The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic News Curated for You By The Balmoral Group
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Happy Earth Day!
What started in the U.S. in 1970 has become a global celebration - a way to build momentum for practical actions and policies that can make our environment more healthy and resilient. There's likely a tree giveaway, 5k walk/run, parade, or some type of event near you to mark Earth Day. And if you've got a National Park near enough, this Saturday's a great time to visit when fees are waived. We hope you can enjoy something beautiful outside this weekend!
This week's issue has pieces about Waters of the US, FL environmental legislation, National Parks, 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!
Senate Environmental Package Moves Ahead; Amendments Expected
The Florida Senate advanced a bill this week that addresses advanced wastewater treatment and septic tanks to improve infrastructure and reduce nutrient pollution. SB 1632 would require local government plans to provide sanitary sewer services for developments of more than 50 residential lots and more than one septic tank per acre. It would also require Basin Management Action Plans to include milestones for implementation and water quality improvements and require interagency coordination to identify projects that would reduce pollution from nonpoint agricultural sources. Read more here.
Shutdowns from COVID Allow for Study of Tourism Impacts on Fish
In the time span of August of 2019 to March of 2020, the number of tourists visiting Molokini Island went from 40,000 to zero. During this rare occurrence, scientists took the opportunity to study the difference in aquatic life with the removal of non-consumptive effects on the environment. In a designated no fishing zone, scientists studied the effects of an almost total removal of human interaction after having regular human activity in the area drop to previously unmeasured levels. With the removal of divers and boats, biomass increased and predatory species began populating in shallow areas more frequently. After tourism resumed, fish biomass and habitat use returned to previous levels. Read more about the study here, and find the full study here.
Judge Temporarily Blocks WOTUS Rule
A federal judge temporarily blocked the waters of the United States rule that the EPA finalized in December 2022 and took effect March 20th in 24 states, including Florida and Virginia. The judge wrote that the “regulation raises a litany of ... statutory and constitutional concerns and would cause great harm to the states.” This comes less than a week after President Joe Biden vetoed a resolution that would have overturned the rule. AP
Should AI Development Be Paused?
Prompted by the release last month of GPT-4, the latest iteration of OpenAI’s large language model, a letter from major tech leaders and AI scientists is asking everyone to just hit pause for 6-months. The petition authors are specifically asking for a pause on development of generative AI models that could exceed GPT-4’s capabilities. The letter says: “recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.” Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and numerous leading AI researchers are among those advocating for the pause. Read more at APnews.com. The letter is published here.
Free Day for All the National Parks
Whether you are interested in Everglades National Park in Florida, Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington, or anywhere in between, this Saturday would be a great day to visit a National Park. National Park Week is happening April 22 to April 30 this year, and as a result, entrance fees will be waived on April 22, to kick off the celebration and encourage everyone to enjoy their national parks in person. This year, National Park Service staff are asking that folks share their park story about your special connections with places in national parks or communities. And soon enough, we might be celebrating a new addition to the over 400 national parks currently in our country. If approved by Congress, the park at Ocmulgee Mounds in Georgia would be the state’s first national park, and the first national park co-managed by a removed tribe, the Muscogee Nation. Although Congress has yet to schedule a vote, the bill has drawn bipartisan support. NPS; National Geographic
Data Visualization of the Week
Global Supply Chain Becoming Less Volatile
GEP’s Global Supply Chain Volatility Index has continued its steady decline (less volatility). The index is built from surveys of purchasing managers at around 27,000 companies across 40 counties. The March 2023 value of 0.32 is the lowest since July 2020, helped along by decreased demand. See the PMI indices here.