I was on travel to London and have been thinking of the election and post-election. There is a mix of thoughts in my mind, which is a refreshing thing that travel creates.
It’s clear that the hundreds of millions of corporate money pushed, barely, the election and our political system to the right. Unfortunately the “centralist” democrats have amplified this money-shower driven movement greatly with their lame conclusions and are now extending tax cuts to those who should not have them.
The simple conclusion that increased wealth allows increased access to money making directly leads to a graduated income tax scale. The fact that the US is in the process of abandoning this simple and straight forward notion is unbelievable to me. President Obama using ex-President Clinton to support his “centralist”, e.g. radically non progressive, notions was rather telling and sadly pathetic. If you can’t understand that image, well NAFTA was a great idea also eh? Don’t forget President Clinton’s brilliant ideas regarding abolishing banking and security regulations. That worked out well, other than the trillions of dollars burned during the global economy meltdown.
In this geographic area we are still in a depression, no doubt about it. Orders are flat, store fronts continue to be empty, and large chain stores are still going out of business, layoffs are in the thousands. Many of the states now face multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls and this crazy idea of double Santa Claus, perfected by the Republican party first in California, and then nationally, has placed the US in a very, very deep hole. Things will get worse before they get better, there is no doubt.
In my own work I can see China coming into the energy markets strongly, and the weakening of the dollar, reflected by the continuing increase in the cost of oil. I expect that we will go over $100 per barrel this spring. The scale of the Chinese demand is quite amazing. The largest construction projects now going on are the building of rail systems in China to transport coal. Surprisingly no one in the US has any idea about this.
Speaking of resources, I was reminded that the building of jet turbine blades now requires rare-earth elements. Guess where those will come from? Well how important is this, very important. Read this US DOE report; basically modern technology shuts down without rare earth elements.
Also, as reported by the Financial Times, the US now controls less than one half of it’s national uranium production. The rest is controlled by Russian state-owned companies. Here is the Financial Times link.
While traveling I greatly enjoyed reading “With speed and violence: why scientists fear tipping points in climate change” By Fred Pearce. It is brilliantly written and the ending chapter on the connection with stratosphere dynamics and conditions is excellent. Mr. Pearce has done a wonderful job presented a detailed analysis of climate change. Here is the link to the googlebooks site.
I found the discussion of polar/North Atlantic vs. tropical feedback very well presented. Please ask your library for a copy, or purchase, this great book.
I always visit the RAF museum in north London when in the city. I was reminded what a close run thing the Battle of Britain was. If you change history very slightly there are no British radar stations, no spitfire fighter plane and no RAF fighter command. These were all built despite, not because of, government direction. There is an entire movie available on youtube that presents accurately the development of the spitfire fighter. Below is the link to the 1 hour 53 minute movie. The “trailing” role of the government hasn’t changed.
I was reminded of the B-29 program, which was the most expensive WWII weapons program in the US, more expensive than the development of the atomic bombs.
Here is a 20 minutes movie from 1945 talking about this weapons program.
I consider the climate system a dragon, best left alone and capable of extreme changes, on multiple, including very short, time scales. I am convinced that with global CO2 emissions, we have loaded the climate system, if you think of it as a kind of dice, towards unstable and extreme weather events. The fear is where the tipping points are. The points beyond which recovery is not possible. There is a global isotopic ratio of Carbon isotopes that shows an increase in nonradiogenic or “dead” (ancient Carbon), making up a greater and greater proportion of global atmospheric CO2. Some of the feedbacks in the climate system are shown at this NASA site.
This is the critical decade. The 220 billion tons of CO2 already added to the climate system are resulting in changes to global systems (please read the book mentioned above for details regarding this number, or follow this link to the page referred to in googlebooks), such as El Nino, which are measurable and observable. History will record if we fail or succeed in this activity.