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#ClimateCrisis: #Antarctic Sea Ice Melting #Exponentially

"Plunge is far faster than in Arctic and may lead to more global heating, say scientists" 'Precipitous' fall i...

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Friday, May 31, 2019

#Tariffs - #TRUMP Could Be Right!

"In the real world, when there is not enough to go around, wars are a definite possibility. A trade war is a somewhat reduced version of a war. Trump and his advisors, whether or not they understand the real situation, seem to be trying to guide the US to as good an outcome as possible, in the current situation of excessive wage disparity."




Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs


Nearly everyone wonders, “Why is Donald Trump crazy enough to impose tariffs on imports from other countries? How could this possibly make sense?”
As long as the world economy is growing rapidly, it makes sense for countries to cooperate with each other. With the use of cooperation, scarce resources can become part of supply lines that allow the production of complex goods, such as computers, requiring materials from around the world. The downsides of cooperation include:
(a) The use of more oil to transport goods around the world;
(b) The more rapid exhaustion of resources of all kinds around the world; and
(c) Growing wage disparity as workers from high-wage countries compete more directly with workers from low-wages countries.

These issues can be tolerated as long as the world economy is growing fast enough. As the saying goes, “A rising tide raises all boats.”

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TARIFFS AND PROTECTIONISM



Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Can #Hydrogen Fuel Tech Solve Future #Energy Shortages?

"it is the most abundant element in the universe and its conversion into energy does not as a rule result in harmful by-products."

Image result for hydrogen atom


Hydrogen Fuel Tech Just Got A Major Boost

By Irina Slav 

Hydrogen as a fuel has been drawing a lot of attention ever since the world decided to start weaning itself off fossil fuels. However, after years of research, hydrogen fuelled vehicles remain a niche market due to one main problem: the price of the fuel system. Now, a team of researchers claims they have solved this problem and we could see hydrogen vehicles cheaper than EVs.
The team, from Lancaster University, says they had discovered a new material—Kubas manganese Hydride-1—that can make hydrogen fuel tanks for vehicles a lot more compact and cheaper while at the same time increasing their energy density.
Toyota Fuel Cell
"The cost of manufacturing our material is so low, and the energy density it can store is so much higher than a lithium ion battery, that we could see hydrogen fuel cell systems that cost five times less than lithium ion batteries as well as providing a much longer range -- potentially enabling journeys up to around four or five times longer between fill-ups," the lead researcher, Professor David Antonelli, said.



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ARE THEY THE FUTURE


Monday, May 27, 2019

Five Ways We Could Speed-up #Species #Extinctions




"A report that analyzed 15,000 studies conducted in the last 50 years presents a stark view"




1 million species are under threat. Here are 5 ways we speed up extinctions

BY 

Stories about individual species on the brink of extinction may be all too familiar. But a new tally now reveals the breadth of the conservation crisis: One million of the world’s species are now poised to vanish, some as soon as within the next few decades.

That number, which amounts to 1 in every 8 animal or plant species on Earth, comes from a sweeping new analysis of about 15,000 studies conducted within the last 50 years on topics ranging from biodiversity to climate to the health of ecosystems. During that time, the human population has doubled, increasing from 3.7 billion in 1970 to 7.6 billion today. And people are behind the looming losses, an international group of scientists says.

Image result for 6th extinction crisis


Thanks to human activities, the rate of global species extinctions is tens to hundreds of times faster than the average extinction rate was over the last 10 million years, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, concludes in a summary of the studypublished May 6. The intergovernmental group, which has 132 nations as members including the United States, will release its full 1,500-page report in about six months



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THE SIXTH EXTINCTION


Friday, May 24, 2019

#Party Is Truly Over - Thanks To #Helium Shortages


 "The emerging story of helium suggests that we will NOT always find substitutes precisely when we need them in quantities we require at prices we can afford for such critical and rare materials"




Image result for helium party balloons



Helium is a finite resource—who knew?

Almost precisely 10 years ago I wrote about the likelihood of a shortage of helium in the not-to-distant future in a piece entitled “Let’s party ’til the helium’s gone.” Last week worries about a helium shortage appeared in my news feed. It seems that we are indeed going to party ’til the helium’s gone as no steps that I know of have been taken to avert the inevitable shortage.

That the shortage comes as a surprise results from a certain scientific illiteracy about the makeup of the universe and the geology of the planet. More on that later.


Image result for helium mining

It also results from a peculiar type of economic thinking that is pervasive today that states that when shortages occur of any commodity, prices will rise to incentivize exploitation of previously uneconomical resources and automatically solve the problem. This intellectually lazy pronouncement does not consider whether the new supplies will be affordable. (As I pointed out in another piece about helium in 2013, “Things do not have to run out to become unavailable.”)






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RUNNING OUT OF HELIUM




Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Climate #Crisis Could Lead To #Food Shortages



“If we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions, we are in very serious trouble,” says Rivington, “but other tactics must happen together at the same time.”  


Image result for food shortages


Will Climate Change Cause Food Sources to Dwindle?




May 14, 2019 -- Record-breaking floodwaters engulfed the plains of Nebraska in March. As-yet-untold crops, livestock, and farmlands were lost in the disaster. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture estimates that the value of the lost crops and livestock will surpass $800 million.
Nebraska’s main crops include cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat, and dry beans. The state’s estimate of losses does not include the cost of lost livelihood to the many farmers who don’t know when they will be able to farm their land again.
While the floodwaters in the Plains have begun to recede, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that historic, widespread flooding, worsened by above-average snowfall and spring rain, will continue through May.
The heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods that have become the norm in recent years have serious implications for the food supply:

Image result for food shortages

  • Extreme heat, floods, and droughts can damage crops and make yields smaller.
  • Warmer winters cause premature budding that leads to crop loss.
  • Heat waves threaten livestock, too. Continued exposure to extreme heat can make animals more likely to get disease and cut fertility and milk production.
  • Specific crops face specific dangers. A new study, for example, has found that climate change has helped to spread a fungus that could destroy 80% of banana crops.
  • Higher rainfall from spikes in humidity in a warmer climate leads to loss of soil carbon, which is crucial for plants.



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A LOOMING CRISIS



Monday, May 20, 2019

#Plastics Creating #Ecological Nightmare


"Debris on Cocos (Keeling) Islands was mostly bottles, cutlery, bags and straws, but also included 977,000 shoes, study says"

Plastic waste on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is like the ‘canary in the coal mine’ in warning about the vast amount of litter in the oceans.

Plastic waste on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is like the ‘canary in the coal mine’ in warning about the vast amount of litter in the oceans. Photograph: Jennifer Lavers

By 

On the beaches of the tiny Cocos (Keeling) Islands, population 600, marine scientists found 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes.

A comprehensive survey of debris on the islands – among the most remote places on Earth, in the Indian Ocean – has found a staggering amount of rubbish washed ashore. This included 414m pieces of plastic, weighing 238 tonnes.
The study, published in the journal Nature, concluded the volume of debris points to the exponential increase of global plastic polluting the world’s oceans and “highlights a worrying trend in the production and discharge of single-use products”.



Garbage on the beach on South Island.

The lead author, Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, said remote islands without large populations were the most effective indicator of the amount of plastic debris floating in the oceans.
“Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine and it’s increasingly urgent that we act on the warnings they are giving us. Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe,” Lavers said.





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OCEAN POLLUTION





Friday, May 17, 2019

#Renewable Energy (sic) Won't Replace #Fossil Fuels


"The reason renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could: 


“The Energiewende — the biggest political project since reunification — threatens to fail,” reports Germany's largest news magazine.


Over the last decade, journalists have held up Germany’s renewables energy transition, the Energiewende, as an environmental model for the world. 
“Many poor countries, once intent on building coal-fired power plants to bring electricity to their people, are discussing whether they might leapfrog the fossil age and build clean grids from the outset,” thanks to the Energiewendewrote New York Times reporter in 2014.



It will cost Germany $3-$4 trillion to increase renewables as share of electricity from today's 35% to 100% between 2025-2050

With Germany as inspiration, the United Nations and World Bank poured billions into renewables like wind, solar, and hydro in developing nations like Kenya.
But then, last year, Germany was forced to acknowledge that it had to delay its phase-out of coal, and would not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction commitments. It announced plans to bulldoze an ancient church and forest in order to get at the coal underneath it.


Image result for forbes logo

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THE GERMAN MIRACLE





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Australian #Wildlife Facing Record #Extinctions



"Fauna crisis highlights the failure of regional forest agreements, says Wilderness Society"

The leadbeater’s possum The leadbeater’s possum is among 20 mammal species that could become extinct within 20 years. Photograph: Healesville Sanctuary

Record numbers of Australia's wildlife species face 'imminent extinction'


Regional forest agreements have failed in the 20 years since they were established by state governments, says a new report, which reveals that record numbers of threatened forest dwelling fauna and many species are heading towards imminent extinction.
The report, Abandoned – Australia’s forest wildlife in crisis, has assessed the conservation status of federally listed forest-dwelling vertebrate fauna species affected by logging and associated roading and burning across Australia’s regional forest agreement (RFA) regions in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Image result for australia wildlife extinction charts
Released by the Wilderness Society this week, the report identified 48 federally-listed threatened species of forest-dwelling vertebrate fauna living in areas subject to state-run logging operations.



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WHY IS BIODIVERSITY LOSS A PROBLEM



Monday, May 13, 2019

Are Parasitic #Elites Causing Social #Collapse?


"the Federal Reserve's obsession with generating a "wealth effect" by inflating bubbles in stocks and housing have enriched owners of capital at the expense of the young."



Image result for parasitic elites



Unrealistically Great Expectations

By Charles Hugh Smith

Our expectations have continued ever higher even as the pie is shrinking..

Let's see if we can tie together four social dynamics: the elite college admissions scandal, the decline in social mobility, the rising sense of entitlement and the unrealistically 'great expectations' of many Americans.
As many have noted, the nation's financial and status rewards are increasingly flowing to the top 5%, what many call a winner-take-all or winner-take-most economy.

This is the primary source of widening wealth and income inequality: wealth and income are disproportionately accruing to the top slice of earners and owners of productive capital.

This concentration manifests in a broad-based decline in social mobility: it's getting harder and harder to break into the narrow band (top 5%) who collects the lion's share of the economy's gains.


Historian Peter Turchin has identified the increasing burden of parasitic elites as one core cause of social and economic collapse. In Turchin's reading, economies that can support a modest-sized class of parasitic elites buckle when the class of elites expecting a free pass to wealth and power expands faster than what the economy can support.


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Income Inequality



Friday, May 10, 2019

#Climate Change Is Only Half the #Story - The Other Half Is Much #Worse


"History shows that the result of inadequate energy supplies is often collapse or a resource war, in an attempt to obtain more of the necessary resources" 
Image result for world war 3 


The Climate Change Story Is Half True

  by

 

The climate change story is true is some respects: The climate is indeed changing. And CO2 emissions do seem to affect climate. Burning fossil fuels does indeed make a difference in CO2 levels.

The problem I have with the climate change story is that it paints a totally inaccurate story of the predicament the world is facing. The world’s predicament arises primarily from too little affordable resources, especially energy resources; climate change models tend to give the illusion that our problem is one of a superabundance of fossil fuels.

 


Furthermore, the world economy has no real option of using significantly less energy, because the economy tends to collapse when there is not enough energy. Economists have not studied the physics of how a networked economy really works; they rely on an overly simple supply and demand model that seems to suggest that prices can rise endlessly.



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MEGATRENDS VIEWS TO CONSIDER

 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

#Economic Collapse Looms - Just Do The Simple #Math




"The main lesson for me is that growth is not a “good quantum number,” as physicists will say: it’s not an invariant of our world. Cling to it at your own peril" 

By Tom Murphy

 Image result for simple math

Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist

Some while back, I found myself sitting next to an accomplished economics professor at a dinner event. Shortly after pleasantries, I said to him, “economic growth cannot continue indefinitely,” just to see where things would go. It was a lively and informative conversation. I was somewhat alarmed by the disconnect between economic theory and physical constraints—not for the first time, but here it was up-close and personal. Though my memory is not keen enough to recount our conversation verbatim, I thought I would at least try to capture the key points and convey the essence of the tennis match—with some entertainment value thrown in.
Cast of characters: Physicist, played by me; Economist, played by an established economics professor from a prestigious institution. Scene: banquet dinner, played in four acts (courses).
U.S. total energy 1650-present (logarithmic)
Note: because I have a better retention of my own thoughts than those of my conversational companion, this recreation is lopsided to represent my own points/words. So while it may look like a physicist-dominated conversation, this is more an artifact of my own recall capabilities. I also should say that the other people at our table were not paying attention to our conversation, so I don’t know what makes me think this will be interesting to readers if it wasn’t even interesting enough to others at the table! But here goes…

Act One: Bread and Butter

Physicist: Hi, I’m Tom. I’m a physicist.
Economist: Hi Tom, I’m [ahem..cough]. I’m an economist.
Physicist: Hey, that’s great. I’ve been thinking a bit about growth and want to run an idea by you. I claim that economic growth cannot continue indefinitely.
Economist: [chokes on bread crumb] Did I hear you right? Did you say that growth can not continue forever?


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MIT LIMITS TO GROWTH

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

#Extinction of 1 Million Species Predicted By #Scientists - Then What?

"list includes more than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 percent of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals"


Image result for species extinction charts
Relentless pursuit of economic growth, twinned with the impact of climate change, has put an “unprecedented” one million species at risk of extinction, scientists said on Monday in a landmark report on the damage done by modern civilization to the natural world.
Only a wide-ranging transformation of the global economic and financial system could pull ecosystems that are vital to the future of human communities worldwide back from the brink of collapse, concluded the report, which was endorsed by 130 countries, including the United States, Russia and China.
“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Josef Settele, who co-chaired the study, launched in Paris on Monday by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.” (see above chart)
Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries, the study is a cornerstone of an emerging body of research that suggests the world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert the existential risks posed by the mutually reinforcing consequences of pollution, habitat destruction and carbon emissions.



"AND, IT'S A PERFECT STORM"

WE ALSO RUNNING OUT OF NATURAL RESOURCES



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