Will new tariffs on Asian solar panels and washing machines benefit the U.S.?
New tariffs enacted on solar panels and washing machines are coming under fire from some around the globe, while others are calling the move a positive step for jobs in the United States.
The United States has imposed tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, and parts for them coming from China.
One of the stated goals is to stimulate U.S.-based companies, and this might actually work; however, some foreign companies are actually considering moving facilities to the United States to avoid the penalties. Other companies already making solar panels here believe this move will make them more competitive, despite the influx of companies.
Companies such as Whirlpool, which still makes washing machines in the USA, and solar manufacturers Suniva and Solar World Americas, seem to be the most likely to benefit from the tariffs.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found that imports were adversely affecting American companies (and employees) because China has been selling "artificially low-priced" solar components inside the U.S., assisted by Chinese state subsidies.
A washing machine is featured at the home appliances section at the booth of South Korean electronics giant Samsung ahead of the opening of the 55th IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 3, 2015. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
According to the BBC, the first 1.2 million imported washing machines will have a 20% tariff imposed in the first year, followed by a 50% tariff on machines above that number. By year three, these tariffs drop to 16% and 40%, respectively.
For solar cells, about 11.5 million panels will be allowed in tariff-free annually. Beyond that, an increase in tariffs the first year will be 30%, falling to 15% by the fourth year.
So why are some opposed to the tariffs?
One large source of opposition comes from the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA), which claims that the companies who filed the complaints with the ITC are actually owned by foreign companies, in an attempt to cover for bad business practices.
But the SEIA also represents solar installers, a group which stands to take a large hit from the taxes as less residential and commercial builders opt for solar given the higher prices.
Time will tell whether the tariffs benefit American companies and workers. These kinds of moves can simply cause companies in China to move elsewhere—like Thailand—and begin again.
BAODING, CHINA - JUNE 24: Workers examine the photovoltaic board product at the plant of Tianwei Yingli Green Energy Resources Co., Ltd on June 24, 2009 in Baoding, China. China's top economic planning agency will soon submit a draft support plan of the country's new energy industry to the State Council for approval, a plan that would focus on nuclear power and renewable energy as wind and solar power, according to an official of the National Bureau of Energy. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
The migration of birds — and we didn't even used to know that birds migrated; we assumed they hibernated; the modern understanding of bird migration was established when a white stork landed in a German village with an arrow from Central Africa through its neck in 1822 — draws us in the direction of having an understanding of the world. A bird is here and then travels somewhere else. Where does it go? It's a variation on the poetic refrain from The Catcher in the Rye. Where do the ducks go? How many are out there? What might it encounter along the way?
While there is a yearly bird count conducted every Christmas by amateur bird watchers across the country done in conjunction with The Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently released the results of a study that actually go some way towards answering heretofore abstract questions: every fall, as per cloud computing and 143 weather radar stations, four billion birds migrate into the United States from Canada and four billion more head south to the tropics.
"In the spring," the lead author Adriaan Dokter noted, "3.5 billion birds cross back into the U.S. from points south, and 2.6 billion birds return to Canada across the northern U.S. border."
In other words: the birds who went three to four times further than the birds staying in the U.S. faired better than the birds who stayed in the U.S. Why?
Part of the answer could be very well be what you might hear from a conservationist — only with numbers to back it up: the U.S. isn't built for birds. As Ken Rosenberg, the other co-author of the study, notes: "Birds wintering in the U.S. may have more habitat disturbances and more buildings to crash into, and they might not be adapted for that."
The other option is that birds lay more offspring in the U.S. than those who fly south for the winter.
What does observing eight billion birds mean in practice? To give myself a counterpoint to those numbers, I drove out to the Joppa Flats Education Center in Northern Massachusetts. The Center is a building that sits at the entrance to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and overlooks the Merrimack River, which is what I climbed the stairs up to the observation deck to see.
Once there, I paused. I took a breath. I listened. I looked out into the distance. Tiny flecks Of Bonaparte's Gulls drew small white lines across the length of the river and the wave of the grass toward a nearby city. What appeared to be flecks of double-crested cormorants made their way to the sea. A telescope downstairs enabled me to watch small gull-like birds make their way along the edges of the river, quietly pecking away at food just beneath the surface of the water. This was the experience of watching maybe half a dozen birds over fifteen-to-twenty minutes, which only served to drive home the scale of birds studied.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
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