Davos Post author By Philip Lane Post date January 20, 2014 Good overview here. Categories In Uncategorized 90 Comments on Davos ← Moody’s → Inequality 90 replies on “Davos” The WEF says| In the late 1920s Albert Einstein was a regular visitor to Davos, leading discussions with French, German and Swiss academics in an annual summer school, the Davoser Hochschulkurse. “In 1928 he gave a lecture on relativity, and began by telling his audience: ‘This enterprise is admirably suited to establish relations between individuals of different nationalities, relations which help to strengthen the idea of a European community.'” Not sure who is representing Hibernia – hope the scriptwriters do a little better than the “we all went mad” of heretofore … Might I humbly suggest that we provide a little realist culture – the ‘aesthetic turn’ and all that; how about ‘The Moyross Rappers’ – Riverdance is So 90s! ‘The city’s looking rough when you’re walking on the bridge’. It’s the city where we’re tough, there’s no place you’d rather live’. (Keane & McNamara, 2013) http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/rappers-proud-of-their-stand-and-their-city-29908363.html somewhat related, for those who understand the german language well Torch the Tegernsee! http://blogs.faz.net/stuetzen/2014/01/17/brandschatzt-den-tegernsee-4190/ and el presidente defending neoliberalism http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/grundsatzrede-zur-wirtschaft-gauck-verteidigt-neoliberalismus-gegen-unredliche-kritik-12754773.html Nice tweet from economist Branko Milanovic: DAVOS = Discussion About Various Opportunities for Stealing. @MH Anyone else recall the interview of Mary Harney by Simon Hobbs of CNBC at Davos in which he suggested to her she could be just the person to show the rest of Europe the way with business friendly policies? She just about managed to resist the use of the word “yes” in her answer. Is Davos much different to the aspirational job creating world class knowledge economy fluff that is regularly skewered here? It is very difficult to change a dysfunctional system if a lot of people benefit from it. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/20/imf-upgrades-uk-economic-growth Lots of optimism out there – expect a much more sunny Davos than usual. Text from Blind Biddy [shacked up with the one-eyed Shia Sheik in a chalet somewhere in Davos] ‘Oxfam calculated that almost half the world’s wealth – $110trn – is owned by just 1 per cent of its population.’ http://www.independent.ie/world-news/davos-warning-worlds-85-richest-people-have-as-much-as-half-the-rest-of-us-29931970.html @ DOD Trickle up Brecht always said that what happens is never inevitable @seafoid “Nothing is impossible” (The Claw) “Because I’m worth it” (Mary Harney) “Nothing happened” (Joseph Heller) “Men of no property” (Fianna Fail) “Everything in the universe comes out of nothing” (Tao Te Ching #1) “What did you take her Hans? Nothing mother.” (Prudent Hans in Grimm’s) @seafoid The phrase “Trickle up” reminds me of this J K Galbraith quote, which turned out to be wrong in one unfortunate sense: We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had much. Unfortunately with the new neoliberal hegemony in the Eurozone, the idea turns out not to be abandoned at all. Again I would recommend Mark Blyth’s Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, the section on the intellectual history of austerity explains Germany’s extraordinarily negative effect on Eurozone macroeconomic policy very well. @ francis The speech by Bundespraesident Gauck was an exceptional one and merits wide attention. I linked it on another thread. http://www.bundespraesident.de/SharedDocs/Reden/DE/Joachim-Gauck/Reden/2014/01/140116-Walter-Eucken_Institut.html Google Translate makes a fairly coherent stab at most of it. Notably; “Because freedom is introduced as an important issue in the society by talking about the freedom of the economy. For freedom in society and freedom in the economy, they belong together. Who wants a free society, should stand up for the market and for competition and against too much power in the hands of a few. But he must also know that a free society is based on conditions that the market and competition alone can not produce. Ideas and concepts [of] Walter Eucken can help us in this dual task. He was looking for an economic and social order, the “guaranteed equally economic performance and decent conditions of existence,” according to an order which is focused on the freedom of man. And he found a lot of what this freedom – then as now – threatened.” I would comment that, unfortunately, the principles of ordo-liberalism have been honoured by Germany for the most part only in a domestic context, not a European one. This is the crux of the matter in dealing with the gap in perception that threatens the very existence of the European Union. The Bundespraesident also has some relevant advice for the profession of economist. “Economists should be [to] politics and society a “visual aid”. They can not [be], if they prefer the clarity and aesthetics of their theoretical models to the realities and contexts in society. And they can not even if they exhaust themselves in the use of well-practiced theorems. But they can do well if they [have] courage and [the] will – from their perspective – to connect what is desirable with political feasibility.” Amen to that! @DOCM Walter Eucken? I hear that Ayn_een Rand was a fan. Nuff said. ‘… was an exceptional one … The qualifier pls; was, IMO, an exceptional one …. Yes, we know: humility if tuff, but help is available for this chronic condition. The best FT quote today is Munchau If you live on the European continent and if you have a problem with Say’s Law, the only political parties that cater to you are the extreme left or the extreme right… http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0a469808-7f6e-11e3-b6a7-00144feabdc0.html @Frank Galton That is classic Overton Window stuff, the politics of the EU have moved so far to the right that what is now defined as the radical left would have been thought of as unremarkable social democrats in the nineteen eighties. The last set of centrists (Blair and Schroder) were right wing by the standards of the seventies and the current centre right is far ring by the standards of the late nineteen forties. Why the Overton Window has moved in Europe is a complex matter, partially it is media ownership, journalists and their shared class interests and the way economic debates are presented and partially it is because of institutional preferences in the EU and the way they have constrained public policy options. However I think the shift is also substantially because the mainstream European left let liberal affect (Europhilia really) stop it from continuing to fight for progressive ideals while the right and capital fought a successful counter revolution. The Irish Labour party still remains staunchly “pro Europe” (remember the Fiscal Compact) even though this by necessity involves accepting a set of right wing economic policies. The result of all this is 12% unemployment in the Eurozone, something from which the extreme right (by the standards of the nineteen thirties) will benefit. @Shay If only the Irish electorate were given the choice of a ‘true’ left-wing party. Sinn Féin Irish Republican Socialist Party Workers’ Party of Ireland Communist Party of Ireland Socialist Party People Before Profit Alliance Socialist Environmental Alliance Socialist Workers Party Is it time for a new one yet? The best used to have parentheses (e.g. Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist–Leninist)) – that’s when you knew they were really serious. @Johny Foreigner Perhaps you should read a little about the Overton Window and then decide whether the existence of many small to medium sized parties of the left that are never in government might indicate that the range of political positions considered “acceptable” by the establishment and media has shifted right. I am not saying the OW theory is gospel either but it seems to capture what has happened in Europe (and Ireland) rather well. As a Tory I do not why you would be upset at the idea of the OW shifting rightwards anyway, it was Thatcher’s dream and the focus of much of her policy making. Merkel and the various EU economic and monetary policy controlling institutions have just replicated these policies on a continental level. @Shay The notion that the electorate might be involved in any of this seems to be something you reject out of hand. If only all the poor dumb sheep could see through the matrix the way you do. @ francis On my point that Germany has failed to apply the principles of ordo-liberalism at an EU level, you, and others, may be interested in this Der Spiegel article. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/relations-worsen-between-angela-merkel-and-european-commission-a-941243.html Notably; “Commission President José Manuel Barroso was one of the first targets of her anger. At the EU summit, Merkel took the Portuguese politician aside and flatly told him that the proceedings by the Commission against Germany’s renewable law — the German Energies Act (EEG) — on the grounds it breaches EU competition regulations was an “affront.” ” One can hardly imagine her dealing with the head of the German competition authority in the same manner! It was thanks to economists like Walter Eucken that the 3000 cartels running Germany in the 20’s to which Gauck makes reference did not re-emerge in the post-war period but were instead abolished and, in the coal and steel sector, folded into the European Coal and Steel Community, the supranational edifice in which the current European Union is rooted. Of course, business is still business. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/greece-arrests-two-suspects-in-submarine-bribery-case-a-944446.html @Johnny Foreigner The notion that the electorate might be involved in any of this seems to be something you reject out of hand. Damn it Mr Foreigner, if only there were any cases in European history of a large proportion of the population being cajoled and misled into taking an extreme right wing position by a pliant media and self interested financial elite. The left is generally a little bit ahead of the curve morally and intellectually (remember Apartheid, the war in Iraq, Vietnam, The Lisbon treaty, environmentalism and so on and so forth) and I benefit from that but it is just nurture. Just one of the red herd. @ DOCM, Prudent Hans, & Ordo_liberal spinners Poor in the City: Urban Poverty on the Rise in Germany Germany is weathering the economic crisis across Europe relatively well in comparison to its southern neighbors. Yet the prosperity appears to be leaving a large section of the country behind, as a recent study finds urban poverty to be growing at an alarming rate. [The study] found that in most large cities, as in the entire country, the portion of welfare recipients has decreased. However at the same time, the poverty rate in cities has risen markedly in recent years — from 17.5 percent in 2005 to 19.6 percent in 2011, well above the national average. They also found that between a fifth and a quarter of all people living below the poverty line reside in six cities: Liepzig, Dortmund, Duisburg, Hanover, Bremen and Berlin. Poverty appears to be on a steep rise in some German cities, the study said, noting that it was especially disconcerting that this has happened even while unemployment has gone down. It suggested that the growth of low-wage jobs in a country with no national minimum wage could explain the disconnect — pointing specifically to the fact that some of these jobs disqualify the employee from welfare benefits even though they don’t pay a living wage. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/study-finds-alarming-increase-in-urban-poverty-across-germany-a-867209.html D O D, I knew that “neoliberalism” would irk quite a number of people here. This speech was primarily adressing a national audience and made clear, that we will not give in to the demonisizing of “liberal” tried by illiberal intolerant greenies and hard left wing here. The social democrat vice chancellor kept most of the liberal and green deputies in place in the ministries, and some CSU guys got fired, primarily in the defense sector, who thought they are eminence grise : – ) All 5 streaks of the political landscape are necessary and valuable parts of our society, whether they lose an election or not. in the last few years we also wondered, whether we just got lucky this time, or if their is more to it. And we read what our founding fathers (Röpke, Krelle, Eucken, Ludwig Erhard, just to name a few) were thinking and we found a lot of good. Even the communists nowadays try to pose as the true heirs of “social market economy” David O’Donnell, that we now introduce a universal minimum wage in Germany, what we haven’t done even in the very bitter days after WWII, and the 60 years after it, with 8.5 Euro not to be sneezed at, is a reaction to developments, which we see as primarily driven by the open borders we have with most of Europe (not Ireland, UK in the Schengen sense) We value the open borders a lot, do not fall for the UK(ip) attempts to renege on the treaties establishing them, but we have to address the social consequences of it. Would you like a ‘Fig Leaf’ with your ‘Gurrier of the Month Award? Shay, The left has quite a few skeletons in the closet. There are loads of pictures of former lions of the left worshiping at the feet of Mao, Stalin, several of the Kims etc. I would also suggest you read the Phoenix for what looks like an emerging scandal in the the cult that is the SWP. Your track record is not so Lilly White. @Tullmcadoo The SWP is not my cup of tea but do you think the emerging scandal is Bertie Ahern level, Michael Lowry level, Jean Claude Trichet level or 12% Eurozone unemployment level? @ francis The Lisbon Treaty (Article 3.3 TEU) has the following opening sentences. “The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aimed at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment”. It seems to me that there is agreement, with the exception of those who seem not to understand what it means, on the basic objective of creating a social market economy. The difficulty arises in creating it at a European level e.g. when economic interests conflict with those relating to the environment cf. http://www.euractiv.com/transport/eu-agrees-new-deadline-car-emiss-news-531983 The important point in relation to this thread, and the connection to Davos 1914, is not who was right and who was wrong but the fact that there exists a supranational institutional structure which allows a compromise to be reached. This did not exist in 2014, still less in the inter-war years with the failure of the League of Nations and, in all likelihood, would not have existed post-war without the contribution of the German politicians and economists that you mention, and the US diplomats of that era. The Nazis and Mao get a very bad press in the West, much of it warranted , but at least they left behind a stable climate. Which is more than will be said for the clowns running the show now. @David O’D Talking of the 1%. Look at land ownership in Kerry 1871. I actually met the 4th Earl of Listowel in London, although his family owned 26,000 acres around Listowel in 1921 they lost all that and were reduced to dwindling compensation. He was a left wing politician; if you can’t beat them join them. Look at Ventry and Kenmare, all taken by the sword. The link- mykerryancestors.com/landholders-kerry-1876/ Amidst all the negatives, the remarkable positive for the world has been the spreading of globalisation from its postwar genesis in the 1950s when the small trading world began dismantling high tariffs. Today, it’s developing countries that pay about 70% of their import tariffs to other developing countries. The phenomenon of poor countries without natural resources becoming rich, has been a modern one. Even though the architects of the EEC/EU had an aspiration of member countries having an absolute convergence of GDP per capita, there is no evidence that has ever happened or will and Germany itself post unification shows that massive spending helps but a big gap remains. Relative convergence of course happens within regions where there are traditional trading links. There is a lot of superficial coverage on imbalances but in sectors where a few big giants dominate is it only a Chinese company that can help Peugeot compete against VW when the choice of Chinese consumers is clear? Improving the operation of the internal market would help but not in a significant way – the great initial attraction of FDI is that ready-made businesses are available while for a country to compete in export markets, it has to have a sufficient number of medium size to large firms plus several other favourable factors including lots of patience. It’s a shock that Merkel would put pressure on the Commission president – and all the others are like lambs – while our own government wants a full refund of the €64 billion in bank support including the bailout of depositors. There was an “agreement” but nobody can say which leader made a verbal commitment as there isn’t what could seriously be termed a written agreement. Besides, like other members, we want solidarity à la carte. On the left in Ireland, I suppose people would wonder if in near monopolies like the ESB or RTE, the main priority is the staff themselves rather than the public. The farmers are the biggest beneficiaries of European socialism – the CAP – but some are still likely praying for the conversion of Russia. Half the population is on welfare and it’s a rare business that doesn’t get public handouts or public sector business. What more socialism is needed? More public jobs and welfare? @ grumpy Time had a report from Davos in 2001: [Nuts to that, say the Irish — they vow to keep raising spending on welfare and education and cutting taxes, the continent be damned. “It’s amazing that our E.U. partners would want to punish the most successful economy in Europe,” said Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney, who directs Irish efforts to attract foreign investment. “They really ought to be thinking of ways to emulate our approach, not to stifle it.” She’ll never get into the really exclusive Davos après-ski parties talking like that.] Emulate our approach. cry: More than four years later, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times mistook her for a leprechaun 😀 “We went on a borrowing, spending and taxing spree, and that nearly drove us under,” said Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney. “It was because we nearly went under that we got the courage to change.” The End of the Rainbow http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/29/opinion/29friedman.html @Mickey Hickey Unbelievable as it sounds, “Captain Rock” was spotted having a pint in J. B. Keane’s pub recently! Red Alert in North Kerry & West Limerick … http://www.limerickcity.ie/media/Media,4024,en.pdf “You may amass gold and jade in plenty but then the more you have, the less safety … Are you strutting your wealth like a peacock? Then you’ve set yourself up to be shot. You bring about your own disaster Because you’ve got too much.” [Tao Te Ching, #9] @Michael Hennigan The Minister for the World Class Knowledge Economy is on his way to KL – ‘standing’ room only. Keep us updated. Davos related; poster (boy) presentation: Tales of Ireland the Tax Haven: To Hell or to Arthur Cox http://www.irishleftreview.org/2013/11/28/12529/#comment-215732 @ Michael Re RTE The Indo had a piece from the independent radio lobby that went for the jugular of RTE’s 2FM, implying its substantial losses are subsidised by licence payers. Would Larry Gogan be any use put out to pasture in China? You have just a minute to answer. fyi Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore received approval from his ministerial colleagues to open new embassies and consulates at the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning. The list includes re-opening the Vatican embassy, as well as new embassies in Bangkok, Jakarta, Nairobi and Zagreb and consulates in Austin, Texas, in the USA, as well as Sau Paulo, Brazil, and Hong Kong, China. [Irish Times] @Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Foreign Affairs Iran? Text from Blind Biddy in Davos: “Are you a man or a poodle Eamon?” Seriously off topic. @David O’Donnell The Iran embassy closure and the refusal to re-open is Gilmore at his most craven, he also joined in parroting the US line on Iran’s hypothesized nuclear weapons program thought crime. Also a really far sighted gesture considering sanctions are likely to be dropped and Iran is a potentially large market. What a creep. Thinking about it further there could be an Irish version of Robert Harris’s “The Ghost” written about Gilmore. Shay, I prefer to think the reopening of the Vatican embassy as a reward for regime change . If the ayatollahs stop oppressing their people well then maybe…. Btw, I thought you lefties opposed trade with oppressive misogynistic regimes in the Gulf or is that fatwah only confined to pro western ones . @Shay I was astounded at the decision to close the Iran embassy. Today’s announcement quite simply leaves me speechless. Irish credibility – diplomatic and particularly the distinguished and respected past and present history of the Irish Army peacekeepers (mainly in Southern Lebanon where it is respected by the local poor subsistence Shia farmers) – has been seriously damaged in the middle east. Iran is an old and distinguished civilization that has contributed much to mankind – to say nothing of its centrality to the Shia branch of Islam. To reopen the embassy to the centre of Roman Catholicism and to sideline the centre of Shia Islam is ………………. a betrayal of both republics. @All Iranians Forgive our ignorant government. In solidarity. @President Michael D. Higgins ? Seriously off topic again. Feel free to scroll. @Tullmcadoo Btw, I thought you lefties opposed trade with oppressive misogynistic regimes in the Gulf or is that fatwah only confined to pro western ones . I lack the religious authority to issue Fatwas but interestingly (just according to Wikipedia): “Iran severed official relations with South Africa in 1979 and imposed a trade boycott in protest against the country’s apartheid policies.” Those crazy mullahs and their religious decrees, eh? Four years later the Thatcher Youth in the UK would still be wearing “Hang Nelson Mandela” slogans. You might read the Wikipedia page on Women In Iran I think the entry is a bit of a whitewash and that Iran probably still has opportunities for women that are as restrictive as Ireland in the early nineteen seventies (when female civil servants had to retire on marriage) but Saudi Arabia (where women still are not allowed to drive) it aint. @David O’D Thanks for the link, right up my alley. The article confirmed a lot of what I heard from my grandparents. The area around Abbeyfeale, Knocknagoshel, Lyracrumpane did not have roads until around 1900. The branch of the family that emigrated to Buffalo, NY around 1900 did very well producing bathtub whiskey during prohibition. Some of them did so well that they returned to become landed gentry in 1933. Some of JBK’s The Field , was based on real characters one of whom was a customer who had over twenty children (a record for the area).as well as returnees with money. Maybe the AIB suits can go to Davos on the strength of regaining their Celtic Tiger market cap. http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/01/21/1747662/an-irish-finance-sanity-check/ @MickeyHickey My part of the world as well would you believe. ‘Knockanure, both mean a poor, a church without a steeple, bitches and hoors hangin’ over half doors, critisizin‘ dacent people’ @Frank Galton Thanks for link on AIB. Now worth €102 billion. It is nothing short of an utterly fraudulent valuation. Is it beyond the competence of the government to sell some shares and allow some kind of realism into the market price. Why ‘maintain’ a listing, if such a listing is nothing more than a laughing stock. On a different banking note, that will cause a little concern at Davos, Deutsche Bank has announced losses in Q4, 2013. It goes to show that when any economy, no matter how strong, lapses to zero growth, the amount of headroom is very small. One wonders if German policy will shift slightly as a result of the flood water lapping closer to their own door. When the Shah’s regime collapsed a lot of highly educated, talented and moneyed Iranians emigrated or helped their children emigrate. I worked with some of them and they are as sophisticated as anyone from Geneva, Milan, Paris. I live next door to a Doctor/Pharmacist couple and having socialised with Iranians I can tell you without any doubt that Iranian women are no shrinking violets. That includes grandmothers who never worked outside the home as well as women who are professionals. From experience I can tell you that suggesting to Moslem women that they are subservient to their men in any way means being exposed to a bout of hostility that would make a tinker blush. Cultures differ but for men there are a few overarching concepts which include being supportive and kind to women and children. @Johnny Foreigner It’s a small world. Have you heard of Duagh (ppronounced doo wah) the village where the people are so mean they did not build a steeple on the church. One of the daughters of the returned gentry, herself born and educated in Buffalo, NY asked me to check Duagh graveyard for the condition of the head stone of her father. I could not find hide nor hair of his headstone. When I told her she said oh jaysus I forgot to buy the headstone. Anyhow she rectified the problem by leaving funds in her will to put up a headstone. I know Duagh and all the other godforesaken villages in the North Kerry Football Championship. A tourist once asked my dad how to pronounce Duagh – he said “it’s pronounced the same as Lixnaw”. A sleety January day in Moyvane – now there’s austerity for you. Course back in 1914 Hibernia could not send delegates to Davos: a little genealogy on ‘these islands’ – Robert Fisk: Britain feared civil war in Ireland more than it feared war in Europe 100 years ago Was the British Empire about to crumble from within? This was the question at the start of 1914 ‘When I was researching the execution of Chinese workers employed by the British on the Western Front of the Great War at the Public Record Office, I found, among the papers, the official notice of the death by firing squad of Padraig Pearse and the other “rebels” of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Pearse and his brother Willie, and Connolly and McBride and the other 10 men put to death in Dublin on the orders of General John Maxwell, were deemed worthy of capital punishment in the 1914-18 war. Their papers lay in the very same file as those of British soldiers shot for desertion or cowardice in France. For the British Army, the Easter Rising was just another episode in the Great War. I recalled all this last week when I walked past the central redoubt of the 1916 insurrection, the General Post Office in O’Connell Street in central Dublin, its walls still scarred by a few bullet holes; another bullet – probably British – left its hole in the left breast of a bronze angel guarding O’Connell’s statue beside the River Liffey. And when I turned into Lower Abbey Street, I walked past Wynn’s Hotel where the Irish Volunteers – who were to fight in the Easter Rising and are the forerunners of today’s Irish Army – held their first meeting on 11 November 1913. Read on: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/robert-fisk-britain-feared-civil-war-in-ireland-morethan-it-feared-war-in-europe-100-years-ago-9070438.html You well-fed Europeans may have to do with less in future but look at what’s happening elsewhere. Bill and Melinda Gates in an extract from their forthcoming annual letter say: “Here’s our prediction: By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. In our lifetimes, the global picture of poverty has been completely redrawn. Per-person incomes in Turkey and Chile are where the U.S. was in 1960. Malaysia is nearly there. So is Gabon. Since 1960, China’s real income per person has gone up eightfold. India’s has quadrupled, Brazil’s has almost quintupled, and tiny Botswana, with shrewd management of its mineral resources, has seen a 30-fold increase. A new class of middle-income nations that barely existed 50 years ago now includes more than half the world’s population. And yes, this holds true even in Africa. Income per person in Africa has climbed by two-thirds since 1998—from just over $1,300 then to nearly $2,200 today. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies of the past half-decade are in Africa…Aid also drives improvements in health, agriculture and infrastructure that correlate strongly with long-run growth. A baby born in 1960 had an 18% chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, it is less than 5%. In 2035, it will be 1.6%. We can’t think of any other 75-year improvement in human welfare that would even come close. MYTH THREE: Saving lives leads to overpopulation. Going back at least to Thomas Malthus in 1798, people have worried about doomsday scenarios in which food supply can’t keep up with population growth. This kind of thinking has gotten the world in a lot of trouble. Anxiety about the size of the world population has a dangerous tendency to override concern for the human beings who make up that population…When more children survive, parents decide to have smaller families. Consider Thailand. Around 1960, child mortality started going down. Then around 1970, after the government invested in a strong family planning program, birthrates started to drop. In the course of just two decades, Thai women went from having six children on average to having just two. Today, child mortality in Thailand is almost as low as it is in the U.S., and Thai women have an average of 1.6 children. This pattern of falling death rates followed by falling birthrates applies for the vast majority of the world.” The first period of globalisation coincided with the remarkable rise of the United States economy in the decades after the Civil War coupled with stunning technological advances, against a backdrop of peace between the Great Powers. American historian James J. Sheehan, says in his book ‘Where have all the soldiers gone?’ that between the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and the French Revolution in 1789, the European powers had fought forty-eight wars. Between 1815 and 1914, there were only five wars in Europe, between two great powers – all of them were limited in time and space and only one of them involved more than two major states. From the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to 1914, Europe was in a fragile peace. In the prescient 1919 book ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace,’ on the vengeful Treaty of Versailles, John Maynard Keynes famously describes free trade as it existed in 1914, when a businessman in London could travel the world freely, invest wherever he wanted, and “could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep.” Not only that, Keynes’ Londoner “regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement.” Kevin O’Rourke has co-authored a paper: ‘Globalization, 1870-1914” Wars in Europe were fought by gentlemen who owned horses, swords and armour, they were short and brutal but did not inconvenience civilians. Then came cannon, sieges, falling fortifications. After that conscription, hundreds of thousands on each side devastating large areas of countryside leading to famines and displaced civilians. Then aircraft bombing civilians the first occurrence of which was the British bombing Afghans on the North West frontier in the 1920s’. Now we have the US using drones on civilians in a casual manner. Disneyfication out of control. Nuclear weapons proliferating above board and underground. War is a very human endeavour and we certainly have not seen the end of it. We have had a good run in Europe since 1945. England never recovered from the decimation of the cream of their young men (officers Eton, Harrow) who actually led their men into battle right on the front line during WW1. Now America conducts war from underground bunkers in Colorado, so safe, so easy, we can so we will. @ David O’Donnell It is stupid not to reopen the Tehran embassy. On Kenny’s recent trip to the Gulf, he made it clear that trade took precedence over human rights. In the current case, it would show some independence while earning some kudos in advance of the possible reopening of such a big potential market that would have loads of carpetbaggers heading there from East and West. It’s difficult enough for Ireland to get any recognition in the world that Kipling called ‘East of Suez.’ http://www.cer.org.uk/in-the-press/why-closing-irish-embassy-tehran-mistake I once got a Christmas card from the Iranian embassy on Mount Merrion Ave. It had a quote from the Quran with a reference to Issa – the Arabic name for Jesus (outside of Islam, Iranians do not welcome Arabic words used in Farsi). @ seafoid The RTE PR person is well versed in Newspeak: [RTE said 2fm was an “integral part of its overall suite” designed to meet the needs of a diverse audience, and that its financing had been approved by the Government.] Losses at 2fm exceeded €13m between 2010 and 2012. All that needs is another campaign to warn licence spongers of the risk of being shamed before the courts. If Larry moved to China, he would have to do with the politburo’s favourite hair dye colour: black. I used to wonder why elderly billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone could not manage more convincing hair dyes. The FT provided the answer in 2008 via Vanity Fair when Murdoch’s eldest daughter told the author of a feature: “I’ve said to him, ‘Dad, I understand about dyeing the hair and the age thing’ – he never wants to die – ‘but just go somewhere proper.’ But he insists on doing it over the sink because he doesn’t want anybody to know. Well, hello! Look in the mirror.” @ Michael “Here’s our prediction: By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” 2 words Uttar Pradesh Another 2 Uttar bullshit @seafóid 2 more ‘Washington Consensus’ [circa 1990] @ Seafoid are poor and poverty not somewhat relative or subjective words? ie people can confuse or conflate the terms inequality and poverty? @BEB ‘Inequality’ is relative; ‘poverty’ is real. @ BEB Poor and poverty are subjective so you have to anchor the issue in measurable numbers. Take a measure like people living under 75 rupees a day and adjust for purchasing power and spend money on the stats and measure them every year and see what happens. The problem with projections like Gates’ are that there are no numbers behind them. Get them out on a spreadsheet, show the assumptions and let people decide. Do you remember the Rev Tony’s “make poverty history” campaign ? That was before Lehman. DOD, and then there is relative poverty @ MH: Thanks for giving Keynsey that little plug for his ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’. A few folk who post around here might (that’ a joke!) benefit from reading it. Not comfortable stuff. Especially the last two chapters. Re: that Bill and Melinda epistle. Pity they forgot (low wattage) to mention that crude oil cost $10 bbl in 1998* – and “Hello!, hello!, Bill and Mill! – its closer to $ 100 bbl today”. – whilst a few years back it had ‘fallen’ to an historic high of $120 bbl: global slowdown, and all! Note: average Sub Saharan Africa [SSA] kerosene consumption; = 0.5 l/person/day: (Nigeria and Rep of SA excepted) 1 US bbl = 144 litre So, in:- 1998 folk in SSA consumed, on average, 183 l /person/year = 1.27 bbl = $ 12.70 yearly fuel bill Whereas, in 2013:- they still consumed 183 l/person/year (I know, I know, its called productivity, but no matter!) = $ 127 yearly fuel bill NOW DO THE MATH! 1998: $12.70 /$1,300 = 1 % of income – or near enough 2013: $127.00/$2,200 = 5.7% of income !!!! – pardon!!! (now, if their 2013 fuel consumption was greater than their 1998 level – ie. they ‘enjoyed’ an improved std-of-living) Told you those Gates critters were low wattage folk – but, sure what the hell! They can afford it! Moral: For fu*ks sake, would people learn to do some plain, ordinary, bog standard math, and be able analyze the results in a valid, meaningful context. You can only cringe at what is likely to happen to reality when it comes to working with things like relative costs or the exponential function – ie: income growth, population growth, food production, natural resource extraction or global energy consumption: clueless, hazardous, delusional, dim, are hardly sufficient descriptors. *US spot wholesale prices – the 1998 price might have been closer to $ 15, but what the hell! What’s a little exaggeration? Only for Big folk? Not us pygmy folk? – also, to get a more accurate comparison you would have to use the local prices of kerosene (domestic diesel fuel) which is the fuel of choice for cooking in many developing countries (poor folk tend to riot when kerosene costs increase). State fuel subsidies are also a critical factor in relative-cost calculations. And as a matter or no interest whatsoever – it requires the minimum consumption of 2 l/person/day to attain the lower-margin threshold between developing v developed. How many litres of kerosene could a poor SSA family purchase for the price of a G+T in a Davos 5*? Send your reply to Bill + Mill! If you want a ‘Come to Jesus’ reality experience – just figure out the daily oil consumption per person, in Ireland, in 1960. http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/ Bill Gates: I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction. By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. (I mean by our current definition of poor.)2 Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments.  Specifically, I mean that by 2035, almost no country will be as poor as any of the 35 countries that the World Bank classifies as low-income today, even after adjusting for inflation. Prof Hans Gosling, the Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician, illustrates how reducing child mortality, cuts population growth. Poverty, as experienced by human beings, is ‘real’. Measuring and objectifying are other matters; essential to take ‘time’ and ‘context’ into account to garner some meaning from such stats. Definitons here: http://www.combatpoverty.ie/povertyinireland/measuringpoverty.htm To get some sense of this ‘desert of the real’ , the Deprivation Index is illustrative: In Ireland, 11 basic items are used to construct the deprivation index: Without heating at some stage in the last year Unable to afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight Unable to afford two pairs of strong shoes Unable to afford a roast once a week Unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every second day Unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes Unable to afford a warm waterproof coat Unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm Unable to afford to replace any worn out furniture Unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month Unable to afford to buy presents for family or friends at least once a year. “Prof Hans Gosling !!!” aka: a ‘goosing’ expert. I love it! Hello Prof Goose! Listen up Prof! Pop growth is NOT the same as pop number. Now, how do I say “academic assh*le!”, without giving offense? OK. So we manage to stop pop growth, ie: dPop/dTime = 0. (I told you you needed math!). Then what happens with the pop number? And simultaneously, dOil/dTime will go to 0 – also? Like hell it will! God preserve me from this class of intellectual wanker! @ DoD some of those definitions would be very much relative rather than real. I assume street kids in Calcutta dont really care about being able to afford an “evening out” or “have friends around for a drink”. @ DoD also, in the Irish context, i see we dont even bother to have a “access to clean water”, “access to food”, “access to adequate shelter” etc in there, because i imagine the numbers unable to get to these would so low as to be negligible. Thats not to say that not being able to get the items on your list are not fair goals for all irish people, but i’m not sure i would count people unable to access them as being automatically in significant poverty or suffering from deprivation. ‘Afford’ is a subjective concept. Ask a hundred professors at Irish universities in the 100k+ bracket whether they can ‘afford’ a night out and I guarantee you some will say no. @ Brian Woods Snr. Hans Rosling is the name. @ All The key issues in developing countries for people are not international prices that apply to western type goods but the cost of staples, education, health, fuel and these days an iPhone knock-off. France used to dump its second-hand cars in Africa but now there is a big market for new Chinese cars and cheap phones. Africa currently has the second highest global regional growth. Let’s applaud it rather – rather than carp from distant armchairs. 🙄 @David O’D We have made great progress on the poverty front. Having looked in ledgers (on tick) the staples were one or two ounces of Clark’s Plug or Bendigo, a pound of sugar, a pound of tea (tay), a stone of flour, few pints of milk, the odd turnip, carrot, parsnip, butter which later became margarine, cured bacon and rashers. herring and mackerel on Fridays. Baking soda , pepper and salt. Potatoes and cabbage were grown at home or on rented land. One pair of “good” boots and a pair of Wellingtons or well worn ex “good” boots. Clothing usually one good and one work item. A few pints for himself weekly plus a couple of Sherries or Port for herself. unless it cut into the food for the children. Women generally did not drink or smoke except older women who could drink quite a bit thanks to the OAP that the British introduced in 1909. Bog to cut turf could be rented yearly usually three feet wide and 8 to twelve feet deep by the running foot. At the time (up to about 1960) that would have been normal. As you can see obesity and alcoholism were not problems back in the good old days. @ MH: Thanks for that correction! I do know a Dr Gosling! No one will not welcome any improvement in the situation of poor folk. What I find infuriating are dim-witted comments – full of hyperbole. The majority of readers or listeners do not slow down their thinking to analyze the comments – so they construct a completely faux understanding of what is a complex situation. The worrying aspect of this, is the behaviour of the so-called (or self-styled) ‘expert’ commentators – who are pandering to a specific audience for their own ends (usually pecuniary ones!) and their assertions are ill-considered, shallow and gravely misleading. I’m not calling them liars. They’re snake-oil salesmen! Trouble is, if you have the temerity to challenge them, they will respond badly: flinging ad-homs with both hands. Pissmires! SSA is basically an economic basket case. In order for them (big population) to reach a basic western-style standard of living – like Ireland in early 1950s, they will have to consume at least 3.5 l/person/day of liquid fuel. That amount of fuel is not available for them now, nor will it ever be available. Nature is calling the shots here. Not the PR spokesmodels for Big Oil nor Big Gas. Nor technically illiterate academics. Nature! Period! If the physics techies ever managed to harness fusion on an industrial scale and we had unlimited amounts of electricity – but simultaneously all crude oil production was ceased – how long before there were no vehicles on our roads, no aircraft flying in the sky, no ships, no lawnmowers, no chain-saws, no mobile cranes, etc., get the movie? Coal will not power our road vehicle fleets. Neither will gas. Fancy flying in a passenger aircraft powered by coal, or gas or electricity? I thought not! How do you extract, transport and process coal? or gas? or iron ore? or bauxite? or alkaline earth metal ores? using electricity as your sole energy source? You do not! Ever see an electric tractor ploughing a field? Drawing a 25 ton combine? Without petroleum products how will you synthesize inorganic fertilizers?, plastics?, pharmaceuticals?, organic chemicals?, detergents? You do not! The global supply of liquid hydrocarbon fuel and petroleum-based industrial chemicals is just about keeping pace with demand – courtesy the global downturn. However, and this is the kick in the testicles, the rate of new production coming on-stream is less than the rate of decline of production in our existing crude oil fields. If the current global economic downturn persists, then global supply of liquid hydrocarbon fuel will be sufficient to meet demand – but the margin is tight. However, within a decade supply will drop below demand. Its Nature – and those pesky exponential functions again. If we attempted to switch from liquid (oil) to solid (coal) – there is a lot of coall about. These two fossil fuels are roughly about equal as energy sources, but our dCoal/dTime did not change, then the global supply of commercially extractable coal would be exhausted within 70 years. Not funny that! @BEB I agree on the ‘relativity’ of the ‘number(s)’; such abstractions are ‘contentious’ as the various definitions used in the link above illustrate. As Wittgenstein reminds us – ‘the meaning of a word is how it is used’. I also much prefer the ‘food; water; shelter; clothing; education’ type of representation …. [the numbers are not negligable ] The key point is that ‘poverty’ – a state of ‘being’ – IS ‘real’ for those human beings experiencing it i.e. living it. One needs to distinguish ‘ontologically’ between the ‘state of being’ and ‘how such a state is represented’: they are not the same. Don’t have the figs (abstractions) right now – but ‘food poverty’ [ i.e. hunger] has increased in Hibernia in recent yrs. Re Calcutta – again my point that ‘time and context’ need to accompany such ‘abstractions’ …. or they become meaningless. @Mickey Hickey Asked someone a few yrs ago – after a small rural shop closed down – about their old ledgers: [key source of socio-economic history] – but they had been tossed out/burned. Well done on minding the legacy. Piking that stuff up from 8-10 feet all day was no joke …. (-; a declining art. @ Brian Woods Snr Brian, Your views on energy sustainability appear to be fossilised 🙁 but here are some facts to 2035 – who knows after that? Maybe that international hydrogen project in France will work or whatever?: Supply of energy fuels more than doubled from 6bn tons of oil equivalent (btoe) in 1973 to 13bn in 2011. The International Energy Agency says supply will rise over 30% to 2035. Fossil fuels in global mix 82% same as 25 years ago and falls to 75% in 2035; deepwater projects off Brazil sees it becoming major producer. BP forecasts 17bn tons of oil equivalent in demand; Asia-Pacific will provide 41% of the additional fuel output. BP says renewables, shale, tight oil and new sources will provide 43% of the additional output; coal and oil shares fall as gas rises. The jump in energy consumption in 2002-2012 – the greatest of any decade- not likely to be overtaken in the next two decades. China will consume almost double the US level by 2035 at 24% of the global total. BP says fossil fuels will account for 81% of the energy mix in 2035. @ MH: Thanks for that comment. Will compose a reply. Take me a while to do so. Back later. @ Michael “China will consume almost double the US level by 2035 at 24% of the global total.” That assumes increased consumption is neutral regarding everything else, no externalities, nothing. You can do it in Excel. But the weather we have today is influenced by what was burnt 30 years ago so there’s a lot more feedback coming down the line. I think 2035 is going to look very different to today. Now you can say “I don’t buy that” and that’s fine but I have yet to see anyone prove that it isn’t happening. @ MH: Looks like seafóid got his retaliation in first! I gave this matter of the tight-coupling of energy consumption and economic activity – some reflection. The causal relationship is as near 1:1 as makes little difference, cert par, as they say. There are three interconnected sectors: (i) Science: (geology, physics, math and chemistry) There are some handsome, immutable natural laws, black-letter mathematical limits, and unwelcome external consequences in there. So no amount of PR opinion – posing as fact, can negate these laws, finesse the limits or abate the consequences. Like the Dude, they abide! (ii) Engineering and Technology: We have some really amazing stuff in there – brilliant would be an apt description. But, but! The aforementioned natural laws will place absolute limits on how far our engineering and technology will take us. The other inconvenient fact is that any (and all) engineering technology needs energy to drive it. And the harder you attempt to ramp up or drive your technology – the more and more energy you need to consume. Simplistically, the more complex and tightly-coupled your technology, the more energy it will consume. Bit of a bitch that. (iii) Finance: Finance is the super-glue that keeps energy consumption and GDP bound together. Not many folk appreciate this. No finance (credit) => no energy =>no GDP. It’s that simple and complicated – simultaneously and at the same time! We may have encountered a ‘small problem’ in this sector. Note: Overuse of fossil fuels produces a nasty externality: atmospheric pollution – and a few other ‘minor’ inconveniences also. Overuse of finance also produces a nasty externality: debt pollution. Negative feed-back from either of these two toxic pollutants will guarantee a predictable effect on GDP: it will retard it. Call it economic downturn if you wish. There is also this issue: the quantitative difference between the amount of something, and the rate at which the amount of that something may be increasing/decreasing. The former may be represented by a linear expression, y = m(x) + c. The latter is more likely to be a quadratic expression of some sort, eg: xe2 + x + C = 0 The term ‘exponential’ may also apply to expressions of this sort. If you plot the first expression you expect a straight line (up and to left). Plotting the second you expect an S (sigmodal) shape. And it is this second type of expression that you have to be REAL careful with. Most folk have no appreciation of the nasty, external economic consequences of this type of mathematical function. There must be a few commentators on this site who are capable of explaining the risks and benefits of investing massive sums (billions) in a global industrial enterprise (energy exploration, production and delivery) – and the difficulties with those investment decisions, if it became apparent that the yield or return or whatever, looked like it might not be sufficient to; (i) pay interest and amortize loans; (ii) provide a surplus to pay all fixed and variable non-financial costs; and (iii) leave enough for essential re-investments in very costly new and replacement infrastructure. Be useful to get their views on this, and have less of me wittering on about fossilizing, doomy porn! Thanks again. @BWS Nuclear. The Telegraph pushes the anti EU, EZ line a little too far but some of the comments in this article are worth reading. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/davos/10590134/Crippled-eurozone-to-face-fresh-debt-crisis-this-year-warns-ex-ECB-strongman-Axel-Weber.html @Michael Hennigan The risks are up front and are entered into in stages. Magnetometer survey, Sonic survey, exploratory drilling in stages more and deeper. Funding is raised at each stage and in the beginning is usually speculative and raised in places like the Vancouver Stock Exchange (VSE). The real heavy lifting is in the development and production stage where funding is raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Risks are assessed at every stage with the most risk being early on. Political risk usually occurs in the development and production phases for myriad reasons, some valid. There are specialists piled on specialists with geologists and mining engineers at the core it is no longer dowsing for water. I mention Vancouver and Toronto because one is a speculative (penny stock) powerhouse and the other a world leader in resource investment and development. @BWS On Engineering: Every single bridge is built assuming a stable climate. If the temperature ratchets up by 2 deg the storms will be biblical and a lot of infrastructure will collapse after x years of attrition. We have lots of expertise based on observation and testing during a stable climate. Bloomberg has markets data going back say 20 years. We have just left a period of 10000 years of stable climate. We have no f#&*ing idea what we are doing. @ BWS 1. Fusion This is sold as the holy grail since 60 years. Unfortunately it is always at least 30 years into the future, before at least a demonstrator could be built. Nowadays all relevant nations play together, to the tune of 1 b per year, on this wiki/ITER, to make sure, that nobody feels left out, and a) limiting the waste of money spend on some arms race, and b) maybe, with a very low probability, a miracle does occur and somebody comes up with some new genius idea. Unfortunately those miracles do not occur on time and in full, as ordered. I could don a black uniform, with some skull and bones insignia on it, blow up my cheeks, get red in my face, crack the whip, have some machine gun salvos going into the air, stomp with my boots on the ground, yell “Miracles, do occur, now, or else”. The miracles are not impressed, …. Schweinehunde, Bastards : -) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0 2. Fission (a.k.a. nuclear in the vernacular) That was also supposed to be a wunderwaffe, back in the 1960ties. My father’s house went all electric back in 1968, the first in town. “Nachtstromspeicheröfen” The UK have just signed a deal with French EDF at 11 Euro cent / kWh, with a minimum inflation protection for 35 years, as I heard, makes a 16 c in 20 years, and rising afterwards, built and financed by France and China. New photovoltaics comes now online in Germany for 10 c, guaranteed for 20 years, and after that at market price, maybe 7 c on a good day, and next to nothing on a bad day (sunny, good wind) Decentralized, the meters are fitted to operate according to hourly market conditions and household preferences. They could also have bought a Hitachi / Fukushima design. Or consider: Apparently, Russia can built and finance new nuclear power plants abroad: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/russia-hungary-idUSL6N0KO28L20140114 3. fossils The US has a lot of shale gas and cheap coal to feast on. Germany, Poland have a lot of lignite to burn for the next 30 years. Russia is eager to sell their gas. Oil prices were rising by 8.4% per year in the last decade. Everybody has to make his own choices, and finance them. @ BWS/ MH I’m not saying that there will not be price spikes, that China will not have a cost in switching from local coal to cut pollution, that production costs will not continue to rise, and that evidence of climate change will not continue to increase — just saying that the supply situation is likely to meet demand over the next two decades. It’s long enough to get international action but the situation will have to get bad before people and governments give serious attention to climate change and energy/ water sustainability in the longer term. Thanks to David, Mickey, seafóid, francis and Michael for taking the time to comment. Appreciated. This is meant to be the foremost economics site in Ireland. So how come, the matter of the negative impacts of state, corporate and personal debts on the provision of an affordable and sustainable energy regime for Ireland is getting little attention? As I wrote above: finance => energy provision => GDP. Actually its a carousel-style process, and I wish I was able to embed the correct graphic to illustrate the connections and show the different inputs and outputs. David: Nuclear (enigmatic one word comment!). Too expensive. The customers would not be able to afford to pay. Strip out the taxpayer subsidies and its a bummer. Mickey: Thanks for that info. Now we need to know who may be doing the funding. And why? The projected returns must be lowish if the disguised taxpayer subsidies are discounted out. What return would be ‘needed’ – 7% ?? We need a lot more info about this. A robust, sustainable re-investment surplus is essential. seafóid: Amazing. Do dopey folk actually give a moments thoughtful thought to the matter of keeping their vital infrastructure in repair? Nope! Very bad train-wreck is forecast. If you are up to your nostrils in water – its the ripple that drowns you! francis: Thanks. Its ‘follow the money’ time. The state is providing significant sums of taxpayer monies in the form of social welfare style payments to every actor (corporate and private) in the intermittent re-usuable energy generating sector (wind and solar). Take away those subsidies and the whole business is unaffordable – the debts become unpayable! Michael: Climate change (until the statistically robust evidence shows that we DO NOT have GW) is a political pink prawn. You may, or may not be correct, about the supply/demand situation. Its as long as a piece of string, as they say. But, just keep in mind what I wrote about the difference between an amount, and the rate at which that amount is being consumed. That’s where the educated, useful idiots trip up. Quantitative Microeconomics was great – but I never once encountered any example of the exponential behaviour of the consumption a fixed, finite resource. The likelihood of ‘international action’ is not zero, its a negative number! “Look to yourselves”. If the situation is ‘”too bad to ignore” – its too late to remediate! At that juncture; neither state, nor business nor individual can ‘afford’ the cost of fixing it. I may be wrong about this, but I suspect that the fresh drinking water issue may be the emerging problem. The good stuff comes out of the sky – and falls onto our polluted landscapes! China, I believe, is making great progress with polluting their landscapes. Thank again to each of you. We will be back at this. @ BWS I think the Dutch will be the first to break ranks with the financial galacticos . They are most at risk in Europe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Works And EVERYTHING we know about engineering and risk mitigation will be rendered useless if temperatures start ratcheting skywards. I have posted this before but it’s good enough to be on Larry Gogan’s playlist. It is JBM standard. http://afflictor.com/tag/henry-petroski/ “The engineer, like the insurance agent, is hampered by the fact that his skill depends on the earth behaving in the future as it has in the past. As Petroski writes, Since it is future failure that is at issue, the only sure way to test our hypotheses about its nature and magnitude is to look backward at failures that have occurred historically. Indeed, we predict that the probability of occurrence for a certain event, such as a hundred-year storm, is such and such a percentage, because all other things being equal, that has been the actual experience contained in the historical meteorological record. That record, however, is now shattered. In the course of Petroski’s lifetime, and all of ours, we’ve left behind the Holocene, the ten-thousand-year period of benign climatic stability that marked the rise of human civilization. We’ve raised the global temperature about a degree so far, but a better way of thinking about it is: we’ve amped up the amount of energy trapped in our narrow envelope of atmosphere, and hence every process that feeds off that energy is now accelerating. For instance, this piece of simple physics: warm air holds more water vapor than cold. Already we’ve increased moisture in the atmosphere by about 4 percent on average, thus increasing the danger both of drought, because heat is evaporating more surface water, and of flood, because evaporated water must eventually come down as rain. And those loaded dice are doing great damage. The federal government spent more money last year repairing the damage from extreme weather than it did on education”. @ BWS More grist to the mill http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/19/unchecked-global-warming-double-el-nino-weather @ seafóid: I’m kinda neutral on this GW stuff. I’m not saying it cannot happen (or is not happening). Nor do I condone the Permagrowth economic paradigm which has a guaranteed, probability of failure = 1.01. If GW does start, then it will be an exponential process and humankind will be half-extinct before it sinks into their collective skulls that something seems amiss. The process will simply go to completion. Exit humankind! Humankind has demonstrated a wonderful capacity – and technological competence, for self-destruction. We evolved that way, and we will un-evolve that way. I live in S Dublin. 30 years ago the sea in Sandymount rarely came over the sea wall. In fact there were pedestrian passageways cut through the granite. Now. Tidal surges overtop the wall at least twice or three times each year. The pedestrian passageways are bricked up to prevent flooding. This may be due to excessive silting up of the Sandymount strand rather than a rise in the sea level. But the message is: seawater in your front lawn is NOT good for the grass! @ BWS I think it has already started. Hilaire Dumoulin has written an amazing book on glaciers and how they are retreating from Chamonix to the Jungfrau http://www.amazon.fr/Glaciers-Pass%C3%A9-pr%C3%A9sent-Rh%C3%B4ne-Blanc-angle/dp/2832103634 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21163386 “Humankind has demonstrated a wonderful capacity – and technological competence, for self-destruction.” http://www.bookshop.kennys.ie/book/US/9781433295096/The_March_of_Folly http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/video/2011/oct/31/scott-atran-us-foreign-policy-video @ BWS please take a look at wiki/Current_sea_level_rise to judge for yourself, whether what you see is just things happening all the time. Whole cities have disappeared in the North Sea, long before mankind could have an impact http://listverse.com/2013/08/05/10-lesser-known-mysterious-underwater-cities/ For my Dresden it actually looks like we will see somewhat more frequent / higher floods in the future What started out with the simple question, do I have to clear out my basement, and how much time do I have to decide on this, turned into some more careful study. We had higher floods in the past recorded history, and then there was a kind of 60 year lull 1940 – 2002, borderline statistically significant (natural science 3 sigma level) which coincides pretty closely with the massive dirty burning of lignite. The explanation would be that the dirt caused rain already falling over more western Germany and not arriving in full in the bohemian mountains which feed the Elbe. Oooops, not exactly an explanation one wants to hear, but I am convinced enough to discuss this with our authorities. My interpretation of Samuel Fankhauser 1995 “Valuing Climate Change” is that the US took a hard nosed decision, that it will hit others faster and harder. Human beings are nothing if not adaptable to change. Climate change should be looked at as an opportunity to expand our knowledge and skills. @BWS Mineral and oil gas exploration is conducted by small companies who have employees with specific skills suited to exploration. I was once involved with an arm of a major nickel/copper company that had an inhouse magnetometer and sonic exploration unit using specialised company owned aircraft. A significant source of their information are individual explorers with a cold chisel and a hammer who chip off fragments from rock outcrops and have the promising fragments assayed. The government provided them with air strips and navigational aids, these were usually classified as emergency landing strips 1000 to 1500 metres in length with a non directional radio beacon. The government’s Geological Survey unit did the cost benefit analysis based on their own data and the exploration company’s data. The CBA was a rigorous exercise based on the size of the ore body and the metal yield (richness). After the airborne data was analysed another analysis would be done to determine to determine if the company would proceed with exploratory drilling. The government would then analyse the company’s data and the size of the proposed investment to decide whether to provide a large airstrip, temporary winter road, harbour facilities (docks/ramps) to enable exploratory drilling. Then based on exploratory drilling results a good handle would be available on the size of the ore body and the metal content per ton of ore. At that point the exploration company would decide to raise money on the stock exchange or sell out to a major. Then negotiations would take place on road, rail or boat access as well as the gov’ts levy per ton of ore. Sometimes the ore body is so large that it is cost effective to smelt on site. Look up the “Ring of Fire” in Ontario, Canada right now DeBeers has a diamond mine there and another company has discovered Chromite but needs gov’t to provide road access to make it viable. Diamonds can be flown out, no road needed other than to supply the workers, equipment and fuel. The Ring of Fire formation was identified by a Professor Geology) at Queen’s University Kingston, there are about five of these formations in Canada of which two are proven profitable. Queen’s also has a Mining Engineering School which along with Geology, Hydro Geology and Geophysics gives them an alumni that make donations to their alma mater that would choke a horse. There are a lot of things that come together to make exploration and mine development possible and profitable. I am writing this from the point of view of what I was exposed to, it is not at all the whole picture. Nothing happens without: Speculative exploration funds. Knowledgeable people in the stock exchanges, brokers, banks. Experienced Geologists, Mining Engineers, Physicists, Mathematicians, Data acquisition computer/electronics specialists. Knowledgeable Gov’t Geologic Survey people with in house mining engineer know how to verify and carry out cost benefit analysis. The CBA by Gov’t is to determine what the go v’t can expect for its outlay by way of levies on production. Also taken into account are jobs created, area opened up to development, exports, tax revenues. In the early stages there is an element of buying a lottery ticket where you make it big or lose it all. Nowadays if you have a proven ore body the Chinese corporations are certain to bid. This is where government intrudes and usually says the company is part of the Chinese Gov’t selling to another part of the Chinese Gov’t so we would be unable to determine true market prices. Life is complicated. @ MH: “Life is complicated.” You said it! Thanks for that informative update. Interesting. “Human beings are nothing if not adaptable to change.” We are indeed, but the ‘change’ has to be self-selected, self-imposed and self-maintained in order for it to be effective. But ‘change’ is like Janus – its got two faces. Lets suppose, or PO (Edward de Bono), that the US Gov ‘forced’ the Fed to give give unconditional, interest-free gifts of money to each State – instead of those QEs to the financial sector, and ordered the States to fix up their physical infrastructures, rest and remediate arable land, clean up toxic dumps, build ‘clean’ power plants, repair railways, dredge canals, construct new rail networks, upgrade housing, etc., etc.? Who would benefit from this? And how would they benefit? We are talking trillions of dollars here – going into the US economy. That might, just might be a sustainable economic, social and political venture, for the US. Likely? No! Why not? The really critical skills needed are those related to farming, animal husbandry, forestry, fishing, building shelters, plus a few piffling others. You know, the ones most folk do not want to get involved with: like dirt under fingernails! A modern, productive and consumption economy (ie: consumption of your own, internally produced stuff – not cheap imported knock-offs!) cannot support a financialized economy. Well, it did for a few decades. But that was a long while back. The global financial sector has metamorphosed into an pathological economic, parasitic cancer. It needs to be subjected to a regime of ‘cut’, ‘burn’ and ‘poison’. Think that ‘change’ is likely to occur? No! Do you encounter any of the ‘main-stream’ economists and financial spokesmodels advocating radical surgery, nuclear therapy or toxic medicine for the financial sector. Not on your nanny! But they sure are advocating it for our productive and consumption sectors. How would you describe that behaviour? Cutting nose to spite face? Sure looks like it! Useful idiots? Naw! Just mendacious basterds (sic) – and well paid ones! There is a pithy and ironic sub-headline in to-day’s Irish Times; Tom Lyons. p5., in relation to the liquidation of a private hospital: “… … the figures simply ceased to add up”. Jeeze that’s some statement. You mean, | + | + | + | = |||| and not ||||| Well, Duh! to that! You DO NOT, CANNOT, cheat the math. It ALWAYS add up! “Climate change should be looked at as an opportunity to expand our knowledge and skills. ” It depends on how much it destroys Comments are closed.