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The Economic Perspective 04/05/2024

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Infrastructure News Curated for You by The Balmoral Group

The Balmoral Group provides practical, professional and precise Economics, Data Analytics, and Engineering Consulting services and is part of a globally integrated team.

Happy Friday!

Welcome back to this week’s exciting edition of the Economic Perspective! We hope everyone took the time to enjoy a walk on the first Wednesday of this month to commemorate National Walking Day.

We have great pieces of articles on a variety of topics for you this Friday. First off, we remember the loss of a pioneer of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahnemann, who died last week at the age of 90. We also take a look at the controversial natural house bill signed into law in Washington State, autonomous tech in the construction industry, and more. In addition, this week’s data visualization explores the size of the global aging population.

We hope you enjoy the read and let us know what you think! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you’d like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!

Thank you and have a great weekend!


Remembering the Loss of Daniel Kahnemann

Economics lost a giant last week when Daniel Kahnemann, Nobel Prize winner for Economics, passed at the age of 90. Kahnemann focused on behavioural science as the driver for economic decisions, a position at odds with mainstream economic views that people act rationally when making economic decisions.  His work including prospect theory, focusing on people’s aversion to loss outweighing desire for gain, gave rise to “nudge theory” which is common in marketing today.  Many enlightening obituaries describe his work; a few favorites: Read more at The Guardian and The Economist

Autonomous Tech in the Construction Industry

According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 construction leaders across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, 84% of firms are using autonomy in some part of their operations. Benefits of automation include improving sustainability, supply-chain management, and safety compliance. In the construction industry, autonomous technology includes self-driving construction vehicles, scanners or cameras for surveillance and monitoring, and project management software and tools. According to the survey, more than 50% of surveyed firms plan to invest an average of $7.1 million in autonomy within the next three years. Read More.

Seven Countries Met the WHO's Air Quality Guidelines and the US and Canada aren't Among Them

Only seven countries have met the World Health Organization’s guidelines for air pollution last year. These seven were Finland, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, Grenada, Iceland and Mauritius with the United States ranking 33rd in air quality. Canada has also topped the U.S. in air pollution after the country’s string of wildfires. With WHO reports stating that air pollution contributes to 6.7 million premature deaths annually, companies like IQAir Global work to help monitor this global issue as one country’s pollution will not stay in their borders. Read More.

Florida's Clean Water Act Takeover Ruled Violation of Federal Law

In a significant ruling, a federal court found the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at fault for approving Florida’s assumption of the Clean Water Act wetlands permitting program, breaching federal law. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit by seven environmental groups, underscoring a crucial moment for environmental preservation. Florida’s bid to administer the program, aiming to expedite permits through an alternative review process, failed to meet Endangered Species Act requirements. While this resolves one aspect of the lawsuit, disputes over Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedure Act violations persist, emphasizing the complexities of environmental approvals in development projects. Read more here.

Controversial Natural Gas Bill Signed into Law in Washington State

Washington State recently passed a law to reduce Washington’s dependence on natural gas as part of reported efforts to transition from methane gas to renewable, clean energy sources. The law requires utility companies to halt rebates for natural gas appliances and combine their electric and gas offerings in a single account. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) supported the bill, citing difficulties managing separate but duplicative plans for electrical and gas business, along with declining natural gas energy use in Washington. However, the Building Industry Association of Washington has historically opposed the bill, claiming it bans natural gas for PSE customers and adds unnecessary costs for customers. Read more here.

EPA Announces Billions Toward Clean Energy and Climate Solutions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week its selections for $20 billion in grant awards within the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). These tens of thousands of funded projects contribute to a national financing network for clean energy access across sectors, ensuring all communities have access to capital when needed to participate in a more sustainable economy. The selected applicants will contribute to a reduction of an estimated 40 million metric tons of climate pollution per year, with many impacts largely seen disadvantaged communities and households, making remarkable contributions toward climate justice and equity. Read more about the announcement and more here.

Extreme Weather Affects Captive Endangered Species

Extreme weather and natural disasters are known to pose a great threat not only to wildlife but also to their captive counterparts. Emergency protocols in accredited zoos and breeding centers have been put in place to help deal with hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and more. Nonetheless, the stakes are high to protect endangered species, particularly at facilities that guard these species. In August 2023, a series of wildfires raged across Maui, Hawaii killing more than 100 people and displacing thousands. These fires almost burnt down the Maui Bird Conservation Center, if swift action was not taken by the incredible caretakers that managed to contain the blaze until firefighters arrived. The conservation center protects critically endangered Hawaiian forest birds. Read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

Visualizing the Size of the Global Senior Population

While the growth of the senior population is as a result of the demographic transition towards longer and healthier lives, nevertheless, population aging can pose economic and social challenges. According to the UN, the proportion of older persons exceeds 10%, and in some cases, 20% of the total population in most countries in Europe, Northern America, Australia, New Zealand, Eastern and Southeastern Asia. The size of the world’s senior population is not only growing in absolute numbers, but it is also growing as a share of the overall total.  Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa, Southern and Western Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean are at an early and intermediate stage of this transition respectively. Read more here.


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