Panel Says U.S. Not Ready for Inevitable Arctic Oil Spill

first_imgAs eagerness to explore the Arctic’s oil and gas resources grows, the threat of a major Arctic oil spill looms ever larger—and the United States has a lot of work to do to prepare for that inevitability, a panel convened by the National Research Council (NRC) declares in a report released today. The committee, made up of members of academia and industry, recommended beefing up forecasting systems for ocean and ice conditions, infrastructure for supply chains for people and equipment to respond, field research on the behavior of oil in the Arctic environment, and other strategies to prepare for a significant spill in the harsh conditions of the Arctic.The report “identifies the different pieces that need to come together” to have a chance at an effective oil spill response, says Martha Grabowski, a researcher in information systems at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and chair of the NRC committee.Even in the absence of oil and gas exploration, the Arctic’s rapidly intensifying traffic—whether from barges, research ships, oil tankers, or passenger cruises—makes oil spills increasingly likely. So “the committee felt some urgency” about the issue, says geologist Mark Myers, vice chancellor for research at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The report, sponsored by 10 organizations ranging from the American Petroleum Institute to the Marine Mammal Commission, focused primarily on the United States’ territorial waters north of the Bering Strait, including the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Cleaning up oil in the Arctic is particularly tricky for a number of reasons, the committee notes. The extreme weather conditions are one problem. The lack of many kinds of data—high-resolution topography and bathymetry along the coasts; measurements of ice cover and thickness; distributions in space and time of the region’s fish, birds, and marine mammals—is another. And if an emergency happens, there’s no infrastructure in place—no consistent U.S. Coast Guard presence and no reliable supply chains to support a rapid response.On top of that, there is little real-world information about how the Arctic’s own oil (rather than an amalgam from an oil pipeline, as is now tested) will behave in the Arctic’s heavily stratified water column, which could prevent deep spills from reaching the surface. Then there’s the lingering question of how effective chemical dispersants or oil-munching microbes are in the frigid Arctic environment. And virtually nothing is known about how oil and sea ice will interact. “Ice really changes everything,” Myers says. Some oil might make its way into the ice, only to later become liquid again when the ice melts; some might remain trapped beneath it, moving with the ice—or possibly not. “We have very few observations of the under-ice environment,” he says.The report calls for upgrading oil spill response infrastructure, additional studies, and more coordination between agencies, industry, academia, and other Arctic nations. Grabowski also emphasized the need for standardization—of data collection and sharing, of oil spill exercises and responses.Who would coordinate all of this and who would pay for it remain unsettled questions. Grabowski notes that she and her panel members recommend public-private partnerships, interagency coordination, and working with, for example, local communities to develop trained response teams in local villages. “But in terms of an overall framework,” she says, “I think that that is a wide-open question. And obviously connected to that is a resource question. We can identify lots of ideas for a framework but without adequate resources that causes a real difficulty.”Still, amid the flurry of Arctic-related reports that have papered Washington, D.C., in the last few years, the committee hopes its recommendations will stick. By digging “deep into the science,” Myers says, “we felt it was going to be a good authoritative source which people can use to help make decisions.”“This is a study that’s both broad and deep,” Grabowski adds. “In terms of whether anyone picks this up and runs with it—that’s another step.”last_img read more

3 Things You Might Have Missed in February’s Jobs Report

first_imgAs one of the largest resources to find jobs in the U.S., Glassdoor is becoming more closely aligned to the underlying U.S. job market and the broader global economy. And our community of job seekers, employees and employers are interested in staying on top of trends in today’s economy—and that means making sense of the latest job market numbers.Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its February jobs report. As expected, it was another strong jobs report, with big gains in jobs and yet another drop in the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent. Here are three things job seekers and hiring managers should take away from today’s report:#1. More Signs of a Strong and Growing Job MarketAll indicators point to the strongest job market in a generation. The economy has added an average of 275,000 new jobs per month over the last 12 months. The last time that happened was way back in March, 2000. We’re finally escaping the long shadow of the 2007-09 “Great Recession,” and this is the best time in a decade to be looking for a new or better job.Most economists agree that 5 percent unemployment is a sign of a healthy and sustainable job market. The official rate (known as “U3” by economists) fell to 5.5 percent in February. That’s dramatically down from 10 percent at the end of the last recession six years ago. There’s still room for improvement, but the drivers’ seat in today’s job market is clearly shifting from employers to job seekers.For workers who aren’t in an ideal career position, now is the best time in a decade to start job searching. For employers facing increasing competition for great candidates, now’s time to shore up your employment brand and start getting creative about attracting talent for open positions.#2. Sidelined Workers Are Starting to Get Back into the Job MarketOne of the hallmarks of the last recession was the huge number of workers who were sidelined, stuck in part-time jobs or dropping out of the labor force entirely. There are around 6.5 million workers not in the labor force who say they want a job. That’s up from around 4.5 million in normal times.Thankfully, we’re now starting to see evidence that these workers are starting to re-join the labor force—great news for those concerned that today’s job market prosperity isn’t being widely shared. Two key figures to watch from the BLS are the “labor force participation rate” and a broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged and other sidelined workers known as “U6” by economists.In February, the labor force participation rate essentially held steady at 62.8 percent, down only 0.1 percent from last month. It has been on a long, secular decline in recent years due to retiring Baby Boomers leaving the job market, but a steady rate suggests rejoining of sidelined workers is helping offset that decline. Also, the broader “U6” unemployment rate fell sharply to 11.0 percent in February, down from 11.3 percent the month before. That’s historically still high, but the decline is a sign that many discouraged workers are finally rejoining the U.S. labor market.#3. Wages Are Still Growing – SlowlyIn a normal year, wages should be growing at around 3 to 4 percent per year. The last few years have been anything but normal, with wage growth lagging far behind the norm at around 2 percent a year. The new February numbers confirm this trend, with average hourly earnings growing only 2.0 percent from a year ago to $24.78 per hour.Following the recent move by Walmart, T.J. Maxx and other retailers to boost wages for retail workers, most economists expect to see stronger wage growth soon. Wages have been on the upswing in food service and retail, and employees are expecting more. In fact, in a recent Glassdoor survey, we found one-third of workers report they’ll look for new jobs if they don’t get a raise this year.What to Watch for Next Month: As labor markets tighten, watch for a return to 2.5 – 3.0 percent annual growth in average hourly earnings. However, economists teach that worker productivity, not just a tight labor market, is what drives wages in the long run. Productivity is down sharply for U.S. workers since the 1990s, growing at just 1.7 percent per year today compared to 4 percent in past decades. Until productivity turns around, we shouldn’t expect rapid or sustained growth in America’s paychecks.last_img read more

IBM is tackling artificial intelligence in its lat

first_imgIBM is tackling artificial intelligence in its latest endeavor. The company announced a partnership with the reactive application development provider Lightbend to advance the development of artificial intelligence and cognitive solutions. Together, the companies will work to create a new solution for building and deploying AI and cognitive apps on premises and in the cloud. The solution will target Java and Scala developers. According to IBM, more developers are using Scala today because of its data streaming capabilities and ability to scale. In addition, IBM notes frameworks such as Spark, Kafka and Akka are written in Scala.  Lightbend’s reactive platform features reactive programming, data and microservice capabilities. These capabilities will be integrated across IBM’s cloud platform and portfolio of cloud services. “We believe the use of the Lightbend Reactive Platform is essential to building today’s modern infrastructures.  Lightbend represents IBM’s continuous commitment to the Java and Scala communities. Java and Scala are the languages of cognitive and AI development, and cognitive development is the future.  The collaboration between IBM and Lightbend can help enterprise developers build cognitive applications and accelerate the era of cognitive computing,” according to the company. The new solution will include new code, tools and documentations for building apps on Lightbend’s reactive platform. In addition, it is expected to feature integration with IBM’s app management services, Watson, data analytics, IoT, DevOps, and cognitive intelligence solutions.“Working with IBM on an integrated platform for cognitive development is a natural progression of our work to support advanced cognitive application development. As one of the leaders in cognitive/AI, IBM brings important code and tools to our customers and the Java and Scala communities,” said Mark Brewer, president and CEO, Lightbend. “IBM’s support of Lightbend and the Reactive Platform is a validation of where we think cognitive development is going and what is required by the developers building that future.”last_img read more