Some People at UC-Berkeley

Charisma Acey

Christopher Alexander

Michael Burawoy

Manuel Castells

Karen Chapple

Bradford DeLong

David Harding

Martin Sanchez-Jankowski

Michel Laguerre

Clare Cooper Marcus

Carolyn Merchant

John Powell

Robert Reich

Carolina Reid

Harley Shaiken

Neil Smelser

Sandra Susan Smith

Laura D'Andrea Tyson

Kim Voss

Loïc Waquant

Margaret Weir

The Point of No Return

Eric Holthaus, "The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here," Rolling Stone, August 5, 2013.

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public's attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren't cut, "We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization" . . . .

James Hansen, the dean of climate scientists, retired from NASA in 2013 to become a climate activist. But for all the gloom of the report he just put his name to, Hansen is actually somewhat hopeful. That's because he knows that climate change has a straightforward solution: End fossil-fuel use as quickly as possible. If tomorrow, the leaders of the United States and China would agree to a sufficiently strong, coordinated carbon tax that's also applied to imports, the rest of the world would have no choice but to sign up. This idea has already been pitched to Congress several times, with tepid bipartisan support. Even though a carbon tax is probably a long shot, for Hansen, even the slim possibility that bold action like this might happen is enough for him to devote the rest of his life to working to achieve it. On a conference call with reporters in July, Hansen said a potential joint U.S.-China carbon tax is more important than whatever happens at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

One group Hansen is helping is Our Children's Trust, a legal advocacy organization that's filed a number of novel challenges on behalf of minors under the idea that climate change is a violation of intergenerational equity — children, the group argues, are lawfully entitled to inherit a healthy planet.

A separate challenge to U.S. law is being brought by a former EPA scientist arguing that carbon dioxide isn't just a pollutant (which, under the Clean Air Act, can dissipate on its own), it's also a toxic substance. In general, these substances have exceptionally long life spans in the environment, cause an unreasonable risk, and therefore require remediation. In this case, remediation may involve planting vast numbers of trees or restoring wetlands to bury excess carbon underground.

Marx Madness

Marx Madness

Marx Madness is the ultimate war of all against all. We start with 64 Marxists competing one-on-one in 32 match-ups. These elimination rounds continue every week throughout March until only one thinker is left. Voting opens now, and closes Friday, March 13. From then on, voting will open every Monday morning, and close the following Friday at midnight.


John Wesley Powell and State Expansion

Powell Survey, Colorado River, 1871

The concept of the welfare state edged into the American consciousness and into American institutions more through the scientific bureaus of government than by any other way, and more through the problems raised by the public domain than through any other problems, and more through the labors of John Wesley Powell than through any other man. In its origins it probably owes nothing to Marx, and it was certainly not the abominable invention of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Brain Trust. It began as public information and extended gradually into a degree of control and paternalism increased by every national crisis and every stemp of the increasing concentration of power in Washington. The welfare state was present in embryo in Joseph Henry's Weather Bureau in the eighteen-fifties. It moved a long step in the passage of what Henry Adams called America's "first modern act of legislation," when the King and Hayden Surveys were established in 1867. . . . it would assume almost its contemporary look in the trust-busting and conservation activities of Theodore Roosevelt at the dawn of the next century. But what Powell and the earlier Adams and Theodore Roosevelt thought of as the logical development of American society, especially in the West, was by no means universally palatable by 1890 -- or by 1953. It looked dangerous; it repealed the long habit of a wide-open continent; it recanted a faith.

-- Wallace Stegner, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (Lincoln, Neb.: Bison Books, 1982 [orig. pub. 1953]), 334.