Showing posts from 2009

Is Global Climate Change Man-made?

In case you were wondering...

I've had any number of people ask me where is the best place for evidence of scientific concensus that global warming, or, more correctly, global climate change, is anthropogenic, i.e. man-made; well, here it is....

I finally found (thanks to one of my students) the document that shows this US scientific consensus :

A Scary Night on Long's Peak

It was to be a classic day: the forecast was perfect for the time of year, August 22: calm, clear and warm. I was to lead a CMC rock climb up the North Ridge of Spearhead, and had formed a strong team. Kent Crites, a mountaineer of deep experience, was my co-leader, and Heather Pore was the sole participant, both strong climbers. Since Spearhead is about four mile hike in, and since Kent and I were a little older (in our fifties), we decided to hike in the night before and bivouac below the climb to have a fresh start in the morning. Heather, a mere 20 something, of course thought nothing of hiking in and climbing the same day, so she was to meet us the next morning.

Kent and I enjoyed a pleasurable and leisurely hike in the balmy weather. Rocky Mountain Park was in its full summer glory, as we drank in the majestic sights that make up Glacier Gorge: Mills Lake, MacHenry's Peak, Spearhead, Chiefshead, Arrowhead, Pagoda Peak and, of course, the west face of Long's Peak. This is…

The Growing Case for Local Banks

I read with interest an article in my local newspaper, The Denver Post, last Sunday, November 15, 2009, Too Big To Succeed? which was about how big banks are "too big to succeed" to help local businesses, and how we need to "revive the nation's broken community banking system." This was written by Henry Dubroff and John Huggins, who should both know the local business environment in Denver extremely well. Dubroff was formerly business editor of The Denver Post and the Denver Business Journal; he's currently editor at the Pacific Coast Business Times. Huggins is an entrepreneur and investor who twice served as economic development director for the city and county of Denver.

What was of interest to me is how their call for local, community oriented banking coincides exactly with similar recommendations I reading about several years ago (2006, 2007) in the works of David Korten and Michael Shuman. Both these authors have been decrying the disastrous effects of…

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

I'm currently reading this eloquent book by Thom Hartman. Published in 1998, it is highly relevant, as it simply and lucidly paints the global environmental catastrophes we have collectively created. It is also truly informative; I'll be posting excerpts here from time to time.

(p 47) So trees, as it turns out, are the major source of recycled oxygen for the atmosphere. They are our planet's lungs. ... A fully grown pine or hardwood tree has a leaf surface area that can run from a quarter-acre to over three acres, depending on the species. Rainforest trees have leaf surface areas that run as high as forty acres per tree. [My note: that's the equivalent surface area of a forty acre lake!] ... A rainforest tree will draw three million [emphasis added] gallons of water up through its roots and release it into the atmosphere as water vapor during its lifetime. While it may seem this would deplete the soil of water, actually the reverse is true: trees draw water into the so…

Which side is NPR on?

A comment I made on NPR's website, the day after a particularly upsetting report about the lack of consumer savings in America....

I completely agree with the previous comment by Lawrence Jones, and am insulted that NPR would make this statement:"For nearly two years, the U.S. economy has been struggling with a recession brought on by excessive borrowing, both for home mortgages and consumer purchases." What planet are you guys living on? This current recession, the worst since the Great Depression, and which remains to be seen if it exceeds it in severity, was absolutely caused by Wall Street, particularly its inner sanctum of the most powerful investment banks, starting with Goldman Sachs. Insinuating that the blame lies with a lack of consumer savings is not just grossly unfair, factually wrong and morally depraved, it puts NPR on the side of the hated Wall Street villains who have inflicted this pain and hell upon millions of American households that have lost their h…

Letter to Charlie Rose, news commentator

Mr Rose,

I am watching your interview tonight with Ken Rogoff. While I appreciate his expertise as an economist, he is disappointing to hear for his lack of insight to our current situation. Nonetheless, I will certainly investigate his latest book for his perspective on past financial crises. However, he seems to only offer the same old tired saw: we must grow our way out of this crisis.

I wish to suggest this a failed economic paradigm. With 6.8 billion people on the planet, and projected to reach 9 billion within a generation, when are the mainstream economists going to wake up and smell the coffee? Unlimited economic growth by all is no longer viable. What will take its place?

In a nutshell: ecological economics. You should check it out, as I predict it will be the economics of the 21st century, if we survive as a species. I know I'm just an unimportant, unknown voice, but I have followed economic trends closely all my adult life, teach environmental economics at a local communi…

Achieving Competition in the Local Loop

Achieving Competition in the Local Loop:
The Case for Structural Separation

by Rick Casey

A non-technical paper submitted to the 1999 Student Paper Competition
sponsored by the International Communications Association
in the topic category Status of Public Policy
January 26, 1999

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Section 1: Introduction

Section 2: U.S. Telecommunications Policy and the Local Loop

Section 2.1 Events Prior to the 96 Act
Section 2.2 The Telecommunications Act of 1996
Section 2.2.1 The Components of Local Competition

Section 3: Current State of Local Competition

Section 3.1 Market Trends
Section 3.1.1 Anecdotal Evidence
Section 3.1.2 Evidence from the FCC 2nd Survey
Section 3.1.3 New products and services from CLECs
Section 3.2 Policy Trends
Section 3.2.1 Trends among the ILECs
Section 3.2.2 Trends among State PUCs

Section 4: The Case for Structural Separation

Section 4.1 Reasons for and against separation
Section 4.2 The natural monopoly question
Section 4.3 The Illinois NOI

Should Wolves Be in National Parks?

Ok, first question: have wolves killed people? Answer: barely. The evidence I found tonight on the web is this: prior to 1900, when wolves were much more numerous, there is ZERO recorded deaths. Since then, there was ONE recorded incident of human death from wolves in 2005. Here is where I found this information:

Ellen Ruppel Shell: meet The Great Turning

As I was reading a somewhat recent New York Times Book Review (July 19th that is; they do tend to pile up on my Sunday morning breakfast table sometimes), I discovered a courageous new voice in the cause for human decency in the face of global capitalism, Ellen Ruppel Shell. Her new book, Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, looks like great reading, and I'll have to put it on my (too long) list of must-reads. After pulling up a few of her online articles at The Atlantic, my impression of courage was confirmed: she takes on some tough cookies, like Megan McArtle (who sounds like a most unpleasant person that I would rather avoid.)

However, I was most struck by a telling comment towards the end of the review by Laura Shapiro:

Ruppel Shell doesn't conclude with any grand ideas for reshaping the world's economy, ...

I would like to connect Ms. Shell's excellent work with that of Mr. David Korten -- because he does have grand ideas for reshaping the world's economy …

ARRA's Economic Forecasts Disparaged

[This was an email I sent to Mark Cavanaugh, director of Colorado's Economic Recovery Team, and to Greg Griffin, the Denver Post reporter who wrote the story, on Monday, August 3, 2009. I was incensed over the closing comment in the story, for reasons I address below.]

Dear Mr Cavanaugh,

I was disappointed to read that the Denver Post's Sunday edition front page story ended with this quote attributed to you:

I have no idea where that number came from...I think it was pin the tail on the donkey.

-- Mike Cavanaugh, Director of Colorado Economic Recovery program, page 6A, Denver Post, Sunday, August 2, 2009,
in referring to how the Obama administration developed its estimates of the number of jobs created by ARRA, the American
Reinvestment and Recovery Act

This was disappointing to read because (1) in the previous paragraph it was explained how the federal economists made the estimate, (2) it put you in the position of belittling and undermining the very mission of the Colorado Economi…

Wells Fargo Is Stealing Me Blind! (or just blindly stealing?)

This little diatribe is about an economic fact of life that's been bugging me for some time now as a result of the mortgage crisis. Let me describe this a bit and see if it might bug you too...right where it hurts, in your wallet...
Here's the simple logic, step by step: (a) the mortgage boom (which happened for whatever reasons, however nefarious) caused housing prices to rise to unforeseen heights during the Nineties and into the first years of the 21st century, causing (b) an asset bubble. This meant that many (most?) homes purchased in this period were at (historically) inflated prices. (It made no difference why the home was bought, for speculation or occupation, of course.) However, (c) the boom ultimately crashes due to the financial crisis, initiating the biggest recession since the Great Depression (which has a long time to yet play out), with consequent unemployment, causing (d) a wide and prolonged rise in foreclosures across the country, more intensely in some areas…

Why I Believe in the Sustainability Movement

Why I Believe in the Sustainability Movement
[This essay was submitted, and accepted, to NPR's "This I Believe" radio project on January 20, 2009. I wanted to summarize my personal vision of how the sustainability movement is transforming society, based on my experiences in the economics field and growing up in America in the Sixties. I started this essay in November 2005 but it took the Obama campaign and election to inspire me to finish it. I believe we are observing a global paradigm shift that will force out the long-broken economic model of neoclassical economic development which could, potentially, result in new methods of sustainable development that unites the world in a culture that is more at harmony with nature and fosters true community and human development. I want to help make that shift happen.]

I grew up in the turbulent Sixties. When I started college in 1972, the world was a chaotic mix of the civil rights movement, political assassinations,Vietnam, the…