“Throughout most of our history, nothing – not flood, famine, plague, or new weapons – has endangered humanity one-tenth as much as the narcissistic ego, with its self-aggrandizing presumptions and its hell-hound spawn of fear and greed. The new wrinkle is that escalating advances in technology are nourishing the narcissistic ego the way chicken manure nourishes a rose bush, while exploding worldwide population is allowing its effects to multiply geometrically.” - Tom Robbins
In the post Cold War age, the attention given to nuclear weapons has dropped significantly from the fear of Mutual Assured Destruction to nuclear proliferation (i.e.: the development or acquisition of nuclear weapons by smaller states and non governmental entities such as terrorists). Yet the nuclear race is still going on and the world remains captive of the technology behind the various defense systems and the good will of their chain of commands.
It is not reassuring to know that at least in 1962, 1983, and 1995 the world was inches away from total destruction. But the perspectives are even less promising with the deterioration of the Russian-United States relationship since the color revolutions in Eastern Europe and the tremendous pressures brought by the Great Financial Crisis on every government in the world. All these factors are only accelerating the fragmentation of a fragile world order dependent upon its members' cooperation.
It may not be far stretched to consider that we may soon learn to live once again with the fear of nuclear attacks, as regional powers assert themselves against the world super-power. If 20 years of American domination of international affairs did not bring expected results in terms of political and economic development around the world, a multipolar system with competing interests and increased possibilities of breakdowns.
This context offers little hope for a disruption-free containment of nuclear weapons, and even less prospects for the climate change crisis. It is now 3 minutes to midnight and we haven't even started to steer the course away from apocalypse.
Science, General Knowledge & Environment
It is now 3 minutes to midnight – "Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity. And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of leadership endanger every person on Earth."
U.S. Shale Boom May Come To Abrupt End – "High decline rates from shale reservoirs is given. The more interesting reasons are the compounding effects of pad drilling on rig count and poorer average well performance with time. […] In other words, production can only be maintained by drilling an ever-increasing number of wells."
On Public Intellectuals – "Courage is not always a virtue; it depends on cause and context. But neither is it a common virtue. Not simply because most of us aren’t brave but also because courage requires judgment and knowledge. Possessing all three at the same time is a rarity. Why we would think to look for it among intellectuals is not clear."
The Petulant Entitlement Syndrome of Journalists – "Being aggressively, even unfairly, criticized isn’t remotely tantamount to being silenced. People with large and influential platforms have a particular need for aggressive scrutiny and vibrant critique."
History & Geopolitics
The New Drivers of Europe's Geopolitics – "There are then three drivers in Europe now. One is the desire to control borders — nominally to control Islamist terrorists but truthfully to limit the movement of all labor, Muslims included. Second, there is the empowerment of the nation-states in Europe by the European Central Bank, which is making its quantitative easing program run through national banks, which may only buy their own nation's debt. Third, there is the political base, which is dissolving under Europe's feet."
Poland's Geographic Challenge – [Video] – "Stratfor examines Poland's difficult geographic position between Russia and the West."
Mind the Gap – "…the Hobson's choice they face between recoiling into the embrace of their ancient cultures or adopting Western ways precisely to gain the strength to resist the West."
Finance & Economics
China’s state of debt deteriorates – "Recent estimates from China International Capital Corporation put local government debt levels at around 22 trillion yuan ($3.51 trillion) by the end of 2014, with 15 to 20 percent of this amount tied up in “highly risky” projects."
If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards, China’s implicit state guarantee edition – ""China’s “pervasive implicit state guarantee” is being slowly and systematically eroded as “the critical domino”* that is “local governments’ ability to extend credit guarantees gets checked at a time of slowing domestic growth and tightening global liquidity”, with all of the risk that entails."
Number of the day: It is now 3 minutes to midnight – "Global greenhouse gas emission rates are now 50% higher than they were in 1990. Emission rates have risen since 2000 by more than in the previous three decades combined. Investments have continued to pour into fossil fuel infrastructure at a rate that exceeds $1 trillion per year, with additional hundreds of billions of dollars in continued fossil fuel subsidies."
Picture of the day: Massive snowstorm hits Northeast
Written by Carlito
About Carlito Riego
"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi