“Eating less red meat would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars.”

Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, says expert [Guardian]

The popular red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases.

Buzz Aldrin On Colonizing Mars

There is very little doubt, in my mind, that what the next monumental achievement of humanity will be the first landing by an Earthling, a human being, on the planet Mars. And I expect that within 2 decades of the 5th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, that within 2 decades America will lead an international presence on Planet Mars. Some people may be rooting for Elon [Musk, SpaceX & Tesla Motors founder & CEO] – I think he could, with his SpaceX, contribute considerably, enormously, to an international activity not only at the moon but also on Mars. I have considered whether a landing on Mars could be done by the private sector. It conflicts with my very strong idea, concept, conviction, that the first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth. They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony / settlement, I call it a “permanence.” A settlement you can visit once or twice, come back, and then decide you want to settle. Same with a colony. But you want it to be permanent from the get-go, from the very first. I know that many people don’t feel that that should be done. Some people even consider it distinctly a suicide mission. Not me! Not at all. Because we will plan, we will construct from the moon of Mars, over a period of 6-7 years, the landing of different objects at the landing site that will be brought together to form a complete Mars habitat and laboratory, similar to what has been done at the Moon. Tourism trips to Mars and back are just not the appropriate way for human beings from Earth – to have an individual company, no matter how smart, send people to mars and bring them back, it is VERY very expensive. It delays the obtaining of permanence, internationally. Your question referred to a monumental achievement by humanity – that should not be one private company at all, it should be a collection of the best from all the countries on Earth, and the leader of the nation or the groups who makes a commitment to do that in 2 decades will be remembered throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years in the future of the history of humanity, beginning, commencing, a human occupation of the solar system.

Reddit, via Guardian.

“We can no longer just tell children raised poor to study harder.”

Inequality Begins at Birth [NYRB]

Inequality in America begins at birth, or, for those born to women who are ill during pregnancy or do not have adequate prenatal care, even before. Through no fault of their own, up to one quarter of American children start off well behind, and another quarter live in families that earn only twice the poverty line—about $48,000 a year for a family of four. Armed with the unambiguous findings of twenty-first-century neuroscience, we can no longer just tell children raised poor to study harder and find jobs as they grow up.

This Jeff Madrick essay on inequality is profound. I urge you to read it (and re-read) twice.

“We are reversing the water cycle that has flowed in one direction since the beginning of Earth.”

The upshot is that in the twenty-first century, our species will be subjected to global water torture: alternately raising unaffordable dikes to hold it back, then desperately trying to coax it from any possible source. But like topsoil, there is no practical way to create more fresh water. Removing salt from seawater – the result of millions of years of rain and runoff dissolving rocks en route to the sea—is undercut by the cost of the energy required, and defeated by the distance that separates most arable land from the oceans. Desalination may be the most literal example of how the technological species that we’ve become stands in defiance of nature: As University of California–Santa Cruz Director of Integrated Water Research Brent Haddad told the Santa Cruz Sentinel after a seven-year study of the economic and ecological effects of desalination, “We are reversing the water cycle that has flowed in one direction since the beginning of Earth.”

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? [Amazon]

“Financial warfare has now officially come to war’s center stage.”

Financial warfare has now officially come to war’s center stage – a stage that for thousands of years has been occupied only by soldiers and weapons. We believe that before long, “financial warfare” will undoubtedly be an entry in the dictionaries of official military jargon. Moreover, when people revise the history books on twentieth-century warfare the section on financial warfare will command the reader’s utmost attention. Today, when nuclear weapons have already become frightening mantelpiece decorations that are losing their real operational value financial war has become a “hyperstrategic” weapon that is attracting the attention of the world. This is because financial war is easily manipulated and allows for concealed actions, and is also highly destructive.

—a passage from an essay called “The War God’s Face Has Become Indistinct,” written in 1999 by Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Quoted in the excellent James Rickards book Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis.