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Daily Digest 10/23 - Cities Grapple With Pension Debt, 15% Of Young Adults Jobless

Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 8:49 AM

Economy

Higher-education chief: Student-loan debt up 27% in last three years (Massachusetts)

The amount of student-loan debt for graduates of public colleges and universities in Massachusetts has increased by 27 percent over the past three years, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland told a legislative subcommittee Monday.

Study: 15 percent of young adults are jobless

The coalition also found that 49 states have seen an increase in the number of families living in poverty, and 45 states have seen household median incomes fall in the last year. The dour report underscores the challenges young adults face now and foretells challenges they are likely to face as they get older.

China Tries to Clean Up Toxic Legacy of Its Rare Earth Riches

In northern China, near the Mongolian border, radioactively contaminated leaks from two decades of rare earth refining have been slowly trickling underground toward the Yellow River, a crucial water source for 150 million people.

Greeks are 40 percent poorer than 5 years ago, 1.37 million jobless

Gross disposable incomes fell 29.5 percent between the second quarters of 2008 and 2013, the ELSTAT statistics service said on Tuesday in a report. Adding in cumulative consumer price inflation over the same period takes the decline close to 40 percent.

Workers’ compensation has fallen 34 percent since the second quarter of 2009, according to the ELSTAT report. The government, under strict pressure to reduce the ballooning budget deficit, has cut social benefits by 26 percent.

Moody's Credit Officer: Looking At Progress Of Japan Govt's Deficit Reduction

The Japanese government decided earlier this month to raise the consumption tax to 8% from 5% in April to help improve the nation's coffers.

The central government debt is now over Y1 quadrillion, more than twice the size of the economy, by far the highest level among industrialized economies.

Eurozone public debt reaches 90 per cent of GDP

OFFICIAL figures released yesterday show that the Eurozone’s public debt pushed past 90 per cent of GDP in 2012, despite falling government deficits. Between 2009 and 2012, government debt as a percentage of the currency union’s GDP has swelled from 80 to 90.6 per cent, while government deficits have dropped from 6.4 to 3.7 per cent over the same period.

Cities Grapple With Pension Debt

Dozens of local municipalities are facing major budget issues, with pension debts getting much of the blame. And many city workers are finding their retirement funds in danger, or worse. Host Michel Martin speaks with Michael Fletcher of The Washington Post, about the issue.

Emanuel to call for higher parking fines, towing fees (Chicago)

The new fines would be part of a proposed $32.9 million tax, fee and fine boosting package that includes a 75-cent increase in the city tax on a pack of cigarettes, a 50 percent increase in the amusement tax rate on cable TV service and higher fees for zoning applications on large projects, as well as those filed on paper in person rather than electronically.

Chidambaram rules out lifting ban on import of gold coins (India)

Finance Minister P Chidambaram has ruled out the possibility of lifting a ban on import of gold coins and medallions and asked banks to strictly follow guidelines restricting inward shipments of the metal. "Import of gold coins and gold medallions is prohibited. Nobody can import gold coins and medallions," he said, referring to a suggestion that the government should allow import of coins for 'shagun' (auspicious gift) purposes.

Venezuela's funds in US dollars fall sharply

Last week, investment firm Barclays Capital issued a report on Venezuela highlighting that as long as Venezuelan authorities try to keep an artificially low forex rate at VEB 6.30 per US dollar, demand for foreign currency would remain high. Therefore, funds in US dollars would continue to plummet, thus leading to significant devaluation in the mid-term.

Cyprus public debt at 86.6 percent of GDP in 2012, says Eurostat

In particular, public debt stood at 15,350 billion euro or 86.6% of GDP in 2012 compared to 12,778 billion euro or 71.5% of GDP in 2011.

It constitutes the second greatest debt increase in the euro zone after Spain.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 10/22/13

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

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39 Comments

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Home invasion so easy a cave man could do it!

Here's a home invasion so easy a cave man could do it!

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/23759619/suspects-use-hammer-to-beat-bu...

I started a discussion on this crime in the Personal Safety and Home Defense Group if you want to get in on it.

Tom

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Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

I do believe they've overstated the headline. The KSA has not severed ties, which would be a very strong move, but the development is very interesting.

Usually by the time dissatisfaction blows out into the open, it means things broke down behind the scenes.

So something is afoot....

The poor KSA knows that someday its oil runs out and well before then, its water runs out...what will they do then?

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The fate of Princes.

The poor KSA knows that someday its oil runs out and well before then its water runs out...what will they do then?

Chop chop square.

Not everyone is a prince in the house of Saud. There is strong motive to keep the game going for as long as possible.

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Dimitri Orlov Adds a 6th Stage of Collapse--And It Ain't Pretty

Just came across this tonight on zerohedge.com from Dimitri Orlov, the author of The Five Stages of Collapse.  He adds a 6th stage:  environmental collapse.  And he paints an ugly picture.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-10-23/guest-post-sixth-stage-collapse

I admit it: in my last book, The Five Stages of Collapse, I viewed collapse through rose-colored glasses. But I feel that I should be forgiven for this; it is human nature to try to be optimistic no matter what. Also, as an engineer, I am always looking for solutions to problems. And so I almost subconsciously crafted a scenario where industrial civilization fades away quickly enough to save what's left of the natural realm, allowing some remnant of humanity to make a fresh start.

....

And so it seems that there may not be a happy end to my story of The Five Stages of Collapse, the first three of which (financial, commercial, political) are inevitable, while the last two (social, cultural) are entirely optional but have, alas, already run their course in many parts of the world. Because, you see, there is also the sixth stage which I have previously neglected to mention—environmental collapse—at the end of which we are left without a home, having rendered Earth (our home planet) uninhabitable.

This tragic outcome may not be unavoidable. And if it is not unavoidable, then that's about the only problem left that's worth solving.

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not bed time reading...

Excellent article and I love Dimitry's style of writing. I don't know how anyone can make the message that needs to be heard any more dire than this. Japan may yet be the black swan, not because of the financial crap but because of Fukishima. Holy moley..................

Jan

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Re Dmitri Orlov adds a 6th Stage of Collapse-and it ain't pretty

Hey Sand_Puppy- 

   I found Dmitri Orlov's article on the 6th Stage of Collapse -environmental collapse- very disturbing (an excellent article, but disturbing!).  If it is anywhere near an accurate representation of the situation we're in, then the economic collapse may not be our biggest worry.   

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Thanks Sand Puppy

I might have missed that article.  I attended both the Age of Limits weekends Orlov referred to.  There were many presenters that could speak eloquently on the range of subjects we here at PP are familiar with.  But, Orlov had by far the most fertile awareness and wide ranging grasp of our shared predicaments.  I'm glad (if that's the right word) that he has turned his attention to the environmental disasters that cumulatively far outweigh the financial, technological, cultural and resource based calamities we have created for ourselves.

Optimistically speaking, which he claims to be, if we are lucky we will evolve to the higher plane of awareness the Australian aboriginals he describes reached thousands of years ago.  Perhaps our preparations should focus more on figuring out how to live in a state of nature than relying on the numerous artifacts of our technological age.  They seem to be turning on us.

Doug

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Orlov and stage 6

While I believe in the spirit of what Orlov is saying, his prediction needs to be tempered with the understanding that human kind has survived drastic shifts in climate in the past, and that for the impetus (socio-economic collapse, erosion of culture, over-production of offspring) there is a natural output: Resource Scarcity. Resource scarcity won't drive humankind back to the caves - but it does and will facilitate a large scale competition for survival. 

We tend to think of those things in terms of food, clean water and shelter - but when we evaluate our needs based on what keeps *modern* society buoyant, we can include electricity, medicine, heating and air conditioning and refrigeration. Those are resources that we tend to think of as 'for granted', and what they provide drastically eases the burden of surviving. 

Losing these things in the face of a significantly more hostile environment is going to be disasterous - no doubt - but, it will not be all gloom and doom. The Rawlsian concept of "Reflective Equilibrium" can be applied to this problem. There will be some hardship, but enough people still know how to smoke, dehydrate and can food and vegetables that we won't find ourselves in a "lord of the flies" struggle for primacy... if we plan ahead.

The timeline on which climatic events occur offer humans a tremendous advantage in that we're both adaptable and have fairly long lives. The impacts of climate change will take hundreds, if not thousands of years to play out. As these processes occur, we might see drastic die-offs of things we have taken for granted for thousands of years, such as fish and game. But in their places, other species will adapt and bridge the gap. That's how this whole cycle works. That we have brought this on, at least to some degree, is novel, but I don't think that there's any reason to say that the environmental impacts can't support human life - it may just not support *as much* human life... which is artificially high to begin with (special thanks to Fritz Haber). 

The sad truth is that there are more humans alive now than can survive when these scarcities hit. 
Surviving these times will largely be a function of how well you are prepared and how close you are to the madness. Certain places will be insular, and certain places will be what I refer to as "powder kegs". 

If you have no access to sustainable agriculture, clean water, sanitation and shelter, and there is a population of people in the same boat of more than a few hundred - you're in a powder keg. We tend to forget that most 'towns' these days are 100,000+ people - that's 100,000 people contending with you for resources. Survive those odds, and you might have a shot at deal with the long term environmental impacts.

Summary - gotta focus on the 25 meter target. The environmental collapse is out of range at present. History shows little evidence for permanent changes in environmental conditions occurring over the span of one human lifetime. It is, however, very clear on the subject of over-production of offspring and resource scarcity.

Cheers,

Aaron

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To play devil's advocate on short versus long range targets...

A.M. wrote:

Summary - gotta focus on the 25 meter target. The environmental collapse is out of range at present. History shows little evidence for permanent changes in environmental conditions occurring over the span of one human lifetime. It is, however, very clear on the subject of over-production of offspring and resource scarcity.

Actually, geological history bears out a few instances of very long-term changes in environmental conditions occurring over the span of less than one human lifetime.  The most recent of which happened about 65 million years ago when the earth was struck by a meteor or comet, bringing an end to the age of the dinosaurs.

Now, am I saying that we have literally another extraterrestrial body bearing down on us?  No.  What I am saying is that there has never been a species in the entire history of the earth who has had the capacity to inflict such massive changes on their environment as us.  We have been inflicting these changes in earnest since the industrial revolution started and fossil fuels gave us the capacity for work that in earlier ages would have been seen as pure magic, to quote Nate Hagens.  Basically, we're in completely uncharted waters here, because of the scope and scale of our negative impact on the world's ecosystems. 

We really can't know what the backlash is going to be from our activities over the past 300 years.  But I think it's just as possible that we experience the Orlov scenario where these things build up like individual snowflakes on a mountain that suddenly turn into an avalanche that sweeps almost all of humankind away as it is that we experience a slow, downward grind that other collapsing civilizations have gone through. 

But debating these kinds of things can turn into a kind of mental masturbation, because all any of us can really do is just what you and many others on this site describe -- do your best to get prepared for an uncertain future.

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Spirit of discussion

Hi Christopher,
You said:
"Basically, we're in completely uncharted waters here, because of the scope and scale of our negative impact on the world's ecosystems. "

Well, shortages and scarcity within human societies are pretty well documented. When coupled with our overall environmental impacts - I fully agree with you - humans are in a unique position to exacerbate the underlaying principles that accompany resource scarcity as well as changes to habitats (and by proxy, the ecosystems sustained by those habitats). 

The major difference, and I think we're in agreement here, is that the amount of humans who will be struggling for these resources is drastically higher now than it has ever been before, and thus the propensity for greater impacts to the environment will increase proportionally with our desperation. 

Anyway, to return to your points:
"Actually, geological history bears out a few instances of very long-term changes in environmental conditions occurring over the span of less than one human lifetime.  The most recent of which happened about 65 million years ago when the earth was struck by a meteor or comet, bringing an end to the age of the dinosaurs."

I think it's important to differentiate between environmental impacts that were created terrestrially and those with an exogenous origin, because there's literally nothing that could be done to reign in a meteor-strike - that's a cosmic roll of the dice that we can have no influence on. Climates and mismanagement of ecosystems are well within our power to influence, so I think a clear delineation must be made there.

For example, we could have turned to Malthus in the late 1800's and said, "Holy smokes, you're right! Let's get this under control".  But we didn't. Instead, we chose the profitable alternative, which was generating a demand and selling a product with the intent of pushing the consequences off onto future generations. 

While incidences of scarcity stemming from such mismanagement has happened historically with various consequences (from Easter Island to the desertification of the middle East and Africa) , we can't discount the human ability to survive. We're really pretty tough, and able to survive on very little. 

Whether or not we want to, is the real question. 
In either scenario (runaway changes to the climate, or scarcity induced collapse) the most direct threat will be proximity to probable trouble spots... which is to say "desperate humans". 

So whereas Orlov is describing the Environmental collapse as a commensurate impact with a socio-economic collapse, I think the front end problem will be the scarcity cause by the socio-economics, and if you can navigate that long enough, the secondary impacts will be environmental. 

And you're right. This is all painfully theoretical. I just like the mental exercise of determining potential impacts =)

Thanks for the dialog, Cheers!
Aaron

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AM

What Christopher said.  Plus, everything I read suggests that if we wish to stay below the supposedly catastrophic 2C temp increase level, we need to start now reducing emissions.  That 2C threshold is likely to occur easily within my children's lifetimes.  I'm probably too old to see it, but not to worry about it.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/two-degrees-how-we-imagine-climate-change.html

Quote:

Two degrees – the temperature rise we need to stay under to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change – is now the catch cry for global warming. Governments and numerous NGOs have eagerly adopted the limit; whether we can meet the target is another matter. But 2C isn’t an easy concept to grasp. So, how can we imagine what 2C means for the world?

First, why is 2C so significant? At any time of the year, for most latitudes at which people live, the difference between overnight lows and daytime high temperatures can be as much as 15C. In summer it is even greater. When the day to day temperatures of weather vary so much, 2C seems insignificant.

What we’re talking about here, though, is the global average temperature, not daily variations – and we’re fast approaching 2C warmer than before the industrial revolution and emissions from fossil fuels intensified. With feedbacks, such as increased water vapour (which is a powerful greenhouse gas), loss of reflective ice surface, and potential methane pulses (a greenhouse gas 20-times more powerful than CO2), 2C could be reached before 2060.

OTOH

http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.0968

Quote:

We conclude that the ocean core data are correct in indicating that global temperature was only slightly higher in the Eemian and Holsteinian interglacial periods than in the Holocene, at most by about 1°C, but probably by only several tenths of a degree Celsius. (p 18)

Augmentation of peak Holocene temperature by even 1°C would be sufficient to trigger powerful amplifying polar feedbacks, leading to a planet at least as warm as in the Eemian and Holsteinian periods, making ice sheet disintegration and large sea level rise inevitable. (p 19)

BAU scenarios result in global warming of the order of 3-6°C. It is this scenario for which we assert that multi-meter sea level rise on the century time scale are not only possible, but almost dead certain. Such a huge rapidly increasing climate forcing dwarfs anything in the paleoclimate record. Antarctic ice shelves would disappear and the lower reaches of the Antarctic ice sheets would experience summer melt comparable to that on Greenland today. (p 20)

We have presented evidence in this paper that prior interglacial periods were less than 1°C warmer than the Holocene maximum. If we are correct in that conclusion, the EU2C scenario implies a sea level rise of many meters. It is difficult to predict a time scale for the sea level rise, but it would be dangerous and foolish to take such a global warming scenario as a goal. (p 20)

Conceivably a 2°C target is based partly on a perception of what is politically realistic, rather than a statement of pure science. In any event, our science analysis suggests that such a target is not only unwise, but likely a disaster scenario. (p 27)

We have no room for complacency.

Doug

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25 meter target

Aaron

I think that many of us are looking at the 25 meter target and it is even more terrifying then a stage 6 collapse.  I don't think that many of us will take comfort in the idea that total ecological destruction is irrelevant because we and everyone one we know and love will already have die from starvation or violence.

John G

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Taking comfort?

I don't think that is what Aaron meant at all.

If you look at Orlov's writing, it kinda seems like he is saying it is a forgone conclusion - damned if you do and damned if you don't. If I am reading Aaron right, he (and I) disagree with this conclusion.

What can we do about plastic in the ocean? Or melting down nuclear reactors? Or comets?

Analysis Paralysis leads to inaction. There are plenty of things we can do to prepare our communities for unknowns, and Orlov's conclusions are not set in stone. Good to explore these thoughts as long as it does not lead to giving up and assuming that total ecological destruction will lead to we and everyone one we know and love will already have die from starvation or violence.

JMO tho, but I'm not rolling over.

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Christopher A. Harrison
Christopher A. Harrison wrote:

But debating these kinds of things can turn into a kind of mental masturbation, because all any of us can really do is just what you and many others on this site describe -- do your best to get prepared for an uncertain future.

+1

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"What we’re talking about

"What we’re talking about here, though, is the global average temperature, not daily variations – and we’re fast approaching 2C warmer than before the industrial revolution and emissions from fossil fuels intensified. With feedbacks, such as increased water vapour (which is a powerful greenhouse gas), loss of reflective ice surface, and potential methane pulses (a greenhouse gas 20-times more powerful than CO2), 2C could be reached before 2060."

This is all theoretical, Doug. 
All this has been hashed out innumerable times, but 2 degrees Celsius is a deceptive figure - the recording methods that are the impetus for those climate models display a marked high bias due to the current practice in recording temperatures and dew points, which round to the nearest degree Celsius. 

There's a confusing double standard within this argument that states that 2 degrees C is a tremendous difference, but that the bias in reporting is negligable, or is simply not happening. 

So, if a temperature of 1.6 degrees C is recorded, that temperature is logged and fed into the climate systems as 2.0 degrees C. That's a 20% high bias, which is substantial.  Now, granted, it's not always this severe, but the impact of continually rounding to the high bias. Since there is an equal chance that the number will be rounded down to the next whole number, there is possible chances are that you'll get the actual temperature as a whole number, or a temperature that is a degree higher. So there cannot be a "low" bias. 

Keep in mind that I worked for years as a meteorologist and recorded this data as a part of my job, to include sending it of to the climatology databases. 

Also, don't take this to mean that I don't believe this is a threat - it is and I do - but there are issues that are going to occur before 2060 rolls around that could:
-reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
-decrease the amount of waste generated 
-decrease the population of humans 
-change the composition and structure of our living habits (ie urban vs rural)

For example, in industrial wastelands, there is a significant return of vegetation in the abandon sites. That growth is going to change the albedo of those areas, and hence, the amount of INSOLATION both absorbed and emitted, effectively changing areas that were predictably heat islands into areas that are increasingly neutral in their emissions. 

The way I view this is:
Cities are unsustainable, therefore cities will be abandon, therefore cities will overgrow with vegetation.
An unspoken asset that the cities provide flora is that the ground beneath concrete is typically nutrient rich and moisture retaining. It won't take long for unmaintained roads to overgrow with various flora. 

As the human population decreases, so will the net impacts of climate change. This is "as likely" as the runaway climate catastrophe situation that's commonly outlined. 

JGritter,

I'm not trying to comfort people, nor am I saying your friends and family are all going to die. 
The point of this is that the closest threat is the one that should demand our full attention. Survive that and worry about the next. Resource scarcity is a threat that's tied to environmental catastrophe - as that's where we get our resources, but the environment will be "hospitable" to human life long after the hardship sets in.

Cheers,
Aaron
 

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Agree, but what now?

Doug, I agree that complacency is bad on a topic that has the potential for terrible risk, regardless of the likelihood. 

For someone who never goes to the gas station, produces nearly all of their food locally, does not require fossil fuels for cooling and heating, electricity, etc. what would you have them do? Specifics would be great. I often hear this mantra over and over, yet I never hear the "solution."

I don't see how we have the might to do anything meaningful in terms of reducing fossil fuel use at a global level. Maybe I am missing something? 

The only thing that I can see that can realistically be done at the personal level is to get out of the powder keg situation Aaron describes. Lamenting our predicament in a thread on the internet seems to me to be tilting at windmills.

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Ready wrote: Doug, I agree
Ready wrote:

Doug, I agree that complacency is bad on a topic that has the potential for terrible risk, regardless of the likelihood. 

For someone who never goes to the gas station, produces nearly all of their food locally, does not require fossil fuels for cooling and heating, electricity, etc. what would you have them do? Specifics would be great. I often hear this mantra over and over, yet I never hear the "solution."

I don't see how we have the might to do anything meaningful in terms of reducing fossil fuel use at a global level. Maybe I am missing something? 

The only thing that I can see that can realistically be done at the personal level is to get out of the powder keg situation Aaron describes. Lamenting our predicament in a thread on the internet seems to me to be tilting at windmills.

Our 'leadership', such as it is, still resides in DC.  Aside from our personal efforts to minimize our carbon footprints, we must bring our environmental awareness to the attention of our politicians.  They must feel pressure to do the right thing.  True, they can only directly affect our Federal laws, but it would be nice if those laws reflected the dangers confronting us. 

We are still the world's only super power.  Although that power is waning, we can assume a leadership role for the world to emulate on these issues.  Plus, we can show up at those international conferences with actual ideas and plans to implement on a global scale, and cooperate with other nations that recognize the risks.  Use our diplomacy influence to twist arms of others to do the right things.

But first, we as a nation have to do the right thing.  Obama's leadership on these issues is tepid at best, but he is light years ahead of the Congress bots who can't even admit that climate change exists.  They are, to put it simply, craven cowards and liars.  As usual, they aren't doing the job we elect them to do.  In a word, lead.  The public needs to let them know that we know what they are, and that we expect them to do something useful, not just close down the government.

Get political folks, its our only hope.

Doug

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Quote:

This is all theoretical, Doug.

You say that as if theory is no more than a will-o'-the-wisp.  Electricity is explained by 'theory'.  Does that mean the lights only occasionally come on when you flip the switch?  No, electricity is real and factual.  Whether the light comes on or not, it can always be explained by electrical theory.  Just as climate change is real and factual.  There is still some wiggle room in projecting when and how bad its going to get, but reality is frequently becoming worse than the projections predicted it would be.

Quote:

Also, don't take this to mean that I don't believe this is a threat - it is and I do - but there are issues that are going to occur before 2060 rolls around that could:

This is a non-sequiter.  Of course other stuff is going to happen.  That doesn't detract from the fact that we need to start taking positive actions now to prevent catastrophe in 2060 (assuming that is the year we hit 2C, but it could be much sooner depending on who you listen to).  We cannot count on happenstance decreasing ghgs.  We cannot continue bau and hope for the best.  We will continue to burn fossil fuels at an accelerating rate unless something is done to slow or stop it.  There must be an act of collective will.

Doug
 

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Hello Doug

That is pretty much what I thought you might say.

I appreciate your position, I really do. And I don't mean to dismiss it, but I just simply cannot see how writing my congress person will have any impact vs. big oil, wall street, and the worldwide economy as a whole. Even if every person at PP did as well as every one they know, I just don't see it.

I guess my point is there is little we can actually do about this. There will be an outcome (one which no one knows for sure which adds to the problem) but we will have little impact over it.

Let me ask you this, you mention Obama. Let's pretend it was the most important thing in his world to reduce fossil fuel use first in the US, and then globally thru legislation. Do you think he would have a snowball's chance of getting it done? I seriously doubt it. If POTUS can't what chance do we have realistically?

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some non-sequitors in your post, Aaron
A. M. wrote:

Cities are unsustainable, therefore cities will be abandon, therefore cities will overgrow with vegetation.
An unspoken asset that the cities provide flora is that the ground beneath concrete is typically nutrient rich and moisture retaining. It won't take long for unmaintained roads to overgrow with various flora. 

Hi Aaron,

There are a few seemingly logical problems with your post above.  One is the above paragraph.  Are you stating here that a re-vegetation of urban landscapes is going to be a significant mitigating factor in terms of climate change in the future, assuming we have enough of a civilizational decline to lead to significant de-urbanization?

A. M. wrote:

As the human population decreases, so will the net impacts of climate change. This is "as likely" as the runaway climate catastrophe situation that's commonly outlined. 

It's time for bed where I am, so I'll just say that this statement seems to ignore the issue of inertia in both the anthropogenic forcings,  the positive feedbacks, and some of the more significant consequences, such as receding glaciers and sea level rise.  This conversation might be better to move to the climate change thread if we want to look into these issues further.  

This weekend, I will also post some notes there from the talks that my students and I heard in Venice, when we were at Italy's Institute for Marine Sciences.  smiley

Cheers,

Hugh

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He can, with our help
Quote:

Let's pretend it was the most important thing in his world to reduce fossil fuel use first in the US, and then globally thru legislation. Do you think he would have a snowball's chance of getting it done? I seriously doubt it. If POTUS can't what chance do we have realistically?

One person or even a small group of people writing their Congress bots won't do the trick.  It has to be a movement of people who can bring serious pressure to bear.  We have to be in their faces at every turn.  Civil disobedience is necessary.  Money talks.  Environmental groups can hire lobbyists too, just not as many as the fossil fuel interests.  The rabble have to take to the streets.  Politeness is obedience.

Doug

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Hugh

I have stayed out of the climate change thread, mostly because I have nothing to add. That said, I'll ask you the same question as Doug.

I view this whole problem like a dying patient. He has lung cancer and a gunshot wound. If you don't fix the gunshot wound, there is little point in the chemotherapy and radiation.

As CM has shown us many times, we know the global economy runs on oil (like it or not is not the issue, acknowledging the fact is all I'm looking for here). That economy is the gunshot wound. I simply do not see the political will in any country to knowingly kill their economy to prevent cancer from setting in over the next 30 - 80 years. 

Let's say we all agree on the numbers and models of climate change. It's a big leap, but stay with me. Do you think that the US GOV would do anything more than lip service to address that problem knowing they will make serious short term problems not just in the US, but worldwide if we crash the economy again. They have been working OT keeping this monstrosity afloat. 

What are we actually able to get done, what is something we can do that will likely produce results we are looking for? I can't think of a single thing other than at the personal level. Politics is not the answer, or would you disagree?

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Doug, I applaud your

stamina and drive, I just don't share it. This is bigger than any lobby, any country, or even groups of countries.

Fight the good fight, I'll cheer you on from the sidelines. I've got chores to do. Without my energy slaves, lots of stuff needs my personal attention. Being the change I want to see is all I have to offer this fight I'm afraid.

Peace.

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No One Will Fix Anything . . .

Regardless of the stated problem, we will not "come together" and "fix" squat.  Peak Oil, Climate Change, the Economic Implosion, etc will proceed until disaster forces action.  I cannot think of a historical example in which a society recognized the destructiveness of a behaviour, corrected it, and forestalled the collapse of their culture as a result.  

Half of us are below average intelligence.  Many of us are distracted by daily life.  Most of these problems are hard to get your head around.  People are reckless and prefer the status quo.  The changes require major investments in capital and cultural change.  NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

No one is going to change anything that will reverse the course of the society in the absence of a major event that jerks our heads around.  We only respond to pain.  

Sorry.

Rector

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Doug and Hugh

Hey Guys,

Sorry for the delay, I want to address the general ideas that you guys brought up, rather than being overly pedantic and specific.
 
The main reason is I'm not saying any "one" thing will happen - to play on what Christopher said, this is all just mental exercise, and isn't really much good. 

The jist of what I'm saying is as Ready pointed out - We have more immediate wounds that need triage before we start worrying about the infection or cancer. Seeing as negative net growth of the human population is a mathematical certainty (ergo, we cannot grow continuously forever), the mechanisms that I find the most pressing are those that will act on that negative net growth. That *does* include potential climate changes - but those are not the most proximal target. 

So, if we think of reasonable threats to our communities, we can start by isolating well understood patterns in predation amongst groups of humans; socio-economic collapses and restrictions on social mobility create environments ripe for crimes of opportunity and violence that targets people who "have". 
That is something that is evident today, and isn't really based on projections. Insulation against this is therefore, a more pressing concern than the rise of the sea level in 2060 - which again, is a concern. Our unsustainable practice of agriculture is likewise more alarming - this is a "mid-range" threat, and is the kind of thing to tackle once you've scratched out a way to provide for yourself during the immediate problems of mounting opportunistic crime and eventually, the cascade into resource scarcity. 

We don't really need to tie any special or specific circumstances into this - some basic preparations and skills will go a long way with [Insert Emergency Here]. Climate problems are a part of that, but a *lot* can happen in 46 years. By the time I'm 80, if I have survived the implosion of compounding government intrusion, a failing global monetary system, bad agricultural practice, the convergence of peak oil and a burgeoning population and all the social ills that accompany them,

I'll gladly start thinking about the situations that *could* occur by then, but might, in the mean time, be modeled based on a high bias and projected in such a way that indicates "worse case" scenarios within a global environment that is well-established, overall healthy and has undergone significant changes before in the past and still supported life.
Don't discount the resiliency of our planet, or the organisms that dwell on it.

Cheers,
Aaron

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Buzz Kill

Aaron,

Not to be a buzz kill but according to people who seem to know what they're talking about, the only thing that is going to mitigate climate change is the complete cessation of of the burning of fossil fuels.  That's not going to happen voluntarily.  The only thing that is likely to stop the burning of fossil fuels is the economic collapse of industrial civilization. On the down side, it may not make much difference at this point and a couple of billion people are likely to starve to death, on the upside there will be plenty of room for climate refugees.

It's not practical for people to get out of your powder keg, the act of doing so will simply result in their bringing the keg along with them.

For my part I intend to keep on prepping, not everyone gets a front row seat to what may be one of the greatest catastrophes ever to hit the human race, I hope to see at least how some of it plays out.

John G

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Not much of a buzzkill

John,
I misread your post. Ill reply tomorrow when I have more time.
Not sure we disagree at all. I dont see people giving up convenience for prolonged cultural life, even if it was certain to cause collapse.
The system we live in requires us to use oil. Pretty dicey predicament.

Cheers,
Aaron

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good discussion

I have to agree with Ready in post #25, especially this:

As CM has shown us many times, we know the global economy runs on oil (like it or not is not the issue, acknowledging the fact is all I'm looking for here). That economy is the gunshot wound. I simply do not see the political will in any country to knowingly kill their economy to prevent cancer from setting in over the next 30 - 80 years.

Our entire society has morphed to run on instant gratification, from short term earnings focus to consumers who just "gotta have it now". Our willingness to think strategically has been replaced by greed in the here and now. I remain ashamed of this species I belong to...

I thought it interesting that the comments focused on the climate change aspect of Orlov's article, when my interest had been piqued by the nuclear disaster part. While climate change related effects may very well take hundreds or thousands of years to be seen, if Fukishima blows up tomorrow, where will we be?

I think it was Jim H who a while back made reference to the critical supply/demand relationship the western world has with Japan. If Fukishima goes, Japan goes, along with all kinds of collateral damage (I have been watching too much tv to use that term...) that we cannot even begin to quantify. If Japan goes, and parts of China as well, so goes our supply chain of critical parts.

As Orlov said in the Five Stages of Collapse, the first casualty of the commercial collapse will be the electrical grid due to a lack of spare parts for ongoing maintenance. And we all know if the grid goes, everything goes, and then we will truly want to be far away from any of the "powder kegs" as Aaron describes them. Few people will last long when the grid does go, when you think long and hard about the true implications of that.

Doug, I have wanted to believe for so long that there is a political solution, if only we can get people to step up to the plate. But when we have people and critical leaders like Dr. Martenson saying that he would not take part in a protest, what hope is there? The 1% movements were shut down pretty quick, and as I much as we like to believe we live in a democracy, that is not the case at all. I believe that governments as a whole, and the US government in particular are ready to quell any hint of an uprising swiftly, for they know that the simmering pot is close to boiling. They will not risk a movement starting since it will get out of control and "go viral" across the land very quickly.

People will not rise up until they have no choice and desperation sets in. We have been programmed to believe the government will take care of us. Until that belief is eradicated, nothing will change. Such is human nature. We must fail before we succeed. This failure is going to be a doozy.

Jan

 

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informal logical fallacy?
HughK wrote:
A. M. wrote:

Cities are unsustainable, therefore cities will be abandon, therefore cities will overgrow with vegetation.
An unspoken asset that the cities provide flora is that the ground beneath concrete is typically nutrient rich and moisture retaining. It won't take long for unmaintained roads to overgrow with various flora. 

Hi Aaron,

There are a few seemingly logical problems with your post above.  One is the above paragraph.  Are you stating here that a re-vegetation of urban landscapes is going to be a significant mitigating factor in terms of climate change in the future, assuming we have enough of a civilizational decline to lead to significant de-urbanization?

A. M. wrote:

As the human population decreases, so will the net impacts of climate change. This is "as likely" as the runaway climate catastrophe situation that's commonly outlined. 

It's time for bed where I am, so I'll just say that this statement seems to ignore the issue of inertia in both the anthropogenic forcings,  the positive feedbacks, and some of the more significant consequences, such as receding glaciers and sea level rise.  This conversation might be better to move to the climate change thread if we want to look into these issues further.  

This weekend, I will also post some notes there from the talks that my students and I heard in Venice, when we were at Italy's Institute for Marine Sciences.  smiley

Cheers,

Hugh

Hugh,

Based on your statements above, I'm not sure I follow the logic of your thinking.  What is your evidence for "some non-sequitors (sic)" in Aaron's statements?

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moving to the climate change thread

Hi ao,

I hope you are well. I'm just getting ready to leave Venice with a group of students, so I'll just briefly reply now.

 As far as my non-sequitors statement regarding Aaron's post, you'll see in the reply that I expressed doubt about a re-vegetation of urban landscapes being a signficant factor slowing climate change, and I also pointed out the issue of inertia in the climate system being the reason why it's unlikely that even if there is a major die-off of human beings (and/or reduced use of fossil fuels), as he suggested, that such an event will slow climate change by a significant amount, at least in the 100-500(+) term.  I can post some evidence about the inertia issue on the climate change thread when I get back to Switzerland, if you're interested.  I was familiar with it before, and I just saw it again this past Wednesday, presented by a physical oceanographer here in Venice.

All the best,

Hugh

I'll post my replies on the climate change thread from here on out, by the way.

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Interia

Hey Hugh,
I'd like to see the evidence. Inertia is not easy to forecast, and it requires some defining in terms of exactly what events constitute inertial continuances.

In any case, I dont think there can be much argument that humans being replaced by flora would reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. But I also think we may be missing one another on the topic of climate change in general.

Im not saying it isn't important or that it is not going to change life on earth - there is no certainty it will not, so I will treat it as a potential threat.

However, it is not the most pressing concern we are facing. Truthfully, a large scale die off is not likely anytime soon. This is all very academic, and the reality is everyone here will probably get old and die muttering about the good old days when you could est what you wanted, raise your own kids and travel freely.

If we want to forecast, the only reliable trends we have are government abuses of power, (in terms of threats to civil prosperity) and monetary mismanagement. So, first things first. Now is the time to address climate, yes, but given the trends, will it happen?

No. It will not. Do what you can to insulate and not be part of the problem. Be around like minds. Grow your own food. There are solutions that work against a variety of problems.

Cheers,
Aaron

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What voting accomplishes

Doug:  Respectfully, I completely disagree that voting changes the status quo, even in large numbers, or especially in large numbers, since it implies tacit consent.  Furthermore, if NO ONE voted, there could be no pretending that anyone wanted the false "choices" that were pre-selected to be picked from.

Here's a link to a fellow who means business about changing the status quo.  He discusses voting at minute 1:56.  Enjoy.  Luna

 

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Doug:  Respectfully, I
Quote:

Doug:  Respectfully, I completely disagree that voting changes the status quo, even in large numbers, or especially in large numbers, since it implies tacit consent.  Furthermore, if NO ONE voted, there could be no pretending that anyone wanted the false "choices" that were pre-selected to be picked from.

Here's a link to a fellow who means business about changing the status quo.  He discusses voting at minute 1:56.  Enjoy.  Luna

I went back and checked.  I didn't recommend voting in any of the above posts, although it seems we probably should just to avoid the kind of petty criticism leveled at Brand.  (BTW, I'm distinctly uneasy using Brand as a role model for anything with the possible exception of debauchery)  I advocate taking much more direct actions, writing, protesting, persuading the Congress bots in person and spreading the truth through your community.  Voting only works when you have built up a critical mass of people who get it and want to be represented by people who also get it.  The idea is to put the politicians' feet to the fire and drive them from office if they don't do their jobs.  If democracy is ever to work, the citizens have to stand up and be counted at times and in places beside the ballot box.

Doug

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answer is here, Aaron
A. M. wrote:

Hey Hugh, I'd like to see the evidence. Inertia is not easy to forecast, and it requires some defining in terms of exactly what events constitute inertial continuances. In any case, I dont think there can be much argument that humans being replaced by flora would reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. But I also think we may be missing one another on the topic of climate change in general. Im not saying it isn't important or that it is not going to change life on earth - there is no certainty it will not, so I will treat it as a potential threat. However, it is not the most pressing concern we are facing. Truthfully, a large scale die off is not likely anytime soon. This is all very academic, and the reality is everyone here will probably get old and die muttering about the good old days when you could est what you wanted, raise your own kids and travel freely. If we want to forecast, the only reliable trends we have are government abuses of power, (in terms of threats to civil prosperity) and monetary mismanagement. So, first things first. Now is the time to address climate, yes, but given the trends, will it happen? No. It will not. Do what you can to insulate and not be part of the problem. Be around like minds. Grow your own food. There are solutions that work against a variety of problems. Cheers, Aaron

 

Hi Aaron,

A partial and quick-before-bed answer is here.

Maybe more tomorrow.

Cheers,

Hugh

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Hugh

Hey Hugh,
I'm reluctant to take this to TDGCC thread for a few reasons - this topic is 'broader' than climate change, and the overall message isn't in step with TDGCC. Most importantly, I think it'll just add to the "noise to signal" ratio that's already polluting that thread. I don't want banter to get in the way of any real points Mark wants to put forth over there.

In any case, I see where we're disconnecting, and it's probably my fault for not being more clear.
The idea that urban areas are able to be taken over by vegetation is separate from the climate change discussion in many ways. In bringing that up, my intention was to encourage thought regarding unforeseen aspects of a collapse. In this case, the availability of nutrient rich, sub-city soil. I'm not suggesting that this is going to stave off climate change - but I see it as an inevitable component of what's coming - indeed, it's already happening in areas of urban blight. So, in short, my main thesis is that a decreasing number of humans is going to open doors for increased biodiversity in areas previously populated by humans. 
This process may be on a timeline of hundreds, if not thousands of years - so it's very academic.

I'm really not at odds with any other points you made. I'm sure you're right about deforestation, and really, I have no real challenges to what you've said. Your points are well stated and I agree with them.

Cheers,

Aaron 

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The Sixth Collapse

Like Jan, I find it interesting that Orlov's article sent posters off in the direction of climate change. My understanding of his entire article is that he is now recognizing the immediacy of the threat from Fukushima and nuclear reactors in general. Both Orlov and McPherson have recently changed their view. McPherson has been advocating the end of industrial civilization as the only realistic way to lessen the affects of climate change given the lack of action by governments. He now sees that the collapse of industrial civilization means the inability to keep nuclear reactors functioning. Fukushima is an example of what can happen when energy to the cooling system of reactors is compromised. In the case of Fukushima of course, it was a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that affected the electricity. Both Orlov and McPherson seem to question whether a collapsed society would be able to keep the reactors running. I believe I read that it can take decades to shut down a reactor and it requires energy and trained personnel to do that. There are over 400 nuclear reactors around the world many in already unstable countries. In a collapse situation, who will do that and with what energy source? With regard to Fukushima, Tepco is saying it could take 40 years for a complete shutdown, but at the moment, they are unable to even use robots to investigate reactors 1-3 because the radioactivity level is so high. They would need to invent something that would allow them to see into the reactors and find out what happened to the coriums - which some scientists believe are probably sinking into the ground beneath the reactors further contaminating the groundwater leading to the ocean.

November 8th, Tepco says they will begin to remove the rod assemblies from the spent fuel pool at reactor #4. Normally this is done over a period of months using a computer and a crane. They have built a crane but will have to remove them manually over the next couple of years. Because of the radiation, workers will only be able to work there for a set time before reaching their limit. So new workers will have to be brought in on an ongoing basis. Very nervous, stressed workers. Since there was an explosion at reactor #4 after the tsunami, there is debris from the blown roof in the pool. Most likely some of that debris damaged some of the rods. If a rod touches another one while they are removing it, it could easily result in a fire that could set off the other rods and that could result in the collapse of the pool which could then set off an explosion. The explosion would spew even more radiation into the atmosphere. There is the equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima's worth of radionuclides in the pool including plutonium. A millionth of a gram of plutonium can kill an adult, a pound of plutonium can kill billions. Scientists from around the world have expressed their concern and urged Tepco and the Japanese gov't to allow them to help. So far nothing has happened. Recently Reuters published an article on an investigation they did on the workers at Fukushima. It is set up as layer upon layer of subcontractors some of whom have no experience in anything nuclear. Indigent people are hired and some have complained that some of their pay is being skimmed off by subcontractors. Morale is low. The Japanese mafia is even involved in the clean up. Tepco says they will only use their workers to remove the rods. But where will they find enough qualified people? If the worst case scenario were to happen and there is an explosion, the workers would have to evacuate and would no longer be able to cool reactors 1-3. Without the cooling water, heat would build up quickly and they would also blow. There are hundreds of tanks of radioactive water on site, some that are already leaking. What would happen to them? No one would be able to get near the reactors for a very long, long time. Essentially, it would result in a runaway situation we could do nothing about.

So we have Tepco, a company that has already lied and bungled everything, in charge of removing the rods to another building set up to receive them. They don't inspire confidence. So this is what Orlov, McPherson and others are seeing. That is why they have changed their views on the collapse of civilization. Without its collapse, climate change and its devastating changes is coming; with it, we could have nuclear disaster, if Fukushima doesn't already provide that by spreading huge amounts of radionuclides into the Northern Hemisphere. So much rests on the successful removal of the rods.

This is the situation as I understand it from reading the available information online. I may not fully understand the situation or it may not be as grim as it appears to be. If you want to petition, petition the UN to send qualified nuclear scientists and construction people to Fukushima. Of course, Abe is pro-nuclear (reports say he received mafia money for his election - the mafia is connected to the nuclear industry in Japan). He convinced the IOC to have the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. He tells the Japanese people things are under control at Fukushima. He is trying to get a law passed that will restrict what the media can say. And Tepco is concerned about its bottom line and has lied repeatedly about the seriousness of the damage at Fukushima.

I would put Fukushima number one in line of pressing concerns. Everything else pales in comparison.

Joyce

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