Meridian Reads: Australia, digital literacy and foodie culture

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Hey there, Meridian Readers! The holidays are fast approaching, so let’s dive in and make sure you’re prepared for loooots of familial small talk.

Diplomacy may be the solution to standoff over Australia’s use of carryover credits

Publication: The Guardian | By Katharine Murphy and Adam Morton

  • With so much going on in the U.S. (don’t worry, we won’t mention the “i” word for the sake of everyone’s sanity), you may not have heard about Australia.
  • Here’s the deal: Australian officials have told major business groups there will have to be a diplomatic solution to a standoff between the Morrison government and other nations about whether the government can use carryover credits from the Kyoto period to meet its Paris target.
    • If your memory needs a jog, carryover credits are an accounting system that allows countries to count credits from exceeding their targets under the soon-to-be-obsolete Kyoto protocol periods against their Paris commitment for 2030.
  • Diplomats from the British high commission signaled their objection to Australia using these carryover credits during a recent meeting of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, which includes major emitters such as BHP and Woodside, and industry associations.
  • How did Australia respond, you ask?
    • Australian officials said the government intended to use carryover credits despite the opposition, and there would need to be a diplomatic solution at the looming United Nations climate talks in Madrid.
    • British officials then said everything was negotiable in the context of the UN talks, but using carryover credits should not become a substitute for climate action.
  • How does the rest of the world feel about this?
    • Australia’s stance is definitely controversial, and a number of countries have objected, including the European Union, Pacific nations and Canada. Environment department officials recently told Senate estimates they were unaware of any countries other than Australia planning to use the controversial credits to meet their international climate commitments.

Foodie culture is now part of foreign policy

Digital literacy teaches students how to tell fact from fiction online

Publication: The Washington Diplomat | By Deryl Davis

  • In 2016, the Stanford History Education Group released a widely reported study which found that despite being fluent in social media, students at the middle, high school and college levels were surprisingly inept when it came to evaluating what they read online.
    • Middle schoolers confused advertisements for news, high schoolers could not verify the authenticity of social media accounts and college students judged the accuracy of websites by their visual and stylistic appeal, largely accepting what the sites said about themselves on face value. Big yikes.
  • Sam Wineburg, lead author of the report, put it in an Oct. 1, 2018, follow-up article for the Washington Post: “today’s ‘digital natives’ are digitally naïve.”
  • Today, as the rallying cry of fake news reaches a fevered pitch ahead of the 2020 presidential election and as young people — who are increasingly becoming politically active — are bombarded with an avalanche of information at the touch of a button, it’s more important than ever that these future voters learn to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not.
  • What’s been the impact of the study?
    • There’s been a rise in states across the United States calling for greater digital literacy efforts to teach students how to navigate the technologies that are reshaping their world.
    • This trend is part of an increasing awareness that while algorithms and other tech tools may help slow the spread of misinformation.
  • Joel Breakstone, who championed the report, said that the issue of digital literacy (also referred to as media literacy) is “much more complex” than just fake news, “there is real reason for concern” that students do not know how to evaluate information they find online.
    • “We need to figure out which approaches are most effective in order for students to become better consumers of information,” he added. Can’t argue with that.