by Borderstan.com June 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm 0

From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.

"economic"

The world economy is the country’s economy. (Courtesy)

As the world economy improves, national economies are being carried aloft by a rising tide of success in other countries.

Now that we are living in an ever-more globalized world, nations are no longer entities unto themselves. While they were once insulated from the economic successes or failures of other nations, that is profoundly no longer the case.

A recent example is the United States financial crisis of 2008 which was at first confined within the U.S., but later spread to Europe, Japan and China, with those countries experiencing varying degrees of economic malaise directly attributable to the original fall of the U.S. sub-prime mortgage segment.

Adding to the entire long chain of negative events in the U.S. were the hapless attempts by ‘some individuals and corporations’ to obfuscate the primary reasons for those failures, namely, a weak American banking sector regulatory environment and personal judgment lapses by some senior banking and other corporate executives.

This timeline of regulatory insufficiency and judgment lapses:

  1. Caused the initial crisis
  2. Allowed widespread economic damage
  3. Ensured a longer U.S. recession
  4. Delayed economic recovery

Had a financial crisis of this sort taken place within the 1950-1980 timeframe, it would have been seen as an ‘America only’ affair as the (then) economic islands of Europe and Asia had little interest in the internal workings of the American economy.

How the world has changed in the 21st century

Recently, ‘America sneezed’ — and most of Europe along with Canada ‘caught the cold’ – and whilst Asia felt unwell, it didn’t need a doctor, nor did it miss a day’s work.

Globalization is a process. Every year, countries are harmonizing their diplomatic relations, international trade and laws, walking through the remaining issues towards true interdependence between nation-states.

Along the way, we have seen dramatically lower prices for consumers within the participating nations and a strong downward pull on inflation within the globalization community. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows toward nations with lower land, factory and labour costs, while competition ensures that prices reflect those newfound cost savings.

One of the unfortunate effects of globalization from the Western perspective are the jobs that have fled the West to Asia. Over the span of (almost exactly) four decades, millions of manufacturing jobs have gone to the nations which feature lower-cost land, factory, and labour rates.

The transition of trillions of dollars of investment from the West to the Emerging and Frontier economies has spawned a rising economic tide in the Middle East, Asia and India. In fact, the rise of the BRICS nations are easily traced by the FDI inputs into their nations, as a welcome effect of, (but not the primary cause of) their success.

Since 1998 China and India have often been described as the two economic engines of Asia, and during recent recessionary times, were noted as the economic engines of the world. Even as some nations were falling away from their traditional economic rankings, the unprecedented demand for raw resources and high tech originating from the ‘rising tiger’ economies, slowed the fall of the Western economies and have even spurred their quicker recovery.

Historically, it was axiomatic that when the United States was doing well, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were doing well — as the U.S. economy had the power to float those economies no matter the ‘local’ economic conditions.

America is no longer alone with this power

Now, not only can American demand float the economies of countries or entire regions — the combined demand of the BRICS nations can float national economies and regions.

The U.S. population seems ‘torn’ at this juncture, with some in that country lamenting the loss of the unipolar world which was theirs since the end of the Cold War, whilst others welcome the strengthening and broadening-out of the world economy into a truly interdependent and open economic model.

For those Americans who believe in the open economic model (which is the name given to the free enterprise system by economists) the strengthening and broadening-out of the world economy is exactly in line with their beliefs and is seen as an adjunct to American economic and political clout.

“We told you the open economic model was the way to prosperity, and now you are ‘our firm converts’ to that, and to the democracy which necessarily accompanies successful free enterprise systems.”

For those Americans who secretly or publicly wish for a closed economic model (known as the communist, or the statist economic model, by economist’s) globalization is the root cause of all American economic woes — when in fact, America’s recent economic problems were caused by a perilously-lacking regulatory environment in but one segment of the U.S. economy and poor decision-making by a handful of individuals.

All the nations advancing towards interdependence will see rising demand in their own countries from other partner nations (as at any given time certain of them will be experiencing growth) thereby helping to balance-off the occasional lack of demand.

De-facto: Interdependence between nations means facilitation of effort, FDI, and countless other forms of assistance towards whatever is the weakest link of the chain that day.

This contrasts with the decades of ruthless competition which played itself out (even between allies) for decades and ruled every diplomatic and business decision. De-facto, that became a ‘sink all the other boats — before we get sunk’ game, played in the global economy.

Wherever interdependent nations are working to improve upon an open economic model, they are in effect, working to create a rising tide for all of the participants within that interdependency, because it is simply and profoundly, in their best interests to do so.

Interdependency creates the incoming tide that will float our boats.

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by Borderstan.com April 8, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.

"energy"

Change the light bulb. (Luis Gomez Photos)

With spring right around the corner, you might be thinking about washing your carpets and sweeping the porch, but have you thought about cleaning out your energy bills? The average DC household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy.

With summer months of higher energy usage ahead, spring is a great time to evaluate your in-home energy use and take advantage of rebates to upgrade your appliances and lighting.

Lighting and Appliances

Whether you are replacing light bulbs or appliances in your home, ENERGY STAR qualified products can help you save energy and reduce energy bills.

  • Save water, energy, and time. ENERGY STAR clothes washers use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load. Most ENERGY STAR clothes washers do not have a central agitator which causes less wear and tear and fewer wrinkles, plus, it increases the capacity.
  • Save money. Using advanced technology and better insulation, ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators use half the electricity of standard models and can save you up to $1,100 on energy costs over their lifetime.
  • Upgrade for less. The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) is offering discounts on energy-efficient lighting and appliances. Download $50 easy-to-use mail-in rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers and refrigerators at  DC SEU.
  • Brighten up. Lighting accounts for about 20 percent of annual household electricity bills, or approximately $200 per year. Compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) and long-lasting light emitting diodes (LEDs) offer higher quality light than incandescent bulbs and use less energy. Find retailers in your area with CFLs for prices as low as $1 and download $5 and $10 rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified LEDs.

Heating and Cooling Maintenance

Nearly 50 percent of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. To prune your energy bill this spring, maintain your cooling equipment.

  • Keep it clean. Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system failure.
  • Schedule a checkup. Have a licensed contractor make sure your system is operating at peak performance.
  • Check your system’s air filter. When it is dirty, change it. At a minimum change it every three months.

For more information on the DC SEU, visit their website or contact Hanna Grene at 202-309-3839 or hgrene[AT]@dcseu.com.

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by Borderstan.com March 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm 0

From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.

"wind power"

In 2012 the total installed U.S. wind capacity was 50,000 MW, enough to power 12 million homes annually, and an 18-fold increase since 2000. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

Until now, U.S. government buildings in DC have had 50 percent of their electrical power needs met with wind-turbine powered electricity supplied by Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES) CleanSteps® WindPower. That percentage increased recently to 100 percent as part of the government’s renewable energy target and building efficiency improvement plan.

According to WGES, using 100 percent wind power for electricity means that the DC Government avoids using the equivalent of almost 32.8 million gallons of gasoline — equal to taking 61,000 cars off the road for a year. The world’s fastest-growing energy resource, wind power, displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and helps cut air pollution.

“Going green helps foster economic growth and creates modern and vibrant communities across the District of Columbia,” said Brian J. Hanlon, director, D.C.  Department of General Services. “Our goals are to become more energy efficient and reduce our carbon emissions, and our strategic partnership with WGES is playing a role in helping us achieve these objectives.”

Even before this announcement, DC held the record among U.S. cities for the highest total renewable energy use at more than one billion kilowatt hours per year — or, 11.4 percent of it’s total electricity consumption. (For a complete breakdown of U.S. cities and their renewable energy use in 2012, see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Community Challenge Rankings.)

“We have stated our mission for Washington, DC, to be the cleanest, greenest city in the nation, which includes the use of renewable energy for our power sources. We’re proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Washington, DC, as the leading Green Power Community for our commitment to purchase green power,” said Keith Anderson, Director, District Department of the Environment

In his National Geographic NewsWatch piece, Sam Brooks, associate director of the DC Department of General Services and head of its Energy Division, said, “Conservative estimates indicate a long-term purchase of regional wind power could save more than $100 million over 20 years.”

What could be better than breathing clean air while saving $100 million?

Related Articles

Notes

  1. The U.S. Department of Energy funds R&D to develop wind energy. Learn about the DOE Wind Program, how to use wind energy and get financial incentives, and access wind energy information.
  2. In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, businesses, organizations, government entities, institutions and residents can buy their electricity and natural gas supply from retail energy providers. Customers in Virginia may buy natural gas and customers in Delaware may buy electricity from retail energy providers. To learn more about WGES and its CleanSteps® products, visit WGES or call 1-888-884-9437.

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by Borderstan.com March 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm 0

From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.

"Sundown"

DC SEU  won a 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) a 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award as part of the Northeast Retail Products Initiative. DC SEU won the award in recognition of its continued leadership in protecting our environment through energy efficiency.

The initiative, facilitated by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and made up of utilities and energy efficiency program administrators in New England, New York and DC, will be recognized at an awards ceremony on March 26, 2013.

In 2012, the DC SEU sold more than 43,000 compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). This year, the DC SEU has already sold more than 80,000 CFLs and now offers rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified light-emitting diodes (LEDs), clothes washers, and refrigerators.

“Working with local retailers, the DC SEU is committed to ensuring energy-efficient products are available to all District residents throughout the city,” said Ted Trabue, managing director of the DC SEU.

An ENERGY STAR Partner since 2000, the Northeast Retail Products Initiative will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency. During the last 13 years, the Initiative has won 14 awards including six Excellence Awards.

“Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships is committed to speeding the adoption of high efficiency products in the region through our partnership with the DC SEU in the Retail Products Initiative,” said Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP.

For more than 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2013 Sustained Excellence Awards are given to a select group of organizations that have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. These winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, employing innovative approaches, and showing others what can be achieved through energy efficiency. Award winners are selected from about 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

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