Changing the global food system, greedflation, and the best ballpark in America
April 10, 2023 - The Nett Report
Every other week The Nett Report provides readers with thoughtful perspectives useful to navigating life in a changing world. Past issues can be found here (recent) and here (past three years).
I am pleased to have been asked to moderate a thoughtful panel discussion for the San Diego World Affairs Council on April 20, 2023: "The U.S.- Mexico Cross Border Sewage Crisis." You might recognize the voice on the promotional video. Please click here for more information or to register. Image credit: San Diego World Affairs Council.
Financial institutions can help transform the global food system and cut global emissions
A March 2023 report by Planet Tracker provides a roadmap for transforming the global food system. The researchers analyzed 400,000 companies across 160 countries to describe how financial institutions could transform the global food system. Key findings include:
$8.6 trillion of private finance is funding the current unsustainable global food system, responsible for approximately a third (34%) of global emissions.
The estimated annual global investment to achieve world-altering results is just $300-$350 billion – equivalent to 4% of the $8.6 trillion of current investment
Planet Tracker’s six steps for financial institutions would cut global emissions by 20% and the food system’s footprint by 60%.
An estimated economic benefit of more than $1.5 trillion.
Individual food firms are set to lose 26% of their value by 2030.
What are the solutions offered by Planet Tracker?
Require fully traceable supply chains before 2030.
Halve food loss and waste before 2030.
Stop deforestation before 2030.
Cut agri-methane emissions by 45% before 2030.
Make agricultural systems regenerative before 2030.
Invest in alternative proteins.
Image credit: Planet Tracker
Who and what have contributed the most to global warming
In a March 30, 2023, story in Hannah Ritchie's Sustainability by Numbers newsletter, she reviews a paper by the Global Carbon Project which quantified how much countries have contributed to global mean surface temperature rise since 1851 and what greenhouse gases have contributed the most.
First the greenhouse gases:
69% (1.1o Celsius) – Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
26% (0.4o Celsius) – Methane (CH4)
5% (0.1o Celsius) – Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
That adds up to 1.6o C but does not include the cooling effect of sulfur dioxide and aerosols (together -0.5o C), which brings us to a total warming to-date of 1.1o C.
The image below explains the breakdown further:
The top countries adding to globl warming will not be a surprise:
0.28oC – U.S. (17%)
0.20oC – China (12%)
0.17oC – EU (10%)
For a full international breakdown, please read the article and see the links to the interactive charts. Image credit: Hannah Ritchie/Our World in Data
A few other climate stories worth mentioning
Deep Ocean Currents Around Antarctica Headed for Collapse, Eurasia Review, April 2, 2023
Gravity batteries: Abandoned mines could store enough energy to power ‘the entire earth,’ euronews.green, March 29, 2023
Oil Tankers Already Sailing Into The Sunset Of Peak Oil Demand, Clean Technica, March 28, 2023
Future of Work / The Economy
“At some point, I don’t think of this as just an Uber battle. It’s a battle against staying at home. How do we get people out? How do we get them playing and working together?” – David Risher, CEO, Lyft
Morgan Stanley sees trouble for the commercial real estate market
With remote work bringing about rising vacancy rates and falling property values, Morgan Stanley sees a huge hurdle ahead for the commercial real estate market. In an April 4, 2023, article in Fortune, the firm’s chief investment officer said, “office properties were already facing ‘secular headwinds’ from remote work, and she now sees a wipeout with vacancy rates close to a 20-year high: ‘MS & Co. analysts forecast a peak-to-trough CRE price decline of as much as 40%, worse than in the Great Financial Crisis.’”
Tired of potholes? In South Africa insurers are taking over filling them
Potholes are the bane of every driver’s existence, and it seems universal that governments can’t keep up with fixing them. According to an April 5, 2023, story in the Wall Street Journal, “South African insurers are joining other private companies in taking over public services, such as security, healthcare, education, and mail delivery, in a country that the World Bank ranks as the most unequal on earth.” They are even filling potholes. Corruption, mismanagement, recession, and the Covid pandemic have eroded South African finances.
Remote layoffs, tech layoff language, and $1 million Meta programmer salaries
As more tech firms lay people off, a trend has emerged where “bosses would rather fire you from your living room than in person,” according to an April 8, 2023, article in Fortune. Remote layoffs can “help workers privately process the news and all the complicated emotions that come with it … Dealing with the impact from home can help alleviate some of that.” According to a March 21, 2023, story in The Washington Post, 500 tech companies have laid off 148,00 workers in the past few months. What they have in common is the all-staff memo where tech bosses struggle with the language to use. “They point blame inward but also outward, for instance, alluding to the pressure of larger economic forces. They urge a positive outlook despite momentary clouds. And they rarely actually use the word ‘layoff.’” Meanwhile, an April 7, 2023, Post story reported that Meta pays its virtual reality developers salaries of up to $1 million.
Is Greedflation a major factor driving inflation?
Greedflation has been defined as “exploiting inflation to create excessive profits.” We have written previously how former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has reported that an unstated element of inflation is the rise in corporate profits. Now, in an April 5, 2023, Fortune story, Albert Edwards, a global strategist at the 159-year-old French-based bank Société Générale, wrote in his Global Strategy Weekly newsletter that “after four decades of working in finance, he’s never seen anything like the ‘unprecedented’ and ‘astonishing’ levels of corporate Greedflation in this economic cycle.” Fortune added that “a January study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City found that “markup growth”—the increase in the ratio between the price a firm charges and its cost of production—was a far more important factor driving inflation in 2021 than it has been throughout economic history.”
This is one of the worst times to buy a new car
Speaking of inflation, an April 2, 2023, CNN story says the average price of a new car has climbed from $36,000 to $48,000 in the last five years, climbing faster than any other point in more than 35 years. Here are some of the reasons why:
Consumer tastes have shifted towards larger and more expensive pickup trucks and SUVs.
New car buyers are loading up on options compared to more stripped-down models available a few years ago.
Both of the above trends drive up prices and also create incentives for automakers to produce pricier rides.
The used market is still affected by the decline in leasing trade-ins and rental car companies competing with consumers for the same limited supply of three to five-year-old vehicles.
The Political Divide
“There’s definitely a bipartisan agreement (among politicians) that we have to do something, given supply chain issues and the different points of view that China and the U.S. have. We can’t be so reliant on just one country, no matter who that country is. So there’s an effort towards reshoring … I saw a recent survey that suggested 70% of affected companies are planning on ways to deal with this reshoring effort.” - Gary Shapiro—CEO of the Consumer Technology Association
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” - Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist.
As China/Taiwan issue simmers, remember the Quad
In recent days, China has conducted military drills, including “simulated precision strikes against Taiwan in a second day of drills,” according to an April 9, 2023,story by Reuters. While these drills have been widely reported, it brings up thoughts of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s work as the architect of the Quad, a relationship between Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S. to “advance a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to a story in The Interpreter on July 26, 2022. Some articles about the Quad question how the alliance could address the China/Taiwan conflict, however, The Interpreter writes “If the group is to get regional buy-in, especially from other democracies, countries such as Indonesia and South Korea will also play a pivotal role in creating a sustainable Quad for it to truly encompass a ‘broader Asia.’”
Why sleep matters more than we know – an illustrated tour
Reuters published “An illustrated tour of why scientists are finding that sleep matters more than we know” on April 8, 2023. According to the article, which reports on work at Oxford University, people whose lives are synchronized with their body clock signals are less fatigued, have better moods, maintain healthier weights, gain more benefit from their medications, think more clearly, and have improved long-term health outcomes.” The article has very little text and is well illustrated.
Long Covid may accelerate dementia
A story in Birmingham Live on April 6, 2023, reports that “people who have contracted Covid are likely to experience brain fog in the weeks and months in the wake of their infection. And now it has emerged that having Covid-19 can speed up the progress of dementia if you already have it.” The work came from the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. “Slowly progressive dementias like Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, which usually have a fluctuating course, showed relatively unusual significant, relentless, and rapid progression in terms of deterioration [...] at one-year post-COVID-19." Image credit: Reuters
The Nett Light-Side
“A golfer's diet: live on greens as much as possible.” – Author Unknown
What’s the best ballpark in America? Petco Park is perfect
With the first week of the 2023 baseball season behind us, multiple publications have made their determinations of which is the best ballpark in America. Sports Illustrated calls Pittsburg’s PNC Park #1. NBC Sports says it’s Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. USA Today gives the honor to San Diego’s Petco Park which it says is the perfect ballpark … it has the best food and beer selection in baseball to go along with the top-notch location. It’s really difficult to imagine any stadium topping Petco Park — it’s simply the best.” In addition, a March 28, 2023 edition of the New York Times The Athletic newsletter ranks the San Diego Padres #3 in its “MLB Preseason Power Rankings: Where teams and their starting pitchers stand on Opening Day.” Houston was #1 in the power rankings. Note: please forgive our hometown pride about Petco and the Padres! Image credit: USA Today/Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
More baseball: climate change causes more home runs
In a very irrelevant but fun story in Science on April 7, 2023, it was reported that researchers have determined that “baseball’s sluggers hit more home runs thanks to global warming … in warmer air, batted balls are flying farther.” The researchers “tracked game-day temperatures and homers from 100,000 MLB games between 1962 and 2019 at stadiums at various elevations across the country … and more than 500 home runs since 2010 can be attributed to anthropogenic warming.” There was a 2% uptick in the number of home runs, estimated at 95 home runs per year. However, “those extra homers represent a tiny fraction of the more than 65,300 hit since 2010. They also account for only a drop in the tsunami of home runs that has inundated MLB. Over the past 4 decades, home runs have increased by 34% per game.” Batters attempting to hit the ball harder and higher and “small physical differences in drag caused by variations in the ball’s stitching” had a much greater effect than a one-degree Celsius increase in temperature.
More Norway, check out our trip on YouTube
Jacqueline Arroyo, who we befriended on our January trip to Norway and Sweden, has a YouTube channel called “Never Done That Before.” She has posted a nice video production, set to music, of many of the highlights of our trip to Scandinavia. Please enjoy!
Riding ocean currents home underwater after filming sharks
McGillivray Freeman films always does fun stuff. This video shows “legendary underwater filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall … riding the ocean currents home after a long day of filming sharks.” The piece is set to “Marrakesh Express” from Crosby, Stills and Nash. Watch here. Image credit: McGillivray Freeman Films
About Carl Nettleton
Carl Nettleton is an award-winning writer, speaker, thought partner, facilitator, and subject-matter expert regarding water, climate, sustainability, the ocean, and binational U.S.-Mexico border affairs. Nettleton Strategies, the consultancy he founded in 2007, is a trusted source of analysis and advice on issues at the forefront of public policy, business, and the environment. He helps people and organizations to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing the ocean plastic crisis in a new way.
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Yep ... not an easy answer ... nor a fun thing to do ... thanks for the comments.
Remote layoffs can be a good and a bad thing. Managers and executives need to make sure they find a common ground before taking joining in other companies doing such things.
While getting fired sitting in the front of a laptop at home will bring atleast some comfort, I do not think it can match the amount of comfort managers can provide by personally meeting and thanking them for their services. As I said, good and bad. Depends on the organisation and the number of layoffs. 12000 layoffs at once is better suited remotely. 200? I am not sure about that.