Snowpocalypse Now? No? Maybe Later?

DC_Snowstorm_Feb_-_Flickr_-_Al_Jazeera_English_(3)

When snow comes to DC, the capital of the Free World falls to its knees. When snow is forecast, by anybody, likewise. (Photo by Al Jazeera)

Two weeks ago Monday, the first person in the door in the morning couldn’t wait to share: “Did you hear? We’re going to have a monster snowstorm this weekend. They say we should be prepared for power outages and blizzard conditions!” All day long, from the UPS driver to the grocery clerk, “Did you hear? They say…” As is my habit, I asked who “they” was. The furthest I could get into the terrible vagueness of being “they” was a couple of remarks about somebody somebody knew reading it somewhere on Facebook. Continue reading

Time Running Out for Egypt, Iran

Egyptian riot police whale on opponents of Mubarak, as they would later on those of Morsi, and now on opponents of the army generals, temporarily back in charge. The prognosis is not good. (Photo by Oxfamnovib/Flickr)

Egyptian riot police whale on opponents of Mubarak, as they would later on those of Morsi, and now on opponents of the army generals, temporarily back in charge. The prognosis is not good. (Photo by Oxfamnovib/Flickr)

Never forget that where you see rebellion, it arises from terrible privation and loss of hope. Nor forget that where you see privation and despair, you will soon see rebellion. It does not matter whether Egypt is governed by the army or the Muslim Brotherhood, by a dictator or a democrat; what matters is that the Egyptian people cannot get enough food, water or fuel. It does not matter whether Iran is governed by a cleric, a moderate or a Southern Baptist; if the people do not have enough food, water or electricity, the government will fall. And that won’t solve the problems. Continue reading

Top-Tier Financiers Jumping from Buildings: Should We Be Worried?

The Buck Stops Here: diagram of the last journey of J.P. Morgan VP Gabriel Magee.

The Buck Stops Here: diagram of the last journey of J.P. Morgan VP Gabriel Magee.

Four top-level financial analysts and managers apparently committed suicide last week. The dead include an investment economist in Washington State, a former Deutsche Bank executive in London, a Tata Motors executive in Bangkok and a J.P. Morgan employee in London. These events have not yet been conclusively connected. However, like the elevated suicide rates among farmers in India and US military veterans, these folks might be canaries, and their deaths might signify far more than individual misfortunes. Continue reading

World Bank: Agriculture Faces “Havoc.”

Is this to be the legacy of climate change? Big Ag could not care less. (Photo: Bloomtrigger.com)

Is this to be the legacy of climate change? Big Ag could not care less. (Photo: Bloomtrigger.com)

The World Bank’s vice president for climate change — yes, it has a vice president for climate change — last weekend issued a blunt warning to a meeting of agriculture ministers, held in Berlin. To paraphrase Rachel Kyte just a little: agriculture must adapt or die. And do it fast.

Okay, she was not quite that blunt, but she came very close. She told the ministers that the world will warm two degrees Celsius “in your lifetime,” that the changes won’t be pleasant and slow, but “volatile…with unpredictable impact.” Moreover, “significant damage and destruction are already happening.” Yet, she said “The agricultural community has still some way to go in realizing the full significance.” Or, to translate from bureaucratic/diplomatic English, they still have their heads up their you-know-whats. Continue reading

Iran: A Nuclear Program, a Monkey in Space, No Water

Bridge Over Vanished Water: A dry riverbed in the Al-Ahwaz region of Iran, site of the country’s worst drinking water crisis, 90 per cent of Iran’s oil production, one third of the country’s water and the most polluted city on earth. (Ahwaz News Agency photo)

Bridge Over Vanished Water: A dry riverbed in the Al-Ahwaz region of Iran, site of the country’s worst drinking water crisis, 90 per cent of Iran’s oil production, one third of the country’s water and the most polluted city on earth. (Ahwaz News Agency photo)

Iran, the country that American sparrow hawks have pencilled in for our next invasion and 20-year war, is beginning to die of thirst. Its government is often fighting pitched battles with citizens desperate for water, and is preparing water-rationing plans for its biggest cities including Tehran. Its new president, Hassan Rouhani, has identified water as a national security issue and has promised his people to bring it back. Nice trick if he can do it.

Major rivers in Iran (think the Colorado River in just a few more years) have gone completely dry, as have large lakes such as Hamoun, near Afghanistan, and Urmia, once one of the world’s largest salt lakes (think California’s Salton Sea). Wasteful irrigation (they simply spray water into the hot, dry air), a profusion of dams trying to keep up with demand for electricity, and a burgeoning population sinking wells everywhere for drinking water, have all contributed to a dramatic depletion of available surface water. Continue reading

Study: Lights Going Out All Over the World

New York City, August 2003. (Photo by Zombiehunters.org (!)

New York City, August 2003. (Photo by Zombiehunters.org (!)

In August of 2003, an overheated electric transmission line touched a tree somewhere in Quebec and 50 million people in the Northeast including New York City lost power for days. The same year, a tree falling on a power line in Switzerland triggered a cascade of events that shut off the power in Italy. The whole country. In Brazil in 2009 (60 million people affected), in India in 2012 (600 million people), and around the world, the hits keep on coming, bigger and faster. A new international study looks at the evidence and concludes that it’s going to get worse. Much worse. Continue reading

Forbes Guru: “Shale Oil Boosters are Charlatans.”

shell game

A representative of Big Oil (right) explains the future of fracking to America’s top energy investors (left). (Photo by Michel Lagarde/Google Images)

A noted opinionator for Forbes Magazine, James Gruber, has had an epiphany about the renaissance of the oil bidness in America, and suddenly sounds like a contributor to The Daily Impact. Gruber runs an investment newsletter, Asia Confidential, and has been a fund manager and stock analyst in Asia for 13 years. He’s at least a Deputy Assistant Master of the Universe, and sings in that choir. Or he did. Now that he has concluded, and written in Forbes, that “the era of cheap energy is over,” and “shale boosters are charlatans,” he may be booted off the island. Continue reading

California Drying. And Strangling. Oh, and Burning.

No,it's not Beijing, but downtown Fresno on Friday, January 17, 2014. (Photo by Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee)

No,it’s not Beijing, but downtown Fresno on Friday, January 17, 2014. (Photo by Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee)

In the headlong race to see which city or region of the United States will generate the first wave of climate refugees, a race long dominated by Las Vegas NV and Phoenix AZ, California’s Central Valley has suddenly become a contender. It’s not just that the drought is becoming unbearable in this near-desert that through the wonders of water engineering has become the lettuce capital of the country; now the air is becoming unbreathable. Just as the lack of rain has parched the earth and overtaxed the water pipelines, so too has it left the air unwashed, and with the enormous quantities of junk being emitted into California’s air, you don’t want that. Continue reading

Energy Conference: World “Sleepwalking” into Crisis.

A Russian oil rig in the North Sea. New oil wells are deeper, more expensive, more complicated -- and play out faster -- than ever.

A Russian oil rig in the North Sea. New oil wells are deeper, more expensive, more complicated — and play out faster — than ever.

A teleconference of world energy, financial, political and military officials organized out of Washington and London last month agreed that a full-blown global energy crisis could erupt as early as 2016. The conference was convened by Daniel Davis, a whistleblower colonel in the United States Army “acting in a private capacity,” and Jeremy Leggett, a contrarian British oil geologist. The conference took place in December, and was brought to light by Britain’s Guardian newspaper last week.   Continue reading

China Collapse Continues, Debris Falls on US

The Great Wall of China proves ineffective against pollution. Maybe if they made it bigger. (Photo by ToGa Wanderings/Flickr)

The Great Wall of China proves ineffective against pollution. Maybe if they made it bigger. (Photo by ToGa Wanderings/Flickr)

As signs of China’s impending collapse from industrial poisoning continue to proliferate (about which, more in a minute), some of them are proliferating in California. Air pollution, largely from China’s unrestrained use of coal, has become legendary in the country — virtually shutting down Shanghai in December and Beijing last week, and touching off armed uprisings by desperate people in various locations across the country. Now, a new study says that China’s industrial air pollution accounts for a significant portion of California’s smog. Continue reading