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Paul Craig Roberts and others continue to insist that “what we are witnessing in the US and indeed throughout the western world is the total failure of capitalism.” I say that’s bunk: capitalism is still working precisely according to plan. The Titans of Industry ensure that the tax code is rewritten to squeeze more out of the poor and into their own pockets, and the pundits keep shaking their heads at the supposed stupidity of this strategy. But while the uber-rich might (in some cases, at least) be evil, I don’t think it’s a good idea to assume they’re stupid. More likely they can see the writing on the wall. They can see that limitless growth is finally hitting the limits of a finite planet, so they’re cashing out, and to hell with the rest of us peons who have to deal with the consequences. They’ve moved on to other things, i.e. how to survive the crash when it comes so that they can continue to rule what remains of the planet.
What an appalling article about the pension crisis. This punk dares to suggest that the biggest problem with the collapse of pension funds is the impact on the economy of a reduction in consumer spending. He completely ignores the suffering that is being and will continue to be inflicted on people who worked hard all their lives in the understanding – the promise – that they would be taken care of in their old age. He even has the gall to say that “Pension reform — as with Social Security reform — is most equitably approached as a combination of benefit cuts, increased contributions and higher eligibility ages.” What’s equitable about putting the entire burden on the workers, when the collapse of the funds is due to Fed manipulation of interest rates that has siphoned all the funds’ assets into the pockets of the rich?
Nassim, you apparently didn’t actually read the article you linked to, which clearly explains the mechanism whereby climate change creates more challenging ice conditions in the Baltic. Climate change science shows that while the planet as a whole is warming, changes in temperature are not evenly distributed. For example, while the Arctic is warming at an incredible rate (and Arctic sea ice is losing both area and thickness), Europe will begin to experience colder winters due to the slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (google it). All of this has been borne out by empirical data.
Long after the original post, so I doubt anyone will read it. But it has to be said: the core analysis here is dead on. Humans, like other creatures, will always consume cheap energy as fast as they can. The notion that “indigenous peoples” have always “lived in harmony with the land” is contradicted by the evidence: as humans spread across the earth, they always and everywhere wiped out nearly all the animals larger than 44 kg. This took place with such speed that some scholars refer to the advent of humans in North America as a “blitzkrieg.”
Paul Martin’s seminal book, “Twilight of the Mammoths,” was greeted with lots of skepticism when it was first published in 2005, but research since then has increasingly supported his “blitzkrieg hypothesis.” (Get on Google Scholar and look for “pleistocene extinction.” You’ll find hundreds of references, many from the past few years. It’s a hot topic.)
What most non-ecologists don’t realize is that the big animals, the apex consumers (both herbivores and carnivores) are ecosystem engineers – they control the structure of the biotic environment. When the big animals were wiped out, ecosystems started to collapse into simpler arrangements. What we think of now as “pristine nature” (of which precious little remains) is actually a much simpler system than what preceded it. Energy and nutrient flows are drastically reduced from their pre-human maximums; net primary production is far lower as well. Which translates into far fewer animals.
What this means is that WWF and others set the baseline far lower than it ought to be. If we were to take into account the ecological impacts of human-caused extinctions in the last 100,000 years we’d come up with a much higher percentage of total wild animal populations lost. Not that that would change anyone’s behavior, of course.
Agreed. This is a crucial distinction. There is no doubt that the New York Times re-edited a front page article this summer to ensure that it was slanted more toward Hillary than Bernie, but that’s not the same as saying Britney Spears is dead when she’s not. Saying climate change is a hoax is an interesting in-between: it’s not demonstrably false in the same way that wheeling Britney Spears onstage can prove that articles claiming her demise are grossly exaggerated. But it’s a deliberate obfuscation that exploits the small degree of uncertainty that all scientists worth their salt have to admit. So kind of a third category: not fake, not slanted, but deliberately deceptive news. This shit’s getting complicated.