De-Politicizing Climate Activism

Or how Greta Thunberg can create more converts.

“Nature is not a temple. It is a workshop, and a human being is the worker in it.”                               _                                                                                                         Ivan Turgenev

Item 1: The outbreak of coronavirus that threatens to create a global pandemic and the tragic sudden death of basketball star Kobe Bryant both remind us that the unexpected can happen quickly and that we humans live in an environment that can at times be ruthlessly hostile.

Nature, fate, providence, or whatever one chooses to call it, works in inscrutable ways. The virus will spread and endanger millions, if humans do not stop it. It has no will or conscience and would inexorably destroy those who are dearest to us, in a matter of days. And, before downing Bryant’s helicopter and killing him, his young daughter and seven others, fate or gravity did not pause for a millisecond to ponder the sadness that it would inflict on hundreds of millions all over the world through such a senseless death.

Modern society is generally free of deadly viruses and helicopters are generally safe to fly. But it took centuries of human progress to get there in both instances. And it will take more human progress and ingenuity to seal the cracks in our vigilance that allowed the coronavirus to emerge and spread, and the helicopter to crash .

Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 2.29.15 PM
CDC photo by Dr. Fred Murphy.

Item 2: Last week in Davos, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin volunteered that climate activist Greta Thunberg ought to get an economics degree before preaching her message to grown-up policy makers. That is more confidence in university economics departments than most of Miss Thunberg’s critics would be willing to concede. It is true that Miss Thunberg’s message is incomplete, but that is not for lack of economic pedigree. The building blocks that are glaringly missing from her campaign are 1) a better understanding of Turgenev’s aphorism on nature and man, and 2) a trip or two to China, India or other fast developing countries.

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Talking About Cities, with Aaron Renn

“You go to some of these places [Midwestern cities], the question they ask when they meet you is ‘where did you go to high school’?… The fact that where you went to high school is a social marker places you in a community. You go to Washington DC and nobody cares where you went to high school… In New York, they ask ‘where are you from?’ because it is assumed that you are not from here. Some of these places in the Midwest… need more outsiders to come in because outsiders are the natural constituency of the new.” _____Aaron Renn

AaronRennAaron Renn, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, speaks to Sami J. Karam about US cities. What makes the large coastal cities so successful? What are the prospects for mid-sized and smaller cities in the Rust Belt? What is the current state of play for mass transit? What role does immigration play in the development of cities?

Among the cities discussed, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Francisco, Charlotte, Minneapolis-St Paul, Nashville, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Madison, Iowa City, Rochester (MN), Singapore, Paris.

Topics include:

  • 0:00 Introduction of Aaron Renn
  • 1:15 What makes the large coastal cities so successful at creating wealth?
  • 8:30 Can a large city become dominant in a new sector? (e.g., New York in tech)
  • 13:00 How would you categorize non-coastal cities in terms of their prospects?
  • 16:30 Why some cities are struggling while others are restructuring successfully
  • 20:55 Will some smaller cities turn into ghost towns within twenty years?
  • 26:35 What is going on with Detroit’s recovery?
  • 30:40 The role of new immigrants in the development of a city
  • 36:50 Immigration policy in Canada and Australia compared to the US and UK
  • 43:50 What is the future for mass transit?
  • 48:00 The lack of city to city benchmarking in infrastructure costing and execution
  • 53:40 Is there anything going on in high-speed rail, other than in California?
  • 59:40 The decline of trust in institutions and the problem of cronyism.

TO HEAR THE PODCAST, CLICK HERE OR ON THE TIMELINE BELOW:

New York, Two States of Mind

Is New York City helping or holding back Upstate New York?

Towards the end of times, when all of mankind congregates in a final purgatory to draw the main lessons of this grand adventure called Life, there will be special attention paid to the centuries’ long efforts at harmonizing individual happiness with the needs of the collective. There will be seminars on leadership and war. There will be a thick chapter on the blessings and dangers of science. There will be a long section, co-written by poets and undertakers, on the success of freedom and the failure of tyranny. There will be wonder and consternation about religion and the nature of the universe. And there will be, inevitably, extensive reporting on economic ideology.

Here, a slim primer on laissez-faire will easily outshine ponderous encyclopedic tomes on communism, socialism and other failed -isms. Capitalism, the word and the theory, will be presented as a zealous and perhaps unnecessary attempt at creating a code for laissez-faire, something that occurs naturally. Cronyism will be understood as the corruption and distortion of laissez-faire and the phrase crony capitalism will be dismissed as an oxymoron and an unwarranted amalgamation. Read more

Russia’s Population is Growing For The First Time Since The Early 1990’s

MARK ADOMANIS writes at FORBES:

I’ve written numerous times before about the sharp improvement in Russia‘s demographic indicators through the first half of 2012 and the fact that the country was likely to experience natural population growth. However I had to use hedges like “the population is likely to grow,” “if trends hold,” “unless there’s a sudden downturn in births,” and “the data seem to indicate,” This was partially because I generally like to be cautious and measured in my analysis but also because while it was possible to argue that Russia’s population would start to grow at some point in 2012, in reality it was still shrinking (albeit shrinking at a greatly reduced pace). READ MORE.

CBS: State Senator Proposes Dissolving City Of Detroit

From CBS DETROIT:

LANSING (CBS Detroit) – It would no doubt be controversial, but the idea of dissolving the fiscally struggling city of Detroit and absorbing it into Wayne County is being tossed around in Lansing.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports some state Republicans are talking about giving the city the option to vote itself into bankruptcy. And mid-Michigan Senator Rick Jones said all options should be considered — including dissolving the city. READ MORE.

Ukraine Population Grows for First Time in 19 Years

The population of Ukraine peaked in 1993 at 52.2 million.  It now stands at 45.6 million.

From INTERFAX-UKRAINE:

Ukraine’s current population was 45,559,235 people as of October 1, 2012, while the permanent population was 45,378,880 people, which was 177 people more than on September 1, 2012, the State Statistics Service has said in a statement posted on its official Web site.

Thus, an increase in Ukraine’s population was reported for the first time in 19 years. Since 1993, reaching the highest mark in history of 52.2 million people (current population) and 51.7 million people (permanent population), it shrank every month.

At the same time, the country still recorded a negative natural increase – the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by 4,060 in September 2012. However, the migration growth of 4,237 people exceeded the natural increase for the first time. This was favored by the ongoing decline in the natural population decrease, and the traditional September surge in immigration growth, which is linked to the beginning of the academic year in Ukraine’s higher educational institutions. READ MORE.

Belarus Population Declined by 6% in Two Decades 1989-2009

Emigration and aging of the population are main causes.

From BELARUS DIGEST:

Official population censuses in Belarus conducted in 1989, 1999 and 2009 reveal a number of interesting trends.

They show that the population declines, the proportion of those who identifies themselves as Belarusians increases and the role of Belarusian language weakens. The period of Lukashenka rule coincided with the sharpest decline of population since the collapse of the USSR.  READ MORE.

Bulgaria: Population Decline Continues

Bulgaria’s population has been in decline since 1988.  The country faces a demographic challenge resulting from a high rate of emigration towards other EU countries and from the aging of its remaining population.

From QUEST (BULGARIA):

The population of Bulgaria has been in decline since 1988 and has continued up  to the present day. The most recent census conducted in 2011 revealed that the  population of Bulgaria stood at 7.4 million people showing the lowest figures  since the 1988 peak when the country was home to 8.98 million. Women in Bulgaria  outnumber the men by 2.6%.

It is said that a staggering third of Bulgaria’s inhabitants live in the cities  of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna which are the largest cities in the country.

There is much concern regarding the population of Bulgaria due to its rapid  rate of decrease and reports state that over half a million people left Bulgaria  over the last 10 years and over 1.5 million since 1988.This number is gathering  pace at an alarming rate.

In addition to the dwindling numbers there is an added problem which Bulgaria  is faced with, and that is it’s ageing residents, many located within the  countries 5302 villages. More and more villages are being left uninhabited as  the older generation pass away.

Read more: http://www.questbg.com/news-a-events/mish-mash/2084-the-population-of-bulgaria.html#ixzz28ofrPrGp