Saturday, July 31, 2010

Seems like a good idea to me

Australia's Green Party leadership advocates a steady-state economy, rather than the standard one that assumes infinite growth.Given our environmental and energy realities, we're going to head that way eventually. We can still have reasonably comfortable lives - just those lives will have to be led within the confines of what nature makes available. Forget about single-use products, owning your own Hummer, taking a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, or keeping every light in the house on while blasting the AC at arctic levels. Those days are over, and will be replaced eventually by something more sustainable. That aside, the upshot is that the Greens are poised to become a major force in Australia this year.

As an aside, I recall about two or three years ago reading about how over the next decade the big debate among Australian politicos would be over how green to be. I'll try to see if I can dig up the link at some point. Australia may be a harbinger.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mosque madness

Newt and the ADL seem to have their share of it these days.Fortunately, there are groups that understand that the way to oppose bigotry is by - dig this - opposing bigotry (h/t FDL).As has been noted by others elsewhere, if a Christian church or Jewish temple were being constructed on that same piece of Manhattan land, we'd hear the sound of crickets chirping. However, since it's a mosque that's proposed for construction, anyone with an axe to grind is crawling out of the woodwork. Before playing the terrorist card, just recall that there are plenty of Christians who have no problem with acts of terror, assassination, etc. To state the bloody obvious, any religion is going to have its fanatics (I'll say the same thing about ideologies and political parties). To tar the practitioners of Islam because of a relative handful of jerks strikes me as not only repugnant but also short-sighted.

Of all the stupid....

While the US government is mired in two wars, and the economy is still faring poorly, the US Senate has found plenty of time to vote to double the fines and jail time for....wait for it.....wait for it.....marijuana brownies. Seriously? This is yet another time when I can cast a pox on both major US political parties - the authoritarianism espoused by both of them to one degree or another is beyond old.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ever wonder what half a depression looks like?

Here's an idea of what we're dealing with. It is far from pretty. Suffice it to say, there is plenty of blame to spread around - just look for politicians who have embraced neoliberal economic theory (Most Republicans, many Democrats). Yes, it could have been worse, and from the looks of things, we're in for a very rough ride over the next several years. This was an economic disaster that could be seen a mile away - and not just in hindsight. It's just that those who were sounding the alarm were the proverbial voices in the wilderness. Is anyone in power taking heed now? Seems highly questionable at best.

Video: Endgame in Afghanistan

H/t The Newshoggers

Worth a read

Beyond the limits to growth (h/t The Oil Drum) which riffs of a 1970s book called Limits to Growth, is worth taking a look at and pondering. The basic gist remains the same: at some point (sooner probably rather than later) economic growth as we know it will become physically impossible. We simply won't have the resources. The tasks that will face us as a species will be nothing short of enormous. Somehow, we'll have to simultaneously deal with a rapid weaning off of fossil fuels, drastically rethink our economies, support in a humane fashion the 7+ billion people dwelling on the planet (and implement humane means of stabilizing and reducing that population long-term), AND deal with the effects of burning all that oil and coal over the last couple centuries. The difference between now and the 1970s is time: we have less of it now.

Your latest dose of rapture-ready stupidity

Tim Lahaye is at it again, claiming that The Pope of Hope is bringing us closer to the much ballyhooed Apocalypse. Whatever one might say about Obama (I'll hold my fire for another time), I think it's safe to say that his presidency alone hardly merits more "the end is near" talk.

As an aside, a friend of mine was telling me about a book he read about the three thousand year history of predictions of the world's end in the Judeo-Christian traditions. Hopefully when time and finances permit, I'll track it down and give it a read. I've already been warned that it is very heavy on the jargon as it was not written for a lay audience.

It's getting hot, hot, hot

The data from NOAA are no surprise to me: the last decade was the hottest yet (h/t naked capitalism). This should be no surprise to anyone who recalls that 2009 was the 13th straight year of above average temperatures, and preliminary data from earlier this year pointed to the last decade as the warmest on record.  I know the climate change skeptics love to point to all the snow that folks in the northeast saw this past winter as "proof" that we're not experiencing global warming, and who will be busy parsing the data for something - anything - that might bolster their weak case. So it goes.

Of course we're going to have cold spells. Day-to-day, season-to-season, and year-to-year fluctuations are par for the course. It's just that we'll see fewer of those cold spells. Intense winters of the sort that were experienced in the eastern US and into the plains were the norm a few decades back, but are noteworthy now because they simply don't happen that often. By the way, the rest of the northern hemisphere baked (relatively speaking) while the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the US were digging out from record snowfalls. And the global temperatures continue to trend higher while we twiddle our thumbs.

In the meantime, it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of what sorts of societies will fare best as the climate changes rather rapidly over the next few decades. Suffice it to say, the egalitarians are going to have the edge. We might also want to think more carefully about the potential economic and geopolitical consequences of global warming.


Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Couldn't let this week pass without making note of this important law. Over the last two decades I've witnessed the progress that has been made for persons with disabilities thanks to this law - there is still, of course, a long way to go.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To readers of The Hankster, welcome!

Always good to get some props from another fine independent blogger. If you've come here from The Hankster, feel free to dig around. And a huge thanks to Nancy for mentioning Notes From Underground.