Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Space! The final frontier, if we can get past the trash.

Our nation’s satellite communications, meteorological and GPS systems are the foundation of America’s traditional military national security system as well as our vital infrastructure and addictive comforts. This is our Achilles heel that has at least three serious vulnerabilities.
In 2007 China demonstrated its capacity to hit that heel when it destroyed one of its own weather satellites with a direct hit from one of their own surface to space missiles. That ‘test’ intended to send a message to the US but it also created over 150,000 pieces of debris. It’s possible that the loss of a few of our key satellites would render many of or most powerful weapons systems blind.
With other nation’s launching satellites into space and acquiring missile and drone technologies that can match, assist or surpass China’s capability our Achilles heel will grow in vulnerability. And without an enforceable set of global rules and regulations an arms race in space appears inevitable. Given China’s growing economic and technological prowess, this is an arms race we may be destined to lose.
But even if humanity never sends up another rocket, there is another inevitable lethal threat to our nation’s dependence on space technology. Space junk. According to NASA there are tens of millions of pieces that space age nations have left in the heavenly region above earth since we started launching satellites over 50 years ago. Most trash pieces are much smaller in diameter than a baseball, with the majority being as small as screws or flecks of paint. But, the U.S. Space Surveillance Network is currently tracking approximately 22,000 pieces of orbital trash that are 4 inches in diameter or greater.
Still, some of the tiniest pieces of space trash can seriously damage or destroy a satellite when they collide at 17,500 miles per hour (orbital velocity) or faster. The kinetic force of almost any object at “a not-unreasonable relative velocity of, say five miles per second” could splinter another object or even a satellite into thousands of other pieces. Each piece then increasing the odds of creating more collisions. And when satellites accidently collide as two did in 2009 (a retired Russian communication satellite Cosmos 2251 with the US privately owned satellite Iridium) tens of thousands of new lethal trajectories can be created.
Defending satellites against small pieces of space trash is possible but expensive. The International Space Station has been covered with over 100 shields made from aluminum, ceramic and Kevlar fiber that can protect against objects smaller than half an inch. Taking evasive maneuvers against larger objects - as the International Space Station has done at least six times - can cost precious fuel and shorten the lifespan of the satellite.
As even a child can imagine, the inevitable collision of any combination of existing satellites and junk will create a runaway cascade of debris that will render space virtually unusable for any future scientific, private, militaristic or extraterrestrial endeavors.
Gravity, over decades will gradually remove some pieces. And intentional removal of space debris is certainly feasible. But it won’t be cheap. There are already dozens of ideas for junk recovery on the drawing board but it is unlikely we will be able to afford any of them given the our current inability for finding adequate financial resources essential for dealing with a growing array of problems down here on earth. Problems which arise from, or are perpetuated by, the unworkability of our world’s current ‘national sovereignty’ paradigm. It simply doesn’t allow for the democratic creation and global enforcement of universal rules and regulations.

Conclusion: Whether exploring for oil or other vital earth resources, tracking climate change or the movement of enemy troops, we depend on our eyes in the sky for our security and essential needs. If just one nation or corporation is allowed to trash the heavenly commons, no one will be spared the potentially catastrophic consequences. Enforceable global rules and regulations, democratically acquired and protective of humanities most basic human essential to a sustainable future of peace, prosperity and unprecedented freedoms. The key question is ‘Can we overcome our earthly worship of ‘national sovereignty’ to ensure a world that works for all.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Wall street needs a global action.

This movement originated out of the pain and discomforts associated with the consequences of the 2008 recession that continue today and may likely worsen.
This movement is not yet really global in nature. It has been inspired by but not yet related to the Arab Spring.
It’s primary message appears to be ‘human needs’ not ‘corporate profit’ as well as ‘justice and democracy’ but the global concern is an afterthought.
OWS far smaller in numbers than the tea Party movement, but supported by far more Americans than the Tea Party is.

Unfortunately, the Occupy Wallstreet Movement will accomplish nothing because the source of the crisis is a global economic condition influenced by
a) global lawlessness of corporations and financial institutions.
b) corruption of politicians by corporate/financial institutional donations.
c) personal unpatriotic greed.
d) unfair competition between nations
e) the free movement of capital and the limited movement of people across national borders
f) a powerless UN incapable of addressing any serious global threat (pandemics, terrorism...)
g) a dysfunctional US government with science and reasoning taking a back seat to the influence of money and religion.
h) burdensome sovereign debt by industrialized nations.
i) Selfish values based on consumption patterns.
j) Flawed economic system of unregulated capitalism.
k) Overemphasis on military power as the primary means of achieving security.
l) Beliefs and institutionalized governments based on the concept that each of independence in an irreversibly interdependent world.
Protesting against national governments won’t change much unless these governments cooperate to change the global economic system.
Focusing the movement on creation of a global Financial Transaction Tax that could yield approximately $200 billion for a global Marshall plan to eliminate the worst aspects of global poverty could;
a) Address some of the global problems that have an impact on us we locally (unemployment, infectious diseases, military spending, terrorism, environmental degradation, international crimes...
b) Create a new global institution that could demonstrate the need and effectiveness of global governance structure to address some of the global factors now influencing our quality of life.
c) Create the foundation for a truly peaceful and sustainable world.

Transnational crime requires global police and human rights

Dear Editor,
Brian Finlay (Washington Times 10-19-11) accurately describes the array of serious national threats of the “global circulatory system” carrying “illicit products” like narcotics, WMD components, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and sex services or slave labor “from one corner of the globe to another”.
Unfortunately, his approach to lessen these threats will require a Nazi like global police force implementing intrusive inspections that will be essential to effectively discovering and apprehending anyone who trying to use the current “rapid and efficient movement of goods” for selling their ‘bads’.
And, given the ‘dual-use’ capacity of all ‘goods’ for doing either good or evil Finlay’s approach would require a global contraband enforcement strategy that would need to determine the intent of both the buyers and sellers. Without the invention of a perfected truth machine, less perfect intrusive interrogations techniques would be the primary tool of any global intelligence gathering system. In the end, this would not only prove costly and ineffective, but would also destroy any semblance of freedom, trade and privacy as basic human rights. The consequences of such a strategy could be worse than the current disease in every respect.
A far more effective solution to transnational threats was drafted and agreed to over 60 years ago shortly after the world witnessed the horrors of a world war, a holocaust and the use of unprecedented nuclear explosives. An American women, Eleanor Roosevelt drafted and helped pass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was intended to prevent future threats. It was, and remains today, just a good and viable idea. What it needs is a mechanism for global enforcement. When governments violate these basic human rights they need to be held accountable.
The world could use existing supply chains to deliver such basic rights like universal access to education, clean water, basic health services, sanitation, and adequate nutrition. And doing so would eliminate the worst consequences of poverty and injustice which would greatly reduce the conditions that inspire bad intents, as well as provide a much larger pool of people freely willing to cooperate with efforts to catch the truly bad people.
The creation of a new global financial transaction tax could fund these most basic of human rights and lay the foundation for real freedom and security. Such a tax would also help limit the legal flow ‘financial services’ that have so far only served the rich and left the other 99% of us with a global recession. A Global Marshall Plan would bring far more freedom and security to the world than any transnational “enhanced screeing” or “intelligence assets”.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

US education key to US national security

Dear Editor,

Washington Post Columns related to our nation’s education efforts by Kathleen Parker and George Will (Oct. 2, 2011) both neglected the most important aspect of educating young Americans in the post 9-11 era – national security.
Six months before 9-11 the Presidential bipartisan commission on National Security in the 21st Century, also known as the Hart/Rudmann Commission listed the top threats to our nation in the coming decades. Terrorism was the primary threat. They cited a deficit of math and science students graduating from our High Schools and Universities was the second greatest threat. First, these young people are critical to designing and operating our high tech weapons systems critical to maintaining our nation’s military superiority. Second, they are essential to creating other high tech commodities that will drive US economic growth so we can afford a large military. And last, but just as important, they will also design and run the high tech tools that will enable every aspect of our government to run effectively and efficiently, from infrastructure to tax collection.
Newt Gingrich was one of the seven Republicans on that unanimous commission. On the release of its final report shortly after Bush’s inauguration, Gingrich admitted eliminating the Department of Education was a bad idea. He went on to propose higher wages for math and science teachers, and even paying math and science students to attend class. The need for more language studies became immediately obvious on September 12, 2001.
I don’t think it was coincidental that our Founding Fathers made public education, free and compulsory and that Booker T. Washington claimed “There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all.”