Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE" read the yellow warning sign...

The Coming Global Superstorms

In many ways, it will not be as bad as The Coming Global Superstorm or The Day After Tomorrow, but in other ways it could be ten times worse.

Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries

GIANT boulder set in place in The Bahamas the last time we had global superstorms.
That was 120,000 years ago.
Source: Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post, via Getty Images, via The New York Times.

The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous.
The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.
“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.
Thing is, for the month of February, we've already peeked above the global 1.5 C temperature rise that the COP21 agreed to target to stay below sea-level rise that would be dangerous to the low-lying island and river-delta nations. And the World Meteorological Organization has noted that the extreme temperature rises and the attendant climate-related events at the beginning of this year have shocked scientists around the climate science community, and implied that dangerous climate change has arrived by noting that the events and temps that have just happened have never been seen before in our historical records.
"The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented in modern records." — Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization
The WMO notes a number of extreme and significant climate change related events in its most recent annual report. A series of events that, according to monthly monitoring by NOAA, continued on into a record hot February of 2016. Image source: NOAA. via Robertscribbler.

And a few days before, Robertscribbler noted that without a fast switch to renewables (hydro, solar, wind) and of course, to conservation, rapid climate change could be imminent: a study done in Australia notes that if we continue to increase the extraction, mining and combustion of fossil fuels as usual, we could reach and blow through in 2030 the 2C limit when the really dangerous climate change -- i.e., the coming global superstorms -- develops.

And any related shift in global policy back toward coal, while continuing to build out oil and gas production and consumption based infrastructure would rapidly re-assert the dangerous rates of atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions growth the world has seen over the past few decades. In addition, all current indicators show use of natural gas and oil continuing to expand. And without coordinate reductions in these other two big carbon emitters, a floor will be set on how far greenhouse gas emissions can fall through the, admittedly positive, apparent shift away from coal alone.

As the Australian scientists note ... — you can’t really have much hope of a milder impact from climate change unless you rapidly replace all new growth-based infrastructure with renewables (and related non-carbon emitters). Any new fossil fuel based infrastructure is basically making an already bad problem worse. And continued wholesale reliance on fossil fuels locks in catastrophic climate change over very short time horizons.

Are we -- that is, the movers, shakers and drivers of our economy -- going to do the switchover necessary to forestall this dangerous climate change? After all, the other side peak oil may not hit until 2030, and we could be at or above the limit of 2C temperature rise since the 1880s, and get cast headlong into the age of the global superstorms, with frontal systems the size of mid-size continents and the strength of Category 5 Hurricanes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Donald Trump and the Working Class Whites

As you know, Donald Trump is making a very good showing among working class whites, particularly among working class white males. People like Chris Hedges believe this is an incipient and imminent form of pure fascism. Others like Luce, whose article was reposted by The Automatic Earth, say it is a new form of class warfare in America.

First Luce's turn, revealing that the USA Conservative elites are just as "Librul" as the Liberal elites.:
Say what you like about Donald Trump, he knows his market. "I love the poorly educated," he said recently to cheers from those he loves.  The rest of America inhaled sharply.  Welcome to a very un-American debate.  Once redundant, the term "working class" is now part of everyday conversation.  In an age of stifling correctness, the only people who are fair game are blue-collar whites.  How absurd these people are, we tell each other, and how ignorant.  Don't they know Mr Trump was born rich?  Can they really be so stupid as to fall for his con trick?  The derision is not limited to liberal elites.  Educated conservatives are just as scathing.  Take the National Review, a flagship of thinking conservatives, that described Mr. Trump as a "ridiculous buffoon with the worst taste since Caligula."

In January it pulled together 22 intellectuals to condemn Mr. Trump's candidacy as an existential threat to conservatism.  Their efforts had no impact on Mr. Trump's fan base.  Now the magazine has switched to damning his supporters.  By declaring open season on blue-collar whites, Kevin Williamson's widely read essay on "white working class dysfunction" marks a turning point.  Yet he is only putting into writing what many conservatives say.  "the truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die," Mr. Williamson writes. "Economically, they are negative assets.  Morally, they are indefensible... the white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.  Donald Trump's speeches make them feel good.  So does OxyContin."

Margaret Thatcher's acolyte, Norman Tebbit, once sparked fury by implying the jobless should get on their bikes to find work.  Mr. Williamson says America's benighted working classes should hire a U-Haul and move on.  As an exercise in condescension, Mr. Williamson's words rival the most inbred hereditary peer.  As an economic prescription, it is wide of the mark.  Millions of Americans are anchored to blighted communities by negative equity, or other ties that bind.  Their life expectancy is falling.  Their participation in the labour market is dropping.  The numbers signing up to disability benefits is rising.  Opoid prescription drugs are rife.  Those that are white tend to vote for Mr. Trump.  On Super Tuesday this month, the counties with the highest rates of white mortality -- whether to overdoses, suicide or other symptoms of community breakdown -- came out heavily for Mr. Trump.  The correlation was almost exact, according to a Wonkblog study.
And there's no place for them TO go to find jobs, thanks to globalization. They are UN, EM, PLOY-A-BLE, thanks to the exporting and automation of jobs, worldwide. As wages stagnated in the US, lot of the jobs went to Mexico and then to China and then other Emerging Market (used to be called 3rd World) countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia; now the developed countries can't but the exports! And jobs were exported from China, too. Now with the reverses in oil prices and other commodity prices, even the Chinese working classes are hurting, or are going to hurt, big-time. They're realized the business elites have screwed them and the cultural elites hate them, so they're voting for Trump.

Of course, if Trump doesn't get it, it'll get even worse. Which means the white working class could pick the first true fascist who comes down the pike, and joined by others, bring him to power. This is what Chris Hedges predicts -- if not now, then later; if not Trump, then somebody else, quoting :

Richard Rorty in his last book, “Achieving Our Country,” written in 1998, presciently saw where our postindustrial nation was headed.
Many writers on socioeconomic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
And this doesn't even begin to touch on the absolute rage that the white working classes will feel, when, not if, but when, Donald Trump either fails to get elected, is assassinated by the Deep State letting it happen on purpose or through indifference and incompetency just like they did 9-11, or gets in line with the Washington Consensus and all its negatively productive foreign and domestic policy initiatives, whether economic, diplomatic, geopolitical, or military. After all, the Donald made his fortune by hiring mom-and-pop small business contractors to build his developments and then screwing them by declaring bankruptcy, not paying on what he owed them. He has the "support" of at least one notorious neocon -- one by the name of William Kristol. And now he's appeared before AIPAC, and got a standing ovation just like Hillary, telling AIPAC what they want to hear:

Speaking with the aide [sic!] of a teleprompter at AIPAC Monday evening, Donald Trump managed not to offend Jewish voters with a prepared speech "about where I stand on the future of American relations with the only democracy in the Middle East, the state of Israel."

Trump received a standing ovation for his comments on President Obama, who he said, "constantly apologizes to our friends and rewards our enemies."
"My No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran," he said.  We have rewarded the world's leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion and we received absolutely nothing in return."

Trump characterized Palestine as the undisputed antagonist, saying that, "In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews."

Which means in foreign policy, nothing will change for the better, only for the worse (unless you don't like Muslims).

Does this sound like an honest guy who will bring fascism to this country while waving the flag and carrying a Christian cross? No, this sounds like a con-artist, who, once he gets into the Oval Office, will throw his white working-class base under the bus.

Don't say I didn't warn you guys.