Sunday, November 27, 2016

The methane monster has dragon's breath

Spring!
Here's some sobering research on the topic of climate change.

Start with this Guardian article from Dec. 12, 2016 about spike in atmospheric methane and how it's so diffuse it is hard to track.

The scientists speculate that agriculture may be the main source of the additional methane that has been recorded. However, they cannot be sure of all the sources, owing to a lack of monitoring. ... For instance, the melting of the Arctic tundra releases methane as the vegetation underneath is gradually and sometimes suddenly exposed. This has been regarded by scientists as a potential “tipping point” whereby warming of the Arctic leads to greater releases of methane, therefore greater warming, in a runaway and uncontrollable cycle.
Blog post from Robert Scribbler (pseudonym),dated March 9, 2015. IMHO this is a calm overview of the issue and new research. The AIRS/AQUA satellite sensor images of the Arctic methane "overburden" are show stoppers. The methane is escaping quickly from the shallow Siberian sea.

This blog post from Jason Box, dated July 27, 2014. His "dragon's breath" charts show that the instruments agree with the satellite measurements of significant methane release.

There's also this 2013 video from Yale Climate Connections, about 6 minutes long.

This 2010 webpage from the National Science Foundation about methane escaping from the Siberian continental shelf shows this is a long term concern.

This Department of Energy summary confirms some of my worst fears...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Brexit and the Great Unwinding

The Guardian recently had an article which sought to explain "Why untangling UK industry from Europe may be 'impossible'".

 The article illustrates how cars "built in the UK" actually use materials and components sourced from all over Europe. Assembled in the UK might be a better description of how cars are built using supply chains that stretch across Europe.

The argument put forward by advocates of a hard Brexit, where Britain leaves the EU with a minimal or no trade deal, is that its trade deficit lends it some leverage in negotiations: if cars made by BMW or Volkswagen become too expensive, British customers could simply switch to Nissan or Toyota instead. 
The problem is that German car manufacturers no longer build all their cars in Germany, and even if they do, they do not necessarily build them with fully “German” parts. |Link|
This reminded me of an older article about the dangers of deep interconnections of the globalized economy, this 2012 economic evaluation looked at how the deep cross-connections make the entire system more vulnerable to shocks... especially unexpected and largely irrational shocks like the Brexit vote. Hooligan
Here is an excerpt.
This study considers the relationship between a global systemic banking, monetary and solvency crisis and its implications for the real-time flow of goods and services in the globalised economy. 
It outlines how contagion in the financial system could set off semi-autonomous contagion in supply-chains globally, even where buyers and sellers are linked by solvency, sound money and bank intermediation. 
The cross-contagion between the financial system and trade/production networks is mutually reinforcing
It is argued that in order to understand systemic risk in the globalised economy, account must be taken of how growing complexity (interconnectedness, interdependence and the speed of processes), the de-localisation of production and concentration within key pillars of the globalised economy have magnified global vulnerability and opened up the possibility of a rapid and large-scale collapse. 
‘Collapse’ in this sense means the irreversible loss of socio-economic complexity which fundamentally transforms the nature of the economy. These crucial issues have not been recognised by policy-makers nor are they reflected in economic thinking or modelling. 
As the globalised economy has become more complex and ever faster ... the ability of the real economy to pick up and globally transmit supply-chain failure, and then contagion, has become greater and potentially more devastating in its impacts. 
In a more complex and interdependent economy, fewer failures are required to transmit cascading failure through socio-economic systems. In addition, we have normalised massive increases in the complex conditionality that underpins modern societies and our welfare. Thus we have problems seeing, never mind planning for such eventualities, while the risk of them occurring has increased significantly. |Link: Trade Off: Financial system supply-chain cross contagion – a study in global systemic collapse, Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (emphasis added)|
We shall see whether Brexit merely ends up being a negotiating strategy allowing the UK to win more concessions from the EU or whether Brexit leads to an unwinding of British society resulting in a massive loss of industry and wealth.