Monday, November 19, 2012

Global Love Letters intro to the movement Part 1 of 4

Learning to Love Volatility

In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Several years before the financial crisis descended on us, I put forward the concept of "black swans": large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of GoogleGOOG +2.02% .
In economic life and history more generally, just about everything of consequence comes from black swans; ordinary events have paltry effects in the long term. Still, through some mental bias, people think in hindsight that they "sort of" considered the possibility of such events; this gives them confidence in continuing to formulate predictions. But our tools for forecasting and risk measurement cannot begin to capture black swans. Indeed, our faith in these tools make it more likely that we will continue to take dangerous, uninformed risks.
Some made the mistake of thinking that I hoped to see us develop better methods for predicting black swans. Others asked if we should just give up and throw our hands in the air: If we could not measure the risks of potential blowups, what were we to do? The answer is simple: We should try to create institutions that won't fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events.
Fragility is the quality of things that are vulnerable to volatility. Take the coffee cup on your desk: It wants peace and quiet because it incurs more harm than benefit from random events. The opposite of fragile, therefore, isn't robust or sturdy or resilient—things with these qualities are simply difficult to break. Read More

California Tackles Climate Change, But Will Others Follow?

Daniel Stone
Can California save the planet?
The state that has instigated every key U.S. effort to curb fossil-fuel emissions since the 1960s now will tackle the greatest challenge of all—reining in greenhouse gases—with a cap-and-trade system launched this week.
In a closed three-hour auction conducted online Wednesday, California's energy companies and large manufacturers placed their bids for 62 million permits that essentially give them the right to pollute. Using these chits and a healthy number of free permits California has allocated them, the businesses begin in January operating in a market-based program that officials hope will cut the state's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent over the next eight years. (Related: "Pictures: Nine Surprisingly Gassy Cities")
The aim is ambitious, and for advocates of action on climate change, there is a larger goal still. They are hoping that California will lead the way to the kind of broader action on global warming that has been stymied both in Washington, D.C., and in international negotiations. (Related: "Climate Change Talks Hinge on 'Green Growth,' says De Boer")
"I think this will show that you can decouple economic growth from emissions growth," said Tim O'Connor, director of the Environmental Defense Fund's California Climate Initiative. "We think California will be the best of all examples. This is the strongest and boldest move yet in the U.S. to combat climate change." Read More

Monday, November 12, 2012

A consciousness of gratitude, a heart of thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Hymn
Our forefathers gave thanks to God, In the land by the stormy sea, For bread hard wrung from the iron sod, in cold and misery. Through every day meant toil and strife, In the land by the Wintry sea, They thanked their God for the gift of life, How much the more should be. — Charlotte Stetson. Blessings and thanksgiving enable us to increase every good that is in our life, until our world is filled with it. Take the time now to turn your thoughts upon something in your life that seems small now, or seems inefficient or insufficient. Say my soul magnifies the Lord (law) in me. Then realize that you are increasing your good, affairs and life by the power of spirit in you. God gives the increase, the process and the means is through a consciousness of gratitude, and a heart of thanksgiving. Let's go a step further and look at money, health, relationships, careers and retirements. Specifically look at something that is the key to a better life, empowered or increased life. If you have a little good or you want and need more good in your life, recognize it. If you desire more then turn your thoughts to abundance, increase, plenty and again say my soul magnifies the good in me. You have planted seeds and they shall grow according to your happy consciousness and willingness to let them grow and increase. You have found the key. Your increase shall continue until your whole world is filled with enough good to use and to share. Be grateful for your increase in all areas of your life.
Say positive statements like "I thank you Father," "I appreciate my good," and "I bless my good everywhere in my me, with an attitude of gratitude, I am grateful and appreciative. I give thanks, I give myself wholly to acknowledging the one presence, one power that is in everyone and everything." Refuse to think or speak negative words of any kind that would indicate poverty, lack or limitation. Read More

Poles apart: satellites reveal why Antarctic sea ice grows as Arctic melts

The mystery of the expansion of sea ice around Antarctica, at the same time as global warming is melting swaths of Arctic sea ice, has been solved using data from US military satellites.
Two decades of measurements show that changing wind patterns around Antarctica have caused a small increase in sea ice, the result of cold winds off the continent blowing ice away from the coastline.
"Until now these changes in ice drift were only speculated upon using computer models," said Paul Holland at the British Antarctic Survey. "Our study of direct satellite observations shows the complexity of climate change.
"The Arctic is losing sea ice five times faster than the Antarctic is gaining it, so, on average, the Earth is losing sea ice very quickly. There is no inconsistency between our results and global warming."
The extent of sea ice is of global importance because the bright ice reflects sunlight far more than the ocean that melting uncovers, meaning temperature rises still further. Read More

Canals and streets look the same in Venice