Check out this story written by Jim Tankersley in The Atlantic. Tankersley details an argument over several days between him and his boomer father focused on whether the Boomer generation passed on to the succeeding generation a better country and world, or whether the Boomers simply grabbed everything they could and left staggering bills for their adult children to pay. I won’t tell you who wins the battle, but it is well worth a full read.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose twelvefold from the time the first boomers began working until last year, when they began to cash out their retirement. (The growth trend over the 12 years since I entered the workforce suggests that the Dow will double exactly once before I retire.) They will leave the workforce far wealthier than their parents did, with even more government promises awaiting them. Boomers will be the first generation of retirees to fully enjoy the Medicare prescription-drug benefit; because Social Security payouts rise faster than price inflation, they will draw more-generous retirement benefits than their parents did, in real terms–at their children’s expense. The Urban Institute estimated last year that a couple retiring in 2011, having both earned average wages, will accrue about $200,000 more in Medicare and Social Security benefits over their lifetimes than they paid in taxes to support those programs.
Those retirees and near-retirees bequeath a shambles to their offspring. Young people are unemployed at historically high levels. Global competition is stronger than ever, but American institutions have not adapted to prepare new workers for its challenges. Boomers have run up incomes for the very wealthiest Americans, shrunk the middle class, and, via careless borrowing and reckless financial engineering, driven the economy into the worst recession in 80 years. The Pew Research Center reports that middle-class families today are 5 percent less wealthy than their parents were at the same point in their lives, after adjusting for inflation, even though families today are far more likely to include two wage earners. Another Pew report shows that those ages 55 to 64 are 10 percent wealthier today, even after the Great Recession, than Americans of that age bracket were in 1984. Those younger than 35 are 68 percent less wealthy than the same bracket was in 1984.
Genetically-modified crops are claimed to be perfectly safe, both for the environment and the animals and humans who eat the crops. And the manufacturers of such GM seeds argue that no disclosure needs to be made regarding their use.
The grass suspected of killing the cattle is not a GMO in the sense that food activists typically use, though it is a scientifically modified hybrid of African bermudagrass and an earlier hybrid grass, Tifton 68. The USDA and the University of Georgia jointly developed Tifton 85 and released it for commercial use in 1992. While it was not developed through some of the more controversial gene splicing methods used in GMOs —such as, say injecting fish genes into tomatoes — it is technically considered a genetically modified plant.
General Orders No. 9, a documentary written and directed by Robert Persons, is extraordinary. Persons, in a short 72 minute film, poetically describes a way of life and living that is healthy, and contrasts it with the modern large city, surrounded by and entwined with freeways generating an overall experience negating humanity. His views on the impact of interstate highways is clear:
The interstate does not serve, it possesses. It has the power to make the land invisible to our attention.
Because of the absence of “place” in modern cities, he declares these cities to be machines. And he graphically illustrates the point with beautiful, disturbing imagery. This alienation in the midst of a huge constructed landscape grossly out of proportion to human interaction is one many people can agree with The city chews people up and spits them out. Others may find that his views reflect a longing for a simpler way of living on a smaller scale that may be unworkable or actually disturbing.
Nonetheless, for me the poetry of the piece is compelling. You can read an interview with the director here.
Before General Orders No. 9, Robert Persons had never made a film. His first foray into the land of cinema is a mesmerizing experience, a 71-minute reflection upon his home state of Georgia and the somber evolution of a quieter, greener, more gentle America into the loud, cement-highwayed 21st century. It’s hard to experience Persons’ film and not make an immediate connection to the work of Terrence Malick, yet as I tweeted after seeing it for the first time at the 2010 Sarasota Film Festival, General Orders No. 9 makes Malick look like a straight shot of Hollywood. Experimental, dense, and poetic, Persons’ film casts a truly hypnotic spell.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution.
The draft finding could have a chilling effect in states trying to determine how to regulate the process.
By the way, there is a terrific documentary showing the dangers of fracking called GasLand. It is easy to access if you have a Netflix DVD rental account, or via the link on Amazon for sale or rental. Here is the trailer.
I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.
– (former?) GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, speaking in New Hampshire on Friday.
Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rain forests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases? Or would people be supportive of cutting down older trees in order to plant younger trees as a means to prevent this disaster from happening?
– Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), questioning a climate change scientist and demonstrating to the world that he does not know that trees capture carbon emissions. He really deserves his position on the House Committee on Science, huh?
Anthony Doerr raises an alarm about our collective path to overall environmental destruction. He believes humanity is never likely to change our current behavior profoundly enough to make a difference, so we should prepare for what might seem radical solutions or face an end to human domination of the planet. Terrific read.
We—and by we I mean me, my friends, my older brothers, everyone I know under 45—we are the first generation that cannot claim we did not know. Silent Springwas published 10 years before I was born. At elementary school assemblies I was among the little curly-headed ciphers who read cheerful environmental tips into the microphone: “Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth!” Freshman year in college we were handed Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature. During my sophomore year, 1992, 1,500 scientists, including more than half the living Nobel laureates, admonished in their Warning to Humanity: “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”
“The god thou servest,” Marlowe wrote in Dr. Faustus, almost four hundred years before the invention of internet shopping, “is thine own appetite.” Was he wrong? How significantly have you reduced your own emissions since you first heard the phrase “climate change?” By a tenth? A quarter? A half? That’s better than I’m doing. The shirt I’m wearing was shipped here from Thailand. The Twinkie I just ate had 37 ingredients in it. I biked to work through 91-degree heat this morning but back at my house the air conditioner is grinding away, keeping all three bedrooms a pleasant 74 degrees.
BP is making threats about being unable to pay for damage they caused in the Gulf if they are prohibited to drill in the grill because of the the harm they have caused. The company has a horrible safety record stretching for years.
BP is warning Congress that if lawmakers pass legislation that bars the company from getting new offshore drilling permits, it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This is like a repeated drunk driver arguing that he must be allowed a drivers license so he can get to work to pay damages to the families of those he injured.
There was great relief when BP‘s runaway well in the Gulf was sealed. But new studies show that there is continuing danger from the dispersed oil remaining in the water and on the sea bed.
Scientists from the University of South Florida, working from a research vessel northeast of the wellhead, found oil droplets scattered in sediment along the gulf floor and in the water column, they said in a report on Tuesday. The dispersed oil appeared to be having a toxic effect on bacteria and phytoplankton, a photosynthetic microorganism that serves as a vital food for fish and other marine life.