Morning Ed: The Planet {2016.08.24.W}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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96 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    Kids and Climate: I heard this on NPR a few days ago. I kept wondering why do you want to reduce the number of kids in an aging population. Do it in the countries where they are having lots of kids. Unless you’re idea is for us to take in all those folks when our population growth becomes negative. Oh wait….

    Light Pollution: I’m a big fan of only using the necessary amount of light because I grew up in a town where I could see the Milky Way from the back of the high school. That’s where I too my astronomy final. Sadly I now live in an area where you’re lucky if you can see a half dozen stars.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Damon says:

      ” I kept wondering why do you want to reduce the number of kids in an aging population. ”

      ha ha, you silly fool! Money for my retirement comes from the government! And there will always be a government so ipso facto there will always be money.Report

  2. j r says:

    That NPR article on having fewer children is really chilling in the sense that there are this many people who see human beings as only a liability and a strain on resources rather than seeing people as assets and potential sources of new solutions. I wonder how many of those folks consider themselves humanists.

    And on the love of drama, Berlatsky should spend a little less time in the world of comparative lit and a little more in the world of development. There are lots of people doing the exact things that he claims we don’t do.Report

    • veronica d in reply to j r says:

      @j-r — Well, there is a point where resources will run out. It’s simply, entropy will win. The Sun only puts out so much energy. Only so much reaches Earth. Humanity has proven to have a limited ability to enact long-range wisdom. We can “self-organize,” but only on the short term, usually during periods of war. A similar “self-organization” for climate disaster — by the time humanity is willing to do so, it will be too late.

      The political situation surrounding climate change has proven this. It would be absurd to debate the point.

      So indeed, each human life contains so much potential, but how much of that potential dies each month, awash in a shithole of suffering? Today how many miraculous geniuses will die, the greater share of their potential unrealized, because of suboptimal global policy?

      Do you expect a radical change in human nature?

      Let us not be dishonest about the condition of our world. War, poverty, disease — how much will these things grow in the face of climate change and fossil fuel depletion?

      Yes, we will innovate. But how much? How quickly? Do you know?

      My employer is certainly innovative, but we hire a few tens-of-thousands of software engineers and scientists. The “teeming billions” across the globe, what is there for them?

      Yeesh. It is horrifying.

      Humanity has not shown the systematic ability to actualize so much of that talent.

      I certainly support human flourishing, which certainly involves there being more people. Indeed. But let us first prove that we can manage the structural challenges of globalization, climate change, and fossil fuel depletion before we encourage unchecked population growth.Report

      • Damon in reply to veronica d says:

        You already have unchecked population growth in the third world. Think that’s going to change materially in the next 20-30 years? I’m not optimistic.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Damon says:

          @damon — I think there will be a die-off combined with global war.

          The question on bringing a child into this world is not only their carbon footprint, as if that one kid will matter. It is this: how much do you want that kid to suffer as it all unravels? Can we even hope to give them a world worth having?

          Regarding passing on my genetics — well for me that is literally impossible, as the necessary bodily elements have long ago been disposed of as medical waste. Your genetics? Choose for yourself. But the way we fetishize personal genetics seems silly to me.

          Regarding passing on my wisdom, insight, and knowledge (such as they are), I do what I can. You should do also.

          We seem to produce plenty of children, each with the capacity for some kind of genius. There are so many now who receive so little.

          This is a question about the margins.Report

          • Damon in reply to veronica d says:

            ” I think there will be a die-off combined with global war.”

            Well, we’ve had those before, I expect we will again. I’ve already made my decision and it was all personal. “We seem to produce plenty of children” Yeah, not sure that the best people are doing it though….”idiocracy” and all that.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

            “I think there will be a die-off combined with global war.”

            Just like there was in the late 1990s when the Population Bomb finally exploded (shortly after global population reached 17 billion.)Report

        • North in reply to Damon says:

          In a lot of places, the third world included, birth rates have been plummeting.Report

          • Damon in reply to North says:

            Indeed. As wealth increases, births generally go down. But oh noes!, that means they consume more. A tragedy for the environment.Report

            • North in reply to Damon says:

              You’ll not get me to carry water for enviro-fundamentalists. It’s been established, repeatedly, that environmentalist is a lower tier concern for people than their economic welfare, as soon as a recession hits environmental support sags.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

        “there is a point where resources will run out. ”

        Yes; for example, the civilization-destroying resource wars that killed billions back in the late 1800s when we ran out of whale oil.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to veronica d says:


        The Sun dying is an event billion of years in the future.

        The thing about Malthus and all of his secondary followers is that they have all been wrong.

        This is where I make a big departure from my fellow liberals. Climate change is real and we should do something about this but we can also admit Malthus was wrong and that humans can find ways to adapt and be okay. It seems that only humans are denying the basic reason we have kids is that we are animals with a desire to propagate the species.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Malthus has been wrong so far. But the energy from the sun is so-much-per-year. I’m not talking about it’s lifespan. Likewise, once we burn the fossil fuels, they’re gone.

          Yes, we might “innovate” our way out of this. We might not.

          Malthus was thinking about agriculture on national scales. I’m talking thermodynamics on a global scale. It’s different. It’s new. We don’t know what is going to happen.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to j r says:

      The best part is what happens after a few moments of “but I have been giving these things up voluntarily”.

      We’ll see a return to eugenics in my lifetime.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

        We’ll see a return to eugenics in my lifetime.

        It’s a big world. We can’t rule anything out. But it seems like, the achievement of really bad political policy usually comes from a fear response. Right now in the US, that fear response seems to manifest in swings to hardline religion, traditionalism, along with “stay off my lawn” attitudes. In other words, things adjacent to “Trumpism.”

        So to my view, that is the likely outcome of the coming “bad times.”

        I see eugenics as more a manifestation of bad left-leaning hyper-technocracy. There certainly are political strains of that in the US. However, I don’t see the mass fear-based movements forming around highly technocratic approaches. The US just seems to work the opposite way.

        I could be wrong of course.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

          I’m not speaking solely of the US.

          As you say, it’s a big world.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

            @jaybird — Fair point. Out of curiosity, what are you imagining? Where? Would this be a China-style “one child” policy, or something more elaborate? Mandatory government licensing for designer babies in the Netherlands?

            I’m honestly curious what you envision.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to veronica d says:

              Anyone have polling data on paying people not to reproduce? That’s something I could see gaining traction (over vociferous objection).Report

            • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

              Eh, it’ll begin with bigger and more elaborate pushes for various forms of barriers and other forms of birth control in the countries that have what will be described in negative terms like “a fecundity problem” or something similar.

              We’ll probably veer into something like depo shots being given to 3rd/4th world women as part of their health checks and arguments will be over whether the women in question were fully informed of the shots they were given and, even if they weren’t, well, the shots wear off so no harm no foul and, besides, they can’t afford to have the children anyway.

              That sort of thing.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird — Fair ’nuff.

                For the record, I oppose such things.Report

              • veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                ‘Cept I totes support estrogen in the water supply!


                (I’m kidding I don’t really support that.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Yeah, sure. We all do.

                I imagine, though, that we’ll witness a period of “well, you have to understand, while I certainly don’t support non-consensual application of birth control, we have to take into account the culture that trains women that they are nothing more than baby incubators and the context of the depo shots needs to be taken within a very particular context of toxic patriarchy which means that we need to ask the following questions…” for a while.

                A surprisingly long while.Report

              • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:

                This really happened in several Lat Am countries in the 60s/70s. I knew one such women, sterilized without consent or being told, during her 7th ichildbirth.

                I also knew women that asked to be sterilized while giving birth without their husband knowing it, a request that was mostly honored.Report

      • North in reply to Jaybird says:

        Depends on how you define eugenics. Centralized, compulsory or mandated eugenics? I strongly doubt we’ll see any such thing. Decentralized, voluntary, private eugenics? Hell we’re already there.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

          A decentralized, voluntary, and private movement to opt out of the gene pool is more likely to be dysgenic than eugenic. Or were you talking about genetic engineering?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            A decentralized, voluntary, and private movement to opt out of the gene pool is more likely to be dysgenic than eugenic.

            I imagine that, after a generation or so, this movement is likely to be very, very irritated that their choices are decentralized, voluntary, and private.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

              “I wanted kids but voluntarily chose to give up the opportunity to ever do that, and I gave it up for very good, very moral reasons! And here’s all these…people, who just…shouldn’t be having kids, and yet they are!Report

          • North in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            I was thinking more of what we actually deal with. Downs syndrome babies, for instance, and other children with prenatal detectable birth defects or syndromes are flat out vanishing. The parents are electing not to have them. The government has no involvement at all. There is no centralized authority dictating this (hell, a centralized authority could be this effective only in their wildest dreams) yet still it’s going on.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to North says:

          Y’all are referring to the Idiocracy Effect, right? A practical test of the strength of universal education compared to hereditary propensities for “intelligence” (whatever that is). I’d put my money on “nurture” over “nature,” at least here, but for my distrust in the currently-extant universal education system.Report

          • North in reply to Burt Likko says:

            No, more like in the first trimester doctor says “the tests suggest your potential child is at X% of risk of A, B or C undesirable birth defects or syndromes” and the parents nod tearfully, think it over, then abort and try again.Report

      • Francis in reply to Jaybird says:

        You mean like China’s One Child policy?Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

        We’ll see a return to eugenics in my lifetime.

        If we do, it’ll look very different from 1938 Germany. It’ll look like Gattaca.Report

  3. notme says:

    Clinton State Department stonewalled AP for three years over meetings with Clinton Foundation donors

    Hillary is corrupt and selling access? That is unpossible.Report

  4. J_A says:

    Wind over the sea (even short distances off the coast) is more stable and stronger. You can get more power out of offshore wind plants than from onshore plants.

    I don’t understand what the complaint of fishermen might be. Wind farms are in shallow waters where you don’t have commercial fishing, and insofar as they act as seeds to new reefs, they will attract larger a catch of fish.Report

  5. notme says:

    Graduate Students Can Unionize at Private Colleges, U.S. Labor Panel Rules

    Another desperate ploy to prop up unions at the expense of others.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to notme says:

      Eh no… This is a great decision.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        How? How is it a great decision?

        Not saying it isn’t, just curious as to how you feel it would be.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Aaron David says:

          Cartelization is great when the right kind of people are doing it.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Aaron David says:

          Well, there is the schadenfreude aspect of it.Report

        • Allowing people to join together to advance their interests is, in general, a good thing.Report

        • Autolukos in reply to Aaron David says:

          Students who receive payment and tuition waivers in return for teaching are obviously employees and should have the full rights of employees, including the right to unionize.Report

          • Damon in reply to Autolukos says:

            @mike-schilling @saul-degraw

            As my father use to say (he was in labor relations, ie he negotiated contracts with unions) people who want to have a union are under the impression that negotiations start from what they currently have (in terms of pay, etc.) but all that is gone. You start from nothing and negotiate up. So, you can form that union, but you’ll probably have to negotiate to get tuition wavers in addition to the pay you currently are making in addition to all the demands you are making.Report

            • Autolukos in reply to Damon says:

              The NLRB’s job isn’t to decide whether a given unionization is prudent, only whether it is legal.

              If Columbia pulls tuition support from their grad students, they’ll very quickly find themselves with completely uncompetitive offers compared to their peers; this will, if nothing else, create lots of opportunities for students who would otherwise attend lower-tier programs.Report

              • Damon in reply to Autolukos says:

                That’s certainly possible. It’s also possible, and quite likely, that those who want the union, expecting to get what they want in addition to what they already get, will be disappointed.Report

              • Autolukos in reply to Damon says:

                I assume that many will be disappointed; at my unionized school (Cal), the most passionate supporters of the union were also in a perpetual state of disappointment at what it could actually win.

                On the other hand, Columbia doesn’t currently offer funding out of the goodness of their hearts; funding is part of the intense competition among top-tier programs for students. Those pressures aren’t suddenly going to disappear because the grad students are unionized, and even a truly incompetent union is unlikely to convince the school to stop giving out competitive funding offers.

                All of which is irrelevant to the original question of whether the NLRB should prevent the students from having the choice to unionize.Report

            • Aaron David in reply to Damon says:

              “You start from nothing and negotiate up.”

              I managed represented employees when they voted to go through the certification process and they had no idea that the company was going to reset all the wages to the median employee in that business group during negotiation. The union didn’t mention to look for it during negotiation, as they simply wanted more members at the time.

              They voted for decert as soon as possible (12 months.)Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Damon says:

              So I learned where your pompousness came from.

              I don’t get why so many right-leaning people fall for this self-made/bootstrap crap.Report

              • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Actually, my father was conservative-ish and we had many arguments over politics. I had “odd views” you see. Odd views that business owners had a right to prohibit firearms on their property. He thought “there outta be a law” preventing that. One woman I dated said she “thought I was a liberal” over a conversation about torture, national security, and genocide. She advocated the genocide position-and she was a Jew.

                So please don’t insult my by calling me “right leaning”. And actually, your comment doesn’t even appear to be on point to my comment about the unionization, but that never did stop you from getting your digs in on how libertarians are all about FYIGM. This comes right after a bunch of commentary about civility and respect, or lack thereof, in the communitariat. Well played sir…well played.Report

              • J_A in reply to Damon says:

                Be of good cheer, @damon , I girl I was head over heels called me fascist.

                I never got a date with her

                I survivedReport

              • Damon in reply to J_A says:

                Well that convo took place while we were dating. She was very opionated and a sharp conversationalist. We are friends to this day.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Damon says:


                I apologize for my statementReport

              • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                No sweat Saul. You have strong opinions. I do too. No harm no foul.Report

              • Francis in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I’m going to stick my nose in here and agree with Damon. I think this comment falls well below community standards of civility and respect. We can disagree forcefully without accusations about character.Report

      • notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Great b/c it will increase the costs of higher education? If this result remains, I hope schools will limit the use of TA as much as possible.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to notme says:

          I hope schools will limit the use of TA as much as possible.

          Then who teaches all the contact hours?

          Long ago — mid 1970s — while I was a graduate student and differential equations TA at the University of Texas in Austin, the state legislature proposed a bill that required 90% of all contact hours for freshmen and sophomores be taught by full-time faculty members, in small classes. I made a point of going to the committee meeting when they took testimony. I loved the answer the head of the math dept gave the committee when they asked what the consequences would be for his department if the bill passed. “Well, the first thing is I tell the engineering school and all the science departments that they’ll have to teach their students calculus themselves, because without the TAs I don’t have nearly enough staff to do it for them.” IIRC, there were something over a thousand freshman engineers taking calculus from the math dept each year.Report

    • Dave in reply to notme says:

      When the NLRB rules that McDonald’s is a joint employer, then I’ll worry.Report

        • Dave Regio in reply to notme says:

          Didn’t that already happen?

          I remember reading Browning-Ferris when the decision was handed down. That’s a completely different case than a fast food franchise.

          In BF, a third party contractor brought in workers to operate a company-run recycling facility, and it was pretty hard for me to get my arms around BF’s position that the employees of the third party contracting firm were being supervised exclusively by the contractor. Back then, I looked at it as if it was a deliberate end-run around unionizing workers. Had the workers attempted to unionize, the company cancels the contract.

          It’s a different ballgame with the fast food franchises.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Dave says:

        Why shouldn’t they be? The reason a whole ton of people go into their local McDonald’s isn’t because they like Bob Johnson, owner of 20 local McDonald’s franchises. The reason they go is because it is a McDonald’s.Report

        • Dave Regio in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          Jesse Ewiak:
          Why shouldn’t they be? The reason a whole ton of people go into their local McDonald’s isn’t because they like Bob Johnson, owner of 20 local McDonald’s franchises. The reason they go is because it is a McDonald’s.

          That’s branding and name recognition.

          Not that I’m a labor lawyer, but from what I understand, to be considered an employer, even a joint employer, requires having some degree of control over the labor relations. Over the past several decades, the norm has been direct control. The McDonald’s franchise agreement makes it clear that they aren’t joint employers (Section 16). Per the franchise agreements, labor relations is exclusively reserved for the franchisees, as it should be.

          Given the way the franchisors generate revenues from the franchisees, there’s no upside to joint employment and a lot of perceived downside.

          The NLRB is trying to argue that McDonald’s and other fast food franchises are in effect joint employers because the level of control they companies exert over the franchisees in every other aspect of the business make it damn near impossible for both sides, the workers and owners of the franchisees, to effectively engage in collective bargaining. There’s truth to that, but that’s always been the case in the fast food business. The motivating factor is the number of people that have had to turn to this industry to find living wage work.

          It’s far too indirect for me. It’s a fundamental change in labor law that has less to do with labor relations as they’re conducted and more to do with changing circumstances over time. It’s goalpost moving on the part of the NLRB where the NLRB probably doesn’t have the legal authority to do so. Such a change would require an amendment to the law enacted through the political process. That or this is going to take years to litigate because that’s what will happen if the NLRB votes against McDonald’s.Report

    • Gabriel Conroy in reply to notme says:

      I haven’t read the post (paywall is my excuse, but laziness is my reason), but if one accepts that there is a national labor policy, then saying that grad student employees at a private institution can organize under that policy strikes me as intuitively right.

      I personally have qualms about how our national Wagner + Taft-Hartley labor policy works, those qualms being reinforced by my ignorance on certain elements of that policy. I also have qualms about the wisdom of graduate students forming unions. But the examples I’m most personally familiar with have to do with public institutions and not private ones.Report

  6. notme says:

    Chicago’s detective force dwindles as murder rate soars (and their clearance rate plummets)

    Clearly more gun control is needed.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

      Really not-good-for-the-cops facts here.

      Vasquez bought a 1992 BMW in Colorado and was driving it to his new home in Maryland. Had some stuff under a blanket in the front seat. Driving across I-70 in Kansas when he gets pulled over because the Kansas cops couldn’t make out his temporary plate. They question him, find him “nervous,” check his insurance (he had it, and insurance for two other, newer cars), and decide on the basis of this evidence that they needed to call in a drug dog. Then they ask him if he has any drugs. He says no. Then they ask him, so, can we search your car? And he says no. So then they detain him after one of the cops says that Vasquez is “probably involved in a little criminal activity here.” Drug dog arrives and finds nothing. Car is searched notwithstanding Vasquez’s refusal to consent to search. Search uncovers no drugs, nothing illegal going on at all.

      So the Tenth here says that 1) driving a car 2) with temporary Colorado plates 3) through Kansas 4) with the last name “Vasquez” and 5) not particularly liking getting pulled over does not amount to enough reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify a non-consensual search.

      All things considered, I have to wonder if fact 2) wasn’t as big a deal here as was fact 4).Report

      • Damon in reply to Burt Likko says:

        In other words…out of state-er latino driving a bmw.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Damon says:

          Well, for what it’s worth, I have heard *MANY* stories from Colorado folks about having been pulled over in other states while having Colorado license plates. I’ve heard these stories from people who have European phenotypes and stereotypically “white” names.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Damon says:

          Yeah, I’ma go ahead and say that in 1992, a 1992 BMW was pretty damn cool. We don’t have the model from the opinion, but come on. Let’s assume it’s a 535i with most of the bells and whistles and further assume good maintenance, no history of body damage, and only 1,000 miles a month.

          I bet you can get that for less than three grand in Denver.

          For purposes of evaluating the case, we ought not be so impressed with the car’s BMW-ness as with the fact that it’s basically a beater.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Burt Likko says:

        For me there is one glimmer of heartening aspect to this story (aside from the verdict, of course): the fact that the drug dog did not signal the presence of drugs, and the police honestly declared that fact.

        I had the impression that when the cops have decided to search, they bring in the dog and describe whatever it’s doing as a drug find. If they don’t find any drugs, they can always conclude that there was some ‘drug residue’ and who’s to contradict them?Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Tenth Circuit rules that Colorado Plates do not constitute “probable cause”.

      Sure. But what about the more interesting issue: do Colorado plates reach the level of “reasonable suspicion”?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        I would have to say that the answer to that question relies on how many weed busts they make on the cars leaving Colorado.

        If two out of three cars leaving Colorado do so with more than a reasonable amount of “personal use” marijuana (a quarter ounce, say), I’d say that “yeah, it’s probably a reasonable suspicion”.

        I’m guessing that the real number for the amount of cars with Colorado plates leaving Colorado with more than a quarter ounce is less than 10%.

        I don’t know how this would be measured, though.Report

  7. Will Truman says:

    It really is interesting to watch how the #NeverTrump folks are accommodating themselves to this elections. Which ones are backtracking, which ones are looking at Johnson/McMullin, which ones ain’t voting, which ones have resigned themselves to Hillary, and which ones have gone all-in with Hillary.

    In order of frequency, it’s:
    Not Voting
    Resigned to Hillary
    All-in With Hillary

    There are some who made noises early on that indicated that yeah at the end of the day they’d pretty much have to vote for Trump who have instead joined another group (including one All-In With Hillary).

    So far, more people who indicated prior to the convention that they would vote for Trump have backtracked from that than the other way around.Report