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What We Read Today 11 December 2016

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).

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Topics today include:

  • American Dream is Slipping Away for Millennials

  • Trump 'Very Close' to Nominating Rex Wilkerson for Secretary of State

  • Rick Perry Likely Pick for Secretary of Energy

  • Trump Has Lowest Transition Approval of Any Recent President

  • Has California Overreached on Climate Fight?

  • Italy's New PM will Face a Huge Array of Issues

  • Left Leaning Social Democrats Headed for Big Win in Romania

  • Russia has Smartphone App that Destroys Privacy Forever

  • What is It that 97% of Climate Scientists Agree On?

  • The El Nino Warming Spike of 2015-2016

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

U.S.

  • American Dream slips out of reach for millennials, study finds (Los Angeles Times)  It is the first study to offer hard evidence of a trend that dominated the presidential election and helped fuel the election of Donald Trump: The American Dream is more elusive than ever.  Children born in 1940 had a 92% chance of taking home more income than their parents, the research shows. By contrast, someone born in 1984 — who is 32 years old today — has just a 50% likelihood of making more than his or her parents.  Put another way: Only about half of 30-something Americans earn more than their parents.  It is the first study to offer hard evidence of a trend that dominated the presidential election and helped fuel the election of Donald Trump: The American Dream is more elusive than ever.  Nathaniel Hendren, an assistant professor at Harvard who co-wrote the study, said:

"Both rich and poor kids are sharing this loss of absolute mobility."

  • Trump ‘Very Close’ on Secretary of State, Lauds Tillerson (Bloomberg)  President-elect Donald Trump said he’s “very, very close” to naming his secretary of state, and lauded front-runner Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson in an interview broadcast Sunday as “a world-class player”.  Econintersect:  Does anyone else see the similarities to reality TV in this transition process?

  • California's climate fight could be painful — especially on job and income growth (Los Angeles Times)  Californians are likely to pay more for gasoline, electricity, food and new homes — and to feel their lives jolted in myriad other ways — because their state broadly expanded its war on climate change this summer.  The ambitious new goals will require complex regulations on an unprecedented scale, but were approved in Sacramento without a study of possible economic repercussions.  Some of the nation’s top energy, housing and business experts say the effort may not only raise the cost of staples, but also slow the pace of job and income growth for millions of California families.  Econintersect:  California reduced emissions by 9.5% from the 2004 peak in the 10 years to 2014.  The mandate calls for another 38% reduction from the 2004 peak (total of 47% including that already realized) by 2030.  That is an annual compounded rate more than 2.2X the rate already experienced.

calif.greenhouse.gas.emissions.1995.2035

  • Perry Said to Be Trump’s Top Candidate for Energy Secretary (Bloomberg)  Donald Trump has narrowed his search for energy secretary to four people, with former Texas Governor Rick Perry the leading candidate.  People familiar with the president-elect’s selection process said two Democratic senators from energy-producing states -- Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- are also in the mix, along with Ray Washburne, a Dallas investor and former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

  • Pew poll: Trump's approval lower than previous incoming presidents (CNN)  Americans are less approving of President-elect Donald Trump than they were of previous presidents during their transitions into office, a new Pew Research Group poll shows.  Americans say Trump has also done too little to distance himself from white supremacists. And a majority are concerned that his business ties will present conflicts.  As Trump prepares to take office, 41% say they approve of the job he has done explaining his plans and policies for the future of the American people, while 55% say they disapprove of the job Trump has done.  See next article.

  • Low Approval of Trump’s Transition but Outlook for His Presidency Improves (Pew Research Center)

Italy

  • Italy’s Gentiloni Faces Economy, Banks, Populists in Top Job (Bloomberg)  Paolo Gentiloni has plenty of experience of international diplomacy but his main challenges, if he succeeds in becoming prime minister, will be Italy’s weak economy and -- most urgently of all -- its troubled banks.  President Sergio Mattarella asked outgoing Foreign Minister Gentiloni, 62, to form a new government to replace reform-minded Matteo Renzi after the latter was defeated in a constitutional referendum.

Romania

  • Romania's left takes big lead in parliamentary election – exit polls (The Guardian)  Hat tip to Laurentiu Nicolae.  Two exit polls gave Romania’s left-leaning Social Democrats a big lead in a parliamentary election, a year after a major anti-corruption drive forced the last socialist prime minister from power.  The Social Democratic party scored about 45% while the center-right Liberals came second with about 21% of the vote, according to polling institute CURS-Avangarde and the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy.

Russia

  • The Russian App That Has Destroyed Privacy Forever (Bloomberg)  Imagine a smartphone app that lets anyone take a picture of anyone and then find that person on social networks. Now stop imagining.  It’s the sort of thing you see in a Jason Bourne movie. A security camera watching over a crowded space snaps a picture of someone. A few seconds later, a supercomputer churns through a database and returns the person’s identity. The CIA knows all.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • '97% Of Climate Scientists Agree' Is 100% Wrong (Alex Epstein, Forbes)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  The author is selling his book,  The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels in this January 2015 article. The author points out that there is no credible research which defines what the stated 97% actually agree on.  He suggests that one economist (David Friedman) has estimated that only 1.6% of climate science research papers "“explicit endorsement with quantification” (quantification meaning 50 percent or more)."  He then shows data from 1850-2014 which he uses to support his inference that the global warming effect is grossly overstated.  See graphics below.  (Econintersect:  The beginning of 2015 was a particulaey inopportune time for the author to put his "stake in the ground" - see following articles.)  Epstein writes:

It’s likely that 97% of people making the 97% claim have absolutely no idea where that number comes from.

If you look at the literature, the specific meaning of the 97% claim is: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause--that is, that we are over 50% responsible. The warming is a whopping 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, a warming that has tapered off to essentially nothing in the last decade and a half.

  • March 2016 Was the Most Abnormally Warm Month on Record For the World, NOAA Says (The Weather Channel)  Earth's global temperatures in March 2016 were the most abnormally warm on record for any month, according to NOAA. This is the second month in a row that this remarkable feat has occurred.  NOAA's global State of the Climate report released Tuesday found March's temperature over the Earth's surface was 1.22 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, not only crushing the warmest March in the 137-year period of record set just one year prior, but also the largest temperature anomaly of any month in NOAA's database dating to 1880.  The previous record for the largest temperature anomaly on record in a given month was just set this past February. March beat out that record by a narrow margin of 0.01 degrees Celcius.  March 2016 is also the eleventh consecutive month in a row that the earth has recorded its warmest respective month on record.

  • Monthly Anomalies of Global Average Surface Temperature in October (1891 - 2016) (ds.data.jma.go.jp)  The monthly anomaly of the global average surface temperature in October 2016 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.30°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.62°C above the 20th century average), and was the 3rd warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.65°C per century.

  • UAH Global Temperature Update for November 2016: +0.45 deg. C (Roy Spencer,Ph.D., Global Warming)  Based upon this chart (second below), it now seems virtually impossible for 2016 to not be a record warm year in the UAH dataset.  ‚ÄčIt should be pointed out that 2016 will end up being 0.03-0.04 deg. C warmer than 1998, which is probably not a statistically significant difference given the uncertainties in the satellite dataset adjustments.


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