August 31, 2015

2015

Free Market of Ideas

Thomas Piketty

Green Army: Persons of Interest


[Some] animals are more equal than others.

George Orwell, Animal Farm, 1949.


Inequality of labor income and capital ownership across time and space

(Adapted from Tables 7.2 and 7.3, Capital in the Twenty First Century, pp 248-9)

Total Income

(income from labor + income from capital)

Wealth

(capital ownership)
1910201019102010
ClassPercentile
Europe
Europe
US
Europe
Europe
US

Top 10%P90-10050%35%50%90%60%70%
  Dominant 1%P99-100
20%
10%
20%
50%
25%
35%
  Well-off 9%P90-9930%25%30%40%35%35%

Middle 40%P50-9030%40%30%5%35%25%

Bottom 50%P0-5020%25%20%5%5%5%

Ratio between a member of the Dominant 1% and a member of the Bottom 50%
50:120:150:1500:1250:1350:1

Ratio between a member of the Top 10% and a member of the Bottom 50%
12.5:17:112.5:190:160:170:1
peaceandlonglife:
Figures are approximate and deliberately rounded off.
The disparity of total income in the US in 2010 is comparable to that in Europe in 1910.
Between 1910 and 1970, 25% of national wealth was transferred from the top 1% to the middle 40% as a result of:
  • wartime destruction,
  • progressive tax policies and
  • exceptional post-war growth (p 356).

Assuming US wealth inequality was comparable to that Europe in 1910, it would appear that in the US since 1970, the top 1% has managed to claw back two fifths (10%) of that 25% from the middle classes.
Wealth inequality lags behind income inequality because it takes time for wealth to accumulate.
The wealth share of the top 10% in the US (%70) has not yet reached the peak in Europe in 1910 (90%); but, given the rising income disparity, it is only a matter of time before it catches up.
In the meantime, the relative shares of income (20%) and wealth (5%) of the bottom 50% have remained the same for over a century.

James McPherson (1936):
In the largest American cities [in] the 1840s, the wealthiest 5% … owned about 70% of the taxable property, while the poorest half owned almost nothing.
[In] the nation as a whole by 1860 the top 5% of free adult males owned 53% of the wealth and the bottom half owned only 1%.
(Battle Cry of Freedom, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2003, p 21)

The growth rate of top global wealth:
Real rate of return on capital as a function of size of fortune

(Adapted from Table 12.1, Capital in the Twenty First Century, p 435)

Wealth Holders

1980s

2010

Average annual growth rate (1987-2013)

Top 1 in 100 million30456.8%
Top 1 in 20 million1502256.4%
Average adult3 billion4.5 billion2.1%



The Great Divergence


Share of the richest 10% of the American population in total income.
(Based on Piketty and Saez, Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 2003, pp 1–39)

Paul Krugman (1953):
[America is] no longer a middle-class society in which the benefits of economic growth are widely shared:
[Between] 1979 and 2005
  • the real income of the median household rose only 13%, [while]
  • the income of the richest 0.1% [rose 296%.]
On the political side, you might have expected rising inequality to produce a populist backlash.
Instead, however, the era of rising inequality has also been the era of “movement conservatism" [during which] taxes on the rich have fallen, and the holes in the safety net have gotten bigger, even as inequality has soared.
(Introducing This Blog, NYT, 18 September 2007)

John Quiggan (1956):
The top 0.01% … doubled their share of [US national] income between 2000 and 2007, from 3% of all income to 6% …
This group of around 15,000 households earned more than the the bottom quarter of the population — around 75 million people.
(p 141)

Since 2000, [US] median household incomes have [fallen over a full business cycle for] the first time in modern history …
(Zombie Economics, Princeton University Press, 2012, p 157)

Thomas Hungerford:
[The] share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of US families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% in 2007.
[And, while] changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax do not appear correlated with economic growth [they have been] associated with the increasing concentration of income.
(Taxes and the Economy: An Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945, Congressional Research Service R42729, September 14 2012)

Peter Singer (1946):
[Under Ronald Reagan,] 60% of the growth in the average after-tax income of all American families between 1977 and 1989 went to the richest 1% of families [ie those with] average annual income of at least $310,000 a year, for a household of four.
(How Are We to Live?, 1993, p 97)

Robert Wade (1944):
The highest-earning 1% of Americans doubled their share of aggregate income … from 8% in 1980 to over 18% in 2007 [excluding capital gains.]
The top 0.1% (about 150,000 taxpayers) quadrupled their share, from 2% to 8%.
Including capital gains [the income share of the] top 1% [reached 23%] by 2007.
During the seven-year economic expansion of the Clinton administration, the top 1% captured 45% of the total growth in pre-tax income …
[While] during the four-year expansion of the Bush administration the top 1% captured 73% …
During the seven-year economic expansion of the Clinton administration, the top 1% captured 45% of the total growth in pre-tax income; while during the four-year expansion of the Bush administration the top 1% captured 73% …
(John Ravenhill, Global Political Economy, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2010, p 396)

Nate Silver (1978):
[US Senators:]
  • who often gain access to inside information about a company while they are lobbied and
  • who also have some ability to influence the fate of companies through legislation,
return a profit on their investments that beats the market average by [nearly one percentage point per month.]
(The Signal and the Noise, 2012, p 342)

Mark Twain | Samuel Clements (1835 - 1910):
It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or and other important thing — and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859):
We may naturally believe that it is not the singular prosperity of the few, but the greater well-being of all, which is most pleasing in the sight of the Creator and Preserver of men. …
A state of equality is perhaps less elevated, but it is more just; and its justice constitutes its greatness and its beauty.
(Democracy in America, 1835, Bantam, 2011, p 878)

Thomas Piketty (1971)


[In] Europe private wealth is now at levels unknown since the Belle Epoque …
(p 105)

Total wealth (real estate and financial assets net of all debts) held by Europeans is the highest in the world, far above the United States and Japan …
(p 117)

[The] total wealth of EU households is more than €50 trillion (including more than €25 trillion in financial assets) … five times more than Europe's entire sovereign debt (€10 trillion). …
[Indeed,] Europe today is less indebted than the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, and yet we're the ones with a sovereign debt crisis. …
We absolutely have the means to solve our debt problems on our own — if only Europe would stop behaving like a political dwarf and a tax-revenue sieve.
(p 88)

The Cypriot crisis illustrates the drama of small countries under globalization, which, in order to save their own skins … are often willing to resort to the most ruthless tax competition to attract the most disreputable capital.
(p 111)

[Historically, growth was] never as strong as it was in the years 1950 to 1980, a period when tax progressivity was at a maximum, especially in the United States. …
[A] good part of the the current American deficit could be eliminated by returning to 1980 levels of tax progressivity …
The IMF is right to emphasize that public debts in the rich countries … aren't much compared to the mass of private wealth (financial and real estate) held by those same countries' households, especially in Europe.
The rich world is rich; it's the governments that are poor.
(pp 124-5)

(Chronicles On Our Troubled Times, Viking, 2016)


Plutocratic Oligarchy


[It] seems that US politicians of both parties are much wealthier than their European counterparts and in a totally different category from the average American …
[This] might explain why they tend to confuse their own private interest with the general interest.
Without a radical shock, it seems fairly likely that the current equilibrium will persist for quite some time.
The egalitarian pioneer ideal has faded into oblivion, and the New World may be on the verge of becoming the Old Europe of the twenty-first century’s globalized economy.
(p 514)

The top marginal tax rate of the income tax (applying to the highest incomes) in the United States dropped from 70% in 1980 to 28% in 1988.
(p 499, Figure 14.1)

The top marginal tax rate of the inheritance tax (applying to the highest inheritances) in the United States dropped from 70% in 1980 to 35% in 2013.
(p 593, Figure 14.2)

The idea that unrestricted competition will put an end to inheritance and move toward a more meritocratic world is a dangerous illusion.
(p 424)

Between 1987 and 2013, the number of [dollar billionaires rose 10 fold] from 140 to 1,400, and their total [publically visible wealth rose 18 fold] from 300 to 5,400 billion dollars …
(p 433)

[The] vast majority (at least three-quarters) of [unreported] financial assets held in tax havens [~ €7 trillion or 10% of global GDP] belongs to residents of the rich countries.
(p 467)

No one has the right to set his own tax rates.
It is not right for individuals to grow wealthy from free trade and economic integration only to rake off the profits at the expense of their neighbors.
That is outright theft.

To date, the most thoroughgoing attempt to end these practices is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) adopted in the United States in 2010 and scheduled to be phased in by stages in 2014 and 2015.
(p 522)

[The tax havens would] undoubtedly suffer significant losses if financial transparency becomes the norm.
(p 524

[Financial enclaves such as Luxembourg, Switzerland and the City of London could lose] as much as 10–20% of [their income.]
In the more exotic tax havens and microstates, the loss might be as high as 50% or more of national income, indeed as high as 80–90% in territories that function solely as domiciles for fictitious corporations.
(p 641, Note 9)

If the fortunes of the top decile … of the global wealth hierarchy grow faster for structural reasons than the fortunes of the lower deciles, then inequality of wealth will … tend to increase without limit.
This inegalitarian process may take on unprecedented proportions in the new global economy [so that, if nothing is done] to counteract it, very large fortunes [could] attain extreme levels within a few decades.
(p 431)

For example, if the top thousandth enjoy a 6% rate of return on their wealth, while average global wealth grows at only 2% a year, then after thirty years the top thousandth’s share of global capital will have more than tripled.
The top thousandth would then own 60% of global wealth …
[Such] a large upward redistribution from the middle and upper-middle classes to the very rich … would very likely trigger a violent political reaction.
(p 439)

[Economic] growth — or, more precisely, growth in output per capita, which is to say, productivity growth — has been quite similar [across the rich world within a few tenths of a percentage point (1.8±0.2) irrespective of the degree of tax liberalization.]
(p 321)


Growth rate of per capita national income in rich countries, 1970-2000

(Adapted from Table 5.1)
Japan2.0%
United Kingdom1.9%
Germany and the United States1.8%
Australia, Canada and France1.7%
Italy1.6%
peaceandlonglife:
Tax liberalisation and deregulation does not increase productivity.
It only enlarges the slice of the wealth and income pie going to the Top 10%.
(p 174)

[The] very large decrease in the top marginal income tax rate in the English-speaking countries after 1980 seems to have totally transformed the way top executive pay is set, since top executives now had much stronger incentives than in the past to seek large raises.
[The resulting] explosion of very high incomes [has amplified] the political influence of the beneficiaries of the change in the tax laws, who [having been incentivized to keep] top tax rates low or [indeed to reduce them even further, have used] their windfall to finance political parties, pressure groups, and think tanks [dedicated to entrenching their position of advantage.]
(p 335)


Liliane Bettencourt (1922)


Between 1990 and 2010, the fortune of Bill Gates … increased from $4 billion to $50 billion.
At the same time, the fortune of Liliane Bettencourt — the heiress of L’Oréal [and the richest woman in France —] increased from $2 billion to $25 billion …
Both fortunes thus grew at an annual rate of more than 13% from 1990 to 2010, equivalent to a real return on capital of 10 or 11% after correcting for inflation.

In other words, Liliane Bettencourt, who never worked a day in her life, saw her fortune grow exactly as fast as that of Bill Gates, the high-tech pioneer, whose wealth has incidentally continued to grow just as rapidly since he stopped working. …
Note, in particular, that once a fortune passes a certain threshold, size effects due to economies of scale in the management of the portfolio and opportunities for risk are reinforced by the fact that nearly all the income on this capital can be plowed back into investment.
(p 440)

[Bettencourt's] declared income was never more than 5 million a year, or little more than one ten-thousandth of her wealth (which is currently more than €30 billion). …
The crucial point is that no tax evasion or undeclared Swiss bank account is involved (as far as we know).
Even a person of the most refined taste and elegance cannot easily spend [€1,500 million a year (ie 5% return on €30 billion)] on current expenses. …
[If such] people are taxed on the basis of declared incomes that are only [one third of 1%] of their economic incomes … then nothing is accomplished by taxing that income at a rate of 50% or even 98%. …
[In developed countries effective] tax rates (expressed as a percentage of economic income) are extremely low at the top of the wealth hierarchy, which is problematic, since it accentuates the explosive dynamic of wealth inequality, especially when larger fortunes are able to garner larger returns.
(p 525-6)

(Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 2014)

July 29, 2015

Michael Lewis

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Mark Baum:
[In] a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks: they will be blaming immigrants and poor people.
(The Big Short, 2015)

Charlie Munger [Vice-chairman, Berkshire Hathaway]:
[High frequency trading is] the functional equivalent of letting a lot of rats into a granary [— it does] the rest of the civilization no good at all.
(Investors Conference, 2014)

Michael Lewis:
Financial intermediation is a tax on capital …
[It’s] the toll paid by both the people who have it and the people who put it to productive use.
[It is, in effect, a private Tobin tax.]
(Flash Boys, 2014, p 109)

Fair Trading Versus Free Riding


In 2014, [one] money manager bought and sold roughly $80 billion in US stocks.
The teachers and firefighters and other middle-class investors whose pensions it managed were collectively paying a tax of roughly $240 million a year for the benefit of interacting with high-frequency traders in unfair markets. …

The big banks and the exchanges have a clear responsibility to protect investors — to handle investor stock-market orders in the best possible way, and to create a fair marketplace.
Instead, they’ve been paid to compromise investors’ interests while pretending to guard those interests. …

[There] is now a minority [of Wall Street dissidents] trying to fix the [system:]
  • their new stock market [IEX] is flourishing;
  • their company is profitable;
  • Goldman Sachs remains their biggest single source of volume; [and]
  • they still seem to be on their way to changing the world.
All they need is a little help from the silent majority.

(Flash Boys: One Year Later, Vanity Fair, March 2015, emphasis added)

June 14, 2015

Big Ideas

ABC Radio National

Tony Abbott (1957):
Nauru is humane, cost effective and it's proven.
(Nauru turns on charm for visiting Abbott, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 June 2011)

Gillian Triggs (1940) [President, Australian Human Rights Commission]:
As of February [2017:]
  • 1,400 (approximately) continue to be detained in indefinite immigration detention in Australia.
  • 378 detainees, including 45 children remain in Nauru, [and]
  • 837 adult men remain, and have remained for years, on Manus.
The average time in detention is about 490 to 500 days but many have been detained for years.
When I was at Villawood, just a few days ago, I didn't meet anybody under 4 years in detention and one woman … had been detained for 7 years …
The countries of origin, of most asylum seekers and refugees, are predominantly Muslim nations: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran …
Religious persecution is one of the five grounds on which people can seek protection under the refugee convention. …
It is notable that Australia is the only common law country in the world that does not have a bill or charter of rights.
(Islamophobia and human rights, 18 July 2017)

John Winston Howard (1939) [Prime Minister of Australia, 1996-2007]:
[If] you try to institute a bill of rights, you run the danger of limiting, rather than expanding freedoms …
All you'll do is open up yet another avenue for lawyers to make a lot of money being human-rights … practitioners.
(Jon Faine, ABC Local Radio, Melbourne, 25 August 2000)

David Marr (1947):
[In February 2007, 85 Sri Lankan] men were brought in by barge from HMAS Success and herded onto Christmas Island's only wharf. …
Keeping the press at bay has remained a top priority in all the operations that have followed to scoop up boat people wherever they appear and detain them on Christmas Island.
(p 41)

According to the Australian government these people are not prisoners.
They've committed no crimes. …
(p 42)

The Immigration Department was playing its usual cat-and-mouse game: asylum seekers can only have a lawyer if they ask for one, and they have to ask for one by name.
Holding them incommunicado for as long as possible is about denying them a voice in both the press and refugee processing.
Good people take their careers in their hands to smuggle lawyers' names to asylum seekers.
(His Master's Voice, Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, 2007, p 44)

Lionel Shriver (1957):
My politics … are libertarian …
I don't like being told what to do.
Actually, deep down inside, I'm a 10 year old child with a problem with temper tantrums.
(Lionel Shriver on free speech, identity and the future of the US, 19 September 2016)

Bryan Stevenson [Professor of Law, New York University]:
Each of us is better than the worst thing we've ever done.
(The fight for racial justice in America, 19 March 2015)

Augustine (354 – 430):
The good Christian should be wary of mathematics and all those who make empty prophesies.
The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the Devil to darken the spirit and confine Man to the bonds of Hell.

Jane Gleeson-White:
[The] logic that drives the modern corporation [privileges] financial capital over every other value on earth, including the value of nature and of human beings and our communities.
While Wall Street booms and nations stagger, we continue to tear apart the earth and effectively enslave ourselves to financial capital — money — to fuel our fixation with economic growth.
The polar ice caps melt, extreme weather becomes the norm, species become extinct, the financially rich nations of the earth are plagued by depression and obesity and the impoverished nations are haunted by homelessness and hunger.
And yet we remain blind to their interconnectedness and their cause. …
The daily operations of business are destroying the planet and human societies and they do so because they are governed by one sole legal obligation: to maximise profit.
(Six Capitals, 2014, p 280)

Jane Gleeson-White


Death by Numbers


In 1977 the Ford Motor Company used a cost-benefit analysis to weigh the relative merits of adding, or not adding, a safety device to its new Pinto car.
This involved assessing the cost of safety parts versus the cost of lives lost.
Where the cost of lives lost is the dollar value of men, women and children killed in the potentially unsafe vehicle. …

An internal company memorandum estimated that if the Pinto was sold without the $11 safety feature:
  • 2,100 cars would burn every year,
  • 180 people would be hurt but would survive, and
  • another 180 would burn to death.
The safer car would save 49.5 million dollars worth of human pain, suffering and death, but it would cost 137.5 million dollars.
Clearly the costs of the safety device far exceed its benefits in numerical terms.
And so, naturally, Ford decided not to spend the money on the safety feature …




(Michael Sandel, Justice: Putting A Price Tag On Life, February 2011)


In the 6 years that the Pinto was on the market 500 hundred people [were] burned to death …

In July [2013], Portugal's finance minister resigned over the austerity measures required for its 78 billion euro bailout.
Greece still can't pay its debts.
Italy's budget deficit is expected to rise to some 4% of GDP.
On the other hand, Europe's largest bank, HSBC has just announced its half-yearly profits have risen 10% to $US 14.1 billion …

When the English philosopher Roger Bacon [1214 – 1292] tried to promote Arabic maths in the 13th century, he was charged with magic and condemned to life imprisonment.

(Numbers rule the world, 3 September 2013)


Costa Rica Leads the World


Not only have Costa Rica's forests and natural areas been protected since the launch of [their Payments for Ecological Services] program in 1997, but large tracts of ruined land have also been restored.
In the late 1980s, only 21% of Costa Rica was covered by forests: by 2010 that had risen to 52%.
This was accompanied by improvements in the country's living standards and energy savings.
In 1985, only half of Costa Rica's energy came from renewable sources.
By 2010, this figure had risen to 92%.
(p 72)


The Cost Of Doing Business


{In 2010, eighteen Foxconn workers attempted suicide.}

[When, in March,] seventeen-year-old Tian Yu threw herself from the fourth floor of her factory dormitory at Foxconn's Longhua facility … spine and hip fractures [left her] paralysed from the waist down.
[After public pressure forced its hand, Foxconn (Apple's primary supplier) gave] her 180,000 yuan (approximately US$29,000) in compensation so she could return to her rural village, which she had left one month earlier to earn money for her impoverished family. …

Yu threw herself out of the window after working two seven-day weeks straight, more than twelve hours a day, and finding she hadn't been paid for her month's work because of an administrative bungle.
The wages she was owed for two seven-day weeks and two six-day weeks with overtime amounted to a quarter of the cost of a new iPhone 5.
(196-7)

(Six Capitals, Allen & Unwin, 2014)

Would you like to know more?

June 9, 2015

Robert Manne

Green Army: Persons of Interest


Robert Manne (1947)


Editor, Quadrant, 1989-97

[At the my final board meeting as the editor of Quadrant] discussion was dominated by the question of … the Aborigines.
It became clear that, for half the board, the way the magazine had treated Aboriginal matters raised serious questions about my suitability to edit a conservative cultural magazine.
On the question of the Aboriginal dispossession in general, and the Stolen Generations in particular, I had crossed over to the enemy camp. …

[Following my resignation,] Padraic McGuinness was appointed as my replacement. …
Over the next three years Quadrant led a national campaign against the conclusions of Bringing Them Home and against the quest for indigenous-non-indigenous reconciliation.
Two anti-Bringing Them Home conferences were held. …
Keith Windschuttle's revisionist history was launched.
The McGuinness-led campaign was soon joined by the increasingly influential right-wing commentariat in the metropolitan press:
  • Andrew Bolt,
  • Piers Akerman,
  • Ron Brunton,
  • Michael Duffy,
  • Christopher Pearson,
  • Frank and Miranda Devine.
The cultural Right had clearly chosen the question of the Stolen Generations in general, and the apology in particular, as their key battleground in the Culture War. …

The campaign [contended that] these children had, in fact, been rescued [from neglect and abuse] and not stolen. …
Padraic McGuinness argued that the Aborigines who presented evidence to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission inquiry were suffering from … 'false-memory syndrome'. …

During the campaign, Sir Ronald Wilson [President of the Commission] was, we were told, [suffering from] "moral vanity" — a condition afflicting those who felt deeply about causes of which right-wing cultural warriors disapprove …
Other prominent white supporters of the Aborigines — like Sir William Deane ("Holy Billy") and Malcolm Fraser ("the sanctimonious prig") — also suffered from this condition.
[Such] white supporters of the Stolen Generations … were, in Michael Duffy's delightful phrase, 'white maggots'.
They fed upon concocted stories of supposed Aboriginal suffering.
They secretly hated their country. …
Was it not weird, Andrew Bolt reflected,
that some Australians wanted to believe racist whites — their own forebears — snatched children from despairing mothers' arms?
The members of the elites who were shocked by the stories revealed in Bringing Them Home were not merely politically correct.
They were un-Australian. …

[The] anti-Bringing Them Home campaign [marked] the emergence under Howard of … an authentic Australian version of an international movement on the Right often known as historical denialism. …

The authors of Bringing Them Home argued that, following Australia's signature of the Genocide Convention in 1951, Australian authorities had committed the crime of genocide in their Aboriginal-child-removal policies.
It is now generally acknowledged that they were wrong. …

[The national apology to the Stolen Generations that] Kevin Rudd delivered to the parliament on 13 February was, in my view and in the view of many others, one of the most important in the history of Australia. …
[He] delivered his speech in the presence of every living prime minister, except John Howard.

(Sorry Business, The Monthly, March 2008)


Just as stagflation fatally undermined the Keynesian social-democratic consensus, so too will the combination of the Great Recession and the growing recognition of the destructive role played by neo-liberalism in inhibiting an effective response to catastrophic climate change eventually discredit the idea at the heart of neo-liberalism: the faith in the magic of the free market. …
[However, there] are two important differences between the circumstances surrounding the end of the Keynesian era in the late 1970s and the present unravelling of neo-liberalism.
When the Keynesian consensus collapsed, a party-in-waiting existed, ready to seize its chance.
No equivalent anti-neo-liberal party exists today.
Old-style socialism is dead.
Left-of-centre neo-Keynesians are far less ideological, far more divided and far more cautious than their neo-liberal adversaries.

Even more importantly, at the moment of the neo-liberal collapse, humanity confronts the diabolical problem of climate change.
Those who inherit the post-neo-liberal world will be obliged not merely to strive to reconcile the hope for renewed prosperity with the quest for domestic and global social justice.
They will also be obliged to reconcile both these ambitions with the gravest challenge humankind has ever faced.
No one yet knows what the new era will look like or what it will eventually be called.
Only one thing seems, at present, reasonably certain.
At the end of the era of free-market faith, we will be in a far better position to turn our attention to the kinds of ethical and environmental questions which, for thirty years, neo-liberalism encouraged us to [ignore.]

(Goodbye to All That?  On the Failure of Neo-Liberalism and the Urgency of Change, 2010, p 36)

May 14, 2015

Future Climate Changes, Risks and Impacts

IPCC Climate Change 2014

Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond.
Projections of greenhouse gas emissions vary over a wide range, depending on both socio-economic development and climate policy. …

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.
Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.
(p 18)

Surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios.
It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions.
The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level to rise.
(pp 20-1)

Warming caused by CO2 emissions is effectively irreversible over multi-century timescales unless measures are taken to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. …
[Limiting] total human-induced warming … to less than 2°C relative to the period 1861-1880 with a probability of >66% would require total CO2 emissions from all anthropogenic sources since 1870 to be limited to about 2,900 GtCO2 …
About 1,900 … GtCO2 were emitted by 2011, leaving about 1,000 GtCO2 to be consistent with this temperature goal.
Estimated total fossil carbon reserves exceed this remaining amount by a factor of 4 to 7 …

Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems.
Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.
Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people, species and ecosystems.
Continued high emissions would lead to mostly negative impacts for biodiversity, ecosystem services, and economic development and amplify risks for livelihoods and for food and human security.
(p 24)

Many aspects of climate change and its impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped.
The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of the warming increases.
(p 31)

Advances, confidence and uncertainty in modelling the Earth’s climate system


Improvements in climate models since the AR4 are evident in simulations of
  • continental-scale surface temperature,
  • large-scale precipitation,
  • the monsoon,
  • Arctic sea ice,
  • ocean heat content,
  • some extreme events,
  • the carbon cycle,
  • atmospheric chemistry and aerosols,
  • the effects of stratospheric ozone, and
  • the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.
Climate models reproduce the observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and multi-decadal trends, including the more rapid warming since the mid 20th century, and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence). …
Confidence in the representation of processes involving clouds and aerosols remains low.

(Box 2.1, p 18)


Figure 1
Yellow indicates that associated impacts are both detectable and attributable to climate change with at least medium confidence.
Red indicates severe and widespread impacts.
Purple … shows that very high risk is indicated by all key risk criteria.

Reasons for concern regarding climate change


Five ‘reasons for concern’ have provided a framework for summarizing key risks since the Third Assessment Report. …
All warming levels in the text … are relative to the 1986–2005 period.
Adding ~0.6°C to these warming levels roughly gives warming relative to the 1850–1900 period, used here as a proxy for pre-industrial times (right-hand scale in figure 1).

The five reasons for concern are:

  1. Unique and threatened systems

  2. Extreme weather events

    Climate-change-related risks from extreme events, such as heat waves, heavy precipitation and coastal flooding, are already moderate (high confidence). …

  3. Distribution of impacts

    Risks are unevenly distributed between groups of people and between regions; risks are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities everywhere.
    Risks are already moderate … particularly for crop production (medium to high confidence). …

  4. Global aggregate impacts

    Extensive biodiversity loss, with associated loss of ecosystem goods and services, leads to high risks at around 3°C additional warming (high confidence). …

  5. Large-scale singular events

    [The risks of] abrupt and/or irreversible changes … are moderate between 0 and 1°C additional warming, since there are signs that both warm-water coral reefs and Arctic ecosystems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts (medium confidence).


(p 29, emphasis added)

May 12, 2015

Richard Wilkinson

Green Army: Persons of Interest




Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett:
Over the next generation or so, politics seem likely to be dominated either
  • by efforts to prevent runaway global warming or, if they fail,
  • by attempts to deal with its consequences.
(The Spirit Level, 2009, p 215)


Richard Wilkinson (1943):
[Status differentiation has] deeply ingrained psychosocial effects.
[Inequality is] not just about poverty [or] unfairness.
Its about a response to social hierarchy, social ranking …
It's also about whether people feel valued or devalued.

[In] the Financial Times 100 companies that go into the share index, the average pay difference between the CEO at the top and the lowest paid full time worker, is about 300 to 1.
There's no more powerful way of telling a whole swathe of the population:
You people are worth almost nothing!
Than to pay you one third of 1% of what the CEO gets.
And then of course we say:
The problem with the poor is low self-esteem!
(Inequality and Progress, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 5 February 2014)

Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett


Economic Justice and Security


In the USA, a child is killed by a gun every three hours.
(p 132)

[The] most powerful sources of stress affecting health [are:]
  • low social status,
  • lack of friends, and
  • stress in early life.
(p 39)


Figure 16.2
The widening gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest 10% in the USA 1975 (=1) to 2004.

[Inequality in the USA rose] through the 1980s to a peak in the early 1990s.
The [rest of the 1990s] saw an overall decline … with an upturn since 2000.
[The] downward trends [in violence and teenage births] through the 1990s were consistent with improvements in the relative incomes of people at the very bottom of the income distribution.
(p 142)

[In] 1978 there were over 450,000 people in jail [in the USA.]
[By] 2005 there were over 2 million: [a four-fold increase.]
In the UK, the numbers have doubled since 1990, climbing from around 46,000 to 80,000 in 2007.
(p 145)

[In the US only] 12% of growth in state prisoners between 1980 and 1996 could be put down to increases in criminal offending (dominated by a rise in the drug-related crime).
… 88% of increased imprisonment was due
  • to the increasing likelihood that convicted criminals were sent to prison rather than being given non-custodial sentences, and
  • to the increased length of prison sentences.
In federal prisons, longer prison sentences are the main reason for the rise in the number of prisoners.
‘Three-strikes’ laws, minimum mandatory sentences and ‘truth-in-sentencing’ laws (ie, no remission) mean that some convicted criminals are receiving long sentences for minor crimes.
In California in 2004, there were 360 people serving life sentences for shoplifting.
(p 147)

The ratio [of the risk of imprisonment of blacks versus whites] is 6.04 for the USA as a whole and rises to 13.15 for New Jersey. …
[In terms of patterns of youth offending:]
  • 25% of white youths in America have committed one violent offence by age 17, compared to 36% of African-Americans,
  • ethnic rates of property crime are the same, and
  • African-American youth commit fewer drug crimes.
[And yet] African-American youth are overwhelmingly more likely
  • to be arrested,
  • to be detained,
  • to be charged,
  • to be charged as if an adult and
  • to be imprisoned.
The same pattern is true for African-American and Hispanic adults, who are treated more harshly than whites at every stage of judicial proceedings.
Facing the same charges, white defendants are far more likely to have the charges against them reduced, or to be offered ‘diversion’ — a deferment or suspension of prosecution if the offender agrees to certain conditions, such as completing a drug rehabilitation programme.
(p 150)

[In] more equal countries and societies, [it seems that legal frameworks and penal systems] are developed in consultation with experts — criminologists, lawyers, prison psychiatrists and psychologists, etc, and so reflect both theoretical and evidence-based considerations of what works to deter crime and rehabilitate offenders.
[Whereas, in] more unequal countries and states [the policy response is driven by] media and political pressure [to be seen to be] tough on crime … rather than considered reflection on what works and what doesn’t.
(p 155)

[After] slowly increasing from 1950 to 1980, social mobility in the USA declined rapidly, as income differences widened dramatically in the later part of the century.
(p 160)

May 10, 2015

Future Pathways For Adaptation, Mitigation And Sustainable Development

IPCC Climate Change 2014


Figure 3.1
The relationship between
  • risks from climate change [across Reasons For Concern],
  • temperature change,
  • cumulative CO2 emissions, and
  • changes in annual GHG emissions
by 2050.
(p 35)

Effective decision making to limit climate change and its effects can be informed by a wide range of analytical approaches for evaluating expected risks and benefits, recognizing the importance of governance, ethical dimensions, equity, value judgments, economic assessments and diverse perceptions and responses to risk and uncertainty. …

Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change.
Substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades can
  • reduce climate risks in the 21st century and beyond,
  • increase prospects for effective adaptation,
  • reduce the costs and challenges of mitigation in the longer term, and
  • contribute to climate-resilient pathways for sustainable development. …
(p 32)

Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally (high confidence).
Mitigation involves some level of co-benefits and of risks due to adverse side-effects, but these risks do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation efforts.
(p 33)

Adaptation can reduce the risks of climate change impacts, but there are limits to its effectiveness, especially with greater magnitudes and rates of climate change.
Taking a longer-term perspective, in the context of sustainable development, increases the likelihood that more immediate adaptation actions will also enhance future options and preparedness. …
(p 36)

There are multiple mitigation pathways that are likely to limit warming to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels.
Limiting warming to 2.5°C or 3°C involves similar challenges, but less quickly.
These pathways would require substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades, and near zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived GHGs over by the end of the century.
Implementing such reductions poses substantial technological, economic, social, and institutional challenges, which increase with delays in additional mitigation and if key technologies are not available.
Limiting warming to lower or higher levels involves similar challenges, but on different timescales.
(p 37)

Climate change is a threat to equitable and sustainable development.
Adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development are closely related, with potential for synergies and trade-offs.
(p 44)

(AR5 Synthesis Report — Longer Report, 2014)

April 29, 2015

Charles Darwin

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Erasmus Darwin (1731 – 1802):
Would it be too bold to imagine that, in the great length of time since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, … that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the great First Cause endued
  • with animality,
  • with the power of acquiring new parts,
  • attended with new propensities,
  • directed by irritations, sensations, volitions and associations,
and thus possessing the faculty
  • of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and
  • of delivering down these improvements by generation to its posterity,
world without end!
(Zoönomia, Vol 1, 1794)

Aristotle (384 – 22 BCE):
[Empedocles (493 – 33 BCE) surmised that certain] animals survived [because] their chance constitution made them suitable for survival.
[Whereas, other animals] were differently constituted and so were destroyed …
(Physics, Book II: 8)

William Greg (1809 – 81) [Essayist]:
The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits …
[Whereas:] the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him.
Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts — and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained.
In the eternal 'struggle for existence,' it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed — and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.
(Quoted in The Descent of Man, Chapter 5, 1871)

Elizabeth Stanton (1815 – 1902):
The real difficulty in woman's case is that the whole foundation of the Christian religion rests on her temptation and man's fall, hence the necessity of a Redeemer and a plan of salvation.
As the chief cause of this dire calamity, woman's degradation and subordination were made a necessity.
If, however, we accept the Darwinian theory, that the race has been a gradual growth from the lower to a higher form of life, and that the story of the fall is a myth, we can exonerate the snake, emancipate the woman, and reconstruct a more rational religion for the nineteenth century, and thus escape all the perplexities of the Jewish mythology as of no more importance than those of the Greek, Persian and Egyptian.
(The Woman's Bible, Part II, Comments on the Old and New Testaments from Joshua to Revelation, New York, 1898)

Blanche Z de Baralt:
Women must consider themselves the main agents for the continuity and evolution of the race towards a higher physical, intellectual and spiritual level. …
Education of girls and young women must prepare them for this great mission.
Upon reaching marital age they must have such an elevated and clear notion about it that they should refuse to wed men with inferior physical, intellectual and moral conditions.
(24 December 1911)

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910):
[My children, the] views you have acquired about Darwinism, evolution and the struggle for existence won't explain to you the meaning of your life and won't give you guidance in your actions, and a life without an explanation of its meaning and importance, and without the unfailing guidance that stems from it is a pitiful existence.
(1 November 1910)

Tom DeLay (1947) [Republican House Majority Leader, 2003–05]:
[The Columbine High School massacre occurred] because our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionised out of some primordial mud.
(Quoted by Peter Singer, The President of Good and Evil, 2004, p 131)

Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945):
He who wants to live, should fight.
And he who does not want to fight, in this world of eternal struggle, does not deserve to live.
(Mein Kampf, 1925)

Charles Darwin (1809 – 82):
As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him.
This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.
(The Descent of Man, 1871)

Charles Darwin (1809 – 82)


Journal of Researches (1835)


Considering the small size of [the Galapagos] islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings, and at their confined range.
Seeing every height crowned with its crater, and the boundaries of most of the lava-streams still distinct, we are led to believe that within a period, geologically recent, the unbroken ocean was here spread out.
Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact — that mystery of mysteries — the first appearance of new beings on this earth.
(p 44)


The Descent of Man (1871)


[Ignorance] more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge …
[It] is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
(p 234)

During [the Dark Ages] the Holy Inquisition selected with extreme care the freest and boldest men in order to burn or imprison them.
In Spain alone some of the best men — those who doubted and questioned, and without doubting there can be no progress — were eliminated during three centuries at the rate of a thousand a year.
The evil which the Catholic Church has thus effected, though no doubt counterbalanced to a certain, perhaps large extent in other ways, is incalculable …
(p 269)


Recollections of the Development of My Mind and Character (1876)


Religious Belief

[Between 1836 to 1839 I gradually came] to see that the Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow as a sign &c &c, & from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian.
(p 391)

By further reflecting
  • that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported,
  • that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become,
  • that the men at that time were ignorant & credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us,
  • that the Gospels can not be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events,
  • that they differ in many important details, far too important as it seemed to me to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eye-witnesses
— by such reflections as these … I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation.

[I was at first] very unwilling to give up my belief.
But I found it more & more difficult … to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me.
Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete.
The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, & have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was Correct.

I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, & this would include my Father, Brother & almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.
And this is a damnable doctrine.
(p 392)

The old argument from design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. …
There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings & in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows.
Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.
(p 393)

That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes.
Some have attempted to explain this … by imagining that it serves for … moral improvement.
But the number of men in the world is as nothing compared with that of all other sentient beings, & these often suffer greatly without any moral improvement.
[What] advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time? …

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from deep inward conviction & feelings which are experienced by most persons. …
This argument would be a valid one, if all men of all races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God; but we know that this is very far from being the case.
Therefore I cannot see that such inward convictions & feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists.
(p 394-5)

A man who has no assured & ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution & reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses & instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones. …
[And, if] he acts for the good of others, he will receive the approbation of his fellow-men & gain the love of those with whom he lives; & this latter gain undoubtedly is the highest pleasure this earth. …
As for myself I believe that I have acted rightly in steadily following & devoting my life to science.
(p 396)

(Charles Darwin: Evolutionary Writings, 2008)

April 25, 2015

Adaptation and Mitigation

IPCC Climate Change 2014

Many adaptation and mitigation options can help address climate change, but no single option is sufficient by itself.
Effective implementation depends on policies and cooperation at all scales, and can be enhanced through integrated responses that link mitigation and adaptation with other societal objectives.
(p 46)

The costs of achieving nearly universal access to electricity and clean fuels for cooking and heating [across the developing world] are projected to be between USD 72 to 95 billion per year until 2030 with minimal effects on GHG emissions (limited evidence, medium agreement) and multiple benefits in health and air pollutant reduction (high confidence).
(p 56)

Adaptation options for coral reef systems are generally limited to reducing other stressors, mainly by enhancing water quality and limiting pressures from tourism and fishing, but their efficacy will be severely reduced as thermal stress and ocean acidification increase.
(AR5 Synthesis Report — Longer Report, 2014, p 48)

March 27, 2015

George Megalogenis

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970):
[The] plutocracy in a democratic country … can prevent governments composed of Socialists from introducing Socialism, and if they are obstinate it can bring about their downfall If these means were to fail, it could stir up a civil war to prevent the establishment of Socialism.
(Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938, p 86)

Gough Whitlam (1916 – 2014):
[The market] forces which man is unleashing in the world must be the subject of public and not exclusively private control and decision …
Democratic socialism is a philosophy about the value of man.
It is an attitude towards one's fellow man.
Today, it is not concerned merely with rationing scarcity and eliminating exploitation.
It means planning for abundance and creating opportunities.
(Labor and the Future, The Australian, 18 February 1967)

Robert Manne (1947):
[In the late 90's Les Murray (1938) composed] a poem about Pauline Hanson …
I've seen her tremble
I've seen her whisper
I've felt her power
Burning before me …
(Sorry Business, The Monthly, March 2008)

Geoffrey Wright (1959):
This is not your country.
(Romper Stomper, 1992)

1930s Political Slogan:
Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!
[One People, One Empire, One Leader!]

Pauline Hanson's One Nation:
We will bring back federalism and restore Australia’s constitution so that our economy is run for the benefit of Australians instead of the UN and unaccountable foreign bodies that have interfered and have choked our economy since the federal government handed power to the International Monetary Fund in 1944. …
We need to exit the UN.
(Economics & Tax Policy, Accessed 26 June 2017)



(Please Explain, Four Corners, ABC Television, 3 April 2017)


Pauline Hanson (1954)


Pauline Hanson's One Nation Senator for Queensland (2014)

Our common oppressors are a class of raceless, placeless, cosmopolitan elites who are exercising almost absolute power over us: like black spiders above the wheels of industry, they are spinning the webs of our destiny.
(Pauline Hanson and George Merritt, Pauline Hanson — The Truth: On Asian Immigration, the Aboriginal Question, the Gun Debate and the Future of Australia, Saint George Publishing, 1997, p 155)

[I want] multiculturalism abolished. …
A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united. …
[To achieve national unity and strength,] we must have:
One People, One Nation, One Flag! …
[At] this stage that I do not consider those people from ethnic backgrounds currently living in Australia anything but first-class citizens, provided of course that they give this country their full, undivided loyalty. …

I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia. …

The Family Law Act … should be repealed. …

The government should cease all foreign aid immediately …

Between 1984 and 1995, 40% of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin.
I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. …
They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.

(Maiden Speech, Australian House of Representatives, 10 September 1996)


Now we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims, who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.

(Maiden Speech, Australian Senate, 14 September 2016)


John Howard (1939)


One of the great changes that has come over Australia in the last six months is that people do feel able to speak a little more freely and a little more openly about what they feel.
In a sense the pall of censorship on certain issues has been lifted …
I think there has been a change and I think that's a very good thing.
(Queensland Liberal State Council, 22 September 1996)

By the year 2000, I would like to see an Australian nation that feels comfortable and relaxed about three things:
  • I would like to see them comfortable and relaxed about their history;
  • I would like to see them comfortable and relaxed about the present; and
  • I'd also like to see them comfortable and relaxed about the future.
(Four Corners 55th Anniversary - 1990s, ABC Television, 2016)

… I have to live with the consequences of [the positions I've taken as prime minister,] both now, and into the future.
And, if I ever develop reservations … I hope I would have the grace to keep them to keep them to myself …
(David Marr, His Master's Voice, Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, 2007, p 3)


David Marr (1947)


John Howard [attacked] "black armband" historians and resolutely refused to apologise to the Stolen Generations.
He would stage the Intervention in the Northern Territory as a curtain-raiser for the 2007 election.
This was race politics played by a master.
(The White Queen, Issue 65, March 2017, p 67)

… Howard's government has been the most unscrupulous corrupter of public debate in Australia since the Cold War's worst days back in the 1950s. …
He has a genius for ambiguity [that,] most of the time, keeps [him] just this side of deceit.
But he also lies without shame. …
[He] can admit error, but it is extremely rare.
Apologies are almost unknown.
(p 4)

[Under] Howard, the press has found itself misled, intimidated and starved of information.
On coming to power, Howard set about making sure the tactics he had used so brilliantly to claw down his rivals would not be turned against his government.
There would be minimal tolerance for dissent within the party, the government and the bureaucracy.
The great leaker would stop the leaks.
Senior bureaucrats who survived the purge of the first weeks were instructed to report all calls by journalists to die Prime Minister's press office.
(p 29)

Stories were doled out as rewards.
More than ever under Howard, the press would win access through favourable coverage.
The new communications minister, Richard Alston, was soon lashing the ABC over budgets and bias.
Journalists were locked out of stories - particularly those involving the military and refugees
(p 30)

Canberra has a taste for punishing dissent by cutting off funds.
The Voltaireans of the Cabinet may be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of free speech in Australia, but they don't like paying for it. …
Clive Hamilton & Sarah Maddison:
In Australia, recent years have seen an unprecedented attack upon NGOs, most particularly upon those organisations that disagree with the current federal government's views and values.
The attacks have come both from government itself and from close allies such as the Institute of Public Affairs.
Questions have been raised about NGOs' representativeness, their accountability, their financing, their charitable status and their standing as policy advocates in a liberal democracy such as Australia.
(Silencing Dissent, Allen & Unwin, 2007, p 82)
(p 51)

(His Master's Voice, Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, Black Inc, 2007)


George Megalogenis (1964)


Pauline Hanson's timing was immaculately destructive.
(p 279)

[John] Howard couldn't bring himself to declare his outright opposition to Hanson because he felt he was being bullied by the media. …
[Indeed, he] shared the concerns of her supporters about the pace of cultural change.
He didn't see them as racists.
Yet by refusing to put Hanson in her place, Howard created a monster.
(p 280)

[Howard] was the last on his side to stand up to Pauline Hanson.
(p 300)
Paul Keating (1944):
In a nation of immigrants, John Howard let the racism genie out of the bottle. …
[Events like] the Cronulla riot has in its antecedents the notion that somewhere in officialdom at the top of the country it's all right to think poorly of people who come from a different background to yourself.
This is, I think, a dreadful letdown for the country after it had succeeded so greatly in settling so many people from abroad, in perhaps the most successful multicultural experiment in the Western world.
(p 237)

For years [John Howard] had argued against Australia moving before anyone else in the region [to address climate change.]
[Suddenly, in the lead up to the 2007 election,] he wanted to go first …
John Howard:
Australia will … lead internationally on climate change … in a way that builds support for global action to tackle this enormous global challenge. …
[Our's] will be a world-class emissions trading system, more comprehensive, more rigorously grounded in economics and with better governance than anything in Europe.
Implementing an emissions trading scheme and setting a long-term goal for reducing emissions will be the most momentous economic decisions Australia will take in the next decade.
This emissions trading system … needs to last the whole of the twenty-first century if Australia is to meet our global responsibilities and further build our economic prosperity. …
Significantly reducing emissions will mean higher costs for businesses and households, there is no escaping that and anyone who pretends to do otherwise is not a serious participant in this hugely important public policy debate. …
[If] we get this wrong it will do enormous damage to our economy, to jobs and to the economic wellbeing of ordinary Australians, especially low-income households.
(3 June 2007)
(p 319)

[In December 2009, Tony] Abbott repudiated the Coalition's own 2007 election platform …
In a way this was more brazen than the Senate obstruction in the 1970s.
Back then there was an element of principle involved — the Coalition didn't agree with the Whitlam Program.
Abbott was opposing for the sake of it.
No previous opposition had overturned a policy that both sides had agreed to at the previous election. …
Tony Abbott:
[The argument for action on climate change] is absolute crap.
However, the politics of this are tough for us.
80% of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.
(Pyrenees Advocate, October 2009)
(p 349)

Hawke and Howard are Australian triumphalists, who think there is nothing wrong with the nation as it is.
Keating and Fraser are Australian cosmopolitans, who see room for improvement.
(p 4)

The Australian Moment was thirty-five years in the making, starting with
  • the Whitlam government's tariff cut and the formal recognition of China in the early 70s;
  • the Fraser government's termination of the White Australia policy with the entry of the Vietnamese refugees in the second half of the 70s;
  • the Hawke-Keating government economic reforms between 1983 and 1996; and
  • the Howard government's consolidation of those reforms, and the super-charging of the immigration program after 2001.
(p 345)

(The Australian Moment, 2012)


Spreading the Pain


George Megalogenis (1964):
The Liberals are never good at opposition because they do not have a reason for being — other than to govern.
They do not assume, once they are in power, that they are going to be out of power any time soon.
Now, this makes it very difficult for them to function in opposition because they are always looking for the Messiah to bring them back into power. …
John Howard taught Australians to measure their relationship with the government based on what they got back from the government, based on the handout.
Budgets were used to make sure voters were kept on side.

Ross Gittins [Economics Editor, Sydney Morning Herald]:
The cuts in funding were not just economic judgements.
They were also about John Howard's prejudices as to who was deserving and who wasn't.
Which of the groups, that if I offend them, it's not going to cost me much in terms of lost votes? …
We've had a government that's been obsessed by cutting government debt and not about … making sure we've got a very well educated nation.

John Howard [Prime Minister of Australia, 1996-2007]:
It was a very tough assignment.
We had tried very hard to spread the pain around.
And … I think we succeeded.






















(Nick Torrens, Liberal Rule, SBS, 2009)

March 6, 2015

2014

Free Market of Ideas

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Green Army: Research and Development


Climate Change 2014


Severe, Pervasive, and Irreversible Impacts


Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems.
Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.
Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people, species and ecosystems.
Continued high emissions would lead to mostly negative impacts for biodiversity, ecosystem services, and economic development and amplify risks for livelihoods and for food and human security.
(p 24)


Observed Changes and Their Causes


Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history.
Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.
(p 5)


Observed Changes in the Climate System

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
  • The atmosphere and ocean have warmed,
  • the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and
  • sea level has risen.
(p 6)


Past and recent drivers of climate change

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era driven largely by economic and population growth.
From 2000 to 2010 emissions were the highest in history.
Historical emissions have driven atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, to levels that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years, leading to an uptake of energy by the climate system.
(p 9)

[Since 2000, the increased] use of coal relative to other energy sources has reversed the long-standing trend in gradual decarbonisation … of the world’s energy supply.
(p 11, emphasis added)


Attribution of climate changes and impacts

The evidence for human influence on the climate system has grown since AR4.
Human influence has been detected
  • in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean,
  • in changes in the global water cycle,
  • in reductions in snow and ice, and
  • in global mean sea-level rise …
[Human activity] is extremely likely to have been [the cause of more than half] of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.
Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.
(p 12)


Extreme Events

Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950.
Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including
  • a decrease in cold temperature extremes,
  • an increase in warm temperature extremes,
  • an increase in extreme high sea levels and
  • an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions.
(p 15)


Exposure and Vulnerability

The character and severity of impacts from climate change and extreme events emerge from risk that depends not only on climate-related hazards but also on exposure (people and assets at risk) and vulnerability (susceptibility to harm) of human and natural systems.
(p 16)


Human Responses To Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation

Adaptation and mitigation experience is accumulating across regions and scales, even while global anthropogenic GHG emissions have continued to increase.
(p 17)

(AR5 Synthesis Report — Longer Report, 1 November, 2014)

January 10, 2015

Al Gore

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Al Gore (1948):
[Human] nature makes us vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable …
Wishful thinking and denial lead to dead ends. …
(Climate of Denial, Rolling Stone, 22 June 2011)

Daniel Newman:
The is no investment that gives a higher return on investment than political influence. …
Instead of companies innovating, coming up with better products, serving society better, it's cheaper for them to buy politicians.

Jim Hightower (1943):
A corporation isn't a person until Texas executes one!

Paul Mazur:
We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture …
People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed.
We must shape a new mentality.
Man's desires must overshadow his needs.

John Keynes (1883 – 1946):
Consumption, of course, is the sole end of economic activity.

The Best Government Money Can Buy


Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919):
The Republican party is now facing a great crisis.
It is to decide:
  • whether it will be, as in the days of Lincoln, the party of the plain people, the party of progress, the party of social and industrial justice; or
  • whether it will be the party of privilege and of special interests, the heir to those who were Lincoln's most bitter opponents, the party that represents the great interests within and without Wall Street which desire through their control over the servants of the public to be kept immune from punishment when they do wrong and to be given privileges to which they are not entitled.
(October 1910)

William Niskanen (1933 – 2011) [Chairman Emeritus, Cato Institute, 2008-11]:
[Corporations] have become sufficiently powerful to pose a threat to governments …
[In particular,] multinational corporations, who will have much less dependence upon the positions of particular governments, much less loyalty in that sense. …

Lee Raymond [CEO, ExxonMobil, 1999-2005]:
[We are] not a US company and I don't make decisions based on what's good for the US.

James Madison (1751 – 1836):
A zeal for different opinions [has] divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.
(Federalist No 10)

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826):
[The] selfish spirit of commerce … knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain. …
(1809)

I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country. …
(1816)

Al Gore (1948):
The tainted election of 1876 (deadlocked on election night by disputed electoral votes in the state of Florida) was … settled in secret negotiations in which corporate wealth and power played the decisive role …
Rutherford B Hayes [19th President of the United States, 1877-81]:
[This] is a government of the people, by the people and for the people no longer.
It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations.
(The Future, 2014)