Patterns and ripples.
It’s not just the climate change that is unsustainable!
Early in yesterday’s post I wrote:
My post last Monday, The lure of patterns, appears to have resonated far and wide. In the sense of many echoes reinforcing the perilous nature of our present times and the desperately uncertain decades ahead. Tomorrow I shall be writing specifically about those echoes.
Today 15% of Americans live in poverty. Below is a county map showing the previous year’s poverty rate and we see once again the South has high concentrations.
People are living on the edge. People living in liquid asset poverty is a whopping 43.9%. This means 132.1 million people lack the savings to cover basic expenses for three months if they lose their job, have a medical emergency or some other sort of crisis. The below map** breaks down that percentage state by state. Pretty much half the country is living on the edge, paycheck to paycheck.
** I’ve not included that map but it may be seen here. However, I did want to republish the closing map.
Finally, the next map shows how income inequality has grown in United States over time. The gini index is a measure of income inequality, the higher then index gets, the worse income inequality is. If there is ever a map which shows the the destruction of the U.S. middle class, it is this one.
[N.B. The following map is an automated GIF so just left-click on it to see the sequence. That sequence is essentially a coloured graphical image of each year, from 1977 through to 2012. Don't struggle with it. All you have to note are the changing colours. More colours towards the green end of the spectrum indicate a worsening gini index, i.e. a worsening measure of income inequality. ]
America is clearly in dire straights and the above maps it all out. Why then has this government, this Congress not put wages and jobs as jobs #1 is a good question. Why America hasn’t outright revolted, demanding this government do so is a better one.
He lives in Machynlleth, Wales, writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and is the author of a number of books, including Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000) and Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice (2008). He is the founder of The Land is Ours, a peaceful campaign for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the United Kingdom.
On his own website, he offers us this:
Here are some of the things I love: my family and friends, salt marshes, arguments, chalk streams, Russian literature, kayaking among dolphins, diversity of all kinds, rockpools, heritage apples, woods, fishing, swimming in the sea, gazpacho, ponds and ditches, growing vegetables, insects, pruning, forgotten corners, fossils, goldfinches, etymology, Bill Hicks, ruins, Shakespeare, landscape history, palaeoecology, Gavin and Stacey and Father Ted.
Here are some of the things I try to fight: undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, environmental destruction, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless, undisclosed interests, complacency.
Here is what I fear: other people’s cowardice.
There was a recent essay concerning the UK’s energy strategy posted by George Monbiot published in the Guardian on the 22nd October. It is also on his website.
The essay opens, thus [my emphasis]:
The government is betting the farm on a nuclear technology that might soon look as hip as the traction engine.
Seven years ago, I collected all the available cost estimates for nuclear power. The US Nuclear Energy Institute suggested a penny a kilowatt hour. The Royal Academy of Engineering confidently predicted 2.3p. The British government announced that in 2020 the price would be between 3 and 4p. The New Economics Foundation guessed that it could be anywhere between 3.4 and 8.3p. 8.3 pence was so far beyond what anyone else forecast that I treated it as scarcely credible. It falls a penny short of the price now agreed by the British government.
Mr. Monbiot’s essay concludes:
An estimate endorsed by the chief scientific adviser at the government’s energy department suggests that, if integral fast reactors were deployed, the UK’s stockpile of nuclear waste could be used to generate enough low-carbon energy to meet all UK demand for 500 years. These reactors would keep recycling the waste until hardly any remained: solving three huge problems – energy supply, nuclear waste and climate change – at once. Thorium reactors use an element that’s already extracted in large quantities as an unwanted by-product of other mining industries. They recycle their own waste, leaving almost nothing behind.
To build a plant at Hinkley Point which will still require uranium mining and still produce nuclear waste in 2063 is to commit to 20th-Century technologies through most of the 21st. In 2011 GE Hitachi offered to build a fast reactor to start generating electricity from waste plutonium and (unlike the Hinkley developers) to carry the cost if the project failed. I phoned the government on Monday morning to ask what happened to this proposal. I’m still waiting for an answer.
That global race the prime minister keeps talking about? He plainly intends to lose.
NB. I edited out the links to a comprehensive set of references to make the essay easier to read off the screen. But all the facts reported by Mr. Monbiot may be seen here.
Just two more or less random pieces of writing that have graced my ‘in-box’. Nothing scientific about my selection; just the sense that they are representative of the reams and reams of articles, essays and reports coming in on an almost daily basis from right across the world showing an ever-increasing credibility gap between the peoples of many nations and those who purport to serve those peoples in their respective Governments.
Frankly, I can’t even imagine how or when we will ‘transition’ out of this present period. But one thing I am sure about. This schism between us, the people, and those who govern us is unsustainable!
Fascinating times! (I think!)
Need to go and hug a dog!