Sunday, October 23, 2016

US in #autosprawl meltdown, can't afford subsidies

AP via NYT: "Yet the needs remain great. About 20 percent of the nation's 900,000 miles of interstates and major roads needs resurfacing or reconstruction, according to one analysis. A quarter of the 600,000 bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

In a report earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers projected the U.S. will face a funding gap of more than $1.4 trillion by 2025 for its roads and bridges, drinking and wastewater systems, electrical infrastructure, aviation and water ports."

Friday, October 21, 2016

US Army admits defeat by saying liberation of Mosul will take at least a year

Trying to defeat people on the ground with air strikes does not work. Air strikes work against stationary targets like radar installations and apartment buildings, but not against moving targets like small groups of fighters. This was proven in Vietnam.

One purpose of bombing is to terrorize the population so that they will turn against the uprising, but usually has the opposite effect.

The main purpose of bombing is to scare other countries. To make them think the cost of fighting back is too high. For example Vietnam defeated the US, but suffered horribly in the process.

By announcing that the Mosul operation will take at least a year, the US is admitting defeat in advance. They don't have a year. Billions of dollars of debt has been run up in expectation of the defeat of the Islamic State and the plundering of Kirkuk oil.

The solution is for the US to free itself from oil-dependency. Bike lanes won't be enough. Making urban buses fare-free is the fastest way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Decoupling" exposed. Growth advocates are misleading the world.

PLOS ONE: Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible?: "Similar evidence to that in Fig 1, showing apparent decoupling of GDP from specific resources, has been shown throughout much of the OECD [28]. However, there are several limitations to the inference of decoupling from national or regional data. There are three distinct mechanisms by which the illusion of decoupling may be presented as a reality when in fact it is not actually taking place at all: 1) substitution of one resource for another; 2) the financialization of one or more components of GDP that involves increasing monetary flows without a concomitant rise in material and/or energy throughput, and 3) the exporting of environmental impact to another nation or region of the world (i.e. the separation of production and consumption). These illusory forms of decoupling are described with respect to energy by our colleague [29]."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Kirkuk has plenty of "easy-to-extract" oil, hence, #waronislam

Why energy prices are ultimately headed lower; what the IMF missed | Our Finite World: "It takes energy to make goods and services.
It takes an increasing amount of energy consumption to create a growing amount of goods and services–in other words, growing GDP.
This energy must be inexpensive, if it is to operate in the historical way: the economy produces good productivity growth; this productivity growth translates to wage growth; and debt levels can stay within reasonable bounds as growth occurs.
We can’t keep producing cheap energy because what “runs out” is cheap-to-extract energy. We extract this cheap-to-extract energy first, forcing us to move on to expensive-to-extract energy.
Eventually, we run into the problem of energy prices falling below the cost of production because of affordability issues. The wages of non-elite workers don’t keep up with the rising cost of extraction.
Governments can try to cover up the problem with more debt at ever-lower interest rates, but eventually this doesn’t work either.
Instead of producing higher commodity prices, the system tends to produce asset bubbles.
Eventually, the system must collapse due to growing inefficiencies of the system. The result is likely to look much like a “Minsky Moment,” with a collapse in asset prices.
The collapse in assets prices will lead to debt defaults, bank failures, and a lack of new loans. With fewer new loans, there will be a further decrease in demand. As a result, energy and other commodity prices can be expected to fall to new lows."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Loneliness as harmful as 15 cigarettes a day - via @GeorgeMonbiot

The Guardian: "It’s unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It’s more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system." 
George Monbiot, as usual, does a well-researched piece on human isolation and physical health. Making urban buses and trams fare-free would make a big change. He can't suggest this, of course, because the oil industry would destroy his career. But it is true just the same.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#Walkability not for poor people

parksify : "As the benefits of walkability have become more evident in the past decade, those looking for places to live are seeking out neighborhoods where they can walk to dine, get coffee, shop, or even work. But with that increase in demand, there’s a price to be paid.
According to a new report by real estate firm Redfin, prices of homes increase incrementally based on neighborhoods’ Walk Scores. In fact, for every one point on the Walk Score index (which rates walkability on a scale from 1 to 100) for homes in Los Angeles, the sale price jumps by $3,948. And for families looking to settle in walkable communities, this is a big price to pay."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Globalism is suicide

Resource Insights: Donald Trump and the impossible destination of globalism: "It is now clear that globalism as an engine for an ever growing world economy will lead to catastrophic climate change and other untoward results that will destroy the underpinnings of modern society. In other words, globalism is a suicide pact.

The idea that we can expand globalism to any size we choose was discredited long before now. One version of this fantasy was that the Earth would be able to accommodate U.S.-style consumerism worldwide. But we know that if all residents of the planet consumed like Americans, we would need four Earths to sustain them. Therefore, the destination offered by globalism no longer features prosperity and stability for all, but a ruinous decline. And yet, our politics and our public discourse speak as if we can still go there."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why the US is afraid of Russia

The US has a massive military, but has to watch helplessly as Russia slashes and burns its way around the oil-rich regions. The US is even afraid to give anti-aircraft weapons to its surrogate boots on the ground.

The whole world is balancing on a knife edge of debt and oil. Yes, oil is scarce. The glut is a temporary case of price-war and recession.

If the US gets in a direct fight with Russia, it will tip a hundred balances. First beneficiary, the Islamic State.

Russia has its own oil. It knows the US is in check and is taking advantage.