Numlock News: August 11, 2022 • Edtech, Golf, Sequoias
By Rachael Dottle
Today’s guest writer is Bloomberg visual journalist Rachael Dottle. In 2020 she was the Sigma Awards Young Data Journalist of the Year, and you definitely know her story “The Global Glut of Clothing Is an Environmental Crisis” from earlier this year. She can be found at Bloomberg and on Twitter.
EV Road Trip
Thinking of taking that Great American Road Trip in your Tesla this summer? You might just run out of juice in the middle of the Grand Canyon. Four of AAA’s 11 most popular road trips in the U.S. have portions of more than 200 miles between public electric vehicle fast-charging stations. In other news that does not surprise me, the U.S. lags behind many other countries when it comes to infrastructure and investment in public charging stations: Last year, China had 18 times as many charging cords as North America and Europe; South Korea had about twice as many. That may change with the Biden administration’s $5 billion plan to build electric vehicle infrastructure, including a proposal to build public chargers for every 50 miles on major transit arteries.
Edtech companies in India, which offer online engineering prep and tech courses in a for-profit model, are in high demand but have little oversight with hundreds of complaints against them for misleading ads, lack of transparency, and few customer service features. Edtech companies are the third-most funded industry in India’s startup space, with $4.7 billion raised in 2021. After the government issued an advisory warning citizens to watch out for misleading ads from these companies, many edtechs came together to create a self-regulatory body, the IEC, though it seems not much has changed. The Indian government continues to threaten to enforce regulations against misleading ads and unfair practices. In the first six months of this year, the IEC received 1,440 complaints about content, refunds, marketing and sales. Many social media platforms are also full of complaints against these companies for unethical behavior and data privacy issues.
Split The Check
Soaring prices across the country mean you may be paying for $20 glasses of wine and $16 small plates not just in New York, but in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina. Restaurants are facing skyrocketing costs for food, utilities, labor, equipment and just about everything else, too. Prices for proteins like beef and pork have jumped around 50 percent, and the cost for basics like cooking oil have doubled — the cost of 35 pounds of canola oil jumped from $22 in 2019 to $57 in 2022. The war in Ukraine is partly to blame for increased food prices as well as the oil and gas needed to keep restaurants cooking. Restaurants are feeling those costs as pretax profit margins become razor-thin, down to around 1 percent for a typical restaurant earning $900,000.
Climate change, it turns out, does not recognize borders, and the historic drought in the West is also affecting northern Mexico. Extreme weather, mismanagement and lack of rain have resulted in one of the worst droughts northern Mexico has ever experienced. Mexico has gotten about 2.7 degrees warmer compared to preindustrial times and droughts have lasted longer and become more intense. While climate change is partly to blame, increased water consumption through population growth and industrial agricultural activity are as well. In Monterrey, water supplies are dangerously low and unevenly distributed — while fields are green and breweries and soda factories carry on, many poorer families remain without sources of water as the city limits residents’ supplies.
While Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election failed, many Republicans loyal to the former president have since tried to change the way elections in their states are run, removing officials who didn’t declare Trump the winner and putting new restrictive voting laws in place. According to an analysis by Bloomberg News, five states with tight races may determine the integrity of the 2024 election: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. In all of those states, Trump supporters tried to overturn the results of the previous presidential election. Check out the state and data pages that accompany this story to track what states have done to protect or undermine their elections.
Money is flowing in LIV, the new Saudi Arabia-financed professional golf tour by Greg Norman. LIV may have just hit some roadblocks, though, as a federal judge refused to lift PGA suspensions for three LIV players. That means players like Talor Gooch that qualified for the upcoming PGA FedEx Cup playoffs will not be able to compete for the $18 million prize. While this may dampen some of LIV’s appeal, PGA players are still flocking to the cash. LIV guarantees each player at least $120,000 per tournament due to its no-cut rule. Some former PGA players like Carlos Ortiz are making up to $1.71 million dollars per tournament — a 3,435 percent increase compared to the $48K Ortiz was making per tournament in the PGA. LIV players do not even have to play their best (or even walk around on a lawn in a sporty polo); apparently Phil Mickelson played poorly in his first three LIV events, but his reported guaranteed signing bonus of $200 million will probably be enough to cheer him up.
Save The Sequoia
More frequent and extreme wildfires due to drought are threatening Yosemite’s giant sequoias, meaning more measures must be taken to protect the largest trees on Earth. Between 2015 and 2021, 85 percent of giant sequoia groves burned in wildfires compared with 25 percent in the prior 100 years. Giant sequoias, which average 164 to 279 feet tall, have natural resistance to wildfires with a thick bark that insulates the core of the tree. However, changes in wildfire and drought severity and human fire prevention tactics before 1970 have caused these forests to be extremely susceptible to lightning or your casually cool but problematic cigarette flick. This means sequoias must now be protected with foil, sprinklers, cleanups and other preventative measures or risk losing a significant part of Yosemite National Park.
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