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Media Creates False Balance on Climate Science, Study Shows

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NASA images show record-breaking heat across the globe.

The American media lends too much weight to people who dismiss climate change, giving them legitimacy they haven’t earned, posing serious danger to efforts aimed at raising public awareness and motivating rapid action, a new study shows.

While it is not uncommon for media outlets to interview climate change scientists and climate change deniers in the same interviews, the effort to offer a 360-degree view is creating a false balance between trained climate scientists and those who lack scientific training, such as politicians.

“It’s not just false balance; the numbers show that the media are ‘balancing’ experts — who represent the overwhelming majority of reputable scientists — with the views of a relative handful of non-experts,” UC Merced Professor LeRoy Westerling said. “Most of the contrarians are not scientists, and the ones who are have very thin credentials. They are not in the same league with top scientists. They aren’t even in the league of the average career climate scientist.”

Westerling is one of three researchers from UC Merced who tracked the digital footprints of climate scientists and deniers across about 200,000 research publications and 100,000 digital and print media articles on climate change over the past few years. Their work is published in Nature Communications today .

Data shows that about half the mainstream media visibility goes to climate-change deniers, many of whom are not climate scientists. This proportion increases significantly when blogs and other “new media” outlets are included — pointing to the rising role of customized media in spreading disinformation.

“It’s time to stop giving these people visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority,” Professor Alex Petersen said. “By tracking the digital traces of specific individuals in vast troves of publicly available media data, we developed methods to hold people and media outlets accountable for their roles in the climate-change-denialism movement, which has given rise to climate change misinformation at scale.”

Amplified Misinformation

There are a variety of reasons people don’t accept the results of climate science even though the science is overwhelming. These include cognitive bias and “motivated reasoning” — the tendency of people to bias their judgements by personal and group-level values, even when faced with documented facts; and external influences, including political cues, ideological biases, cultural worldviews and even personal weather experiences.

But the media’s longstanding and dominant role in empowering cultural politics, the advent of “new media” and the nearly boundless scalability of content distribution across the Internet compound the problem and amplify misinformation, the researchers said.

Even when people have complete control in choosing their sources of information, they are still susceptible to significant disparities in content production and to media coverage.

The proper counterpoint to a climate scientist would be another legitimate scientist who could show competing data from the same experiments or show where the first climate scientist has made mistakes in his or her work. Having a non-expert oil lobbyist or politician respond to a peer-reviewed study or assessment by saying “climate change doesn’t exist” is not a credible argument or a means of balancing, Petersen said.

“These results show that false balance in the media is alive and well and the growing trend toward customized media that we access via the internet is feeding the disinformation trend,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and a lead author of the U.S. National Climate Assessment. “This study is a wake-up call for all media to do better: to check their sources in order to accurately communicate the reality of human-induced climate change, the relevance of its impacts and the urgency of action.”

Petersen is a computational scientist who specializes in human analytics. He and Westerling, a climatologist known for his state-of-the-art modeling of climate-ecosystem-wildfire interactions, both with the Department of Management of Complex Systems in the School of Engineering, partnered with former UC Merced researcher Emmanuel Vincent to conduct a study of 386 prominent climate contrarians and 386 expert scientists’ public statements on climate change to compare the credibility given to those on each side.

“The acute misrepresentation of information aimed at misleading the public for political gain is a pressing problem that threatens various other domains in addition to climate change communication,” the team wrote in the new paper. “It requires a better understanding of the human, social and technological factors that facilitate widespread disinformation efforts.”

“Political reporting focuses its narrative around conflict and looks to highlight competing voices, rather than telling the story of the science.”

Professor LeRoy Weserling

Disproportionate Visibility

Westerling put it more bluntly:

“It’s well known now that a well-financed propaganda campaign on behalf of conservative fossil fuel interests led mainstream media to frame reporting on climate change science as political reporting rather than science reporting,” he said. “Political reporting focuses its narrative around conflict and looks to highlight competing voices, rather than telling the story of the science.”

This, he said, has led to the false balance between scientists and a handful of climate deniers who have become regular commenters.

Besides the scientists who have published work denying or downplaying climate change, many people will recognize some of the other people who are often called upon to present “balance:” Scott Pruitt, the former head of the EPA; Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign; Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe; White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

By featuring them as the counterpoints to legitimate, experienced and disciplined climate scientists, the media gives them a measure of credibility they do not deserve, the researchers said.

“Such disproportionate media visibility of contrarian arguments and actors not only misrepresents the distribution of expert-based beliefs, it also manifestly undermines the credible authority of career climate-change experts, and reinforces the trend of non-experts presiding over public scientific discourse, which all together hinders prospects for rapid public action on climate change,” they wrote.

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Hi-Tech Pipes Limited (NSE:HITECH) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed – Simply Wall St News

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Today we are going to look at Hi-Tech Pipes Limited (NSE:HITECH) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that ‘one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar’.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for Hi-Tech Pipes:

0.25 = ₹625m ÷ (₹5.4b – ₹2.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Hi-Tech Pipes has an ROCE of 25%.

View our latest analysis for Hi-Tech Pipes

Is Hi-Tech Pipes’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Hi-Tech Pipes’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 14% average in the Metals and Mining industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Hi-Tech Pipes’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

You can see in the image below how Hi-Tech Pipes’s ROCE compares to its industry.

NSEI:HITECH Past Revenue and Net Income, December 8th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Remember that most companies like Hi-Tech Pipes are cyclical businesses. You can check if Hi-Tech Pipes has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Hi-Tech Pipes’s ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Hi-Tech Pipes has total assets of ₹5.4b and current liabilities of ₹2.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 53% of its total assets. Hi-Tech Pipes boasts an attractive ROCE, even after considering the boost from high current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Hi-Tech Pipes’s ROCE

So we would be interested in doing more research here — there may be an opportunity! Hi-Tech Pipes looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.



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The Interstellar Comet Has Arrived in Time for the Holidays

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It came out of the Northern sky, a frozen breath of gas and dust from the genesis of some distant star, launched across the galaxy by the gravitational maelstroms that accompany the birth of worlds.

It wandered in the deep freeze of interstellar space for 100 million years or so, a locked vault of cosmo-chemical history. In Spring 2019 this ice cube began falling into our own solar system. Feeble heat from the sun, still distant, loosened carbon monoxide from its surface into a faint, glowing fog; the orphan ice cube became a new comet.

Six months later, Gennady Borisov, a Crimean astronomer, saw it drifting in front of the constellation Cancer and sounded the alarm.

On Sunday, Dec. 8 the comet that now bears his name — 2I Borisov — will make a wide turn around the sun and began heading back out of the solar system. As it departs, it will steadily brighten and grow in size as sunlight continues to shake off the dust from a long, cold sleep. On Dec. 28 the comet will pass 180 million miles from Earth, its closest approach to our planet.

This procession is being greeted with hungry eyes by a species only just knocking on the door of interstellar exploration and eager for news from out there.

“I think the sense of excitement stems in part from the timing of these discoveries,” Dr. Laughlin said. Oumuamua and Borisov, he added, augur well for a new telescope the National Science Foundation is building in Chile called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will sweep the entire sky every few days, producing in effect a movie of the universe.

That telescope will be superbly positioned to find more interloper comets, perhaps even in time to send probes to greet them with Deep Impact-style missions. “The situation is reminiscent of when the first exoplanets were detected,” Dr. Laughlin said.

That discovery occurred in 1995, shortly before the Spitzer Space Telescope, which was built without exoplanets in mind, was launched.

Astronomers have long suspected that if anything came calling from another star system, it would be comets. New stars and planetary systems are surrounded by vast clouds of icy leftover fragments, so the story goes. These snowballs are easily dislodged by passing stars and knocked hither and fro — many inward toward their mother star and its planets, but others outward across the galaxy.

Until now, astronomers have lacked telescopes big and sensitive enough to detect them. Now, with telescopes like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Pan-STARRS in Hawaii, which discovered Oumuamua, they do.

Thus far, the two examples of interstellar comets that humans have observed could not be more different. Oumuamua was mistaken for an asteroid at first because it had no cometary cloud of gas and dust around it, at least that could be seen. But as it was traveling out of sight, small perturbations in its motion suggested that in fact the rock was actually a comet, being pushed around by jets of gas shooting from its surface.

Estimates of the object’s shape — long and cigarlike — spurred speculation that it could be an alien probe or even a solar sail. Recent analysis by Sergey Mashchenko, an astrophysicist at McMaster University in Ontario, has concluded that Oumuamua was less a rod than a thin slab rocking back and forth as sunlight and radiation wore it away.

“It was vanishing as it went away, like a bar of soap in the shower,” Dr. Laughlin said.

Borisov, in contrast, is thriving, sprouting a typically bushy, radiant tail. As a comet, it would be utterly ordinary if not for its origin. “Nothing about Borisov is weird,” Dr. Laughlin said. “With Oumuamua, everything was weird.”

Borisov looked like a comet from the start, enveloped in a cloud of gas, which is what enabled Mr. Borisov to recognize it so quickly. And everything the visitor has done since then has suggested that at least some comets out there are more or less like our neighborhood comets.

Mr. Borisov’s comet underwent an astronomical rite of passage of sorts in October, when the Hubble Space Telescope got a good look at it: a white knuckle at the head of a bluish fan of light.

Subsequent observations by telescopes on Earth have confirmed the presence of alien water and carbon monoxide as well as a growing list of chemicals from another part of the universe. As of Nov. 24, the comet’s tail had grown to 100,000 miles long. The comet’s nucleus is only a mile across.

Early in November, the Gemini observatory spotted the wanderer passing about a billion light-years in front of a spiral galaxy “romantically known” as 2dFgrS TGN363Z174, said Travis Rector, an astronomer from the University of Alaska Anchorage who was involved in taking the photograph. As if to tease us humans with a reminder of places unknown and unvisitable, the backdrop to the portrait is speckled with faint smudges of even more distant galaxies and stars.

One of the astronomers waiting for action is Cheng-Han Hsieh, a colleague of Dr. Laughlin at Yale, who has been monitoring the comet daily with a worldwide network of robotic telescopes called the Las Combre Observatory, which has its headquarters in Goleta, Calif. The network includes a set of radio antennas, at Green Bank Observatory, the Submillimeter Array on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the ALMA array in Chile, standing by for an outburst.

Radio observations might be particularly revealing, Mr. Hsieh said. They could shed light on an age-old issue of whether this comet, as it tracks through our neighborhood, is shedding more than just dust and ice — including, for instance, complex organic molecules that optimistic astrobiologists call “prebiotic.”

The data could also reveal the signatures of the different isotopes of the atoms locked in Borisov’s ice, which in turn might say something about the origin of the comet. What kind of star formed nearby? Was a supernova involved? With luck, we might learn which of those reddish smudges in the cosmic background our visitor once called home.



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Arm’s hi-tech blueprint to rescue crisis-torn Malawi | Business Weekly | Technology News | Business news

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Cambridge chip designer Arm is working with the UN and Unicef in a bid to deploy a battery of smart technologies to combat medical, food, flooding and other life-threatening crises in tech-starved Malawi.

President and chief operating officer Graham Budd led an Arm team on a fact finding mission to the territory and believes the company can use a range of technologies – among them smartphones, drones, AI and wearables – to vastly improve living conditions for local people.

Arm has engaged with the country’s technology innovators to preach best practice but acknowledge that real progress will only be made over the long haul.

Budd points out that Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 171st out of 189 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index. Many of the country’s 18 million inhabitants lack basic access to healthcare, water, sanitation and education.

These problems were compounded in early 2019 when devastating flooding from Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai resulted in widespread loss of livestock, homes and crops. 

The spread of cholera and severe malnutrition that followed has had serious consequences for Malawi’s population, especially its women and children.

Budd writes on Arm’s website: “It was in one of the hardest-hit areas, Chikwawa District, that – alongside members of the Arm sustainability team – I found myself in November. We were invited by UNICEF Malawi, an organisation that has been providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children in Malawi since 1964. 

“Having partnered with the United Nations agency in 2015, we were there to explore ways in which Arm might help to find technology solutions to problems faced by a nation with one of the lowest levels of technological adoption and Internet connectivity.

“In particular, we were interested to see how a shift towards intelligent, efficient compute at the endpoint – technology that Arm has long been at the forefront of such as smartphones, wearables, drones and other relatively lightweight, portable devices – might enable solutions that might previously have been rendered impossible by cost, power or connectivity requirements.”

Wearables

Budd adds: “To those of us accustomed to visiting our local health facility whenever we’re under the weather it’s almost impossible to imagine how difficult the same thing would be in Malawi. 

“With fewer than 0.1 doctors per 1,000 people, half of the population must travel up to an hour to reach the nearest community health centre and up to two-and-a-half hours to reach a hospital.

“Without regular check-ups, warning signs in a child’s mental or physical development go unnoticed or are recognised at far too late a stage. It is, tragically, no surprise that one in 15 Malawian children die before they reach the age of five.

“But wearable technology may provide a solution. Arm and UNICEF are conducting a longitudinal study of child development using Arm-powered wearable and sensor technologies to measure various biomarkers including temperature (to identify fever), facial expressions (to evaluate stress levels), EEG signals (to evaluate headaches), and EKG signals (to monitor heartbeats and proxies for infectious diseases).

“This pilot initiative aims to monitor children in 6,000 rural households over 18 years – collecting physical and mental health data once a week in order to build a rich data picture of child development in this highly challenging environment.”

The first phase of the pilot included wearables from four companies, including arm, chest, and head bands. Another company is exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to better track and predict health. 

Crucially, these wearables are cheap and reliable, providing high-quality data and lots of it. It’s essential for the rational, evidence-based decision-making that’s required to help children thrive. 

Budd writes: “The long-term goal is to examine all of the collected data in order to improve pre-emptive diagnosis of disease and better predict when and where outbreaks may occur, then use that information to design effective prevention programs. 

“But we don’t have to wait for two decades to benefit from this project. Along the way, vital information on children’s mental and physiological development, as well as overall wellbeing, will allow parents, caregivers and community health workers to stay informed and, we hope, recognise warning signs while there’s still time.”

Flood modelling using drones and AI

In June 2017, the Government of Malawi, along with UNICEF, launched a 40km-radius air corridor at Kasungu Aerodrome in central Malawi. It’s the first in Africa, and one of the first globally, dedicated to testing the potential of drones for humanitarian and development use.

Budd says that drones offer a unique aerial perspective of the landscape that was once only possible if you owned a plane or helicopter. 

“The second UNICEF study we’re funding aims to use Arm-powered drone technology to give Malawi a better understanding of how its landscape will be affected by flooding through aerial mapping, ground truthing and Geographic Information Systems,” he writes.

“This flood modelling technology aims to better inform emergency preparedness through early warning systems. Aerial images are captured and processed using AI image recognition software to predict and model future flooding. It can also identify different types of buildings in order to build a picture of human occupation of an area and how flooding may affect it.”

Arm field-testing a long-distance drone delivery at Kasungu Aerodrome

Budd says that drones are also being trialled as delivery vehicles for essential supplies and emergency items, traversing complex topography and harsh terrain that would prove too challenging for land-based logistics. 

“During our visit to Kasungu Aerodrome we witnessed a successful field-test of a health delivery service, delivering a six-kilogram payload to a healthcare worker in a neighbouring village 37 kilometres away,” he says.

Budd says that the week Arm’s delegation spent in Malawi was a great demonstration of how globally sourced, locally implemented innovation partnerships could  deliver social impact at scale, made possible by organisations like UNICEF who have the infrastructure and government relationships already in place to deliver programmes on the ground. 

He adds: “Locally-driven initiatives such as the drone corridor are unique opportunities to partner to enable progress on humanitarian challenges, and we’re getting involved wherever we can – a speech-processing pilot for enhanced monitoring of the classroom environment is also in development.

“As well as exploring how we could play a part in other technology-focused UNICEF projects, we visited Daeyang University in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. 

“There, we ran a collaborative workshop with students – which included introducing them to some of the newer applications of Arm technology such as natural language processing and ‘TinyML’ AI processing for ultra-low-power systems.

“It’s these technologies that will enable Malawi’s innovators to develop low-cost, low-power solutions with a level of computational capability that only a few years ago would have been far too expensive or difficult to implement within a limited infrastructure. 

“It was hugely exciting to be able to explore these concepts with passionate, highly skilled students in fields such as computer science and electrical engineering. 

“These young people will be the ones tasked with improving their country technologically, socially and financially – and it’s our hope that Arm technology will help enable them to do so.”


Arm ambassadors meeting children in flood-hit Chikwawa District . All images courtesy of Arm.

Budd accepts that there will be challenges along the way: technical hurdles remain around connectivity, battery life and, in the case of drones, physical safety. 

Budd says: “Perhaps the bigger battle will be in overcoming social hurdles such as communities’ reticence to adopt unknown technology. 

‘Yet in meeting local community leaders in rural villages that have been heavily affected by flooding, their desire to be able to assume responsibility for solving these problems was abundantly clear.

“It’s my hope that the more prolific and capable this kind of technology becomes, the more it will be trusted, championed and seen as a force for good – enabling Malawi’s innovators to deliver real solutions that solve humanitarian challenges in a sustainable way.”



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