Monday Message Board

Back again with 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. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

54 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. “6°C is the difference between Melbourne and Perth,” Professor Tol argues.

    If Professor Tol argued this with respect to climate change and was suggesting a +6°C average rise on earth was no big deal, then this is a statement of stupendous ignorance. The ignorance of Koppen climate zones, the massive ocean warming implied, ocean acidifcation, sea level rise, tundra warming, methane release, seabed methane clathrate release, species extinctions and so on is massive. It is reasonable to wonder if Professor Tol knows or has read one thing outside the silo of neoclassical economics. One could reasonably wonder if he knows anything. It sounds like an idiot savant who is a savant only in a mythical discipline.

  2. skills?
    all sorts of stuff.

    camping instead of “glamping”(tic)
    “glamping”? that’s camping with servants.

    simple stuff—change a tyre, grow the occasional edible.

    i’ve been boggled quite a few times by realising otherwise really cluey competent people,when not within their area of competence, can be thick as two planks and quite possibly be an accident waiting to happen.

    ditch the tv and do single digit hours weekly online.
    join the library so the info available is fetched from everywhere by those amazing library people and you can read without distractions, no bluddy ads and at any pace, convenient.
    yes, it doesn’t happen in the next three seconds, 2020 showed us how pointless our timelines actually were.

    just supposing,a wall of fire (or water(for banananabenders))was bearing down apon you,you manage to get away and have nowhere to go and probably nothing to come back to.

    do you have to live like a refugee?

  3. Ikonoclast,
    You state: “If Professor Tol argued this with respect to climate change and was suggesting a +6°C average rise on earth was no big deal, then this is a statement of stupendous ignorance.”

    I’d suggest it’s wilful ignorance. Check out Desmog’s profile on Professor Richard Tol. Look at the company he keeps.

    A +4 °C mean global temperature rise above Holocene Epoch pre-industrial age would render the planet unrecognisable from anything humans (that have been around for the last approximately 300,000 years) have ever experienced. The last time the world was this hot was 15 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch. Sea levels rose some 40 metres higher than today and lush forests grew in Antarctica and the Arctic. However, that global heating took place over many thousands of years. Even at its most rapid, the rise in CO2 emissions occurred at a rate far, far slower than ours has since the start of the Industrial Revolution, that gave animals and plants time to adapt to new conditions, unlike now.

    A +4 °C global mean rise (let alone +6 °C) means:
    * An equatorial belt with high humidity, causing heat stress across tropical regions, that renders them uninhabitable for much of the year;
    * Oceanic dead zones – Coral reefs, shellfish and plankton will be wiped out by rising acidity and algae starving the oceans of oxygen;
    * In North & South mid-latitudes will lie belts of inhospitable desert;
    * The vast majority of humanity will live in high-latitude areas, where agriculture will be possible – in the Northern Hemisphere: Canada, Siberia, Scandinavia, and Alaska; and in the Southern Hemisphere: New Zealand, Tasmania, Western Antarctica and Patagonia.

    If that’s not a big deal, I don’t know what it is.

    Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather tweeted earlier today:

    “Based on the latest ERA5 data, 2020 was the warmest on record over land by a fair margin, tied for the warmest for the global as a whole, but only the 3rd warmest over the oceans.

    The world’s land (where we all live) was 1.94C (3.5F) warmer than the preindustrial period in 2020.”

  4. On another tack, I recommend Stan Grant’s article on the ABC website.

    Everything Stan Grant writes is correct. The only issue is that he does not go far enough in both historical and political economy terms. He probably can’t because of editorial control in the ABC. The critique of the USA must include a critique of imperialism, racism and the other member of that unholy trinity, capitalism itself. In its developed, late-stage form capitalism itself is the central problem.

    Capitalism is the real issue, as a reality-denying and reality-resisting system, which prevents the application of science-informed actions to stop climate change. It also prevents the application of ethically informed actions to deal with inequality, racism, sexism and the other deeply ingrained ills of modern nations.

    Russia and China are no use in all this (so far). They are neither democratic nor socialist, nor do their oligarchs care any more about stopping climate change than the Western oligarchs do, or rather don’t. With the ascension of Putin and Xi Jinping, Russia and China have lurched deeper and deepr into authoritarianism and dictatorship. The U.S.A. has resisted, so far, installing its own dictator. But as Stan Grant essentially says, returning to mere oligarchy (oligarchic capitalism) is still not the solution for anything.

    The ability of or rather the permissions for some people to own enormous amounts of financial and fixed capital, with a capitalized value, has to be curtailed. In our system capital equals power.

    As Ulf Martin writes:

    “1.1 From Wealth to Vermögen

    In English, of persons who own a variety of assets that have a certain monetary value, one says that they have a certain wealth. In English, it is not clear how wealth as such should relate to power. The situation is different in German: the direct translation of ‘wealth’ is Vermögen, sometimes even Kapitalvermögen. You say, Mr. Gates has a Vermögen of $100 billion. Now, the word Vermögen is also used more generally to denote the ability to do something, the “power to”. Indeed, etymologically Vermögen belongs to the same group as the German Macht, which is the direct translation of ‘power’, especially in political contexts. These words trace their etymology to the Indo-European root magh, which means ‘ability’ or ‘power’, and from which all kinds of related English words, like ‘might’, ‘mechanics’, ‘machine’ and many others, including ‘magician’, derive; there is also the closely related root maĝh, which means ‘fight’ or ‘struggle’ (Köbler 2014).

    So in German, the identity of capital and power is already built into the language—and the etymologically English equivalent to Kapitalvermögen would be ‘capital might’. The reader can get a feeling for the meaning of Vermögen by taking an arbitrary report about goings-on in business and replace words like ‘asset’, ‘wealth’ and ‘equity’ with ‘might’.”

    Ulf Martin also explains clearly why capital is might in our system.

    “1.3 Gesellschaftliches Gestaltungsvermögen

    A society consists of more than one person. Let there be two persons, one person and another person. Given the initial state of affairs, the one person wishes a particular later state of affairs, while the other person would like another later state of affairs. If the two intended later states are different, the two persons are in conflict. The two persons could negotiate or even cooperate. But if they do not and their goals contradict each other, a power struggle ensues. And of course, the two persons are not alone. Hence, a person’s social power, gesellschaftliches Gestaltungsvermögen, is their ability to overcome the combined, but not necessarily coordinated, resistance of all other persons with respect to their goals. The goal may be greater or smaller in that the intended state of the world may be farther away or closer to the course of events. The farther away it is, the more other people are involved or affected; hence more resistance is to be expected, and greater power is necessary to overcome it. We can now say that capitalization is the quantification of the otherwise only qualitative notions of ‘greater’ and ‘smaller’ with respect to what goals can be achieved. In an almost fully capitalized world, for example, Bill Gates, with a capital might or Vermögen of $100 billion, can realize any project for which facilities costing that order of magnitude can be bought, which are of course greater than the facilities someone with only $1 income a day can buy. The quantification is necessarily relative, since social ability is relative to the social ability of others.

    If persons find that their goals cannot be reached with the means currently at their disposal, i.e. their gesellschaftliches Gestaltungsvermögen, or power, is insufficient, they may try to increase their power. That is, they may use their power to increase, or accumulate, power. Seeking power may thus become an end in itself. And since power is relative, we have relative or differential accumulation (Nitzan and Bichler 2009), which turns out to be a generic concept applicable to all power struggles, not just to capitalism. Thus, we can define capital (Kapitalvermögen) as the ability to create formations such that the formations created increase the ability to create formations. Once such a self-reflexive use of power has started in a society, all members of that society will gradually be drawn into using power to accumulate power lest they lose their own Gestaltungsvermögen to those who engage in the power struggle. And once self-reflexive power conflicts have started, there is a tendency to turn all of a society’s resources into means for those conflicts; hence the tendency, under capitalism, for the ‘capitalization of everything’ (Nitzan and Bichler 2009).”

    Quotes from “THE AUTOCATALYTIC SPRAWL OF PSEUDORATIONAL MASTERY” by Ulf Martin. It’s easy to find a .pdf on line.

    Until and unless we radically repudiate capitalism, we are condemned to its destruction of the planet and civilization by “autocatalytic sprawl”. This is not to say that another system can save us, especially at this late extremity. But it is to say that this system will certainly destroy us. Some have criticized the term “autocatalytic sprawl” as jargon, academically pretentious and technically an inaccurate metonym with respect to the chemistry definition of autocatalytic. This is not so.

    “A single chemical reaction is said to be autocatalytic if one of the reaction products is also a catalyst for the same or a coupled reaction. Such a reaction is called an autocatalytic reaction.

    A set of chemical reactions can be said to be “collectively autocatalytic” if a number of those reactions produce, as reaction products, catalysts for enough of the other reactions that the entire set of chemical reactions is self-sustaining given an input of energy and (materials) (see autocatalytic set).” – Wikipedia.

    “An autocatalytic set is a collection of entities, each of which can be created catalytically by other entities within the set, such that as a whole, the set is able to catalyze its own production. In this way the set as a whole is said to be autocatalytic. Autocatalytic sets were originally and most concretely defined in terms of molecular entities, but have more recently been metaphorically extended to the study of systems in sociology and economics.

    Autocatalytic sets also have the ability to replicate themselves if they are split apart into two physically separated spaces. Computer models illustrate that split autocatalytic sets will reproduce all of the reactions of the original set in each half, much like cellular mitosis. In effect, using the principles of autocatalysis, a small metabolism can replicate itself with very little high level organization. This property is why autocatalysis is a contender as the foundational mechanism for complex evolution.” – Wikipedia.

    It is clear that Ulf Martin is positing that the rules and prescriptions of capitalism generate meta-autocatalytic sets of material production based on the operations of the biological autocatalytic set of homo sapiens.

    In Section 2.4 – Two Modes of Rational Mastery : Capital and Bureaucracy”, Ulf Martin develops out a philosophically AND empirically supported picture of the autocatalytic nature of capital within “rational mastery”. This is really a pseudorational mastery in the case of capital (at least) because its rationality is formal, bounded and unable to predict or deal with the real limits on its pseudorational sprawl. Here “sprawl” means a growth of replicating and replicated units in the set: the attempt at endless growth as we see in capitalism.

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