Day: June 2, 2017

Was Trump's Paris Exit Good Politics? – FiveThirtyEight


Was Trump's Paris Exit Good Politics? – FiveThirtyEight

Was President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement on climate change — which was condemned by Democrats and even by some former senior Republican officials and key world leaders — at least good politics for him? Perhaps. The move could help Trump reinforce his support among GOP voters and elected officials. But even if that’s the case — and we’re not sure it is — pulling out of the Paris accords has limited upside: The best Trump can hope for is probably getting back to square one.

Trump faces huge political challenges before next year’s midterm elections. Most immediately, he is weathering a health care debate that has pulled down his approval rating and shrunk his base. The GOP is pushing unpopular legislation on an issue (health care) that most voters rate as one of theirtop concerns. That’s a bad combination. Anything that distracts voters and the media from the GOP health care effort is probably a win right now.

Meanwhile, Trump is also dealing with the various scandals regarding his and his allies’ alleged ties to Russia and any improper activity they may have engaged in as a result, either during the 2016 campaign or afterward. Some congressional Democrats are already floating the idea of impeaching Trump, and the idea may be gaining momentum with voters. So given the numerous Russia investigations, Trump needs the support of Republicans on Capitol Hill to remain in office and to enact his agenda. He also needs the backing of the apparatus of the Republican Party, which is made up of media outlets like Fox News and conservative-leaning groups like the Club for Growth, because GOP members of Congress are likely to be influenced by those parts of the GOP coalition. If Fox News started bashing Trump, that would likely move House Republicans away from him.

So all those challenges could have been part of the motivation to pull out of the Paris accords, a move that he may be using simply as a high-profile attempt to shore up his base. Climate change is the type of issue that unites Republicans. Only a third of Republicans rate protecting the environment from the effects of energy production as a top priority. Polling from Gallup further indicates that 85 percent of Republicans don’t think that global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime. Education was a major dividing line in the 2016 election, but Republicans of all education levels think the effects of global warming are exaggerated. And the members of Congress and other parts of the GOP coalition who took a public stand on the Paris agreement were largely against it. So this was the safe route for Trump — one that made his key political allies happy.

Those in favor of the Paris Agreement correctly argue that “clean energy” jobs are growing, and that the coal industry is in decline, so an economic case can be made for staying in this agreement. But I wonder if they are mistaking the coal industry itself for what “coal” means in political terms. Trump has promised to bring back coal jobs. But in 2016, he was broadly campaigning on a kind of cultural nostalgia, giving speeches about restoring the days where people without college degrees could work in factories or coal mines, in jobs that were stable and relatively well-paid.

Trump is selling his Paris move in those terms. In his speech announcing the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, he said he was making this decision for people in “Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

If Trump can successfully frame this move and others (like ending U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership) as part of his “America First” policy to defend U.S. jobs and interests, this approach could help him maintain and potentially grow his base. Trump made major gains compared to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign among white voters, particularly women, who do not have college degrees and who live in small towns and rural areas in key states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. As we learned in 2016, those voters are overrepresented in states that pack an Electoral College wallop.

By making a decision that angered John Kerry, Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Germany, Trump is likely to delight say, Breitbart, the conservative website that Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon used to run.

“Promise Kept: POTUS Withdraws USA From Global Warming Deal,” read a headline on the home page of that site on Thursday evening.

That’s the optimistic scenario for Trump — pulling out of Paris helps him rally the GOP behind him and changes the subject from Russia and health care. But there’s another way this could all play out.

An overwhelming majority of Democrats (87 percent) and a clear majority of independents (61 percent) wanted the U.S. to stay in the climate agreement, according to a poll that was released in April and conducted jointly by Politico and Harvard’s School of Public Health. Overall, 62 percent of Americans wanted the U.S. to remain part of the accord (among Republicans, 56 percent favored withdrawal). A survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication concluded that a majority of Americans in every state wanted the U.S. to remain in the Paris agreement.

So in the simplest terms, Trump’s move was broadly unpopular. All else being equal, that tends to be bad politics.

It’s also possible that Trump gave a win to his base on an issue they don’t care that much about while angering the opposition on an issue they do care about. Gallup and Pew Research Center polls indicate that global warming and fighting climate change have become higher priorities for Democrats over the past year. (Although, considering the way that Democrats, both in Congress and at the grassroots level, are already contesting almost everything Trump does, it could be difficult for the opposition to get any more intense.) As we wrote earlier, if Trump’s voters view the Paris withdrawal as an economic move, he’ll likely reap some political benefit from it. If, however, it’s viewed as mostly having to do with climate change, perhaps Trump won’t see much gain with his base. Jobs, the economy and health care rate as top issues for Republicans, but climate change and the environment do not, so it’s hard to know how Trump voters would weigh the president doing something they don’t like on an issue they care a lot about (the GOP health care bill) against him doing something they do like on an issue they don’t care much about (withdrawing from Paris). Either way, Trump skipped an opportunity to potentially build some support or at least soften the intensity of his opponents’ anger.

A week ago, Trump’s approval rating was creeping down into the high 30s. Withdrawing from Paris might play well with Trump’s base, but a majority of Americans opposed the move, so Trump’s best-case scenario here may be that this gets him back into the low 40s. And that’s still not a great place to be.

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How the Natural Resources Business Is Turning into a Technology Industry – Harvard Business Review


How the Natural Resources Business Is Turning into a Technology Industry – Harvard Business Review

Executive Summary

Historically, the resources sector followed a dig-and-deliver model, where success was mainly about the size and quality of assets. For example, the oil industry depended on having the most plentiful reserves. Demand for resources grew in line with the economy and it paid to have the best and most expandable asset. But that’s no longer the case. How producers manage the resources they have is far more important than how much they have. Consider how the dynamics of demand are changing. The adoption of robotics, Internet of Things technology, and data analytics — along with macroeconomic trends and changing consumer behavior — are fundamentally transforming the way resources are consumed. Technology is enabling people to use energy more efficiently in their homes, offices, and factories. At the same time, technological innovation in transportation, the largest single user of oil, is helping to lower consumption of energy as engines become more fuel-efficient and the use of autonomous and electric vehicles grows. As a result, demand for resources is flattening out. At the McKinsey Global Institute, we modeled these trends and found that peak demand for major commodities like oil, thermal coal, and iron ore is in sight and may occur as soon as 2020 for coal and 2025 for oil.


Automated haul trucks and drilling machines are being tested in mines across the world. Sensors at the tip of drill bits are measuring ore grade in real time, and data analytics is being used to discover new deposits of precious metals. In oil and gas, underwater robots fix gas pipelines off the coast and drones inspect offshore oil rigs. Crawling well-drilling machines drill multiple wells quickly and accurately one after another. These are just some of the many ways technology is transforming the demand and supply of resources.

Historically, the resources sector followed a dig-and-deliver model, where success was mainly about the size and quality of assets. For example, the oil industry depended on having the most plentiful reserves. Demand for resources grew in line with the economy, and it paid to have the best and most expandable asset. But that’s no longer the case. How producers manage the resources they have is far more important than how much they have.

Today tech is the new oil, and it’s changing the game for producers of major commodities such as oil, coal, iron ore, natural gas, and copper. In this new commodity landscape, incumbents and attackers will race to develop viable business models, and not everyone will win.

Consider how the dynamics of demand are changing. The adoption of robotics, internet-of-things technology, and data analytics — along with macroeconomic trends and changing consumer behavior — are fundamentally transforming the way resources are consumed. Technology is enabling people to use energy more efficiently in their homes, offices, and factories. At the same time, technological innovation in transportation, the largest single user of oil, is helping to lower energy consumption as engines become more fuel efficient and the use of autonomous and electric vehicles grows.

As a result, demand for resources is flattening out. (Copper, often used in consumer electronics, is the exception.) At the McKinsey Global Institute, we modeled these trends and found that peak demand for major commodities like oil, thermal coal, and iron ore is in sight and may occur as soon as 2020 for coal and 2025 for oil. At the same time, renewable energies including solar and wind will continue to become cheaper and will play a much larger role in the global economy’s energy mix. We estimated that renewables could jump from 4% of global power generation today to as much as 36% by 2035 in our accelerated technology scenario.

According to our latest report, “Beyond the Super Cycle: How Technology Is Reshaping Resources,” less intensive use of energy and increased efficiency could potentially raise energy productivity in the global economy by 40%–70% by 2035 and unlock trillions of dollars in savings for global consumers of resources, depending on the rate of technological adoption.

Of course, a low-growth environment creates plenty of challenges for energy producers. But that’s where technology comes in. Resource producers, increasingly able to deploy a range of technologies in their operations, can access mines and wells that were once inaccessible, raise the efficiency of extraction techniques, and shift to predictive maintenance. We calculate this technological transformation of the supply of resources could unlock as much as $400 billion in productivity cost savings for producers in 2035.

Productivity-enhancing technology is already being deployed in mining operations around the world. Recent expansions in the copper industry, for example, are tapping reserves with an average ore grade of less than 1% copper, a sign of how technology can get more out of less. In another example, Rio Tinto’s mines using automation technology in the Australian Pilbara are seeing 40% increases in utilization of haul trucks, and automated drills are seeing 10%–15% improvements in utilization. In oil and gas, the most recent deep-water exploration is accessing reservoirs at depths of more than 3,000 meters, six times deeper than the deepest developments in the 1980s. And technology is being used to make the workplace safer. Statoil has developed an underwater robot system for pipeline repairs that is reducing repair times. Drones rather than people can conduct pipeline inspections and constant, real-time site surveys in oil field development.

A lot more is possible. For example, less than 1% of all data from an oil rig is used in decision making, according to our analysis. If more information was used and analyzed, that could help lower maintenance costs by moving from time-based to predictive-based maintenance routines, thus reducing the frequency of repairs and ensuring that the right repairs are done at the right time through improved diagnosis. Then there are mining-specific technologies that could enhance productivity. For low-grade ores including copper and uranium, advanced leaching techniques could increase recovery as ore grades decline. That means more copper, for instance, can be extracted even in the face of low-quality deposits. For many metals, advanced forms of crushing and grinding could result in significant improvements in recovery rates and help reduce costs such as electricity consumption.

For resource companies, particularly incumbents, navigating a future with more uncertainty and fewer sources of growth will require a focus on agility. Harnessing technology will be essential for unlocking productivity gains, but it will not be sufficient. Companies that also focus on the fundamentals — increasing throughput and driving down capital costs, spending, and labor costs — while simultaneously looking for opportunities in technology-driven areas will have an advantage.

Managing a company’s workforce will be crucial. Demand for new job classes such as data scientists, statisticians, and machine-learning specialists is already on the rise among resource producers. Within 10 years, oil and gas companies, for example, could employ more PhD-level data scientists than geologists, either in-house or through partnerships with increasingly sophisticated vendors. Meanwhile, existing roles will be redefined. For instance, the automation of repetitive technical decisions will free up engineers to focus on more-difficult analyses.

In the new technology-enabled world of resources, competition could come from anywhere, including technology leaders such as Google and Alibaba that have reached “hyperscale” in revenue, assets, customers, workers, and profits, and can move quickly into other industries. Alibaba, for example, recently started an online marketplace for crude oil tracking. To adapt to this new reality, incumbents may need to rethink what it means to be a resource producer. Size may matter less, and agility more, while future growth may come from nontraditional sources.

By harnessing new and existing technology, tomorrow’s resource leader could derive its advantage from doing more with less, moving faster, and thinking differently than in the past. While this transition won’t be easy, the rewards of greater efficiency and productivity can be great.

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Ohio GOP Senate primary heats up quickly: Ohio Politics Roundup –


Ohio GOP Senate primary heats up quickly: Ohio Politics Roundup –

The newly minted Republican Ohio Senate primary got interesting fast. Mary Taylor opens up about an issue that affects too many Ohio families. And Youngstown gets a Trump shoutout in an international policy announcement. Read more in today’s Ohio Politics Roundup, brought to you today by Andrew J. Tobias.

Well that escalated quickly: Cleveland banker Mike Gibbons jumped into the U.S. Senate race on Wednesday, setting himself up for a Republican primary with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.

Gibbons’ team on Thursday announced raising $250,000 in the first 24 hours of his candidacy, a number his campaign said does “not include any contributions or loans made by Gibbons to his own campaign.” (For comparison, Mandel’s campaign committee reported raising $550,000 over the first three months of 2017.)

“It’s clear that the people of Ohio are looking for real-world experience, not just another career politician,” Gibbons said in a statement. “The response has been overwhelming.”

Another type of response: Social conservative activists on Thursday morning said they were alarmed by a Wednesday Associated Press article that described Gibbons as economically conservative but as “pro-people” and not “dogmatic on social issues.”

“Why do you refuse to refer to yourself as a social conservative?” reads the letter, penned by Lori Viars and Janet Folger Porter, two anti-abortion activists. “This description leads us to believe that on the issue of life, you are willing to compromise, or are effectively pro-abortion.”

Gibbons clarifies: His campaign issued a statement clarifying that he supports defunding Planned Parenthood, and a federal ban on “partial-birth abortion.” He also said he would support appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion laws up to the states.

“I’m not a politician, so I don’t speak in sound bites,” reads the statement.

Trolling in the deep: A website for a pro-Gibbons Super PAC, Buckeye Battle PAC, launched alongside Gibbons’ campaign. One post said the answer to what ails Washington “isn’t to send more career politicians to Washington who have zero experience in the private sector.”

Meanwhile, a website registered to the “Ohio Freedom Fund,” a Washington, D.C.-based PAC, also went live after Gibbons declared. The site,, prominently features a Gibbons quote, reportedly from a 2013 company podcast in which Gibbons said he’d “like his son to be like Josh Mandel.” It also pointed out Gibbons is a past donor to Mandel’s campaign.

“Join Mike Gibbons and sign up to support Josh Mandel,” reads a signup prompt.

One Ohio Democrat remarked: “Josh Mandel seems like a boxer who’s been wearing his gloves working up a sweat, just waiting for someone to step in the ring so he can punch them.”

Another GOP senator endorses Mandel: Utah Sen. Mike Lee endorsed Mandel on Thursday. Lee joins Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Rob Portman and Marco Rubio as the current Republican U.S. senators who are backing Mandel.

Taylor reveals family’s addiction struggles: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, in an interview with the Dayton Daily News’ Laura Bischoff, has revealed her two adult sons have struggled with opioid addiction.

“She declined to go into specifics about the details of her sons’ drug addictions but said the family has endured failed drug rehab programs, two overdoses at home, and urgent calls for ambulances over the past five years,” Bischoff writes.

Taylor is running for governor, and Gov. John Kasich provided Bischoff with a statement of support for Taylor.

“My first piece of advice is just because a doctor gives you a prescription for anything, in this case, an opiate, a pain pill, you have to be vigilant as a parent,” Taylor said.

Trump keeps insurers guessing: Insurers in the Obamacare market have no idea how much to charge. That’s because President Donald Trump “hasn’t said whether the federal government will continue to make payments called cost-sharing reductions — next year, or even next month. And he’s hoping the uncertainty he creates drives Democrats to get on board the Obamacare repeal-and-replacement bill he backs, called the American Health Care Act,” writes’s Stephen Koff.

“If the cost-sharing reductions stop, companies will have to raise rates dramatically — if state and federal governments let them amend those rate requests — or exit the Obamacare market. Healthcare policy analysts say Trump is playing a reckless game.”          

Trump shouts out The Yo’ in Paris accord speech: In announcing his plan to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, Trump referenced a Northeast Ohio city on Thursday.

“Time to put Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” ahead of “Paris, France,” Trump said, according to reports.

In case you’re wondering: Democrat Hillary Clinton won Mahoning County, which includes Youngstown, 50 percent to 47 percent. (Although he did very well throughout the Mahoning Valley.)

Kasich’s take: Kasich issued a statement via Facebook: “Rather than withdrawing the United States from the climate agreement and relinquishing our historic role of world leadership, the Trump Administration should have worked to improve the treaty from within.”

“Let’s be clear. I wasn’t happy with the original agreement, especially in light of the Obama administration’s failure to work with Republicans in Congress on terms acceptable to both parties. But, I know that climate change is real. It is a global issue and will need a global agreement to address. And we could have negotiated that agreement in ways that would not needlessly destroy jobs.”

Gibbs draws Democratic challenger: Ken Harbaugh, a 43 year-old Avon resident with an impressive resume, announced on Thursday that he will challenge Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs, I wrote Thursday.

Harbaugh holds a Yale law degree, is a former U.S. naval pilot and taught naval history at The Citadel. He said he will resign his job as president of an international nonprofit that, similarly to the U.S. Red Cross, helps deploy military veterans as first responders in disaster zones, to focus on the race full time.

Gibbs’ District 7, a northern/central Ohio district that includes Ashland, Knox, Lorain and Stark counties, is seen as solidly Republican — Trump and Gibbs won it easily in 2016. But Democrats are hoping, along with a solid candidate, they’ll have a fighting chance there in 2018.

“I would say in a normal year, these districts would be impossible to win,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper, who said Harbaugh is indicative of the kind of candidate Democrats hope will emerge this year. “In a wave year, things happen.”

Hmmmmm: Dayton-area State Rep. Jim Butler wants to build “two new mega airports, one in place of mostly farmland, between Ravenna and I-80, and the other southwest of Columbus, near the Jefferson outlet mall at I-71 and U.S. Route 35,” writes’s Jackie Borchardt.

“Building two new airport hubs, connected to Ohio’s major cities by light rail lines, has been a dream of … Butler’s for years.”

“On Wednesday, the Dayton-area Republican introduced a bill that would form a study committee and start the planning process for the airports. He recognized his ‘big idea’ won’t likely pass in the near future. But he said it’s important to put such ideas out there for public debate.”

Bubble bursting quote: The proposal went over like a lead balloon with Joe Roman, the leader of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland’s chamber of commerce group.

“Looking at a map and seeing some areas where an airport would look cool is not a wise or viable investment,” Roman told Borchardt.

County chairs for Husted: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s gubernatorial campaign on Thursday unveiled endorsements from 35 county chairs, vice-chairs or leaders in 29 counties across the state, the Associated Press reports.

“The early display of grassroots support could be pivotal as Husted positions against a potentially crowded GOP field seeking to replace Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited,” according to the AP.

Pivotal? Maybe a little strong. But every bit helps, especially in what’s looking like a competitive election.

Utility workers go with Joe: Youngstown-area State Sen. Joe Schiavoni landed a national union endorsement for his gubernatorial bid.

As I reported Thursday, the Utility Workers Union of America, which endorsed Schiavoni, is relatively small, but represents thousands of power-plant and other utility workers across the state, “including in rural areas along the Ohio River like Adams County and Jefferson County, where struggling coal-fired power plants are key employers, and where voters backed President Donald Trump by huge margins.”

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