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Sandpit

June 8th, 2015

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

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  1. Brett
    June 8th, 2015 at 17:17 | #1

    Something something “nuclear power is awesome!” something something “unappreciated, solar intermittent”, etc, etc.

    I’ve totally drifted away from the pro-nuclear camp in the past year or so. It’s not that I oppose it, it’s just that I think it’s going to be nearly useless in rich countries as a means of reducing emissions – by the time we even get the siting and approval for new plants, solar power systems will likely be so ubiquitous that we’ll be restructuring the grid around them and wind/tidal power, and nobody will want the nuke plants anymore.

    I hope it doesn’t kill off nuclear research completely. We need very small nuclear reactors (in the tens or hundreds of kilowatts) for good robotic space exploration out beyond Mars. Jupiter has some solar-powered missions, but it’s still very much not friendly to it as a power source.

  2. Hermit
    June 9th, 2015 at 08:32 | #2

    Brett when BREE’s next Energy in Australia bulletin comes out we might get a feel for the direction we’re heading. The 2014 bulletin said we got 87% of our electricity from burning fossil fuel and 4.4% from wind and solar. Transport was 38% of our primary energy demand almost entirely supplied by oil.

    I expect that the 2015 bulletin will show increased coal burning and less gas and hydro. Wind and solar will be about the same. That won’t support your theory.

  3. Ikonoclast
    June 9th, 2015 at 09:52 | #3

    @Hermit

    Australia has become something of an outlier in the renewable energy transition. Due to certain factors, especially the influence of our large fossil fuel lobby on government and our election of the right-wing reactionary government of Abbott, we are moving in the opposite direction to global trends.

    We will get a clearer picture (obviously) of overall trends if we look at global trends. Obsessing about Australia at this stage is a bit pointless. We are a recalcitrant and unrepresentative outlier.

    It is worth looking at (for example);
    GLOBAL TRENDS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT 2015 – Frankfurt School FS-UNEP.

    From key findings:

    ” Global investment in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydro-electric projects) was $270.2 billion in 2014, nearly 17% higher than the previous year. This was the first increase for three years, and reflected several influences, including a boom in solar installations in China and Japan, totalling $74.9 billion between those two countries, and a record $18.6 billion of final investment decisions on offshore wind projects in Europe.”

    “Renewable energy technologies excluding large hydro made up 48% of the net power capacity added worldwide in 2014, the third successive year in which this figure has been above 40%. New investment in renewable power capacity last year, at $242.5 billion excluding large hydro, was below the gross investment in fossil fuel capacity, at some $289 billion, but far above the figure for net investment in additional fossil fuel capacity, at $132 billion.”

    “Altogether, wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power are estimated to have contributed 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, compared to 8.5% in 2013. This would be equivalent to a saving of 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 taking place as a result of the installed capacity of those renewable sources. … ”

    The global trend is clearly to renewable energy and away from both fossil fuels and nuclear energy. This trend is rapidly accelerating. Yes, the trend is still too slow. Yes, we should have started earlier. Yes, we are still in significant danger of dangerous climate change.

    However, for proven reasons, nuclear fission power of extant commercial design cannot help us in time. Only renewables can deliver the needed scalable capacity in the near future. In any case, fission is doing all it can. The current reactor fleet, on mostly once-through cycles, will use up all known and feasible U reserves by about 2050.

    The key make or break period now is the next 20 years. If we don’t de-carbonise very significantly in the next 20 years then we are in deep trouble. Nuclear fission (next gen. etc.) simply cannot deliver in that timeframe. That is a proven fact. Renewables can deliver and are delivering right now, year on year.

    This is at a global level. Forget Australia. We are a reactionary, backward, backwater nation living in the past and of little consequence in this regard.

  4. Hermit
    June 9th, 2015 at 13:09 | #4

    I’d argue that Australia is in fact an early adopter but things didn’t work out as planned. We have proportionately more solar roofs than the US for example. Our carbon tax was I believe the world’s first over $10. Now our wind and solar build has flatlined. Other countries are coming late to the party and we don’t know yet if they will peter out. I suspect Frankfurt School is in Germany. Have a look at Germany’s 2013 energy mix
    https://carboncounter.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/reality-check-germany-does-not-get-half-of-its-energy-from-solar-panels/
    In Australia they would be called bull artists.

  5. Troy Prideaux
    June 9th, 2015 at 13:28 | #5

    This has probably been mentioned here, but here in Vic at least, there is a government program to offer free installation and replacement of halogen down lights to LED alternatives. We’ve recently had ours changed over (at no cost) and the LED replacements are even brighter than the original 12V halogens. I think the original halogens were 50W? per light and the LED replacements are 7W which is a considerable gain in efficiency. Both the existing light fitting and transformer are maintained.

  6. hc
    June 9th, 2015 at 17:55 | #6

    I got the idea you were going to do a series of posts on tax reform or was I wrong. Looking at these issues myself and interested in your views.

  7. hc
    June 9th, 2015 at 21:02 | #7

    To follow on previous comment. I am reading on tax reform in Australia and the Re:think discussion paper prepared by Treasury on tax reform. Yes I know it doesn’t discuss environmental taxes and that it repeats themes that have been around for a while.

    But a compelling observation is that our income tax system is highly progressive. It is the wealthier individuals in Australia who pay most tax. Those who earned more than $80,000 annually in 2011-12 (17% of the total) paid 65% of all income taxes (Re:think, page 41).

    On a whole range of measures those at the bottom of the income distribution are well-supported by those at the top. As a society we have much higher levels of opportunity than most other societies but for those who don’t make it, the well-to-do give generously of their taxes.

    Given this why can’t be move towards a much higher reliance on consumption-based taxes and to less reliance on job-destroying wage-reducing company taxes? These measures promote efficiency and might not look so good from the viewpoint of efficiency but overall we don’t look too bad with respect to achieving redistributions anyway. The undue pessimism that we are an unjust society that does not look after those at the bottom blinds us towards the efficiency reforms that would increase the size of the pie.

  8. Ivor
    June 10th, 2015 at 10:47 | #8

    @hc

    Of course it would only be fair for those earning $80,000 plus to pay 65% of all income tax if:

    those earning over $80,000 only earned 65% of total taxable income.

    A equitable arrangement would expect the rich earning above 2 standard deviations to pay a greater proportion, to allow those below 2 standard deviations to pay less.

    Consumption based taxes are the worst of all possible schemes except when they apply against undersirable goods – cigarettes, alcohol, fossil fuel.

    Removing consumption taxes would multiply the efficiency through which the circular flow operates. All business produces output for consumption and only consumption generates employment.

    taking off company taxes would prompt excessive production when there would be insufficient extra consumption to acquit it.

    Australia would be better off with greater consumption and production if we taxed foreign exchange and used the funds to remove GST.

  9. Donald Oats
    June 11th, 2015 at 03:37 | #9

    I’m no economist, so don’t kick me too hard…but I had a peek at CPI from June 2008 to Mar 2015, which covers the time of the last interest rate peak this side of the GFC (7.25% ABS), to Jun 2015 (2%, ABS data). The CPI was 91.6 at June 2008, and most recent figure is CPI of 106.8 for Mar 2015, approximately 16.6% increase.

    The wages growth for that time was WPI of 97.6 in Jun 2008, increasing to 120.1 at Mar 2015, approximately 23% growth.

    In other words, the wages growth comfortably exceeded inflation, give or take. But interest rates fell from 7.25 to 2%, meaning a substantial drop in borrowing costs, a drop of perhaps 50%, or slightly more, depending on the loan facility.

    Given wages has grown significantly faster than inflation, if a person could afford to make payments on a $400K loan with $100K deposit, i.e. to buy $500K of real estate (minus stamp duty etc), the deposit being 20% of the property price as at June 2008, then the equivalent scenario had interest rates remained the same would be a $118K deposit, a $472K loan, to buy a $590K property at Mar 2015.

    But rates dropped like the proverbial stone. It seems to me that if that person could make payments on the $400K loan in June 2008, then in Mar 2015 under the lower interest rates, they can afford to pay a loan of approximately double that size. If the bank lets them use a 10% deposit instead, given that the loans “are so affordable”, they can now repay a loan of $944K, say $1M. If the loan rates dropped by the same percentage as the RBA’s rate did, then they can afford a loan of approximately $1.4M on a deposit of $140K. If they saved as their wages grew in size, then they would be able to borrow more again.

    The upshot of all this is that if a person was time-shifted from June 2008 circumstances to Mar 2015, for a small increase in the dollar value of their deposit, they can probably secure 2 to 3 times as much as a loan than they could in June 2008. This seems to broadly match the city market behaviour, where the median $1M property is expected to appear soon in Sydney.

    No doubt there are some subtle elements which push prices this way and that, but broadly speaking, it is the massive drop in interest rates which has provided the means for such rapid asset inflation (in Sydney, Melbourne), and elsewhere to a lesser extent.

    If interest rates drop another 0.25% next month, that is a 12.5% drop in the rate, and if it is passed on to the buyers, may add another 10% or more to the house prices in the hottest markets. A drop of 25 basis points in June 2008 simply shaved 7.25% into 7% RBA rate, an almost insignificant change, especially when compared to the relative impact of that 25 point drop on a 2% RBA rate.

    The difficulty now is that there is definitely loose money chasing even looser money; it would be interesting to see what the turnover rate of properties in the hot markets actually is, and whether people are flipping a lot of properties for the capital gain alone, or not. Given the supply side limitations, it could soon become a case of who gets to sell the last tulip.

  10. Ikonoclast
    June 11th, 2015 at 08:26 | #10

    Real wages growth went negative from about the start of 2013. See Bill Mitchell, “Real wages falling and Treasury continues to deceive” – August 14, 2014.

    A bit dated now but see “How the CPI Hid the Housing Bubble” – Rumplestatskin, Macro Business.

    The Australian property market is a speculative bubble driven by excess lending, negative gearing and false statistics reporting. The Australian economy overall is very sick. High unemployment and high house prices is a really strange and unhealthy mix. The official CPI is rigged. It doesn’t correctly count the house price and rent cost bubble for a start.

    Meanwhile, we apply austerity policies to damp the inflation caused by deliberate over-lending: a case of driving the economy with the foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time.

  11. Collin Street
    June 11th, 2015 at 09:23 | #11

    Given this why can’t be move towards a much higher reliance on consumption-based taxes and to less reliance on job-destroying wage-reducing company taxes?

    Company taxes don’t destroy jobs: because they’re taxes on profits they destroy the profitability of all acts a company can do in equal proportion. Employing people doesn’t become less profitable in comparison to the other choices and so there’s no net increase in pressure to shift out of employment-based profit making.

    Equally of course cutting taxes doesn’t promote employment. Company tax rates are pretty neutral on the structure of your economy until you start to get to the level where the tax rates on companies are different enough from the tax rates on individuals that the benefits of company structure are overwhelmed and the pressure shifts to the sorts of enterprises that can be effectively done individually.

    The thing you’ve probably missed is that wages don’t count as taxed profit; the increased deduction cancels out the reduced profitability.

  12. Megan
    June 11th, 2015 at 12:13 | #12

    Ikon,

    McCoy’s column touches suggests an answer to your point about the Soviet Union (i.e. “Presumably, the Soviet Union would have been an unstoppable juggernaut if it were true.”)

    Having seized the axial ends of the world island from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945, for the next 70 years the United States relied on ever-thickening layers of military power to contain China and Russia inside that Eurasian heartland. Stripped of its ideological foliage, Washington’s grand strategy of Cold War-era anticommunist “containment” was little more than a process of imperial succession. A hollowed-out Britain was replaced astride the maritime “marginal,” but the strategic realities remained essentially the same.

    Indeed, in 1943, two years before World War II ended, an aging Mackinder published his last article, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace,” in the influential U.S. journal Foreign Affairs. In it, he reminded Americans aspiring to a “grand strategy” for an unprecedented version of planetary hegemony that even their “dream of a global air power” would not change geopolitical basics. “If the Soviet Union emerges from this war as conqueror of Germany,” he warned, “she must rank as the greatest land power on the globe,” controlling the “greatest natural fortress on earth.”

    When it came to the establishment of a new post-war Pax Americana, first and foundational for the containment of Soviet land power would be the U.S. Navy. Its fleets would come to surround the Eurasian continent, supplementing and then supplanting the British navy: the Sixth Fleet was based at Naples in 1946 for control of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; the Seventh Fleet at Subic Bay, Philippines, in 1947, for the Western Pacific; and the Fifth Fleet at Bahrain in the Persian Gulf since 1995.

    Next, American diplomats added layers of encircling military alliances — the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949), the Middle East Treaty Organization (1955), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (1954), and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (1951).

    By 1955, the U.S. also had a global network of 450 military bases in 36 countries aimed, in large part, at containing the Sino-Soviet bloc behind an Iron Curtain that coincided to a surprising degree with Mackinder’s “rimlands” around the Eurasian landmass. By the Cold War’s end in 1990, the encirclement of communist China and Russia required 700 overseas bases, an air force of 1,763 jet fighters, a vast nuclear arsenal, more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, and a navy of 600 ships, including 15 nuclear carrier battle groups — all linked by the world’s only global system of communications satellites.

    He quotes Mackinder: “My aim is not to predict a great future for this or that country, but to make a geographical formula into which you could fit any political balance.”

  13. J-D
    June 11th, 2015 at 12:37 | #13

    @Megan

    If the geographical formula is consistent with literally any political balance, then it explains nothing. If no matter what happens you can always show afterwards that it matches Mackinder’s formula, then Mackinder’s formula tells us nothing.

  14. hc
    June 11th, 2015 at 17:45 | #14

    Collin, Taxes on company profits tax the returns to capital and reduce investment. This reduced investment means workers are less well equipped and so less productive – they are paid less. And the empirical studies suggest a lot less not a little. The return on capital doesn’t change much if capital is reasonably mobile internationally.

    Companies are a fiction from a tax viewpoint. The income they generate is paid as labour costs or returns to other inputs and as dividends (perhaps delayed if earnings retained) to shareholders. All of these groups are already subject to tax on this income. This is the reason for the imputation system to stop this income being double-taxed.

    The only benefit of company tax I can see is that it brings some foreign shareholders into the tax base since they don’t benefit from imputation. It raises the return on capital for locals investing locally compared to the return enjoyed by foreigners. The latter effect partly bad since locals discouraged from investing internationally.

  15. Fran Barlow
    June 13th, 2015 at 07:39 | #15

    Tbis is the best article I’ve read on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership agreement from a US perspective:

    Worth a read, IMO.

    http://gawker.com/explainist-did-something-just-happen-with-fast-track-1710945284

  16. Fran Barlow
    June 13th, 2015 at 07:44 | #16

    A colleague from the NSW Greens posted this on an internal Greens facebook page. It raises an interesting point so I thought I’d share it.

    Apparently, it is legal to litter if the litter is a newspaper. Under section 146a (3a) of the EPA-administered Protection of the Environment Act (NSW, 1997) newspapers (including those that fit the PotEO definition of ‘advertising material’) can be deposited anywhere. Under 146a (3b) items too big or otherwise inappropriate for letterboxes or other mail receptacles are also exempted from the force of the act. This is despite the probability that decomposing advertising material imposes costs on residents and is likely to enter storm-water and thus foul local watercourses.

    Clearly, this is an exception written for the mass print media, the leading player in which is News Limited — not only the biggest publisher of rubbish content in the world, but apparently a systematic litterer for profit. Until recently the News Ltd-owned Parramatta Advertiser delivered its physical spam into letterboxes or onto the tops of those rows of boxes outside multi-dwelling villas, but according to their reader-services spokesperson ‘Charles’ a new and cheaper contractor is now hurling the papers from moving vehicles onto nature strips.

    Now personally, I hate it when someone throws rubbish from a car, or leaves their household effluent on a nature strip, but when a corporation does it as a matter of policy, as part of a commercial enterprise, this seems to me an order of magnitude worse in ethical terms. It’s also utterly hypocritical when the said corporate offender runs a campaign against roadside littering as has the Parramatta Advertiser in conjunction with Holroyd Council. It ought to be unbelievable, but there it is.

    I have written to Clr Lisa Lake (the elected ALP alderperson from my ward) and spoken to her at some length on the phone about this matter yesterday. She is somewhat ambivalent on it, conceding my point, but pleading that the Council derives advantage from the newspaper delivery because Council notices go out in it. I pointed out to her that few of the residents in Holroyd would read these notices but she was undeterred.

    I have also written to Hugh McDermott — the newly minted MP for Prospect seeking an amendment to the PotEAO (1997) to remove 146A (3a and b).
    I have some ideas for a campaign coming into the council elections in 2017 because I daresay Holroyd is not the only place this would apply but rather than disclose them here I just thought I’d raise the issue. What do people think?

  17. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2015 at 08:27 | #17

    @J-D

    I agree with you on this one. I look at Mackinder’s pivot and I see a great lump of land that has firstly, an enormous amount of tundra and secondly, is completely land-locked on three sides and almost completely ice-locked on the other. It is certainly not suited to sea-power and it is naturally contained by great neighbours and great features. The great neighbours are China, Japan, India and essentially the post WW2 Franco-German alliance (sometimes called the EU). The great features include the frozen tundra and ice-locked Arctic, the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea (which provides only for a land-locked naval port with an extremely difficult breakout path to the Atlantic) and the Pripet Marshes and Biebrza Marshes.

    All of this would count for less if Russia was a great demographic power like China and if it had all of the natural resource advantages of the US. Russia has a lot of mineral resources but they are very difficult to access with many being in the tundra zone. Russia does not have seaboards like the US which allows it to project naval power unimpeded into two oceans and at the same time to use those ocean resources and shipping lanes.

    Russia’s landmass is rich in a number of ways but it has great difficulty in unlocking those riches that are in the tundra zone. To illustrate the point, a large landmass is relatively useless if it is relatively poor or constrained in some way. Australia has a large landmass but it is relatively poor. Australia will never support a population in the hundreds of millions without radical advances in sourcing fresh-water and overcoming its top soil deficit. Arid and semi-arid zones comprise 70% of Australia.

    In my opinion, if any area is the pivot of the world, it could be either China and S.E. Asia or possibly the Americas taken in total. These areas are where the natural riches seem to be concentrated. A crude indicator for primary natural riches is population. There have to be reasons for demographic blooms like China, India and S.E. Asia. The reasons, crudely put, are water and silt. (The world’s a Petri dish.) Behind these reasons are great mountains, rain systems and weathering.

    When people talk about natural riches they tend to forget about the two most important natural riches for any country. These are, as I have said, water and soil. The biggest generators of these are great mountain chains somewhere in the hinterland. In my opinion, the greatest natural resource a country can have is a great mountain chain or great mountains in it or near it. Everything flows from these literally: the water, the silt and the great alluvial plains. These are what make countries rich at the primary production level.

    Secondarily, and especially after the industrial revolution, minerals become important. The best balanced countries have a great endowment of both; mountains and minerals we could call it. Though in the case of mountains they do not always have to be in the country: adjacent to it and feeding water and silt is enough.

    We see from this analysis why Australia will never be great, at least not without some radical advance which obviates and overcomes our great deficit in mountains and thus our great deficit in water and soil.

  18. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2015 at 08:48 | #18

    @Fran Barlow

    I agree. It’s another example (as if we needed one) that laws are written for the advantage of and at the behest of capitalist corporations. The rights of ordinary (non-oligarchic) citizens count for little in this system.

    I detest junk mail and junk papers. I don’t see how it is economic to print and dump this waste. I guess this is just another example of how our wonderful economic system generates the best outcomes for everything, especially for the people and the environment. (Note, that last sentence is sarcasm.)

    Both major parties support this system because that’s how and why they receive their corporate donations and they know that in most electorates you can’t vote for anyone else. It’s a two-party, one-ideology system.

  19. Collin Street
    June 13th, 2015 at 09:53 | #19

    > Collin, Taxes on company profits tax the returns to capital and reduce investment.

    Assume your company has ten pre-tax dollars of profit a year, and that a once-off investment of five dollars will increase that pre-tax profit to twenty dollars. We’ll run the numbers over three years.

    With no investment: ten dollars of profit a year, a total of thirty dollars
    With investment: five dollars of profit in the first year and twenty dollars later, a total of forty-five dollars.

    If we have no tax, then we keep all the proceeds and investment is 45/30 = 1.5* as good as no investment. With a 50% tax on profits, we keep half the profits and investment is 22.5 / 15 = 1.5* as good as no investment. Or we can run the numbers based on foregone profit payouts: five dollars now gets you twenty later — 4-to-1 — or 2.5 now gets you ten later: again, 4-to-1.

    It’s a wash. Same thing with wages, or any expenses.

    [in fact, I’m pretty sure that higher taxes encourage leaving money in the company rather than paying it out as profits, thus reducing, not increasing, their cost of capital. Cost is relative-to-alternatives cost, remember. Certainly australian companies with their effective zero tax rates through dividend imputation don’t horde cash like Apple does]

  20. Collin Street
    June 13th, 2015 at 11:27 | #20

    > The return on capital doesn’t change much if capital is reasonably mobile internationally.

    I missed this the first time: if we add a third option, “invest somewhere else”, then the results I gave above don’t make sense. But then we’re talking about tax arbitrage, not tax rates per-se; it’s a consequence of the differences between tax levels, not a particular tax level considered absolutely and in isolation.

    My answers aren’t wrong, they’re just the answers to the questions you’re actually asking, not the ones you think you’re asking.

    It’s important to note that “capital must be free to move” is an improper reification: “capital” is, at base, claims upon others, specific others, and so only exists in a particular social context.

  21. June 13th, 2015 at 14:13 | #21

    Fran Barlow on June 13th, 2015 at 07:39

    Congress Democrats vote down Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Adapted from Trans-Pacific Partnership battle: Barack Obama handed defeat by Democrats (13/6/15) | SMH :

    Washington: Democrats in the US Congress have defied the president and voted down part of a package of bills designed to speed negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    The loss is humiliating for the president, who on Friday morning had for the first time ever travelled to the Capitol building in order to directly appeal for a specific piece of legislation.

    As protesters gathered in sweltering weather outside, the president attended the Democratic Caucus meeting and reportedly told members that a vote against the bill would be a vote against him.

    Even the Democrats party’s leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, spoke against the bill.

    In the end just 40 Democrats sided with the president, while 144 voted against the bill.

    America’s trade union movement celebrated a victory.

  22. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 17:14 | #22

    @Ikonoclast

    I have a comment in eternal moderation (I’ll try it again without the quoted text from McCoy’s article):

    China featured in McCoy’s column too, in fact his point is that China is already making that reality. The point isn’t about any single country, it is about the Eurasian landmass.

    On the issue of land and water. Russia is the largest country (nearly double the size of the US) and has about 7.5% of its area as arable land. It has enormous amounts of renewable fresh water resources (4,700 cubic kilometres or so IIRC) and in one single lake has one fifth of the world’s fresh water alone.

  23. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2015 at 19:30 | #23

    @Megan

    Don’t get me wrong. Russia is a “pivotal” area in a number of ways. It just isn’t THE pivotal area. Nor does its large land area, on its own, suffice to make it THE pivot (as if any nation could be the sole pivot). As we transition back to a multi-polar world, there are a number of pivotal areas.

    As I said in my post, land area alone does not suffice, nor do centrality or “landlocked-ness” suffice to make an area “pivotal”. Indeed, landlocked-ness is a drawback in a globalised economy while conversely, long useable coasts are an asset.

    In the case of Australia, it is clear that our large area does not confer equally “large” power due to our continent’s heat, aridity and sterility. Russia is much better off than us on that score but 11% of its area is still tundra. Much of its north is scarcely passable.

    I am something of a Russophile but no fan of the fact that it has never yet thrown off its thralldom to the yoke of authoritarian power (in various forms).

    Russia is one of the few nations that has not yet exceeded its sustainable footprint. This is due to its sheer size not to any enlightened ecological policies. Nevertheless, this means it might fare better than many nations when the limits to growth really begin to bite from about… now.

  24. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 21:09 | #24

    Test:

    That’s a bit more nuanced than what I first took to be ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ replies to my original comment on the Monday Message Board (i.e. I said I thought McCoy’s article was a ‘must read’, because I thought it helped understand so much of current events and recent – last 110 years or so – history and especially the wars).

    “Indeed, landlocked-ness is a drawback in a globalised economy while conversely, long useable coasts are an asset.”

    Not necessarily. As I was trying to say in an earlier comment to a.v., the sea is one thing and the land is another and domination of the sea is only useful militarily if it leads to suffering on land.

    Part of my moderated quote from McCoy’s article:

    “Starting in 2008, the Germans and Russians joined with the Chinese in launching the “Eurasian Land Bridge.” Two east-west routes, the old Trans-Siberian in the north and a new southern route along the ancient Silk Road through Kxyxhstxn are meant to bind all of Eurasia together. On the quicker southern route, containers of high-value manufactured goods, computers, and auto parts started travelling 6,700 miles from Leipzig, Germany, to Chxyxqing, China, in just 20 days, about half the 35 days such goods now take via ship.

    In 2013, Deutsche Bahn AG (German Rail) began preparing a third route between Hamburg and Zhxyxzhou that has now cut travel time to just 15 days, while Kxyxkh Rail opened a Chxyxqing-Duisburg link with similar times. In October 2014, China announced plans for the construction of the world’s longest high-speed rail line at a cost of $230 billion. According to plans, trains will traverse the 4,300 miles between Beijing and Moscow in just two days.”

    My view is that this reality explains a great deal about the many millions of people killed by the US recently.

  25. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 21:11 | #25

    Interesting. Something is causing the modbots to get upset.

    Reply to Ikon (in pieces, hopefully),

    That’s a bit more nuanced than what I first took to be ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ replies to my original comment on the Monday Message Board (i.e. I said I thought McCoy’s article was a ‘must read’, because I thought it helped understand so much of current events and recent – last 110 years or so – history and especially the wars).

    “Indeed, landlocked-ness is a drawback in a globalised economy while conversely, long useable coasts are an asset.”

    Not necessarily. As I was trying to say in an earlier comment to a.v., the sea is one thing and the land is another and domination of the sea is only useful militarily if it leads to suffering on land.

    Part of my moderated quote from McCoy’s article:

  26. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 21:16 | #26

    (part 2)…

    “Starting in 2008, the Germans and Russians joined with the Chinese in launching the “Eurasian Land Bridge.” Two east-west routes, the old Trans-Siberian in the north and a new southern route along the ancient Silk Road through K$#%^n are meant to bind all of Eurasia together. On the quicker southern route, containers of high-value manufactured goods, computers, and auto parts started travelling 6,700 miles from Le%^$zig, Germany, to Ch(*(&ing, China, in just 20 days, about half the 35 days such goods now take via ship.

  27. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 21:27 | #27

    test..

    Deutsche Bahn AG (German Rail)

  28. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 21:29 | #28

    test..

    In October 2014, China announced plans for the construction of the world’s longest high-speed rail line at a cost of $230 billion. According to plans, trains will traverse the 4,300 miles between B.. and M.. in just two days

  29. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2015 at 22:15 | #29

    McCoy has updated Mackinder in useful ways. Paul Kennedy is a thinker I respect very much.

    I just think Mackinder’s basic thesis suffers from a certain excess of simplification. The entire Eurasian landmass is not geographically unitary just because it is all land. As I have mentioned above there are the matters of the Gobi desert, the Tibetan Plateau (Himalayan complex of Pir Panjal Range, Dhaula Dhar Range, Zanskar Range, Ladakh Range and East Korakoram Range), The Caspian and Black Seas, The Caucasus Mountains, (plus the M.E. deserts beyond), the Pripet and Polish marshes and then the Tundra to the north. These natural barriers are very important.

    However, McCoy’s assessment of China and its strategy is interesting and accurate. I don’t know why he doesn’t mention the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. That is clearly crucially important.

    McCoy needs to be balanced by reading John J. Mearsheimer who is an “offensive realist”. That term simply means he sees powers (especially great powers) as always jockeying offensively in an anarchic world system. There is no over-riding power above the competing great powers so they make up their own rules limited only by their competition with each other. Mearsheimer is a realist and suggests that the US retreat to being a hemisphere hegemon not a world hegemon.

    Once the US did this we would see (my contention not Mearsheimer’s necessarily) that the USA and the Americas were as relatively invulnerable in their own way to the Eurasian powers as the Eurasian powers are becoming to the USA. If the semi-hemispheric powers (China and the USA) basically stick to their own fortresses they are invulnerable to each other. Nuclear deterrence ultimately underwrites this invulnerability. If the Americas are not all entirely the USA’s fortress then equally the Asian landmass is not all China’s fortress. Russia is too big and too nuclear (not to put too fine a point on it) to ever let China dominate all Eurasia in foreseeable history at least. History also demonstrates, I think, that the Eurasian landmass is just too big and too riven by major geographic features to ever be dominated by one empire. It will always be the “Riven Pivot” to my way of thinking.

  30. Megan
    June 13th, 2015 at 23:42 | #30

    test..

    high-speed

  31. ZM
    June 13th, 2015 at 23:57 | #31

    “On the quicker southern route, containers of high-value manufactured goods, computers, and auto parts started travelling 6,700 miles from Le%^$zig, Germany, to Ch(*(&ing, China, in just 20 days, about half the 35 days such goods now take via ship.”

    That is bad for climate change because shipping has lower ghg emissions than land transport.

  32. Megan
    June 14th, 2015 at 00:08 | #32

    @ZM

    That’s by rail, not road. The moderation nazis wouldn’t let that part of the quote through.

    Speed makes a difference whichever mode is used, but I would have thought that all else being equal rail would be less GHG/energy intensive than shipping (apart from sail, obviously)?

  33. Ikonoclast
    June 14th, 2015 at 07:27 | #33

    One NZ study I looked at seemed to indicate that coastal shipping was at best not even twice as efficient as rail in terms of CO2 emitted as kg/km/container. At worst (half-loaded ship), it was not even as efficient as rail. Of course, this is only for coastal shipping not deep-sea shipping.

    But if the China land route is much shorter than the sea route and the rail grades (inclines) are not too great, then the rail route will be competitive in costs including fuel costs. Thus it is not necessarily bad for GHG emissions. The route could even be electrified and supplied by renewable energy. Then only sailing ships could compete as far as GHG emissions go.

    The study was;

    “Freight transport efficiency: a comparative study of coastal shipping, rail and road modes – October 2012.”

  34. ZM
    June 14th, 2015 at 15:29 | #34

    Megan,

    I think shipping is one of the lowest emission modes of transport on average, depending of course on the actual vehicle and its fuel

    “The following table shows the amount of CO2 (in grams) emitted per metric ton of freight and per km of transportation:

    Air plane (air cargo), average Cargo B747 : 500 g
    Modern lorry or truck : 60 to 150 g
    Modern train : 30 to 100 g
    Modern ship (sea freight) : 10 to 40 g
    Airship (Zeppelin, Cargolifter ) as planned : 55 g ”

    http://timeforchange.org/co2-emissions-shipping-goods

  35. J-D
    June 15th, 2015 at 17:00 | #35

    @ZM

    It’s my understanding that in general transport by water consumes less energy than transport by land because the friction is less.

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