notes march 22, 2008
March 22, 2008 § Leave a comment
Lack of history leaves leaders unable to understand that skewed wealth destroys republics. That lack of literature leaves leaders incapable of compassion for others.
Important book on climate.
THE GREAT WARMING
Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
By Brian Fagan Review by WILLIAM GRIMES
If you don¹t think climate change produces winners as well as losers, consider this: In the 12th and 13th centuries England exported wine to France. Vineyards also flourished in improbable regions like southern Norway and eastern Prussia. A centuries-long spell of mild, predictable weather blessed Western Europe with abundant crops, healthy populations and budget surpluses sufficient to finance projects like Chartres Cathedral.
This is the credit side of a global balance sheet carefully itemized by Brian Fagan in ³The Great Warming,² his fascinating account of shifting climatic conditions and their consequences from about A.D. 800 to 1300, often referred to as the Medieval Warm Period. The debit side is appalling:
widespread drought, catastrophic rainfall, toppled dynasties, ruined civilizations. Abandoned Maya temples in the Yucatan and the desolation of Angkor Wat, supreme achievement of the Khmer empire, bear witness to climatic change against which royal power and priestly magic proved impotent.
The causes of the Medieval Warm Period remain unclear, and there is debate over what the actual temperatures were. Mr. Fagan draws one unambiguous conclusion from the evidence, however, in a final chapter on the present-day implications of the great warming of a thousand years ago. Drought is the great enemy, ³the silent and insidious killer associated with global warming,² he writes.
Population density has placed enormous pressure on increasingly scarce water resources. As a result modern droughts, brought on by El Niño events, have taken an enormous toll in lives and wreaked measureless economic devastation. Prepare for worse.
³Judging from the arid cycles of a thousand years ago, the droughts of a warmer future will become more prolonged and harsher,² Mr. Fagan writes.
³Even without greenhouse gases, the effects of prolonged droughts would be far more catastrophic today than they were even a century ago.²
For a spark of hope Mr. Fagan offers the example of Chimor, a kingdom in coastal Peru tormented by El Niño flooding and severe droughts throughout the Medieval Warm Period. The Chimu people thrived nonetheless by diversifying their food supply and protecting their scarce water resources.
In a historically arid region with uncertain food supplies, they successfully tapped their centuries of experience with irrigation, soil conservation and water management. Look no further for a global-warming role model.
Certainly suggests the need for a GardenWorld vision and flexibility. Our current lock up of land and its use makes experimentation difficult.
Interview with breshinski on the need to get out of Iraq. Tough stance.
Brezhinski our presence contributes to disorder. Hence need to disengage orderly.
Decision. Get out. Victory definition keeps changing.
Changes that take place historically. We (the US) need to understand future changes requires something fundamental. We can’t do security through force. Obama gets it Deals with race.
Reading Sam Bowles Garrison America
Guard levels rise with increasing unemployment. US second only to greece in percentage of labor force . We are talking about 20% not including weapons manufacturing.
Jonh Stuart Mill . . It is lamentable to think how a great proportion of all efforts and talents in the world are employed in merely neutralizing one another. It is the proper end of government to reduce this wretched waste to the smallest possible amount, by taking such measures as shall cause the energies now spent by mankind in injuring one another, or in protecting themselves against injury, to be turned to the legitimate employment of the human faculties.
Deeper study of past humanity (towards understanding the future possibilities.)
The Dynamics of Civilizations
8000 years ago, the ancestors of humanity–whether they lived in sedentary villages or mobile bands, whether they collected wild foods or herded flocks or cultivated gardens–lived in a world of kin and ritual in which the exploitation of many by a few was held in check. In a millennium or less, first in Mesopotamia, then in Egypt, then in India, China, Peru, Mexico, and elsewhere, villagers were incorporated into larger polities focused on sprawling urban centers and ruled by emergent elites. Did people willingly give up their independence to join such new polities or were they coerced by despots? The Dynamics of Civilizations Group at SFI, led by SFI External Professors Henry Wright and Doug White , and Science Board Member Bob Adams , aims to explain this fundamental transformation in the human career accelerated during the 20th century.
From Scott Horton quoting Edmund Burke
I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which, in the depths of its wisdom, tolerates all sorts of things), that is more truly odious and disgusting, than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.
Pasted from <http://harpers.org/subjects/NoComment>
Economics is based on the idea that a person has preferences, but there is no examination of the source of these preferences, which may be in the system itself (advertizing) and so self fullfilling, and self-serving.