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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Youngest Gel, now a high school junior, was signed up to take a class on geosystems this year in order to satisfy her science requirement.  This class is a sort of hodge-podge of environmental studies and sociology and is widely regarded as a joke at her school.

Well, after a week of it she was so completely bored that today she shifted over to physics instead.

I hope she likes the change.  I took physics myself as a HS junior and really enjoyed it – of all the hard sciences, it was the one that made the most intuitive sense to me.

In fact, I’m doubly glad she’s out of geosystems, because this evening I found the textbook for the class that she’d left on the kitchen counter, The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction To Human Geography, AP Edition, by James M. Rubenstein (11th Ed.).  Opening it idly, I came across a section that deals with human action and sustainability.  One subsection is titled “Sustainability’s Critics” and begins:

“Some environmentally oriented critics have argued that it is too late to discuss sustainability. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, claims that the world surpassed its sustainability level around 1980.”

Gawd.  Paul Ehrlich’s population bomb rides again.

To be fair, the next paragraph summarizes the counter-argument that there is no maximum to resource availability because definitions of such change over time with the development of new technologies and shifting priorities.  (Whalebone corset stays, anybody?) Fair enough, but the final paragraph in the section reads:

“Critics and defenders of sustainable development agree that one important recommendation of the UN report [1987’s Our Common Future] has not been implemented – increased international cooperation to reduce the gap between more developed and less developed countries.  Only if resources are distributed in a more equitable manner can poorer countries reduce the gap with richer countries.”

Shorter version: Gimme a dollar.

Ol’ Robbo doesn’t remember agreeing to this proposition.  You want to know how poorer countries can “reduce the gap with richer countries”?  Rule of law, private property rights, and education. That’s how.  Without these basic building blocks, Third World kleptocracies will never be anything other than shite-holes no matter how much the UN tinkers with “equitable distribution of resources”.

A further skimming reveals other sections with titles such as “Sustainability and Inequality in our Global Village” – which seems to discuss the Trail of Tears for some reason, and “Why Is Access to Folk and Popular Culture Unequal?” – which seems to argue that it’s because the First World owns all the teevees.

As I say, I’m mighty glad she dropped all this nonsense and is plunging instead into the real world of matter, energy, and force.

UPDATE: Oh, let me just plug Peej O’ Rourke’s All The Trouble In The World here as an antidote.  In my humble opinion, it was his best book.  Alas, he’s gone quite off his rocker lately, but this analysis of the global economy from the 90’s remains ever fresh.

Anyhoo, back to the Gel, Mrs. Robbo reported that when she got home this afternoon, she found her …….doing her homework at the kitchen table.


“Of course, she just wants a car,” Mrs. R said, “But at this point, I don’t care what motivates her so long as she’s putting in the effort.”



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September 2018