Venezuela Tense As Unrest Over President Maduro's Government Continues

The Venezuelan government is planning to cut the working day for public sector workers down to five-and-a-half hours in a drastic attempt to conserve energy. “The initiative is part of a nationwide electricity rationing plan.

Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said there had been a surge in energy demand due to extremely hot weather. He said state employees would now work from 07:30-13:00 to save on air conditioning.

On Monday, local media reported blackouts across the country. Mr Arreaza said private companies would be asked to use their own generators to reduce pressure on the national grid.” [BBC News]

U.S. economic growth nearly stalled in the first quarter due to harsh weather conditions reducing consumer spending and energy companies struggling with low prices slashed spending. “Gross domestic product expanded at an only 0.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

That was a big step down from the fourth quarter’s 2.2 percent pace and marked the weakest reading in a year. A strong dollar and a now-resolved labor dispute at normally busy West Coast ports also slammed growth, the government said.” [Reuters]

A new analysis, just released by Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, offers a surprising theory about the environmental impact of flying. “Namely, Sivak finds that driving today is actually considerably more “energy intensive” than flying, where energy intensity is defined as “the amount of energy needed to transport one person a given distance.”

One principal reason? While airlines and cars have both gotten more energy efficient over time, one key factor in determining the energy intensity of a particular form of travel is how many people are being transported per trip. And on this score, jam-packed modern passenger planes have cars totally beat.

“Flying domestically in the U.S. used to be much more energy intensive than driving, but that is no longer the case,” said Sivak by e-mail. “One of the main reasons is that the proportion of occupied seats on airplanes has increased substantially, while the number of occupants in cars and other light-duty vehicles has decreased.” [The Washington Post]