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posted on 22 October 2015

Early Headlines: 'Strongest' El Nino, Stars Collide, US Going To Pot, Putin To Declare Victory?, Japan's Whaling 'Science', Australia's Coal Future And More

Written by John Lounsbury

Early Bird Headlines 22 October 2015

Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.

early-bird-301-180

Global

merging.stars

  • Climate Change Slams Global Economy in a New Study From Stanford and Berkeley (Bloomberg) A novel analysis of temperature records shows that economies perform worse in high heat. Climate change could cause 10 times as much damage to the global economy as previously estimated, slashing output as much as 23% by the end of the century, a new research paper from Stanford and Berkeley finds. Looking at 166 countries from 1960 to 2010, the researchers identified an optimal average annual temperature that coincides with peak productivity of, for example, labor and crops. It's 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), or approximately the climate of San Francisco's bay area. The research was reported in Nature: Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production Econintersect: This work should be examined closely for proof of causation. While it is straightforward to measure agricultural productivity as a function of temperature, all other observations of productivity should consider that temperature may not have increased production (or decreased it at higher temperatures). It may be that productive people chose to move into the desirable temperature climes.

  • Permafrost warming in parts of Alaska is 'unbelievable' (BBC News) One of the world's leading experts on permafrost has told BBC News that the recent rate of warming of this frozen layer of earth is "unbelievable". Prof Vladimir Romanovsky said that he expected permafrost in parts of Alaska would start to thaw by 2070. Researchers worry that methane frozen within the permafrost will be released, exacerbating climate change. The professor said a rise in permafrost temperatures in the past four years convinced him warming was real. Permafrost is perennially frozen soil that has been below zero degrees C for at least two years.

U.S.

  • Freedom Caucus backs Ryan for speaker (Al Jazeera) The hardline House Freedom Caucus said Wednesday it is supporting Rep. Paul Ryan for speaker of the House, all but guaranteeing he'll get the job if he wants it, and potentially heralding a new start for a deeply divided House GOP. The group of around three dozen conservatives stressed that their support for Ryan was not an official endorsement because they couldn't muster the 80% agreement such an announcement would require. Yet members of the rebellious group made clear that their intent was to unite behind Ryan and give him the consensus he has said he needs to seek the speakership.

  • Obama to hold photo-op to veto defense bill (The Hill) President Obama will veto a major defense policy bill Thursday, just two days after the Republican-controlled Congress sent it to his desk. Obama plans to hold a photo-op in the Oval Office when he uses his veto pen on the National Defense Authorization Act, according to his public schedule. Obama objects to the bill primarily because it puts $38 billion into a war fund not subject to budget caps. An override of the veto is deemed unlikely.

  • In U.S., 58% Back Legal Marijuana Use (Gallup) The number of Americans saying marijuana use should be legal in the United States has tied the high point in Gallup's 46-year trend at 58%. The number has been above 50% for the last three years, rising from only 12% 46 years ago. (See first graphic.) The increase in positive opinion has accelerated since the turn of the century and appears to have built-in momentum to continue to rise based on the demographic pattern: The most rapid rise since 2000/2001 was in the group born 1951-1965 (66%), second is the 1966-1980 group (44%), third in the 1936-1951 group (38%) and the group with the highest mortality rate (1935 and earlier) has essentially not changed (18% vs. 19%). In future years they will be replaced by a younger group born after 1997. The youngest group in the current survey (1981-1997) has the highest approval percentage (71%). See also next article.

marijuana.gallup.1

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  • Marijuana use, disorders doubled since 2001 (Reuters) As attitudes and laws in the U.S. have become more tolerant of marijuana, the proportion of adults using and abusing the substance at least doubled between 2001 and 2013, according to a new study. Although marijuana dependence and abuse was found to be on the rise, that is largely due to the overall increase in new users, researchers note, while existing marijuana users experienced a 15% decline in pot-related disorders. See also preceding article.

Russia

  • Assad-Putin meeting signals push to end Syria crisis (Associated Press) Bashar Assad's surprise meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow could signal that Russia ultimately seeks a political settlement after weeks of heavy air strikes in Syria. But the terms of such an arrangement are uncertain, and questions remain about whether Moscow will seek the departure of its longtime ally or try for a power-sharing agreement.

  • Moscow says Russia, US, Turkish, Saudi foreign ministers to meet Friday about Syria. (Associated Press) In a further indication that Russia seeks a diplomatic way out of Syria, Moscow says Russia, US, Turkish, Saudi foreign ministers to meet Friday about Syria. Econintersect: Perhaps 'Vlad the Impaler' will declare vistory and go home.

India

  • India beef lynching premeditated, says inquiry (BBC News) A commission of inquiry in India has concluded that the lynching of a man over rumors he kept and consumed beef was premeditated and not spontaneous. A panel from the National Commission for Minorities visited the village of Bisada, near Delhi, where Mohammad Akhlaq, a Muslim, was beaten to death. It said a Hindu temple had been used to plan the attack. Government ministers from the Hindu nationalist BJP have said the incident was a spontaneous expression of anger. In recent weeks three Muslim men have been killed by Hindus accusing them of eating or smuggling beef.

Japan

  • Japan's whaling gambit shows it's time to strengthen the rule of science in law (The Conversation) Earlier this week it was revealed that Japan has prevented the International Court of Justice from hearing cases about its controversial whaling program. The declaration follows the highly publicised 2014 ruling by the court that Japan's previous scientific whaling program (JARPA II) was "not for the purposes of scientific research", making it contrary to international law. Japan concluded JARPA II and announced a new program, NEWREP-A which proposes to kill up to around 4,000 whales over 12 years, beginning this summer. The Japanese process of declaring commercial whaling to be "research" has been the subject of a continuing TV documentary series "Whale Wars" on Animal Planet.

Australia

  • The long-term future of Australian coal is drying up (The Conversation) By the end of 2012, at the peak of the recent mining boom, the industry had announced plans to triple or even quadruple Australian black coal production on 2010 levels by 2030. Less than three years after many of these announcements were made, however, a number of the relevant projects have become financially inviable, such as the Wiggins Island, Balaclava Island and Dudgeon Point coal terminals and the Wandoan coal mine in Queensland. The world is phasing out the use of coal, especially the addition of new coal burning facilities. The author says the current coal woes are just beginning for Australia because it is not adjusting to the global reality.

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