How did we get record-breaking November warmth in the middle of a strong La Ni±a that would normally cool global temperatures (as it did in the fall of 1998, see lower right figure, blue line)? Is the answer the Arctic sea ice death spiral 2010? And is the loss of Arctic sea ice also responsible for the frigid European temperatures?
Andrew Exum’s observations from a trip to Afghanistan are interesting, but this paragraph contains about 90 percent of what I think you need to know:
We have two “Achilles heels” in the current strategy: Afghan governance and insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan. What these two weaknesses have in common is their combined effect on the ability of insurgent ranks, which have been decimated this year, to regenerate either through sanctuaries (to include external support) or by exploiting grievances caused by bad governance. I’m going to be honest and say that I do not see a coherent or otherwise effective strategy for dealing with the sanctuaries in Pakistan. I do not see it anywhere in the U.S. government or within NATO, whose writ only extends to the borders of Afghanistan anyway. With respect to governance, I have seen some isolated rays of hope at the local level, but it is easy to see how, as long as Afghans consider their country the third most corrupt country on Earth and look elsewhere for the rule of law, insurgents will continue to recruit and recover their losses.
The great Achilles himself only had the one vulnerable heel and that was enough to doom him. These two seem like plenty.
Indeed, it’s hard for me to sketch out an optimistic end-game even for these “isolated rays of hope at the local level.” Let’s imagine that several different localities do in fact develop effective governance at the local level. That’s good for the local leaders and good for the local people. But what happens next? Do effective local leaders want to submit to the authority of an ineffective central government? Does the population of well-governed localities want to see their effective local government subordinated to an ineffective central state? If the goal is some kind of Afghan state that holds some approximation of a monopoly on the use of force inside Afghanistan’s borders, then I don’t think rays of hope at the local level actually constitute steps toward that goal.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 12, 2010 at 8:20 am
Big news [Friday] from the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, which just gave the green light to implementing EPA’s first carbon pollution standards in January. The court flatly rejected the efforts by America’s biggest carbon polluters and the State of Texas to block all of EPA’s efforts to begin curbing the dangerous pollution that causes global warming under the nation’s clean air laws.
NRDC’s David Doniger has the story in this re-post:
By Climate Guest Blogger on Dec 12, 2010 at 8:05 am
There are lots of great restaurants out there, but eating out regularly can add up in many ways: money, weight gain, and other health problems that develop over time. This CAP repost summarizes six reasons why eating at home is ultimately superior.
In the past two weeks, I’ve six separate airport security screening checks (IAD to LAX, then LAX back to IAD, then IAD to Frankfurt, then they made me re-screen before going to Berlin, then in Berlin back to Frankfurt, then again rescreening before going to DC) and despite my view that we irrationally overweight the importance of airport security I’m honestly not so moved by privacy concerns. To me the problem is just the long-lines and the waste of time. Waiting around in lines is really misery inducing, and the unpredictable duration of the lines leads to extra post-screening waiting and more waste of time. Time is such a precious commodity in a world where we’re always inventing more things to do!
I’d gladly use full-body x-rays or whatever like in Total Recall if that meant the process moved expeditiously:
All things considered, though, I’d still rather just put less emphasis on airport security. Actually preventing terrorist attacks is a valuable thing to do, but it seems to me that very intensity security at airports doesn’t so much eliminate attacks as encourage people to set off bombs on crowded city streets instead. That doesn’t strike me as a particularly high-value undertaking.
One calculation I’d like to see is this. What proportion of Portland-Seattle flights would need to be blown up by terrorists before driving became the safer option?
A thought while waiting at the gate at Frankfurt Airport: 20 years ago before the near-universal availability of credit cards and ATMs, having a single currency for Europe would have offered tremendous practical advantages. You could fly from Dublin to Paris to catch a connecting flight to Helsinki and back without the need for constant visits to the currency exchange bureau. Or take a day trip from Belgium to the Netherlands.
But of course back then there was no Euro. Today, we have the currency union but information technology has drastically reduced the practical benefits. Last fall I was in Germany for a week, then in Sweden for a week, and then in Denmark for a week—three currencies in three weeks—and it honestly was no problem at all. You basically just live life as you always do, paying for lots of things with plastic and withdrawing small amounts of cash when you need it.
Which makes me wonder if moving the different countries of Europe into a single currency wasn’t actually a step against the tides of change. Maybe the real move for the 21st century is for large to go to smaller currency areas. It would arguably have done the “rust belt” some good over the past 30 years to be able to devalue relative to higher-growth portions of the United States. And everyone knows that economic conditions in China’s coastal cities are radically different from what you find in the rural north and west.