The CO2 World Cup

Glen Peters found a nifty way to plug in CO2 emissions per person during the World Cup:

France, with 5.3 tons per person, won the final over Croatia, with 4.4 tons per person. I will abstract away the units for the rest of this post. Also, I won’t discuss Glen’s unit choice. You can find others on Global Carbon Atlas. While a list of all the teams along with a statistical analysis would be nice, let’s focus on a few charts showing 10 of the top 16 teams. Excluding duplicate information omits a few teams; I will simply list them at the end. Feel free to add tweets in the comments for other matches you find noteworthy.

Belgium (8.9) finished third. It bested Brazil (2.3) in the quarter finals:

bra-bel

England (5.9) lost both to Croatia (4.4) and Belgium (8.9), but won 2-0 against Sweden (4.6) in the quarter finals:

eng-swe

The first CO2 offset we encounter, starting with the final game, is England’s loss to Croatia. There were many offsets, if only because the Australian behemoth (16.5) was present. Russia (11.4) is no small CO2-potato either. Here’s the graph for its shootout win against Spain (5.6):

esp-rus

Uruguay (2.1) won an impressive game against Portugal (4.9), and then lost to the World Cup’s winner, France (5.3):

uru-por

So we have France, Croatia, Belgium, England, Sweden, Uruguay, Brasil, Russia, Portugal, and Spain. The six other teams in the top 16 are Argentina (4.8), Japan (9.5), Switzerland (4.5), Columbia (1.7), Mexico (3.6), and Denmark (6.6).

The heat wave prevents me from sweating a conclusion. One I like:

AT’s away. Consider it a vacation post. Go all in with the most frivolous hypothesis if you please. Mine would be to envision a Mad Max world where countries a being rewarded by CO2 emissions bonuses by winning at the CO2 World Cup. Soccer would then finally make sense.

Have fun!

Advertisements

About Willard

neverendingaudit.tumblr.com
This entry was posted in ethics, GRRRROWTH, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to The CO2 World Cup

  1. Dave_Geologist says:

    Pedantic point ATTP. And an excuse to get in the first post 🙂 . Is it CO2 or CO2e? probably won’t change rankings much, but what about, for example, Amazon deforestation and burning?

  2. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    … the most frivolous hypothesis if you please.

    Hypotheses non fingo.

    Looking to other sports, however, I propose March Methane Madness, Le Tour de Airborne-Fraction, and the Super-Sequester Bowl.

  3. Willard says:

    > Is it CO2 or CO2e?

    Here’s what I can read in the Methods of the source’s website:

    Emissions per person: t CO2 per person = tonnes CO2 per person.

    CO2 emissions per person are measured as the total CO2 produced by a country as a consequence of human activities and are divided by the population of that country.

    http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions

  4. Joe Burlington says:

    Yes! The post is sort of fun – and yet … if we really cared – would we condone the entire shindig with all the associated flights, hotels and general extravagance? Would we publicise and endorse a level of emissions from the UK which ignores aviation, shipping and emissions embedded in imports? Am I right in thinking that Peters’ colleague Kevin Anderson says emissions are now 62% higher than in 1990 and the rate of increase shows no sign of declining? Would we celebrate international sport so wholeheartedly if our own children were first in line to have their lives blighted rather than kids in Africa and Bangladesh (where emissions per person are so much lower than ours – without even thinking about historical emissions)?
    What are the ways in which we could enhance our ability to communicate the reality of what physics tells us – so that political and social action might improve the currently bleak prospects of the next generation (and wildlife)? Could that be fun?
    Could we devise a fun competition that honoured careful use of precious resources?
    Is it because I am nearly eighty that I turn a light-hearted joke into a heavy political comment? Weird as it might sound, I am really fond of my grandchildren.

  5. Willard says:

  6. Jeffh says:

    I would have preferred to see a per capita ecological footprint per country evaluation, especially illustrating the fact that the developed nations exhibit massive domestic deficits that can only be maintained through externalities: looting and plundering of other nations’ resources. In that context Ebenezer Gwumah’s comment was very naive: he writes as if the rich nations have no influence over politics of the poor nations. Democracy and egalitarian policies in Africa have long been suppressed by colonialism and imperialism from the rich nations. True, bottom-up democracy in Africa is seen as a threat because it will conflict with the agendas of the ruling elites and corporations based in the north. Our supine corporate media pays lip service to it.

  7. Dave_Geologist says:

    And number 2! To frivolously apologise for not spotting that it was a Willard post 🙂 .

    On a more serious note, there has been a lot of internal air travel by the teams and fans. And Russia is biiiig…

    IIRC that partly stems from a FIFA directive that the home team has to move around so they don’t get the advantage of always playing at their National Stadium, as England did in 1966, and the big-name teams also move around, so provincials get a look-in. Part of their “deepening the grass roots” and “spreading the game” philosophy. Which does result in a lot of travel, and IIRC in the USA, lower crowds that would have been the case had they only played cities with a large Latino population who (in the case of immigrants or their children or grandchildren) were more interested in the game through heritage, and may have had an ancestral nation to cheer on, or an ancestral rival to cheer against. Unintended consequences and all that.

  8. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ah, was seeing a cached page. No #2 😦 . Still at least the caching saved a little bit of Internet bandwidth and PC CPU. My tiny contribution to the planet for this morning 🙂 . Which I’ve now reversed 😦 .

  9. Willard says:

    > Democracy and egalitarian policies in Africa have long been suppressed by colonialism and imperialism from the rich nations.

    I read Ebenezer’s comment as implying this, Jeffh. The argument is so simple it deserves to be repeated – if a country benefits from immigration, then countries losing immigrants are drained from human resources. Thus the argument that immigration is a Good Thing omits the fact that it perpetuates colonialist extractive practices.

  10. Dave_Geologist says:

    Unless the country is overpopulated Willard. But I appreciate that’s not the main reason for migration. It’s to escape violence or for economic betterment. Is it practical though to expect France’s former colonies to reach France’s current standard of living any time soon? Especially given carbon and resource constraints. So why deny the lucky few? Would a few better footballers back home really improve the lot of their fellow citizens, other than the feel-good factor? Especially as many of the children of migrants choose to play for their ancestral country. Probably the second-best in the main, but look at all the African players in the English Premier League. Anyone from outside the EU has to be an established international, so if they all tried their luck with France, Belgium or whatever the available pool would be much smaller.

    Where I sometimes did feel ambivalent before I retired was with the multinational oil company practice of creaming off talent in countries where we operated, as I presume is also the case for banks etc. IIRC one of the senior traders who overstepped the mark in 2008 was African. Would it have been better if he’d stayed at home and joined the Finance Ministry, rather than making lots of money for himself and lots more for already-rich elderly white men?

    My employer actively kept an eye on talented professionals they encountered in state or local oil companies, recruited the best into the local subsidiary to get a better look at them (usually an easy get as they paid more), with the carrot of joining international staff and becoming an expat if they were good enough. For most of those I met over the years, that carrot was a big factor in them accepting the initial offer. They would then spend at least a decade or two away from home, actively resisting return for fear they’d be sucked back into local staff and because they wanted to get their children through international schooling and into a Western college. Can you blame people for wanting to better themselves? And how do you turn them down for promotions and assignments if you have a meritocratic policy? You do often get senior managers returning for a stint because it looks good in-country to have “one of their own” in high positions interacting with government. But they’re far enough up the hierarchy by then that they won’t be forgotten about.

    On balance I’m for not denying people the opportunity to better themselves. And for diversity. Both morally and for the benefits it brings to the company in terms of different outlooks and perspectives. In many of the countries where we operated, a brain drain of a small proportion of their best engineers, geologists, financiers or lawyers was the least of their problems. And then there’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Weah. Would they have risen to power if they’d stayed at home?

  11. Joshua says:

    Our supine corporate media pays lip service to it.

    No doubt (IMO), true to some extent. But I’ve been thinking about, perhaps, another dynamic in play.

    In the daily outrage about Trump, I find myself caught up in the existential angst of having “nothing matters” constantly rubbed in my face (e. g., how about that whole “would/wouldn’t” charade – could there be a better example of nothing matters?)

    But, with a natural tendency towards recency bias, I then do lose sight of the bigger picture, where Johnson and Nixon flat out lied about acts of war, and the US “meddle” in elections to the point where we fucking installed puppet governments in other counties to prevent candidates we didn’t like from being elected.

    My point being, outrage is a tremendously profitable product for our profit – driven media, but I think also, there is a natural tendency towards being “supine.”

    Somehow the most recent example of nothing matters takes on outsized importance.

  12. Willard says:

    Thanks for the testimony, DaveG. Will try to get back later at the argument. For now, I only have time to share this chart:

    Notice who’s trailing, and imagine China playing soccer.

  13. verytallguy says:

    …imagine China playing soccer.

    I think you’ll find the correct term is Association Football, thank you.

  14. Willard says:

    That explains why in Fédération Internationale de Football Association there’s both “federation” and “association.”

    Thanks!

  15. Willard says:

  16. jacksmith4tx says:

    Willard,
    While we seem to be distracted by other news most might have missed this announcement:
    “Historic Russia – China Nuclear Power Cooperation, U.S. Loses Big”
    27 June 2018
    “The record-setting nuclear deal inked between China and Russia earlier this month is the latest blow to America’s declining influence in commercial nuclear power across the globe.

    The deal envisions the construction of four third-generation (Gen 3+) VVER-1200 reactors designed by Russia’s Rosatom Corp., along with the supply of generator parts for China’s ambitious lunar program and the joint development of an advanced CFR600 “fast breeder” reactor. In total, the contract could reach over 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) in construction costs, making it the largest bilateral nuclear deal ever signed between the two countries. The value of the initial set of contracts is estimated to be between $3 and $5 billion.”
    http://www.ensec.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=610:in-historic-russia-china-nuclear-power-cooperation-us-loses-big&catid=146:cenrg&Itemid=439

    Back in the good old USA Inc. I see this:
    http://world-nuclear-news.org/NN-GEH-receives-federal-funds-for-BWRX-300-development-1707184.html
    “GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is to receive USD1.9 million in funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to lead research into ways to efficiently building a power plant based on GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor. The research team includes Bechtel, Exelon, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    The team will examine ways to simplify the reactor design, reduce plant construction costs, and lower operations and maintenance costs for the BWRX-300. The research aims to identify ways to reduce plant completion costs by 40-60% compared with other SMR designs in development. This, GEH says, would make it cost-competitive with combined cycle gas and renewables.”

    Good to see we are starting to get serious and have a robust plan to study how to make a plan.

    Insight: This maybe why we saw the recent dramatic reduction in China solar build-out and tariff reductions. All things considered nuclear may actually get China to hit it’s Paris CO2 pledge.

    Side observation: ERCOT broke their all time high electricity demand today @ 72,192 MW, 25,469 of which was from the DFW-area alone. Yea-haw we win!

  17. Dave_Geologist says:

    I think you’ll find the correct term is Association Football, thank you.

    Nah, just Football 😉 . And Rugby Football is just Rugby. Although you perhaps noticed I was pedantic about the English Premier League not just the PL (there are others, and the next biggest financially with that name isn’t even football, it’s cricket), just as I am about the English FA.

    In the case of FIFA, I think it’s properly described as a Federation of (National) Football Associations. Which are required, at least in theory, to be independent of their Governments.

    China does have big-money teams, but I suspect they have the reverse problem to the African* countries’ brain** drain. Like MLS in the USA (and the EPL, although it gets them at their peak), it relies heavily on imported foreign stars, which must crowd out local talent. Compare to Japan and South Korea, who have strong domestic leagues, compete on the world stage and have players at top European clubs.

    * I think of it as particularly an African problem (if you consider losing talented footballers a problem at all) because of the poverty and its recent colonial past. The financial lure of Europe is bigger than for that other big reservoir of talent, Latin America. The big Latin American teams do hold onto some of their talent, and can compete at world level (the Super Cup in its various incarnations). It’s not that football’s unpopular. I’ve seen reports of 50k and 100k crowds. Migration to Europe, especially to the former colonial powers, means there’s a community to fit into, especially as you probably speak the language already,

    ** Because, as everyone knows, a footballer’s brains are in his feet 🙂 .

  18. Dave_Geologist says:

    jack, this probably has something to do with it:

    Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.

    “It’s really a gas and wind world today,” said Jeff Immelt, referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries are shifting towards as natural gas becomes “permanently cheap”.

    Of course they then sold it on to Hitachi, burdened with so much undeclared debt and failing contracts it almost bankrupted them.

    Which kinda suggests that, for whatever reason, nuclear is a game for strong state actors, not for the private sector.

  19. jacksmith4tx says:

    Thanks Dave.
    I agree with you. I thought the GE comment about “permanently cheap” natural gas was great. I think you can see why they fired Jeff Immelt.
    There are two sub trends in the electric power sector that will have to play out in the future. On one hand is the economics of centralize power plants and their attendant grid requirements Vs. techonology’s historic trend to decentralize and miniaturize (think micro-grids). I’m leaning toward technology’s projected path but the timeline will be very long.

  20. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    “The financial lure of Europe is bigger than for that other big reservoir of talent, Latin America. The big Latin American teams do hold onto some of their talent, and can compete at world level (the Super Cup in its various incarnations). It’s not that football’s unpopular. I’ve seen reports of 50k and 100k crowds.”

    I think video rights drive the finances of football clubs and associations. It certainly drives FIFA. The size of the TV audience is the key factor, that determines how much a club can spend draining the talent from the global pool.

    The biggest threat to this business model is the internet streaming of live coverage. Hence the extremely strong crack-down on the KODI box in the UK.

    After all a game is valuable interlectual property…

    https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/soccers-unsolvable-piracy-problem/383021/

  21. Dave_Geologist says:

    True izen. But the video/TV rights are worth more in rich countries than in poor countries, and in-between in in-between countries.So yes, those 50k or 100k crowds in Africa don’t bring in much money, a fraction of what an EPL club with 20k crowds will get from TV. And it snowballs, people in China and elsewhere pay to see the global superstars, who play in the richest leagues. There has always been an element of TV money. Back when Celtic and Rangers (in Scotland) were getting bigger crowds than Chelsea (in England, before Abramovich’s $$Ms), Chelsea were the richer club because they had ten times the TV audience. Now it’s 100 times, or 1000 times when you consider that each EPL game is now televised every week, one way or another. It used to just be the top two or three.

    Ah, now I’m sounding like

  22. Willard says:

    > Ah, now I’m sounding like

    You should finish this thought before I do, Dave 🙂

  23. Willard says:

  24. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “My point being, outrage is a tremendously profitable product for our profit – driven media, but I think also, there is a natural tendency towards being “supine.””

    Any natural tendency is being exploited by a manufactured perception that nothing matters. Our outrage is elicited for the contradictory and counter-factual statements from the ‘otters’, but that has no effect on actions or outcomes.

    In Climateball(tm) what could be done is relegated by the opposition to a position that ascribes the whole thing to Soros paid socialists imposing the UN21 NWO. Or less extremely, to group-think and funding greed.

    By employing ambiguity and contradiction political power can manipulate opposition into outrage over its lies and hypocrisy. It becomes a battle of style over substance. And opposition is diverted from effective intervention into dispelling conspiracy theories, economic myths and appeals to xenophobia. Even how best to manage the political system gets relegated, never mind how to change it for the better, I am sure Trump and his associates wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And beneath that Trump can pursue a simple neo-liberal mercantile ideological approach (with the help of like-minded finance) that works from a consistent principle. If I pay you more than you pay me then I am the loser. So the EU and China are much bigger foes of the US because they make money off the US. Russia is a minor economic player, so is not a foe, but does have a political system that has already succumbed to the mercantile management model.

    One aspect of the CO2 world cup Willard has constructed is the apparent reduction in many rich nations in CO2 per person. Some of this is because of the economic crash. Some is off-shoring emissions. Other underdeveloped Nations are still rising, but all the Nations that are at or above the 5tCO2/person/yr show a reversal of the rising trends in the 70-80s back to the ~5tCO2 average. It may be too little, too late, for the wrong reasons. But at least it is the right direction.
    (Except, what the *&% Belgium ?!)

  25. Willard says:

    > One aspect of the CO2 world cup Willard has constructed is the apparent reduction in many rich nations in CO2 per person.

    I wish. To that effect, consider a new FIFA rule for the CO2 World Cup:

    In case there’s a non-decisive result at the end of a game, instead of a draw or a penalty shootup, there would be a CO2 tiebreak. The team with the least tCO2 per person wins.

    That ought to enter a good competition for the world. Or some more gamesmanship.

  26. Dave_Geologist says:

    Probably an old fogey Willard. things were better back in the blah-de-blah-de-blah. Except of course they weren’t. Black-and-white telly, ash terraces retained by boards, don’t take valuables ‘cos you’re packed so tight you can’t tell if someone is picking your pocket, fingers crossed no-one urinates down the back of your leg…

  27. Dave_Geologist says:

    Belgium: steep decline though. Looks like the same path as the UK. Started from a high base, coal-fired legacy from when it has its own mines, still has a lot of coal-fired power stations. Unlike the UK, it didn’t have the economic incentive of indigenous gas production. UK used to be self-sufficient, In 2015 still produced a bit more than half of demand (of which, weirdly a third seems to have been exported). Maybe not so weird. There are a couple of two-way interconnectors to the Continent which allow peak-sharing and arbitrage and a couple of pipelines from Norway. There are (or used to be) some limitations in the capacity of the UK domestic grid. I remember being frustrated when I worked in Southern North Sea gas that some of our demand-responsive fields were not called upon during cold weather in the industrial north of England, because their landfall was too far south and getting it to the north would clog up capacity needed locally. Instead they turned up the taps from Norway.

    https://d3fy651gv2fhd3.cloudfront.net/charts/belgium-co2-emissions-metric-tons-per-capita-wb-data.png?s=bel.en.atm.co2e.pc%3aworldbank&lbl=0&v=201807310000v

  28. Dave_Geologist says:

    Back to the theme, maybe this is why the Netherlands didn’t make it though the qualifying rounds.

    https://d3fy651gv2fhd3.cloudfront.net/charts/netherlands-co2-emissions-metric-tons-per-capita-wb-data.png?s=nld.en.atm.co2e.pc%3aworldbank&lbl=0&v=201807310000v

    Naughty Netherlands. Worse than Belgium. Despite being iconic windmill country, and having extensive gas reserves, they still have a lot of coal-fired power and built three new plants in recent years. By a remarkable coincidence it coincided with the cut-back in Groningen gas production due to public concern over induced earthquakes. The curious phrasing “gas … from soil” suggests the figure is onshore only. I hope the Dutch offshore fields properly account for their at-source CO2 emissions. A lot of them have high CO2 content (e.g. 10%), which is typically removed using amine scrubbers. The amines operate in a closed loop, with gas bubbled through them to absorb CO2, which is then driven off by heating. Normally, of course, to atmosphere.

  29. izen says:

    @-W
    ” there would be a CO2 tiebreak. The team with the least tCO2 per person wins.”

    Is that the National tCO2 average ?

    Measuring the team tCO2 would likely just give a coomon result. The top players share enough of the pay-view income to have the massive carbon footprint of the rich and famous.

    For those Nations with a low <5 tCO2/p/yr, it looks like a measurement of poverty. There seems litte prospect they will reduce or even stabilise at that level.
    For richer nations the rate of decline will be the test.

    Although as Dave_G indicates the lack of investment in the infrastructure, results in short -term financial choices that prevent the optimal action on emissions.
    IIRC France is the leading exporter of zero carbon energy.
    Because it is logistically and financially inefficient to run their nuclear generation at less than full power.
    So the French run nuclear power on Sunday nights, and others, including the UK, buy it at a discount and improve their apparent 'Green Energy' use.

  30. libertador says:

    @Willard
    “The argument is so simple it deserves to be repeated – if a country benefits from immigration, then countries losing immigrants are drained from human resources.”
    I do not think the argument is that simple. Many immigrants give resources back to their country of origin or even return and apply their knowledge. The last point is actually made harder by strict immigration policy as people will not return to their origin, if this blocks/lowers the chances of immigrating again.
    I need to admit, that I do not know how the overall outcome is.

  31. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re infrastructure. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But by properly anticipating future requirements you can at least reduce the cost of lunch.

    One of the oddities of the UK gas grid was that, until relatively recently, an area centred on East Yorkshire had its own grid. Prior to N Sea gas, the UK used coal gas so you had regional grids based around gas plants, usually in mining areas where coal did not have to be transported far. One of those was used to pilot N Sea gas because it included the landfall of the first offshore pipeline. For decades it stayed isolated from the main grid, because it remained a low-pressure, local network and lots of stuff had to be upgraded to safely connect it to the national, high-pressure network introduced when dozens of inland gas plants were replaced by a handful of East Coast terminals. As the early fields have declined, I’m sure there are now a lot of undersized pipelines struggling to cope and oversized pipelines needing oversized pumps to keep the pressure up as they operate at a fraction of their original capacity.

    Some of the early gas-fired power stations used cheap sour gas (high CO2/H2S/N2) which could not be cleaned up economically to grid spec. You had coastal power stations with a pipeline direct to the producing field. I notice that a few of these have shut down, probably earlier than anticipated because progressively tighter emissions regulations have required more and more expensive flue-gas clean-up measures.

    We now have a debate in Scotland about ugly pylons crossing the countryside to bring renewable energy to where people live. Probably from the same NIMBYs who insisted that the wind farms be stuck somewhere remote where they won’t spoil their view.

    And of course there’s the whole centralised vs. distributed debate for solar and for battery/molten salt/whatever short-term storage. Making the right call will save a lot of wasted effort and stranded investment. But how to make the right call for decades ahead?

    Not that conventional fuels are exempt. It’s why I doubt if many companies will be investing in mines or power stations with decades-long payback times on the assumption that the Trump blip lasts until 2050. And what price Keystone XL when whatever environmental penalty is eventually applied to tar sands comes into force?

  32. Willard says:

    > Many immigrants give resources back to their country of origin or even return and apply their knowledge.

    The argument I underlined is indeed falsified by the possibility that both countries profit from immigration. Many countries rely on diaspora financing or remittances:

    Remittances constitute a significant share of financial flows reaching developing countries. In 2016, global remittances totaled US$575 billion (World Bank), of which US$429 billion were transferred to developing countries. Remittances exceed by three times the sum spent on ODA and rivals total FDI in developing countries. India (US$63 billion), China (US$61 billion), the Philippines (US$30 billion) and Mexico (US$29 billion) are the top receivers. In Latin America and the Caribbean, remittances surpass FDI and ODA combined, while in Africa, their value is 50 percent higher than ODA. Moreover, the value of remittances could be double the recorded figure, if transfers via informal channels (estimated to be worth between 20-55 percent of total remittances in developing countries) were accounted for. A few countries, including several in Central Asia, are highly dependent on remittances, with a share of remittances to GDP above 30 percent.

    http://www.undp.org/content/sdfinance/en/home/solutions/remittances.html

    In an ideal world, remittances would remedy a temporary situation. Which goes on to show that nationalist arguments need to take the complexity of the contemporary life into account. Personal freedom can also become an issue. More on that later if need be.

    The second possibility doesn’t contradict the argument, as it fulfills its implicit prescription. Ghandi is the classic example. Or take this one:

    In that case, one might argue that the development countries gets the better part of the deal. That doesn’t imply it’s zero-sum. For instance, many international students come in Canada to study. It’s cheaper than many other places, and the quality of life ain’t bad. Some work here, but most don’t, and they return home after school. Universities appreciate their input, as they’re usually either wealthy or talented.

  33. Jeffh says:

    Willard, the link you posted tells a small fraction of the story. Wealth is siphoned from the south to the north via ‘free trade’ policies which are not actually about trade at all but about investor’s rights. It’s pure fantasy to believe that countries in the south are the beneficiaries of capital from the rich countries in the north. The fact that virtually every country in the quad fosters per capita ecological deficits means that they have to get the capital from somewhere. They do it by reaching beyond their own borders and taking it from the south. And not through trade or fair trade rules, which are of course underwritten by the ruling elites in the developed countries. It is done through outright theft or, as economists like Patrick Bond and Samir Amin would say, ‘looting’. A few years before he died the still erudite scholar and ex-senior planner under Harry Truman, George Kennan, stated that he was worried about moves towards populist left-leaning regimes in Latin America because, in his words, ‘it threatened our resources’. ‘Our resources’, meaning the property of US corporations and/or investors even though they just happened to lie under the land masses of other countries. Kennan wrote about this back in the 1940s when, just after the end of WWII, the US controlled approximately 50% of the world’s wealth despite comprising only around 5% of the world’s population at that time. As he explained back then, and nothing has changed, the aim has always been to ‘maintain this disparity without threat to our [US] national security’. The three main pillars of US foreign policy (and those of its proxies) have always been outright expansionism, subjugation of other countries assets and nullification of alternate, more egalitarian systems that risk upsetting traditional sources of power and capital flows.

    So long as the rules of ‘trade’ and global economics are made by elites in the north, then nothing is going to change.

  34. Willard says:

    > the link you posted tells a small fraction of the story.

    Which link?

  35. jacksmith4tx says:

    Jeffh,
    If there is an art to telling the story of the post WWII world I’ll tip my hat to that english chap Adam Curtis. His ‘documentaries’ are overly dramatic but he does good job of connecting the dots for a plausible version of reality.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Curtis#Filmography

  36. Dave_Geologist says:

    “a plausible version of reality”. Hmmm. Why do I always associate that phrase with snakes, oil and salesmen?

  37. Jeffh says:

    Sorry Willard, my bad. I misinterpreted your comment,

    Perhaps its due to the monster drought afflicting the Netherlands right now. Its on course to obliterate that in 1976. On top of that, a monster heat wave may hit the country next week, with temperatures breaking centuries-long records. Already spring and summer here have seen exceptional warmth, coupled with the drought. I have not seen anything like this since I moved to Europe in 1983. In Norway maximum daily temperature records are falling like cards. And the worst, as I said, is yet to come.

  38. jacksmith4tx says:

    Dave,
    Having reviewed most of his films he strikes me as a fairly stable guy. If the Wiki bio is to believed I venture there are several folks on this blog that could find some common ground with his POV.
    As to “a plausible version of reality” I just wanted to temper my recommendation. It’s not in the same category as Trump’s alternate facts. Anyway In the age of quantum mechanics there really are different versions of reality.

    Hey everybody, how about some science:
    (cross posted from another blog)
    https://phys.org/news/2018-07-reversing-effect-quantum.html

    The work has some profound implications. “The most exciting thing for us is the possible connection with the arrow of time,” says Thompson, first author on the work. “If causal asymmetry is only found in classical models, it suggests our perception of cause and effect, and thus time, can emerge from enforcing a classical explanation on events in a fundamentally quantum world,” she says.

    Next, the team wants to understand how this connects to other ideas of time. “Every community has their own arrow of time, and everybody wants to explain where they come from,” says Vedral. Crutchfield and Mahoney called causal asymmetry an example of time’s “barbed arrow.”

    Most iconic is the thermodynamic arrow. It comes from the idea that disorder, or entropy, will always increase—a little here and there, in everything that happens, until the universe ends as one big, hot mess. While causal asymmetry is not the same as the thermodynamic arrow, they could be interrelated. Classical models that track more information also generate more disorder. “This hints that causal asymmetry can have entropic consequence,” says Thompson.

    The results may also have practical value. Doing away with the classical overhead for reversing cause and effect could help quantum simulation. “Like a movie playing in reverse, sometimes we may be required to make sense of things that are presented in an order that is intrinsically difficult to model. In such cases, quantum methods could prove vastly more efficient than their classical counterparts,” says Gu.

  39. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    ““a plausible version of reality”. Hmmm. Why do I always associate that phrase with snakes, oil and salesmen?”

    Because you have had a lifetime exposure to plausible versions of reality (adverts) that just happen to show that your life would be better if you pay money to X for product Y.

    But I would second the recommendation of the documentaries of Adam Curtis. If you have access to BBC iplayer then his latest(?) ‘Hypernormalisation’ is well worth a look. If only for the amazing collection, and juxtaposition of news footage he has collaged together. It is also on Youtube.

    I am not sure I buy into all of his plausible version of reality.
    But he does explain that whole weird Gaddafi history -when he was first accused of being the evil dictator behind terrorism, (Lockerbie etc) although most intelligence agencies blamed Syria. Then lauded as a new hero for ‘freedom’ by Bush and Blair when he agreed to give up WMDs he did not actually have.

  40. Willard says:

    > I have not seen anything like this since I moved to Europe in 1983.

    You are not alone:

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    “The argument I underlined is indeed falsified by the possibility that both countries profit from immigration. Many countries rely on diaspora financing or remittances:”

    Its a huge market. However you forget the middle men. corporations who process the remittance
    and take a fee.

    Enter bitcoin.

  42. Dave_Geologist says:

    Do the middlemen take 100% of the fee Steven? And doesn’t the need for expensive middlemen arise from the fact that Western banks won’t touch a bunch of countries with a bargepole for fear of being hit with US sanctions because they can’t prove that granny in her remote village isn’t actually a terrorist linchpin? Some might call that over-reach, others Imperialism by another name.

    Even if the middlemen take a large fee, as long as they take less than 100% and something gets through it’s better than nothing. It’s like the tired old argument about Laffer curves. No-one sensible would argue that the effect isn’t real, but with a feedback factor of less than one. It falls into the true-but-trivial-and-well-known category (law of diminishing returns). Only Reagan, and now Trump, listen to the siren calls of those who insist you’ll raise more money, which requires a feedback factor greater than one. That’s the financial equivalent of a perpetual motion machine, which should immediately activate your snake-oil detectors. Especially as Reagan’s effort proved, at least for the US economy in the 1980s, that in the real world the feedback factor was less than one.

    Back to remittances: even a non-bank expensive middleman in the US, EU etc. has to track where the remitted funds end up. People in the UK have gone to jail for remitting funds that ended up in the hands of terrorists. So logically, the middleman would be based in the destination country, and receive the money by informal means. So the commission still ends up in the target country, just not all of it with the target recipient.

  43. Dave_Geologist says:

    And thanks for the quantum link Steve. Only read the blurb so far, but it occurs to me: is this really new, a Quantum Leap you might say 🙂 (although if not new it’s still far from well-known and trivial). The classical problem is that (not always of course), a singular cause can have a singular effect, but a singular effect can have had multiple causes. Classically, you’d have symmetry of effort if it was no harder to deduce thousands of causes than to deduce one effect. But existing quantum computer thinking allows that already. How is it different from code-breaking, where a classical computer can only try one possible combination at a time, but a quantum computer can try many combinations simultaneously?

  44. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’ll give Hypernormalisation a go Jjeff.

  45. Steven Mosher says:

    “Do the middlemen take 100% of the fee Steven? And doesn’t the need for expensive middlemen arise from the fact that Western banks won’t touch a bunch of countries with a bargepole for fear of being hit with US sanctions because they can’t prove that granny in her remote village isn’t actually a terrorist linchpin? Some might call that over-reach, others Imperialism by another name.”

    huh. the top remittance companies are western union, moneygram, ria, hmm transferwise.

    they all charge a fee. and make margin on the exchange rates. do they keep 100 percent of the fee?
    no they pay their costs and keep the rest.

    kyc and aml laws are pretty silly.

    luckily there is a cheaper way for folks.

  46. Steven Mosher says:


    Back to remittances: even a non-bank expensive middleman in the US, EU etc. has to track where the remitted funds end up. People in the UK have gone to jail for remitting funds that ended up in the hands of terrorists. So logically, the middleman would be based in the destination country, and receive the money by informal means. So the commission still ends up in the target country, just not all of it with the target recipient.”

    err no.

    with a bitcoin remmitance there is no middleman. or kyc. or aml.
    just lower fees paid to a global anonymous network.

    p2p.

  47. Dave_Geologist says:

    True Steven. And perhaps it’s the way of the future, in the same way that many African countries have functional mobile phone networks and outside the bigger cities, have skipped landlines. I’d be fine with that. Barclays was a high-profile case of cutting off UK remittance providers. In fairness, they had just paid a massive fine for actual money-laundering so may have over-reacted.

    More generally on the “is the diaspora good or bad” topic. Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate on whether remittances are a significant benefit to migrants’ parent countries. The World Bank helpfully wrote some reports about it. For the UK at least, costs are fairly small, in the 5-10% range. A bit more than a credit card and cheaper than an International Money Order, at least for small transactions. So it looks like I was wrong about forced large transaction costs, but right that most of the money does reach the destination country. Only a few countries like Somalia are unable to access mainstream service providers.

    Unsurprisingly, China and India are the big beneficiaries, followed by the Philippines. So not the poorest of the poor, and at least in the first two, probably swollen by “brain-drain” migrants who can afford high remittances. Remittances are three or four times total overseas aid, more than half of foreign direct investment and abuut equal to private debt and portfolio equity flows. Indeed if China is excluded as a designation country, remittances exceed FDI. There are many countries where remittances make up more than 10% of GDP. I doubt if they could do without them. Also quite a few in the 1% or less range where the people are pretty poor but GDP is high due to oil or mineral wealth. I’m pretty sure remittances trickle down a lot better than the taxes and royalties collected from multinationals.

    Obviously it’s an open question whether remittance countries would have enjoyed faster growth per capita had the diaspora stayed at home. Skilled migrants, perhaps. Farmers, maids and construction workers? Probably not. There are lots of them back home already. Adding a few more would grow GDP in the same way the UK has post 2008. In line with population growth, not per capita.

  48. Willard says:

    > with a bitcoin remmitance there is no middleman

    That’s a theorical possibility more than anything.

    In theory, you should be able to get your hands on Bitcoin without having to trade it for any real- world currency or interact with any financial institution. The function of the financial institutions is replaced by elegant cryptography and the distributed network of Bitcoin users’ computers. All you need to acquire Bitcoin is a computer connected to the internet. You download the Bitcoin client and either have someone send you Bitcoin in exchange for a good or service, or use your computer’s processing power to maintain the network and get rewarded in Bitcoin. Once you have Bitcoin, you can use the same tools to store and spend it.

    But only the earliest, most dedicated Bitcoin users adopted this system; almost immediately, middlemen starting showing up. In October 2009, New Liberty Standard published a Bitcoin exchange rate based on the cost of electricity for a computer to mine Bitcoin, which established that one U.S. dollar was worth 1,309.03 BTC. In February 2010, The Bitcoin Market, the first of many Bitcoin exchanges, popped up. The notorious Mt. Gox exchange was established later that year. Even the dark-web markets, home to the purest use of Bitcoin, were middlemen, delivering messages between buyers and sellers and serving as an escrow service.

    https://theoutline.com/post/2592/bitcoin-is-none-of-the-things-it-was-supposed-to-be

    To paraphrase Chris de Burgh, not paying the ferryman is also a price one has to pay:

    Over 800 cryptocurrencies are now dead and worth less than one cent.

    New digital tokens are created through initial coin offerings but some of these projects have been scams and many have not materialized into real products.

    Bitcoin has fallen roughly 70 percent since its record high near $20,000 last year, adding to bearish sentiment around cryptocurrencies.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/02/over-800-cryptocurrencies-are-now-dead-as-bitcoin-feels-pressure.html

    Uberization might only be a pipe dream sold to enrich Californian techno-communists at the expense of gooses who have to pay more for their bank accounts at a higher risk. My actual financial setup is 100% insured, with no transaction fees, and a 1-2% out of each purchase I make.

    You can’t haz that when you’re poor. Another hidden tax they have to suffer just because they have no money.

  49. Willard says:

    I wouldn’t bet any farm on quantum computers:

    I tried to understand what happens if the errors due to noise are correlated — or connected. There is a Hebrew proverb that says that trouble comes in clusters. In English you would say: When it rains, it pours. In other words, interacting systems will have a tendency for errors to be correlated. There will be a probability that errors will affect many qubits all at once.

    So over the past decade or so, I’ve been studying what kind of correlations emerge from complicated quantum computations and what kind of correlations will cause a quantum computer to fail.

    In my earlier work on noise we used a mathematical approach called Fourier analysis, which says that it’s possible to break down complex waveforms into simpler components. We found that if the frequencies of these broken-up waves are low, the process is stable, and if they are high, the process is prone to error.

    That previous work brought me to my more recent paper that I wrote in 2014 with a Hebrew University computer scientist, Guy Kindler. Our calculations suggest that the noise in a quantum computer will kill all the high-frequency waves in the Fourier decomposition. If you think about the computational process as a Beethoven symphony, the noise will allow us to hear only the basses, but not the cellos, violas and violins.

    These results also give good reasons to think that noise levels cannot be sufficiently reduced; they will still be much higher than what is needed to demonstrate quantum supremacy and quantum error correction.

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/gil-kalais-argument-against-quantum-computers-20180207/

    In fairness, I know many proponents, including a guy who did his doctoral thesis on that subject. I may be overskeptical. This would explain my affinity for contrarian thought processes.

  50. izen says:

    @-W
    “I may be overskeptical. This would explain my affinity for contrarian thought processes.”

    Or if Penrose is right, and our brains transcend Turing limits by accessing quantum computing in neurons, then perhaps you are just tuned into the Beethoven late Quartets.

    But if quantum computing works it destroys bitcoin et al by removing the crypto from the currency.

    Not that cryptological security is a necessary or required quality of any currency. A currency only has to confer the ability to acquire a scarce resource within a regulated system of supply.

  51. Steven Mosher says:

    That’s a theorical possibility more than anything.

    “In theory, you should be able to get your hands on Bitcoin without having to trade it for any real- world currency or interact with any financial institution. The function of the financial institutions is replaced by elegant cryptography and the distributed network of Bitcoin users’ computers. All you need to acquire Bitcoin is a computer connected to the internet. You download the Bitcoin client and either have someone send you Bitcoin in exchange for a good or service, or use your computer’s processing power to maintain the network and get rewarded in Bitcoin. Once you have Bitcoin, you can use the same tools to store and spend it.”

    1. Wrong. Paper wallets. jeez.
    2. The minimum required to own bitcoin is a signature to an address.
    To be clear. All bitcoin is stored on the blockchain. To take possession, to transfer, etc
    you just need a an address and a signature.

    “But only the earliest, most dedicated Bitcoin users adopted this system; almost immediately, middlemen starting showing up. In October 2009, New Liberty Standard published a Bitcoin exchange rate based on the cost of electricity for a computer to mine Bitcoin, which established that one U.S. dollar was worth 1,309.03 BTC. In February 2010, The Bitcoin Market, the first of many Bitcoin exchanges, popped up. The notorious Mt. Gox exchange was established later that year. Even the dark-web markets, home to the purest use of Bitcoin, were middlemen, delivering messages between buyers and sellers and serving as an escrow service.”

    Dated of course; There are three ways to store your signatures
    A) with an online service (like mt gox) BAD.
    B) In your own hotwallet ( like a pc or mobile app) Better
    C) Cold storage: hard wallets, paper wallets, Best.
    Majority of funds are in B and C

    800 Shitcoins dead? Yup, more to come. Its hard to beat the network effect.

    “Uberization might only be a pipe dream sold to enrich Californian techno-communists at the expense of gooses who have to pay more for their bank accounts at a higher risk. My actual financial setup is 100% insured, with no transaction fees, and a 1-2% out of each purchase I make.”

    1. Nothing is 100% insured.
    2. Bitcoin aint exactly a california thing.

    You can’t haz that when you’re poor. Another hidden tax they have to suffer just because they have no money.

    Weird. My friends in venezulia would disagree with you.

  52. Steven Mosher says:

    “True Steven. And perhaps it’s the way of the future, in the same way that many African countries have functional mobile phone networks and outside the bigger cities, have skipped landlines.”

    Just looking at the big picture from the technology perspective. Electronic payment ( take wechat pay, apple pay, paypal, etc) looks to be our destiny. So in China yes I still use cash, and yes I still use the credit card, but more an more everything its just show them a QR code on your phone.
    call for a car? wechat pay. Grab a bike unlock it with your phone, ride to work. Go to dinner,
    show your Qr code. Will it take 5 years or 10 or 20? Hard to say. Will cash and cards totally vanish? I dunno, do people still use checks? But the direction is clear
    and least to those of us you were part of the internet boom ( and busts along the way ), ya dont want to be a blockbuster in a netflicks world.

    Now comes the question:

    GIVEN a future where electronic payment dominates, is there a way to implement this
    that does not cede all power and control to banks, governments, and payment processors?

    Yes. crypto.

    will it be easy? hell no, tough as fuck.

  53. Willard says:

    > My friends in venezulia would disagree with you.

    Good counterexample. Remittance provides another good one.

    But I’m in Canada, where our banking industry kicks ass. I don’t need to be my own bank.

    ***

    > will it be easy? hell no

    Relying on Blockchain will be easier than turning the governments of the world upside down. I expect them to BLOCKCHAIN ALL THE THINGS.

    I’ve looked at hardware wallets. Not cheap. Risky. Too much effort for me.

    However, I can see interesting applications. Paypal should be easy to take down. Hi, Elon:

  54. izen says:

    @-SM
    “GIVEN a future where electronic payment dominates, is there a way to implement this that does not cede all power and control to banks, governments, and payment processors?”

    No.
    However convenient and cryptologicaly elegant the QR on your phone may be for the buyer, the seller needs certainty the currency they are accepting is negotiable. That requires more than encryption, it requires collective regulation of the hardware, software and data links that read, check and transfer your entitlement by you showing your QR code.

    That actually requires a greater level of trust, or control between all the agents involved than handing over paper money. Historically it usually takes a National government to legitimise a currency beyond a local or regional cooperative. For crypto currency to work without the sanction of governance, regulation, and institutional oversight, would entail banks, governments and seller willingly ceding the advantage and power they have under the status quo.
    Or having it violently removed against their opposition.

    But there is another motive for banks, payment processors and sellers to want the power and control over any widely used electronic payment system. Information about how an individual, and large groups, choose how to use their entitlement to resources can improve the profitability of a consumer. (If you like that, you may like this…).
    Knowing every transaction that the majority of the population make has obvious attractions for a government seeking to regulated behaviour.

    Only the very rich will be able to hide their claim on resources by shell trusts and off-shore funds that can obscure the ownership of revenue.

  55. Dave_Geologist says:

    Willard, I don’t claim to be a quantum computing expert (quite the reverse), but:

    “There is a Hebrew proverb that says that trouble comes in clusters”. I don’t think a Bronze Age goatherd, however well he knows his sheep from his goats, is an authority on quantum phenomena.

    Nor, when it comes to correlations in quantum computers, is a mathematician, however brilliant.

    That’s a job for a quantum physicist. Maths suffers from the advantage of being perfectly provable, but the disadvantage of being totally dependent on the particular axioms chosen. I’d want a quantum physicist to choose the axioms. If that results in something that isn’t calculable, tough. The same message I’d give to economists. If you have to make unrealistic assumptions to make the maths calculable, ditch the crutch of mathematical perfection and go numerical.

    Oh, and Fourier, Schmourier. But that’s bias from years of reading crappy epicycles-by-another-name climate “science”. It’s fine in its place, and of course is used lots in seismic processing, where you have the advantage of knowing that the thing you’re representing is indeed a wave and is indeed cyclical.

  56. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ah, I see from the Quanta magazine article that my second point has been made to him. Unsurprising, really. He doesn’t agree. But kinda dodges the question to my mind. A spherical cow can be a real phenomenon (if it’s a metaphor for, say, a perfectly spherical, perfect black-body). But extending from the real, idealised phenomenon to the real Planet Earth would give the wrong answer. Simplifying the greenhouse effect to a thin layer of CO2 at the surface, as was done in an early 20th Century calculation, describes a real phenomenon. You could, in principle, trap an atmosphere’s worth of CO2 at the surface and evacuate above it. And you’d prove there is no greenhouse effect (or at least that it was absolutely tiny). And you’d be wrong about Planet Earth. The key point is not whether it is real, or even general, but how general. General enough to be generalised to the stuff IBM et al. are working on? Or not? I note that the 2014 ArXiv paper has not appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. In my field, that would be rather a long time to languish.

    Critics point out that my work with Kindler deals with a restricted form of quantum computing and argue that our model for noise is not physical, but a mathematical simplification of an actual physical situation. I’m quite certain that what we have demonstrated for our simplified model is a real and general phenomenon.

  57. Willard says:

    Thank you for all the ad hominem arguments and appeals to authority, Dave. They save me time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.