Monday, November 25, 2013

Philly vs. Houston energy hubs, why Yankees are coming to Texas, tops for diversity and STEM, and more

Just a few misc items this short Thanksgiving week:
"...Sugar Land, the largest city in Fort Bend County, which Stephen Klineberg, a sociology professor at Rice University, calls the most ethnically diverse county in America. By that, he means that this county southwest of Houston comes closer than any other county in the United States to having an equal division among the nation’s four major ethnic communities — Asian, black, Latino and white residents."
"As economist Tyler Cowen points out in Time magazine, when you adjust incomes for tax rates and cost of living, Texas comes out ahead of California and New York and ranks behind only Virginia and Washington state. 
Critics charge that Texas’s growth depends on the oil and gas industries and is weighted toward low-wage jobs. In fact, Texas’s low-tax, light-regulation policies have produced a highly diversified economy that from 2002 to 2011 created nearly a third of the nation’s highest-paying jobs. In those years, its number of upper- and middle-income jobs grew 24 percent. 
Liberals like Noah often decry income inequality. But the states with the most unequal incomes and highest poverty levels these days are California and New York. That’s what happens when high taxes and housing costs squeeze out the middle class."
Finally, I'd like to end with a pretty mind-bogglingly impressive time lapse video of Chicago at night.  Watch it in full-screen HD for the full effect. Still waiting on someone to step up and do this for Houston...

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At 8:48 AM, December 23, 2013, Anonymous Robert Nagle said...

It's important to note that the Kotkin piece did not differentiate between STEM jobs and STEM jobs which are in the fossil fuel industry. Let's separate the fossil fuel jobs out of the equation, and then we'll have a more honest comparison.

BTW, here's my response to the Tyler Cowen piece .

At 5:56 PM, December 23, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Why do fossil fuel STEM jobs not count? They pay very well, and all reasonable forecasts (inc. the govt) say they will be our dominant source of energy for at least the next several decades.

At 8:21 PM, December 23, 2013, Blogger Robert Nagle said...

They don't count because they are disrupting the climate long-term, and that is a dangerous thing. Also, a city which depends on fossil fuels for economic growth is guaranteed to suffer all kinds of consequences long term. The "carbon bubble" has only started to shake investors, and when that bubble pops, that will certainly hurt cities with a large fossil fuels sector.

Many reasonable forecasts indicate that more than one decade of high fossil fuel use will increase the probability of more than 2 degree global temperature increase. Our "carbon budget" is not unlimited. Of course, many business people and petro-utopian types in Houston are in denial about that, although not in other areas of the world.

By the way, I am writing a book length essay, "Can it EVER be ethical to work for an oil and gas company?" (using principles from Virtue Ethics to analyze labor and environmental issues). But here I am not talking ethics; I am talking about whether having a significant petro-industry in a city is healthy for the economy in the long term.

At 8:32 PM, December 23, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Actually, one of the best possible things for reducing climate change would be to replace coal with natural gas. Natural gas is also the ideal fuel to pair with the variability of wind and solar, since it can spin up on demand. Just had a study in the paper this morning talking about how fracking is actually *saving* water in Texas on a net basis by reducing coal use, which requires a lot more water. China is building a new coal plant every week. Maybe we can switch them to both imported and domestic natural gas if we open up production and exporting? The calculus is not as simple as you think...


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