Planet Business: Carbon emissions rise and coffee prices soar

Mastercard to phase out magnetic strip, as Twitter introduces new features

Image of the week: Green and red

They're back! Extinction Rebellion's Red Brigade, or "red rebels", made an appearance at a climate protest in Berlin this week, where the Brandenburg Gate served as the recognisable backdrop to environment activists' now traditional exercise in playing dead. Red "symbolises the common blood we share with all species", according to the movement, which also likes to dabble in fake blood to make its increasingly urgent point: there is no Planet B and rising greenhouse gas emissions on Planet A after last year's pandemic pause are an extremely bad idea that we will all come to regret.

Meanwhile, in nearby Gruenheide, Elon Musk is busy trying to build a massive Tesla electric vehicle "gigafactory". Alas, its green credentials have been spoiled somewhat by the hectares of forest clearing that took place to prepare the "Tesla Strasse" site, which partly overlaps a drinking water protection zone and borders a nature reserve. Thanks, Elon.

In numbers: Caffeine hit

50%
Rise in the price of Arabica coffee beans over the past 12 months, raising the prospect that the cost of many people's morning stimulant of choice could also go up.

7
Arabica bean prices are now at a seven-year high thanks to a combination of drought and frost-damaged crops in Brazil, while high freight costs aren't helping supplier margins.

$400 billion
Starbucks, which recently unveiled record quarterly results amid what it dubbed the "great human reconnection", says the world coffee market will grow well over this sum in the next three years.

Getting to know: Forrest and Dorothea Parry

Utah-born Forrest Parry was the IBM engineer who invented the magnetic strips used on ID cards and payment cards, although not for much longer: Mastercard announced this week that it would be phasing them out by 2033 on the basis that most of the world moved on to chip-and-pin and contactless payments ages ago. According to IBM, which in the early 1960s was creating identity cards for CIA staff, Parry had the idea of sticking information encoded on a strip of magnetic tape to a plastic card. Unfortunately, the tape was damaged by glue. He explained the problem to his wife, Dorothea, who happened to be ironing clothes at the time – she suggested fusing the tape to the card with an iron. It worked and an industry-revolutionising invention was born. Forrest Parry died in 2005; Dorothea predeceased him.

The list: New Twitter things

Another week, another Twitter innovation. This time, it was an unheralded new typeface – Chirp – and the introduction of some high-contrast colours, which led to user complaints followed by a Twitter promise to make the redesign “easier on the eyes”. But what other features could tweeters love to hate very soon?

1 Reply language prompts. In one feature under consideration, users would be able to choose phrases they don't want to see in their replies. Like "it me", for example?

2 Trusted friends. Users would be able to tweet certain things to a small network only under this proposed feature reminiscent of a similar function on Instagram.

3 Spaces. "A new way to have live audio conversations on Twitter", or a new way to ruin your mood, depending. To host a "Space" on this Clubhouse-inspired feature, which is already in existence, you must have 600 followers.

4 Facets. Not yet a reality, Facets would allow someone to tweet from different personas under the one account, rather than, say, having to set up separate work and personal accounts.

5 Edit button. Give it up, edit button campaigners. It's never going to happen, and there are solid reasons why it shouldn't too.

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