Nuclear and Environmental
Robin Bravender, “Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition.”
Ian Johnston, “Climate Change May Be Escalating So Fast It Could Be ‘Game Over,’ Scientists Warn.”
Oliver Milman, “Donald Trump Presidency a ‘Disaster for the Planet,’ Warn Climate Scientists.”
Coral Davenport, “Donald Trump Could Put Climate Change on Course for ‘Danger Zone.'”
Noam Chomsky, “The Republican Party Has Become the Most Dangerous Organization in World History.”
Generation Anthropocene, “An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.”
xkcd, “A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature.”
Douglas Fox, “Scientists Are Watching in Horror as Ice Collapses.”
And Avery Thompson, “Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol.”
Now that the semester is starting, I will have less time to read things on the internet. So here’s one last link dump for the summer.
Nuclear and Environment
Maria Temming, “Geoengineering Won’t Save Us: Why It Can’t Halt the Effects of Climage Change by Itself.”
Claire L. Evans, “Climate Change Is so Dire We Need a New Kind of Science Fiction to Change It.”
Alan Taylor, “A World without People.”
Bill McKibben, “The Pope and the Planet.”
Mark Soderstrom, “Unequal Universes.”
And Kenneth Chang, “World Will not End Next Month, NASA Says.”
Brandon Shimoda, ed., The Volta, no. 56, and April Naoko Heck, “Dispatch from Hiroshima.”
Sam Stein, “July Was The Hottest Month Ever; Cable News Barely Noticed.”
National Security State
Edward J. Snowden, “The World Says No to Surveillance.”
The Guardian, “View on Surveillance after Snowden: An Outlaw Rewrites the Law.”
David Cole, “Reining in the NSA.”
Dan Froomkin, “USA Freedom Act: Small Step for Post-Snowden Reform, Giant Leap for Congress.”
Don Franzen interviews Erwin Chemerinsky, “The Legal Legacy of Citizen Four.”
Anne Richardson, “That Fine Line Between Hero and Traitor: What Can We Learn from the Snowden Disclosures?” review of After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age, edited by Ronald Goldfarb.
Glenn Greenwald, “Did Max Boot and Commentary Magazine Lie About Edward Snowden? You Decide.”
David Dayen, “The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody’s Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak.”
Bryan Magers, “The War in Africa the US Military Won’t Admit It’s Fighting.”
In “NASA-Funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for ‘Irreversible Collapse’?” Nafeez Ahmed reports for The Guardian on a recent study produced by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center that “highlight[s] the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.” The most striking thing about the report to me is its interdisciplinarity, mixing bleeding edge environmental science, historical perspective, economics, Marxist cultural analysis, etc.: “Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most ‘detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners,’ allowing them to ‘continue “business as usual” despite the impending catastrophe.’ The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how ‘historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).'” We’re doomed.
I have been relatively inactive on the blog the past few months, and a number of interesting things have happened or been reported. So to celebrate the end of 2013—what I think could easily be called the Year of the National Security Agency, a year that saw perhaps a decisive shift toward the world Dave Eggers recently imagined in The Circle (2013)—I have posted a number of links on recent stories involving the NSA and the national security state below. To address other stories I have neglected over the past few months, I will be posting more general links tomorrow.
A few days ago, Adam Liptak and Michael S. Schmidt reported for The New York Times that, “A federal judge [William H. Pauley III . . .] ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects enormous troves of phone records is legal, making the latest contribution to an extraordinary debate among courts and a presidential review group about how to balance security and privacy in the era of big data.” This comes only eleven days after a ruling issued on 16 December 2013 “by Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, who ruled that the program was ‘almost Orwellian’ and probably unconstitutional.” This latter story was reported by Ellen Nakashima and Ann E. Marimow on 16 December 2013 in The Washington Post. Amy Davidson has written two fairly interesting and incisive pieces for The New Yorker analyzing each ruling: “Judge Pauley to the NSA: Go Big” and “The Domino’s Hypothetical: Judge Leon Vs. the NSA.” (The New Yorker actually has a number of articles addressing the NSA.)
In August the White House commissioned an independent report on the National Security Agency’s activities, and the report, Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (the link is to the actual 304-page report), was issued on 12 December 2013. Michael Morell, one of the report’s authors, has written an opinion piece in The Washington Post, “Correcting the Record on the NSA Report.” And John Cassidy has an article in The New Yorker on the report, “Inside the White House NSA Report: The Good and the Bad.”
Today’s sentencing of Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison has provoked considerable outrage. Birgitta Jónsdóttir addresses this nicely in her piece for The Guardian, “Bradley Manning’s Sentence: 35 Years for Exposing the Truth.”
And Rob Goodman has a very compelling piece on “dystopian narcissism” for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled, “The Comforts of the Apocalypse.” Dystopian narcissism is the selfish belief that your time, your civilization, your world is somehow unique in its proximity to the end times, to the disaster, to the apocalypse. As Goodman writes: “We’re virtually guaranteed to witness the end of nothing except our lives, and the present, far from fulfilling anything, is mainly distinguished by being the one piece of time with us in it.” I’ve been saying this for years. (Though perhaps the Doomsday Argument would disagree, as perhaps would Nick Bostrom [here and here and here and here] .)
So some articles of interest.
At Jacobin, Alyssa Battistoni has followed up her piece on disaster in the wake of Hurricane Sandy with “Back to No Future,” a pretty bleak essay on environmental change and the (lack of a) future.
Jeff Goodel has a piece in Rolling Stone, “Goodbye, Miami,” about what (now inevitably) rising sea-levels will do to Miami.
And here’s a number of links re: the ongoing NSA drama.
Philip Bump has reported at The Atlantic Wire that the US has filed espionage charges against Edward Snowden.
Naomi Wolf raises a number of questions about Snowden, and then raises some more.
Falguina A. Sheth writes for Salon, “Snowden’s Real Crime: Humiliating the State.”
And Michael McCanne has a very interesting essay, “Total Information Awareness,” at The New Inquiry.
And linking ecological disaster and surveillance together, Nafeez Ahmed wrote a piece for The Guardian, “Pentagon Bracing for Public Dissent Over Climate and Energy Shocks.”