TV is Finally Seeing Climate Problems, but Not the Huge Changes that Will have to Be Made

Interview with Chris Williams (adjunct professor of physics and chemistry) on Dec. 1, 2012 about newest reports  which are just now raising the alarm about climate catastrophe.  He’ll be speaking at SCSU on Tues. Dec. 4. (see below)

Audio Part 1 (6:34)

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Audio Part 2 (6:10)

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and here’s a fun interactive way to seeing how much of our coastline will join Atlantis


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One Response to TV is Finally Seeing Climate Problems, but Not the Huge Changes that Will have to Be Made

  1. Will Wilkin says:

    Great interactive map linked! Definitely bookmark that one for future discussions. Gotta hope Tennessee cares about NYC and Miami….

    I’m sure everyone here has their criticisms of the NY Times, but to be the paper everybody either loves or hates, you’ve got to be pretty good after all.

    Here’s another NYT link that is very relevant to how our country should confront historic challenges like climate change, not to mention the economic crisis. It describes the legacies of Bell Labs, and the qualitative difference between Bell’s history-changing idea of “innovation” vs. today’s Apple App version:

    We no longer have Bell Labs, but we still at least have a National Institute of Science, National Institute of Health, etc. And doesn’t the USA still have a great research university system?

    Our country needs something like a National Commission on Innovation to use govt grant money and policy to encourage our university and corporate labs to coordinated towards solving big, history-changing problems, such as “innovation” meant in the Bell Labs sense rather than Apple app sense.

    If we had a national consensus on the outcomes/goals we want, in terms of what kind of society and what kind of economy, we could then put our innovation centers to work as an essential part of that larger strategic national vision, realized through Industrial Policy. R&D encouragements and coordination being only one aspect of Industrial Policy, which itself means a governing vision to drive all policies (trade, tax, regulation, public investment, etc).

    Some history-changing national projects that could anchor a full-employment economy centered around world-class manufacturing:

    1) National Energy Independence through 100% Renewable (clean) energy on US-made technology. This includes: a) rebuilt electrical grid compatible with intermittent power sources like wind and solar, b) domestic manufacturing and continuous R&D of all the hardware, from solar cells to solar modules to grid-level energy storage systems and transformers, buried storm-proof power lines, etc., and c) deep science exploring all promising leaps in energy technology, such as superconductors, cold fusion, etc.

    2) A new transportation system, including mass transit, EVs and exploring any other promising ideas, from hydrogen storage and fuel cells to new materials. Create the infrastructure for new vehicle energy technologies, such as battery swap centers for EVs.

    3) National Energy efficiency conversion of our buildings, from commercial and industrial and residential, through weather-proofing, insulation, doors & windows, and other renovations.

    National goals and projects such as the above would do a lot more than put people to work, although I am talking about ten million or more new jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering and research, plus all the service industries that would support those. After all, as Keynes once noted, digging holes and filling them back in again also provides jobs –and I would liken our country’s expenditures on military domination of the globe, on mass incarcerations, and on massive unemployment benefits all akin to digging holes and filling them in again, i.e., creating purchasing power through wages or benefits but contributing little or nothing to actual standard of living through consumables or capital goods geared to long-term civilian quality of life.

    By contrast, national goals like the ones I enumerate above would qualitatively transform in beneficial ways our productivity, our relationship to the environment, and our relationship with other nations. The topic here (I know I expanded it) is how to address climate change, and I describe a way to use the imperative of responding to climate change to also rebuild our economy.

    Full employment in constructive purpose would increase the wealth of the nation, in short-term and long-term ways. Additionally, think of the psychological transformation of millions of people going from unemployed with no hope to being able to pay their way with the satisfactions of working and with new hope for our children because our country is again on the right track.

    I’m glad our country had the long experience of the American System. That was a partnership between govt and industry to build the infrastructure, technologies and industries that made America the richest country in the world…in its time. The American System wasn’t Austrian school economics or laissez faire, nor was it communistic. It was in many ways uniquely American and wildly successful.

    Rooted in the ideas of Alexander Hamilton and the federal powers in the Constitution to use taxes and tariffs and patents to build national industry, the “American System” evolved through ideas of Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln (especially via his economist advisor Henry Carey) and T. Roosevelt –really all the way from Independence to Nixon or arguably even Reagan. The American System was a partnership between govt and industry to develop the infrastructure, education, science and R&D and technologies, using tariffs and patents and many other protective govt interventions to ensure industries were built in this country, industries that led the world.

    In the 19th century, the American government supported innovation, technology, manufacturing and education, all of which was consciously in contrast to Britain’s laissez-faire free trade. America thus achieved supremacy over Britain in virtually every sector of the economy by 1900. It is how we built the canals and ports and railroads, it involved the1st and 2nd Bank of the United States, it built the public university systems and land grant colleges, built a merchant marine to replace British shipping after WW1, and eventually went on to build airports and NASA, funded the public-private labs and R&D that yielded everything from radios to computers.

    The American System was discarded when, over the ruins of WW2, as we were the only industrial power standing, our cold war alliances took political priority over keeping our economic edge.

    After a few decades our rivals were rebuilt and using all kinds of state-industry partnerships to make their country rich, with the aid of American markets through our free trade and free market ideology that served cold war purposes but was completely unhistorical and led to our giving away our industries one by one to keep those other countries in our political camp. Now the process has come full circle…to economic ruin. To the loss of 1/3 of our mfg from 200-2011, and continuing month after month. Our trade deficit is now around $600 billion, send $1.2 million out of the country every minute, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in trade alone.

    This 200 years of public-private partnership is forgotten in today’s debates about austerity and “small government,” and in the way that free trade is taken as axiomatic good policy. Recall that George Washington signed a tariff bill as his second law signed, and that RCA was founded with the US Navy as 20% shareholder. Active protections were applied for our first 160 years to prevent foreign purchase of our companies and technologies, because these were understood to be the engines of wealth creation for the nation. That was the American System historically. I would modernize it with a full employment policy, and National Health Insurance, and a strengthened Social Security System. We need to bring rich and poor together to the table as Americans and reinvent our country by all of us staking our future with the larger success of the nation.

    It gives us a successful model to cite, a wedge to bust open the dysfunctional ideological battle between left and right. A way to avoid class war and make a society with a place for everyone.

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