The Slow Death Of The Old Global Order

Courtesy of Robert W. Merry @ The National Interest:

In the spring of 2012, The National Interest produced a special issue under the rubric of “The Crisis of the Old Order: The Crumbling Status Quo at Home and Abroad.” The thesis was that the old era of relative global stability, forged through the crucibles of the Great Depression and World War II, was coming unglued. In introducing the broad topic to readers, TNI editors wrote, “Only through a historical perspective can we fully understand the profound developments of our time and glean, perhaps only dimly, where they are taking us. One thing is clear: they are taking us into a new era. The only question is how much disruption, chaos and bloodshed will attend the transition from the Old Order to whatever emerges to replace it.”

Since publication of that special issue of the magazine, events have seemed to bolster the thesis that the current global situation and the American domestic political situation are inherently unstable, and stability will return only with the emergence of some kind of new order. Leaving aside the U.S. domestic scene for purposes of this digression, the gathering global crisis got a penetrating survey the other day from William Pfaff, the longtime geopolitical analyst for the International Herald Tribune (recently renamed the International New York Times).

Pfaff said the world faces an “international disorder unmatched since the interwar 1930s,” fostered by the ongoing Ukraine crisis, the “self-destructive forces” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, growing instability within the world of Islam, and the “serious risk of collapse” of the European Union. Pfaff notes with a small measure of relief that the world isn’t beset these days by ideological dictatorships on the march or any new waves of totalitarianism. Today’s problems, he says, are merely “confusion, incompetence, and intellectual and moral disorder.” He adds: “But these are bad enough, in an over-armed world.”

What’s most troubling about all this is that today’s national leaders seem utterly lacking in any serious consciousness of just how dangerous the global situation is. The current Ukraine crisis , for example, is the product of a long-term Western tendency (the word “strategy” hardly qualifies here, given the lack of any coherent logic involved) to push eastward through what once were the buffer territories of Eastern Europe and press right up to the Russian border. Continue reading

10 Compromises Never to Make on the Path to Success

Courtesy of The Wantrepreneur Journey::

There’s no doubt success changes lives. For better and for worse. Everybody loves a great rags-to-riches story. But nobody wants to be the star of one that leaves behind a trail of destruction and regret.

Compromise gives birth to regret. Your journey is filled with decisions and opportunities to move forward and succeed. The tricky part is that the journey doesn’t always follow the script right? Compromise and sacrifices are inevitable. And it’s a fine line between compromises that are worth it, and those that hurt us.

Here are 10 compromises never to make on your journey:

1. YOUR UNIQUENESS.

Don’t let emulation turn into imitation. It’s been said a thousand times– find a mentor, connect with a likeminded community, emulate and learn from those you look up to. The problem is, you can become so likeminded that you lose yourself. Uniqueness becomes uniformity. That different angle you bring to the game is left behind.

It’s amazing that there isn’t anyone in this universe like you- exploit it, not erase it. Don’t compromise on being different.

2. YOUR PASSION VS. PROFIT.

The guaranteed door to financial reward will present itself. But if it requires you to set aside your passion before entering, it isn’t worth it. Money without meaning doesn’t bring fulfilment. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking small jobs for the quick and easy buck, but when it comes to anything of substance- something long term, it’s gotta be driven by something you absolutely love doing. Compromise on profit, not your passion.

3. YOUR HEALTH.

The all-coffee meal-plan should set off some alarm bells. Sleep, exercise, and nutrition are easily forgotten in the daily hustle. But they are integral to our success. These compromises will quickly bite you in the backside– when your immune system is weak and you’re stuck in bed.

Nothing wrong with snacking and eating on the go, but choose nutritional ‘real’ food instead of running by the fast food joint. Exercise and sleep are crucial for your brain. You know the ideal amount to function well– it could be 6 hours of sleep, and 20-minutes a day of exercise. Whatever it is, don’t compromise on it. Continue reading

Surprising Material Could Play Role In Saving Energy

Courtesy of Megan Fellman @ North Western University:

EVANSTON, Ill. — One strategy for addressing the world’s energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.

An interdisciplinary team led by inorganic chemist Mercouri G. Kanatzidis found the crystal form of the chemical compound tin selenide conducts heat so poorly through its lattice structure that it is the most efficient thermoelectric material known. Unlike most thermoelectric materials, tin selenide has a simple structure, much like that of an accordion, which provides the key to its exceptional properties.

The efficiency of waste heat conversion in thermoelectrics is reflected by its figure of merit, called ZT. Tin selenide exhibits a ZT of 2.6, the highest reported to date at around 650 degrees Celsius. The material’s extremely low thermal conductivity boosts the ZT to this high level, while still retaining good electrical conductivity.

The ZT metric represents a ratio of electrical conductivity and thermoelectric power in the numerator (which needs to be high) and thermal conductivity in the denominator (which needs to be low).

Potential areas of application for the high-temperature thermoelectric material include the automobile industry (a significant amount of gasoline’s potential energy goes out of a vehicle’s tailpipe), heavy manufacturing industries (such as glass and brick making, refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants) and places where large combustion engines operate continuously (such as in large ships and tankers). Continue reading

EPA drastically underestimates methane released at drilling sites

Courtesy of LA Times:

Drilling operations at several natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania released methane into the atmosphere at rates that were 100 to 1,000 times greater than federal regulators had estimated, new research shows.

Using a plane that was specially equipped to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the air, scientists found that drilling activities at seven well pads in the booming Marcellus shale formation emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that such drilling releases between 0.04 grams and 0.30 grams of methane per second.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds to a growing body of research that suggests the EPA is gravely underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas operations. The agency is expected to issue its own analysis of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector as early as Tuesday, which will give outside experts a chance to assess how well regulators understand the problem.

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Carbon dioxide released by the combustion of fossil fuels is the biggest contributor to climate change, but methane — the chief component of natural gas — is about 20 to 30 times more potent when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane emissions make up 9% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and are on track to increase, according to the White House. Continue reading

UK Debt Is Actually £100 Billion Higher Than We Thought, Official Stats Body To Say

Courtesy of Huff Po:

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George Osborne’s austerity message is set to be dented by the government’s own statistics body, as it prepares to adopt new calculations that mean the UK’s public sector debt will be £100 billion greater than estimated.

The Office for National Statistics will bring in the new calculation this autumn as part of sweeping changes that include estimating illegal activities like prostitution and drug dealing as worth £10 billion to the country’s national wealth.

The UK’s debt will effectively increase from well over £1 trillion by more than £100 billion, or 7.3% of GDP, as the ONS attempts to improve its accounting standards changes introduced by the US, Canada and Australia.

The ONS will bring Network Rail’s debt onto the UK’s books and also stop classifying the state’s stakes in the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds as liquid assets that can be sold off quickly.

But in good news for the coalition, the ONS will give the UK’s GDP a boost of up to 5% (£75 billion) by reclassifying research and development as capital spending rather than a cost of production Continue reading