Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How to Make America Great (Again)

Here are three competing political and economic agendas. (1) Liberal, (2) Radical Socialist and (3) Conservative:


1. The economy: The problem:

The federal government is on a trajectory towards bankruptcy. Sooner or later, Social Security and Medicare will become insolvent.

Each year, the share of the federal budget that is spent on financing the debt grows. Obama  managed to reduce the government’s annual deficit to around $400 billion, but the new Republican tax cut for the rich is predicted to cause this to rise to $1 trillion. In addition, interest rates have been at an unprecedented low for years, and they are bound to rise soon. Gradually, financing the debt will crowd out other expenditures - health and human services, unemployment, infrastructure, housing and transportation, science and education, food and agriculture, energy and the environment, veterans and even the military.

The Trump administration is already proposing to cut food stamps. Stingy as our safety net and assistance to the needy are compared to other advanced social democracies, they will be reduced even further, as our government goes broke.

The solution:

A. Full retirement age for social security should be raised. Life expectancy has risen, so this makes sense. Raising the age at which dozens of millions of Americans begin to collect benefits will save the government BILLIONS. Read more...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Against Nuclear War and Social Injustice

 The mission of Physicians for Social Responsibility is to help protect the public against threats to global survival, specifically nuclear warfare and proliferation, global warming, and toxic degradation of the environment. It offers testimony to Congress and delivers professional and public education. It is a national network with 50,000 members and e-activists, and it is the U.S. affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. It is not necessary to be a physician to be a member or a supporter of this excellent organization.

One of the Sacramento chapter’s major functions is the Annual High School Scholarship Essay Contest. This was the 13th consecutive year that the contest was held, a period during which over $150,000 has been handed out.

The contest consists of responding to a prompt in an essay of 500 or fewer words. Each year a different prompt is used and the essays of past contest winners are posted on the PSR/Sacramento website at

This year’s prompt was the following statement by Franklin Roosevelt: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” Read more...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Water Grabbing: How Saudi Arabia is Growing Wheat in Arizona

Although no one really knows how much oil is left in Saudi Arabia’s huge oil reserve, the Saudis probably won’t have to worry about keeping warm in the foreseeable future. It is one of those things that seem so unfairly distributed in the world, like beauty: some people are blessed with good looks and others aren't, it's just the way it is.

What the Saudis are not so blessed with are water resources. There are no permanent rivers or lakes and very little rainfall. The Saudi desert sits on top of one of the oldest and largest aquifers in the world, which only 50 years ago, contained enough water to fill Lake Erie, but due to a combination of greed, stupidity and arrogance, the country has managed to drain its ground water supply and now has to rely on expensive desalination processing to provide drinking water to its growing population.

When the nomad culture of the Bedouins still thrived, each tribe knew where to find the wells and springs. Take some water, then, move your herd, to give the springs time to replenish. But the lush oases depicted in the Bible and the Koran is a thing of the past. The powers that be decided that the country should become self-sufficient and began to grow wheat in their desert until Saudi Arabia became the sixth largest exporter of wheat in the world. The government began subsidizing mega farms, allowing rich land owners to drain as much ground water as they pleased, with the result that most of it is now gone. Read more...

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Cornivore's Dilemma

In his 1951 post-apocalyptic novel 'The Day of the Triffids', John Wyndham writes about a plague of blindness that befalls the whole world, allowing the rise of an aggressive species of plants. Bioengineered by the USSR, Triffids are carnivorous super plants that can walk and talk and are trying to take over the world.

We have a similar situation happening in real life, where the invasion of the giant tropical grass known as 'corn' is invading our farms, our food supply and our bodies. You might say: 'Well, what's wrong with that? I like corn, it's healthy and it tastes good.' But the corn that we produce in such abundance is not grown for direct consumption; it is grown to feed cattle, to produce ethanol for our cars and as additives to processed foods.

In his book 'The Omnivore's Dilemma', Michael Pollan explains how this real life Triffid has been able to take over our food supply. Modern corn, already having a natural advantage because of its efficiency at using sunlight to grow, has made itself doubly attractive by tolerating many climates. 'The plant gratifies human needs, in exchange for which humans expand the plant’s habitat, moving its genes all over the world and remaking the land, clearing trees, plowing the ground, protecting it from its enemies, so it might thrive.' (from: When Corn Becomes King). Read more...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Is Scarcity a Fallacy? Part Two

By Tom and Madeleine Kando

In our previous post, we introduced the environmental debate raging between what Matt Ridley calls the Ecologists and the Economists in his April 25 Wall Street Journal article 'The Scarcity Fallacy'. We wrote that this is the familiar debate between what is better called environmental Optimists and Pessimists, or Malthusians and Anti-Malthusian, or Environmentalists and Anti-environmentalists. We presented the “optimistic” position, listing and discussing nine of their arguments.

Today, we present the alternative position - that of the (neo-)Malthusians, or the ”pessimists.” This is basically the environmental position, and it is also our own position, by and large. The best-known modern-day neo-Malthusian is Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich. Here are some of the major arguments:

We concluded the first half of this article by pointing out the difficulty of predicting the future by studying the past. However, the pessimists remind us that probabilistically the past is the best predictor of the future. Someone who has often been a klutz is more likely to be a klutz again than someone who has not been one. And there are things that are 99.9999% sure to happen. For example, it IS a certainty that we will run out of fossil fuels.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

God Created the Earth, but the Dutch Created Holland

Once more, I am visiting beautiful Holland, where my mother still lives and where I grew up. She is settled in the northern tip of this small country, her flat abutting a pristine stretch of green fields dotted with sheep, cows and horses. It is spring time and the high-pitched bleating of newly born lambs calling for their mother, fills the air. Giant white swans slowly navigate the small 'ditches', like miniature barges with elegant wings. I cannot resist driving on these tiny polder roads, barely able to keep my wheels from veering into the trenches that separate the fields.

It is miraculously beautiful. The landscape has not changed since the Dutch masters of the Golden Age immortalized it in their famous paintings. A sliver of a horizon dotted with church steeples and poplars, domed with an immense sky. The light from the intricate web of waterways, lakes, rivers and the surrounding sea is reflected back on a hazy countryside, as if it were bathed in milk. Read more...