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Back to the Drawing Boards. Sea Level Rise Will Be Twice What We've Been Told to Expect.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 09:09

What's a mere 1.5 mm per year? That depends.

Researchers from the University of Bonn have found that we have underestimated sea level rise due to ocean warming by about half.

“To date, we have underestimated how much the heat-related expansion of the water mass in the oceans contributes to a global rise in sea level,” said co-author Jurgen Kusche, a professor at the University of Bonn.

The overall sea level rise rate is about 2.74mm per year, combining both thermal expansion and melting ice.

Sea level rise was also found to vary substantially from place to place, with the rate around the Philippines “five times the global rate.”

The UBonn research has put a few noses out of joint but it's understood the conclusions will be corroborated by new research soon to be released by NCAR, the US National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Actual sea level rise varies substantially from area to area as this graphic of US SLR illustrates. 
As shown, here on the Pacific coast, sea levels haven't risen as they have elsewhere. It turns out that the winds took our warming and drove it to the ocean depths, part of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. 
That won't last long. The Pacific is now releasing that stored heat to the surface and it'll be coming our way. Sort of like catch-up.
What we're only now discovering is that governments can squander massive amounts of money engineering to meet the wrong threat. If the decision makers choose to go with the original IPCC estimates of one meter of sea level rise by 2100 but ignore subsequent science concluding it will actually be two to three times that, then you've bet the farm on the wrong horse. Adios farm.

A Good Question

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 06:35

There are days when it is difficult to see any long-term future for the human race. Stories abound of both our collective and individual acts of brutality that attest to the fact that purely animal urges prevail within us far too frequently. The scintilla of hope that something better is possible is offered, paradoxically, by collective and individual acts of kindness and compassion that also occur on a regular basis.

The problem, it seems to me, resides in our refusal to tame and regulate the bestial side of our nature, its most frequent expression being found in the behaviour of those who claim to represent us, our governments. Too many of us are content to simply throw up our hands and say these things are out of our control, and then go on to divert ourselves with the latest technological toy. Neil Postman wrote about such in Amusing Ourselves to Death.

I am, however, frequently buoyed by letters to the editor that amply demonstrate that there are those among us with insight, clarity and the capacity for analysis and are willing to challenge the insensate among us. Two such letters I reproduce below:
Husband of terror victim cut PM's call short, Jan. 22

I sympathize with the families of people killed in the Burkina Faso terror attack but I can’t help wondering about suggestions that Canada should step up bombing in Syria in retaliation. The Canadians were killed in Burkina Faso. Would it not be more satisfying retribution to send our planes to bomb Burkina Faso?

But who do we blame for the attacks? If the killing of a few Canadians in Burkina Faso justifies bombing attacks in Syria, then surely the killing of Canadians in Burkina Faso was justified by the killing of Afghans in Afghanistan, Iraqis in Iraq and Syrians in Syria. Turnabout is fair play, they say, and at this stage we of the Western world are ahead by several hundred thousand killings. Let’s hope ISIS and other “terror” groups don’t try to even the score.

We could also note that bombing has never yet won a war. Hitler’s blitz did not knock England out of World War II and when economist J.K. Galbraith studied the effect of allied bombing on Germany, he found that German arms production had peaked in late 1944.

We had air superiority, but the Korean war was a draw. The Americans dropped more bombs in Vietnam than they had in World War II, but they lost the war. The bombing of Cambodia helped Pol Pot to take power there.

It’s lots of fun to bomb an “enemy” and it’s very profitable for the corporations that make the planes and the bombs, but the evidence suggests that bombing builds, rather than breaks, resistance.
Western governments have spent billions of dollars on the series of wars that George Bush Sr. began and Jr. continued, but we’re a long way from peace. Does anyone else notice that the flood of refugees coming to Europe from Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria are coming from three countries that the U.S. “liberated” from governments that people did not see the need to flee, and one that was for years a client state that, in one case at least, tortured a Canadian on the orders of American “security” forces.

Maybe the best way to end terrorism would be to stop provoking it.

Andy Turnbull, Toronto

Respectfully, Westerners have no business in countries such as Burkina Faso, a state that is frequently rated among the worst countries in the world. Suggesting Prime Minister Trudeau is wrong to pull fighter jets in the fight against terrorism is unfair and just plain folly as incidents such as the recent deaths of six Quebec residents in the terrorist attack in Burkina Faso are literally a daily occurrence across the width and breadth of the African continent as well as many other territories in the world.

People who visit such countries in the name of faith-based altruism do so at their peril, and should not expect the governments of their home states to be held accountable for their misfortune. Tough, unsympathetic words? Perhaps, but that is the reality of the world we live in.

States such as Burkina Faso must forge their own destiny. Westerners who wish to help others in the name of faith would be better served if they looked in their own backyard first before disseminating their brand of religious altruism abroad.

Louis MacPherson, BowmanvilleBoth letters will, no doubt, provoke a flurry of outrage. The truth often hurts.
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Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 06:18
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Julie Delahanty comments on Canada's crisis of inequality and poverty. And Sean McElwee highlights how the ill-founded belief that income inequality is more a matter of merit than luck tends to lead people to accept far more of it than should be tolerable.

- Susan Riley rightly challenges the myth of "tax relief" - which typically results in tiny individual returns at the expense of any capacity to build a functional society.

- Paris Marx argues that a basic income serves as the most promising support system to allow for the growth of art and culture. And Angella MacEwen points out that employment insurance is the most obvious means of targeting stimulus money toward both social needs and economic growth.

- Finally, Colin Horgan examines the future of media as a public good in Canada, including this suggestion as to how to develop new opportunities for focused discussion of issues:
(T)he CBC’s online division offers the best chance at producing more new, niche-oriented media, given that it continues to receive federal funding — and if the current government has anything to do with it, apparently will receive more. This is not to say that all out-of-work journalists could work for the CBC, but rather that it may be there where experimentation could work, as it bears fewer (though still some) of the pressures of private media.

More specifically, this might mean launching an iPlayer-style TV app, and commissioning programming for it that otherwise might not make it to the main network simply because it appeals only to a small sub-section of viewers. Similarly, expanding its battery of podcasts beyond merely recordings of its radio shows, to include specific — or even random — topics (Video games? TV recaps? Vacations in continental Europe? WHL team coverage? The Aboriginal music scene?) would be inexpensive and, more importantly, allow advertisers more specific audiences to target. Likewise with its journalism: why not open sub-sites? Why not, for example, a data-journalism site akin to FiveThirtyEight? Any of these ventures that proves successful at the CBC might strike out on its own, starting another series of similar shows or podcasts, complete with a website garnered toward those viewers or listeners. Who knows?
There are problems with this idea — I can name a few already. For one, it would take a major shift in the way we conceive of a public broadcaster (as part start-up incubator). But if a varied, engaged, and thoughtful media sphere is indeed a public policy concern, then it might be incumbent of us to at least spitball some ideas about what we can do with the media corporation we all still own.

How Long?

Northern Reflections - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 05:09

In the wake of Justin Trudeau's trip to Davos, Gerry Caplan  assembles -- you'll excuse the pun -- a wealth of data on inequality in Canada and around the world:

The average full-time Canadian worker in 2014 was paid $48,636. The average minimum wage worker got $22,010. By contrast, the average top-100 CEOs had earned the average worker’s pay by 12:18 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2016 – the second paid day of the year – and the average minimum-wage worker’s pay by 2:07 p.m. on New Year’s Day itself.

In 2008, the top 100 CEOs in Canada made on average $7.3-million – 174 times more than the average full-time wage earner. By 2014, Canada’s top 100 CEOs were taking home on average $8.96-million, or 184 times the average worker.
What has happened in Canada has happened almost everywhere:

According to An Economy for the 1 per cent: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme Inequality and How This Can Be Stopped, the poorest half of the world’s population have seen their wealth drop by one trillion dollars, or 41 per cent, since 2010 while the richest 62 people have seen their wealth increase by half a trillion dollars. How can they even count it?
Five years ago, 388 people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Now, it’s 62 people who own as much as 3.5 billion of their fellow citizens. This tiny band could fit onto a single bus, as Oxfam says, though I’m guessing super-plutocrats don’t use buses that much.
In 2015 five Canadians held the same amount of wealth as the bottom 30 per cent of Canadians, say 11 million people. The total wealth of Canada’s top five billionaires was $55-billion, the exact same amount – $55-billion – held by the bottom 30 per cent.
The wealth of those five richest Canadians has risen by $16.9-billion since 2010 – a 44-per-cent increase. Yet the bottom 10 per cent in Canada make only $2.30 more a day than they did 25 years ago. 
One wonders why Canadians haven't taken to the streets. And one wonders how long  it will be before they do take to the streets.


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