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Ecosia announces results from Tuesday's anti-wildfire search efforts
by Paul Hill
Last week, Ecosia said that it would be using revenues earned on Tuesday, July 27, to restore and protect areas affected by wildfires. It has now shared the results from this effort; enough was raised to plant 5,000 trees in California, 7,500 trees in Byron Bay, Australia, and to help support firefighters in Brazil who are protecting 321,400 trees in the Atlantic Forest.
Ecosia explained that in the United States it’s starting a new project with Californian landowners to replant burnt areas with native species. Its reforestation partner, the American Forest Foundation, is also doing work to limit the spread of wildfires by thinning existing forests. In Byron Bay, Ecosia’s partner ReForest will plant the newly funded 7,500 trees in September and October. According to Ecosia, rainforests in this region of Australia struggle to naturally regenerate so this planting effort will help to restore habitats that otherwise would have struggled to return.
Explaining the work in Brazil, Joshi Gottlieb, Ecosia’s content lead, said:
Typically, users’ search results generate revenues that are distributed to projects all around the world; in May, recipient countries were Madagascar, Brazil, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Australia, Senegal, the Philippines, Cameroon, and Ghana. On some days, like Tuesday, Ecosia decides to send a whole day’s worth of revenue to select projects. It did this in January 2020 and in November 2020 too.
TWIRL 23: FAA denies Branson and Bezos astronaut title
by Paul Hill
Over the last few editions of This Week in Rocket Launches, we’ve covered Richard Branson’s and Jeff Bezos’ trips to space aboard their own spacecraft. Following their successful launches, the U.S.’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has come up with new rules which deprive the billionaires and their passengers of the title astronaut. Under the new definition, those looking to get the title must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.
Despite the FAA’s rejection of the billionaire’s claim to be astronauts, BBC reports that the FAA will offer honorary awards based on merit but that these are offered at the discretion of the FAA’s associate administrator. It’s unclear yet whether the FAA will recognise those on the two launches or not at this time.
Now, let's take a look at next week's launches.
Tuesday, July 27
The first launch of the week comes from China where a Long March CZ-2D will carry the Tianhui 1D satellite into orbit. The satellite was built by the Hangtian Dongfanghong Weixing Corporation and the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, it includes a three-dimensional imaging system. The constellation this satellite is part of has been merged with part of the Ziyuan Earth Observation program that’s made up of civilian and military remote sensing satellites.
Friday, July 30
There are two launches on Friday, the first is a United Launch Alliance Atlas V N22 rocket carrying the second CST-100 Starliner. The CST-100 Starliner will be doing its second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s commercial crew program. The craft will dock at the ISS for 5 to 10 days and will arrive with 345kg of cargo for those aboard. The cargo will consist of food and crew preference items. You will be able to see the launch on YouTube.
The second launch on Friday will be from Arianespace which will launch the Ariane 5 ECA+ rocket carrying the Star One D2 and Eutelsat Quantum communications satellites into orbit. The Star One D2 satellite is owned by Embratel Star One and will deliver telecommunications, direct-to-home television services, and fast broadband to people in South America, Mexico, Central America, and parts of the Atlantic Ocean.
The first launch we got last week was the Long March 2C carrying the Yaogan 30 Group 10 and Tianqi 15 satellites. The Yaogan satellites will perform electromagnetic detection.
The second launch was the popularized New Shepard 16 carrying Jeff Bezos and co. to the edge of space.
Finally, Roscosmos launched the much delayed Nauka module into space aboard a Proton M rocket. It will add about 14-meters to the ISS and is carrying the European Robotic Arm for the European Space Agency.
Bing-powered Ecosia will plant trees to tackle wildfires in the U.S.
by Paul Hill
Ecosia, the tree-planting search engine powered by Microsoft’s Bing, has announced that it will be using revenues from people’s searches next Tuesday to fund tree planting and other initiatives in the United States, Brazil, and Australia to restore areas decimated by wildfires. The trees will not only recover the areas but provide more resilience against future wildfires.
Ecosia’s business model is fairly simple, people browse the web and are shown a few ads at the top of the search results just like Google and Bing do. The revenues that Ecosia collects from these search engines are then largely investing in tree financing. In May 2021, Ecosia’s income was €2,181,020 and €1,133,436 was spent to finance 1,713,195 trees. The rest of the money went to green investments, taxes and social security, advertising its product, and operational costs.
Commenting on what’s happening, Joshi Gottlieb, Ecosia’s content lead, said:
This is not the first time that Ecosia has dedicated an entire day to funding specific projects. After weeks of fires in Australia, Ecosia announced in January 2020 that it was giving revenue raised on January 23 specifically to tree planting in Australia. This resulted in Australia getting 26,446 trees just from one day’s efforts.
If you’re interested in helping out next Tuesday (July 27), just switch your browser’s default search engine over to Ecosia – doing this is supported on most popular platforms. All you need to do is search the web as normal and then Ecosia can start collecting revenue. It should go without saying, do not click on ads you’re not interested in as this will only harm the initiative.
YouTube update will highlight authoritative medical advice videos
by Paul Hill
Have you ever used YouTube to learn more about an illness that may be affecting you? Apparently, it’s something a lot of people do and YouTube has noticed, so it’s going to start highlighting authoritative medical videos on its platform. Dr Garth Graham, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health Partnerships at YouTube said the new initiative puts health professionals at the core of its efforts to provide useful information.
From this week, YouTube users in the United States will begin to see the new features when searching for health-related videos. Health source information panels will be shown on videos if the content is from a reliable content creator and health content shelves will highlight authoritative videos when you search for corresponding health issues. While these notices will help to find good quality information, videos from other sources will still be available.
Discussing the work that has gone into this update, Dr Graham said:
As things stand, only accredited health organizations and government entities are included in the health context features rollout but YouTube is searching for ways to broaden the eligibility so more authoritative content is available to viewers. YouTube is also looking for ways to bring this feature to audiences around the world.
TikTok to implement automated content moderation in the U.S. and Canada
by Chandrakant Isi
Chinese social media platform, TikTok, has outlined its new content moderation process for the US and Canada. According to the company, it is now going to implement the automated method to identify and remove "violative content" in the two biggest North American countries. It claims that the automated system has been tested in other markets and has a 95 percent accuracy rate.
TikTok's Head of US Safety, Eric Han, states that in the existing system content moderation rules are enforced by the US-based team. Anything flagged by the community is reviewed by a human for further action. While this process is effective, it is quite time-consuming. To make it efficient, ByteDance's subsidiary is planning to arm the algorithms with the authority to delete content right after it is uploaded. The system is expected to go live in the next few weeks.
According to the company, this machine-based deletion will be reserved for categories where the system has the highest degree of accuracy. This includes "minor safety, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent and graphic content, and illegal activities & regulated goods".
For areas where context and nuances matter, ByteDance is hoping to further improve its technology for better judgment. Till then, TikTokers will have to rely on the existing appeal mechanism to request human intervention. Apart from efficiency, the company hopes that the move will save the safety team from watching distressing TikTok videos.