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What smart people get wrong about climate

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If anyone should be attuned to the real-world impacts of global warming, it’s the policy makers and business heads that have to deal with the fallout. But even the most well-intentioned can fail to grasp just how bad things could get if climate goals aren’t met.

At least that’s the impression I get. That’s why I reached out to Andy Pitman and Sonia Seneviratne, two of the world’s top experts on the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Their fields of study focus on extremes and compound events. Both worry that institutions are too focused on outcomes we can predict with high confidence. There isn’t enough appreciation of the risks associated with new weather patterns we don’t yet understand.

Warming of about 1.2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels has already had devastating consequences. “Once we get around 2°C we are getting to a climate regime which hasn’t been seen for as long as the human species has been at work,” said Seneviratne, a professor at ETH Zurich who oversaw the chapter on extremes in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The document, published every six to seven years, is the pinnacle of scientific knowledge about global warming.

Decision makers don’t fully comprehend the second-order effects, after physical destruction, that increasingly extreme weather events will have on our social and economic systems. Some of these outcomes are hard to predict and that uncertainty will only grow the more fossil fuels we burn.

That’s one of the reasons why economic policy makers focus their analysis around what is best known, such as mean temperature changes and historical correlations between gross domestic product and climate.

seminal paper published by the Bank for International Settlements warned that the “Knightian uncertainty” and “epistemic break” created by climate change present a deep challenge to monetary policy. But in practice the unknowns are still being overlooked. New scenarios produced for the central banks’ climate network in June, for example, only consider the effects of increases in temperature, excluding other factors such as extreme weather and sea-level rise.

Pitman, director of a multi-university center on climate extremes in Australia who has also contributed to previous IPCC reports, points to financial stress tests and macroeconomic modeling as one example of where this kind of thinking goes wrong.

The instruments are meant to estimate the effects of higher levels of warming, but “if it tells you you are resilient at 4°C, that doesn’t mean you’ll be okay. It means your analysis is crap,” he said. It’s like asking “what would happen if you jumped off a 50-meter cliff and then finding you’d land at the bottom and you’d be fine.”

Economists might disagree, he says, but “their modeling systems, the way they utilize information, only gives them a bit of the picture about what 4°C means.”

Seneviratne, meanwhile, says industry and economic analysts might be missing how different climate change impacts will interact with each other. “Different regions’ risks are interconnected and this means much more risk altogether to society,” she said.

For example, consider the face mask shortage early on in the pandemic or the delays still plaguing the global shipping industry. “We don’t perceive that a few critical areas are responsible for economic supplies,” Seneviratne said. “I see it in Switzerland. We are a rich country but we are quite dependent on supply chains because we rely on imports.”

Compound events, she says, are still not well understood by the public, either. “On top of sea-level rise you have more heavy precipitation and tropical cyclones,” said Seneviratne. “So many coastal communities maybe don’t understand that the risk will be much higher.”

To make matters worse, that narrow understanding of climate risks is often accompanied by an overconfidence in the ability of modeling to produce very granular forecasts. Pitman says central banks that are beginning to test financial institutions on climate risk assume degrees of precision that simply aren’t yet possible. “The argument I hear is that it’s better than nothing,” he said. “That is profoundly false, it is just plain wrong.”

Rainfall is a case in point. Heavy rainfall events are becoming more frequent globally, and will get worse. But this doesn’t mean that every place will experience more flooding. The effect of background warming on local phenomena resulting from changes in storm tracks mean some areas will likely experience much less rainfall, which can be disastrous in a very different way to flooding.

“It is better than nothing to be told ‘we think rainfall will intensify,’ where it might intensify 10%, 15% or 20% and we’re not sure exactly how much,” said Pitman. “But if we say ‘rainfall will intensify 15% to 30%’ and instead it stops happening over a region, that could be catastrophic. You haven’t adapted and you’ve wasted money.”

Talking about that uncertainty and the limits of what modeling can currently show has long been a double-edged sword. Climate deniers have pounced on it as a way to discredit climate science.

In fact, the opposite is true. “For me, the remaining uncertainties should be used as an argument for acting as fast as we can,” said Seneviratne.

Kate Mackenzie writes the Stranded Assets column for Bloomberg Green. She advises organizations working to limit climate change to the Paris Agreement goals. Follow her on Twitter: @kmac. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Like getting the Green Daily newsletter? Subscribe to Bloomberg.com for unlimited access to breaking news on climate and energy, data-driven reporting and graphics, Bloomberg Green magazine and more. You can read today’s newsletter on the web here.

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Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/what-smart-people-get-wrong-about-climate/

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Gamma brings in $7M to bring the slide deck into the 21st century

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Grant Lee has been living in slide decks for most of his career, but it wasn’t until he was doing some advisory work last year that relied heavily on slides that he aimed to reimagine the format.

“Slides were built for a different era of work,” he told TechCrunch. “They were more of a visual aid. You had to have a presenter because they have little standalone power without the person.”

Previously, people would print off slides or watch the presentation together on one screen, but the overall problem of people sharing and communicating their work has existed for a long time. Lee said. Slides have been around for over 30 years, and now everyone has their own screen.

So Lee and his co-founders, James Fox and Jon Noronha, all former Optimizely employees (Optimizely was acquired by Episerver in 2020), started Gamma, a software that enables users to build stacks of cards that fit a brand’s aesthetic and prioritize design by linking different bits of content, like videos and embeddable forms that can be filled out in real time.

Gamma

The Gamma team. Image Credits: Gamma

The idea for Gamma was to create something that still feels familiar to the traditional slide, but that also “unlocks a whole new set of super power,” Lee said. He refers to building content in Gamma like “choosing your own adventure,” and the content can be dragged, dropped uploaded and fit into the cards. And though the presenter is guiding the conversation, watchers can explore the content themselves and then go back to following the presentation.

The company was founded last November, launched in private beta in August and is now announcing $7 million in seed funding led by Accel. Other participants in the round include Zoom CEO Eric Yuan; former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner; founders at Airtable, Patreon, Segment, Honey and Optimizely; and early-stage funds including Script Capital, South Park Commons, LocalGlobe, Afore and Hustle Fund.

“When we came out of stealth in August, we were talking to Accel and thought they were the right partner,” Lee said. “Investing in a new medium can be difficult, but we were excited about crafting the right building blocks. The new funding will allow us to build out the team and the product, and it will help having the right partner.”

Gamma is now out of private beta and Lee said there are thousands of people on the waitlist to be onboarded. It is too early to discuss growth metrics, due to the company not yet having paying customers, but there will be some paid plans down the road, he said.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/28/gamma-brings-in-7m-to-bring-the-slide-deck-into-the-21st-century/

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El Salvador Buys the Dip, Now Holds 1120 Bitcoin

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El Salvador Buys the Dip Bitcoin News
  • El Salvador acquires an additional 420 Bitcoin
  • The country has now a total of 1120 BTC holdings

El Salvador remains one of the most talked-about countries in the crypto world. This time, El Salvador hit the headlines once again when it bought an additional 420 Bitcoin tokens. Furthermore, this Bitcoin purchase made by El Salvador lately marks the first Bitcoin purchase made by the country’s government.

This made Bitcoin Archive; a Bitcoin enthusiast, react in tweet post:

The tweet post created by Bitcoin Archive states that El Salvador recently bought the Bitcoin dip. As a result, the country of El Salvador now has a total of 1120 Bitcoin holdings, which is approximately worth $66 million at the time of writing. Indeed, we can say that El Salvador fully embraces the technology that Bitcoin brings.

Furthermore, the act of El Salvador in the adoption of crypto assets aids the people in the country that were unable to open bank accounts. Through this, the unbanked community in the country can now seamlessly transfer funds across borders.

In terms of liquidity, El Salvador has deployed a huge number of Bitcoin ATMs in the country. In this way, Bitcoin holders can easily withdraw and do other crypto transactions at the tip of their fingertips.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin trades at a bullish price of almost $60k per crypto. In addition, it has a monstrous market cap amounting to over $1 trillion, which makes it the king of crypto assets.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://coinquora.com/el-salvador-buys-the-dip-now-holds-1120-bitcoin/

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ZDNET

Concerns found about Apple NFC restrictions but not enough for new regulation

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apple-pay.jpg
Image: Getty Images

An Australian parliamentary joint committee has expressed concern regarding Apple’s business practice of only allowing the NFC chip within its devices to be used for Apply Pay, but the committee did not find this to warrant a recommendation for regulatory intervention.

In Australia, banks must pay fees to Apple to use Apple Pay. Other competitors in the mobile payment and digital wallets space, such as Google, do not charge a fee for the use of its Google Pay payments platform.

“The committee notes the imbalance in bargaining power between payment platform providers and other participants in the payments ecosystem. Nevertheless, the observation that the market power of digital wallet platforms, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, is causing banks to be price-takers may not automatically trigger the need for regulation,” the committee said.

“Such situations are common in modern capitalist economies like Australia and within the payments system, specifically … the case for regulating the market power of digital wallet platforms would need to establish why that is different or is creating more problems than other situations of market power in the payments system.”

The committee’s stance regarding Apple’s third-party NFC chip block was detailed in the committee’s findings [PDF] for its inquiry into the country’s mobile payment and digital wallets, which wrapped up on Thursday following the report’s release.

Rather than make a recommendation for regulatory changes, the parliamentary joint committee said it was happy for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to carry that burden of making recommendations instead. In doing that, the committee welcomed the ACCC’s investigation into this issue, which commenced last month, and recommended that the competition watchdog “draw on lessons from other jurisdictions”.

In addition to its support of the ACCC’s investigation, the committee has recommended for the federal government to have more power, through the Treasurer, in making policies in this space.

It also recommended that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) be given the power to make the ePayments Code mandatory for all industry participants. The code, currently voluntary in nature, regulates electronic payments including ATM, BPay, Eftpos, and credit or debit card transactions, online payments, and internet and mobile banking.

Another recommendation arising from the inquiry included for the Treasurer to direct the ACCC to conduct an in-depth examination of the merits of different regulatory and technological approaches to enabling least-cost routing on mobile transactions, including the merits of consumers retaining the ability to route transactions over their preferred network if they choose to do so.

In July, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) CEO Matt Comyn complained to the committee under testimony about the lack of access to Apple’s NFC antenna, accusing the tech giant of leaning on its market power to compel the banks into paying fees to use Apple Pay. Two months later, the black and yellow bank said Apple currently has an 80% market share in the digital wallets space.

“The fact that a single provider could have 80% market share in an individual market is usually cause for concern, and this is a company … [whose] market cap is double Australia’s gross domestic product, and certainly in the context of tax receipts, makes very little contribution to Australian government receipts,” Comyn told the committee.

CBA, along with most of Australia’s banks, signed up for Apple Pay in 2019 after they jointly lost their request to the ACCC to collectively bargain against Apple for access to its NFC interface four and a half years ago. 

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/concerns-found-about-apple-nfc-restrictions-but-not-enough-for-new-regulation/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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NEWATLAS

US Army commissions 300-kW, target-tracking laser weapon

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General Atomics and Boeing have won a US Army contract to prototype their most powerful distributed-gain laser weapon to date: a groundbreaking 300-kW, solid-state, target-tracking beast that could fry enemy missiles and aircraft out of the air.

The enormous speed advantage of a hypersonic missile means a lot less when you can shoot it down with an energy beam traveling at the speed of light. If a tracking system can keep it pointed in the right direction – which shouldn’t be too hard with a target traveling in a straight line, no matter how fast – a powerful laser can cause crippling damage, melting metal surfaces to play havoc with aerodynamics, and destroying onboard electronics.

Just look what Lockheed Martin’s 30-kW optical fiber laser did to the hood and engine of a truck within a couple of seconds, during a public demonstration back in 2015:

The laser disabled the engine and drivetrain of a small truck

The laser disabled the engine and drivetrain of a small truck

Last October, GA and Boeing teamed up to build a scalable 100-to-250-kW-class high energy laser weapon, essentially on spec, to show military purse-string holders that GA’s distributed-gain laser design was the solution to cooling problems that typically impose severe limits on high-energy laser weapons.

GA’s VP for Lasers, Michael Perry, told Breaking Defense last year that the distributed gain system sits in a kind of Cinderella zone for solid-state lasers. Slab lasers, which fire light into a big chunk of crystal as the gain medium, tend to overheat and require heavy, bulky cooling systems.

In contrast, fiber lasers, like the Lockheed unit mentioned above, have little trouble staying cool, since they distribute the light between a number of fibers that are spaced apart to disperse heat. But at the end, you need to combine these beams together, and the beam combination systems tend to be expensive, complex, heavy and bulky.

GA’s distributed-gain system is essentially a number of slabs run in series, each small enough to disperse its own heat. Light is fired into the first, which magnifies it and shoots it into the second, and so on. No heat issues, no need to combine beams, and you can package it however you want. Hence the company’s willingness to build its original scalable prototype without securing a military contract to do so.

Now, the US Army is on board, and GA and Boeing have been awarded a Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) contract to prototype a 300-kW version of GA’s laser with Boeing’s beam director and precision acquisition, tracking and pointing software built in.

According to Perry, the demonstrator will be “a packaged version of the 7th Generation of our Distributed Gain Design already demonstrated. The laser system employs two Gen 7 laser heads in a very compact and lightweight package. Recent architectural improvements have enabled our single-beam DG Lasers to achieve comparable beam quality to fiber lasers in a very simple design without the need for beam combination.”

There’s no word as yet on whether this system will be mountable on aircraft – the ultimate test of a compact, lightweight device without a crippling demand for power – but in the renders provided it certainly seems destined for portable use on the back of trucks.

While GA describes the forthcoming prototype as having “a lethal output greater than anything fielded to date,” the formidable power of this continuous-wave laser will pale in comparison to a proposed “Ultra-Short Pulse Laser” system that would unleash up to 5 terawatts of energy, in bursts as short as 30 femtoseconds, up to 50 times a second. Pop your sunnies on before you look down the barrel of that one.

Source: General Atomics

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Source: https://newatlas.com/military/ga-boeing-distributed-gain-high-energy-laser-weapon/

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