Today’s we have an open thread: comment away about geopolitics! Plus a list of the top hits on the FM website

Summary: There are several powerful posts in the pipeline for the FM website, but none ready to go. So it’s an open thread day!  Post your comments and questions about geopolitics — and the FM website, too.   Als0, here are the posts that readers voted the best (ie, got the most hits):  all-time (since tracking started in November 2007) and during the past 12 months.

Since November 2007: the FM website has had 3.5 million page views on 2,126 posts. These received 22 thousand comments.   This does not include hits from RSS feeds (roughly another thousand per day), nor hits from September 2003 – October 2007 to the articles published at Defense and the National Interest (which have been re-posted here).

(1)  What I consider my best work

(2)  All-time hits

Title Views
Financial crisis – what’s happening? how will this end? 27,478
Obama makes his first major policy error 22,564
A solution to our financial crisis 22,075
Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off 20,693
Women dominate the ranks of college graduates. What’s the effect on America? 20,618
An article giving strong evidence of global warming 19,955
“Some people just want to see the world burn” 17,601
What will America look like after this recession? 14,437
The Titanic’s lessons for us about the coming economic crisis 13,571
Everything written about the economic crisis overlooks its true nature 13,264
A major leak of government secrets – read all about it! 11,958
More about pirates: why we no longer “hang them high” 11,090
Good news about global warming! 11,048
A picture of the post-WWII debt supercycle 10,167



(3)  Top hits of the past year

Title Views
The Titanic’s lessons for us about the coming economic crisis 13,573
Will China become a superpower? 7,698
Women dominating the ranks of college graduates – What’s the effect on America? 7,306
RIP, Constitution. The Second Republic died this week. Of course, we don’t care (that’s why it died). 7,040
Financial crisis – what’s happening? how will this end? 5,415
The global economy is sitting on a volcano. What happens next? 4,023


17 thoughts on “Today’s we have an open thread: comment away about geopolitics! Plus a list of the top hits on the FM website

  1. Along the lines of Peak Oil Doomsdayers and Geopolitics, and economy/state apparatus relies on a relatively cheap energy source to fuel growth. And where I would concur that oil is not going away anytime soon; the days of growth and overt consumption are creating an unsustainable environment that WILL create higher tensions and border wars between all states . . . no matter where you live. You may argue all you want on the timing; but the conclusion appears inevitable.

    I did not write this. But, if you read it, maybe you will understand why people who are not CLIMATE SCIENTISTS should STFU, because they do not know what they are talking about. Senator Inhofe , I am looking at you.

    Referring to the Huffington article “, someone asked me, “If the world is on the brink, why don’t I feel it?”
    {FM Note: I think Matus refers to this, which was reposted at the HuffPo: “Tipping Point? Earth Headed for Catastrophic Collapse, Researchers Warn“, LiveScience, 6 June 2012}

    The answer is three-fold:

    1. Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere are both immense. Any cause-input will take 2-3 decades to produce the effect-output. This said, the cause-input began becoming significant as of about mid-last-century, and it has been continuous and increasing. So, in spite of the time lag, we’ve had measurable results, chief amongst which is the 0.9C mean global temperature rise from the baseline of 1880 when the Industrial Revolution began. Also more than obvious are the melting glaciers around the world, including those in the Himalayas, Greenland and the Antarctic, and the Arctic sea ice. Of course none of these is in anyone’s backyard, so, for those with no or little awareness beyond their own physical or event horizons, “nothing is happening”.

    2. Carbon dioxide is a stable gas and is therefore cumulative in the atmosphere to continue warming the planet for centuries to come. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels yesterday, what we have already pumped into the atmosphere will be enough to trigger the deadly Methane Time Bomb. But, for now, nothing SEEMS to be happening, and we carry on business as usual.

    3. Least known is the mechanism of LATENT (hidden) HEAT. Anyone who does not know what Latent Heat is will have a false sense of security. It is not hard to understand if I do not use physics jargon. Place on a hot stove a pot of cold water containing 1 kg of ice cubes. Stir the ice water with a long thermometer and take temperature readings. My question is: When will the thermometer begin to show a rise in temperature? Answer: After all the ice has melted. In other words, all the heat from the stove would first all go into melting the ice, WITHOUT RAISING THE WATER TEMPERATURE. The amount of heat entering a system WITHOUT raising the temperature of the system is called Latent Heat. It takes 80 calories of heat to melt one gram of ice. So in this case, the first 80,000 calories of heat from the stove went into melting the 1 kg of ice first. Only when the ice is all gone will the water temperature rise, and it will do so until it reaches 100C, when the water will begin to boil. Once again, Latent Heat comes into play, and the water temperature will stabilize at the boiling point – until all the water have changed from liquid to vapour, at which point the temperature of the dry pot will rise to the temperature of the flame itself. So how does this apply to Earth’s climate? Consider the Arctic Ocean to be a gigantic pot of ice water, and the sun as the stove. For as long as there is still sea ice to melt, the Arctic Ocean will remain relatively cool, in spite of the ever increasing solar heat entering the Arctic ocean due to ever decreasing ice cover. When the sea ice is gone in the summer, as early as the latter part of this decade, the Arctic Ocean’s temperature WILL STEEPLY RISE, and when it does, so will the global mean temperature, and all hell will break lose.

    So, enjoy the “Arctic Air Conditioner” while it lasts, and be prepared to sweat after it quits. And when it happens, believe me, you WILL FEEL THE HEAT!

    Anthony Marr, Founder and President
    Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
    Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

    1. “people who are not CLIMATE SCIENTISTS should STFU, because they do not know what they are talking about”

      Quite a belligerent statement. But it appears false for four reasons, IMO.

      (1) Marr’s comment is not clear on his reasons, but it implies that climate scientists are some sort of priests. We should listen and obey. Anyone familar with the history of science, or the dynamics of science as a social activity, will understand why that is folly.

      (2) The public policy implications of climate science are large, and such decisions require citizens to each decide what’s appropriate for the US federal, state, and local governments to do. This requires public debate. People have to decide what to do in our personal lives. Again this requires debate.

      (3) I think Marr’s statement is far to broadly stated. But in terms of analysis I agree, and the practice on the FM website’s articles about climate is to cite relevant experts. But Marr appears oblivious of the debate among climate scientists, amply-documented here and here. As is often the case, many of the key institutions have been captured by one side in the debate. The “climategate” emails showed some ugly examples of this in action.

      For eye-opening description of the IPCC see The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert by Donna Laframboise (2011). Amazon has posted a sample of the book that extends well into Chapter 7. Click here to see it. Amazon sells the Kindle e-book version for $4.99 USD.

      (4) Marr’s statement seems somewhat self-falsifying. His bio at his website says “Anthony Marr holds a science degree from the UBC and has worked as a field geophysicist and an environmental technologist.” That’s roughly similar (or weaker than) the background of many skeptics who are not professional climate scientists (eg, those writing at WUWT, Climate Audit, Air Vent). Shouldn’t we apply his own words to his summary of climate dynamics? We should hold an activist like Marr to a high standard, especially considering the vast literature on the subject, and ask for such a summary by a pro.

    2. Whoops! I forgot to add:

      Mr. Marr, thank you for posting a comment! Good luck with your work. Please lobby for a better-funded and better-run climate science program.

    3. FM, thank you for providing a great blog!(And I apologize for the circuitous route taken to get to my question[s].)

      I posted the excerpt from another source which had quoted Mr. Marr and I did not want to edit the sentiment they were conveying. I was interested in questioning the less than casual links between climate change and geopolitics that are leading to the Constitutions’ demise. They are strongly interrelated and I think, more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (Dr. Geo Politik and Mr. D. POCC[Debt, Peak-Oil-Climate-Change])

      That stated; IMO the STFU was strong. But that was not Mr. Marr, nor myself.

      The STFU comment puts the reply off on the wrong foot but the sentiment cannot be discounted. Looking at FM’s “Whoops” to Mr. Marr stating “needs to lobby for better funding” is possibly disingenuous in the same way George Will is on term limits. Isn’t that just a polite way to say the same thing? As assumed incorrectly, I am also not Mr. Marr. And that brings me to MY observation and my question.

      Even though I and FM disagree on the severity of the problem, eg: peak oil, climate change, our debts; they are all ignored, swept under the rug, and marginalized by our current propagandist culture we live in. I find balancing out FM with something like say, a blog called “Volatility” AND reading the replies to your articles is the most enlightening approach. Because, when I try to understand geopolitics from the relative solitude behind a computer screen, the information needs to be gleamed and implied, rather than researched. Research is an art form these days because “information” has been kidnapped(“info-napped?) I claim the decline of America, and with it our societal lack of geopolitics IQ, started when President Reagan repealed the fairness Doctrine in 1987?


      Are we “dying” as a nation from withering, cancer-like symptoms? If the cause of the disease is our two party system, and the constitution is made irrelevant, what practical choice is there to restore Democracy? Why don’t we break up the media, break up the TBTF, now TBTB banks, break up large monopolistic corporations that outsource to India and China, and imprison those perpetuating fraudulent behavior? Instead, why not start a economic revitalization of this country by producing zero carbon based strategies and change our capitalist paradigms?

      Is this how we restore our Constitution? Why must we continue to shed blood for oil? Why does 2006 to 2013 look so much like 1926 to 1933? Is the ONLY answer to relive 1934 to 1945 and ‘hope’ we come out OK the next time around?

  2. Here’s an impressive quote from Mark Twain’s letters from Hawaii that I am reading now:

    “To America has been vouchsafed to materialize the vision, and realize the dream of centuries, of the enthusiasts of the Old World. We have found the true and only direct route to the bursting coffers of ‘Ormus and of Ind’–to the enchanted land whose mere drippings in the ages that are gone enriched and aggrandized ancient Venice, first, the Portugal, Holland, and in our own time, England.– and each in succession they longed and sought in vain. The path was hidden to them, but we have found it over the waves of the Pacific, and of its hoarded treasures, its imperial affluence.”

  3. “The coming years might test America more than anything in our past, including the Revolutionary and Civil wars. America might lose both what defines it and what we hold most dear: our Constitution, our vast wealth, and our role as global hegemon.”
    Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006

    A truely wonderful post with so much in addition to the above quote.

    FM, “Our constitution”, which you so clearly love, may fall (has already fallen) because of it’s incompatibility (?) with “our vast wealth, not so much because it’s so vast but because it’s so unevenly distributed; and it’s incompatibility with “our role as global hegemon”.

    Vastly uneven wealth makes for vastly uneven political power. See Citizens United. The methods of maintaining a hegemonic empire abroad eventually come home to the emperial population itself(drones, militarized police, kill lists, secrecy, uncontrolled executive power. See The Executive Unbound….) This not so much because of any “formal” incompatibility between the constitution, vast uneven wealth, and global hegemonic empire but because of a practical real world, the way history seems to work kind of thing.

    Question: What of these are you willing to give up to preserve the spirit of the constitution?

    “There was a dream that was Rome. It shall be realized. These are the wishes of Marcus Aurelius.”
    — Maximus Decimus Meridius, in the movie “Gladiator”

    As I remember the movie, Maximus died in his status of ‘slave in revolt’ after his wealth had been confiscated, his wife murdered, and his young son crucified – all so mockingly described to him by Commodus. And the dream of Rome, at least as the movie suggests it, was not realized. As I remember Roman history, the empire then devolved after 80 years of internal war, political and economic chaos, into the – at least in my opinion – nightmare military dictatorship state of Diocletian and Constintine.

    Question: Knowing where this is likely to go, where do you find your optimism? How do you ground your optimism in hard thinking? Or is it a product of nostalgia, in Greek the emotional pain for a homeland lost, which I share. This is not a criticism but an enquiry.

    1. That’s a powerful question.

      (1) I gain confidence from our past. While littered with dark deeds, as with the history of every great people, we’ve done great things. The scarfices of the Civil War to free the slaves. The great accomplishments after WWII to build a secure and free world, using our power in a benevolent fashion almost without precedent in history. The great deeds of the Great Society (only partially achieved). The dreams of the Apollo Program (ultimately fruitless).

      (2) I have faith in the Founder’s dreams, rooted as they are in a thousand years of western history going back to Charlemagne.

      (3) I have faith in the America people. Flawed as we are, not angels or cardboard action heros. But a strong, free people.

    2. On the other hand, perhaps I’m wrong. This article deserves careful attention: “Five Delusions About Our Broken Politics” by Thomas E. Mann & Norman J. Ornstein, The American Interest, July/August 2012 — Opening:

      Finding an American who does not think our politics are dysfunctional is much harder these days than finding Waldo. Approval of Congress hovers around 10 percent, limited, John McCain often jokes, to “paid staff and blood relatives.” Of course, Congress rarely enjoys a high approval rating, even when things are operating well. But to the two of us, with more than 42 years each of experience immersed in the corridors of Washington at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, this dysfunction is worse than we have ever seen it, and it is not limited to Capitol Hill. The partisan and ideological polarization from which we now suffer comes at a time when critical problems cry out for resolution, making for a particularly toxic mix.

      It is not going to be easy to find structural fixes to our problems because many of them flow from an increasingly corrosive culture, not just from institutional breakdowns. We have many ideas for significant reforms and other changes, but before we can consider remedies for our political dysfunction, we need to rid ourselves of much seductive wishful thinking. Here are five bromides to avoid.

    3. Sometimes the hardest “thinking” comes in the form of the internalized ideals of a people: these ideals consisting not just of formal propositions but in the form of feeling, understanding, and recognition of what’s “proper” and what’s simply not acceptable to be done both at home and abroad. If these ideals still lie in the hearts of Americans, then America may very well move forward and reconstitute itself in a “new” and good (better) fashion. This, I believe, is one of things this blog attempts to intuit and monitor.

    4. I am of the opinion that we, the American people, are already hard at work developing the policies that will lead to the third republic. Sometimes the best (or at least the fastest) way to arrive at the correct decision is to make a series of dumb mistakes and learn from them.

      We are certainly doing making mistakes and I like to think that we will get some benefit from them at some point in the future.

  4. I’m certainly not a climate scientist. Although I can follow these difficult arguments, I am not competent to judge them. But it does seem that much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere in a way that accompanies just plain old fashioned air pollution. No amount of air pollution is good to breathe, but of course some will always be present due to the character of our modern industrial and transportation society. Nevertheless, consider the medical cost savings as well as the otherwise lost productivity of “sick” workers as well as pollution’s ill effects on children into the economic equation.

    Why does it seem impossible to simply design an enhanced program that is directed towards air pollution, with the political legitimacy which that might entail (?), and kill two birds with one stone, one the health dangers of pollution we can agree on, and the other the danger-timing- degree of global warming we constantly argue about?

    But I expect that this idea, suggested (hinted at) by FM and others, would only fall victim to the same back and forth arguments, with the same use and misuse of experts, that we see in the arguments about climate change and peak oil. I guess it’s because of the employment of scientists and experts in the service of economic-political interests which drains many of them, even the most honest and careful scientists, of their credibility in the eyes of the “viewing public”. In this way, politics in a larger sense keeps our civilization stuck and incapable of addressing problems which even most people can agree on.

    1. Unfortunately little of our CO2 emissions are pollution in the usual sense of the term, as a byproduct that can be easily mitigated or removed. See this graph from Wikipedia, a clearer version of this data from the DOE’s Carbon Dioxide Information Center. We’re burning lots of fossil fuels, at an increasing rate. Something has to be done.

      What, how, and when, and who pays are the public policy questions.

      Your question goes to a larger issue which I’ve touched upon: America’s broken observation-orientation-decision-action loop. IMO this is one of our most serious problems, and cripples our ability to resolve many other problems.

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