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The Economic Perspective 7/28/2023

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, everyone!

This week Jennifer Nunn and Sherman Klaus are representing The Balmoral Group at the annual meeting of FES (Florida Engineering Society and ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) in Marco Island this week, where Jennifer is also celebrating her recent graduation from FELI (Florida Engineering Leadership Institute), with the premier Class of 2023.

In this Friday's edition we have articles on global coal usage, mushrooms being used to prevent wildfires, drought emergencies in Washington state, and more, including an update from last week's news about Valerie Seidel's presentation on transportation! Our data visualization covers companies upskilling their employees in comparison to last year. Check it out below!

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!

IEA Says Coal Use Hit an All-Time High Last Year - and Global Demand will Persist Near Record Levels

In 2022 coal consumption hit record levels. With a 3.3% increase in consumption in 2022 hit 8.3 billion metric tons. The driving force behind this is that coal remains easily available and relatively cheaper than gas in many parts of the world. In the United States and the EU coal consumption dropped by 24% and 16% respectively. However, the two largest countries on the planet, India and China, grew by 5% in coal consumption. This has offset all reductions in the rest of the world, leading the IEA to state further policy and investments will be needed to “drive a massive surge in clean energy and energy efficiency to reduce coal and demand in economies where energy needs are growing fast”. Read More.

'Floating Solar' Could be a Bright Spot in Future Clean Energy Production

Duke Energy is building its first floating solar farm at the Hines Energy Complex in Bartow. The 1MW pilot project will include 1,872 floating solar modules installed on a 1,200-acre cooling pond, which was once a phosphate mining pit. It aims to see whether the pond’s cooling effect can increase efficiency as well as to potentially reduce the need to lease new land by using old phosphate mines. The project will also look at the impacts the solar modules will have on wildlife. WUSF Photo Credit: Daylina Miller, WUSF Public Media

US Forest Service to Start Using Mushrooms to Prevent Wildfires

The U.S. Forest Service plans to thin 50 million acres of dense forest in the American West, including hundreds of thousands of acres in Colorado, over the next decade. To dispose of resulting woodchips, researchers in Boulder, CO have begun to use mushrooms to break down wood waste into nutrient-rich soil, speeding up decomposition. Due to the arid climate of Colorado, wood chips can be expected to take as long as 50 years to decompose fully, but using fungi can accelerate the process to see significant decomposition in as little as two years. Boulder Mushroom received a grant to scale up the operation, providing an environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution to address waste from forest thinning and reducing high-risk fire areas in Colorado, such as the Front Range and San Juan mountains. Read more here.

Washington Department of Natural Resources Pauses Timber Auction

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has paused the auction of 102 acres of forestland in King County. The “Wishbone” sale would contain what King County council calls “mature legacy forests” -forest stands logged previously to World War II- that do not qualify as old-growth forest stands which are not harvested by DNR as a matter of policy. The pause comes after several conservation groups filed appeals against Wishbone, arguing that these “legacy forest” stands are reaching an age when they can sequester the most carbon in their lifetimes. Dave Upthegrove, chair of the King County council, alluded that the council is not calling for an end to timber harvesting in King County, but instead a change in how forestlands are managed to better account for climate implications. Read more here.

Drought Emergency in 12 Washington Counties

The Washington Department of Ecology declared a drought emergency this week after early snowmelt, a lack of spring rain, and low streamflows caused the water supply to go below 75% of the normal level. A few areas West of the Cascades such as Clallam County PUD’s Island View Water System and one system in Ferndale are trucking in water. Additionally, some junior water right holders are now petitioning for a drought declaration in order to facilitate emergency water right transfers. East of the Cascades are experiencing crop stress and reported crop losses with some reports noting that parts of the Walla Walla Basin have gone dry. The rest of the state, including the Seattle metropolitan area, is considered to be under a drought advisory. WA Dept of Ecology

How One South Florida Startup's Flying Car Could Change Transportation Forever

Valerie Seidel presented at Marco Island last week on Emerging Trends in Transportation, including the rapidly evolving VTOL - Vertical Takeoff and Landing vessels. Miami Herald reported on Monday that Doroni Aerospace in Pompano Beach, a Florida start-up, is in the race to be one of the first to win federal approval and begin selling a product that has long been the stuff of science fiction. FAA calls them Advanced Air Mobilty, but to most they are flying cars Read more here.

Data Visualization of the Week

Companies are Upskilling Employees in Greater Numbers

As investment in human capital continues a downward trend an exception to this is company investment into upskilling their own employees. Last year 26% of companies were invested in upskilling their employees, which has increased to 43% this year. This has put upskilling as a No. 2 priority in human capital investments. Read more here, and take a look at other economic trend data.


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