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Monday Message Board

July 18th, 2016

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

Categories: Economics - General Tags:
  1. Newtownian
    July 18th, 2016 at 21:19 | #1

    For those fascinated by “Greed is Good” and its implications for saving the planet/providing economics prosperity the following article/discussion of new book may be of interest

    http://www.salon.com/2016/07/16/there_are_not_a_lot_of_happy_people_on_wall_street_sam_polk_opens_up_about_greed_wealth_and_toxic_masculinity/

    This and the iconic Gordon Gecko (pity about the sequel) seem to illustrate that successful pursuit of money does not make its controllers rational but rather tends to turn normal people into psychopathic narcissists and con-artists. So where does this little difficulty / externality fit into theories of optimal rational economic management theory? As I understand it nowhere, as the organic nature of banks doesnt even rate yet at least in macroeconomics.

    Yet we are asked to believe that utilizing economic forces whose levers are extensively controlled and manipulated by their likes should be the mechanism for promoting the Good and genuine climate change mitigation??!!

    Meanwhile in Oz we have a person from precisely this background as our revamped PM?! Once he convincing espoused belief in climate change and the need for action but now seems to have shredded his beliefs. How this is possible is puzzling for me as he also seemed to understand the issues. How now can he do such an about face?

    Oddly I may have found the answer on the weekend. With the prospect of having to act as an expert witness and being very wary of legal inquisitor skills I asked a friend with much experience in giving evidence about the expertise of barristers. His answer was interesting. Good barristers develop the ability to absorb specialist knowledge for a case/situation like a sponge and then project the impression of great insight sufficient to tie mere mortals in knots. But at the end of the day they shed this knowledge like a suit of clothes. They were just the right tools for the right job for the moment.

    The implication for Turnbull is this. We mugs in fact have no real idea what/how he thinks of climate change or economics or environmental sustainability beyond knowing he obviously likes money and power and the limelight. Is he a finance industry monster or chamelon or worse…both? It will be interesting to see what answers emerge in the coming months.

  2. GrueBleen
    July 19th, 2016 at 02:31 | #2

    @Newtownian

    Interesting thoughts, mate, especially about lawyers. Though I think that many journalists exhibit this characteristic, too (or at least think they do)

    But I wonder if Turnbull isn’t just a more “obvious” example of that lawyer syndrome made general. For instance, I think there is much in common amongst Turnbull, Rudd and also Gillard in her own way: it’s that ability to “absorb” rapidly and then seem to really believe that they “know” – at least for long enough to get their desired result.

    Otherwise, why on earth would, Rudd, for instance, believe that he could get LNP nomination for UN Sec Gen ? Because Turnbull recognizes a “fellow traveller”, maybe ? Apropos of which, we should remember that Turnbull had his start as both journalist and lawyer.

    By contrast, I think Abbott might be an old-fashioned “believer” with just a permanently limited worldview to work from.

  3. Ken Fabian
    July 19th, 2016 at 07:34 | #3

    Mr Turnbull has appointed Josh Frydenberg as minister for Energy and Environment – as far as I can tell he is a coal mine supporting climate science denier and opponent of most environmental regulation. Also, supposedly, a supporter of nuclear energy, although it looks to me it’s of the raised finger to environmentalists kind of nuke spruiking that is without real commitment, especially to using it to replacing fossil fuels. Possibly some desire for a vanity nuclear program?

    Much as I have misgivings about nuclear, if it’s proponents come with genuine commitment to a clean energy transition – using it to replace fossil fuels not prevent the growth of renewables – I see it as pointing in the right direction. He doesn’t look like one of those. So, is the handing off of this portfolio to Frydenberg evidence of Turnbull abandoning any semblance of commitment to the climate problem or is it evidence he never really had any? Will Australia actually commit to, or develop the policy required to achieve those Paris agreement goals under a Turnbull government?

  4. Ben
    July 19th, 2016 at 08:06 | #4

    @Ken Fabian
    I find it interesting that conservatives are so fascinated with nuclear power, the one technology that has little or no hope of existing without government support.

  5. Ivor
    July 19th, 2016 at 12:42 | #5

    Latest Mauna Loa CO2 is an astonishing – 406.81 ppm (June 2016)

    Same time last year it was – 402.80 ppm (June 2015)

    This is an increase of 1% per year !!!!! and means that the rate of increase is increasing.

    And they still allow exploration for more fossil fuel sources.

    This is utter, utter madness and must doom humanity to an ecological catastrophe.

    All this because capitalists must have their “Growth”.

  6. Ken Fabian
    July 19th, 2016 at 23:13 | #6

    Ben, my own view is that so long as the main body of political support for nuclear overlaps with the main opposition to strong climate action, that support cannot be mobilised in any effective manner. Should that opposition to climate action be overturned, effective support for nuclear would grow – but so would support for renewables. I think renewables – having gained a real start and shimmying under crucial price barriers- would grow even more and with less delay.

  7. Ikonoclast
    July 20th, 2016 at 08:24 | #7

    The latest Mauna Loa CO2 data is very concerning as Ivor says.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

    Scroll down a little on that link and look at the graph “Recent Monthly Mean CO2 at Mauna Loa”. The dashed red line representing monthly mean values takes a further kick upwards with the northern autumn-winter period. It drags up the black line representing monthly mean values after correction for the average seasonal cycle. This acceleration of CO2 concentration rise has occurred at a time of slowdown in the use of fossil fuels. The slowdown in fossil fuel use has been pointed out by J.Q. and I accept the data he points to. The question now is this. What has caused the acceleration in increase of CO2? It could be the El Nino part of the ENSO cycle, causing more forest fires and dying vegetation.

    The follow-on question is this. Have we started feedback mechanisms which will continue causing rises in CO2 levels even as we reduce fossil fuel use? If so we are in a lot of trouble. The feedback mechanisms will or could include vegetation die-offs, wildfires, failure of current circulation of the oceans to mix CO2 into lower ocean levels and increased emissions of CO2 and especially CH4 (methane) from bogs, tundra and undersea deposits. If we have crossed a tipping point then we are too late essentially. That’s an “if” so we should not give up trying but it is very concerning. Those who said we could use emissions trading and wait for capitalist market forces to correct everything have clearly advocated a procedure too tardy to deal with the problem without unacceptably high risks. That path has led us into this critically dangerous situation.

  8. GrueBleen
    July 20th, 2016 at 09:07 | #8

    @Ken Fabian

    Aren’t we supposed to take discussion of nukes into a Sandpit ?

    But having said that, isn’t the main problem with support for nuke power the huge cost and long timeframe ? And that’s even before the massive cost and time over-runs that we always seem to get.

    Besides, what’s happening in that bastion of nuke power, France: is there a large, ongoing construction and commissioning schedule to replace the aging and obsolescent nukes already in existence ?

  9. Fran Barlow
    July 20th, 2016 at 09:13 | #9

    On Corbyn and the Momentum phenomenon …

    It’s always risky to take the disingenous as if they were sincere, but the appeal by the Blairite-led trolls in the Labour Party that the leadership of Corbyn will lead to a decade or more of Tory rule probably needs to be addressed.

    Firstly, nobody can say for sure what people will make of politics in Britain in four years’ time. Four months ago — nay, four weeks ago — people thought that the EU referendum would pass comfortably. Fourteen months ago, polls said Ed Miliband would defeat Cameron. Nine months before Brown was tossed out, it was assumed by most that he had a lock on the next election. The folk now boldly predicting Labour not being in office for a decade don’t exactly have a strong track record of accurately predicting the future. They did what they regarded then as all the right things, and yet, lost abysmally. Having campaigned alongside the Tories against Scottish independence, they scarcely have a party left in Scotland. Their ‘Edstone’ was as Tory blue a thing as anyone could imagine.

    Yet there are signs that the politics of Reagan and Thatcher are now in decline. Across Europe and Britain/america, the grip of the elites is weakening. In America, Trump stared down Koch and Murdoch and forced the latter to come crawling back to preserve any relevance. You don’t have to respect Trump to see that as significant. Equally, Sanders, avowing ‘democratic socialism’, went far closer than anyone in disrupting the elite coronation of the latest member of the Clinton dynasty to take charge of the business of brutalising working humanity. That he is not a socialist in any meaningful sense is beside the point. What is telling is that the old red-scare trolling has lost much of its force. The rise of Corbyn, which would have seemed implausible 14 months ago, is almost a new normal. Elites everywhere are shaking in their boots and in Britain they are trying every trick in the book to marginalise not merely him, but whole swathes of the populace. In this they have as an ally, Thatcher’s cultural children — the next layer of putative Labour aristocrats to step up and administer neoliberal and neoconservative orthodoxy.

    Given though that they seem keener on the applause (and the policies) of the Conservative elite than those supported by the bulk of the membership of the Labour Party, which is still at least nominally ‘socialist’ one might wonder why the prospect of prolonged Tory rule, even if that were the outcome, would be so baleful. Sure, they’d be better paid were they in charge, and would get better photo-op and selfie-opportunities, but why in their view, would your average working person be measurably worse off? Unless you think there is something fundamentally wrong with the Tory paradigm — and they have been quiet on that at best — why not shrug your shoulders and concede ‘they aren’t that bad’. Really, their support for austerity and war only makes sense if that’s what you think. As things stand, their destructive attacks on their leader from day 1 which reached a crescendo just as the Tories lost their leader underlines their preference for the Tories over Labour in practice. They have forfeited forever the canard that a failure to support the party is unthinkable. They have spat all over it.

    Politics is not as complicated as that. If you broadly accept a given political paradigm then choose or form a party fit to support it. And if you don’t then choose or form an alternative. The Labour Party is now led by someone who represents a step away from the neoliberal and neoconservative orthodoxy of the last three and a bit decades. He appears to be honest, consistent, inclusive and strongly supported by the membership and broader constituency. His party, despite the open active subversion by the Blairites and a full-scale assault by the elite and their media hounds leads in a number of polls and has won every electoral contest, clawing back support from UKIP. The party has grown since its loss and is reportedly 500,000 strong — bigger than at anytime since Atlee and perhaps in all its history.

    Now maybe they won’t win in 2020 or whenever the next General Election is held. However that may be, the Labour Party will be stronger and healthier for the Corbyn/Momentum surge, and better placed to win the election after that, as there is now a clear non-Tory alternative.

  10. Troy Prideaux
    July 20th, 2016 at 09:46 | #10

    I was just thinking recently what happened to Fran? Good to hear from you again 🙂

  11. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 09:56 | #11

    @GrueBleen

    isn’t the main problem with support for nuke power the huge cost and long timeframe ?

    No.

    – Waste
    – Accidents
    – Weapons

    If not for these I would support nuclear as an alternative to fossils even if they cost more.

  12. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 10:09 | #12

    @Ikonoclast

    What has caused the acceleration in increase of CO2?

    I can only think of population increase and increased industrialisation of the Third World.

    The Third World has every right to attain the same living standard as in the West. So as they pursue this unstoppable path – the climate is destroyed.

    Pure logic.

  13. Ken Fabian
    July 20th, 2016 at 10:42 | #13

    I mentioned nuclear in relation to the new Minister for Energy and Environment and got carried along by a pet peeve of mine – the significance of having such broadly incompatible intentions and how that gets overlooked in the midst of populist greenie bashing. It’s not my intention to derail the thread into counterproductive nuclear vs renewables reiterations. More significant by my reckoning will be the extent the Turnbull government, with Frydenberg at the pointy end, will support the fundamental goals of national and international emissions reductions, which seem to require greater support for renewable energy.

    Regarding increase in CO2 – I too would like to know what the attribution is. Atmospheric CO2 levels are affected by a variety of things including human emissions, but also year to year variation from natural and semi natural effects including global balance of vegetation growth and decay, deforestation and reforestation, extent of wildfires as well as potentially enduring and predicted effects of carbon sinks taking up less. This is a problem that doesn’t get easier by delay.

  14. Fran Barlow
    July 20th, 2016 at 11:09 | #14

    @Troy Prideaux
    Busy with work, elections and twitter … 😉

  15. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 11:26 | #15

    Most people will have heard on the media that solar subsidy schemes are being cut back.

    This must have been a result of fossil fuel lobbying because the same backdown is occurring internationally. They have invented a convenient “snag”.

    According to the New York Times:

    Renewables have hit a snag beyond Germany, too. Renewable sources are producing temporary power gluts from Australia to California, driving out other energy sources that are still necessary to maintain a stable supply of power.

    The message here is that renewables must be blocked because they produce too much energy, with too much efficiency and cannot be easily monopolised to return a super-profit.

    It is the old canard of baseload etc. However we are developing new battery technologies and storage possibilities.

    The lobbyists are capitalists.

  16. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 11:40 | #16

    By investing in renewables (ie funding a subsidy) we kill off nuclear. Nuclear cannot compete with subsidised renewables today.

    According to the New York Times

    Without help, nuclear officials say, there will be far less nuclear power. Two Exelon plants, Quad Cities in Illinois and Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, for instance, were unable to submit winning bids in a recent auction to meet future energy needs in the PJM territory, covering 13 Middle Atlantic and Midwestern states and the District of Columbia.

    Bye, bye nukes…..

  17. Ken Fabian
    July 20th, 2016 at 11:55 | #17

    My own view is that existing high emissions plant being forced into intermittency is exactly the direction we need to be going. It creates an emergent, defacto carbon price effect by forcing those plant operators to make more money outside those periods. Raising prices in the evening, with time of use pricing was probably seen as a way to reduce incentive for solar, but they didn’t foresee the rapid rise of batteries, even as they created the necessary incentives for it. Energy experts being contemptuous of PV and batteries meant they failed to see how that makes for more incentive to install solar with batteries. Killing the generous feed in tariffs likewise was probably seen as reducing the attractiveness of solar; instead it is creating demand for solar with batteries – my own intent to upscale our PV and add batteries is not unique. Nice to have power during blackouts as well. Depending on how accommodating the retail electricity industry proves, we will stay grid connected. If they prove too hostile the potential to upscale a bit further and go off-grid will be there.

  18. GrueBleen
    July 20th, 2016 at 12:55 | #18

    @Ivor

    Much as I treasure these rare occasions of almost agreement, Ivor, I don’t think it was your support for nuke power I had in mind.

    I think maybe I was referring to those with the power, the money, the will and the ways to build nuke power establishments – unless of course you are one of those and I’ve just completely misread you.

    However, even with the negatives of waste, accidents and weapons, I might still consider nuke power as an insurance policy. After all, if there is significant climate change, do we know for certain what it will do to the extent of cloud cover and to the patterns of wind flow ?

    Still, we’d probably have quite enough notice to give us time to build nuke power stations if anything really bad was going to happen. Wouldn’t it ?

  19. Tim Macknay
    July 20th, 2016 at 14:07 | #19

    Aargh – automod purgatory. Pro90f Q, could you kindly delete my previous?

    Trying again, sans link…

    @Ikonoclast

    What has caused the acceleration in increase of CO2? It could be the El Nino part of the ENSO cycle, causing more forest fires and dying vegetation.

    The El Nino theory seems to be the view accepted by NOAA scientists, and Dr Michael Mann – c.f. http: // http://www.noaa.gov /record-annual-increase-carbon-dioxide-observed-mauna-loa-2015 and http: //www. climatecentral.org /news/ unprecedented-spike-co2-levels-2015-20125.

    It’s worth noting that measured CO2 levels have previously increased in periods when anthropogenic CO2 emissions were not growing (such as the global downturn in the early 1980s, for example), and that the rate of increase of average global surface-level CO2 (as opposed to the Mauna Loa data) has not been at particularly high levels during the past 2 or 3 years. I suspect we’d need to see a sustained period of declining global anthropogenic emissions before it shows up in CO2 measurements. A couple of years of stalled emissions growth won’t do it.

  20. Tim Macknay
    July 20th, 2016 at 14:11 | #20

    Bugger. Didn’t deactivate the link well enough. Take 3…

    @Ikonoclast

    What has caused the acceleration in increase of CO2? It could be the El Nino part of the ENSO cycle, causing more forest fires and dying vegetation.

    The El Nino theory seems to be the view accepted by NOAA scientists, and Dr Michael Mann – c.f. http:// www. noaa. gov /record-annual-increase-carbon-dioxide-observed-mauna-loa-2015 and http: //www. climatecentral. org /news/ unprecedented-spike-co2-levels-2015-20125.

    It’s worth noting that measured CO2 levels have previously increased in periods when anthropogenic CO2 emissions were not growing (such as the global downturn in the early 1980s, for example), and that the rate of increase of average global surface-level CO2 (as opposed to the Mauna Loa data) has not been at particularly high levels during the past 2 or 3 years (c.f. annual global mean CO2 growth rates on the trends page at the ESRL/NOAA web site).

    I suspect we’d need to see a sustained period of declining global anthropogenic emissions before it shows up in CO2 measurements. A couple of years of stalled emissions growth won’t do it.

  21. ZM
    July 20th, 2016 at 14:26 | #21

    I just wanted to share 3 climate change related good news developments I read in the last few days on Facebook. It aways makes me feel a bit more hopeful when I read about these sorts of things.

    1. The Democratic Party has just included language about a WW2 style climate mobilisation in its platform:

    “Democrats believe it would be a grave mistake for the United States to wait for another nation to lead the world in combating the global climate emergency. In fact, we must move first in launching a green industrial revolution, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because it is in our own national interest to do so. Just as America’s greatest generation led the effort to defeat the Axis Powers during World War II, so must our generation now lead a World War II-type national mobilization to save civilization from catastrophic consequences. We must think beyond Paris. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, climate experts, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities to chart a course toward the healthy future we all want for our families and communities.”
    http://www.theclimatemobilization.org/dnc_ww2

    2. The Climate Council reported that earlier this year China outlined plans for a global energy grid to be built by 2050, so countries can share energy across borders.
    http://futurism.com/building-big-forget-great-wall-china-wants-build-50-trillion-global-power-grid-2050/

    3. And Victoria has issued its first Green Bond of $300 million which was fully subscribed in a bit over 24 hours
    http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/victorian-green-bonds-an-australian-and-world-first/

  22. Tim Macknay
    July 20th, 2016 at 15:07 | #22

    @ZM
    Thanks ZM.

  23. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 16:27 | #23

    @Tim Macknay

    There is no El Nino explanation as such.

    Your link clearly states that:

    The big jump in CO2 is partially due to the current El Niño

    For myself I would have thought this partial bit od the increase should have been countered by the supposed decline in China’s coal consumption for 2015.

    See:http://www.climatecentral.org/news/have-chinas-carbon-emissions-peaked

  24. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 16:28 | #24

    @Tim Macknay

    There is no El Nino explanation as such.

    Your link clearly states that:

    The big jump in CO2 is partially due to the current El Niño

    For myself I would have thought this partial bit od the increase should have been countered by the supposed decline in China’s coal consumption for 2015.

    See:http://www.climatecentral.org/news/have-chinas-carbon-emissions-peaked

  25. Tim Macknay
    July 20th, 2016 at 16:36 | #25

    @Ivor
    The first link states that. In the second link, Michael Mann emphasises the role of El Nino much more strongly. Obviously though, atmospheric CO2 levels continue to increase primarily because anthropogenic emission levels continue to be far above the planet’s absorption capacity, notwithstanding that emissions appear to have stopped growing. But that hardly needs spelling out.

  26. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 17:19 | #26

    @Tim Macknay

    Huh?

    emissions appear to have stopped growing.

    Is this really what you wanted to say ????

    Those who state this have not digested the Mauna Loa data.

  27. Tim Macknay
    July 20th, 2016 at 19:13 | #27

    @Ivor
    I have no interest in revisiting this issue with you. The best available data indicate that growth in anthropogenic emissions has stalled over the past 2-3 years. This may in fact be incorrect, but nonetheless it is what the best available data indicate. This is not necessarily inconsistent with the Mauna Loa data showing continued increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, and even a spike in CO2 levels, as the relationship between anthropogenic emissions and CO2 levels as measured is not a simple proportionate one, and there are complicating variables (such as the ENSO cycle, for one). This isn’t my opinion – it’s the opinion of scientific experts in the field. Perhaps you rate your own understanding of the science above Michael Mann’s, but I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t.

  28. Ikonoclast
    July 20th, 2016 at 19:53 | #28

    @Fran Barlow

    Agreed.

  29. Ikonoclast
    July 20th, 2016 at 19:54 | #29

    @Tim Macknay

    I don’t disagree with you. Time will tell.

  30. Ivor
    July 20th, 2016 at 21:10 | #30

    @Tim Macknay

    The future damage to humanity is caused by CO2 in the upper atmosphere – Mauna Loa. But for this fact, anthropogenic emissions are otherwise irrelevant.

    In otehr words, if anthropogenic CO2 emissions skyrocketed, but the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere fell, there would be no risk of further global warming.

  31. Tim Macknay
    July 20th, 2016 at 22:34 | #31

    @Ivor
    You’re now stating the obvious (although I wouldn’t call Mauna Loa the upper atmosphere – the upper troposphere maybe). I can’t tell whether you’ve misunderstood what I said above or whether you’re just being obtuse. But no matter – I already said I have no interest in revisiting the issue with you.

  32. Ivor
    July 21st, 2016 at 01:22 | #32

    The vague statements that emissions appear to have stopped are not helpful as they are not based on data and are disruptive.

    They also lack context because economic growth projections from the IMF and World Bank have been continuously downgraded and the level of growth leads to a level of CO2 emissions. Degrowth reduces CO2 emissions.

    In fact there is no evidence that global CO2 emissions have, or may have, “stopped growing”.

    All we have is a projection for E(FF) which is not global emissions as this does not include E(LUC). The main source document here http://cdiac.ornl.gov/GCP/ “Global Carbon Budget 2015 Paper”. What other source is there?

    They state, for China “This departure could be temporary” [p358b]

    They state “global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement production will be near or slightly below zero in 2015”

    This is not “global CO2 emissions”.

    The report goes on to state “Our method is imprecise and contains several assumptions that could influence the results beyond the given range, and as such is indicative only.”

    The report uses the phrase “global carbon emissions” at page 375a, but the context and the calculation indicate this relates to E(FF) only. And even here the decline is heavily tied to GDP growth projections with significant uncertainty.

    So please let us have no more of this “emissions appear to have stopped growing” without any evidence and well out of any reasonable context.

  33. Ikonoclast
    July 21st, 2016 at 06:40 | #33

    A document from the internet page Ivor cites says in the abstract:

    “For 2015, preliminary data indicate that the growth in E(FF) (emissions from fossil fuels) will be near or slightly below zero, with a projection of -0.6%, with a range of -1.6% to +0.5%, based
    on national emissions projections for China and the USA, and projections of gross domestic product corrected for recent changes in the carbon intensity of the global economy for the rest of the world.”

    These estimates are difficult to make and fraught with complexities. Have a look at the paper.

    http://www.earth-syst-sci-data.net/7/349/2015/essd-7-349-2015.pdf

    Of course E(FF) are not the whole story. There are other sources both anthropogenic and not. The behaviours of the various carbon sinks are also complex.

    Tim Macknay says: “I suspect we’d need to see a sustained period of declining global anthropogenic emissions before it shows up in CO2 measurements. A couple of years of stalled emissions growth won’t do it.” This is a supportable statement.

    Ivor emphasises the concern over the continued rise in Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 readings. This too is supportable.

    If one combines both views, the synthesis is that we are not doing enough to curb human emissions and we are not doing it fast enough. So, one wonders why the argument? There are differences in emphases of course but the issue goes deeper. The answer lies in the system itself and attitudes to it. Most people cathected to capitalism and their current way of life feel profoundly threatened when it is suggested to them that the entire economic system is the wrong system for dealing with this problem (and a host of other problems). This really is the issue.

  34. Ikonoclast
    July 21st, 2016 at 07:50 | #34

    Meanwhile, Erdogan’s purge (after the failed coup attempt) assumes massive proportions. From the BBC;

    “Who is being purged?

    The purge is so extensive that few believe it was not already planned. And there seems little chance that everyone on the list is a Gulenist.

    The sheer numbers are sobering. Some 9,000 people are in custody and many more are out of a job. Although accurate details are difficult to come by, this is the current list:

    7,500 soldiers have been detained, including 118 generals and admirals
    8,000 police have been removed from their posts and 1,000 arrested
    3,000 members of the judiciary, including 1,481 judges, have been suspended
    15,200 education ministry officials have lost their jobs
    21,000 private school teachers have had their licences revoked
    1,577 university deans (faculty heads) have been asked to resign
    1,500 finance ministry staff have been removed
    492 clerics, preachers and religious teachers have been fired
    393 social policy ministry staff have been dismissed
    257 prime minister’s office staff have been removed
    100 intelligence officials have been suspended”

    In total the crackdown exceeds 50,000 people. A three month state of emergency has been declared. Islamic schools and other Sunni Islamic institutions are being supported and bolstered as secular and democratic institutions are torn down.

    In keeping with my consistent position on the M.E., I say this is a matter for the Turkish people. The West (and Russia and China) should simply leave Turkey alone. In analysis, I would say Turkey is clearly in serious trouble and very possibly on a path to becoming another state racked by civil war like Syria. The Kurdish issue makes this situation even more fraught. The worst thing the West can do is interfere or take sides. When we interfere in the M.E. we just makes matters worse.

    Of course, my opinions mean nothing. The progress of events in the M.E. and Turkey will continue to be inside-driven by rising Islamic fundamentalism and outside-driven by the imperatives of the global arms trade and the oil trade. Turkey might survive as a polity. I can’t see it surviving as a successful economy now. Any turn to religious fundamentalism and sectarian strife is a surefire economy wrecker.

  35. sunshine
    July 21st, 2016 at 08:33 | #35

    I am worried that Conservatives have won and we are now inevitably sliding toward a world of nasty paranoid nation states . The election of Trump would seal the deal. Its easier to wreck than to build things up ,fear breeds fear. During the long period of Western dominance we chose to exploit rather than to inspire others. I refuse to accept the Conservative axiom of selfishness – that this is just human nature playing out. Their prophecy is self fulfilling. We could have done better. Seeing the French peoples open spirit being slowly broken by such a small number of deranged youths is depressing. 1 million Australians marched on the streets begging our government no to open this can of worms.

  36. Ivor
    July 21st, 2016 at 09:06 | #36

    Tim Macknay’s statement:

    A couple of years of stalled emissions growth won’t do it

    needs explanation.

    The measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentration are extremely sensitive to regular seasonal cycles. You can easily see the impact of each summer and winter in terms of northern hemisphere vegetation growth and winter hibernation.

    This suggests that the atmospheric concentrations are well linked with emissions and the measurement for each year is not the result of any such “couple of years”.

    If the atmospheric concentration was based on the net effect of a “couple of years” it would be much, much smoother.

    So this also appears to be yet another myth being injected. But the underlying reality is that any change in CO2 emissions that is merely the artefact of a recession, is no solution to climate change. It just allows those who want to – to muddy the waters and spread complacency.

    However if it was the result of a deliberate policy of degrowth – things would be different.

  37. Ben
    July 21st, 2016 at 11:03 | #37

    @Ivor
    The NSW scheme was always set to expire in 2016. Everyone signing up knew it was a 7 year arrangement. Their once costly systems are now paid off.

  38. Tim Macknay
    July 21st, 2016 at 12:23 | #38

    @Ikonoclast

    If one combines both views, the synthesis is that we are not doing enough to curb human emissions and we are not doing it fast enough. So, one wonders why the argument? There are differences in emphases of course but the issue goes deeper. The answer lies in the system itself and attitudes to it. Most people cathected to capitalism and their current way of life feel profoundly threatened when it is suggested to them that the entire economic system is the wrong system for dealing with this problem (and a host of other problems). This really is the issue.

    I agree with this up to a point, that is to say that I agree broadly with your “synthesis”, but I don’t agree that “this [i.e. ideology] is really the issue”. “The issue” is that global greenhouse gas emissions are causing potentially dangerous climate change. Obviously, I am not a Marxist, so you can feel free to think of me as “cathected to capitalism” if you like. However, despite that, I don’t think my views about the possibility of addressing global warming are at all based on feeling “threatened” by the idea of socialism.

    I do agree that the “argument”, as you put it, appears to occur in part because of ideological perspectives, but I think your take on it involves a great degree of projection. I’ve previously laid out my reasons for not accepting the claim that global warming cannot be brought under control “under capitalism”, but given that you’ve repeated the claim I feel I should set them out again.

    As I’ve said previously, I can find absolutely no good reason to suppose that a socialist economic system, whatever it looks like, will be somehow better at addressing global warming than the present capitalist one, and nothing put forward by you, Ivor or anyone else to support this claim (to the extent that actual arguments, as opposed to assertions, have been put forward, which is debatable) has been remotely convincing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there appears to be no real prospect of replacing the present capitalist system with a socialist one within the timeframe necessary to address global warming. Neither you, Ivor or anyone else has put forward a realistic program as to how to replace capitalism in the short to medium term. What happens in the long term is anyone’s guess. Therefore, in my view the claim that addressing global warming can only be achieved under socialism is essentially a distraction. The nature and timing of the problem means that global warming can only be addressed under capitalism, for better or worse, or not at all. If you think that means ‘not at all’ that’s up to you, but I see that as a defeatist perspective.

    As I said before, I don’t think there is any inconsistency with the view that anthropogenic emissions appear to have stopped growing, and the fact that the Mauna Loa data shows atmospheric CO2 is still increasing. I haven’t claimed that emissions have definitely stopped growing, or that we have definitely turned the corner when it comes to fossil fuel emissions. It’s entirely possible that emissions haven’t actually stopped growing, and that the data is inadequate. It’s also possible that emissions have stopped growing, but that this is only temporary, and they will start growing again. Obviously, I hope that they really have stopped growing, and that they will begin to decline, since that is what has to happen if we are to have a hope of addressing global warming. It also seems to me that the view that they have stopped growing is consistent with global trends in energy technology and fossil fuel consumption. However, it is possible too that this trend is only temporary, and that coal and other fossil fuel consumption will grow again in the future. Obviously, I hope that does not happen.

    It’s not always easy to understand exactly what Ivor is trying to say, as he is very obtuse, but it seems to me that he is very strongly invested in the position that anthropogenic emissions cannot have stopped growing except due to an economic downturn. I find this position rather bizarre, but the easiest way for me to make sense of it is that as a Marxist, Ivor is committed to the ideological view that global warming cannot be addressed under capitalism, and finds the idea that emissions have stopped growing in the absence of a recession inconsistent with that view, and therefore unacceptable.

    To me, this explains both the stridency of Ivor’s arguments (e.g. using words like “myth” and impugning my motives), and his insistence that emissions cannot have stopped growing because it would immediately show up in the Mauna Loa records, despite this view not being supported by either the data or the opinions of the scientists doing the research. I confess I find the view odd, as I see no strong reason to suppose that Marxists need to be committed to a particular view on whether or not global warming can be addressed under capitalism. I have wondered whether it is simply an instance of the recent tendency for Marxists to want to shoehorn environmental issues into their own framework.

    So it seems to me that Ivor’s, and to some extent your, views of this issue are coloured by ideology to more of an extent than mine are. If I tend to cling to a particular interpretation, it is because of my desire to see global warming addressed, not because of a defensive attachment to capitalism. But I am well aware that I could be wrong. I see no similar awareness on Ivor’s part. You seem to wax and wane a bit.

  39. Tim Macknay
    July 21st, 2016 at 12:40 | #39

    @Ikonoclast
    A decade or so ago, I was under the impression that Erdogan was leading the way in showing that Islam was compatible with liberal democracy. Sadly, it seems I was wrong about him.

  40. Ikonoclast
    July 21st, 2016 at 15:02 | #40

    @Tim Macknay

    All those points are fair enough for you to make and I certainly provoked those points or a restatement of them. We need a sandpit for this and related issues. I’ll wait for a sandpit.

  41. J-D
    July 23rd, 2016 at 07:53 | #41

    Fran Barlow :

    Given though that they seem keener on the applause (and the policies) of the Conservative elite than those supported by the bulk of the membership of the Labour Party, which is still at least nominally ‘socialist’ one might wonder why the prospect of prolonged Tory rule, even if that were the outcome, would be so baleful. Sure, they’d be better paid were they in charge, and would get better photo-op and selfie-opportunities, but why in their view, would your average working person be measurably worse off? Unless you think there is something fundamentally wrong with the Tory paradigm — and they have been quiet on that at best — why not shrug your shoulders and concede ‘they aren’t that bad’. …

    That your analysis is faulty is not particularly interesting. What is intriguing is that you expose the fact yourself by posing the question that can’t be answered within your framework. It’s unusual for people to approach their own blind spots so closely.

  42. Ikonoclast
    July 23rd, 2016 at 09:03 | #42

    @J-D

    Fran Barlow’s analysis seems fine to me. I say this simply to indicate my general support for Fran’s views on this matter.

  43. J-D
    July 24th, 2016 at 19:41 | #43

    Ikonoclast :
    @J-D
    Fran Barlow’s analysis seems fine to me. I say this simply to indicate my general support for Fran’s views on this matter.

    Thank you for performing this important public service of drawing attention to your support.

    I am so utterly flabbergasted by the unprecedented phenomenon of your disagreeing with me that I can’t think what other comment to make.

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