IN A NUTSHELL 17/2019

TRAGIC EASTER IN SRI LANKA

For Christians Easter is the most important holiday of the year because it is when they commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday, which culminates the celebration, nine suicide bombers including one woman detonated explosives in churches and luxurious hotels in Sri Lanka, an island in South Asia. The attacks killed over 350 people and left over 500 wounded. Sri Lanka’s PM said in an official announcement the group responsible for the attacks was National Thowheed Jamath, a little-known, local Islamist terrorist organization. There is little doubt that such coordinated attacks must have been prepared with help from the outside. Apparently, Indian intelligence warned their friends in Sri Lanka that attacks could happen one hour before the first bomb went off but the services did not manage to prevent the tragedy from happening. The attacks were especially tragic for the richest businessman in Denmark, Anders Holch Polvsen, whose three out of four children were killed in one of the hotels. Holch is the CEO of Bestseller, a company whose idea to build a skyscraper in a small Danish village was discussed in one of recent Nutshell editions.

UKRAINE CHOSES A COMEDIAN

Ukraine has just chosen their next president. Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, is a TV star known mostly from the show Servant of the People. He must be a people’s favourite because they chose a comedian rather than their current president. What is it that Zelensky has to offer? Popularity (4.2 million followers on Instagram), experience in business (he is a millionaire) and education (he was trained as a lawyer). Even though he won with a stunning 73% of votes he remains a very controversial choice. He has virtually no real political programme, no political views. ”No promises, no disappointment” – Is one of his best-remembered slogans. His campaign was very much different from anyone you have seen, based mostly on being a nice guy, putting happy videos, avoiding political speeches. Experts point out, however, that he owes his victory more to people voting against Petro Poroshenko rather than people voting for him. Whether he really wished for it or not, Zelensky is now president elect and he has to start making some real plans for Ukraine soon. The image people get so far is that he will get good advisers who will tell him what is good for the country. Since Zelensky is linked to a controversial Ukrainian oligarch there is speculation he may be a puppet in his hands, a fact which the new president openly denies.

LAB-GROWN MEAT TO TRANSFORM FARMING

It is estimated that the world will need between 70% and 100% more meat by 2050. Meeting this demand is going to be a big challenge, especially that producing meat is closely connected with growing huge number of crops just to feed animals. Bruce Friedrich from Beyond Meat claims we make only one calorie from every nine we put into a chicken. He proposes a totally different approach based on taking cells from living animals and growing them into meat. The technology is almost ready and the first customers should be able to taste such products as early as in 2020 but the clients will have to pay a premium of about $50. When the process is perfected it would require 99% less land and this in turn would allow farmers to come back to smaller scale farming, one avoiding the ”get big or get out” theory of farming. Lab-grown meat is not another proposition for vegetarians as you can see but rather an attempt to answer the challenge of growing population and environmental problems. Controversies of the method are many, yet Bill Gates, for example, already said it is the future of food.

CHINA ISN’T THE ANSWER TO RECYCLING PLASTIC ANYMORE

First of all, it is far more complex than recycling of paper, tin and aluminium. According to Martin Bourque at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, California, some 40% of the non-bottle plastic is never recycled ”because it’s made from plastics that are too costly or hard to process, have been contaminated with food or other materials, or there simply isn’t a market for that type of plastic.” Until July 2018 the answer to this problem was simple: China. China happily bought unrecycled plastic scrap from the US (or other countries) to exercise their recycling magic on it and use it for its booming manufacturing industry. But then its government introduced a ban on plastic waste imports in order to clean up their environment. This in turn created an opportunity for middlemen and recyclers from other developing countries. One of such countries is Malaysia, where 148 unlicensed recycling facilities have been found since July 2018. Local authorities claim the unlicensed recycling facilities are killing the legal (cleaner) recycling ones in Malaysia. They blame the situation on wealthy nations that are using their country as a trash dump. So far the ultimate (and perhaps only) global solution to this problem is, as mentioned in several past editions of Nutshell, finding alternatives to single-use plastic packaging. Actually, one solution has been found and it’s called your material bag. 

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