Thursday, November 26, 2015

Växjö Sweden—Europe's greenest city?

Växjö Sweden decided in 1991 to become a fossil-fuel-free city.  I shouldn't even speculate why a small city of 100,000 in one of the historically poorer parts of Sweden decided to do what few other municipalities would even try because I wasn't there.  But since my maternal grandmother grew up near there, I am going to guess it had something to do with the desire to stay warm without going broke doing it.

Växjö is located in the rocky state of Småland in SE Sweden.  The farmland is so miserable that most of the Smålanders who left for North America were just hoping for a better diet.  But because the farmland is poor, the folks who stayed behind survived and prospered by becoming unusually inventive in a country where inventors are treated with respect.  The Swedish crystal business was in Småland as is the headquarters of IKEA.  These are people who can organize clever building projects.

Even so, they decided to chase the fossil-free goal 25 years ago and they are not done.  They have had to cope with the headaches of prototype-level technology.  There are probably already decisions they would have made differently with 25 years of hindsight.

This is HARD to do.  Anyone who seriously believes that merely signing some glorious statement of good intentions is all that is necessary for good outcomes should go look at those who have actually tried to pull it off.  Notice that these difficulties surfaced in a political environment that is essentially corruption-free.  And this target was agreed to by all the political parties (8).  And it was STILL hard!

What can the world learn from Växjö, Europe's self-styled greenest city?

In 1991, the southern Swedish city became the first in the world to declare its intention to become fossil-fuel free. So how much progress has been made, and does Växjö offer a blueprint for bigger cities too?

Terry Slavin in Växjö, 25 November 2015

Within minutes of meeting the mayor of Europe’s self-proclaimed greenest city, it is clear where he draws much of his inspiration from.

It’s not just the fact that 61-year-old Bo Frank is wearing a black Beatles T-shirt and has a Beatles badge pinned to the lapel of his jacket. When he shows me into his office on the ground floor of Växjö city hall, Fab Four memorabilia is everywhere you look – along with photos of Sweden’s king and queen, Barack Obama, and a black-and-white sketch of himself with long hair and a flowered shirt from when he was first elected to Växjö (pronounced Veck-Ruh) city council 41 years ago.

The flowing locks are long gone, but Frank has lost none of his Beatles-era idealism as he steers this small southern Swedish city (population 89,000) to becoming fossil-fuel free by 2030 – a target the council, led by Frank, agreed as long ago as 1991, becoming the first city in the world to do so.

Frank signs off his emails with the final lyric from The End on 1969’s Abbey Road: “The love you take is equal to the love you make” – and the line also appears on some of the council’s green bumpf. “Each citizen must contribute,” he says by way of explanation. “You can’t just blame others and expect them to do something. You have to start with yourself: the way you purchase, the way you live, the way you drive, the way you use transport, heat and electricity. Demand is very important to making change.”

And the change so far has been impressive. CO2 emissions per resident were 2.4 tonnes last year, among the lowest in Europe – a 48% drop from when city started measuring its emissions in 1993. And it has done so without sacrificing growth: between 1993 and 2012, GDP per capita increased by 90%. A BBC documentary in 2007 labelled Växjö the “greenest city in Europe”, and the city has clearly worked hard to live up to the accolade – although there is no official way to compare cities’ “greenness”.

The Danish capital, Copenhagen, with CO2 emissions of 2.8 tonnes per resident, is now aiming to steal a march on Växjö and become fossil-fuel free by 2025 – but for the moment is further behind in its energy transition. Frank puts his city’s success down to the fact that in Sweden, income tax revenues go directly to municipal councils which have huge discretion over how they are spent – and the eight political parties, which span the political spectrum, have over the years been united about the green agenda. “We don’t even debate it at a local level. You could say there are eight green parties.”

When it comes to heat and electricity, Växjö is close to being fossil-fuel free already. The city lies in the middle of pine forests and lakes in southern Sweden, and waste wood from the forests provides 90% of its heat and a quarter of its electricity via a giant combined cooling, heat and power plant. The rest of Växjö’s electricity comes from locally produced small hydro, wind, biogas and solar plus imports from Sweden’s grid, which is mostly powered by hydro and nuclear.

Touring the city-owned power plant, Veab, with Åsa Karlsson Björkmarker, Växjö’s youthful deputy mayor, a local variation on another Beatles lyric comes to mind as we watch giant articulated lorries tip out their dual payloads of woodchip: “Isn’t it good, Swedish wood?”

It’s been a mild autumn in Sweden, but in winter, when temperatures plumb -10C (14F), three of these lorries will be needed an hour to keep Växjö warm, explains Marianne Mattila, Veab’s customer service manager. But unlike biomass power units in the UK, such as at Drax, which get wood from as far off as Canada, in Växjö, lorries come from within a 80-100 km radius of the city.

I have always had niggling doubts about the sustainability of biomass – shouldn’t trees be left to absorb CO2, rather than releasing it when chopped down and burned for energy? Mattila explains that Veab uses only the branches and tops of the trees that are sent to local paper mills or to Ikea to be turned into furniture (nearby Älmhult – the A in Ikea – is the birthplace and headquarters of the retail giant). Otherwise that biomass might be left to rot, generating methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, says Mattila. Instead, ash from burnt wood is returned to the forest to fertilise the soil.

Jan Johansson, Växjö’s energy manager, who has joined us on the tour, says the economics also stack up: “One of the advantages is biomass is a much cheaper fuel than fossil fuels.” Wood is also clean-burning, with no sulfur dioxide emissions and minimal particulate matter, he says. And Veab, which this year commissioned a new boiler, expects to see its nitrous oxide emissions drop to zero as well.

As in most Scandinavian cities, the system of centrally generated heating is highly energy-efficient, delivered to Växjö’s homes and businesses through 400 km of underground pipes. When selling land to developers, the city stipulates that they hook up to the district heating system – only last week, it won a crucial victory when the courts turned down a challenge by the Swedish Competition Authority, which had argued that it was uncompetitive to lock 500 house buyers of a new development into one energy supplier.

Later, over dinner at a cosy organic food restaurant, Björkmarker explains the importance of the city winning this battle. Växjö is growing fast, adding 1,100 people a year and providing temporary accommodation for hundreds of asylum-seekers from the likes of Syria and Afghanistan. Expanding the district heating network to meet any new demand is critical to meeting its climate targets: “There is no other heating alternative that can ever, ever compete [for low CO2 emissions].”

The expanding population is also impeding the city’s struggle to rein in transport emissions, the biggest challenge by far to its fossil-fuel free ambition. Of the 2.4 tonnes of CO2 Växjö’s residents emitted in 2014, more than two tonnes was on transport.

Björkmarker explains that the city is spread over a 30km area, and attracts workers who live as far as an hour’s drive away. All municipal buses run on biogas from its food waste, but the city’s focus is on increasing the uptake of cycling by expanding its already extensive cycle routes, pedestrianising streets, cutting down on vehicle use, and promoting electric bicycles and electric cars.

Driving me around in one of the city’s green-fuel fleet the next day, Frank returns to Veab to show me the electric car refuelling station, powered by the biomass plant, where taxi driver Lars Göranson is filling up his newly delivered Tesla. “I am so proud of this because it is locally produced, environmental energy,” Frank says.

Next stop is a city-run nursery school in a new suburb called Vikaholm, where most buildings are made entirely of wood and many to passive house standards – so energy-efficient that their occupants’ body heat is enough to keep them warm, even in the depths of a Swedish winter.

The nursery school is where Växjö begins grooming its green citizens of the future. From the age of one, they learn how to sort their waste, teacher Lena Rydell says, and how to value nature during frequent outings in the nearby forest.

It is lunchtime, and as Frank shows me the weekly menu, he explains that 40% of all food in city-run institutions such as nurseries and the hospital is organic, and vegetarian at least once a week. “I’m hoping to introduce meat-free Mondays,” he adds. “Paul McCartney said if all slaughterhouses had glass walls then everyone would be vegetarian.”

I’m not sure that the pint-sized patrons of Vikaholm nursery are with him on this point. Every Wednesday the children get to vote for their own meals and they are tucking into pasta and meat sauce, their favourite. Chef Nathalie Johansson says vegetarian options are mainly Quorn-based, masquerading as chicken.

There are other hints of resistance to Växjö’s centrally planned green revolution during my 24 hours in the city. One young resident of a passive house apartment grumbles about having to open windows to cool it down at times: “We have a thermostat but it doesn’t seem to matter what I put it on.”

But in general, Frank believes Växjö’s residents are proud of their city’s green reputation, and is planning to promote it further at next month’s UN climate conference in Paris with the launch of the “Växjö Declaration”, which will call on all European local authorities to become fossil-fuel free. Växjö was a founding member of the Covenant of Mayors, a group of 6,612 European cities that have pledged to go further than the EU on climate protection.

Frank has fond memories of the Beatles era and the radicalism of the 1970s – but he is even more excited about the coming environmental battle, which he believes cities must lead.

“During the 70s I was so pessimistic. I didn’t even feel there was life after 1984 [George Orwell’s dystopic book],” he says. “But I am quite optimistic today. We have the knowledge of what to do and we have the techniques to do it. It’s all about politicians being brave enough to take decisions – and mayors are doing a better job than national governments on climate protection, because they are closer to the people.” more

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chinese economics without spectacular growth?

The Chinese economy continues to amaze and confuse.  They are discovering that double-digit growth is an historical rarity and that hoping the rest of the world can absorb their excess industrial capacity is a dream. The only alternative to being the world's workshop is to have an economy where Chinese workers can buy most of their industrial output.  What they really need is their version of Henry Ford.

Worse, China is discovering that elbowing your way to the top of the global production heap by paying slave wages and cutting environmental corners is a whole lot easier than growing an economy where you have to invent the next big thing.  Worse, they are discovering that environmental concerns are not some irrelevant first-world problem as the great cities of China disappear in clouds of choking smog.

Throw into this mix the problem that China has a large predator class trying to make a killing in real estate and other forms of speculation.  Gear economic policy to make the thieves happy and the real economy suffers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Big Short has been made into a movie

Tony and I are big fans of Michael Lewis.  Personally, I don't think of him as especially profound when it comes to the big matters of macroeconomics, but he makes a huge contribution to our understanding of how economics is played out in the real world.  If you believe that the folks who are moving large sums of money around and making major impacts on the global economy don't really know what they are doing, Lewis will provide you with ample and detailed evidence for why such a belief is perfectly justified.

Not surprisingly, his book detailing the story of what created the catastrophes of 2007-8—which he called The Big Short—is still one of the best.  Tony did a huge review of it in a June 1, 2011 post.  Fortunately, a movie has been made of The Big Short that has won the approval of Lewis himself.  Considering how many great books have been turned into truly wretched movies that infuriated the authors, this is no small accomplishment.  If this movie turns into the definitive description of the Wall Street corruption / stupidity that spawned the economic disaster that still negatively impacts billions of people to this day, then it may become one of the more important movies of all time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

TPP—even worse than expected

The TPP covers 5,554 pages of dense legalese which probably means there are at least that many really bad ideas contained therein.  As far as I am concerned, however, the biggest problem of such agreements are twofold:
  • The real economy has many elements.  Trade agreements tend to focus on the merchandising side to the exclusion of almost everything else—most especially manufacturing.  Here in USA, this sort of unbalanced approach has led to an almost complete de-industrialization while at the same time, has caused retailing space to skyrocket to over 85 square ft. per capita.  The structural problems this unbalanced approach has caused to the economy is almost incalculable. 
  • Agreements like TPP essentially outlaw any attempts citizens might want to try to bring some balance to the public sphere including local-content laws, environmental controls, and most especially public banking.  Private finance will NEVER create the funds necessary to address big problems like climate change.  As a result, agreements like TPP will make meaningful attempts to correct the problems that lead to climate change legally and structurally impossible.
As a result, stopping TPP is literally a matter of life and death.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We Want Our Markka Back!

The thing that Finland is most famous for is their schools.  And with good reason.  Their splendid performance in internationally administered achievements tests is easily verified by visiting the place.  Those educated people not only did well in school, they keep learning all their lives.

So the Finns demonstrate what is possible when it comes to democratic self-government.  If they get something wrong, there are usually pretty good reasons.  And easily the most disastrous public choices they ever made were their decisions to join the EU and adopt the Euro.  I asked one of those scary-smart Finns a few years back why they did something so certain to mess up their lives.  Well, he was not about to agree with assessment that the EU was a disaster waiting to happen.
  • The educated class were nearly unanimous in agreeing that joining EU was an opportunity not to be missed.  Add into the mix the support of the big exporters like Nokia and almost no one dared to question the wisdom of EU membership.
  • Finland still nurses some old wounds and chief among them is the very real lack of respect she feels she has earned.  Hardly anyone can find them on a map.  It was the late 19th century before the Finnish language was used at their national university.  The phenomenal management of post WW II relations with USSR was turned into the insult "Finlandization."  Nokia was mistaken for being Japanese by almost everyone.  Etc.  Joining the EU was designed to fix that problem because Finland was being asked to join one of the more exclusive clubs in the world.  
  • Finland's intellectual classes had no problem with the neoliberal assumptions built into the Euro.  The left in Europe is notoriously weak on monetary policy and the right was pretty enthusiastic about the tight monetary constraints.  Why should we object to the monetary constraints? they asked.  Finland is already managed this conservatively.  I was informed that the Finnish Central Bank had been closed and their lushly appointed building was now being used by the University of Helsinki.  What could go wrong?
Well, actually quite a bit.  Finland now finds her economy in deep trouble.  Nokia is in ruins—rolled over by the smartphone revolution.  The frugal Finns have been forced to cosign for the debts of places like Greece.  And then the most unnecessary disaster—the Eurozone decision to start an economic war on Russia.  Without trade with Russia, Finland's economy is crippled.

I'd like to say I predicted all this trouble but I did not.  I merely pointed out that any currency designed by a University of Chicago extremist like the Euro, had a truly gruesome track record.  Neoliberalism would fail because it was mathematically insane.  The rest of those disasters were essentially random.  And I simply cannot believe that those Finns won't be trying to maintain their commercial ties with Russia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Paul Craig Roberts on re-enserfment of west

Living through the 1980s de-industrialization of USA led me to the conclusion that what I was witnessing was a coordinated attack on the productive middle of the nation.  This was probably the central economic conclusion of Elegant Technology.  Much of USA industrialization was located in the midwest so the Predatory attacks were directed at the geographical middle as well as the economic middle classes.  At one time, this middle looked at the Wall Street moneychangers and recalled the 19th-century Progressives who referred to what is now called flyover territory as the Internal Empire.

The internal empire is where I grew up so I got to know some of the movers and shakers of small-town middle America.  In the town where I graduated from high school, the local high-tech enterprise was this small engineering / manufacturing company that made some of the vital bits necessary for the nuclear power industry.  In fact, they had parts in every nuclear power plant and research facility outside of the Warsaw Pact.  One of the senior management had a son who was fighting the same draft board in 1969-70 as I.  So I got to know him pretty well.  When he got his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1944, he was the only doctoral candidate in E.E. that M.I.T. graduated that year.

Anyone watching The Big Bang Theory might conclude that M.I.T. engineers are these Wolowitz-level  buffoons.  My friend was many things but buffoon was certainly not one of them.  With his sons, he built an 8" reflector telescope, a serious ham radio, and a Thistle (a sporty 17' sailboat.)  He built a harpsichord for his wife.  He owned a 38' Alden Challenger that while he was in charge of maintenance was always shipshape.  I helped him launch it one spring and the main chore was stepping the mast.  As we were snugging up the stays, he appeared with this beautiful instrument that could determine the tension on every stay.  When we were done, it was put away in this beautiful teak box lined with red velvet.  This was how he lived his life.  He was the sort of person who built this nation and it is their accomplishments that were destroyed in the great de-industrialization.  I drove by his plant not long ago—it is empty and falling down.  So when I call the banksters vandals, I am not exaggerating one tiny little bit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Climate change is a demand-side problem

Today we examine two approaches to the Paris climate debate.  One points out the inadequacy of the carbon targets being talked about for Paris.  The other cites the massive costs for doing nothing.  Both suggest the futility of such gatherings.

Regular readers understand I think it insane to fly in a bunch of delegates from around the world (at significant expense to the atmosphere) to attempt to find an agreement on targets that governments will pinky-swear to meet by methods still to be determined.  It is insane.  If these people were at ALL serious about the climate-change problem, the FIRST thing they would do is cancel these goofy conferences to show that they intend to at least address their OWN carbon footprints.

But the problem is worse than even that madness.  The environmental bureaucrats on their way to Paris have a serious flaw in their reasoning—they think they can fix the problem on the supply side.  Beat up on the oil companies.  Stop building pipelines.  Tax the shit out of hydrocarbons so people will think harder about their energy-buying decisions.  You know the drill.  But when it comes to addressing the demand side, their suggestions are usually worse than lame.  Of course, they're lame—we can't have carbon considerations change things like big climate conferences or Al Gore flying around in a Gulfstream.

It's kind of like the thinking that gave us the war on drugs.  Use military methods to stop the supply but do nothing to dry up demand (assuming any such thing is possible.)  One might argue that there is essentially an infinite demand for liquid fossil fuels just like there seems to be an unlimited demand for feel-good drugs.  One big difference, however.  If we cannot dry up demand for fossil fuels through intensive infrastructure redesign, we will most certainly destroy the biosphere for human habitation.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Military Keynesianism is the lamest variant

This story about military procurement depresses the hell out of me
  • The free time of my youth was spent in the passionate pursuit of all things aircraft.  I had several relatives who worked for Boeing so I had a tribal rooting interest.  The 50s and 60s were the golden years of USA aerospace.  When I was young, the fact that USA aerospace was #1 was a subject beyond reasonable debate.  So it pains me to admit that my favorite high-performance airplane these days is the Sukhoi Su-35 (of course, my favorite when I was in high school was the F-104 so what do I know?)
  • As someone who believes in the necessity for government spending on basic research, I hate it when such spending stops producing results and is instead squandered on various sorts of corruption.  A society can get into a lot of bad habits when the principles of a building culture are lost.  I just hope they haven't been lost forever.
It is tempting to discuss government spending in terms of those projects that were so successful.  Without it, there would be no cellphones, or GPS, or mass-produced antibiotics, or personal computers, etc.  But the F-35 is a perfect example of why reasonable people often wonder if governments can do ANYTHING right.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Portugal and their new left government

Well, it looks like the Portuguese left is going to try to gain enough power to vote out the austerity measures passed by the previous government.  If this sounds like Greece round 2, it probably is—including the blackmail by the creditor classes.

That is not to say that such gestures are futile.  Even Greece's was not.  Ultimately, the goal must be to seize power from the club of central bankers and return it to the citizens.  For this to succeed, a lot of players will have to get on board because the current central banking system is VERY entrenched.

What is more, the goal probably isn't to put the central banks out of business (the day that happened something very like a central bank would have to be erected in its place), the goal is to make them enact policies the lead to job creation and a building of the necessary green infrastructure.  And widespread criticism might just be enough to alter the policies of the current system.

We know this is possible because it happened before.  Marriner Eccles, FDR's central banker, was from Utah.  When he was growing up, he had to have heard all the conflicting monetary theories that swirled around the West.  What made him so effective was that he was able to incorporate the growth component of those Western monetary theories into the structure of the Fed.

If the Portuguese concentrate on asking for what they want within the terms of the Central Banking establishment, they will soon pick up political allies.  The central bankers make a big deal out their "independence."  And under normal circumstances, they are granted that independence.  But these are not normal circumstances.  By embracing neoliberalism, the central banks have triggered catastrophic failure to the real economy.  Guys, if you keep screwing up, you're going to lose a significant part of your "independence."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Russia defends Christianity

Anyone who believes that religion is just a cushy set-up that allows some corrupt charlatans the opportunity to fleece the rubes, has a valid point because this is often true—especially here in USA.  Yet as disgusting as may be to watch a televangelist take money from widows who are living on Social Security, this is, believe it or not, a VAST improvement over some of the social arrangements that have historically included religious practices.

My background is Lutheran and the realization that religious people like my parents had a long history of messing with government was very slow in coming.  I remember the first time I really looked at a chess set and wondered what the bishop was doing on the back row next to the king and queen because my parents didn't hang out with anyone who was in any way royalty.  And then I spent some time in Scandinavia and realized that even though these were countries where only a tiny number attended devout observances, the Lutheran Church still had considerable clout.  Lutherans with political power—amazing.

One of the perks of having a state church is that it is possible to hire scholars to explain its actions to the outside world.  And since these positions pay fairly well, the scholars tend to be first rate.  Today's piece was written by a Danish scholar who spends her time telling the tales of woe that have befallen Christians in the middle east.  This is also an eye-opener because you could probably count on the fingers of one hand the citizens of USA who even KNOW that there are Christians in places like Iraq.  (Of course, thanks to our bungling, there aren't all that many Christians left in Iraq.)

And so, Putin of Russia, who seems to be a devout Orthodox Christian, has made the rescue of ME Christians part of his mission in Syria.  This is confusing the heck out of the dime-store "Christians" like Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz.  After all, the USA state propaganda long demonized the USSR for their godlessness.  Now Russia has become too religious for their meager abilities to understand.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The costs of economic hopelessness

There are people who actually believe that somehow the USA economy is growing so fast, the Fed will soon have to cool things off by raising interest rates.  That's what comes of creating economic statistics so brazenly phony, they describe almost nothing.  And possibly the worst are those goofy unemployment statistics.  Everyone knows that there are almost no jobs that pay a living wage anymore, and that anyone who once had a decent job can only look back on that job and sigh.

The victims of the prolonged economic stagnation that I know are usually highly educated, crazy hard-working, and often also white and male—the supposed blessed members of society.  They have had their jobs destroyed by downsizing and off-shoring.  Many have tried to become self-employed—which usually is just a term for unemployed with a fancy business card and a website.  So it doesn't take a lot to imagine the plight of those who find themselves further down the economic ladder.

So now, instead of bogus economic statistics that ignore this massive economic distress, the "invisible" army of un and underemployed is now showing up in health and mortality statistics.  The picture is not pretty.  Recently, I asked someone what they had planned for retirement. "Suicide" was the answer.  He wasn't kidding.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Paris COP 21—courting irrelevance

Let's get something perfectly clear.  I doesn't matter one little bit what CO2 targets the various environmental bureaucrats agree to in Paris IF there isn't a serious plan to finance the changes necessary to meet those targets.  NONE!  So it is even less important that the plans they are attempting to pass in Paris aren't even enough to theoretically make a difference.  Some suggestions:
  • Instead of these "30% reduction by 2020"-type targets, the approach should be 100% reduction as soon as possible and get on with an all-fronts program.  Fighting over some numbers is pretty damn juvenile when you think about it.
  • The fossil-fuel industry should stop worrying about its "future."  Considering how complex it will be to eliminate the need for those fuels, they will be hard-pressed to supply the (hopefully) declining demand.  (Of course, considering how far ahead of the curve oil company scientists were on the science of climate change, they probably know this too.)  Besides, even if we stop burning petroleum, we will still need the stuff as lubricants and feedstocks.
  • The article below is from The Guardian.  The Brits are good at showing concern but are very unlikely to contribute to the production of the pieces necessary to build the new green society.  Their industrialization was exposed as second-rate at roughly the time Titanic sank (1912) and it is unlikely to recover.  But they could do the planet a HUGE favor—stop the criminality of the City.  We cannot build a green world with criminals running the economy.  Fix that problem and we will forgive the Brits if they never invent better solar cells or storage devices.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Paul Craig Roberts on jobs offshoring

Those of us who worked hard to defeat NAFTA had moments when would look at each other and wonder, "Who can possibly be for this thing because it is really hard to see who benefits?"  In fact we could not think of anyone who would benefit.

There were others who agreed with us.  H. Ross Perot, a guy who made a significant fortune creating the computer systems so the government could administer Medicare, called NAFTA "the great sucking sound" as it threaten to destroy the real economy.  So you didn't have to be an assembly-line worker from Ohio making parts for GM to know that your job would be threatened.  You could be a loud, jug-eared, multi-millionaire from Texas and predict the damage.

Paul Craig Roberts was a high treasury department official in the Reagan administration and even he understood the fraudulent and absurd nature of the free-trade argument.  Anyone with a minimal awareness of the history of USA industrialization could see the anti-industrial nature of the "Free" Marketeers.

And yet, 23 years after the passage of NAFTA and overwhelming evidence that the free traitors were completely wrong, they still keep plunging forward with their specious arguments.  We now have ample evidence that indeed, there are winners from these policies.  It's just that they number less than 1% of the population.  Even with all this evidence, there is a pretty good chance that the latest iteration of "free trade," the TPP, will pass.

Perhaps they need Tony to explain how the American System worked.

As for me, the reason I detest the "free trade" thinking that caused almost incalculable damage to USA industrialization, is that building a green sustainable society requires incredible expertise in building the very difficult.  Deindustrialization sold off this expertise for pennies on the dollar and considering the state of our education systems including apprenticeships, rebuilding that expertise will be expensive and time-consuming.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

DW on climate change and the possibilities for Paris

The best part about getting environmental news from the German press is that for the most part, Germans are environmentalists no matter what party they belong to.  CDU Angela Merkel leads a very right-wing government yet her environmental record easily shames Al Gore's.  The result is that environmental reporting is not beholden to, or afraid of, anyone's political agenda.  The other interesting consideration is that because environmental matters are beyond political controversy, the environmental actions they have taken include massive investments in new hardware.

Deutsche Welle's take on the possibility for meaningful action at the COP 21 conference in Paris is somewhat pessimistic.  Their complaint mirrors mine—when are people going to figure out just how big this problem is? (those are my bold italics below)

The USA press is worse than pathetic.  It has no courage in the face of political controversy.  It cannot explain how to read scientific data.  But mostly, it doesn't give a shit.  Cover a meeting in Paris dealing with a complicated subject?  Are you kidding?—there's a Kardashian posing nude somewhere.