Chinese Investments Drop By 61% in Australia

After the events of COVID-19 affected China’s economy at the start of 2020, the economic giant decided to keep things local for the year.

That fact, along with a growing diplomatic rift between them and Australia, showed an investment drop of 61% between the two countries. It’s the lowest level of monetary transfer since 2015.

The Australian Database CHIIA found that about $1 billion in Australian dollars was received, equivalent to about $780 million in US funds.

Only 20 investments were recorded for the year, which is significantly lower than the 111 that occurred in 2016. This drop is on top of another 47% reduction that happened from 2019.

Why Did Australia Lose So Much Money?

The issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) goes beyond whatever rifts China and Australia have with each other. Data from the United Nations shows that total FDI levels dropped by 42% globally in 2020.

Although Australia’s outcomes were above average because of their relationship with China, the issue is more profound because their FDI receipts are in only three sections: mining, real estate, and manufacturing.

Australia is also partially to blame for this outcome. The government announced in March that every proposed investment would receive additional scrutiny from a review board. In the past, only non-sensitive transactions applied for assets worth $930 million or more.

That switch stopped a $600 million sale of Lion Dairy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Japanese company, to the China Mengniu Dairy.

If that one transaction were allowed, the figures would have been similar despite the fewer total numbers.

China continues to treat the countries that are calling for COVID-19 investigations with restrictions or tariffs. Some products have totaled more than 200%, causing a lot of alarm since about 40% of exports head there from Australia.

Oil States Could Lose $13 Trillion by 2040

When Joe Biden was debating Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election, one of the issues he brought up was a shift to a greener economy.

By using more renewable energy resources, it could be possible to cut down on the quantity of greenhouse gases getting produced each day.

Although that shift to eco-friendly power might help the environment, it could cause some countries to lose an average of 40% of their revenues. The collective losses from such an event could total $13 trillion by 2040.

That’s why nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are looking for ways to diversify their economies instead of looking at oil alone.

How Dependent Are Come Countries on Oil?

Although the median losses might total 40% by switching to environmentally friendly power resources, the problem is far greater in some parts of the world.

The financial dependence on oil for Iraq could cause it to lose up to 80% of its annual revenues. That’s about the same amount that Equatorial Guinea would have start disappearing.

Another seven countries, including Saudi Arabia, would lose more than 60% of their incoming resources.

The countries with the lowest production costs would be the only ones spared as they’d be the primary suppliers of the petroleum hydrocarbons that get used for numerous products.

How Fast Can These Countries Diversify?

When looking at the revenues of the oil-producing nations in 2021, the countries that stand to lose the most during a switch to green energy are also among the poorest ones out there. That’s why income diversification is a crucial task to complete.

Each country will need to take individualized steps to offset this issue. There must be improvements to government quality, more investment in education, and business climate changes to encourage development.

The rest of the world should support this transition. Even if we excuse the moral argument, a stronger global economy helps everyone find ways to chase their dreams.

Iceberg the Size of NYC Breaks Off Ice Shelf

Whether you believe that climate change is a natural event or a human-made phenomenon doesn’t matter because temperatures are warming. That evidence was made even more apparent in February 2021 when an iceberg the size of New York City broke off of Antarctica’s ice shelf.

The Brunt Ice Shelf sees some seasonal changes each year, but it has never lost a 490-square-mile chunk of itself in the past.

Although the size of the break is shocking, scientists and glaciologists have expected this calving event for about a decade. Several chasms had formed along the ice, which meant it was only a matter of time until something happened.

What Happens Next with the Giant Iceberg?

The iceberg’s calving impact will remain unknown for the next few months. Scientists say that the new massive chunk could stay close to its ice shelf, essentially maintaining the structure while being casually separate from it.

It could also start floating away instead of running aground, impacting the ocean’s health in several ways.

The Brunt Ice Shelf is the home of the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station. Authorities moved the facility further inland in 2016 to avoid the different chams that were forming.

Researchers continue to keep a close eye on the issue to assess its potential impact on the rest of the ice shelf.

Facts About Global Warming to Consider

With the Industrial Revolution events that helped us to create modern society, we started generating more carbon dioxide than at any other point in history. Some researchers estimate that we have more CO2 in the atmosphere than at any other point in the last 800,000 years.

The United States produces 25% of this pollution while comprising only 4% of the world’s population.

Since the late 19th century, global sea levels have risen by at least eight inches. Continued heat waves may cause additional concerns, create stronger storms, and trigger more heat-related illnesses.

It is up to us to do something. Although an iceberg the size of NYC is a notable event, it doesn’t need to be the end of the story.

Why Is China Cracking Down on Tech Firms?

China recently changed its rules regarding digital payment and Internet services. The global community sees this regulatory shift as a problem for tech firms, although the government calls it a “tightening” of the local anti-monopoly guidelines.

The news rules essentially block a company from forcing sellers to choose between the leading online providers for specific needs. Before the regulatory change, this process was considered a common practice in the country.

Experts see the guidelines aimed at Alipay, WeChat Pay, Taobao, and Alibaba.

Isn’t It a Good Thing to Stop Monopolies?

When we think about monopolies, we’re looking at the business structure from a capitalist viewpoint. If one organization can set the prices, market conditions, and access for goods or services because they’re the only provider, it limits competition and innovation.

The socialist, communist government in China uses the opposite end of a mixed economy. Although there are capitalist elements to the business world, the government holds a stake in virtually all significant businesses

China sees itself in the same battle against tech companies that some conservative and liberal groups feel is happening in the United States. The only difference is that the Chinese government has the authority for immediate intervention, like when it ordered Jack Ma to scale back his expansion plans for an Alibaba subsidiary.

What set off this issue in the first place? For many outside observers, it was the criticism that Ma leveled against the Chinese government.

What Does This Effort Mean to Everyone Else?

At the moment, the rules and regulatory changes are designed to create pressure on Chinese tech firms to comply with government wishes.

The issue could come to a head in the next few months as business leaders come into conflict with political desires.

With as much control as the tech giants have in China, their information assets could trigger the government’s mood changes. Political leaders recognize this, and they are moving to stop it.

These firms aren’t backing down. With more hiring happening in legal and compliance areas, expect battlelines to be drawn soon.

Current State of COVID Strains: Is There Any Reason to Worry?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, the virus behind COVID-19 keeps going through mutations. This behavior is normal, but it also creates problems for those seeking to find a solution to get society back to some semblance of normalcy.

Although several COVID strains are circulating, only three of them have authorities concerned. That’s because the virus seems to have adapted its protein spikes to make itself a more infectious agent.

The three strains under investigation are B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1.

Another variant found circulating in New York City and California is called B.1.526. Its infection rate is under investigation as well, offering a unique set of changes that could pose antigenic challenges for the current therapies being deployed.

Why Are the Variants Concerning Researchers?

As medical authorities research the shifting coronavirus mutations, including the UK and South African variants, they have noticed that transmissibility changes are taking place.

With the California variants labeled B.1.427 and B.1.429, a mutation that lets the virus bind to human receptor cells with greater ease makes it easier to catch COVID-19.

This issue might be part of why the United States continues reporting over 50,000 cases per day. In February 2021, over 500,000 deaths had the coronavirus listed as a contributing factor, with about 30 million total cases recorded.

Although the vaccine makers can insert the new genetic materials into the inoculations they distribute, Pfizer and BioNTech are looking at the idea of a third vaccine dose to trigger an additional immune response.

Since ongoing mutations could make the virus deadlier than it is now, the race to get everyone vaccinated is underway. Most global governments’ goal is to have the majority of adults receive both shots by the fall.

Until everyone gets their vaccines, people must follow today’s best practices to prevent transmission. That means social distancing, wearing a facial covering, and limiting indoor contact with others.

This Is What Led to Alexei Navalny’s Arrest and Global Attention

Alexei Navalny was sent to a Russian penal colony to serve out a sentence for “crimes” against the Russian government. All but a handful of countries have gone on the record to declare it an unjust action since Navalny is an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

The Wall Street Journal once called Navalny the “man that Putin fears the most.”

His work as an anti-corruption activist, lawyer, and opposition leader led him to prominence for organizing anti-government demonstrations. Navalny also ran for office to advocate for new reforms in these areas.

Navalny frequently publishes content about Russian corruption, including calling the government a “party of crooks and thieves.”

Navalny Was Poisoned in 2020

Alexei Navalny was hospitalized in August 2020 after being poisoned by a nerve agent. Authorities evacuated him to Berlin to receive treatment, which took a month to complete.

Navalny accused Putin of being responsible for his actions, which was followed up by having FSB agents from the country admitting to the work they had done.

Although Navalny was reasonably safe outside of Russia, he decided to return on January 17, 2021. The local authorities detained him immediately, accusing him of parole violations that stemmed from a 2014 political conviction.

Navalny had his suspended sentence replaced with a prison term, giving him about 30 months in a corrective labor colony.

Multiple agencies and governments continue to call for his release.

Navalny Has Been Nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Price

After speaking out in support of Black Lives Matter protests, European democracy efforts, and anti-corruption rallies, multiple Norwegian parliament members nominated Navalny for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

An Internet petition in support of this effort has tens of thousands of signatures.

The European Commission on Human Rights continues to call for his release. Navalny’s wife and two children continue to live safely in Russia while he serves his sentence.

For more news like this, staying in touch with the world’s leading news sites.

What Steps Is Europe Taking to Battle COVID Resurgence?

When the United States started taking action to battle a COVID resurgence, it became a patchwork quilt of regulations and restrictions. Each state had a different approach to preventing the coronavirus from spreading over the winter months.

In Europe, the approach was a little different. Most countries adopted temporary rules that would halt the spread of the coronavirus with common-sense decisions.

There were local curfews implemented, alcohol bans, and restrictions on indoor social gatherings.

When the UK recognized that a new variant was more contagious and potentially deadlier, they put in the strictest lockdowns that matched what people experienced in March and April 2020.

We Are in a Race to Vaccinate

Global stories of rising infection rates show how critical the need is for us to find a vaccination protocol that works. Although the UK was the first western nation to start an inoculation program, the rest of Europe fell far short with ordering bottlenecks and global production shortages.

With 1.8 million people dying from COVID-19 in 2020 (and potentially many more who died from undocumented circumstances), we cannot afford to let a resurgence continue.

Each holiday creates a sharp rise in infections and deaths as people gather and the virus spreads. In Thailand, a single outbreak at a seafood market led to a countrywide spread that affected 53 of the 77 provinces.

The coronavirus moves fast. When French police booked hundreds of partygoers at an illegal rave, the risk for more infections was massive.

Even when there are outdoor environments involved, close contact can still create COVID-19 problems. Dozens of infections are directly tied to the January 6 insurgence at the US capitol building, for example, and similar issues have crept up in Europe.

What can you do to ensure that you’re staying in the fight against COVID-19? You can eat healthy foods, take your supplements daily, and keep wearing a mask.

What Do We Know About the New COVID-19 Strains?

All viruses mutate. Scientists expected that the new coronavirus would change and adapt to the environment as it got opportunities to explore.

The problem with viral mutations is that the process can be unpredictable. If something happens that makes COVID-19 more transmissible or deadly, it could impact how we can manage the disease.

It also changes how the developed vaccines work against it, although the mRNA sequences are still relatively the same

Three Variants Have Scientists Sounding Alarms

We know of three coronavirus evolutions that have changed the way we respond to COVID-19. The first one happened in May 2020, which is the D614G variant. This change made the coronavirus more transmissible to others, although the death rates remained relatively constant.

The second variant is called B.1.1.7, commonly referred to as the “UK variant” in the press. Research suggests that this evolution not only makes the virus more contagious, but it could also be deadlier. Vaccine producers have enough concerns about it that they’re proposing a third booster might be necessary to provide enough protection.

A third variant is called B.1.351, which is often called the “South African variant.” It is more contagious, but it might have the same fatality rate among those it infects.

Additional variants in Ohio and Los Angeles have also been identified, with research exploring ways to treat these options.

What Will the Vaccines Do to the Variants?

The vaccine producers are not overly concerned about the different mutations they see in the coronavirus. Since they can quickly change the mRNA sequences that trigger an immune response in the body, it won’t take nearly as long to develop counter-agents against each new evolution.

What you might eventually see in a COVID-19 vaccination is a series of mRNA sequences for each variant that gets delivered all at once. For now, you’ll need to keep wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and take care of yourself to prevent these variants from spreading.

How Russia Could Benefit from Global Warming

Although the Russian government noted that changes to global temperatures represent potential problems, they also recognize some massive economic opportunities could develop.

The Russians published a paper in early 2020 outlining action plans that could help people while attempting to mitigate a warming climate’s damage.

Although everyone faces potential challenges because of climate change, Russia is at the forefront of this battle. The country is warming up to 2.5 times faster than the planet.

What Could Russia Do to Benefit from Climate Change?

The first step Russia intends to take when battling climate change is to change its agricultural approach. The government recommends planting drought-resistant crops, preparing emergency vaccinations, and planning new evacuation routes.

They’ve included building dams as part of the plan to provide water reservoirs for communities that could become isolated with climate change.

After outlining the plans to counter the adverse effects, the Russian government acknowledges that several positives could come from a warming planet.

For starters, the households living in the country’s colder regions would use less energy to manage indoor environments. A warmer climate would encourage a longer growing season, opening new cropland development opportunities.

Russia also sees melting ice along the polar region as a chance to drill for oil or create new navigable waterways that could benefit them economically.

Over 30 Measures Are Part of the Plan

As part of this evaluation process, Russia intends to calculate the risks of domestic products becoming less competitive due to the changing climate. If their standards fail to meet global agreements for managing planetary temperatures, their economy could find itself on the outside looking in at everyone else.

The Russian government has new educational materials to offer students to start teaching about climate change.

Since many of Russia’s northern infrastructure investments are on permafrost, they must act now. The lessons they learn over the next few years will help the world understand what to expect from these changes.

2020 Was One of the Three Warmest Years on Record

Whether we want to recognize climate change or agree to disagree, the facts don’t lie. In 2020, we experienced one of the three warmest years ever recorded in our planet’s history.

The only other two years that were hotter were 2016 and 2019, respectively.

When we look at the global records that were taken starting in 1850, all six of the warmest years ever recorded have happened since 2015. The most notable changes with this climate adjustment have occurred in the Siberian Arctic, where it is about 5°C warmer now than it was a decade ago.

We also had 30 named storms during the North Atlantic hurricane season, shattering the record number of those events in 2020.

Russia Recorded a Global Record High in 2020

Although most places in the world only see a fractional degree difference because of the global warming issues, the Siberian Arctic is a different story.

Verkhoyansk recorded a temperature on June 20 of 38°C (100.4°F), which was verified independently by scientists and meteorologists outside of Russia. This temperature is the highest recorded anywhere within the Arctic Circle.

Europe also recorded its hottest period ever from January to October in 2020.

Although the heat is what creates the headlines when we talk about global warming, climate change can also cause some regions to be abnormally cool. India, Australia, Brazil, and Canada were below average in 2020.

What does this information mean? When we look at the long-term implications of climate change, the decade from 2011-2020 is the warmest ever recorded by humans. Most of the warming gases end up in the oceans, causing an acidification effect that adversely affects that biome.

When the oceans start warming up, the sea levels can rise. That means any coastal community would need to be on alert to make adjustments to their infrastructure.