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U.S. Public Forests Stand to Earn from Carbon Offset Projects

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A considerable number of state and local governments are now enrolling public forests in carbon offset projects that are deemed dubious. This endeavor has the potential to earn them millions of dollars but will deliver only very few new climate benefits. It will offer minimal help in the fight against climate change while the big corporations are being credited for reducing carbon emissions.

This undertaking precisely illustrates that the carbon market delivers the lowest benefits than what is projected. Initially, the intention was to use these markets as a way for corporations to cut down on their carbon footprints. But obviously, this isn’t what’s happening.

Inked Agreements

Along with five counties in Wisconsin, the whole state of Michigan has just finished inking agreements with Blue Source in Salt Lake City. These governments signed up with the carbon development firm to create an estimated 800,000 acres of projects. This is around three times more public forests than what is now generating carbon credits in the U.S. 

Later this year, up to the next, these projects are expected to start selling credits. Aside from these, at least a dozen more counties in Wisconsin and various other states are now considering following suit. Interviews with public officials and county documents can attest to this.

These agreements are anticipated to generate approximately 10 million carbon credits over the next ten years. This is equivalent to one year of pollution from a large coal power plant or the emissions from over ten million vehicles. These government agencies can get credits from these reductions in emissions and sell them to companies. These corporations, in turn, can subtract the volume of pollution from their lodgers. 

However, these claims are expected to be significantly exaggerated. For every single carbon credit, one ton of carbon dioxide is represented. These will be absorbed due to the promise of payments that cause landowners to change their practices. Public records reviewed tell us that overseers of these public forests have no plans to change the management of their trees. 

The data was gathered from records reviewed by Bloomberg Green as well as interviews with forest managers. They will then capitalize on the weak rules governing the carbon markets to gain payments for the continued forest practices they have been using for decades.

Impending Surge

The carbon industry is sure to feel the impending surge in dubious offsets, and it will be a problematic eventuality. In contrast, the offsets market has seen more than $1 billion in waves for the very first time. After a flurry of criticisms, this has cast doubts on its future. 

Last month, Bloomberg Green reported on the revelation of a U.S. timber executive that most of these offset projects are defrauding the climate. On the other hand, controversy is still very much alive in the offsets industry in Australia. It comes right after a key official described these carbon offsets as shams. 

Blue Source usually takes between 10 to 33% of a carbon offset project’s proceeds. Thus, it stands to earn millions of dollars from these newly-signed agreements. According to Joshua Strauss, Blue Source executive vice president, these projects meet the highest quality standards. 

Climate-Friendly Practices

Supposedly, public forest carbon offset projects should bring about climate-friendly practices even in the event of the absence of carbon payments. In addition, experts on carbon projects say that these have to be based on realistic situations to make the climate claims trustworthy.

County officials in Wisconsin will lock in the foregoing practices for years to come. If ever carbon prices get high enough, they can compete with timber values. This will encourage harvesting less down the road, according to Mike Peterson, Washburn County forest administrator.

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New Crazy-A** Software Takes Internet by Storm: DALL-E Mini

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If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you’ve noticed that people have been sharing all sorts of crazy images. Like, crazier images than usual.  

You’ve probably seen users combine so many words and phrases to generate these insane pictures. A rabbi holding an avocado?  A group of police officers interrogating a jar of pickles? Why? How? What’s happening? The images in question can be anywhere from surprisingly realistic, or hysterically disturbing. 

If you’re wondering how people create these images, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at the newest AI software that’s sweeping the internet; DALL-E Mini.

Where Did This Even Come From?

First off, you may be confused as to how these images were even made. Where the hell did they come from? Well, it can all be tracked down to two culprits: Google Imagen software along with OpenAI. 

OpenAI is a startup that was backed by Microsoft. They are currently in the process of creating this new software called “DALL-E 2.” It is beautifully described as “a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language.”

In plain English, DALL-E 2’s objective is to generate images from text. 

Now, unfortunately, this isn’t available to the general public. Not yet, at least. As for now, the only way to gain official access is to join a dreaded waitlist. You also have to prove that you are some kind of professional designer, illustrator, or in a related field. 

The images you’re seeing likely are from  DALL-E 2’s early users. Often friends or relatives of the employees work for OpenAI. Or, you’re seeing images generated from another system; DALL-E Mini.

The DALL-E Mini Tool

DALL-E Mini is an open-source code available to the general public. This was created by a different, smaller team of loosely organized developers. As you can probably guess, it’s a result of the constant demand and impatience for DALL-E 2’s release. 

The process is rather simple. You can visit their website at any time, and type a word or phrase into the text bar. After that, you can press “Run” and the tool will create 9 images for you. 

 Much like its parent tool, these images are generated by pulling from multiple online sources. It identifies key parts of your text, then finds various images from across the web. This includes Flickr and Google Images, to name a few. 

Due to the website’s popularity, things can get complicated on the technical side of things. Demand overload will cause users to often get a pop-up when running a prompt. “Too much traffic, try again later.”  has become a notorious staple of the website. Though because the demand will almost always be overloaded, it’s best to not actually try again later. Instead, you want to keep clicking “Run” until the message disappears. 

Yeah, things can get annoying like that sometimes. But in the end, you get these really sweet and hilarious pics to show off to your friends. I’d say it’s worth it. DALL-E is a simple and fun time-waster for the average user. And a future super-serious tool for professional designers. 

If you’d like to try out the new technology for yourself, here it is. Be warned; you may get addicted.

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Starbucks Union Busting? Workers Say their Store is Closing Due to Union Activities

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Starbucks baristas claim they were told their store is closing because of union activities. The baristas say the alleged Starbucks union-busting is a way to make an example of them and keep workers from organizing.

Late last year, Starbucks workers at this location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle announced they had formed a union with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and began collective bargaining negotiations over pay, leave, breaks, and performance feedback.

Since then, employees report feeling pressured by the bosses not to unionize. And some now believe their store will close as a result of Starbucks union-busting. 

Union-backed workers say Starbucks has made unannounced meetings required for any partner interested in continuing with them after hours. In addition, Starbucks has allegedly asked workers about their plans to attend local events related to union efforts.

Unfair Labor Practices Complaints Filed

Unfair labor practices are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees all workers the right to form and join unions, bargain collectively, and engage in concerted activities.

During the past few months, workers at a Capitol Hill store and one other Starbucks store in the city also filed unfair labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over allegedly hitting back against workers. 

The first complaint alleges Starbucks bosses “coerced and threatened” workers with termination to prevent them from forming a union. The second claims managers “unlawfully interrogated employees” and hit back against them for joining the union.

Public Meeting for Workers’ Rights

Earlier, members of the IWW held a public meeting and discourse at the E Pike store. The purpose was to discuss the campaign for a living wage and tips at Starbucks. Also, they also wanted to address baristas’ concerns about recent events with the admin. The meeting will begin at 6 pm and will be hosted by the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.

The same month, Starbucks responded to the unfair labor complaints. In an email, a Starbucks spokesperson said they respect their workers’ right to organize and engage in union activities. Starbucks says it also aims to have a robust and open discourse of workplace issues. 

In addition, the statement says Starbucks aims to offer info to our associates so that they can make informed decisions. Starbucks claimed that more workers at the Capitol Hill store did not support the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. Also, Flendinning says workers have the option of joining or not joining the union.

The Cause Of Store Closing

Some baristas believe Starbucks is closing the store because of union activities. On the other hand, Starbucks says it regularly closes and opens stores. 

In response to the Ithaca closure, Starbucks asserted that its local, regional, and national leaders are working to create a store ambiance that partners and customers expect. The statement also said that their goal was to ensure that every partner gets support in their individual situations. Added to that, the coffee giant says it works to offer immediate opportunities in the market.

However, some Starbucks workers at Ithaca say they are worried about having enough hours. Nadia Vitek, a barista at the Ithaca store says Starbucks is using a “divide-and conquer-strategy.” Be that as it may, she says, they are ready to fight.

Workers United, which is supporting the Starbucks workers, says they have also filed complaints against the coffee brand. In a statement, a Starbucks Workers United spokesperson said closing a store because workers exercised their rights is a violation of labor law.

The group also believes that the NLRB will prosecute the company for this alleged union-busting.

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Who Does Tori Dunlap Think She Is?

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If you haven’t heard of Tori Dunlap, you’re probably not seeking financial advice. If you are seeking financial advice, you can do a lot better than Tori Dunlap. 

Tori Dunlap is an entrepreneur who claims to have saved $100,000 by the age of 25. After achieving such astonishing success so early in life, she simply had to quit her corporate job so she could devote her energy to helping women learn their financial independence and unassumed dominance in our white cis male-run society. 

Her mission? To create the brand HerFirst100K and…

Idk man… seems kinda gimmicky. 

Disclaimer: I am a cis white male with no financial expertise to speak of criticizing a cis white female financial pundit. I have zero doubts that Dunlap could balance a checkbook better than I ever could. I am not here to offer any financial advice. Rather, I am criticizing Dunlap’s approach to fiscal responsibility and her overall authenticity. 

In short: We’re not buying it and neither should you. 

How Did She *Really* Get $100K by 25? 

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At 25, I was working as a barback in a local gay bar and on the cusp of starting my first professional writing job. I had maybe $600 to my name and very poor financial instincts – you could call me a ‘spendthrift.

My peers around the same age were all fairly financially inept or carefree. Sure, we would meet our responsibilities but we sure as hell weren’t saving – and not for lack of trying. We all worked incredibly hard, dirty, thankless jobs for very little money and could be fired on a whim. None of us would have been able to save up to $100K by 25. 

By 25, I had been working steady jobs for 10 years. Even if I didn’t spend a single cent over those 10 years I don’t think the number would have ever reached $100K. Pardon my doubts, but how is a 25-year-old, any 25-year-old, able to save up to $100,000 all by themselves? After some digging, it turns out she did it with a lot of discipline and a lot of luck. 

She graduated college with zero debt, landed a job in digital marketing with a salary of $55K/year, and put a disciplined percentage of her take-home into saving and an investment fund. These are all great, very privileged ways to save $100,000 in three years. 

I’m curious to know how a 22-year-old snagged an investment fund and knew which investments would pay off and how much they earned but… I digress. 

I don’t sneeze at this kind of discipline. Many people would benefit from a financial discipline such as that. I do sneeze a little by using this as a marketing tactic. While she qualifies this by admitting her privilege, she makes her achievement the main marketing point of Her First $100K. 

I did this and so can you!” the sentiment screams. Except most people can’t. And I think Ms. Dunlap knows that. 

Tori Dunlap Is Not Qualified To Give Anyone Financial Advice

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The only thing I trust Tori Dunlap to do is market and brand herself effectively. She’s cool, she’s hip, she can play along with the broader trends, she TikToks with the best of ‘em, and it all feels so desperately empty and deeply phony. 

I think Tori Dunlap has a keen eye for self-promotion that masquerades as “woke financial advice.” This would be fine if it wasn’t potentially f*cking with people’s money. There are people out there with some serious financial issues and concerns. If they trust Tori Dunlap, they could be misled because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

I don’t mean she doesn’t know how to assert her value and practice financial discipline. I mean she doesn’t have the financial authority to be profiting off the advice she gives. It’s like getting medical advice from a sickly friend – they’ve got experience but no expertise. 

TikTok Advice Isn’t Real Advice

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If you take a look at Dunlap’s TikTok, it looks pretty much like every other TikToker out there. On her page, the financial advice is few and far between. It appears that TikTok is the space where she promotes her brand, podcast, and book – with a whole lot of cookie-cutter trends you will find on any account. 

When you finally do get to her financial advice, it’s no different than if you were to ask your fiscally savvy friend. For example, “know your worth and advocate for it” is a great bit of advice, it’s one I tell my peers at work – but it’s not expertise. It’s a good ol’ fashioned, “you can do it!” Which is nice, but it’s not practically helpful. What you’re getting from Dunlap are educated tips from someone who is being nice to you. 

When you present yourself as an authority figure you have a responsibility that comes with it. Telling people you are the savior from the patriarchy if you pay for her course doesn’t exactly scream “hero.” 

There’s nothing wrong with providing a service and charging for it. There is, however, something really gross about masquerading as a feminist hero when you’re actually an unqualified financial nobody with no serious credentials to speak of. 

Tori Dunlap is not qualified to be giving financial advice to anyone. She says so on her site: 

LEGAL STUFF: I am not a licensed financial advisor. I offer education, not prescriptive advice. The information that is found here are my opinions and the opinions of other readers/contributors and should be taken as such.” 

Legal stuff.” Cute, so relatable. 

All of Dunlap’s success stories are social media posts, texts, and emails. Hardly a case study. 

Dunlap claims to be “leading a movement of financial feminists,” but a quick Google search on female financial advisors yields no results for Ms. Dunlap. What exactly is she leading? You cannot be a leader when you don’t show up on the first 12 pages of Google. 

Here’s What An Actual Financial Expert Says

We spoke to Danetha Doe, an economist with over 10 years of experience in the financial industry. She has worked as an accountant and a CFO. She also created Money & Mimosas, a financial education resource for ambitious folks. 

In short, Ms. Doe knows her sh*t.

We asked Ms. Doe about how the average person could save up to $100K by the age of 25. 

I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe the average person can save $100K by 25. 

“In order to do that, they would either need to be born into wealth, have zero student loans, work for a startup that goes public or gets acquired, or start a business that is financially successful. 

“All of those scenarios do not apply to the average person.

“The median salary for an individual is under $40,000. Therefore, the average person earns about $40,000. In order to reach $100K in savings on an average salary could take decades in the United States.

Ms. Doe has a lot of excellent financial advice without being patronizing or weaponizing oppression for profit. She has a professional and personal background that makes her an effective authority when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

My two grandmothers [are the financial experts I admire most]. 

“They came to the United States as immigrants and became real estate investors during a time when Black women were systematically shut out of wealth-building opportunities in this country. 

“Their lasting legacy guides my financial decisions.

If you want to learn finance tips from someone who can relate to or understand your experience fully, Danetha Doe is the way to go

Besides, who doesn’t love a mimosa? 

What In The Hell Is ‘Feminist Financial Advice?’

What is it about financial advice that needs to be tailored specifically for women? Let’s take a super casual and lazy glance at successful women, shall we? 

Suze Orman is a trusted financial authority and has been around for a minute

Madonna has built herself an entertainment empire by being unapologetically female

Rihanna became a billionaire through her music and some super-savvy business moves. 

Laverne Cox bulldozed expectations and helped establish a foundation for trans artists. 

Sheryl Sandburg is the most powerful woman in Big Tech – did you see what happened when she resigned from Meta?

There is no shortage of female financial advisors. What kind of niche does Dunlap think she’s tapping into? Dunlap says on her site

I watched female friends get paid less than they were worth. I read stories about women being denied career opportunities because they were seen as ‘less.’ 

“Male colleagues said sexist, negative comments to me at work. I learned that women hold the majority of debt in America and that they invest less of their money than men, yet live for seven years longer. 

“So I knew that I had to fight back.

Sure, Jan. 

Fighting Sexism By Leaning Into Sexism

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I don’t think anybody disagrees (save for a few members of the Republican Party) that women have a tougher go of it than men. To be honest, it’s a bit of a stretch to connect general sexism with financial education. I learned how to budget from my mother, a woman who has had to fight her own battles with sexism and misogyny as the only female partner at her law firm. 

Frankly, I think the assumption that women need help from an unlicensed non-expert in order to learn fiscal responsibility is teetering on sexism. At the very least, it’s grossly condescending and certainly inauthentic. 

If you’re in a position where you need financial advice, you want it from someone who is a serious advisor, not a trending influencer with no qualifications. With inflation at a 40-year high and an underpaid workforce fighting for its value, we cannot afford to take financial advice from someone clearly more interested in self-promotion and branding. 

Dunlap appears to be less focused on offering genuine financial advice and far more focused on hitting woke buzzwords in an effort to patronize marginalized communities for profit. If you want to find a female-focused financial authority, try Ellevest instead. 

Tori Dunlap’s Communications Lead declined to comment.

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