This blog covers two subjects that have the potential to morph into existential threats to civilisation if various factors align. The two in question are climate change and resource depletion. Unfortunately, any consideration of existential threats have been viewed as the province of cranks for the last few decades—or at least of fiction authors with a taste for the dystopian. Now at last the topic is getting some respect with the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge, England. The NYT has a good introduction here, and CSER’s web site is here (note the impressive line-up of founders and advisors—no cranks!).
To the Financial Times’ credit, the dark side of the shale gas revolution is given some sympathetic coverage; for example, these articles on shale gas flaring here and here. This contrasts sharply with the Wall Street Journal, whose mantra appears to be “drill baby drill”.
Photographing Climate Change in the New Yorker show cases a committed few. I am reminded of Bill McKibben’s lament “where are the goddamn operas“. The artistic community often appears missing in action when it comes to climate change, despite the fact that global warming poses a monumental threat to mankind’s artistic endeavour.
A thoughtful post by David Altig from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta at his Macroblog on Robert Gordon’s ‘end of growth’ hypothesis.
Climate change was directly addressed in President Obama’s inauguration speech (what a contrast with the Presidential debates). But what could really change? Here is the somewhat gloomy view of Harvard’s Robert Stavins.