Daily Archives: July 15, 2017

Jeremy Rifkin on the Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things


Big Think

Published on Apr 22, 2014

Economic theorist and author Jeremy Rifkin explains his concept of The Internet of Things. Rifkin’s latest book is The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism (http://goo.gl/4estV2).

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Transcript — We are just beginning to glimpse the bare outlines of an emerging new economic system, the collaborative commons. This is the first new economic paradigm to emerge on the world scene since the advent of capitalism and socialism in the early 19th century. So it’s a remarkable historical event. It has long-term implications for society. But what’s really interesting is the trigger that’s giving birth to this new economic system. The trigger is something called zero marginal cost. Now, marginal costs are the costs of producing an additional unit of a good and service after your fixed costs are covered. Business people are all aware of marginal costs, most of the public isn’t. But this idea of zero marginal cost is going to dramatically intimately affect every single person in the world in the coming years in every aspect of their life.

There’s a paradox deeply embedded in the very heart of the capitalist market system previously really undisclosed. This paradox has been responsible for the tremendous success of capitalism over the last two centuries. But here’s the irony, the very success of this paradox is now leading to an end game and a new paradigm emerging out of capitalism is collaborative commons. Let me explain. In a traditional market, sellers are always constantly probing for new technologies that can increase their productivity, reduce their marginal costs so they can put out cheaper products and win over consumers and market share and beat out their competitors and bring some profit back to investors. So business people are always looking for ways to increase productivity and reduce their marginal cost, they simply never expected in their wildest dreams that there would be a technology revolution so powerful in it’s productivity that it might reduce those margins of cost to near zero making goods and services essentially free, priceless and beyond the market exchange economy. That’s now beginning to happen in the real world.

The first inklings of this zero margin cost phenomenon was with the inception of the World Wide Web from 1990 until 2014. We saw this zero marginal cost phenomenon invade the newspaper industry, the magazine industry and book publishing. With the coming of the World Wide Web and the Internet all of a sudden millions of people, then hundreds of millions of people, and now 40 percent of the human race with very cheap cell phones and computers they’re sending audio, video and texting each other at near zero marginal cost. So what’s happened is millions of consumers became prosumers with the advent of the Internet. And so they’re producing and sharing their own videos, their own news blogs, their own entertainment, their own knowledge with each other in these lateral networks at near zero marginal costs and essentially for free bypassing the capitalist market, in many instances altogether. This zero marginal cost phenomena, as it invaded the information industries, wreaked havoc on big, big industries. Newspapers went out of business; they couldn’t compete with near zero marginal costs. Magazines went out of business. And my own industry publishing has been just wracked by free e-books and free knowledge and information.

But, you know, the strange thing about it is at first a lot of industry watchers said this is a good thing because if we give out more and more information goods free and people are producing and sharing it free, these freemiums will stimulate people’s appetite to want premiums and then upgrade this free goods and information by getting more customized information. I’ll give you an example. Musicians give away their music free when they started to see this happen hoping that they would get a big loyal fan repertoire and then their fans would be enticed to go to their concerts and pay premium in order to be there in person. And then, of course, we saw this with newspapers. The New York Times will give you ten free articles a month, freemiums, hoping that you’ll then upload upgrade to premiums and by their subscription service. It didn’t happen on any large scale. This was very naïve by industry watchers. Sure, some people have moved from freemiums to premiums but when more and more information goods are out there nearly free shared with each other, music, film, arts, information and knowledge, attention span is not there to then want to go to the premiums when you have so much available already in the freemiums.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton

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Farmers Find Healthy Soils Make for Healthy Profits


VOA News

Published on Jul 15, 2017

Take care of your soil, and your soil will take care of you. That’s the message agriculture experts have for farmers worldwide. They say farmers can halt the degradation of their land and save money by using techniques known as conservation agriculture. But as VOA’s Steve Baragona reports, adopting those techniques takes a change of attitude.
Originally published at – https://www.voanews.com/a/farmers-fin…

Food-Matters

The toll of climate change, from US to the Marshall Islands: ‘No one’s an exception’

Climate Change in the Marshall Islands

Penguins of the Antarctic – Nature Documentary


Nature’s Beauty

Published on Mar 9, 2014

Penguins of the Antarctic – Nature Documentary

NATURE braves the extreme conditions of Earth’s southernmost continent for a close-up look at the varied Penguins of the Antarctic.

As night falls in Antarctica, biting winds cast horizontal snow across the dark backs of a mass of huddled emperor penguins. The temperature is 50 below zero, the gales are 90 miles per hour, and the sun won’t rise again for more than two months. NATURE captures these amazing — and well-dressed — flightless birds shivering on the ice as well as gliding through their most comfortable element, the water — a balmy bath compared to the air temperature above — where the emperors can hold their breath up to 20 minutes and dive a mile deep. Meanwhile, on the shores of Zavodovski Island, an active volcano, two million chinstrap penguins breed and travel on their own “superhighway” between the sea and their colonies on higher ground — taking care to evade the occasional 12-foot long leopard seal, which can consume six penguins in an hour.

Emperors and kings, chinstraps and Adélies — NATURE follows the penguins’ difficult journey through the cycle of seasons and explores how a changing climate is affecting their habitat and survival.

Trump Plan Would ‘Reduce or Eliminate’ Some Data Access and Research, Federal Science Official Warns | InsideClimate News

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Sasha Reed studies how changing temperatures and precipitation patterns affect soil and ecosystems. The agency is warning international colleagues that data and research they rely on could be severely curtailed under President Trump’s proposed budget. Credit: Jennifer LaVista/USGS

A USGS email alert to international scientists says a wide range of research areas would be hit, including work on flood risks, wildfires and climate change.

By Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News Jul 14, 2017

A U.S. Geological Survey program coordinator has sent an alert to colleagues around the world, warning that the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget cuts, if approved, will undermine important data-gathering programs and cooperative studies in areas including forests, volcanoes, flooding, wildfires, extreme precipitation and climate change.

The email went to 500 researchers on June 19 to give them time to comment on the proposed changes and prepare. In it, Debra Willard, coordinator for the USGS Climate Research and Development Program, wrote that the cuts “would reduce or eliminate the availability of current data and collaborations between the USGS, other agencies and universities.”

The reductions threaten as many as 40 programs involved in monitoring the speed and severity of climate change impacts and the effects of other land use changes, Willard said.

So far, the agency has received responses from dozens of scientists in Europe, Asia, and North America.

“There was a consensus that suspension of the USGS projects would impede ongoing activities in the international research and policy communities,” Willard said of the responses.

…(read more).

When Will Climate Change Make the Earth Too Hot For Humans?

The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition – The facts, research, and science behind the climate-change article that explored our planet’s worst-case scenarios.

By David Wallace-Wells July 14, 2017 2:06 pm

We published “The Uninhabitable Earth” on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind. Within hours, the article spawned a fleet of commentary across newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Twitter, much of which came from climate scientists and the journalists who cover them.

Some of this conversation has been about the factual basis for various claims that appear in the article. To address those questions, and to give all readers more context for how the article was reported and what further reading is available, we are publishing here a version of the article filled with research annotations. They include quotations from scientists I spoke with throughout the reporting process; citations to scientific papers, articles, and books I drew from; additional research provided by my colleague Julia Mead; and context surrounding some of the more contested claims. Since the article was published, we have made four corrections and adjustments, which are noted in the annotations (as well as at the end of the original version). They are all minor, and none affects the central project of the story: to apply the best science we have today to the median and high-end “business-as-usual” warming projections produced by the U.N.’s “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

…(read more).

See original article + annotated edition:

and interview: