Data points

Published February 22, 2021
The logo of US online retail giant Amazon is pictured at the distribution centre in Moenchengladbach, western Germany. Amazon will have to specify the origin of the fruits and vegetables it sells in Germany on its online shopping platform dedicated to fresh produce, ruled a German court last week.—AFP
The logo of US online retail giant Amazon is pictured at the distribution centre in Moenchengladbach, western Germany. Amazon will have to specify the origin of the fruits and vegetables it sells in Germany on its online shopping platform dedicated to fresh produce, ruled a German court last week.—AFP

Barnacles of shipping industry

Shipping is vital to our global economy — 90pc of the world’s trade travels by boat. But powering all that heavy cargo through the waves takes a lot of marine diesel — even more, when hitch-hiking crustaceans are slowing down our stuff. Boats encrusted with barnacles, limpets and mussels can use 25pc more dirty marine diesel than slippery ships with smooth sides. The crustaceans can add a whooping £22bn (approximately $31bn) a year to fuel costs. So to reduce the carbon commotion caused by these barnacles, experts are finding ingenious ways to make ships slippery. These solutions vary from special UV paints to hull-cleaning robots that could radically cut carbon costs of shipping.

(Adapted from BBC, in partnership with The Open University and additional source from the International Chamber of shipping, published on Feb 14, 2021)

The path to happiness

Most of us are led to believe that our “happily ever after” will be found once we check off a series of boxes: find a great job, buy a fancy car, own a house, fall in love. Unfortunately, happiness doesn’t work that way. It is not a final destination that can be reached — even if we make the right choices. The reality is that happiness is a state of mind, and you don’t need to be in it every moment of every day. Not only is that impossible, but it is also unhealthy. After three years of rigorous research, Penny Locaso, the founder of HackingHappiness.co found that those who allow themselves to fully process so-called “negative” emotions, along with the more positive ones, lead happier lives. Happiness is being able to ride the wave of every emotion, knowing that you can come out the other side just a little better than before, she says.

(Adapted from “What You Were Taught About “Happiness” Isn’t True,” by Penny Locaso, published on Feb 18, 2021, by Harvard Business Review Ascend)

Our resurgence of polio

The pandemic has put a halt to the global battle to eradicate polio. After decades of work and one of the most ambitious and expensive public-health campaigns in history, the disease has been wiped out except in pockets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In March, house-to-house vaccination teams working across Pakistan were forced to stop their work because of coronavirus. As a result, polio resurged, including a mutated form of the virus. In late 2020, it was detected in sampled taken from sewers in 74pc of Pakistan — up from just 13pc in early 2018. When vaccination terms resumed inoculation, they confronted both a reinvigorated polio virus and psychological resistance to vaccinations worsened by grievances over the economic damage of the lockdowns. These problems added to the old hurdles of misinformation and concerns the drops violate Islamic dietary laws or were a conspiracy to harm Muslims, resulting in at least a one-year setback.

(Adapted from “The World Is Still Battling Polio. What That Warning Means for Covid-19,” by Saeed Shah and Betsy McKay, published on Feb 9, 2021, by The Wall Street Journal)

The saga of Disney+ vs Netflix

At the end of 2019, Disney+ was a brand-new service with about 26m subscribers. As of Jan 2, its base had swelled to 95 million, quickly gaining ground on Netflix Inc.’s 204m. Disney arrived late to the streaming party but it certainly made an entrance. The question, however, is that while Disney+ can compete, can it make money? While shares of Walt Disney Co. closed to an all-time high two weeks back, it was minutes before the company reported a 99pc plunge in quarterly net income. But it is not surprising because shareholders of the theme-park, box-office and cable-network jaggernaut now care predominantly about a single line item: how many people are watching Disney+.

(Adapted from “Disney+ Can Compete, But Can It Make Money,” by Tara Lachapelle, published on Feb 12, 2021, by Bloomberg Opinion)

Covid’s cashless world

Not wanting to touch anything is having a dramatic impact on consumer habits. Amid the coronavirus crisis, Americans are abandoning cash almost entirely in favour of “tap and go” transactions. Fewer and fewer adults use printed or minted US currency at all anymore. About three in ten Americans said they make no purchases with cash in a typical week. Since the start of the pandemic, more retailers have moved to e-commerce, including allowing shoppers to pay online and pick up curbside. Overall, 67pc of retailers now accept some form of no-touch payment.

(Adapted from “Another consequence of Covid: a world without cash,” by Jessica Dickler, published on Jan 29, 2021, by CNBC)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, February 22nd, 2021

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