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

14 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Yesterday, read the New Yorker piece on Ruffo / Critical Race Theory.

    Today I saw…@JohnQuiggin
    “My view is, bring it on”
    To which Indigenousx agrees:
    ^2. – Indigenousx sees Critical Race Theory is about to begin…

    …” the campaign against CRT (and more broadly, the denial that racism exists in Australia) is going to ramp up over the next few months and years. 
    “The chess pieces are set. The game is about to begin.”

    ^5. – ‘indigenise whiteness’ seems to still be happening…
    “Federation sought to indigenise whiteness.”

    ^1. – best comment of current dynamic
    “Crenshaw said “”  “The reason why we’re having this conversation is that the line of scrimmage has moved.””
    + Crenshaw does Goodhart’s Law + respawn of original problem. Precient.

    ^3. – Race Discrimination Commissioner 16 March, 2021
    …” It is time that we looked at the scourge of racism in the same way that we look at the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse.” – yes.

    “Putting critical race theory to work in Australian education research…

    . …” this focus returned to view within mainstream discourses linked with growing neo-liberal influences and efforts to make education more countable and accountable.”

    …” hope to demonstrate the potential usefulness of Critical Race Theory with developing a better understanding of how to work towards racial justice in education.” Laudable 

    “How a Conservative Activist Invented the Conflict Over Critical Race Theory

    “To Christopher Rufo, a term for a school of legal scholarship looked like the perfect weapon.

    [ + Goodhart’s Law + respawn = groan ]
    “Reform itself creates its own backlash, which reconstitutes the problem in the first place,” Crenshaw said, noting that she’d made this argument in her first law-review article, in 1988.

    “George Floyd’s murder had led to “so many corporations and opinion-shaping institutions making statements about structural racism”—creating a new, broader anti-racist alignment, or at least the potential for one. “This is a post-George Floyd backlash,” Crenshaw said. “The reason why we’re having this conversation is that the line of scrimmage has moved.”

    “As she saw it, the campaign against critical race theory represented a familiar effort to shift the point of the argument, so that, rather than being about structural racism, post-George Floyd politics were about the seminars that had proliferated to address structural racism. I asked…”

    “Critical Race Theory – what isn’t it?

    By Luke Pearson and Nat Cromb
    18 Jun 2021

    …” If racism is an individual matter then we don’t need to do anything about systemic racism because it doesn’t exist. 

    “No one in the past 50 years has done more for the argument that Australia is not a racist country or for making Australia more racist than former Prime Minister John Howard, who ensured that Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act never grew teeth by fighting against the push for it to have criminal sanctions. 

    “He also suspended the Racial Discrimination Act on three separate occasions between 1997 and 2007 to pass racially discriminatory laws.

    “He infamously changed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Australia to Harmony Day – because we don’t have racial discrimination here so we get to celebrate racial harmony instead. 

    “Howard is the archetype in Australia not just for the rejection of Critical Race Theory, but the rejection of the existence of systemic racism in its entirety. 

    “I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country. I have always taken a more optimistic view of the character of the Australian people. I do not believe Australians are racist.” – This is what he said in response to the Cronulla Riots, which a court found broadcaster Alan Jones contributed to when he racially vilified Lebanese Muslims on air by describing them as “vermin” who “rape and pillage a nation that’s taken them in”

    “And to be fair, it’s a bit of a reach to think that white supremacist countries like America and Australia went from ‘no blacks allowed’ to ‘no racism allowed’ overnight. 

    “And herein lies the rub, because if you find yourself arguing that white supremacy did a complete 180 (maybe even going too far in favour of non-white people!) then you invariably find yourself arguing that overrepresentation in prisons and early graves and underrepresentation in halls of power is the natural result of living in a meritocracy. That is to say, you are arguing that when all things are equal, as you believe that they are, white people naturally rise to the top through their intellect and hard work alone… and that sounds more than a little bit white supremacisty.

    “And as the Human Rights Commission is about to extend their ‘racism it stops with me’ campaign beyond individual acts of racism and onto institutional racism it’s fair to say that the campaign against CRT (and more broadly, the denial that racism exists in Australia) is going to ramp up over the next few months and years. 

    “The chess pieces are set. The game is about to begin.

    “If you haven’t done so already, now might be a good time to choose if you want to be on the right side of history.

    “Critical Race Theory isn’t on the wrong side of history.”

    “Australia needs a National Anti-Racism Framework

    Race Discrimination Commissioner 16 March, 2021

    …” I wholeheartedly agree with Reconciliation Australia, as it states in its latest State of Reconciliation report, that we are at a tipping point, and as a nation we need to move from a space of ‘safe’ to ‘brave’ on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I would add the need to be ‘brave’ on all issues relating to racism and inclusion in Australia. 
    Unfortunately, our current efforts are not enough to achieve this. 

    “Government efforts are fragmented, there are inconsistencies in approaches across jurisdictions, and significant gaps. Too many people are regularly the targets and victims of racism. 

    “And so today I am calling on the Australian Government to implement a National Framework on Racism and Social Cohesion. It is time that we looked at the scourge of racism in the same way that we look at the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. 

    “On those issues we have in place longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments in Australia, with 3-year action plans to target priority issues and make serious headway in addressing them. 

    “Let me be clear: racism is a significant economic, social and national security threat to Australia. It is time we treated it as such.”…

    “Putting critical race theory to work in Australian education research: ‘we are with the garden hose here’. 

    “There is a rekindled concern for the achievements of Indigenous learners in schooling in Australia. In part, this focus returned to view within mainstream discourses linked with growing neo-liberal influences and efforts to make education more countable and accountable.
    . ..
    “In doing so, I hope to demonstrate the potential usefulness of Critical Race Theory with developing a better understanding of how to work towards racial justice in education.”

    Vass, G
    Aust. Educ. Res. 
    42,371–394 (2015).


    “Chapter One: Federation and the Geographies of Whiteness

    “Let us keep before us the noble idea of a white Australia—snow-white Australia if you will. Let it be pure and spotless.[1]

    …” this chapter examines the debates associated with the passage of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. It offers a counterpoint to Keith Windschuttle’s recent critique of the ‘White Australia policy’, in which he argues that the parliamentary debate over the legislation was primarily focused upon the economic motivations for immigration restriction. The chapter suggests that the debate over the Immigration Restriction Bill was mediated by a pervasive and incontrovertible racism which had at its heart the assertion of white genetic and cultural superiority. This is demonstrated by exploring how the debate, which was governed by anxieties about racial intermingling, blood-mixing, contamination, and the dilution and degeneration of the white race, was committed to producing legislation which would maintain racial purity. Central to the argument is that during the Federation period whiteness operated as a cultural ideal critical to the formation of an Australian national identity. Through propagating fears about the loss of the white nation-self, the Parliament sought to transform whiteness into a normative national category; Federation sought to indigenise whiteness.”

  2. KT2- “No one in the past 50 years has done more for the argument that Australia is not a racist country or for making Australia more racist than former Prime Minister John” Howard’s contrarian racist interpretation of the Australian Constitution Section 51 (xxvi) as amended following the 1967 Referendum and his passing of laws specifically contrary to the interests of Aboriginals and Aboriginal land rights.

    Section 51 (xxvi) (The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:)

    “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”; was amended by the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Act 1967 which previously read as:

    “(xxvi) the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”

  3. Uninformed speculation from a great height about the prospects for the G7 tax deal. Qualified corrections more than welcome.

    Recall that the deal has two pillars. The Guardian
    “Under the first pillar, countries where multinationals generate revenue would be awarded new taxing rights on at least 20% of profit exceeding a 10% margin for the largest and most profitable firms. The G7 also committed to a global minimum tax of at least 15%, lower than a 21% proposal put forward by the US president, Joe Biden, earlier this year.”

    What Biden and Yellen were interested in was pillar two, the global minimum rate, as the majority of multinationals are domiciled in the USA. Pillar one is much less important to the USA, so the agreement is weak tea – it may not affect Amazon at all, as it runs on low profit margins (for instance, its Alexa smart speakers are bargains, starting at €25 here.) A muted welcome back, pax americana.)

    It will work because multinationals are typically domiciled in big, rich countries, But you have to ask, why does Biden need an international deal at all? What’s to stop the USA from just taxing the worldwide profits of US-domiciled firms? The profits have to be declared to the SEC and investors. I can see three reasons, in increasing importance:
    1. Naked jurisdictional imperialism looks bad, and collegial cover disguises he power play. True, but that did not stop the USA from crushing Swiss bank secrecy after 9/11.
    2. The IRS doesn’t trust the tax authorities of tax havens to tell the truth about tax paid (an essential audit part of the operation of double taxation treaties).
    3. US multinationals could flee to tax havens and elect domicile there. The IRS would be left with taxing the profits of their US subsidiaries, easily gamed by transfer pricing.

    Taxing the global profits of foreign-domiciled corporations really would be naked imperialism, and a recipe for permanent Trumpian conflicts with everybody.
    For these reasons, and probably others I can’t guess, the USA strongly prefers a global minimum tax rate, even though it means more tax will be “lost” to foreign governments than in the Wild West scenario.

    Now this where pillar one gets interesting. Any global deal has to take the form of a tax treaty open to all countries, and the framework is the 135-state OECD meeting in September. The majority of the countries taking part are small an/or poor, and only a few of them are tax havens. At the moment, it’s a safe bet that Facebook is not paying a noticeable amount of tax to Vanuatu (tiny, poor) or Ethiopia (large, poor), even though FB conducts business and makes profits in both. Will they have leverage?

    I have argued here before that the Westphalian system of international law, giving all states equal vetoes, only awards the illusion of leverage to a single minnow: because the (n-1) can make the deal they want between themselves, leaving a solitary holdout alone in the cold. But the proposition does not hold for a whole shoal of minnows. Collectively, they are in a position to grant or withhold the part of the deal that he few big, rich countries want, viz. the global minimum tax rate.

    In return they can surely secure a much stronger pillar one, with the global profits of a company allocated and taxed according to some more objective indicator of real economic activity (ales, payroll, fixed assets). This is feasible – it’s how California taxes the profits of corporations domiciled in Delaware.

    The leverage of the minnows is increased by the fact that many who are not at the moment tax havens could easily get into the business; to close it down, the big and rich countries have a strong incentive to secure a truly global treaty.

    The diplomatic coordination problem is frightful, the issues arcane, and the tax avoidance industry both wily and determined, so continued failure is a strong possibility. But for the first time in decades, there is hope of real progress towards corporate tax justice. I hope Greta and Greenpeace are planning noisy demonstrations in the tony 16e arrondissement where the OECD hangs out.

  4. Its good to see that our government if finally looking at banning the importation of goods made using forced labour. The G7 tax deal is a welcome first step too. I wish we in the American empire had used our time at the top to set a better example in numerous ways .Its not a good look to be changing the rules only after we start losing. I am in two minds about the rise of China now .As Iko has pointed out the capitalist class coexists well with authoritarianism .Its slim but our only hope may be to confront China on the grounds of liberty and democracy and hope for the best from democracy from here on .Again ,i wish we had thought of this before we trashed the image of the liberal democratic system. Lucky China has zero soft power.

    Victorians are watching NSW’s more individual freedom based approach to handling covid with interest. Given how badly Conservatives have misjudged the virus from the beginning it would be humbling for their desperate exercise in political product differentiation to fail and to have to admit Victorian ‘Dictator Dans’ approach was right. NSW has already exported the virus to NZ causing panic there. Apparently the national cabinet agreement refers to ‘suppression/elimination’ .It looks like the Federal government wanted the former but the states enacted the latter. Morrisons instinct has been wrong at every juncture.

  5. Imagine if we had a carbon price! And imagine co2 shipped to Darwin, dried and ccs’d – pumped back under Timor Sea. No need to imagine….

    “… the Barossa to Darwin LNG project looks more like a CO2 emissions factory with an LNG by-product.

    “Barossa gas has 3 times the CO2 content that the Darwin LNG plant facility can handle,” says report author and LNG industry expert John Robert.

    “The unprecedented scale of the Barossa emissions relative to the LNG production creates major risks for shareholders.”

    “Should Santos’ Proposed Barossa Gas ‘Backfill’ for the Darwin LNG Facility Proceed to Development? Barossa Has More CO2 Than Any Gas Currently Made Into LNG, Making Market Access Difficult

    Click to access Should-Santos-Proposed-Barossa-Gas-Backfill-for-the-Darwin-LNG-Facility-Proceed-to-Development_March-2021.pdf


    “Santos fails to back up Barossa emissions reduction claim

    “Santos has not provided any support for a claim by its chief executive Kevin Gallagher that its engineering has reduced the emissions of its Barossa LNG project by 25 per cent.

    “25 per cent emissions cut a tall order
    “ConocoPhillips, that operated the Barossa project until May 2020 when it sold out and Santos took over, detailed the project’s emissions in an offshore project proposal submitted to regulator NOPSEMA in March 2018.

    “Barossa would produce Australia’s dirtiest LNG and if other companies will not back it Santos has a very expensive problem.

    “The Barossa gas field contains 16 to 20 per cent carbon dioxide. The US major planned to vent about 14 per cent from the offshore vessel and pipe the remaining two to six per cent to Darwin, where it would be released.

    “The US major predicted offshore emissions in millions of tonnes of CO2e a year to be:

    ● reservoir CO2 vented offshore: 1.4 to 2.1 mtpa
    ● CO2 from fuel burnt on the vessel: 0.7 to 1.7 mtpa
    ● total offshore emissions: 2.1 to 3.8 mtpa

    “Design changes would have little effect on the average reservoir CO2, so the claimed 25 per cent reduction of 0.4 to 0.95 mtpa of CO2 would need to be achieved by more efficient equipment on the offshore processing vessel.

    “It would be extraordinary that an experienced operator like ConocoPhillips would produce a design so inefficient that Santos could halve combustion emissions three years later.”…

    “Barossa gas has 3 times the CO2 content that the Darwin LNG plant facility can handle,” says report author and LNG industry expert John Robert.

    “[Barossa’s carbon emissions] would be about twice the current Australian LNG industry average,” he said.

    “But, if a 25 per cent reduction in emissions could be achieved, Barossa would still be about 60 per cent higher than the average today.”

    Why is Barossa so carbon-intensive?
    “All gas extracted for LNG production includes a certain amount of CO2 that needs to be removed before it can be liquefied.

    “But Barossa’s gas has a very high level (18 per cent) of carbon dioxide and that’s a much higher CO2 percentage than any other gas project in Australia, according to Mr Robert.

    “And it is much more than the 6 per cent CO2 volume that Santos’ Darwin LNG-processing plant can handle.

    “So, before the gas can be piped to Darwin, a portion of the CO2 will need to be separated and vented on its floating offshore petroleum vessel in the Timor Sea, releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

    “More venting and combustion must take place at Darwin as the gas is liquefied before it can be shipped overseas.

    “Santos’ $4.7 billion Barossa gas field could produce more CO2 than LNG, report says
    [Why is Twiggy the one calling this out now???]

    Follow up with our sovereign wealth used by Woodside as the ‘full green wash and front end to backend parent company driveby’…

    …” But on Thursday, Artrage revealed the new deal: Woodside’s funding is being transferred to the parent company, directed towards “staffing, technology, planning and donor servicing to enable … a robust philanthropic program”.

    “While Collins is pleased that Woodside no longer has naming rights, he says he is disappointed.”…

  6. PS on tax. I forgot another important reason why Biden wants the global minimum tax on corporate profits. It’s to prevent US corporations from being put at a competitive disadvantage.vis-à-vis rivals from lower tax jurisdictions. This is actually a legitimate concern, of the type Biden needs to heed if he is to get corporate tax reform through the Senate.

  7. Here we go again. COVID-19, delta variant this time, is on the cusp of a disastrous outbreak in Sydney. Maybe they will squash it as this point or maybe not. Maybe hundreds will die (again). We should never have reached this point. By now Australia should have;

    (a) totally eradicated COVID-19 domestically;
    (b) implemented proper quarantine stations in all states;
    (c) banned all non-essential international travel; and
    (d) been 50% vaccinated with two doses per person.

    These were all achievable goals by now. However, the egregiously incapable Morrison government has proven completely incapable of doing anything constructive. It took the state governments to save us from runaway outbreaks so far. The federal government has done 2/5 of 5/8 of Sweet F*** All (SFA). Note SFA = 0.

    If this delta variant gets completely loose there will be hell to pay: a huge wave of deaths making our worst so far look like nothing by comparison.

    Now, it looks like there is a delta-plus variant of concern in India. This pandemic just gets worse and worse. This pandemic will likely get worse for several years yet in most countries, especially outside highly vaccinated countries. Even vaccinations are not going to prove to be the silver bullet. A country would need a 90% vaccination rate, two shots per person, of 90% effective vaccine to be any chance of getting herd immunity. Even then, the whole population would likely need a booster annuall,y if not more often, given the mutation rate of COVID-19 (in a large population base) and its current propensity to evolve to more infectious AND more lethal variants.

    This crisis may never be over. COVID-19 is showing signs that it is mutable enough, transmissible enough and lethal enough to defeat modern virology indefinitely; especially to defeat our logistical capability to vaccinate and booster-vaccinate the global population over and over again. COVID-19 may well decimate the global population in the next couple of decades (using decimate in the correct sense which would mean about 780 million deaths).. Given that long covid rates can run several time more than deaths, we could end up with 1.4 to 2.8 billion people with long covid, from mild to severe. This will certainly be enough to degrade most countries into continuous collapse.

    Add climate collapse to covid collapse and any realistic accounting can see no way for modern civilization.

  8. Ikon, I think you have tried to alert us all many times of, …”Add climate collapse to covid collapse and any realistic accounting can see no way for modern civilization.”.

    I have a teenager and so am personally and parent-ly careful in how I would discuss your catastrophe vs JQ’s relatively manageable  (if we are smart) future/s. We need a future. And I take your points and JQ’s, yet if I were to accept and react to your “see no way for modern civilization”, I’d sell up and cash in tomorrow, and party like – well – like there was no tomorrow. I won’t do that as instability will tip the scales toward catastrophe, and I won’t do that to the future.

    We got a vaccine in hyper record time for example. Trump was defeated. And yes I too understand the weight of our climate tail risk is extreme.

    As Steven Gambardella says below, “Now more than ever, the urgent matters that face us need a cool head”. I hope raise a cool head.

    So here is another person rightfully saying ‘we’re rooned’ yet where is, as you usually do, provide a solution suggestion or innovation? … 2030 climate change /40 mass extinction /50 ecological collapse + “… inequality widening to levels that would make Rome cry.”

    Ikon, I feel we have to be careful with catastrophe.

    “The Future of the Economy is Even More Dystopian Than You Think

    “The Economy Barely Survived Covid. It’s Not Going to Survive What’s Next.

    “That brings me back to inflation. No, this isn’t inflation — the “wage” part of “wage price spiral” is still stuck at flat. This? This is inequality widening to levels that would make Rome cry. Did you get richer during the pandemic? I didn’t think so.Bezos, Gates, Zuck, and Buffett did. And still are.

    “If you understand all the above, then you come to a grim conclusion. The decades of catastrophe we face now —
    – climate change in the 30s,
    – mass extinction in the 40s, and
    –  the final collapse of our ecologies in the 50s
    — are going to cause inequality to grow even wider. Billionaires got richer during Covid — and they’re going to get even richer from climate change, then from mass extinction, then from ecological collapse. They’ll become the world’s first trillionaires, and then maybe even the world’s first quadrillionaires.

    “Why is that? Because all those waves of catastrophe are going to cause huge exogenous shocks.”…


    Writer of above, umair haque (vampire I kid you not) has a reputation…

    “On Umair Haque
    “The Master of Catastrophe

    “If somebody told you the world is ending now. What would you do? What use is that information to you?

    “You will no doubt have come across the headlines of Umair Haque. They scream at you “THIS PLANE IS GOING DOWN”.

    “Haque is one of the most gifted headline writers around. He’s also just a great writer, his prolificacy is dizzying: he has practically written an article a day since 2018.

    …”The burn of the titles wore off, the stage dressing of line charts (rising COVID infections, rising unemployment, economic collapse) and images of riots or Trump rallies washed over me, the pace became a predictable, if somewhat hypnotic, pulse.

    “Catastrophe is a kind of pornography. Its danger is how quickly we become desensitised to it. If every day is a cataclysm, Armageddon, the apocalypse, we’ll simply get used to it. Now more than ever, the urgent matters that face us need a cool head.”…

    Thanks as always.

  9. KT2 – “We need a future.”

    Why? I think there are good reasons to be wary of the language and what it signifies. Pardon me saying there is a huge conceptual problem right there, one of widely held patterns of wooly/magical thinking. Allied with “need” there are concepts often raised to the cosmic such as want, deserve, expect, demand, hope, justice, fairness, exceptionalism, life ongoing, life hereafter, all sorts of dualist, cultural, supernatural and free will claptrap, and the insidious divine.

    Because children grow up, we think a child’s purpose is to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn’t disdain what lives only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into the each moment. We don’t value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life’s bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when it’s been sung? The dance when it’s been danced? It’s only we humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature’s highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and wilfulness have their correction in the vast underground river which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we’re expected! But there is no such place, that’s why it’s called utopia. The death of a child has no more meaning than the death of armies, of nations. Was the child happy while he lived? That is a proper question, the only question. If we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us.

    ― Tom Stoppard, The Coast of Utopia

    A future, any future, is just a statistic like any other, but mind Hume’s arguments picking apart inductive reasoning. When considering the end of days mind Hume’s notable illustration that there is no reason to think the sun will rise tomorrow as it has on every other known prior day. Everything ends. Humans, compared to animals of similar body size, are on extended time beyond a statistically due extinction date in any case. In the great sweep of time alone our existence approaches the infinitesimal already, and any memory or sign of us could hardly last longer. There is nothing else looking on. Not us, not nothing. There’s no underground river, rather there’s a time bound lake where future and beginning rest as one together. The future and beginning are one. Rejoice in the present.

    Wants and needs… It doesn’t matter how it’s said, saying doesn’t make it so. We want a future, we get the future. We want the future, we get a future.

    Moment to moment it *feels like we’re in the driver’s seat. We’re not. Following our best efforts comes what will be, will be, que sera, sera.

    Moment to moment maybe we mostly need kindness. Kindness to one’s self, to others, kindness to nature – a kind nature may let nature statistically be kinder.

    “Happy the hare at morning,” WH Auden wrote, “for she cannot read / The Hunter’s waking thoughts. Lucky the leaf / Unable to predict the fall. … But what shall man do, who can whistle tunes by heart, / Know to the bar when death shall cut him short, like the cry of the shearwater?”(14)

    It seems to me that we are the happy ones. We, alone among organisms, who perceive eternity, and know that the world will carry on without us.

    “A Life With No Purpose – Darwin tells us that we are no more than assemblages of complex molecules. We should celebrate this.”
    By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 16th August 2005, final words.

    *As neurally instantiated cybernetic processes, we *do* control our own behavior in service to our needs and desires. It’s just that we don’t have ultimate contra-causal control to choose ourselves or our desires ex nihilo. Rather, we’ve been “designed” by biology and culture to be loci of proximate control that have considerable recursive influence over themselves.

    btw ― W. H. Auden “We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don’t know.”

  10. Svante,

    The survival instinct or survival drive along with the appetites ARE indicative of the physiological and psychological needs for a future (as event possibilities). No amount of Tom Stoppard style pseudo-romantic hand-waving can obviate that. I would go to Leo Tolstoy, not Stoppard, for a creative understanding of human internal and external life.

  11. PV technology continues to improve. Jinko: “We have also completed the construction of a high-efficiency laminated perovskite cell technology platform that is expected to reach a breakthrough cell conversion efficiency of over 30% within the year.”

    The record for industrial lab mono silicon cells is 24.58% (Trina). Since perovskite-on-silicon tandem cells need additional stages of processing, they need to be more efficient to break even in mass production. I looks as if Jinko are confirming the gap is about 5% (20% relative). Jinko are not committing here to production; but the technology has moved significantly closer to commercial launch in the next few years. More efficient modules will sell even if the output per dollar is the same, because they lower BOS costs.

  12. I will try again. My last comment is lost in moderation. I support KT2 on “We need a future.” Humans have needs and appetites which assist them to meet the needs of the future. We are clearly adapted physically and psychologically to give the future some credence and weight: to accept that it is coming and to hope for something better or at least for the continuance of something tolerable. To deny the future as existent or meaningful would be to deny the dimension of time itself. Try modelling in science or economics without time, or more strictly without spacetime. It can’t be done.

    Humans need a future. Whether we can deliver a future to ourselves, our descendants and other complex life forms on this planet is another thing. We are not doing very well at that and climate change etc. will be a very serious challenge.

  13. Ikonoclast, poor Tolstoy was severely (understandably) afflicted by rather problematical religionist, supernatural, and cultural baggage and more than any Joe average. He was no doubt aware of that, maybe more so than many, though that didn’t help much as he didn’t shake it and, if anything, wittingly took more of it on board.

    You wrote above “”We are clearly adapted physically and psychologically to give the future some credence and weight: to accept that it is coming and to hope for something better or at least for the continuance of something tolerable. To deny the future as existent or meaningful would be to deny the dimension of time itself.”

    Well consider the next to last lines in Monbiot’s *article I’ve placed in block quotation below that follow his dealing first with various subjects including creationism, religionists, religion, Darwin, evolution, intelligent design, Catholic archbishop pronouncements and those of a new Pope, Australian education minister Brendan Nelson, and Tony Bliar. After this he then moves on through climate change, climate change deniers, and compares this with the cherry picked data of the intelligent designers who “ask for evidence, then ignore it when it’s presented to them. They invoke a conspiracy to explain the scientific consensus, and are unembarrassed by their own scientific illiteracy.”

    Monbiot then wonders why they pick on such a barren field for them as Darwin when they could really go to town on other science: “Were they to concentrate instead on the questions now assailing big bang theory,(9) or on the failure so far to reconcile gravity with quantum physics, or on the stubborn non-appearance (then, 2005) of the Higgs boson and the abiding mystery of the phenomenom of mass, the Christian conservatives would be much harder to confront. Why pick on Darwin?”

    Monbiot then answers that question: “It is surely because, as soon as you consider the implications, you must cease to believe that either Life or life are affected by purpose. As G. Thomas Sharp, chairman of the Creation Truth Foundation, admitted to the Chicago Tribune, “if we lose Genesis as a legitimate scientific and historical explanation for man, then we lose the validity of Christianity. Period.”(10)

    We lose far more than that. Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that – for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims – have developed the ability to speculate. After a few score years, the molecules disaggregate and return whence they came. Period.”

    The foregoing, I hope, gives some background context for Monbiot’s all but final points before those quoted in my earlier comment. I’d now like you to consider in rebuttal to your above somewhat askew claims:

    As a gardener and ecologist, I find this oddly comforting. I like the idea of literal reincarnation: that the molecules of which I am composed will, once I have rotted, be incorporated into other organisms. Bits of me will be pushing through the growing tips of trees, will creep over them as caterpillars, will hunt those caterpillars as birds. When I die, I would like to be buried in a fashion which ensures that no part of me is wasted. Then I can claim to have been of some use after all.
    Is this not better than the awful lottery of judgement? Is a future we can predict not more comforting than one committed to the whims of inscrutable authority? Is eternal death not a happier prospect than eternal life? The atoms of which we are composed, which we have borrowed momentarily from the ecosphere, will be recycled until the universe collapses. This is our continuity, our eternity. Why should anyone want more?

    Two days ago, I would have claimed that the demand for more was universal – that every society has or had its creation story and, as Joseph Campbell put it, “it will always be the one, shape-shifting yet marvellously constant story that we find”.(11) But yesterday I read a study by the anthropologist Daniel Everett of the language of the Piraha people of the Brazilian Amazon, published in the latest edition of Current Anthropology.(12) Its findings could scarcely be more disturbing, or more profound.
    The Piraha, Everett reveals, possess “the most complex verbal morphology I am aware of [and] are some of the brightest, pleasantest, most fun-loving people that I know.” Yet they have no numbers of any kind, no terms for quantification (such as all, each, every, most and some), no colour terms and no perfect tense. They appear to have borrowed their pronouns from another language, having previously possessed none. They have no “individual or collective memory of more than two generations past”, no drawing or other art, no fiction and “no creation stories or myths.”

    All this, Everett believes, can be explained by a single characteristic: “Piraha culture constrains communication to non-abstract subjects which fall within the immediate experience of [the speaker]”. What can be discussed, in other words, is what has been seen. When it can no longer be perceived, it ceases, in this realm at least, to exist. After struggling with one grammatical curiosity, he realised that the Piraha were “talking about liminality – situations in which an item goes in and out of the boundaries of their experience. [Their] excitement at seeing a canoe go around a river bend is hard to describe; they see this almost as travelling into another dimension.” The Piraha, still living, watch the sparrow flit in and out of the banqueting hall.(13)

    “Happy the hare at morning…” etc

    I know of other of Amazonian peoples, for example, who are as different in other striking ways to your/”our” chauvinist, if I may suggest such without malice or prejudice, belief that “we” are evolutionarily adapted to give “credence and weight” to concepts such as future, “acceptance that it is coming and to hope for something better or at least for the continuance..”

    “To deny the future as existent or meaningful would be to deny the dimension of time itself.” – you claim Not so, such is far from being unheard of in functional, happy, long lived human societies. Some Amazonian societies even conceive day as night, and dream states are reality not waking consciousness, and have existed and slept a lot dreaming for millennia prior to European contact.

    “Try modelling in science or economics without time, or more strictly without spacetime. It can’t be done.” You seem to forget or dismiss the “truth” that these are no more than statistical constructs, especially modelling. One of Einstein’s often conveniently overlooked quotes goes:
    “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

    Obviously then in order to survive on this planet humans don’t necessarily “need” a future, or need to think anything at all like “we” do. Dawkins made the obvious point that if the evolution tape was rewound and played again and again it would play differently again and again to what we have to date. Likewise for history, culture, society – all the anthropological stuff. What you are making, in part and in kind, is a flawed anthropological principle type argument that creationists among others make. Versions of the anthropic principle that may result in the evolution of this universe unfolding with identical fundamental physical laws do not necessarily mean it would turn out the same physically either, implying there could be no intelligent life or intelligent life some where and when else but not as here.

    Humans do not “need” a future, as is being claimed, yet “we” who do are bringing “ours” rapidly to an end, and ending others who could have gone on living successfully and happily for millennia more. The cosmos arguably doesn’t have to be the way it is. For evolution there is no driving directional progress; for homo sapiens sapiens there is no intrinsically better type, nor manner of thinking, nor social organisation, but there certainly is domination, racism, genocide, etc; for any future, as for anything in the present past, there is only a statistical likelihood of occurring and even that is incalculable as the data set is too large even if it could be available. Randomness, quantum randomness, any randomness, does not cater to “need” though some random outcomes may get a desired run more than others for a while. Free will is an illusion entwined with illusory future expectation, past explanation, and rather apparently these days so too are notions concerning progress. AFAIK everything is subject to change, everything ends, but it is all amazing. The hard task for “us” is to be present now, enjoy the present, rejoice in the present, and be kind.

    13. Bede, 731. A History of the English Church and People. “Another of the king’s chief men … went on to say: “Your majesty, when we compare the present life of man with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a lone sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you sit in the winter months to dine with your thanes and counsellors. Inside there is a comforting fire to warm the room; outside, the wintry storms of snow and rain are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms; but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the darkness whence he came. Similarly, man appears on earth for a little while, but we know nothing of what went before this life, and what follows.”

    *Sorry, in those days of old, for such things I sometimes only saved content without the linking url,

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