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When did we become outnumbered by our devices?

Wed, 2014-06-25 14:11
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Do you remember life before the bar code?

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:46

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Thursday, June 26:

In Washington, the Commerce Department lets us know how much we earned and how much left our pocket books in May with the release of its personal income and spending report.

Two things that keep you moving—Winnebago and Nike are scheduled to release quarterly earnings.

Next, let's go back in time and stand in a supermarket checkout line in Troy, Ohio. Come on, it'll be fun. Hear that beeping sound? Forty years ago on June 26 a pack of Wrigley's gum made history when it became the first purchase scanned using a bar code.

It's National Chocolate Pudding Day. Doesn't that just take the word "diet" right out of your vocabulary?

And in Brooklyn, New York, the Cleveland Cavaliers have first dibs in the NBA Draft.

$200 a month for TV in 2020

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:43

On Wednesday's Marketplace, in an interview about the Supreme Court's decision ruling against the Aereo TV service, Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson mentioned he is a "cord cutter." Meaning, he gets his television and video content without paying a cable bill.

Here's why:

A survey out from the market research firm NPD group says the average cable bill now sits right near $90 per a month and we expect it to hit $200 per month by the end of the decade. $200. A month. For television.

GDP fell, and is rising again

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:38

U.S. gross domestic product fell 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, according to the third revised estimate from the U.S. Commerce Department. Earlier preliminary estimates had reported a smaller decline in GDP.

Contributing to this higher figure for GDP decline were downward revisions to health-care spending following the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. Government economists initially predicted that newly-insured Americans (and those on new plans) would spend more on healthcare than they did in the first quarter.

Most of the contraction in the first quarter is still attributed to severe winter weather across the country in early 2014 -- including the so-called Polar Vortex that spread across many northern states. It led consumers to go out, and spend, less. Businesses cut back on hiring, production, and investment. Other factors slowing the economy down included elimination of federal long-term unemployment benefits, and cuts to the federal food stamp program.

“This is a terrible number,” said economist John Canally at brokerage company LPL Financial in Boston. Yet, he said the stock and bond markets mostly ignored the statistic, looking forward instead to economic performance in the second quarter, as well as anticipated growth for the rest of the year and into 2015.

“The second quarter looks pretty strong,” said Canally, “with GDP tracking (positive) to between 4 percent and 5 percent. It would be the best run rate on the economy since well before the Great Recession.”

Canally pointed out that consumer confidence is up and so is hiring by businesses. Unemployment claims are down, while the manufacturing sector has strengthened.

There are also worrisome economic indicators on the horizon: rising consumer prices, especially for food and gasoline; stagnant wages for most workers; historically high levels of long-term unemployment; and international tensions in the Middle East, East Asia and Eastern Europe.

Most economists don’t think there’s much danger of the U.S. slipping back into recession -- at least, not without a significant shock, such as a further spike in oil prices.

MIT economist Jim Poterba is president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, which determines when the U.S. is officially in recession. He said the GDP reversal this past winter does teach us something about economic prediction.

“What I think we learned from the Polar Vortex, and we could learn from a protected heat wave, is that there are closer links between extreme weather fluctuations and economic activity than we may recognize,” said Poterba. “Potentially, extreme heat can have similar kinds of effects -- extreme demands on the electricity grid, for example.”

The National Weather Service predicts higher-than-normal temperatures in many regions of the U.S. this summer, including the West Coast, the Southern Great Plains, the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic States.

Oil from fracking may end U.S. ban on exporting oil

Wed, 2014-06-25 13:38

Ever since the oil crisis of 1973, when oil prices nearly quadrupled as a result of an OPEC embargo following the Yom Kippur War, there has been a ban on U.S. crude oil exports. But that may change.

In two rulings, yet to be confirmed, the U.S. Department of Commerce will allow two private companies to export a special type of crude oil. It's a tiny opening in what could be a big change for the oil industry.

The crude oil at issue is a specific type of lightweight crude called condensate. It’s very different from what you probably picture when you think of crude oil. Condensate is not the thick, black oil that came a “bubblin” out of the ground in the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies. Condensate is thinner, it can look like tap water, and it’s highly volatile.

“Condensate,” says analyst David Bellman, “is actually one of the crudes that would be the easiest to refine.” It would be the easiest to refine, if it weren’t for one problem. “The problem is that the refining industry, for the last couple decades, has been told that crude oil is going to get heavier and heavier,” says Bellman.

As a result, refineries invested in equipment designed for refining heavy crude. But since the fracking boom, 96 percent of new oil production is ultralight, not heavy crude. “It’s not a great fit for the refineries in the U.S.,” says Severin Borenstein, co-director of the energy institute at the Hass School of Business at Berkeley.

Oil producers are worried that this bottleneck could get worse, driving down the price of condensate. “So the argument they are making is, they should be allowed to export those crude products,” says Borenstein.

Industry analyst Fadel Gheit says lifting the ban would lower crude prices on the global market. But it would raise condensate prices in the U.S. That’s bad news for U.S. refineries, as evidenced by a dip in their stock prices today. “They had one of their worst days in years,” says Gheit.

There is no consensus among analysts on what lifting the ban would do to the price consumers pay for gas at the pump.

The unheralded path to success: be invisible

Wed, 2014-06-25 12:05

The desk of David Apel, a senior perfumer with Symrise, a fragrance company in New York, is covered with tiny glass vials of perfume trials with names like Taurus, Top Gun, and Zeus. This is, after all, the culture of #SelfPromotion. And if you're a celebrity, an athlete, or just a Greek god, chances are you’ve had a product named after you

FYI, Apel describes Zeus,  in case you shouldn't have the chance to smell an actual Greek god, as a combination of bergamot, orange and mandarin, as "very ultra masculine, very rich, rugged, very sort of, king of the hill of fragrance.”

Unlike another tiny vial on his desk with the more feminine name of "Love Mist."

Love Mist, Apel notes, is not a name he conceived. And, none of these fragrances will ever be named after him. He says he doesn’t need public recognition.

"If I walk down the street and I smell a fragrance that I've created, I feel wonderful," he says. "I feel like someone is wearing my creation, I'm expressing myself through them. I smell it in the air, I feel a really great sense of satisfaction from that. But I don't think I would feel any different, certainly not any better, if  I knew that my name was on that. It's not about a name. In the world of scent, this is all invisible."

Besides, he says, when he began his career, he got a lot of satisfaction from being the go-to guy at his company. Someone his colleagues could rely on.

"I still like that kind of behind-the-scenes role," he says, "being sort of invisible." And "Invisibles" is the name of a new book by David Zweig -- it’s about workers like Apel. Zweig describes invisibles as "people who are highly skilled professionals whose work is critical to whatever endeavor they're a part of, but who go largely unnoticed by the public.”

The anesthesiologist, instead of the surgeon. The industrial engineer, not the architect.

"If you have your gall bladder taken out, you're never going to forget the surgeon's name, but you'll probably forget the anesthesiologist's as soon as you leave recovery," notes Zweig, yet anesthesiologists possess an enormous amount of responsibility, with your life, literally in their hands.

Zweig says he got the idea when he was working as a fact checker at Conde Nast. “When's the last time you've read a great magazine article and thought to yourself, man that was fact-checked beautifully?" he asks. "You know, never."

The better he did his job checking facts, Zweig says, the more he disappeared. Today, he notes, we tend to equate power with attention, but often the people with real power are in the background. Invisible workers, he says, can often be the most successful, but they view themselves as part of a team. Zweig says although today’s culture is focused on self-promotion, instead we should focus more on our work and less on tweeting about it.

“One of the people I interviewed in the book had this really great line where he said, having a lot of followers doesn't get you good work. Doing good work gets you a lot of followers.”

But at the same time, Zweig says, being an invisible isn’t about being meek and hiding in a corner. After all, there are times when promotion is necessary -- like talking about your new book to the press. It’s just, he says, that we should focus on our work more. Like the invisibles do. Zweig notes they share certain characteristics:  they’re meticulous, they savor responsibility and, they’re ambivalent about recognition.

Dennis Poon, a structural engineer who works on some of the world's tallest buildings for global engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, extolls the virtues of the construction workers who "sweat so much" on his firm's buildings, which he describes as team projects. He says they're the real unsung heroes. Poon has received many awards and honors over the years for his work. He keeps them stashed in a cardboard box under a cabinet behind his desk.

He doesn't like to brag, he says. "Who cares? Because when you die, who cares about all your awards? It’s the spirit that's left behind that counts, that’s how I look at it."

But Robert Bontempo, a professor at the Columbia Business School, says while the name invisibles might be new, the group itself isn’t.

“There's a very clear science that shows these are just stable individual differences -- these are just different types of people. Different people are comfortable with different levels of professional approach,” he says.        

And different types of people, notes Bontempo, self select into different types of careers.

“Extroverted, life of the party types, become marketers," he says. "They don't go into the lab. Detail-oriented people with strict attention to detail become accountants, they don't like self-promoting sales positions. It's just sort of human nature.”

Both Zweig and Bontempo agree -- you do have to promote yourself -- it’s just not clear how much.

"I think we all look forward to a world where things are just and fair and people get the rewards they deserve," Bontempo says. "But until that future comes, I think we all need to accept that a healthy dose of self promotion is going to be necessary for career advancement."  After all, he notes, "history is full of brilliant, hard-working people who did great work and are lost to history."

After court verdict, what do I do with Aereo account?

Wed, 2014-06-25 11:21

Unless you've been ignoring most of the internet today, you know the Supreme Court handed down a decision on a big court case involving the video streaming startup Aereo.

Aereo rents users tiny antennas so that they can stream live television content from broadcasters to various devices. Aereo says it's just a modern version of your old TV rabbit ears. Broadcasters say that Aereo is more than that -- that it is acting like a cable company, showing content to people and charging them without having paid the proper liscensing fees to the companies that make said content.

In its decision on ABC Inc. vs. Aereo Inc., the Supreme Court effectively sided with broadcasters, saying that Aereo's streaming constitutes a public performance of copyrighted material. It also suggested that because of that, Aereo was acting like a cable company. Lots more of the nerdy details here.

So the big question is, what if I'm an Aereo user?

Well, for the record, I am. And for the record, I've been watching most of my favorite World Cup games thanks to Aereo streaming them from ABC and from Univision.

Here are some things worth thinking about: 

  • The case was remanded to lower courts, which may suggest some time will pass before the whole thing gets hashed out. Though its important to note that the majority opinion doesn't seem to leave Aereo much legal room to maneuver.
  • Two of the company's figureheads have put out essentially opposing statements on the future of the company. Investor Barry Diller said "we did try, but it's over now." Meanwhile CEO Chet Kanojia said today in a statement, "We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done.  We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world." Nice and vague, right? But in the wake of the decision, people inside the company may be trying to figure out what to do next, which could again take a little while. 
  • Like lots of startups, Aereo seems to be good at communicating with users. Because it's a digital company that requires an email to sign up for its service, Aereo has a direct route for communicating to users what is in store. The company has put out statements over email to users in the past regarding the case headed to the Supreme Court, so chances are, you'll get some communication before the service shuts down. 

After court verdict, what do I do with Aereo account?

Wed, 2014-06-25 11:21

Unless you've been ignoring most of the internet today, you know the Supreme Court handed down a decision on a big court case involving the video streaming startup Aereo.

Aereo rents users tiny antennas so that they can stream live television content from broadcasters to various devices. Aereo says it's just a modern version of your old TV rabbit ears. Broadcasters say that Aereo is more than that -- that it is acting like a cable company, showing content to people and charging them without having paid the proper liscensing fees to the companies that make said content.

In its decision on ABC Inc. vs. Aereo Inc., the Supreme Court effectively sided with broadcasters, saying that Aereo's streaming constitutes a public performance of copyrighted material. It also suggested that because of that, Aereo was acting like a cable company. Lots more of the nerdy details here.

So the big question is, what if I'm an Aereo user?

Well, for the record, I am. And for the record, I've been watching most of my favorite World Cup games thanks to Aereo streaming them from ABC and from Univision.

Here are some things worth thinking about: 

  • The case was remanded to lower courts, which may suggest some time will pass before the whole thing gets hashed out. Though its important to note that the majority opinion doesn't seem to leave Aereo much legal room to maneuver.
  • Two of the company's figureheads have put out essentially opposing statements on the future of the company. Investor Barry Diller said "we did try, but it's over now." Meanwhile CEO Chet Kanojia said today in a statement, "We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done.  We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world." Nice and vague, right? But in the wake of the decision, people inside the company may be trying to figure out what to do next, which could again take a little while. 
  • Like lots of startups, Aereo seems to be good at communicating with users. Because it's a digital company that requires an email to sign up for its service, Aereo has a direct route for communicating to users what is in store. The company has put out statements over email to users in the past regarding the case headed to the Supreme Court, so chances are, you'll get some communication before the service shuts down. 

The record industry is a lot like Wall Street

Wed, 2014-06-25 10:54

Music is a big part of our daily lives. Sometimes, we know too much about the artist than necessary and not enough about the people who discovered their talents.

"I realized there were important distinctions that made up the record industry. There were businessmen and there were execs," says Gareth Murphy, author of "Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry." "But there was a special kind of person who was not only a businessman, but a businessman with ears. People who could really spot talent -- early talent. They're all the ones who made the recording industry what it is."

Murphy defines the two different types of record labels as "cowboys or indies." The two compete, but they need each other for the industry to continue to grow and survive.

"The indies always find the next big thing and the majors, generally speaking, wait around for something to rise to the top," says Murphy. "But there always comes a time when any artist knows he will need a lot of money invested in him; they need mass exposure. And the only people who can afford that are the majors."

While conducting research for his book, Murphy found that not many people knew about the crash of the record or of the CD. He hopes his book reminds the record men and women of tomorrow of the troubles and industry crashes that were faced in the past. Regardless, he is sure that history will one day repeat itself.

"Just like economic crashes happen on Wall Street, the same thing happens in the record industry," says Murphy. "And there will be a renaissance, but we have to get back to the music."

How to get parents to pay $169 for a toy robot

Wed, 2014-06-25 09:38

When you’re covering educational technology, you see a lot of gee-whiz tech gear and toys that claim to make kids smarter. Lots of those toys make similar sounds. And we wanted to find out why.

So we went in search of the real meaning in the sounds of ed tech.

Lots of those toys are also pretty pricey. And it turns out getting parents to fork over for themalso  has something to do with sound, too.

Think of it as the sound of the sell.

Because this story is a story about, yes, sound, we encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to it.

Along the way we meet a robot named Bo, whose sounds were developed by folks who’d worked at Pixar, the movie studio behind Cars and Toy Story. Bo is an educational toy, meant to teach young kids to code. 

We meet Vikas Gupta, who heads Play-i, the company that makes Bo. He tells how sounds can establish an emotional connections between a child and the robot.

We meet director and composer Steven Wilson, who wrote the music for Play-i’s promotional video. He tells us about all the tricks composers use when writing music meant to make us feel a certain way. To put us in a buying mood, as it were.

And, we meet Bruce Walker, a professor in the School of Psychology and School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. He talks us through the future sounds of our technology and how sounds help create emotional connections that can encourage us to buy.

What do you think?  How do sounds influence your emotions?  We’ve got a cool audio quiz here.

Can minor chords make you cry?

Wed, 2014-06-25 05:47

On today's show I went in search of the sound of educational technology.

Turns out it is an upbeat sound, bright, often evocotive of childhood.  It is sound meant to make us happy.  Sound that moves us forward. That encourages us to connect to our devices and take action. Sound that inspires us.

Sound has the power to evoke all sorts of emotion.

Check out this very cool "Emotions of Sound" site.  And see how your emotional responses compare to those of other folks.

Supreme Court pulls Aereo's plug

Wed, 2014-06-25 05:42

The following story was updated after the Supreme Court ruled against Aereo in a 6-3 vote.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo violates federal copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programs without paying a fee, in a case that was watched closely by everyone from ABC to Google to the NFL.

The case involved internet start-up Aereo, which streams broadcast television – CBS, NBC, Fox, and the like – to consumers on their phones, tablets, and computers, but doesn’t pay those providers retransmission fees. Instead, the company charges a subscription of up to $12 a month for which subscribers receive a tiny antenna to stream and record broadcast TV.

If Aereo had won, cable providers might have argued they don't have to pay networks for the rights to show their programming. That means the networks would have lost billions, forcing them to live off advertising revenue exclusively.

Before the ruling, Harvard Professor Susan Crawford said a loss by Aereo could raise numerous copyright questions about services somewhat similar to Aereo; services that store movies and music in the cloud, for example.

She says ultimately Congress may have to get involved, meaning a long fight in Washington with a “mosh pit of special interests” battling it out.

Climate change could be good for those who sell seeds

Wed, 2014-06-25 03:00

Agriculture was one focus of a new report called "Risky Business" that looks at the economic impacts of global warming, and its findings could be good for companies like Monsanto, which sells seeds to farmers around the world.

Global warming will produce winners and losers in farming: If Iowa gets too hot to produce corn, North Dakota will warm up enough to grow it. A company like Monsanto could be a winner.

"If they can solve the problem of developing crops that are resistant to these types of extreme temperatures, they’re going to make a lot of money," says Solomon Hsiang, a Berkeley economist who co-wrote the “Risky Business” report.

Monsanto already benefits from warmer weather. Lewis Ziska from the U.S. Department of Agriculture looked at trends in pesticide use from north to south. The south’s warmer, shorter winters don’t kill off as many weeds and bugs.

"Farmers are, of course, not stupid," Ziska says. "They simply have to use more pesticides to get the same yields."

Monsanto makes a lot of those weed-killers and bug-killers. 

"As the climate of Missouri or Iowa becomes more like the climate of Louisiana, then that’s going to be reflected in terms of the chemical usage," says Ziska.

But pesticides, like antibiotics, tend to become less effective over time, especially when over-used. Monsanto would have to earn its money by creating newer, more-effective chemicals.

 

Silicon Valley comes to Oakland

Wed, 2014-06-25 03:00

First there was Silicon Valley. Then, the tech industry surged up into San Francisco. Now, it has hopped across the bay into Oakland.

Kisha Richardson runs her start-up out of the Impact Hub, a new co-working space near downtown Oakland. Her app is called CleanME. It helps people manage home cleaning services. In a lot of ways, Richardson is a typical tech entrepreneur: she played with Legos as a kid, loves to build things, and geeks out over code.

But in a lot of ways she doesn't fit the profile -- She's a woman, she's African American, and her start-up is in Oakland.

“This is where it is at,” Richardson says. "When you have artists and creatives and engineers all clustering into one area, magic happens.”

Richardson says she came to Oakland because it feels like Brooklyn. It's close to the big city, cheaper, and has a different vibe.

Mitchell Kapor is trying to grow that vibe. He has a venture capital fund in Oakland, and part of its mission is to support minority and female entrepreneurs. He thinks Oakland could be a hub for that diversity.

“Oakland is the next cool place,” he says. "It has a certain gritty and resilient character that I think are going to be a positive influence on the tech community that is formed here.”

The tech industry is being criticized for its lack of diversity. Google just released data showing that about ninety-one percent of its employees are either Asian or White, and seventy percent are men. The company is working to improve its image in Oakland. It has donated $500,000 to a charity that teaches low-income youth tech and business skills.

But not everyone is impressed. 

“It's tokenism. It's marketing. It's public relations," says Olis Simmons, the chief executive officer of Youth Uprising, a community center in Oakland.

Simmons says what the city really needs is serious investments in schools and social services. Unemployment hovers around twenty percent in her neighborhood, and the school next door still doesn't have reliable high-speed internet.

“The truth is,” she says, “if you don't invest, then over the long haul, what you do is you transfer ownership of your city to a group of people that are new.”

And new people are pouring into Oakland. The last census shows there are now more white residents than black for the first time since the 1970s.

PODCAST: Oakland's Silicon Valley

Wed, 2014-06-25 02:00

The Obama administration is moving to remove a 40 year ban on oil exports. We take a look at what that means for gas prices. Plus, with the tech industry's notorious gender and diversity issues, Google has donated $50 million to "Made with Code," which is meant to inspire young girls. But change might mean more than just money for education. Plus, why Oakland may be the next Silicon Valley, but with more diversity than its counterpart across the bay.

Parking apps under scrutiny from city governments

Wed, 2014-06-25 02:00

Parking in a big city is one of those tasks that seem to often inspire annoyance. Just as well, plenty of apps have stepped in to improve the experience.

But San Francisco's City Attorney sent a cease and desist letter to one such app maker this week.

MonkeyParking tries to match people looking for parking spots and people willing to leave them, and does so for a price. The app allows people to inform others that they are leaving a spot, thus opening it up for bids. The evacuator can be paid as much as $10 by the seeker, a prospect the city is not enthused with.  

San Fransico says the app involves the buying and selling of city property. The app maker counters that it it simply selling information. 

Mike Billings, who covers tech and venture capital for the Wall Street Journal, notes that the city itself has experimented with creating parking apps, thus adding an element of public-private competition to the story. 

Click the audio player above to hear more on the topic.

The new growth engine for airports: cargo

Wed, 2014-06-25 02:00

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport holds the honor of “world’s busiest” when it comes to passengers. But it doesn’t crack the top 30 in terms of cargo; something Louisville, Anchorage, and Indianapolis all do.

Airport officials, and even Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, want to change that. But it’s not necessarily an easy proposition. Nor is it a sexy one, admits Ilona Zimmer, a coordinator for Lufthansa Cargo.

Inside the German airline’s cargo warehouse at Hartsfield-Jackson, Zimmer watches as a pair of forklifts lift pallets onto storage shelves. 

“I would say machinery parts and, at the moment, textiles, make up the majority of shipments coming in," Zimmer says.

Come fall, Zimmer says case after case of French Beaujolais will take up most shelf space.   

Activity inside the warehouse is constant, but Hartsfield Jackson general manager Miguel Southwell wants to see more. Lots more.

“We have some work to do,” he admits.  

The traditional cargo market is stagnant, so the airport is building facilities to go after a different sector. Their interested in perishable goods, like pharmaceuticals and fresh flowers. That will help revenues.

But Southwell says all the focus on cargo is really about employment.  

“The main purpose of an airport is to be any community’s chief jobs driver,” he says. “That’s why an airport exists.”

But airports are limited in what they can do to attract new cargo, says Enno Osinga. He’s in charge of cargo operations at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, and Vice Chair of Vice-Chair of The International Air Cargo Association.

“An airport, if you look at it unkindly, is a bit of concrete. It’s got runways. It’s got aprons,” Osinga says. “They’re all the same.”

The key to bolstering cargo operations, Osinga says, is to convince industry to build nearby.

Atlanta’s doing that.

It’s also constructing more cargo warehouses on-site.

And to sweeten the pot further, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson is offering a few million dollars in incentives for new cargo service. 

Google addresses the white male culture of tech

Wed, 2014-06-25 01:00

Google kicks off its big developer conference Wednesday. Less than a month after admitting it has a diversity problem, the company is taking measures to address the white male culture of the tech world. Google committed $50 million to a project called Made With Code, meant to inspire girls to get into coding.

Education is crucial, says Alaina Percival, who heads the group Women Who Code. But she says tech culture also contributes to the problem, like when industry people talk about hiring, say, a new iOS specialist.

“They’ll say, oh we need a great iOS guy,” Percival says -- not a great iOS person.

“Little things like that, that happen over and over again, that if you complained about any one of them, you would sound crazy,” she adds.

Lisa Cook is an economist at Michigan State University who researches the participation of women and minorities in the basic research and commercialization of inventions. She points out that culture plays into recruitment as well. Cook says people tend to recruit from the schools and labs they themselves experienced. The problem is that those social networks might leave out places like historically black colleges and universities.

“While HBCUs are responsible for a declining number of bachelor’s degrees, they’re responsible for an increasing number of STEM graduates,” she says.

Cook says those are the places that recruiters who want to increase diversity should target.

The business opportunity that is climate change

Wed, 2014-06-25 01:00

Climate change is a business opportunity.

There. I said it. Also? It's true. And kind of a paradox.

Global warming's been a bit buzzy this week, what with former Treasury Secretary — and current Republican — Henry Paulson in the New York Times this past weekend coming out in favor of a tax on carbon as the best way to control global warming, and a report from Paulson and others laying out the economic risks of climate change (Although, honestly, couldn't they have come up with a better name for the report than 'Risky Business?').

Six or seven years ago we sent Stephen Beard and Sam Eaton off to do a series we called 'Frozen Assets' — an exploration of the ways in which businesses would be able to take advantage of a warming planet. Back then, we concentrated on the areas that were (and mostly still are) literally frozen — Norway, Arctic Canada, and Greenland — and what would happen up there; oil exploration, fishing opportunities and shipping routes through the Northwest passage.

Since then, as the Paulson report and countless others have made clear, the obvious downsides have been mounting: decreased productivity, coastal property damage, infrastructure problems, lower crop yields and growing public health concerns. I could go on, but it'd be easier if you just have a look at the report, which I highly recommend.

Here — at long last — is my point. There's a way that capitalism — arguably the root cause of global warming — can help us find a way out. Or, at least, a way to mitigate the looming apocalypse. If companies, governments and people realize that market forces can work to our advantage in this — without resorting reflexively to well-entrenched positions — well, then maybe we've got a chance.

Or, to paraphrase Ezra Klein, maybe we're just screwed.

How education tax breaks benefit the rich

Tue, 2014-06-24 14:54
<a href="http://marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/fin-aid-tax-breaks">View Survey</a>
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