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Category Archives: Resource Based Economy

The future of WA’s economy: Life beyond mining – WAtoday

Posted: February 26, 2017 at 11:12 pm

What do Dubai, Houston and Edmonton all have in common?

These cities in the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Canada all once faced the same problem Perth has right now – shifting their economiesaway from relying so heavily on resources.

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WA Premier Colin Barnett takes an evening stroll with WAtoday Political Journalist Brendan Foster and discusses the issues heading into the State Election.

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A man who was bashed trying to stop gate-crashers from storming a school ball after-party remains critically injured in hospital this morning. Vision: Today Perth News.

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Superstar Adele has hit Perth and we’re being warned to expect a commuter nightmare as fans make their way to Domain Stadium on Tuesday night. Vision: Today Perth News.

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Ben Cousins has been refused bail after facing court on a range of charges. Audio:6PR

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The derby in Geraldton has sold out! It will be the first time people can see Sam Mitchell play in the blue and gold. Vision: Today Perth News.

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Ben Cousins is due to face court on a string of charges after being arrested by Armadale Detectives. Audio:6PR.

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Scarborough Beach is undergoing a $101 million dollar facelift, set to transform the coastal suburb into one of Australia’s best beachfront destinations. Vision: Nine News Perth.

WA Premier Colin Barnett takes an evening stroll with WAtoday Political Journalist Brendan Foster and discusses the issues heading into the State Election.

In their case it was oil and gas: Dubai invested in airlines, tourism and luxury retail, Houston focussed on medicine, education and aeronauticswhile Edmonton homed in on technology, becoming one of the largest producers of video games on the planet.

Resources arevital to these cities’ economies. But through diversifying their plays in otherindustries these placesare now better insulated from the boom and bust cycle that continues to define WA’s economy.

Crime, roads, health, transport, infrastructure;there’s a huge list ofworthy issues both side of politics are focusing on as they scramble to winvotes ahead of the looming state election.

But the economy is the fundamentalissue for WA – and whoeverwins the day on March 11will inherit acomplex economic riddle and be tasked – even foreverdefined – with how theyaddress it.

Can WA move beyondbeing a mining state?Photo: Brendon Thorne

This week WAtoday will explore fivesectors of the WA economy that could grow and be our future if they are given the right backing- tourism, the arts, technology, education and agriculture.

These are already important economic sectors, but they are not WA’s focus. Mining is.

So to find out how WA canpivot from boom and bust to something a bit steadier, we’ll be speaking with leaders of WA’s otherindustries to find out what they want and what they needto prosper whether the Liberals or Labor are at the helm.

But first, let’s take a look at where WA’s economy is at right now…

The state of play for WA in 2017

“It was like being on a fantastic fairground ride, centrifugal forces throwing us wider and wider. Now imagine the machine breaks. For a while, it’s even better, because you’re really flying; but then, you’re f—-d, because nobody beats gravity.”

These lines from the movie 24 Hour Party People describe the rise and fall of the 1990s ‘Madchester’music scene – but theymay as well be describing WA’s economy right now.

We all know that WA has been supercharged by the resources boom, and we all know that the good times are coming to an end. The signs are all around us, from the industrial zones of Wangarato the glass towers of St George’s Terrace.

The mining sector has shed thousands ofjobs and justentered its second consecutive period of contraction. Perth’sCBD has gone from hosting the head offices of 45iron ore mining companies in 2012 to just 18 in 2017, andvacancy rates are at25.2 per cent- a 25-year peak.

WA’s unemployment rate is the worst in the nation at 6.5 per cent, and the resource royalties hitting the state’s coffers totalled $4.6 billion in 201516, a decline of 21 per cent on 201415 brought about by falling commodity prices.

Perth’s CBD is changing fast. Photo: Philip Gostelow

Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre’s 2016 report called this ‘the new normal,’ where under-employment is rising and growth is stagnating.

But Damian Stone from the independentfirm Y Research sees opportunity in this decline.He quite literally has his finger on the pulse of Perth – his firm goes door to door to find out which businesses aredoing what where, and produces detailed reports on business trends in WA.

From what he’s seeing first hand, Mr Stone reckons the crunch is coming sooner than we’d like to think.

“2017 marks the end of the construction boom, including Gorgon, the largest resources project ever in Australia,” he said.

“This process will accelerate in 2017 as WA moves on from the “resources boom” and starts to transition to a more diverse, resilient economy based around the evolution of the resources sector and WA’s emerging economic drivers.

“Inaction will lead to economic stagnation as we await the next round of investment in resources projects. If we wait until the next investment boom commences it will be too late to adjust. 2017 is the time to move forward.”

Looking to the future of WA’s economy

There’s widespread consensus that diversifying the economy throughsectors like tourism and agriculture is the way ahead, but the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre’sresearch showsthese sectors barely make a dent right now.

Agriculture contributed less than two per cent to the state’s output in 2015; tourism-related industries 4.9 per cent.

Mining, by comparison, made up 37 per cent and remainedthe sixth-biggest employer.

So it’s a conundrum – mining is still the cornerstone of WA’s economy, but it’s shedding jobs, slowing down and offers no guarantee of long term stability.

Y Research’s Damian Stone reckons WA needs to take a deep breath and ask this question -what do we want to be?

“Mining will always be there. But beyond that, are we a tourismhub? The new food bowl of Asia? The boarding school of the region? The new Silicon Valley of technology start ups?

“Once we determine our place in the world, the government and private sector need to work together. What can we learn from international resources cities, is that government assistance and leadership is required from the federal to the local level with a co-ordination of effort.

“Support can range from innovation funds, payroll tax exemptions, cutting red tape, international marketing, investment tours etc. As countries around the world look to close their borders, we need to be open to the world.”

WA has much more to offer than just iron ore and gold.

The resources boom may be fading, but according to Mr Stone, it’s left us things can be capitalised on if we move quickly.

“The resources boom has left a significant legacy for our state beyond Elizabeth Quay, Fiona Stanley Hospital, the new, redeveloped Perth Airport and the Burswood Football Stadium.

“The real legacy of this current boom is a larger population with significantly higher incomes compared to 2004. Combined with record growth in property development in metropolitan and regional areas, Perth will be better prepared for the next boom than it was for the last.”

Time and tide wait for no one

President Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff Rahm Emanual famously said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Just as the mining boom was an unprecedented economic opportunity for WA to grow, so too is the slow down.

So let’s start the conversation.

On Tuesday WAtoday willlook at WA’s tourism sectorand see how sharing our state’s wonders could pay the bills, now and far into the future.

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Steve Robitaille: Removing Rodman dam would boost economy – Ocala

Posted: at 11:12 pm

By Steve RobitailleSpecial to the Star-Banner

As president of Florida Defenders of the Environment, whose history includes stopping the completion of the Cross Florida Barge Canal and advocating for restoration of a free-flowing Ocklawaha River, I am no doubt identified as someone inherently hostile to bass-fishing interests and tournaments at the Rodman dam pool.

As someone who likes to fish and who recently took his sons for a fishing adventure in the Everglades, I would like to clear up some misconceptions as to why I wish to set the Ocklawaha free again.

First, I want to see a return to the greater numbers and diversity of fish species that were once available in the river. There is a great photo of the late Lester Teuton, who was baptized on the Ocklawaha. Hes holding a string of fish the likes and size of which had virtually disappeared by the time he died in 2014 at age 95.

I know there is considerable satisfaction in pulling a prize-winning largemouth bass out of the Rodman pool. But I know trophy bass are being caught in the St. Johns River. It just seems wrong to deny folks up and down the Ocklawaha the opportunity for a good catch in return for the impoundment of a single species of trophy fish.

I know the annual Rodman fishing tournament has long been associated with a boost in the local economy, but a drive through neighboring Palatka and Putnam County reveals that the economic vitality of the region still suffers. It is in need of a more diversified ecotourism industry.

Paddle-boats once took tourists up the river to Silver Springs. Visitors fell under the spell of manatees, teeming pools of large fish and a crystal-clear Silver Springs. Now only the rare manatee gets past the dam, unable to find the warm springs they counted on for survival and that are now submerged except when draw-downs occur. And Silver Springs, the jewel of Floridas natural wonders, now suffers from reduced flow. Where once black clouds of fish were seen suspended in the crystal-clear depths below, their diminished numbers now swim in a cloudy, algae-choked spring.

A survey that the University of Florida food and resource economics department is conducting suggests the promise that a restored river would significantly increase the numbers of canoe and kayak paddlers. Pontoon-boat tours would replace the tourist steamboats of years gone by, and hikers, bikers, birders and myriad other outdoor recreationalists would be attracted to the region and support an ever-expanding number of businesses who would cater to their needs.

Millennials hold the promise to a revitalized recreationally based economy in Putnam County (not to mention Marion County) and along the Ocklawaha watershed. They like to fish, too, but are more likely to be found in a kayak than in a bass boat. Their increased numbers are also likely to spend more money at local businesses.

Finally, if youve been watching the news, dams have a way of wreaking havoc on the watersheds they are intended to manage. For example, the Orville Dam near Sacramento, California, is experiencing serious engineering problems with age. Dams are expensive to maintain and upset the natural ecology everywhere they have been constructed. The days of dams are numbered. Between 1915 and 1975, 46 dams in the U.S. came down. Between 1976 and 2014, that number jumped to 1,040. Not a single dam was built after 2014.

A dam was removed on the Suwannee River near the Florida border after upsetting the pattern of natural fires and the hydrologic health of the Okefenokee Swamp. The use of structural water control has nearly destroyed the Florida Everglades and will cost taxpayers billions of dollars in wetlands restoration.

The clock on the Rodman dam is ticking, and the inevitable cost of needed upkeep and repairs will not be covered by proceeds from bass fishing tournaments. Also lost to the people of Florida is a large amount of freshwater that evaporates every day the Rodman pool remains in place. With freshwater supplies ever more strained in North Florida, a net loss of 5 million to 10 million gallons per day for the sole purpose of fishing is an extravagance we can no longer afford. Its simply not in the public interest of the people in our region.

So lets find a better location for a bass-fishing tournament in Putnam County. There are potential locations along the St. Johns and Ocklawaha where some of the largest bass have been caught, and not at the expense of damming the states most unique river.

Florida Defenders of the Environment is committed to working with area residents, businesses and community organizations to tell our elected representatives that money misspent on barge canals and dams would now be better invested in the flow of green ecotourism dollars that a free-flowing Ocklawaha would help release.

Steve Robitaille lives in Gainesville and is president of Florida Defenders of the Environment.

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Economic growth projected for Saskatchewan in 2017 | Regina … – Regina Leader-Post

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm

A Crescent Point production operation.

The Conference Board of Canada is predicting Saskatchewans economy will be back in the black in 2017.

Thats good news for Minister of Energy and Resources Dustin Duncan.

These are positive signs, said Duncan. But we still are trying to find a way to fill basically $1.2 billion in resource revenue evaporated in a couple of years, so its not going to be overnight that those numbers return to where they were.

The report from the Ottawa-based not-for-profit think tank forecasts Saskatchewans gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2017 at 0.9 per cent, as the oil industry turns around.

The oil rebound will most help Alberta, which is projected to have the strongest growth among the provinces at 2.8 per cent 0.4 per cent due to continued rebuilding in Fort McMurray.

Albertas economy has been more heavily impacted by the oil decline, though: Its GDP dropped four per cent in 2015; Saskatchewans dropped 1.4 per cent.

Although GDP numbers for 2016 are not yet available, last years CBOC winter report projected Saskatchewans GDP would grow 0.7 per cent, while Albertas would shrink 1.1 per cent.

Oil will not be a godsend for years to come, according to Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director of the CBOC Provincial Forecast.

We expect more subdued economic growth next year as oil prices are not expected to increase very much, Bernard said in a statement.

But Duncan foresees good things to come, as he said several companies have already made major investment announcements, including Crescent Point Energy, which will spend 80 per cent of its $1.1-billion capital investment in this province.

But he remains concerned about a federally imposed carbon tax.

We are largely a resource-based economy, and a carbon-intense economy, so were still concerned about that, he said.

CBOC predicts Saskatchewan will still be challenged by global prices of potash and uranium.

Duncan said the government will continue to work to try to expand markets and increase sales of both potash and uranium.

CBOC reports a net 1,804 jobs will be created this year, but it will not be enough to prop up disposable income. Further, the struggling retail sector will not find relief as a result, since household spending will be modest.

Duncan said Saskatchewans retail and manufacturing jobs have led the country.

Saskatchewans projected growth outranks only Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The latter economy is the only one expected to shrink, with unemployment projected to rise to 15.5 per cent.

Manitoba can expect 1.9-per-cent growth, with strong manufacturing, transportation and insurance sectors.

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Event promotes innovation and technology expansion – News – Castlegar News

Posted: at 6:22 pm

Shirley Vickers, President & CEO, BC Innovation Council.

image credit: Submitted

The BC Innovation Council (BCIC) was in Castlegar last week as part of their Regional Innovation Opportunities tour encouraging local companies and individuals to delve into the innovation and technology sector.

According to BCIC the initiative is intended to bring business and local tech companies together and spark further innovation and job growth in our regional economies.

The instructional and networking event promoted the idea that communities and businesses in the Interior can join in the new job economy through technology and innovation. Representatives from several companies from Kamloops were on hand to share how their companies had grown through introducing innovation and technology aspects to their businesses.

You can do the same type of thing in small towns like Castlegar, Nelson and Trail, said Castlegar Councillor Arry Dhillon, who attended the event.

The group was given examples of some challenges that large corporations are trying to overcome and encouraged that solutions could come from anywhere.

The point of the event was to spark discussion around innovation and how that can be brought into regions like ours, explained Dhillon. He thinks the ideas presented are a step in the right direction as we see resource-based economies faltering and tech-based sectors driving the future.

The tour is visiting seven cities with stops in Terrace, Kelowna and Nanaimo still to come in the next few weeks. BCIC is a Crown Agency of the Province of British Columbia. Locally BCIC is one of the funding partners for the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology.

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Energy as a Model for US-Mexico Economic Partnership – RealClearEnergy

Posted: at 6:22 pm

Fresh off a visit to Europe to discuss global hot spots with G-20 partners, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now attending to another important relationship simmering much closer to home.

His meetings this week with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and his cabinet, alongside U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, spanned a broad agenda from border security to law enforcement to trade. The latter has certainly galvanized public sentiments on both sides of the border. Feisty rhetoric of walls, tariffs and win-lose trade deals risk driving a wedge in the bilateral relationship.

Tillerson was tapped to be Americas top diplomat in large part for his acumen working with foreign governments to advance strategic interests and establish long-term commercial ties experience honed while heading one of the worlds largest energy companies. Those same skills will be needed as the U.S. reevaluates its trade relations with Mexico.

Change of some sort is likely and implementing it is bound to be complex. While discussions will necessarily drill down to the brass tacks, it is important to keep in mind a top line message that the U.S. and Mexico have and will continue to gain from their interconnected economies.

Fittingly, Tillersons former industry epitomizes the type of deep economic integration between the U.S. and Mexico that businesses in both countries are keen to preserve. If youre searching for common ground to defend economic openness in a future trade agreement, look no further than the mutual gains from the U.S. and Mexicos interconnected energy trade.

Energy is indelibly an industry based on trade. The free movement of labor, equipment, and commodities allow for resources in one country to be put to productive use in another.

This interaction is firmly embedded between the U.S. and Mexico. Every day, Mexico exports roughly 688,000 barrels of crude oil to the U.S. The U.S., meanwhile, sends a similar volume of refined petroleum products to Mexico each day. Approximately half of Mexicos gasoline imports come from the U.S.

The linkages are further entrenched when it comes to natural gas. The U.S. exports about 3 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) of natural gas to Mexico. These flows are mainly one-way from the U.S. to Mexico, but absent a southern outlet, the glut of supply would put downward pressure on U.S. natural gas prices and hurt domestic producers.

The industry that goes into Mexican bi-lateral energy trade is also a major source of jobs in the U.S. In Texas, the nations top hydrocarbon-producing state, the oil and gas industry is responsible for nearly two million jobs, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute. In Pennsylvania, the second largest natural gas-producing state, the industry accounts for almost 340,000 jobs.

But its future planning that reveals just how tightly interdependent the U.S. and Mexico are on the energy front.

Mexico is banking on the sustained boom in U.S. shale gas production for its energy infrastructure expansions. Over the past five years, natural gas pipeline capacity between the U.S. and Mexico has nearly doubled from approximately 3.7 bcf/d in 2011 to 7.2 bcf/d in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. That capacity is expected to again double by 2018 to more than 14 bcf/d.

In turn, Mexico is expanding its domestic pipeline network to accommodate greater U.S. natural gas based on its energy ministrys current five-year plan. Some 3,300 miles of new gas pipelines are planned or under construction in Mexico, mainly to support its power sector.

Likewise, U.S. companies have placed long-term bets on developing natural resources in Mexico. U.S. oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron were among the international investors who paid large sums in December to lease acreage in Mexicos deepwater portion of the Gulf of Mexico. Those investments came despite the sustained slump in oil prices that has tightened budgets across the entire global energy industry.

Their long-term commitments are capitalizing on Mexicos historic reforms to liberalize its energy industry and other key sectors of its economy. Mexicos national hydrocarbons agency is currently finalizing rules to auction off unconventional gas blocks, a process that could garner interest from similar mid-sized operators that unleashed the shale revolution in the U.S. Whether deepwater or onshore, the ability to develop energy resources cost-efficiently depends partially on the competitive pricing of goods and services that are traded across the border.

The energy industry is uniquely dependent on trade. Investments must be made where the resources are located. Goods and services must then flow to develop them. In this regard, the energy supplies and demands of the U.S. and Mexico have benefitted each other enormously. But the same principles of open economies for efficient resource management can be also applied to any number of industries.

Revisions to U.S.-Mexico trade relations will necessarily veer towards the technical if and when they arise. Potential negotiations would be well-served if they are underpinned from the start by visions of integration and opportunities rather than deficits and losses. The energy industry is an obvious pillar for future economic cooperation.

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Science and Technology: Minister says FG will harness natural … – Pulse Nigeria

Posted: at 6:22 pm

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, said that the Federal Government would redirect its energy to harness natural resources to bridge technology gaps in the country.

The Chief Secretary to the Minister, Mr Taye Akinyemi, in a statement quoted on Friday in Abuja, quoted Onu as saying making the remark when he received the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Jigawa State,Hajiya Rabi Eshaq.

According to him, the ministry will utilise natural resources to enable diversification of the economy to yield better results.

The minister called for synergy between the Federal Government and the state governors to convert natural resources of the country to diversify the economy, create jobs and wealth for all.

Onu said that the ministry would intensify efforts to move Nigeria from a resource-based to a knowledge and innovation-driven economy.

He pledged to support science and technology initiatives in the in the country for national development.

He said that the ministry would assist education institutions by distributing science equipment to secondary and tertiary institutions to encourage students to embrace science and technology early in life.

Onu said that the ministry would continue to strive to ensure that the country produced most of its technology needs locally.

The commissioner had told the minister that the aim of her was to establish a better relationship between the ministry and her state in the area of science and technology.

This is with a view to expanding the scope of science and technology in Jigawa state,Eshaqsaid.

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Government of Myanmar unveils new plan to protect marine wildlife and resources – Phys.Org

Posted: at 6:22 pm

February 24, 2017

The Government of Myanmar and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) announced today a comprehensive plan to protect the country’s diverse fisheries and marine lifeincluding dolphins, sea turtles, and other speciesand other marine resources.

The plan titled “Marine Spatial Planning for Myanmar: Strategic Advice for Securing a Sustainable Ocean Economy” was unveiled at this week’s World Ocean Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Sponsored by The Economist, the event (Feb. 22-24) provides marine experts and decision-makers with a forum for examining and promoting sustainable uses of the oceans and marine resources.

The new marine spatial planning strategy was produced by Myanmar’s Department of Fisheries, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, with technical guidance from WCS, University of Exeter and Pyoe Pin (a program that provides assistance to democratic and accountable governance). The strategy’s central goal is to provide decision-makers with a reliable road map for ocean space management and to create the conditions needed for economic and ecological sustainability and prosperity.

“The Union of the Republic of Myanmar is focused on balancing natural resource use across all production sectors, while providing investment opportunities, and economic prosperity for its people. We believe this strategy provides us with a robust structure through which to develop this goal and our ocean economy,” said U Hla Kyaw, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (Department of Fisheries). “Our aim is to work with public and private partners to bring this vision to life for the people of Myanmar.”

“The Pyoe Pin program has been working to support different key actors to work together to create a model of good governance across Myanmar’s coastal states and regions, such that the enabling conditions for co-managing marine fisheries resources now exists,” said U Aung Kyaw Thein, Strategic Advisor to Pyoe Pin. “Adopting area based management will ensure that our fisheries and marine resources are secure, and also drive upward flows of economic and social benefits to small-scale fishers.”

As mainland Southeast Asia’s largest country, Myanmar boasts a vast marine region covering some 486,000 square kilometers, most of which is currently unprotected. The country’s extensive coastal areas provide vital habitats for species such as the finless porpoise, several species of sea turtle, and the dugong (a relative of the manatee).

The waters of Myanmar also contribute significantly to the country’s economy and provide livelihoods for an estimated 1.4 million inshore and offshore fishers. Local and commercial fisheries also provide protein for millions, but illegal fishing has decimated local fish populations and could put the country’s food security at risk if not regulated. The country’s sovereign waters are also being explored for coastal development (tourism, ports) opportunities and gas reserves.

“Myanmar is a country undergoing great change as its engagement with the international community increases,” said Martin Callow, Advisor to WCS’s Myanmar Marine Conservation Program. “At the same time, the country’s irreplaceable marine heritage is at risk from this new spirit of openness. The new marine spatial planning strategy fills an urgent need to understand current and future marine resource use and how these activities can be combined into a coordinated plan for a sustainable ocean economy.”

“Our new National Coastal and Marine Resources Management Committee is fully supportive of this marine spatial planning strategy and, this committee, chaired by the Vice President and supported by respective coastal Chief Ministers, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, and the Navy, look forward to working with partners to enable the development of our sustainable ocean economy”, said U Khin Maung Yi, Permanent Secretary of MONREC.

The strategy is a multi-faceted initiative featuring a number of programs focused on: building consensus and developing capacity; developing institutional arrangements; and strengthening data knowledge on marine life, resources, and the scale and scope of various extractive activities such as gas exploration and commercial fishing.

Myanmar representatives and scientific collaborators also announced the publication of a supporting documentthe “Myanmar Marine Biodiversity Atlas”which will provide natural resource managers with a foundation of spatial data for directing management strategies. Specifically, the atlas contains a comprehensive overview of the country’s marine environment, it oceanographic characteristics, and the distribution of its abundant marine life. The atlas and strategy will be used in tandem to devise strategic approaches to support sustainable fisheries, and to establish a balance between marine conservation and marine protected area creation with ocean-based industries.

“It has been a great privilege to develop with partners a resource that can be used in future marine spatial planning activities”, said Dr. Matthew Witt from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute. “We hope the atlas will help guide discussions and decision support around sustainable use of Myanmar’s coastal and offshore environments, upon which many are dependent for food, employment and biodiversity services”

“We commend the Government of Myanmar for taking the first crucial steps needed to protect its marine resources for future generations with this new strategy,” said Jason Patlis, Executive Director for WCS’s Marine Conservation Program. “As evidenced in this first-ever marine atlas, Myanmar’s waters play a critical role for the health of the global ocean, and the Government’s efforts will benefit not only its own citizens, but the region and the world.”

Explore further: How China is poised for marine fisheries reform

More information:

As global fish stocks continue sinking to alarmingly low levels, a joint study by marine fisheries experts from within and outside of China concluded that the country’s most recent fisheries conservation plan can achieve …

The proposed establishment of a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Myeik archipelago has received enthusiastic support by participants in a workshop held recently in Myanmar’s Tanintharyi region.

The designation of Meinmahala Kyun as a Wetland of International Importance protects the last wildlife refuge in the Irrawaddy delta, which once supported the largest area of estuary mangroves in mainland Southeast Asia

Fishers in Central Africa often cover hundreds of miles in very basic boats without engines searching for food to feed their families and make a living, a new study shows.

For the first time, Smithsonian researchers and collaborators have designed a marine reserve network to protect species threatened by overfishing while boosting fishing yields on nearby fishing grounds, resolving a long-standing …

As ocean conditions continue to change, putting ocean ecosystems and the communities that rely upon them at risk, today, NOAA took a first step in providing regional fisheries managers and stakeholders with information they …

Bioengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a new tool to identify interactions between RNA and DNA molecules. The tool, called MARGI (Mapping RNA Genome Interactions), is the first technology that’s …

Small “bubbles” frequently form on membranes of cells and are taken up into their interior. The process involves EHD proteins – a focus of research by Prof. Oliver Daumke of the MDC. He and his team have now shed light on …

Scientists from The University of Western Australia have identified a tiny mutation in plants that can influence how well a plant recovers from stressful conditions, and ultimately impact a plant’s survival.

The first skirmish was fought last week in what could be a long war over a revolutionary patent on gene-editing technology, with colossal amounts of money at stake.

The last Neanderthal died 40,000 years ago, but much of their genome lives on, in bits and pieces, through modern humans. The impact of Neanderthals’ genetic contribution has been uncertain: Do these snippets affect our genome’s …

Nearly 10 years after a “doomsday” seed vault opened on an Arctic island, some 50,000 new samples from seed collections around the world have been deposited in the world’s largest repository built to safeguard against wars …

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The Venus Project Plans to Bring Humanity to the Next Stage of Social Evolution. Here’s How. – Futurism

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Since1975, Roxanne Meadows has worked with renowned futurist Jacque Fresco to develop and promote The Venus Project. The function of this project is to find alternative solutions to the many problems that confront the world today. She participated in the exterior and interior design and construction of the buildings of The Venus Projects 21-acre research and planning center.

Daniel Araya: Roxanne, could you tell me about your background and your vision for The Venus Project? How was the idea originally conceived?

Roxanne Meadows: My background is in architectural and technical illustration, model making, and design. However, for the last 41 years, my most significant work has been with Jacque Fresco in developing models, books, blueprints, drawings, documentaries and lecturing worldwide. We are the co-founders of The Venus Project, based out of Venus, Florida where we have built a 21-acre experimental center. The Venus Project is the culmination of Jacque Frescos lifes work to present a sustainable redesign of our culture.

In our view, The Venus Project is unlike any political, economic or social system thats gone before it. It lays out a sustainable world civilization where technology and the methods of science are applied to redesigning our social system with the prime concern being to maximize quality of life rather than profit. All aspects of society are scrutinized from our values, education, and urban design to how we relate to nature and to one another.

The Venus Project concludes that our social and environmental problems will remain the same as long as the monetary system prevails and a few powerful nations and financial interests maintain control over and consume most of the worlds resources. In Jacque Frescos book The Best That Money Cant Buy, he explains If we really wish to put an end to our ongoing international and social problems, we must ultimately declare Earth and all of its resources as the common heritage of all of the worlds people. Anything less will result in the same catalogue of problems we have today.

DA: One of the more interesting aspects of The Venus Project vision is its futuristic design. Have you been approached by companies or governments interested in using The Venus Project as a model? Do you foresee experiments in smart urban design that mirror Jacque Frescos thinking?

RM: No company or government, as yet, has approached The Venus Project to initiate a model of our city design, but we feel the greatest need is in using our designs to usher in a holistic socio-economic alternative, not just our architectural approach itself. As Jacque very often mentions, Technology is just so much junk, unless its used to elevate all people.

We would like to build the firstcircular city devoted to developing up-to-date global resource management, and a holistic method for social operation toward global unification. The city would showcase this optimistic vision, allowing people to see firsthand what kind of future could be built if we were to mobilize science and technology for social betterment.

I have not seen what is called smart urban design mirror Jacque Frescos thinking. I see smart cities as mainly applying technology to existing and new but chaotically designed, energy- and resource-intensive cities without offering a comprehensive social direction or identifying the root causes of our current problems. Our technology is racing forward but our social designs are hundreds of years old. We cant continue to design and maintain these resource- and energy-draining cities and ever consider being able to provide for the needs of all people to ensure that they have high-quality housing, food, medical care and education. Smart cities within a terribly dysfunctional social structure seem contradictory to me.

DA: My understanding is that technological automation forms the basis for The Venus Project. Given ongoing breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics, do you imagine that we are moving closer to this vision?

RM: Our technological capacity to initiate The Venus Project is available now, but how we use artificial intelligence today is very often for destructive purposes through weaponry, surveillance, and the competitive edge for industry, often resulting in technological unemployment. In the society we are proposing, nothing is to be gained from these behaviors because there is no vested interest. In our project, we advocate concentrating on solving problems that threaten all of us climate change, pollution, disease, hunger, war, territorial disputes, and the like. What The Venus Project offers is a method of updating the design of our society so that everyone can benefit from all the amenities that a highly advanced technologically-developed society can provide.

DA: I know The Venus Project is envisioned as a post-capitalist and post-scarcity economy. Could you explain what you mean by resource-based economics?

RM: Money is an interference factor between what we want and what we are able to acquire. It limits our dreams and capabilities and our individual and societal possibilities. Today we dont have enough money to house everyone on the planet, but we do still have enough resources to accomplish that and much more if we use our resources intelligently to conserve energy and reduce waste. This is why we advocate a Resource Based Economy. This socio-economic system provides an equitable distribution of resources in an efficient manner without the use of money, barter, credit or servitude of any kind. Goods and services are accessible to all, without charge. You could liken this to the public library where one might check out many books and then return them when they are finished. This can be done with anything that is not used on a daily basis. In a society where goods and services are made available to the entire population free of charge, ownership becomes a burden that is ultimately surpassed by a system of common property.

When we use our technology to produce abundance, goods become too cheap to monetize. There is only a price on things that are scarce. For instance, air is a necessity but we dont monitor or charge for the amount of breaths we can take. Air is abundant. If apple trees grew everywhere and were abundant you couldnt sell apples. If all the money disappeared, as long as we have the technical personnel, automated processes, topsoil, resources, factories and distribution we could still build and develop anything we need.

DA: I know that the scientific method forms the basis for decision making and resource management within your project. Could you explain how this approach is applied to social behavior? For example, what is the role of politics in The Venus Project?

RM: Today, for the most part, politicians serve the interest of those in positions of wealth and power; they are not there to change things, but instead to keep things as they are. With regard to the management of human affairs, what do they really know? Our problems are mostly technical. When you examine the vocations of politicians and ask what backgrounds they have to solve the pressing problems of today, they fall far short. For instance, are they trained in finding solutions to eliminating war, preventing climate change, developing clean sources of energy, maintaining higher yields of nutritious, non-contaminating food per acre or anything pertaining to the wellbeing of people and the protection of the environment? This is not their area of expertise. Then what are they doing in those positions?

The role for politics within the scientific and technologically organized society that The Venus Project proposes would be surpassed by engineered systems. It is not ethical people in government that we need but equal access to the necessities of life and those working toward the elimination of scarcity. We would use scientific scales of performance for measurement and allocation of resources so that human biases are left out of the equation. Within The Venus Projects safe, energy-efficient cities, there would be interdisciplinary teams of knowledgeable people in different fields accompanied by cybernated systems that use sensors to monitor all aspects of society in order to provide real-time information supporting decision-making for the wellbeing of all people and the protection of the environment.

DA: In your view, is abundance simply a function of technological innovation? I mean, assuming we get the technology right, do you believe that we could eventually eliminate poverty and crime altogether?

RM: Yes, if we apply our scientists and technical personnel to work towards those ends. We have never mobilized many scientific disciplines giving them the problem of creating a society to end war, produce safe, clean transportation, eliminate booms and busts, poverty, homelessness, hunger, crime and aberrant behavior. For instance, one does not need to make laws to try and eliminate stealing, when all goods and services are available without a price tag. But scientists have not been asked to design a total systems approach to city design, let alone to planetary planning. Scientist have not been given the problem to develop and apply a total holistic effort using the methods of science, technology and resource management to serve all people equitably in the development of a safe and sustainable global society. Unfortunately, only in times of war, do we see resources allocated and scientists mobilized in this way.

DA: I assume schooling and education are important to Jacques vision. How might schools and universities differ from the way they are designed today?

RM: The education and values we are given seem to always support the established system we are raised in. We are not born with bigotry, envy, or hatred we do pick them up from our schools and culture. In fact, even our facial expressions, the words we use, notions of good and bad, right and wrong, are all culture bound. A healthy brain can, in fact, simply become a Nazi faster in a Nazi society. It has no way of knowing what is significant or not, that is all learned by experience and background. The manipulation is so subtle that we feel our values come from within. Most often we dont know whom our values are really serving.

Yes, education will differ considerably from that of today. As Fresco explains in his book The Best That Money Cant Buy The subjects studied will be related to the direction and needs of this new evolving culture. Students will be made aware of the symbiotic relationship between people, technology, and the environment.

DA: I can only assume that critics routinely dismiss The Venus Project as a kind of hopeful utopia. How do you respond to that criticism?

RM: Critics very often reject or dismiss new ideas. What is utopian thinking is to believe that the system we are living under today will enable us to achieve sustainability, equality or a high standard of living for all when it is our system which generates these very problems in the first place. If we continue as we are, it seems to me that we are destined for calamity. The Venus Project is not offering a fixed notion as to how society should be. There are no final frontiers. It does offer a way out of our dilemmas to help initiate a next step in our social evolution.

Many are working at going to other planets to escape the problems on this one, but we would be taking our detrimental value systems with us. We are saying that we have to tackle the problems we face here on the most habitable planet we know of. We will have to apply methodologies to enable us to live together in accordance with the carrying capacity of Earths resources, eliminate artificial boundaries, share resources and learn to relate to one another and the environment.

What we have to ask is, what kind of world do we want to live in?

DA: My last question is about the challenges ahead. Rather than taking the necessary steps to reverse climate change, we seem to be accelerating our pollution of the Earth. Socially, we are witnessing a renewed focus on nativism and fear. How might the values of The Venus Project manage against these negative tendencies in human beings?

RM: The notion of negative tendencies in human beings or that we possess a certain human nature is a scapegoat to keep things as they are. Its implying that we are born with a fixed set of views regarding our action patterns. Human behavior is always changing, but there is no human nature, per se. Determining the conditions that generate certain behaviors is what needs to be understood.

As Jacque elaborates, We are just as lawful as anything else in nature. What appears to be overlooked is the influence of culture upon our values, behavior, and our outlook. It is like studying plants apart from the fact that they consume radiant energy, nutrients, require water, carbon dioxide, gravity, nitrogen, etc. Plants do not grow of their own accord, neither do humans values and behavior.

All social improvement, from the airplane to clean sources of energy undergoes change, but our social systems remain mostly static. The history of civilization is experimentation and modification. The Free Enterprise System was an important experiment and tremendous step along the way that generated innovation throughout our society. What we now advocate is to continue the process of social experimentation, as this system has long outlived its usefulness and simply cannot address the monumental problems it is facing today. We desperately need to update our social designs to correspond with our technological ability to create abundance for all. This could be the most exciting and fulfilling experiment we as a species could ever take on; working together cooperatively to deal with our most pressing problems which confront us all and finding solutions to them unencumbered with the artificial limitations we impose upon ourselves.

Daniel Araya is a researcher and advisor to government with a special interest in education, technological innovation and public policy. His newest books include:Augmented Intelligence(2016),Smart Cities as Democratic Ecologies(2015), and Rethinking US Education Policy (2014). He has a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is an alumnus of Singularity Universitys graduate program in Silicon Valley. He can be found and here: @danielarayaXY.

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The Venus Project Plans to Bring Humanity to the Next Stage of Social Evolution. Here’s How. – Futurism

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Best returns since 1900? Resource based countries, including Canada, lead the way – Financial Post

Posted: at 1:11 pm

Through two world wars, the Great Depression and relentless redrawing of national boundaries since 1900, one group of countries gave investors the best stock returns.

Commodity-rich nations such as South Africa, Australia, the U.S. and Canadaenjoyed buffers against global turbulence because of their natural resources, but have developed their economies to rely on newer industries such as financials, technology and services, according to a joint study by Credit Suisse Group AG and the London Business School that scanned data going back 117 years.

The study shows that no single industry can provide a lasting competitive advantage. In 1900, more than 80 per cent of the U.S. stock-markets value was in businesses such as railroads, which are today small or extinct. Nearly half of U.K. companies by value are in sectors that didnt exist a century ago. Gold, once key to South Africas wealth, has waned in importance and the biggest Australian companies are now banks.

South African stocks have returned an average 7.2 per cent, more than 2 percentage points above the global average and the most among 23 nations tracked by Credit Suisse and LBS. The nation is Africas biggest coal and iron-ore producer, and the worlds largest of platinum, manganese and ferrochrome.

South Africa performed well partly because it is a resource rich country that has successfully developed into a broader diversified economy, and because it has made a peaceful transition from apartheid and remained stable,according to researchers including Professor Paul Marsh of LBS.

Because it has performed well in the past, however, this does not mean it will continue to be a world beating performer over the next century.

Denmark tops the list for bond returns with an average 3.3 per cent. Equities were the best-performing asset in every country, showing over the long run there has been a reward for higher risk. Investors lost all their money in Russia in 1917 and China in 1949 because of revolutions. Japanese stocks, the worlds second-best equity performers from 1900 to 1939, lost 96 per cent of their real value in World War II.

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Best returns since 1900? Resource based countries, including Canada, lead the way – Financial Post

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DENIM SPIRIT: An economy based on abundance – Finger Lakes Times

Posted: at 1:11 pm

Looking out on Seneca Lake, when the sky is cloudless sapphire blue, the sun shining brilliantly from its distant perch, it seems as if the star at the center of our solar system gets caught in the fire of shimmering diamonds atop small waves.

I am talking about those white crystals gleaming by the thousands off the lake, so bright that naked eyes are forced to squint. Looking at those white blossoms of light shining off the waves, I imagine they are waiting to be picked like so much cotton in a field of blue.

There are real jewels of light in the field of dreams inside the human heart and mind. It is not even my imagination; they are real. If harnessed, these bits and pieces of light within the crowded cosmos inside us would utterly transform life as we live it.

Love, for example, is one such element. Think about the nature of it. Love creates love, whether the romantic, familial, or friendship kind. There is no scarcity in love, only abundance. There is an edgier, subversive element to love as well. The willful choice to love someone someone we could more easily hate than love actually heals our woundedness over time. Now think about love in economic terms.

Abundance is intrinsic in love.

Love generates a greater capacity to love, and the more we do it, the more we have of it. It is enough to make a capitalist miserable. If it were a commodity of trade, love as a self-generating resource, with an ever-increasing capacity for production, would be dangerously subversive to any economy based upon scarcity and self-interest as our economy is. In

bottom-line, quantitative economics, love is astonishing and subversive.

Forgiveness is another small shimmering diamond found within the deep space of the human heart and mind.

Forgiveness is like a cell attracting other cells in the process of forming new life. Forgiving someone actually generates within us an even greater capacity to forgive ourselves deepening our capacity to accept who we are, just as we are, even without further improvement.

Forgiveness is synergistic like that: The willful choice, for example, to forgive someone we could more easily resent, conditions and builds emotional and spiritual muscle that we also need in order to more deeply accept ourselves. So, like love, the nature of forgiveness is abundance rather than scarcity.

But in our economy, the consumeristic one, the presence of forgiveness would sound a death-knell to whole industries. The consumerism upon which our economy is built, depends upon and trades in the power of diminishment and injury, raising self-doubt and self-hatred so that consumers buy more of what promises to make them beautiful or acceptable. Forgiveness would corrode those efforts from the inside out.

Consider another gem, one almost never heard spoken these days: mercy. Mercy spawns mercy.

Even though rarely mentioned in polite society any more, mercy is a crucial element of any universe we would ever want to live in. What mercy does is melt away our drive to be right, and to win at all costs, and to demand punishment and retribution. Mercy bears the sweet, nearly indescribably fruit we call kindness.

Imagine a social order that valued mercy even more than justice? If we were thinking about our own self-interest, isnt that the kind of society we would want if we found ourselves on the margin?

So, whereas our economy creates and trades in currencies based on scarcity, the elements of our better natures are self-generating and therefore exhaustively abundant. Love, forgiveness, and mercy just to name three reproduce exponentially when exposed to fresh air and are allowed to circulate and be nurtured.

So often we credit competitiveness and dog-eat-dog fierceness with being elements upon which a better economy is built. We even imagine those are the driving forces that have promoted us as winners on the evolutionary scale. But I wonder, as I think about these sparkling beauties in the field of human qualities, if our assumption is indeed true.

Cameron Miller is the author of the spiritual fiction The Steam Room Diaries and numerous published poems, and is publisher of He lives and writes in Geneva and serves as the priest of Trinity Episcopal Church. He can be reached at dspiritflt@

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