Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Can Phoenix become sustainable? If so, it can't just be through superficial greening for the rich, but must entail a truly just approach to sustainability that includes all Phoenicians:
Whereas uptown populations are increasingly sequestered in green showpiece zones, residents in low-lying areas who cannot afford the low-carbon lifestyle are struggling to breathe fresh air or are even trapped in cancer clusters. You can find this pattern in many American cities. The problem is that the carbon savings to be gotten out of this upscale demographic — which represents one in five American adults and is known as Lohas, an acronym for “lifestyles of health and sustainability” — can’t outweigh the commercial neglect of the other 80 percent. If we are to moderate climate change, the green wave has to lift all vessels.
Hooray! A carbon tax passes in Australia.

That's far too much to expect here in the States. It sure would be nice if the Repubs were capable of serious discussion on the issue of climate change, but it won't be happening any time soon. Nevertheless, the sad state of American environmental politics, the anti-democratic structure of the Senate, and the climate change denial industry aside, economist William Nordhaus reminded us just last month of the necessity of a carbon tax here in the US:
The need for taxes on energy externalities such as carbon emissions is central to our ability to reduce the harmful side effects of economic growth. It is striking how the political dialogue in the US has ignored a policy that has so many desirable features. Perhaps, in the near future, faced with the deadline of a dire economic situation, negotiators will formulate such a policy. It would generate substantial revenues while bringing so many long-run economic and environmental benefits. Simply put, externality taxes are the best fiscal instrument to employ at this time, in this country, and given the fiscal constraints faced by the US.
In the last decade, the cumulative health costs of six climate disasters was $14 billion. The shape of things to come?

A rhino is blindfolded, tied by its ankles, and dangles from a helicopter: all in the name of improving the endangered black rhino's chances at survival.

Now that fall is here, it's time for the denialists to conflate seasonal weather events with evidence that the global climate isn't warming.

Remember how those idiots at the Heritage Foundation like to pretend how poverty isn't a problem? Well, they're wrong.

It's time to stop incentivizing the gamblers who destroyed the economy to continue their bullshit:
Any person who works for a company that, regardless of its current financial health, would require a taxpayer-financed bailout if it failed should not get a bonus, ever. In fact, all pay at systemically important financial institutions — big banks, but also some insurance companies and even huge hedge funds — should be strictly regulated.
Bonuses are particularly dangerous because they invite bankers to game the system by hiding the risks of rare and hard-to-predict but consequential blow-ups, which I have called “black swan” events. The meltdown in the United States subprime mortgage market, which set off the global financial crisis, is only the latest example of such disasters.
Consider that we trust military and homeland security personnel with our lives, yet we don’t give them lavish bonuses. They get promotions and the honor of a job well done if they succeed, and the severe disincentive of shame if they fail. For bankers, it is the opposite: a bonus if they make short-term profits and a bailout if they go bust. The question of talent is a red herring: Having worked with both groups, I can tell you that military and security people are not only more careful about safety, but also have far greater technical skill, than bankers.

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