Numlock News: May 10, 2021 • Summer Jobs, Blinding Lights, Swimming Pools
By Walt Hickey
An enormous project to preserve a mangrove forest on the Caribbean coast of Colombia is a go, with the Apple-funded project getting verified carbon credits for 7,646 hectares of mangrove forest. This is the first time that the carbon stored in the underwater soils of mangroves has been priced in, and is the first to be linked to preserving mangroves rather than restoring them. While carbon credits are fraught, mangrove preservation is a bit cleaner; they hold more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests, they can’t be burned down in a wildfire the same way a landlubbing forest can, and unlike the onshore forests, about 60 percent of their carbon is in the soils.
The Weeknd’s song “Blinding Lights” has been on the Billboard Hot 100 for 73 weeks, and he would very much like that to stop, thank you very much. The 17-month run is right now the fourth-longest run in the history of the chart, with “Blinding Lights” already snagging the record for most weeks in the top five (43 weeks) and top 10 (57 weeks) and, much to the consternation of The Weeknd, had already spent 26 weeks as the most played song on American radio. That’s great, but it’s a problem for the artist because he has many other singles he presumably would like to appear on the radio — such as “Save Your Tears” — that have been otherwise choked out. It’s particularly durable on adult-contemporary, where lively music for young people goes on to become inoffensive music for no longer young people, riding 23 weeks at number one.
A ransomware attack prompted a shut-down Friday of the Colonial Pipeline, which experts describe as “the important one” and “ah, yeah, this isn’t great.” Colonial connects Houston to Linden, New Jersey by way of pretty much every major city in between on the Eastern seaboard, and is responsible for 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast and in the Northeast. It’s the largest global disruption of energy supplies since Saudi Arabian oil supplies were attacked with drones in 2019, so yeah, it’s pretty bad. If they can get the pipeline back online within a few days to a week, things will likely be fine, but any longer and it’s going to turn into one of those “mass applauding a Rotterdam tanker as it pulls into New York Harbor” situations and nobody needs that right now.
There were 97,000 pool installations in 2020 in the United States, which was 24 percent higher than the previous year. That figure comes from the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, a trade group with an excellent name, which I instead like to imagine as a chlorine-encrusted coalition forged in battle against the great onslaught of frogs in the filter, a sturdy confederation fighting a never-ending war with the algal invaders, an entente tempered by a bimonthly application of awe and most importantly shock. Anyway, they’re really busy right now — people want pools.
Summer employment for young people has been on a downswing for decades. In July 1978, 71.8 percent of workers aged 16 to 19 were participating in the labor force. Since 2010, that number hasn’t gone above 45 percent. The reasons are myriad — hey, it turns out when you make college the most important financial transaction in a person’s life, the choice between a $7.25 per hour gig at Dairy Queen or spending that time studying for the SAT or doing extracurriculars actually becomes a thorny question of the fundamental value of time — but at the end of the day, money has its appeal and this year may actually see a surge in interest from the youths. That’s largely because the industries that typically employ teens — small retail, entertainment, restaurants — are primed to explode this summer, with Challenger, Gray & Christmas projecting U.S. teens will add 2 million new jobs.
Based on current sales and forecasts, this summer is poised for a vast amount of outdoor travel and recreation, with outdoor retailer L.L. Bean saying they have sold more outdoor furniture in the first four months of 2021 than they did in the entirety of 2020. They’re forecasting a 360 percent increase in the demand for travel duffel bags, 400 percent increase in paddleboard demand, and 500 percent increase in demand for outdoor furniture.
The divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates is a tectonic moment in the big world of philanthropy, specifically regarding the $50 billion endowment, 1,600 employee philanthropic engine that is the pair’s foundation. What makes it specifically vulnerable to changes in the involvement of either founder is the unusual structure of the board. The Ford Foundation has 15 board members and is a fifth of the size of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation has at least 12 board members and is a 10th of the size, but the Gates foundation has only three trustees: Bill, Melinda, and Warren Buffett. For the causes that rely on the foundation for their funding, it’s a stressful moment.
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Clarification: The Weekend’s streak atop the full radio charts is no longer ongoing.
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