Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Coastal Real Estate Prices

People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.
The reason we don’t take global warming seriously in America is because ExxonMobil has been spending millions and millions of dollars funding a PR campaign designed to shift our attention away from the problem. This has been very good for business for them, but it has caused each and every one of us to behave in ways that are counter to our OWN and society’s interests.
One day this will change. One day the consequences of global warming will become too serious to ignore. One day ExxonMobil will stop paying the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise and Citizens for a Sound Economy and the American Enterprise Institute and the Frontiers of Freedom Institute and the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution and the National Center for Policy Analysis and the hundreds of other right-wing “think tanks” they pay to tell us global warming is a hoax (read the report), and then the fog will start to lift and we will start to see the world as it is — the “reality-based” world we live in rather than the one we see on TV.
How is this a “Today’s Housing Bubble Post?” Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?

Global Warming and Positive Feedback Loops

It is confirmed: Arctic ice is retreating. Arctic sea ice ‘faces rapid melt’

The Arctic may be close to a tipping point that sees all-year-round ice disappear very rapidly in the next few decades, US scientists have warned.
… Last month, the sea that was frozen covered an area that was two million sq km less than the historical average.
“That’s an area the size of Alaska,” said leading ice expert Mark Serreze.

Ice reflects sinlight, and keeps the water cool. As ice retreats, more heat is absorbed by the planet, and the water is warmer, both leading to even faster melting the following year.

Continue reading

How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama?

Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
Senator Barack Obama is a man to be admired, respected and liked. He is more than worthy of consideration for the Democratic Nomination in 2008 and if we were advising Senator Obama, and his equally impressive wife Michelle, our advice would be to run, and run now. A Vice Presidency certainly looks attractive on one’s resume, and a national campaign brings valuable experience.
Senator Obama is admired and he is loved. Look at the recent favorability polls and there he is, the Number One Democrat in America. But why? Why is a junior Senator, nationally a virtual unknown just two years ago, now at the top of the national favorability ratings? Is it because of his new book? His great 2004 Convention Speech? His appearance on Oprah? All of these, of course, but in fairness, does Barack Obama truly deserve to be the Democratic leader with the highest national favorability in a recent poll? Hardly.
With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?
Why is Barack Obama “favorable” and not any of the better-known Democratic leaders? And why – of all people is Rudy Guiliani at the top of the list as the Number One leader in our country? The answer is simple, and dramatic.

Continue reading

OUR Tax Dollars At Work

Your GOVERNMENT spending tax dollars to “debunk” global warming “alarmism.” Just out from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming.”
Here is some wording about the document, from a press release from YOUR GOVERNMENT:

The color glossy 64 page booklet — previously was only available in hardcopy to the media and policy makers — includes speeches, graphs, press releases and scientific articles refuting catastrophe climate fears presented by the media, the United Nations, Hollywood and former Vice President turned-foreign-lobbyist Al Gore.

My wife asked if I’m reading from a joke site.
The press release reads like a parallel universe of a weird cult. My wife says it’s like Dr. Who, and you travel in the Tardis and arrive in America in 2006 in December, but everything is strange. Some alien force is in control of things.

“The American people are fed up with the media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific “consensus” that SUV’s and the modern American way of life have somehow created a ‘climate emergency’ that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve,” Senator Inhofe said in October.

We need the Doctor.
Maybe Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the Doctor!

Kicking An 82 Year Old Man: The Right Attacks Jimmy Carter. Again.

[Co-written with James Boyce, originally at Huffington Post]
Jimmy Carter is not remembered as a great President. Most folks might even consider him a failure, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. But why exactly do we hold one of the two Democratic Presidents of the last 38 years in such low esteem?
Isn’t this the man that held the country together in the years after Watergate? Didn’t he bring decency and honesty back to The White House?
Yes.
Isn’t it a great American success story for a man to come from such humble beginnings, serve in defense of his country and then ascend to the highest office?
Yes.
Isn’t it remarkable that back in 1979 he declared “The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.” Isn’t that leadership and vision?
Yes. But it was legacy destroying as well. Our memories of Jimmy Carter are memories laced with the poison of a right wing smear campaign because when Jimmy Carter encouraged us to face the facts of the energy crisis, he faced off against the Oil Companies and as the decades passed, it has become sadly clear that the nuclear physicist Naval Officer peanut farmer came out the worse for it. He was portrayed as naive and as a simpleton. He was routinely mocked. A good man’s legacy was taken down.

Continue reading

Letter From Senators To Exxon Mobil: Stop Supporting The Deniers

Senators Rockefeller and Snowe have written a remarkable letter to the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, (and cc’d the Board of Directors), asking Exxon to stop funding the global warming “denial industry.”
From the letter, “It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the “deniers.”
Here is the text of the letter:

Mr. Rex W. Tillerson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
ExxonMobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, TX 75039
Dear Mr. Tillerson:
Allow us to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your first year as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ExxonMobil Corporation. You will become the public face of an undisputed leader in the world energy industry, and a company that plays a vital role in our national economy. As that public face, you will have the ability and responsibility to lead ExxonMobil toward its rightful place as a good corporate and global citizen.
We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as U.S. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in the past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil’s longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.

Continue reading

Buy Nothing Day

It is Buy Nothing Day. Switch off from shopping for a day or two. Stop and think about all the ways your own lifestyle are harmful. hink about all the ways you use energy. Think about all the things you throw away, including plastic and paper wrappers.
This is not just silly stuff, it is important. It is time to realize the part we all play in this out-of-control economic system that is literally consuming the planet out from under us. Global warming is real. Deforestation is real. Depletion of the seas is real. There’s an old saying, “If something is unsustainable, it can’t be sustained.”
From the Buy Nothing Day press release,

Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.
Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

Continue reading

Capitalism 3.0 – A New Way To Think About What We Own

I’ve just finished a very interesting book, Capitalism 3.0, A Guide To Reclaiming The Commons, by Peter Barnes. The book talks about ways we can restructure our laws and rules of ownership to cover who should pay for polluting and other harmful things — costs that our current system ignores and even encourages. The change is based on our realizing that we all own certain things in common.
Here’s a quick way to understand the ideas in this book:
Suppose you live next door to a sawmill operation. The owner makes lots of money, but aa waste product, sawdust, is building up on his lot. This big pile of sawdust is getting bigger and bigger, and it’s getting to the point that he’s going to have to shut down his profitable operation if he can’t find some place to dump some sawdust. So one day he comes to you and asks if he can dump some sawdust in your back yard. You answer, “If you give me $25,000 a year, each year you can dump 5 truckloads, but no more, in my yard.” You are $25,000 richer, you limited the sawdust to a level you could tolerate, and the sawmill can continue to operate and make money.
This happened because you “own” that property and have the “right” to refuse to let others make money by dumping their waste in it – or to negotiate for some of the resulting profits. This sounds so basic – but there is a reason I put quotes around the words “own” and “right.” The concepts of ownership and rights only exist because they are granted to us by law, and laws are nothing more than creations of government. It didn’t used to be that way, that regular people could “own” things and have “property rights,” but people thought it would be a good idea, and made it happen. And in America it is set up that we can do things like that because, guess what, WE’re the government. (It says that in our Constitution.) More on this later.

Continue reading

Centrists, Leftists, Etc.

There is a lot of talk about “the center” and “centrists.” Lots of people say the blogs are on the left.
To put this in perspective, when and where is the last time you heard anyone talk about nationalizing the oil companies? That would be a “leftist” proposal.
After all, the oil companies do not “own” the oil any more than anyone can own the air or the water. They are extracting OUR resource, under license from US to operate, and as corporations are granted limited liability by US. In exchange, they are supposed to be serving the public interest. A discussion about whether they are serving the public interest might involve questions about how much they are setting aside to cover the costs of putting carbon into the air, or to pay for research into transitioning away from fossil fuels a they start to run out, how much they pay their employees, and other ways that WE might benefit from allowing them to extract OUR resource. So obviously, they are not serving the public interest.
A broader discussion would ask whether we need to reform the corporate system into something that really does serve the public interest…
The fact is, “leftist” arguments are not even part of our national discussion. Without that perspective in the discussion, it can’t really be said that there even is a “center,” can there? And without ALL sides contributing to the marketplace of ideas, how can society arrive at solutions that incorporate the best ideas from all the different perspectives?
(Cross-posted at the Commonweal Institute Blog.)

Global Warming – Serious

p5rn7vb

Salon has an article today, Calculating the global warming catastrophe, that I recommend everyone read. This is the most important subject. It is vastly more important than our election, except that our election offers a way to start doing something about the problem. We only have a few years to turn things around. (To see it I had to watch an ad for a car that doesn’t get good fuel economy…)
HOW serious is the problem? The article quotes one scientist who says it is already too late and makes a dramatic worst-case prediction,

Human beings, a hardy species, will not perish entirely, he says; in interviews during his book tour, Lovelock has predicted that about 200 million people, or about one thirtieth of the current world population, will survive if competent leaders make a new home for us near the present-day Arctic. There may also be other survivable spots, like the British Isles, though he notes that rising sea levels will render them more an archipelago. In any event, he predicts that “teeming billions” will perish.

Others, however, say that we are heading that way, BUT we still have 10 years to turn it around.
The article says – along with many scientists – that the only way to really address the problem is to start replacing our power plants with nuclear power plants right now.

It’s to the question of solutions to mitigate the effects of global warming that Lovelock eventually turns, which is odd since in other places he insists that it’s too late to do much. His prescriptions are strongly worded and provocative — he thinks that renewable energy and energy conservation will come too slowly to ward off damage, and that an enormous program of building nuclear reactors is our best, indeed our only, real option.

I believe the problem of where to put nuclear waste pales in comparison to what we face – and what we are doing now is just dumping the waste (CO2) from burning fossil fuel into the air.

Continue reading

The Cost of Energy Use

Suppose the price of energy reflected its cost? It seems that the way we all make money is to extract oil and avoid the cost of using it. Almost everything in our economy involves applying energy to something. The “profit” we live off of seems to come from passing along the costs to the future.
I’m talking about global warming mostly, the cost of putting CO2 into the air. Nuclear energy costs a lot but that cost is really just the expense of containing the radioactivity — we pay that cost today but we don’t really have to. Nuclear would be cheap if we didn’t pay for shielding and cooling towers and just released the radioactivity into the air, the way we currently release CO2 into the air.
Suppose there was a law that said for every part CO2 you put into the atmosphere, you have to take out 3 parts? The PRICE of a oil or coal would then reflect the COST of so may years of putting CO2 in the air… but the climate change problem would start getting better. Imagine purchasing big solar-panel-powered machines that extract carbon from CO2…
Discuss.