• Geoengineering451ppm

    Geoengineering451ppm

    Mary A Moore

    The novel ‘Fahrenheit 451′ brought us to a world where books were banned and in a flicker of absurdity, your house would be burnt to the ground by ‘firemen’ if you were found to possess such an inflammatory form of knowledge. As our carbon levels soar past the 400ppm mark, and then the 450ppm mark, the 500ppm mark and so on, will we be forced to examine what our science can do to change our dire predicament or do we choose to continue along a critical trajectory unabated . Will we wait to do the absurd and geoengineer our world if we hit 451ppm or more, and we will agree together or will a few decide for all in a state of chaos? What will be the fallout of actions initiated on one side of the world perhaps negatively impacting the other side, or that leaves others to fend for themselves. Can we help future generations or have we condemned them. With our current carbon 400ppm rating, and assuming some degree of similarity to an ancient past we have little in common with, our temperature should rise about 4-5 degrees from our global average currently. At that time the oceans were significantly higher (40 meters) and the Arctic was ice free. One model of prediction views our current time as critical to where our levels will peak and then hopefully, decline. The time frames used are 2015, 2020, and 2025. Whether we stabilize at the theoretical possibility of 450, 550 or 650ppm with corresponding reductions of 4%,6% and 3% in reductions of CO2 and further decreases of 6.5%,9% and 3.5% in energy and process emissions, what we start to lay in place now will affect generations that come after us. The time frames are closer than we like to think of with global warming. We often view this a something far off in the distance, something which we can procrastinate about.

    electrical plants - a fuel comparisons
    Considering a future that is heavily reliant on coal electrical production and accelerating, our chances for survival can be increased by using both a front end process of scrubbing and carbon capture technology, and a back end process of carbon sequestration on a large scale, perhaps using a large vector such as the ocean with associated acidification. How much we can delay the inevitable warming through further means such as solar radiation management (SRM) from reaching the atmosphere remains to be seen. Our rate of survival for not only our species but all others, will be better the more time we have to adapt. Others have debated whether we will have opened Pandora’s box while trying to delay a natural equilibrium, and will we be ever more playing doctor with our planetary homeostasis with little understanding of what we do. We have been geoengineering our world ever since man first started altering his natural environment to suit his purposes. Homo Sapiens have damned rivers, flooded valleys, blasted roads through mountains, changed the composition of our atmosphere, dumped mounds of garbage in our oceans, and created vast tracks of deforestation. We just have not thought about the cumulative nature of our collective actions as geoengineering, and for the most part our actions were done without extensive consideration. At this critical juncture can we be different?

    While a carbon tax can be used to change behaviour patterns, the financial resources needed to do geoengineering on a global scale have not been considered, and would be difficult to accurately calculate. Would payment be decided as an amount or percentage of GDP. Are countries the financial source or will corporations also be taxed. Core design factors need to be considered in managing a dynamic process. Is there the ability to adjust, stop, or reverse in response to targeted feedback markers, what associated catalysts or variables can enhance or slow the process in question, and can some of what we design be multipurpose to defray some of the costs or provide additional utility? Proposing to throw some quantity of something somewhere and hoping this will turn out, even with advanced modelling, is foolhardy. We have sent men to the moon, and machines to the outer limits of our galaxies. Can we organize sufficiently to globally self regulate our planet to maintain a livable ecosystem and what organizational structures have to be put into place to allow us the global refocusing that will be needed. The absurd will have to become reality.
    Farneheit_451

    Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide_Apr2013.svg

    Kyoto_Parties_with_first_period_(2008-2012)_greenhouse_gas_emissions_limitations_targets_and_the_percentage_change_in_their_carbon_dioxide_emissions_from_fuel_combustion_between_1990_a

  • Our Critical Future.

    Our Critical Future.

    Mary A Moore

    In a world full of problems it becomes an imperative to realize which issues are quietly critical, and which issues are only loudly urgent. Silence should speak to us. Our global drivers are varied and various, and it becomes important to recognize which are the critical few, and for which of these few we can develop a game plan for. There have many authors who have attempted to overview this including Vaclav Smil and Al Gore.

    Vaclav Smil is a professor from the University Of Manitoba who has written extensively on complex systems and energetics, evolution, and dynamics. In his book ‘Global Catastrophes and Trends, The Next Fifty Years’, he reviews what he feels are the key drivers of our future and underlying dynamics. They include: Energy Transitions,The New World Order, The Place on Top, Global Warming, Biosphere Integrity, and other changes including the water and nitrogen cycles, species loss, and antibiotic resistance.

    Trends can both gradually unfold and also occur as abrupt discontinuities which are catastrophic to those who can not adapt to this abrupt change. Energy is a sign of life and a key driver of any environment. Our world is heavily focused on both the energy requirements of life, and of our immediate environment. Our interactions both consume and create energy on every level from the microscopic to planetary level. While we may focus on the trends of terrorist attacks in our current environment, medical errors actually kill more in global fatalities, even more than car accidents, earthquakes, floods, terrorism, airline accidents, and volcanic eruptions. This is from annual average data from 1970-2005 as calculated from sources including WHO, Bogen and Jons, Boeing, Swiss Rea, Kohn, Corrigan, and Donaldson. It is imperative to understand which are quietly critical trends. While terrorism may get vast media attention and even change our freedoms and national budgets, our health care deaths appear as a mere blip on our media screens. The types of catastrophic changes we may face in our future that are explored, include questions of abrupt climate change, the occurrence of a significant nuclear war, and more random events such as an external calamity, or pandemic.

    Technology has expanded as a trend. We have always had technology, but the scale and rate of technology enhancing our everyday lives has expanded exponentially. It also has the ability to transform our sources of energy and even how we consume energy. But will we transform to a solar-nuclear world from our coal, oil and gas? With some energy forms better suited to particular uses it may be difficult and unlikely to affect a change. Will our cars be best powered by a carbon based fuel rather than a hydrogen based fuel? Some are both. Do our vehicles have to fundamentally change in design and structure to facilitate a transition. Megaprojects such as those for hydro electricity generation have transformed the economics of nations. Will our next energy evolution affect the current world order, and help transform our ecosystems? Will a political discontinuity affect our energy choices? Will core economics change our energetics at some tipping point? The context for our society, our ecosystem, is warming. Is this trend likely to affect our energy options? There has been a discussion about the need to reduce carbon based fuels to reduce global warming. Is hydrogen a better choice? Is it too late really to change our trajectory. Perhaps we have put so many energy by-products from our collective consumption into the atmosphere, we will have no choice now but to deal with the consequences.

    Demographics such as fertility rates, affect the demand and growth of certain sectors. Migration and immigration patterns reflect the pressures of these variables. The burgeoning explosive growth rates of the Muslim world in the Middle East and elsewhere is reflected in the expansion of Muslim immigration to nearby regions including Europe, Africa, and Caucasia. Declining fertility rates in Europe and elsewhere have meant that growth rates with GDP have stagnated. Efforts to control China’s fertility rate have led to one child policies and a male demographic that could predispose it towards revolution in the right context. Globalization has increased inequality and the connectivity of the internet may see vast global groups demanding change across regional boundaries, challenging the global corporation.

    Al Gore, who has just released his book ‘The Future’ describes the six key drivers he sees shaping our future. They include: Earth Inc, The Global Mind, Power in the Balance, Outgrowth, The Reinvention of Life and Death, and The Edge. His narrative continues on with climate change and expands further on the changes and challenges that lie ahead for us to choose from. By exploring and dealing with the changes required for changing our present trajectory, for example carbon is already at a level of 400ppm, Gore hopes to inspire a global community to act via our internet connectivity.

    The core question that is critical for us to know is whether we can geoengineer our way out of a catastrophic climate change, or will we simply have to adapt to the coming changes as a collective humanity. Discussion on geoengineering are rampant throughout the internet, but real practical experimentation is quite limited. Ideas such as iron ocean fertilization, cloud reflectivity enhancers, stratospheric sulfate aerosols, sun blocking spacecraft, CO2 Scrubbers, artificial trees, sulfur dioxide balloons, objects in space to partially block the sun, triggering a volcano to contaminate the atmosphere, and reducing the methane emissions of cows, have been proposed. There has been a substantial discussion around the process and ethics of using such a major intervention in our ecosystem.

    Other core questions we should explore further are likely possible global risks that may overwhelm us, in our critical future.

    ‘Augescunt aliae gentes, aliae minuuntur, inque brevi spatio mutantur saecla animantum et quasi cursors vital lampada tradunt’

    Some nations rise, other diminish, the generations of living creatures are changed in short time, and like the runners carry on the torch of life
    Titus Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura, II,7S

     

  • North Korea and Iran. The Calm before the Storms

    North Korea and Iran. The Calm before the Storms

    Mary A Moore
    March 2013

    Proxy wars are nothing new really. North Korea is in the backyard of China, and Iran has had friendly relations with Russia. Countries have used alliances and situations to benefit their goals of regional control without actually doing the fighting for centuries. Technology now allows us to extend the principle even further, in that we can proxy combat through virtuality. Drones have brought the art of war to a new technological prerogative, and this in many ways blindly empowers the user of this technology. Whether it is the seduction of a ‘no risk’ of combat death by the user, or the ability to make painfully aware to the enemy your technological superiority, ‘death by drone’ has become the new la mort technologique that has friend and foe rushing to build them. Drones have also become a unifying point for those who have been victim to it. Pakistan and Iran are building a pipeline together trying to re-establish their economies hurt by war and sanctions. Iran, who has endured ongoing troubles with building nuclear reactors has established connections with North Korea. The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant has been in construction since the seventies, and is currently offline being ‘repaired’ by a Russian repair team. In some ways it is emblematic of Iran’s nuclear program. It is a work in progress, designed and functioning with parts and engineering from various uncoordinated sources that have been cobbled together. Located on the Persian Gulf where uranium and supplies can be transported easily in and out of the facility, the plant has been threatened by Israel, and Iran has threatened back. The foray into nuclear technology has been a long and problematic one for Iran. It has worked with Syria on nuclear technology, and is currently near the capability for a nuclear weapon according to various reports. Meanwhile the power struggle in Syria has destabilized the region, sanctions have breed discontent at home, and presidential elections are on the table in the summer.

    The use of missiles have brought forth complicated defense systems such as the Iron dome and other regional missile defenses. But drones are smaller, more agile, and much more difficult to defend against theoretically. There has just been a formal testing of the European shield, and the Japanese-Asian shield, in response to the growing threats. Could drones be used to deliver a nuclear payload? Would missile defense systems work against a target that could change course, much like a plane. It would be an interesting question to pose. Past analysis has reviewed the progress of the Iranian nuclear program with findings from 2009 as follows from a threat assessment of Iran’s nuclear and missile potential at that time.

    ‘This analysis points to the following conclusions:
    a.
    The proposed addition of European-based compo-
    nents to the U.S. national missile defense cannot
    provide a dependable defense for Europe or the
    United States.
    b.
    Any country capable of building, deploying, and
    operating IRBMs or ICBMs will be able to develop
    the countermeasures needed to render the missile
    defense ineff
    ective. The EMR will face great diffi
    cul-
    ties in discriminating warheads launched from Iran
    against Europe or the United States from the decoys
    that might accompany them.
    c.
    If Iran were to produce a missile that could carry
    a nuclear warhead to a range of 2,000 km, the
    European-based components of the U.S. missile de
    fense could not engage that missile. The appropriate
    missile defense would be shorter-range missile de-
    fenses such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
    (THAAD). These missile defenses too would have to
    be
    able to cope with the potential countermeasures
    that could defeat the long
    er-range exoatmospheric
    defense system.
    d.

    Russia has made it clear that it regards the proposed
    European missile defense system as a threat to its
    national security interests. It places particular em-
    phasis on the capacity of the system for expansion
    and modernization. Under these circumstances,
    Russia is unlikely to be willing to agree to deep re-
    ductions in strategic nuclear forces.
    e.
    These conclusions suggest that, before taking a de-
    cision to deploy the proposed missile defenses in
    Europe, the Obama administration should conduct
    a serious technical review of the capabilities claimed
    for the proposed European missile defense system.
    In particular it should ask: does the EMR have the
    range against warheads to support its intended
    discrimination function? Can the system overcome
    simple countermeasures? Has the system “demon-
    strated through successful, operationally realistic
    fl
    ight-testing, a high probability of working in an
    operationally eff
    ective manner,” as required by the
    FY-2008 Defense Authorization Act.
    5. Conclusions and
    Recommendations
    The Iranian Programs
    5.1
    Four questions were posed in paragraph 1.1. On the
    basis of the analysis in this report, they can be answered as
    follows, subject to the caveats that have been registered.
    5.2
    What nuclear capability does Iran have today and
    what might it have in the future? Iran has been engaged
    in a serious nuclear program and has made steady
    progress. By February 2009 it had produced 1,010 kg
    of low-enriched uranium hexafl
    uoride. That would be
    enough for one bomb if it were converted to HEU. If Iran
    were to decide now to make use of this LEU to produce
    weapon-grade uranium, it would have to remove IAEA
    control and monitoring of the low-enriched uranium,
    and of the enrichment process, at the FEP. It would then
    be a matter of time — in the range of one to three years,
    according to the estimate given in chapter 2 — before
    a nuclear explosive device could be produced. It might
    take another fi
    ve years to produce a nuclear warhead
    that could be delivered by existing and future Iranian
    ballistic missiles.
    5.3
    What ballistic missile capability does Iran have today
    and what might it have in the future?
    a.
    Iran has tested at least four liquid-propellant
    missiles. The Shahab-3 could deliver a payload
    of 1,000 kg to a distance of 1,100 km. In February
    2009 Iran used the Safi
    r-2 SLV to launch a satellite
    into earth orbit. That launch did not mark a fun-
    damental technological breakthrough since the
    Safi
    r fi
    rst stage is based on the Shahab-3 missile.
    It did, however, demonstrate that Iran was making
    advances in the development of rocket technology.
    b.
    Iran could develop in perhaps six to eight years
    a ballistic missile capable of delivering a 1,000 kg
    nuclear warhead to a range of 2,000 km. The
    nuclear-missile threat that the European-based
    components of the U.S. missile defense system are
    designed to defend against (IRBMs and ICBMs)
    will not materialize for some years, and probably
    not in the next decade, unless Iran receives sub-
    stantial help from outside…’


    With Israel believing the red line is crossed somewhere in the summer of 2013, it has already begun its preemptive move as the balance of the revolution in the Middle East starts to swing in a more chaotic manner with further players such as Al-Qaeda entering the stage having recently disrupted the situation in Libya, Syria, and pushed on the edges of no man’s land between Israel and Egypt. Protected by the Iron Dome missile defense system, Israel must make it’s decision about the risk with Iran and if it decides to attack, will have to be braced to handle the likely consequences.

    6a00d8341bf8f353ef017d4192d8e1970c-800wi
    North Korea meanwhile, presents a different problem but with many similarities. A country under the pressure of international sanctions and threatening to attack it’s neighbor South Korea, and possibly others that it views with anger. Kim Jong Un who is the new leader at the helm has rolled out a classic communist propaganda machine with photos of him peering keenly towards the ‘enemy’. Eventually he will be called out to act, by those who could benefit from his misdeeds and actions, such as key military players who may play the situation. The military has been suffering from desertion, and while the fierce propaganda is designed to bring in more members of the army and to build loyalty to the new leader, the level of rhetoric is so high that he will lose face without some sort of action, with the following statement from official souces.
    ‘Second Korean War Is Unavoidable: DPRK FM Spokesman ‘
    This has had the effect of even China throwing in the towel and agreeing to sanctions, and the increasing pressure may make it impossible to diffuse using diplomacy.

    The summer should prove interesting as these regions reach a tipping point. The outbreak of a real war in these regions even if contained will likely have a broad impact on the global environment, and benefit a select few.

  • Brace Yourself..Its here. The Canadian Housing Market begins the Transition.

    Brace Yourself..Its here. The Canadian Housing Market begins the Transition.

    Feb 2013
    Mary A Moore

    Brace yourself for the correction in the housing market. While it certainly has started in the west coast, the heartland of Canada has been moving along especially in the periphery. The writing is on the wall now with the downgrading of several major Canadian banks, the closure of several major tech outlets, and most of us just struggling to pay off the mountain of debt Canadians have racked up, with Christmas bills just the icing on the cake. This should be the time for property owners to look to optimize their situation whether it is lock in interest rates at record low levels, quickly sell off poor performers, add incentives for tenants to stay at optimized rents, or reduce costs through inefficiency reduction. Builders have sensed an increased risk approaching and have backed off on the numbers being built in 2013.
    housing starts

    From the C.M.H.C.

    Some of us who talk regularly about such matters are watching for triggers such as the slowing of foreign money from places such as China, who are having difficulties currently, and whose investment in Canadian real estate is a factor along with other foreign money. Whether it is unpaid workers advertising their plight on YouTube, or Chinese hackers scouring the internet for some advantage, the transition of leadership may have complicated a delicately balanced situation by forcing the disclosure of assets held by officials and their families, at a time when money is becoming tighter internally. Other major issues to consider are increasing volatility in the stock markets, external shocks such as an attack by North Korea, the effects of a currency war as countries come to grips with their stagnating economies, looming inflation and interest rate effects, and the shifting of asset location to sectors considered more of a potential for growth than real estate.
    800px-S_and_P_500_pe_ratio_to_mid2012schiller

    The debate has not been on whether a correction is coming, but rather whether it will be gentle, harsh, or precipitous. Significant for property rental owners is the following excerpt from a study written about in the Economist:

    ‘The first gauge is a price-to-rents ratio. This is analogous to the price-earnings ratio used for equities, with the rents going to property investors (or saved by homeowners) equivalent to corporate profits. The measure displays a massive range, from a whopping 78% overvaluation in Canada’

    This is like hearing the stock you own is overpriced by 78%, and the correction is in the picture for the asset class. A comparison from the Economist for various countries is below.
    HousingPrices-thumb-615x413-11157420130112_FNC117

    On the issue of Chinese money and pending changes the BBC did a story on issues affecting the rich in China.

    …’China’s rigid and opaque political system is perhaps one reason for the wealth-drain, particularly in a year in which there is due to be a changing of the guard at the very top of the Communist Party’…

    …’But he admits that for many of his wealthy friends it is a sense of insecurity which is leading them to ponder a life outside China. “Most of them think I’ve got so much money here but one day maybe the government will change the policies and take it all back,” he says. Entrepreneurial, well-connected or just plain corrupt, it does not matter how they made their fortunes, there is mounting evidence to show that China’s super-rich are heading for the exit’…

    Large realty markets for the Chinese include Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia which are some of the most overvalued markets. The stability of this money in Canada would be a major driver between a soft landing, and a precipitous one. But whatever the case it is time to brace yourself for the coming correction, in motion.

  • 360 on 350. Why the Case for Carbon is too little, too late.

    360 on 350. Why the Case for Carbon is too little, too late.

    Jan 2013

    Mary A Moore

    There has been much predicated on the thought that the increase for carbon and corresponding climate change, irreversible climate change, is hinged upon the carbon level of 350ppm. The case for global warming has been built around a platform using carbon as a key driver in our battle against climate change as presented by various proponents including Al Gore, James Hansen, and others. We have built a belief system upon this thought, that carbon levels are the key to tipping points for our world. We forget the number one green house ‘gas’ is water vapour, what we perceive as a clean product. We forget about methane, and the various other greenhouse gases that are causing more energy to be trapped in our atmosphere than carbon. At the risk of being heretical, there is enough evidence now that points to the fact that major changes from carbon have likely been occurring in our environment since the 1990′s, the last time we were at 350ppm, and when the arctic dipole first appeared and that this is likely irreversible. We have been talking collectively about carbon and climate change for some time and the few vocal experts on the matter such as James Hansen have made comment about what would climate change critical tipping points look like.
    From Yale360:

    It took, as it has so often in the greenhouse story, the leadership of NASA’s James Hansen to really set the stakes in perspective. Speaking last December to the American Geophysical Union, Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, outlined several areas where we ran the risk of crossing horrible tipping points, a risk that increased each year we stayed above 350. They included the melt of Arctic sea ice, the melt of the great ice sheets over Greenland and the west Antarctic, the shift in climate zones wrecking prime agricultural areas, the drying-up of crucial water supplies as alpine glaciers melt in the tropics, and the acidification of the oceans as CO2 accumulates there.

    With 2012 having the largest ice melt on record, we are on the way to critical changes. The highly factual argument however omits important socio-environmental dynamics to consider, such as momentum, group cohesion, the positive feedback nature of the warming cycle, and conflict over needed resources. In many ways the carbon issue is an oversimplification of global warming, and it omits solar cycles, orbital variations, atmospheric albedo, geological changes, and our increasingly liquid state of water. The fact we are increasing the rate of carbon emitted to the atmosphere of late along with our inability to even allow ourselves any effective political action on this matter in the past 20 years in spite of various heroic individual efforts has meant we have effectively changed the psychological argument from a discussion of ‘whether climate change is happening, and what is is due to’, to the argument ‘there is little we can do now, and so why bother.’

    The International Energy Agency has reported that the environmental damage caused by countries such as China in the pure pursuit of production.In 2011, a 6.1% increase in CO2 emissions in countries outside the OECD was only partly offset by a 0.6% reduction in emissions inside the OECD. China made the largest contribution to the global increase, with its emissions rising by 720 million tonnes (Mt), or 9.3%, primarily due to higher coal consumption. “What China has done over such a short period of time to improve energy efficiency and deploy clean energy is already paying major dividends to the global environment”, said Dr. Birol. China’s carbon intensity — the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP — fell by 15% between 2005 and 2011. Had these gains not been made, China’s CO2 emissions in 2011 would have been higher by 1.5 Gt. India’s emissions rose by 140 Mt, or 8.7%, moving it ahead of Russia to become the fourth largest emitter behind China, the United States, and the European Union. Despite these increases, per-capita CO2 emissions in China and India still remain just 63% and 15% of the OECD average respectively.

    There are others who offer the focus of a temperature based goal, rather than a carbon goal, and believe this is a more practical goal. If we focus to limit the temperature rise to 1 degree Fahrenheit over the next 50 years we can then proceed to a full banquet of options to consider that may have an effect we desire. Discussions in Climate Geoengineering have ranged across the full spectrum of size and impact. We may never fully understand the dynamics that will give rise to climate change, but if we shift past carbon into a more comprehensive way of viewing our problem we may have a better chance to achieve some effective influence. Ideas such as the solar space umbrella have the ability to provide both a means for temperature adjustment and clean energy production.The video below speaks of a small regional umbrella, but this could be enlarged in scope for an international scale.

    Other thoughts have focused on the immediate need to stop the arctic ice from melting and to refreeze the arctic, and another solutions focus on the ocean and what controls can be used via this massive liquid vector. However, we have not evolved to the point of actually working out the details which will be problematic if we end up doing things in a panicked response to an event. We can look at international projects funded by many countries, but whatever we choose we must understand the anxiety involved for a world that will be engulfed in dealing with ever larger climate driven issues, and fearful of trusting one another. It is paramount that we begin now.

  • 2012′s Top Stories to Follow in 2013

    January 2013
    Mary A Moore

    The Higgs Bosom
    If you could see an ocean of particles that define all other particles by their interactions between each other and this field, you would have the Higg’s field from Particle Theory. The God Particle as Higgs Bosom is known, was discovered at the Larger Halda Collidor after two years and billions of particle collisions. After a billion collisions a few particles were considered to be novel, and the Boggs particle. A theoretical concept since the early sixties was considered found. A proviso remains, last year scientists thought the neutrino went faster than the speed of light, only to find a measurement sensor was wrong. 2013 will see if the rare particle continues to be found as Biggs. A proviso remains, in that the Neutrino was thought faster than the speed of light last year but it was discovered a sensor was wrong.

    Election 2012
    The presidential election pitted the incumbent Obama administration and it’s platform of middle class tax relief along with raising the taxes on the more wealthy, against the GOP with Mitt Romney advocating their theory of trickle down economics. Despite the appearances from the likes of Donald Trump, and Citizens United, the middle class issue’s won the second term in a sophisticated campaign that used data mining and social media interactivity to bring a second term for Obama in an era known as the second Guided Age. As the fiscal cliff highlights the financial endgame, the American economy struggles to find it’s way in the new global de-leveraging economy.2013 will see if the administration can bring about the needed changes.

    Superstorm Sandy
    Superstorm Sandy left her mark upon New Jersey and New York city one October day, becoming the first climate change storm to be recognized as such. It had been unusually late in the season and much further north in landfall, when Sandy struck. The storm caught many by surprise as the surge inundated the coastal areas. New Yorkers will always remember the day that Manhattan went dark, the stock exchange was closed, and the subways were submerged. As millions went without power for a bit and thousands went without for over a month, Occupy Sandy and others rushed to help their neighbors survive the surge and the abandonment as authorities were overwhelmed. Climate change was now on the international stage for 2013.

    The Drone wars
    Like something out of a Star Wars movie, drones fly over foreign countries and occasionally target and kill those deemed a threat to our way of life. With the bulk of killings occurring in Pakistan and the Middle East, extremists have been able to increase recruitment to their cause, with the all too frequent collateral damage of innocent lives being lost. How should the state murder of foreign individuals be done, where is the process, and who should decide. The questions have not been discussed openly and domestic drones are in the works. It is a question of significant importance to the future. Of how do we make the decisions to kill someone we find threatening. Is it an immediate threat, a realistic threat, or are our fears and aggression becoming a policy of drone death squads? Watch for blow-back from these actions in 2013 especially on soft targets such as what occurred in Algeria.

    China’s Leadership Succession
    About every twenty years China’s leaders have handed over the reins of the communist revolution to the next generation. Under the new leadership of Xi Jinping, rapid regulations have been created to force the disclosure of assets by officials and their families. It was done in a way that has offended many and been called impolite, in a society where traditions dictate a genteel approach to powerful members. In a country that many see on the brink of a revolt against corruption, it remains to be seen whether the fifth generation of the communist revolution can keep the country on course to becoming a powerhouse in the global community, or be saddled with internal strife in 2013.

    Newtown and the Gun Crisis in America
    When Columbine happened in 1999, gun applications were at a rate of just over 500,000 per month. Since then, Virginia Tech and other public shootings have only fueled a frenzy of gun applications to the current rate of over 2,000,000 per month. With video games training our youth to kill, the national conversation has turned gun control and violence. The world gently wept when the twenty children were laid to rest, and the time to examine our fascination with guns in general and assault weapons in particular has come full circle. The frequency of these killings has increased and so has the urgency of creating change.

    Arab Winter
    In 2011 the world marveled as the Arab spring brought the hope of a modern democracy to a world locked in autocratic regimes. This spring now looks almost frozen in it’s battle to bring democracy closer to the masses, who still are under the direct dictates of religious authorities in a very religious society. The Muslim Brotherhood may have won the Presidential election but lost the buy-in for constitutional reforms. In Syria war raged on leaving hundreds of thousands dead, and more as refugees fleeing into neighbor countries. The Arab world seemed torn into pieces by various factions jostling for power, and the spring a long cold winter. Watch for Iran to consolidate those it considers allies into a more organized front.

    Tech Game Changes
    Every once in a while technologies change our lives, sometimes for the better and sometimes our lives become forever damaged.2012 saw its share of impact technologies that have started to influence our thinking and our world. The driverless car, Researchgate – the first socially shared research site, mind controlled robotics, robotic warriors, 3D printers and event ‘cloaks’ are but a few of the tech game changers that could exert extraordinary power in our future. 2013 will see a brave new world with increasing levels of connectivity, and the merging of robotics into our personal lives.

    Baumgartner jumps
    Felix Baumgartner’s jump 24 miles to earth became the highest skydive on record as he became the first person to break the sound barrier without a plane. About eight million people watched on YouTube as Baumgartner shot from the sky towards Roswell, New Mexico. If Neil Armstrong had taken One Giant Leap for mankind, then Felix Baumgartner had done the same. The jump left the door open for astronauts to eject and survive re-entry without a ship. We can look better survival rates for high risk flights.

    2012 the year of the Sun
    2012 saw the sun enter the peak of it’s eleven year cycle, and the greatest Arctic ice melt on record. Numerous heat and UV records were set, as believers of Mayan mythology felt the world would end. A first attempt at geoengineering was made, and placed this topic upon the world stage, just as Superstorm Sandy had put climate change on the global stage. The Year of the Sun may have been the end of denial of climate change, but 2013 will be when we come to terms with our joint future.

  • You’ve come a long way Baby…

    You’ve come a long way Baby…

    Dec 2012

    Mary A Moore

    ‘You’ve come a long way Baby…’ used to be the ad line for Virginia Slims, usually for the menthol cigarettes which were all the rage back then. The freedom to smoke as a liberated women would be seen as a strange viewpoint of freedom in today’s society, especially as our views have shifted away from a glamorous image for smoking to a unhealthy habit . In the advent of Betty Friedan labelling ‘The Feminine Mystique‘, the feminism movement as a whole the women’s movement emerged on a second wave feminism which was a broad social movement from the 1960′s to 1990′s. It was followed by the third wave of feminism which is characterized as ranging across the 1990′s to the present. Through these waves of new feminist theory and goals, there have been some concrete changes. In 1955 60% of families were single male breadwinner families while currently the employment patterns have changed to double wage earners, or one and a half (one fulltime, one part-time) breadwinners. These changes may reflect shifts in the division of work within the families, or increased economic demands on the family, or some combination of these factors. It should be noted that  sociological research has found that the advances of women within the workplace, has essentially halted with the 1990′s. The third wave of feminism has not seen advances within the workplace and while has functioned to unify and create a diversity with the role of the women’s movement, the actual movement forward has been small so far. Women only earn 775 of what their male counterpart earns, while the top CEO’s in the world are roughly 90% men and our parliamentarians are approximately 80 % men. Women have not been considered equals in the business or political world in many regions.

    According to a 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans now believe that a college education is necessary for a woman to get ahead in life today, but only 68 percent think that is true for men. There has been much talk lately about the diminishing role for men, but the actual ‘decline of the male’ has meant that a woman has had to become better educated and work harder to even get a percentage of the wages given to a man, in a gross inequity carried across decades. Less than 20% of all parliamentarians in the world are women, although there have been gains over the past couple decades. While society in North American often sees itself as more inclusive towards women in politics, and having higher participation in parliament for women than countries such as Iraq (25% female ), or Uganda(35%), or Afghanistan (27.7%), these countries actually have a higher ratio of women. Canada has 24.7% and the USA has 17% and these statistics, are despite Canadian suffragette Nellie McClung bringing the right to vote to women in Canada in 1916 along with the ‘famous five’ paving the way for female politicians in 1927. The nineteenth amendment was passed in the USA in 1920 under the suffragette movement. Perhaps we still have a longer way to go, as yet. Women such as Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton have been able to break the glass ceiling, but often at a great cost. Other women who have pushed he way forward currently include:  Dilma Rousseff,  Sonia GandhiCristina FernandezJulia Gillard,  Yingluck ShinawatraEllen Johnson-Sirleaf, and Laura Chinchilla.

    The abuse of women by men in power positions across the globe is unfortunately all too common, as men often perceive the right to make decisions for women in an infantile method of control. In many countries that have Shariah law, women still have limited legal authority and function essentially as chattel to men. The role of women as child bearer in society, has always been their ‘sex and destiny’, as Germain Greer stated in the book by that title. How women are allowed to express their sexuality, and issues such as the use of birth control, has been debated as to who was being controlled and why. In today’s society the desire to encourage birth control in developing societies as a means of population control via women, is a frank commentary about whose reproductive capability should be controlled. Vasectomy for the third world is hardly a phrase heard, or considered. Countries such as China when adopting a one child policy for population control have doomed to death a female fetus, which is considered less desirable in their culture. In contrast, some developed nations have had policies encouraging more children, as have some religions.

    Perhaps out of this, the fourth wave of feminism linked by social media will encourage women to step forward and become leaders in their societies, even as some men try to stop them, others will help, and our maturity to interdependency from a saturated independence will help propel ourselves into a future our daughters and sons together will shape.

     

  • Sandy was Here.

    Nov 2012

    Mary A Moore

    It has been almost a month since Hurricane Sandy made her imprint upon New York City. It has changed the short term shoreline, and will likely transform New York into a very different city. The direct issues abound. Basic communication from the city and its residents has halted as a function of an absence of electrical power. The Grid may be back, but many houses still have no connection to it, even if the house deemed as still suitable for residence. Electricians are asking between $ 1500-3000 per house, an expense many cannot yet afford.  Many have been left without recourse when insurance coverage failed to protect them. Reasons include not notifying their insurance company within 12 hours, to the re-categorization of the storm from a hurricane, to a FEMA disqualification of not having a tenant ( a frequently used disqualification) have left many without coverage despite feeling they had paid for insurance, or should be able to get some federal assistance.  Some, even if their house survived without structural impediment, can now expect their property values to have plummeted to often less than half of what the home was worth beforehand. Many are willing just to take what insurance money they can get, and move on to a new start somewhere else. Those who are staying behind, and rebuilding if not in a COBRA zone, are hoping not to be hit again next year by a storm.

    There are disaster resources to distribute, but many are unaware where to go to receive help as they are unable to have internet access. Flyers have been used in some areas by smaller relief groups. Public transportation to some areas such as Rockaway Beach is still limited. Locals waited for almost an hour in the cold rain for the bus from Rockaway to the hard hit beach areas. Some entrepreneurs are running what are called ‘dollar vans’, which are extended vans that are transporting locals for a $1.50 along half the distance that the bus covers. There were about seven such vans in the time the bus took to arrive. The vans were overflowing, and some gave up their seats for the elderly that were waiting for the bus. The bus was overfilled to capacity when it left.

    The clean up was still underway, and the job is monumental.  Houses will be lost forever, and neighbourhoods have been transformed. Many felt some projects especially in the Rockaways that already were in a state of disrepair, will simply be demolished, and the residents moved to the outskirts of the city in the north.  The Projects may soon be a part of the past for New York, as various funding limitations may force the end to the social housing movement of the sixties. FEMA is looking to hire more staff to deal with the volumes, as affected residents wonder how someone who is not an engineer decides their house is structurally unfit, or how this can be judged from the exterior, as most houses are locked. The job is difficult under ideal conditions, and few can afford the $500 fee to have an external engineer offer an opinion. Housing for New York’s coastline will forever be transformed by Sandy. How officials are able to manage the tragedy over the long run, and what lessons were learned from Katrina, can help determine the most effective way in dealing with the loss of a past, and the building of a new future for New Yorkers. The questions for the future explore how we can protect our coastal cities. Would sand bars or dredging shorelines and building up help? Should we design internal waterways in low areas that already drain to the ocean to help manage water overflow from surges? Should we redesign our grid? As we look to what damage was done and what we can do to redesign for the future, Sandy may have left, but her imprint will be forever upon the shore.

     

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