The problem is the problem — #106
What are we working on, and who has decided it is the priority?
Good morning, First name,
This week, activities worldwide are going on to raise climate awareness.
While our planet shows us how things are not okay, we still have a long way to go before caring about the climate is not considered a hobby.
Clean Air — an ambitious side project.
"Oh, you're one of those who would like our art not to go distinct? How noble."
Fortunately, while ambitious and noble, our side project moves people's views, giving us all a better chance to be part of the solution. That makes me feel it is worth to continue.
Earlier this summer, I saved this Tweet:
And yes, more or less, everything needs to change. But that is the case whether we take on the change willingly or not.
Let's get into today's topics. Enjoy!
Five Small Things
READ — Writing for busy readers is my new bible, and it hasn't even landed in my mailbox yet. Expect better Newsletters in the future.
HACK — Turn your iPhone screen black and white to give your brain a break from all the pretty colours made to keep you scrolling. This simple trick has massively reduced how much I look at my screen.
Do it under Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Colour Filters. Turn it on. Now, three quick clicks on the right side button will toggle your screen between colour and black and white.
WATCH — Sex Education on Netflix is effortless to watch, well worth the time, and just released its fourth season.
ACT — Are you working in branding, marketing or PR and want to ensure you're on the right side of history? Clean Creatives tries to hold the advertising agencies working for fossil fuel companies accountable with a yearly F-list. And they have developed a toolkit for individuals or teams looking to change their agency from within.
EAT — While it is one of the foods destroyed by emoji culture, eggplant season is still the best. Here are 60 delicious eggplant dishes. Make them, and your life quality will increase.
The News Section
EU Cracks Down On Greenwashing: Bans Generic Environmental Claims
The European Union plans to help consumers looking for sustainable products by cracking down on misleading marketing claims. The new agreement will ban generic environmental claims and deceptive marketing tactics, such as using terms like "environmentally friendly", "eco", "environmentally friendly", "natural", "biodegradable", "climate neutral" or "eco", without proper evidence of recognised excellent environmental performance to support the claims.
Additionally, the new agreement prohibits marketing claims based on emissions offsetting schemes suggesting that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive environmental impact. Only sustainability labels based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed.
Finally, the EU wants to make guarantee information more visible with a new label highlighting products with extended guarantees. This move aims to inform consumers that all goods sold within the EU come with at least a two-year warranty.
The aim is to protect consumers and allow them to make more informed purchasing decisions. The final approval of this agreement is expected in November. Once in force, member states will have 24 months to incorporate these new rules into law.
Niger Coup Followed by Surge in Disinformation Campaigns Connected to Russia
Only days after Niger's military junta announced a coup that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, disinformation began circulating in Niger. An article by Inkstick describes how one video posted on July 28 claims to show the Minister of Niger crying when summoned by the military to explain the country's finances. The footage was later used by several famous African figures when they argued for the coup.
At least 30 posts on X (formerly Twitter) promote the same narrative, with the most popular one having over ten million views. But less than five of these 30 posts provide context that debunks the narrative.
Disinformation campaigns in Niger have focused on the French, ECOWAS, and Russia. False narratives include France obtaining uranium from Niger at a significantly reduced price and Niger banning Uranium exports to France. Videos also falsely claimed that Nigerian soldiers were arrested in Niger. The accounts promoting disinformation are mainly from outside Niger, and Russia has been fueling some of the disinformation narratives.
According to the World Bank, only 22% of Niger's population uses the internet. However, the original false narratives reach further than the fact-checking efforts trying to catch up.
(Thank you, Clara, for the tip!)
Budweiser Horses Get to Keep Full Tails After PETA Campaign
The beer company Anheuser-Busch has decided to stop amputating the tails of its Budweiser Clydesdale horses after a pressure campaign from the animal rights group PETA. The company confirmed that tail docking was discontinued earlier this year.
Tail docking artificially shortens a horse's tail. It is banned or regulated in 11 US states and several European countries. But a horse's tail is essential for swatting away biting insects and communicating.
Historically, tail docking prevented a horse's tail from getting tangled in equipment. Nowadays, it is mainly done for cosmetic reasons. Budweiser's Clydesdales' tails have been styled into buns and decorated with ribbons for public events.
PETA launched a campaign earlier this year - including an unofficial Super Bowl ad - criticising Budweiser's practices. It also included videos of horses with shortened tails trying to swat away insects, allegedly recorded at two Anheuser-Busch farms that are open to the public.
New Regulation Aiming at Protecting Kids Online Faces Opposition from Digital Rights Groups
Lawmakers in the United States want to protect kids from potentially harmful content with new restrictions called the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA).
KOSA was introduced after the Wall Street Journal reported that Meta knew Instagram was harmful to teenagers based on internal research leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. And that, for example, contrary to its policies, Instagram had recommended accounts promoting extreme dieting to teen accounts.
The new regulation would require platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to prevent and mitigate potential harms — such as anxiety, depression, and bullying — to all users under 17. However, it would not cover content a minor deliberately searches for.
The bill has bipartisan support, with backers ranging from President Biden to Lizzo. But the opposition includes important digital and human rights policy actors like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the ACLU.
Critics say that the bill is too vague and broad, and there are concerns about how companies would determine the age of users. Supporters believe tech companies have enough data to determine a user's age, while opponents worry about privacy.
The bill would also require platforms to let kids opt out of personalised recommendation systems and to label ads shown to minors, explaining why they see them. Because of this, the advertising industry organisation IAB opposes the bill, expressing concerns about its impact on digital advertising.
Furthermore, there are concerns about the bill potentially silencing LGBTQ+ content and infringing on freedom of speech. Google did not comment on KOSA, while Meta provided a general statement emphasising the safety of young online users.
The Insights Section
30% of Swiss Residents Embrace Green Changes Post-Thunberg's Climate Protests
A single individual inspiring collective action can influence societal behaviour at scale. A new study on climate strikes shows how approximately 30% of Swiss individuals altered their daily routines due to Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future climate strikes.
Greta Thunberg initiated her 'school strike for climate' in the summer of 2018. By the following year, this initiative had grown into a worldwide movement involving around 4 million students across 150 countries.
Researchers surveyed Swiss residents after the protests in October and November 2019. Over 1,200 individuals aged between 18 and 74 (who didn't participate in the strikes) were questioned about their environmental behaviours pre and post-protests.
Most survey participants viewed both Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future positively. 30% of these participants took tangible actions influenced by the movement, with the most significant behavioural changes reported in transportation, purchasing habits, and recycling.
AI in the Workplace: A Double-Edged Sword?
Artificial Intelligence, Work
A new study by Harvard Business School researchers looked at how AI, specifically Large Language Models (LLMs), affects the work of knowledge workers. The research was done with Boston Consulting Group and involved 758 consultants. The participants were split into three groups: (1) those who didn't use AI, (2) those who used a specific AI model (GPT-4), and (3) those who used the AI model with some guidance.
The main findings were:
AI can be very helpful for some tasks but not so much for others. This unpredictable performance is termed the "jagged technological frontier" by the researchers.
For specific tasks, consultants who used AI did their tasks faster and better. On average, they completed 12.2% more tasks and did them 25.1% faster. Their work quality was also 40% better than those who didn't use AI.
Yet, for some tasks outside of what AI is good at, consultants using AI didn't do as well.
The study also noticed two different ways people used AI to support them in their work:
"Centaurs": These consultants split their work between themselves and the AI.
"Cyborgs": These consultants worked closely with the AI throughout their tasks.
In short, while AI can be a great tool, knowing when and how to use it is essential.
22% of Workers in The United States Fear Tech Will Make Their Jobs Redundant
Artificial Intelligence, Work
On a similar note, a new poll from Gallup shows that 22% of US workers are concerned that technology will make their jobs obsolete — a fear that has increased by seven percentage points since 2021.
The change comes from college-educated workers' fear of job obsolescence due to technology, which has risen from 8% to 20% in two years. Concern among workers without a college degree remains at 24%.
Additionally, younger workers are more concerned about technology making their jobs obsolete than older workers. And the fear is higher among those earning less than $100,000 than those earning $100,000 or more. Both men and women have shown an equal increase in concern.
Workers' most common job-related concern is reduced benefits (31%). 24% of workers are concerned about reduced wages and other concerns include being laid off (20%) and having hours cut back (19%).
Only 7% of workers are worried about their jobs being moved overseas. And concern about technology replacing jobs is the only fear that has increased since 2021.
Black Friday Overshadows Climate Concerns in Search Trends
Online search trends can be a way to understand what people have on their minds — at scale. With the ongoing climate emergency, it's concerning that Black Friday, a yearly shopping event, is more requested than climate change from online search engines.
According to MyTelescope, there are roughly 4 million monthly searches related to climate change. But this number is still 24% less than the searches for Black Friday deals.
The difference highlights how short-term shopping discounts can overshadow long-term concerns like the health of our planet. It is a good reminder that we, as a society, must continue to raise awareness about the long-term impact of short-term actions.
That's all for today. ✨ I hope you enjoyed the reading.
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