In the spotlight
Bizarre vaccine theories pose a real danger to society
Across the globe, getting life back to some semblance of “normality” is at the forefront of most people’s minds and the vaccine presents a first real step in doing just that. But there are those for whom the vaccine represents something else entirely.
Listen: misinformation mailbag
Listeners wrote into the Social Distance podcast with questions about all kinds of pandemic misinformation: tests, masks, supplements, vaccines, and more. Hosts James Hamblin and Katherine Wells discuss conspiracy theories, false remedies, and how to approach the people that believe in them.
Facebook bans false claims about COVID-19 vaccines
Facebook Inc on Thursday said it would remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by Alphabet Inc’s YouTube in October. The move expands Facebook’s current rules against falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the pandemic.
Agriculture & Environment
Climate crisis: 2020 on track to be one of the warmest years on record
Despite global COVID-19 lockdowns, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, according to a new report.
Global sustainable fishing initiative agreed by 14 countries
Governments responsible for 40% of the world’s coastlines have pledged to end overfishing, restore dwindling fish populations and stop the flow of plastic pollution into the seas in the next 10 years.
Trees can help slow climate change, but at a cost
Widespread forest management and protections against deforestation can help mitigate climate change – but will come with a steep cost if deployed as broadly as policymakers have discussed, new research suggests.
Transport & Energy
More than 500,000 full electric cars sold in Europe in 10 months
Carmakers have sold more than 500,000 battery electric cars in Europe during 2020, a milestone in a move away from fossil fuels.
The pandemic gives us a chance to change how we get around
One late summer evening in New York City, the pandemic held uneasily in check, my wife and I headed for a meal at one of the city’s new outdoor dining spots. As we stopped at a midtown intersection to check the restaurant’s address on my iPhone, I noticed something striking: the sheer multiplicity of transport modes swarming around us.
How the internet of things can help create a better new normal
On March 16, prime minister Boris Johnson told everyone in the UK who could do so to work from home. Across the country, office buildings emptied almost overnight. Couriers were summoned to ferry monitors and computers from offices to homes and the streets were packed with people making one final commute.
Job interviews without interviewers, products of the pandemic
Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology, since each applicant is asked the same questions in the same way, making performances easier to compare objectively.
Hackers going after COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, IBM warns
Hackers are going after companies that will likely play a role in the complex process of shipping COVID-19 vaccines around the world, IBM warned Thursday.
Food & Health
The dawn of digital medicine
McKinsey estimates that global digital-health revenues—from telemedicine, online pharmacies, wearable devices and so on—will rise from $350bn last year to $600bn in 2024. Swathes of America’s $3.6trn health-care market are in for a digital makeover.
Singapore approves a lab-grown meat product, a global first
First, meat came from farms and forests. Then, it came from factories. More recently, entrepreneurs have been Some have wondered whether there’s a more advanced approach: Could meat be grown in a laboratory, from existing cells?
More than 2.5m people in England to get free vitamin D
More than 2.5 million people in England are to be offered a free supply of vitamin D by the government, officials have said. Care homes in England will automatically receive supplies of the supplement for their residents in plans announced on Saturday.
Science policy & Communication
Corona myths and propaganda: Fact-checking is a civic duty
Corona myths and propaganda: Fact-checking is a civic duty. False information spreads quickly, and not just in a pandemic or ahead of an election. In Georgia, DW Akademie trained young people in fact-checking.
The (un)social network: The emergence of digital thought clones and what to do about them
Digital thought clones that prey on and manipulate real-time online behavior can be tackled with tough legislation, say experts
EU vows to crack down on disinformation targeting democracies
The European Commission said on Thursday that it will look to “impose a cost” on those who spread fake news. The EU executive’s vice president Vera Jourova says she will unveil legislation next year that will target entities, especially “foreign actors” from such countries as Russia and China, that spread disinformation.
A new virtual reality test can measure your vulnerability to stress
Everybody reacts to stress in different ways. A sudden loud noise or flash of light can elicit different degrees of response from people, which indicates that some of us are more susceptible to the impact of stress than others.