Thursday, August 11, 2005

Global warming, foreign deficits

The Guardian is the bearer of bad news on the global warming front:
A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometers - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.
EDIT: Slashdot has picked up on the story as well - lotsa comments!

And here's a blog post from znet about deficits, China, and should also serve as a reminder that I have to check this website daily:
Bush has thrown the U.S. government deeply into the red by combining a massive trillion dollar tax cut for the rich with stupendous imperial “defense” expenditures sold to the populace on a shifting set of false pretenses that merged the imperial occupation of Iraq (a key Bush II project from day one) with something called “a war on terrorism.” Boldly linking his twin imperatives of Empire and Inequality, Bush has used fear and deception to cover the gaping disconnect between (a) his claim that we are all united in a war for our shared survival and (b) his stupendous giveaways to the privileged few.

Along the way, he has been following the Reagan playbook by using the huge government deficit that results from this curious combination as a reason to slash yet further social programs intended for the protection and advancement of the nation’s considerable number and share of disadvantaged people and communities. The massive expenditures and actions of the “right hand of the state” are pretext for the further slashing of the state’s “left hand,” to use the late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s excellent terminology.

Of course, someone has to provide loans to cover the resulting deficit to keep the increasingly right-handed state going. War, empire, corporate welfare, and mass incarceration at home and abroad cost a lot of money. Since Americans have a national saving rate below zero --- their key role in the contemporary world system is to buy stuff made in lower-wage zones of the planet --- there’s not much loan money to tap at home. As a result, according to Chicago Tribune correspondent R.C. Longworth, “no less than $399 billion, nearly 97 percent” of the federal deficit was financed by “foreigners” last year.

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