Today in OMG-We’re-So-Screwed

Vaclav Smil downplaying climate change relative to economic stress in terms of near-term global problems. In case you though that might make you feel better, trust me, it won’t.

…I see [global warming] as very secondary compared to the already unfolding Great Unraveling, with all rich economies in chronic downfalls that will last and last (real U.S. unemployment already 20%, debt at $14 trillion is trivial compared to $114 trillion of uncovered obligations, all E.U. save for Germany is collapsing etc., etc.). The only sensible way out of it is to tax and tax and that will kill the economies even more in the medium-run, and combine it with aging and China and terrorism (by my estimate bin Ladin has, so far, cost the U.S. at least $6 trillion and counting) — and soon there will be no monies for anything beyond basic survival.

I agree, mostly, but what’s worth emphasizing here is that those domestic obligations, unlike some of the other problems we bipedal apes face, like our tendency to foul our own nest, or like interlocking sovereign debts, can be eliminated with a policy change. Alter entitlement rules, say, and those unfunded liabilities change radically. Granted, easier said than done, but these are arguably different classes of problems.

via On Debt, Death, Taxes and Temperatures –


  1. john haskell says:

    Anybody who thinks Bin Laden has cost the US "$6 trillion and counting" can't count.

  2. I have found it quite unsettling myself, that this crisis began to unfold at the same time as cliamtic events started to become more pronounced.
    (and no, this isn't the nth correlation/causation dispute).
    We're definitely between a rock and a hard place. We should be investing in technologies and techniques to cope with more and more pronounced meteo-adverse episodes and yet, I agree, all our efforts now are directed mainly (only?) at fending off the aftermath of the explosion of the purulent financial pimple.
    Whoever fails to see / rationalize this, just because he/she is setting pretty on a 7 figure net wealth bank account is just committing slo-mo suicide IMHO.
    Resources need to be invested now in order to guarantee some kind of "decent" survival for the best of what the Developed World has been able to create (which is not consumerism, financial speculation, waste, and unneccessary exploitation of our finite natural resources).

  3. Goladaman says:

    The thing is I think humanity always lives like this, in the midst of chaos. Looking back in a few years we might laugh at this post thinking how 'such and such' then happened and made this view irrelevant. Who knows what the future holds really? People said life was all good forever in 2006 and now look. Things change.

  4. Weather Ch. ghost says:

    Before you can intelligently comment on the risks of climate change, you should first understand convection in atmospheric physics because from your recent posts about tornadoes its clear you do not. Stick to finance and investing which you are much more well versed in!


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