Thursday, 6 June 2019

Weekend Reading - Some Interesting Stuff

1) The chocolate we eat is produced by child labour and no one is doing anything about it
Mars, NestlĂ© and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor. The farms in Ivory Coast  form the world’s most important source of cocoa and are the setting for an epidemic of child labor that the world’s largest chocolate companies promised to eradicate nearly 20 years ago.
About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa where, according to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children were engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions.
One reason is that nearly 20 years after pledging to eradicate child labor, chocolate companies still cannot identify the farms where all their cocoa comes from, let alone whether child labor was used in producing it.


2) Puncture-proof tires, at last
Michelin is developing a tire called the Uptis (or Unique Puncture-proof Tire System), which is a tire that cannot ever go flat or blow out because it doesn’t require oxygen to stay rigid. Instead, the Uptis features an internal system of flexible spokes that support the tire.
Airless tires are not an entirely new idea. They already exist in the world of cycling, and even Michelin sells something called the Tweel for lawnmowers. The Tweel looks a whole lot like a mini version of the Uptis, with the same rubbery spokes in the middle of the tire. As the Tweel’s marketing materials explain, those spokes don’t merely replace the need for air, they work like mini shock absorbers, deforming to bumps to ensure a smoother ride than a bouncier, inflated tire offers today. Yet the car industry has been shy to adopt airless tires because, when properly contained, air is in many ways the perfect material for a tire. Air is virtually weightless, so it doesn’t impact a vehicle’s performance and efficiency. Air can also be hit with bump after bump and it doesn’t lose any structural integrity. After all, it’s just air.


3) We are eating microplastics!
Every day we are ingesting tiny, often microscopic pieces of plastic -- "microplastics" -- with our food, beverages and with the very air we breathe.
Those who exclusively drink bottled water rather than tap water can add up to 90,000 plastic particles to their estimated annual total.
The full impact on our health isn't known. Research shows some particles are small enough to enter our tissues, where they can trigger an immune reaction, or release toxic substances and pollutants absorbed from the environment, including heavy metals.


4) Overtourism is a new phenomenon
Late in May, the Louvre closed. The museum’s workers walked out, arguing that overcrowding at the home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo had made the place dangerous and unmanageable.
This phenomenon is known as overtourism. That has led to environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals in many places.
The root cause of this surge in tourism is macroeconomic. The middle class is global now, and tens of millions of people have acquired the means to travel over the past few decades. International-tourist arrivals around the world have gone from a little less than 70 million as of 1960 to 1.4 billion today: Mass tourism, again, is a very new thing and a very big thing.
A number of places have implemented or expanded or proposed tourist taxes, among them Amsterdam, Bali, Edinburgh, Ireland, Rome, and Venice. These levies on hotels and day trips both reduce the number of visitors to a given place and provide it with revenue to improve infrastructure and defray the damage that tourists inevitably cause. Governments are also rolling out regulations, such as bans on tour buses in Rome and gating-and-ticketing in Barcelona.


5) Away, creating Instagram-friendly luggage, bets on the overtourism boom
The startup world has a new unicorn, and its name is Away. Away joins the ranks of other “unicorns” — private companies worth over $1 billion— like Slack and WeWork.
The global industry for luggage will be worth nearly $55 billion by 2025, according to one estimate by Hexa Research.
Away boasts a direct-to-consumer model that helps them stay out of the red. “We’re profitable on each suitcase that we sell,” Rubio told Yahoo Finance. In just over 3 years in business, Away has sold over a million suitcases— and is on track to make $300 million in revenue this year. It has plans to open 50 more stores in the next few years.


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