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The Economic Perspective 06/28/2024

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 Economic Perspective! 

Last week, TBG’s Dan Dourte, Laila Racevskis and Craig Diamond facilitated a workshop at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve’s offices in Eastpoint, Florida on the Apalachicola Watershed Coordination Blueprint project. Experts from a number of different federal, state, local government and non-profit organizations who work in the watershed attended and shared valuable information and insights that will help us continue to advance the collaboration processes and partnerships for a healthier Apalachicola Watershed. We are so grateful for all those who participated and look forward to continuing to work with everyone throughout this exciting project!

This week, our team helped lead meetings with the Gulf Consortium in Orlando.  This included a coordination, lessons-sharing meeting with Gulf Coast Counties to explore the challenges and solutions in Deepwater Horizon funded coastal restoration efforts on Florida's Gulf Coast. We hope you enjoy this week's articles on beach restoration, efforts to make the ocean capture more atmospheric carbon, shifts in commuting patterns in the U.S., and more.

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!


Using the Ocean to Cool the Earth

The oceans absorb about 30% of the Earth’s atmospheric carbon, getting them to absorb more is amongst one of the hottest topics currently in the fight against climate change. This approach is being pursued by startups worldwide, all being backed by billions of dollars in federal and corporate funding to commercialize their efforts. Options including electrochemically altering the sea to remove carbon, to pouring huge amounts of sand-mixtures to trigger chemical reactions that drive carbon removal are all being applied, and critics are warning of potential unintended consequences. Scientists say these hopeful methods could eventually remove at least 1 million metric tons more in the coming years, four-times the amount of the carbon-removal industry has removed. Read the interesting news here or listen to a quick podcast here.

Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base Receives Federal Award for Resilient Coastal Infrastructure

This week, the Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), located in Florida’s panhandle, received a Presidential Federal Sustainability Award for their Integrating Nature into Resilient Infrastructure project. These awards recognize efforts related to sustainability and climate resilience. Tyndall AFB lost almost 500 buildings on its base after experiencing a direct hit from Hurricane Michael in 2018 and as a result had to implement a reconstruction project. They seized the opportunity to build resilience planning into the needed reconstruction by integrating nature-based coastal resilience solutions into the rebuild plan, making the project a model for improving resilience for coastal infrastructure. Read more here.

The Impact of Recreational Noise on Wildlife Behavior

A new study explores how recreational noise impacts wildlife behavior, revealing that vocal sounds from large groups of hikers and bikers significantly disturb animals. Conducted in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest, the research used motion-triggered speakers to observe wildlife reactions, finding they were 3.1 to 4.7 times more likely to flee and remained alert longer in response to recreational noise. Elk were most sensitive, while large carnivores were less affected. Even after a week, wildlife abundance remained lower post-visitation, highlighting prolonged impacts. The study urges hikers to minimize vocal noise and group size to mitigate habitat disruption and preserve wildlife in outdoor recreational areas. Read more here.

Washington State Beach Named one of America’s Best Restored Beaches

Washington’s North Cove has been named one of two of America’s Best Restored Beaches, according to the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. North Cove had been consistently eroding until 2018, leading to the destruction of properties including homes, a U.S. Guard Station, a lighthouse, and land historically significant to the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe. To combat this erosion, Pacific County residents worked with the Washington Department of Ecology to construct over 46,000 cubic yards of berm made primarily from cobbles, gravel, and pebbles. The results are striking - for example, one reach grew seven-fold, adding 232,000 cubic yards of sand to the coastline - and put North Cove at the top of the list for ASBPA’s commendation. Read more here and here.

Extreme Heat is Turning Electricity Cutoffs into New Political Battle for Power Companies

As global temperatures rise and areas of the world require utilities to be on for more time out of the year, places like Virginia have offered protections for disconnects during extreme heat with the passing of a new utilities bill. This bill will forbid disconnections when the temperature exceeds 92 degrees, or on holidays and Fridays. Many states have no protections against utility companies disconnecting power during months, and the few that do often do not go far enough. Indian customers have experienced 50,000 disconnects during the months of June and August. These disconnects hit lower-income families the worst as bills often charge a reconnect fee. Read More.

Data Visualization of the Week

2023 Global Traffic Scorecard

INRIX released its Global Traffic Scorecard that estimates congestion, commuting trends and economic costs across the world. In 2023, the typical U.S. driver lost 42 hours to traffic congestion and lost $733 worth of time, an 11% increase compared to 2022. Hybrid work continued changing commute patterns. INRIX indicated that nearly the same number of trips start during the midday as the evening commute period. While early morning and evening trips were down 12% and 9% compared to 2019, respectively; midday trips were up 23%. You can read more here and view the scorecard here.



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