Ocean Renewal

Blink:

Back in December I posted concerning how our planet is choking on plastic. I gave kudos to the CEO of The Ocean CLEANUP Boyan Slat. Today I would like to post about other ocean renewal projects which long-term will be beneficial to Planet Earth’s health.

Read On:

  • Reef Restoration – According to UNEP (UN Environmental Programme) coral reefs support approximately 25 percent of marine species as well a fortify coastal protection. Consequently, reefs directly impact the food and economic security of hundreds of millions of people around the world. UNEP estimates 14 percent of the world’s coral has been lost since 2009. Fortunately, marine biologists around the world are developing innovative solutions to restore reefs. To highlight a few:
  1. Collecting coral eggs and sperm to cultivate larvae in nurseries before being transplanted to damaged reefs.
  2. Applying probiotic bacteria to helps reefs withstand increases in water temperature so the algae they feed on are not expelled by a rise in temperature.
  3. Special drones which collate data to help assess reef help health, plus deploy new coral to damaged reefs in response to changes in a location’s water temperature and its pH levels (chemical conditions).                                                                                                                  
  4. Game of TrawlsBy the numbers, globally approximately a quarter of the fish caught (20 million tons) are discarded at sea or the dock primarily as a result of bottom-fishing nets collecting everything including the wrong species which becomes waste. France’s National Institute for Ocean Science has partnered with several fish companies to develop a smart net with a network of sensors and cameras monitoring the size and species caught in real time. The fish are sorted in the water. Unwanted fish are then released through a specially designed trap door before they are dragged on board and wasted. The device is called Game of Trawls, (an acronym for Giving Artificial, Monitoring Intelligence to Fishing Trawls). Smart fishing!
  • Eco- Museums – Last year the first underwater eco-museum in France and the Mediterranean opened here in Cannes. It made me aware of the world-renowned British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The artist’s submerged statues made from ecological friendly materials provide reefs which encourage underwater flora and fauna to flourish. His underwater art and ecological museums raise awareness to preserve marine biodiversity. His museum in Grenada has been designated by National Geographic magazine as one of the 25 wonders of the world. Jason deCaires Taylor’s informative Ted Talk.

Marine biodiversity is essential to Planet Earth’s health and occupants. It is encouraging to learn about the different innovative solutions in motion helping our damaged oceans heal.

Ocean Renewal – Tomorrow is now!

Sugar Water

Blink:

A friend suggested engaging with other writers to expand my broadband. He forwarded an excellent article from the Atlantic. I signed up for the author’s free newsletter. The Atlantic immediately pinged me I would receive eight comparable newsletters with a subscription. Reminded me of my elementary school science fair project.

Read On:

When you were in elementary school, in science class did you spoon sugar (a solute) into a glass of water (a solvent) to learn about solubility? Specifically, the point of saturation, the point at which the sugar you add sinks to the bottom of the glass in solid form. Chemical explanation: The molecular interaction between the sugar and water reaches a maximum concentration, if you add more sugar, it will not dissolve anymore. My apologies: A very esoteric analogy for the point of saturation I reach every time I am online conducting a digital review – aggregating information and engaging. Better known as TMI.

Have you been subjected to any sugar water lately?

Opinions welcomed!

2022

Blink:

I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Candidly I never know where to start. According to research, New Year’s resolutions remain popular, with three quarters of people globally planning to set a goal for 2022. 77% of people think 2022 will be better than 2021 (source: World Economic Forum).

Read On:

Ipsos, a leading global market research company, surveyed over 22,000 adults in 33 countries to give their personal predictions for 2022. A majority were optimistic and indicated 2022 would be a better year than 2021. Reasons for their optimistic outlook:

  • Progress in the fight against Covid-19, specifically improved vaccination rates.
  • In regards to the environment, 60% of the respondents believe there will be more extreme weather events in 2022 caused by global warming, but expressed more optimism about the readiness of people to take action to halt it.
  • Approximately one-third of the people believe their immediate society will become more tolerant driven by city centers once again becoming vibrant hubs.
  • Interesting economic dichotomy – people are optimistic the economy is rebounding. They believe the stock market will stabilize, yet three quarters of people expect prices in their countries to rise faster than incomes.
  • The survey also drilled down on what people were most concerned about in the year ahead – a natural disaster affecting a city in their country (39%), hackers from a foreign power bringing down their IT systems (38%), nuclear weapons being used (34%). Note: Interesting, outside of optimism related to the progress in Covid-19 vaccination rates 2022, the survey did not provide any insight about what percentage of people were worried/anxious about the pandemic. Was the question even asked?

My thoughts regarding 2022? I am neither optimistic or pessimistic. I am pragmatic. We all live in a topsy turvy Covid disrupted world, as evident by the Omicron variant racing through here in the European region at a record-breaking pace. Consequently, as a result of writing this post, I gave thought about setting 2022 goals. Again, like the start of every other year, I did not know where to begin. I concluded during these turbulent times the best I can do is to stay focused andnot squander, as in waste, any time as I further adapt to my new home. “Je suis content!”

Bonne Année!

A Dark Social Bubble

Blink:

Two weeks ago, I posted Mental Health? The day after I posted I read an unsettling article about suicide. Specifically, a dark social bubble I became aware of and decided to address.

Read On:

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. suicide rate has risen progressively over the past 20 years – 10.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 to 14 deaths per 100,000 in 2019. Significantly about 45,000 people now take their own lives per year, more than the number of people who die from traffic accidents. The greatest increase (45% higher than 2009) was among younger people15-24 years old.

There are numerous resources offering confidential support for people in distress. The leading online service is the National Prevention Lifeline in the United States. What I find alarming is investigative reporters for New York Times uncovered a website where members from around the world share their plans via public forums, live chats and member messaging about their suicide plans and methodology (poisoning hanging, etc.). The site gets on average 6 million views a month which according to a leading analytic company, is quadruple the National Prevention Lifeline. What I find even more disconcerting is the site is not on the Deep Web where resources on the Internet are not indexed by standard search engines (not found in normal web queries) or the Dark Webwhere resources on the Internet are intentionally hidden which is common for the eCrime and criminal marketplaces, (e.g., botnets, child porn and illicit drug use).

How has this site founded in 2018 not been taken down? Several reasons:

  • To date the world’s most powerful search engine has sidetracked any responsibility as it relates to steering visitors to the suicide site.
  • The two macabre founders, experts in dark content, live in different countries. They have successfully frustrated those who have attempted to take the site down by moving their servers and server backups around from country to country, plus utilize multiple aliases and domains to wash their real identity from the web.
  • Laws against assisted suicide are inconsistent and vary in the U.S. state by state; globally, country by country. More importantly, laws regarding the legal liability for content posted on the Internet are ambiguous.
  • Law enforcement has been laxed in their investigations since suicide is not considered a crime and is viewed as an unfortunate decision of an individual. In addition, many are hesitant online activity falls outside their jurisdiction.  

Members of the site contacted by the NY Times indicated it was a safe community to join so they could share their deep feelings, plus keep their suicidal intentions hidden from relatives and mental health professionals. A dark social bubble! Makes me wonder how many other dark social bubbles are out there on the web. More importantly, how many will sprout up in the future if the web morphs into a decentralized web (a.k.a. Web3), currently defined as a system of interconnected, independent, privately owned computers free of corporate or government controllers coded to work together to provide private, secure, censorship-resistant access to information and services.

Opinions welcomed!

Faster Than Global Supply Chain

Blink:

Question: What is faster than a speeding bullet? Answer: Superman!

Question: What is faster than the current global supply chain? Answer: Coronavirus!

Read On:

The variants Delta and Omicron, despite people being vaccinated, continue to surge globally. The European region which includes Russia, other former Soviet republics and Turkey has been hit hard. Omicron has been detected in at least 38 of the 53 countries. WHO data shows the region has in recent weeks reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases compared to population size anywhere in the world. Here, closer to home France projects a fifth wave during the holidays which could reach 100,000 new Covid cases a day, up from around 70,000 as the country continues to battle the epidemic.

Consequently, officials are tightening booster requirements and curtailing holiday events to avoid another lockdown.

I have read numerous articles about the global supply chain being broken. McKinsey’s October’s Global Survey monitoring executive’s sentiment regarding the major issues impacting their company’s growth, a majority cited mounting fallout on the supply chain ahead of inflation and the pandemic. Thanks to gifting one family here locally via e-Commerce for the holidays, I have finally witnessed first-hand, concerning the current global supply chain. The trail of three tee-shirts I ordered 12/16 for 12/23 arrival:

  • 12/18 ordered process (three tee-shirts in two different sizes).
  • 12/19 arrived at sort facility Jinjiang China
  • 12/19 departed sort facility Jinjiang China
  • 12/20 departed facility Shenzhen China
  • 12/21 departed facility in processing center Shenzhen China
  • 12/21 arrived at sort facility Shenzhen China
  • 12/21 arrived at international airport abroad China
  • 12/23 Expected shipment date Wednesday 12/22 – Still waiting for the shipment, no status updates since the tee-shirts arrived at China’s international airport 12/21.
  • Christmas Eve still waiting

Based on the current reported 7- day average in France, there were an estimated 364,000 new cases of coronavirus since my order was first processed. It definitely appears the Omicron variant is moving faster than my gift of three tee-shirts or any of the tee-shirts processed at a sort facility in Jinjiang China 12/19.

Joyeux Noël

Mental Health?

Blink:

I am amazed how many people talk about returning to normalcy as the pandemic persists with new variants materializing. Normalcy? I am confident globally businesses will rebound, travel will make a comeback as borders open when vaccination rates strengthen, but I am concerned about the future mental health of humanity.

Read On:

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health expert, but as a food marketer I do study human behavior beyond consumerism thanks to my business’s trend spotting services. I believe the stress/anxiety connected to the pandemic – death, illness, isolation, economic/vocational hardship, educational transformation will adversely impact mental health. Consequently, I decided to conduct some research to validate my hypothesis to write a blog post. I learned the National Center for Health Statistics aligned with the Census Bureau to collect relevant information about the impact of the pandemic in the U.S. – the Household Pulse Survey is tracking data on the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms. Key findings:

  • The survey first reported in July of 2020 approximately half (53%) of the respondents revealed the pandemic negatively impacted their mental health. In the survey’s last update conducted early in 2021, negative mental health related to stress or worry of the pandemic leveled off to 47%. Note: A recent independent poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found 50 percent of households reported someone experiencing serious problems with depression, anxiety, stress or sleep disorder.
  • More than half of women (55%) reported a negative impact, 69% of women ages 18 to 29
  • 38% of the male participants in the survey reported mental health difficulty.
  • Overall, 24% of U.S. adults reported having a family member or close friend who died of COVID-19 related complications of which three out of ten of these people indicated their mental health was seriously impaired; 53% of this subset said their mental health was impacted in a minor way. Six in ten people indicated they did not have a personal connection. However, 44% revealed their mental health was impacted in a minor way.  

Help! The survey also queried whether people sought mental health care. Most responded access to providers and affordability were their biggest barriers. One out of four adults who did not get mental health care indicated they could not find a provider (24%) or could not afford (23%) the cost (note: 10% claimed inadequate insurance coverage). A significant number of the survey respondents (18%) said they were too busy or get time off from work; 5% were afraid or embarrassed to seek treatment.

Candidly I find these survey statistics alarming. What will mental health for these people be like in a few years if they are not treated? One more major caveat. The survey was conducted among adults 18 years and older. What about the mental health of little people, especially those connected to someone who died of COVID-19 related complications?

Back in June I addressed the topic of mental health and questioned if there will be enough affordable mental health professionals, therapists and psychiatrists in the future to help us cope with a COVID world. One of my loyal followers wrote: “the answer is No! …. There aren’t nearly enough now.” Will technology be a potential solution for mental health care if we do not have enough affordable mental health professionals to help people with pandemic related mental health issues? Specifically, Emotional Artificial Intelligence (EAI)– “cognitive computing” designed to collect, analyze and respond to human emotions and simulate human thoughts. The EAI data and situations will be utilized to simulate human thought. Automated therapy is still evolving. Will mental health care professional be able to develop the scheme of algorithms for a COVID World, a topic I plan to explore in a future post.

Choking on Plastic – Forever Relevant

Blink:

As the coronavirus pandemic persists globally impacting the health of the human race, we need to also be concerned about the impact it is having on the health of Planet Earth. Specifically, single-use plastic waste consisting of PPE masks and gloves and medical hospital waste. One study estimates 25,000 tons.

Planet Earth is choking on plastic, a topic I addressed a year ago – forever relevant. Posted 12/21/20: Earlier in the year, I challenged it was time to question the true relevancy of content published on line. A member of my readership added: A.) “Frame of reference” key when assessing information; and B.) Fact check! Today’s query: Environmentalist claiming we are choking on plastic. What is the relevancy!

Read On:

Back in my January 23rd Relevance post, I shared a story how the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) analyzed the nutritional value of movie popcorn. They learned that the typical medium size bag contained 37 grams of saturated fat. Was 37 grams good or bad? To communicate their findings and make them relevant to the public, the CSPI created a visual: they laid out on a table demonstrating how one bag of popcorn was equivalent to the saturated fat from a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, a steak dinner with all the trimmings — combined! Relevance!

In 2019, a study by WWF International concluded we ingest approximately the equivalent of 5 grams of microplastic per week which is the equivalent weight of one plastic credit card. Recently, Reuters photojournalist Kim Kyung-Hoon published a series of photographs of meals made of plastic to further sensationalize the study’s findings.

  • A plastic credit card placed between two burger buns to imitate the 7 grams of plastic someone could eat in 10 days.
  • Lego brick pieces on top of sushi rolls weighing 22 grams, representative of the plastic one could eat in a month.
  • A safety helmet weighing 248 grams equivalent to ingesting plastic for one year.

Shocking, but relevant images. For me, an opportunity to applaud one of the true unsung, focused heroes on our planet during these difficult times, CEO of The OCEAN CLEANUP, Boyan Slat. Very positive! I highly recommend you carve out some time to watch the clip.

Greenwashing

Blink:

It has been a little over two weeks since the COP26 conference in Glasgow. The more I read, I am still grappling with what actually transpired. Numerous financial alliances were formed to champion carbon-neutral initiatives. Will the planned net-zero transition come to fruition or are we going to witness greenwashing?

Read On:

I am encouraged by one of the positive outcomes of the COP26 conference, the global commitment to a “Race to Zero” movement. Three years ago, only five businesses globally utilized science-based information to clearly outlined their sustainability agenda. At the conclusion of COP26, more than 5000 businesses and 1000 plus municipalities committed to joining the “Race to Zero” for a zero-carbon recovery that prevents climate catastrophes, creates extensive jobs and unlocks wide-ranging, sustainable growth.

Bottomline, human activities are connected to greenhouse emissions. Last month I posted the Advertising Paradox, advocating how people need to be more selective making their lifestyle choices to help mitigate climate change. Fortunately, numerous data points indicate people are concerned about climate change, triggering businesses and policymakers to implement more sustainable, equitable environmental practices. Unfortunately, greenwashing, a form of deceptive marketing spin used to persuade consumers an organization’s products/services, strategic objectives and policies are environmentally friendly (a.k.a. unsubstantiated blah, blah), has materialized.

A classic example of greenwashing was the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. In the wake of the COP26 conference, I am going to question the validity of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) climate change announcement at their year-end finals in Turin, Italy which happened to coincide timing wise with the COP26. They plan to align with the UNSCA (the UN Sports Climate Action), thus set ambitious sustainability targets for men’s professional tennis. How? They published a 16-page document online detailing their plans (e.g., track the tour’s resource consumption, reduce staff travel, implement sustainability initiatives at their tournaments, etc.). Total greenwashing! For the record their tournaments (60+) are played on six continents (30+ countries). In addition to conducting a carbon footprint audit associated with the travel of the players, what about all the fans? Are all their lodgings eco-friendly?What about the carbon footprint of the supply chain for all the tennis merchandise/apparel sold to ATP fans? What about the luxurious lifestyles carbon footprints of the top players – private jets, numerous homes, cars, etc., etc., etc.

The “Race to Zero” movement is a positive climate change initiative. I am confident one byproduct is it will advance global sustainability transparency. Hopefully authentic, relevant content versus greenwashing.

Opinions welcomed!

Wealth Before Health? Part Two

Blink:

In my last post, I interconnected how businesses supplying human activities generate profits while utilizing energy sources emitting greenhouse gases. In the process of advancing the global economy, humanity is destroying more wilderness for agriculture, mining and urban development. Another example of wealth before health negatively impacting Planet Earth’s health.

Read On:

Scientists have warned us the destruction of wilderness as I alluded to in my Blink above results in the risk of releasing pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites or prions carriers of infectious diseases). Normally these micro-organisms living in the guts of animal species would remain in these areas. However, as animal species are being eliminated, the pathogens are forced to move elsewhere for survival. Consequently, numerous biological science studies reveal virus spillover from animals to humans has been exponentially growing over the past few decades.

A prime example is the origin of the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 which has been speculated to be zoonotic in nature, most likely from the butchering and handling of bats in wet markets (popular in Wuhan, China) – which potentially infected another animal before spreading to humans. In addition, mass farming, involving animals jam-packed in very small spaces, and the huge overuse of antibiotics, creates environments where pathogens (e.g., swine fever) have the potential to flourish. Reality: The more we damage the ecosystems that support life on the planet to maintain our current human activities, impacting global warming/climate change long-term and recurring virus spillover (a.k.a. pandemics), we are prioritizing wealth before health.

Before I get off my wealth vs. health soapbox, I would like to examine global vaccination inequality. Approximately half the world’s population has received at least one COVID-19 shot. However, vaccines are not being distributed equally: Rich countries comprise approximately twice the population of low-income countries. They have received about 50 times as many Covid-19 vaccine doses, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance. The countries with the lowest incomes, generally have the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates. There are more than fifty countries where less than 25 percent of their populations have been vaccinated, thus putting a strain on their health systems and economies, plus leaving the door open for mutations/variants of COVID-19 as the pandemic rolls on.  One company Moderna, headquartered in Massachusetts, only manufactures a vaccine considered one of the world’s best defenses against COVID-19. To maximize the company’s ROI, it has predominantly sold its product to wealthy countries compared to Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson Wealth before health?

Opinions welcomed!

Wealth Before Health?

Blink:

We all are very concerned about Planet Earth’s poor health right now. Pundits agree there is no quick and easy fix. I advocate we need to adapt before we deplete the finite resources on our planet placing global wealth before health, a topic I plan to explore.

Read On:

Accomplishing a net zero world order by 2050 has been the primary topic at two key conferences in the last thirty days. Decarbonization of the world by 2050 where we have removed as much of the carbon emissions we produce, to effectively combat climate change is contingent on many factors. I am still struggling to get a better understanding of what was accomplished at the World Bank & IMF meeting in Washington D.C. and the Glasgow United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26). My interpretation: There is a huge gap between meeting rhetoric (a.k.a. greenwashing) and reality, as well as global collaboration between governments, companies, investors and consumers. The clock is ticking! I am cautiously optimistic we still have a chance to alter the course of heating the planet which threatens human civilization. It will take a combination of investment in green technology and a shift in human behavior. Both meetings underscored the importance of changing climate finance in “making or breaking” the 2050 decarbonization goals. Specifically:

  • Climate change has primarily been driven by richer countries with advanced economies. They will need to help subsidize the emerging markets, poorer countries, with the capital investment they promised for decarbonization. To date most have underdelivered their agreements.
  • Private institutions like pension funds and insurance companies have been wary about investing their stakeholder’s money in poorer nations prone to political instability and credit risks. The good news is a coalition of financial institutions with collective assets of $130 trillion pledged in Glasgow to create a fund to curb emissions and support industries implementing measures to limit climate change.

Candidly, I believe the COP26 conference in Glasgow ended on the whole with the same old tepid tune. Outside of striking a deal to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases, 200 countries pledged to return next year with stronger plans to curb emissions this decade to hold global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and for wealthier nations to double their funding to protect nations vulnerable to the climate crisis. I am concerned all the engagement about climate finance is for the most part rhetoric and will not totally filter down towards a net zero world 2050. Why? The burning of coal consumed in the production of steel and concrete, the utilization of natural gas and oil for electricity, transportation and heat are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally. The demand for these energy sources is driven by human activities – for instance the way we construct our infrastructure, heat our commercial buildings and homes, manufacture our consumer goods, fuel our cars/transportation, produce our food, engage in our leisure activities (e.g., travel, recreation, entertainment, etc.). Overall, the demand for energy is expended by businesses looking to yield profits. True there are innovative companies and municipalities driving sustainable solutions as a way to fix climate change, but to make major strides towards a net zero 2050 world humanity will have to adapt its behavior as it relates to where and how it lives. Otherwise, global wealth versus health will continue to prevail and debilitate Planet Earth’s health.

In my next post, I will explore how coronaviruses are another leading byproduct of wealth versus health.