Discover more from The Nett Report
The common good, Methuselah, $100 oil, explaining capitalism, milk and meat drive emissions, a silver tsunami, sharks on a golf course
September 25, 2023 - The Nett Report
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Future of Work / The Economy
“I’m here to tell you that our greatest challenge is our greatest opportunity. We have the technologies. But technology is only as powerful as the people behind it. And now is the moment we have to realize that every job today is a climate job. All of us need to put our organizations to work, creating the job training programs that are going to bring people off the sidelines.” — Barbara Humpton, CEO, Siemens USA
Goldman Sachs projects oil reaching $100 per barrel
Goldman Sachs’ September 22, 2023, newsletter projects a barrel of oil could reach $100 this year. The causes include:
Saudi Arabia’s “lower for longer” policy of driving down inventories and pushing up prices to boost profits.
OPEC is likely to reduce oil production “because of more supply coming from outside the organization, mostly from the U.S.” (Note from the author: Does this mean the U.S. efforts to be oil independent are effectively raising oil and gasoline prices?)
There will be more global oil demand from Asia in 2024, “led by Asia, as the slowdown in China's economy shows signs of “bottoming out.”
India and the Middle East are also expected to have significant increases in demand.
Lowe's beats theft with better pay, training, and customer service
While Target and Walmart have addressed growing theft with security measures like locked product cases, ordering from a tablet, and putting a police station in a store, Lowe’s has successfully taken another approach. According to a September 23, 2023, story in The Street, Lowe’s has invested in security and technology measures like other firms, but credits its success to “effective customer service and … the right type of merchandising display.” The store’s CEO believes “paying workers well - Lowe's is at the higher end of the wage scale for retailers in many markets -- and training them leads to lower levels of shrink.”
Five books to explain capitalism
The world is struggling to adapt to the need for sustainability, where capitalism is a dominant. economic model. Investopedia says, “the production of goods and services under capitalism is based on supply and demand in the general market—known as a market economy.” This model often conflicts with sustainability, which, according to Investopedia, means “the ability to maintain or support a process continuously over time. In business and policy contexts, sustainability seeks to prevent the depletion of natural or physical resources so that they will remain available for the long term.” These five books recommended by VOX in a September 22, 2023, article help to understand capitalism.
The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1776)
Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative, Jennifer Burns (available November 2023)
The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America―and How to Undo His Legacy, David Gelles (2022)
The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, Martin Wolf (2023)
Less is More, Jason Hickel (2020)
“People don’t buy sustainable products. They buy great ones. But I don’t think any product can be considered great these days if it hasn’t considered sustainability.” —Tim Brown, co-founder, Allbirds
Electric bikes displace more oil than all other EVs combined – for now
According to a September 15, 2023, story in Elektrek, electric bikes displace more than twice the oil use than all other electric vehicles combined. In addition, “the same amount of battery needed for a 20-mile commute in an electric car could power an e-bike for over 200 miles.” However, an August 1, 2023, story in Anthropocene reported that “Electrifying long-distance trucks, delivery vans, and passenger cars will have a much bigger impact in the long run.” In addition, e-bike riders end up in the emergency room more often than those riding conventional bikes.
AI comes at a cost in water and energy
The burgeoning artificial intelligence sector brings powerful new tools to the world, but at a cost in resources. According to a September 9, 2023, story in PHYS.ORG, AI creates a demand for computer chips, the energy to power them, and the water to cool them. Microsoft reported a 34% increase in water use from 2021 to 2022, equal to 1.7 billion gallons. Google reported a 20% increase. A UC Riverside report to be released later this year concludes that “ChatGPT gulps up 500 milliliters of water (close to what's in a 16-ounce water bottle) every time you ask it a series of between 5 to 50 prompts or questions.”
Milk and meat drive ag carbon emissions
A story in Grist on September 12, 2023, reports on a study in Nature that concluded “swapping 50% of the world’s beef, chicken, pork, and milk consumption with plant-based alternatives by mid-century could effectively halt the ecological destruction associated with farming, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, China, and Southeast Asia.” This shift would reduce agriculture greenhouse emissions by 31%, “the equivalent of not burning 1.8 trillion pounds of coal each year between 2020 and 2050.”
Farmers working at night to avoid daytime heat
In a world where climate is changing, some farmers are beating the heat by working at night. According to a story in The Washington Post on September 9, 2023, “rising temperatures in key agricultural regions across the United States are leading more farmers to harvest in the middle of the night to safeguard the quality of their crops … Farmers are adapting as best they can. An entire industry has emerged to cool workers with ice vests and other technology. Some farmers are incorporating night harvests into their business for no more than the cost of headlamps, while others are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in machines specifically designed to farm at night.”
The Political Divide
Regarding climate change and the political divide
“Time is not on our side right now. The future is not about a political debate. It is about a race to actually resolve this human crisis … And doing good business is actually a good business.”— Jesper Brodin, CEO, IKEA
“The backlash (against ESG) is having an effect…The uncertainty—whether due to lack of clarity around SEC reporting, around the expense, around how you link these actions to the company’s bottom line—is causing everybody to pause.” - Sheri Hickok, CEO of Climate Impact Partners
Resurrecting the common good – Robert Reich
All too often, America honors people who haven’t advanced the common good but have merely achieved notoriety or celebrity or amassed great wealth or power. All too often, America shames people for failing to conform to prevailing ideas about fashion or coolness. If we’re to revive the common good, we must honor behavior that strengthens the common good and condemn behavior that erodes the common good. - Robert Reich, former U.S. Labor Secretary, in his September 22, 2023, newsletter
“Too often, we lionize leaders who “win” — who are strong and tough enough to overcome rivals, who are ruthless and hard-hitting enough to generate huge profits, who are ferocious enough to beat all manner of competitors and thugs. But leadership of the sort we need to resurrect the common good is not about winning. It’s not about being tough, ruthless, or ferocious. It’s about attending to the needs of the people who are being led — valuing and elevating the common good that binds them together. Earning and building their trust. This must be the essence of leadership. We must demand it.” - Robert Reich, former U.S. Labor Secretary, in his September 15, 2023, newsletter
Should I get a COVID-19 booster?
The new Covid booster vaccines are now available, and a September 8, 2023, article in Science says, “scientists continue to debate the pluses and minuses of extra doses of vaccine.” The article reports that there is room for reasonable debate on the issue. “Two years ago, with the pandemic raging and vaccines dramatically cutting serious illness and death, there was little doubt about their value for everyone.” Vaccine researchers suspect that hybrid immunity derived from both previous infection and vaccination “may now play a large role in protecting people. People who have had Covid and a booster shot in the past year may be getting much extra protection.”
The origins of obesity might date back to the 1930s
Most epidemiologists have concluded that the onset of the obesity public health crisis, where the rate of obesity has tripled in the last 50 years, began in the 1970s thanks to “the influential role of processed foods or inactivity.” A September 13, 2023, story in Science reporting on a study of Danish youth traces the trend back to the 1930s, but “the reason remains a mystery.”
A “silver tsunami” of senior homelessness
Thanks to a combination of multiple recessions, limited life savings, and insufficient affordable housing, “there’s an escalating rate of homelessness among older Americans,” according to a September 22, 2023, article in Moneywise. The trend has been called a “silver tsunami.”
The Nett Light-Side
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” - Frederick Buechner, American writer and theologian
Methuselah – the world’s oldest captive fish
She’s estimated to be 92 years old, and Methuselah, an Australian lungfish at the California Academy of Sciences, has been in captivity for nearly 85 years, since before World War II, according to a September 18, 2023, story in the Sacramento Bee. She is believed to be “the oldest living fish in an aquarium anywhere in the world.”
When dinosaurs became birds
The first birds that diverged from dinosaurs happened in the Late Jurassic period (about 161 to 146 million years ago, according to a September 6, 2023, story in Popular Science. The precursor dinosaurs, known as avialans, date back to 166-159 million years ago, a gap of about 30 million years from when an early genus of avian dinosaurs called Archaeopteryx was identified. Now, from a set of fossils in China, the remains of the 148 to 150-million-year-old avialan theropod Fujianvenator prodigiosus are filling the gap.
An Australian golf course lake housed bull sharks for 17 years
Bull sharks have a unique ability to survive in both salt water and fresh water. During a period of flooding in the 1990s, some became trapped in a lake on an Australian golf course. According to a September 22, 2023, article in Slate, this population of bull sharks lived in the lake for 17 years before disappearing in 2013, likely taken by fishermen.
About Carl Nettleton
Carl Nettleton is an award-winning writer, speaker, thought partner, facilitator, and subject-matter expert regarding water, climate, sustainability, the ocean, and binational U.S.-Mexico border affairs. Nettleton Strategies, the consultancy he founded in 2007, is a trusted source of analysis and advice on issues at the forefront of public policy, business, and the environment. He helps people and organizations to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing ocean plastic in a new way.