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August 30th, 2007


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01:43 pm - Hopeful Changes Over Time
Here are an interesting pair of articles about how much the world has changed economically in the last century, and how much wealthier most inhabitants of the planet are now. One of the common arguments I've seen is that this First World prosperity comes at the expense of the 3rd world, which is not all that accurate, at least not in the planet's two most populous nations.

All three pieces are by economist Brad DeLong. I don't always agree with DeLong's ideas, but these articles are accurate and informative, and are a very useful antidote to some of the doom-saying I've seen so often of late.

Also, if you are interested in exploring this data (at least for the last 35+ years) this site contains a wealth of information (note that both axes of the graph can be altered to show an impressive variety of data.
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:alobar
Date:August 30th, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
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> One of the common arguments I've seen is that
> this First World prosperity comes at the expense of the 3rd world,
> which is not all that accurate, at least not in the planet's
> two most populous nations.

However, it does come at the expense of survival of the entire planetary ecosystem.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:August 30th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
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Hogwash.

We couldn't destroy the planetary ecosystem if we tried. We could (and are) significantly disrupting it, but that's a very different matter. It's also worth noting that the ozone hole is closing and air and water pollution is are very obviously soluble problems. Global warming is the only significant issue that's getting worse, and current efforts in Germany prove that carbon-fuel usage can be significantly reduced with no reduction in the standard of living.
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From:alephnul
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)
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Actually, my impression is that the extinction event is still getting worse rather than better. By the end of this event, it still won't be as bad as the one that the cyanobacteria inflicted on the world, but it will almost certainly be the second worst.
[User Picture]
From:alephnul
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
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As an example of another major problem that is getting worse not better.
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From:mindstalk
Date:August 31st, 2007 07:11 am (UTC)
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I'd question "almost certainly". The Permian extinction was really bad. Not that K-T was a piece of cake.

There's also "wiping out lots of species throughout the tree of life" and "wiping out whole genera, families, or orders." Not clear to me we're doing the latter.

Not to minimize the problem -- I should go re-join the Nature Conservacy, now that I have money -- but not to overstate it, either.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:August 31st, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
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We couldn't destroy the planetary ecosystem if we tried

Oh, I bet we could. Maybe not to the level of killing deep-sea creatures or asthenobacteria, actual total extinction of life, but I'm sure we could do something most people would happily call destroyed.

I'd like to be an optimist, but there are other problems besides global warming: topsoil erosion and freshwater shortages. Not just in dry areas; Great Plains agriculture rests on mining of the Ogalalla aquifer. And global warming will exacerbate water problems: more erratic precipitation, faster evaporation, less glacial storage.

I can envision solutions -- stacked hydroponics, desalination and water recycling -- but at the same time it's true that development consists in good part of mining the ecosystem and associated resources, not harvesting it.
[User Picture]
From:ankh_f_n_khonsu
Date:June 14th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
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How many living systems are in decline at this very minute?

How many species will go extinct today?

Global warming? Umm... :lol:
[User Picture]
From:jordan179
Date:August 30th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
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That's an interesting opinion.

Why do you believe that Third World style industry, which is at a lower level of technology and thus tends to burn more coal and create more pollution, is worse than First World style industry, which is increasingly switching to non- or less-polluting modes of power generation and garbage disposal?
[User Picture]
From:kitten_goddess
Date:August 31st, 2007 12:00 pm (UTC)

jordan179

(Link)
"Why do you believe that Third World style industry, which is at a lower level of technology and thus tends to burn more coal and create more pollution, is worse than First World style industry, which is increasingly switching to non- or less-polluting modes of power generation and garbage disposal?"

The question does not seem to make sense. It sounds like you're saying that First-World style industry is worse than Third-World style industry AND at the same time saying that the former is less polluting than the latter.
[User Picture]
From:jordan179
Date:August 31st, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)

Re: jordan179

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"Why do you believe that Third World style industry, which is at a lower level of technology and thus tends to burn more coal and create more pollution, is worse than First World style industry, which is increasingly switching to non- or less-polluting modes of power generation and garbage disposal?"

The question does not seem to make sense. It sounds like you're saying that First-World style industry is worse than Third-World style industry AND at the same time saying that the former is less polluting than the latter.


No, what I'm saying is that First World industry is both more productive and less polluting than Third World industry. This only fails to make sense if you assume that pollution and production must always be generated in the same proportion. In fact, higher-tech industrial techniques also tend to be less polluting than lower-tech ones.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:August 31st, 2007 11:57 am (UTC)
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Thank you! This is a helpful antidote to the Dominionist and ecofundy doomsayers alike.
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From:ankh_f_n_khonsu
Date:June 14th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC)
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That was rather shoddy.

DeLong offers no references, and his rhetoric resounds with that corporatist apologism that smacks of fascism.



In both countries these shifts in economic policy in the past quarter century have been extraordinarily successful, although in China more successful than India.


Misanthropy, anyone? What's urban life like in the slums of China and India? What percentage of the population lives in urban slums in India and China? What percentage of the population has access to clean drinking water in India and China? How many people die of starvation every day in India and China? How much of that wealth in India and China has come at the cost of suffusing their countries with toxic sludge (ref. Manufactured Landscapes)? How have the demographics of wealth been redistributed in Asia and India, or is wealth still pooled in the same hands?

In all honesty, I found the article so misinformed and ignorant, I don't even deem it worthy of rebuttal. There's a great deal of this tripe flittering about since Firebaugh's book (The New Geography of Global Income Inequality), and it's quite reminiscent of Reagan's mythic trickle-down-economics. Unfortunately, wealth disparity is not decreasing, and only those with secured access to wealth would suggest otherwise.

I may be demonstrating a bit of insanity myself, but I hope this isn't the type of 'evidence' that you generally use to form your opinions. I stumbled on your blog after you made a comment somewhere that resonated with a tinge of insight or wisdom. I'm hoping that wasn't a mistaken impression.

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