28 de fevereiro de 2011

Reia e Dione

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Chinese Provincial Inequality - Grasping Reality with a Sharp Beak:

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Clicar para aceder a uma melhor resolução.


India’s great moral leader Mohandas Gandhi famously said that there is enough on Earth for everybody’s need, but not enough for everybody’s greed. Today, Gandhi’s insight is being put to the test as never before. 

The world is hitting global limits in its use of resources. We are feeling the shocks each day in catastrophic floods, droughts, and storms – and in the resulting surge in prices in the marketplace. Our fate now depends on whether we cooperate or fall victim to self-defeating greed.

The limits to the global economy are new, resulting from the unprecedented size of the world’s population and the unprecedented spread of economic growth to nearly the entire world. There are now seven billion people on the planet, compared to just three billion a half-century ago. Today, average per capita income is $10,000, with the rich world averaging around $40,000 and the developing world around $4,000. That means that the world economy is now producing around $70 trillion in total annual output, compared to around $10 trillion in 1960 [continuar a ler....]

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Big Oil gains from higher prices while families pay the price « Climate Progress

Political instability in the Middle East over the past month has driven parallel unrest in world oil prices. The drive for political freedom in the Middle East has rightfully captured the world’s attention but it has also roiled oil markets. Governments across the globe are worried that sustained unrest will escalate oil prices past $100 per barrel on their way to $120 or more, choking the struggling economic recovery in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. One entity, however, is almost certain to benefit from this volatility: Big Oil companies.

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Clicar na imagem para obter melhor resolução.

O sarilho

The problem

In many ways the four peripheral countries share common traits. Since the run-up to the euro and especially after joining the Eurozone,  they have spent and lived beyond their means by accumulating private and/or public debtand running large current-account deficits. Regaining sustainability will require a combination of lower living standards and higher production levels, especially in the tradable sector. Efforts by the private and the public sectors to pay up their debts will have a negative impact on growth, and low growth will it make more difficult to reduce debt levels. These countries are also confronted with the risk of debt deflation, as restoring competitiveness in the tradable sector will require low price increases and perhaps even deflation.

Given the high level of financial interdependency within the Eurozone, the private and public debt difficulties of the peripheral countries also translate into risks for other Eurozone countries. Our estimates (Table 1) show that peripheral banks hold about €340 billion of peripheral sovereign debts and that banks in the rest of the Eurozone are exposed to peripheral countries to the tune of about €400 billion, 60% via exposure to banks and 40% via the holding of sovereign debt. By far the biggest exposure of Eurozone banks is to Spain (53% of the total exposure), through both sovereign and banking channels. The second largest exposure is to Ireland (18% of the total), mainly through the banking channel, and then Portugal (16%). Exposure to Greece is the smallest (13 %) and is almost entirely through the sovereign channel.

Table 1. Estimated exposure to periphery government debt and banking system (€ bn), end-2010

 Source: Bruegel. For data sources and explanations see Darvas et al (2011). [....]

Table 2. Assessment of alternative policies

  Source: Bruegel. 

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Nota: Clicar nos quadros para ter acesso a uma versão maior e mais legível.


Over the last few weeks, three different papers have been published that all examine ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet. What's interesting is all three papers use entirely different methods to measure the rate of ice loss. Even more interesting is that these three different methods paint a consistent picture of what's happening to Greenland.

Schrama et al 2011 uses gravity measurements from the GRACE satellites to determine any change in mass of the Greenland ice sheet (there's a great article The Riddle of the ice about Ernst Schrama's work). They find from March 2003 to February 2010, Greenland lost ice mass at a rate of 252 gigatonnes per year. A key result from their paper was to confirm that ice loss had spread to the north west of Greenland [continua ....]

Figure 1: Ice mass anomaly of the Greenland ice sheet as measured by GRACE gravity satellites (Schrama et al 2011).

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27 de fevereiro de 2011


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Para saberem quem é o autor, vão ao Margens de erro - atenção que lá vai manter-se o suspense sobre quem é o pai. Sabia que a pessoa em questão tinha estudado naquela escola, mas não sabia que tinha tido como tese de doutoramento um tema tão sugestivo, embora, desconfie qual tenha sido a inspiração e o objecto do estudo.

Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2011 February 27 - Hyperion

Saturn's Hyperion: A Moon with Odd Craters
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: What lies at the bottom of Hyperion's strange craters? Nobody's sure. To help find out, the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn swooped past the sponge-textured moon in 2005 and 2010 and took images of unprecedented detail. An image from the 2005 pass, shown above in false color, shows a remarkable world strewn with strange craters and a generally odd surface. The slight differences in color likely show differences in surface composition. At the bottom of most craters lies some type of unknown dark material. Inspection of the image shows bright features indicating that the dark material might be only tens of meters thick in some places. Hyperion is about 250 kilometers across, rotates chaotically, and has a density so low that it might house a vast system of caverns inside.

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Histórias exemplares

Não me surpreende. Aprendemos isso em África, em condições muito mais favoráveis.

In one instance, he examines the work of a group of American soldiers and civilians, known as a provincial reconstruction team, whose job was to provide development assistance to Afghan locals in Asadabad (A-Bad to the Americans) in eastern Afghanistan. It was overseen by a battalion known as the 1-32 and commanded by a lieutenant colonel named Mark O’Donnell. In June 2009, after the reconstruction team had been working there for three years, an American supply truck blew a tire on the main road. A crowd of Afghans gathered, and then suddenly a grenade exploded, killing and maiming several Afghans. A riot ensued. “Kill the Americans!” the Afghans shouted. “Protect Islam!” Only later did a videotape of the incident show clearly that an Afghan had tossed the grenade. 

About this, West writes: 

“For three years, the provincial reconstruction team had lived in a compound a few blocks from the scene of the tragedy. The P.R.T. had paid over $10 million to hire locals, who smiled in appreciation. Every time a platoon from 1-32 patrolled through town, they stopped to chat with storekeepers and to buy trinkets and candy to give to the street urchins. Yet the locals had turned on the soldiers in an instant. That the townspeople in A-Bad who profited from American protection and projects would believe the worst of O’Donnell’s soldiers — whom they knew personally — suggested that the Americans were tolerated but not supported, regardless of their good works and money.”

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É sempre útil ver confirmado noutros sítios aquilo que sabíamos que sucedia nos Açores, e que explica o baixo nível de desemprego ocorrido ao longo dos anos - a que se deve acrescentar a emigração açoriana nas décadas de 60 e 70, e a histórica e relativamente baixa participação da mão-de-obra feminina no mercado de trabalho açoriano (malgrado a evolução positiva verificada, no entretanto).

"Dean Baker points us to Feyrer and Sacerdote, who use cross-state variation in stimulus spending per capita to estimate the employment effects of the stimulus. They find a clear positive effect: states that got more money per person did better on jobs. And as Baker points out, the national effects must have been larger, since some money spent in New Jersey presumably creates jobs in New York and vice versa.

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"João Ferreira do Amaral's main thesis was the following. 1) Adoption of the euro led to a systematic bias in the allocation of resources from tradable goods sectors to non-tradable goods sectors; 2) the only way to possibly avoid such bias (and, thus, to prevent the current foreign debt crisis) would have been to devalue the national currency.

True; if (and only if) Portugal merely aims at avoiding foreign debt crisis. But I always thought we wanted to improve our real per capita income (in purchasing power parity, obviously). Think about the crawling-peg 1976-1990. It was instrumental to rebalance our payments balance. To the cost of postponing structural change in our tradable goods sectors. See where that led us: low structural competitiveness and... a foreign debt crisis.

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Mas há outras notícias do futuro

Não tenho dúvidas quanto à capacidade de encontrarmos soluções tecnológicas que possibilitem uma resposta adequada às consequências da inevitabilidade (já está adquirida, penso eu) das alterações climáticas - as notícias referidas abaixo (a confirmarem-se) poderão ser um exemplo disso. A dúvida está em saber se o quadro político-institucional, ideológico e dos interesses, em países estratégicos para concretizar aquela resposta, como é o caso dos EUA, o vai permitir através da procura dessas soluções e da potenciação das, no entretanto, já descobertas.

A Google-backed startup on Wednesday came out of "stealth mode" with a way to dramatically cut the amount of electricity wasted by data centers, solar panels, hybrid cars and more. Transphorm has made a module that can cut by as much as 90 percent the amount of electricity lost while converting currents in anything from laptops to elevator motors and massive computer server farms. Figures cited by the startup indicated that inefficient electric power conversion in the US power grid wastes the equivalent of the output of 318 coal-fired power plants and costs the nation's economy $40 billion a year.

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Author, inventor, and futurist Ray Kurzweil [....] 's prognostications are derived from his law of accelerating returns -- the idea that information technologies progress exponentially, in part because each iteration is used to help build the next, better, faster, cheaper one. [....]

Kurzweil also believes this theory can be applied to solar energy. As part of a panel convened by the National Association of Engineers, Kurzweil, together with Google cofounder Larry Page, concluded that solar energy technology is improving at such a rate that it will soonbe able to compete with fossil fuels.

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Avisos do futuro

Science study warns: “Ignoring climate projections at this stage will only result in the worst form of triage.”

The quote above is the powerful final sentence from a 2009 study in Science, “Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat.” The University of Washington news release release explained:
Rapidly warming climate is likely to seriously alter crop yields in the tropics and subtropics by the end of this century and, without adaptation, will leave half the world’s population facing serious food shortages, new research shows….
“The stresses on global food production from temperature alone are going to be huge, and that doesn’t take into account water supplies stressed by the higher temperatures,” said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor.

Yes, this 2009 study is a serious underestimate of the speed and scale of likely impacts for two reasons [.... vejam porquê]

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26 de fevereiro de 2011


O que se está a passar no Wisconsin é exemplar na demonstração  de quanto a política norte-americana se radicalizou à direita, e de quão diferente essa direita é em comparação com as suas homólogas europeias (ver aqui e aqui). Abaixo mais uma referência a mais um artigo de Krugman sobre a questão.

Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad — specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular — in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” — Mr. Bremer’s words, not the reporter’s — and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.” 

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

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24 de fevereiro de 2011


"A glacier on Peru's Huaytapallana Moutain shed half its surface ice in just 23 years, officials said Wednesday, reinforcing concerns of climate change's growing threat to fresh water resources.

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Guerra civil

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PS: Oil prices: The markets watch the revolution, cont. he Economist: Conditions have deteriorated in Libya, where open civil war appears to have broken out. Some of Libya's oil production has been disrupted, and prices continue to rise around the world. How serious are matters? .... The interesting thing about recent market moves is that they're pricing in the possibility that instability speads. And it well might. But for now, all eyes are on Libya, where the primary danger is not to the global economy but to those caught in the conflict.

Noutro sítio

Image: This artist’s impression shows the disk around the young star T Cha. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope this disk has been found to be in two parts, a narrow ring close to the star and the remainder of the disk material much further out. A companion object, seen in the foreground, has been detected in the gap in the disk that may be either a brown dwarf or a large planet. The inner dust disk is lost in the glare of the star in this picture. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada.

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23 de fevereiro de 2011

Anomalias e notícias do futuro

[....] China's key wheat producing region, lying just south of Beijing, has received just 12 millimeters (1/2 inch) of rain since September, according to the Chinese news service Xinhua. If no rains come during the remainder of February, it could become the worst drought in 200 years. [....] spring in Eastern China has an enhanced probability of being dry, with only a 20% - 25% chance that the region will see above average precipitation, and a 40% - 45% chance of below average precipitation. So the great drought will likely continue, and China's ability to feed itself may be greatly challenged this year.

Impact on global food supplies and food prices

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the drought in north China seems to be putting pressure on wheat prices [....] This has helped push global food prices to their highest levels since the FAO Food Price Index was created in 1990 (Figure 3.) China is the world's largest producer of wheat, and if they are forced to import large amounts of food due to continued drought, it could severely impact world food prices. However, the FAO's regional representative for Asia and the Pacific said in an interview with Reuters last month that the situation is not as severe as in 2008, when global food riots erupted.  

The record food global food prices have been partially driven by two other huge weather disasters, the Russian summer heat wave and drought of 2010, and the Australian floods of December - January 2011. Both Russia and Australia are major exporters of grain. [....] The Russian heat wave of 2010 is now estimated by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters to be the deadliest in human history, with 55,736 deaths.[....]

Drought outlook for Northern Hemisphere summer of 2011

The spike in global food prices this winter raises the concern that a severe drought in a major grain producing region in North America, Europe, or Asia this summer could severely impact grain supplies and food prices. Fortunately, with La Niña conditions over the Eastern Pacific weakening, and possibly abating by summer, the chances for such a drought are lower than they would have been if La Niña were to stay strong into the summer.[....]


The recent unrest in the Middle East, which has been attributed, in part, to high food prices, gives us a warning of the type of global unrest that might result in future years if the climate continues to warm as expected. A hotter climate means more severe droughts will occur. We can expect an increasing number of unprecedented heat waves and droughts like the 2010 Russian drought in coming decades. This will significantly increase the odds of a world food emergency far worse than the 2007 - 2008 global food crisis. When we also consider the world's expanding population and the possibility that peak oil will make fertilizers and agriculture much more expensive, we have the potential for a perfect storm of events aligning in the near future, with droughts made significantly worse by climate change contributing to events that will cause disruption of the global economy, intense political turmoil, and war. [....]

The New York Times' Andy Revkin in his Dot Earth Blog has a more in-depth look at the food and climate change issue that I recommend.

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Este blogue é de um meteorologista: - deviam ler a nota na totalidade (e ver as figuras) e acompanhá-lo. Quanto a tempestades perfeitas, e no curto prazo (repito, no curto prazo) só faltaria que, a uma eventual seca em algumas zonas estratégicas do hemisfério Norte se juntassem perturbações significativas na Arábia Saudita.

22 de fevereiro de 2011


How extreme was the latest Australian deluge, which Dr. Jeff Masters described above? The Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson said:
Over 420 ml of rain in that catchment in less than 24 hours is off the charts since records began and certainly that combined with a six metre high tide, that water came up very, very quickly. So a really one in 500 year event; nobody’s experienced anything like this before.”

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Ler a nota na sua totalidade é imperativo:

The current problems of the Portuguese economy highlight the desperate need for public debates on concrete policies: the country needs to discuss the positives and negatives of different alternatives, the relative urgency of each policy, their likely effectiveness in terms of addressing the current bottlenecks. This is particularly important now that difficult choices need to be made by the government on a daily basis - opportunity costs are everywhere and this cannot be hidden any more.

How to fix the justice system is probably the most conspicuous example of the urgency of specific proposals for reform that should be introduced in the very near future. On the other hand, teacher evaluation - a terribly important idea that, in my view, was terribly implemented - is a good example of the problems that can arise when big reforms are introduced without prior debate. In fact, the education ministry is still discussing how to implement that reform already four years after its first version was introduced.

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Paul Krugman comenta os protestos sindicais no Wisconsin:

Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor, Scott Walker — demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday — Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”

It wasn’t the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn’t mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did — after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it.
In any case, however, Mr. Ryan was more right than he knew. For what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

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E  um dos colaboradores do blogue Free exchange - The Economist comenta o comentário - a subida dos impostos é modalidade considerada aberrativa no actual contexto político-ideológico actual dos EUA:

Indeed a severe recession borne of the financial crisis is what brought Wisconsin to fiscal meltdown. But this has merely accelerated a recognition of Wisconsin's bigger structural issues. Blaming Wall Street is a convenient way to avoid the elephant in the room—that people must rethink the social contract between state workers and taxpayers. As health care gets more expensive and people live longer, the old model simply isn't sustainable. This means that either benefits must be cut (which, given legal hurdles, is unlikely) or state residents must pay more taxes. 

The worst possible outcome is the cautionary tale provided by Prichard, Alabama. Hard choices where not made in time. The pension fund ran out of money and the local government did not have the tax base to pay benefits. The retirees stopped receiving their benefits and now face severe poverty and uncertainty in their old age. Perhaps if state workers took on a little risk now, such as less job security and private pension accounts, they’ll manage to avoid a similar fate.

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20 de fevereiro de 2011

Questão a ter em linha de conta...

"Those who want to cut Social Security benefits because people are living longer, e.g. through raising the retirement age, assume longevity is independent of the Social Security system. That assumption may be false:

Study links social security improvements to longer life span, EurekAlert: ...According to a new study published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, Americans over the age of 65 experienced steep declines in the rate of mortality in the periods that followed the founding of and subsequent improvements to Social Security. The authors urge that as Congress and the President discuss changes to Social Security they consider the benefit of reduced mortality and improved health among older Americans. ...

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"Do we believe the whole elite of science is in a conspiracy? At some point in the development of a scientific truth, contrarians risk becoming flat earthers.

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19 de fevereiro de 2011


.... A corrida para ver quem censura primeiro dá um retrato fiel do país político: os partidos envolvidos num jogo tático confrangedor, em que, de um lado, temos um Governo com um programa que não é o seu e, de outro, uma oposição que escolheu o caminho da fulanização anti-Sócrates como forma de esconder as suas vacuidades programáticas.

Ora, em lugar desta tensão tática primária, com o espectro de ingovernabilidade sempre a pairar, o que o conjunto dos partidos nos poderia oferecer era capacidade negocial de facto, institucionalizando uma prática de diálogo que teimamos em não ter. Os ajustamentos que necessariamente teremos de fazer só são exequíveis com um pacto social alargado, que dê sustentabilidade e previsibilidade às opções - à imagem do que aconteceu em Espanha. O que temos é um jogo de póquer, desfasado da realidade, no qual nem Governo, nem oposições se mostram disponíveis para abandonar a rigidez das suas posições de partida.

No fundo, torna-se claro que, se as dificuldades não forem suficientes, temos sempre uma garantia: o sistema político cá estará para somar problemas. Talvez assim se perceba a especificidade do mal português e o crescente desajustamento entre partidos e país.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2011 February 19 - spiral galaxy NGC 2841

Astronomy Picture of the Day:

2011 February 19
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841 Close Up

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI / AURA) - ESA / Hubble Collaboration

 Explanation: A mere 46 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk. Dust lanes, small, pink star-forming regions, and young blue star clusters are embedded in the patchy, tightly wound spiral arms. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms with large star-forming regions. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way, but this close-up Hubble image spans about 34,000 light-years along the the galaxy's inner region. X-ray images suggest that resulting winds and stellar explosions create plumes of hot gas extending into a halo around NGC 2841.

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18 de fevereiro de 2011


Os hábitos velhos tendem a renascer, apesar das declarações de intenções. Esta nota é uma reincidência da minha parte: as referências, qualquer delas é interessante, a compulsão para espalhar a nova é grande [noutra altura, e noutro contexto, eu teria sido profeta, no mínimo] como é a de limpar as notas-rascunho, e daí uma nota quilométrica - para quem não perceber: eu tinha prometido, a mim mesmo, não multiplicar as referências.

O denominador destas referências é o momento político norte-americano, e em particular o peso do Partido Republicano na sua conformação. Poderia encarar tudo isto que se passa com mais equanimidade se não vivesse no mesmo planeta que eles, e devem entender o que digo de modo literal. Citando Bill Maher livremente: o Partido Democrata passou-se para a direita, e o Partido Republicano transformou-se num manicómio, e este é que está a determinar, em grande parte, a dança. 

As três primeiras referências são todas de um economista, do seu blogue no The Economist. 

A primeira, basicamente, diz o que é o governo (no sentido lato) dos EUA, e sugere, timidamente, que já se foi longe demais, porque sem mobilidade social, nada feito.

A segunda dá conta de uma prática no mercado de trabalho de lá  quanto ao reemprego dos desempregados. Não creio que isso se verifique, para já, em Portugal, mas seria interessante saber com certeza.

A terceira é uma defesa de Paul Krugman no que respeita às suas posições quanto ao processo orçamental norte-americano em curso - muita gente lá (e alguns por cá) considera Krugman radical. Mas, como dizia a um amigo há algumas semanas atrás, se os políticos da direita portuguesa fossem replantados nos EUA, dizendo o que dizem cá [repararem na subtileza da condicionalidade colocada], seriam considerados perigosos esquerdistas.
A quarta referência seria cómica se não fosse horrivelmente séria.


"... And we need collectively to take steps to realistically address these risks. We need to improve the organizations we create, both public and private, aimed at mitigating large risks. And we need to substantially improve upon the reach and effectiveness of the regulatory systems that govern these activities. But Perrow insists that improving organizations and leadership, and creating better regulations, can only take us so far. So we also need to reduce the scope of damage that will occur when disaster strikes. We need to design our social system for 'soft landings' when disasters occur.

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Embora, o livro que é recenseado nesta nota tenha como referência os EUA - e o que se diz a esse respeito é muito interessante - o que se escolheu citar funciona como que um programa de reflexão e de actuação completo (ao nível de generalidade a que é colocado) para todo o lado, nestas matérias.

No Sistema Solar há água por todo o lado ....

Image: Triton as seen by Voyager 2. Credit: NASA.

"But in addition to all we’ve learned through our spacecraft, our view of the Solar System has gone from a small number of orbiting planets to huge numbers of objects at vast distances. Fifty years ago, a Kuiper Belt many times more massive than the main asteroid belt was only theory. And the early Solar System models I grew up with never included any representation of a vast cloud of comets all the way out to 50,000 AU.

We’ve also begun to learn that liquid water, once thought confined to the Earth, may be plentiful throughout the system

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Vale mesmo a pena ler a nota donde retirei isto.

Notícias do futuro

NSIDC bombshell: Thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s, releasing 100 billion tons of carbon by 2100 - Study underestimates impacts with conservative assumptions

Figure:  Carbon emission (in billions of tons of carbon a year) from thawing permafrost.
The thaw and release of carbon currently frozen in permafrost will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations and amplify surface warming to initiate a positive permafrost carbon feedback (PCF) on climate…. [Our] estimate may be low because it does not account for amplified surface warming due to the PCF itself….  We predict that the PCF will change the arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid-2020s and is strong enough to cancel 42–88% of the total global land sink. The thaw and decay of permafrost carbon is irreversible and accounting for the PCF will require larger reductions in fossil fuel emissions to reach a target atmospheric CO2 concentration.

That’s the stunning conclusion from “Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming” (subs. req’d), a major new study in Tellus by NOAA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).  As we’ll see, the figure above is almost certainly too conservative post-2080.

17 de fevereiro de 2011

Assobio - Vídeo TED

At TEDxRotterdam, world champion whistler Geert Chatrou performs the whimsical 'Eleonora' by A. Honhoff, and his own 'Fête de la Belle.

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16 de fevereiro de 2011


"One paper, by Seung-Ki Min and others, shows that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have caused an intensification of heavy rainfall events over some two-thirds of the weather stations on land in the northern hemisphere. The climate models appear to have underestimated the contribution of global warming on extreme rainfall: it's worse than we thought it would be.

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PS, 17.02.11: Sobre o mesmo assunto, um comentário mais abalisado: RealClimate: Going to extremes

Aritmética aplicada

Para o conjunto do ano, diz o INE, a taxa de desemprego foi, em média, de 10,8%, .... A população desempregada situou-se em 602 mil indivíduos ...Os números hoje divulgados pelo INE contrariam as estimativas do Governo, que na proposta de Orçamento do Estado para 2011 indica que a taxa de desemprego se situaria nos 10,6% em 2010 ....
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O Governo previu 10,6 % de taxa de desemprego para 2010; o valor verificado foi 10,8 % - o erro da previsão foi de 0,2 pontos percentuais, ou um erro de previsão de 1,9 %. 

Vejamos, para os cerca de 12000 novos desempregados a sua nova situação é efectivamente má, mas o problema grave a nível do país, em relação a isto, continua a ser a ordem de grandeza do desemprego que se mantém cerca dos 600 mil desempregados.

O alarido é duns, mas se o cenário tivesse sido este:

O Governo previra 10,6 % de taxa de desemprego para 2010; o valor verificado teria sido de 10,4 % - o erro da previsão seria de - 0,2 pontos percentuais, ou um erro de previsão de -1,9 %.

Para os cerca 11500 novos empregados a sua recém situação seria efectivamente boa, mas o problema grave, em relação a isso continuaria a ser a ordem de grandeza do desemprego que se manteria em cerca dos 600 mil desempregados. 

O alarido seria dos outros, mas a sua qualidade seria a mesma. 

Moral a retirar: se querem brincar às décimas, pelo menos, contextualizem-nas!


"The 3.5°F warming of Fram Strait water over the past century is 'not just the latest in a series of natural multidecadal oscillations.'

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Deixei passar esta.

13 de fevereiro de 2011

A confirmar-se, seria magnífico ...

"If you grew up thinking there were nine planets and were shocked when Pluto was demoted five years ago, get ready for another surprise. There may be nine after all, and Jupiter may not be the largest.

The hunt is on for a gas giant up to four times the mass of Jupiter thought to be lurking in the outer Oort Cloud, the most remote region of the solar system. The orbit of Tyche (pronounced ty-kee), would be 15,000 times farther from the Sun than the Earth's, and 375 times farther than Pluto's, which is why it hasn't been seen so far.

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12 de fevereiro de 2011

Cancro nos Açores

Ouvi, ontem, no Expresso da Meia-Noite, que o Expresso publicado hoje, mas que, aqui, nos Açores, só teremos acesso amanhã, referia a situação do cancro nos Açores. Não sei, portanto, o conteúdo da notícia.  Poderá estar ligada ao estudo do Professor Manuel Coelho e Silva sobre a evolução da expectativa de vida  dos portugueses baseada num sub-conjunto da população escolar dos Açores. 

Mas se referir só o cancro nos Açores, a notícia peca por ser redutora e mal informada. O problema é que nos Açores, relativamente ao Continente, e menos em relação à Madeira, a  taxa de mortalidade - medida pela taxa de mortalidade normalizada - não só quanto ao cancro, mas em relação às doenças mais graves, é significativamente maior. Isso é sabido desde 2005 na base de informação estatística dada pelo INE. Que o assunto leve  6 a 7 anos a aflorar na opinião pública, através da comunicação social continental,  sem que a nível político regional, do governo e oposição,  tenha merecido a devida atenção, discussão e projecção pública, é absolutamente estarrecedor - se as pessoas estão a morrer cá mais do que lá,  em termos  relativos, isso significa que há causas locais, necessariamente, ao nível de comportamento de cada um dos cidadãos, que importa estudar, denunciar, alertar e prevenir, mais, e com mais eficácia do que tem sido feito: o não o fazer releva da negligência criminosa. Obviamente, que o problema não radica no Sistema Regional de Saúde (SRS),  e dos seus profissionais, que nada devem em termos de qualidade e de proficiência aos seus congéneres continentais - o problema está noutro lado.

Não que todos tenham estado distraídos. O autor do blogue Canibais e Reis já me tinha alertado  para o assunto e tinha-me solicitado apoio na obtenção de informação que permitisse perceber e contextualizar a diferença entre os Açores e o Continente - (como seria de esperar, essa informação não abunda)- o meu filho antes, também me tinha referido que os números quanto ao cancro nos Açores eram alarmantes. Referi o assunto aqui. No entretanto, ainda há pouco do tempo, esse blogue abordou o assunto:

[Quanto aos Açores] "....há uns factos pouco conhecidos que talvez se possam explorar. Por exemplo, nas estatísticas de 2005, a mortalidade nos Açores/Madeira (cerca de 900 a 960 mortes/100.000hab/ano) era muitíssimo superior à média do Continente (665 mortes/100.000hab/ano). Repare que é uma diferença enormíssima, quase na casa dos 30%.....

E porquê os Açores têm dobro de mortalidade cardiovascular e muito mais pneumonia/infecções? ....

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Visitem o blogue para ler a nota na totalidade. Voltarei ao assunto. Como devem ter reparado a questão é política; é de saúde pública; é, pois, do nível que se tem de sensibilidade social; é, deixem-me brincar com coisas sérias, economicista (vejam o défice do SRS); e é, também, de como uma região, que é autónoma, se conhece, se conhece a si própria, ou, enfim, não se conhece: mas, se não se conhece, como pode ser governada bem?

Histórias exemplares

À volta de 1987 fui admitido na Direcção Geral da Administração Pública. Foi-me dito, na altura, que apesar dos esforços do organismo, não se sabia com precisão quantos funcionários públicos tinha o País, e isso porque o inquérito anual sobre o assunto não era respondido por muitos dos outros organismos. É sabido que a evolução da variável: número de funcionários determina, via ordenados, parte significativa da despesa pública. É óbvio que a mais elementar gestão dessa despesa, por parte dos sucessivos governos, passaria e passa pelo acompanhamento da progressão dessa variável. É óbvio que os sucessivos governos não o consideraram óbvio, já que o assunto seria resolvido, facilmente, se os dirigentes dos organismos faltosos fossem demitidos, e demitidos por esse motivo - mas a ameaça de qualquer um dos sucessivos primeiro-ministros de o fazer teria produzido o resultado pretendido.

Penso que só recentemente se conseguiu, finalmente, saber com exactidão esse número. 

Quando conto a história, muitas vezes deparo-me só com olhos vidrados.

Questionam-se, por acaso, porque razão estamos como estamos? Esta é uma das pistas a explorar ...


"To identify the things that work and stop doing the things that don’t, we must collect massive amounts of data, study them in the right way, and resist efforts to restrict their use.

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É óbvio, ou deveria sê-lo.

11 de fevereiro de 2011


Krugman é um dos economistas que leva a sério as alterações climáticas e as suas consequências. Abaixo três exemplos (devem lê-los na totalidade):

What happens is that the right tail gets fatter: the probability, and hence the frequency, of extreme events goes up.

Two immediate implications. First, there will still be cold stretches: global warming shifts the distribution, it doesn’t eliminate the left side of the distribution. So there will still be cold spells; that proves nothing. Second, no individual weather event can properly be said to have been “caused” by global warming. Heat waves happened 30 years ago; there’s no way to prove that any individual heat wave now might not have happened even if we hadn’t emitted all that CO2.

But the pattern should have changed: we should be getting lots of record highs, and not as many record lows — which is exactly what we do see. And we should be seeing 100-year heat waves and similar events much more often than history would have suggested likely; again, that’s what we actually do see.

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Climate scientists are becoming increasingly panicked as new evidence rolls in and just about every bit is worse than the last. The impacts of climate change are coming faster and harder than most models predicted, and there's a real -- if maddeningly difficult to quantify -- risk of civilization-threatening scenarios that sound like bad sci-fi movies.

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A razão suficiente para escolher colocar a citação deve ser óbvia. Este estilo e conteúdo estão a tornar-se comuns, mesmo da parte dos mais analíticos.

No entretanto, o artigo referenciado trata de como a questão das alterações climáticas é tratada de modo diferente, em termos da avaliação das suas consequências, e das propostas de como actuar,  pelos climatologistas e pelos economistas. É interessante, e para quem estiver para aí virado, pode ver, aqui ao lado nos partilhados do Google Reader , uma reacção de um economista a este artigo, no blogue do The Economist, onde pretende explicar as razões da cautela da profissão na matéria: "Are economists erring on climate change?". Esta  é significativa dos tempos, quer por ser feita onde é, e pelo que admite, mas, adoptando um conceito do léxico trostkista, é, a meu ver, demasiado centrista - Krugman, Brad DeLong, e outros, já ultrapassaram essa fase.