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What Do Global Temps, Unemployment Share?

What do global temperatures (coupled with the greenhouse effect) have in common with the declining number of workers available to fill vacant jobs? Nothing—on the surface, that is.

However, if you look a little deeper and pair these subjects with the words "converting industry," you might begin to see a common thread. From the research we've done here at Paper, Film & Foil CONVERTER, what these issues have in common is that they are presently among the top concerns of converters worldwide.

Before you start thinking that all the news you're about to hear on these fronts is bad, let me dispel some of your concerns. I say "some" because I have some good news and some bad news.

Let me tell you the good news first.

In a science and technology update that I received on September 20th, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that although urban air pollution is expected to increase significantly in the coming century, it will NOT have a big effect on global temperature change.

While there's not enough room in this small column for me to give you all the details provided in the MIT press release (complete information will be published in the September 27 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research—Atmospheres), let me share some of the salient points of the MIT research.

  • MIT's Integrated Global System Model allows global coupled-chemistry climate models to take urban air pollution into account in a new way. It includes an economic development model; a two-dimensional land and ocean resolving interactive chemistry-climate model that divides the planet into 24 latitudinal bands; a terrestrial ecosystems model; and a natural emissions model.
  • Compared to a reference run excluding urban air pollution, the average tropospheric ozone concentration decreases while high concentrations of ozone are projected in the urban areas. Consequently, the change in the chemical composition of the troposphere increases the lifetime of methane. This leads to higher ambient methane concentrations, even if emissions are unaltered.
  • As ozone decreases and methane increases, the net effect on the radiative budget of the earth is small because the contributions from these two greenhouse gases partially cancel each other out.
MIT's global chemistry-climate model is more powerful and comprehensive, because it can take urban air pollution into account in a way never before possible, allowing interactions among air pollution, methane, and other tropospheric gases.

It never hurts to approach any announcement with a cynical eye, but this model may give greater insight into how air pollution and climate policies interact. It may also provide answers on the long-term effects or cost savings of targeting only greenhouse gases or stringent Environmental Protection Agency air pollution regulations.

Now for the bad news.

It looks bleak for a reverse trend in the number of available workers to fill vacant job positions. Employees will continue to be in short supply in contrast to the actual amount of work. (See my editorials from March, May, and July 2000.)

It appears that the labor shortage will remain a hot issue indefinitely. Says the US Dept. of Labor: In 2006, we'll be short 10 million workers for 151 million jobs.

Surely the challenge of filling these human resource needs is a daunting one. For this reason, you will find in this issue an in-depth look at the labor challenge, starting on page 54. Special commendation goes to PFFC senior editors Teresa Koltzenburg and Claudia Hine for their hard work in assembling "Takin' Care of Business: How the Industry Does It." I know that it will prove helpful to those of you who are plagued by a shortage of qualified workers and are searching for ideas to correct or reverse a trend at your own operation.


 

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