Why Are Some Conservative Thinkers Falling for Trump?
In related news, evidence mounts that growth in the world’s most advanced economies has slowed to a virtual stand-still.
… In the United States, per-person gross domestic product rose by an average of 2.2 percent a year from 1947 through 2000 — but starting in 2001 has averaged only 0.9 percent. The economies of Western Europe and Japan have done worse than that.
Over long periods, that shift implies a radically slower improvement in living standards. In the year 2000, per-person G.D.P. — which generally tracks with the average American’s income — was about $45,000. But if growth in the second half of the 20th century had been as weak as it has been since then, that number would have been only about $20,000.
To make matters worse, fewer and fewer people are seeing the spoils of what growth there is. According to a new analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute, 81 percent of the United States population is in an income bracket with flat or declining income over the last decade. That number was 97 percent in Italy, 70 percent in Britain, and 63 percent in France.
Like most things in economics, the slowdown boils down to supply and demand: the ability of the global economy to produce goods and services, and the desire of consumers and businesses to buy them. What’s worrisome is that weakness in global supply and demand seems to be pushing each other in a vicious circle.
This is the secular stagnation Paul Krugman and Larry Summers have been warning about, with a healthy dose of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty First Century” thrown in. And it’s entirely possible that it is the end state of technological achievement within a capitalist system.
So, where to from here?
Two and a half years ago we learned that bowhead whales could live over 200 years. But it turns out that the lifespan of whales pales in comparison to that of some sharks.
Scientists examined 28 female sharks — all acquired as bycatch from commercial fisheries — to find that many seemed to have lived longer than two centuries. (Scientists discarded the youngest animals, because they showed signs of radiocarbon released by Cold War-era nuclear bomb testing.) The biggest shark of this group, which measured about 16.5 feet, was believed to be 392 years old — placing her in the era of astronomer Galileo Galilei. Yet Greenland sharks are known to grow well over 20 feet, meaning many are likely even older.
This is impressive. It also has serious implications when it comes to repairing the damage we’ve done to the planet’s biosphere.
Matching the sharks’ ages to their sizes produced another insight. Because previous studies have revealed that females become sexually mature only when they exceed lengths of 400 centimeters, it now appears the sharks don’t reach reproductive maturity until they are 156 years old. From a conservation standpoint, that’s concerning: Such a slow rate of reproduction means that each individual shark may be far more important to the species as a whole than scientists previously realized.
Let that sink in for a moment. If an individual shark is taking more than 150 years to reach maturity, then restoring the ecosystem that these creature are part of is likely to take in excess of a thousand years. Assuming that it can be done at all.
I don’t think many within the environmental movement truly appreciate the magnitude of the task they’ve set before our species, though there are some outside of it who seem to see the outlines of what may yet be to come…
That’s all for now. I’ll see you again next week, unless of course you click on the unsubscribe link, in which case I wish you safe travels.
Whatever your journey, keep your feet planted firmly in the present even as you look past the horizon, and always remember that your map is not the territory you travel.