Fantasy Islands

A piece from the Pope’s science academy (gotta love the reference to Galileo, who was condemned 13 years after joining the group):

Human culture as we know it emerged through two great transformations, namely the Neolithic and the Industrial Revolution. The former was decisively favored by the exceptionally stable climatic conditions in the Holocene after the end of the last glacial period some 11,000 years ago. The development of agriculture, in turn, laid the foundation for rapid mechanization after 1750 that would not have happened, however, without the fortunate accessibility of fossil resources of exquisite energy density – mined in England first and on all continents later on. The overwhelming historic process of world-wide carbonization, which may be documented as the “c-story of humankind”, resulted not only in large-scale industrialization, but also helped to tap the immense human potential for creativity, discovery and progress for a better living.

It appears like a sheer success story at a first glance, and yet it is not an untroubled narrative. For this carbonization of the world led to a multitude of negative externalities (as the economists would call them), not least the potential destabilization of the benign Holocene climate through the significant alteration of atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. As the latest IPCC Assessment Report demonstrates, the global mean surface temperature could rise above pre-industrial values by more than 4°C by 2100 under a business-as-usual scenario (RCP 8.5, Meinshausen et al., 2011). As a consequence, our planet could be pushed into an uncomfortable realm, where many natural and cultural systems would be at risk of heavy stress, if not collapse.

Human culture? Ha Ha. And as someone who learned Latin at age 7, only to see them throw the baby out and keep that bathwater in 1965, we also recommend this book to everyone concerned. Also, and somewhat related, from Stratfor:

the Venezuelan government is planning a takeover of distribution networks belonging to Empresas Polar, the country’s largest private food production and distribution firm. Polar CEO Lorenzo Mendoza sent an open letter to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on April 30 saying the company was open to discussing Venezuela’s food supply problems as well as possible solutions. According to one report, the Venezuelan Food Ministry may be planning to seize Polar’s distribution networks, intending to redirect flows of food products to state-owned supermarkets, where such products are becoming increasingly scarce…

The scarcity of food and other products seriously affects the poorest segments of Venezuelan society, which have historically voted for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The current food shortages have lasted several years, persisting in part because of price controls in the thriving black market and impacted by smuggling operations to Colombia. Public stores selling food at heavily discounted prices have experienced major shortages, and many Venezuelans have turned to the black market to buy provisions…

A month’s worth of food bought on the black market can be several times more expensive than supplies bought at a state-owned store. Rampant inflation continues to drive that differential up, which strains the ability of poor Venezuelans to purchase certain food items. This could hurt Maduro’s already low approval rating, which hovers between approximately 20 and 25 percent

Confused? Wretchard explained recently.

3 Responses to “Fantasy Islands”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    Re Venezuela:

    Yeah. The more the government gets involved, the worse things get, and the kicker is, those calling the shots don’t see it.

    So how long can it go on? Will Venezuela stagger along for decades ala Cuba, or will the electorate be able to right the ship at some point?

    We have the same ilk issuing edicts and decrees in this country. And things get worse and they don’t see it.

    It boggles my feeble mind to watch the electorate vote to impoverish themselves.

  2. Neil Says:

    feeblemind,

    “They don’t see it”?

    More like, “they see it, but couldn’t care less”.

  3. Gringo Says:

    A month’s worth of food bought on the black market can be several times more expensive than supplies bought at a state-owned store. Rampant inflation continues to drive that differential up, which strains the ability of poor Venezuelans to purchase certain food items.

    The main consequence of this is to make it more difficult for the Opposition, who will not have the access to the state-owned stores that government supporters do.

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