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Monday, April 12, 2010

THE STATE OF HUMANITY TODAY: 8.0


Humanity on Planet Earth might have attained the peak of life in 2000, a nice and symbolically strategic round number, being the turn of the millennium, but also, a year before the presidency of George W. Bush and 9/11/2001. Interestingly enough, the value of the Dow Jones Industrials at this pivotal point in history was similar to what it is today. A book by Richard Heinberg entitled Peak Everything provides greater detail. In short, it is conceivable that life, on "average," will only get worse, forever. I arbitrarily (we can then refer to this number as the Patrick Index, or PI) selected 8.0 as our score today, and toss in 5.0 for where we were from October 2008 to March 2009 (our Great Recession) and:


1. PI = 1.0, when, according to the Toba Catastrophe Theory, our population dropped to only a few thousand about 75,000 years ago and



2. PI = 2.0, during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, just about the time I graduated from Stanford, when the World was on the brink of nuclear winter. This was the grandest moment of my life and I did not at that time realize that our species was on the brink of extinction. I suspect most of those living today are in my 1962 state of mind. The Nikita Kruschev shoe incident, for the record, pictured to the left, actually occurred in the United Nations two years earlier, nailing the foundation for the upcoming standoff.


In short, a range of parameters is involved in this index, but, frankly, the survival and enjoyment of life pretty well represents the essence of that number. How, then, is Humanity doing on 12April2010?


1. The Economy: While most fiscal pundits remain careful, I say that we are out of our Great Recession. There will be no serious double-dip. While the National Bureau of Economics today announced it was not still sure, the UK officially declared this clearance status in January and our Department of Commerce hinted so in October last year. Why my optimism? The Dow Jones ended above 11,000 for the first time in 18 months; the Federal Budget Deficit for March 2010 dropped by a factor of three from a year ago; the unemployment rate, which was supposed to be well above 10% through much of this year, seems to want to be single digit; our Gross Domestic Product is predicted to grow between 3% and 5% this year; IPO's are back and doing well; housing can improve, but shows signs of recovering; GM is progressing and the less than $2/share Ford I purchased a little more than a year ago is getting close to $13/share; and banks are doing well, with loans now generally available. Remain concerned about the European PIGS, but from the brink of depression, it looks now as if the Democrats might not lose too many House and Senate seats this Fall. Hawaii, though, will remain on the edge of a Great Local Depression, unless Peak Oil never happens. What are the odds?



2. War and Peace: Five years ago tomorrow, the United Nations unanimously voted to outlaw nuclear terrorism. While this is about as close to a useless vote as there can be, at least the tone was set to what has happened this week. President Obama welcomed 47 countries to his DC Nuclear Security Summit. Iran and North Korea were not invited.

In parallel, Ban (Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General) urged a ban on producing fissile material for weapons at the UN in New York City today, indicating that the 65 nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will develop the plan. See a clip on Ban's press conference.




















Iran announced that China will be among the 60 countries to meet in Tehran next week to discuss nuclear disarmament. A little one-upmanship here? All this on the heels of the amazing momentum catalyzed by a President Obama and President Dimitriy Medvedev agreement signed on April Fool's Day. Why they picked that day is a mystery to me, for this definitely is a serious move to reduce nuclear proliferation. Thus, worry a bit about terrorists and dirty bombs, Israel eviscerating an Iran nuclear site within two years and North Korea going haywire in that same timeframe...but the end of the Cold War nearly two decades ago wiped out the danger of Mankind destroying ourselves with nuclear bombs. Now, if President Obama can only adopt my plan proposed in my original Huffington Post article.


3. Peak Oil: I just read a blog article entitled, "After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Towards Economic Collapse?" Remembering that the $147/barrel oil in July of 2008 could well have triggered this Great Recession, and the early '80's price of oil up to an equivalent today of $97.50/barrel (or $191/barrel relative to GDP share) was clearly responsible for the 1982 world economic collapse, we nevertheless tend to lose sight of the fact that petroleum has caused those traumas this past half century. Yet, the Global Futures price of oil in December 2018 has been dropping for the past few months, and is now at $96/barrel. So, this is good news, for, perhaps, the world is being given time to recover.

4. Global Climate Change: Go to the box on the right to read about the seriousness (or not) of this issue. The past decade has been the warmest on record. On the other hand, disinformation specialists have been euphoric with the coldest winter in recent times for Siberia, and I this winter traipsed through Finland and much of Europe, where everyone kept telling me of the worst snowfalls in twenty years. But how can the hottest and coldest occur within the same year? Is global warming an elaborate hoax for scientists and Al Gore to gain continued funding and Nobel Prizes? No, and even most skeptics will concur that some element of warming is occurring. It is just that no one is absolutely sure if we are causing it, or maybe the Sun or movement of Planet Earth. Thus, the naysayers say why prematurely spend trillions, and those concerned say if we don't act now, it will only cost more in the future. We today have dangerous stalemate. Then, of course, there is that fear of THE VENUS SYNDROME.


So, all in all, our economy is improving; world peace is nowhere close to reality, but the world at large is safe from cataclysmic termination; peak oil seems to have been pushed off into the future; and global warming policy will remain in limbo until tens of millions die one hot summer. Thus the Patrick Index for today is 8.0.

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The Dow Jones Industrials finally, after 18 months, ended the day above 11,000, up 9 to 11,006. World markets were mixed, gold dropped $5/toz to $1156, and crude oil remained under $85/barrel.

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Congratulations to country #147:

GEORGIA POPULATION: 4,615,807


Background
The region of present-day Georgia contained the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Kartli-Iberia. The area came under Roman influence in the first centuries A.D. and Christianity became the state religion in the 330s. Domination by Persians, Arabs, and Turks was followed by a Georgian golden age (11th-13th centuries) that was cut short by the Mongol invasion of 1236. Subsequently, the Ottoman and Persian empires competed for influence in the region. Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. An attempt by the incumbent Georgian government to manipulate national legislative elections in November 2003 touched off widespread protests that led to the resignation of Eduard SHEVARDNADZE, president since 1995. New elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his National Movement party. Progress on market reforms and democratization has been made in the years since independence, but this progress has been complicated by Russian assistance and support to the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. After a series of Russian and separatist provocations in summer 2008, Georgian military action in South Ossetia in early August led to a Russian military response that not only occupied the breakaway areas, but large portions of Georgia proper as well. Russian troops pulled back from most occupied Georgian territory, but in late August 2008 Russia unilaterally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This action was strongly condemned by most of the world's nations and international organizations.

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