Showing posts from December 23, 2014

Methane 'leaking profusely from offshore permafrost' in Siberia

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[We knew this was coming; this will also speed arctic warming. Meanwhile we hear that an Ice-Free Arctic could be just six years away. *RON*]
By Jayalakshmi K, International Business Times UK Edition, 23 December 2014

Scientists are reporting the thawing of ocean permafrost at shallower depths than expected, with potent greenhouse gas methane leaking at depths between 20 and 50 metres in the Kara Sea in the Arctic.

A permafrost seal was believed to exist in the Arctic region, extending to depths of 100 metres and keeping the gas locked underneath. But, the discovery that the West Yamal shelf is leaking profoundly at shallower depths raises fears of a fast thawing permafrost, away from the shore.

Close to the shore the permafrost seal may be a few hundred metres thick, but tapers off towards 20 metres water depth where it is fragile.

Under the two-pronged warming from above and below, the ocean temperature could increase and trigger a total thaw.

Greek parliament fails to elect president in second-round vote

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[This is a potentially important first falling domino. If they can't agree on a president this may trigger an early election. The Syriza party is hot right now, meaning they could become the government, and they have promised to renege on Greece's foreign debt. I'm not 100% convinced Syriza would actually do this if elected, but it would definitely put strong added pressure on the EU austerity camp if they formed the Greek government. *RON*]

Kerin Hope, Financial Times, 23 December 2014

Greece’s parliament failed to elect a new president in Tuesday’s second-round vote, increasing the chances of an early general election in February that could bring the anti-bailout Syriza party to power.

Stavros Dimas, the governing coalition’s candidate, won 168 votes, eight more than in last week’s first-round ballot, following a last-ditch appeal for consensus by Antonis Samaras, the prime minister.

But the former European environment commissioner…

Saudis Tell Shale Industry It Will Break Them, Plans to Keep Pumping Even at $20 a Barrel

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[I suppose the bright side would be, less money to fund jihadis. Also, methinks this pretty well pulls the rug out from under the plans of both Stephen Harper and Christy Clark, since new North American investment will be pretty well nonexistent on the oil fields and fracking grounds. *RON*]

by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, December 23, 2014

When the Saudis announced their intention not to support oil prices when they were sliding towards $90 and plunged quickly through that level, we deemed the move to be a masterstroke. It served to damage both economic and political enemies. On the economic front, the casualties would include renewables, Canadian tar sands, and the US shale gas industry. On the geopolitical front, the casualties would include Iran, Syria, Russia…. and the US.

Even though Riyadh is nominally still an ally, relations with the US are fraught. The Saudis are mighty unhappy with America over its failure to get rid of Assad, its refu…

Political Polarization in the American Public

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[An older report I just ran across. Both voters in general and the politicians they elect are becoming more ideologically "dug in." This has important implications for democracy, since the stronger one's ideological beliefs, the more immune one becomes to objective evidence. I've just posted Section 1 of this long report; you can read the rest at the link provided above. I've left the illustrations at a large size to enhance their readability, even though this makes them a bit too large for this blog format. *RON*]
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 12 June 2014

Section 1: Growing Ideological Consistency

A decade ago, the public was less ideologically consistent than it is today. In 2004, only about one-in-ten Americans were uniformly liberal or conservative across most values. Today, the share who are ideologically consistent has doubled: 21% express either consistently liberal or conservative opinions acro…

17 Things We Learned About Income Inequality in 2014

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[A good summary of the many facets of income inequality. The Atlantic's Business editors break down the year's most divisive economic conversation. *RON*]
The Editors, The Atlantic Monthly, 23 December 2014
Earnings growth for the richest Americans has been outpacing the income growth of the lower and middle classes since the 1970s, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities's analysis of data from the Congressional Budget Office. That means that income inequality is not a new concept. So why does it suddenly feel like such a big deal?

Well, in the wake of the recession, the pinch of sluggish wages and the lackluster job market are more acute for more Americans. President Obama also played a part in the narrative, highlighting the issue during his 2014 State of the Union address, saying, “Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are …