Home > Uncategorized > Economies, carbon dioxide and the atmosphere

Economies, carbon dioxide and the atmosphere

In April the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded an average of 410 parts per million (ppm). Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels did not exceed 300ppm in the last 800,000 years.  (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

  1. May 6, 2018 at 2:01 am

    Autonomous democracy can be used to focus distributed intelligence. Representative democracy has governed full speed ahead to extinction of life on Earth. Try something new. Explore democratic selection for focus. Evolve.

    Commence eco posting full costs.

    Set up peripheral support to maintain dynamic tension from outside government hierarchy.

    At least six branches of government, consider no supreme court for life types. Fourth branch maintains the fairness doctrine in media and unbiased textbooks educating a gently declining population to live with declining commercial intensity and finding reward in fun and increasing quality of life on a healing planet. Fifth branch accepts laws from legislature and examines them for justice. Laws with no justice are recycled paper waste. Sixth branch tends to autonomous democracy interface that fuels the dynamics of distributed intelligence of interested people.

    I believe this outline is near to the genius of Hugo Chavez.

  2. Prof James Beckman, Germany
    May 6, 2018 at 10:34 am

    The air kills our breathing. The heat causes climate change with higher tides & more storms in many places. But it happens so slowly for most persons that, like alcoholism, it is suddenly upon us and many will be destroyed, I expect.

    • May 6, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Does economics as a discipline offer no solutions or suggestions?

      • Prof James Beckman, Germany
        May 7, 2018 at 4:22 pm

        Hi, Garret, of course it does. Econ calls these situations “externalities” which means the polluting businesses should reduce them directly or by paying others to do so. In the Los Angeles’ Basin, where I used to live, diesel engines of all kinds put out “soot” (particles which gather together), bad for eyes & lungs, & often nitrous oxides which are also bad for lungs. Better engines & exhause systems help greatly here. In China today the government is planting thousands of acres of trees to absorb the carbon dioxide in the air, which then reduces heat (from the greenhouse effect) which then reduces the effect of soot & nitrous oxides.

    • May 8, 2018 at 2:46 am

      Let us speculate that billions of people will perish and perhaps the human species will die, quite soon. No matter what, environmental friction has replaced the capitalist’s free lunch and is sapping economic strength enough to be bad for the global gnp, and only barely offset by austerity.

      I am somewhat familiar with improvement in the Los Angeles, California air quality control area. Regulations extend to BBQ and lawn mowing. Once the shadow of a tall building could be seen casting shadow in the air on its way to the ground. Now the sky is mostly blue and 20% of the air pollution comes all the way from Asia. There are many positive stories of improvements yet still humanity faces the ever closer abyss of extinction.

      Economists seem content to mention externalities and positive goods yet do not field many suggestions or run national experiments that might buy a little time. It seems to me that caloric money introduced into the metric system with every other measurement would be an exciting university economics degree that might one day strike it rich and educate a concerned genius in a position like Hugo Chavez, the former president of Venezuela.

      We see economists at the University of Chicago pushing privatization and infinite growth on a finite planet yet few answering economists using plain language pointing out negative economics like the drug war or destruction of Greece. Are there economists insisting that debts imposed by corruption are not valid? Puerto Rico is being raped by capitalist pirates and economists are silent.

      • Prof James Beckman, Germany
        May 8, 2018 at 7:32 am

        Garrett, there are issues about receiving research funding–often from the financial community–as well as publication in journals often also dependent upon funding from business sources. Bottom line: this is something which an individual does themselves & then self-publishes. We do here, however, have an outlet.
        Organizations pride themselves on their possible long-term longevity, but also wealthy persons like the Koch Brothers who will physically will not be with us too much longer. They continue to support tax benefits for billionaires with apparently no concern for the physical & economic environments created by Trump & his Congressional/Fox News enablers, which they massively support. Perhaps they believe in a heaven meant only for thee wealthiest .1%….

      • May 9, 2018 at 12:16 am

        Yes. I understand the problem of funding and the double edged sword of client states cutting funding at the same time privatized prisons are built. A dog chasing its tail. I was a graduate economics student at UCSB in 1967-8. Dr. Jerry Karcz was my mentor and advisor. I had arrived from the sciences and math side and thus avoided even one minute of mathematics via economics. He told me to take an M.A. and go study actual corporations, agriculture, construction and sociological understandings; then come back, if I wanted to.

        I’m old now yet remain interested. And on the 200th birthday of Karl Marx realize representative democracy is an opiate for the masses. My world sees your funding problem and still asks economists to design new economies for public consideration. Accelerating social evolution that accompanies accelerating cosmic expansion is a subject explored by economics, that is enabling.

        The US president declared an atom bomb treaty with Iran null and void. He treated another fairly large and modern nation to the US history of lies and broken treaties. Everyone in the world knows. Ask indigenous nations of north america. We all know it together.

        Capitalism has always been a hungry predator of Earth and humanity. It stokes war to terrorize friendly families and break them to the yoke of blind obedience to centralized government democracy builders rather than neighbors, friends and the family. Capitalism does all this with soothing propaganda assurances of family values.

        Pop the balloon to see the line-up of insane perverts ordering loving families to attack other loving families. Torturers and murderers hock their wars as protection of decent Americans. Ask yourself why and you will see that capitalism does not actually make profits without the help of government structures that do things like grant monopolies to grain exporters using shipping paid for and maintained by ordinary family people who pay taxes.

        Capitalism is withering under the environmental collapse of its own destruction of nature converted to paper money.

        Iran has a thousand years of relations among surrounding countries, with great friend chess players; China, Russia, Turkey, Korea, the Philippines, Hawaii and the Pacific Coast of North America will do nothing except arrange defenses for the US attack. Capitalism is collapsing under the friction of environmental collapse. The US will attack the world as it falls and everybody knows. Everybody also knows they are all down wind of each other. Surviving the insane death throws of the United States will be tricky even for chess masters.

        The capitalism part is from an hour or so ago. Now, again recognizing the pressures of funding education; that is a prime motive to begin living in an alternate economy that affords maximum education. I do not believe it will be designed by sociologists working with every discipline but economics. There are some economists who understand solar budget and Earth’s pollution recycling ability. But is an economist who sees gently declining population from maximum education energy and educated reduction of economic activity still an economist?

        What school of thought will actualize theory of natural balance pricing around the economic relationships revealed by currency valuations against a set metric system caloric value? Humans are heat flow until death. Right?

        The old way is not going to invent the new. Step around the blockade. The capitalist pinch on formal education is a pinch on almost fourteen billion years of evolution, with cosmic powered biology there from the start. Capitalism is withering even though spending freely on approved assumptions for education. Tell us how to organize for an evolved economy that heals Earth.

        Okay, here goes.

      • Prof James Beckman, Germany
        May 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm

        Garrett, I appreaciate your remarks. One reason I am in Europe is that I find the EU more sane than the US at the moment: sex, drugs, corruption & guns being too much in US news. We have the same issues here to a far lessor degree, but no show biz drop-outs operating the levers of power. I hope that the other four signers will continue honoring the agreement. Word today is that Iran will probably restart its internet attacks. They might even have support from other nations in this.

  3. May 20, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Capitalism is a fundamentally anti-human way of organizing human life. By anti-human I mean anti-human-community. And humans create, live, and perform only within communities. Capitalism promises if its formulas are followed the outcomes are more efficient and more just than any other economic system that exists of ever has existed. It’s just not so. As the multiple and pervasive negative impacts of capitalism demonstrate. From enormous economic inequality to destruction of democratic government to attacking and destroying our planet and the nonhuman environment on which we all depend, capitalism is a FAILURE. Well financed and designed propaganda has denied and painted over this failure. But the breaking point seems near where such coverups are no longer effective. Capitalism today shines through around the world as a dysfunctional, unfair, odious, and cruel way of organizing human economic actions. Turning humans against one another and destroying both human communities and the nonhuman parts of our world.

    There’s really no way to save capitalism. Nor is there any reason to even make the attempt. I’ll not try to fix every aspect of capitalism but make just two proposals. First, even the economists most critical of capitalism still favor retaining the profit motive as the central force of economic actions. I disagree. I propose replacing profit with service to others as the motive humans attend to in economic actions. This is not only consistent with human evolution, but it alone goes a long way to fixing many of the current economic problems humans face today. Including environmental degradation and climate change. The malleability of human culture means such changes are doable in just a generation or two. Second, I suggest we give up the notion of setting up markets in line with the pure model of perfect competition, a model that occupies pride of place in economic theory. Economists insist this model has explanatory power and needs to be retained. I disagree. To work effectively markets need to be organized in such ways (multiple options) so that buyers and sellers come together in situations favorable to completing a sale. The main factors here are flexibility and fairness. Despite what economists and business folk assert justice is important in all successful markets. In my view, in fact, justice and easy to understand organization are the more critical features of good markets.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      May 20, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Ken, the Chinese, Russians, Scandinavians and some others are offering alternatives. Recall that few true socialistic communes have ever existed as best we (or I) know. I have visited one in Pennsylvania, originating from close to where I live in Germany.

      • May 20, 2018 at 12:13 pm

        James, Sapiens mark a new stage of organism evolution. The change from groups of organisms to groups as organisms. Human communities are groups made up of human organisms. Humans groups survive by these foundations – cognition, culture, and cooperation. The foundations are always threatened with cheating by some group members. Early Sapiens used a variety of practices to prevent and correct cheating. Part evolutionary and part cultural these methods included ridicule, subjugation, ostracization, and ultimately execution. Anthropological field experiments show this process continues today. Still resting on the same foundations of human groups. Sapiens’ eyes, ears, hands, etc. have evolved to facilitate communication and cooperation. As has the Sapiens’ brain. Along with the cultural adaptations to maximize cooperation and minimize individual gains from undermining the group, these are the hallmark of Sapiens. Not some sort of generic intelligence. So, humans live in groups involving cooperation and culture because of 200,000 years of evolution and cultural adaptations. So, “communes” are not new for Sapiens. What we need to do today is get control of cheaters who exploit the group. After all, human evolution is between groups. Dysfunctional groups are weeded out.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        May 20, 2018 at 2:24 pm

        For sure, Ken, we are groupies, with people like Hitler & Trump taking advantage of this for their personal benefit. Thus, what is normally an enhancement of the individual becomes in the hands of a few the basis of calamity for the individual. I see it still at work here in Gemany.

      • Robert Locke
        May 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm

        Long ago, Stefano Zambon pointed out to me that Continental Europeans had an “organic” concept of the firm and Anglo-Saxons a proprietary concept. As long as capitalism operates under a proprietary conception of the firm, it can never provide distributive justice. Co-determination in firm governance rests on the idea of the organic conception; it legitimises the participation of all stakeholders in maters of governance, including the distribution of emoluments, pay, and bonuses. Is that capitalism? I think so. Co-determination exists in Germany and it is a capitalist country. Co-determination is vehemently rejected by US managerialism. Bur it is the simplest step in our system towards distributive justice.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        May 20, 2018 at 2:27 pm

        Robert, I sure see such at work where I live. I find it increasingly difficult to understand the Brits, for example, on their Brexit–which means that I as an American have become another person in some respects.

      • May 21, 2018 at 6:43 am

        James and Robert, in terms of evolution human groups are organisms. Or, if you’re uncomfortable with thinking of human groups as organisms, then consider it this way – human groups perform like the human body. The human body’s survival depends on all the cells working together. Human groups survive the same way. It’s not a question of love or hate, or even comradeship. It’s about survival. But as with the human body, achieving and maintaining such cooperation is difficult. The human body has mutated cells, and cells that suffer from one disease or another, cells that are harmed by environmental agents, etc. that lead to that coordination failing, hurting, or killing the body. Human groups have members with diseases, members whose selfishness is turned on the group, members environmentally damaged that harm or obstruct group coordination, sometimes damaging or killing the group. But this is typical. Sapiens’ evolution is at the group level. The groups with the fewest of these glitches and who handle more of them successfully are more likely to survive and thus set the pattern for human evolution. Today there are multiple groups inside the USA land mass working on these failures. One group is in my view ahead in the race – patriarchal, white, evangelical Christian, radical conservatives. Followed closely by patriarchal, multicultural, Catholic Christian, liberals. The two major groups in the USA for the last 50 years.

        Robert, if as you suggest Continental Europeans have an “organic” concept of the firm and Anglo-Saxons a proprietary concept, these are the result of group selection processes in which dominant American groups in general followed the Anglo-Saxon path. One more thing to keep in mind. Human evolution is a blind process of survivability. But human groups themselves are not blind. They pursue many pathways by means of the human creation, culture. But underlying all these is the equality of all members of a group via evolution. If we want to understand how Nazis nearly took over the world, or how the English ruled a vast empire from a small insignificant island, or how LA gangs work, we need to examine both evolution and culture.

      • Robert Locke
        May 21, 2018 at 10:42 am

        It is hard to have faith in the study of evolution and culture when almost every confidence one hss as a young person (faith in the 1950s in the trump of a New Deal Consensus evolveing into a good society, or belief that, after the slaughter of WWII Europeans would unite to preserve their civilisation} turns out to be wrong. Might as well go fishing as to study society.

      • Prof James Beckman, Germany
        May 21, 2018 at 1:16 pm

        Robert, I appreciate your feeling, but everyday we go into the world expecting people mostly to operate in the same way–like not running red lights. Of course, we do the same with building codes & medical prescriptions. On genetic matters, some families with adverse genetic characteristics may be advised to have their kids avoid/seek certain characteristics in their prospective mates. Perhaps all this is provisional, but that’s the way we operate, isn’t it?

      • May 22, 2018 at 6:06 am

        Robert, faith is not the concern. The most prosperous, democratic, and contented period in western history is 1945-1975. Beginning in the 1840s “Laissez-faire” was ascendant in first the UK and then the USA then to lesser extent continental Europe. 90 years later the ship ran aground, destroyed all the western economies, and gave rise to Fascism, and then a world war. Pretty damning of Laissez-faire. Karl Polanyi had been pointing out these dangers for several decades before the Depression, and Alfred Keynes “nailed capitalism” to the wall. Keynes and Polanyi pointed out the “self-regulating” market is utopian, and impossible without tight controls and planning by governments. For most of human history, Polanyi observed, money and the exchange of goods had been embedded within culture, religion, and politics. Keynes noted that once started the laissez-faire machine cheerfully annihilated the people and the natural environment that it made use of, unless it was restrained. Laissez-faire was always opposed, if only around the edges, as is the case today. Inspecting food and drink, subsidizing irrigation, water, regulating coal-mine ventilation, utilities, and factory safety standards, requiring vaccinations, requiring juvenile school attendance, etc. During the Depression, Keynes made the case that governments should deficit-spend their way out of recessions. By the time Polanyi’s book was published (1944), the Keynesian view had become orthodoxy. For the next few decades, the world’s leading economies were tightly managed by their governments. Internationally, capital movement was tightly controlled, and the exchange rate set by Bretton Woods.

        This created the world of 1945 and after. In the three decades following the Second World War, per-capita output grew faster in Western Europe and North America than ever before or since. There were no significant banking or financial crises. The real income of Europeans rose as much as it had in the previous hundred and fifty years, and American unemployment, which had ranged between fourteen and twenty-five per cent in the thirties, dropped to an average of 4.6% in the fifties. The new wealth was widely shared, too; income inequality plummeted across the developed world. And with the abundance came calm. The economic historian Barry Eichengreen, in his book, “The Populist Temptation,” reports that in twenty advanced nations no populist leader—which he defines as a politician who is “anti-elite, authoritarian, and nativist”—took office during this golden era, and that a far narrower share of votes went to extremist parties than before or after.

        This was screwed up in the late 1970s by something called “stagflation,” which the Keynesians in-charge couldn’t find a solution for. Not that there aren’t solutions. There are. They just required making structural changes that the neoclassical economists waiting in the wings opposed. Mostly related to making the USA more socialist. Thereby diminishing the influence of banks, big corporations, and rich capitalists (particularly financial ones). Same for our problems today. Just need to put Laissez-faire back in the box and lock the box. Don’t need a seeing-eye dog to know what to do next. Right now, the groups going in this direction are not coordinating or cooperating well enough to take on highly coordinated and cooperative, and well financed groups supporting “free-markets” and Laissez-faire as the ultimate solution for all problems. We’ve known for a while that propaganda (advertising) and scapegoating work. This may morally outrage you, but that’s no substitute for an effective response. As I said some of the small protections that don’t fit with governments staying out of markets (at least to help those hurt by them) remain in place, e.g., social security, deposit insurance, limits on usury, product standards, seat belt laws. But if free markets advocates continue to control government those will go soon. A return to the world of Oliver Twist is not out of the question. Great source material for novels. Apart from that nothing positive about this change. Changing this path requires more than harsh words, however.

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