Friday, May 21, 2010

A rather important point

In the libertarian universe[1], it's a terrible affront to liberty to force a businessman to accept black customers. It is entirely acceptable to send a black man to jail for trespassing if he should try and force the matter.[2]

[1] I know there are lefty small-government types. To avoid confusion, I tend to call them anarchists in the Emma Goldman variety. Rand, and the white, wealthy conservatives who are uber-concerned about the Civil Rights Act, are libertarians.

[2] This is especially relevant in an age--like the 1950s, and increasingly today--where public services were/are delivered by private means. For example, Rosa Parks was riding a privately-owned bus (delivering a public service in contract to a city government) when she refused to give up her seat.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

There's nothing hard about justifying your own privilege

PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners -- I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant -- but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.
"[T]his," Paul said, "is the hard part about believing in freedom."

Yes, of course there's nothing braver in life than arguing against laws that would restrain your ability to reinforce white power over blacks. Can't think of a thing.

Am I the only one who finds the whole schtick, primarily by conservatives these days, of feigning bravery by telling white conservative men exactly what they want to hear repulsive?

Oh. My. God.

I suppose it's not like its a disqualifying lapse, but it truly is bizarre how a US Senator could be totally ignorant of certain staples of modern living. It certainly doesn't give me any confidence that these guys and a few ladies know how to properly regulate derivatives or photovoltaic solar panels.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, how likely are we to make the planet uninhabitable?

If the status quo persists, about 5%. Or, to rephrase,
The bottom line conclusion is that there is a small - of order 5% - risk of global warming creating a situation in which a large fraction of the planet was uninhabitable (in the sense that if you were outside for an extended period during the hottest days of the year, even in the shade with wet clothing, you would die). To give you a feeling for the likely uninhabitable regions... it includes most of the eastern US, much of inland Brazil and Latin America, tropical Africa, pretty much all of India, portions of northern China, and most of Australia. Plenty to qualify as a "Risk to Global Civilization", I think.
We are, it's clear, currently in a "do nothing serious about climate change" mode. If this continues, we're looking at CO2 concentrations going up, close to quadrupling pre-industrial levels, and putting us very much in the apocalypse. 1000 ppm would certainly ruin the oceans from acidification alone. This paper just demonstrates that some of the most densely populated parts of the planet would also die.

This is all conceivable by 2100, 2150 tops. That's the status quo.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jeffrey Simpson is correct about something

The annual dance about cod fishing in the east is basically a joke. What's more, any serious observer of the collapse of the cod fishery needs to grapple with what this means for stuff like climate change: even after a world-historical economic calamity, the forces pushing to hammer the last nail in to the ecology are stronger than the forces of conservation.

To put it another way, if we can't get cod right, what makes anyone think we will get oil and coal right?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Somebody, wrong on the Internets

I think this is possibly the funniest thing I've seen in a while. The CBC writes a story about how Ottawa's bikelanes -- you know, parts of the road explicitly reserved for cyclists -- have actually contributed to cyclists getting hit because they are poorly designed and poorly signed. One of the comments starts off with this gem:
Bike's [sic] shouldn't be on the road, they should stay on sidewalks.
This is, in a nutshell, what kills me about the car's war on cyclists, pedestrians, basically everyone who uses their feet for something other than working the gas and brakes: the mentality that the roads built by all of us, for all of us, belong exclusively to cars. It doesn't seem to occur to this commenter that it is, in fact, illegal for most cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. They just want all non-car traffic out of the way.

Well, nuts to that with a big side of fuck you. I helped pay for the roads just as much as anyone else, and unlike most of Toronto's commuters anyway, I actually live here. So yes, I'll continue to ride on roads whether there's a bike lane or not, because riding a bike ought to be as easy and convenient as driving a car.

Just keep saying the words "energy superpower", Canadians

What Canada could do about green energy if it was serious:
Canada could technically meet all its electricity needs and dramatically lower greenhouse-gas emissions if it moved aggressively to develop enhanced geothermal power projects, according to the first comprehensive assessment of the country’s deep geothermal resources.

The study, published online in the Journal of Geophysics and Geoengineering, reports on the potential of using enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) to tap hot temperatures kilometres below the earth’s surface as a way of generating clean electricity.

It found that the most promising Canadian sites are located in parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan at depths ranging from 3.5 to 6.5 kilometres. Drill deeper, however, and the potential extends right across the country – including parts of Ontario.
What we're actually doing instead:
The successful development of Canada's tar sands has triggered a rush by Shell and other oil companies to set up similar operations in Russia, Congo and even Madagascar, a new report reveals.

Soaring crude prices and an growing shortage of drilling sites have encouraged the energy industry to look at a series of "unconventional" hydrocarbon deposits threatening vulnerable environment and communities in places such as Jordan, Morocco as well as the US, Friends of the Earth says in a review called Tar sands – fuelling the energy crisis.
So nice to be a testing ground for one of the most destructive forms of energy extraction in history, all so we can make the lives of people around the world miserable.

Thursday, May 13, 2010