Sunday, November 7, 2010

Goodbye banksters

This last election has left me reeling.  I am not sure what I find more shocking--the fact that the Republicans seem to determined to nominate and elect drooling morons or that the Democrats are so pathetic they cannot handily beat such creatures.

Me, I am taking a cue from my buddy the Wege who has claimed he will stop blogging about politics.  Since this blog was never meant to be about politics itself, a decision to drop politics should be pretty easy for me.  But since my discussions about economics often fall into the category of "political economy" is isn't as easy as it would first appear.  I may have no problem ignoring the nuts and bolts of politics and elections, but I cannot ignore the reality that politics is often intimately intertwined with economics.  Obama and the Obamabots forgot this reality in the last election and got their hats handed to them.

But what I do promise is that I am going to concentrate on the real problems facing the real economy--and let the fight over which moneychangers broke which laws to someone else.

I am also going to try to paint a better picture of what the economy could look like if a more enlightened political economy took hold.

Let's start by restating the biggest problem of them all--climate change.  The solution to this problem is obvious--we humans are going to have to do without our favorite invention of all time--FIRE!
Climate change: How do we know?
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)
The Earth's climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these changes are attributed to very small changes in the Earth’s orbit changing the amount of solar energy the Earth receives.
The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.
Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. Studying these climate data collected over many years reveal the signals of a changing climate.
Certain facts about Earth's climate are not in dispute:
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many JPL-designed instruments, such as AIRS. Increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.
Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in solar output, in the Earth’s orbit, and in greenhouse gas levels. They also show that in the past, large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands.
The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling! more
My favorite war historian speculates on how climate change will destabilize the rest of human institutions.
FDL Book Salon Welcomes Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats
Saturday, November 6, 2010 11:55 am Pacific time
There are dozens of excellent books on the subject of climate change, dominated heavily by texts examining the scientific underpinnings of our current knowledge about how climate systems work, and looking into what we might expect in the future. Many focus on environmental changes, threats to wildlife and biodiversity, and the public health implications of a hotter world. But Gwynne Dyer’s book “Climate Wars” takes a rather unique approach to the subject, delving into the geopolitical implications of a rapidly destabilizing climate. Drawing heavily on interviews with a wide range of experts, as well as his own history, military and foreign policy expertise, Dyer examines how certain countries, both rich and poor, might respond to climate change, and details the stresses that every nation will face, regardless of their military might or last-minute attempts to build resilience to climate disruption.
Exploring the present and future geopolitics of a warming planet, Dyer notes that climate-change scenarios are already playing a large role in the military planning process. Defense agencies around the world are issuing increasingly gloomy threat assessments and developing long-range strategies focused heavily on the likely impacts of climate change described by the global scientific community. To be blunt, Dyer is not optimistic about what the future holds – global food shortages, waves of climate refugees challenging national borders, wars over water and dwindling resources, and increasingly tense relations between nuclear-armed nations.
“We are not going to get through this without taking a lot of casualties, if we get through it at all,” he writes in the Introduction (xiii). more
Of course, putting out fires may become necessary if we start running out of oil.
Peak Oil Guru Robert Hirsch Gives The Definitive Guide To The Coming Energy Fiasco
Gus Lubin and Hannah Kim | Nov. 4, 2010
There is no greater advocate of peak oil than Robert Hirsch, who directed America's nuclear energy program in the 1970s and authored the first major warning to the Energy Department in 2005.
Hirsch repeated his warning at last month's ASPO-USA conference and said the time has come to adjust your lifestyle and portfolio. more
Former BP Exec: Here's Why Peak Oil Is Real [PRESENTATION]
Anika Anand and Gus Lubin | Nov. 6, 2010
Peak oilists, who gather every year at ASPO-USA, are happy that mainstream media and politicians are acknowledging the concept of diminishing production.
However, they can't understand why the reaction has been so muted.
Former BP Chief Petroleum Engineer Jeremy Gilbert just gave an excellent presentation that responds to every argument against peak oil and emphasizes the need for immediate action. more

Solving these two related problems will be a HUGE task. In fact, there should be no unemployment for decades.  In reality, retarded economic thinking and the politicians who believe such nonsense seem determined to let folks suffer rather than change some old economic ideas.
Study: Longterm Unemployment Has Disastrous Effects On Health And Longevity
First Posted: 11- 5-10 05:23 PM
WASHINGTON -- With 17 percent of the American workforce either unemployed or underemployed, experts predict that the scarring consequences of the recession -- not just on the bank accounts, but on the health and longevity of the jobless -- will be far-reaching and severe.
Dr. Elise Gould, director of health policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, said in a forum on health and unemployment Friday afternoon that research shows that losing one's job can have a "powerful and negative impact" on the health of the jobless, leading to feelings of failure, depression, anxiety, notably increasing the risks of strokes, heart attacks and catastrophic illnesses, and potentially leading to premature mortality.
"After wage losses, the most direct impact of unemployment is loss of health insurance coverage for those who had it in the first place," she said. "But this is only tip of the iceberg when we think about people's health. It's clear that many Americans are still hurting and will be hurting for a very long time." more

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