The daily drama of money and work from the BBC.
As the global Covid-19 vaccination drive slowly gathers pace - on Business Weekly we’ll be looking at whether vaccine passports will help us return to life as we once knew it. While the travel industry is keen to use them, scientists warn that not only will they not work properly but they could pose serious ethical dilemmas. We’ll also hear from the people scooping facemasks out of the ocean - who are warning that Covid-19 has caused a pandemic of plastic waste. In the effort to save the planet from climate change, US President Joe Biden has promised to reduce the US’s carbon emissions. We’ll hear from the American coal workers who are worried for their jobs. Also, the pandemic has thrown the global wedding industry into disarray. We’ll meet the couples who got married during the pandemic in really quite extraordinary circumstances. And we’ll look at the history of hairstyles in the workplace.
Business Weekly is presented by Lucy Burton and produced by Szu Ping Chan.
Why does Bitcoin consume so much energy?
As Bitcoin's price hits a new all-time high, it's now estimated to use as much electricity as the whole of Argentina But is this remotely sustainable?
Justin Rowlatt speaks to cryptocurrency expert and University of Chicago economics professor Gina Pieters about why such heavy energy consumption is an intrinsic feature of Bitcoin, and why the higher it's value rises, the more its energy footprint expands.
But what about it's carbon footprint? That's a debate we get to hear both sides of, with crypto evangelist Ethan Pierse saying that Bitcoin miners are helping to finance the expansion of renewable energy sources, while the more sceptical data analyst Alex de Vries says they are burning plenty of fossil fuels to compete in an expensive and pointless lottery.
Plus Kenneth Rogoff, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, compares Bitcoin to a work of modern art, and wonders whether its future may be as a curiosity at a Star Trek convention in the year 2100.
Producer: Laurence Knight
(Picture: Blue Neon light, Bitcoin shape; Credit: Getty Images)
China's vaccine diplomacy
Poorer countries in search of Covid-19 vaccines are looking east. Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, describes how China and Russia are stepping in to provide vaccines where Europe and the US aren't. Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, explains how this feeds into China's soft power aspirations. Yuan Ding, dean of the China Europe International Business School, and David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, discusses China's efforts at soft power so far.
(Photo: A nurse in Brazil holds a sample of a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine)
Love in the time of coronavirus
Covid-19 has ruined millions of wedding plans. Will 2021 spark a race to the altar for those unable to tie the knot? California couple Lauren and Patrick Delgado tell their story. We also hear from Jordie Shepherd, host of the Corona Brides podcast, and the bride tear-gassed on her wedding day. Also, has Covid-19 put an end to the Big Fat Indian Wedding? We ask Lalita Raghav at the wedding planners Ferns N Petals.
Picture: Bride and groom figurines are pictured wearing face masks (Credit: Getty)
The plastic pandemic
The pandemic has brought with it a massive rise in plastic waste. Tamasin Ford looks at how the demand for hygiene along with plummeting oil prices boosted our use of single use plastics. In some countries, it has increased by 50 percent. In other countries, the increase has been even six or seven fold. She speaks to Gary Stokes, the Founder of Oceans Asia in Hong Kong, a marine conservation organisation. And to Amy Slack, head of campaigns and policy at Surfers Against Sewage, an ocean conservation group in St Agnes in Cornwall in the South West of England. Plus Jacob Duer, the CEO of the Alliance to End Plastic waste, based in Singapore - an organisation supported by the private sector. And Elsie Mbugua, an energy trader and founder of Elcy Investments.
Will hydrogen prove a life saver?
The "hydrogen economy" has received a lot of hype, but could this explosive gas fill some critical gaps in a future zero-carbon energy system?
Justin Rowlatt looks at Australia's plans to use its huge solar and wind resources to generate hydrogen from seawater. Miranda Taylor of the government-sponsored agency National Energy Resources Australia lists some of the many potential applications for the gas that the country is taking a punt on. But how many of them will actual prove commercially viable?
Clean energy consultant Michael Liebreich says that despite hydrogen's versatility, in most cases it's likely to prove far less efficient than other technologies. But there are a few key exceptions, some of which could be life saving. Plus, chemistry professor Andrea Sella blows up a balloon, zaps some water, and nearly gives Justin a hernia.
Producer: Laurence Knight
(Picture: Hydrogen pipeline with blue sky background; Credit: Getty Images)
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