June 24, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson

PBS American Experience

Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919):
We must handle the water, the wood, the grasses … so that we will hand them on to our children and children's children in better and not worse shape than we got them. …

Americanism … is a question of spirit, of conviction and purpose, not of creed or birthplace.
The test of our worth … is the service we render.

David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
[TR] thought that what would destroy America was the 'prosperity at any price' attitude, the love of … 'soft living,' and a get-rich-quick theory of life. …

Roosevelt felt that a war would be good for the country.
It would stir up blood.
It would bring us together.
It was a noble aspiration, rather than the kind of self-serving grimy business of commerce and the mercantile ambitions of the country. …

Somebody once said of him that if you took all of Theodore and put it in a pot and boiled it down and down, what you've have at the bottom of the pot after that all was over was the preacher-militant. …

David Grubin:
… Roosevelt believed it his duty to urge people to do better.
He called the presidency 'a bully pulpit.'

Theodore Roosevelt [Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Naval War College, June 1897]:
Cowardice is the unpardonable sin.
No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war.
The Nation must be willing to pour out its blood, treasure, and its tears like water rather than submit to the loss of honor and renown. …
(David Grubin, TR, PBS American Experience, 1996)

Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924):
Modern industry has so distorted competition as to put it into the power of some to tyrannize over many and enable the rich and strong to combine against the poor and weak. …
[The] President of the United States is [no] mere department of the Government [—] he is a human being trying to cooperate with other human beings in a common service. …

Jay Winter [Historian]:
Wilson's notion [was] that democracy was not only good for America but … good for the world …
[He entered the] war in 1917 because [he believed] the cause of war … was the existence of aristocratic, militaristic regimes, whose interests had nothing to do with the people.
Give the power to the people, Wilson believed, and wars would be impossible.
A democratic world would be a world without war. …
(Carl Byker & Mitch Wilson, Woodrow Wilson, PBS American Experience, 2002)

Ken Burns & Lynn Novick:
[World War I and] the anti-German propaganda produced by the Wilson administration's newly created Committee of Public Information set off a wave of hysteria about Germans and German Americans.
Sauerkraut was renamed 'Liberty Cabbage'.
Dachshunds were stoned to death.
Schoolchildren destroyed their German textbooks.
And an Illinois mob lynched an American citizen who's only crime had been speaking German over a neighbour's fence.
(A Nation of Drunkards, Prohibition, 2011)

A New Nationalism

[At 51, Theodore Roosevelt was] still ambitious, still driven to wield power, yet he held no political office and had little hope of one.
William Howard Taft was now President, and Roosevelt himself had put him in office, but he believed that Taft was turning against him, siding more and more with the conservative wing of the Republican Party, crippling many of the reforms for which Roosevelt had fought so hard. …

[In the summer of 1910, TR] called for a 'New Nationalism,' …
The New Nationalism … implies far more governmental interference with social and economic conditions.
Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use. …
[He] attacked the courts as pro-business, advocated taxes on income and inherited wealth, stronger conservation measures, workman's compensation laws, the prohibition of child labor.

In June 1912, the Republicans met in Chicago [and nominated President Taft to run for a second term. …]

Roosevelt's [break-away Progressive Party] endorsed a sweeping charter for
  • votes for women,
  • a minimum wage,
  • abolition of child labor,
  • unemployment insurance,
  • old-age pensions.
John Morton Blum [Historian]:
He came out for a social welfare program far more advanced than anything the nation was going to know until the 1930's.

William Harbaugh [Historian]:
Here is the inception … of Social Security, even of Medicare in that platform. …

Theodore Roosevelt:
We stand for a living wages.
Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupation.
A standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit a reasonable saving for old age.
We hold the seven-day working week is abnormal and hold that one day of rest in seven should be provided by law. …

William Harbaugh:
There was no possibility whatever that the Progressive Party could actually win the election.
It's simply inconceivable that, on its first run, a third party should have polled enough votes.
Roosevelt lost in a landslide, and the Democrats [under Woodrow Wilson] captured both houses of Congress. …
His defeat struck a blow to the [progressive wing of the Republican Party] from which [it] never recovered …
His rebellion had made a Democrat President, and the Republicans would not forgive him.

A World Without War

[Wilson and his advisors envisioned] a new world order based on democracy. …

[Key] Republicans, led by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge [were] determined to voice their opposition to giving up US sovereignty to [proposed the League of Nations. …]

Wilson warned that the League was the only hope for reconciliation among Germany, Britain and France.
Without it, he prophesied that there would be a "Second World War."
Woodrow Wilson:
I do not hesitate to say that the war we have just been through, though it was shot through with terror of every kind, is not to be compared with the war we would have to face next time.
What the Germans used were toys as compared with what they would use in the next war. …
[Cabot] Lodge introduced a series of amendments … that severely limited American commitments to the organization.
[When these proved unacceptable to Wilson] the League of Nations went down to final defeat in the Senate.

June 23, 2013

Catastrophic Climate Change

CSIS-CNAS: Security Implications of Climate Change

Scenario Overview

Time Span: 100 Years
Warming: 5.6°C
Sea Level Rise: 2.0 meters

A Malignant Threat: Climate Change

[T}hree factors should lead a prudent individual to consider such catastrophic change plausible:
  1. [The] possibility that some positive feedback loops could radically accelerate climate change well beyond what the climate models currently predict;
  2. [The] prospect of accelerated emissions of CO2 in the near future due to substantial economic and population growth, particularly in developing countries such as China; and
  3. [The] interactive effects between these two phenomena and our increasingly integrated and fragile just-in-time — but certainly not just-in-case — globalized economy.
(p 81, emphasis added)

A Malevolent Threat: Mass Terrorism

Oil presents a panoply of opportunities for and encouragement of mass terrorism [and] creates a litany of vulnerabilities for our society.
[Around] two-thirds of the world’s proven [conventional oil] reserves … are in the Persian Gulf …
Some oil states’ governments (Iran) are quite hostile today [and] others (Saudi Arabia) could become so with a change of ruler.
A nuclear arms race appears to be beginning between Iran and six Sunni states which have announced nuclear programs “for electricity generation.”
The United States borrows approximately a billion dollars a day at today’s prices to import oil …
The Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia profits massively from oil income …
[Their] teachings are murderous with respect to Shia, Jews, homosexuals, and apostates, and are mirrored by the views of al Qaeda and similar groups …
Extremely wealthy oil-exporting [nations] are thus often [totalitarian states — unconstrained by any institutional checks and balances.]
(p 87)
[Of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers:
  • fifteen were Saudi nationals,
  • two were from the United Arab Emirates,
  • one was from Egypt and
  • one from Lebanon.
None were from Iraq or Afghanistan.]

Getting Down to Work

[Mass terrorism is a concrete threat.
Climate change is not.]
[But] if we wait for absolute certainty of the threat — for a climatological 9/11 — we may then be past a tipping point from which there is no recovery.

[Wouldn’t] it be wise to take steps — particularly when many of them are financially attractive — that reduce both
  • the risk of mass terrorism and
  • the chance of catastrophic climate change?
[Could we not work together and agree to take the same sensible steps even it is for different reasons?]
(p 90 emphasis added)

June 14, 2013

Climate Science 2

Naomi Oreskes: Merchants of Doubt

[If] anyone was meddling in the scientific assessment and peer review process, it was the political right wing, not the left.
It wasn't the Sierra Club that tried to pressure the National Academy of Sciences over the 1983 Carbon Dioxide Assessment [—] it was officials from the Department of Energy under Ronald Reagan.
It wasn't Environmental Defense that worked with Bill Nierenberg to alter the Executive Summary of the 1983 Acid Rain Peer Review Panel [—] it was the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
And it was the Wall Street Journal spreading the attack on [Ben] Santer and the IPCC, not Mother Jones.
(Merchants of Doubt, 2010, p 211)

June 7, 2013

21st Century Projections

World Bank: Four Degree World

How Likely is a 4°C World?

[If the] emission pledges made at … Copenhagen and Cancun [were] fully met [they would] place the world on a trajectory for a global mean warming of well over 3°C [— with] about a 20% chance of exceeding 4°C in 2100.

If these pledges are not met:
  • [On a medium business-as-usual reference pathway] there is a … more than 40% [likelihood] of warming exceeding 4°C by 2100 [— with] a 10% [risk] of this occurring [by the 2070s.]
  • On a higher fossil fuel intensive business-as-usual pathway {(SRES A1FI) warming reaches 4°C by the 2080s [— with a] probability of 10% of exceeding this level by the 2060s.}

There are technically and economically feasible emission pathways that could still limit warming to 2°C or below in the 21st century.
(p 23)

Changes in Extreme Temperatures

[Toward] the end of the century [using SRES A2 assumptions] about every second European summer could be as warm as or warmer than the summer of 2003 [— a 5 sigma event with a natural return time of several million years].
[Under] unmitigated emission scenarios,
  • the European summer of 2003 would be classed as an anomalously cold summer relative to the new climate by the end of the century …
  • days exceeding the present-day 99th percentile occur more than 20 times as frequently [and]
  • the intensity, duration, and frequency of summer heat waves are expected to be substantially greater over all continents, with the largest increases over Europe, North and South America, and East Asia.

[These are the expected consequences of a 3+°C rise in global average temperatures.
The effects of a 4+°C degree rise would almost certainly be more severe.]
(p 37)

Frequency of Significantly Warmer Months

[In 4+°C world the] warmest July month in the Sahara and the Middle East will see temperatures as high as 45°C, or 6–7°C above the warmest July simulated for the present day.
In the Mediterranean and central United States, the warmest July in the period 2080–2100 will see temperatures close to 35°C, or up to 9°C above the warmest July for the present day.
[In] the Southern Hemisphere, [monthly average temperatures] will be as warm as 40°C in Australia, or about 5°C warmer than the most extreme present-day January.
[These are monthly average temperatures —] which include night-time temperatures.
Daytime [daily maximum] temperatures can be expected to significantly exceed the monthly average.

Monthly heat extremes exceeding 3 standard deviations or more that occur during summer months are associated with the most prolonged, and therefore high-impact, heat waves.
[The] number of such prolonged heat waves will increase dramatically … over essentially all continental regions, with the tropics and the [Northern Hemisphere] subtropics and mid-latitudes most severely impacted.

The Impacts of More Frequent Heat Waves

Prolonged heat waves are generally the most destructive as mortality and morbidity rates are strongly linked to heat wave duration, with excess deaths increasing each additional hot day.
[In a 4+°C world] a completely new class of heat waves, with magnitudes never experienced before in the 20th century, would occur regularly. …
[The] agricultural sector would be strongly impacted as extreme heat can cause severe yield losses.
Ecosystems in tropical and sub-tropical regions would be particularly vulnerable … as they are not adapted to extremes never experienced before.
[The] increase in absolute temperatures relative to the past variability is largest in these regions and thus the impacts on ecosystems would become extreme here.
(p 40, emphasis added)

Sea Level Rise

[During the last interglacial, 120,000 years ago, when) global mean temperature was … likely 1-2°C above current values [—] sea level was 6.6–9.4 m above the present level …
[This indicates that] ice sheets may have been very sensitive to changes in climate conditions and [have collapsed] in the past.
(p 30-31)

Risks of Sea-level Rise

[In] the Caribbean [total] cumulative capital GDP loss [is] estimated at US$68.2 billion [(8.3% of GDP) by] 2080, including
  • present value of permanently lost land [and]
  • relocation and reconstruction costs.

Annual GDP costs [are estimated] at $13.5 billion (1.6% of GDP) [—] mainly in the tourism and agricultural sectors.
{The tourism industry —] a major source of economic growth in these regions [— is predicted] to be very sensitive to sea-level rise.}

These estimates do not include
  • water supply costs,
  • increased health care costs,
  • nonmarket damages, and
  • increased tropical cyclone damages.

Large areas of important wetlands would be lost, affecting fisheries and water supply for many communities: …
  • 22% in Jamaica,
  • 17% in Belize, and
  • 15% in the Bahamas …

(p 34, emphasis added)

June 6, 2013

Rear Vision: 2012

ABC Radio National: Rear Vision

Peter Whiteford:
In Australia we spend about 3% of gross domestic product on age pensions currently, and by the middle of the century with the ageing of the population that’s projected to increase to 4.5 to 5% …

[The Scandinavians] spend a lot more than Australia [on welfare], but they [spend it] on childcare and labour market programs [—] on ways of getting people into work and keeping them in work, as opposed to retiring and withdrawing from the labour force.
[Because their] systems … support participation and … employment [they also] support the funding of the welfare state. …

[We] target to the lowest income groups more than any other country in the OECD …
[The] amount of money in terms of social security that we spend on the poorest 20% of the population is 12 times as much as we spend on the richest 20%.
[In] the next nearest country — New Zealand — that ratio’s about less than half of what it is in Australia. …

Francis Castles:
Australia has [arguably] the most coherent and consistent welfare state of any country in the western world in as far as virtually all its benefits have the same character:
  • they’re flat rate,
  • they’re not very generous …
  • they are invariably means tested, and
  • they’re funded from the general exchequer rather than by contributions. …

Australia’s welfare state is … considerably smaller than most western states …
[According to the OECD Australian expenditure] was the lowest of all the advanced states [on]
  • pensions,
  • unemployment benefits,
  • housing support,
  • childcare,
  • [aged care] and
  • health.
We spend less as a percentage of our national income … than the United States … Japan [or] Greece.

When the [Hawke] Labor government came into office in 1983 … we were spending … just above 10% of GDP on those things …
[We’re] spending something like 16% now and that hasn’t changed [significantly] since the Howard government came into office …

[We’re] not big spenders at all.
[We do welfare] in a very egalitarian [and frugal] way.
The money we spend is very focused on those who need it.
The downside is that [because it is funded] from general revenue … people are very resistant to paying … for it …
[It is perhaps because] our welfare state is less generous to those in need than other countries [that Australia has become an increasingly] less equal place than it was in the … 1950s and ‘60s.
(Australia's welfare state, 25 November 2012)

June 5, 2013

The World 2

George W Bush

Colin Powell (1937):
[The sanctions against Iraq exist] for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. …
[They] have worked.
He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.
(Cairo, February 2001)

George W Bush:
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
(48 hour ultimatum speech, 17 March 2003)

Kevin Power [Iraq War Veteran]:
The thing that is … most troubling to me [is that, the invasion of Iraq] doesn't seem to have been necessary. …
If I had to go through all that.
The people I was with, had to experience, what they experienced.
All the lives that were lost.
All the damage that was done
  • to the country [and]
  • to the local people
I wish that it had been necessary.
And I just can't find a way to accept the fact that it was.
I just don't think it was necessary.
It doesn't seem like we needed to be there.
(The Yellow Birds, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 6 June 2013)