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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The ultimate health issue

My December issue of Harpers arrived in the snailmail yesterday. apropos of the worrisome topic that is surely on many minds these days, in light of who has sole access to the U.S. "nuclear button,"

Destroyer of Worlds
Taking stock of our nuclear present

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option.

Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity.

In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.
From the subsequent “Haywire” essay therein:
...Today, the time frame of an attack has been reduced to mere seconds. It once took three or four nuclear warheads aimed at every silo to render an adversary’s missiles useless, a redundancy thought necessary for certain destruction. Intercontinental ballistic missiles may now be made inoperable with a single keystroke. Computer viruses and malware have the potential to spoof or disarm a nuclear command-and-control system silently, anonymously, almost instantaneously. And long-range bombers and missiles are no longer required to obliterate a city. A nuclear weapon can be placed in a shipping container or on a small cabin cruiser, transported by sea, and set off remotely by cellular phone.

A 2006 study by the Rand Corporation calculated the effects of such a nuclear detonation at the Port of Long Beach, California. The weapon was presumed to be two thirds as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. According to the study, about 60,000 people in Long Beach would be killed, either by the blast or by the effects of radiation. An additional 150,000 would be exposed. And 8,000 would suffer serious burns. At the moment, there are about 200 burn beds at hospitals in California — and about 2,000 nationwide. Approximately 6 million people would try to flee Los Angeles County, with varying degrees of success. Gasoline supplies would run out. The direct cost of that single detonation was estimated to be about $1 trillion. In September, North Korea detonated a nuclear device about thirty times more powerful than the one in the Rand study…

If you're not a Harpers subscriber, I would suggest you get a newsstand copy and read all of this.

As if we didn't have enough to be concerned about, I give you a comment from a post at the Naked Capitalism blog post "Capitalism: Not With a Bang But With a (Prolonged) Whimper."
November 21, 2017 at 11:01 am

In the article the author claims it may take centuries to evolve away from neo-classical economics. I believe it will be much shorter. As pointed out by 15,000 climate scientists we only have a few years to take corrective action before the climate goes into a runaway state.

The head of United Planet Faith & Science Initiative, Stuart Scott, believes the root of the problem is neo-classical economics since it makes the assumption that the planet’s resources are infinite, and the ability to destroy the planet without consequence is also infinite. There is no measure in this paradigm for the ecological costs of capitalism.

Dr. Natalia Shakhova and colleagues from the University of Alaska have been monitoring methane eruptions for a number of years and claim there will be a 50 gigaton methane eruption in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf within the next ten years, since as of 2013 the amount of methane released from this area had doubled since previous measures. Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calculates that should this occur, the average global temperature of the planet would increase by .6 degrees Celsius within a decade.

It is predicted that this will cause an drastic jet stream disruption creating drought, flood, and heat waves that will make food production for 7 billion people impossible. There will probably be a population crash along with accompanying wars.

Additionally, inasmuch as we are already 1.1 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels this would put us close to 2 degrees Celsius and on a path to a runaway climate. We currently have no via means of removing excess methane nor CO2 from the atmosphere, although it is assumed in the IPCC models that geo-engineering is employed to keep us below both 2 and 4 degrees Celsius of warming.

IMHO we are nearing an inflection point of survivability. What happens within the next 5 years will determine the chances of human civilizational survival. Everything else is just rearrangement of the deck chairs…
I am reminded of one of my prior posts "The ultimate population health 'Upstream' issue?" Tangentially, see my prior post "How will the health care system deal with THIS?"

Yeah, I'm a barrel of laughs today.

No shortage of exigent and otherwise daunting issues to contemplate, right? Buy, hey, POTUS 45 is all over it.

Yeah, "Happy Thanksgiving" to you too.


President Trump visits the Coast Guard on Thanksgiving Day to compliment them on their "Brand."



Our friends at Uber have yet another shitstorm on their hands.
Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers…
I've cited Uber before. See "Health Care Needs an Uber." It links to a raft of Naked Capitalism thorough long-read analyses of their dismal prospects.

Recent news reports announcing their intent to do an IPO in 2019 are just so much whistling-past-the-graveyard BS to me, but, I know that doing one is their only path toward foisting off their untenable business model on the clueless public before their entire "Market Cap valuation" house of cards comes crashing down.



More to come...


  1. Happy thanksgiving to you too Bobby-- bah humbug!

    1. LOL. Wishing the best for you and your family.