Octopus spy, Ukraine climate costs, the grid, A.I., giant catfish, the economy, and Juneteenth
June 19, 2023 - The Nett Report
A brief note on OpenOceans Global: as the founder of OpenOceans Global, I was pleased to have been able to represent that organization on a Weather Channel show, Pattrn, on May 18, 2023, speaking about the ocean plastic crisis.
The Political Divide
Poll: is shipping migrants without their consent kidnapping?
The conflict over immigration at the southern border of the U.S. is clearly a point of political divide. Both Florida and Texas have been shipping migrants to the north to make a point about the impact of immigration on their states. A reader asked if that type of activity is technically kidnapping.
Under California Penal Code 207 PC, the crime of kidnapping is defined as moving another person a substantial distance, without the person's consent, by means of force or fear.
Under federal law, 18 USC 1201, a person is guilty of kidnapping who "unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person."
The history of Juneteenth - celebrating the freedom of enslaved Americans
Today is Juneteenth, the U.S. federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. My generation grew up without celebrating Juneteenth or even learning the word. According to historian Heather Cox Richardson in the June 18, 2023, edition of her newsletter Letters from an American, by 1867, “the federal government had encouraged ‘Juneteenth’ celebrations, eager to explain to Black citizens the voting rights that had been put in place by the Military Reconstruction Act.” The article provides a concise background of the history surrounding Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation, U.S. Army General Order Number 3, and the Thirteenth Amendment.
Future of Work / The Economy
Generative A.I. is “the next platform shift … the effects are going to be profound and wide-reaching … you can have A.I. that is constantly learning about your customers … and inject A.I. across every part of the company that touches the customer.” - Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson, in CEO Daily on June 6, 2023
McKinsey Global Institute sees generative A.I. adding trillions to the economy
According to Fortune’s CEO Daily on June 14, 2023, a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute says, “generative A.I. could add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually across the 63 use cases we analyzed.” The report estimates, “about a quarter to a third of work activities could change in the coming decade. The task before us is to manage the potential positives and negatives of the technology simultaneously.” According to McKinsey, 75% of the value comes from four use cases, which are already starting to take hold:
Customer operations. Half of the customer contacts made by banking, telecommunications, and utility companies in North America are already handled by machines. By automating natural language interactions with customers, generative A.I. could further reduce human-serviced contacts “by up to 50%.”
Marketing and sales. Can quickly create personalized messages tailored to individual customer interests and also create first drafts of brand advertising, slogans, social media posts, and product descriptions.
Software engineering. By generating initial code drafts, correcting and refactoring code, and otherwise accelerating the coding process, generative A.I. could replace 20% to 45% of current spending on this function.
Product R&D. Life sciences and chemical industries have begun using generative A.I. foundation models for what is known as “generative design”—generating candidate molecules and accelerating the development of new drugs and materials.
Looking to Costco for recession signals
According to GoBankingRates.com, changes in Costco customer buying habits can be an indicator of whether a recession is looming. Its called “the lipstick effect,” where “people will continue splurging on smaller items like cosmetics but delay larger purchases.” Here are some of Costco’s indicators:
Customers are switching from beef to less expensive choices like pork and chicken.
They are purchasing canned meat and fish which have a longer shelf life.
Sales of Costco’s private label brand, which sells for less, have risen in the last quarter.
Overall sales dropped 4.2% in the U.S. and 3.5% worldwide, largely from delays in buying big-ticket items like TVs and refrigerators.
“Back to the office” say Google, Salesforce, and Farmers Insurance
Both Google and Salesforce are bringing employees back to the office but using different strategies to achieve that goal, according to a June 7, 2023, story in The Washington Post. “For over a year, Google has asked workers to come in three days a week, luring them with free food and other perks. But now … workers that must comply with the three-day requirement or their nonattendance could show up on their performance reviews.” Salesforce said it will “donate to local charities for each day workers come into the office later this month, an attempt to appeal to workers’ altruistic impulses.” Farmers Insurance has also projected three-day, in-office workdays starting in September, despite being telling employees last year that “remote work was here to stay.”
“To address the climate crisis, … requires that we not just change or adapt, but that we transform society, from extractive to regenerative … it requires that we focus not on endless analysis of the problem, but on summoning an expansive sense of possibility, on harnessing our imaginations and our creativity.” – Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, marine biologist, in Time.
Why the U.S. Electric Grid Isn’t Ready for the Energy Transition
A June 12, 2023, article in the New York Times explains why the U.S. electric grid has to be better connected to be ready for the full transition to clean energy. The story says, “there is no single grid, there are three, one in the West, one in the East and one in Texas – that only connect at a few points and share little power between them.” In addition, the three are divided by “a patchwork of operators,” which makes it hard to “build the long-distance power lines needed to transport wind and solar nationwide.” The in-depth story provides a solid review of the challenges.
War in Ukraine has climate costs, too
The war in Ukraine “is deepening the climate crisis at a time when global greenhouse gas emissions are already running at a record high,” according to a June 6, 2023, story in Reuters. The first 12 months of the war will trigger a net increase of 120 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the annual output of a country such as Belgium. Here are some of the inputs:
Fuel used by vehicles,
Changes in energy use in Europe, and
Future reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure.
The information comes from “Climate Damage Caused By Russia's War in Ukraine,” a report funded by the European Climate Foundation and the Environmental Policy and Advocacy Initiative in Ukraine.
Large companies are holding to their climate commitments
According to a June 9, 2023, story in CEO Daily, “efforts to combat climate change have become entrenched in the strategies of the Fortune 500, not because they are good for the planet, but because they are good for business. Here’s why. A majority agreed or strongly agreed with the following:
77% - Better engage our employees.
61% - Strengthen our bond with customers.
59% - Open up new markets.
51% - Improve relations with shareholders.
Just 19% said that their climate efforts would help them reduce costs, and only 12% felt that climate efforts would “have no business benefit to us.”
“Remember how your body felt when you were 17, and it never even once bothered to whisper mortality in your ear, and now it sings it all day long like a bad pop song it can’t shake with lyrics of a funeral dirge? I don’t think I had a single sip of water until I was 28 or so. It was either milk or soda for the first 16 years, then coffee, soda, or alcohol. After that, just one glass of water at any point, and I would have gotten a full ride to Caltech.” - Grant Bisbee, The Windup, 6/7/2023
Plant milk is better for the environment, but nutritionally it depends
Plant-based milk is far better than dairy milk for the environment. Dairy uses more land and water, emits more greenhouse gases, and causes more eutrophication than plant-based milk. However, nutritionally, dairy tends to be superior in calories, and is a more complete protein source. This likely doesn’t matter in populations with a diverse diet, but those who depend on milk for protein will likely be deficient when drinking plant-based milk. On the plus side, plant-based milk is often fortified with vitamins and minerals. Hannah Ritchie, in her Sustainability by Numbers newsletter on June 7, 2023, does a comprehensive comparison of the different kinds of milk.
The Nett Light-Side
“If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day, it usually is.” – Catherine Poulsifier, author of Wings of Wisdom
Robot octopus with camera helps real octopus hide
Regular readers know I love this stuff! A BBC show, Spy in the Ocean, created an animatronic octopus with a hidden camera “to communicate with a real octopus in the ocean.” As reported by PetaPixel on June 7, 2023, “The pair end up interacting with one another when the Spy Octopus helps its real counterpart hide from nearby sharks. The camera brings a coconut shell to the real octopus so it can camouflage itself from the predators that are getting too close to them. The real octopus then cleverly steals the coconut shell from the Spy Octopus and uses it to hide from the sharks.” Check out the short video here.
Italian angler catches and releases nine-foot catfish
An Italian angler fishing on the Po River caught and released a nine-foot, three-inch catfish, likely a world record. However, the angler “feared harming it,” so he didn’t try to weigh the fish, losing a chance to claim the record. I am fascinated by the very human-looking eye in the image above from the June 10, 2023, story in yahoo!finance.
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 to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing ocean plastic in a new way.
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