The End Of All Crossroads

Where the TAXI makes a stop, to ponder upon which road mayhap be true

Category: Nature

December brings record-high temperatures after November brings record highs without rainfall

Published on December 3, 2012 at 1:41 am
Last update on December 3, 2012 at 11:05 am
By Allie Kolechta

High temperatures in the Austin area have already broken records during December, after November also brought record high temperatures and, for the first time in decades, no rain in Austin for the entire month.

Austin saw no measurable rainfall in November, according to reports compiled on the Austin-Bergstrom Airport Area by the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters. According to the report, this is the first year Austin has had only trace amounts of rainfall in the month of November since 1970, more than four decades ago.

Record highs were set on Nov. 1 at 88 degrees and Nov. 3 at 87 degrees. High temperatures reached into the 80s on 15 days in November, and lows never reached freezing. The most days it has reached 80 degrees in the area in November was in 1931, with 17 days in the 80s.

Temperatures Saturday hit 83 degrees, breaking the daily record of 82 degrees set in 1954. The high reached 80 degrees Sunday, and is forecast to hit 83 degrees Monday. Previous December highs were 84 degrees Dec 2. 2007 and 86 degrees Dec. 3 1995.

As of the end of November, the Austin area and 81 percent of the state was in a drought classified as moderate or worse, the second of five classifications for drought severity, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 54 percent of the state was in a drought classified as severe or worse, 25 percent was classified as extreme or worse and 8 percent was classified as exceptional.

Printed on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 as: Record-high climate continues in winter

SOURCE:
http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2012/12/03/december-brings-record-high-temperatures-after-november-brings-record-highs-without

Study: Massive volcanic eruption in the cards for Japan

“Japan should brace for a catastrophic volcanic eruption at some point, say experts, citing a massive buildup of magma at many of the nation’s 110 active volcanoes.”

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December 03, 2012
By TAIRIKU KUROSAWA/ Senior Staff Writer

The last particularly serious eruption in Japan occurred in 1914, when Mount Sakurajima in southern Kagoshima Prefecture blew its top.

According to study by volcanologists, Japan, which lies on the Pacific Rim of Fire, has been shaken by more than 1,000 volcanic eruptions over the past 2,000 years.

https://d13uygpm1enfng.cloudfront.net/article-imgs/en/2012/12/03/AJ201212030010/AJ201212030011M.jpg
“The possibility of a major eruption in the future is real,” said Yoichi Nakamura, a professor of volcanology at Utsunomiya University who has been analyzing volcanic eruptions with a team of researchers.

To be classified as active, a volcano must have erupted within the past 10,000 years or still be spewing gases, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The active volcanoes include sites in the disputed Northern Territories off northeastern Hokkaido as well as undersea volcanoes.

Of the 110 active volcanoes, the agency monitors activity of the 47 around the clock to detect signs of an imminent eruption.

When offshore Mount Sakurajima erupted, it spewed out so much lava that it created a land bridge with the Osumi Peninsula. Volcanic ash even fell on eastern Japan.

The researchers said seismic activity surged at 20 active volcanoes around Japan, including Mount Fuji, after the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck last year.

It was one of the most powerful earthquakes on record. It struck with such force that the Japanese land mass shifted.

Over the past century, volcanic eruptions around the world were apparently triggered by magnitude-9.0 or stronger earthquakes that struck several years earlier.

Nakamura also is involved with the nonprofit Vocanological Society of Japan. He said the study was intended to help local officials prepare for a contingency resulting from a major eruption by assessing the risks posed by volcanoes around the country.

Particularly worrisome, he said, was a lack of data pointing to a reduction in magma. In the absence of a really huge eruption for a century suggested there was a massive buildup of magma, which at some point will inevitably spew from a volcano with tremendous force.

According to the study, 1,162 eruptions have occurred in Japan over the past 2,000 years. Of these, 52 were major events that spewed a massive volume of ash and lava over a short period. It amounts to a large-scale eruption occurring every 38 years.

Records show that three volcanic eruptions in the 17th century, including one at Mount Hokkaido-Komagadake in Hokkaido in 1640, spewed out the equivalent of 1 billion cubic meters of ash and lava.

Two similar eruptions occurred in the 18th century, one of which involved Mount Fuji in 1707.

The study showed that relatively large eruptions occurred 124 times.

There were 562 instances of medium-scale eruptions, or one every 3.6 years.

These included the eruption of Mount Unzen-Fugendake in Nagasaki Prefecture in 1991 and the eruption of Mount Usuzan in Hokkaido in 2000.

Of the 1,162 eruptions, the 47 volcanoes consistently monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency represent nearly 90 percent of the activity, or 1,012 of those events.

Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is the most active volcano with 167 recorded eruptions, followed by Mount Asama straddling Nagano and Gunma prefectures, at 124; Mount Sakurajima, at 91; Mount Izu-Oshima in Tokyo, at 77; and Mount Kirishima straddling Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, at 70.

Mount Fuji has erupted 38 times.
By TAIRIKU KUROSAWA/ Senior Staff Writer

 

SOURCE:
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201212030010

World’s rivers running on empty, paper finds

“Four of the world’s great rivers, including the Murray Darling, are all suffering from drastically reduced flows as a direct result of water extraction, according to new ANU research.”

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The multi-author study – led by ANU researchers Professor Quentin Grafton, Dr Jamie Pittock, Professor Tom Kompas and Dr Daniel Connell of the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University – examined the threats from water extractions and climate change on four of the world’s iconic river systems; the US Colorado River, the South African Orange River, the Chinese Yellow River and the Murray.

The researchers found that in all four basins, over a long period of time, outflows have greatly reduced as a direct result of increased water extractions, and that urgent changes in governance of water are needed to ensure the systems remain healthy and viable. “While climate change will aggravate changes in flows in river systems, current high levels of water extractions remain the principal contributor to reduced flows and degradation of these rivers,” said Dr Pittock. “Changes in governance, including sharing the variability between the environment and consumptive users, are urgently required if the health of these rivers is to be maintained,” added Dr Connell.

The researchers said that the key to securing the future of the world’s rivers lies in plans to share water use between users and the environment, and water markets to manage allocations. They added that, although the management of the Murray Darling Basin was favourable when compared to other places in the world, there was much more that could be done to ensure a healthy future for the system. “Many sound frameworks are being established in water management throughout the world, but in many cases their implementation needs to be greatly improved,” said Professor Kompas. “Stronger action is needed to ensure that in dry times, the rivers get a fair share of the available water,” said Dr Pittock. The work was conducted with researchers from the University of Queensland, the University of Canberra and international collaborators from universities in the USA, China, and South Africa.

he paper, “Global insights into water resources, climate change and governance,” is published today in Nature Climate Change.

Journal reference: Nature Climate Change
Provided by Australian National University

SOURCE: PHYS.ORG
http://phys.org/news/2012-11-world-rivers-paper.html

Ancient microbes discovered in bitter-cold Antarctic brine

Where there’s water there’s life – even in brine beneath 60 feet of Antarctic ice, in permanent darkness and subzero temperatures.

November 26, 2012

While Antarctica’s Lake Vida will never be a vacation destination, it is home to some newly discovered hearty microbes. Credit: Desert Research Institute.

While Lake Vida, located in the northernmost of the McMurdo Dry Valleys of East Antarctica, will never be a vacation destination, it is home to some newly discovered hearty microbes. In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nathaniel Ostrom, Michigan State University zoologist, has co-authored “Microbial Life at -13ºC in the Brine of an Ice-Sealed Antarctic Lake.” Ostrom was part of a team that discovered an ancient thriving colony, which is estimated to have been isolated for more than 2,800 years. They live in a brine of more than 20 percent salinity that has high concentrations of ammonia, nitrogen, sulfur and supersaturated nitrous oxide—the highest ever measured in a natural aquatic environment. “It’s an extreme environment – the thickest lake ice on the planet, and the coldest, most stable cryo-environment on Earth,” Ostrom said. “The discovery of this ecosystem gives us insight into other isolated, frozen environments on Earth, but it also gives us a potential model for life on other icy planets that harbor saline deposits and subsurface oceans, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa.”

On the Earth’s surface, water fuels life. Plants use photosynthesis to derive energy. In contrast, at thermal vents at the ocean bottom, out of reach of the sun’s rays, chemical energy released by hydrothermal processes supports life. Life in Lake Vida lacks sunlight and oxygen. Its high concentrations of hydrogen gas, nitrate, nitrite and nitrous oxide likely provide the chemical energy used to support this novel and isolated microbial ecosystem. The high concentrations of hydrogen and nitrous oxide gases are likely derived from chemical reactions with the surrounding iron-rich rocks. Consequently, it is likely that the chemical reactions between the anoxic brine and rock provide a source of energy to fuel microbial metabolism. These processes provide new insights into how life may have developed on Earth and function on other planetary bodies, Ostrom said. The research team comprised scientists from the Desert Research Institute (Reno, Nev.), the University of Illinois-Chicago, NASA, the University of Colorado, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Montana State University, the University of Georgia, the University of Tasmania and Indiana University.

More information: “Microbial life at −13 °C in the brine of an ice-sealed Antarctic lake,” by Alison E. Murray et al. PNAS, 2012.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/11/21/1208607109.abstract

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Provided by Michigan State University

SOURCE: PHYS.ORG
http://phys.org/news/2012-11-hearty-bitter-cold-antarctic-brine.html…./

 

Wheeler’s Weather Cycles by Robert A. Nelson

Wheeler’s studies were based upon many others’, including Alexander Chizhevsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Chizhevsky) whose studies were censored for years by Joseph Stalin.

SOUNDTRACK: Philip Glass – The Light (1987)

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Professor Raymond P. Wheeler (University of Kansas) compiled 20 centuries of historical records, and concluded from his studies that there exists a most important 100-year-cycle of climatic changes that influences human affairs in a profound manner.

The cycle occurs in four distinct phases, which are descriptive of worldwide conditions rather than specific areas. The four phases are disturbed by secondary leads and delays — as much as 10 years — in isolated and widely separated areas.Prof. Wheeler stated:


“The climatic curve is intended to represent — as far as one curve can — the weather trend in the world as a whole at any one time. The curve has no absolute significance. The meaning of the curve at any one time is relative to the pattern of the 100-year old cycle as a whole.”

The 100-year weather cycle and its phases are not of precisely equal duration. The cycle can contract to 70 years or expand to 120. The cycle is divided into a warm and a cold phase, each of which has a wet and dry period. Because people are affected by weather, the cycles of weather produce similar patterns of behavior and events in history during the same phases of the century-long weather cycle. The phases are: (1) Cold-Dry, (2) Warm-Wet, (3) Warm-Dry, and (4) Cold-Wet. We are now in a cold-dry phase, which will prevail until about 2000 A.D.

Lisbon Great Earthquake

Dr. Wheeler extended his research to reveal a continuous, universal cultural pattern of “mechanism” alternating with “humanism” that occurs throughout history synchronously with the 100-year weather cycle. During the warm and humanistic phases of the historical weather cycle, emphasis is placed on holistics: the whole person’s relationship to the world and society, basic laws of nature, modernistic art and architecture, and political “statism” emphasizing nationalism, the welfare of the nation over that of individuals. In the extreme case, dictatorships and other “absolute” forms of tyrannical government emerge, including communism and socialism. Major international wars come to pass during every warm phase of the 100-year weather cycle, when nations are powerful enough to wage such wars. During the emergence of the holistic trend, this statism degenerates into despotism in its many forms. The warm weather effectively decreases human energies and birthrates, and eventually brings about economic depression and social dependence that cannot support a war effort. Aristocratic forms of social organization prevail, rather than democracy. Warm weather produces luxury, small families, “golden ages”, and “classical” literature and art. Business booms at the end of a warm cycle, when temperatures are falling and a cold-wet phase is about to begin. Depression sets in thereafter. Such a scenario was last in effect in 1975.

During the cold and mechanistic phases of the historical weather cycle, human thought and activity is largely directed at “units” rather than whole systems: atoms, cells, numbers, individual responses, classification of data, and complexity of detail. Cold climates make us aggressive and independent, and promote revolution, civil war, and anarchy, which leads eventually and ultimately to popular reforms under democratic societies, large families, simple lifestyles, “romantic” literature and “dark ages”. Over 90% of the rulers and leaders who have been titled “great” and called “good” by historians held their positions during the cold-dry nation-building phases of the 100-year weather cycle. They helped lead their people out of the chaos marked by class riots, assassinations, and sabotage. Dr. Wheeler wrote:

“In short, there has been a pattern on the cold side that has transposed from one cold period to another throughout history, a pattern whose extreme form has been anarchy pure and simple, ranging from wars, intrigue and treachery among the governors and their loyal followers to commercial war, race and religious riots, and armed civil war among the governed. All this is the fanatic aspect of cold times. The “lethargic” aspect has always assumed the form of neglect, debauchery, and extravagance on the part of the rulers and the upper classes, and listlessness, pauperism, begging, itineracy, rapine and vagabondage among the lower classes.

“[The cold-dry phase is characterized by] General individualism, with weak governments, migrations, and other mob actions such as race riots. Class struggles, and civil wars ranging from palace intrigues to revolutions occur during the general anarchy of the Cold-Dry period. People are cosmopolitan and epicurean, borrowing culture and living by the superficial and skeptical philosophies.

“[The cold-dry phase is marked by major geophysical phenomena, including] an increase in the severity of earthquakes and volcanoes… a lowering of continental altitudes, with marine invasions on the upswings and mountain building on the downswings.”

Weather is coldest during the cold-dry phase. Near the end of the cold-dry phase, societies become stabilized by strong leadership, reformed governments, and a revival of nationalism. The wars in this phase are expansionary and imperialistic. The transition from the cold-dry to the following warm-wet period is characterized by a revival of learning, burgeoning genius, industrial revolution, and bountiful crops. Human behavior is improved by the high energy level:

“With increased vigor as a base (whatever the physiological causes may be), optimum conditions for an abundance of available energy for work occur during the period of climatic normality and on the upward crossing, or transition, from cold to warm. This is the “springtime” of the climatic cycle, while the preceding cold period was the “wintertime”. On the upswing, more than in any other place on the cycle, the human race possesses energy, above that necessary for a maintenance of the physiological engine… Here, mental and physical energy are at a maximum: hence the appearance of both good leadership and good followership; economic and political aggressiveness and enthusiasm; ability to exercise more self-control and make better judgments; predominance of constructive measures and the absence of decadent modes of behavior. With all of these are associated a greater incidence of genius, a generally higher birthrate, a more stable behavior, and a higher moral tone of society. Moreover, physical conditions are then the most favorable for economic prosperity and for the growth of stationary societies, dominated by city life, for rainfall is ample and crops are good.

“The Golden Ages of history, the best in human health and leadership, cultural output, the great periods of economic and political growth and expansion, have occurred after a toughening process has been going on that has revitalized the race and the biological level. Moreover, during cold times cultures came in contact with one another during migrations, travel exploration and colonization — all of which extended to some extent into the earlier part of the warm period.

“In the hands of a new generation, a fresh natural spirit wells up, and revolts occur against frustration. Enthusiasm, optimism, and aggressiveness, organized through a social revolution, result in a new state… As democratic government continues, it tends to become bureaucratic — either in the hands of leftovers from the previously dominant aristocracy or in the hands of a new generation of rulers who have come into power through intrigue, wealth or some other form of leverage. A new set of rebellions breaks out following the dry years of the cold side; and during these rebellions, effort is made to overcome the evils of decadence in the democratic pattern, or the tyranny left over from the previous warm times…

“A strong leader comes to the front. A new Golden Age is on, and a new cycle of imperialism begins. The revolutions result at first in the democratic reforms, because they begin on the cold side. Were it to remain cold, these reforms would remain; but as it becomes warmer, the more power the “radical” party assumes.

“After a reign of terror, the new spirit coalesces into a strong, centralized government which, from the standpoint of individual rights, is reactionary.

“During cold times the government usually attempts to control the persecution of racial or other minorities, but during the warm droughts, persecutions almost always have been government-sanctioned or government-promoted events.

“The warm-wet phase sees the climax of organized accomplishments characterized by cooperative, integrated efforts rather than individual achievements. Governments become centralized and inflexible.

“During periods of warm-dry weather, “good” (i.e., democratic) governments decline and decay under bureaucratic tyranny and plutocracy or dictatorial oligarchy. Totalitarian governments reach their climax when temperatures are highest during the warm-dry phase of the 100-year weather cycle. Concerning this, Dr. Wheeler wrote:

“It is only on the upswing and during the early part of the warm period that strong governments manifested “good” qualities such as liberality, constructiveness, benevolence, humanitarianism, foresight and stability.

“As the warm period continues, as imperialism increases, and as the state becomes militarized, the reactionary movement becomes absolutistic and totalitarian, whether under a king, a Duce, a Fuhrer or a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The latter, by the way, is a complete misnomer as far as realities are concerned. There is no such thing as a dictatorship of the proletariat. The only way in which the proletariat has ever “ruled” at any time in history — and the only way in which it can rule — is through truly democratic movements.

(NOTE: I personally disagree of some of the portrayed being tagged as despots)

“Sometimes there is a cold break in a warm period (but not a true cold phase), usually at the peak of the sunspot cycle. Then the general energy level of the populace begins to rise, and civil wars erupt. A reformed government with new leadership then comes to power…

“Thus, when it turns cold, the individual thinks of himself first. A combination of increased energy, hardship, discontent; an over-centralized and tyrannical government; disgust with growing decadence, spurs him to fight for his individual rights. Here comes the realization that society can be improved only through the work and free expression of the capable individual.

“But because the cool break is only an interruption (only one to ten years) of the longer overall warm phase, the democratic reforms implemented then cannot survive. The state subsequently depletes its economy and its people, body and soul, in continual warfare until such capabilities become utterly exhausted by the inevitable subsequent extreme warm temperatures and drought. Dr. Wheeler explained such behavior thus:

“There are, in general, two categories into which forms of insanity fall. While these are not inclusive, they cover the majority of cases. The one category includes depression, lethargy, seclusion, flight from reality, indifference, lack of emotional tone, schizophrenia, inaction. The other includes elation, overactivity, mania, excessive emotionality, belligerence and dangerous forms of paranoia. Mental deterioration or decline, then, expresses itself either way, dividing most individuals into these two psychotic groups. On the other hand, the normal individual will fluctuate, under pressure, from one mood — the depressed and indifferent — to the other — the manic and overactive. In an extreme form, either mood is a sign of weakness.

“Societies revealed many of the same characteristics when they became unstable, or went into decline, on the warm side; for it was here that there broke out fanaticism, cruelty, and intolerance as measured by inquisitions, persecutions, pogroms, massacres, and tortures, all state-promoted. Either indifference of fanaticism in a people, then, is a sign of weakness.

Alessandro Magnasco, Interrogations in Jail

“It turned out that the more democratic countries or states generally declined through indifference, while the totalitarian and more dynamic states declined through fanaticism. The first political “psychosis” was more often Western, and the latter, Eastern; or, the first characterized by older states that had gone through several cycles; the second, the younger states of more recent unification. In any case, the appearance of these traits was certain indication of an imminent collapse into civil war.

“Again, a combination of causes — economic, political, psychological, biological, and climatic — leads to the next phase in the cycle of events. Before political unity has declined, and while fanaticism is still controlling governmental policy, temperatures start dropping, and the national spirit revives and plays into the hands of a decadent and despotic leadership. This imperialism bursts forth once more and international wars break out on the warm side of the downswing.

“We have noted that there is a strong tendency for state-promoted persecutions, pogroms, and massacres to occur during the warm-dry phases of the 100-year cycle. A graphic example is the horrible treatment by the [Nazis] of Jews in World War II.

“All of this results from the fact that, whenever it is warm for an extended period, the individual becomes less important. It is then that he is killed with the least compunction; it is then that the fanatic sacrifice for the state reaches its highest combination of circumstances…

“Wars fought during downswings of the weather cycle have always evidenced more betrayals and sabotage, and less resistance to the invasion, even inviting it at times.

“The transition to the subsequent cold-wet period is marked by decadence, which degenerates further to widespread cruelty, slavery, and slaughter, further to widespread cruelty, slavery, and slaughter, as in WW2. When the average temperature falls and rainfall increases, a general revival commences with good crops and increased activity.

“During the cold-wet phase of the Wheeler Weather Cycle, government and business become decentralized. Individualism revives in a natural, emancipated behavior. Art becomes simpler, education is increasingly “mechanistic”. These trends eventually climax in the anarchy characteristic of the cold-dry phase which follows.

“Absolutist governments will not thrive in a cold phase, when the invigorating or uncomfortable weather brings out increased expression of social discontent.

“The cold-wet phase is characterized by large sunspots appearing temporarily in a shortened sunspot cycle, and displays of the aurora borealis extending to temperate zones, lower temperatures, and increased storminess. The cold phases of the 100-year weather cycle are interrupted by a temperature rise during the sunspot maximum. Society experiences an increased birthrate, improved general health and mental vigor, mass migrations of the populace to rural areas, economic prosperity, international trade, and other forms of intercultural exchange.”

Dr. Wheeler also was able to elucidate the presence of 500-year cycles of climate throughout 2,500 years of history. Alternate 500-year cycles produce a secondary climax of extreme cold and drought coupled with massive migrations and great revolutions of society. The end of each second 500-year cycle also marks the end of a 1,000-year cycle which Dr. Wheeler also detected. The 1,000-year cycle has a very warm period in its center. Alternate 500-year cycles always end during the warm phase in the middle of the 1,000-year cycle.

The 500-year cycle of weather is distinguished by the unusual severity of every fifth cold phase in the 100-year cycle. These have occurred in the 5th century BC, and the 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th centuries A.D. Dr. Wheeler stated:

“The turning points (between old and new civilizations) occur when cold-dry times reach their maximum severity.”

Dr. Wheeler designed a “clock” of the cycles of Cold, Drought, and Civil War, illustrated in Figure 6.3. The 170-year Cycle of Civil War and the 510-year Cycle of Drought intersect at 1999, at which time we can expect another engulfing crisis. (15, 16)

Another 510-year pattern occurs in the rhythm of world dominance, alternating between the East and West. In the 510 years after about 670 BC, when the Greek and Ptolemaic empires declined, Rome entered into its peak of development. After 60 BC, Rome weakened while Asian empires developed. After 450 A.D., the Byzantine and Oriental powers declined, and Charlemagne’s empire grew, as did Britain. The next 510 years were dominated by Eastern power (Genghis and Kublai Khan, etc.). After 1470, Europe unified and extended its imperial dominion over the earth, and the United States came into power.

The next great shift of power is to the East and is exemplified by the ascendancy of China, Japan, and Russia. We are now in the 27th cold-dry phase of the 100-year weather cycle since 540 BC, and the first such since the 1800s. This is also the fifth — and coldest — phase of the 6th 500-year cycle of weather determined by Dr. Wheeler. Also, we are approaching the climax of a 1,000-year weather cycle that will produce record high temperatures during the first half of the 21st century.

Furthermore, according to Dr. Wheeler, there are possible indications that we are in a period of “reversal” of the alternate 1,000-year weather cycle, in which the evolution of humanity will take a leap forward:

“A new and probably different series of species of similar general form will begin soon, and thus the Earth is about to begin a new phase of history.

“Old civilizations collapse and new civilizations are born on the tide of climatic change. The turning points occur when cold-dry times reach their maximum severity.

“The problem is to expand democracy by voluntary means, preserving democratic institutions and laws while the expansion process is being achieved. Now, during the next few decades, this new and powerful class of voters, the laborers, must, in a sense, be absorbed into the middle class and be given middle-class concepts of free enterprise and democracy. While assuming greater responsibility, they must experience success in helping democracy work, or else, when it turns warm again and centralizing trends are under way once more, there will be nothing but stagnation and ruin ahead. If this happens, the next warm period will produce a despotism as catastrophic for modern civilizations of Greece and Rome.

“By the proper emphasis upon education in our schools and by the proper cooperation between capital and management on one hand and labor on the other, such a catastrophe can be prevented. During the next few decades when both the middle class and labor are democratically minded is the time to stabilize our institutions — enriched by the contributions and cooperation of labor — to the end that they will not collapse in the warm periods to come.

“The conflict between labor and management contains no necessary threat to society and will not culminate in socialism or communism. When viewed in the light of historical ecology, it is only the next step and expected in the evolution of true democracy. The net result of the revolution will, in the end, be greater opportunity and freedom for all classes.

“Three main facts pertain to the rise and fall of governments, that, all through the investigation, were so invariable and their relationship to climate so precise as to challenge any attempt at explanation in general terms

“First, there were the occurrences of Golden Ages, the rise of strong governments under superior leaders, the outburst of international wars on climatic upswings from long cold periods into the warm-wet phase of the climatic cycle.

“Second, the decline, onset of decadence, the growing excesses of centralized government, the emergence of dictators, tyranny, fanaticism, communism, and socialism, as the warm epoch continued, and as temperatures and dryness increased.

“Third, the occurrence of civil wars, rebellions, and revolutions, the origin and growth of democratic institutions and individualism, during cold periods… No law of chance can explain the fact that undemocratic trends are invariably associated with the warmer climatic phases, and democratic trends with the colder phases. No law of chance can explain why international wars so consistently predominate on the warm side and civil wars on the cold. Relationship so consistent, universal and precise point directly to a causal factor or set of causal factors.”

Dr. Wheeler also found that a slight average annual temperature change will produce profound changes in human behavior:

“A difference in mean annual temperature of no greater than 1.5 F, when prevailing consistently for no longer than half a decade, is sufficient, anywhere on earth, to start changes in the human behavior pattern in one direction or the other.”

Dr. Ellsworth Huntington determined the optimum temperatures for human performance to be 38 F for mental activity, and 68-70 F for physical action. The best climate for the full range of human life ranges between the mean annual temperatures of 2-47 F At this time the zones with such an optimal temperature range extend from Great Britain across Europe to the Black Sea and the Ural Mountains, across North America between southern Canada and the northeast and northwest USA, and Japan. The area of optimal temperature can be extended to include central China, the northern parts of Africa and South America, southeast Australia, and New Zealand.

The mean global temperature has decreased over 2.7 Fsince 1945. Meanwhile, the Arctic and Antarctic ice covers have increased over 15% since 1966, and glaciers in North America and Europe have begun to advance again, whereas until 1940 they had been retreating. These and many other weather signs indicate that e are now in a Cold-Dry phase of the 100-year weather cycle, and may even be entering into a mini-Ice Age.

Raymond H Wheeler

Most of the material that we have about Wheeler is found in the book Climate: The Key To Understanding Business Cycles by Raymond Wheeler, (Revised & Edited by Michael Zahorchak). This volume summarizes Raymond H. Wheeler’s extensive research with long climatic cycles and their relationship to the business cycle. In the 1930’s Wheeler began a lifetime study that analyzed world climate and cultural activities back to the dawn of recorded civilization.

Wheeler was also the creator of a huge volume known as “The Big Book” which was housed at the Foundation for the Study of Cycles until the late 1990s.

Wheeler corresponded with Dewey, and observed on one occasion that often cycles were found with similar numerical values for their periods even though in different units. This may be seen as equivalent to Dewey’s proportions of 2 and 3 and products of these, because that will link from months to years for example.

SOURCES:
Article: http://etext.ku.edu/view?docId=ksrlead/ksrl.ua.wheelerraymond.xml

Guide to the Raymond H. Wheeler Collection:
http://etext.ku.edu/view?docId=ksrlead/ksrl.ua.wheelerraymond.xml

Goodbye Petrodollar, Hello Agri-Dollar?

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/24/2012 09:50 -0500

When it comes to firmly established, currency-for-commodity, self reinforcing systems in the past century of human history, nothing comes close to the petrodollar: it is safe to say that few things have shaped the face of the modern world and defined the reserve currency as much as the $2.3 trillion/year energy exports denominated exclusively in US dollars (although recent confirmations of previously inconceivable exclusions such as Turkey’s oil-for-gold trade with Iran are increasingly putting the petrodollar status quo under the microscope). But that is the past, and with rapid changes in modern technology and extraction efficiency, leading to such offshoots are renewable and shale, the days of the petrodollar “as defined” may be over. So what new trade regime may be the dominant one for the next several decades? According to some, for now mostly overheard whispering in the hallways, the primary commodity imbalance that will shape the face of global trade in the coming years is not that of energy, but that of food, driven by constantly rising food prices due to a fragmented supply-side unable to catch up with increasing demand, one in which China will play a dominant role but not due to its commodity extraction and/or processing supremacy, but the contrary: due to its soaring deficit for agricultural products, and in which such legacy trade deficit culprits as the US will suddenly enjoy a huge advantage in both trade and geopolitical terms. Coming soon: the agri-dollar.

But first, some perspectives from Karim Bitar on CEO of Genus, on what is sure to be the biggest marginal player of the agri-dollar revolution, China, whose attempt to redefine itself as a consumption-driven superpower will fail epically and very violently, unless it is able to find a way to feed its massive, rising middle class in a cheap and efficient manner. But before that even, take note of the following chart which takes all you know about global trade surplus and deficit when narrowed down to what may soon be that all important agricultural (hence food) category, and flips it around on its head.

Karim Bitar on China:

Structurally, China is at a huge disadvantage as it accounts for 20% of the world’s population, but only 7% of arable land. Compare that with Brazil which has the reverse of those ratios. What that does for a country like China is to incentivise the adoption of technification. Let’s look at their porcine market, which represents 50% of global production and consumption. In China, to slaughter roughly 600 mn pigs per year, which is about six times the demand in the US, they have a breeding herd of about 50 mn animals. In the US, the comparable number is only about 6 mn so there is a huge productivity lag.

Owing to its structural disadvantages, China is much more focused on increasing efficiency. For that, it needs to accelerate technification. So, we’re seeing a whole series of government incentives at a national level, a provincial level and a local level, focusing on the need to move toward integrated pork production because that’s a key way to optimise total economics, both in terms of pig production, slaughtering, processing and also actually taking the pork out into the marketplace.

The Chinese government is important as a customer to us because of its clarity of vision on food security. It has seen the Arab Spring, and it is cognisant of the strong socio-political implications of higher food prices. Pork prices could account for about 25% of the CPI, so it knows it can be a major issue. It’s because of all these pressures, that China is more focused on responding to the food challenge. It’s a sort of a burning platform there.

…Take milk production in China and India. China is basically trying to leapfrog and avoid small-scale farming by adopting a US model. In the US, you tend to have very large herds. Today about 30% of US milk production is from herds of 2,000 plus, and we expect that to reach 60% within the next five years. Today in China, there are already several hundred dairy herds of over 1,000. However in India, there’ll be less than 50. The average dairy herd size is closer to five, so it’s very fragmented. So the reality is that a place like China, because of government policies, subsidies and a much more demanding focused approach to becoming self-sufficient, has a much greater ability to respond to a supply challenge rapidly.

The problem for China, and to a lesser extent India, however one defines it, is that it will need increasingly more food, processed with ever greater efficiency for the current conservative regime to be able to preserve the status quo, all else equal. And for a suddenly very food trade deficit-vulnerable China, it means that the biggest winners may be Brazil, the US and Canada. Oh and Africa. The only question is how China will adapt in a new world in which it finds itself in an odd position: a competitive trade disadvantage, especially its primary nemesis: the USA.

So for those curious how a world may look like under the Agri-dollar, read on for some timely views from GS’ Hugo Scott-Gall.

Meaty problems, simmering solutions

What potential impacts could a further re-pricing of food have on the world? Why might food re-price? Because demand is set to rise faster than supply can respond. The forces pushing demand higher are well known, population growth, urbanisation and changing middle class size and tastes. In terms of economic evolution, the food price surge comes after the energy price surge, as industrialisation segues into consumption growth (high-income countries consume about 30% more calories than low income nations, but the difference in value is about eight times). Here, we are keenly interested in how the supply side can respond, both in terms of where and how solutions are found, and who is supplying them. We are drawn towards an analogy with the energy industry here: the energy industry has invested heavily in efficiency, and through innovation, clusters of excellence, and access to capital has created solutions, the most obvious of which are renewable energy and shale. The key question for us is, can and will something similar happen in food?

It’s hard to argue that the ingredients that sparked energy’s supply-side response are all present in the food supply chain. In food, there’s huge fragmentation, a lack of coordination, shortages of capital in support industries (infrastructure) and only pockets of isolated innovation. We suspect that the supply-side response may well remain uncoordinated and slower than in other industries. But things are changing. Those who disagree with Thomas Malthus will always back human ingenuity. As well as looking at where the innovators in the supply chain are (from page 10), and where there are sustainably high returns through IP (e.g., seeds, enzymes etc.), we need to think about the macro and micro economic impacts of higher food prices, and soberingly, the geo-political ones.

Slimming down

Could the demand destruction that higher energy prices have precipitated occur in food? There are some important differences between the two that make resolving food imbalances tougher. Food consumption is very fragmented and there is less scope for substitution.

Changing eating habits is much harder than changing the fuel burnt for power. And, ultimately, food spend is less discretionary that energy, i.e., the scope for efficient consumption is more limited and consumers will not (and cannot) voluntarily delay consumption, let alone structurally reduce it. This means that higher food prices, especially in economies where food is a greater portion of household spending, will lead to either lower consumption of discretionary items or a reduced ability to service debt (with consequent effects on asset prices). When oil prices spiked in the late 1970s, US consumers spent c.9% of their income on energy vs. an average of 7% over the previous decade. And yet, the total savings rate rose by c.2% as they overcompensated on spending cuts on other items. 2007-09 saw a similar phenomenon too. Even the most cursory browse through history shows that high food costs can act as a political tinderbox (so too high youth unemployment), and we believe there is a degree of overconfidence with regard to the economic impact of food prices in the West: food costs relative to incomes may look manageable, but when there is no buffer (i.e., a minimal savings rate) then there are problems. Food spend as a percentage of total household consumption expenditure is a relatively benign 14% in the US, versus c.20% for most major European nations and Japan. This rises to c.40% for China and 45% for India. Of course, as wages rise, the proportion of food within total consumption expenditure falls, but that is only after consumption hits a ceiling. Currently, India and China consume about 2,300 and 2,900 calories per capita per day, compared to a DM average of about 3,400. If the two countries eat like the West, then food production must rise by 12%. And if the rest of the world catches up to these levels then that number is north of 50%.

The scramble for Africa’s eggs

In terms of ownership of resources, food, like energy, can be broken into haves and have-nots. While there are countries that have been successful without resources, it is quite clear that inheriting advantages (in this case good soil, climate and water) makes life easier. But that, of course, is only half the battle; what is also required is organisation, capital, education and collaboration to make it happen. Take Africa. It has 60% of the world’s uncultivated land, enviable demographics and lots of water (though not evenly distributed). Basic infrastructure, consolidation of agricultural land and minimal use of fertilisers and crop protection could do wonders for agricultural output in the region. But that’s easier said than done. Several African economies also need better access to information, education, property rights and access to markets and capital. Put another way, it needs better institutions. If Africa does deliver over the coming decades, rising food prices will alter the economics of investing in the region. The next scramble for Africa should be about food (while it is about hard commodities now and in the late 19th century it was about empire size). Fertiliser consumption has a diminishing incremental impact on yields, but Africa (along with several developing economies elsewhere) is far from touching that ceiling. Currently, Africa accounts for just 3% of global agricultural trade, with South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire together accounting for a third of the entire continent’s exports. But if the world wants to feed itself then it needs Africa to emerge as an agricultural powerhouse.

Higher up the production curve is China, which has been industrialising its agriculture as it seeks to move towards self sufficiency. Power consumed by agricultural machinery has almost doubled over the last decade, while the number of tractors per household has tripled, driving per hectare output up by an average of more than 20% over the same period.

Even so, in just the last 10 years China has gone from surplus to deficit in several meat, vegetable and cereal categories. So a lot more needs to be done, and a shortage of water could also prove to be an impediment, especially in some of its remote areas.

The power of the pampas

With significant surpluses in soybeans, maize, meat and oilseeds, Brazil and Argentina have led the Latin American continent in terms of food trade. Current surpluses are 6x and 3x 2000 levels, versus only a 30% increase in the previous decade, and are rising. A key impediment to boosting exports is infrastructure. Food has to travel a long way just to reach the port, and then further still to reach other markets. Forty days is possibly acceptable for iron ore to reach China on a ship from Brazil, but that would prevent several perishable food items from being exported. And hence, solution providers in terms of durability, packaging, refrigeration and processing will be in demand. Also, while you could attribute a lot of the agricultural success of LatAm economies to good conditions, they have also benefitted from the adoption of agricultural innovation. For instance, more than a third of crops planted in the region are as seeds that are genetically modified, versus more than 45% in the US and about 12% in Asia. Genetically modified crops are not new. They provide solutions to some of the most frequent constraints on agricultural yields (resistance to environmental challenges including drought and more efficient absorption of soil nutrients, fertilisers and water) or add value by enhancing nutrient composition or the shelf life of the crop. And while the adoption of GM crops and seeds is far from wholehearted, particularly in Europe, it’s most certainly a key part of the solution in economies that are set to face a more severe food shortage.

The last mango in Paris?

Europe’s deficit/surplus makes for interesting reading. Seventeen of the 27 EU countries face a food trade deficit, and yet, the EU overall recorded a surplus (barely) in 2010 for only the second time in the last 50 years (see chart). Broken down further, the UK is the largest food importer, followed by Germany and Italy, while the Netherlands and France lead exports thanks to their very large processing industries. If Europe’s future is one of relative economic decline, then reduced purchasing power when bidding for scarce food resources is an unappetising prospect. Therefore, it needs all
the innovative solutions it can muster, or import substitution will have to increase. It’s important to note that being in overall surplus or deficit can mask variety at the category level, i.e., Europe is a net importer of beef, fruit & vegetables, and corn, while its exports are helped by alcohol and wine specifically. Japan, in particular, is very challenged. It is the only country in the preceding table to show a deficit in every single food category.

We conclude our trip around the world in North America. Large-scale production, access to markets, a home to innovation
and favourable regulation has meant that the US (and Canada) continues to dominate some of the key agricultural resources such as soybeans, corn, fodder, wheat and oilseeds. Put this self sufficiency together with the medium-term potential for energy self sufficiency and relatively good demographics (better than China), and a rosier prognosis for the US, versus the rest of the Western world and parts of Asia, begins to fall into place.

Agri-dollars on the rise

Before we conclude, we need to devote a few lines to the geo-political and macro economic consequences of higher food prices. It’s likely that countries will act increasingly strategically to secure food supply, and that protections (e.g., high export tariffs) may well rise. It is also likely that there are special bi-lateral deals to access stable and secure food supply.

This could obviously damage the integrity of the WTO-sponsored system. Another consequence might be the emergence of agri-dollars, in the same way that petro-dollars emerged in the 1970s. This may seem far fetched (the value of the world’s energy exports is US$2.3 tn compared to US$1.08 tn for agriculture) but it’s important to think through the consequences. The big exporters, especially those with the scope to grow their output, may well have sustainable surpluses that can be reinvested into their economies (or extracted by a narrow part of society). Similarly, the consequence of being a net importer will be an effective tax on consumption: disposable income in the US would jump if oil was US$25/bbl.

As we have said, we would expect the big gainers of a meaningful rise in food prices in real terms to be Brazil, the US and Canada, while Japan, South Korea and the UK would face challenges. The top chart is important: look how China’s surplus has turned to deficit. What will happen if the Chinese middle class swells as it is expected to? And that’s the rub; what we have been used to in terms of food’s importance is set to change. How food moves around the world is likely to change, and the flow of currency around the world will also likely be impacted.

 

SOURCE:
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-11-24/goodbye-petrodollar-hello-agri-dollar

Photos that make us remember how animals & humans are alike

20 Nov 2012 – By Igor Leal Figueiredo

Photographer Tim Flach has been photographing animals for 7 years. His objective was to show how animals can demonstrate gestures and emotions that we usually attribute to humans only .

The book can be found in Amazon’s (I’d recommend some webfishing though. Check SOURCE for more pictures)

SOURCE:
http://ambientalistasemrede.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/fotografia-relembrando-como-somos-parecidos-com-os-animais/#

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Fotografia relembrando como somos parecidos com os animais
20 de novembro de 2012 · by Igor Leal Figueiredo · in Biologia, Fotografia. ·

O fotógrafo Tim Flach passou 7 anos fotografando animais com o objetivo de mostrar como eles podem demonstrar posturas e emoções que costumamos associar somente com humanos, na série entitulada More than Humans. Esse trabalho incrível virou um livro que está a venda na Amazon.

FONTE:
http://ambientalistasemrede.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/fotografia-relembrando-como-somos-parecidos-com-os-animais/#