Looking Back, Looking Forward

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/01/2018 - 2:21am in

It’s been quite a year. Here I take a quick look back at a few of the stories I wrote about last year and expect to follow next year.

Like everyone else, I was surprised and shaken by the election result. It seemed clear enough to EP – if not to the editors of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker – that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton fair and square, winning the supposedly safe states of the Old Northwest – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio – as well as Pennsylvania and Florida. The Russian cyber-mischief that was gradually revealed to have taken place throughout the year was interesting mainly as a gauge of Vladimir Putin’s mood and expectations. He, too, was expecting Clinton, whom he loathed, to win. Not even Trump, I suspected, seriously expected to emerge victorious.

That Russian interference tipped the scale didn’t seem plausible.  Neither did the proposition that James Comey altered the election outcome with his last-minute disclosure that a few more Clinton emails had been discovered, his hand having been forced by rebellious FBI agents. Nor was I especially worried about the clumsy attempts at collusion that had been made by various actors before the election, except as an index of their intentions (though the possibility of obstruction of justice charges against the president now seem very real).  It was the opportunities for mischief going forward that gave me pause, given the myriad conflicts that existed with the president’s business dealings: the emoluments clause writ large.

For that reason, I was especially interested in the FBI, especially after President Trump fired Comey, and the now former director reported the president’s repeated requests that he discontinue the investigation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The dissension that clearly existed within the ranks of the law enforcement agency at the time of the election still hasn’t come to the fore, but that is a tribute to the leadership under directors Comey and successor Christopher Wray. Their determination to prevent the president from rewarding his allies in the Bureau helps explain their swift transfer of agent Peter Strzok out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office over the summer, after text messages he wrote criticizing then-candidate Donald Trump came to light. The pursuit of even-handedness requires being equally tough on both factions.

The principle of banding together to stabilize governmental affairs is apparent on a broader front.  John Hudson, star diplomatic reporter for BuzzFeed, in October surfaced a report of a so-called “suicide pact” among Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whereby each agreed to leave in the event that the president moves against one of them. Add the nomination of Jerome Powell to a four-year term as chair of the Federal Reserve Board, and Trump is, at least in certain respects his administration, so far, an ordinary Republican president.

Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency? If you believe the science underlying the concern about climate change, as I do, then the Trump-Bannon wing of the Republican Party is doomed to extinction as the ill effects of global warming become inarguable and, alas, in many instances, irreversible.  Health care?  The next Congress will begin the arduous task of remedying the effects of a decade of GOP sabotage. Monetary policy once again will soon be at center stage. Of the two candidates for nomination as Fed vice-chair whose interviews have been announced, both are moderate: Richard Clarida, of Columbia University, studied under Benjamin Friedman at Harvard; Lawrence Lindsey, of the Lindsey Group, was a Martin Feldstein protégé there two years later.

Meanwhile, foreign policy, at least toward Russia, remains gripped by a kind of paralysis, as symbolized by the President’s inability to establish a joint cyber- security unit with Russia, as reported last summer by Reuters. BuzzFeed’s Hudson reported earlier this month on the collapse of broader secret talks with Russia. Thus both nations face important elections with no explicit common ground. That is all the more reason for both parties to rethink their foreign policy premises as they prepare for the US 2020 presidential election campaign. That’s where EP plans to spend some time when not writing about the economics profession. Onward and upward to 2018!

The post Looking Back, Looking Forward appeared first on Economic Principals.

Americans Are Stressed About the Future. Here’s Why That’s Promising

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/11/2017 - 4:10am in

This post originally appeared at Yes! Magazine.

Americans are really stressed out, according to a new poll by the American Psychological Association. That’s not news, but what’s surprising is that we are slightly more stressed out by the future of our country (63 percent) than by the usual stressors — money (62 percent) and work (61 percent). In fact, well over half of all Americans, 59 percent, believe this is “the lowest point in our nation’s history.”

I share this worry, although I also see possibility in that number — possibility that we are finally ready to turn things around. The era of empire, white supremacy, dirty energy and global capitalism has shown itself to be terribly destructive, and the number of people who benefit continues to shrink. The legitimacy of this system is eroding, just as apartheid did in South Africa and the empire of the USSR did. In both cases, enormously powerful systems collapsed quickly, but only after years of work.

Change at this scale is disorienting and even frightening, especially when it is hard to conceive of the outcome.

Reimagining our world

Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

I believe it is also true that we can’t make the transition to a new society within the framework of the old. Or, as Audre Lorde said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Obsessing over Donald Trump’s latest tweet or the misdeeds of the powerful keeps us within that old mindset, distracting us from work that might actually save us, the work of reimagining the world we want, and creating it.

I’ve come to believe that this work of reimagining is humble, small, often taps feminine energy, is fundamentally indigenous — and local. One way to learn what that means is to ask people who are rebuilding after a major collapse, like those now living in Puerto Rico. So I called up my colleague at PeoplesHub, Melissa Rosario, who lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Melissa had been building Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, an urban center of cooperative economics, ecologically light living and “embodied pedagogy” (healing, starting with the body). In the aftermath of the hurricanes, her work has taken on a new immediacy, she told me. Along with friends in the Puerto Rican diaspora — in Detroit, New York and elsewhere on the US mainland — she has been assembling healing supplies: herbal tinctures and syrups for respiratory and immune system health, salves for treating wounds, graphics showing acupressure points, instructions in breathing exercises and other techniques for working through trauma, emotional overwhelm, depression and insomnia.

“We want to restore to people the sense that their body can tell them what’s wrong, that they know best what they need,” she told me.

We can build a better country and a better world.

One of the first places where she brought the medicine kits was to a group of moms, grandmothers and children from a nearby neighborhood, who, along with a feminist collective, were using an abandoned building as a gathering place. A party was in full swing when Melissa arrived: Children were making masks for Halloween, while others were dancing to music playing from battery-powered speakers.

Melissa told me that her work, and the work of other progressives, is now more immediate, more grounded in people’s needs instead of in abstractions.

Also, because internet connections and electricity are scarce, people are spending less time on their devices.

“It’s wiping away the distractions, the veils,” she said. “I feel much more clear and aligned and just present. If you’re aware, there are more possibilities. It’s thrilling, hopeful and also exhausting!”

The joy Melissa described in the abandoned building reminds me of the joy I witnessed on my road trip when people gathered to grow and share food or create a cooperative enterprise.

Building together locally is a no-regrets strategy. It releases joy at a time when so many are stressed — just the company of others, engaged in a common purpose, satisfies a deep soul yearning. And if there’s a natural disaster, we’ll need each other to rebuild. Same thing if civilization cracks under the stresses of the climate catastrophe (or from one of the other possible disasters — global or local). If we muddle through with the old power structures intact, local power will prevent the worst abuses, relieve isolation and increase prospects for a society that works for all.

Through this long, hard — but also joyful — work, we may indeed find more and more of our communities becoming more just and ecologically sustainable and maybe even more filled with compassion. And from this foundation, we can build a better country and a better world, rooted in authentic relationships where we live.

The post Americans Are Stressed About the Future. Here’s Why That’s Promising appeared first on

‘Chasing Coral’ Shows the Deadly Effect of Climate Change on Our Oceans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/10/2017 - 5:30am in

Chasing Coral is an alarming new documentary by Director Jeff Orlowski on a mass extinction that is happening worldwide in our oceans.

Over the past 30 years, about half of all coral reefs have become extinct. In 2016 alone, 29 percent of coral on the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest collection of coral reefs — died as a result of “coral bleaching.”

The phenomenon is the result of stress on coral from rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change, according to scientists. Scientists believe that if coral colonies such as the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia disappear, then the disruption to the Earth’s ecological system will have dire consequences not only for marine life, but for humans as well.

Chasing Coral follows former advertising man turned ocean conversationist Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency, on his quest to bring worldwide attention to this unfolding disaster.

To highlight the devestation, Vevers aimed to do something that’s never been done before — to capture the coral as they die slowly over time. To that end, he and Orlowski assembled an extensive team of photographers, filmmakers and scientists, armed them with the newest cameras, lenses and computers, and had them shoot over 500 hours underwater over three years.

What they captured on film is truly remarkable. Like Orlowski’s previous film, the Oscar-nominated Chasing Ice, in which he captured time-lapse photos of glaciers collapsing into the ocean as the clearest evidence of rising global temperatures, the haunting footage of coral dying en mass is a clear indication of the devastating effects of climate change.

Vevers answered questions via email about Chasing Coral, which is streaming now on Netflix.



Titi Yu: What made you fall in love with coral? 

Richard Vevers: I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. I was born in London, but my parents were from a coastal town in the North of England and that was always my favorite place to visit as a boy. To me, the ocean was magical. I learned to scuba dive when I was 16 and it has always been my passion. Being underwater feels completely natural to me.

TY: What is the single most important thing to know about coral?

RV: They’re amazing! These tiny animals have created far bigger structures than man has ever built.

It’s predicted up to 90 percent of the world’s coral will die by 2050.

— Richard Vevers

TY: Why is coral so important to the ecosystem?

RV: Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods to over half a billion people around the world and support 25 percent of all marine life. Coral reefs also provide protection by acting as a buffer zone to coastal communities. They also support other ecosystems, like mangroves and seagrasses, and potentially hold the key to many new medical discoveries and advancements.

TY: What is the biggest threat to corals?

RV: Coral reefs are on the frontline of climate change. Nearly 93 percent of climate change heat is absorbed by the ocean, resulting in higher water temperatures and a phenomenon known as “coral bleaching,” which led to the 3rd Global Coral Bleaching Event — the longest and most severe bleaching event ever witnessed. That event led to the making of Chasing Coral

We’ve already lost about 50 percent of coral reefs in the last 30 years, and without urgent action, it’s predicted up to 90 percent of the world’s coral will die by 2050. This is an ecosystem we simply cannot afford to lose.

TY: What can each of us do to help save corals?

RV: Less than 1 percent of people will ever put on a mask and snorkel and see the ocean firsthand. As a result, the ocean is very much out of sight and out of mind. We really need everyone to help spread the word — whether it is sharing our virtual dives in Google Earth and Google Street View or hosting screenings of the film — it all makes a big difference.

We want to catalyze support for the protection of coral reefs through our 50 Reefs initiative, an initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. 50 Reefs will rapidly bolster efforts to protect those reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change, which are the most important in terms of reseeding other reefs. This also means protecting reefs on a local basis from all the usual issues like fishing and pollution. We need to buy them time while we act to rapidly stabilize the climate system.

The post ‘Chasing Coral’ Shows the Deadly Effect of Climate Change on Our Oceans appeared first on

Climate change fuels wildfires, threatens human health down-wind

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/10/2017 - 9:03pm in

Residents of Portland, Oregon, knew they were in trouble when the sky got so hazy from smoke that the sun turned red. For weeks, people like Michelle Nicola, a Portland middle school teacher, lived enshrouded in smoke from a nearby wildfire. “It’s like living in the middle of a bonfire,” Nicola said. “You can’t escape it. […]

The post Climate change fuels wildfires, threatens human health down-wind appeared first on Red, Green, and Blue.

Anthropocene Reading Group 2017/18

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/09/2017 - 12:32am in

CUSP logo - without taglineCoordinated by Will Davies, Richard Douglas and Nick Taylor, the Anthropocene Reading Group is meeting regularly to discuss some of the latest literature in the field. The reading relates to the work within CUSP that they are currently engaged in, but is relevant to those interested in political economy generally, environmental politics and philosophy, and more. It is open to all – academics, non-academics, students – and no registration is required.

Meetings will take place on Wednesdays at 4pm in the basement seminar room at PERC, 41 Lewisham Way, opposite the main Goldsmiths building (how to find Goldsmiths).

Reading Schedule and Reviews 2017/18

Wed 15th Nov – Amitav Ghosh (2016) The Great Derangement 

Wed 17th Jan – Oliver Morton (2015) The Planet Remade 

Wed 14th Feb – Déborah Kanowski & Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (2016) The Ends of the World

Wed 21st Mar –  Andreas Malm (2018) The Progress of This Storm

Wed 16th May – Naomi Klein (2014) This Changes Everything

Wed 13th June – Geoff Mann & Joel Wainwright (2018) Climate Leviathan

See 2016/17 readings and reviews here

The post Anthropocene Reading Group 2017/18 appeared first on Political Economy Research Centre.

Hurricane Harvey intensified by 85 degree ocean. Climate change is hitting us NOW.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/08/2017 - 11:13am in

The Texas Gulf Coast is still getting whacked right now by Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit the United States in 12 years, and global warming is partly responsible. Here’s how the climate dynamics work: Warm air holds more water vapor than cool air. Warm ocean temperatures are the engine that drives hurricanes […]

The post Hurricane Harvey intensified by 85 degree ocean. Climate change is hitting us NOW. appeared first on Red, Green, and Blue.