Monday, December 1, 2008

SAR #8336

In the 19th Century, consumption was a disease. Still is.

Truthiness Triumphs: NATO's Afghanistan command is consolidating the Public Affairs Office and the Psychological Operations Office, in order to prevent redundancies.

For the Shell of It: New studies show the ocean is becoming acidic 10 time faster than was predicted just a year or two ago. Alarmists are not being alarming enough.

Surf's Up: Delinquencies among prime rate mortgages are 45% above a year ago. Nationwide, 12 million mortgage holders owe more than their houses are worth.

Perspective: A deep recession will cause millions to lose their jobs, their savings, their homes. But a new report showing a 73% drop in oceanic zooplankton will cost hundreds of millions to starve. Zooplankton are food for crustaceans and fish, which are food for sea birds and mammals, and eventually for us, up here at the top of the food chain.

The Good, The Bad: Mortgage rates have fallen sharply; this is good for people with good credit. Our recent past suggests that it will be good for mortgage brokers, too, as they stuff the unqualified into FHA-guaranteed loans. The Ugly: Another subprime bubble in the works.

Diamonds are Carbon is Forever: Climate warming articles tend to end with 'by 2100', as if the next day all the carbon dioxide will be gone and the world will be full of rainbows and bunny rabbits. FYI: "The lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is a few centuries..." And 25% of what we put in the air tomorrow will last "essentially forever - far longer than human civilization so far."

Restrain Your Enthusiasm: Global demand for oil is expected to drop in 2008 and 2009, for the first time in a generation. Only 20,000 barrels a day, which works out to a 0.02% decline. Yes, two hundredths of one percent.

NIMBY: In a world-wide survey, 78% said they wanted their nation to do its fair share in reducing greenhouse gases. And over 50% of those folks thought someone else in their country should cut back. Those saying they, themselves, would alter their consumption patterns declined again this year. Teach your children well.

Assume: The Civil Engineer says, "assume this circle is a cow..." The economists counters, "assume everyone in the market acts rationally to maximize their benefits while companies always act to maximize profits and that all this is propelled by people acting independently while each has full and complete command of all the available information." Don't step in the stuff just outside the circle.

Absent Factor: Everyone keeps berating GM for not building cars people want. Actually, after the bailout or bankruptcy, what the auto industry needs is people who (a) can afford to buy a car and (b) actually need to do so.

Etiquette: Last summer the politicians and the pundits kept accusing Exxon and the other big oil companies of driving up the price of oil so they could make huge profits. Haven't heard much about the oil companies driving down the price of oil so they can take the tax losses, nor much in the way of "I was wrong," either.

Stirred, Not Shaken: When ice and global warming meet in conversation, it is nearly always polar ice - or Greenland's ice cap. Lately it's been concern over the breakup of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica. But mountain glaciers are also losing mass at unprecedented rates - a couple of billion people depend on glaciers for their water. There can be no doubt that we are now past the tipping point for ice melt worldwide.

Location, Location, Location: Those of us in temperate climes read global warming predictions and shake our heads over the future. But in Kenya and Eritea and other African areas, the future is now and the predicions have come true. Watch the video (1:40).

Printer's Ink: Isn't capitalism grand? Don't you just love free markets? Oh, the whole thing was a Ponzi scheme? Which whole thing, the capitalism or the free markets?

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