Inverse Daily: Amazon Wildfires Will Have Global Consequences


What it do, Inverse Daily fam? While I’m realizing, amid news of a fourth Matrix movie, that time is a flat circle, let’s get y’all caught up on today’s news.

But first: Have you asked a friend to sign up for Inverse Daily this week? Do so, and you’ll be entered for the chance to win a new set of Apple AirPods. See more details below!

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Combine hurricane increases with global warming and I think you could get something like that.”

— Behavioral ecologist Jonathan Pruitt, Ph.D., on the way climate change is making some spiders more aggressive.

Say No to Drugs

It’s hard to keep up with what the youth are doing. One week they may be snorting condoms, the next they might be eating Tide Pods, and then they might just turn around and save the world from climate change — all in the blink of a year. While we were reeling from the sheer energy it takes to do all of these things, another surprising youth trend emerged under everyone’s noses.

As Emma Betuel reports, new data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that cocaine use has dropped among people aged 18 to 25. That’s encouraging news because just a few years ago, in 2015, researchers had warned that cocaine was reemerging as a public health threat, with that same age group being “of particular concern.” The youth are defying expectations, and at least by this metric, it looks like they’re alright.

Read up on other surprising drug use trends from the past year.

The more you know:

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Smoked Out

A shadow swept over the skies of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, plunging the city into darkness. It wasn’t a biblical plague or a solar eclipse but rather a very human phenomenon: smoke from the record number of fires burning in the Amazon rainforest, so thick it obscured the sun over the city. The terrifying terrestrial disaster prompted a Twitter plea to the heavens with the trending hashtag #PrayforAmazonia.

Mitigating this disaster is going to require some strong-armed political pressure. The Amazon is burning because Brazil’s current president, Jair Bolsonaro, has encouraged huge swaths of the jungle the size of football pitches to be cleared through slash-and-burn techniques in order to make room for farmland. No matter where you’re reading this, you’ll eventually feel the effects. As Sarah Sloat reports, the Amazon Basin is one of the Earth’s most important carbon sinks, but its fading resilience means it’s an increasingly feeble defense against the worst effects of climate change.

See how much of the Amazon has already disappeared.

The more you know:

Up and aWaymo

A while back, we discussed the “levels” of self-driving cars here at Inverse Daily. Don’t recall? Here are the CliffsNotes: Automobile autonomy can be ranked on a scale of zero to five, with zero meaning “this car is completely human-operated” and five meaning “hop in and let the robots take the wheel.” That’s the “holy grail” of autonomous driving, Mike Brown tells me. Right now, Tesla’s autopilot ranks at about level two — it’s still classified as “human-monitored limited assistance.”

But Waymo, an autonomous car company that began as a Google internal project, has been making huge breakthroughs in reaching level five. Even better, it appears willing to share its knowledge for the sake of innovation. On Wednesday, it released what it claims to be one of the largest datasets open to researchers, containing footage covering 200,000 frames over several hours and using 10 sensors. For non-drivers (🙋), the future’s looking bright.

Discover how Waymo’s data gives the whole industry a boost.

The more you know:

Musk Reads

Elon Musk is pushing the boundaries of where we can go and what we can do. Don’t miss a beat by signing up for Musk Reads, our newsletter about all things SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company.

Sign up here.

No Escape from Vapes

Amid all the public health concerns around black-market vape brands like Dank Vapes, it’s easy to forget that vaping, whether it involves illegal products or not, comes with a lot of health risks on its own. In the past, researchers have raised concerns about the chemicals that make up e-liquids and vape flavorings and their sinister health effects, like “popcorn lung,” wheezing, and even stickier phlegm and mucus.

Researchers investigating the other ills of vaping e-liquid have discovered that just one very heavy vape session can have short-lived but serious effects on blood vessels. The femoral artery — a big one in the leg — appeared to stiffen after 16 big pulls from an e-cigarette, raising concerns that even worse effects could be happening to long-term vapers. Stiff arteries, they remind us, are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Find out how vaping might affect the heart in sneaky ways.

The more you know:

Future 50: Mary Annaïse Heglar

I’m so excited by our latest Future 50 profile on the incomparable Mary Annaïse Heglar, a fiery climate justice essayist who rejects the idea that a person might not be green enough to be called an environmentalist. Her point is that we should all try — whether by using reusable water bottles, driving electric cars, or composting food waste — and not to insist on green perfection. In the fight against the climate crisis, every little bit helps. But you have to try.

When she talked to Peter Hess, Heglar explained that judging people for not being green enough deepens racial inequalities that already exist in the movement. Environmental activist groups, she noticed, have traditionally been predominantly white. But the legacies of colonialism and racism have put greater burdens on people of color. She wants to get rid of the idea that someone’s choices must be perfect before they can speak out against the climate crisis. By writing to connect with environmentalists from every walk of life, she’s hoping to get everyone on the same page.

Read the Future 50 profile of Heglar here and her essay on the need for a new narrative in climate justice here.

The more you know:

Can’t Hear You

This week, we’re sending one lucky reader a new set of Apple AirPods. All you have to do is invite your friends to read Inverse Daily.

How it works:

  • Use your personal referral code to enter our raffle.
  • Each time you refer a friend to Inverse Daily, you get a ticket entered. 1 referral = 1 ticket.

We’ll accept entries for the rest of the week and announce the winner in our Friday newsletter. Good luck!

Today’s Good Thing

Today, that’s the Nepalese authorities, who have banned single-use plastics in the region around Mount Everest in order to prevent climbers from leaving behind piles of trash. The ban goes into effect in January 2020, just months after a dedicated cleanup crew removed 11 tons of waste from the mountainside.

Meanwhile …

  • Mayo Clinic review of CBD research raises concerns about liver damage, mislabeling, and unwanted drug interactions.
  • USDA begs Americans to please stop washing their chicken.
  • New data shows that any amount of activity — even activities that are so leisurely they may not even seem like exercise at all — go a long way toward holding death at bay.
  • Sony blames Marvel and Kevin Feige for Spider-Man split in official tweets.
  • Rockstar drops a big clue that GTA 6 could arrive sooner than expected.

Inverse Loot

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Thanks for reading, gang!

Big ups to everyone who wrote in to share their thoughts on what we should do about sunscreen. Tom H. made a very good point, noting that lightweight and breathable items of clothing can protect from UV: “They also (hopefully) don’t wash off after a few hours.” Margaret M. insists we all wear sunscreen but points out that “reef safe sunscreen” is also available. (“P.S.,” she notes, “Don’t DIY.”)

Thoughts on what we can do to save the Amazon? Let me know at yasmin@inverse.com.

Memories burn like a forest fire,

— Yasmin





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