Archive for January, 2014

85 People Own Half the World’s Wealth

The 85 richest people on Earth now have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the global population, according to a report released this week by the British humanitarian group, Oxfam International.

 “It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population owns no more than a tiny elite, whose members could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director.

The bottom half of the population — about 3.5 billion people — account for about $1.7 trillion, or about 0.7 percent of the world’s wealth, according to the Oxfam report, titled “Working for the Few.” That’s the same amount of wealth attributed to the world’s 85 richest people.

This wealthy elite is only a small fraction of the richest 1 percent of the world’s population, which combined has amassed about 46 percent of the world’s wealth, or $110 trillion, according to the report. The top 1 percent had 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the population. The percentage of income held by the richest 1 percent in the U.S. has grown nearly 150 percent from 1980 through 2012. That small elite has received 95 percent of wealth created since 2009, after the financial crisis, while the bottom 90 percent of Americans have become poorer, Oxfam said.

In a report last week, the World Economic Forum said widening income inequality is the risk most likely to cause serious damage in the next decade. President Obama recently called the expanding gap between rich and poor a bigger threat to the U.S. economy than the budget deficit. A Gallup poll released this week found two-thirds of Americans were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed in the nation.

Read more

California’s New Energy Benchmarking & Disclosure Law Takes Effect

California’s Assembly Bill (AB) 1103 energy benchmarking and disclosure law became effective as of January 1, 2014.  Implementation of the requirements begins on January 1, 2014, for a building with total gross floor area measuring more than 10,000 square feet, and on July 1, 2014, for a building with a total gross floor area measuring more than 5,000 square feet. The law requires certain non-residential business owners to input energy consumption and other building data into the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager system, which generates an energy efficiency rating for the building.  Ratings are from 1 to 100, with 100 being the most energy efficient.  A building’s energy data and rating for the previous year must be disclosed to prospective buyers and tenants of the entire building (at least 24 hours before executing the contract), or lenders financing the entire building (no later than submittal of the loan application), for the following building types: Assembly, Business, Educational, Institutional – Assisted Living, Institutional – Nonambulatory, Mercantile, Residential – Transient (e.g., a hotel), Storage, and Utility – Parking Garage.  An electronic copy of the “Data Verification Checklist” must be sent via email to the California Energy Commission at AB1103report@energy.ca.gov.

Read more