3 November 2017   Leave a comment

The  U.S. Global Change Research Program has released its mandated Fourth National Climate Assessment and its conclusions vary substantially from the policy positions stated by the Trump Administration.  The findings are stark and unequivocal:

“Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales.

“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.

“In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities. Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.”

Most importantly, the report concludes that “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations supported by the extent of the observational evidence”.  In another report, The Guardian found that

“Data from the Climate Central group of scientists analysed by Guardian journalists shows that 3C of global warming would ultimately lock in irreversible sea-level rises of perhaps two metres. Cities from Shanghai to Alexandria, and Rio to Osaka are among the worst affected. Miami would be inundated – as would the entire bottom third of the US state of Florida.”

The Guardian article has graphics shown the devastating effects of sea level rise to several major metropolitan areas of the world.  The graphics are truly shocking.

 

As US President Trump begins his 12-day, 5-nation tour of Asia, there is little question that North Korean nuclear intentions will be a central topic of discussion.  Charles Lee has written an essay on the intelligence community in North Korea for 38North which places Mr. Trump’s comments about North Korea in an interesting light.  Lee believes that

“On the contrary, North Korea appears to have dismissed the credibility of President Trump’s pronouncements of military action against North Korea, particularly in light of alternate and corroborative views. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have both acknowledged a preference for diplomatic solutions, not military ones. For an intelligence analyst, whether North Korean or American, assessing the probability of military action rests on the sum credibility of such individuals. Additional factors, like the assurances of American interlocutors engaged in Track II diplomacy, can bolster such assessments when they are consistent with official statements.”

This conclusion is somewhat reassuring but difficult to assess with certainty.  But it does suggest that a single inflammatory statement by Mr. Trump about North Korea does not necessarily mean that the North Koreans will act precipitously.

 

Venezuela’s economy is in free fall and holders of Venezuelan debt were told today that the debts will be “reformatted”.  What the decision means in real terms is not yet known but the virtual bankruptcy of the Venezuelan government points to substantial losses for some bondholders (and incredible windfalls for those who purchased deeply discounted Venezuelan bonds in anticipation of a default, a risky transaction but highly lucrative if played correctly).  According to VenezuelaAnalysis,

“Venezuela’s government and state enterprises like PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.–the Venezuelan Oil Company) collectively owe around US$143 billion in foreign debt…. PDVSA alone has around US$1.6 billion in debt payments due by the end of the year, and another US$9 billion on bond servicing set to fall in 2018.”

Venezuela will try hard to not default on these loans, but outside financing has been scarce and the Venezuelan currency–the Bolivar–has depreciated by 99% on the black market since President Maduro took office in November 2013.

 

Smile Time

Mount Roraima (triple border point of Venezuela (85% of its territory), Guyana (10%) and Brazil (5%–5°12′08″N 60°44′07″W))

Posted November 3, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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