Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Links

  • Human impact of the US drought (recent map above).
  • Currency plunge in Iran - capital flight - riots in the streets - trade with Iran grinding to a halt.  If the west does actually manage to break the will of the Iranian regime with economic sanctions alone, it will be a first.  In my view it would be a very positive thing for the international community to have a way to bring misbehaving countries into line without resorting to blowing things up.  Not a done deal yet, however.
  • Netanyahu has apparently decided that Israel can't bomb Iran by itself, realized that it's hopeless to get the US to engage in an attack before the election, and is now campaigning for more sanctions.  The basis of the Israeli calculation that they can't act alone is unclear to me.  Maybe they have been surprised by how effective the sanctions seem to be.
  • Weighing what sea-level rise will cost Miami.  This is consistent with my general take on sea-level rise for at least the next few decades - it's going to be expensive, but the developed world is just going to pony up the cost to put in the levees and seawalls and maintain business-as-usual (at least in the cities).  It may be another story in rural areas and poor countries.
  • Tesla Model S review in the NYT.  I want one.
  • PIOMAS September Arctic sea ice volume.


Stephen B. said...

I hope the earth doesn't have another cruel surprise in store on rising sea levels like we have seen on Arctic Ocean ice out. To me, it doesn't seem too far fetched that a seasonally free ice-free Arctic Ocean will greatly accelerate Greenland ice sheet melting. We've already seen the polar atmospheric weather high seasonally move over Greenland, and from what I understand, that could accelerate Greenland ice pack melting. It won't take much accelerated melting to severely challenge many major cities' ability to hold back rising sea levels. Yes, it will take a few decades, but I suspect we're talking mid century rather than late century or next century as the estimates keep talking about for significant sea level rise (meaning on the order of a foot or two.)

So far the sea level data is somewhat reassuring, but at one point, so was the Arctic sea ice data.

Stuart Staniford said...

Stephen: yeah, I share the fear. It's pretty clear that the climate scientists don't actually understand Arctic warming all that well and the scientific consensus has consistently underestimated the seriousness. That's why I added the "at least for the next few decades" caveat. It's too soon to say though - right now I still think the Rahmstorf estimates are likely the best guess, but with some tail risk of a much more rapid non-linear deterioration.

Stuart Staniford said...

For those unfamiliar, by "Rahmstorf estimates" I'm referring to this:

(there was an earlier Science paper by Rahmstorf alone that initiated this approach).

Blue Peter said...

What's this "misbehaving countries"? Do you mean ones that the US doesn't like?


Stuart Staniford said...

Peter: no, that's not what I mean by that phrase. Iran has managed to get pretty much the entire developed world as well as most of its neighbors united against it by dint of repeated lies about its nuclear program, financing of violent groups, stealing of elections, violent suppression of peaceful internal protests, etc, etc. It is a dreadful regime, and both the Iranian people and the rest of the world would be better off without it.

Unknown said...

Based on this criteria the US is right there along with Iran. Just one example for each, although many more can be found.

* lies about its nuclear program *

Report concludes no WMD in Iraq

* financing of violent groups *

The United States supported the Taliban

* stealing of elections *

Bill Press: More evidence Bush stole the election

* violent suppression of peaceful internal protests *

Confirmed: NYPD used excessive force on ‘Occupy’ protesters

"It is a dreadful regime, and both the Iranian people and the rest of the world would be *better off without it*."

This doesn't sound very scientific or objective, but much more like heard directly from some state propaganda like CNN.

Stuart Staniford said...

John: not saying the US is perfect, and indeed I would accept a number of your points as valid critiques, but the scale is different such that the rest of the world has not gotten pissed off enough to combine up and impose economic sanctions on us. For example, while there has been some cases of police violence against Occupy protesters, it's ludicrous to compare this to what happened in Iran in 2009 - the Occupy protests were very small and the level of violence far lower - you will not produce video of police snipers killing occupy protesters. Likewise, the 2000 election process was a bit dodgy, but that was only possible because the result was already genuinely extremely close; there has been no similar problem since. Also, we *have* changed regime since most of the things you describe - because we're a democracy. Your comparison doesn't hold water.

sunbeam said...

Whether we are a democracy or not is something that can be argued I think.

I'm with Blue Peter on this.

If Iran:

1) Didn't have any relevance to Israel

2) And wasn't located where it was and have oil,

We wouldn't care at all if they had nuclear weapons.

As to the point of stealing of elections, do you feel utterly confident that is true? My understanding is Iran has a number of divisions, with the most important right now being between an educated, urban, secular elite, kind of like, well you. And an opposing force of occasionally educated, religious, mostly poor, and rural people.

If you think about things, you might realize you are a victim of framing and your own internal prejudices.

Read a book (a graphic novel actually) called Persepolis. It's very good. But if you read it with an eye to the young lady's actual attitudes towards the kind of people that support the religious regime you might feel kind of uneasy. And if you think about things, you might come to the conclusion these guys are between a rock and a hard place, and the whole thing really doesn't have much to do with what a guy in upstate New York thinks.

Just saying, I think you got a dog by proxy in that fight.

If you wait a few years, you might get a reasonable facsimile in this country. Of course it is a pretty old story worldwide now.

And as far as repeated lies and financing of violent groups...

Letting alone the obvious points that could be made about the US I could write 50 pages right now on various things that are happening now or in the recent past.

Stephen B. said...

Regarding the article on the Tesla, Bradley Berman says that the basic automobile hasn't changed since Ford's Model T.

I would disagree. If not for the introduction of the automatic transmission, many folks have said that most people could never have mastered driving, especially given the non-synchromesh manual transmissions of the early days.

The Tesla is going to have to cut that price in half at least if they are going to be a game changer in my opinion.