The Weekender by Strategic Elements

The Weekender: For the Greater Grid

The Weekender by Strategic Elements


  • 2 Years: The age of the two pandas from China making their way to the Smithsonian National Zoo
  • 20%: The percentage of U.S. workers who have daily thoughts about quitting their job
  • 34: The number of felony counts a New York jury found former President Donald Trump guilty of committing on Thursday; he intends to appeal the verdict
  • 850: The number of confirmed tornadoes in the U.S. this year
  • 5.25 Million: The listed price of the ‘Home Alone’ house, located in Chicago
  • 7 Billion: The number of hotdogs consumed in America between Memorial Day and Labor Day

The Big 5

The Rise of Humanity (and its Population)

We’ve hit a new world record: humanity is currently 8.1 billion proud – doubling itself since 1975 and quadrupling since 1927. With big numbers comes big change. India is set to overtake China as the most populous country while the Red Dragon’s population declines with one of the lowest fertility rates worldwide. China’s fertility rate is 1.2 children per woman (for more, read “One-Child China Reaps What It’s Sown”) and India’s is 2. Sub-Saharan African countries have the highest fertility rates, with 28 of the least developed nations in Africa seeing annual population growth of more than 2%.

As the population grows, more people around the world are moving to urban areas. In 2018, 55.3% of the population lived in or near cities, up from 30% in 1950. By 2050, that number will likely be 66%. North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean have the highest urbanization rates with each being over 80%. Europe and Oceania had 74% and 68% of their populations in urban areas, respectively. Asia’s population has 50% urbanization while Africa continues to have high rural populations.

Japan is the most notable country experiencing population crises. Its overall population fell by 800,000 in 2022 with half of its cities expected to see population decline over the next century. It’s a demographic quandary for the Land of the Rising Sun, with smaller amounts of young people, high cost of living, and stagnant wages disincentivizing birth rates. In a testament to its broader population troubles, Nagasaki, Japan is the fastest declining metro area in the world.

Read More at the Yahoo! Finance

We Gonna Rock Down to Electric Avenue 

The U.S. electric grid has a problem: there is more renewable energy power waiting to get on the electrical transmission grid than the total amount of energy currently on it. It’s a testament to two things:

Renewable energy is a winning solution in an era of storm-related outages and the growing need to power data centers and AI operations

The U.S. needs to modernize its electrical grid – now

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act both included funding for new power lines, but Congress may unwittingly unplug progress by not allocating resources this year. The Biden Administration is working to power movement on its own, despite having worked tirelessly to pass these packages. The executive branch announced this week that it’s launching initiatives to upgrade 100,000 miles of existing transmission lines. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also approved a new rule that compels utilities and grid operators to build regional lines to accommodate the successes of clean energy.

Renewables prove we have the power – now the U.S. just needs to find more ways to use it across the country.

Read More at CNN

Two AVPs walk into a bar… 

Strategic Elements, a public affairs firm known for activating results, this week announced the promotion of Mak Heddens and Kristin Sheldon to Associate Vice President (AVP). As AVP of Public Affairs and Events, Heddens will assume a greater leadership role and be responsible for delivering ongoing results for clients through events and project management. Heddens is one of the firm’s longest-serving team members and, with more than six years of experience in renewable energy, is well-respected among industry leaders. She has been instrumental in executing high-level events, managing fieldwork, and building coalitions in more than 20 states.

As AVP of Strategic Communications, Sheldon will assume an expanded role in leading client accounts and developing relationships with stakeholders. With a proven track record in public relations, content development, field management, storytelling, and industry thought leadership, Sheldon delivers high-quality results and finds creative solutions for SE’s clients. Her media relations, communications experience, and renewable energy expertise will continue to be invaluable assets to SE and its clients.

Read More About Strategic Elements

Mexico Breaking Barriers

Mexico is set to elect its first female president, Claudia Sheinbaum, who holds a Ph.D. in energy engineering and is the mentee of the President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Obrador, whose approval rating never dipped below 60%, has set the stage for Sheinbaum’s success after guiding her career over the past two decades. Sheinbaum is the former mayor of Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, and echoes Obrador’s legacy of keeping government control of the energy industry and building an economy supporting the poorest members of the country.

Although her politics align with her predecessor’s platform, her approach is different. Where Obrador applied charisma and gut instinct, Sheinbaum looks to data and metrics to continue her vision for the country. Obrador cared little for foreign affairs and only speaks Spanish, while Sheinbaum is bilingual, lived in the California Bay Area in her 30s, and is comfortable navigating geopolitics, according to diplomats. Obrador’s inclination for off-the-cuff improvised speeches will be replaced by the soon-to-be president’s calculated self-written speeches and adoration of PowerPoint presentations.

If elected, as is expected, she will be tasked with managing U.S. relations over the 2,000-mile-long border between the neighboring countries – the world’s busiest movement of trucks and people. Luckily, Sheinbaum has already made inroads into diplomacy by forging working relationships with both the Trump and Biden Administrations and supports the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (which will expire for renewal during her expected term in 2026).

Domestically, she will need to tackle the #1 issue for Mexican voters, the powerful organized crime syndicates that terrorize towns and control the flow of contraband and human trafficking into the U.S. According to U.S. Northern Command, these groups (comprised of more than 200 gangs) control about one-third of Mexico and often leaves thousands dead in their urban crossfire. For reference, the six deadliest cities in the world are all in Mexico according to security consultants.

In short, Sheinbaum will have a lot on her plate if elected, but her double-digit lead over competitor Xóchitl Gálvez is likely to award her the seat in governance of Mexico.

Read More at the Wall Street Journal

The New Consumer Index: Pawn Shop Inventory

Pawnshop activity is a telltale sign of Americans’ spending power, especially for those in the lowest income brackets. Right now, those signs aren’t painting a pretty picture. More items are being pawned and sold, meaning there are fewer buyers and more sellers.

Since pawnshops can behave as a rainy-day fund, growing inventory means that more Americans don’t have cash on hand to pay for necessities and emergencies. With the rising cost of living, rent hikes, stagnant wages, and higher food prices, many need to turn to selling their rings, watches, guitars, and keepsakes to keep their heads above water. Pawnshops serving as economic metrics are not a new utility, but the impact of years of rising inflation are putting more Americans in the business of selling to survive.

Read more at USA Today

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