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The Economic Perspective 4/14/2023

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.

We're thinking of our friends near Fort Lauderdale and hoping the floodwaters recede quickly. The rain event Wednesday/Thursday in the area was predicted to have major accumulation, about 6 inches was predicted, but the 25.95 inches recorded in 24 hours at the airport was way beyond what anyone expected. A quick look at NOAA's Atlas 14 precipitation frequency estimates shows that the 1-in-1000 year, 1-day duration rain would be about 24 inches at that location. Anytime your rain totals are off the charts of what's on Atlas 14 it makes you wonder what's going on!

This week's issue has some articles on the perils and beauty of epic rainfall... both on scales you can see from space. We also have articles on coal capacity cutbacks, EPA's annual GHG inventory and more.

Enjoy the read and feedback is always appreciated! 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! Have a great weekend!

Return of the Lake

Tulare Lake (pronounced too-LAIR-ee), just south of Fresno, CA used to be the largest lake west of the Mississippi… in the early 1900s it was about the size of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee – about 700 sq.mi. It was ditched, dammed, and drained into an agricultural empire; turned almost entirely into farms. But the recent rains in California have brought back the lake and overwhelmed the system of levees and canals the have kept the area drained, much to the dismay of farmers in the area. The impending snow melt, with record levels of snow pack in the upstream basin, means that the flooding is going to get worse for a long while before it improves. To illustrate what a high-stakes situation it is for farmers trying to protect their crops from floods, the now-viral “two Chevys in a levee” video makes the point well. A pistachio farmer sacrifices two relatively new pickups to try to reinforce a breached levee. Read more at NYTimes.

U.S. on Track to Close Half of Coal Capacity by 2026

It is estimated that by the end of 2026, coal capacity will fall to 159 GW, down from the peak of 318GW in 2011. From 2023 through 2030, more than 80GW of coal generation is currently set to close and 10.5GW is expected to be converted to gas. The majority of coal plants units will be more than 50 years old when they are closed, as it provides incentives for utilities to transfer to other sources such as wind and solar instead of maintaining the units. In 2022, coal produced only 20% of the power production electricity, less than half its market share a decade ago. IEEFA

Wildflower Super Bloom Seen from Space

Thanks to a historically wet winter that inundated California this last year, Death Valley, and other historically dry areas in California are experiencing a rare ‘super bloom’ blanket of wildflowers. The bloom is so massive in fact, that the vibrancy that coats California deserts and hillsides is currently visible from space. Satellite images from NASA display the open grassland at Carrizo Plain National Monument filled with hues of purple and yellow. Super bloom events occur roughly every ten years in a given area, and have been occurring less frequently with droughts. The wildflower spectacle includes goldfields, blue valley phacelia, tidy tips, and desert candle flowers. If you plan on flocking to catch a glimpse of the spectacular super bloom, be sure to check out the CA Dept of Parks and Recreation recommendations for viewing areas. Fox KTVU

EPA Publishes 30th Annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its 30th annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks (GHG Inventory), which presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2021. The GHG Inventory covers seven greenhouse gases and calculates carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere through carbon uptake in forests and other vegetation. Net carbon emissions have declined by 17% since 2005, reflecting impacts of several factors including energy market trends, energy efficiency improvements, and carbon intensity of energy fuel choices. Read more here.

Water Supply Outlook Report Details Record-Breaking Winter Season in Utah

The Report released this week reported a statewide snow water equivalent (SWE) measure at 200% of normal levels as of April 1, which is much higher than the normal SWE measure of 75% that is typical this time of year. Their SWE has broken all previous snowpack records, and all of Utah’s major watersheds were above 130% of normal precipitation in early April, with four at record-high levels. These are all welcome signs given the past several years of historic drought in the state. Read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

Lake Tulare flood viewer

The Lake Tulare flooding can be seen in the side-by-side image swiper with recent imagery from Landsat 8's OLI (Operational Land Imagery). In the time between Mar 18 and 29 you can see massive flood increases in the area; and this will continue as snow melt makes its way into the basin.


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