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15 thoughts on “Monday Message Board”
The wrecking trawl
Fishing is even worse than you thought, Via The Guardian, a major new paper in Nature by Enric Sala + 25 on marine conservation. Current destructive trawling releases 1.47 gigatonnes a year of CO2 trapped in marine sediments into the water column (cf civil aviation’s 0.9 Gt). This acidifies the oceans, from which some CO2 reaches the atmosphere. What we are doing is recklessly interrupting the geological carbon cycle, by which a continuous rain of dead fish and seaweed, fish shit, river silt and diatom skeletons falls to the seabed, nourishing humble seafloor biota. The goop eventually gets covered by another layer of mud, and over millennia is turned into rock. Which gets subducted and melted at tectonic plate boundaries, where the carbon is released by volcanoes, long after we are all gone.
Sources: Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/17/trawling-for-fish-releases-as-much-carbon-as-air-travel-report-finds-climate-crisis Paper- https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03371-z.epdf (but go through the Guardian to avoid parasitic paywall). Explanatory schematic video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnmGbDN278Y
A high proportion of the damage is done on shallow continental shelves, parcelled out into exclusive economic zones. Overfishing is not a tragedy of the commons, but a simpler policy failure of unregulated myopic greed. Far and away the worst offender is China, at 769 mt of CO2 released a year, 9 times the rate of the next worst offender, Russia, at 85 mt. This imbalance is startling, and I would like to see confirmation.
Comments from me:
– The authors tie their findings neatly into the technocratic case for very large and properly policed marine conservation areas. The standard target, popularized by David Attenborough, is putting 30% of the oceans, mostly coastal, into these. The policed part (with guns) is vital; 97% of the UK’s so-called “marine preservation areas” allow not only fishing but trawling, and are effectively useless. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/09/revealed-97-of-uk-offshore-marine-parks-subject-to-destructive-fishing
But is this the optimum political strategy for the street? It’s true that no-fishing zones are far more comprehensible to all concerned than catch quotas, less gameable, and far more easily enforced. But it seems to me that the proper response to the trawling disaster is to ban it, everywhere. NO TRAWLING, like NO COAL. That’s how the whales were saved.
BTW, I’ve eaten delicious scallops in Galicia that were farmed like mussels, using ropes slung under rafts in the fjords (rias). Mollusc farming demands clean water and does not need insecticides like artificially crowded farmed fish, so it’s pretty benign and sustainable. http://marceibe.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/bateas-submarina-4-1-350×350.jpg Is there any seafood that that demands trawling?
– The economic analysis is pretty sophisticated. The authors discuss varying priorities using convex Pareto efficiency frontiers. They conclude that even if you value biodiversity at zero, you should still protect 28% of the oceans, close to the CW target. If like us you are worried about carbon, the damage can be cut by 90% through protecting only 3.6% of the oceans, so any policy that optimises for sustainable fish catch and/or biodiversity deals with carbon automatically. This section should appeal to JQ wearing his egghead utility theory hat*.
– The paper includes a promising entry in the annual competition for “coolest but completely baffling chart”. Meet the Greek windmill on page 5.
– Good work by journo Karen McVeigh in tracking down a major research paper and making it accessible. For instance, Sala et al write “1.47 Pg” of CO2. I had to look up “petagramme”, and I bet 99% of other readers on his pretty upmarket blog would too. 1 petagramme = 1 gigatonne. Actually even a gigatonne is pretty hard to visualize, especially of a gas. My 2015 proposal for a new big journalistic unit has got nowhere: the Cheops, being the volume of the biggest of the famous Giza Pyramids, 2.5m cubic metres or 2m tonnes of coal. https://www.samefacts.com/50935/
* Footnote on the hat. In honour of our esteemed host’s fruitful collaboration with Professor Guerdjikova of Grenoble, the stylish fusion egghead hat should combine a classic Alpine woolly skiing bonnet with tricolour pom-pom, and a robust Aussie brim with dipterofugal corks.
– Qantas Airways Ltd (ASX: QAN)
● 1 Year Return +125.85%
● 52 Week Range:
$2.21 – 5.79
Considering US favoritism shown in NYT article below, is it any different to Qantas’ treatment by our government?
American Airlines bailed out. But Carnival Cruise Line privately raised $4bn @ -gulp! – 12% interest.
More on costs which may end up in the ‘cost of covid’ column, or does it need to be shown in the ‘cost of politicians & markets’ or ”public interest’ or ‘private’ column. Or just covid costs.
Q1. Qantas exhibits 126% return 2020, 80% capacity 4th qtr, do we ask for a return on investment, a shares, or just the cost of keeping business and jobs alive?
Q2. How will these payments be disentangled from ‘picking winners- vs covid vs the markets vs public health vs employment vs… the consequences?
– New York Times:
“It is fair to say that we socialized the airline industry’s losses and largely privatized the gains.
“A year later, as the stock market cruises to new heights, questions should be asked about the $50 billion in grants that were used to prop up the airline industry. Was it worth it? And was it necessary?
“But here we are: Shares of United traded below $20 in May; today they are above $60. The patterns are similar for the other major carriers.
“Airline stocks — lifted by taxpayers — are up nearly 200 percent from their pandemic trough and have almost recovered their losses.
“The original grant of $25 billion in April meant that each of the 75,000 jobs saved cost the equivalent of more than $300,000. And with each additional round of bailout money, that price has grown.”
– Cory Doctrow
“Wu proposed that a bailout for airlines (not just AA, but the whole monopolized sector, which had all committed AA’s sins to varying degrees) should come with strings attached – ending surprise fees, minimum seat standards, and an end to common ownership.
“Common ownership? Yes. All the airlines’ cap tables have high degrees of overlap – that is, they all belong to the same investors. Or rather, investor. Single. Warren Buffett is nipple-deep in each of the American aviation giants.
“Canberra extends A$1.2bn lifeline to Australian carriers
11 Feb 2021
“Australian airlines have embraced the government’s AUD1.2 billion Australian dollar (USD930 million) stimulus package for the country’s aviation and tourism industry, which includes 800,000 half-price airline tickets, cheap loans for businesses, direct support to keep aircraft flying and airline workers employed
“The new stimulus package tops the government’s AUD285 million (USD221 million) Airline Financial Relief Package which ran over six months from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020, in response to COVID-19
“Qantas and Jetstar revealed they operated at about 60% of their pre-COVID levels domestically during the third quarter of this financial year and projected this would increase to around 80% in the fourth quarter. The Qantas Group tagged at least 8,500 job losses due to COVID, about a third of its workforce. It’s three-year restructuring programme continued due to the financial realities associated with AUD11 billion (USD8.5 billion) in lost revenue since the start of the pandemic. Virgin Australia currently was operating at around 50% of pre-pandemic capacity and expected to reach roughly 70 % of pre-COVID capacity by the Easter break.”
The world’s fisheries are collapsing. This will lead to the collapse of regions where seafood protein is an important part of the diet, especially for poor people. S.E. Asia is one region which will be in severe trouble because of this problem.
This is an old study from 2006.
I’ll bet that if we could find an update the news would be much worse today.
And of course we know;
“How China’s Expanding Fishing Fleet Is Depleting the World’s Oceans” – Yale Envrionment360.
Not just China of course. The rest of the world plays a bigger hand than China in depleting world stocks and killing the oceans.
The news is not that fisheries are terribly mismanaged, it’s that the damage extends to huge and unnecessary carbon emissions.
In fact the mismanagement is so bad that it would be quite easy to make large Pareto improvements making everybody better off. So what. Is
..So what is stopping this? Iko would say: it’s predatory capitalism, stupid. There is clearly some truth to this – the culprits are industrial fishing fleets, not artisanal inshore fishermen. I suggest it’s a very deep-rooted myopic hunting culture. Our ancestors evolved as African savannah hunters of prey that had time to learn fear of tool-wielding bipeds. When they spread to other continents, the unsuspecting megafauna were wiped out in short order. Even the worst farmer or pastoralist automatically thinks of next year’s food supply. Hunters (including fishers) live in the moment.
Is Thomas Piketty going to be on the Q&A panel on the ABC tomorrow night? Perhaps even via Zoom, who knows? I really cannot understand the ABC’s promotions materials and ads. It seems completely ambiguous. Are they being intentionally vague, are they really bad at communication or I am being obtuse?
I will tune in but my mind quails at the idea of having to suffer through Q&A based on the vague hope that Mr. Piketty might turn up to say something interesting.
I think we agree essentially. In another post I wrote:
“The three greatest failings of modern humans:
(1) They think large equals infinite,
(2) They don’t understand exponential growth.
(3) They don’t care about the negative externalities of their actions.
Example of 1 – “The earth is so large we could never run out of resources or damage things like the climate and the ocean.”
Example of 2 – “We need more growth.”
Example of 3 – “F*** you planet, I’m alright.”
Why are humans like this? Well, they evolved (like any other species) in a situation where their own survival was the only issue they were properly concerned with. Our pre-civilizational evolved nature is inadequate to a visceral understanding of the above issues which are quintessentially modern predicaments. A mere logical understanding is insufficient. Humans rarely act on logic. They act on feelings (evolved and culturally modified feeling sets) most of the time.
Humans have definitely evolved (a little) since they created agriculture and civilization. But this genetic evolution is far slower than social and technological development. Our evolved and evolving nature cannot keep up. We are on the brink of disaster but we just don’t get it viscerally, which is to say we simply don’t have evolved feelings, behaviors and perceptions suited to our current predicament. The fact that some humans get the dilemma logically is making no substantive difference to our trajectory. Our conceit is that we can logic our way out of trouble. Actually, logic has very little to do with what we do.”
Added to this dilemma is the dilemma of offensive realism. See John Mearsheimer’s work for details. This dilemma, or one similar to it, has been given the title of the parable of the tribes, IIRC. The parable of the tribes notes that 8 (say) tribes could exist in harmony on adjoining territories until one armed up and became aggressive (for whatever reason). Then all have to arm up and become aggressive.
This is the state of play in great power relations. They are in a continuous economics race and arms race. It is clear that the USA and China now see matters very much in this light. Dealing with climate change properly would entail pulling out of these races. But both sides fear annihilation or at least powerlessness and steep decline following any unilateral withdrawal from the economic / military arms race. As per offensive realism theory they are both correct to mistrust the other side.
There is a valid question here. Would or should any other nation trust the USA after considering their history? Would or should any other nation trust contemporary China considering its words and actions since becoming a world power in its own right? The answer in each case is a resounding NO. Rightly, in logical terms, the USA and China completely distrust each other and each others’ motives because each nation has demonstrated its self-interest (particularly that of the elites in each case) is paramount to the exclusion of all other interests and they are willing to utlise as much deadly force as they can get away with to get what they want.
These twin dynamics (basic human nature and emergent world-systems competition) operate to prevent action on global concerns. The only “logical” path for each nation is competition to collapse. The most Machiavellian and Strangelovian brains (and AIs) in each nation are probably planning for this “competition to collapse” scenario. I think the most likely outcome is that all humanity loses and we go extinct. But each nation probably harbors enough Machiavellian Strangelovians who think they can collapse the other bloc and survive in and with what remains on earth. This could even mean one reduced bloc remaining and the rest of the world reduced to the stone age for re-wilding and use as mining and resource outposts.
Time to think about the c word – The Constitution. And Constitutional Economics?
Reading “When Constitutions Took Over the World” below, in the current political climate, this stuck out:
“But constitutions, Colley says, have nearly always made things worse for women”
And the unwritten conventions in our constitution needs to be detailed in some way.
…” the constitution is understood to incorporate various unwritten constitutional conventions and ideas derived from the Westminster system, one of which is responsible government.”
As we have failures relating to unwritten constitutional conventions, “one of which is responsible government.”…
… Is it time to also include changes to the constitution amongst moves for rights and inclusion of parliments and judiciary, recognition and removal of terra nullus and monarchy, into not just legislation, but also to update and reflect into our Constitution?
Score so far: 40 referendums and only 8 successful. The zeitgeist may accommodate a change or two in the next 5 yrs.
“When Constitutions Took Over the World
By Jill Lepore
…”But constitutions, Colley says, have nearly always made things worse for women. Before constitutions were written, women had informal rights in all sorts of places; constitutions explicitly excluded them, not least because a constitution, in Colley’s formulation, is a bargain struck between a state and its men, who made sacrifices to the state as taxpayers and soldiers, which were different from the sacrifices women made in wartime. Then, too, all that constitutional printing and copycatting spread Western notions of women’s very limited sphere around the world. In 1846, a third of the members of Hawaii’s House of Nobles were female chiefs; Hawaii’s 1850 constitution restricted suffrage to men. Before the Meiji constitution of 1889—the first constitution implemented in East Asia, greatly influenced by Germany’s 1871 constitution—prohibited Japanese women from voting, they had, to some degree, participated in politics. As Colley points out, “Once written into law and put into print, female disadvantages became harder to change.”
“The U.S. Constitution denied political rights to indigenous and enslaved people. And state constitutions adopted in the nineteenth century declared sovereignty over native lands and barred women, Black people, and Chinese immigrants from voting, making it all but impossible for any of these people to use the usual mechanisms of electoral politics to change their status. Colley says that these constitutions inspired constitutions in places like Australia, where invaders had seized the lands of peoples like the Maori. In 1849, California adopted a constitution that guaranteed the right to vote to “every white male citizen” and asserted sovereignty over boundaries that extended to include “all the islands, harbors, and bays, along adjacent to the Pacific Coast.” The following year, a Scottish settler in Sydney said, “Look for example at what has recently been going on in California,” and declared that the people there had “framed a constitution for themselves, that might serve as a model for any nation upon the face of the earth.”
“Yet this cut the other way as well.”…
And who knew such existed?
..” Constitutional economics was pioneered by the work of James M. Buchanan. He argued that “The political economist who seeks to offer normative advice, must, of necessity, concentrate on the process or structure within which political decisions are observed to be made. Existing constitutions, or structures or rules, are the subject of critical scrutiny.” ”
“In Macey’s interpretation of Madison, the separation of powers channels lobbyists into the competitive, more efficient market by raising transaction costs so much that private market means are less expensive than appealing to the various separate powers of government. Macey the quantifies legislation on a standard supply-demand curve, where the demand is the interest groups’ desire for laws and the supply is the legislation’s provision. He argues that separation of powers shifts the supply curve left, raising the price and decreasing the quantity of legislation.”
“An independent Australia cannot be bought by corporations
…” The drafters of the Constitution, seeking to establish Australia as an independent nation, addressed this problem. Unfortunately, thanks to the “strict literalist” approach adopted by the High Court of Australia, their efforts have made us more, rather than less, vulnerable to the whims and potential malice of foreign governments. ”
By John Quiggin
“I’ve also added some new points, focused on the undesirability of a unitary state. The piece is at The Conversation, entitled If we scrapped the states, increasing Canberra’s clout would be a backward step”
I favour abolishing the states dependent on Constitution chages and arrangements. Time to effect: 5 generations @ 20yrs.
Arcelor-Mittal, the world’s biggest steel company, are upping their investment in hydrogen DRI : https://corporate.arcelormittal.com/media/news-articles/air-liquide-and-arcelormittal-join-forces-to-accelerate-the-decarbonisation-of-steel-production-in-the-dunkirk-industrial-basin
The company are already building a pilot hydrogen DRI plant in Hamburg. at a small production site. Dunkirk is a huge 6 mt/yr integrated steel plant. The announcement is only about a MOU with Air Liquide, and is studiously vague about dates and money. It is also vague about the sourcing of the hydrogen. It’s probably fossil hydrogen to begin with, but Air Liquide are presumable looking hard at E-supported green electrolysis.
As I understand it, the DRI reaction requires heat and the sponge iron pellets it produces are hot. In an integrated steelworks, these can be fed directly into an endothermic arc furnace for conversion to steel, saving a lot of heat energy.
Pop culture time: the green-brown political divide is stark when it comes to action to mitigate climate change. Sure, 80% think climate change is important, but action? Less than 50%. And that split is age-driven, the younger the voter is the more likely they are to support action.
It makes sense: if you expect to be dead by 2050 why would you care what happens after that? Especially on the
selfishindividualistic right of politics. But if you’re 20 now, your choice is more like: drastic action ASAP or prepare to become a climate refugee (while paying down the national covid debt and working three casual jobs to pay the rent).
Moz have a look in Tom Murphy’s textbook at chapter 18 Human factors > 18.1 > Personality >
The takeout there based on the Myers-Briggs scheme backs your observations. Sure, the breakdown may be that for some of your observed people consideration of time remaining before personal oblivion is a factor so they may “eat drink and be as merry” as they can.. But how many ever deeply consider and routinely review that until near a time cut short threshold of imminent death or of being in or near the similar, if more drawn out, frail and aged stage?
It may well not be the case for your observed behaviour in differing age cohorts that personal life expectancy, nor approaching personal oblivion are the big factors. The significant factors may well be overwhelmingly similar across age cohorts and set at the other end of life – the beginning – where predominant personality traits probably arise from evolved genetic predispositions. Meaning that people are born to be suited to the world they are born into and to accept it as being fixed and normal – if not the best possible world, the only world. The normal world your 20 year olds have been born and grown into looks different to an earlier long lived version of normal, yet still only a minority of them actually take part in meaningful action responding to climate destruction because the world does not look different enough yet. Personal action surviving/responding to climate destruction will no doubt come to be seen as normal for the majority of the 20 year old cohort in 2070. Pity them. And pity them that they can know and accept as a normal world anything else.
2070 edit: Pity them. And pity them that they can not know and accept as a normal world anything else.
We will never be safe from COVID-19 until SARS CoV2 (the pathogen causing COVID-19 disease) is eradicated from the globe. The latest outbreak in Brisbane brings that home even more strongly to me (and I have been a vociferous proponent of eradication since the start of this pandemic). The UK variant has popped up in suburbs surrounding my suburb and there is even one potential contact point in my suburb. A combination of people being unlucky and “really, really stupid” (to quote Neil from “The Young Ones”) has us at the start of this outbreak in my area.
Our general success in near-eradicating COVID-19 in Australia, along with “COVID fatigue” and the temptations to “get back to normal” are the very phenomena which make us vulnerable when coupled with the continuous pressures to allow people into Australia and to open non-essential business.
COVID-19 is completely out of control all around the world (still, after over a year) with just a few notable exceptions. The countries which have managed to control it are now uniquely vulnerable, with COVID-19 naive populations, at least until the vaccination program is a success, IF it is a success. There are no guarantees even in that arena. The need for indefinite annual or even bi-annual vaccinations may well arise as the half-life of immunity is as yet unknown. The likelihood of poor nations ever being able to meet that requirement seems low without radical changes to vaccine production and distribution world wide. The disease continues to mutate and continues to be an unknown quantity in many respects.
Letting this virus get out of control was and is really, really foolish. Australia should substantially (not absolutely) close its borders indefinitely and lock down to eradication (with the assistance of vaccination). It is clear (from the number of UK and other variant cases coming in from overseas) that our nation is still far too porous. I feel sympathy for Australians still stuck overseas, except perhaps if they left after March 2020. However, their needs must be weighed against the safety of the entire nation back home. Australia’s repatriation rate needs to slowed by a factor of 2 at least.
If it takes annual shots, annual shots it is. That won’t be a big deal ^n1 ^^n2. Charité suggests it won’t be necessary on the long run. On the short run, the virus has so many hosts that it simply has more opportunities to mutate than the flu, compensating for the lower inclination to do so. Even in the short run, it sounds like they expect better partial protection than from older flu vaccines.
(link in German) https://www.rnd.de/gesundheit/drosten-team-ist-den-corona-mutationen-auf-der-spur-wieviele-updates-brauchen-die-impfstoffe-DNDDZ5KEOJH3HFLHYZ37DWICG4.html
Still got to find an expert doing some prognosis on how widespread covid will be in the future. My naive opinion would be that since the vaccines seem to work much better than for the flu, the number of cases should be rather limited if we all keep vaccinating.
So far, the only voices i´ve seen where the snappy you can’t literally eradicate a zoonosis you clueless fool kind, typically from the social Darwinist inclined implying that this means we shouldn’t even bother to keep human infection chains limited.To push things a bit further, one epidemiologist suggested that he and his colleagues where jolly happy modelling doomsday scenarios before covid without anyone ever bothering to include the possibility of a large scale societal containment effort after a certain outbreak sice, no matter how inhumane the death toll would be. So i’m wondering just how inconceivable it would really be to push back the virus among both humans.Mink farms would not be missed all that much^^^ and bats can be left alone with little effort. The virus does not play all that much ping poing from cats and dogs right?
n1, unless you have some kind of needle or other vaccine anxiety issue which my father does -_- gaaahhhhh.
n2: It does not even look like a good financial deal for the pharma industry, comparatively speaking. Annual is still a pretty low frequency compared to daily use drugs. The price points are not that great either.
n3: Except maybe by certain types of activists that would lack an excuse for their otherwise less well regarded inclinations