The 2020 Census shows the US is diversifying and aging. The UN Climate Report warns of catastrophic consequences in the future. Samsung unveils new folding phones. FDA authorizes third Covid vaccine dose for immunocompromised people. The US consumer sentiment plummets. Here are this week’s stories.
1. 2020 Census shows the US is diversifying and aging
The United States continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse, according to the US Census Bureau. The 2020 Census Results show that the white population fell from 63% to 57%, while the Hispanic, Latino, and Asian populations increased significantly. The multiracial population has increased by 276% over the past decade. The under-18 population is leading the diversity changes as only 47% of minors are White. As the under 18 population continues to diversify, it is also decreasing as a whole. The share of the minor population has declined from 24% in 2010 to 22% in 2020. In addition to diversifying and aging, the population is moving to urban areas. More than half of all counties saw a decrease in population, while metro areas grew by 8.7%. States will now have to redraw their congressional and state legislature district boundaries ahead of the 2022 midterm elections to reflect the updated count of their residents. Thirteen states will gain or lose seats in the US House of Representatives based on their state’s population change. Overall, the US population grew from roughly 308.7 million to 331.4 million, a 7.35% increase.
2. The UN Climate Report warns of catastrophic consequences
The United Nations has released a major report on Climate Change. The report analyzes over 14,000 studies and lays out five possible scenarios for our future. The report starts by claiming that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere started rising in the late 1700s and can be directly tied to human activity. Since then, our climate has been gradually worsening as we burn and release fossil fuels. The world has already warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century, and it will continue to rise until at least 2050. The climate will worsen for at least the next 30 years, even if nations take immediate steps to cut emissions. Under all of the five climate futures, the world will reach 1.5 degrees before 2050. According to the most ambitious of these scenarios, aggressive emissions cuts beginning now could limit the warming beyond 2050. This situation is nearly impossible and would be extremely expensive while requiring cooperation from all nations. In the worst case, emissions continue to rise and peak in 2050, causing average temperatures to rise 3 to 6 degrees Celsius. That would have catastrophic consequences. In the most likely case, emissions gradually decrease, and temperatures stabilize around 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
3. Samsung’s new folding phones
Almost every new folding smartphone has flopped in recent years, but Samsung is aiming to make foldable phones mainstream with the launch of its Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. Samsung will make folding phones more popular in the smartphone market by making them more affordable and cutting down on compromises. The Galaxy Flip3, the smartphone that folds into half, is very similar to the company’s flagship, Galaxy s21 Plus. And at $999, both phones have a 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, the latest Snapdragon 888 processor, identical memory and storage options, the same water resistance, and similar dimensions. While the Flip3 has slightly thicker bezels, a smaller battery, and one fewer camera, it can fold into half and has a cover display to show notifications. Samsung also launched the Galaxy Z Fold3, which is a smartphone that folds out to a tablet. At $1,799, the phone has all the flagship specs and supports the S Pen, but it has a small battery and an average camera system. The front and tablet display have odd aspect ratios, which degrade the experience of the phone. These foldable phones still have multiple compromises, but they are an improvement over last year. Samsung will continue to make them better.
4. FDA authorizes third Covid vaccine dose for immunocompromised people
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized an additional dose of a Coronavirus vaccine for certain people with weakened immune systems caused by disease, medical treatments, or organ transplants. These people likely had a poor immune response to two doses of either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine, so they need a third dose to ensure protection. Currently, there is not enough data to authorize a second dose of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Coronavirus vaccine. The third dose is not recommended for the general public, but anyone can get it. CDC estimates show over a million people received additional doses of the vaccine against the guidelines provided by the FDA. People who received the third dose are experiencing similar or fewer side effects than they did after the second shot, according to a survey in Israel. Israel began offering the additional dose to people over age 60 to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and ensure protection for the vulnerable. The CDC estimates about 7 million American adults are immunocompromised and need the third dose to maintain protection. Coronavirus vaccine booster shots are currently not needed for the general US population due to the high effectiveness of the vaccine against new variants.
5. US consumer sentiment plummets
The US consumers suffered a ‘stunning loss of confidence’ in early August. According to the University of Michigan, the preliminary consumer sentiment index fell to 70.2, the lowest level since 2011. That is down more than 13% from July’s result of 81.2 and below the April 2020 mark of 71.8 that was the lowest of the pandemic era. Most economists expected the index to remain stable at around 81.3, but several factors have caused it to plummet. Firstly, the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly due to the Delta variant, causing concerns among consumers about the future. Another factor is inflation and the stability of the economy. Millions of people are still unemployed, and they are relying on unemployment benefits. These benefits are paying similar to a minimum job, causing a massive worker shortage. Businesses are having to pay more to attract workers, but they are passing the costs to the consumers. The higher costs and the stimulus are causing inflation in the market and diminishing the economy’s performance. The unemployment benefits end in September and should lead to the economy stabilizing.
Above were my top stories for the week of August 15th, 2021. I hope you enjoyed them. Thank you and see you next week!