Learning from Night Lights

It’s well known that you can see the deleterious effects of communism from outer space but you can also learn about development, war, and international law as this video demonstrates:

Hat tip: Roman Hardgrave.


And yet in Star Trek, communist planets were well-lit at night, so maybe it's only communist countries that fail . . .

The Stalinist idea of "Socialism in In One Country" is doomed to fail whenever it is tried. World-wide Socialism is the minimum. Even that may not be enough. Trotskyist theorist J. Posadas wrote, "We must call upon beings from other planets when they come to intervene, to collaborate with the inhabitants of the Earth to overcome misery. We must launch a call on them to use their resources to help us.".

Proof from outer space that Brazil is a sh*thole.

It's proof that most of Brazil is the Amazon jungle providing oxygen for the rest of the planet clustering like termites in urban hells.

Most of the oxygen produced in the Amazon is also consumed in the Amazon. The rest of the planet gets almost nothing on net.

"A net release of oxygen occurs only if the carbon sequestered through photosynthesis is buried in a place where it cannot combine with oxygen to form CO2. On a global scale, the main location for this is at the bottom of the ocean, where some of the organisms sink to the bottom when they die and are buried in the sediments."

Essentially, this means that the net effect of the Amazon rain forest on the amount of oxygen in the global atmosphere is "virtually nothing," since the photosynthesis to produce new plant matter is (almost) balanced by microbes decomposing dead plant material, according to [University of Arizona Professor Scott] Saleska.


OK, it's not providing oxygen to hell holes in North America, but the fact is most of Brazil is Amazon jungle or land cleared from it, or land unsuitable for large-scale dense human habitation. Most Brazilians live on or very near the coast where they can go to the beach like civilized people.

Alex will not rest easy until Earth is a giant, unified, luminescent ball.

Magic 8 ball says... uh... Solve for the equilibrium?


Excellent, +5 internet points

“It all comes down to incentives”
Exactly so I would suggest you study how the incentives the risk weighted bank capital requirements provides banks, distorts the allocation of credit… and puts us on a track towards North Korea.

Fascinating -- I'd seen these images before, but I learned a few new things. Slight eyeroll for the North vs South Korea stuff though. We're not seeing the effect of 70 years of 'division', we're seeing the effects of 70 years of North Korean totalitarian communism. North Korea isn't dark because its power grid is inexplicably antiquated and officials absent-mindedly forgot to update it. It is dark because North Korea doesn't have the money to maintain the grid nor operate it nor build it out completely -- because of communism.

You don't say!

Could it be that communism might save the world? By that I mean communism is economically inept, while capitalism is so efficient that it has plundered the planet.

The Norks are showing us the way? Maybe we could give the destroy-the-global-economy-to-save-the-world idea a catchy brand name like 'year zero' or something? (I wonder -- would rayward have opposed the actual 'year zero' program when it was being proposed or only after seeing the results -- ooops, our bad).

As for capitalism plundering the environment -- it really sucked when capitalism produced the Chernobyl disaster, drained the Aral Sea for corporate irrigation projects, and displaced more than a million people to build the Three Gorges dam just to increase profits. And who can forget that time when an unaccountable, out-of-control CEO decided to dam up a river with a nuclear bomb.

This is the title of The Mirror article that you linked to: "Russia used NUCLEAR BOMB to create 'Atomic Lake' - and it's still radioactive"

The lake has not been radioactive in the sense of being dangerous for decades, just as Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not "radioactive."

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were quite different as they were air bursts with much smaller devices, but as foreign tourists are allowed to bumble around the lake it's probably not that dangerous, as visitors having blood pooling in their gums is bad for future tourism revenue.

Not the point -- the point is communist regimes have a long history of terrible records on environmental issues. Musing that perhaps, just perhaps, the sorts of regime that murdered tens of millions of their own citizens AND had terrible environmental records to boot might be the best panacea for solving environmental problems (just thinking out loud here) is...beyond obscene.

China's turn to capitalism allowed western, capitalist countries to shift production to China, where the combination of cheap labor and non-existent environmental laws produced enormous profits for western firms at the cost of the planet, and maybe the cost of democracy. Cowen seems to believe all those profits will save us from ourselves, even as Trump is hellbent on environmental catastrophe here at home. Are countries like Russia and North Korea going to save us? Good god no, they are craven, which is why Trump is drawn to them.

You know, you can whine and cry like a little bitch all day.... and Donald J Trump will still be your President.

It’s gotta suck being you!

"the deleterious effects of communism".


"Communism" is merely a sub-category of Collectivism.
Socialism is also a similar sub-category, but with a slower moving, less obvious path of economic deterioration.

Yet socialism in its various forms (e.g. Progressivism) is celebrated and embraced by Americans and modern Western cultures.

Most people cannot recognize collectivism/socialism in their own governments... no matter how many videos they see.

"Socialism is also a similar sub-category, but with a slower moving, less obvious path of economic deterioration."

Except not.

Socialist and communist countries have had the fastest growing economies over the last 30 years.

So much for deterioration.

not only that - they grew faster in 50s and 60s too. Now - why they slowed down?
1. USSR spent much larger share of it's resources on military (that did not affect it's growth in 50s - but still, if we compare conservative estimation 15% gdp on military in USSR vs 1% gdp of Japan - USSR might spend 14% more on other projects). One example - USSR had ideas to projects similar to internet in early 70s. but had no money to implement that - so it abandoned idea, with spare 14% gdp - they would proceed with that.
2. Much smaller economic area. US+Europe and+Japan + other world were several larger economic area - so economy of scale (say in semiconductors) did not help USSR to develop modern technologies -expenses were high but returns were much lower, than in the west.
3. due to ideological opposition with the west USSR and other countries kept very tight ideological control - for that matter many ideas were suppressed ( say discussions on how to resolve socialist economic problems when Gorbachev came to power he started some measures - but they were essentially inadequate, but no alternatives were considered (they could be - see again idea of socialist internet which might help to calculate prices (not market - but prices according to spent labor - USSR had not even that - many prices were taken out of thin air -so economic planning was greatly distorted)
let's imagine - there is no huge spending on military ( this affect NK a lot too - they spend more than 30% gdp on military), no pressure to keep ideological control very tight, mcu larger economic area - so what we would get? we would get incomes no less that in developed countries. That is not better, but at least no worse.
And it's precisely what economists like Alex would like you not to know

I don't know, I like to live in a place where you can see the stars at night

Yes, from the image you can clearly see that areas like Montana, Wyoming and Kansas are concentrations of Communism, while New York and China are hotbeds of free market capitalism.

Light pollution, huh?

North Korea has 50x the population of Wyoming in an area half the size -- so 100x the population density Of course thinly inhabited regions are dark. And yes, China and New York are both hotbeds of free market activity (I would expect that China under Mao before Deng's economic reforms looked a whole lot like North Korea at night--wouldn't you?)

The video's narrator complains of "arbitrary legal zones", which seems a generous swipe at the respective metabolic rates of our respective jurisprudential traditions and capabilities: because our planetary lamplighter Holy Science operates much more nimbly in its dealings with inert matter, the conclusion that seems proffered here is that humans need to become inert enough to accept whatever "rational solutions" Holy Science can devise for us--"non-arbitrary" (i.e.--"rational") jurisprudential approaches for resolving "arbitrary" legal disputes.

If "natural arbitrariness" is a natural foe of humanity, how can Holy Science hope to overcome every appearance of "natural arbitrariness" that continues to emerge among human beings . . . naturally? (That is: what REALLY explains why so much electricity is expended in our planet's Northern Hemisphere? How has "rational" human settlement of the globe yielded arbitrary outcomes such as most of humanity's remaining in the Northern Hemisphere? [The distribution of our continents might itself qualify as "naturally arbitrary".])

Or: do such displays of Earth-by-night-from-low-Earth-orbit confuse us into thinking for one moment that the arbitrary distribution of "night light" is a cosmic sign of the spread of "human rationalism"? --that all these night lights signal concentrated human attention and devotion to strict rational exercise?

The median population center is Pike County Indiana as of 2010, and it is moving South West.

My untrained eye says we do not have enough lights in the Southwest to equalize energy use.

Telling that the video completed glosses over the darkest parts of the map, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the immense failures of their governments.

Most of Texas and the American West east of California toward the Mississippi is communist?

Indeed, "borders are absurd" as the patterns of artificial illumination suggest. So says the VO anyway. Absurd things should be eliminated. People should be free to move to wherever they can find their greatest productivity and happiness. The alternative is protectionism. On the other hand, wanting to keep what you have is a natural inclination, so Open Borders may not be the best "possible policy option", as some commenters on this blog keep insisting.

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