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Messages - dnem

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Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: Today at 01:58:27 PM »
James Annan has an interesting thread on Twitter this morning where he discusses a new antibody study in the UK. The study, not peer reviewed yet, is reported in the Guardian. The take home is that 6% of the UK population has antibodies. Total COVID-19 deaths reported on Worldometers is 41,329, which would reflect an IFR of just above 1% if both the serology and death numbers are accurate.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 12, 2020, 01:13:16 PM »
Neven, I appreciate your post above. I think it is one of the clearest explications of the many (!) explaining where you are coming from.

I wholeheartedly agree that modern techno-industrial society is very brittle and lacks resilience. It is subject to collapse in the face of many different threats. I agree that it is primarily the greed of the few that has led us to this lamentable state. However, in your burning desire to point out the flaws in the system, you have oversold the point that the novel coronavirus is just a minor, inconsequential threat.  It is essentially irrelevant that a totally different, robust, healthy, well-balanced global human society might have shrugged this thing off. Who cares? It is barely worth talking about. I find the information here that delves into what the virus is doing within the world we actually live in to be more interesting, useful and relevant.

Sorry dnem, I had multiple tabs open on the same subject and combined info. I do all my work on a smartphone and it gets congested sometimes.  I also fact check and correct reporting errors ...

A minor error and verified by your other sources. And as the others have said, you make great contributions here. And that you do it all on a phone is almost inconceivable!

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 08, 2020, 02:36:13 PM »
Is it possible that being born into, and growing up in a less sterile environment can result in a more robust immune system leading to less severe COVID disease? I am a big believer in the hygiene hypothesis and believe that the obsession with cleanliness in modern societies is bad for immune and overall health.

We let our kid play in the dirt, put stuff in his mouth, etc. He has had literally one course of antibiotics in his 17 years compared to many of his peers that have had dozens.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that global output will never exceed 2019 levels. The long-lasting effects of the pandemic, layered with increasing climate costs, the ongoing demographic transition in the high consumption countries and a general growing awareness of the multiple sustainability crises afflicting humanity will all conspire to reduce worldwide output. This is hardly an unmitigated negative; we need to rein in global production/consumption dramatically to have a prayer.

I'm not especially confident of this prediction and we may be able to crank up the machine for one last go that exceeds 2019 levels for a few years to a decade or so, but after that the human endeavor will be on a downward trajectory. Also, the twisted way that we calculate GDP, that counts all sorts of things that don't reflect human prospering, will result in a lot of spending that is really about mopping up human suffering, not advancing health and welfare.

Right now Hurricane Hanna is at around 973 mb and 80 kts. The Beaufort low is predicted to bottom out around the same central pressure but the predictions I see are for perhaps 40 or 45 kts.

Why the difference?

Consequences / Re: The Climatic Effects of a Blue Ocean Event
« on: July 24, 2020, 12:51:00 PM »
A key question is how much hysteresis the arctic will exhibit. Is there an amount of melt, early enough in a given season, past which the system cannot recover? Can enough ice melt, exposing enough open water to insolation, and giving the opportunity for mixing to bring heat up, such that the next freeze season simply can't repair the damage?

If a BOE is a fleeting phenomenon for a few days in September, and the following freeze season can essentially reset the system, then a BOE is just a point on a continuum of damage. (The slow transition theory postulates that so much heat would be lost to space during the arctic night after a big melt season that the system can robustly reset after a big melt). If a BOE for a few days represents a hole out of which arctic ice cannot climb, then it is a tipping point.

Science / Re: ECS is 2.5
« on: July 23, 2020, 01:42:32 PM »
Perhaps this isn't the best place for this question, but I am wondering how this new ECS estimate handles arctic ice feedbacks. The abstract says "We assess evidence relevant to Earth's equilibrium climate sensitivity per doubling of atmospheric CO2, characterized by an effective sensitivity S . This evidence includes feedback process understanding, the historical climate record, and the paleoclimate record."

Do they explicitly include the possibility of an early collapse in arctic ice cover? What if we go below 2 million km^2 this year and that results in a state change and larger and larger areas of open water during summer become the norm going forward? How would that change ECS? In a way, such an event is almost independent of future rises in CO2 as we continue toward a doubling, but it would certainly effect the energy balance of the planet and the trajectory of future temperatures.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 14, 2020, 02:46:02 PM »
Lots of discussion yesterday about IFR and whether Covid is manufactured hype or the real deal.

The Health Or Economy discussion misses the target because in reality such choice does not exist.

Let's use 330M US population as an example. If Covid runs wild and "everybody" gets it, a 0.5% IFR would cause 1.65 M deaths. That is a huge number, but we know that only 5% of hospitalized patients die. So in addition to deaths there would be 31.35 M patients hospitalized but surviving. Many of those would suffer from long-term or permanent complications.

In addition to hospitalized patients there would be patients sick at home, missing work, some caring for relatives and family members. All in all we are talking about tens of millions of people who are directly affected by the epidemic. A very conservative assumption of 100M Americans missing on average 5 days of work for Covid means 0.5 billion missed days of work.

This would (and does) have massive economic consequences all by itself. Even assuming people don't mind the disease until they or their family members get it, but instead they just go about minding their own business as usual. Eat out, fly on airlines, have cruise vacations etc. Obviously this is not the case, because people will change their behaviour to avoid illness, whether media hype or not.

Exactly. I would only add that this sort of "approach" is morally repugnant with respect to health care workers.  The rate of transmission must be kept below the threshold that overwhelms hospitals. We cannot subject health care workers to dangerous, demoralizing, exhausting conditions. It is immoral.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 12, 2020, 01:33:54 PM »
This has been said a few times upthread but it bears repeating. The difference in response to COVID-19 compared to other issues that kill lots of humans is that it is caused by a virus that can grow exponentially through a naive population. C'mon, this is pretty simple. In the explosive growth phase of this bug, the infected population doubles every 2.5 DAYS. We have seen this in multiple places. When that happens, hospitals get overrun, critical supplies run short and health care workers get exhausted and they get sick. That result must be avoided, period.

A total lock down is a blunt tool, to be sure. It was mostly deployed only in the first weeks of all this, and it was warranted. In places that have the virus under reasonable control, relatively benign mitigations should be able to keep it under control, and hopefully lots of places will be able to muddle through as treatments improve and perhaps a vaccine become available.

In places like the US, Mexico and Brazil where there is widespread community transmission, I honestly don't know what the answer is. It seems pretty clear that the middling measures in place are not quite sufficient, and we are getting perilously close to serious problems with the hospitals again.  Obviously, better compliance with the measures in place would help.

It's pretty clear to me that this thing is going to cause a significant and long-lasting drop in global economic activity.  It's not a bad early test for the planned retrenchment of the human endeavor that will NEED to happen if we have any hope of getting out of the mess of messes we are in.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 11, 2020, 02:44:41 PM »
I hesitate to wade into this one, but here goes.

I am sympathetic to a lot of Neven’s views.  The “world order” for lack of a better term (the neoliberal hegemony?) is deeply corrupt and badly broken. The entire sad descent of our species over the next decades will be marked by “disaster capitalism,” wealth concentration, xenophobia, totalitarianism, and bad faith. The response to SARS-CoV-2 is just an example of this trend. It behooves the media to push a disaster narrative as that sells. While there are glimpses of honorable behavior, big pharma and other large capitalist actors will use this crisis to make a buck. It’s what they do.

I’ll also agree that huge swaths of humanity are poorly nourished, fed bad quality food by the industrial ag system, are overweight, beset by “lifestyle diseases,” sedentary, out of shape and on and on. This undoubtedly makes them less able to fight off a dangerous, novel virus. But rather than see this as somehow part of the hype about COVID-19, I see this as yet another part of the system that Neven rails against. Advancing this argument and then declaring “If you weren’t all so unhealthy you’d be fine” is victim shaming. So many are so unhealthy because the system is so unhealthy.

But these issues are just the setting within which the novel corona virus outbreak is occurring. Yes, they are making it worse, in some ways. But to me the data are quite clear, in areas where the virus really gets going without mitigation measures, it can be disastrous. Just contemplate what would have happened had NYC gone through just one more doubling.  It would have been a cataclysm. I still worry about what will happen this winter when a virus fatigued world faces seasonal flu and the lack of physical distancing imposed by winter weather.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 10, 2020, 04:47:12 PM »
Sam, many here appreciate your posts and perspective. I'm glad you returned. I hope you continue to post and ignore what deserves to be ignored.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020 melting season
« on: July 10, 2020, 01:36:43 PM »

Just average for the five lowest extent years puts 2020 298 sq km. below 2019 two weeks from now. Hold on to your hats.

So you take the lowest value for the date (this year) and extrapolate from there the biggest losses, and you get a new record low? Who would have thought?

 :) ;)
Yep, it's not a great mathematical surprise but thinking about it, what are the odds 2020 is not among the top five loss years for the rest of the month? Or the rest of the season?

CO2e forcing is stronger every year, 3 out of last 5 years are among the top five and 2020 has certainly proven to be a strong melt season.

That's why I've always thought the top two lines in Gero's standard table, where he appends the average loss for the last 10, and 5, years to the current extent is very useful.  It is the simplest empirical way to predict where the season will go.  Both lines now predict 2020 will end up in a solid 2nd position.  Only three years in 10 (two of which are 13 and 14) result in a non 2nd place finish. The odds of finishing >4 mil sq km are very low IMO.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020 melting season
« on: July 08, 2020, 07:54:54 PM »

That's incredible.  Just stunning.  I can't believe we are having this kind of melt season.  One for the ages.

Had to happen sooner or later.

Consequences / Re: World of 2030
« on: July 06, 2020, 01:48:12 PM »
Not quite sure where to put this, but it works here.  His view of the next few decades strikes me as not unreasonable:

If Life Feels Bleak, It’s Because Our Civilization is Beginning to Collapse
2030 Will Be Even Worse than 2020. And 2040 Will Be Even Worse than That. Unless.

There’s an old line from a movie called Office Space — do you remember that one? — that I’ve always loved: “Every day since I began work is worse than the day before it.” That’s kind of an apt summary for…everything…at the moment.

Life isn’t a happy thing right about now. It’s stressful, strange, upside-down. I’m weary with boredom, exhausted by isolation, tired of all the nothing…and I bet you are, too. So.
Is it just me, or living through the end of human civilization kind of…sucks?

There’s not — or there shouldn’t be, by now — any real debate on the point that we are now living through the probable end of human civilization.

The end of human civilization is now easy enough to see, over the next three to five decades. It’s made of climate change, mass extinction, ecological collapse, and the economic depressions, financial implosions, political upheavals, pandemics, plagues, floods, fires, and social breakdowns all those will ignite.

Coronavirus is a foreshadowing, a taste of a dismal future, a warning, and a portrait, too. Life as we know it is falling apart. Life as we know it will continue to fall apart, for the rest of our lives. How do you live through that?

I’m not your therapist, sadly — or luckily. I’m just an economist. So let me paint you a picture.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 24, 2020, 06:41:30 PM »
All models are wrong, but some are useful.

Well yeah, I agree with that basic sentiment, but saying there will be only 600,000 more cases but 115,000 more deaths by October is mutually inconsistent and just plain wrong and makes me question anything else in the piece.

Consequences / Re: Sea Level Rise and Social Cost of Carbon
« on: June 22, 2020, 03:54:58 PM »
The 2020s may be the decade of Sea Level Rise. But, if so, it will be the decade of SLR AND heat waves, wild fires, and...

Science / Re: Magnitude of future warming
« on: June 18, 2020, 05:06:26 PM »
I'm not sure if this is the most recent time Tamino has looked at it, but 2.5 years ago he concluded:
Bottom line: CO2 is on the rise, the rise itself (velocity) has been getting faster (acceleration), and there’s no evidence at all that has changed recently.

I can't imagine there's enough data since then to definitively concluded that this has changed.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 18, 2020, 02:05:46 PM »
Data free observation here: Areas in the US with the fastest growth in new cases are in high air-conditioning use regions where people spend more time inside during the summer, e.g. Florida and Arizona.

I know there are counterexamples, but as with most things, the spikes have multiple causes and extreme heat driving people indoors into air-conditioned spaces might well be one of them.

Arctic sea ice / Re: 2020 Sea ice area and extent data
« on: June 17, 2020, 06:03:07 PM »
I think Phoenix was saying the one day loss would have been around 300 (actually it would be 296) to jump the 5-day average from -136 yesterday to -168 today.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 16, 2020, 04:38:15 PM »
Steroid Reduces Deaths Among Patients With Severe Covid-19, Trial Shows

Giving low doses of the generic steroid drug dexamethasone to patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 reduced death rates by around a third among those with the most severe cases of infection, trial data has shown.

The results, described as a “major breakthrough” by scientists leading the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease, the researchers said.

I'm a bit bewildered by the sudden hype over Dexamethasone for COVID-19. Having been there for the final stages of lung cancer treatment with my mom, every time she went through a rough patch and was having trouble breathing, it would be standard procedure to either restart her on dexamethasone or up her dosage.  It seemed like an absolutely standard approach to improve her pulmonary function.  So this is new for COVID?

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 13, 2020, 02:37:29 PM »
We all believe things and since nothing is clear, each day we have a study saying something different, so everybody can find good arguments for what he believes is true. Even the interview proposed by dnem, which I generally found good, provides information about obesity which has already been demonstrated false.

Eitienne, your conclusion about obesity appears to be overstated:
Johns Hopkins cardiologist David Kass discusses a recent study he co-led that links higher body mass index to more severe cases of COVID-19 and points to obesity as a significant pre-existing condition in younger patients in particular.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 11, 2020, 06:56:59 PM »
Interview with a "top epidemiologist" predicting a very difficult path ahead:

Here are the highlights of our conversation. But if you really want to understand this disease, read the whole interview.  This disease may be the biggest event of our lifetimes.

3 months ago, COVID-19 was not even in the top 75 causes of death in this country. Much of the last month, it was the #1 cause of death in this country. This is more remarkable than the 1918 Flu pandemic.

There is no scientific indication Covid-19 will disappear of its own accord.

If you’re under age 55, obesity is the #1 risk factor. So, eating the right diet, getting physical activity, and managing stress are some of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from the disease.

One of the best things we can do for our aging parents is to get them out into the fresh air, while maintaining physical (not social) distancing.

Wearing a cloth mask does not protect you much if you’re in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 contagious. It may give you 10 minutes, instead of five, to avoid contracting the disease.
We can expect COVID-19 to infect 60% – 70% of Americans. That’s around 200 million Americans.
We can expect between 800,000 and 1.6 million Americans to die in the next 18 months if we don’t have a successful vaccine.

There is no guarantee of an effective vaccination and even if we find one, it may only give short term protection.

Speeding a vaccination into production carries its own risks.

The darkest days are still ahead of us. We need moral leadership, the command leadership that doesn’t minimize what’s before us but allows everyone to see that we’re going to get through it.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 10, 2020, 11:52:47 PM »
This is an interesting excess mortality "info-graphic" at the New York Times.  I think their CV coverage is free to all:

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: June 09, 2020, 03:33:17 PM »
There are two new Nature papers looking at the infections and deaths prevented by the lockdowns.  Here's a news article summarizing them:

TOPLINE A pair of studies published on Monday by the British scientific journal Nature, found that shutdown orders helped prevent roughly 60 million Covid-19 infections in the United States and prevented approximately 3.1 million deaths across Europe.

And one of the papers:

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: May 31, 2020, 01:36:30 PM »
Last night we had our first social night out in almost three months. We had a picnic with another couple in their yard. We brought our own food and they had theirs and we sat about 12 feet across from each other and ate and chatted. It was very nice. One of the other two happens to be a very prominent epidemiologist who specializes in pandemic response preparedness. He has designed and run federal preparedness "war games" and has reported directly to presidents of the US. A few take homes:

SARS-CoV-2 is a worse bug than the 1918 influenza and had it been the bug at that time the global result would have been worse than the actual impact of that pandemic.

While he has spent his life preparing for pandemics, SARS-CoV-2 is worse than he expected and has a higher transmissibility, mortality and sublethal impacts than the pandemics he has gamed out.

He believes that current seropositivity in the US is around 5%.

Being an RNA vaccine, the Moderna vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, needs to be stored at minus 80 C and is only stable for about 20 minutes after being removed from cold storage. This vastly complicates the logistics of distribution.  This is true of all RNA vaccines. This information is readily known; I just had not heard it.

Interestingly, social distancing compliance and stay-at-home compliance was far higher in the US than in their simulations. They did not anticipate that Americans would do it.  Obviously that situation is starting to change now.

Overall is is rather pessimistic about the future course of the pandemic.  He envisions a long slog, at least 18 more months, that might include outbreaks that rival or surpass what NY City experienced in April.

Smart, calm, sober, quiet, understated guy. Take it for what you will.

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: May 28, 2020, 12:54:25 PM »
I agree, Neven. The lived examples of communism and capitalism (at large, national and international scale) are so removed from their theoretical underpinnings as to make the terms almost without meaning.

(yep, sorry for OT).

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: May 26, 2020, 07:40:03 PM »
From the linked article:

They found a combined 50 billion years of evolutionary heritage, at least, were under threat from human impacts such as urban development, deforestation and road building.

Rikki Gumbs said the numbers are very large because species are evolving in parallel; for reptiles alone you get a figure of 13 billion years (about the age of the Universe).

He said: "The tree of life is so vast and extinction is so widely spread across the tree of life that when you begin to add up all these numbers you end up with these kinds of incomprehensible figures of more than 50 billion years."

This collection of assets has suddenly grown from ~4 trillion to ~7 trillion.  The infusion of 3 trillion in newly-printed cash hasn't so far shown inflationary impact, prices in the US in this short-term period are quite deflationary.  The total of 7 trillion effectively negates 7 trillion of national debt.

It's highly relevant, I think.  The Covid-related economic contraction would result in a Greater Depression without such efforts to maintain stability of the money supply.

I appreciate these discussion of the macroeconomic consequences of responses to the COVID-19 crisis in this thread.  Steve, if the Fed can blink $ trillions into existence, buy up assets, and then put them on the balance sheet, why do we care about the national debit at all? Why do we finance it in normal times with interest payments? Why not blink it out of existence on an ongoing basis?

Obviously these questions are a bit rhetorical. In practical terms, are we getting close to some discontinuity in how these pieces fit together?  The "system" as you describe it has the feel of a perpetual motion machine.

The Coming Greater Depression of the 2020s
While there is never a good time for a pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis has arrived at a particularly bad moment for the global economy. The world has long been drifting into a perfect storm of financial, political, socioeconomic, and environmental risks, all of which are now growing even more acute.

These ten risks, already looming large before COVID-19 struck, now threaten to fuel a perfect storm that sweeps the entire global economy into a decade of despair. By the 2030s, technology and more competent political leadership may be able to reduce, resolve, or minimize many of these problems, giving rise to a more inclusive, cooperative, and stable international order. But any happy ending assumes that we find a way to survive the coming Greater Depression.

Interesting article, Tom, not written by a nut. The piece essentially sums up the myriad ways humanity's darker angels may respond to the intertwined issues of the structural instabilities already in place before the pandemic, the pandemic itself, and the coming additional environmental challenges that need to be considered as the world responds. Worth reading.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 28, 2020, 05:48:18 PM »
No function at all. It's the 1918 pandemic, Kassy.  :P

Yes, except that vertical scale is about a thousand times higher than the current COVID pandemic.

I know that wili already pointed this out, but it bears repeating. The scale on the Spanish Flu graph is in "Deaths per 1,000 persons". The first peak of 5 per 1,000 equates to about 5,000 per million. The most affected countries are in the 200-600 deaths per million range right now. The second peak on the Spanish Flu graph is 5 times the first.  (Admittedly, the Flu graph appears to be reporting perhaps weekly rates while the 200-600 is cumulative, but still...).

An outbreak in the fall 5 times the current outbreak would be unimaginably destructive.  The vastly more complex, interconnected, interdependent global economy (compared to 1918) could not withstand it.

None of that is to say that such an outbreak is likely. I have no idea.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 28, 2020, 01:35:28 PM »
Had New York City progressed one or two more doublings down the path before its lockdown, the results would have been almost unimaginably horrific. This is not the flu.
The lockdown in NYC did jack-sh*t. This is very wrong.

That means, if there was any impact, we only missed a SINGLE doubling period, because by the time lockdowns had begun, we were already VERY high up the exponential curve.

I don't generally engage in back-and-forth discussions here, but, really BBR? TWICE the rate of admissions into hospitals, TWICE the demand on ICUs, TWICE the 911 calls, TWICE the deaths (which would have been more than twice, given the maxed out systems that did occur) are "jack-sh*t"??

I suggest you ask an ICU nurse or doctor about that.

Here's one for the "debt is no problem" camp. The article argues that we wracked up just as much debt in WW2 as we are now and we just grew out of it in the ensuing decades.  I'd argue that the next few decades will be very different from the second half of the 20th century as we deal with the rising costs of the climate crisis and a growing realization that we need to reign in growth to maintain a functioning biosphere.

That’s how government debt gets repaid after it piles up. You don’t pay it off. You grow your way out of it.

This isn’t intuitive because it doesn’t apply to people. When a person takes out a mortgage or a car loan, there’s a repayment date. But that’s only because people have finite careers and lifespans, so there’s an “end date” where all debts have to be repaid.

Countries (and to some extent companies) are different. They have indefinite lives. So they can remain indebted indefinitely, even with rising debt.

As long as nominal GDP growth is higher than the annual budget deficit, debt to GDP goes down, and spending more than you take in leaves you with a lower debt burden.

This is so simple, but it’s easily overlooked because it doesn’t apply to people.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 27, 2020, 06:47:45 PM »
Had New York City progressed one or two more doublings down the path before its lockdown, the results would have been almost unimaginably horrific. This is not the flu.


Bullshit jobs: why they exist and why you might have one
And why this professor thinks we need a revolution.
By Sean  Updated Nov 9, 2019, 8:47am EST

Do you have a job that you secretly believe is pointless?

If so, you have what anthropologist David Graeber calls a “bullshit job.” A professor at the London School of Economics and a leader of the early Occupy Wall Street movement, Graeber has written a new book called Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.

He argues that there are millions of people across the world — clerical workers, administrators, consultants, telemarketers, corporate lawyers, service personnel, and many others — who are toiling away in meaningless, unnecessary jobs, and they know it.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 26, 2020, 09:58:37 PM »
FWIW, the plots show "recent years" in light gray and you can see the size of other spikes.

For example, the Portugal plot shows a spike from an earlier year that exceeds its COVID-19 spike. Most countries do not.  The plots do not, however, show the magnitude of notable flu epidemics over the decades.

Tom, your economic posts continue to cite almost exclusively stridently ideological sources. Yesterday's dire posts were both from gold bug sites. Sites that want you to buy gold are always going to paint a bleak picture. Today, the Mises Institute is a hard right libertarian think tank that believes "the market" will solve all.

Take these sources for what they are.

There is something illogical about there all of a sudden being excess potatoes or milk etc. Presumably the net amount of food that people consume has not declined. So why the excess? Could it be that people are all cooking at home instead of eating out and that this is much more efficient and much less wasteful?

It is because people are cooking at home and not eating out, but not (primarily) because of the waste issue. Most of the potatoes grown in the US are eaten as French fries in restaurants.  People just aren't buying up the quantities of bagged frozen French fries to make up for the French fries they used to eat at restaurants. Plus, there are very specific supply chains set up to grow, process, pack and ship potatoes to the commercial French fry market and these chains can't be easily switched to making small bags of frozen fries for the home market. Similar issues for milk.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020 melting season
« on: April 22, 2020, 03:46:05 PM »
I think that heavy snow in the high latitudes is a developing new normal for the NH and this needs to be watched closely.

BBR, is that you?!

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 21, 2020, 05:05:19 PM »

Thanks Bruce. I did not mean to sound dismissive and I take great pleasure in the food I do produce. But home-based food production has zero chance of helping America through this crisis this growing season in any meaningful way. The most vulnerable are poor and urban (I'm not telling you anything you don't know!) and are already hungry.

But certainly, if a victory garden ethos can arise out of all this as we begin to regain our footing on the other side, that would be wonderful.

Please. I have a nice garden. The thought of feeding my family from it is preposterous. My early greens and lettuce are starting to come in nicely. We had frost the other night. Haven't even put out any summer vegetables. "Plant a garden" is not a viable answer.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 16, 2020, 09:01:01 PM »
Sam, this may be too philosophical a question for this thread, but given your view of the threat this virus poses, how are you viewing the rest of your time on this planet? How have you integrated your assessment into your goals, dreams, aspirations, hopes for your kids (if you have any), etc.?

Because if you are right, I am at a loss for how to do that.  Feel free to PM me or perhaps there's a more appropriate thread for this discussion.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 12, 2020, 03:33:38 PM »
Not sure if this has been reported/discussed here yet. Another cruise ship natural experiment.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 10, 2020, 01:18:59 PM »
I have a question that perhaps belongs in the Stupid thread. I'm struggling with the concept of R0.  Humans live in such vastly different arrangements with such vastly different patterns of movement and behaviors across the planet. How can there be a single R0? I can see coming up with some sort of standardized number for a population with a given set of parameters, but a single number for how a disease moves among "people"? It doesn't make sense to me. People live at such different densities and have such different cultural norms around touching, kissing, hugging, hand-holding, hygiene, etc., etc.

Consequences / Re: Global recession
« on: April 09, 2020, 03:24:16 PM »
Well, I guess we'll be getting a pretty good test of "modern monetary theory":

Tally of Unemployed Workers Surges by 6.6 Million: The Federal Reserve announced that it would pump up to $2.3 trillion into the economy.

The Federal Reserve said it could pump $2.3 trillion into the economy through new and expanded programs it announced on Monday, ramping up efforts to help companies and state and local governments suffering financially amid the coronavirus. The central bank said it will use Treasury Department funds recently authorized by Congress to buy municipal bonds and expand corporate bond-buying programs to include some lower-rated and riskier debt.

Policy and solutions / Re: Lessons from COVID-19
« on: April 07, 2020, 08:43:34 PM »
Sorry El Cid. Tone can be hard to pick up sometimes. I think of myself as a realist too, and that's why I'm not very optimistic about the future. But I do hope there is some re-examination of globalism after this.

You said: "What I actually meant was that the world has been extremely interconnected for thousands of years and pandemics swept thru Eurasia quite quickly many centuries before capitalism and globalisation and disrupted trade and economy heavily."

I'm sure that is true and rare commodities have surely moved across continents for a couple of thousand years. But the complexity of modern supply chains makes them far less stable in the face of disruptions than the spice trade, or salt or what have you.  In the past, commodities moved because they were not available everywhere.  Since the rise of globalization, capital now moves freely around in search of the cheapest inputs of materials and labor. It is both dehumanizing and a disaster for the environment.  Layer on top of that the financialization of everything, which did not exist in ancient supply chains and IMO you have a much less stable, much more vulnerable world.

Stay safe.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 07, 2020, 06:27:12 PM »
With respect to the response to the CV crisis, this is certainly true. But the point of the Le Monde piece (and my point in posting it) is to stand back and look at the global economic model that has made "the system" so unstable in the face of this pandemic.

I totally agree. And the same evil system caused the dire economic consequences of the Spanish Flu, the Black Death and Justinian's plague. We must do something about it!

Oh El Cid, I knew you'd come 'round!   ;)

Seriously though, I don't think "Earlier pandemics caused economic disruption" is a particularly compelling refutation of my thesis, which is "Rampant globalism has made the world economy more vulnerable than one with simpler, more local supply chains." I, for one, sincerely hope that relocalization is part of the recovery process from this pandemic (as the Le Monde piece stipulates). You can continue to root for more globalism and consumerism.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 07, 2020, 03:38:42 PM »

In less than two months, the coronavirus pandemic has already been reshuffling the cards of economic globalization. The continuous lengthening of supply chains and the international division of labour for more than thirty years, as well as their just-in-time operation, are now perceived as sources of danger that are difficult to bear and justify.

Nationalism is the real danger. Nationalism has turned what should have been a coordinated global response into a circus.

With respect to the response to the CV crisis, this is certainly true. But the point of the Le Monde piece (and my point in posting it) is to stand back and look at the global economic model that has made "the system" so unstable in the face of this pandemic.  What I call the "neoliberal project", or globalism, has created a global system that is almost exquisitely configured to become unstable under this threat.  The system where capital chases the cheapest sources of labor and materials no matter where on the planet is the issue.  That has more to do with the global corporate hegemony than it does with nationalism.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 06, 2020, 05:06:32 PM »
Here's a translation in English of an op-ed published 2 weeks ago in Le Monde. I thought it does a good job of linking the larger crises of our time caused by the rise of the Neo-liberal project and the current CV crisis.

 « Relocalization is no longer an option but a condition for sustainable social & economic systems »

In less than two months, the coronavirus pandemic has already been reshuffling the cards of economic globalization. The continuous lengthening of supply chains and the international division of labour for more than thirty years, as well as their just-in-time operation, are now perceived as sources of danger that are difficult to bear and justify.

The pharmaceutical industry, which has relocated entire sections of its production apparatus to the extent that 80% of the active ingredients of medicines are now imported from China and India, compared with 20% thirty years ago, is cited as an example of sector that need to be relocalized. The term "relocalization" is now used in all speeches, including by those who have been working continuously, for years, to deepen neo-liberal globalization in the name of lowering costs.
They all speak about “relocalization” but without questioning the very content of investment and production choices. Should we add to the cost competitiveness criterion, which has guided the choices of investors for years, only the sole criterion of "risk competitiveness", as is now evoked? Or should we question the very content of these productions, the financing process, the ecological impacts and the quality of the jobs they provide ?

Calls for relocalization and economic recovery cannot, in fact, hide the intrinsic unsustainability of the global production system : in the report "Global Resources Outlook to 2060", the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that natural resource extraction will have to increase by 111% (150% for metals and 135% for minerals) to fuel a global annual growth rate of 2.8% by 2060. Even relocalized and re-boosted to fit with a new revisited form of protectionism, such an economic model is nonetheless unsustainable and undesirable.

The coronavirus crisis appears to be a symptom of an ill-organized world, which can only encourage the proliferation of uncontrollable events with a systemic destabilising dimension. Without being the root cause - which lies in the soaring inequalities and a financial bubble inflated by the central banks over the last ten years - the coronavirus is setting a dramatically unstable world economy on fire. What will happen when the climate disruption and ecological collapse documented by scientists produces its full effect, i.e. as early as tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, at the latest?

The fact that most of the economy and its financing is entrusted to the financial markets and multinational companies alone, making short-term financial profitability alone the main decision criterion, is a factor that deepens and worsens unfavourable situations such as a health crisis. In addition to increased financial fragility, social, ecological and fiscal dumping, as organised by three decades of neoliberalism, has clearly reduced the resistance and resilience capacities of our economic, social and, as we can see, health systems.

In the same way as the responses to climate change should be, health, economic and social measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic should be based on mandatory international solidarity. On the contrary, there is a proliferation of national, not to say nationalistic, measures, often contradictory to each other, consisting of organising competition for access to medical equipment (masks, screening tests, breathing machines) and pointing to the danger posed by neighbouring China or Italy or the responses provided by other countries.

The need to relocalize activities in order to reduce our ecological footprint and generate sustainable and quality jobs, through international cooperation and solidarity, should guide the structural choices to be made in the coming weeks. Relocalizing is no longer an option but a condition for sustainable social & economic systems, as well as of people. It is time to reduce the flow of capital and goods and to shrink the impact of economic sectors that are toxic to the biosphere (fossil fuels, chemicals and agro-industry, electronics, etc.).

Forgetting one of the terms of the equation would be tantamount to aggravating one or the other of the sources of global destabilization currently at work: ecological emergency, migration, wars and geopolitical tensions, the rise of authoritarianism, the slowing down of world trade, uncontrolled debt and financial markets, health crises, are all interdependent dimensions of globalization which we must try to address jointly.

Fire-fighting forces know this: when fire breaks out, it is necessary both to fight relentlessly to limit its spread and, at the same time, to ensure that it cannot rekindle, fuelled by secondary sources and adverse external causes. While the banking lobbies have continued to erode the already inadequate prudential measures put in place after the 2008 crisis, they are taking advantage of the current crisis to resume their undermining work. Yet it is the public regulations that allow them to navigate in bad weather that should be strengthened.

History is not written. It is full of moments when unforeseen events, wars, political shocks or social movements have accelerated ongoing processes or allowed unpredictable shifts. It is our collective responsibility to shift the world towards solidarity, sustainability, reduction of inequalities, in a nutshell, towards a liveable and desirable world. This will require our societies to take power out of the hands of the business barons, the techno-scientists and their political representatives.

Maxime Combes, Geneviève Azam, Thomas Coutrot, Jean Gadrey, economist & Christophe Aguiton sociologist, all members of Attac France.

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