Time-Line Relevance to a Clear View

I  spent a lot of time today writing a piece on my Facebook page which is where I do most of my work these days.  I thought I would share that here verbatim other than tidying up the links.  I hope it may help someone who may be struggling to come to terms with the issues covered.  Here is a link to my Facebook page.

Having a day off from bashing America I thought I would revert to one other of my favourite memes.  One that I have not recently visited.  Time for a refresher.

The problem, whether considered to generally be a problem or not, is the issue of over-population.  My mind was focused on this through a post by my FB friend Bev here (which is also very worth reading): Bev’s FB post    That story contained a statement that the world would pass 9billion population by 2050.  True, but not the whole truth.  I have previously shown that there will be more than 10billion souls alive in 2050 (barring nasty but real events that could well quickly reduce our numbers drastically).

I will get to that in a minute, but Lo and Behold, while I was thinking about this I opened this post: A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature Since the Last Ice Age Glaciation    This is an amazing timeline of human existence which shows that our current world climate conditions have never been as extreme as they are today.  It is not a complete history of mankind, in that it does not include our origins and I would argue some of the time points but that it not my focus today.

One thing it does show is the very small period of time in which man has had the capability to engineer his own destruction, and the consequences of following that path projected a little way ahead.

All of that is interesting in itself and you could spend all day looking and thinking about that yourself if you had a mind to, but my purpose here is to overlay (in words) the timeline of human population growth on this fascinating picture.  It won’t take long and I don’t mind if you ignore what I have to say and just take some time to consider what is already there.

First I need to rework the figures to bring them right up to date.  For this I use as a basis the data from the Worldometers website (very interesting).

The current annual population growth rate is taken as around 1.13% with a net annual increase of around 86million folk and a period of 11.6 years to add the next billion people. Let’s see how that is going.  Take the current net increase so far this year given as over 58.7million.  We have just passed the 2/3 point in the year so if we add half of the current growth that should give us a rough figure for the whole year.  It comes to 88million which gives us a period of just 11.36 years to add the next billion.  Does that look like a decreasing population.  Well, if you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope it might.

One step further – has the annual growth rate changed based on that figure?  OK, 88million into 7.45billion (current pop. count) as a percentage is 1.18%.  It does not sound much when you consider that in the 1960s the growth rate peaked around 2% but in terms of the absolute number it is a considerable increase on recent figures.  All of this demonstrates that if anyone tries to tell you that the population will stabilise around 2020 they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Here are the historical facts and my calculations for the future (again barring any unfortunate ‘accidents’ that may occur).

From our earliest historical beginnings, way back in the mists of time (did you follow that time-line through slowly to get some sort of feel for that?), our numbers never, as far as we know, exceeded 1 solitary billion right up until the year 1804CE (Current Era).  Just 212 years and probably less than 10 generations of your ancestors ago.  Make a mental note of where that position is on the time-line.

From that point, 1804, go forward 123 years to 1927.  That is the period when population growth began and it took those 123 years for it to reach the next billion mark.  When I was born in 1945, just 18 years later, the figure was ~2.5billion and it took just 37 years in total – that is to 1960 – to reach the next billion milestone.

Those post-war years were the period of our greatest percentage growth (but the actual numbers were minuscule compared to today’s figures – because total population was still quite small – but growing).

The move from 3billion to 4billion took just 14 years to 1974.
The move from 4billion to 5billion took just 13 years to 1987.
The move from 5billion to 6billion took just 12 years to 1999.
(Are you following this on the time-line?)
From that point it has taken just 12 years to again add the next billion.
The move from 6billion to 7billion took just 12 years to 2011.
We now stand at 7.45billion just 5 years later and it looks like we are moving to an eleven year period for new billions to be added.
Let’s project that into the future.
By 2022-3 the population could be 8billion.
By 2034-5 the population could be 9billion.
By 2046-7 the population could be 10billion.

And finally, by 2050 the population could be well on its way to 11billion.

Get the picture?

So, that’s it.  That’s what faces us.  And if you don’t see that as being a huge problem then I feel sorry for you.  I make no representations as to what this means, action it may call for, or likely consequences.  Those should all be fairly obvious.

I’m done now.  Need a cup of tea.

Shades Of Economics

It has been a while since I posted anything here, I am having way too much fun on Facebook.  But I thought this was worth taking the time to post.

 

Economics.  You’re either an expert or you are not.  It seems that the more expert you become, the more incomprehensible and the less understandable you become.

 

For example, listen to this economist trying to explain economics simply:


This says a lot about economics, very little of which, you (or I) need to know in order to understand how the world works or what its current situation is.

I share it only to illustrate the point that the speaker makes: “Never trust an economist. That includes me.” (Him, not me. I am not an economist.)

 

In contrast, take this story from The Guardian.

Image credit:  The Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.  Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

A story about an economics problem that is facing the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, tomorrow Monday 18 July, 2016:  Trident: what you need to know before the parliamentary vote.

The story can be summed up like this, and I quote: “In 2006, a Ministry of Defence white paper estimated the cost of replacing the vessels (Trident Submarines) to be between £15bn-£20bn. CND now estimates that it will cost over £200bn.”    Italics, mine, to provide clarity.

This story says little about economics but it does tell you all that you (or I) need to know in order to understand how the world works or what its current situation is.

I share it only to illustrate the point that, economically, in 2016 the world is way more ‘fucked’ (10 times more ‘fucked’, in fact) than it was back in 2006.

Now, that’s economics.

 

“Debt Is Good”

us-debt-graph-2020

Image credit: Club Orlov – The Negative Interest Rate Gap

“Debt Is Good”
“Debt Is Good”
Everybodyyyy…   All together nowwww…
“Debt Is Good”
“Debt Is Good”

It is not at all easy to laugh with your tongue in your cheek, or even with someone else’s tongue in your cheek.  But Dmitry Orlov makes it all seem entirely possible in this beautifully rendered and timeless essay on the ‘ZIRP-NIRP Gap’.

You will enjoy it, I guarantee it.  But be warned, you may accidentally bite your tongue   …or whoever else’s tongue you happen to…   oh, forget it.

Just read the damn thing: The Negative Interest Rate Gap

 

 

Added after publication:

Now, let’s see just how this works.  I have an interest in that sort of interest, you see, not having a great deal of money of my own.  I find it quite interesting.

If I were to borrow $1,000,000 at -7%pa interest, that means that the bank would be paying me $70,000 a year to hold their money, or $5,833.33 a month.  I think I could live quite well on that.  Bring it on.  I would have to withdraw the monthly payment immediately of course in cash, or I would need to pay them a percentage back, because I would then be a depositor.

When I am ready, having accumulated enough to last me for the rest of my life, I could just give them their million dollars back.  With a big thank you.  Why doesn’t the world already operate like that?  A much better system than we have now.  Whoever dreamed that up I wonder?  It must have been the twisted mind of an accountant.

 

 

The End Of ‘-isms’?

Sometimes The Guardian gets things so right, but other times they get things oh so wrong that one wonders what substance they are abusing now.  This is one of those oh so wrong times:  The end of capitalism has begun

f3ba5014-9489-4812-ab90-576a69c35bec-2060x1236Image Credit:  Welcome to an age of sharing. Illustration by Joe Magee

Not that they are (perhaps I should say ‘he is’,  , the writer of this piece) wrong about the end of Capitalism, the writing has been on the wall for that for quite some time.  But you can’t end ‘something‘ and then call whatever replaces it ‘post-something‘.  It neither makes sense nor grabs the attention.  It simply means ‘what comes after‘ or ‘the absence of‘ something, which could well mean ‘nothing‘.

Nothingism‘, is that what we are being led to expect?

There has to be a meaningful name for what comes after Capitalism …and it has to be a real something, not an absence of something.  What could it be?

Well, I will tell you what it won’t be.  It won’t be anything even remotely like what this article suggests, which is a Techno Utopia where through the wonders of Information Technology nobody has to work.  It’s all automated, don’t you know.  And don’t expect to see the proposed ‘new kind of human being’ slated in the article.  I wouldn’t be holding my breath to see the dream neighbour, the ideal friend, or beautiful people everywhere, or what he calls a ‘sharing economy‘.

Does this guy not know that with the collapse of the Capitalist paradigm, already teetering, and whatever it is (I can think of a number of things, acting jointly or severally) that provides the impetus to pass the necessary tipping-point-of-no-return, everything else (society, commerce, finance, economy, industry, agriculture, you name it…) will inevitably collapse in a heap as well.

In that very same moment, Information Technology will become a historical concept, fondly remembered for a short while and then forgotten completely and forever. Technology – the same.  Jobs – the same.  Money – the same.  Processed Food – the same.  Take-away – the same.  Everything, physical or virtual, made by the current society – the same.

So, where is the Techno Utopia spoken of in this article going to come from?  Listen carefully – IT ISN’T COMING.

Maybe I hit the nail on the head earlier when I flippantly suggested that the next new thing would be Nothingism.  No, that can’t be.  But what’s a word that describes living simply, living locally, producing your own food-shelter-clothing, caring for and sharing with your nearby friends and neighbours, your local community?  I’m not sure there is a name for that.  Localism?  Maybe.  It doesn’t seem to cover everything I am envisaging.  Sharingism?   Maybe.  Whatever that is.  There would have to be a more fitting, less forced, word that carried the same meaning.

Maybe there doesn’t need to be a name.  Maybe it’s the end of -isms.

Aspirational Level? Think Again.

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Image credit:: Global temperature changes since 1850  This is a link to the original image which is expandable and easier to see

 

This is by far the best depiction I have yet seen as to what has actually been occurring with regard to global warming over the last 160 years or so.  It is perfectly and undeniably clear that global temperatures have overall been rising consistently but at varying rates, in bands of time, over that period.

The colour scale on the right, marked off in 20 year blocks of linear time, intentionally has no scalar relation to the graph.  That much should be obvious.  It is there purely so that we can view bands of time by their colour.  The colour is meaningless but it is clear that there are bands of colour (even though the colours change gradually over time) in Mauves, Blue-Greens and Yellows.

Note that these are monthly global average temperatures and the zero line represents the baseline pre-industrial level.  It is not 0°C.  It is whatever the calculated global average temperature was prior to the start of the industrial revolution.  The scale on the left then shows temperatures in °C above or below that baseline.  Actual temperatures are immaterial.  It is the deviation from the ‘normal’ baseline, the zero baseline, that we are interested in.

Note also, that this is a time-series graph, a continuous line, starting from some undecipherable (to my aging eyes) point in 1850 right through to March 2016.  For convenience of viewing, the line goes from left to right (Jan to Dec), exits at the right hand side in mid-Dec and wraps around back to the left hand side still in mid-Dec (as you would expect).

There, that’s all of the mystery taken out of the thing now.  Everybody should be able to understand what is going on (even those dim climate deniers).  Now, let’s take a look at what it is telling us.

The Mauves
The sections of the line (remember it is continuous and the colour of the line changes, as time goes on, in accordance with the colour/time scale on the right) that are coloured in Mauves, indicate the temperature movements during the earlier part of the period from 1850 to around 1900.  It shows that there was considerable variation in temperature back then with some of the readings indicating that there were times when a drop in temperature to as low as -0.5°C below pre-industrial levels.  A careful look however, will reveal that there are about as many monthly readings above the baseline (zero level) as below it.  Indeed there are some readings from these years that are as high as 0.7°C above baseline.  I would suggest that this is the sort of variation that could be expected to be seen in the second half of the nineteenth century because the large scale industrial activity of the twentieth century had not yet begun and the global population was still at ‘normal’ levels ie. below 2 billion.

The Blue-Greens
The line colour variations from blues to greens cover a longer 80 year period between 1900 and 1980 and it is obvious that the readings are still quite variable but there are many more of them above the baseline than below it and the blue-green band does generally appear to sit above the mauve band.  This indicates a slight rise in average temperatures during this period over the previous one.

The Yellows
The yellow coloured portions of the line cover a much smaller timeframe of just 35 years from 1980 to today.  There is a much wider spread of these fewer readings (which is remarkable in itself, because it shows that something is happening, relatively quickly), pretty much all of them being both above the baseline and also above the blue-green band.  This indicates a much more volatile period of temperature change where the majority of the readings are higher than either of the two earlier colour bands.  What is more, the latest readings (the last few years) appear to be breaking away to form a new band by themselves that is way above the average for even the short yellow period …and that is very worrying (not that there is anything we can do about it).

I think we are entering a new period of runaway global temperature rises that could well mark the end of our journey on Earth.  And it is all our own fault.

I am equally sure that there will be those who say “Ah yes, but there has always been variation in global climate.  It naturally goes up and down”.

True, but those natural variations are gradual.  Any movement upward or downward taking place over centuries or millennia, not 30-50 years.  Believe me, this is something different.

Oh, and by the way, remember the COP21 Paris agreement with its (what did they call it? Aspirational?) level of 1.5°C?  Well take a look at the chart.  We have already as good as reached that, unless my spectacles are a little misted up.  And their 2°C ceiling?  Give it another five years and even that will be history.  Then sit back and watch the fireworks show begin.

 

Added after publishing.

If straight lines aren’t your thing, try this alternative .gif of the same data   The ending is quite striking.  Thanks to foodnstuff for the link.

 

“Militant Complacency”

Now that the losing side in the upcoming US Presidential election has all but officially placed its faith in the old Reagan era catch-cry rebadged by Donald Trump – Make America Great Again, the other side of the spinning coin has also all but officially (though I think Bernie may still have something to say about that), with the true ‘militant complacency’ of modern liberals, opted for the ‘more of the same’ approach opposing catch-cry of Hillary (It’s My Turn) Clinton – “America never stopped being great”.  A sentiment of blind logic echoed by the current incumbent of the chair they are both vying for – “America’s pretty darn great right now”.

How can they all be so wrong?  And Why?  Or are they trying to pull the wool over your eyes?

This guardian article has a lot to offer in analysis of the situation: Why must the Trump alternative be self-satisfied, complacent Democrats? – “Convinced that the country’s ongoing demographic shifts will bring victory for years to come, the party establishment acts like its candidates need do nothing differently”.

2801Photo credit: ‘What the Democrats have in mind for 2016 is what we might call a campaign of militant complacency. They are dissociated from the mood of the nation, and they do not care.’ Photograph: Charles Dharapak/ASSOCIATED PRESS

There’s Always The Brick

Today I am sharing a Guardian article that has at this time achieved almost a quarter of a million shares, indicating that it has hit a nerve somewhere in the popular conciousness.  It is the second article in two days that I have come across which uses terms like ‘horror story’ or ‘horror show’  to describe the events expected to unfold over the next eight months or so, and beyond.

This story was delivered as a speech recently at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney: David Simon: ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’

The Wire creator David Simon in BaltimorePhoto credit: David Simon, creator of The Wire, near his office in Baltimore. Photograph: Stephen Voss/Redux / eyevine

Now, I don’t agree with everything that David Simon said there but the general thrust of the piece is valid.  What didn’t I agree with?  Well, Ok, his insistence that we need a form of capitalism married with a social contract in order to forge our way ahead.  That concept presupposes that we will always have, or indeed need, an economic system at all, or that we will in future maintain social structures which are large enough to require such complex arrangements.  In my view of the future of man, that is not necessarily a given.

One point that he made, which I am entirely in agreement with, is that 1980 was a turning point in our economic history, not only for the points raised in this article but also because that was the time that I started investigating removing myself from what I could see as a crumbling system to some remote but still comfortably furnished, friendly, relatively safe (by its remoteness) and flourishing  part of the world.  Within a short time I found myself in Australia, which matched all of those criteria.  The situation has changed of course over the intervening years and Australia now has become just as much a seething economic melting pot or witches cauldron of political and financial corruption as the rest of the Western world, with a population just as screwed as elsewhere.  Though there is still a vestige of innocence, naivety and charm about my chosen country, which separates or distinguishes it from the crowd.  There is also a level of incredible national stupidity that emerges from time to time, but of course we are not alone in that.

Before I get euphorically carried too far away from the subject that I raised here, what’s all this to do with bricks?

Bricks.  Or rocks.  Or hunks of concrete.  Or whatever is the main ready-to-hand detritus of a crumbling society.  Those metaphoric weapons of choice taken up by a populace downtrodden, ignored and pushed a step too far by a reigning polity, and thrown through the metaphoric plate glass window or at the front line servants of the offending polity.

We have already seen that, time and time again, and not so metaphorically.  Mainly in those regions of the world stirred up and ruined by our own modern weapons of destruction.  Where people with no hope and filled with desperation start to hit back at their oppressors.

But we have also seen the beginnings of such situations within the borders of our own nations.  I fully expect that we will see more to come in the months ahead.  We are mainly at the stage where we rely on mass petitions, grass-roots movements and personal lobbying to achieve our social aims.  There will come a time, and soon, when such diplomacy is seen as ineffective.  Our petitions ignored.  Our people movements subdued.  Our lobbyists incarcerated as troublemakers or bought off to turn against us.

Then is when the boil-over occurs and the not so metaphoric brick comes into play.  Watch for that to come about in the second half of this year.  There are high stakes in that period.  Much depends on the outcome.  People are generally beginning to realise this.  All trust in the system and the so-called democratic process has been shattered and destroyed.  We live in a period where the social tinder is dry and there are political sparks flying everywhere.

Expect unrest.  Plan for confusion and danger.  Be ready for suppression.  Nothing will be normal.  The age of the brick is unfolding.

 

 

 

Those Damned One-Percenters

It has become something of a meme in recent years.  The 99% and the 1%.  Us and them.  The downtrodden, from whom it is being taken what little they have, and those damned filthy rich one-percenters who are taking for themselves all the wealth being stolen from us.

That is how it looks to you and me, citizens of the world, the workers, the wage earners, the salary earners, householders and citizens of the Western developed nations.  Those who have the time, the leisure and the means (a computer or other capable electronic device) to read stuff like this.

But hold on a minute.  Take a break.  Consider this…

Who is that One Percent?  Who are those people?

I learned this today, this evening in fact.  Though in the back  of my mind I already was aware of it.

Speaking globally, anyone who has an income greater than around A$50,000 (US$38,000), is among the top 1% of income earners worldwide.  If you are such, then you are a one-percenter.

Does that place things in a slightly different perspective?  I am sure it does for a great many of us.  Suddenly we see ourselves as being part of the problem.  No longer downtrodden.  Of course, still being fleeced, but still having far more than those poor buggers numbered among the 99%.  Suddenly we can see the scale of who is in the one-percent group.  This revelation leads us to be able to envision the sheer enormity of the mass of the unfortunates whose lot is to make up the 99%.  That recognition has to effect our thinking.

I, unfortunately, am still a 99%er, though I was, until I retired some years ago, numbered among the 0.5%ers (or maybe even some percentage even smaller than that).  Not that that did me any good.   I must say that I was acutely aware of my position of privilege during those years and I suspect that like others in that group, I was determined to enjoy the situation while ever it lasted.  Knowing full well that it was something that would soon reach an end.  Which it did.

My bubble burst, and I became again acutely aware that all such bubbles must eventually burst.  A realisation which brought me to write the sort of stuff that I continue to turn out today …and will continue to do so until it is no longer necessary, or no longer possible.

Hmmm…  I had no intention of writing all of that, and I almost forgot what it was that I wanted to share here today.  The thoughts that started this post came from this weeks edition of The Archdruid Report: Where On The Titanic Would You Like Your Deck Chair, Ma’am?   If you want to know why the usual left and right sides of the political spectrum are both utterly wrong, then you would be hard put to find a clearer exposition than this work.

I will finish with a single quote from the piece, as an appetiser.

This is the magic mountain of our era—a mountain of privilege whose inmates either have no idea that they’re privileged, or have convinced themselves that they deserve whatever they have and that those who don’t have the same things don’t deserve them. Far below the magic mountain, in the rest of the world, things are happening and pressures are building toward an explosion, but most of those up there in the heights haven’t noticed. It does not occur to them that there’s anything unusual about their lives, much less that some sudden turn of events could fling them down from the mountain and into a chaotic future for which most of them have made no preparations at all.

Pressure?   Explosion?  Sudden turn of events?  Chaotic future?  Preparations?

Sounds like anybody who has an opinion on what’s about to happen in our topsy-turvy world is expecting those things to be particularly nasty and distasteful.  I can’t disagree.

 

 

 

Illegal Immigrants/Invaders In Syria

There are the ‘boots’.  We can see them.  They are American boots, with American military feet in them.

There is the ‘ground’.  We can see it.  It is Syrian national ground.

heres-what-us-boots-on-the-ground-in-syria-really-means-1445979177Photo credit:  news.vice.com

So.  American boots on Syrian ground.  Is that not a sufficient and complete definition of ‘boots on the ground’?  In anybody’s language I would say that it is.

So, what are they doing there?  Two hundred and fifty more pairs of boots now, adding to the fifty (officially) pairs of boots that have been there for quite some time now.  Not counting all the clandestine (CIA) and private contractors muddying the waters.

As this RT story shows, they are there illegally: No boots on ground in Syria, but US troops wearing boots & on ground are there ‒ State Dept

If they were there as immigrants, they would still be there illegally unless they claimed refugee status.  But they are an invasion force.  They are not there to aid the Syrian government.  That is not a part of US Foreign Policy.  So, simply put, they are there illegally.

Oh, I do love to see the US State Dept talking heads squirming and struggling with convoluted thought pictures to try to come to terms with reality but avoiding at all costs telling the truth.

My own conclusion on this is that they can see that Syria, with Russian aid, is winning the battle against Islamic State in Syria and the US wants to absorb some of the credit for that, when in fact they have done little to nothing to achieve that result, preferring to make this into a war without end.

Tales of The Upside and The Downside

The Archdruid is back from vacation and hits the road running with an extra long and powerful post titled: The End of Ordinary Politics

It is, as usual, easy to get lost in the flowery prose, but I can summarise the whole with just a few quotes for those who, like me, tire easily from having already spent the day grappling with weighty cerebral matters (though you might miss something juicy if you take the easy way out).

The essence of the piece, for me at least, revolves around the differences between the roles and practices of leadership within civilisations that are on the rise and those that are on the slippery slope to dumpsterland.

It is no longer about Left or Right but about Going Up or Going Down.

On the way up:

The leadership of a rising civilization pays close attention to the outcomes of its policies and discards those that don’t work.

In a rising civilization, … the political elite wins the loyalty and respect of the rest of the population by recognizing problems and then solving them.

On the way down:

The leadership of a falling civilization prefers to redefine “success” as “following the approved policies” rather than “yielding the preferred outcomes,” and concentrates on insulating itself from the consequences of its mistakes rather than recognizing the mistakes and dealing with their consequences.

In a falling civilization, … the political elite forfeits the loyalty and respect of the rest of the population by creating problems and then ignoring them.

If I were to spend all day, every day, for in inordinately long period of time, I would not be able to come up with a better description of how Western governments for many years now, have performed their governmental policy roles than this:  They are entirely focused on “following the approved policies” rather than “yielding the preferred outcomes”.

What does this mean?  Well, if you followed my simplification of the situation above, you would immediately recognise that our civilisation is most definitely ‘on the way down’, or if you live in Australia, with all the benefits of an Australian education – ‘on the way dowen🙂 ‘.

The eventual result of following such practices for prolonged periods of time (such as we have been doing) is that:

The lessons of failure are never learned, and so the costs of failure mount up until they can no longer be ignored.

…and then what?  Well, in brief, an impasse is reached – something has to give.

…resulting in what?  We-e-e-e-lll…

If a society’s officially sanctioned leaders can’t lead, won’t follow, and aren’t willing to get out of the way, sooner or later people are going to start looking for a way to shove them through history’s exit turnstile, by whatever means turn out to be necessary.

That’s not a recipe for social stability; those who make peaceful change impossible, … make violent change inevitable.

I know that I can’t sum up the situation in this election year, not only in the US but also in Australia, better that JMG does in his final paragraph.  So I will just quote it here, with the admonition – read the whole thing:

No matter how loudly today’s establishment insists that the policies it favors are the only thinkable options, the spiraling failure of those policies, and the appalling costs they impose on people outside the bubble of privilege, guarantee that sooner or later the unthinkable will become the inescapable. That’s the real news of this election season: the end of ordinary politics, and the first stirrings of an era of convulsive change that will leave little of today’s conventional wisdom intact.

I want to be around to witness that.

…and what follows.