Thursday, October 27, 2022

"Chaotic Future." "Severe Disruption." Let's use the phrase "a future world of death and destruction!"

For humans who can read, the press today is letting us know the "news" that we have successfully put the Earth's climate on track for a devastating 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures by 2100, a future world of death and destruction.

It is very clear that the people of the United States and China will assure that the anticipated world of death and destruction will be achieved by the year 2100. 

But wait. Haven't we in California made some significant gains towards reducing Climate Change? Uh, yeah...about that....

Researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago in a study released in August state as follows

    Our analysis suggests several notable bit findings. First, wildfires in California have become a major and growing source of GHG emissions. Over the long to very long term, regrowth could alleviate some of the emissions, but this is unlikely to occur on the time scale necessary to meet near and medium-term emission targets needed to avert passing the 1.5 degree C threshold.
    Second, the magnitude of the emissions makes wildfires the second most important source of emissions in 2020 behind transportation emissions, and one that appears likely to grow with future climate change. Average wildfire emissions from the past five years (~46 mmt CO2e from 2016 to 2020) ranks above the most recent individual contributions from the Commercial & Residential, Agriculture, Recycling & Waste, and High Global Warming Potential sectors. The latter includes fluorine-containing gases that destroy stratospheric ozone; sources include electricity transmission and distribution and semiconductor manufacturing.
    Third, wildfire emissions in 2020 essentially negate 18 years of reductions in GHG emissions from other sectors by a factor of two.
    Fourth, the additional global damages due only to the contribution of these emissions to climate change can be valued at $7.09 billion.

Simply put, California policies to replace most gas and diesel fueled motor vehicles - specifically cars and trucks - with carbon-free power sources sometime in the next two decades could possibly help limit Climate Change to a devastating 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures by 2100.

Over five years ago a post here titled In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind by discussing biosphere science reflected a foolish sense of hope even as it described efforts to reduce environmental impacts.

At some point in time, language regarding Climate Change needs to shift from phrases like "our analysis suggests" to reflect that reliable information shows an actual, nearly irreversible threat to lives and property around the globe.

As usual, Elizabeth Colbert who is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History continues her effort to educate the world, writing her 2021 Under a White Sky offering a look at technological advances that might save this world.

In a July 2014 interview on The Daily Show with John Stewart promoting her book, at the end they both acknowledge a kind of despair. Hopefully, she sees something better today. You may want to watch that interview again. Or not.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

About that racist meeting involving LA City Council members: Oaxaca is a historically significant state

California. Wikipedia has a whole separate article on the etymology of "California." But the subject here is about Los Angeles, California, particularly the City and the problem created this past week by the President of its City Council.

Specifically in a recording that was secretly made nearly a year ago involving three council members and a union president meeting about redistricting, Council President Nury Martinez made a series of racist remarks about blacks, Armenians, and Oaxacans that has thrown the city government into turmoil. The recording was recently leaked to the Los Angeles Times and you can read the many articles about it. Anyway, Martinez resigned.

More specifically, Martinez called indigenous immigrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca who live in Los Angeles “dark little people,” adding “tan feos” (“they’re ugly”) and claimed she didn’t know where they came from.

A review of history - something not necessarily among the subjects familiar to Ms. Martinez - could lead her to Benito Pablo Juárez (picture at left), a Oaxacan of indigenous Zapotec origin, who was President of Mexico from 1858 to 1872 and who swapped correspondence with Abraham Lincoln.

There is some debate about how many letters they actually swapped and, because they couldn't visit each other and lacked cell phone technology, how much of their friendship story was fiction. We won't get into that here. The point is that one of the most prominent Presidents of Mexico was a well-educated Oaxacan.

It is troubling that Martinez claims she does not know where Oaxaca is while relying on her Mexican (or Latino, as she calls it) heritage to gain political advantage.

This is a disturbing reminder of how easy it is for humans everywhere to, within their minds, divide themselves into groups based upon race, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, wealth, education, etc., for no particular purpose except to create conflict based upon artificial perceptions of superiority.

Anyway, the map below emphasizes the location of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico:

Friday, October 7, 2022

It appears the world is going to overreact and mishandle the Extended Economic Distortion

 In a newsletter this afternoon, the folks at Bloomberg observed, in part:

    Nonfarm payrolls increased 263,000 in September while the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, matching a five-decade low. Average hourly earnings also rose firmly.
    The figures are the latest illustration of the worrisome strength of the US job market, at a time when the Fed wants to see just the opposite—cooling wage growth and inflation.

They go on to note that the stock market "cratered" today, Federal Reserve officials blabbed about the need to raise interest rates because of inflation, with only President Biden offering what used to be the normal positive reaction to continuing full employment and higher earnings.

A lot more working and retired folks are worried about the stock market than used to be worried because they have money invested in stocks, mostly in retirement accounts of one kind or another.

As noted in numerous posts on Extended Economic Distortion, the problem is no one understands what is going on nor what is the likely path and outcome. One thing seemingly is becoming obvious - the Federal Reserve raising interest rates has not suppressed full employment or reduced wage growth. Based on the limited evidence to date, it may not have that impact. It could lead to a full blown depression because the experts are over-focused on inflation. The problem is inflation isn't a cause, it is an effect. Interest rates are, at best, only one cause of the Extended Economic Distortion.

Since the beginning of the 21st Century we have seen a significant change in retail sales symbolized by Amazon but, in fact, created by thousands of online retailers. They couldn't have made that change without there being an "online" which really on came into being at the beginning of the century and which has altered behavior in ways unexpected. Most significantly because of the pandemic it has brought about the "working from home" trend which has, of course, brought about empty office buildings, among other things. It also has reduced the time people spend away from home, people who then need to retail shop more online.

Also changed during this period was the reductions in inventory maintained by retailers and wholesalers and manufacturers which required the establishment of a supply chain system which barely avoided a full collapse during the pandemic because folks staying at home were bored and needed to buy stuff. The problem was the related workforce - truck drivers, ship crews, etc., couldn't be increased in such a short period of time while other workers in the supply chain were guessed it... staying at home.

These are just a few more obvious examples of distortions in the traditional economy which the Federal Reserve has no way to address. Also in the midst of the pandemic folks now working from home decided they should buy new homes, particularly since interest rates were so low. Home sales skyrocketed. Now that the Fed is raising interest rates, those homes cannot be easily sold and sale prices are declining leaving huge numbers of folks with recently acquired overvalued homes.

We don't understand the math of the current economy. It is in an Extended Economic Distortion and the Fed needs to pause for at least six months to let the distortion effects provide some information.

But that isn't likely to  happen because of the stressed online hand wringing - people just can communicate too much. We're seeing the impact of this over-communication in a predictable outcome - the world-wide growth of support for right wing populist politics. In the extreme this is reflected in Putin's war in the Ukraine.

And we still have no understanding of the likely path and outcome of the Extended Economic Distortion. But we do seem to want to, so badly that we will overreact and mishandle it. And just as Climate Change impacts are becoming more obvious.