Fewer Clouds Means Climate Change Is More Clear


Photo: Ulrika

Today’s Top Stories

An Uncloudy Day Is Not a Good Thing: Fewer clouds provides more evidence that climate change is underway.

The Fintech Bubble: Joi Ito of the MIT Media Lab wants Bitcoin and the blockchain to refocus from apps to infrastructure.

Starbucks Salaries Get a Little More Grande: It’s another sign of good news on the jobs front.

Application Attention Disorder: We’re spending way less time in our apps.

Get a Date, Save a Life: A study suggests that a hookup app can do more than just hook you up.

An Uncloudy Day Is Not a Good Thing. Clouds cool the Earth, trapping solar energy and bouncing it back into space. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do. A recent study finds that clouds are changing exactly how you’d think they would in a warming world (Bloomberg). Clouds are moving toward the poles, leaving more and more of the earth uncovered, and those that remain are trending toward the “high cottony anvils” that trap heat, not the lower-lying ones that reflect it. “As cloud tops rise,” the authors write in Nature, “their greenhouse effect becomes stronger.” It’s yet another peer-reviewed study that doesn’t predict climate change; it documents how it’s happening right now.

The Fintech Bubble. Forget apps when it comes to Bitcoin and the blockchain. What we really need is infrastructure, Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, writes in this essay on NewCo Shift. If not, we could be looking at a bubble.

Starbucks Salaries Get a Little More Grande. Yesterday Starbucks said it will give pay increases of at least 5 percent (Washington Post) to all of its U.S. store workers and managers, more evidence that the domestic job market is improving. This is part of a wider trend: Walmart recently increased its minimum, particularly important at a chain that pays roughly 40 percent of its workers the legal minimum. The Starbucks announcement also included a promise “to loosen the company’s dress code” and “allow for more self-expression with attire.” So next time you get your caramel macchiato, your barista might be happy for two reasons.

Application Attention Disorder. Need some evidence for something you’d guess is true? Jampp reports that our mobile attention span is shrinking rapidly (Venture Beat), down 88 percent year-over-year, with “a 35 percent decrease in average app session length quarter over quarter.” There are plenty of ways to explain away some of the decrease–you can get work done in an app faster after you learn it–and we’ll see how the rise of chatbots and conversational UIs, which keep people in apps longer, effects this trend. But here’s one data point that app life is accelerating rapidly.

Get a Date, Save a Life. You may be using Grindr for one reason and one reason only. But there’s something else you can get out of it. Researchers have found that the dating/hookup app is an effective way to get gay black and Hispanic men to try home H.I.V. self-testing kits (New York Times). The small study, confined to the Los Angeles area, used banner ads on Grindr to offer free kits. Two men learned they were infected from the tests and Jeffrey D. Klausner, an H.I.V. specialist at U.C.L.A.’s David Geffen School of Medicine, says the idea of using the app to encourage home testing is “ripe for expansion.”

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