Archive for October, 2009

BIOSPHERE COLLAPSE, not “Climate Change”.

October 30, 2009

It is a curious thing to observe how far some humans will go to make themselves the center of attention. Maybe it’s out of cowardice. After all, to become the center of something, however illusory, however silly, allows one to forget the fragility of the human condition.

A handful of top notch elite scientists can be found, who are among those who are skeptical about the fact that burning the fossil fuel accumulated in the last 400 million years is causing a dangerous warming of the climate. Those who belong to the elite are generally not climate scientists, but, unsurprisingly geologists or geophysicists (that means, paid by the burning of fossil fuels).

Moreover, when one looks at their arguments, or even their graphs, one generally find obvious bias. I have explained before that denial is big business, and that the sun itself has conspired with the giant fossil fuel business (the ultimate conspiracy theory!)

But this streak of solar cooling is not enough for the partisans of atmospheric poisoning. It seems as if they were hell bound not only to poison the air and the oceans, but reason itself.

(I have explained why reason is to be poisoned, in many other essays. Reason itself is the greatest enemy of the plutocrats and their agents. By denying that there is a problem with 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases, and rising quickly, not only can plutocrats and their servants pursue their self enriching extractive policies, but they can destroy the reasoning and observational capabilities of normal people., an intrinsic good as far as plutocrats and their agents are concerned)

A preferred trick of those tricksters is to cut the graph depicting the concentration of CO2 at, say, 360 parts per million (ppm), when we are actually at 390 ppm! This has the undeniable advantage of masking the exponential growth of atmospheric CO2 in the last few years…

image

What we see in this graph is a basically flat line, followed by an exponential (the famous “hockey stick”, as a climate scientist dubbed it).

From studying ocean sea shells, we now know that the CO2 concentration did not exceed 300 ppm for the last 25 million years. That means that the basically flat line in the graph above extends considerably to the left. The basically flat line actually extends 2 kilometers to the left, at the scale of the graph above. Yes, more than a mile!

So there is no doubt that the recent CO2 exponential climb is man-made, and tied up to industry.

A related trick of the deniers is to “forget” that man has generated a lot of other gases than CO2. Those artifical, man-made gases can be up to 10,000 times better than CO2 at blocking infrared light.

A greenhouse consists into allowing visible light in, while blocking the exit of the light that heat makes, the infrared light. Three large greenhouses are Mars, Earth, and Venus. All planets are greenhouses, and earth like planets in other solar systems will have water, thus water vapor and CO2 two most powerful and natural greenhouse gases: these gases allow light in, but tend to block infrared.

Thus the heat gets trapped close to the ground, and the high atmosphere, now less warmed by infrared light on its way to space, cools down. Some ignorant fools have heard of that cooling, and screamed that it proved that there was no greenhouse, because a cooling has been demonstrated. Whereas, in truth, that high altitude cooling is expected, and proves the exact opposite, namely a greenhouse next to the ground!

When one is considering the man-made greenhouse, one has therefore to also include these exotic industrial gases and evaluate their contribution to the greenhouse. For example, the Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) for methane over 100 years is 25 and for nitrous oxide it is 298. This means that emissions of 1 million metric tons of methane and nitrous oxide respectively warm up the lower atmosphere as much as the emissions of 25 millions and 298 millions metric tons of carbon dioxide, respectively, over the following century.

Perfluorocarbons (CFCs) are the worst. They are used in refrigeration. The most frequent is tetrafluoromethane. Its GWP is 6,500 times that of CO2. The GWP of hexafluoroethane is 9,200 times that of carbon dioxide. Over ten years, the GWP of methane is higher than what it is over a century, because methane oxydizes quickly. Over ten years the GWP of methane is 100 times that of CO2. This means that a “methane burp“,  would have a tremendous warming effect. There are reasons to believe that such “methane burps” have happened, and could happen again. They are catatastrophically violent events, complete with giant tsunamis, I know you wanted to know…

In any case we are around 450 ppm in CO2 equivalent (the exact number is fiercely debated, and irrelevant, because the yearly augmentation is so fast)… We started from 280 ppm of CO2 equivalent in 1850… At this rate, we will pass a DOUBLING within twenty years.

Recent research on marine fossils has allowed to find out the CO2 concentration over the last 25 million years: it never exceeded 300 ppm durably. (There were short spikes due to occasional major volcanic activity, but that’s always accompanied by marked, and brutal drops in temperature, because volcanoes also creates enormous quantities of sun masking material and gases; Antarctic records show the two contrary effects wash each other out!)

I would go as far as saying that many papers in Nature and Science, when they deal about the climate, systematically underemphasize the planetary danger we seem to be getting in. Typically the authors’ research reveals an ominous evolution, but, then, rather meek conclusions are modestly drawn. There is no doubt an implicit pressure from the powers that be to not disrupt big business as usual, and climate scientists prefer to not bite the hand that feeds them (considering where the money, hence power, goes, that would be Goldman Sachs, or, at least, the fossil fuel/pollution establishment, which is somewhere near Goldman Sachs in the Pantheon that rules over us).

The IPCC, the world panel on “Climate Change” is the number one exhibit of meekness, and of lack of common sense as far as viewing a “small” global temperature rise as tolerable. In its computations, the IPCC has refused to enter the melting of the polar ice shields, and the possibility of methane clathrate  eruptions. Yet, it is known, from computing the sea level rise, and its acceleration, that the giant ice shields at the poles are melting. Surely the IPCC ought to include these factors in a “possible worst outcome scenario“.

It is also known that the methane (CH4) density in the atmosphere has doubled, or, maybe, quadrupled. During the last significant warm-up, methane eruption occured, causing a giant tsunami in the North Atlantic (in places, water went an incredible 80 kilometers inland!) The IPCC ignores all this superbly, preferring naively to stick to proven, observed and incontrovertible facts, and scrupulously rejecting inchoating, or probable events. 

The IPCC claims to believe that limiting the global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius would be fine. Instead, it would be a dangerous stupidity to approach a two degree Celsius of global temperature rise (yes, I thought carefully before using the word “stupidity“: all alternatives were found wanting).

Indeed the whole problem is not to warm up the poles too much. The global temperature rise is irrelevant. Two degrees more in Texas or Australia would just lead the offending natives to crank the air conditioning higher, and pour more prehistoric aquifer water on their greens.

Whereas the frozen poles constitute the planet air conditioning system. The frozen poles reflect light out into space, and make the atmosphere in a Carnot engine, with a warm source (the tropics) and a cold sink (the frozen poles). Heat is transported from warm to cold, from tropics to poles, by enormous oceanic currents, such as the Gulf Stream. Melt the poles, remove the heat reflectors, and shut down the currents.

But most of the warming, so far, is at the poles, and it has already reached nearly 5 degrees Celsius in parts (the Antarctica peninsula, for example). Yet, the global temperature rise, so far, is roughly ONLY one tenth of that. Scaling up, on present evidence, a global planetary rise of two degrees Celsius may mean a rise of twenty degrees Celsius in many glaciated polar areas (yes, a rise of 40 degrees Fahrenheit). So the poles would melt, and the Earth would lose its reflectors. Tipping points would tip, and things would get worse from there. Oceanic currents would stop. Europe would freeze in winter. Global temperatures would shoot up. Oxygen would disappear from huge parts of tropical oceans, which would die. (Several of the preliminaries of these effects are tentatively observed.)

Many people, reading this, will scoff, and say that this will not happen, because it did not happen before. Paleontologically, this is not true: although there was no human industry to start a CO2 bubble, they have happened before (they can be generated by continental drift or super giant volcanic eruptions known as “supertraps”).

When dinosaurs flourished, the poles were warm. Dinosaurs were roaming the forests of Antarctica. Crocodiles terrorized Northern Greenland. However, the world had dozens of millions of years to adapt. Polar dinosaurs saw with the lights of the stars for months on end. Right now, we are going to hit the biosphere with the heat shock from hell.

Besides, it’s not all about “climate change”. Half of the CO2 is presently dissolving in the oceans, so a rise of two degrees Celsius means extremely acid oceans (CO2 turns into carbonic acid after it reacts with water). At the present rate of acidification, marine life will dissolve big time by 2100. That’s how a lot of the oxygen is produced, by photosynthesizing unicellular animals, with acid sensitive skeletons. Atmospheric poisoning deniers do not want just to warm us up.

Ah, also, just a reminder: some gigantic, and deep, parts of the oceans got too warm to contain enough oxygen to support life, and they have already died.

And yes, the oceans are rising, and the icecaps are melting, both in Greenland, and Antarctica: the rise of sea level is itself augmenting at the rate of 5% a year (as many facts in this post, this was published in summer or fall of this year, 2009). It’s an exponential.

When something augments at a rate proportional to its own value, it’s an exponential. The exponential is the most important function in analysis, if not mathematics. The exponential augments extremely fast, because the bigger it is, the faster it becomes bigger. Peons who know the exponential not, have no idea the danger we are in! They have no mathematical understanding of the danger we are in. They need to take those mathematic classes they never took, to realize how immoral their ignorance is.

Figure 1

Accelerating down. The trend line of Greenland ice mass (green) curves downward with time, suggesting that ice losses have been accelerating.

[Credit: Isabella Velicogna, geophysical research letters.]

The more fossil fuels burned, the more hot air, the less oxygen. But not to worry, American politicians will be pleased to inform you that their super private, super bank, the one which advises the White House always, and pays bonuses with taxpayer money, Goldman Sachs, will make a future oxygen market, and will sell it short. Trust American capitalism, White House style, to adapt. Down to the last gulp of air.

On a slightly more serious note, the expression “climate change” is thus a misnomer.

In truth, we are facing a man-made collapse of the biosphere, just because full grown men want to keep on playing with fire. There ought to be an IPCB: Intergovernmental Panel on the Collapse of the Biosphere.

Atmospheric poisoning deniers want to heat us up in acid, while cutting our air supply. By 2100 CE. Of course, when that apocalypse has become the future no one can deny, there will be only one solution: nuke the coal plants. More seriously, Asia plans an enormous augmentation of its CO2 production, and that may very well become a casus belli, when the runaway exponential nature of the man-made greenhouse becomes blatant.

Patrice Ayme

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

***

Technical annex 1: To calculate the radiative forcing for a 1998 gas mixture, the IPCC in 2001 gave the radiative forcing (relative to 1750 CE) of various gases as: CO2=1.46 (corresponding to a concentration of 365 ppm), CH4=0.48, N2O=0.15 and other minor gases =0.01 W/m2. The sum of these is 2.10 W/m2. One obtains CO2 equivalent = 412 ppm. That was in 2001, we are in 2010 (about). CO2 concentration is now 290 ppm, which means that CO2 equivalent is above 440 ppm.

***

Technical annex 2: Quoting straight from Science:

“Climate Change: Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error.

The accounting now used for assessing compliance with carbonlimits in the Kyoto Protocol and in climate legislation contains a far-reaching but fixable flaw that will severely underminegreenhouse gas reduction goals (1). It does not count CO2 emittedfrom tailpipes and smokestacks when bioenergy is being used,but it also does not count changes in emissions from land usewhen biomass for energy is harvested or grown. This accountingerroneously treats all bioenergy as carbon neutral regardlessof the source of the biomass, which may cause large differencesin net emissions. For example, the clearing of long-establishedforests to burn wood or to grow energy crops is counted as a100% reduction in energy emissions despite causing large releasesof carbon.”

[Science 23 October 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5952, pp. 527 – 528.]

It is hard to believe that errors of such magnitude, committed by scientists (and implemented by the European Union and the US Congress) are not deliberate.

***

US Monetary Monkeying Around.

October 23, 2009

 

BEGGAR THY NEIGHBOR NOT, REWARD THE SAVERS, AND PLAN AHEAD.

(All policies the USA is NOT presently following.)

***

Abstract: I explain why the ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) of the USA makes no sense, for several independent reasons. It robs US savers and retired people, feeds the robber barons of Wall Street and giant banks, causes an intolerable, and perilous devaluation of the US Dollar, a Beggar-Thy-Neighbor policy. But the worst of all is that the ZIRP implicitly says that the economic policy for the USA is the law of the Wall Street jungle. Not the best way to conduct civilization and to drive a modern economy, I assert, following countless economists ever since the French economy and finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert (August 29th, 1619 – September 6th, 1683).

***

 

As the destruction of the racist, plutocratic, fascist regimes of Italy, Japan and Germany was winding down, a conference was held at Bretton Woods, in New England (July 1944, with 44 Allied nations present, not just two or three Americans, as Barack Obama brazenly claimed once: it was not an all American thing, it became so, because of American dishonesty).

The democracies were at Bretton Woods, but also the fascist Soviet Union, and the Chinese regime. The problem considered was to institute a better financial system. No one could forget that the German republic became fascist in 1933. The Great Depression of the 1930s had been mostly an American piece of work, but the countries that had paid the heaviest economic tributes in the 1930s had been Germany, and, even worse, France.

France had clung to gold to value its French Franc. The idea was that money ought to keep its value. This basic idea was shared by the top economic powers, but, as the economies got obviously starved of enough money to keep going, countries went off that "gold standard".

As Paul Krugman, who I am going to criticize in depth, for a change, puts it:

"If there’s one overwhelming lesson from the Great Depression, it is that putting a higher priority on stabilizing your currency than on domestic recovery is utterly disastrous. Barry Eichengreen pointed out years ago that major economies went off gold in the following order: Japan, Germany, BritainBritain, Germany, US, France. [screwed it up in the first draft: the correlation between going off gold and recovery is in fact perfect] And here’s what happened to their industrial output:

clip_image001

All that glitters went off gold…

The Wall Street Journal may not realize it, but it wants us to be France in the 1930s. Let’s not."

This is of course not the main lesson that, I, personally, extract from the Great Depression, although it’s an important one, I agree: it’s better to have unstable money, rather than no money. It is true that France suffered from the gold standard (although this lowering of currency measured economic activity in France was compensated by a three year military service for all French males and the heavy defense works of the impregnable Maginot Line, and may have been partially caused by the dearth of new French males, caused by the lowering of the French birthrate from the butchery of WWI).

In any case, it was felt that the monetary system ought to be made to work. The prestigious British economist Keynes was put at the head of a commission to fix it (Keynes had advocated government command and control of the economy, allowing to win WWII, when the Nazis clang to old fashion for-private-profit capitalism, hence his prestige).

Keynes commission came up with recommendations, but the USA, instead, connived to make the US Dollar the world’s ("reserve") currency. Keynes tried to block this twice, and, on the third try, the USA modified secretly the final document that the states signed. Hence the Dollar-as-world-currency was the result of a fundamental dishonesty. That insured the financial supremacy of the USA, thereafter. And also deeply imprinted American elites on the feeling that bullying the planet was the way to go. The American public, not anxious to know the details, to this day, could only approve.

***

Fast forward to 2009. The US Dollar is close to collapse, and what does some of the American economical elite do? Speak about China’s currency.

China’s bad behavior is posing a growing threat to the rest of the world economy. The only question now is what the world — and, in particular, the United States — will do about it.

Some background: The value of China’s currency, unlike, say, the value of the British pound, isn’t determined by supply and demand. Instead, Chinese authorities enforced that target by buying or selling their currency in the foreign exchange market […]

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with such a policy, especially in a still poor country […]The crucial question, however, is whether the target value of the Yuan is reasonable[…]

From 2001 onward, however, the policy of keeping the Yuan-Dollar rate fixed came to look increasingly bizarre. First of all, the dollar slid in value, especially against the Euro, so that by keeping the Yuan/Dollar rate fixed, Chinese officials were, in effect, devaluing their currency against everyone else’s. Meanwhile, productivity in China’s export industries soared; combined with the de facto devaluation, this made Chinese goods extremely cheap on world markets.

The result was a huge Chinese trade surplus. If supply and demand had been allowed to prevail, the value of China’s currency would have risen sharply.[…]

Although there has been a lot of doomsaying about the falling dollar, that decline is actually both natural and desirable. America needs a weaker dollar to help reduce its trade deficit, and it’s getting that weaker dollar as nervous investors, who flocked into the presumed safety of U.S. debt at the peak of the crisis, have started putting their money to work elsewhere.

But China has been keeping its currency pegged to the dollar — which means that a country with a huge trade surplus and a rapidly recovering economy, a country whose currency should be rising in value, is in effect engineering a large devaluation instead.

And that’s a particularly bad thing to do at a time when the world economy remains deeply depressed due to inadequate overall demand. By pursuing a weak-currency policy, China is siphoning some of that inadequate demand away from other nations […]

The point is that with the world economy still in a precarious state, beggar-thy-neighbor policies by major players can’t be tolerated. Something must be done about China’s currency.

***

In the preceding passage, Krugman is right on everything. But one can be right on one scale, while being wrong, on a larger scale. The truly most crucial point is that the People’s Republic did not start this " beggar-thy-neighbor policies". The USA did. So now the USA does not like its own medicine. Too bad, really.

I agree that China should let its currency appreciate. But the same can be said for the US Dollar. The USA is not a poor beggar whose only hope is to devalue its goods and services, if it wants to survive a desperate world. It’s still mighty Uncle Sam, with military bases all around the world, the world’s biggest GDP (OK, behind the EU), the world’s number one industrial production, the mightiest dens of gentlemen robbers (Goldman Sachs, etc…), and the hubris of delivering asinine lessons to everybody.

So why is the US Dollar 50% down on its very long term value against the French Franc? (The Franc established the value anchor for the Euro: on the very long term one Dollar was worth 6.66 Francs, or so.). Has the USA lost so much value and hope recently? Or is the USA using, once again, an unfair devaluation to gain worldwide advantage?

I say:"once again", because it happened before. Under Nixon, the USA unilaterally devalued. The US Treasury Secretary famously said to the Europeans: "The Dollar is our currency, and your problem." Well, maybe the 96% of non American residents of the planet should fix their problem.

Part of the conceptual framework for valuing higher interest rates is that the Euro was made to equal one Dollar (from looking at very long term valuations of the French franc versus the Dollar). It was not made to equate two Dollars. And if two, why not three? Or four? Both Germany and France went down that road of devaluation before, and it proved to be the valley of tears among those fake, shimmering lakes that are called mirages, reflecting the sky in vain, and quenching only the thirst of wishful thinkers.

At some point the USA has to face the fact that long term American policies have been more favorable to malignant growth rather than sustainable growth. This has happened because short term profit directed selfish individuals worrying about their own personal, selfish individual profits were allowed to direct the ship of the state, for decades. Technically it is caused mostly at this point by the ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) of the USA. Krugman is all for it, until the unemployment rate goes below 7%, he says. European powers, though, have had, in the past both higher unemployment, and higher interest rates, for years, and came out OK, with societies with arguably much fewer imbalances than the economy of the USA.

Some pain of the American populace and elite maybe the way to get psychologically motivated towards deeper cognition of the economic and social realm. As I insisted upon many times, the economy is not just about private monkeys doing their private thing. Civilization has greater worries, and corresponding to these worries, a greater economy to take part in, than just private, greed obsessed monkey business.

A real economic stimulus is compatible with encouraging Americans to save. Why to always depend upon China’s surplus capital to get stimulated? (France is trying to do just that, with a national investment plan into long term valuable objectives, from private savings.) Higher interest rates in the USA may …interest Americans in the USA more, as they should.

Meanwhile, the Europeans grin and bear it, because both the French and the Germans fear hyper inflation more than anything else financial. The great losers of the Zero Interest Rate Policy of the USA are the American savers, and the great winners are the usual suspects, the American gentlemen robbers, and their big banks and investment dens, which can borrow at 0% and then leverage themselves. In short: this is no way to conduct an economic policy. At least, China has one such thing: for example, China intends to become number one in renewable energy, next year, or so. Meanwhile it is bringing up the taxes on gas. Can the USA even look half as serious? What about joining the metric system?

So it will be easier to take the USA seriously, once the USA becomes serious. First.

Patrice Ayme

Wall Street Welfare State.

October 22, 2009

 

THE MAJOR WARDS OF THE USA AS CRYBABIES.

***

Paul Krugman points out that: "new appearance of a zombie lie in the health care debate — the totally false claim that Canadian health care won’t pay for hip replacements for the elderly.

But the hip replacement scam is even worse […] Because who, you might ask, pays for hip replacements in America? The answer: Medicare pays 63.8% of the cost, Medicaid 6.8%. That’s right, the U.S. government pays for 70% of hip replacements in this country.

Aren’t you glad we don’t have evil, Canadian-style government-run health insurance?"

***

We are glad to have a Wall Street Welfare State in the USA: unemployment at 10%, DJIA at 10,000.

The economy of the USA is much more government dependent than is generally depicted. Entire industries: aerospace, defense, health care (HMO and insurance), the educational system (even "private" universities, who get giant amounts of government money) are all dependent upon the government in an extravagant, but hidden way. Under Nixon, to get started, and to this day, private health care profiteers get government, that is, public money.

The US propaganda loves to represent the USA as hard core “capitalism”. But the truth ought to be hard core “welfare”. The USA is the world’s premier welfare state.

For example, the US housing, construction, and home lending industries thrive with the home mortgage tax deduction. Other countries do not have it. Home mortgage deduction an enormous state subsidy. A giant one. The European "Welfare states" do not have it. So who is "welfare"? The USA, or the EU?

Another way to thrive, for the hyper rich wards of the USA, is not to be bothered by common sense laws or regulations. Banks and Wall Street were freed to conspire, as soon as the Banking Act of 1933 was repelled.

What about the Pentagon spending more than the rest of the world’s armies, combined? The USA has just 4% of the world’s population, remember.

What about churches being rich, but paying no taxes? Not this way in many other countries. And I will not mention agricultural subsidies (because they are only 100 billion, and the EU spends twice that).

The number one exhibit of ward of the state, is, of course, Wall Street. Whereas other economic actors get taxed at every turn, Wall Street, generously inundated with the public money (from giant banks or the secretive Fed), is free to trade like crazy, without taxation (let small economic actors try to trade without being taxed).

The profiteers’ organization, Goldman Sachs is just a ward of the state (playing with borrowed public money, in trades that cannot lose, organized with the complicity of the government). So it is for its peers.

A lot of the trading Wall Street engages in is really organized by the state, and thus a vast racketeering system. But no doubt all the criminals will be tried. This was just demonstrated by chasing down Polanski, long time resident and big chalet owner of Gstaad in Switzerland, where he has been going there with his children every summer: now we know that American justice is beyond any suspicion, and never lose its man.

Why this baffling circus? Why did the Bush family got a fortune for having managed (Prescott did) Hitler’s most important war industry, and no American in good standing knows this?

Why are the most powerful people in the USA wards of the state, while screaming against it, like infants always wanting more nourishment? Because American laws have been written by American lawmakers, themselves profiting from oodles of money thrown at them by the hyper rich wards of the state, created by American laws, the entire contraption stealthily cloaked into the thick fog of ignorance and bovine naivety.

A nice vicious circle of the cognitive type… Not the first time such a thing happens.

The philosopher Hannah Arendt pointed out that European fascism and war started in a similar way down its hellish spiral before the First World War: hyper rich individuals had made the states and their employees into their thing (to be fair, that thesis was developed even earlier than Arendt by the extreme socialists and the communists). Then a hellish co-dependency developed in Germany between the mood of the military and the perception of what ought to be the future of German economic and political dominance.

PA

Black Hole Minds: A Threat.

October 21, 2009

 

MENTAL COLLAPSE MORE OF A PROBLEM THAN GRAVITATIONAL COLLAPSE

More wild attacks on the Internet against science. Some against vaccines, some against experimental physics (one of them partially reproduced below). Just what we need, if we want to die like flies, soon.

Science means knowledge, remember. If people do not want knowledge, what do they want? Faith? Faith in what, if it is not in knowledge? Well, faith in ignorance: what else? Why to fight the Taliban then? Just join!

Non-knowledge is called ignorance, and that is the opposite of science. Saint Paul, the first author of Christianity, made wild attacks against intellectuals, and knowledge, versus "faith". Those attacks worked, after three centuries, because they went hand in hand with Plato’s mysticism. It was an interestingly esoteric causal chain of moods: Plato became dominant for centuries, among the intellectuals, as the Roman empire became ever more mystical. Roman civilization became ever more mystical, in turn, because mysticism was better than criticism, as far as the Roman emperors were concerned.

Now, agreed, attacks against the H1N1 vaccine are understandable, because that vaccine may have cut corners, especially regarding adjuvants. Adjuvants are irritants to the immune system added to the pieces of lethal organisms one wants to vaccinate against, to make sure the immune system will react against the pieces of the lethal organism, through guilt by association, with the irritant. An early adjuvant was plain old fashion soap. The danger would be that the immune system would not notice the obnoxious pieces of intruder it is supposed to learn to react against. Vaccinating without adjuvants is often in vain.

It was not reassuring to learn that in some countries special versions of the vaccine without adjuvants were prepared (for delicate subjects such as pregnant women (Canada), or… politicians (Germany!)).

Granted the H1N1 vaccine is rushed. But then critics ought to notice that, someday, someday soon, an extremely fast and deadly epidemic will happen, thanks to air travel, not to say an enormous world population, and that the only way to stop it will be to rush a vaccine into production (thus plans are afloat to prepare vaccines much faster, in a few weeks). So critics ought to be made aware that they are of the opinion that it would be best to do nothing against deadly, massive, epidemics. We are talking here about maybe twenty times more people killed than in Auschwitz. People thinking that sounds smart and morally correct, are pretty weird.

It does not matter if those who are fanatically anti-vaccine do not hate all those who would die in such an epidemic. Nor did the average fascist German hate the Jews: they just let the preconditions for Auschwitz be… The devil is not just in the details, it’s mostly inside the cretinism. Cretins are not just cretins, they are devils.

The "plague" of 1348 CE spread throughout Europe, killing around half of the population, in roughly a year. And please do not say we know more: without vaccine, we would not be much smarter, or, more exactly, more capable. If you do not want vaccines, you want the Middle Ages.

People in the Middle ages knew how to stop epidemics through quarantines, which could be rather drastic. During the "Plague", communications between neighboring cities such as Aix en Provence and Marseilles got outlawed, and the penalty for trespassing was instant death. Military archers stood at the ready, and bows threw lethal arrows hundreds of meters away. The archers shot on sight. (Thus, indeed, some European villages and cities escaped the "Plague" all together.)

Without vaccine the (sort of) avian flu of 1918 killed around 20 million, about 1% of the world population. That would be 70 million today. And 1918 was just a flu.

***

Now still another wild attack against CERN. Not exactly the first one. Some Hawaiian (not the scientifically minded Barack Obama) last year sued CERN. For risking the destruction of the world, supposedly.

According to Mr Chris Snuggs (reproduced in the notes), "CERN is the most humungous and nonsensical waste of money"… The billions spent on this rather esoteric and ridiculous research would be better spent on practical steps to save people and the planet. And, “yes”, I do know that basic research can lead to useful “products”, and I have nothing against research into, for example fusion power…"

Well, Mr. Snuggs does not seem to have noticed that CERN (Geneva) and ITER (Cadarache) are both located in the same place the Romans used to call "Provincia". CERN and ITER are not neighbors by accident. Fusion power uses elementary particle accelerators, and is all about elementary particles, which it emits in such profusion, that besides being a major solution, this pro-fusion is a major problem (floods of high velocity neutrons damage all known materials).

Fusion power is all about mastering the fourth state of matter, the plasma. In the center of the sun, plasma is at 10 million degrees Kelvin (or Celsius), and reactions happen rarely. When they do, they produce photons that take a million years to escape the inside of the sun.

We don’t have a million years. Hence, in a man-made thermonuclear reactor, reactions have to happen frequently, so that collisions between hydrogen nuclei have to be much more frequent, which means much higher speeds. Speed, at the atomic level, that’s a form of agitation, in another word: heat. The heat in the man-made reactor is very high, because it has to overcome the electric repulsion of positively charged hydrogen nuclei. It will reach 150 million degrees Kelvin. In a medium of such extreme violence, electrons are torn off from atoms, which are left positively charged: what we call a plasma. A cold case of plasma is what we call a fluorescent tube.

150 million degrees, that is 30,000 times (roughly) the temperature of the surface of the sun, about 50,000 times greater than the most resistant solids can take (such as pure crystalline carbon). In these conditions, the plasma cannot be allowed to touch the vessel that contains it (once, in Princeton, a thermonuclear plasma touched the vessel, and the whole assembly lifted by one foot, all the 10,000 tons of it…).

The solution is to keep the thermonuclear plasma away from the solid element of the wall (made of a beryllium blanket backed up by special steel full of water ducts, to carry the heat away, preventing the steel to melt). Keeping the plasma away can be done, because electrically charged particles follow a magnetic field, so, by creating an immensely strong magnetic field in the form of a bottle, one can make the plasma go around in circles, never to touch anything solid.

Such immensely strong magnetic fields can be made with immensely strong electric currents, so strong that no solid can carry them for longer than a fraction of second without melting… Except if the state of superconductivity can be achieved in such a solid. Superconductivity is actually a slight misnomer: what is achieved is ZERO RESISTANCE. It requires very low temperatures. close to absolute zero, where helium is liquid.

Now, of course CERN, for somewhat similar reasons, keeps its particles on crazy loops, at close to the speed of light, no touching the walls, thanks to immense magnetic fields, using that exact same technology of superconducting magnets, that was pioneered in particle accelerators. The particles in CERN are even hotter than in ITER! CERN is actually the world’s premier magnetic superconducting facility, and it is exactly what failed in an expensive accident last year.

Some soldering work was poorly done, and the immense electric current volatized it, and then the safety mechanisms failed, creating a liquid helium leak, overpressure as the helium volatilized, and an enormous chain of violent explosions that ruined many multi-tons, very expensive magnets, torn off their moorings. Fortunately, nobody was around.

In the future, many hope to use superconductivity in everyday life, and it’s important that it works safely (a brief superconducting line exists in New York City). Such a pushing of the technological envelope, as made at CERN, with the best minds, screwdrivers in hand, allows to progress that way. It forces the topmost physicists to solve very practical problems that engineers would have met in the future anyway, as they tried to put advanced science to practical use.

Unfortunately, common physicists do not explain these things clearly. Typically they refer instead to the "Big Bang", a fishy theory not so far removed in mood from the genesis of the Bible. They claim then that big accelerators will help with getting to know the Bang. Here is Mr. Snuggs again: "But why we really have to know what happened in the universe one millisecond after it blew up is beyond me, especially given the cost."

Well, in truth, not so. I personally think the Big Bang has a high probability to be false (for highly scientific reasons). Still, I am interested by CERN physics. That physics is all about understanding some aspects of what is really going on with the INFINITELY SMALL (not all of those aspects, but many). Or about making a theory of forces that makes sense (we are far from this). And so on.

Another canard has been the worry about Black Holes: CERN would create one, gobble the Earth. As Mr. Snuggs puts it, expressing once again common misapprehensions: "And if you have read anything about black holes then you’d surely conclude that the last thing you should be trying to create on Earth is a gigantic collision between fundamental particles that just might create one, that could – in theory – swallow up the Earth in half a second… Because black holes […]never get any smaller and their growth is irreversible …."

Now Black Hole theory is somewhat fishy, but one thing is not in doubt, namely knowing what we know about Quantum Field Theory (QFT), tiny Black Holes evaporate. Steven Hawking discovered this, and it’s his greatest feat. (It’s ironical that Mr. Snuggs, apparently a British citizen, does not know this). So small Black Holes do not always grow. In any case, and this, once again points CERN in the direction of practicality, much more powerful explosions (from cosmic rays) occur in the atmosphere continually, especially now that the sun magnetism is down. Otherwise said, CERN will mass produce natural events, albeit at an energy, orders of magnitude lower than the most powerful ones ever observed. (And a question is: what in the world produces such powerful elementary particles in naturally occurring cosmic rays? We don’t know. Another thing to learn. Such natural events could wipe out the Earth)

Black holes are also just a theory which tends, the way it is usually deduced, to ignore Quantum effects (there are Quantum gaps in the mathematical logic of Black Holes, the present author determined, long ago, and became somewhat unpopular for doing so).

Clearly, gigantic objects that look like Black Holes seem to exist astronomically, but it is not clear than anything less than colossal astronomical circumstances, could generate them (the sun is too small to make a Black Hole, says stellar theory!) The devil is in the details of Quantum mechanics, which we do not understand. Conventional Black Hole physics should be viewed as a worst, and simplistic, possible case (once again, moderated by Hawking radiation).

Amusingly, although a lot of Anglo-Saxon ire has been directed at CERN, not much was directed towards the accelerator in Chicago (which reaches the highest energies at this point, and is within the max of CERN by a factor of only 3). Is it because one speaks French, and the other does not? (Just asking obnoxious questions, to relax.)

OK, a bit of perspective is in order here, in the realm of cognition.

We do not need ignorance back in power. It has been in power, and was there much too long, thanks to fascism, Plato, and Saint Paul’s spiritual children. It was called the Dark Ages.

Christians destroyed all the libraries, killed the philosophers, closed the schools, and the academies, on the ground that all this lack of faith could only put off the return of their great deity, the Crucified. Think Taliban.

The Taliban does not want girls to go to school, because it reads the Qur’an literally, and believes it means girls should only be sold as slaves, but as Muhammad said, one can have sex with them right away, even before selling them (I am not making this up: when I want to have fun, I re-read the Qur’an). So the Taliban considers girls should not go to school (probably because they may then outsmart their masters). In the Dark Ages, the old fashion Christians also wanted boys not to go to school. Think of the Taliban as a diluted version of Dark Ages Christianity. Old fashion Christians wanted the Apocalypse ASAP, because "scripture" said that then, and only then, the Crucified would return. (They called it "scripture" because that was the only writing they had not burned.)

The West was created AGAINST such obscurantism. Even before Charlemagne was born, the Franks passed a law forcing every single Christian establishment to secularly teach their local community. Charlemagne would have toured CERN, and asked for more (superior technology allowed the Franks to defeat the Muslims in battle, in 721 CE, up to the present… Not exactly my fault if that war has lasted 13 centuries…)

Knowledge is good. More knowledge is better. Just the knowledge of the technology of CERN will be civilization saving (because low temperature superconductivity has the potential of saving at least 10% of the world’s energy; CERN is the largest industrial machine of the superconducting type, worldwide, followed by Fermilab; soon ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, will come up with even larger magnetic fields).

There is a lot to be learned. Although Einstein did not like Quantum Field Theory (neither do I), I recognize it has enormous industrial applications in this civilization already, and nearly infinitely more is coming soon, if we feed it. Vacuum energy has a lot of potential, to crack up a joke that will make anyone, with enough of a physics education, laugh.

Since ever, the argument has been used that the entire energy of the species ought to be used to feed stomachs, and not to figure things out. Cows subscribed to it, all too long. That is why they are our things, and not our peers.

Nevertheless, even cows, know better. The other day, I encountered a herd of cows in the mountains. They had a whole mountain to themselves. It was very cold, well below freezing, the night was coming. I had been running for hours. I slowed down, got my camera out, took a few flash pictures of magnificent queen cows with their enormous bells, munching the frozen grass, while very furry calves warmed themselves by huddling on the ground. Some queens looked at me from a few feet away, trying to think deep at what that lonely human was up to. They knew I had the smarts. They looked me in the eye, and they seem to say: "What do you suggest we do?"

It was desperately cold, my hands were freezing, I started my run again, in a hurry to reach down into the valley to find relative warmth. I punched it. After a few minutes, I heard impressive mooing from down valley: cows lower down were calling their fellow species, up and away. To my amazement I heard the same in my back, much louder. I stopped on a dime, turned around: so did the entire herd, I had seen earlier, which had been stampeding behind me, following my leadership, down the cold mountain.

The cows had decided that the human knew better, and it was best to follow.

Even cows have a notion that those who have too much faith are deprived of: there is such a thing as common sense, and another thing called knowledge. They rule. Even cows.

But humans with faith, and only faith, do not know this. They do not want to.

Patrice Ayme

The Principle Of Plausible Public Utility

October 20, 2009

 

AN APPLICATION: REMOVING BANKERS’ DEMENTED PRIVILEGES.

In 1902, Lenin published "What is to be done?", a book in which he set up his blueprint towards his sort of revolution. He was later on able to make it work, with the indispensable help (I claim) of imperial Germany (this assertion with make howl old style "Marxist-Leninists").

At the times most of the intellectuals in Europe agreed that some revolution needed to be done. Even presidents of the USA such as the Roosevelts not only agreed, but implemented a lot of the elements of the proposed revolution.

Teddy Roosevelt acted against Rockefeller and other monopolists, simply because they controlled too much of the economy. Franklin Delano acted against who he denounced as "banksters"; he separated "Wall Street" and banking, because an obvious conflict of interest: one could not be in trust with the public’s money, supposedly, and then lose it all in Wall Street’s casino.

Europe sometimes preceding (German health care, French paid vacations), and sometimes following (governmental work programs) the USA, pushed further the revolutionary program (mostly as part of the renaissance of Europe after WWII). The European welfare state realized a lot of the most revolutionary ideas of the intellectuals of the past, and even of the most extreme of them. So it was in the USA, until Nixon started the counter-attack of privilege (he is the one who started the state financing of private health profiteers, creating HMOs; the fractional reserve banking system is also a similar state financing of private banking profiteers).

Interestingly, nowadays intellectuals to not seem to agree about what is going on. The indignation of the People in general seems ahead of the indignation, if not the imagination, of intellectuals.

So let me enounce once again what is wrong in a few words: some non elected individuals, the big bankers, were endowed, by the state and the supine nature of the People, with powers only sovereign states were endowed with in the last few millennia of civilization.

Those private, unelected individuals, the “bankers”, direct most of the existing capital towards not only the casino of Wall Street, as they did in the 1920s, but they direct most of capital a version of it on steroids, the casino of "derivatives", a casino in the sky that produces, and does nothing, except, at most, and very inefficiently, profits and bonuses, for the bankers and their accomplices.

For millennia, the STATE controlled the currency. Now, though, most of the currency is controlled by a few private individuals, the bankers. The fractional reserve system is set up that way. This is actually a devolution of civilization.

A comparable financial devolution of civilization in a sophisticated society has happened before: the French Ancient Regime let private individuals be in charge of taxation. The idea was simple: private individuals, motivated strongly by the profit motive, would raise taxes. They would extract bonuses, at their discretion, as the money passed by. Thus motivated by the profit motive, they would perform better. Those "tax farmers" were called the Fermiers Generaux ("General Farmers").

After the immensely ruinous French war for making America an entity independent of Great Britain, plus a bad eruption in Iceland, of the mighty volcano Laki (which caused crop failures), France’s financial situation became precarious, saddled with crushing debt. The hatred against Fermiers Generaux knew no bound, and led directly to the French revolution of 1789.

Now, again, a similar set-up has been pushed on people, on a world basis (it’s not just France). Private, non elected individuals, supposedly better motivated, because motivated by profit, have been put in charge, not just of grabbing people’s money (taxation) as the Fermiers Generaux were, but, better, to outright create People’s money, leveraged from the money deposited in banks (some deposited by common people, some from central banks, themselves supposedly expressions of People’s power).

The Roman emperors would have been mesmerized by this, and would have insisted that this could not possibly work, so much power in a few unelected individuals… besides being antagonistic to the basic principles of the republic.

But nevertheless, here we are. As is the case now, bankers create the currency, and lend it to their friends and themselves, with the connivance of the government, artificially boosting GDP, joining insult to injury.

In particular, all get starved of capital: employees, employers and industry, and also the People in general, and even vital equipment such as public goods and commons (hospitals, communications means, energy production, roads, railways, etc.).

Lenin and other revolutionaries complained about the exploitations of workers by employers. How quaint. At this point, what we have is exploitation of everybody, even employers, by a small number of individuals who ought to have only one right, that of disappearing. Also exploitation of the entire biosphere, to death, soon.

To make the outrageous, unwarranted, anti-democratic power of bankers disappear, in first order, one has to look at the global theory of derivatives. In truth, there is no such a thing. Why? Because it would easily show that the derivatives’ market ought to be mostly OUTLAWED.

Derivatives can be useful, but mostly only in the way they were initially set-up, to insure commercial operators (initially Middle Western farmers, hence the connection with Chicago). On a crowded planet, any state or private activity ought to satisfy a Principle of Plausible Public Utility. Anything else should be outlawed, according to the Principle of Precaution.

An example of this is Iranian nuclear power of enrichment of uranium: it does not satisfy the Principle of Plausible Public Utility (because it could lead to a local enrichment, hence nuclear bomb race, with its attending nuclear strikes, which would not be in the best interest of the region).

Left unregulated, the concept of derivatives would end up, and has ended up, sucking up most of the world’s imaginable capital, and even much more than that: the global derivative market is about twenty times world’s GDP. It’s sheer insanity.

A first obvious reform would be to outlaw the leveraged usage of derivatives for non commercial operators. That would force bankers to leverage themselves only in industrially and commercially profitable ventures.

Enough is enough.

Now, of course, derivatives is not all what is wrong with the financial sectors. Bankers are actually, just as the Fermiers Generaux were, AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. Just as the Fermiers Generaux, they are in connivance with that exploitative government, and they finance it, just as the Fermiers Generaux did.

The way out of this, just as was done with the Fermiers generaux, is to recognize that bakers are actually, and ought to be formally, agents of the government.

That would allow to direct capital towards the economy, instead of the casino in the sky. That is exactly what the US Federal Reserve had to do on an emergency basis (other countries’ central banks also did the same; Paul Krugman calls this "Bernanke banking").

The financial crisis is not the only dimension of the world economic crisis. By itself, it would be enough to cause a catastrophe (as it did in 1929-1933). But there are other dimensions to the economic catastrophe that is slowly taking shape.

There is a global economic crisis due to globalization (a form of re-colonization; not that colonization is bad intrinsically, but, misused, it is indeed terrible). There is also an economic crisis caused by increasing energy and ecological problems (carbon is the only cheap energy readily available, if one neglects its biosphere killing effects). Related to the preceding crisis is one caused by insufficient technological and scientific progress, considering the piling up of problems, and one caused by the related dissemination of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now the fact that world capital is controlled by only a few unelected individuals devoured by the profit motive, the root of the financial crisis, spills into the other dimensions of the economic crisis.

For example problems with batteries could be solved with massive investments in nanotechnology, but, if most of the capital is up in the sky, in the imaginary casino, it is not on the benches of primary, secondary and tertiary schools, and, without super minds, there will be no super technologies.

As it is all the super minds there are, go to Wall Street, where they become even more moronic than inferior schools had made them to start with.

After all, what is the main force behind the financial profit motive? Not common good, but nastiness personified. Philosophers (such as the famous Dr. Bernard de Mandeville), starting in the 17C, argued that nastiness could be made to operate for the common good (Adam Smith abstracted this two generation later with his theory of the "invisible hand"). Sure. But nothing beats direct common good, and the nobility and honor of the human spirit. Nowadays, what the future elites are taught is that GREED IS ALL THE GOOD THERE IS, and that good, if any, assuredly came from greed. Besides, there is no higher motive than to have property that the others do not have.

So not only did the big bankers steal the financial capital to set-up their infernal machine in the sky, but they have stolen humankind standard moral capital, decapitated our will to be better than greed, and made smarts into farts.

Wall Street society is what we have. We can do better, and we will, lest we disappear.

Patrice Ayme

***

P/S 1: The political process in the French republic already uses massively and explicitly the Principle of Precaution. Why? Because technology, the risks it can present evolves so fast nowadays that it is more prudent than ever to be extremely cautious. For example, although I am fanatically for the development and deployment of nanotechnology, studies to look into the safety of the various nanotechnologies ought to be financed massively in parallel.

The Principle of Plausible Utility ought to be added to the Principle of Precaution. It presents with its own hierarchy. For example DERIVATIVES HAVE PLAUSIBLE UTILITY IF AND ONLY IF THEY REDUCE THE VOLATILITY OF MARKETS. So, whenever a derivative is introduced, or a new usage of a derivative is contemplated, the primordial question ought to be: ‘Does it reduces overall markets’ volatility, especially in extreme situations?’ If not, the Principle of Precaution says that it ought not to be allowed.

***

P/S 2: The infection by private, unelected banksters is worldwide. Their headquarters are in Wall Street. In the 1920s, that happy crew financed and leveraged itself with the installation in Germany of a revenge machinery (by financing, for example the monster monopoly of I G Farben).

So it was only natural that Wall Street would make American lives into a profit center. On the face of it, this officialization of "Your money, or your health, or you life!" in the USA was only natural for those whose parents, or grand parents, spiritual or physical, financed those who killed people for money (as the Nazis did, by the millions). Not only that system of thought prospered at the time, but when Nazism was defeated, it was not condemned. (It’s only recently that research has established that a lot of the Nazis’ extermination program was motivated by PROFIT.) Thus this infernal system of thought kept on going, and came to thrive under Nixon (who created HMOs, and used the monopoly of the US Dollar as an economic weapon, although it had been forced, supposedly in trust, by the USA at Bretton Woods at the end of WWII).

The profiteering and grabbing of outrageous privileges by unelected individuals happen in private health "maintenance" and "insurance" in the USA. Just as in banking. President Barack Obama is now subscribing to this courageous thesis.

President Obama:

"This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people. […]

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing."

President Obama has finally mobilized against the health care profiteers. Similar arguments hold against the banking profiteers. But to battle on all fronts requires concentrating all of one’s forces in turn. The beauty of it, though, is that the democratic machine deployed against the health vampires could be used nearly word for word, weapon for weapon, concept for concept, against the financial vampires.

***

When Denial Is Big Business.

October 18, 2009

HARD TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE NO INTEREST TO SEE.

 

Naturally, a number of greenhouse deniers observe a decrease of global temps in the last 30 years. Here is the real global data:

File:Satellite Temperatures.png

The graph shows an increase of average global temperatures of half a degree Celsius in less than 30 years (this translates into many times that as the poles, and nearly no augmentation of temperature elsewhere; but the poles are the Earth’s icebox: demolish the icebox, and the rest will rot, with water all over you don’t want to have it).

Greenhouse deniers can look at a graph such as this one, and see a decrease. Nobody has said they were very bright. Actually, they are paid to be dumb. More exactly, they are paid more, and become more famous, the more they misinterpret the obvious.

As I explained in my post of May 31, 2009, a possible explanation for the plateau on the right is the decrease of the sun’s activity in the last 30 years, which works against the greenhouse effect. Watch the red line below:

 

File:Solar-cycle-data.png

For reasons unknown, a fluctuation of irradiance of the sun shows up as a rise of temperature 3 to 4 times greater than what one would expect from the straight input of solar energy: non linear phenomena are at work that we do not understand, but such is the fact.

Another fact, related, or not, is that, for reasons unknown, natural methane production went flat for 10 years.

After a moratorium of 10 years, methane’s density is picking up again. Methane came out of the Arctic ocean in 2007. What happened in 2007? 2007 had the warmest Arctic ocean ever.

In 2008, the ocean was a tiny bit colder, so the CH4 stayed put in the ocean, sort of, but it escaped instead from the tundra… Methane is, of course, as I explained before, the number one cause of worry: it has the potential of increasing global temperatures an inconceivable amount, in a few years.

Greenhouse deniers are well paid: they go on TV, etc. They have interest to deny the fact that the graph above is going up, from down on the left, up to the right.

The same happened when Galileo showed to his friends the cardinals, and his friend the pope, what could be seen in his telescope, namely mountains on the moon. The cardinals looked into the telescope, and they saw no mountains, no shadows of the mountains. Nothing.

The cardinals just saw a perfect sphere, as their forefathers from their institutionalized superstition had taught them the moon was. Why? Because they had a vested interest in the institution they were heading. A fortiori the same for little nobodies who would be nothing, if they did not claim absurdities as the truth.

Thus the greenhouse deniers see the graph above as slanting down, from left to right. They see what they have interest to see.

OK, there are important fluctuations in the graph above. But those are always observed, and have to be smoothed out, to observe trends. It’s the same as in the financial, or commodities markets.

Yearly fluctuations relate to sunspots (in ways not understood), or volcanic eruptions (Pinatubo, a volcano in the Philippines injected a gigantic veil of sulfates in the high atmosphere, decreasing solar heating on the ground enormously, and lowering global temps brutally by more than half a degree Celsius: volcanoes can do way, way worse; Tambora, a volcano that exploded in Indonesia in 1814, caused famine inducing frosts in Europe the following summer).

OK, back to 2009. From the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), October 2009:

“At the end of the Arctic summer, more ice cover remained this year than during the previous record-setting low years of 2007 and 2008. However… September 2009 sea ice extent was the third lowest since the start of satellite records in 1979, and the past five years have seen the five lowest ice extents in the satellite record.

NSIDC Director and Senior Scientist Mark Serreze said, “It’s nice to see a little recovery over the past couple years, but there’s no reason to think that we’re headed back to conditions seen back in the 1970s. We still expect to see ice-free summers sometime in the next few decades.”

The average ice extent over the month of September, a reference comparison for climate studies, was 5.36 million square kilometers…  1.68 million square kilometers (649,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 September average. Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 11.2 percent per decade, relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.

Sea surface temperatures in the Arctic this season remained higher than normal, but slightly lower than the past two years, according to data from Mike Steele at the University of Washington in Seattle. The cooler conditions, which resulted largely from cloudy skies during late summer, slowed ice loss compared to the past two years. In addition, atmospheric patterns in August and September helped to spread out the ice pack, keeping extent higher. 

… Only 19 percent of the ice cover was over 2 years old, the least in the satellite record and far below the 1981-2000 average of 52 percent. Earlier this summer, NASA researcher Ron Kwok and colleagues from the University of Washington in Seattle published satellite data showing that ice thickness declined by 0.68 meters (2.2 feet) between 2004 and 2008.”

As I pointed out in old essays on a generalization of mine of the Equipartition of Energy theorem, a rise in heat can be expressed in many other ways than heat. After all, heat which is microscopic dynamic energy, can be converted in other forms of energy.

As the heat goes up, new energy sinks can open up. This may explain why the temperature rises observed seem to plateau, with different plateaus in different places (a higher heat plateau was reached in Alaska a full decade before a similar one in Europe in 1998). In other words, although solar irradiance is enough to explain the recent global plateau in temperatures, it may not be a proof of a stagnation of the energy input from the greenhouse into the biosphere.

When in doubt, it’s best to assume the worst; that’s how our ancestors survived enough in the jungle to allow us to be around today. The worst is only natural: only fools, or the corrupt, would believe that a rise of Greenhouse Gases from 280 parts per million to 450 ppm (where we are today) is business as usual.

The block of ice known as Antarctica is unstable at 425 ppm.

***

Patrice Ayme.

***

P/S 1: Some will appreciate the facts and graphs above, but mourn the human touch. So here it is.

I was walking two days ago in a forest, where, as child, and that was not so long ago, there used to be a glacier. Now the glacier is an unbelievable 2 miles away, 2,000 feet up, and there are thousands of tall trees instead. Most of the heating is in the mountains, and at the poles. As the warming theory says it should be.

P/S 2: Venus, Earth and Mars surface temperatures are dominated by the evolution of their greenhouses. So it will be on all inhabitable planets. A greenhouse is as natural as an atmosphere. A problem we have now is that the only natural greenhouse gases are water vapor, H2O, CO2, and traces of CH4. Unfortunately, we have added other, much more potent, man made greenhouse gases to this mix.

Anti Government Rage Is Self Contradictory

October 16, 2009

IN A DEMOCRACY, ATTACKING THE GOVERNMENT IS ATTACKING THE PEOPLE.

Many influential Americans accuse the "government" of many problems of the republic. This accusation cannot be resolved democratically, through elections: the affliction has got metaphysical.

The "government" is accused of being intrinsically evil. No attention is paid to the fact that the government, in a democracy, is the expression of the People. Actually, its rule. The government is the rule of the People, and accusing the government to be evil is accusing the People to be evil.

Now, granted, that can happen, and that did happen, for example, in Nazi Germany. The German People became evil, by letting itself be completely overrun by the Nazis (it was a mental overrun, not a physical one). But is it what patriotic Americans draped in the American flag, are now saying? That the People of the USA has become Nazi like?

Here is a typical example of excess. As Sherry Jarrell puts it: "Private spending is the essence of the freedom of choiceGovernment spending, on the other hand, involves a huge middleman who first decides that they do not approve of our spending choices.  If they did, there would be no need for government spending. (Reflect on that because it is such a fundamental point.)" [http://learningfromdogs.com/2009/10/10/government-spending/#comment-382.]

This means no army, no public anything… Is that what conservative Americans are saying? Sherry Jarrell, following Reagan, says that it is not so for the army. Why not? Are private citizens choosing to fund the army? Why is the government interfering, as a hated “huge middle man”, with private military spending choices?

Would that be, because there are none? How many of the crucial functions of the republic does the private spending not get involved in? And why?

It is simple: because the most basic functions are common and necessary, not a matter of choice, so they happen, whether financially rewarded or not, so there is no reason to reward them financially. And excellent reasons not to. For profit economists have naturally overlooked this observation, since they had an excellent reason to do so (they are privately paid, so they want to thank their private gods for having created the universe, in the hope of getting more crumbs for themselves).

A systematic confusion has been cultivated and entertained, by some of the American upper classes, for short to be thereafter called "The Rich", between the government of the People, and the private economy, one of the activities the government of the People oversees. This confusion naively forgets that there is such a thing as a government sponsored economy, the public economy. THE PUBLIC ECONOMY IS THE ESSENCE OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC: IT’S ITS SKELETTON. The fireman is public, the policeman is public, the soldier is public, the judge is public, the notary is public, the taxman is public (this side of the French revolution), the banker used to be public (but now it is private, and privately finances the president), and all the basic functions of the republic, even when now private can be requisitioned by the government of the People, and become public by decree (in a national emergency).

Civilization requires organization, and that is called the government. The Khmer Rouge tried (most of) government dissolution, an expansion of the same idea, the "Cultural Revolution" of Mao and his Gang Of Four. Both failed spectacularly, and millions died (in the case of Cambodia, a huge part of the total population).

When the going gets real tough, only command and control can deliver. This was demonstrated most recently in WWII. The fascist USSR of Stalin had a public economy strong enough to build enough excellent tanks and planes to swamp and destroy the capitalist economy of the fascist Reich of Hitler.

Meanwhile, the USA was also running a command and control economy more similar to Stalin’s than to Hitler’s. The very fact that Hitler all too long ran the sort of Public-Private economy much too friendly to private initiative led to a military disaster; hundreds of different plane prototypes were made, for example. The UK, USA and USSR instead mass produced only a few not very remarkable, but stolid equipment, in their command and control economies.

The command and control economies won the war by out-producing the private initiative Axis economy enormously. The height of comedy happened when a Germany wide, American style charity, was established to persuade civilian Germans to give personal clothing for the German troops fighting in cold Russia. Some of Hitler’s finest had to fight to death the commies, dressed in woman’s clothing…

When the Islamists invaded Francia in 731 CE, the Premier of the Franks, Charles "Martel", organized a command and control economy: he nationalized the Rich, namely the Christian Church. Ironically, the first move against the Muslims was to deprive the Christians. (It actually had philosophical coherence because the Franks viewed Muslims as a variety of Christians, which, well, they are… The Franks loved Christianity, as long as it allowed them to command and control anything in sight, in their quest towards a better civilization.)

With the profits he made, Premier Charles rose a huge professional army, the largest since the heyday of Rome, seconded by the world’s  heaviest cavalry. The world’s finest steel was expensive at the time. And so it was that, for the second time ever, and for the second time at the hands of the Franks, the Muslims knew an ominous and terrible defeat, when they were devastated near Poitier (in the middle of France), 732 CE. The largest army of the West since the heyday of the Roman empire had done it, but that army would not have come into being without command and control of the government on everything, and everybody, including wealthy religious monkeys.

Some goods and services are NOT provided by the private sector, and cannot be provided by the private sector, because they do not interact with the private motive, or because they interact NEGATIVELY with the private motive. As simple as that. Another case is when other forms of institutional organization perform better than private-profit or government motivated institutions. (The latest Nobel prize in economics was given to professors who showed some of this in detail, but as I have said for years, such type of organization are 1,000 years old in Western Europe, and crucial links in the machinery of democracy).

Maybe I should explain to the obtuse the self evident concept of negative interaction of the private motive with the public good.

We would not like the President of the USA to work in a private capacity, and according to the profit motive: that was what most Roman emperors were all way too much about. This was found to be the road to hell. In other words, highly negative to the search for better outcomes.

We ought not to like the Senators of the USA to work privately, and according to the profit motive: that was what the Roman Senate was all about for more than seven centuries, and both republic and democracy died from it.

Nevertheless, clearly, US Senators work privately on an astronomical scale; the case of senator Daschle was exemplary: as soon as he was un-elected, he made millions from health for profit companies, and then turned around to ‘serve the country’ by banking on all his political friends, and for-profit connections.

The Rich would say with glee that Daschle did this when he was a private citizen. This is just a technical detail. Technical details are often fig leaves: Roman emperors, for centuries only called themselves "First Man In the Senate" ("Princeps"). Later, much later, the position of “Senate President” was created. In the meantime emperors had decided they represented God on earth (a generation later, they embraced Catholicism, best suited for that crowning achievement).

Rome also tried the concept of privatizing the army of the republic, and it led quickly to the death of the republic.

Health is another activity that does not respond well to the profit motive (disclaimer: I both profited from and used the private health sector, but also public health, with different goods and services targeted). Public health was invented as a service to the commons, way back, and developed on an industrial scale in Rome: aqueducts were not privately operated. Nor was the system of Roman roads built for private profit. It was built for the common good, through public financing, by the Roman army. Nor so in the USA, where the Interstate System was government financed, and decided under republican President Eisenhower, for motives somewhat similar to the Roman ones. Economic public solutions are more than 25 centuries old (Athens built with its fleet in a huge government program).

You sure would not like the firemen and the police to service you because they got amply rewarded, financially speaking, and made higher profits that way.

So the concept that :"Government spending, on the other hand, involves a huge middleman who first decides that they do not approve of our spending choices. If they did, there would be no need for government spending. (Reflect on that because it is such a fundamental point.)" is not universally appropriate.

The government is also here to prevent the return of the law of the jungle. Actually part of the government is the judicial system, another sector of the economy immune to the profit motive in advanced civilization. Or at least, supposedly.

Now that government spending is close to 50 % of GDP in major European powers is a statistic that would look less frightening, and misleading, when it is considered that entire sectors of the economy of the USA are only private in appearance.

For years, and powers to that, NASA research benefited American aerospace private companies (hence the name National Aero-Space Agency). Still does.

(By the way, Europe’s ESA does not distribute its research generously to European companies, it does not do technological research directly usable by commercial operators… this makes Boeing’s cries about Airbus subsidies more than hypocritical… Ironically, NASA even cooperates with European commercial operators, and powers to that too: technological research is a moral positive, even when it leads to unacceptable technologies, because knowledge, even of hell, is always a positive.)

So some US military spending hides blatant subsidies. Why else would every single subsonic, rain sensitive, B2 bomber cost more than a billion dollars? (Answer: because it was a socialist program for Northrop.)

The B2, of course, as the Raptor, F22, have proven useless in war (B2’s were used once or twice in Afghanistan, F22s, never; ever since it has been back to well tested planes that make sense: sixty years old B52s, B1s, F18s, F15s, etc… Which have run thousands of missions. Not that I approve of all of these missions, far from it, but that is another subject).

A lot of the "private" health care system in the USA, and the "private" banking system are government supported. And it’s not all Obama’s fault, far from it. Don’t forget that the USA long has had the only full mortgage deduction program in the world, which is a subsidy of the US government to construction, housing and banking. I could give pages of examples such as these…

At this point the USA is in bad straights, precisely because so much of its main GDP-contributing economy, until 2008, WAS government supported. Obama has had to desperately support what’s left of a hopeful future with government subsidies. It’s a tragedy most of the money had to go to private banks, because they lost all the public’s money (put inside those banks, by the public, in trust, beforehand). So Obama had to save the banks, as PUBLIC institutions.

I do NOT contest that the big banks should have been saved. There was no choice. But those private banks were a government supported program, TO START WITH. That simple truth should have been observed, and the conclusion should have been drawn that the myth of them being private enterprises working for the public good ought to have been dispelled. Appropriate measures should have ensued.

Banks should have been saved, as PUBLIC institutions, and condemned as PRIVATE institutions. Next their size ought to have been reduced, or they should have been made part of the government, as the army is.

Some of Obama’s stimulus was excellent and necessary. Fact is, though, it was puny (it’s 700 billion spread over three years (once the AMT is removed), and with the states’ financial collapses, much less, and in particularl less than the French government’s own subsidy, although the later government is right wing). Hence the screams of the republicans against Obama’s stimulus are idiotic.

To be sustained, democracy cannot be put for sale, and cannot be managed privately. It can only be managed publicly. Private enterprise is a luxury organized in its broad scheme by the government, not a due. In particular currency creation ought to be controlled by the government, and not by private individuals, as it is presently.

Far from being a problem of having too big a democratic government, a lot of the problems in the USA come from having too big a private sector plotting with an unrepresentative government. The later appeared, because elections, de facto, can be bought.

Democratic rule without competent democratic institutions is only ruin of the City, as Athens’ fate proved it to be. And also Rome’s. And also Tsarist and Soviet Russia, and to a great extent various incarnations of pre-1945 Germany.

Nowadays a further twist is that undemocratic rule with incompetent private institutions is the ruin of the world.

Some will say: where are the ruins? Well, go to Yucatan. And when the Mayan world started to collapse, just as when the World Trade Center started to collapse, it was too late. The best ruins are not those one can see, but those we do not need to see. Time for action is before scrapping along the iceberg at full speed.

The entire view of government, and its interaction with private initiative, has to be changed.

 

Patrice Ayme

Morality Without Conscience Is Only Ruin Of The Soul.

October 12, 2009

MORAL HUBRIS IS STILL HUBRIS.

Some advocate not to eat animals, for a variety of reasons. All these reasons are good, no doubt. But that does not make them cogent. Is goodness the ultimate arena for behavior, looking forward? How far forward shall we look? Short term goodness often insures long term evil.

Is morality about the gods, or is it about having someone representing us, representing our soul, forever here tomorrow?

One cannot just eat plants: when on an island, it’s immoral to eat the last blade of grass. We are on an island. Better to eat the one who was going to eat the last blade, first.

Ultimately, morality arose from survivability, hence sustainability.

Thus sometimes salad is best, and sometimes, fresh meat.

A complicating factor in the debate about the morality, or lack thereof, of eating animals, is that the nature of the genus Homo is that of a meat eater, with all the baggage of cruelty and violence this implies. Denying this, strongly obscures what we truly are, and we are in danger of becoming like Adolf Hitler. A salad eating wolf in full denial (Adolf comes from wolf).

Hitler was a vegan who talked incessantly, publicly and very loudly about being a man of peace. He apparently ended up believing his own propaganda, whereas in truth all his rational dissonance helped him being the worse thing on earth, and helped all his frantic supporters, not to see the truth. Besides a possible link with long term nutritional deficiencies from his poor diet, no doubt his self perceived aura of total moral superiority, helped by his vegetarianism, played a role in his moral misconceptions. (After all, Hitler attacked French and Jews from a moral standpoint: see the first dozen pages in “Mein Kampf”.)

Interestingly, Gandhi may end up similarly down the bin of history, since his greatest, longest term gift, was to insure nuclear war between Muslim and Hindus on the subcontinent, something yet to come, but sure to come. Thanks mostly to Gandhi, and his flaunting of Hindu superiority, complete with vegetarianism, wheel and half naked garb (highly offensive to Muslims both, as Gandhi no doubt knew). Another leader flaunting his vegetarianism… And his racism. Of the hubris of righteousness. If both Hitler and Gandhi had admitted to themselves some of their own moral shortcomings, they may have been more careful about the consequences of their actions. (Hitler, in his last moments admitted he had been wrong on major points of his own racism.)

Moral hubris is still hubris: a short cut out of reality. Trying too hard without all the details and the devils therein unearthed will always lead to catastrophe.

Morality without conscience is only ruin of the soul.

***

PA

***

P/S: Does this say anything about those who got a Nobel prize in Peace, although they did nothing yet, but talk? Or is talking doing? No doubt talking can be doing. Such is man, because so is thought.

Progress towards stopping incoming nuclear war starts with treaties, which start with talks. No doubt the Norwegians that honored Obama wanted to protect him with honor, and thought him, and, or, his avowed programs, were at great risk. And they were, as shown by US generals who talked, although their first duty is never to talk, except if the country, or the constitution, are at ultimate risk. Obviously not the case yet, so obviously intolerable now.

But the fact remains, making Obama far and above all mortals will make hubris smile, and hubris has always been the main downfall of the mighty.

Hubris As Laziness, Economy Of Intelligence.

October 10, 2009

HUBRIS, OLIGARCHY, AND LACK OF INTELLIGENCE & EDUCATION ALL RELATE, OR WHY THE USA IS GOING DOWN.

***

Abstract: The USA used to be proud, independent, self reliant. For example, 100% of US planes flying in the USA used to be made in the USA. But now only fast shrinking small portions of new planes are. Even getting to space is becoming a problem, for the USA. The proverbial ‘rocket scientist’ is becoming an endangered species, at least in the USA (not so in Russia, Europe, China, India).

Why is this diminution of American technological expertise happening? Some will say: not so, look at all the American Nobel Prizes! But a closer inspection shows that many came from overseas, and have dual citizenships: long ago, they followed the gold, and went where the labs were.

All serious objectives criterions show a serious devaluation of education, both in money circulating through it (too much going to private bankers instead), and in the regard the society has for mental achievements. How did this happen? Well, the simultaneous rise of hubris in the oligarchy is related to the decay of intelligence and education. (This hubris is expressed by far flung wars through false reasons, as if having a war for breakfast goes well with croissants, and as if having too much money for the oligarchy was a sustainable feat.)

I explain the strange decay of education, while the oligarchy rose, and the explanation exhibits a mental complex that played in other times and places (the educational decay of the USA also shows up in other advanced large economies, such as France, although not to the same extent; conversely many small economies with big ambition, such as Finland, have done extremely well, by throwing money and consideration at the problem.)

***

Education in the USA used to be one of the best in the world, and the superiority of the USA rested on it. Nowadays, though, it is approaching gravitational collapse. Although Obama made a very laudable effort, the collapse of the states’ educational budgets has made matter worse, overall.

The word "collapse" is not an exaggeration. An example: the budget of the University of California, once the world’s top public educational institution, was cut by more than 800 million out of a total of 3.2 billion (a cut of 25% qualifies as a collapse, in my opinion). Now, sure, California is led by an Austrian born body builder, whose father was a Nazi and SA: thus one may suspect that Californian leaders are not selected for a propensity to high mental achievements. In the last year, at least 40,000 teachers’ jobs were cut in the USA (some say up to 143,000). What is clear is that a few top traders at Goldman Sachs, a government bank, privately managed, will share 20 billion dollars in bonuses of public, taxpayer money, while teachers working at some prestigious universities cannot afford a home on their salaries alone.

Now, of course, for saving Goldman-Sachs and allowing the top traders there to pursue their notion of happiness, same as they did before, his greatest achievement so far, Barack Obama amply deserves the Nobel prize in economics, but that’s another story…

The decay of education in the USA is directly related to the rise of hubris of its exaggerated oligarchy. In three ways:

First, the more uneducated the oligarchy, the more hubristic it gets. Second, the more uneducated the People, the easier the rise and reign of the oligarchy. Third, and more subtle of them all, hubris is fundamentally a form of mental laziness. Hubris displaces the intelligent, adapted answer, the expression of a fresh brain, and replaces it by rote and trying to violently force through what has worked before… even when it does not work anymore.

Intelligent creatures, when they got safe, comfortable and lazy long enough to forget the advantages intelligence provides with, prefer this, being mentally lazy, because the brain devours more than 20% of the body’s energy. Thus few things are more tiring than re-arranging one’s brain. Hence it is understandable, and usual, that particularly successful societies tend to suffer mental collapses into hubris. Not just this, but the very attraction of mental laziness, drawing the People towards the bovine, is best realized by putting an oligarchy in increasing charge. So the People is accomplice in its own future oppression, and finds bovine comfort in it. This is the mental phenomenon that led the Roman empire to decay, and actually one of the main reasons for the rise of empires.

A really sustainable society is therefore organized so as to provide with a minimum of internal strife, be it only of a mental character. Bovine contemplation does not sit well with a healthy human society. The USA has to learn that arguing -presenting arguments- is not just healthy in all ways, but also a life saver, especially at the civilizational level.

The concept of "transformation" is brandished a lot in the USA these days. Positive transformation, progress, means applying more intelligence and that can only rise through more education. Education means a huge societal effort, led by the government. It cannot be led privately alone. Anti-government propaganda in the USA, on the very merit of the concept of government of the People by the People, prevents this, though. education is the first victim.

Patrice Ayme

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

****

Hope You Can See…

October 9, 2009

Athena Premiere Semaine Octobre 09 100 

Athena Ayme, born September 30, 2009…

Love, so you can be.

PA.

Explanation: Love (among others things) builds us, builds our minds, but love builds us up in a unique fashion that would not exist, had we not experienced it.

So love turns into existence and cognition, that would not otherwise be.