Stories Of the Pit

Posted: April 21st, 2011 by: h2

I have collected a variety of links and don’t really have anything to do with them, so I’ll just post them and let you figure it out.

All of them are in some way or other related to the state of the pit now, no future fantasies are required to see the rapidly approaching future world.

  • Nature stunner: Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton – ClimateProgress.org – 2010-07-29 — Scientists may have found the most devastating impact yet of human-caused global warming — a 40% decline in phytoplankton since 1950 linked to the rise in ocean sea surface temperatures. If confirmed, it may represent the single most important finding of the year in climate science.
  • How we wrecked the oceans — Part II – declineoftheempire.com – 2010-08-01 — The latest issue of Nature contained a paper by Daniel G. Boyce, Marlon R. Lewis & Boris Worm called Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. This research describes a planetary catastrophe which, on a scale of 1 to 10, ranks about 8.5 on the disaster scale. This post should be viewed as a follow-up to How We Wrecked The Oceans (DOTE, May 17, 2010).
  • Reactions to the phytoplankton crisis – declineoftheempire.com – 2010-08-05 — As I was preparing my post How We Wrecked The Oceans—Part II, I ran across several reactions from scientifically illiterate but politically savvy bloggers. I want to go through some of what they said. I am not here to praise them.
  • Russia’s oil peak and the German reunification – crudeoilpeak.com — Of interest to us now is how the peaking of Russian oil production impacted on the events in 1990, which was also the year of Saddam Hussein’s invasion in Kuwait (August 1990). We had a convergence of many events, just like today as the global peak is happening. It is important to learn the lessons of the past. It seems that current governments – who still do business as usual and allow new airports and freeways to be built – are still not aware of what consequences peak oil events can have and that they have to prepare for what is coming.
  • Bolivia’s dissent strips the Cancun deal naked – climateandcapitalism.com – 2010-12-19 — Bolivia’s indefatigable negotiator, Pablo Solon, put it most cogently in the concluding plenary, when he said that the only way to assess whether the agreement had any ‘clothes’ was to see if it included firm commitments to reduce emissions and whether it was enough to prevent catastrophic climate change. The troubling reality, as he pointed out, is that the agreement merely confirms the completely inadequate voluntary pledges of reductions of 13-16% by 2020 made since Copenhagen’s talks.
  • Measuring the meltdown – nature.com – 2010-11-10 — Cold, remote and threatened by global warming: the description applies not only to the North and South Poles, but also to a region of more than five million square kilometres, centred on the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayas, that researchers call the third pole
  • History of Crises: The First Global Energy Crisis of 1973-1974 – profi-forex.us – 2010-11-17 — 1973 saw the first and severest energy crisis brought about by OPEC countries who reduced oil production. The economic crisis that started in the US in late 1973 significantly surpassed the global economic crisis of 1957-1958 in terms of the number of affected countries, duration, severity and devastation and, in certain aspects, was similar to that of 1929-1933. Besides, over 10 million people were shifted to part-time or laid off by companies. Real income of population fell everywhere. However, the 1973 Oil Crisis boosted oil exports to the West from the Soviet Union and heralded the independence of the USSR and, later, Russia from the oil pipeline and oil dollars.
  • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Wants To Spill Your Corporate Secrets – forbes.com – 2010-11-29 — In a rare interview, Assange tells Forbes that the release of Pentagon and State Department documents are just the beginning. His next target: big business. More at counterpunch.org. And a negative view of Wikileaks from Cryptome via theRegister.co.uk (why was I not surprised to see theRegister post this…?)
  • Bank of England – Speeches – By Speaker — Here are the details of speeches made by Bank personnel which have been made available to the public sorted by speaker (including recent ones by Mervyn King, Governor).
  • The United States of Inequality – slate.com – 2010-09-03 — Income inequality in the United States has not worsened steadily since 1915. It dropped a bit in the late teens, then started climbing again in the 1920s, reaching its peak just before the 1929 crash. The trend then reversed itself. Incomes started to become more equal in the 1930s and then became dramatically more equal in the 1940s. Income distribution remained roughly stable through the postwar economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. … It’s generally understood that we live in a time of growing income inequality, but “the ordinary person is not really aware of how big it is,” Krugman told me. During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth—the “seven fat years” and the ” long boom.” Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent. Economic growth was more sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20 percent. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads.
  • Why the US has really gone broke by Chalmers Johnson – Le Monde – 2008 — Global confidence in the US economy has reached zero, as was proved by last month’s stock market meltdown. But there is an enormous anomaly in the US economy above and beyond the subprime mortgage crisis, the housing bubble and the prospect of recession: 60 years of misallocation of resources, and borrowings, to the establishment and maintenance of a military-industrial complex as the basis of the nation’s economic life
  • How Many Cancers Did Chernobyl Really Cause?—Updated Version – allthingsnuclear.org – 2011-04-17 — There is a lot of confusion about how many excess cancer deaths will likely result from the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine. There are two main sources of confusion: information that is confusing—and in some cases misleading—put out by authoritative sources, and large inherent uncertainties in estimates of the effects of the accident. Because of these inherent uncertainties, it is perhaps most appropriate to only cite order-of-magnitude results: the numbers of excess cancers and cancer deaths worldwide will be in the tens of thousands.

    However, based on the data given below, 53,000 and 27,000 are reasonable estimates of the number of excess cancers and cancer deaths that will be attributable to the accident, excluding thyroid cancers. (The 95% confidence levels are 27,000 to 108,000 cancers and 12,000 to 57,000 deaths.) In addition, as of 2005, some 6,000 thyroid cancers and 15 thyroid cancer deaths have been attributed to Chernobyl. That number will grow with time.

  • Economic Contraction – transitionus.org – 2011-04-06 — Just like peak oil and global warming, economic contraction is a “game changer.” As the economy we now know crumbles, the far-reaching repercussions will sculpt every aspect of our future. In my opinion, any long-term plan — Transition EDAPs included — must anticipate that it will unfold amidst a world of economic contraction. We have to plan for it, and put alternative financial tools in place to weather it, or it will undermine all of our other efforts. (Part of a serially formatted posting, this is part 1).

    “The scale of denial is breathtaking.” — Jerry Mander

  • A Mad Scientist’s 50 Tools for Sustainable Communities – theatlantic.com – 2011-03-23 — In the middle of rural Missouri there is a physicist-turned-farmer looking to redefine the way we build the world. Marcin Jakubowski is the mastermind behind a group of DIY enthusiasts known as Open Source Ecology and their main project, the Global Village Construction Set. The network of engineers, tinkerers, and farmers is working to fabricate 50 different low-cost industrial machines. A complete set, they say, would be capable of supporting a sustainable manufacturing and farming community of about 200 people almost anywhere across the globe—a “small-scale civilization with modern comforts.”
  • Can Nuclear Power Be Part of the Solution? – thesolutionsjournal.com – 2011-04-05 — As the unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan has shown, the costs of cleanup after a nuclear meltdown are borne in large part by national governments and taxpayers rather than the industry. Paying for cleanup is just one of many hidden costs of nuclear energy that make judging the value of nuclear power difficult.
  • Tsunami-hit towns forgot warnings from ancestors – Associated Press – 2011-04-06 — Hundreds of such markers dot the coastline, some more than 600 years old. Collectively they form a crude warning system for Japan, whose long coasts along major fault lines have made it a repeated target of earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries.
  • ‘Indigenous thinking can solve climate crises,’ says Bolivia’s foreign minister – guardian.co.uk – 2011-04-13 — “Bolivia is not trying to wreck the climate talks. We are only trying to defend life, the future of new generations. We must guarantee that we are going to reduce the planet’s temperature by one degree centigrade, as the scientists have said. We didn’t know anything about this topic and it’s been scientists who said that [temperatures have increased] 0.8C, and we are already feeling the consequences. The Europeans have said we [must hold temperatures to] 2C but with the Cancún resolutions the same scientists are saying that the planet could have 4C temperature rise with disastrous consequences for us.

    “At these summits the Europeans have said that with 2C rise in temperature, planet Earth has a 50-50 chance of surviving. We said, if a person knows that a plane on take-off has only a 50-50 chance of landing at its destination, would that person let his son board that plane? He wouldn’t. That’s the risk.

  • Radioactivity in the Ocean:
    Diluted, But Far from Harmless – yale.edu – 2011-04-07
    — With contaminated water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear complex continuing to pour into the Pacific, scientists are concerned about how that radioactivity might affect marine life. Although the ocean’s capacity to dilute radiation is huge, signs are that nuclear isotopes are already moving up the local food chain.
  • Bolivia enshrines natural world’s rights with equal status for Mother Earth – guardian.co.uk – 2011-04-10 — Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.
  • Japan nuclear crisis goes global – atimes.com – 2011-04-16 — Radiation is spreading around the world as a small nuclear wasteland grows near the heart of Japan. The desperate struggle to restart the crippled reactors’ own cooling systems in order to bring them under control is producing little to no results, and is shrouded in uncertainties.
  • The planet strikes back – atimes.com – 2011-04-16 — In fact, on our punch-drunk planet, we’ve never seen anything like what’s underway at Fukushima – not one, but four adjacent nuclear reactors, three of which seem to have suffered partial meltdowns, and several containment pools for “spent” fuel (which, in terms of radioactivity, is anything but spent) in various states of distress.

    Meanwhile, talk about the weeks needed to bring the situation under control has faded into perilous months, years, decades, even a century of cleanup and recovery. There is speculation that some of the core of at least one reactor has already “leaked from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of [its] containment structure” – and every action to bring the complex under some kind of control only seems to create, or threatens to create, other unexpected problems (like that “lightly radioactive” water).

  • Mongolia Rail Eases China Rare Earth Grip: Freight Markets – bloomberg.com – 2011-04-21 — Mongolia’s aim of quadrupling its rail network will send coal, copper and rare earths to nations such as Japan and South Korea under a plan to reduce reliance on the Chinese market and boost economic development.
  • Nature to Get Legal Rights in Bolivia – wired.com – 2011-04-18 — Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth is set to pass. On Wednesday the United Nations will discuss a proposed treaty based on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (.pdf), which was drafted by environmentalists last year. Both mandate legal recognition of ecosystems’ right to exist.

    It’s highly unlikely that the United Nations would pass any such treaty in the foreseeable future, and the discussion has been criticized as a time-wasting political maneuver. But the intellectual argument for nature’s rights isn’t necessarily a patchouli-soaked Gaia fantasy translated into legalese. Some say it’s a practical extension of ecological insight.

  • The Truth About American Exceptionalism – onthecommons.org – 2011-04-18 — Indeed, to me there are two American exceptionalisms. One is the exceptionally favorable circumstances the United States found itself in at its founding and over its first 200 years. The second is the exceptional way in which we have squandered those advantages, in the process creating a value system singularly antagonistic to the changes needed when those advantages disappeared.

    Americans did not become rich because of our rugged individualism or entrepreneurial drive or technical inventiveness. We were born rich. Ann Richards’ famous description of George Bush Sr. as an individual is equally applicable to the United States as a whole, “He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

  • MUST READ: Jeremy Grantham On Ignoring Eisenhower And The Two Most Dangerous Industries In America – businessinsider.com – 2011-01-15 — The gist: Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, and the dangers of misplaced power.

    Eisenhower was right, says Grantham, except it’s not the military industry that exerts too much power on Government. It’s the entire corporate apparatus.

  • Making Room for China: – prudentbear.com – 2011-04-15 — When it comes to Bubble Analysis, the stunning expansion of Treasury debt and Federal Reserve Credit offers an easy target. Yet I’ve posited for two years now the emergence of something quite more expansive – a “Global Government Finance Bubble.” The key dynamics involve an extraordinary expansion of government borrowings and central bank balance sheets around the world – developed and “emerging.” I have argued that China is in the midst of the “terminal phase” of Credit Bubble excess, a circumstance that has created powerful financial and economic interplays with respective U.S. and global Bubbles.

    The current environment could not be more fascinating from the standpoint of analyzing Credit and Bubble dynamics. Most everyone is dismissive of the notion of some new Bubble, in the U.S. or elsewhere. Few are willing to see anything resembling huge excess or market distortions. Meanwhile, charts of Treasury debt, the Fed’s assets, and Chinese reserve holdings confirm that something unique in the history of finance is unfolding right before our eyes.

And that’s it for today’s report, check back now and then for updates on the state of the Pit.

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