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Showing posts from May, 2013

What Lies Ahead

May 30, 2013 – We are offered so little worthwhile analysis by American mainstream media.I had understood that the civil war in Syria was an outgrowth of the Arab Spring – an apparently spontaneous demand for freedom from previously abject populations.After reading Joe Romm’s article Syria Today is a Preview of Memorial Day 2030, I’m convinced the Arab Spring was a catalyst, and nothing more.Romm quotes from a Tom Friedman article, Without Water, Revolution: “The drought did not cause Syria’s civil war,” said the Syrian economist Samir Aita, but … the failure of the government to respond to the drought played a huge role in fueling the uprising … after Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated agricultural sector in Syria for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy up land and drill as much water as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the water table.This began driving small farmers off the land into towns, where they had to scrounge for work … Then, betwee…

The Big Shift

May 23, 2013 – China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has proposed a cap on greenhouse gas emissions produced by the world’s largest emitter.Experts say the NDRC is extremely influential (would that the EPA could say the same!), and is now working with a government whose views regarding climate change have made a sudden and dramatic shift.In order for the proposal to be adopted, it must be approved by the government’s cabinet, known as the State Council.It would appear that is likely to happen.Furthermore, the NDRC said it now expects China’s greenhouse gas emissions to peak in 2025, five years sooner than expected. This announcement has been received with great excitement, particularly by those who have struggled long and hard to bring about a global agreement regarding a reduction in emissions.Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s chief scientist, acclaimed the NDRC’s proposal as a “big shift” capable of unblocking negotiations between the U.S. and China.“Without an agreement be…

Walking the Talk

May 20, 2013 – A collaborative bit of research headed up by Oxford and NASA has found that climate change will be a little slower in developing than previously thought.This is excellent news, no doubt about it. Assuming this report is correct, how should governments, corporations and individuals proceed?Surely the most far-reaching results in the shortest amount of time would be the most sensible goal for which to strive.If you were in charge, what three draconian steps would you take, right now, to change the world’s progress in mitigating climate change?I realize it sounds as if I were making a game out of this most serious of all problems; it’s really just a way, I hope, of helping readers to grasp the seriousness of this moment.If researchers are to be believed, we’ve been given the most precious gift of all: time.What should we do with it? It’s a question with too many answers.Or should it be phrased a different way?Perhaps we should think in terms of what not to do (the Keystone …

An Ounce of Preparation

March 16, 2013 – What’s the saying – expect the unexpected?As a librarian, I don’t necessarily expect to find everything that comes across my desk interesting.That’s hardly the point, is it: the point is that because someone will find it interesting, it belongs in the library.Some items have broad appeal, others far less.In my opinion, The Journal of Accountancy falls into the second group.To be honest, just reading the title almost puts me to sleep.Even so, the current issue features an article with great relevance for virtually all of us.The article?“Preparing for Disaster.” While that title may strike some as unnecessarily apocalyptic, I would ask that you try to see it differently.It has been written with an eye toward learning from the experiences of others – in this case, three CPA firms in very different locations: the Jersey shore, New Orleans, and Joplin, Mo.The firm in New Jersey struggled to remain up and running in spite of nine of its 14 offices sustaining damage during Su…

The Cost of Everything, the Value of Nothing

March 13, 2013 – It has always seemed strange to me that some people’s attention is riveted by the cost of preventing/mitigating climate change.Whatever the cost, it’s too high!I would have thought that death was too high a price to pay, and that compared to death, we would do anything to survive.Ultimately I think this has to do with an underperforming imagination.Climate change deniers do not believe they or their progeny will die because of global warming.A trifle clammy on an August afternoon?A few inches of water in the basement?A brief tornado touchdown in a town suitably far removed from one’s own?What’s all the excitement about? Let’s see: forest fires, landslides, valley fever, tsunamis, malaria, drought, bird flu, crops destroyed, earthquakes, houses torn off their foundations, famine, dengue fever, avalanches, influenza, floods, ebola.There sure are a lot of ways to die, and some of us haven’t got brains enough to be afraid of them.Of course, there will be some outcomes that…

A Good Outcome for Activism

May 9, 2013 – How terribly satisfying to know that yet another coal export terminal planned for the Pacific Northwest will not be developed.Houston-based Kinder Morgan announced it is dropping its plans for a coal export terminal, to be situated near the town of Clatskanie (don’t you love the town names in Oregon and Washington?).Kinder Morgan, a terminal and pipeline operator, investigated options near Clatskanie for 16 months, but never applied for any permits.The intent was to ship coal to Asia from the Columbia River port.The project’s failure to actualize means a reprieve from coal train traffic for Portland. This is the third coal export project to be abandoned in the Northwest.Taken together, the three proposed terminals represented up to $550 million in investment, 305 permanent jobs, and almost 50 million tons of Montana and Wyoming coal.Three more projects await approval.Of the six original proposals, Clatskanie would have generated the most coal train traffic through Portlan…

Blowing in the Wind

May 6, 2013 – From the Little Known Facts File: a disease called Valley Fever.Until quite recently it was endemic in the arid farm regions of California and Arizona, but nowhere else in the United States.Now, because of ongoing drought in other areas of the country, awareness of this disease needs to increase.For while half of those exposed to the fungus spores that carry the disease show no symptoms, the numbers of those who die – yes, die! – is on the upswing each year.One of the reasons is the lack of familiarity with this malady on the part of doctors.Another reason is climate change. Other areas of the world that already know about Valley Fever (VF) include Mexico, Central, and South America. Once soil has become so dry it has the consistency of dust, it is easily transported by the wind.Human and animal activities increase its transportability.VF can be contracted simply by breathing in the fungus spores that make up a portion of the dust.Members of certain ethnic groups, those w…