Thursday, June 16, 2016

The First and Second Laws of Capitalism and the "Free Market".

I found on page 406 of Kevin Phillips' book, Wealth and Democracy, a quote from James B. Weaver, a hero of the "War of Northern Aggression," a Greenbacker (backer of fiat money during said war) and a Populist candidate for President of the United States, a quote he said in 1880 about wealth, which revealed his belief in "natural and benificent laws" that would cause wealth to diffuse itself amongst the masses. Nothing can be further from the truth. There are two principal laws of capitalism and the "free market" which operate in every era, and in every country, unless the market is regulated by government.

The First Law of Capitalism (Gresham's Law): bad money drives out good. Just compare the popular entertainments of the 1950s and 1960s to those of 1980s and those of the present day. You'll see this law has been hard at work.

The Second Law of Capitalism (Orlov's Law) a.k.a., Moneybags Logic or The Law of Gravity of Wealth: the wealth of any country naturally attracts to and accumulates itself into vast concentrations favoring the few owning them, at the expense of the many. This is epitomised by the moral of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 and Luke 19: "To those who hath, more will be given, and he will have it in abundance; but to those who hath not, even that which he hath will be taken away from him."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

May is the 8th consecutive hottest month EVAH!

At least since before the records have been kept, and probably since the Eemian period a hundred-ten-thousand years ago.

Anyway, here's the latest from Robertscribbler with tips o' th' hat to: Ryan in New England, June, and dtlange.

May Marks 8th Consecutive Record Hot Month in NASA’s Global Temperature Measure

Image source: NASA GISS.
May of 2016 was the warmest May since record keeping began for NASA 137 years ago. 
It is now the 8th record hot month in row. In other words, since October, every month has been the hottest such month ever recorded (October vs October comparison, November vs November etc). And May’s record is just the most recent high mark during a period that has now vastly exceeded all previous measures for global temperature tracking. 
The month itself was 0.93 C above NASA’s 1951-1980 baseline measure. It’s the first month since October that readings fell below the 1 C anomaly mark. A range that before 2015 had never before been breached in the 136 year climate record and likely during all of the approximate 12,000 year period that marks the Holocene geological epoch. 
It’s a reading that is fully 1.15 C above 1880s averages.  
A 1.2 C annual 2016 departure is firmly within the range of estimates for global temperatures that occurred within the Eemian climate period around 115,000 years ago. At that time, global ocean levels were between 16 and 25 feet higher than they are today. And if such warm temperatures continue for any significant duration, we could expect oceans to at least rise by as much (especially considering the fact that about 15-20 feet worth of sea level rise is locked into the ice of glaciers that are now in the process of heading into the global ocean).
 Image source: The Keeling Curve.
Atmospheric CO2 levels peaked at 407.7 parts per million in May as well. A jump of about 3.8 parts per million above peak readings during May of 2015.
If carbon dioxide levels were to remain so high we could expect global temperatures to, over the course of 300-500 years, hit near 3 C above 1880s levels and oceans to rise by as much as 60-120 feet. Adding in methane and other greenhouse gasses — current CO2 equivalent for all global heating gas estimates are now in the range of 490 parts per million. Enough to warm the Earth by about 4.6 C over hundreds of years and to, among other things, eventually raise oceans by 120 t0 200 feet.
For more click here.
Now speaking of destabilised glaciers and ice sheets, the Larsen 'C' Ice Shelf, right next door to the Larsen 'B' one which collapsed and shattered in 2004, is now in a more fragile and unstable state than previously thought.
From dtlange:
Antarctic Discovery Reveals Larsen C Ice Shelf Weakness 
Researchers report discovery of a massive subsurface ice layer, at least 16 km across, several kilometres long and tens of metres deep, located in an area of intense melting and intermittent ponding on the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica which may suggest the ice shelf is even more fragile than thought.

Well here's a bit of good news: Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports that that “coal and gas will begin their terminal decline in less than a decade.”

June links to the Bloomberg News article (peak fossil fuels for electricity by 2025); this from Ryan in New England:
Here is the core finding of BNEF’s “annual long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve in the future,” their New Energy Outlook (NEO): 
"Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW [1 Terawatt = 1,000 Gigawatts] of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested." 
And the reasons?

First, renewable energy benefits from manufacturing economies of scale. Second,  Fossil fuels are finite resources that are dependent upon extractive mining. Third, Cheaper coal, oil and gas, due to increased renewables and lower demand otherwise, means that less oil, coal and gas will be extracted: this means Peak Oil, Peak Coal and Peak Gas will be passed. Fourth, Once this begins to happen, the fossil fuel industry is put on death ground and will have to switch to renewables or squash them through political control. (Credit Robertscribbler)

But the caveat is that the manufacture and build-out of renewable energy infrastructure is dependent upon fossil fuels! Which means if there is a future shortage of fossil fuels, especially if Hillary or Trump gets us into World War 3, renewables may get the short end of the stick so that shorter-term needs are met instead.

Even with the Bloomberg forecast of 60% catchment of all electricity by zero-carbon energy sources by 2040 (a huge feat by itself if it happens) still runs bad risks from the perspective of climate change, because it implies we'll be stuck with 435 to 460 ppm CO2 and around 510 to 570 ppm CO2e by then.

And another thing we need to beware of: Wall Street is still investing in fossil fuels: they are betting that fossil fuels will continue to be extracted and consumed, perhaps even at the expense of zero-carbon sources.

From June:
World’s Banks Driving Climate Chaos with Hundreds of Billions in Extreme Energy Financing 
Wall Street continues to back the most polluting fossil fuel industries “at the expense of some of the most vulnerable communities on the planet,” states new report.
The report, $horting the Climate: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2016 (pdf), put forth by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Sierra Club, and Oil Change International, evaluates the private global banking industry based on its financing for fossil fuels… 
So big extreme fossil fuel investments are massive bets that governments won’t stop climate change.
Some of the big playaz are Citigroup, Bank of America, JP[irates]Morgan Chase, and Barclays. And our candidates, where do they stand? Let's see, now.... Donald Trump doesn't believe Global Warming is for real and promises to end all funding for climate monitoring by the US. Hillary, although she says a good line, is in the pockets of Wall Street, especially Goldman Sachs, and has considerable backing from Fossil Fuels interests. Which means she'll give lip service to combatting climate change but pursue "Drill, baby, drill!" policies once elected, just like Obama. Oh, great. So these two pose to threaten Near Term Extinction upon us not only by World War 3, but also the utter collapse of civilisation by Dangerous Climate Change - the Fossil Fuels Derivatives Beast. At least with the latter we won't go extinct! 

For more, click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Remember what I said yesterday about Donald Trump?

Yesterday I referenced the article that stated that Donald is no dove. Today I have another article that essentially conforms the same thing, although it is a far less researched opinion piece in the American Conservative.  But the comments are worth clicking through and reading the article by Daniel Larison: No, Trump isn't an "Isolationist."

Larison contends that Donald Trump is not an isolationist, but a nationalist who would intervene solely in the interests of the United States and to Hell with everybody else. Even if the intervention is directly against Russia. Well Putin would have only one thing to say and do in such an intervention, and in a way would tell Trump, as Dimitri Orlov has described Russia saying to the West many times before, to go to Hell, and then make it stick. Making it stick, of course could be or could lead to an extinction level event. Or do you think Trump would just bend over and take it? (The same goes for Hillary and her neocons.)
Colin Dueck sees Trump this way, and for once I am in at least partial agreement with Dueck. Dueck writes:
His critics call him an isolationist, but that’s not quite right either. Genuine isolationists on both left and right, however wrong-headed, tend to be more high-minded, principled and pristine than The Donald. Trump’s real niche, carved out in his own strange way, is simply American nationalism.
Trump’s nationalism leads him on the one hand to eschew deeper involvement in Syria because the conflict has little or nothing to do with the U.S., but on the other it leads him to make ridiculous statements about seizing other nations’ resources and denouncing diplomatic agreements with other states. If we can pin down his foreign policy at all, it is aggressive and unilateralist when Trump thinks the U.S. has something to gain, and it is otherwise content to leave regional problems to regional actors. One reason that he isn’t an “isolationist” or anything close to it is that he claims to want to “make America great again,” and part and parcel of that supposed greatness is building up the military and “winning” contests with other states.
For more, click here, and don't forget to read the comments!

Remember, Peak Oil is here and gone in the US and is coming soon for the rest of the planet, and Russia's one country with a lot of unexploited oil and natural resources!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Trump Is no Dove, Either.

From Zack Beauchamp's The Donald Trump Dove Myth on

I honestly don't know how Trump would govern if elected president. Nobody knows how Trump would govern, because we've never had a president like him before. 
All we have to go on is what he's said and done. And any close examination of that record, beyond his high-profile rhetoric at debates, suggests that Trump is an instinctive advocate for US military force. He seems especially interested in it when it can be used to enrich or protect the United States — taking the oil, killing the terrorists, etc. 
This isn't the kind of [Ed-M: messianic and Manichean] hawkishness we're used to. During the Bush administration, hawkishness became equated with neoconservatism. You're a hawk if you support sending in ground troops to fight terrorism or bombing Iran's nuclear program; you're a dove if you oppose those things. 
Trump's instincts are not neoconservative, and he's skeptical of neoconservatism's more grandiose ambitions to remake the world in America's democratic image. That makes him sound dovish by American standards, because we've come to equate dovishness with opposing policies that neocons support. 
But historically, there are lots of other forms of American hawkishness.
Mr. Beauchamp goes on to state that of those is the Jacskonian tradition (going back to Andrew Jackson) and it fits Trump best, because Trump is on record (read the article) in favor of the wars but hes opined that the USA should have just taken -- stolen -- those countries' oil. Just like Andrew Jackson stole the lands of the Indians of the USA Southeast and sent them to Oklahoma in a trail of tears.

Now as of March 19th Russia is the country with the sixth largest amount of oil reserves. US oil production was down by about 10% from last year's peak as of June 3rd. If this production continues in this sort of decline, it won;t be long before the US corporate world and the US government will be coveting Mother Russia's oil and the Pentagon will be making plans to "secure" it. This in spite of Trump's proclaimed support for Israel and the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's VERY successful overtures to Vladimir Putin  and Israel's turn to Russia as an ally (more here, here and here).

Needless to say, an attempt to steal Russia's oil will mean World War III, which would probably end with nuclear exchanges between the United States and Russia, resulting in a nuclear winter (ice age), a radioactive spring (rewarming), and resumed global warming following, ending in Near Term Extinction.

Note: "messianic and Manichean" from Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine, p. 217, describing the delusions of the neoconservatives that Hilary stuffed the USA State Department with when she was Madame Secretary of State. This sort of messianic insanity is a form of (small-c) christ-psychosis: nota bene "messiah" in English and original Hebrew mashiach "anointed one" translated to khristos (originally "ointment") and christus (specifically Jesus) in Greek and Latin, respectively.)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Peak Fossil Fuels Soon?

It looks like we may have peak fossil fuel demand quite soon, due to the ramp-up in renewable energies. But then again, it may be because of the overhang in debt is killing demand, at least for finished products.

And last year the demand for coal dropped quite a bit. It's probable that the drop in coal demand was because of drop in demand from China for commodities: its economy has been faltering a bit lately. But the drop in coal demand was made up for, and a little bit more, by demand for oil and natural gas. All in all, fossil fuel use rose by 0.56% yoy in 2015.



The Automatic Earth (here, here, here and here)

Gail Tverberg's Our Finite World - Debt

Thursday, June 9, 2016

If You Want to Get Mauled, Go Poke a Bear Repeatedly.

Vladimir Putin and "The Hildebeest."
Hillary will continue the neocon policies started under Clinton 42, or even under Poppy Bush 41.

Well Neil Godfrey of the Vridar blog, a Top 50 Biblioblog and one that explores Christian Origins not limited to an historical Jesus, has joined the chorus of warnings that current US foreign policy against Russia is leading us straight into World War III. Why is the USA doing this? In one word and three: Greed and Russian Natural Resources.

Reblogged from Vridar, Neil Godrey's post, Sleepwalking once again into war, this time nuclear.

Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent, scares me. He compares in Frontline Ukraine the current international tensions over Ukraine with those over the Balkans prior to World War 1. He further compares the dynamics between NATO/”Wider Europe” and Russia with those between Western Europe/UK and Germany prior to World War 2.
On the one hundredth anniversary of World War I and the seventy-fifth anniversary of the start of World War II, and 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Europe once again finds itself the cockpit of a great-power confrontation. How could Europe have allowed itself to end up in this position, after so many promises of ‘never again’? This is the worst imbroglio in Europe since the 1930s, with pompous dummies parroting glib phrases and the media in full war cry. Those calling for restraint, consideration and dialogue have not only been ignored but also abused, and calls for sanity have not only been marginalised but also delegitimated. It is as if the world has learned nothing from Europe’s terrible twentieth century. (Sakwa, R. 2015, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, I.B. Taurus, London. p. 1, bolding mine in all quotations)
A word search (I have not yet read past chapter 3) takes me to the following:
Hillary Clinton packed the State Department with ‘Democrat’ neoconservatives with a messianic and Manichean view of the world. Clinton herself had few achievements in her four years as the American foreign minister, and has since concentrated on positioning herself as a potential candidate in the US presidential election of 2016 by scoring easy points – and there are no easier points than Russia-bashing. (p. 217)
Even the Cold War architect of Containment, George Kennan, was horrified:
The implications of NATO enlargement were substantively debated. In an interview with Thomas Friedman in 1998, the doyen of international diplomacy and the architect of the original policy of ‘containment’ of the Soviet Union in the post-war years, George Kennan, was unsparing in his condemnation. Kennan spoke with dismay about the Senate’s ratification of NATO expansion plans:  
I think the Russians will react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anyone else […] This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed on to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.  
Not for the first time the ‘superficial and ill-informed’ nature of Congressional discussion was condemned. Equally, he added words that remain a portent for today:  
I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.(Sakwa, R. 2015, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, I.B. Taurus, London. pp. 45-46)
“Her Cold War stance is reflected in her parting injunction to Obama that ‘the only language Putin would understand’ is ‘strength and resolve’.”

Putin understands the language of ‘strength and resolve’ perfectly; it is evident he does so by his rebuilding of Russia’s strength and has so far shown steely resolve and restraint in the twin disasters of Syria/ISIS/Iraq and the Ukraine.

Dmitry Orlov last week posted this warning from several Russian-Americans plus some US luminaires that if the United States were to keep bear-baiting Russia into World War 3, the United States will find itself at the very least with no economy, no working infrastructure and no government; and at the very worst, it will be reduced to a radioactive ashtray.

In other words, World War III is death to America! Ugh.

Jesus Fracking Christ. And the only way we can get out of this, alive,is if we vote for Jill Stein, or at least Trump in the general election. But it doesn't matter who votes, but who counts the votes.

Hat tip to Neil Godfrey and Uncle Joe (Stalin).

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Are We Ready for World War III?

Morris Berman dug up this little nugget:
Here's the beginning of the article:
In the wake of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima last week, renewed debates over the use of atomic weapons against Japan in August 1945 have highlighted a disturbing trend: a rise in public support for US attacks on civilians across the globe. Never having withstood a prolonged bombing campaign on their soil, many people in the United States are quick to support and justify the use of bombs -- including nuclear ones -- on others. 
Academics Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino conducted research on the US public's attitude regarding nuclear bombing and recently publishing a summary of their findings in a Wall Street Journal story titled "Would the US Drop the Bomb Again?" From a survey of a "representative sample of 620 Americans" administered by YouGov last July, Sagan and Valentino revealed results that were "unsettling about the instincts of the US public." Specifically, the pair reported that, "When provoked, [US citizens] don't seem to consider the use of nuclear weapons a taboo, and our commitment to the immunity of civilians from deliberate attack in wartime, even with vast casualties, is shallow."
Of course, the survey question offered up a little scenario similar to the Old Pearl Harbor (as opposed to 9/11, the New one): Iranian forces blowing up a US air craft carrier, killing 2400 sailors. The surveyor asked the question:"Would you approve of the US dropping a nuclear bomb on a city of 100,000 souls in Iran?" 59 percent of the respondents replied similar to the following: "Of course!" And no doubt a few probably said: "Whaddya mane, souls?"

I wonder if people would approve of doing the same to Russia if Russian forces did the same in the Black Sea in response to some US provocation in the Ukraine? I bet they would!

For more, click here.