The John James Newsletter 202
21 October 2017
What if I told you that the Left wing and the Right wing belong to the same bird
Political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber,
A proliferation of ‘unthinkable’ events… has revealed a new fragility at the highest levels of corporate and public service leaderships. Their ability to spot, identify and handle unexpected, non-normative events is… perilously inadequate at critical moments… Remarkably, there remains a deep reluctance, or what might be called ‘executive myopia’, to see and contemplate even the possibility that ‘unthinkables’ might happen, let alone how to handle them
Nik Gowing & Chris Langdon
One of the most remarkable manifestations of a failed state is that the criminals are all inside the government operating against the people, whereas in a normal state, the criminals are on the outside of the government, operating against it. The US has every manifestation of being a failed state, with the government in the hands of a few Wall Street gangsters
Paul Craig Roberts
To really understand something is to be liberated from it
The long-held dreams and desires of sheikhs (Saudi-Qatar) and sultans (Erdogan) to reshape the Middle East in their image are over, and they know it. Washington’s allies have been let down, with the US incapable of keeping its promises of fulfilling a regime change in Damascus. The consequences for the US have just begun. Without a military posture capable of bending adversaries and friends to her will, the US will have to start dealing with a new reality that involves compromise and negotiation, something the US is not accustomed to.
More than 2C warming by 2100 likely
Our current chances of keeping global heating to less than 1.5°C of at just 1%, and less than 2°C at only 5%. Why? Because while the carbon intensity of economic activity is expected to decline by 1.9% a year, global per capita GDP is expected to grow by 1.8%. Almost all investment in renewables and efficiency is cancelled out. GDP, the index that was supposed to measure our prosperity, instead measures our progress towards ruin.
How climate change is “turning up the dial” on wildfires
Experts say fires like those burning up California wine country will be more frequent, more intense and last longer as global temperatures rise. While no single fire can be said to have been caused by climate change, variations in temperature and precipitation are already affecting the complex dynamics that determine how wildfires develop and spread.
Spain, Portugal Wildfires Kill at Least 39
Unseasonably warm weather was to blame for the deadly fires in northern and central Portugal,
Wildfires Roar Across Southern Europe
In France, fires raged on Tuesday less than 10 miles from the resort city of Nice. In Croatia, fires have damaged homes in the historic city of Split. And in Montenegro, the authorities have asked NATO for assistance in dealing with fires that had forced evacuations along the coast.
Forest fires in Russia
More than 300,000 acres have burned in recent days after a record heat wave and severe drought. July was the hottest month in Moscow in 130 years of recorded history.
Wildfires, Hurricanes, Tornadoes!
Many people can’t seem to wrap their minds around the idea that if we want lessening climate change problems and curtailment of other sorts of devastation like massive spills and air pollution, we need to use less fossil fuels. We also have to stop taking away more and more of the natural world for economic development, stop personally using up ever more resources to climb up the socio-economic ladder and stop increasing the human population.
Nostalgia is a political statement: There was a world before plastics and we lived in it
In the world before plastics, glasses were made of glass, or copper or silver and water tasted better in them. Bottles were transparent glass or opaque ceramic. But both were breakable and did. Plates were ceramic beautifully painted. Also breakable and did. We also had steel plates which didn’t break but were less classy. Buckets and tubs were unbreakable, made of copper or galvanized iron and made a loud clang when you put them down and dropped the handle. So you were careful to put the handle down gently.
What Can C02 Levels 50 Million Years Ago Tell Us About Climate Change Today?
During the Eocene, global average temperatures were 10ºC higher than today. One period of extreme warmth some 55 million years ago had temperatures that were even 8ºC warmer. Add 10 and 8 and you get 18ºC hotter than today, which equates to 32ºF. Until now, the scientific community believed that C02 levels were as high as 2000 ppm during the Eocene, but this research suggests C02 levels were only half that high — about 1000 ppm. Today, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are around 400 ppm. The message is, disastrous consequences can flow from much lower concentrations of C02 than previously thought.
The Science of Spying: How the CIA Secretly Recruits Academics
In order to tempt nuclear scientists from countries such as Iran or North Korea to defect, US spy agencies routinely send agents to academic conferences – or even host their own fake ones. In perhaps its most audacious and elaborate incursion into academia, the CIA has secretly spent millions of dollars staging scientific conferences around the world.
EMP bomb from North Korea
An EMP attack is the detonation of a hydrogen bomb at a high altitude of 300-400 km, creating an electromagnetic pulse that would knock out the electrical grid. But not only that – all electrical devices in the range of the blast could be fried. No lights, no computers, no phones, no internet, not even cars would work. The lack of refrigeration is likely to spoil food, causing mass starvation. Add to that lack of clean water, no air traffic control or any financial transactions taking place and you have widespread devastation.
100,000 Elephants Killed by Poachers in Just Three Years
Central Africa has lost 64 percent of its elephants in a decade. During 2011 alone, roughly one of every twelve African elephants was killed by a poacher. Elephants are vital to the web of life in Africa. As a keystone species, they help balance all the other species in their ecosystem, opening up forest land to create firebreaks and grasslands, digging to create water access for other animals, and leaving nutrients in their wake. Sometimes called the “megagardeners of the forest,” elephants are essential to the dispersal of seeds that maintain tree diversity.
Elephant poachers are hard at work in Africa, and carbon dating proves it
“Because it’s illegal and because it tends to be done by pretty organized criminal syndicate groups, we just are having a lot of difficulty understanding what’s happening, where the goods are being trafficked, where they’re originating, where they’re moving, how they’re moving through the supply chain, who’s involved. That lack of information really makes it hard to do much effective enforcement or to disrupt this global trade.”
Our best chance to save the elephants
But now there’s reason to hope: China just announced it will phase out its ivory industry and there is legislation in eleven US states calling for a ban on ivory trading. It’s a tipping point moment in this fight for these majestic animals
At last! Americans blame wild weather on global warming
In spite Trump, 68% think weather disasters seem to be worsening, and 46% of those who think it’s getting worse blame man-made climate change mostly or solely for the wild weather, while another 39% say it’s a combination of global warming and natural variability.
In places where it’s legal, how many people are ending their lives using euthanasia?
In Oregon in 2015, 132, or 0.39%, were reported as physician-assisted suicides, in Washington there were 166 reported cases being 0.32% of all deaths that year.
Bob Brown wins his case, but High Court leaves the door open to laws targeting protesters
This successful High Court challenge to an anti-protest law in Tasmania will cause many states to review their own protest laws.
The Italian tax credit – a new currency outside the Euro?
A government that controls its own currency can simply issue what it needs to pay for its operations. This implies that the Italian government could get back into the currency creation business to help finance its operations—even if it were to print more certificates than it had taxes due. So long as people were willing to trade them for goods and services among themselves, some portion of the certificates would remain in circulation and never be redeemed to pay taxes.
Rapid environmental change can destabilize networks of interacting species.
Coevolution, which occurs when species interact and adapt to each other, is often studied in the context of pair-wise interactions between mutually beneficial symbiotic partners. But many species have mutualistic interactions with multiple partners, leading to complex networks of interacting species. How mutualistic species coevolve suggests rapid environmental change can destabilize networks of interacting species.
What can Australia learn from Germany’s remarkable energy transition?
Germany’s energy transition is often held up as an incredible success story. Starting from a sector relying predominantly on fossil fuels and nuclear energy in the 1990s, renewable energy now provides about 30% of Germany’s electricity. Germany is on track to achieve its 80% renewable target by 2050. This transformation has been the result of a range of policy measures. The depth and breadth of these legal and regulatory reforms can provide valuable lessons for Australia.
Strong policy focussing on transforming the energy system
Generous feed-in-tariffs have been a major driver
Require network businesses to prioritise connecting renewable
Willingness to adapt policy to changing circumstances
Global Views on Religion
In total 17,401 interviews were conducted in 23 countries, and Data was weighted to match the profile of the population. The questions
Religion does more harm in the world than good
My religion defines me as a person
I am completely comfortable being around people who have different religious beliefs than me
I lose respect for people when I find out that they are not religious
Religious people are better citizens
Religious practices are an important factor in the moral life of my country’s citizens
Presented by country and by proposition.
Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now they’re making it worse
The planet’s tropical midsection is releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon to the atmosphere, rather than storing it in the trunks of trees and other vegetation. The losses due to deforestation and degradation are actually emitting more CO2 to the atmosphere, compared with how much the existing forest is able to absorb,
Found: ‘lost’ forests covering an area two-thirds the size of Australia
A new global analysis of the distribution of forests and woodlands has “found” 467 million hectares of previously unreported forest. The new forests were found by surveying “drylands” – so called because they receive much less water in precipitation than they lose through evaporation and plant transpiration. These drylands contain 45% more forest than has been found in previous surveys.
Australia’s ‘great green boom’ of 2010-11 has been undone by drought
Back in 2010-11 Australia “greened”, as record-breaking rains triggered a boom in plant growth that removed huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stored it as carbon in the landscape. But what happened after that? This greening was short-lived and was rapidly dissipated through drought and fire.
The spooky mortgage risk
There appears to be in the neighbourhood of $1 trillion of interest-only loans on the books of Australian banks. I say “appears to be” because reporting requirements are so lax it’s hard to know for sure. The Reserve Bank cautions that one-third of borrowers don’t have a month’s repayment buffer. And where are interest rates going to go from here? Up. It is just a question of when. And when that does happen – or when the interest-only period on loans (typically five years) rolls off and principal payments start having to be made – watch out. We should all remember that the proximate cause of the US mortgage meltdown was borrowers with five-year adjustable-rate mortgages that had huge step-ups in repayments and needed to be refinanced to be serviceable. When the market couldn’t bear that refinancing, defaults went up. Australia’s large proportion of five-year interest-only loans – turbocharged by an out-of-control negative-gearing regime – looks spookily similar.
The world’s first “negative emissions” plant has begun operation—turning carbon dioxide into stone
Climate scientists are already talking about a technology that could pull us back from the brink. It’s called direct-air capture, and it consists of machines that work like a tree does, sucking CO2 out from the air, but on steroids—capturing thousands of times more carbon in the same amount of time.
Remember the Anthrax attacks?
Here’s the real story. 9/11 was a shock, but it was the Anthrax attacks that pushed the Congress over the edge and got them behind the Neo-Con agenda including the invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act. Who sent it? Well, no one knows, but we do know it came from the US defence stockpile. A most important – and mostly untold – story.
Penguin disaster as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000
It is the second time in just four years that such devastation – not previously seen in more than 50 years of observation – has been wrought on the population.Thousands of starved chicks and unhatched eggs were found across the island in the region called Adélie Land .caused by a record amount of summer sea ice and an “unprecedented rainy episode”. The unusual extent of sea ice meant the penguins had to travel an extra 100km to forage for food. And the rainy weather left the chicks, which have poor waterproofing, wet and unable to keep warm.
Thinking The Unthinkable
Britain out of the EU? President Trump? To express incredulity is not a political judgment. Until a few weeks ago, what many viewed as outlandish ‘unthinkables’ were not even being considered or investigated as part of corporate or political risk assessments. Now they have to be. “Unthinkable” events since 2014 have revealed a new leadership fragility at the highest levels. And the pace of change in 2017 shows that the uncertainties are greater than ever. Is this the “new normal?”
Rooftop solar saves everyone billions of dollars
When rooftop solar is pumping out power, there is less need for retailers to buy power on the wholesale market because demand for electricity is lower across the board. This reduced demand brings down the wholesale price of power because of the way that the National Electricity Market works. This means that NSW consumers, whether they have solar or not, have saved between $2.2 and $3.3 billion over 12 months. The full report
Geo-Engineering: Can We “Science Our Way” Out Of A Climate Catastrophe?
Geo-engineering research is being actively promoted by fossil fuel acolytes. The geo-engineering clique is taking advantage of this situation to promote their planetary technological manipulations. Some of the most avid promoters have links to the fossil fuel industries and to institutions that have backed climate denial. ”Geo-engineering slots perfectly into our most hackneyed cultural narrative that tells us that, at the very last minute, some of us (the ones that matter) are going to be saved.”
Scientists Unveil an “Unprecedented Discovery” About Gravitational Waves
Gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime that were first theorized by Albert Einstein about a century ago. Last year marked the first time we’ve been able to observe the phenomena, and so far, all the gravitational waves we’ve observed have been caused by particularly intense events, such as the merging of neutron stars.
New frontier for science as astronomers witness neutron stars colliding
Extraordinary event has been ‘seen’ for the first time, in both gravitational waves and light – ending decades-old debate about where gold comes from
Gravitational waves and neutron stars: Why this discovery is huge
China and EVs
Why cannot this happen here? No prize for getting it right.
The real reason behind Trump’s anger on North Korea
It is ironic that, while the US threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea,’ it is the Chinese government that is using sensible language, calling for de-escalation and citing international law. Not only did fortunes change, but roles as well. China, which for many years was depicted as a rogue state, now seems like the cornerstone of stability in Asia.
What would a war with North Korea look like?
Any war with North Korea will likely be swift, brutal and victorious. But it’s what potentially comes next that has military analysts squirming. Even the smallest, most ‘surgical’ strike has dire implications. US military intelligence advisers believe any attack on North Korea would immediately trigger a retaliatory artillery barrage — potentially killing up to one million people in the city of Seoul.
Another Historic Storm: Surreal Ophelia Strikes Ireland with Hurricane Force
Warmer than normal ocean temperatures due to human-forced climate change are now enabling hurricanes to threaten Northern Europe. A region that was traditionally considered out of the range of past Atlantic Ocean hurricanes under 20th Century climatology. One that, in a warmer world, is now under the gun.
Ex-Hurricane Ophelia Batters Ireland Under Orange Skies
Ophelia brought winds typical of what we see from a landfalling Category 1 hurricane. Sustained winds of 50 mph were recorded at Cork. Ophelia’s ascension to Category 3 status and subsequent impact on Ireland just 12 hours after becoming an ex-hurricane was made possible, in large part, by unusually warm ocean temperatures that were 1 – 2°C (1.8 – 3.6°F) above average.