Thursday, August 5, 2010

New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus #2 (Demand Side Blog, Space Policy, New Security Beat, "The Boring Age")

In today's edition:

• By way of the Demand Side Blog, a number of pieces by James K. Galbraith regarding the current mess, including his April Washington Post article "No Return to Normal: Why the Economic Crisis, and its Solution, Are Bigger Than You Think"; his written statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee in May regarding the failings of the economics profession in recent decades, their contribution to the economic crisis, and the choices that remain in the aftermath; and finally his testimony to the Deficit Committee (presented at the blog in three parts, though it is also available in a single PDF file here). Also worth a look: Steven Keen's piece on American private debt and its implications for the country's economic outlook.

• The New York Times' William J. Broad and Kenneth Chang's article on the Obama administration's space policy (a copy of which is available at the White House's web site). It has been received as shifting the country away from the stance the Bush administration took in its August 2006 document. (The 2006 document is accessible here. Incidentally, my discussion of the document's security implications for the Space Review is available here.).

* Several pieces from The New Security Beat assessment of Population and Environment's special issue on "Climate Change: Understanding Anthropogenic Contributions and Responses"; a critique of the NATO 2020 document, and discussions of natural resource frontiers at sea, Pakistan's "population bomb," and the conflict in Yemen (their discussion of which highlights the neglected issues of demographics and water supplies).

* Finally, there is Time magazine's special, "10 Ideas for the Next 10 Years." Most of the items are banal, but Michael Lind's piece on "The Boring Age," definitely deserves a look. There he argues that we are living not in a time of unprecedented change, but of stagnation, most evident in the slow rate of technological change. He also suggests that the first half of the twenty-first century will offer more of the same. I think he's off in his predictions about our energy use, and accordingly, transport, are concerned--fossil fuel scarcities pretty much assure that, while climate change will be another significant complicating factor, and he just doesn't have much to say about these. (Indeed, to go by pieces like his "Goodbye, bullet trains and windmills," in Salon I think he may be a bit extreme in his suspicion of, and even disdain for, renewable energy, rail travel and public transport.) Reading it I wondered, too, if his assumption of U.S. dominance through 2050 isn't just amiable complacency (and as it happened, he penned another piece for Salon last month titled "Are the American People Obsolete?" in which he looks at some of the real obstacles to that outcome). Still, skepticism about techno-hype is an important and underrepresented viewpoint, and he makes some good arguments on its behalf.

New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus (Rocketplane, Food Prices, College Enrollments)

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