Coming Detractions

Want a preview of the likely deterioration of climate and agriculture in this country over the next several years? Watch India today.

Time Magazine [“The Truant Monsoon: Why India is Worried” June 26, 2009] reports widespread panic in the country because the monsoon season of heavy rains that replenish the rivers and make agriculture possible has simply not appeared — it is at least two weeks late.

Save the story. You’re going to hear the same quotes from the chambers of commerce, the politicians, the global-warming skeptics and the miserable farmers out of the American Central Plains and Southwest over the next decade.

Tower of Power

There it is, in Chicago of all places, the Big Idea that could have saved us, in plain view for everybody to see and not talk about.

After a $350 million renovation the Sears Tower, at 110 stories the tallest skyscraper in the hemisphere, will produce 80 per cent of its own electricity. [Sears Tower to be Revamped to Produce Most of Its Own ElecricityThe New York Times.] That’s a big project, but it’s not the Big Idea. Continue reading

Do You Hear Thunder?

Like the thunderclap that announces the onset of the storm, the U.S. Department of Energy has issued an historic and ominous prediction. And the only news I can find about it is in Mother Jones. Continue reading

Les Bons Temps Roulette

One of the premises of BRACE for IMPACT is that industialism concentrates risk as it seeks economies of scale. Nowhere is this more visible — or more dangerous — than in the food industry. This morning’s case in point is the news that 65 people in 29 states have been sickened by the potentially deadly bacterium E. coli 0157. Continue reading

The Opacity of Hope

This is how the Money waits, and reasserts itself, and maintains control of this crashing machine that is our industrial world: Continue reading

Toward a Greener Wash

The electricity industry has discovered a new way to coat itself with greenwash: suddenly every proposal to build a new transmission line is motivated by a newfound desire to bring renewable energy to the people. Because they care, these utility companies. Continue reading

The Dark Twin

The thing we love about the industrialization of everything, the reason we tolerate its destructive rampages, is the notion economy of scale. This is the theory that when you mass-produce something, each something in the mass will cost less. What we need to keep in mind is that economy of scale has a dark twin that is equally powerful and seldom discussed — elevation of risk. Continue reading

My Money or My What?

Strident, moralistic voices are raised everywhere in the country declaiming that it is wrong to give government bailout money to banks whose greed and stupidity got them into trouble (after making them a lot of money), and wrong to take money from taxpayers to give to people whose greed and stupidity (or so it is argued) got them into foreclosure, after living in relative luxury for a few months or years. Continue reading

Forever Blowing (Up) Bubbles

The current financial meltdown offers a good model for other, far more serious disruptions that are on their way. If you think the greed-maddened, amoral stupidity of the investment bankers was unique, take a closer look at the masters of our supplies of food, water and energy. Continue reading

Getting the Small Picture

Micro-economics tells us that a major reason for our current financial troubles is that individuals and families have been living beyond their means. Continue reading