Tuesday, November 8, 2016
'Global greening' slows CO2 rise; India scraps high currency notes; When Toblerone trims
1 ‘Global greening’ slows CO2 rise (Damian Carrington in The Guardian) A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century, according to new research.
More plants have been growing due to higher CO2 levels in the air and warming temperatures that cut the CO2 emitted by plants via respiration. The effects led the proportion of annual carbon emissions remaining in the air to fall from about 50% to 40% in the last decade.
However, this greening is only offsetting a small amount of the billions of tonnes of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning and other human activities and will not halt dangerous global warming. “Unfortunately, this increase is nowhere near enough to stop climate change,” said Dr Trevor Keenan, at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US, who led the new work.
The absolute level of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to rise, breaking the milestone of 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015, and rising temperatures continue to surpass records.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has warned that 2011-15 was the hottest five-year period ever recorded and that climate change had increased the risk of half of extreme weather events, with some heatwaves made 10 times more likely by global warming.
2 India scraps high currency notes (San Francisco Chronicle) India's highest-denomination currency notes are being withdrawn immediately from circulation, the country's prime minister said, a surprise announcement designed to fight corruption and target people who have stashed away immense amounts of cash.
As of midnight Tuesday, 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, worth about $7.50 and $15, will have no cash value, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a televised address. "A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit," he said in the speech. "There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time."
People holding the discontinued notes will be able to deposit them in bank and post office savings accounts before the end of the year - but anyone making large deposits will find themselves the target of Indian tax authorities. The government will shortly be issuing new 500- and 2,000-rupee notes, the prime minister said.
India's economy - and its tax base - has long been hobbled by a culture of what is known here as "black money," with business people using cash to avoid paying taxes. Raids on corrupt politicians and businesses regularly turn up people holding millions of dollars' worth of rupees, with cash sometimes filling dozens of boxes.
3 When Toblerone trims (Lucy Hooker on BBC) Your shopping bag may well be considerably lighter because manufacturers are shaving costs by giving us slightly less chocolate, or fish or ice cream, in what looks like the usual packet.
It's known as "shrinkflation". If the portion size is getting stingier - shrinking - but the price stays the same, then you're effectively paying more - inflation. For instance, the Toblerone is being redesigned for the UK market; its Alpine peaks are being eroded to compensate for the rising cost of ingredients, and a lighter bar is being sold for the same price.
According to the consumer organisation Which? several brands were guilty of this "sneaky way of increasing prices" last year. Tropicana reduced the size of its Orange and Raspberry juice by 15%, packets of McVitie's Digestive dark chocolate biscuits lost around 10% in weight, and Princes is putting less mackerel in each of its tins.
Toblerone's owner Mondelez says it is cost pressures that are behind the change. Cocoa in particular has risen sharply in price over the last decade. The cost of palm oil - also found in many chocolate bars, cakes and biscuits, though not in Toblerones - has also risen.
There is of course an alternative to shrinking pack sizes. Walkers and Birds Eye have both announced they'll be raising prices thanks to the weaker pound. But higher price tags usually go down even less well with shoppers.
But shoppers will get over it. Over time we do tend to get used to the new sizes and move on says Oliver Nieburg, editor of Confectionery News. However angry consumers seem now, he thinks it's unlikely to do lasting damage.