S.R. Fitzgerald

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On December 1, 2017, S.R. Fitzgerald commented on American Airlines: Grounded by extreme heat :

Fascinating article, I learned a few things I did not previously know about planes!

You raise some interesting points that can be applied to many large companies. They all show awareness of climate change, but when you look at how the companies are actually operating, you question how committed to changing they are. While American is realizing GHG reductions in their mainline fleet, I wonder why they are seeing an increase in their regional fleet? I appreciate the research you did on American’s competitors. To know that a competitor is already consistently using biofuels and that Alaska Airlines has a better fuel efficiency monitoring system both show feasible steps American can take in the right direction. Being that American is the largest of the airline companies, I think they should be making an effort to be a leader in green technologies. If you are a big company, it is your duty to think big too. American should be among the leaders in airline green technology, and for the moment it appears that they are following their competition.

On December 1, 2017, S.R. Fitzgerald commented on The Cash Before the Storm: Forecast-based Financing at Red Cross :

Really enjoyed reading this article on an increasingly important topic!

I initially thought that this article was going to be about climate change and the increasing number of natural disasters, but it was actually about using technology to aid in the relief efforts, even better! This is the first I have read of FbF or FUNES, to be able to predict and deploy funding is a great social use of technology. One limit of FbF seems to be it’s reliance on FUNES. Perhaps FbF can become even more impactful if other inputs like FUNES can be designed. Perhaps a system that partners with seismologist to predict severe earthquakes? I also wonder if prediction systems like FbF could be linked with relief efforts after the natural disaster. FbF predicts and deploys capital to fund the relief effort pre-disaster, but could there be advancements made in the physical deployment of the aid that FbF is funding post-disaster? I would think technology can play an even greater role in the post-disaster relief. With the increasing number of natural disasters, the opportunity to make a positive change in relief efforts is high. I look forward to seeing future ways the Red Cross will use technology to aid the efficiency of their relief efforts.

Good read, JS. You pose a very relevant question on what are the “real” risks and what is just political posturing. With isolationist movement leaders, we tend to hear a lot of emotional and overstated comments. As you appropriately question, it is difficult to determine what is real and what is political hype. Unfortunately, the fact is that these comments are being made about real trade deals that could seriously affect the US and global economy. It is really not something to be taken lightly. Due to articles like the one from the link below, I believe Trump will prioritize the natural gas export industry. Trump has certainly taken a pro fossil fuel energy stance; he also “digs coal” in case you haven’t heard.


On December 1, 2017, S.R. Fitzgerald commented on Driving into the Unknown: Ford Motor Company and NAFTA :

Great article on an old American company that I personally find very interesting to follow! One item I would like to add to the discussion is the growing importance of Political Action Committees (PACs), given the growing influence of isolationist political movements. From 2008 to 2016, Ford’s PAC spending increased 117% from $805,000 to $1,748,000, while also shifting from 51/49 Democrat/Republic split to 39/61 split in favor of Republicans. Since the company cannot provide funding for the PAC, it must rely on the donations of it’s shareholders and employees. The automotive industry has made a clear effort in the past years to increase fundraising for their PACs. This is because many of the issues you raised in your article. Automotive companies know that they need an established presence in Washington to deal with uncertainties that come from isolationist movements. It allows them to fight for current issues they face, such as currency manipulation, while also keeping a pulse on what an unpredictable government might do next!

Ford PAC spending info:

On December 1, 2017, S.R. Fitzgerald commented on Starbucks: the future isn’t brew-tiful :

First off, I think coffee is a great way to approach the climate change discussion. People are often quick to disregard this topic since it is hard for many to feel directly connected to. When you use something like coffee that so many people enjoy each day, it really enforces how climate change is personal. It makes the topic tangible, relatable, and real. We can all imagine a life without coffee, and it’s not a good existence.

Starbucks has shown awareness of the problem, but exhibit A shows a lack of commitment to solving the bigger issue. It is great that they are investing in new growing techniques and fungal-resistant coffee strains, but these solutions do not impact climate change. They simply help Starbucks manage their coffee supply. The use of more GHGs for electricity adds to the problem. There is a straight-forward way to increase electricity consumption while using less GHG emissions, simply use green forms of energy. I think it would be wise for Starbucks to invest in green energy initiatives. Since they have locations nearly everywhere, this certainly won’t be possible across the board, but there may very well be low hanging fruit where they can invest and switch over. Perhaps an internal task force could perform research of their stores and set realistic future targets for GHG emissions. A GHG reduction plan would show Starbucks is serious in doing their part to solve our climate change issue.

Starbucks Global Social Impact Report has a short “Greener Power” section, I found the statement below to be interesting. I wonder if they are talking about every retail location globally? And if so, I wonder how and if this is feasible?
“Greener Power
Invest in 100% renewable energy to power operations globally by 2020”

On December 1, 2017, S.R. Fitzgerald commented on Amazon’s Last-Mile Delivery is Reaching New Heights :

Great topic, it is always interesting to think about future technologies like Amazon drones and how they will shape our future! You successfully highlighted many obstacles facing the implementation of this technology. The regulatory environment I find particularly interesting, and Amazon is not the only company/industry facing this same issue due to technological advances. If standards cannot be made and enforced, technology will not be allowed to make the positive changes on society that we know are possible. I wonder if there is room for collaboration with other companies facing the same regulatory challenges in order to speed up the regulatory process. For instance, companies like Google, Tesla, GM, and Ford have autonomous vehicles today. The technology exists right now. The issue, like you mention in your article, is the regulatory environment has not changed as fast as the technology has developed. Never before have drones and cars driven themselves. We as a society, and the government as the regulatory body, must now answer questions that have been posed by our technological advances. Questions such as, who is responsible when the inevitable accident occurs? How should the software be programmed: to protect occupants of the the drone/vehicle, or bystanders, or calculate some path of least damage?

These essentially are tough ethical questions that need to be answered through regulation.

The 2017 article below covers this ethical question. One example from the article: in a forced choice scenario, should an autonomous vehicle be programmed to hit a parked car or pedestrian on an ice covered road?

Fleetwood, Janet,PhD., M.P.H. (2017). Public health, ethics, and autonomous vehicles. American Journal of Public Health, 107(4), 532-537. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303628