Opinion | The Future of Electric Cars Is Brighter With Elon Musk in It – By John Paul MacDuffie – NYT

By John Paul MacDuffie
Mr. MacDuffie is director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Oct. 1, 2018

111
Elon Musk’s decision to settle fraud charges against him — by paying a $20 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission and agreeing to step down as the chairman of Tesla, the company he co-founded — is the best possible outcome for both investors in Tesla and anyone who cares about the future of electric vehicles.

By giving up the chairmanship for three years, Mr. Musk will have the chance to focus on some of the huge tasks still ahead for the company, particularly raising the financing to meet the company’s looming debts. And the governance measures imposed by the S.E.C. — for new board members, better review of communications and a permanent committee of independent board members to monitor disclosures and conflicts of interest — are exactly what the company needs to prevent another social media-fueled debacle.

His leadership matters well beyond Silicon Valley. Tesla, under Mr. Musk, has been the single most significant force driving the global automotive industry — and the consumers who purchase cars — to take the prospect of a fully electric vehicle future seriously. No other electric vehicle initiative — from Nissan’s Leaf and GM’s Chevrolet Volt and Bolt to the new wave of luxury electric cars being rolled out by German automakers and new companies funded by Chinese billionaires — has achieved the impact on the public’s imagination, brand loyalty or sales success of Tesla. Those initiatives might not even have occurred without the prod of Tesla’s example.

via Opinion | The Future of Electric Cars Is Brighter With Elon Musk in It – The New York Times

Advertisements
Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Opinion | The Amazon on the Brink – By Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman – NYT

By Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman
Dr. Fearnside is an ecologist based in Brazil; Mr. Schiffman is an environmental journalist.

Sept. 26, 2018

The Trump administration is not the only government that has been busy slashing funds for environmental protection. Brazil has been doing the same.

While Mr. Trump makes no bones about his desire to roll back environmental laws, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, a signatory of the Paris climate agreement, has sent mixed signals. To his credit, Mr. Temer pledged in Paris to cut his country’s carbon dioxide emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

His actions since then tell a different story. Last year, the Environment Ministry’s budget was cut nearly in half, as part of a national austerity plan amid Brazil’s punishing recession. And the agency responsible for protecting Brazil’s vast system of indigenous reserves is being virtually dismantled by draconian staff cuts.

via Opinion | The Amazon on the Brink – The New York Times

David Lindsay:: Behaviors similar to what are described here have occurred in Iran, which is turning into a dessert . In a century or two, Brazil might be in Iran’s predicament. US military intelligence predicts that Iran will have 50 million climate change drought refugees in the next 30 to 50 years. Brazil too, could turn itself into a dessert.

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Opinion | Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit? – by Jochen Bittner – NYT

For those of us who still want to see a vibrant, unified Europe, our best hope for the moment is the faint chance for a second referendum on Brexit. If Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan on how to leave does not find approval in Westminster, the question of whether to leave with no deal at all could be put to the British people: Look, is this really what you want?

ADVERTISEMENT

It is a remote possibility, yet it offers Ms. Merkel her own second chance — an opportunity to do everything she can to show British voters that the European Union is worth keeping. She could begin by endorsing limits — even slight ones — on the free internal movement of labor. Done right, it would send a signal that Brussels and Berlin are listening to voters, while doing minimal harm to Europe’s labor markets.

This would not hurt the principle of free movement as such. It would also be a move that the Germans themselves might find attractive, given that a new batch of countries — this time in the western Balkans — are lining up for membership. Whatever her answer, the choice is pretty clear for the European Union: reform, or face the next revolt.

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer.

via Opinion | Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit? – The New York Times

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Picturing a ton of CO2 – By Bill Chameides / EDF Blogs / 2007

By Bill Chameides / EDF Blogs / Published: February 20, 2007

Tons of CO2 pollution. We are always hearing about how many tons of CO2 pollution we emit. The average American car emits about seven tons of CO2 in a year; the average American family, about 24 tons; the United States as a whole, over seven billion tons; and worldwide, almost 30 billion tons. The Virgin Earth Challenge (see last week’s post) offers $25 million to whoever can economically remove one billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

But what is a ton of CO2?

People keep saying to me, I thought CO2 is a gas. How can a gas have weight? I explain that CO2 is made up of atoms, and atoms have mass, and with gravity mass has weight. As often as not, my explanation is met with a blank stare. So let me try a different tack.

Picture a football field, and then imagine a round balloon with one end lined up on the goal line and the other on the 10 yards line – that is, a balloon with a diameter of 10 yards. If that balloon were filled with CO2, it would weigh about 1 ton; it would be a 1-ton CO2 balloon.

via Picturing a ton of CO2

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far – By Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti – NYT

But to travel back to 2016 and trace the major plotlines of the Russian attack is to underscore what we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.

To many Americans, the intervention seemed to be a surprise attack, a stealth cyberage Pearl Harbor, carried out by an inexplicably sinister Russia. For Mr. Putin, however, it was long-overdue payback, a justified response to years of “provocations” from the United States.

And there is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved. In an election with an extraordinarily close margin, the repeated disruption of the Clinton campaign by emails published on WikiLeaks and the anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages shared with millions of voters by Russia could have made the difference, a possibility Mr. Trump flatly rejects.

via The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far – The New York Times

DL: This long article makes me want to weep, and then, go to work. Help support the blue wave, vote Democratic in the next congressional elections. For many and whatever reasons, Trump is Putin’s stooge, and he needs supervision from a patriotic congress, who will protect the Mueller investigation.

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

. .. . An agreement by the Palestinians and America’s Arab allies on their minimum foundations for negotiations, adds Ross, gives Palestinians cover to come back to the table and puts pressure on the Trump team to deliver a credible plan or be exposed as not being serious. And “it gives Israel a partner and some fateful choices to make.”

Say what you will about Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter 40 years ago, but they came to a point at Camp David where there were only hard choices — and they made them, and they made the right ones.

Image

President Jimmy Carter hosted the Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat, left, and the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, right, at the White House in September 1978.CreditAssociated Press
We’re again at a fateful moment. For the Palestinians, it’s choose nihilism or pacifism. For Israel, it’s choose separation from the Palestinians or get bi-nationalism or apartheid. For Jared and Donald, it’s either be serious — and be ready to take a tough stance with all parties, including Israel — or stay home.

Making progress toward peace requires telling everyone the truth, twisting everyone’s arms and not letting any party drive drunk. Not ready for that? Then stick to building condos and golf courses.

via Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – The New York Times

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Civil says the future of media is blockchains and cryptocurrencies – By Mathew Ingram – Columbia Journalism Review

Civil’s infrastructure, including its version of a crypto-currency, is based on Ethereum. When the platform launches in the spring, it will do an “initial coin offering” that will give its staff—including a number of journalists the company is in the process of signing up as contributors—an ownership stake. And Civil tokens will also be used to pay journalists who distribute their content through the platform.

Iles says he originally got a journalism degree and wanted to become a journalist, but then got pulled into the marketing industry. He and his wife created a digital marketing company they later sold, and he started looking for something else to do.

ICYMI: Ouch! These are headlines editors probably wish they could take back

“I had continued to follow the discussions around the state of journalism, and I was struck by how far off the mark everyone was as far as the next thing that was going to save journalism,” Iles says. “No one went to the root cause, which was that journalism needed a new business model. The leading digital advertising companies [Facebook and Google] were the distribution point, and they were just continuing the spiral journalism was going down.” As he learned more about Bitcoin, Iles says he became convinced that it provided the opportunity to reinvent journalism for the Internet era, and to wean the industry off what he believed was a toxic reliance on advertising, onto a crowdfunded model.

“I thought we’ve wrapped the world in beams of light with the Internet, and that structure should be a boon to journalism, and free and independent journalism for that matter,” says Iles. “I thought we needed to think more radically, that the existing business model couldn’t just be tweaked back into the service of journalism.”

Civil has raised a total of $5 million from a fund called Consensus Systems that specializes in crypto-currency investments, including a startup called Ujo that is focused on bringing blockchain to the music business.

Maria Bustillos, a writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, is one of those who has signed on to be part of the platform, where she will be running a Civil-based digital magazine called Popula. Among the writers she has lined up are Sasha Frere-Jones, a former writer for The New Yorker.

via Civil says the future of media is blockchains and cryptocurrencies – Columbia Journalism Review

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Is Bitcoin- and How Does It Work? – The New York Times

What is Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin mining refers to the process through which new Bitcoins are created and given to computers helping to maintain the network. The computers involved in Bitcoin mining are in a sort of computational race to process new transactions coming onto the network. The winner — generally the person with the fastest computers — gets a chunk of new Bitcoins, 12.5 of them right now. (The reward is halved every four years.)

There is generally a new winner about every 10 minutes, and there will be until there are 21 million Bitcoins in the world. At that point, no new Bitcoins will be created. This cap is expected to be reached in 2140. So far, about 16 million Bitcoin have been distributed.

Every Bitcoin in existence was created through this method and initially given to a computer helping to maintain the records. Anyone can set his or her computer to mine Bitcoin, but these days only people with specialized hardware manage to win the race.

via What Is Bitcoin, and How Does It Work? – The New York Times

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Sixth Extinction? | by Elizabeth Kolbert – The New Yorker

he town of El Valle de Antón, in central Panama, sits in the middle of a volcanic crater formed about a million years ago. The crater is almost four miles across, but when the weather is clear you can see the jagged hills that surround the town, like the walls of a ruined tower. El Valle has one main street, a police station, and an open-air market that offers, in addition to the usual hats and embroidery, what must be the world’s largest selection of golden-frog figurines. There are golden frogs sitting on leaves and—more difficult to understand—golden frogs holding cell phones. There are golden frogs wearing frilly skirts, and golden frogs striking dance poses, and ashtrays featuring golden frogs smoking cigarettes through a holder, after the fashion of F.D.R. The golden frog, which is bright yellow with dark-brown splotches, is endemic to the area around El Valle. It is considered a lucky symbol in Panama—its image is often printed on lottery tickets—though it could just as easily serve as an emblem of disaster.

via The Sixth Extinction? | The New Yorker

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Real Cost of the 2008 Financial Crisis | – by John Cassidy – The New Yorker

There is much more to the story, though, than this uplifting Washington-based narrative. In “Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World,” the Columbia economic historian Adam Tooze points out that we are still living with the consequences of 2008, including the political ones. Using taxpayers’ money to bail out greedy and incompetent bankers was intrinsically political. So was quantitative easing, a tactic that other central banks also adopted, following the Fed’s lead. It worked primarily by boosting the price of financial assets that were mostly owned by rich people.

As wages and incomes continued to languish, the rescue effort generated a populist backlash on both sides of the Atlantic. Austerity policies, especially in Europe, added another dark twist to the process of political polarization. As a result, Tooze writes, the “financial and economic crisis of 2007-2012 morphed between 2013 and 2017 into a comprehensive political and geopolitical crisis of the post–cold war order”—one that helped put Donald Trump in the White House and brought right-wing nationalist parties to positions of power in many parts of Europe. “Things could be worse, of course,” Tooze notes. “A ten-year anniversary of 1929 would have been published in 1939. We are not there, at least not yet. But this is undoubtedly a moment more uncomfortable and disconcerting than could have been imagined before the crisis began.”

via The Real Cost of the 2008 Financial Crisis | The New Yorker

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment