Rainforest Deforestation Reaches Highest Levels

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most diverse biomes on our planet. It is also disappearing at an alarming rate. Recent fires have furthered this issue, with the G7 offering $20 million to help put out the flames. 

That figure might seem like a lot, but it is only a small portion of what is necessary to stop the deforestation process.

Politics plays a prominent role. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro initially said that he’d reject the offered funds, then walked the comment back by saying he’d take the money if French President Emmanuel Macron would apologize for criticizing his handling of the Amazon fires.

Exploiting the Amazon Is Very Profitable for Brazil

About 60% of the Amazon rainforest biome is within Brazil’s borders. That means there are about 2.1 million square miles of undeveloped land. It might be a massive carbon dioxide reservoir, but it also creates opportunities for profit.

After several years of decline, fires and deforestation rates surged to their highest levels ever in 2019. Much of the activity occurred after Bolsonaro took office.

Scientists are still learning how the rainforest impacts the global climate system. Removing this biome not only removes one of the most biodiverse concentrations of life on our planet, but it could also change weather patterns in dramatic and unpredictable ways.

Several researchers are now raising the alarm about reaching a dieback scenario in the Amazon. If enough of the forest is lost, the entire ecosystem could collapse. 

What Drives the Rainforest Deforestation Process?

Ranching is the primary driver of deforestation in Brazil. The country is now the largest beef exporter in the world, generating almost $7 billion for the economy each year.

Brazil is also the second-largest producer of soybeans worldwide, with almost 80% of what is grown domestically being used for animal feed. Since China placed tariffs on American agricultural products, more orders for Brazilian crops are causing a surge in new farming opportunities.

The Amazon also contains rich deposits of oil, aluminum, and gold. Illegal mining efforts are at unprecedented levels, and the demand for timber is equally high.

Bolsonaro campaigned for the presidency by saying that he would exploit the rainforest. The country’s agricultural lobby endorsed this approach. In the short time he’s been in office, the enforcement arm of the environment ministry has issued 30% fewer fines than in 2018 despite the increases in illegal activity.

These efforts include a reduction for indigenous protections, with a call to integrate the remaining tribes into modern Brazilian life. By facilitating construction projects for roads, bridges, and dams, it will become easier to exploit what the rainforest biome offers.

Deforestation increased by 88% in 2019, with the number of fires in the Amazon rising by 84% at the same time. That information comes directly from Brazil’s government.

The G7 providing $20 million in aid seems like a helpful first step, but those governments control an economic system with a cap of at least $300 trillion. We must do more if we’re going to save our rainforests.

How Electric Cars Threatens Over 800,000 Auto Workers

German ingenuity is responsible for the modern automobile industry. Their work on the combustion engine has led to our ability to drive across continents with comfort and speed.

But the world is changing, and so too is the automobile industry. As the world transitions to electric cars, over 800,000 auto workers in Germany are wondering where their future fits in with this updated vision of transportation.

BMW Plans to Eliminate Numerous Design Options

After experiencing a 10% slump in profits, BMW has laid out a plan that will impact thousands of workers. Beginning in 2021, the automaker plans to cut up to 50% of its drivetrain options for new models. Billions are being spent on efficiency campaigns so that the transition to electric vehicles isn’t as challenging.

The only component of the industry being left behind are the workers. As of 2019, only about 30% of BMW’s workforce has received training on handling electric vehicles.

Battery cells are the most expensive component in this new approach to making automobiles. Even the manufacturers that make electric cars today put together their own battery packs, but they outsource cell assembly to someone else.

Producing battery packs is very different than the work needed to assemble an engine. Robots perform the diagnostics and do the cleaning before putting cells into their metal casing. As automation continues to increase, the number of available positions for workers keeps decreasing.

What Is Driving the Change of Emphasis in Germany?

Germany has been at the forefront of climate change leadership, but it is the global effort to create a post-combustion world that is forcing companies like BMW to look at how they structure factory-based jobs.

China is the largest market in the world for electric vehicles today. They are using a mix of subsidies and robust regulations to force automakers to produce cars that run on batteries and customers to drive them.

Europe is tightening the targets set in place for carbon dioxide reduction across the planet. This action is causing Volkswagen to accelerate its emphasis on electric cars, with the expectation that this category will represent 40% of sales by 2030. Three plants in Germany are already set to retool to only make battery-powered cars.

Workers already see the number of available jobs slipping away as efficiency gains and automation has changed the industry in recent years. Over 75,000 jobs related to transmissions and engines are expected to be obsolete within a decade, and electrification in the auto industry will only create about 25,000 new positions.

What can people do to fight these changes? Workers can train to be around high-voltage components now so that their experience is already in place when the changeover occurs. Modernization is coming, so those that recognize the changes early will have the best chances for work in the future.

Impact of Japan’s Declining Birthrates

The number of births in Japan dropped below 1 million in 2017. Since the country began counting its newborns over a century ago, it was the first time this milestone was not reached.

Deaths have outpaced births in Japan for several years, but this figure represents an alarming shift for the country. It is already impacting the economy in several areas, including real estate, employment, and long-term investing.

From 2010-2015, Japan lost over 1 million people total in its population base. If this trend continues, there could be 48 million fewer people living in this island nation by 2060.

How to Combat the Aging Crisis in Japan

Japan cannot force couples to start having children. There is no feasible way to produce offspring in laboratory settings, and cloning is already outlawed throughout much of the world. That means the only option available to Japan is to begin combatting the aging process.

That’s why there is a surge of interest in products like Banyan Botanicals. Natural remedies that work to counter the signs and symptoms of physical aging encourage continued individualized productivity.

Japan will also see an increase in consultation-based products that help to provide energy, promote better sleep, and encourage healthy aging. Brands like Standard Process can make a positive impact in this area.

There may be a renewed interest in items from brands like Nature’s Way that can provide gluten defense, vitamin boosts, and other supplementary health needs.

By focusing on individual health, optimizing the aging process can help to reduce the severity of the population declines that Japan is experiencing today.

Better Aging Won’t Solve Every Problem

When there are fewer young people active in the Japanese economy, then that means there are not as many individuals available to support retirees. This outcome places a lot of strain on the country’s health care and pension systems.

The government is already taking steps to encourage older workers to stay in their jobs for longer. Companies are receiving incentives to invest in automation to maintain productivity levels with fewer available employees.

There is virtually no public support in Japan for large-scale immigration, which is an activity that helps to stabilize other populations in wealthy countries that have low birthrates. The government has also discovered that encouraging couples to have more children has only created moderate benefits.

Not all of the news is bad for Japan in this area. The birthrates from today are up slightly from where they were over a decade ago. A decisive turnaround looks bleak since women are marrying later, staying in their careers more often, and deciding not to start a family so that they can focus on their personal needs.

Japan has been well below the replacement rate for births for over a generation. There is no doubt that the population decline in the country will continue, and it may even accelerate. As this trend continues, the impact on the domestic economy could be dramatic. Only time will tell how far that fall will be.