Daily Archives: June 6, 2019

Climate change is becoming a defining issue of 2020

Democratic voters actually care about climate change. 2020 candidates are responding.
By Ella Nilsen – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks former Vice President Joe Biden’s $5 trillion climate plan — one of the first major policies his campaign has released — is a “start,” albeit one that needs to be scaled up dramatically.

“I think what that has shown is a dramatic shift in the right direction, but we need to keep pushing for a plan that is at the scale of the problem,” Ocasio-Cortez, progressive superstar and co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, told reporters on Tuesday. (For the record, she thinks the plan that gets closest is Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s, which she called the “gold standard.”)

But the very fact that Biden felt the need to release a climate plan near the start of his policy rollout shows the influence and success of Ocasio-Cortez and her allies in the climate movement.

Five candidates, including Biden, Inslee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former Reps. Beto O’Rourke and John Delaney have all released massive plans to combat climate change, ranging from $1.5 trillion to $3 trillion in federal investment over a decade. Candidates are factoring in the spur of private investments as well, hence the jump to $5 trillion in Biden’s plan.

“It’s a recognition of where the electorate is,” Monmouth University polling director Patrick Murray told Vox. “This popped out from the very beginning. Climate change and the environment in general was the No. 2 issue after health care for Democratic voters.

“I think it’s just becoming a zeitgeist for Democrats,” Murray added.

Over the past eight months, climate change has shot up as a core Democratic issue in polls. more>

Welcome to GAFA land—where the winner takes it all

By Susanne Wixforth – Amazon symbolizes the four platform giants, also known as GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon). The company is Europe’s largest platform retailer and its turnover is twice as high as that of its 20 largest competitors. While Amazon´s chief executive earned 2.16 million dollars per hour in 2017, its workers must be grateful if they receive the statutory minimum wage, which in the EU varies between €1.42 and €11.27 per hour.

In 2018, Amazon generated a turnover of about 210 billion euro worldwide, an increase of over 30 per cent on the previous year’s. The company has more than 600,000 employees across the globe. With a market capitalization of more than 730 billion euro, it is one of the most valuable listed companies. Its operating profit amounts to around 11 billion euro. Nevertheless, thanks to a ruling it had agreed on in advance with the tax authorities of Luxembourg, Amazon did not pay taxes on 75 per cent of its turnover between 2003 and 2014.

In the long run, the platform economy not only poses a risk to the stability and budgets of countries where the corporations earn their money but do not pay taxes—it also undermines social cohesion.

Amazon generates its turnover mainly through four channels: as one of the biggest online retailers, as the operator of by far the largest online marketplace for third-party suppliers, as one of the largest providers of online services and as the distributor of the ordered products.

Because of its large market power in some trading segments, independent traders depend on Amazon to reach their customers. There is evidence that Amazon is trying to force traders out through its sheer market power, for instance through copying products and undercutting prices. more>

Updates from Ciena

GeoMesh Extreme: Release the Kraken!
importance to global communications, and how Ciena’s new GeoMesh Extreme allows submarine cable operators to integrate several technology advancements to enable an open submarine network solution with greater choice and performance.
By Brian Lavallée – Now that I’ve got your attention, what exactly is a kraken?

It’s a legendary sea monster that terrorized ships that sailed the North Atlantic Ocean. It was an unknown danger that dwelled the ocean deep and could attack without warning resulting in untold mayhem.

Whether the kraken legend originates from a giant squid or octopus sighting is debatable, but it terrorized sailors nonetheless, as they never knew if or when the kraken could be encountered. Legends die hard, but there are real dangers that lurk beneath the oceans of the world, and this is precisely where submarine cables live and work.

Hundreds of years ago, when the kraken was terrifying sailors crisscrossing the world’s oceans, ships were the only method of sharing information between continents that were separated by thousands of kilometers of water. This was until the first reliable transoceanic submarine cable was established over 150 years ago, way back in 1866.

This pioneering telegraph cable transmitted at rates that we’d scoff at today, but it was undoubtedly a monumental performance leap when compared to sending handwritten letters back and forth between continents, which could take weeks and even months. Imagine you waited months to receive an important letter, but couldn’t read the sender’s handwriting?! Oh, the horror!

Most modern submarine cables are based on coherent optical transmission technology, which enables colossal capacity improvements over the early telegraph cables of yesteryear, and can reliably carry multiple terabits of data each second.

We’ve come a long way in improving on how much data we can cram into these optical fibers that are the size of a human hair, housed in cables the size of a common garden hose, and laid upon the world’s seabeds for thousands of kilometers. We’ve also come a long way in being utterly and completely dependent upon this critical infrastructure, now carrying $10 trillion – yes, TRILLION – worth of transactions every day, over 95% of all inter-continental traffic, and are experiencing over 40% CAGR growth worldwide.

This network infrastructure will become more critical, if that’s even possible! more>

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Updates from ITU

How AI can improve agriculture for better food security
ITU News – Roughly half of the 821 million people considered hungry by the United Nations are those who dedicate their lives to producing food for others: farmers.

This is largely attributed to the vulnerability of farmers to agricultural risks, such as extreme weather, conflict, and market shocks.

Smallholder farmers, who produce some 60-70% of the world’s food, are particularly vulnerable to risks and food insecurity.

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), however, have been particularly promising in tackling challenges such as lack of expertise, climate change, resource optimization and consumer trust.

AI assistance can, for instance, enable smallholder farmers in Africa to more effectively address scourges such as viruses and the fall armyworm that have plagued the region over the last 40 years despite extensive investment, said David Hughes, Co-Founder of PlantVillage and Assistant Professor at Penn State University at a session on AI for Agriculture at last week’s AI for Good Global Summit. more>

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