ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

BRICS Nations Plan for New Reserve Currency as Ethereum Completes the Merge

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The BRICS countries have all indicated plans to create a new international reserve currency, but will it dethrone the US Dollar? Ethereum has successfully completed the merge but has given power back to the wealthy. Nicotine products continue to rise in popularity as corporations exploit the stimulant for profit. The Earth is spinning faster than usual and recently recorded its shortest day ever. Heat waves are becoming more frequent across the world. Here are this week’s stories.

BRICS’ New Reserve Currency

Photo by Alan Santos/PR

Russian President Vladimir Putin has remarked multiple times over the past couple of months that he plans to create a new international reserve currency alongside the BRICS nations, which include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Putin’s administration has supported de-dollarisation for years now, and, with the near-elimination of Russia from the Western-dominated financial system after the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia has more of a reason to push for an alternative monetary system. China also suffers from the dollar’s dominance as tensions rise with the US. Since it is the world’s largest trading partner, it would greatly benefit from having control over an international reserve currency. Brazil is also a major global trader, and nearly 90% of its export invoicing is in dollars. The country would benefit from a new reserve currency because it is too dependent on the US dollar. India has good relations with both Russia and the US, but over the past decade, the country has been reducing its dependence on the dollar and instead using the Indian Rupee in bilateral trade. South Africa has followed Russia and China’s de-dollarisation plans and expressed concerns in the past regarding the dollar’s volatility. Our dependency on the dollar is too high, and the US federal reserve has too much power, so the creation of a new international reserve currency might benefit the whole world.

The Ethereum Merge

Photo by Michael Förtsch on Unsplash

Ethereum has successfully completed the merge but has given power back to the wealthy. Crypto mining has become more expensive and resource intensive as it has gone mainstream. In the current proof of work system, which most cryptocurrencies rely on, miners use powerful computers to guess complex math problems and use energy to verify transactions in return for crypto, and these problems get exponentially more challenging. According to the University of Cambridge’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, the annual energy consumption of just Bitcoin mining surpasses that of Belgium. Software developers at Ethereum have developed a solution to this problem by implementing the proof of stake method. In the proof of stake method, miners put down a stake to validate a particular block and earn crypto rewards and fees. The higher the stake, the higher the chance of being selected, and if a false transaction is verified, then the stake will be gone. Although the proof of stake method will reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption by 99.95%, it favors the rich, and users will face a centralized reality. The new system will allow only individuals who stake at least 32 ETH ($42,000) to become validators of network transactions, and there is no limit to how many of these groups of 32 ETH any entity can operate. Essentially, they have given all the power to the top holders, recreating our financial system. The top 100 Ethereum addresses control nearly 40% of all ETH in existence, and now these entities can continue to grow their wealth by exploiting the Ethereum network.

The Rise of Nicotine Gum

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

For thousands of years, tobacco has been cultivated for various benefits. In the Americas, humans began using tobacco as far back as 12,300 years ago for its healing powers, and Native Americans began using it in their spiritual and religious rituals. Europeans discovered tobacco in the Americas and changed its function from a spiritual plant to one used for profit and recreational use. Nicotine, a predominant stimulant in tobacco that speeds up the messages traveling between the brain and body, was extracted from the plant and found to be a remarkably addictive chemical that significantly lowers stress and pain levels for a very short duration. Large corporations exploited this stimulant and began promoting cigarettes, which have highly processed tobacco and hundreds of additives that are supposed to enhance flavor and increase its addictive qualities. Over the past 50 years, cigarette manufacturers have genetically modified their tobacco crops to contain twice as much nicotine and altered their cigarettes to deliver 14.5 percent more nicotine to consumers. The nicotine content of popular American-brand cigarettes has also increased by 1.78% every year. And over the past 20 years, they have introduced vapes, which have completely replaced tobacco with more chemicals and include five times more nicotine. Now, they have started promoting products like nicotine gum, which are just chemicals. Tobacco, a plant used as a medicine with cultural and spiritual importance, has been transformed into chemicals that rot the body for profit.

Earth is Spinning Faster Than Usual

Photo by Michael Hull on Unsplash

The Earth is spinning faster than usual and recently recorded its shortest day ever. According to the National Physical Laboratory in England, June 29, 2022, was 1.59 milliseconds less than the average day. A typical day lasts 24 hours or 86,400 seconds, but the pace of Earth’s rotation has sped up in recent years, shortening some days by milliseconds. Some scientists believe that earthquakes or the Earth’s core are causing the acceleration, while some believe that the constant melting and refreezing of ice caps on the tallest mountains are influencing the rotational momentum of the planet. Either way, the Earth has been spinning faster since 2016, and these milliseconds can add up to make a significant difference. To account for this difference, some researchers have proposed a negative leap second, where clocks would skip one second, but it would likely cause more harm than good. Meta engineers and researchers say that this practice could have a “devastating effect on the software relying on timers or schedulers” and result in data and server crashes. Leap seconds have been added in the past because of this phoneme, but it is hard to do with today’s state of technology.

Heatwaves are Becoming More Frequent

Photo by Oleksandr Sushko on Unsplash

Heatwaves are intensifying and becoming more frequent around the globe. Most of Europe was in record-breaking heat this summer, which caused over 1,700 deaths in Spain and Portugal, and in the US, over 100 million people were under heat alerts for dangerously high temperatures. The US is used to higher temperatures, so we have the resources to deal with heat waves. Nearly 90% of American homes have air conditioning, but only 10% of European homes have that facility. Also, most public spaces in the US, like malls, libraries, museums, and restaurants, have air conditioning, while it’s rare in Europe. Europe is generally much cooler during the summer, and electricity costs are very high, making air conditioning unnecessary. But as temperatures rise, air conditioning will be necessary, and countries will need to adapt. Phoenix is one of the hottest cities in the US, and in 2020, there were 50 days with temperatures at or above 110°F or 43°C. To combat the heat, the government is turning its black asphalt streets gray to reflect the sun and keep the pavement significantly cooler. Some regions in Australia have banned dark roofs for the same reason, resulting in substantial cooling of the building. Experts also recommend having more trees and plants because they release water vapor through their leaves which has a cooling effect. These small changes can result in significantly cooler communities.

Above are my stories for the week of September 27, 2022. Thank you, and see you next week!

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Lakshya Jain

Lakshya Jain

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I share unique stories that are not widely reported in the media. Veritas! Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com