Home » Posts tagged 'CHARLES PIERSON'

Tag Archives: CHARLES PIERSON

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Post Archives by Category

Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?

Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?

Photo Source Phil Roeder | CC BY 2.0

The growing season used to be too short to grow corn in Alberta. That’s no longer true, according to a front page story in the November 26 Wall Street Journal: “Warming Climate Pushes Corn North.”  Thanks to climate change, a warming planet means longer growing seasons, making it practical for Canadian farmers to raise corn.  In the little town of La Crete, Alberta (“roughly as far north as Juneau, Alaska”) temperatures “are 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer on average annually than in 1950…and the growing season is nearly two weeks longer.”

The Journal continues:

Canada’s corn acreage has climbed 20% over the past decade, while soybean acreage has roughly doubled… Before 2013, provinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta grew no significant amounts of soybeans….  Now soybeans cover 425,000 acres in those provinces.

*    *     *

“Today, the U.S. corn belt is in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana,” Cargill CEO David MacLennan said in a 2016 interview. “In 50 years, it may be in Hudson Bay, Canada.”

As for regions where corn has traditionally been grown, they’re seeing bigger harvests.  “Warming has helped increase U.S. corn harvests, delivering more than one-quarter of the yield growth across Corn Belt states since 1981….”

All this is great news, right? Yet there is a down side.  To its credit, the Journal admits that bigger harvests may be harder to sustain as temperatures increase further, and climate shifts already are working against yields in some corn-producing regions….  Overall, climate change-driven heat, droughts and soil erosion will likely diminish U.S. agricultural production, according to the latest installment of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, issued Friday [Nov. 23]” (my italics).

At Jake Vermeer’s farm southeast of Edmonton, Alberta, the growing season is now 17 days longer.  However, warmer temperatures also bring “unusually long dry spells and harsher storms” which make farming “more uncertain.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?

Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?

Older Americans are going bankrupt in record numbers. Under a front page headline, “Bankruptcy Booms among Older Americans as Safety Net Frays,” the August 6 New York Timesrelates how the rate at which Americans 65 and older file for personal bankruptcy has tripled since 1991. This data comes from a new study by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, “Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society.”  

Without a Net

The headline of the Web version of the story (“Too Little Too Late”: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans”) drops the reference to the social safety net.  And, in fact, the US safety net hasn’t frayed—it’s been hacked to pieces, coolly and maliciously.  The Consumer Bankruptcy Project study found that as the conservative ethos of “responsibility” has gained ground over the past three decades, financial risk has shifted from government and employers to individuals.  “Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy” exaggerates only slightly when it calls bankruptcy the little that is left of the social safety net.

The shift of financial risk onto the individual is no accident.  Government policies deliberately favor the rich over the poor and middle class.  These policies are primarily the work of the Republican Party, acting on behalf of the richest 1% of Americans, but the Democratic Party, which has also latched onto the neoliberal agenda, is also to the blame.

Yet the Times nowhere mentions Republicans or Democrats.  Or “capitalism” or “neoliberalism.”  As we will see, the factors the Times blames for the gray bankruptcy crisis are real, but they don’t get at the heart of the problem:  capitalism.  It’s as though someone tried to explain the American Civil War without mentioning slavery, or tried to answer the question “Why are people poor?” by responding “Because they have no money.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Day the US Became an Empire

The Day the US Became an Empire

For half a century, the United Kingdom celebrated May 24, the birthday of the late Queen Victoria, as “Empire Day.”  The US ought to have its own Empire Day and it should be on June 15.  It was on June 15, 1898 that the US became an empire.  On that day, the US House of Representatives voted 209 to 91 to annex Hawaii.  (The US Senate followed on July 6, voting 42 to 21 in favor of annexation.)

One could argue that the US has always been an empire.  Thomas Jefferson called the US an empire, but an “empire of liberty” dedicated to spreading freedom around the globe.  Tell that to the Native Americans killed and dispossessed by White Settlers.  Tell that to the Mexicans.  The US seized a third of their country through war. Still, it wasn’t until 1898 that the US acquired its first overseas colony.

Hawaii had been an independent nation.  In 1887, American planters in the islands had forced a change to the Hawaiian constitution which largely disenfranchised ethnic Hawaiians to the benefit of wealthy Whites.  By 1893, with US support, American and European businessmen on the islands had staged a coup d’êtat, overthrowing the monarchy,[1] and establishing a Republic of Hawai’i; from there, they maneuvered for Hawaii’s annexation in 1898.  That same year, Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam would be gathered into the fledgling American Empire, fruits of the US victory in the Spanish-American War.

Why Imperialism?

During the 1896 presidential campaign, Republican William McKinley, who went on to win in November, was asked how the US could avoid a replay of the catastrophic 1893 depression.[2]  McKinley answered that “We want a foreign market for our surplus products.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style

Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style

Photo by Gwydion M. Williams | CC BY 2.0

“U.S. Chases a Saudi Deal” ran the front page headline in the February 21 Wall Street Journal.  The story continued:

The Trump administration is pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s refusal to accept the most stringent restrictions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, U.S. officials say.

The Saudis have rejected restrictions on “enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel”: steps in building nuclear bombs.  Robert Gleason, author of The Nuclear Terrorist (2014), stresses the ease with which “a nuclear power reactor can become a nuclear bomb-fuel factory.”

Why would the Trump Administration do something so risky?  (I didn’t realize at first how funny that sentence is.)

Back to the WSJ:  “Administration officials consider [the nuclear reactor sale] too important to pass up, especially when the U.S. nuclear industry is on the decline.”  And there you have it.  Profits today, Armageddon tomorrow.  The “U.S. nuclear industry is on the decline.”  Instead of celebrating that fact, and going full speed ahead with development of renewable energy sources, the Trump Administration is dead set on keeping the nuclear industry alive, even if it has to administer a few thousand volts to the corpse.  It’s the same with the dying coal industry.  Lenin boasted that “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”  Lenin would be overjoyed to learn that we in the capitalist world are perfectly capable of hanging ourselves without outside help.

The February 21 Wall Street Journal notes Congress’ growing uneasy over the potential sale, and adds:  “The impending debate has confronted the administration with a dilemma: If it lowers standards in the hope of securing the Saudi deal it will spur criticism about its commitment to fighting proliferation.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase @ FriesenPress