22 September 2016   Leave a comment

New calculations indicate that the world already has access to reserves of oil, natural gas, and coal that are sufficient, if burned, to raise global temperatures by  2 °C, a level believed by many scientists to unleash significant, and possibly unmangaeable, changes to the climate.  According to the study:

“Scientists say that to have even a two-thirds chance of staying below a global increase of two degrees Celsius, we can release 800 gigatons more CO2 into the atmosphere. But the Rystad data shows coal mines and oil and gas wells currently in operation worldwide contain 942 gigatons worth of CO2.”

The research is significant because it suggests that additional exploration for hydrocarbon reserves is counterproductive and dangerous.  But significant parts of the global economy are absolutely dedicated to additional explorations.  There is a clear disconnect between economic and environmental rational behavior.

Many countries have bad feelings about their neighbors, but there are not many that can match the hostility of Japan and China.  The hostility is built upon centuries of ill-fated relations, capped off by a particularly brutal period from 1931-45.  The Pew Research Center has conducted a poll among citizens of both countries and the mistrust is profound:

“Today, only 11% of the Japanese express a favorable opinion of China, while 14% of the Chinese say they have a positive view of Japan. In both countries positive views of the other nation have decreased since 2006.”

One remarkable feature of the poll is the degree to which both countries hold degrading stereotypes of each other.

china-japan_2016_02

There is a fascinating struggle going on in Switzerland.  Many Swiss schools have a tradition of students shaking the hand of their teachers but two male Muslim students have refused to shake the hand of their female teacher because their interpretation of Islam forbids people of opposite sexes touching each other.  The dispute revolves around the degree to specific cultural norms can override personal beliefs, and the degree to which a dominant culture can demand conformity from minority groups.

 

Posted September 23, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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