Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
We distort reality when we omit the health and environmental costs associated with burning fossil fuels from their prices.
When governments actually subsidize their use, they take the distortion even further. Worldwide, direct fossil fuel subsidies added up to roughly $500 billion in 2010. Of this, supports on the production side totaled some $100 billion. Supports for consumption exceeded $400 billion, with $193 billion for oil, $91 billion for natural gas, $3 billion for coal, and $122 billion spent subsidizing the use of fossil fuel-generated electricity. All together, governments are shelling out nearly $1.4 billion per day to further destabilize the earth’s climate.
Kuwait’s fossil fuel subsidies were highest on a per capita basis, with $2,800 spent per person. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar followed, each spending close to $2,500 per person. More
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The Amazon Basin, traditionally considered a bulwark against global warming, may be becoming a net contributor of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of deforestation, researchers said on Wednesday.
In an overview published in the journal Nature, scientists led by Eric Davidson of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts say the Amazon is "in transition" as a result of human activity.
Over 50 years, the population has risen from six million to 25 million, triggering massive land clearance for logging and agriculture, they said.
The Amazon's carbon budget - the amount of CO2 that it releases into the atmosphere or takes from it - is changing although it is hard to estimate accurately, they said.
"Deforestation has moved the net basin-wide budget away from a possible late 20th-century net carbon sink and towards a net source," according to their paper.
Mature forests such as the Amazon are big factors in the global-warming equation.
Their trees suck up CO2 from the atmosphere through the natural process of photosynthesis. But when they rot or are burned, or the forest land is plowed up, the carbon is returned to the air, adding to the greenhouse effect.
The paper estimates that the biomass of the Amazon contains a whopping 100 billion tonnes of carbon - the equivalent of more than 10 years of global fossil-fuel emissions.
Global warming, unleashing weather shifts, could release some of this store, it warned.
"Much of the Amazon forest is resilient to seasonal and moderate drought, but this resilience can and has been exceeded with experimental and natural severe droughts, indicating a risk of carbon loss if drought increases with climate change." Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Amazon+Basin+shifting+carbon+emitter+study+says/6016986/story.html#ixzz1jw0zTDTn
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
From competition among hunter-gatherers for wild game to imperialist wars over precious minerals, resource wars have been fought throughout history; today, however, the competition appears set to enter a new—and perhaps unprecedented—phase. As natural resources deplete, and as the Earth’s climate becomes less stable, the world’s nations will likely compete ever more desperately for access to fossil fuels, minerals, agricultural land, and water.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
In 1939, President Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau concluded: “[W]e have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work… I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started.”
New York, NY - The beginning of the Keynesian Era can be dated, perhaps, to September 1931 - the year when Britain intentionally devalued the pound, throwing the world into turmoil and currency conflict.
Today, we are again in an extended period of economic crisis. However, I suspect that this will turn out to be the end of the Keynesian Era - the time when it is, in fact, Keynesianism itself which destroys us.
"Keynesianism" is really just this century's version of Mercantilism, which dates from the beginning of the 17th century. There's nothing particularly new or original about it. Behind the billows of academic obfuscation, it amounts to two policies: exaggerated government spending in the face of recession, and some sort of "easy money" policy. Although the term "Keynesian" has become unfashionable, virtually all academics and government economic advisers are Keynesians today.
The primary attraction of Keynesianism, I would say, is not its wonderful overall results, but rather, that it provides a good excuse for politicians do to what they wanted to do anyway. Any politician knows that a certain way to increase one's popularity is to hand out government money. In a recession, politicians are likely worried about their declining popularity, and thus their first instinct is to hand out more money. The Keynesian economists often boast that the money can be spent on total waste, such as "digging holes and filling them back up".
The other Keynesian trick is some form of "easy money" policy, which usually results in a decline in currency value. Currency devaluation can, in some cases, result in what appears to be a short-term improvement in economic conditions. However, it is said that "you can't devalue yourself to prosperity", and it is true. The countries that have the greatest success in the long term, also have the most stable, highest-quality currencies.
A basic effect of currency devaluation is to reduce real wages, since wages are paid in a devalued currency. This can increase "competitiveness", but it is easy to see that a strategy that reduces real wages cannot create long-term prosperity. More