an increase of about 25% over the country’s current installed base of about 204 GW of coal-fueled generation. In explaining the move, Singh said “My bottom line is I will not compromise with my growth…Power needs to remain available.” Read More > at Real Clear Energy

World’s Major Greenhouse Gas Emitters Falling Short Of Climate Goals – The world’s major greenhouse gas emitters are not on their way to meeting their climate goals almost seven years after the Paris Agreement was signed.

Overall, none of the four largest producers of greenhouse gases have cut their emissions enough to reach the benchmarks set by the Paris Agreement. Those main emitters are the U.S., India, China, and the E.U., according to new information released by Climate Action Tracker, an independent organization, as reported by The New York Times.

Each country differs on how it is progressing regarding emissions. China has the highest amount of emissions, which have been increasing over the past twenty years.

The country puts out almost one third of all greenhouse gases released by humans on the planet, which is more than the U.S., Japan, and Europe all put together. China’s emissions are getting close to their peak amounts, yet the country hasn’t put out new emissions reductions goals this year.

The United States has put out the most emissions historically and is still one of the highest emitters per capita. President Joe Biden has pushed for more climate change agenda items since taking office. The Democrats also pushed through the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a lot of federal money for green energy projects, including tax credits for wind turbines and solar panels, nuclear power plants, and carbon capture, plus help for electric vehicles.

While the European Union reduced its emissions in recent years, it has faced energy crises this year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set the countries back. Russia drastically cut energy supplies to the EU and has created a dangerous situation ahead of winter, forcing most on the continent to try to find other energy sources.

Germany has ramped up its coal mining and imports to get more resources before the cold winter months hit, and European citizens are struggling under high energy costs. The EU is making the most progress of the four emitters toward reaching its pledges to cut emissions, but their efforts have come at a cost.

India’s emissions are projected to surpass the EU’s next year, which will be exacerbated as its population rises. India’s population is on track to surpass China’s next year. Read More > at The Daily Wire

The End of Silicon Valley’s 20-Year Boom – The last month has seen a bunch of big technology companies—including MetaTwitterLyftSalesforceMicrosoft, and Stripe—announce layoffs. Now the New York Times is reporting that Amazon is preparing to lay off about 10,000 workers in its corporate offices.

These tech-industry job cuts have come in the face of new data showing that hiring in the broader economy remained strong in October. Companies added 261,000 workers, beating analysts’ expectations. So it looks like Silicon Valley is tightening its belt more than other industries.

I suspect this reflects a significant change in the economics of the sector. For the last 20 years, Silicon Valley has had the wind at its back thanks to rapid adoption of new technologies like the internet and smartphones. As a result, the industry fared better than the broader economy during and after the 2008 recession.

But the internet is maturing, and as a result big tech companies don’t have the same growth potential today that they did in 2012 or 2002. Investors, recognizing that, are increasingly demanding that tech companies focus on profits rather than growth. And that means there could be even more pain ahead for Silicon Valley workers.

It also means that the phenomenal deals tech companies like Uber and DoorDash offered to consumers in the 2010s are unlikely to come back. Back then, venture capitalists were willing to subsidize rides, deliveries, and other services in a bid to expand their market share. But now these markets are becoming saturated, and investors want to see a return on their past investments. All together, it could make for a less dynamic internet to live on—and, perhaps, a less lucrative industry to work in. Read More > at Slate

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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