At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both `the human environment' and the natural environment.” - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops statement

In recent weeks, we covered the issue of high levels of debt constraining economic growth in the developed world. The consequences on (un)employment and politics are significant, which requires our societies to change their organization model. Of course, this is easier said than done.

But a more pressing and even more threatening problem is global warming. Its impact ranges from food supply disruption to water scarcity and migration. It is now acknowledged that the world is warming up faster than expected, partly thanks to feedback loops that are difficult to stop. In fact, even if we stop carbon emissions at current levels, the Earth will continue to warm up by itself.

Given the political complexities of managing a transition toward a sustainable lifestyle, the current policy appears to be mitigation rather than anything else. This is a step in the right direction, yet hardly enough to avoid massive disrupting changes: the phasing out of polluting technologies and increases in energy efficiency is slower than the growth of pollution.

In addition, there is a great disconnect between inter and intra-national attitudes toward pollution. First of all, increased inequalities inside nations create a gap in environmental consciousness. The rich want to consume more ethically (but do not necessarily do so), while the poor may not rank environment on top of their immediate priorities.

In addition, developed countries have the tools and institutions that could enable a transition toward a more sustainable lifestyle, even if most rely on consumerism to drive their economies. However, emerging countries have more pressing issues such as unemployment, violence or economic development. Environmental matters are seen as a long term threat and thus likely to come second when trade offs are to be made.

As our planet warms, we are going to see an increase in natural disasters which will further hamper a transition toward a more sustainable future. It is easy to predict that developed countries with lower population density, better climatic conditions and better infrastructures will be able to handle the climate crisis better than their poorer counterparts.

Of course this is no panacea since these countries will be faced with humanitarian disaster outside their borders and climate-linked migration. This is why global warming requires international cooperation. This is why this international threat is unlikely to be addressed fully and correctly.

Science, General Knowledge & Environment

We’re Past the Point of No Return for Climate Change – “James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, now argues that the 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels threshold — that most international institutions say is the baseline of how much warming we can take — is “nonsense” and “a prescription for disaster.”

‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ far bigger than imagined, aerial survey shows – “According to the UN environmental programme, the great Pacific garbage patch is growing so fast that it, like the Great Wall of China, is becoming visible from space.

Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad – “There now seems to be no limit on what a water can be, or what consumers are willing to buy. It is no longer enough for water to simply be water: it must have special powers.” Great article but it fails to cover the environmental costs: plastic bottles and transportation pollution.

The Quiet Desperation of Millennials – “One of the things I found sad is the degree to which Millennials have bought into societal hype about entrepreneurship. Historically, the most common trait of an entrepreneur was that he’d been fired twice. The idolization of entrepreneurship has bolstered the bogus idea that it’s a reasonable employment option for many people.

Russia Becomes a Grain Superpower as Wheat Exports Explode – “Rich soil, government support and proximity to Black Sea ports for shipping means Russian costs can be as little as half those of major competitors supplying key import markets in the Middle East.

History & Geopolitics

Why nuclear war looks inevitable – “Smaller weapons are more tempting to use. The argument for so-called “tactical” nukes is that they would destroy a smaller area and create less fallout, making them more “safe” to use than traditional many-megaton bombs. And that could lead to temptation to use them.

Challenges Facing the Next US President – “With one month remaining before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Stratfor Vice President of Global Analysis Reva Goujon highlights the challenges the next president will face, regardless of who wins in November.” You can skip the last 10 minutes.

Iran-Russia Relations Post Nuclear Deal – “This strengthening of relations has come about due to a growing convergence in interests over the crisis in Syria. However, there is another growing convergence of interests, and that is, both Russia and Iran’s growing interest to check ISIS []”

Finance & Economics

The creators of bubble economies must be made to pay for their sins – “Global companies understand where capital formation should happen – in East Asia, where capital and labour are much cheaper. As investment doesn’t happen in the West, its wages become stagnant. Thus, East Asia’s export model runs into a wall, and its forced savings become overcapacity, resulting in horrific capital destruction. The world is stuck in a vicious cycle, with decapitalisation in the West and capital destruction in the East.

The impact in China and abroad of slowing growth – Michael Pettis. “Above all we must recognize the ways in which imbalances can deepen or recede according to institutional constraints, and this means at a minimum rejecting the false dichotomies in which imbalances necessarily adjust quickly and disruptively in the form of financial crises.

Systemic Risk: Deutsche Bank #1 at $100 Billion (BNP Paribas 2nd, Societe Generale 3rd) – “I did not know if I should laugh or cry that the bank that made speculation a business model is now saying it is a victim of speculators.

Picture of the day: Hurricane Matthew


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