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In less than 24 hours, more than 15,000 Internet users have sent angry emails to Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Symantec, and other technology companies who signed a letter supporting controversial cybersecurity legislation that experts say will undermine user security and privacy while failing to prevent cyber attacks. The public backlash has come with a simple message: "You betrayed us."
Digital rights group Fight for the Future, known for its major role in the battle against SOPA and the net neutrality victory, launched YouBetrayedUs.org yesterday after a handful of technology companies began publicly lobbying for Congress to pass "Cyber Threat Information Sharing Legislation," known in its current form as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).
Fight for the Future, who are currently Heroku / Salesforce web hosting customers, simultaneously published an open letter announcing their intention to leave that service for a provider who does not support privacy-killing legislation, and calling for a general Internet boycott of Heroku, an idea that quickly spread on popular sites among web developers like reddit and yCombinator.
"Any company that supports a bill like CISA or sits silently and allows it to pass is a company that can't be trusted," added Fight for the Future's campaign director, Evan Greer, "These companies might think they're invincible, but so did Myspace and Friendster. Internet users are fed up, companies that abandon their commitment to user privacy and security should expect the Internet to abandon them."
The YouBetrayedUs.org campaign is just getting started. Fight for the Future plans to continue exposing companies that support anti-user legislation like CISA, and will work to get every popular website and tech company on the record about this crucial legislation. Many popular companies have opposed bills like CISA including reddit, Imgur, Namecheap, Wordpress, and Mozilla.
This list will continue to grow as companies realize that their user's expect them not just to take basic security precautions, but to actively fight for their privacy and civil liberties.
Fight for the Future is a group of artists, engineers, activists, and technologists who have been behind the largest online protests in human history, channeling Internet outrage into political power to win public interest victories previously thought to be impossible. We fight for a future where technology liberates -- not oppresses -- us.(508) 368-3026
"Corporate consolidation is at the heart of our food system's dysfunction," said one policy analyst.
Food & Water Watch on Tuesday released an analysis of the U.S. dairy farming industry—the climate and food justice group's third in-depth report on the economic costs of food monopolies—revealing how corporate consolidation has helped push small family farms out of business over the past two decades, while worsening the climate emergency.
In The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: Dirty Dairy Racket, Food & Water Watch (FWW) explains how factors including the gutting of farm supply management policies and higher production costs have helped cause rapid consolidation in the dairy sector, with 70% of family-scale dairy farms shutting down between 1997 and 2007.
"Corporate consolidation is at the heart of our food system's dysfunction," said Rebecca Wolf, food policy analyst for FWW. "Corporate-directed policymaking is throwing America's dairy industry into crisis. Family-scale dairies are collapsing at an alarming rate, and those that manage to hang on face rising costs, negative returns, and mounting debt, while consumers are sold an illusion of pastoral, sustainable milk products."
Just 30% of U.S. milk is now produced at family farms, while 83% of milk sales are controlled by just three dairy cooperatives: Land O' Lakes, DFA, and California Dairies, Inc.
In addition to forcing small farms to shut down, the consolidation of the dairy production industry has "serious climate implications," said FWW, with the shift to factory farms resulting in the doubling of annual methane emissions from the sector between 1990 and 2020.
"We can and must build better, more sustainable systems that support people, communities, and the environment," the group tweeted.
\u201cIn addition to polluting air and water, our research shows that the growth of megadairies is bad for small farmers. We can and must build better, more sustainable systems that support people, communities, and the environment. https://t.co/BIzjauXfUI\u201d— Food & Water Watch (@Food & Water Watch) 1675191692
FWW traced the loss of family-scale farms back to factors including the loss of dairy price supports in the early 2000s, which caused production prices to rise even more sharply than they previously had for two decades, while sale prices rose far less quickly. This left the average family farm almost entirely unable to turn a profit—doing so just twice between 2000 and 2021—and in many cases, forced them to eventually close.
The "disastrous 1996 Farm Bill" also ended commodity grain supply management policies, allowing oversupplies to flood the market and "ushering in the era of factory farms," with family farms unable to compete with large facilities. Milk production rapidly increased since 1997, further driving down sale prices.
"We need prices that are fair, covering our cost of production and giving us a return to maintain our businesses and make a living. Overproduction and consolidation in the industry are making this increasingly difficult if not impossible."
Wisconsin dairy farmer Sarah Lloyd told FWW that dairy farm families "have our backs against the wall."
"We need prices that are fair, covering our cost of production and giving us a return to maintain our businesses and make a living. Overproduction and consolidation in the industry are making this increasingly difficult if not impossible," said Lloyd. "We need to manage the growth of dairy supply and we can do this with solid dairy policy that looks out for farm families and rural communities and not corporate profits."
The report argues that "there is a clear way forward," making recommendations including "a comprehensive federal supply management program that actively works to match supply with demand and does not use the export market as a dumping ground for oversupply."
"Curbing overproduction can bring a higher price to farmers through the market instead of through taxpayer-funded government payments and bailouts," reads the report. "It will also reduce the pressure to expand herd sizes and thereby avoid more factory farms and the entailing climate emissions."
FWW also called Congress to "stop the megamerger frenzy among agribusiness" by passing legislation to halt agribusiness mergers and ultimately ban factory farms, phasing them out and investing in a "just transition" for factory farm workers by 2040.
"The next Farm Bill is a critical opportunity to reverse course, by restoring supply management and reforming the farm safety net," said Wolf. "Passage of the Farm System Reform Act and Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act will help ensure we stop digging a deeper hole by halting consolidation and factory farm proliferation."
"There's a clear path forward to avoiding a devastating and completely avoidable recession: Chair Powell and the Fed should stop raising interest rates," said one economist.
As the Federal Reserve kicked off its first policy meeting of the new year on Tuesday, economists and progressive advocates reiterated their now-familiar call for the central bank to stop raising interest rates amid growing evidence that hiring, wage growth, and inflation are slowing significantly.
"Pushing millions of people out of work is not the answer to tackling inflation," Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, said in a statement. "Additional rate hikes could jeopardize our strong labor market—and low-wage workers and Black and brown workers would suffer the biggest economic consequences."
"There's a clear path forward to avoiding a devastating and completely avoidable recession: Chair Powell and the Fed should stop raising interest rates," Mabud added.
The latest push for an end to interest rate increases came as fresh data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Tuesday showed that wage growth continued to cool at the tail-end of 2022, an outcome that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has explicitly been aiming for even as experts have rejected the notion that wages are responsible for current inflation levels.
According to the BLS Employment Cost Index (ECI)—a measure watched closely by Fed policymakers—wage growth climbed just 1% in the final three months of 2022 compared to the previous quarter, a slower pace than analysts expected.
"The Fed has lost its excuse for a recession," Mike Konczal, director of macroeconomic analysis at the Roosevelt Institute, tweeted in response to the new BLS figures. "Over the last three months, inflation has come down exactly as a soft landing would predict, wage growth didn't persist but moderated with the reopening to solidly high levels within late 1990s ranges, and the economy added 750,000 new jobs."
"Too many hard-working families have everything to lose if the Fed stays the course with higher rates that only push the economy closer to a recession."
Though Powell has insisted that Fed decision-making will be driven by economic data, he made clear last month that the nation's central bankers don't think inflation has slowed enough to justify a rate-hike pause or reversal, brushing aside the recessionary risks of more monetary tightening.
On Wednesday, the Fed is widely expected to institute a 25-basis-point rate increase followed by another of the same size at its March meeting, bringing the total number of rate hikes to nine since early 2022.
Even the central bank's own models predict a sharp increase in the unemployment rate—and potentially millions of lost jobs—if Fed policymakers drive interest rates up to their desired range of between 5% and 5.25%.
"The Fed has every reason to halt further job-killing interest rate hikes as key indicators show inflation is slowing while the economic recovery remains fragile," said Liz Zelnick, director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power program at Accountable.US. "Too many hard-working families have everything to lose if the Fed stays the course with higher rates that only push the economy closer to a recession."
"Repeated interest rate hikes have done little to curb corporate greed that even Fed economists admit is what's really driving high costs on everything from groceries to gas," Zelnick continued. "The Fed faces a choice: back down and let policy and lawmakers continue to take impactful steps to rein in corporate profiteering—or keep needlessly threatening jobs and an economic downturn with further rate hikes.”
\u201cExperts are warning the @federalreserve against further job-killing rate hikes\u2014it's time for the Fed to stop needlessly threatening Americans' livelihoods while doing nothing to address the rampant corporate greed raising prices on essentials. https://t.co/8S66qwXT5b\u201d— Accountable.US (@Accountable.US) 1675177572
For months, economists and lawmakers have vocally questioned the Fed's aggressive rate hikes and laser focus on the labor market given the myriad causes of the 2021 inflation spike, from pandemic-induced supply chain snags to corporate profiteering to Russia's war on Ukraine to the climate crisis.
Some experts, however, have argued that the Fed's seemingly misguided approach is perfectly understandable when considering that a central goal of the institution is to help the rich "conserve and increase their concentrated wealth."
"Chair Jerome Powell and the Fed are willing to impose significant costs on workers and families in order to reduce inflation," Gerald Epstein and Aaron Medlin of the University of Massachusetts Amherst wrote in The American Prospect earlier this month. "This focus on inflation, by promoting high unemployment, contradicts the dual mandate given to the Fed by Congress."
"Why does the Federal Reserve treat its high-employment mandate so cavalierly when inflation is above 2%?" the pair continued. "The answer stems from the fact that since its founding, Fed officials have seen the world through 'finance-colored' glasses. Financiers do not like high inflation. Like all creditors who lend money today to be paid back in the future, financiers hate getting paid back in dollars that are worth less than the dollars they lent out in the first place."
In a blog post on Monday, Economic Policy Institute research director Josh Bivens noted that the Fed's dual mandate is "meant to balance the risks of inflation versus the benefits of fast growth and low unemployment."
"Right now, the benefits of low unemployment are enormous, and the risks of inflation are retreating rapidly," Bivens wrote. "If the Fed lets the current recovery continue apace by not raising interest rates further at this week’s meeting, 2023 could turn out to be a great year for the economic fortunes of American families."
"The Fed should stand pat on interest rate increases," he added. "If they instead insist on raising rates, this will pose a dire threat to what could be an excellent 2023 for the economic prospects of America's working families."
"This new study, using a new method, adds to the evidence that we certainly will face continuing changes in climate that intensify the impacts we are already feeling," said the lead author.
Even with ambitious action to reduce planet-heating emissions, the world could pass the two key temperature thresholds of the Paris climate agreement in the coming decades, according to new research that relied on artificial intelligence.
With the 2015 deal, nations agreed to work toward keeping global temperature rise this century "well below" 2°C and ultimately limiting it to 1.5°C. The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used a type of AI known as a neural network to predict how likely it is that the world will breach both limits before 2100.
Already, the world has warmed by an average of about 1.1°C relative to preindustrial levels. Stanford University's Noah Diffenbaugh and Elizabeth Barnes of Colorado State University found that under both low and high emissions scenarios, there is a high probability of hitting 1.5°C sometime in the 2030s. There's also a high chance of hitting 2°C in the next few decades.
"We have very clear evidence of the impact on different ecosystems from the 1°C of global warming that's already happened," Diffenbaugh toldThe Guardian. "This new study, using a new method, adds to the evidence that we certainly will face continuing changes in climate that intensify the impacts we are already feeling."
(Image: Dana Granoski/Stanford University)
"We confirm that the world is on the cusp of crossing the 1.5°C threshold," said Diffenbaugh. "Our AI model is quite convinced that there has already been enough warming that 2°C is likely to be exceeded if reaching net-zero emissions takes another half-century."
As CNNreported Monday:
The study's prediction is in line with previous models. In a major report published in 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that the world could cross the 1.5°C threshold "in the early 2030s."
Where the study departs from many current projections is in its estimates of when the world will cross the 2°C threshold.
While the IPCC projects that in a low emissions scenario, global temperature rises are unlikely to hit 2°C by the end of the century, the study returned more concerning results.
Diffenbaugh pointed out that various countries that support the Paris targets, along with nonstate actors, have set net-zero emissions targets for around mid-century. "Those net-zero pledges are often framed around achieving the Paris agreement 1.5°C goal," he said. "Our results suggest that those ambitious pledges might be needed to avoid 2°C."
For the study, Diffenbaugh and Barnes used outputs from global climate model simulations to train the neural network, then input previous observations of temperatures from across the globe to generate predictions. They tested the accuracy by seeing if the AI could correctly predict the current level of warming, or around 1.1°C—which it did.
"This was really the 'acid test' to see if the AI could predict the timing that we know has occurred," said Diffenbaugh. "We were pretty skeptical that this method would work until we saw that result. The fact that the AI has such high accuracy increases my confidence in its predictions of future warming."
According toThe Associated Press:
Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, who wasn't part of the Diffenbaugh study but was part of the IPCC, said the study makes sense, fits with what scientists know, but seems a bit more pessimistic.
There's a lot of power in using AI and in the future that may be shown to produce better projections, but more evidence is needed before concluding that, Mahowald said.
University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann, who edited the article, said that "the authors make an important and provocative contribution to the discussion over what is and is not achievable when it comes to limiting future warming below dangerous levels. That doesn't mean I necessarily agree with their conclusions."
Mann stressed the importance of distinguishing between physical and political obstacles to adequately slashing emissions, and that "physically, it is still possible to limit carbon emissions to levels that stay, with a reasonable likelihood, within the carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C."
"There is no climate 'cliff' at 1.5°C. Or 2°C," he added. "Rather, impacts increase with each fraction of a degree of warming. Limiting warming to 1.6°C is a whole lot better than allowing it to breach 2°C, and exceeding 1.5°C by a bit for a short period of time while stabilizing the climate below that level (a small 'overshoot') is a whole lot better than exceeding it by a lot for a long period of time (a big overshoot)."
\u201cWe need to avoid two degrees of warming by the end of the century and preferably keep it to 1.5 degrees. Instead we're set to pass the latter mark in ten years and the former by 2050. We are heading for catastrophe.\n\nhttps://t.co/bXhXFx69J4\u201d— Greenpeace Manchester (@Greenpeace Manchester) 1675148334
The new AI-based research follows a study published last month which warned that even a temporary overshoot of the Paris targets could "significantly" raise the risk of triggering dangerous tipping points—specifically, the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, the Amazon rainforest shifting to savannah, and the shutdown of the system of ocean currents that carries warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic.
Despite the world already enduring destructive impacts of heating the planet—from extreme weather to melting glaciers and sea ice to oceans becoming hotter and more acidic—the Paris agreement countries refused to agree to rapidly phase out climate-wrecking fossil fuels during the Egyptian-hosted COP27 summit in November.
The next global climate conference, scheduled for later this year, is hosted by the United Arab Emirates—which is currently facing intense criticism for appointing Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to lead COP28.