26 de junho de 2009

Já ouviram falar de Paleodieta?

Se não ouviram, estão a perder informações importantes (potencialmente, muito importantes) para a vossa saúde.
Para uma primeira abordagem podem ver e ouvir a entrevista que o Dr. Loren Cordain deu à RTP 2, em Maio passado, no vídeo acima. O Dr. Cordain deu uma conferência em Lisboa no passado dia 18 de Maio.
Para uma abordagem mais aprofundada podem ler a informação dada no blogue Canibais e Reis, sobre essa conferência, e aceder aí a muita mais informação sobre o assunto (ver aqui).
Aliás, recomendo vivamente o acompanhamento deste blogue, porque carreia um leque impressivo, em termos de quantidade, de qualidade e de abrangência, de informação sobre questões de nutrição e, como sabem, "pela boca é que morre o peixe".

19 de junho de 2009

Sol e aquecimento global

"The sunspot cycle is about to come out of its depression, if a newly discovered mechanism for predicting solar cycles — a migrating jet stream deep inside the sun — proves accurate. And that will add a small amount of warming in the next few years, which were already predicted to be record-setting by two recent studies.

When we last looked at the sun [please, don't try that at home], we were at “a 12-year low in solar ‘irradiance’.” As NASA
explained in April: “the sun’s brightness has dropped by 0.02% at visible wavelengths” since the solar minimum of 1996, which was “not enough to reverse the course of global warming.” It’s been “the quietest sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” said sunspot expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The deniers have been rooting for a
Maunder Minimum to stifle global warming (which it wouldn’t have done anyway, see here). But human-caused global warming is so strong that not bloody much stifling has been going on given that “this will be the hottest decade in recorded history by far,“ nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s. Heck, even with a La Niña and an unusually inactive sun, 2008 was almost 0.1°C warmer than the decade of the 1990s as a whole — and of course the 1990s were, at the time, the hottest decade in recorded history. Changes in the sun just ain’t the big dog anymore when it comes to driving climate change (see here). [...] "

Alteração climática e impacto nas primeiras civilizações

Um exemplo de outros episódios de alteração climática, este já no decurso da história da primeiras civilizações:

"At the AGU Chapman conference today, Yale archaeologist Harvey Weiss took the prize for an abrupt climate change picture worth a thousand words. Excavating an Akkadian palace in Tell Leilan, Syria, in 2006 and 2008, Weiss's team found one room with a grain storage vessel smashed on the floor. Lying next to it were a standard litre measure used for rationing grain, and the tablet on which a bureaucrat had been recording the rationing. The artifacts date from about 2190 B.C., when cities and towns of the Akkadian empire in Mesapotamia were being abandoned en masse as the region suffered crushing drought [a este propósito, ver aqui também].

"This site is the Pompeii of ancient Mesapotamia," says Weiss. "They walked away."

- continuar a ler em Climate Feedback: AGU Chapman Conference: "They walked away"

Sócrates no Diário Económico

Hoje, 19 de Junho, no Diário Económico, na secção de Opinião, todos os comentadores falam de Sócrates - o editorial fala da Autoeuropa. Embora de ângulos diferentes, com nuances, reparos, apartes diferentes, tudo aquilo que dizem merece-me uma concordância em sentido lato, não qualificada - o conjunto faz sentido. Recomenda-se a leitura.

18 de junho de 2009

Açores, Grão-Bretanha, e o clima daqui a 40 anos

Obviamente, são duas regiões diferentes - mas, a questão é saber quão diferentes serão: ambas são realidades insulares, com a influência (amenizadora) do mar, a ser, presumo eu, mais intensa no nosso caso.

Contudo, dá para conjecturar, mais que não seja a nossa latitude é mais baixa.

Assim acedam ao endereço abaixo; utilizem o simulador; conjecturem face a essa informação, o que poderá suceder aos Açores, face a diversas possibilidades de aumentos de temperatura, à luz do que se alvitra poderá suceder no caso da Grã-Bretanha, daqui a 40 anos; e reflictam...

Administração Obama e o aquecimento global (II)

A transcrição abaixo é de um discurso do Chefe de Gabinete de Clinton, John Podesta feito, recentemente em Essen, na Alemanha. O discurso pode ser acedido em: Climate Progress » Blog Archive » The Great Transformation: Climate change as cultural change. O seu interesse resulta de diversos factos - destaco dois: sintetiza o que a adminstração Obama está a projectar fazer (ver também aqui); dicute o que se pode (e deve) fazer internacionalmente:

"When it comes to climate change, moments of optimism have been few and far between. But I believe now is a time for measured optimism. Over the last eight years—as the findings of climate scientists became more precise, more accepted, and more worrying— the United States refused to recognize our responsibility to future generations of this planet. Our government played politics at home, and deliberately blocked progress abroad. Just about the only moment of fleeting celebration during those long years was when Kevin Conrad, the chief climate change negotiator for Papua New Guinea, famously told U.S. negotiators: “If, for some reason, you’re not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.”

Now, with the historic election of President [Barack] Obama, with strong climate policy advocates in both houses of Congress, and with an American public that is engaged and ready to make progress, the United States can do better than just getting out of the way. I can say with great confidence that the new American president sees climate change as the challenge of our time, and is committed to putting the full weight of America’s leadership towards building a new clean energy future. Without a doubt, change has arrived.

And not a moment too soon.

A few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a new study that found that, without policy action, the effects of climate change will be twice as severe as was estimated just six years ago—the median probability of surface warming is now 5.2 degrees Celsius, compared to a finding of 2.4 degrees Celsius as recently as 2003. Warming, even at this lower range, will result in millions of environmental refugees, violent resource conflicts, and pronounced human suffering, especially for the world’s most vulnerable populations, ironically those whose contribute least to the problem. A new report by the Global Humanitarian Forum found that 300,000 deaths a year are already attributable to climate change-related weather, food shortages, and disease.

The international community must embark on a path that will reduce global emissions and capitalize on the chance to achieve a best-case climate scenario. The silver lining of the MIT study I just mentioned is that, with aggressive policy action, warming can still be kept below two degrees Celsius. But we must act now."

17 de junho de 2009

Saúde nos EUA

- tirado de Open Left:: Health Insurers to Americans: Go Ahead And Die. Sem comentário!

Produção agrícola em queda?

Não tinha lido ainda nada sobre o output agrícola este ano, não conheço a fonte, pelo que o título acima vem com um ponto de interrogação - no entretanto, não quero especular com ligações a outro tipo de problemas:

"To understand the depth of the food Catastrophe that faces the world this year, consider the graphic below depicting countries by USD value of their agricultural output, as of 2006:

Now, consider the same graphic with the countries experiencing droughts highlighted - The countries that make up two thirds of the world's agricultural output are experiencing drought conditions. Whether you watch a
video of the drought in China, Australia, Africa, South America, or the US , the scene will be the same: misery, ruined crop, and dying cattle"

- tirado de Catastrophic Fall in 2009 Global Food Production

Administração Obama e o aquecimento global

A administração Obama abriu um novo website globalchange.gov dedicado, nomeadamente, ao impacto do aquecimento global nos EUA, no seguimento do seu relatório Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: GlobalChange.Gov–US Impacts Summary (slides apresentados acima).
"Climate Science Watch’s Rick Piltz, whistleblower extraordinaire, explains why this report is even more newsworthy — 8 years of Bush administration climate-science muzzling:
This is the first climate science report to come out under the Obama
administration and the most significant US climate impacts assessment since the
first National Assessment issued in 2000. The Bush-Cheney administration
essentially suppressed the 2000 National Assessment report and abandoned support
for the scientist-stakeholder interaction it had initiated."

All of the foot-dragging we’ve seen stems from the perception that climate change is a problem that is down the road, that it will happen sometime in the future, that the problem is remote. The report states unequivocally that climate change is happening now, and in our own backyards. It affects things people care about. The report is good science, science that informs policy. The science does not dictate policy. We must act sooner than later…."

16 de junho de 2009

Colbert entrevista um dos economistas da equipa de Obama

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Austan Goolsbee
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

- tirado de Economist's View: Colbert Interviews Goolsbee

Sobre os economistas e a crise (I)

A responsabilidade dos economistas quanto a não ter havido uma advertência clara, da sua parte - não que não tenha havido avisos, no entanto, de alguns deles - sobre o caminho perigoso, que as coisas estavam a tomar, e a discussão das razões que explicam que tal tenha podido suceder, é um tópico que tem estado na ordem do dia, desde alguns meses a esta parte, desde que a crise se manifestou de modo inequívoco.

Fui coleccionando artigos, notas, de qualidade, escopo, e profundidade diferentes, com vista a dar-lhe um tratamento integrado; o tempo foi passando, e nada. Assim, para arrumar, e arrumar de vez, coloco este conjunto de referências antigas, a que se deve seguir outro, em breve.

Comentário? Se houver paciência, engenho e arte.

  • "The crisis has provided much excitement for economists. On the one hand we are exhilarated by how much there is to learn. Nothing enlightens the functioning of markets like market failure. On the other hand, it is a time of personal growth and reflexion. It’s time to look inward and recognise our own limitations and the hubris of which we were guilty as a profession."

  • "The abstract of a recent paper by Colander, Föllmer, Haas, Goldberg, Juselius, Kirman, and Sloth: The economics profession appears to have been unaware of the long build-up to the current worldwide financial crisis and to have significantly underestimated its dimensions once it started to unfold.

    In our view, this lack of understanding is due to a misallocation of research efforts in economics. We trace the deeper roots of this failure to the profession’s insistence on constructing models that, by design, disregard the key elements driving outcomes in real-world markets. The economics profession has failed in communicating the limitations, weaknesses, and even dangers of its preferred models to the public. This state of affairs makes clear the need for a major reorientation of focus in the research economists undertake, as well as for the establishment of an ethical code that would ask economists to understand and communicate the limitations and potential misuses of their models.

    The authors call it a “systemic failure of the economics profession.” Krugman calls it “equilibrium decadence,” but rightly reserves his scolding for the macro tribe. The claim is that academic macroeconomists have become mired in a particularly fruitless equilibrium, in which each is engaged in the search for ever-greater levels of formal elegance, at the expense of empirical relevance. There’s definitely something to this. Today’s macroeconomists write for other macroeconomists.

    [...] Despite this observation, I don’t share the gloom of the naysayers, but my optimism comes from looking beyond macro. As a whole, the economics profession has become more empirically grounded. New large datasets offer the prospect of truly understanding individual behavior in a way that paying lip service to “micro-founded models” doesn’t. Many are engaged in the tricky business of writing more psychologically grounded models that are closely tied to real human behavior. Computational advances allow us now to take differences in people, and how they respond, far more seriously. The absence of available data doesn’t necessarily require more complex theory; we are also learning how better to measure the objects we model.

    [...] It may be too early to say that the new macro is already taking shape, but I’m willing to bet there’s going to be a renewed emphasis on imperfect and sticky information; rigorous analysis of micro datasets; plausible approaches to empirical identification; and — I hope — a belief that data, rather than op-ed debates can resolve the big debates. Institutions matter; political economy matters too. Behavior can be imperfect, markets can fail, and the unexpected does, in fact, occasionally happen. Today’s problems are both too real and too big to make ignoring the real world a sustainable equilibrium. Update: Click through for related commentary from Willem Buiter, Mark Thoma, and Brad DeLong."

  • Economists are the forgotten guilty men Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online

  • "We specialize mightily in academic economics, people will work on very narrow questions for their entire careers and become world class experts on that question, but they tend to forget what they learned in other areas over time, and they can't possibly keep up with developments outside their areas of specialization. So we rely and depend upon the expertise of others to inform us about areas in which we don't normally work."

  • Economics and the crisis of 2008 vox - Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists

    The global crisis is also a critical opportunity for the discipline of economics – an opportunity to disabuse ourselves of notions we should not have so gullibly accepted. Notions such as the unqualified support for market deregulation or the dismissal of aggregate volatility now come through as frivolous fads, while abstractions from the institutional foundations of markets seem naïve.

    [...] In CEPR Policy Insight No. 28 posted today, I present my views on what intellectual errors have been made and what lessons to draw from them in terms of new theoretical work that is needed. [...]

    Many of the roots of the crisis are apparent today, but most of us did not recognize them before the crisis.

    Three too-quickly-accepted notions impelled us to ignore these impeding problems.

    [...] While the data robustly show a marked decline in aggregate volatility since the 1950s, it is now clear that the end of the business cycle was a myth. Indeed, the policy and technologies that made the economy more robust against small shocks also made the economy more vulnerable to low-probability "tail" events. [...]. This new and dense pattern of interconnections created potential domino effects among financial institutions, companies, and households. Massive drops in asset values and the simultaneous insolvencies of many companies highlight that aggregate volatility is part and parcel of the market system. It is also part of the creative destruction process. Understanding that such volatility will be with us should redirect our attention towards models that help us interpret the various sources of volatility and delineate which components are associated with the efficient working of markets and which result from avoidable market failures.

    [...]. Free markets are not unregulated markets. Well-designed institutions and regulation are necessary for the proper functioning of markets. Institutions have received more attention over the past 15 years, but focus was on understanding why poor nations were poor – not on understanding which institutions are necessary as the basis of markets and for continued prosperity in advanced economies.

    [...] We could trust the long-lived large firms to monitor themselves because they had sufficient “reputational capital”. This belief turned out to be false due to two critical difficulties – monitoring must be done by individuals, and reputational monitoring requires that ex post punishment is credible. Both turned out false. Individuals may not care about the firm’s reputational capital, and the scarcity of specific capital and know-how means that the necessary punishments were non-credible.

    [...] As academic economists, we should remind policymakers of the implications these principles have for current policies. The first point is that fixing the short-run problem with policies that harm long-run growth is a bad option from a policy and welfare perspective. Innovation and reallocation are the keys to long-run growth, but potentially powerful groups tend to resist such changes. In developing nations, it is easy for impoverished populations suffering from adverse shocks and economic crises to turn against the market system and support populist, anti-growth policies. These threats are as important for advanced economies, particularly in the midst of the current economic crisis. Stimulus plans that bailout the financial and auto sector will influence innovation and reallocation. Reallocation may particularly suffer if the stimulus plans lock in factors in low-productivity sectors and activities. Market signals suggest that labour and capital should be reallocated away from, for example, the Detroit Big Three and highly skilled labour should be reallocated away from the financial industry towards more innovative sectors. Halted reallocation will also mean halted innovation.

    These concerns are not a sufficient reason for rejecting the stimulus plan, but rather a call to consider its implications for long-run growth. Decisive action on the crisis is necessary; not just soften the blow of the recession but also to avoid a backlash that could be deeply harmful to long-run growth. A deep and long recession raises the risk that consumers and policymakers start believing that free markets are responsible for the economic ills of today. If so, we could see a move away from the market economy. The pendulum could swing too far, bypassing properly-regulated free markets, towards heavy government involvement that could threaten future growth prospects of the global economy. A comprehensive stimulus plan, even with all of its imperfections, is probably the best way of fighting these dangers. Nevertheless, the details of the stimulus plan should be designed so as to cause minimal disruption to the process of reallocation and innovation. Sacrificing growth out of our fear of the present would be as severe a mistake as inaction. The risk that the belief in the capitalist system may collapse should not be dismissed.

  • Ensino de economia aqui Krugman: aqui How the Entire Economics Profession Failed - The Daily Beast

  • Telos (responsabilidade dos economistas financeiros): aqui

  • Op-Ed Contributors - The End of the Financial World as We Know It - NYTimes.com

    "To that end consider the strange story of Harry Markopolos. Mr. Markopolos is the former investment officer with Rampart Investment Management in Boston who, for nine years, tried to explain to the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bernard L. Madoff couldn’t be anything other than a fraud. [...]"

  • Grasping Reality: Raghuram Rajan Is My Guru Now...
    "Raghuram Rajan stood up in 2005 and warned everybody that increased financial complexity had made the world's financial markets riskier places. He is now my guru--along with Michael Mussa." “No One Saw It Coming” — REALLY? The Big Picture Raguram Rajan’s prophetic 2005 paper on the risks posed by securitization Ver aqui

  • “Because the United States is such a huge part of the global economy, there’s real reason to worry that an American financial virus could mark the beginning of a global economic contagion.” – Nouriel Roubini, March 2008

    “If, as I suspect, the American consumer now enters a sustained slowdown, there will be unmistakable reverberations on U.S.-centric export flows in many major regions of the world.” – Stephen S. Roach, October 2006

    “The size of the financial markets ... has become so monstrously huge, there is no other means of maintaining stability than to establish a psychology of confidence. The governments themselves can only project to the markets a sense they know what they’re doing.” – David M. Smick, March 2008

    “I am worried that the collapse of home prices might turn out to be the most severe since the Great Depression.” – Robert J. Shiller, September 2007

    “If housing prices fall back in line with the overall rate price level ... it will eliminate more than $2 trillion in paper wealth and considerably worsen the recession. The collapse of the housing bubble will also jeopardize the survival of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” – Dean Baker, September 2002

Temperaturas nos EUA, em finais do século

15 de junho de 2009

Eficiência energética, emprego, Açores, ...

Não sei por que cargas d'água não publiquei esta nota - a explicação tem a ver com os problemas que tive com o computador, ou, com o facto de na altura não estar satisfeito com a sua qualidade. Como continua a ser actual, e não quero perder mais tempo com ela, aí vai:

"Há alguns dias atrás, na ALRA, Artur Lima do PP ironizava, a-propósito das dificuldades de concretizar, no curto prazo, a certificação energética, sobre a menor importância que o assunto teria nos Açores devido à amenidade do nosso clima. Ontem, o líder parlamentar do PSD, António Marinho, referia a necessidade das soluções de criação do emprego, avançadas neste contexto de crise, se deverem caracterizar pela sustentabilidade no médio e longo prazo. Pode-se estabelecer uma ligação entre estas duas posições.

No primeiro caso, há que constatar o facto de termos um político a pronunciar-se sobre esta questão, de modo tão aberto e desprevenido. O que sucede, usualmente, é os políticos se escudarem na "sabedoria convencional" e no "politicamente correcto" do momento, em domínios que não conhecem - e quando estes integram uma componente técnica forte -, por uma questão de defesa e de minimização do risco - isto, independentemente, em muitos casos, do nível de convencimento que possam ter sobre a bondade do que afirmam sobre isto ou aquilo. O facto, segundo parece, daquelas observações não terem merecido qualquer contestação de nenhuma bancada é significativo: a questão da eficiência energética não está, ainda, como era bom de adivinhar, na agenda da classe política açoriana (esteve sempre, no entanto, na agenda da administração pública) - ela quando surge, surge em primeiro lugar e principalmente, por arrastamento decorrente da necessidade de lidar com as consequências operacionais e administrativas da legislação europeia e nacional na matéria; e, depois, surge, de modo marginal, tão somente no discurso dos mais atentos às novas modas do politicamente correcto, ou - sejamos optimistas - daqueles que começaram, por fim, a perceber o quanto muito está em jogo.
No segundo caso, diz-se algo que é correcto "em tese" - fazê-lo, é uma das formas mais hábeis do falar "politicamente correcto" -, mas que deixa muito a desejar, porque pode ser desaquada à conjuntura, e não é, intelectualmente honesta porque não explica onde esse tipo de emprego pode ser criado. A conjuntura de crise, que vivemos, faz da protecção ao emprego uma prioridade, não só justificada no domínio do social, mas também, como modo de sustentar a procura, principalmente, quando esta, em princípio, estará mais direccionada à produção local - a níveis salariais mais baixos, a componente do consumo em bens alimentares será maior. Donde, é adequado nesta situação recorrer a soluções de emprego, confessadamente precárias no médio prazo, se não houver outra alternativa - a crise justifica-o. Mas, obviamente, o ideal seria que o emprego agora criado fosse sustentado no médio prazo. Será possível criar esse tipo de emprego, aqui, agora, nos Açores? Levantar a questão da sustentabilidade do emprego sem mais, é habilidade tactica de político; não é posição de economista - mais que não seja porque a resposta não é fácil ... mas a pergunta é uma boa pergunta.
Ora, e aqui está a ligação, eu penso que o aumento da eficiência energética nos Açores é um dos modos de, respondendo a um problema sério, o da eficiência, criar novo emprego, emprego mais qualificado, e emprego mais sustentável. E atenção, por isso mesmo, poderá ser um dos modos de escorar melhor o sector de construção civil açoriano.
[Não fiz qualquer investigação sobre a construção civil nos Açores - nem olhei para as estatísticas oficiais, mais recentes, mas é óbvio que é um sector determinante para a boa saúde da economia açoriana, quer em termos de produto, quer de emprego. Questiono-me, sobre as condicionantes a longo prazo da sua actividade na região no que respeita à infraestruturação pública e ao imobiliário. Se é certo que haverá sempre necessidade de continuar a infraestruturar (mais que não fosse para manter a eficácia da dotação de obra já feita), será possível (será desejável) manter a intensidade com que tem vindo a ser feita? A mesma questão poderia ser colocada quanto à construção de imobiliário, nomeadamente, o relativo à habitação.]
A construção civil açoriana terá cada vez mais trabalho na área da manutenção. Deverá ter, cada vez mais - isso irá ser um imperativo, mais que não fosse pela força das circunstâncias, e pela imposição da legislação externa - mais trabalho na área da climatização dos edifícios - sim, mesmo com o nosso clima ameno - e em tudo aquilo que se prenda com a melhoria da "performance" energética dos mesmos e das outras infraestruturas (por exemplo, tudo aquilo que se prende com a iluminação pública). Esse trabalho será trabalho intensivo; será mais qualificado; produzirá mais valor acrescentado; será sustentado; e, se for feito a tempo, poderia, eventualmente, traduzir-se na exportação de serviços para destinos a sul.
Nada disto do que digo aqui, é original. Tudo isto está a ser discutido e concretizado, por exemplo, pela Administração Obama, na base de argumentos semelhantes.
Algumas referências que caracterizam o contexto que deve ser considerado na apreciação desta questão particular - neste quadro - da eficiência energética, ou, explicando melhor, o material destas referências demonstra que o assunto veio para ficar, e irá adquirir, inexoravalmente, uma importância determinante, em todo o sítio, mesmo naqueles de clima ameno, como no caso dos Açores (espero que continue assim, nos próximos 20, 30 anos):
  • Op-Ed Columnist - The Inflection Is Near? - NYTimes.com Thomas L. Friedman

    Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.” [...]

    “We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows. [...]

    We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. [...]

  • Economist's View: "Obama’s Chance to Lead" Obama’s chance to lead the green recovery, by Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern, Commentary, Financial Times:

    "We face two crises: a deep global financial crisis ... and an even deeper climate crisis... The scale of risk from climate change is altogether of a different and greater magnitude, as are the consequences of mismanaging or ignoring it. ... The investments necessary to convert our society to a low-carbon economy ... would drive growth over the next two or three decades. They would ensure that growth, with accompanying improvements in standards of living, was sustainable.

    The path that we have been on is not. The economic crisis will leave the US and other economies greatly weakened and it will be imperative to increase efficiency. One area in which there is ample room for improvement is in the energy efficiency of businesses, consumers and the government. [...]"

  • Portugal's mission to harness energy

    "By 2020, Pinho says, the country will produce more than 60 per cent of its electricity and 31 per cent of its energy (including electricity, heating and transport fuels) from renewable sources. This compares with a European Union electricity target of 20 per cent of energy. Plans announced by US president Barack Obama will see America producing 12 per cent of its power from clean energy sources at about the time Portugal reaches the 50 per cent mark, says Pinho. By next year, he says, Portugal will already emit less CO2 per capita than any other EU country."

  • Denmark's wind of change

    "If you want to know why Denmark is the world's leader in wind power, start with a three-hour car trip from the capital Copenhagen -- mind the bicyclists -- to the small town of Lem on the far west coast of Jutland. [...]

    [...] But technology, like the wind itself, is just one more part of the reason for Denmark's dominance. In the end, it happened because Denmark had the political and public will to decide that it wanted to be a leader -- and to follow through. Beginning in 1979, the government began a determined program of subsidies and loan guarantees to build up its nascent wind industry. Copenhagen covered 30% of investment costs, and guaranteed loans for large turbine exporters such as Vestas. It also mandated that utilities purchase wind energy at a preferential price -- thus guaranteeing investors a customer base. Energy taxes were channeled into research centers, where engineers crafted designs that would eventually produce cutting-edge giants like Vestas' 3-megawatt (MW) V90 turbine. (Read TIME's "Heroes of the Environment 2008.) As a result, wind turbines now dot Denmark, the country gets more than 19% of its electricity from the breeze (Spain and Portugal, the next highest countries, get about 10%) and Danish companies control a whopping one-third of the global wind market, earning billions in exports and creating a national champion from scratch. [...]

    [...] Beyond wind, the country (pop. 5.5 million) is a world leader in energy efficiency, getting more GDP per watt than any other member of the E.U. Carbon emissions are down 13.3% from 1990 levels and total energy consumption has barely moved [o que tem acontecido no caso dos Açores?], even as Denmark's economy continued to grow at a healthy clip. [...]

    [...] But the country's policies were actually born from a different emotion, one now in common currency: fear [quem tem medo nos Açores? Não a sua classe política]. When the 1973 oil crisis hit, 90% of Denmark's energy came from petroleum, almost all of it imported. Buffeted by the same supply shocks that hit the rest of the developed world, Denmark launched a rapid drive for energy conservation, [...]. Eventually the Mideast oil started flowing again, and the Danes themselves began enjoying the benefits of the petroleum and natural gas in their slice of the North Sea. It was enough to make them more than self-sufficient. But unlike most other countries, Denmark never forgot the lessons of 1973, and kept driving for greater energy efficiency and a more diversified energy supply. The Danish parliament raised taxes on energy to encourage conservation and established subsidies and standards to support more efficient buildings [...]

    [...] Denmark's energy efficiency has vastly improved in other areas such as the use of combined heat and power, where power plants recycle the waste energy from their operations as heat, which can be distributed to homes and businesses. [...]

    [...] "We're not special people here," he says.But there is something special in the way that Samso's residents -- and Danes as a whole -- have adapted to 21st-century realities about energy and the environment. [...]

  • Climate Progress » Blog Archive » An efficiency portfolio standard is as important as a renewable standard — and should come first

    Você falou da geotermia? [para não haver dúvidas: eu gosto e valorizo muito a geotermia]

    [...] What’s not to like about requiring that a certain percentage of our power come from clean, renewable energy? Well, for starters, it’s only half a solution, and it’s the expensive half at that. If we push renewable portfolio standards without also pushing even more aggressive efficiency portfolio standards (EEPS), we’ll end up chasing a goal that gets more difficult catch and more expensive to achieve with each passing year. As Stuart Hemphill, a VP at Southern California Edison noted in a recent article in the New York Times, without EEPS, RPS [renewables portfolio standard] targets grow as demand grows.

    [...] But the economically achievable energy efficiency potential is universal, substantial, and cheap. [...]

    [...] The advantages of an EEPs strategy can be seen by looking at how it would effect the energy bill at an individual home. As the EEPs took effect, the grid would become more efficient, and the homeowner would use less energy; meanwhile, as RPSs took effect, the cost of a unit of energy would go up. With an EEPs-based policy, although the homeowner would be paying more for each kW, she’d be using fewer kWs overall, keeping monthly costs for energy relatively stable. [...]

    [...] An intelligently designed federal EEPS could be the vehicle to begin that process. [I would add that a McKinsey Global Institute report found that “Improving energy efficiency [could] offset some 85% of the projected incremental demand for electricity in 2030, largely negating the need for the incremental coal-fired power plants assumed in the government reference case” (see McKinsey).

  • outubro» Arquivo » Uma reflexão sobre a política energética

    Você falou das medidas de direita que este governo [de Sócrates, obviamente] tomou - aquelas que a direita não foi capaz de tomar?

    Num ano de eleições, é importante reflectir sobre o que foi feito nos sectores nevrálgicos que pautam a vida das sociedades modernas. É justo dizer que no sector da energia o balanço da acção deste governo é positivo mas ainda há muito a fazer como o demonstram alguns indicadores e há que corrigir alguns erros cometidos. [...]

    [...] Por outro lado a aprovação pelo Governo da Estratégia Nacional da Energia em 2005 e do Plano Nacional de Acção para a Eficiência Energética (PNAEE) em 2008 dotaram o país de dois instrumentos essenciais para o futuro. A Estratégia Nacional definida é correcta e o seu resultado mais espectacular é a forte aposta nas energias renováveis e em particular na energia eólica. O lançamento do novo Plano Nacional para as barragens foi também uma iniciativa acertada num país que importa 85% da sua energia do exterior e onde o aproveitamento do potencial hidroeléctrico é apenas de 50%.

    [...] No entanto, apesar de todo o esforço feito, os indicadores continuam a mostrar que a situação energética de Portugal é muito frágil e que há ainda muito a fazer. A factura energética do país alcançou os 6.5 mil milhões de euros em 2007 o que revela um aumento de 9.3% em relação a 2006.É demasiado elevada porque apesar dos preços altos do petróleo o país pode fazer muito mais em termos de racionalizar o uso da energia e aplicar as medidas de eficiência energética.

    Mas isso não está a acontecer porque há uma deficiente política de informação das medidas tomadas ao público e há um fosso brutal entre a orientação politica consagrada nos documentos aprovados e a sua aplicação prática. Quem no país sabe do cheque eficiência que estimula os cidadãos que poupam electricidade ou o apoio ao isolamento térmico das moradias ou o apoio à substituição do automóvel por veículos mais eficientes? Enquanto os poderes públicos não fizerem uma revisão da sua estratégia de comunicação das medidas anunciadas e não revirem a sua estratégia de implementação prática mudando a forma de actuar de um Estado que é em geral inerte, burocrático e bloqueador, as mudanças essenciais ficam adiadas. Isso traduz-se em graves constrangimentos para o desenvolvimento do país: a importação de energia pesa hoje 15% na Balança Comercial e o peso da importação de energia no PIB é de 4% tendo duplicado nos últimos 10 anos. Estes indicadores afectam negativamente a competitividade do país e das empresas e há que mudar a situação. Sejamos claros: o caminho traçado é correcto mas precisamos de mais acção e de corrigir alguns erros. Por exemplo: porquê o sucesso na energia eólica e o insucesso na energia solar? Porquê que o modelo de sucesso na eólica não é estudado para promover o sucesso da energia solar térmica? [...]

  • Utilities Turn Their Customers Green, With Envy - NYTimes.com

  • Navarre's Stunning Clean Energy Success a Lesson for US Policymakers SolveClimate.com

    Quais são os objectivos dos Açores, no campo das renováveis, para os próximos anos?

    [...] Navarre President Miguel Sanz Sesma explained the secrets of clean energy success. Navarre’s energy numbers are staggering: A full 65 percent of the region’s energy now comes from renewable sources. By 2010, it expects to reach 75 percent, and it has a goal of eventually hitting 100 percent. Obama’s goal of more than doubling the United States’ renewable energy use to 25 percent by 2025 pales in comparison, and Navarre's experience suggests support for efforts at the state level to advance renewable energy use might provide the biggest payoff. [...]

O discurso de Netanyahu sobre o Estado Palestiniano

Estou, em absoluto, de acordo com o que se diz no texto:

"The Israeli prime minister endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, while rejecting it in the particular."

- ler em Netanyahu's Illusory Concession on Palestine The American Prospect

Sócrates e o caso do Freeport

Do blogue de Nicolau Santos, no Expresso (e sem comentários) - transcrição completa:

"Cerca de um mês depois do caso Freeport ter explodido com fragor, o balão parece estar a esvaziar-se rapidamente. Para quem esperava com o caso derrubar o primeiro-ministro, começa a ser evidente que faltam balas para liquidar José Sócrates.

Em primeiro lugar, está hoje claro que tudo o que veio na carta rogatória do Serious Fraud Office era, na essência, o que estava na carta que a polícia portuguesa mandara para Inglaterra em 2005 a solicitar informações sobre o assunto. De forma mais clara: o nome de Sócrates já ia nessa carta de 2005 - e agora veio de volta.

Em segundo, o que foi anunciado como o motivo para o caso ter tido um novo empurrão, a compra do grupo Freeport pelo grupo Carlyle, que teria descoberto um buraco nas contas e os tais 4 milhões a caminho de Portugal, foi, total e cabalmente, desmentido pelo porta-voz da Carlyle em Portugal, António Cunha Vaz, que negou ter sido encontrado qualquer buraco nas contas.

Em terceiro, a famosa reunião em que Sócrates teria estado apenas com três representantes do Freeport e onde teria pedido dinheiro, é negada pelo primeiro-ministro e ninguém a confirma.
Em quarto, o tio de Sócrates que, soubemos agora, tem Parkinson em estado inicial, afinal garante que telefonou ao sobrinho Zézito para denunciar que andavam a pedir dinheiro ao sr. Charles Smith, enquanto representante da Freeport, para o projecto avançar, coisa que considerou inadmissível. Por isso, avisou Sócrates e por isso este disse para o senhor se dirigir ao seu gabinete para explicar o que se estava a passar.

Em quinto, o Serious Fraud Office afinal não é tão eficiente como isso e foi alvo de uma auditoria, por parte de uma especialista americana, que concluiu pela incompetência de grande parte da actuação deste organismo e que levou ao despedimento de vários dos seus colaboradores.

Em sexto, afinal dos quatro milhões não se sabe de quê (de euros? de contos? de libras?) que vieram para Portugal para permitir o licenciamento do Freeport, metade terão ficado logo na Grã-Bretanha. Seria para pagar a alguém em Inglaterra que pudesse interferir no processo em Portugal? Ou será que não se pode concluir daqui que alguém pediu dinheiro sob o argumento de que era preciso pagar aos portugueses para o processo andar para a frente e afinal se locupletou com a maquia?

Claro que há que seguir o rasto do dinheiro (mas dinheiro de quem, se agora parece que não era do Freeport?) e saber às contas de quem foi parar. Mas começa a ser evidente que dificilmente será possível acusar Sócrates de ter cometido algum acto ilícito no licenciamento do Freeport.

É claro que, se acreditarmos em cabalas, o nome do primeiro-ministro ficou enlameado. E se esse era o objectivo, foi atingido. Mas já vamos no quarto processo deste tipo contra Sócrates, todos a começarem por apontar para factos ilícitos ou irregulares, que acabam depois no costume: em bolas de sabão e no julgamento do carácter do primeiro-ministro.

Só que o carácter julga-se com base em factos e não em suspeições. E até agora, desde as casinhas da Guarda ao Freeport, passando pela licenciatura, ainda ninguém conseguiu ligar Sócrates, com factos indiscutíveis, a situações que não são toleráveis num primeiro-ministro, mesmo que tenham sido cometidas antes de chegar ao cargo."
- tirado de Freeport queres ver que ele se safa? - Expresso.pt
PS: Esta nota, apercebi-me agora, é de 10 de Fevereiro passado, mas mantém toda a actualidade, e não foi desmentida pelo passar dos meses.
PS: Aliás, mais esta nota, do mesmo e sobre o mesmo, Dez pontos sobre o caso Freeport - Expresso.pt, que manteve a frescura e a actualidade.

As perspectivas da Zona Euro, segundo The Economist

Interessante, até onde pude perceber - não li ainda o relatório: só ouvi a entrevista de quem o fez (inserta acima). The Economist convive melhor com a bondade do projecto da União Económica e Monetária do que acontecia antes.
Esta referência, A special report on the euro area: : Holding together The Economist, remete para a primeira parte desse trabalho.

Os problemas da Educação dos outros - (só dos outros?)

Não sou especialista da educação - muito longe disso, embora tenha alguma experiência lectiva - mas tenho grande interesse no tópico. A determinante desse interesse resulta do facto de ser economista: [educação <=> crescimento/desenvolvimento económicos], e uma das maneiras de acompanhar o assunto (de modo eficiente), é coleccionar histórias das experiências dos outros (países) - tenho já um número grande de referências no delicious (etiqueta: educação-experiências). Este artigo do The Economist é um exemplo desse material:

American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans. They have one of the shortest school years anywhere, a mere 180 days compared with an average of 195 for OECD countries and more than 200 for East Asian countries. German children spend 20 more days in school than American ones, and South Koreans over a month more. Over 12 years, a 15-day deficit means American children lose out on 180 days of school, equivalent to an entire year.

American children also have one of the shortest school days, six-and-a-half hours, adding up to 32 hours a week.
By contrast, the school week is 37 hours in Luxembourg, 44 in Belgium, 53 in Denmark and 60 in Sweden. On top of that, American children do only about an hour’s-worth of homework a day, a figure that stuns the Japanese and Chinese.

Americans also divide up their school time oddly
. They cram the school day into the morning and early afternoon, and close their schools for three months in the summer. The country that tut-tuts at Europe’s mega-holidays thinks nothing of giving its children such a lazy summer. But the long summer vacation acts like a mental eraser, with the average child reportedly forgetting about a month’s-worth of instruction in many subjects and almost three times that in mathematics. American academics have even invented a term for this phenomenon, “summer learning loss”. This pedagogical understretch is exacerbating social inequalities. Poorer children frequently have no one to look after them in the long hours between the end of the school day and the end of the average working day. They are also particularly prone to learning loss. They fall behind by an average of over two months in their reading. Richer children actually improve their performance
- ler o artigo todo (recomenda-se) em Lexington: The underworked American The Economist

14 de junho de 2009

Aquecimento global, Gronelândia e subida do nível do mar

"The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than expected according to a new study….

Study results indicate that the ice sheet may be responsible for nearly 25 percent of global sea rise in the past 13 years. The study also shows that seas now are rising by more than 3 millimeters a year–more than 50 percent faster than the average for the 20th century.

UAF researcher Sebastian H. Mernild and colleagues from the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark discovered that from 1995 to 2007, overall precipitation on the ice sheet decreased while surface ablation–the combination of evaporation, melting and calving of the ice sheet–increased. According to Mernild’s new data, since 1995 the ice sheet lost an average of 265 cubic kilometers per year, which has contributed to about 0.7 millimeters per year in global sea level rise."

- continuar a ler em Climate Progress » Blog Archive » High Water: Greenland ice sheet melting faster than expected and could raise East Coast sea levels an extra 20 inches by 2100 — to more than 6 feet
PS (15.06.09): A este propósito, nada melhor do que rever o vídeo que coloquei aqui.


Pathways é uma revista da Universidade de Stanford dedicada a assuntos de pobreza, desigualdade e de políticas sociais - é grátis, e pode ser acedida em Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality - Pathways. Recomenda-se.

O exemplar referente ao verão de 2009 saiu, e o seu índice é o seguinte:


  • New research developments A surprising trend in wealth inequality, the biological determinants of poor children's academic performance, the long-term effects of job displacement, and other cutting-edge research.


  • Flexicurity Joshua Cohen and Charles Sabel argue that the time has come to build a 21st century labor market modeled on key principles of Denmark's "flexicurity" system.


Enquanto isso, nos EUA ...

"When a Fox News anchor, reacting to his own network’s surging e-mail traffic, warns urgently on-camera of a rise in hate-filled, “amped up” Americans who are “taking the extra step and getting the gun out,” maybe we should listen. He has better sources in that underground than most.

The anchor was Shepard Smith, speaking after Wednesday’s mayhem at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Unlike the bloviators at his network and elsewhere on cable, Smith is famous for his highly caffeinated news-reading, not any political agenda. But very occasionally — notably during Hurricane Katrina — he hits the Howard Beale mad-as-hell wall. Joining those at Fox who routinely disregard the network’s “We report, you decide” mantra, he both reported and decided, loudly.

What he reported was this: his e-mail from viewers had “become more and more frightening” in recent months, dating back to the election season. From Wednesday alone, he “could read a hundred” messages spewing “hate that’s not based in fact,” much of it about Barack Obama and some of it sharing the museum gunman’s canard that the president was not a naturally born citizen. These are Americans “out there in a scary place,” Smith said."

- continuar a ler (é bastante incómodo, mas esperemos que não venha a ser nada de importante) em Op-Ed Columnist - The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers - NYTimes.com

Sem surpresa

Carbon Emissions Linked To Global Warming In Simple Linear Relationship

ScienceDaily (2009-06-11) -- Scientists have found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Researchers used a combination of global climate models and historical climate data to show that there is a simple linear relationship between total cumulative emissions and global temperature change. ... > read full article

The Economist reporta o que Krugman disse, há dias, em Londres

"[...]Mr Krugman, who gave the Robbins lectures 21 years ago, tried to answer two big questions in the course of his three talks.

Why did economists not foresee calamity?

And how will the world economy climb out of recession?

The immediate cause of the crisis, “the mother of all global housing bubbles”, was spotted by many economists. That house prices had risen too far was obvious, even if policymakers had seemed less sure. The surprise was that the bursting of the bubble would be so damaging. “I had no idea it would end so badly,” said Mr Krugman."

- continuar a ler (é uma pequena, mas boa síntese) em: Paul Krugman's London lectures: Dismal science The Economist
PS: Têm aqui a entrevista de Will Hutton a Krugman: Paul Krugman's fear for lost decade Business The Observer. Muito interessante.
The Observer introduz a entrevista assim: As analysts and media hailed the tentative emergence of green shoots last week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman caused international shock with a prediction that the world economy would stagnate just as badly, and for just as long, as Japan's did in the 1990s. In an exclusive interview, he talks to Will Hutton about his anxiety for the future - and how Gordon Brown might have saved Britain from the blight that hangs over the West.

Alguns não conseguem (ainda) descortiná-la...

"I'm still looking for, and still not seeing, the economic recovery that everybody is talking about."

- Ler em Econbrowser: Do you see what I see?.
Além do gráfico acima, tens outros, também, com interesse para o assunto em causa.

Irão: o que se passou?

Muito aponta para que o regime iraniano não tenha conseguido coexistir com eleições - relativamente - livres, e aceite os resultados.
Algumas referências de leitura:

PS: Bem, era bom que as perspectivas aqui referidas, Op-Ed Columnist - Winds of Change? - NYTimes.com, para o próximo/médio-oriente se viessem a confirmar (ainda que, paradoxalmente, validassem a-posteriori alguma da actuação de Bush).

13 de junho de 2009

Uma história de pescas como metáfora de outras coisas

A tragédia dos comuns (climáticos) é o título desta nota do RealClimate. É uma história sobre as pescas, em si mesma (muito) importante, mas funciona como metáfora de tudo o que gira à volta das políticas de combate ao aquecimento global:

"Imagine a group of 100 fisherman faced with declining stocks and worried about the sustainability of their resource and their livelihoods. One of them works out that the total sustainable catch is about 20% of what everyone is catching now (with some uncertainty of course) but that if current trends of increasing catches (about 2% a year) continue the resource would be depleted in short order. Faced with that prospect, the fishermen gather to decide what to do. The problem is made more complicated because some groups of fishermen are much more efficient than the others. The top 5 catchers, catch 20% of the fish, and the top 20 catch almost 75% of the fish. Meanwhile the least efficient 50 catch only 10% of the fish and barely subsist. Clearly, fairness demands that the top catchers lead the way in moving towards a more sustainable future.

The top 5 do start discussing how to manage the transition. They realise that the continued growth in catches - driven by improved technology and increasing effort - is not sustainable, and make a plan to reduce their catch by 80% over a number of years. But there is opposition - manufacturers of fishing boats, tackle and fish processing plants are worried that this would imply less sales for them in the short term.
Strangely, they don't seem worried that a complete collapse of the fishery would mean no sales at all - preferring to think that the science can't possibly be correct and that everything will be fine. These manufacturers set up a number of organisations to advocate against any decreases in catch sizes - with catchy names like the Fisherfolk for Sound Science, and Friends of Fish. They then hire people who own an Excel spreadsheet program do "science" for them - and why not? They live after all in a free society.

After spending much energy and money on trying to undermine the science - with claims that the pond is much deeper than it looks, that the fish are just hiding, that the records of fish catches were contaminated by being done near a supermarket - the continued declining stocks and smaller and smaller fish make it harder and harder to sound convincing.
So, in a switch of tactics so fast it would impress Najinsky, the manufacturers' lobby suddenly decides to accept all that science and declares that the 'fish are hiding' crowd are just fringe elements. No, they said, we want to help with this transition, but …. we need to be sure that the plans will make sense. So they ask their spreadsheet-wielding "advocacy scientists" to calculate exactly what would happen if the top 5 (and only the top 5) did cut their catches by 80%, but meanwhile everyone else kept increasing their catch at the current (unsustainable rate).
Well, the answers were shocking - the total catch would be initially still be 84% of what it is now and would soon catch up with current levels. In fact, the exact same techniques that were used to project the fishery collapse imply that this would only delay the collapse by a few years! and what would be the point of that? [ver a nota anterior denominada Falácias]

The fact that the other top fishermen are discussing very similar cuts and that the fisherfolk council was trying to coordinate these actions to minimise the problems that might emerge, are of course ignored and the cry goes out that nothing can be done. In reality of course, the correct lesson to draw is that everything must be done.

In case you think that no-one would be so stupid as to think this kind of analysis has any validity, I would ask that you look up the history of the Newfoundland cod fishery. It is indeed a tragedy. And the connection to climate? Here.

See here for a much better picture of what coordinated action could achieve [é o gráfico coloco no início desta nota]. "

Aquilo que podemos fazer interessa sempre

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." - Edmund Burke
- citado em RealClimate
PS: Contaram-me esta, lá vão alguns anos: morava na Candelária (S.Miguel, Açores) uma alemã, que separava o lixo, conforme o seu tipo, colocando-o à porta de sua casa para ser recolhido. Na altura, nem se falava do assunto. Questionada sobre a utilidade do que fazia, ela retorquiu que esse problema (inexistência de recolha de lixo seleccionada) não lhe dizia respeito, que por causa dele não iria deixar de fazer o que era correcto.

Educação: uma experiência no Harlem

Tirado daqui: Op-Ed Columnist - The Harlem Miracle - NYTimes.com. Sem mais comentários, a transcrição:


Forgive some academic jargon, but the most common education reform ideas — reducing class size, raising teacher pay, enrolling kids in Head Start — produce gains of about 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3 standard deviations. If you study policy, those are the sorts of improvements you live with every day. Promise Academy produced gains of 1.3 and 1.4 standard deviations. That’s off the charts. In math, Promise Academy eliminated the achievement gap between its black students and the city average for white students.


These results are powerful evidence in a long-running debate. Some experts, mostly surrounding the education establishment, argue that schools alone can’t produce big changes. The problems are in society, and you have to work on broader issues like economic inequality. Reformers, on the other hand, have argued that school-based approaches can produce big results.


To my mind, the results also vindicate an emerging model for low-income students. Over the past decade, dozens of charter and independent schools, like Promise Academy, have become no excuses schools. The basic theory is that middle-class kids enter adolescence with certain working models in their heads: what I can achieve; how to control impulses; how to work hard. Many kids from poorer, disorganized homes don’t have these internalized models. The schools create a disciplined, orderly and demanding counterculture to inculcate middle-class values.


Basically, the no excuses schools pay meticulous attention to behavior and attitudes. They teach students how to look at the person who is talking, how to shake hands. These schools are academically rigorous and college-focused. Promise Academy students who are performing below grade level spent twice as much time in school as other students in New York City. Students who are performing at grade level spend 50 percent more time in school.


They also smash the normal bureaucratic strictures that bind leaders in regular schools. Promise Academy went through a tumultuous period as Canada searched for the right teachers. Nearly half of the teachers did not return for the 2005-2006 school year. A third didn’t return for the 2006-2007 year. Assessments are rigorous. Standardized tests are woven into the fabric of school life.

[...] "