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Monday, October 21, 2019

Do You Believe in Global Warming?

On September 16, 2012, “Arctic ice covered just 1.32 million square miles—the lowest extent ever recorded. ‘The loss of summer sea ice has led to unusual warming of the Arctic atmosphere, that in turn impacts weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, that can result in persistent extreme weather such as droughts, heat waves and flooding,’ NSIDC scientist Dr. Julienne Stroeve noted in a press release. ‘There's a huge gap between what is understood by the scientific community and what is known by the public,’ NASA scientist James Hansen said, adding that he believed, ‘unfortunately, that gap is not being closed.’ What the scientific community understands is that Arctic ice is melting at an accelerated rate -- and that humans play a role in these changes. According to the panel, humans are ‘really running out of time’ to prevent atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from reaching levels that would precipitate runaway climate change. Hansen warned that even maintaining current concentrations of approximately 390 parts per million for several centuries ‘guarantees disaster.’”[1] Nevertheless, record amounts of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere in 2016 to at least 2018, and 2016 was the hottest year on the planet as of 2019.[2] What makes an intelligent species, homo sapiens, go in the wrong direction even from the outset of an announced, guaranteed disaster? Timing and mentality have a lot to do with it. 

The full essay is at "Believing in Climate Change."


1. Joanna Zelman and James Gerken, “Arctic Sea IceLevels Hit Record Low, Scientists Say We’re ‘Running Out Of Time,” The Huffington Post, September 19, 2012. 
2. Kelly Levin, "New Global CO2 Emissions Numbers Are In. They're Not Good," World Resources Institute, December 5, 2018 (accessed October 21, 2019).

Members of Congress Secretly Lobbied the Fed

As of late September 2012, more than one hundred members of Congress had lobbied the Federal Reserve and other regulatory agencies on the Volcker Rule, the part of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act of 2010 that prohibits banks from operating like casinos (e.g., trading with proprietary funds, rather than those of customers).[1] The rule stems from the importance of banks in our financial system. In September 2008, the world nearly witnessed the collapse of that system when banks stopped trusting each other (e.g., via commercial paper market) because of the risks that some of the big ones had been taking with mortgage-backed derivative securities and the related insurance swap securities. Awash in healthy-seeming fees, the banks purchased risky subprime mortgages and bundled them into bond-like securities that could be sold to investors.

The full essay is at "Congress Secretly Lobbied the Fed."

1. Ben Protess, “Behind the Scenes, a Lawmaker Pushes to Curb the Volcker Rule,” The New York Times, September 21, 2012.