Archives October 2017

An In-Depth Look Into the U.S. Coal Industry

Though it’s been in jeopardy for years, things are not looking good for one of America’s most historically essential industries.

U.S. employment in coal mining peaked in the early 1920s, when there were roughly 863,000 coal miners. Since then, however, due to technological advancements and environmental concerns, the industry has drastically shrunk. As of 2016, the average number of coal mining employees in the U.S. was at 50,500.

Additionally, according to the 2015 U.S. Annual Coal Report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, surface coal mining operations only provided between 26,000 and 37,000 jobs in the United States.

Despite many believing that President Obama was leading a charge on the coal industry, the market has been steadily decreasing no matter the administration.

“In fact, coal plants are retiring at the exact same rate under President Trump as they were under President Obama,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

According to The Atlantic, Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor, and one of the world’s richest men, gave $30 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

“The war on coal has never been led by Washington,” he said. “It has been led by market forces that are providing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy, and by communities, cities, and states that want to protect public health.”

American energy is constantly changing, so it’s not all bad, but it’s much more concerning when it impacts the livelihood of American workers. When it comes to home energy, natural gas was essentially being wasted just a few decades ago. In fact, the average American home consumes 40% less natural gas than it did in the 1970s.

“There’s certainly not a reliability crisis,” said Josiah Neeley, director of energy policy at the conservative R Street Institute. “And even if there was, the proposed rule doesn’t address any of the issues with reliability that are out there.”

According to ABC News, the rollback of the Clean Power Plan is being seen as a revitalization of the coal industry, as well as a win for anti environmental advocates.

The Clean Power Plan called for a 32% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

The decision to repeal the CPP has further polarized the government and the country.

“The Clean Power Plan is the poster child for bad regulation,” said Paul Bailey, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE). “It is illegal, expensive, and ineffective, and we commend Administrator Pruitt for repealing it.”

Conversely, Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists released a statement saying that the current administration has “thumbed its nose and science, and now at the law.”

E-Billing Can Help Save the Earth and Money at the Same Time

As a way to cut back on paper waste and to aid in customer convenience, many companies are taking the route of electronic billing. Electronic billing is the process of sending bills to customers via the use of the internet or another electronic network. Customers can then view their bills online and see if there are any issues. If everything appears to be accurate, the customer can then select a form of payment and that selection will initiate a transfer of money from your bank account to the company.

Now, Electronic billing is expected to become even more popular by the year 2020. Not only is it convenient, but it also cuts back on the waste of paper. Many people feel as though all of the bills that doctors offices, dentist offices, and cable companies send to customers waste too much paper. However, by allowing customers to pay and view their bills with the use of a tablet, phone, or computer, they’re allowing their company to be more eco-friendly and efficient.

Plus, it can save these businesses money. Transferring billing to the internet or other online networks cuts the costs on printing paper bills and sending them through the mail. Customer service costs also drop with the use of e-billing because there are fewer mistakes made when using electronic transactions. It also cuts back on the time that was used to actually print and send those bills out, while customers tend to pay e-bills much more quickly than paper bills. Organizations are actually able to save an average of 11.5 cents each billing statement by using e-billing.

Simply put, e-billing is quickly becoming the norm. Even businesses who aren’t sold on the environmental benefits have a clear incentive to make the switch: fewer printing costs and less time spent waiting for customers to pay their bills.

With the market projected to keep growing through 2020, electronic billing is a thing of the present and the future. It can help cut back on the waste of paper, raise revenue, and provide customers with the convenience of paying their bills using a tablet or a phone.

Implementation of Green Technology in the Aviation Industry

The aviation industry is growing and developing very quickly, especially in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Additionally, air travel is becoming increasingly available to a larger amount of the world’s population — the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects air travel will double over the next 20 years.

With the growing industry, companies are preparing for issues like maintenance and operations personnel shortage. To combat potential issues, those within the aviation industry are turning to new methods to offset the environmental impact of the increasing number of flights.

Green aviation involves the consideration of environmental improvements in the area of aerospace. These methods can include things like reduction in emissions and noise, new technologies to improve efficiency, and improved fuel efficiency. Green aviation encompasses all areas of aviation, including airlines, the aerospace supply chain, and aircraft manufacturers.

With general aviation logging 24 million flight hours each year in the U.S., the pursuit of green aviation is more important than ever.

The Solar Impulse 2 became the first manned solar plane to successfully circle the earth last year. While prototypes like this are years away from handling commercial flight, manufacturers are working on finding immediate improvements.

Neste MY Aviation Solutions is one of the many organizations working towards reducing CO2 emissions throughout the aviation industry. Neste Green Hub develops a platform that allows airports, airlines, authorities, local community, and passengers to unite and contribute to more sustainable traveling.

Other organizations are continuously working towards finding green solutions. Honeywell has introduced its own Green Jet Fuel, which aims to cut greenhouse emissions by up to 85% compared to traditional fuels. The fuel alternative has proven to improve flight mileage performance while allowing no changes to be made to the aircraft.

Global shipping networks are an often overlooked polluter. Shipping goods internationally emits greenhouse gases, disrupts marine life, and contributes to water pollution. Kapco Global, an aircraft parts distributor, has helped implement the idea of globally located warehouse locations through worldwide partnerships and established facilities. This means both a faster delivery time for customers and a shorter traveling distance for supplies.

The aviation industry is also implementing modern technology in order to counteract environmental impacts, including using 3-D printing for aircraft parts.

2019 Porsche Cayenne Will Have Tungsten-Carbide-Coated Brakes

Porsche continues with their commitment to out-braking the competition. The 2019 Porsche Cayenne’s brakes feature iron rotors coated in a thin, ultra-hard layer of tungsten carbide. This allows them to have an extra edge in performance as well as reduced wear and less dust.

While most Porsche owners ignore the occasional squeaking and dust that comes with the maximum braking performance, others have been longing for the expected stopping power with less noise and dust.

Considering this, Porsche tested low-noise, low-dust brake pads, but found them to be less than satisfactory. Instead, Porsche, working with Bosch, looked into making improvements to the rotor instead. They found that while the pads were thought to be the biggest contributor to dust, it was actually the rotors causing most of the dust.

While pads and rotors both lose thickness over time, rotors have a larger surface area — meaning the material that wears off ends up dirtying the wheels.

Porsche reduced the amount of material that wears off the rotor to reduce brake dust. Tungsten carbide can be used for a variety of applications, since it comes in over a dozen different grades. Being several magnitudes harder than steel on the Vickers scale, tungsten carbide is useful in reducing brake dust. Only a small portion of the material is needed relative to iron to provide longevity without adding weight. Each rotor consists of an iron core wearing a 100-micron-thick coating of tungsten carbide. Porsche says it will last up to 30% longer than iron rotors and will reduce brake dust by 90%.

Unfortunately, these new PSCB rotors are incompatible with traditional brake pads, so Akebono provides pads made of a new compound — all parties involved are keeping these pads in secrecy. Dealers will measure the brake’s wear and determine their replacement to ensure customer’s don’t see a distinct reduction in braking performance once the last of the tungsten carbide coating wears away.

The 2019 Cayenne might be the company’s most important launch in a long time. The Cayenne will be available at Porsche dealerships in mid-2018. The base model will start at $66,750 and the Cayenne S will start at $83,950.

New Remodeling Report Details Most Popular Projects

The housing market is growing tighter, and with fewer homes for sale, prices are rising accordingly. As a result, remodeling has become the way to go for many homeowners who can’t find a second home. In light of this, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) released a joint report on the 2017 remodeling market. The data shows the latest trends and the emotional and financial value that homeowners place on certain projects.

According to the report, “after completing a remodeling project 75% of owners have a greater desire to be in their home, 65% say they have increased enjoyment in their home, and 77% feel a major sense of accomplishment when thinking of their completed project. In addition, 56% felt happy when they see their completed projects, and 39% say they feel satisfied,” the report said.

The NAR president, Willaim E. Brown, said that there are a lot of reasons that homeowners are undergoing these projects, according to surveys. Whether that be to impress potential buyers, bring in better offers, or gain more equity in their homes, remodeling projects bring the most value for homeowners. For example, something as simple as bathroom remodels could bring as much as 86.4% return on investment.

NAR reports that, for exterior projects, new roofing is the most popular. The project has an average of 109% return on initial investment, more than any other exterior project. The report also stated that “though new roofing was named the exterior project that most appeals to buyers, it is followed by new vinyl windows, a new garage door, and new vinyl siding.”

“This year’s report confirms how remodeling can increase home value and day-to-day enjoyment,” said Tom Miller, President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with a contractor you can trust who adheres to a strict code of ethics and can help define a realistic budget.”

The report also had a “joy rating” system, that ranked each project on what the total enjoyment each project gives the homeowner. Projects that have a perfect score of 10 include a new master suite, which has an estimated cost of $125,000 for a full makeover, and a new steel front doors.

Housing Market And Poor GDP Growth Affecting Flooring Industry

With the housing market getting a little tight, many homeowners are turning to remodeling and renovations. And while the majority of home remodels concern the bathroom, kitchen, or master bedroom, there are quite a few homeowners that are just looking to improve their floors. However, despite this interest in home renovation and flooring renewal, the flooring market isn’t seeing massive growth.

That is not to say that the market isn’t growing; its expected to grow more than the previous year — it’s just not growing as much as initially hoped. However, analysts say this is to be expected, as the economy had a sluggish start this year. National GDP only grew by 1.2% overall, which had an effect on the flooring market. Even epoxy, a floor coating that can last five to 10 years depending on traffic, was affected.

Economists are expecting that there will be a 2.1% growth for 2017 as a whole, which could point to a turnaround in the near future. Santo Torcivia, an economist with Floor Focus, is predicting that the flooring and floor covering market will grow by 5% by the end of the year. This is compared to the 3.1% growth that was experienced in 2016.

One of the key driving factors for the flooring business this year will be the housing market. Numbers are continuing to change from month to month, but housing sales are predicted to be around 1.2 million for the year. This is an increase from the year prior, though still fewer sales than two years ago. The biggest issue for the market is that there is a shortage of homes for sale overall.

A shortage of ready-to-build lots and skilled labor is driving this shortage. Compared to two years ago, the market took a 2.3% dip in the sale of homes.

The nation’s growth is currently below the 3% to 4% that President Trump had originally intended. It will take time for the president’s changes to taxes and infrastructure to occur, meaning that things are not likely to change much in his first year in the White House.

For now, the sluggish but steady economic growth that has characterized the previous few years is here to stay.

New Data Shows Youth Participation In Sports Affected By Wealth Disparity

New data shows wealth to be the key factor driving children’s participation in sports. According to the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society program, children between the ages of six and 12 whose household income totals less than $25,000 are three times more likely to be inactive in sports compared to children whose household income totals more than $100,000.

“Sports in America have separated into sports-have and have-nots,” said Tom Farrey, the Sports and Society program’s executive director, to The Atlantic.

Children in low-income areas are also less likely to be exposed to organized sports activities such as track and basketball because such sports are typically associated with parks. Other sports such as swimming or ice hockey require facilities, which are costly to own or rent.

There has been much concern over children in sports in recent years due to physical exhaustion and injury. However, The Atlantic reports that children from low-income housing suffer more enduring losses from missing out on sports opportunities. Youth athletics offer children regular exercise, which in turn leads to improved physical health, better grades, and longevity. They also offer children lessons in teamwork, resilience, and discipline.

According to Time Magazine, the business of youth athletics has turned into a $15.3 billion industry, driven by the idea that achievement on the field may increase a child’s chances to attend college. Yet, only higher-income households are capable of affording these sports programs and the equipment they require.

Forbes reports that one in five American parents spends up to $1,000 on sports equipment per child. In the United States, up to 209,000 girls and 284,000 boys play high school soccer. That comes to a total of $493 million for sports equipment for America’s high school soccer teams alone. Compare this to the $1.5 billion the nation spent in total on camping equipment as a family in 2014.

Low-income schools have been dropping free physical-education classes and are beginning to require athletes to pay for their sports programs. As a result, up to 70% of children leave youth athletics by the age of 13.

This loss of opportunity especially affects female athletes, who have been shown to benefit highly from sports programs. Female athletes have been shown to be more likely to be business executives and politicians. They’re also less likely to develop breast cancer and self-esteem issues.

Self-esteem especially has become a distressing factor as of late. A Dove study on body confidence recently found that up to 89% of women would cancel an important event due to their appearance. In another study, up to 60% of women hair loss sufferers said they would rather have more hair than either friends or money.

“Kids who are excluded for socioeconomic reasons are missing out on all of [these positive opportunities],” said Mark Hyman, an assistant professor at George Washington School of Business. “Sports would help them develop more fully as people.”

Not only do sports help children become more successful later in life both in terms of self-esteem and job opportunities, but they also help to create integration between children who may not otherwise come together due to racial and economic differences.

“Before football, I had never like had different friends of different races,” said one football player to Canadian researchers in an interview. “And in football, everyone’s just, yeah your Jamaican kids, Somalian kids, people from Singapore, some Italians. So it really helps you learn … how to make friends, diverse friends.”

The Sports and Society program’s Tom Farrey is hopeful of movements being made to help improve the lives of low-income children such as the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Summit. “There’s a great desire for solutions in this space,” Farry said. “It’s something that government and the private sector … should be subsidizing because they all benefit.”