2007 Archive

12/29/2007 Now, here is a truly monstrous progress trap!  China's communist rulers have reset their history to start in 1949, so the Chinese no longer know and heed history (sounds familiar?).  The inevitable crushing collapse of China will eclipse the historical collapses of the Sumers (now Iraqis), Hittites, Greeks, Romans, Mayas, Egypt starting from the early 1800s,  India starting from the 1900s, etc. All historic collapses were caused by the depletion of the environmental resources, mostly soil and water. The near-future collapses will have the same root causes plus one: the runaway human population. (click here)
12/26/2007 Another progress trap is obvious in the insanely expensive medical machines that at best  can provide a tiny improvement of cancer treatment.  One of these babies costs as much as adequately insuring 100,000 - 300,000 uninsured people for one year. (click here)
12/23/2007 After shamelessly and mindlessly touting the benefits of biofuels for a couple of years, Mr. Friedman has reversed himself with no explanation.  The horrific destruction of Indonesia he describes in his piece is happening in no small part due to his own complacency.  On the other hand, it is better that he discovered a few facts on the ground before writing his new book on energy, not after... (click here)
12/18/2007 A progress trap is defined by the following reasoning: if a little of something is good, then a lot more of the same thing must be better.  An arrow is better than a stone.  A bullet is better than an arrow.  A cannon projectile is better than a bullet.  An atomic fission bomb is better than a cannon.  A thermonuclear fusion bomb is better than its atomic trigger. But now we can exterminate all of us with a push of a button.  Most major civilizations perished, some without a trace, by falling into one or more of these progress traps.  Today is our turn and we are running into multiple progress traps as if there were no tomorrow.  Here is just one of several listed on this page (click here and here)
12/18/2007  And here is the second half of the progress trap above (click here)
12/17/2007 Speaking about progress traps, here is an uncritical panegyric - singing hymns for corpo-academia. It was written by a distinguished corpo-panegyrist (pronounced as "corporist") from Stanford.  He sees clearly the benefits of corporations using academia to launch their products.  And this may be good.  But the same corporations have destroyed their own research capabilities over the last 15 years or so.  And this is rather bad. Now, like new potent pathogens, the same corporations are taking over the still fertile grounds of public research, converting them to private property, and posting the "No-Trespassing" signs all over.  So, if there is no relevant public research left, and the corpo-academia just follows orders from their corporate masters, where will the independent thinking come from? How quickly will our complex society meet its inevitable demise by the Peters principle? (click here)
12/16/2007  As always, Michael Pollan has the clearest picture of our collective insanity and eagerness to fall into progress traps.  (The antibiotic-fed pigs grow in a primordial organic soup in which the horizontal genetic information exchange among viruses, phages and bacteria occurs in real time.  The bacteria quickly gain resistance to most antibiotics and we die.  So too much of the cheap industrial pig meat may not be better after all.)  I wish NYT had another journalist who would be somewhat close to the depth of Michael's thinking. (click here)  Compare Michael's article with this masterpiece of jumping into a major progress trap by a flaming idiot from the Washington Post flanked by the luminaries of yet another shining path to mass suicide (click here)
12/14/2007 Another "progress trap" has been unveiled by the environmental disaster caused by salmon farming.  A progress trap is defined as too much success in achieving one narrow technological goal (here breeding as many farm salmon as possible), while endangering the greater environment and humans in general.  How many more such traps must our "advanced civilization" encounter before it collapses for good? Let me give you a few hints: large-scale tropical agrofuels, wanton destruction of mature tropical ecosystems, ocean pollution, water and air pollution,  industrial agriculture, general lack of resource conservation, and so on. (click here)
12/05/2007 Polluted agricultural water may be causing genetic mutations in humans (click here)
11/02/2007 Just like New Orleans will never be properly rebuilt, the Florida Everglades will never be restored.  Why?  Because the  US is a semi-bankrupt country with a run away military budget and international debt, as well as a staggering national debt.  So let's issue some more bonds... (click here)
07/16/2007  The Earth is warming and the whales are starving (click here)
05/19/2007 I thought that there were limits to insanity in NYT's reporting of biofuel miracles.  I stand corrected.  The clueless reporter is telling us about the wonderful idea of converting 450,000 acres of land on an isolated island biome into a massive sugarcane monoculture, and burn the rest of the biomass for electricity (look carefully at the photograph caption) . Let's wait for the first of the wave of future lawsuits from the people whose water and soil (whatever is left of it) will be poisoned with the field chemicals, vinasse and other toxic wastes.  Behind this insanity there are Mr. Stephen Case and Vinod Khosla.  I guess, mismanaging AOL and Sun Microsystems, respectively, was not enough for them. (click here)
04/16/2007 UC and BP or UCBP? (click here)
04/11/2007 Exchanging the future of the Earth for bags of salt and a nice profit?  Would the World Bank under the fearless leadership of the incorruptible Paul Wolfowitz be involved? (click here)
04/07/2007 The Brazilian environment is being increasingly dedicated to serving energy needs of US and food needs of China (click here)
02/27/2007 Another bill for our crimes against the Earth has come due.  The bees, relentlessly driven back-and-forth among distant, poisoned industrial monocultures, are dying.  Almost all of them.  So let's let Monsanto or Syngenta synthesize a new super molecular foundry-nanotechnology-artificial life-micro robotic-hydrogen powered bee that will survive their own products (because we may not).  Or should we ask our own new corporation:


 to accomplish this?  Of course these arrogant fools will waste billions of our dollars and write a couple papers in Science to hype biotech, but - in the end - we will all be much worse off. Oh, our poor naked Mother Earth stripped of her wild flowers, lush meadows, and wild bees! (click here and here)
02/21/2007 Coal-fired power plants are very bad for us, no matter what are the small improvements.  No new ones should be constructed (click here)
02/21/2007 Two arrogant economists from Yale, who have already caused untold damage to the world economy, are again discounting the future  (click here)
02/17/2007 Will people make the connection between higher energy costs and higher utility bills?  Maybe, but this would require popping the central delusion of most Americans: Cheap energy for all is a constitutional right guaranteed by the powerful armed forces stationed abroad... (click here)
01/17/2007  Hey, it's our government that is sinking US all (click here)
01/16/2007 Because of budget cuts and Space Shuttle silliness, we may not be able to watch from space what is happening on the Earth... (click here)
01/16/2007 ...And Greenland's ice continues to melt rather nicely (click here)