The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Cold War 2.0 Incoming

Right, with the ban on Huawei using chips made with American manufacturing equipment (one of the US’s last few places of absolute advantage), the bans on TikTok, Tencent, and WeChat, the attempt to convince other countries to not use Huawei 5G, and the arrest of the Huawei founder’s daughter for doing business with Iran, along with the US seizing a freighter full of medical supplies for Iran, I think we can state that the world is moving towards a second cold war.

The US pivoted to China containment under Obama, not Trump — though Trump has been far more aggressive. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was created as a way of marshaling Asia-Pacific countries into an anti-Chinese trade area. While Trump didn’t go ahead with it, he’s pushed hard against China in other ways.

When the US asked Canada to seize the daughter of Huawei’s founder, for example, it destroyed Canada-China relations: Canada was forced to take sides, and the Chinese were furious. The USMC (the NAFTA replacement) included a clause that says signees cannot make new trade deals with non-free states if the others object: This was aimed squarely at China.

Britain had originally intended to use Huawei 5G, but after leaving the EU, reversed course.

It’s important to understand that the anti-China pivot is bipartisan, as are the sanctions against Huawei and others.

The United States has a number of advantages and it’s using all of them aggressively. First, the fact that it is the center of the financial universe, to the point that movement of funds often goes through the US even when the transaction doesn’t involve them, is a major one. The US has made its financial laws extra-territorial, in effect. If a transaction goes through the US at all, even if no one involved in the transaction is American-related, the US claims jurisdiction. (Famously, this was used by the US to launch an investigation in the World Cup, in which the US is a trivial player, because a bribe went through the US on its way somewhere else.)

This often happens unintentionally, and firms that do business with the US at all are thus often unwilling to do business with anyone whom the US has sanctioned.

US naval power and military presence is also important, with their ability to interdict the Strait of Malacca. China imports about 70 percent of their oil, and 80 percent goes thru the Malacca strait and the US can shut it down any time they want. This is true of much else that China imports or exports.

The Belt and Road Initiative is, in part, meant to cut out the US ability to use its navy to hurt China; it creates alternate land routes, including one right across the continent to Europe, and it includes pipelines. The alliance with Russia, fraught as it is, is also about reducing dependence on Malacca.

Indeed, even the ability to protect and control trade to nearby neighbours is in doubt, which is why China built artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Fundamentally, the post-WWII trade, financial, and military order is an American creation, with a European assist.

When the US let China into the WTO, they let the power most likely to overtake them inside, as it were, the house. They did so for the simplest of all reasons: greed. Oh, sure, there was talk of capitalism meaning democracy and all that, but basically, offshoring and outsourcing to China made a lot of money for a lot of corporations and rich people, and that’s why they allowed China in.

The US deliberately sped up the transfer of industry to China as a way of making more money and undercutting wages at home. China knew the deal it was offering; they understood Americans, and they were patient.

So now, China is a larger manufacturing country than the US and, by some measures, has a larger economy.

China is a threat.

China is seen as a threat and this perception is, again, bipartisan.

There is no reason to expect this to change. China is not going to buckle under to the US, like some third-world nation or a vassal like Canada. They now have a de-facto alliance with Russia. China has nuclear weapons, and Russia is not going to allow China to be taken out with a nuclear first strike (without China, they’d have to give the US anything it wants, and they know it.)

The US will keep using its financial and technological power to weaken and isolate China.

So what will happen is an acceleration of the creation of a banking system that routes entirely around the United States and which does not use the US dollar, but instead the Yuan. Countries will be folded into this, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Even core US allies may have little choice: South Korea does twice as much business with China as with the US, for example, and Australia is extremely dependent on China.

For many countries, China clearly offers the better deal: they provide far more cheap loans than the US, they provide development, and their goods and services are suitable for both developed and developing nations. Nor do they natter on about “human rights” while they bomb Yemen.

For others, China will be unacceptable.

This leads to a world with two trade areas, not a free trade world. It leads to an end of the dollar as the world reserve currency. It leads to a continued arms race. It may well lead to a breaking of world IP into two sets: one American lead, one China lead. (There’s no particular reason for China to respect US IP if the US refuses to let them use it.)

This is a recipe for Cold War 2.0.

This time, however, understand that the US is facing an “enemy” with more population and more industry than it, not a nation devastated by World War with less population. Likewise, China and Russia combined have more land and more resources, while Europe is not a sure American ally, though Britain, absent EU support, will fall completely into US vassal status.

This is especially true as the US is experiencing late-imperial rot. It is nearly completely unable to handle its internal affairs, and its social cohesion is breaking down to the point where it may soon become a failed state.

Many American supporters of Cold War 2.0 are trying to use China as the external enemy to rally Americans around and, by closing China off from the US, to drive manufacturing back to the US, or at least to its firm allies (like Taiwan).

Bringing manufacturing back is smart, it should never have been sent overseas, but American elites are confused: Their primary enemy isn’t China, their primary enemy is themselves. They are responsible for the US decline and China could not have risen so fast if they were not so corrupt, greedy, and short-sighted.

It’s a very stupid world we’re moving into, but some of what is going to happen has to happen. It’s not good that the US has the ability to sanction anyone it wants to. Those medical supplies seized off that freighter? Covid-19 medicines.

Power which is routinely abused, as the US has abused its financial and military power, is eventually removed. The US is accelerating this progress as fast as it can.

The ban on Huawei using chips manufactured with US tech will hurt, for example. But it’s time limited: China isn’t some backwards third-world country. They will advance their own chip manufacturing and erase the deficit.

By fighting the dragon, the US is making a rival an enemy.

Cold War 2.0 is coming and essentially inevitable, because it is something the leadership of both countries either wants or is willing to accept. The only monkey wrench in this are the effects of climate change and ecological collapse. More on them later.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 9, 2020


Biden Picks Kamala Harris as VP


  1. nihil obstet

    Although the rich Democrats managed to block Henry Wallace from becoming president and embraced a permanent war economy, the first cold war did help most Americans. The communist promises of a decent life for all outstripped American leaders’ vision, and resulted in decent governance, including labor and commercial law. I wonder if Cold War 2 .0 will have a similar effect. My guess is no, because the elites have such tunnel vision that they can’t distinguish between foreign and domestic challenges — just have violent tantrums in response to any recalcitrance to their privilege.

  2. Chiron

    “(Famously this was used by the US to launch an investigation in the World Cup, which the US is a trivial player in, because a bribe went thru America on its way somewhere else.)”

    The real reason US attacked FIFA was because they’re a going to ban israel from international games, it happened innthe same week the vote was going to happen. The Chinese are smart and they must know who pull the strings in America and how to attack them surgically.

  3. Song Jiang

    @Ian Welsh

    You are almost completely ignoring the incredible dynastic rot of China, which now is run by a dictator who is turning the entire country into one big open air prison. You know, the kind of place that takes loud mouthed bloggers like you and sends them off to be re-educated.

    You talk like a big man from Canada (with an ISP in Arizona?), let us see exactly how courageous you would be in Beijing?

    It used to be that Chinese dynasties lasted a couple hundred years at least. This one is about to come crashing down well before that time, which explains all those Chinese elites buying real estate in London and New York City. Yup.

  4. S Brennan

    The British & American elites created the CCP/China beast at the same time they alienated Russia through land grabs that put US 155 mm artillery pieces within shelling distance of Russian cities [yes, yes, yes Ian…Russia EVIL, Putin EVIL…blah..blah..blah].

    And by alienating Russia, instead of engaging Russia the USA gave China access to very sophisticated weapons technology as well as relieving China of the burden of having to watch it’s flank, which has allowed China to develop it’s industry unhindered, the US was shadowboxing their primary Asiatic foe, Russia.

    There is much talk of racism in the working class of the US & UK, ignored is the blatant racism embodied within the social structure of the British & American elites. The US & UK elites were so blinded by their racism that they overlooked the history of China, or ignoring that salient data set, the US/UK elites could not appreciate that the Han are not an inferior people…particularly since the ruling Communist Party of China had spent a lot of effort in educating the “peasants”.

    Bill Gates famously said that “the internet wasn’t going anywhere” back in 1994 and in 2004, not to be outdone by his previous foolishness declared that the Communist Party ran “his kinda capitalism”. Among UK/US elites, Bill Gates is seen as the fount of wisdom..think about that.

    People on this blog spend endless amounts of electrons denigrating the working people of the USA but, it is as Ian stated:

    “American elites are confused: their primary enemy isn’t China, their primary enemy is themselves. They are responsible for America’s decline and China could not have risen so fast if they were not corrupt, greedy and shortsighted.”

    As recently as late 2019, Susan Rice was decrying President Trump for “paying too much attention to China and not enough attention to Russia” I mention it because if nominated to VP by Biden she could become President within 6 months. Most of the UK/US elites are still preoccupied thinking that they still have enough time to strip Russia’s assets…apparently not noticing that the world has changed from 1993. The UK/US elites live in a cocoon, they are a stupid ignorant people who will do great harm the ordinary folks who saw this coming 3 decades ago.

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

  5. Ian Welsh

    I’ve mentioned before the “dynastic rot”. I simply take it as less advanced than in the US, by about 30 years or so.

    And yeah, I live in a country with more press freedom than China and take advantage of that freedom. Not sure how that leads to various insults, but you do you, hopefully it makes you feel good or something.

  6. Chiron

    China already won, is gonna be the world biggest economy by (or even before) 2030, anyone comparing modern China with past dynasties don’t understand modern China what they learned from history and their own mistakes.

    China here to stay and the Anglo-American empire is going down together with its jewish-zionist elite.

  7. Hugh

    I don’t mind skepticism about US policy, mistakes, and failures, but I am surprised by the lack of a similar skepticism toward China. No mention of 3,000 years of Chinese imperial history which Xi is eagerly falling into. Its treatment of its Tibetans and Uighurs. Tensions with India. Its support of North Korean nuttery. There is a near defense of Chinese imperial ambitions in the South China Sea. No mention of some of China’s hardball in its deals in its Belt and Road projects. Or even just some doubt about the whole idea behind Belt and Road, its length and routes through some of the most politically unstable places on earth.

  8. Plague Species

    The only monkey wrench in this are the effects of climate change and ecological collapse. More on them later.

    This. It’s more than a monkey wrench. Much more. It’s assured. Baked in. No way around it. Growth, every bit as much as God, is dead. China is America 2.0 when it comes to growth, the only problem, and it’s a big one, is there is no more room for growth.

    To curb its surging population, China had the one child policy. America, alternatively, has Trump and COVID-19. At this rate, America’s population will diminish to what it was in 1850 in a decade or less. Maybe slavery will be a thing again just like it was in 1850. MAGA.

    China can have the mantle as world leader and rule over a toxic wasteland — a largely dead planet that was once a thriving paradise.

  9. Dan Lynch

    Free trade with China was a mistake, but now that China has become a major economic power, an economic war with China may be a mistake.

    I don’t get Stoller’s hatred of China. Regardless how evil China’s government is or is not, since when does the U.S. care about evil governments? Saudi Arabia, for example? I oppose free trade with China, not out of any hostility to China, but because it is not in the best interest of American manufacturing workers like me.

    The Cold Warriors are making things worse, but can we imagine a scenario where great powers are not rivals and competitors? I’m not seeing it. The best we can hope for is detente.

  10. Hugh

    Trade with China was never free. The millions of US workers who lost their jobs paid for it.

  11. Stirling S Newberry

    “an they know it.)”


  12. NL

    A nice summary of what is well known. But something does not sit right. Take Musk and Tesla, Musk is deeply embedded in the so-called military industrial complex (satellite launches for military purposes, starlink – the new panopticon in space) yet builds a large Tesla factory in China in 2019. Why do it if you know a cold war is coming? I suppose one can say that China paid to build the factory (through state subsidies), and the law was changed to have a subsidiary fully owned by Tesla, still IP diffusion is there. Or Bezos, also trying to embed himself into the MIC through cloud computing contracts, yet (as I mentioned before) opening doors to Chinese manufacturers to directly sell in the US. What would CW 2 do to his immanence wealth? It is said that Microsoft helped build the internet firewall. Bill Gates and Xi are friends.

    Most telling, Joe Biden’s grandchildren are studying Mandarin:

    Trumps grandchildren sang to Xi in Mandarin during his visit at Mar-a-Lago in 2017.

    The exclusive school that Baron Trump attends offers a sequence of 4 language classes in Mandarin (page 60, together with French, Spanish and Latin (no Russian).

    Something does not sit right here. I suspect much of it is for show, ruling classes do not wants CV2.

    CV2 would mean concessions to the working classes and that just will not happen.

  13. Bruce

    China understands capitalism is a tool, not a way of life.

  14. NL

    August 11, 2020
    “China understands capitalism is a tool, not a way of life.”

    It’s a tool for some, way of life for others, cause we do not have any other right now. Our good life is to become fabulously wealthy in one generation.

    In the above CV2= CW2, and I meant Microsoft helped build Chinese internet firewall.

  15. different clue

    Another co-reason the US ruling elites seek Cold War 2.0 with China is because they would plan to use it as a Total Sensurround Social Brain-Control Matrix-Field against the inhabitants of America.

    They want to keep us under mental control as we adjust to the coming Revolution of Falling Expectations.

    People who understand this might be able to pre-install some counter-regime brain-blocks into their own minds to semi-immunize their thinking against regime input.

  16. GrimJim

    I still think China is trying to play things by the Marxist playbook, modified by classic Chinese cultural norms. Unlike Soviet Russia, which went with the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in an attempt to industrialize and skip Capitalism to attain Communism, China decided to embrace Capitalism on the road to Communism.

    Remember, under proper Marxist theory, you can’t jump straight from Agrarianism to Communism, you must have Capitalism to develop proper industrialization. You can’t reach the Worker’s Paradise without first going through the Worker’s Hell. The Chinese recognized that this is a generational program, and so used Western Capitalism to help develop their own.

    The issue is keeping Capitalism from rotting and crumbling within before proper groundwork us developed for full scale industry. The Chinese must move from the “making crap for the West” level if industry to the full spectrum of industrial capabilities if they are to succeed.

    They must also avoid the dynastic issue of leaders trying to transform the state into a firm of neo-Imperialism. Whether that is the current situation, or the current moves with the Tibetans and Uighers are merely preparation to hold the borders in the coming Ecopocalypse is yet unknown… It could be both and more (merely mire ckassic expressions of Han racism, for example).

  17. Synoia

    IMHO the US is the last surviving 19th Century Empire. And is a decaying empire.

    The end game as mentioned above is not China, but Global Warming, which remains unaddressed, because the world is run by greed.

    I expect possibly one half a billion will survive the coming desolation of the planet, living in a hunter/gatherer primitive civilization.

    We no easily exploited minerals for them to climb out of the ecological trap in which they live.

  18. Hugh

    BTW Biden named Kamala Harris for his VP. She was my guess month ago.

  19. Bruce

    The new cold war will feature diminishing returns, profit-wise. Thus, whoever “wins” still needs to negotiate the end of capitalism. It need not be traumatic, the world has the productive and distributive ability to care for everyone right now. Notice how society has continued without all the laid off workers. All we need is to eliminate profit as necessary.

  20. Hugh

    Bruce, as the coronavirus has shown, even when we know what we should do, it doesn’t mean either we or our ruling class will do it.

  21. S Brennan

    Thanks for the news Hugh, I had wrongly picked Kamala Harris to be the D’s flag bearer because she was Hillary’s pick. But, after Tulsi Gabbard knocked Kamala Harris to the floor and proceeded to wipe the it with her ample carcass I knew Hillary would have to find another way to be queen…and she did, Biden. Now Hillary has, in the words of FBI lawyer Peter Strzok to his lover Lisa Page…an insurance policy.

    The D’s of today have no relationship to the Democratic Party of FDR.

  22. VietnamVet

    This is an accurate post in the moderate Canadian way. Canada is hardly a vassal if Americans can’t travel there and they defeated the 1812 US invasion. Bill Gates and staff flight into Toronto on his private jet to promote vaccines and check on his investment in Canadian National Railway likely will be rejected as a public health risk.

    The FED injecting trillions of digital dollars to prop up the stock market is a dead end move with no US public health system in place and 167,371 Americans dead already from the virus. The Western Empire (The Free World) has fallen. The Cold War 2.0 was restarted by Joe Biden in Ukraine. Donald Trump added China. An October Surprise hot war will only accelerate the collapse of the USA itself. It is just that everyone is in denial. Kamala Harris is the ultimate globalist technocrat, a high school graduate in Montreal of East Indian and Jamaican descent. She is another Barack Obama except with a connected white lawyer husband not Michelle.

    “What in the world are they thinking?” There appears no prospect of the Elite and the Professional Management Class doing the smart thing and restoring democracy and the rule of law. Unrest is certain to continue and will be universal if food runs out, if 30 million Americans lose their homes, if the Pandemic Depression drags on and gets worse, and if the for profit hospital system collapses.

    More Lebanon style failed states are coming south of the Canadian border unless things change here.

  23. Mark Pontin

    A couple of points —

    [1] Yes, the U.S. dollar will lose global reserve currency status.

    No, the Chinese probably won’t let the yuan/renminbi replace it. China would then have to take on all the negatives that the ‘Triffin dilemma’ points out: ever-growing trade deficits because other countries have to hold enough of the reserve currency, rising exchange rates causing in-country manufacturing — especially of goods for export — to become non-competitive, and other problems.

    The problems that in fact are the things that over the decades have done in the U.S. as a whole as it’s maintained the dollar as the global reserve currency. (But which have been great for Wall Street and U.S. elites.)

    Indeed, China *cannot* play the same game. Unlike the U.S., it cannot be food self-sufficient (unless biotech absolutely revolutionizes agriculture in the next decade) and it needs massive inputs oil and other commodities. To pay for those, it must continue to make money exporting.

    Therefore, expect to see more talk of special drawing rights, bancors, baskets of reserve currencies, or some such.

    [2] All the canonical assumptions about climate change are being expressed here with the certainty of religious belief, I see. I’m going to express a heresy.

    People in the West can chant whatever mantras they like about how if everybody only invested enough in renewable energy, or switched to a no-growth, steady-state planetary economy, or magically reduced the population by an order or two of magnitude in a couple of decades, then that would solve the problem. They can quote Einstein all they want about how a problem can’t be solved by using the same thinking that created it, in order to make the claim that since the human race’s use of technology was what had created global warming so more technology cannot never fix it. Whatever.

    In the real world, when the excrement hits the fan – when it actually looks like billions of people might die unless geoengineering technologies can be deployed to stop the apocalypse – well, the governments of Russia, China, and most countries around the world will deploy them. What’s a declining U.S. and West — after all, a small minority of the world’s population — going to do stop those other countries if we don’t like them geoengineering? Start a nuclear war?

    And believe the science, right? Well, from glancing at the science, it looks to me like those technologies will probably work — and frighteningly cheaply. They’ll do nothing to stop ocean acidification, they’ll have frightening side-effects, and — most terrifyingly — once the world as a whole climbs on that on-ramp, it won’t be able to get off.

    But they’ll probably work.

  24. sluggo

    @markputztine LOL geoengineering is a fraud. It it weren\’t EVERYONE would be advocating for it, but only a trickle of psuedosciene nuts advocate for it. You\’re a fool and not nearly as smart as you think you are.

  25. different clue

    I also correctly predicted that Harris would be the VP pick, though I did it less than a month ago.
    Here is the copy-pasted comment for proof.

    As much a loser as the Harris revealed itself to be, I still suspect that the Biden’s hidden masters will instruct the Biden to pick the Harris as its VP running mate. ( And if elected, make the Susan Rice its Secretary of State.)

    If events prove me wrong about that, people can laugh as much as they like. If it turns out the way I sorta feel like it might ( Biden/Harris), then I will go ahead and say why I felt that way.

    Posted by: different clue | 31 July 2020 at 02:58 PM

    And here is the blogpost whose thread I made that comment in.

  26. DMC

    I’m not so sure folks should be trusting Bill Gates with anything to do with vaccines, not after his big Eugenics experiment in Africa, where the Gates Foundation , in cooperation with the WHO distributed millions of doses of various vaccines, all of which contained an ingredient to make the recipient sterile. Millions were sterilized, 10’s of thousands DIED!

    Though, you should also try googling it as there’s a considerable number of articles from various sources.

  27. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    Yes, the geoengineering will probably work in the narrow sense of stopping the global further warming and maybe even dewarming it some.

    As we starve and freeze and die, beneath a silver-yellow sky.

  28. Hugh

    The Belarus election reminded me of Stalin’s old observation that in an election it’s not the voters but those who count the votes who are important. The same is true about reserve currencies. Changing reserve currencies is a big expensive deal filled with uncertainties. But the biggest questions are even if you can create it who will control it, and for whose benefit? Or in other words, a reserve currency is about very much more than just it. It exists within a world system, and until that system changes or is reconstructed, most of this is carping around the edges.

  29. Ché Pasa

    Gorsh, I´m so old, I remember when China was last on the list of “threats” to be neutralized — after the Middle East and Russia — but I guess since the prior neutralizations didn’t go so well, heh, neutralization emphasis shifted to China because it was all that was left. It puzzled me when Obama did his China Pivot, but once done, it seemed baked in.

    I’m no fan of imperial projects — which modern China certainly is though in a culturally specific Chinese way that doesn’t necessarily track with Western ideas of Empire — but the Chinese “threat” to the US, like the Russian one, and the Middle Eastern one is way overblown. We need an existential enemy, though, because without one, the US disunifies. So, China it is, at least for now. Watch out, though, Canada may be next if it continues to bar Americans at the gates.

    A note: Tibet was pretty horrible prior to Han Chinese acquisition and occupation. It’s somewhat better in some ways for more Tibetans now, but in other ways, nah. Native Tibetans are second class citizens at best. The suppression of the lamaseries is probably on balance a good thing, but the way it was done and the way it has been maintained was and is as cruel, maybe more cruel, that anything that happened routinely under the rule of the lamas and Tibetan feudalism.

    China appears to be weathering the current anti-Chinese fervor in the West well enough; better than previous episodes of hysterics over the Yellow Peril. It’s partly due to the fact that China is in essence a domestic empire rather than an expansionary one, and almost all that it needs to maintain itself and build a better future for its people is within its borders. Chinese know how to do it, too. Its technical expertise and manufacturing power mean that (almost) no matter what else happens, China will survive and in part will flourish. Chinese leadership appears to know this and governs accordingly. The US is a disaster of chaos and incompetence by comparison.

    Russia seems to have decided to fit in to the White Nationalism of much of the Western leadership, even offering some pointers to the confused Western elites. I don’t like it, but the predilection toward authoritarianism, fascism and nationalism in the West is hard to escape. It’s a natural result of allowing free rein to the NeoLibCons for so many years. The paradigm may be shuddering, but it hasn’t fallen. Not at all.

    The original Cold War didn’t have to happen, and it wouldn’t have if FDR had kept Wallace as his VP. But water under the bridge. It looks like our rulers can’t conceive of international rivalry as anything but war, when it doesn’t have to be. Once these things are put in motion, they are very hard to stop.

  30. S Brennan

    Back to the Kamala as Hillary’s bitch subject…

    If I cared for Joe Biden in the least…[and I Don’t]..I’d advise him to steer clear of grassy knolls along any campaign route for the next 4 to 8 years.

  31. Mark Pontin

    different clue wrote: ‘Yes, the geoengineering will probably work … as we starve and freeze and die, beneath a silver-yellow sky.’

    Beneath a permanently white sky, if the aerosolized sulphate particulate route is taken.

    Starving, freezing, and dying implies a nuclear winter-type effect hanging permanently up there, however. That’s unlikely: the opposite problem exists in the real world. Particles put up in the lower stratosphere will disperse and settle within a matter of weeks.

    We know this not only because of how the atmospheric effects of volcanic eruptions like Mt. Pinatubo’s have played out, but because we’ve been running an ongoing geoengineering experiment we briefly put on hiatus after the GFC in 2008, when much of the world’s economy and industrial activity contracted. Here’s a paper on what happened —

    ‘Disentangling greenhouse warming and aerosol cooling to reveal Earth’s climate sensitivity’
    ‘…we present an observation-based study of the time period 1964 to 2010 … approximately 1,300 surface sites into an energy balance framework … We find that surface radiation trends, which have been largely explained by changes in atmospheric aerosol loading, caused a cooling that masked approximately one-third of the continental warming due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations over the past half-century.’

    Here’s a later paper that goes into things in more breadth —
    ‘Amplification of Arctic warming by past air pollution reductions in Europe’

    And another, which isn’t stuck behind a paywall —
    ‘Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system: A scientific assessment’

    In 2009 with the GFC and the subsequent global industrial contraction, in other words, the one-third of global warming that was *masked* as long as industry was releasing aerosolized particulates into the atmosphere alongside all those greenhouse gases *ceased* to be masked. As a directed result, global warming seriously *accelerated*

    In other words, we’ve been doing geoengineering via aerosolized particulates and thanks to the industrial shutdown after the GFC in 2008 we *know* that if we stop doing it the particulates drop out of the atmosphere quickly. Which in turns means that doing geoengineering via this route would have to be a permanently ongoing global maintenance process. And then, half a century from now, what happens if the system fails mechanically and suddenly stops?

    The planet boils over — most especially the Siberian taiga and the Arctic. There’s some seventeen trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide – at least double the amount currently in the Earth’s entire atmosphere – locked in the tundra. A similar quantity of methane is stored there and at the Arctic Ocean’s bottom, and methane is twenty-eight times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. So if all that methane is released, you’d very quickly get temperatures that aren’t in the historical record.

    They aren’t in the historical record because, for one thing, the human race wouldn’t have survived them. Nor would most life on Earth. As was demonstrated by the fact that it didn’t – there’ve been five great extinction events in Earth’s prehistory and each coincided with massive methane releases into the atmosphere. The Permian Mass Extinction and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, in particular, almost ended all life on the planet.

    Pretty terrifying, right?

    Here’s the thing, though. If we don’t geoengineer, we’re headed there anyway. These effects are locked in now, as those papers I’ve linked to above indicate, as Ian W. likes to point out, and indeed as a cursory study of the literature on how much heat is already in the Earth’s oceans makes clear. The difference will be that if/when we don’t geoengineer the process will happen gradually, but *sooner*.

    Pick your poison, I’d say. Except it’s not going to be decided by you and me, but by the governments of the world when they’re more acutely confronted with millions or billions of their citizens dying.

  32. bruce wilder

    but will it remain cold?

    i imagine China as Hamlet,

    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
    And by opposing end them.

    China is not itself all that cohesive or stable. Their manufacturing achievements have failed to employ a large enough proportion of their population to achieve the broad prosperity they hoped to achieve. Their aggression on the borders of Tibet and in the South China Sea is remarkable.

    For Russia, being so far from God and so close to China with a vast emptiness to defend is nervous business.

    The U.S. Navy is obsolete and operationally decadent — ships get run over or burn spectacularly. Intel, Boeing, General Electric are failed enterprises for a failed state.

    But, let the Three Gorges fail, and it might happen, China will need a whipping boy and the U.S. may be handy.

  33. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    I would have thought that a stratosphere-level shroud-layer of sulfuric acid droplets would bias the light getting through slightly toward yellow. And their extreme reflectivity would give it a silver cast. So I imagined a silver yellow sky if the sulfuric acid droplets approach is tried.

    If it would be white, then the doggerel would have to read ” beneath a frozen dead-white sky.”

  34. NL

    This VP pick seems to be from a Kardashian-like clan in politics. Raised by an ambitious Tamil Brahmin mother biomed researcher from the age 5 or 7 without her father, then living in beautiful Montreal from the age of 12… she went to Howard … became a “tough on crime” prosecutor of an African American community in a big city… and understands the needs to inner city minority communities (sarcasm)…

    Bobby Jindal also comes to mind for some reason.

  35. Plague Species

    Too Funny.

    The Ignominious Fall of Kamala Harris

    Don’t count your falling stars before they fall entirely.

    The title should read: The Ignominious Fall and then Rise of Kamala Harris.

    Her Parallax file says, “A substantial bosom and she gives good head. Easily passes for African-American but not of the culture. She’s white through and through. Poodle white. She’ll do whatever is asked of her. Husband is a corporate lawyer. He’s a perfect First Gentleman. He’ll advocate for tougher IP laws as his First Gentleman purpose.”

  36. Erelis

    For the US there will be a two-front Cold War if Trump is elected. If Biden is elected will there really be a Cold War with China? Man, there is still money to be made. As the article rather clearly points out America had an industrial policy: it was called greed. The Chinese on the other hand also had an industrial policy: national self interest. We see the result of the competing nation industrial policies.

    As for Matt Stoller. His one blind spot is China run by the CCP. He is imbued in them the same hysterical charges much like the Nazis with the Jews, and now the Americans with the Russians. They are seeking world conquest and a destruction of the the liberal order (the Nazis called it “European civilization” but meaning the same thing). For Stoller nearly a clash of civilizations motif. Out of such battles emerge aggressive nationalism and racism.

  37. Ian Welsh

    Never quite sure why people expect castigation in every article. Yes, China has done some terrible bad shit, but this is a hard-headed geopolitics article.

    I actually investigated B&R in depth. There were some shit, high interest loans but there were and are also a lot of really cheap ones. As for the South China Sea, I’d have done the same, at least as relates to creating the islandd. Google a map of US military bases around China.

    A great power with another great power’s knife at their throat will do what it must to get that knife away and give itself a fighting chance.

    The point about China and food is particularly important, and I’ll come back to that later.

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