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.
In exciting news, The Balmoral Group celebrated Dan Dourte’s Directorship this week with a reception in Winter Park. We were fortunate to be able to gather with clients and colleagues, enjoying Florida’s lovely seasonal weather and fellowship. One of Dr. Dourte’s first tasks as Director will be inaugurating our new Brisbane, Australia office with a reception for clients and colleagues there.
Also, several of The Balmoral Group’s economists attended a viewing of Path of the Panther this week, an award-winning and beautifully photographed documentary tracking both the Florida Wildlife Corridor and panther recovery progress. The Balmoral Group is proud to be actively working on efforts to maintain and preserve the Florida Wildlife Corridor and highly recommends the movie to all. Find places to see it near you here https://pathofthepanther.com/watch/
March is Women’s History Month, so we’ll be taking a minute each week here to celebrate the lives of women who have shaped the sciences and engineering in keyways. This week we’re recognizing Mollie Orshansky, a food economist/statistician who developed poverty thresholds, based on minimum food costs, that are still used today to inform policies. Hear her story told by USDA Chief Scientist Dr. Katherine Woteki.
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FL Bill Introduced to Regulate Steel Imports
The Florida House of Representatives introduced HB 1239 this week, which, similar to existing federal language, would require public projects in the state to use domestically produced iron and steel as opposed to imported materials. The bill stipulates that imported materials may only be used if domestic materials raise project costs by more than 20%, or if availability is insufficient. Read the bill here.
Forest Economy Grants Available for Northern Border Communities
Up to $7 million in grant funding is available for the Northern Border regional communities for the 2023 fiscal year through the Northern Border Regional Commission’s 2023 Forest Economy Program. Nonprofit and government entities are able to apply for grants of up to $1 million per project in order to boost the local economies of Maine, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont that focus on the forest industry, as well as accelerating further development of forestry technologies and creating a stronger economy in the Northern Border region. Additional information about the program and guidelines on how to apply can be found here.
Fishing will be banned, along with other activities that damage seabeds, on three stretches of water off the English coast. These restrictions will provide substantial protection but will only cover 0.5% of the total area of English seas. Critics say while these plans are good, it is a small baby step in the grand scheme of ocean life protection. With goals of protecting 30% of waters by 2030, critics expected a more ambitious plan to begin with. Further proposals in other areas, such as Northumberland’s Holy Island, were dropped when fears that fishing bans would devastate the local economy. Despite 38% of seas around the British Isles being designated as marine reserves, many areas still suffer due to fishing practice such as bottom trawling, where fishing gear is dragged along the seabed. Read More.
The Wheat Shortage that Wasn't
When Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago, agricultural experts warned of a coming wheat shortage (and we pointed to those reports here). To the surprise of most, 2022 global wheat production was actually above 2021 production levels. This is due to production increases in Canada, Russia, and the U.S. Also, Ukraine’s wheat production turned out to be much better than was estimated, only about 25% below average. However, it’s certainly not a rosy picture, as the winter planting of wheat in Ukraine (for summer 2023 harvest) was about 40% below the plantings for 2022 harvest, so other countries will have to continue to ramp up wheat production areas. Our friends in Australia are doing their part to prop up global wheat supplies: they’re projected to have a 3rd consecutive record wheat harvest this year. Read more from qz.com and from USDA ERS.
Satellite Imagery and Coastal Algal Blooms
Satellite imagery shows that coastal algal blooms have increased in size during the last two decades. A new study used NASA Aqua’s satellite data to compare the size and frequency of algae blooms along the coasts of the world's continents between 2003 and 2020. The researchers found that as of 2020, the combined size of all ocean-based algae blooms was 31.47 million km2 (8.6% of total ocean surface area). They estimated that the area has expanded by 3.97 million km2 during this timeframe. They also found associations between sea surface temperatures, ocean circulation and the frequency of algae blooms. Phys.org Photo Credit: Lian Feng
Data Visualization of the Week
2050 Washington State Salmon Report
Washington’s Salmon Recovery Office released the 2022 State of Salmon in Watersheds report this week, noting the continued struggle for salmon population recovery. During the last year, no salmon species have been removed from the federal Endangered Species Act list in Washington and most of the species on the list are still in crisis or not keeping pace with recovery goals. Salmon face many challenges: warming waters, streams drying up, vanishing floodplains, polluted water, and a gauntlet of predators. Salmon are a keystone species, supporting the economy, providing food for humans and wildlife, bringing vital nutrients to the region, and serving as a cultural icon to Washingtonians. Tribal governments are leading the way in salmon recovery and are implementing hundreds of successful salmon habitat restoration and protection projects throughout the state. Read the Report here. And see the data dashboard here.