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Showing posts with label Good News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Good News. Show all posts

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Growing Economies Without Growing Emissions

The world economy grew last year without carbon emissions.

Still, evidence of cleaner economic growth is exciting for those who work on a challenge as immense and protracted as global climate change. The news is well timed, too: Nations are developing their climate plans ahead of international negotiations in Paris this December. Progress on emissions – however slight – shows world leaders that “this is a doable thing that the world can work on together,” says Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, a climate research organization based in Washington. “This should give them confidence that they can meet their emissions targets and still grow their economies,” Ms. Morgan says.

This is most welcome news considering that naysayers on all sides said it wasn't possible. The people who continue to deny that man made climate change is real and that the renewable energy market isn't feasible look pretty silly right now. Equally as silly are those who think that we aren't doing enough. Stories like this:

Georgetown Goes All In on Renewable Energy

make them look even more silly. We can add Georgetown, Texas to Burlington, Vermont as cities that have gone 100 percent renewable.

By the mid part of this century, the manufactured debate about climate change will be moot.


Saturday, February 07, 2015

More Economic Good News

The Labor Department said on Friday that employers added a seasonally adjusted 257,000 jobs in January, but even more significant was a revision of earlier estimates showing an additional gain of 147,000 jobs in November and December. Since Nov. 1, employers have hired more than one million new workers, the best performance over a three-month period since 1997. More jobs were created in 2014 as a whole than in any year since 1999.

Obama's "destruction" of the United States continues...the clever fiendishness of his evil plot is brilliant!

Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to figure out how to respond:)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Going Solar!

The cover piece for this week's Christian Science Monitor is truly splendid. Africa is experiencing a quiet solar revolution and brushing off the usual criticism of developing countries not being able to do renewables.

Now, however, a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa – and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn’t to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people’s lives. 

Going smaller better fits the budgets of the rural poor. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar.

Check out the whole piece, folks. There are going to be big things happening with renewables in the next couple of years!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why Globalization Is A Rising Tide That Lifts All Boats

The video below shows exactly why globalization and capitalism are indeed very good things. Take a look at how the bubbles, even in underdeveloped countries, rise over 200 years. Rosling's stuff is amazing and I highly encourage all of you to check out his interactive graphic where you can track the progress of each country, crunch the data, and be a complete social studies nerd like myself.



Despite what the apocalyptics on both the left and the right tell you, our world is improving every day.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Good News

Time for some good news on Monday and I think it's time we realize that Africa is not just about Ebola!

I've always said that if you teach a village to fish, you create an economy. Well, how about dairy farming?

As part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, the USAID Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development project seeks to improve nutrition and boost incomes, through training and investments in commodities like dairy, meat, and live animals. The project targets both men and women, with specific interventions to integrate women entrepreneurs into the broader livestock value chain. For example, the project developed a specific female entrepreneur training package designed to enhance the business capacity of women. Moreover, to better facilitate the participation of women in the offered technical trainings, the project provides innovative daycare services for the children of women participants.

That would the "evil" federal government, folks:)

Burkina-Faso poor farmers are outsmarting climate change.

Lenhardt said information about the ever-improving sustainable techniques, which include using ditches to collect water, had been disseminated by farmers' groups and national organisations to great effect.

Yay!

And Somalia is now at a pivotal point in its history, according to a recent UN report.
Speaking to reporters as he touched down in the city, Mr. Ban acknowledged that after two decades of internecine conflict and humanitarian crises, Somalia was finally waking from a “long nightmare,” reaching a “pivotal moment” as militant group Al-Shabaab appeared to be on the wane and political progress had finally seemed to take root as the country’s institutions were steadily strengthened.

Pretty darn cool!!

Monday, October 06, 2014

A Decline in Poverty

In 2013, poverty declined in the United States and it went down faster for children which is very good news.

It was the first meaningful decline in poverty for children since 2000, and for the overall population since 2006.The declines are due largely to an improving job market, which has lifted the living standards not only for the newly employed but also for their children.

“Every child in this country matters. So while it is significant that child poverty decreased in this single year, the real takeaway is that it demonstrates poverty is not unsolvable,” Hannah Matthews of CLASP, a nonprofit group seeking to improve conditions for low-income people, wrote after the Census Bureau released the new numbers.

Obviously, there is a great deal of room for improvement but this news is most welcome!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Finally, A Decline...

For the first time since 1980, the number of federal inmates has fallen. The drop in nearly 5,000 inmates comes as a direct result of the polices of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder wants to reduce the number a further 10,000 by 2016, which would be enough to leave six maximum security prisons empty. His package of policing and justice reforms is designed to divert nonviolent criminals away from prison and is seen as a rebuke of the so-called 1994 “crime bill,” which expanded the list of felony crimes, pumped $10 billion into new prisons, and gave incentives to states to mass incarcerate even low level offenders.

Considering we have only 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's inmates, I'd say this is a very large step in the right direction. My hope is that our government goes even further and begins the process of decriminalizing drugs.

Prohibition never works.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Good Words (Renewable Energy Version)

Vivek Wadhwa's recent piece on solar energy really puts things in perspective. He notes one of my favorite thinkers and his astute prediction.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target. But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do.

Yes, it will. And then all this silliness over the validity of climate change being a "hoax" won't matter. The free market will have simply taken care of all of it.

The rest of the piece contains some very interesting chestnuts. These two are my favorites.

There will be disruption of the entire fossil-fuel industry, starting with utility companies, which will face declining demand and then bankruptcy.

We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.

Indeed. It will be a pleasure to see climate change skeptics, who rabidly defend fossil fuel producers, turn on them for taking government handouts. Or will they?

They are insanely stubborn people, after all:)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cleaning Up Our Act

Turning towards good news once again, this recent piece from the Christian Science Monitor shows how the world is quickly embracing renewable energy.

Last year, new global capacity of hydroelectricity, wind, solar, and other renewable power grew by more than in any year before, according to a new report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, continuing a run of record-breaking additions that stretches back to the beginning of this century. Renewable electricity now accounts for about 22 percent of power generation worldwide, up from 18.4 percent in 2005. The rise is largely due to the emergence of the onshore wind industry and the spread of solar photovoltaic technology. By decade’s end, the IEA projects that more than a quarter of the world’s electricity will come from sources that are carbon-free and naturally replenishable.

Here is where we are at right now with energy usage in the world




















Looks like we have some catching up to do!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good News Round Up

Most of the news that is heavily reported these days is bad news. There are number of reasons for this but the main one is that bad news sells better. I think this is complete bullshit and, quite frankly,  a cop out by the media. They could decided tomorrow to focus on all of the progress in the world (like the Christian Science Monitor did) and people just might feel better about the future. In fact, they could evolve away from anger, hate, and fear into much more reasonable beings. I haven't talked about good news on here in a while but starting today, it's going to become a more regular feature here at Markadelphia.

First up, we have this story about the Earth's ozone layer.

The ozone layer that shields the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing early signs of thickening after years of depletion, a UN study says. The ozone hole that appears annually over Antarctica has also stopped growing bigger every year. The report says it will take a decade before the hole starts to shrink. Scientists say the recovery is entirely due to political determination to phase out the man-made CFC gases destroying ozone. The study was published by researchers from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story... This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of tackling climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Very good news on a problem that has been around all of my life.

Next we have this report on US child wellness and education which concluded there have been gradual and incremental improvements in the lives of American children. Child-wellness indicators in four main areas – economic well-being, education, health, and family and community – reflected an overall increase in the well-being of America’s youths.

Areas of improvement included the drop in teen births per 1,000 (from 40 to 29) and a decrease in the number of children without health insurance (from 10 percent to 7 percent). All four education trouble spots addressed in the study – children not attending preschool, fourth-graders not proficient in reading, fourth-graders not proficient in math, and high school students not graduating on time – dipped at least slightly, between 2 and 8 percent. All health issues improved as well, with fewer low-birth-weight babies, fewer child and teen deaths, and fewer teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol. The CDC also confirms some of these improvements.

Very cool!

Finally, we have news from the United Nations that Rwanda and Ethiopia have the fastest growing economies in Africa. This is especially amazing when you consider that, historically, the names of each of these countries meant violence, death, famine, and literally, a boiling pit of sewage! Each country has provided better access to health care, diversified their economies, and reduced child mortality by nearly 30%.

Look for good news like this every week at Markadelphia!

Friday, February 28, 2014

America Is Not In Decline

Dovetailing quite nicely with Kurtzman's Second American Century is this piece from Politico magazine by Sean Starrs. Our continual and often hyperbolic obsession with "America's decline" really can be most hysterical and irrational.

It all started with a wave of declinism in the 1980s, set off by the rise of Japan. Then the doom and gloom suddenly vanished amid the triumphalism of the 1990s, which transformed the United States into the world’s only superpower. After the Sept. 11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq, many thought “empire” was a better moniker, with the United States apparently able to reshape world order virtually at will. And then just a few years later — poof! — declinism returned with a vengeance, with American power supposedly crashing like the latest Hollywood reality queen. China supplanted Japan as a hegemon on the rise, and the biggest global financial crisis since 1929 — emanating from the United States itself — was allegedly the final nail in the coffin of the American century.

This really is an issue that both parties are guilty of having their heads up their asses. Recently and in the same day, Bubba T and my ultra libertarian/rabid Randian brother in law both foamed at the mouth about how America is doomed. I realized how similar the far left and the far right sound when they are shrill:) But this is exactly what Starrs is talking about in this piece. For example, the metric by which we measure Chinese power is flawed.

China, for example, has been the world’s largest electronics exporter since 2004, and yet this does not at all mean that Chinese firms are world leaders in electronics. Even though China has a virtual monopoly on the export of iPhones, for instance, it is Apple that reaps the majority of profits from iPhone sales. More broadly, more than three-quarters of the top 200 exporting firms from China are actually foreign, not Chinese. This is totally different from the prior rise of Japan, propelled by Japanese firms producing in Japan and exporting abroad.

In the age of globalization, we can't measure a country's economic power in the same way.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Finally

I'm happy to report that someone got the memo on the need for a real fucking news station as opposed to three we have now that can't resist bright shiny objects like Miley Cyrus. Al Jazeera America is simply fantastic.

I waited a few weeks since it launched to see if they could resist the paparazzi like stories we see on the other three networks and they have. In addition, they pick an issue on focus on it for a considerable amount of time. The show, "Inside Story," recently focused on climate change and to my complete delight, they did not play the Cult of Both Sides and focused on the actual science.

No doubt AJA will lead to several bowels being blown by those on the Right who just can't help themselves in predicting the coming End Times. Clearly, those who will engage in this haven't even watched the station. I was struck by how many average Americans participate in the discussions. These people come from all walks of political ideology and don't necessarily look great on TV which I think is totally fucking mega.

To see where you can watch Al Jazeera America, click here and enter your zip in the upper right hand corner.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

19 Years Later

Say the word "Rwanda" and the first thought that comes into your head after that is usually genocide. But recent gains in health care in the tiny African country are so staggering that I'm hoping the first thought will now be of a more healthy nation.

19 years later, however, Rwanda is on pace to become the only country in sub-Saharan Africa to meet all of its health-related Millennium Development Goals, and the tiny pocket of Central Africa has posted some of the world’s most staggering health gains in the past decade, outpacing nations that spend far more per capita on healthcare.

In the past decade, deaths from HIV have fallen 78 percent – the single largest decline in the world during that time frame – while tuberculosis mortality has dropped 77 percent, the most significant decrease in Africa. 


Between 1994 and 2012, they wrote, the country’s life expectancy climbed from 28 years to 56 and the percentage of the population living in poverty dropped from 77.8 percent to 44.9 percent. 

Amazing! But how did this happen?

The government took the aid that was pouring in and put it directly into social programs and enacted universal health care for the small nation. In addition to the numbers of above, the chances today that a child in Rwanda will die by the age of five has fallen 70 percent.

These are all truly remarkable accomplishments that demonstrate how real results can be achieved very easily within a generation if government corruption is kept to a minimum and level headed leaders are put in charge. The rest of the countries in Africa should follow this model and bring their nations into the increasingly prosperous global marketplace.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Amazing!

A wonderful message to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We are doing His works and greater than these!

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rockin' The Shizzle

The American manufacturing sector has taken a few hits over the last couple of decades but they are still a powerhouse, according to James Fallows. And the future looks even brighter. The advent of 3D printing, primarily originating from the United States, is going to drastically change manufacturing in the world.

“A revolution is coming to the creation of things, comparable to the Internet’s effect on the creation and dissemination of ideas,” one industrial design expert told Fallows.

Further, with wages in China rising and workers getting pickier about their jobs, American manufacturing is experiencing reshoring. It's also important to note that the American manufacturing sector is still the largest in the world despite all the doom and gloom we see on parade in the media.

Add in the energy boom that is going to happen in the next decade and I think America is going to be even more impressive than we are right now!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Got Any Stories?

In the last 15 years, the juvenile detention rate has fallen 41 percent. A staggering drop, to be sure, but why? A recent article in my favorite news magazine sheds light on this welcome shift.

  • A shift in thinking about the best ways to handle young people who break the law. 
  • A sustained period of decreasing juvenile crime. 
  • Fiscal pressures on state governments that have many people – including conservatives who, in the past, espoused tough-on-crime policies – clamoring for less-expensive alternatives to mass incarceration.

I'd say the reason for the second bullet point is the spread of smart phones and video games. And the third reason seems perfectly understandable given the belt tightening that has gone on at the state level. But the first one is the reason that intrigues me the most. Why? Because any time there is a shift in thinking on an issue, the situation invariably improves.

In my local community, I've seen this shift in action. A few years ago, we had some trouble with Somali youths. The police engaged the community rather than cracking skulls and created some programs geared towards their culture. They also created some community events specifically for younger immigrants to get excited about how much it is to live in America. These involved athletic events and, yes, a video game swap. The result? No more Somali youth problem.

I'd bet there are stories like this around the country. Got any?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Thousand Ton Weight

The death of Hugo Chavez reminded me that I had to discuss this wonderful piece by Larry Diamond. He discusses how the myth that Global South countries are not "read for democracy" and how that should be dispensed with immediately. In many ways, the last few years of Chavez's life are a testament to this. He lost a considerable amount of control over Venezuela and his long term vision for the future of the country came under intense scrutiny.

The fact is that Chavez was no great hero or visionary. He simply rode the wave of oil wealth and made people believe that his way was the best way for Venezuela. Globalization has proved him to be massively wrong. The once robust economy has returned to where it was 50 years ago, other industries in the country have suffered, and they are currently running a 15 percent deficit of GDP. With so much government control, their economy simply cannot compete in the world. Other dictators like Fidel Castro have recognized this as well.

Even though Diamond wrote his piece primarily focusing on other areas of the world, the same paradigm applies to Middle America and South America.

The lower- and middle-income democracies that did come through the last two decades intact have shown that authoritarianism confers no intrinsic developmental advantage. For every Singapore-style authoritarian economic “miracle,” there have been many more instances of implosion or stagnation—as in Zaire, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and (until recently) Burma— resulting from predatory authoritarian rule.

Right. In fact, the assertion that tyranny and dictatorships are "just around the corner" in many parts of the world is also a myth.

While it remains true that democracy is more sustainable at higher levels of development, an unprecedented number of poor countries adopted democratic forms of government during the 1980s and ’90s, and many of them have sustained democracy for well over a decade. These include several African countries, such as Ghana, Benin, and Senegal, and one of the poorest Asian countries, Bangladesh. Other very poor countries, such as East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, are now using the political institutions of democracy as they rebuild their economies and states after civil war. Although the world has been in a mild democratic recession since about 2006, with reversals concentrated disproportionately in low-income and lower-middle-income states, a significant number of democracies in these income categories continue to function.

Yes, they do because democracy is the best system to fit in with this era of globalization. And countries aren't the only ones that have embraced it.

Further refuting the skeptics, democracy has taken root or at least been embraced by every major cultural group, not just the societies of the West with their Protestant traditions. Most Catholic countries are now democracies, and very stable ones at that. Democracy has thrived in a Hindu state, Buddhist states, and a Jewish state. And many predominantly Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Bangladesh, Senegal, and Indonesia, have by now had significant and mainly positive experience with democracy.

Diamond also discusses Hugo Chavez towards the end of the piece.

Despite the persistence of authoritarianism under Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and the authoritarian tendencies of left-wing populist presidents in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, the bigger story in Latin America has been democratic resilience and deepening. Chile and Uruguay have become stable liberal democracies, Brazil has made dramatic democratic and economic progress, and even once chronically unstable Peru has seen three successive democratically elected presidents deliver brisk economic growth with declining poverty rates. In fact, Latin America is the only region of the world where income inequality has decreased in the last decade.

To me, the death of Hugo Chavez is symbolic of a much larger sea change. The time of dictators and authoritarian rule is drawing to a close. Countries like North Korea and Iran will not exist as they do now in a decade. The prosperity that has resulted from globalization is going to squash them like a thousand ton weight.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

No One Killed The Electric Car This Time

Here's some more good news that has flown under the radar.

A green secret: It was the year plug-in car sales accelerated

Plug-in vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius PHV, and all-electric Nissan Leaf are on pace for combined sales of about 50,000 by year-end – far ahead of what hybrid sales were at the same stage of market development – and a 280 percent jump in sales over 2011, according to data from Baum & Associates, an auto industry research firm. Next year will bring 33 models from a dozen companies.

When you consider how much of a pummeling the electric car takes every day, this is truly fantastic. This will have an impact on the climate, no doubt, and that's despite the notion that we are trading one form of polluting for another. Electric power is coming from more diverse sources than ever before these days so any less carbon emissions in the atmosphere is a net gain.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Good News Keeps Rolling In

For all the talk about how broken our health care system is, the world as a whole is actually doing much better than in the past. Some examples.

  • Dr. Benn singles out Rwanda as an example of stunning progress: More than 90 percent of eligible Rwandans were receiving ART by the end of October. "This is fantastic ... historical. That is beyond our expectations from a couple of years ago," Benn says. 
  • Kazakhstan is the site of another moment of global public health progress this year. In March, it was certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization, joining only four other malaria-endemic countries with that designation. 
  • Nigeria heads the pack of 17 countries poised to eliminate malaria. Their antimalaria agenda includes a $50 million bed-net program, underwritten by The Global Fund, which hopes the country will offer two bed nets per household. 
  • The Republic of the Congo, meanwhile, has made massive strides in combating maternal mortality. The number of women dying in childbirth dropped 60 percent between 2010 and 2011, from 740 deaths per 100,000 live births to 300 deaths.

There are many more examples like this happening around the world and the best part about all of it is that it is happening exponentially. Juxtapose this with the sharp reduction in extreme poverty and it's clear that we are heading in something more than the "right direction." 

Honestly, it's becoming more and more apparent every day that we are heading towards that Star Trek vision of the future and it's largely due to the leadership of the United States. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy!

Get used to a new word for 2013: reshoring.

Conventional wisdom says that American jobs are flying like crazy over to China. But a recent piece in the Christian Science Monitor says otherwise.

There's no official tally of the number of jobs returning, but Harry Moser, director of the Reshoring Initiative, which aims to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, estimates that 50,000 jobs have returned in the past three years. He bases his estimate on a close read of the media and on reports his organization receives. If that number is accurate, reshoring would account for 12 percent of the manufacturing jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports returned to the American economy since 2010. 

The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, in a September report projected that returned manufacturing could bring 5 million new jobs by 2020 and add $90 billion in US exports to the economy.

Wow.

Why is this happening?

Rising wages in China, unpredictable supply-chain problems, oil prices, and the risk of intellectual property theft are making manufacturers more wary of producing overseas, analysts say.

That's the beauty of the free market, in this case the labor market. Eventually, workers start to demand more money and everything evens out as the labor market adjusts in its growth. But this isn't even the best part.

It's not just that it's getting more expensive to produce overseas. It's also getting cheaper to produce back at home. "It's the shale gas revolution," says Kevin Swift, chief economist and managing director of the American Chemistry Council. "There are low-cost, abundant sources of energy [here] now." Mr. Swift says that's a game changer for his industry: "We were being written off as being noncompetitive. It's completely changed. There's significant investment on the books ... 50 [planned] projects valued at over $40 billion."

Yes, indeed. Things are looking up for our country and it makes me quite happy!