FM newswire for April 10, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis, collected from around the Internet. If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. A fading but still potentially lethal menace:   “Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons – 2009“, Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of the tomic Scientists, Nov/Dec 2009
  2. Good news about the Age Wave:  “The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age“, Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 8 April 2010 — “Homo sapiens is ageing fast, and the implications of this may overwhelm all other factors shaping the species over the coming decades…”
  3. The Bundesbank rudely mentions the blindingly obvious:  “Bundesbank attacks Greek rescue as a threat to stability“, The Telegraph, 8 April 2010 — “Germany’s Bundesbank has fired a warning shot at Chancellor Angela Merkel, attacking the joint EU-IMF rescue plan for Greece as a threat to economic stability and probably illegal.”
  4. Ever in search of new threats to justify their funding:  “The climate-change nightmares of military strategists“, Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 8 April 2010 — Book review of Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer.
  5. Provocative analysis:  “Who Closed the Conservative Mind?“, Noah Millman, The American Scene, 8 April 2010
  6. What do these people fear?  “On April 19, a surge of pro-gun rallies“, David Weigel, blog of the Washington Post, 8 April 2010
  7. Progress!  “Cutting the cost of solar by watching every nut and bolt“, George Musser, blog of Scientific American, 8 April 2010
  8. Statement by Lawrence Wilkerson (former Chief of State to Secretary Powell; Colonel, US Army, retired):  “George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’“, The Guardian, 9 April 2010
  9. Only 1 in 5 believe aliens are on Earth“, CNet News, 9 April 2010

Sobering reading about the world’s fisheries

(a)  “The Natural World Vanishes: How Species Cease To Matter“, John Waldman (Prof biology, Queens College, NY), Yale Environment 360, 8 April 2010:

Once, on both sides of the Atlantic, fish such as salmon, eels, and, shad were abundant and played an important role in society, feeding millions and providing a livelihood for tens of thousands. But as these fish have steadily dwindled, humans have lost sight of their significance, with each generation accepting a diminished environment as the new norm.

(b)  “Globalization, Roving Bandits, and Marine Resources“, Science, Boris Worm et al, 17 March 2006 — Excerpt:

Overfishing is increasingly threatening the world’s marine ecosystems. The search for the social causes of this crisis has often focused on inappropriate approaches to governance and lack of incentives for conservation. Little attention, however, has been paid to the critical impact of sequential exploitation: the spatially expanding depletion of harvested species. The economist Mancur Olson argued that local governance creates a vested interest in the maintenance of local resources, whereas the ability of mobile agents — roving bandits in Olson’s terminology — to move on to other, unprotected resources severs local feedback and the incentive to build conserving institutions. Distant water fleets and mobile traders can operate like roving bandits, because global markets often fail to generate the self-interest that arises from attachment to place.
The effect of roving bandits can be explained by “tragedy of the commons,” whereby a freely accessible (or open-access) resource is competitively depleted. Harvesters have no incentive to conserve; whatever they do not take will be harvested by others. Developing the institutions to deal with commons issues is problematic and slow. Roving banditry is different from most commons dilemmas in that a new dynamic has arisen in the globalized world: New markets can develop so rapidly that the speed of resource exploitation often overwhelms the ability of local institutions to respond.

(c)  Will global fisheries collapse by 2050?  “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services“, Boris Worm et al, Science, 3 November 2006 – The author’s forecast that unless global policies change, 100% of seafood-producing species stocks will collapse by 2048.  Abstract:

Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean’s capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible.

Replies to this article are here.

(d)  “Can Catch Shares Prevent Fisheries Collapse?“, Christopher Costello, Science, 19 September 2008 — Abstract:

Recent reports suggest that most of the world’s commercial fisheries could collapse within decades. Although poor fisheries governance is often implicated, evaluation of solutions remains rare. Bioeconomic theory and case studies suggest that rights-based catch shares can provide individual incentives for sustainable harvest that is less prone to collapse. To test whether catch-share fishery reforms achieve these hypothetical benefits, we have compiled a global database of fisheries institutions and catch statistics in 11,135 fisheries from 1950 to 2003. Implementation of catch shares halts, and even reverses, the global trend toward widespread collapse. Institutional change has the potential for greatly altering the future of global fisheries.


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