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The Economic Perspective 12/01/2023

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic 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!

And Happy December! As we approach the end of the year, this week on The Economic Perspective we have articles on the usage of ChatGPT, the reintroduction of grizzlies to the Cascades, US tap water, air taxis, and more. Our Data Visualization for this week features a report from the WEF analyzing the progress industrial sectors are making towards reaching net-zero emissions so far!

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A Year with ChatGPT and Its Implications

The heavily used and popular software ChatGPT released a year ago and quickly became one of the most popular apps ever, hitting the hands of roughly 100 million consumers by the end of the second month and gathering an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue. However, as a society we have discovered that this technology requires a long-term learning curve of how we use this product and potential A.I. products in the future. A.I. safety has been questioned through the revamp and higher level of cybersecurity needed to compete, job security in worry, copyright issues, misinformation, and even disinformation has been brought out by this A.I. tool. Regardless of the nature of their usage, the way we use products such as these could shape the future of online interactions. Read the article and more information here.

Plan to Reintroduce Grizzlies to the North Cascades

Although grizzlies haven’t lived in Washington’s North Cascades for decades, these cornerstone creatures once roamed much of the West before colonization, and were even considered spiritual beings by some Tribal Nations. Starting in the mid-1800s, thousands of these creatures were killed for their pelts. The last verified sighting in the U.S. North Cascades was more than two decades ago and scientists estimate that fewer than five grizzly bears may remain in the area. In a major recent move, the NPS and FWS recently shared a Draft Plan to restore grizzly bears to North Cascades National Park and the surrounding wild lands in Washington state. Those in support of the effort point to the bears’ long-rooted history and human coexistence in the region that far predates European settlement. Those that oppose are fearful that the return of an apex predator would threaten their current way of life. As the U.S. debate continues, the bears could be reintroduced in the Canadian portions of the North Cascades next year. Read more here.

FHWA Finalizes Climate Rule

Recently, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced a greenhouse gas rule that will require state and local transportation officials to set declining emissions targets for road projects funded with federal money. The FHWA rule will require state transportation departments and local metropolitan planning organizations to report the amount of emissions pollution that highway projects would create. Most of the dollars is distributed to states through formula grants, but the new approach could encourage state and local governments to invest in transit and improved access and safety projects for bicyclists and pedestrians. E&E News

U.S. Tap Water has a $47 Billion Forever Chemical Problem

The U.S. EPA has expanded the list of toxins that must be reported by drinking water utilities that will require a lot of infrastructure investment to remove. The chemicals added are six different PFAS or pre- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals. Information will need to be included in water quality reports at levels above four parts per trillion in drinking water. These chemicals are released into the environment through textile manufacturing, plating facilities, and aviation manufacturing. $47 billion will likely be needed to treat for PFAS with ongoing costs at $700 million a year to clean the 45% of drinking water that is contaminated by PFAS. Read More.

Air Taxis Move Closer to Reality

Air taxis are a step closer to taking visitors from the airport to their conference, or commuters from the suburbs to downtown to hop over traffic jams. There are still regulatory hoops to get through, but this week Global Crossing Airlines Group, which operates the charter and cargo airline GlobalX, announced the creation of UrbanX Air, a subsidiary formed to pioneer the integration of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in South Florida as eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) operators. Read more here.

New Enzyme Capable of Efficiently Recycling Plastic Waste

Researchers at The University of Texas in Austin discovered an enzyme that eats plastic fast, and scientists think it could revolutionize how we deal with waste. The team used artificial intelligence, chemical engineering, and synthetic biology to turn a natural enzyme called PETase into a plastic-eating machine. PET, which is short for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester, is a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic that’s widely used in food packaging and plastic bottles. PETase got its name from its ability to degrade these PET plastics. To deconstruct PET plastic even more quickly and at low temperatures, researchers adjusted PETase to create a new enzyme, called FAST-PETase, which gives bacteria the ability to recycle waste plastic efficiently. Read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

Net-Zero Industry Tracker 2023

The World Economic Forum released a report that analyses the progress emission-intensive industrial sectors are making worldwide to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Process- and energy-related emissions from these sectors account for more than 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions as fossil fuels currently comprise 90% of the fuel mix. On average, Absolute emissions increased by 8% between 2019 and 2022 across most sectors. The report indicates that an investment of $13.5 trillion would be needed for these sectors to transition to other energy sources, especially clean power and hydrogen. WEF



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