Do we need to replace the GDP?

The standard measure of economic performance, the gross domestic product (GDP), measures the value of goods and services produced within a country over a given period. However, the GDP doesn’t measure social factors like income inequality, domestic violence, drug addiction, or the impact of today’s actions on future generations. It also ignores sustainability and environmental destruction. It’s a very short-term view of market factors without respect to what’s happening on the social and environmental levels. As a result, the GDP gave us no warning of the impending global financial crisis in 2008.

But we continued to base our economic predictions on that metric. And it began to show economies recovering and growing—so everything’s going well again, right? But what if we factor in social and environmental realities?

Visuals: Nature Magazine evolves

Nature Magazine is one of the world’s most important international weekly scientific journals. According to its website, it publishes “peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions.”

The first issue was published in 1869. Since then, the magazine has changed quite a bit. Have a look at the graph below and discuss with your teacher how the content has evolved over the past 150 years.


The origin of the English pub

Atlas Obscura, a publication about travel and culture, notes that a pub has always been more than just a place that sells beer for the British. The pub has brought communities together for centuries, and the tavern tradition of spending the evening with your peers continues to this day. Few know, however, that pubs became popular following the plague known as the Black Death of the 14th century.

The Black Death killed nearly half of England's population after it reached the British Isles in 1348. By the 1370s, it had caused a critical labor shortage. Eventually, this proved a boon for the peasantry of England, who could demand higher wages for their work and achieve higher standards of living. As a result, households selling or giving away leftover ale were replaced by more commercialized, permanent establishments set up by the best brewers and offering better food.

The fastest path to becoming a CEO

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), common wisdom says that CEOs attend elite MBA programs, land high-powered jobs right out of school at prestigious firms, and climb the ladder straight to the top while carefully avoiding risky moves.

However, HBR conducted a 10-year study in which they assembled a dataset of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments to analyze who gets to the top and how. They discovered a striking finding: sprinters—those who rise quickly—accelerate to the top by making bold, at times risky, career moves.

The study found that a few types of career "catapults" were common among the sprinters, and 97% undertook at least one of these experiences. First, over 60% of sprinters have taken a smaller role early in their career. Then, more than one-third catapulted to the top by making “the big leap,” often in the first decade of their careers. 

Why is English the global language?

English is a modern lingua franca. It is a leading language in so many areas: from global affairs and science to entertainment. One of the reasons for that lies in the colonial history of the British Crown in the 17th century, when the British Empire became the biggest empire in history. With colonialism, trade relations boomed, following the progress in science, industrial manufacturing and literature. However, there were many other competing languages, such as French, Spanish and German. To know more about how English won the competition against other languages to become a global communication tool, watch this short part of the video, "Why Did English Become the International Language?

Visuals: Fruit & Veggie consumption

People’s diets have varied considerably around the world, and have often been dictated by geography, the types of crops that the land can sustain and animals that dominate the ecosystem. However, with advances in technology and globalization, billions of people can now eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables out of season, as well as exotic, imported meats.

Take a look at the two maps below and discuss what you see with your teacher.

New Zealand new trade agreements

The UK agreement

A new free trade agreement with the UK allows New Zealand to remove export tariffs during the next 15 years. This deal promises a GDP boost of up to $1 billion.

On top of the economic elements, the agreement includes conditions for the environment, tackling climate change and creating equity in economic advancement. According to New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, it is the country’s “first bilateral trade agreement to include a specific article on climate change”. 

Another unique point of that agreement is a separate Māori trade chapter featuring the acknowledgement of the relationships between the Māori people and the British, who colonised the country. In addition, the chapter included the protection of Ka Mate haka, in which the UK promises to protect the famous ceremonial dance. 

Floating solar farms

Floating solar farms, also known as "floatovoltaics," are an efficient way to collect solar energy. They have a number of advantages over land-based systems:

  1. They don't occupy land that could be used for other things, like crop farming.
  2. They're up to 16% more efficient because the water keeps them cool.
  3. They reduce evaporation on hydroelectric dams, saving more water for hydropower.

But they also come with an environmental cost: the panels sit on plastic floats. So far, floatovoltaic developers have relied on virgin (new) plastic to keep the panels afloat. As we know, plastic is one of the biggest contributors to pollution, uses fossil fuels to manufacture, and is deadly for sea creatures. But a new floatovoltaic farm in Alqueva, Portugal, is under development by the EDP corporation, an energy company committed to sustainability. 

Leadership and work-life balance

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), it is possible to be a business leader and still have a personal life with careful planning, but most people wouldn’t know this if they look at some of the most successful CEOs out there. Tesla CEO Elon Musk rarely sleeps or sees his kids and had a public meltdown, and Apple’s Tim Cook is on email before the sun rises.

These intense work styles are often celebrated as the only way to get to the top and be a super-productive leader. Surveys show that managers and executives describe the ideal worker as someone with no personal life or caregiving responsibilities.

Modern humans hold ancient DNA

For a long time, we believed that Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens (modern humans) were two separate species. With the advent of DNA sequencing, however, it was discovered that Sapiens interbred with Neanderthals as they migrated from Africa 60,000 years ago. Another previously unknown hominid species, known as Denisovans, was also discovered at that time, and it interbred with Sapiens and Neanderthals, too.

Gene sequencing shows that non-African genomes today contain about 2% Neanderthal DNA, and people from Papua, New Guinea, and Australia are about 3% Denisovan. Studies on modern African DNA are taking longer because climate, geography and politics make locating skeletons much more difficult.