Category Archives: Institutional Analysis

Putin’s farmer

This is a story about a German farmer named Stefan Dürr who has taken his considerable skills to Russia where he has organized enough agriculture to have become one of Putin's goto guys on the subject. We last met Dürr in 2012 in a post on Catherine the Great and her policies that lured German farmers to Russia beginning in the 1760s. Apparently Putin believes that this was one of Catherine's better ideas (it was).

Well, now this story has not only made it to Deutsche Welle (an eminently establishment German broadcaster) but they have seen fit to post it to Youtube. The reason seems to be that because of Dürr and folks like him, Russia has not only weathered sanctions to their food supply, but they have upped their agricultural game to the point where she just had her best harvest IN HISTORY.

In other words, Russia is beginning to prosper because a former KGB agent has by plan, or sheer dumb luck, or some combination, executed a Producer Class economic maneuver of the first order. Import substitution is hard to do and yet they have done it. And it is all based on the recognition of the incredible value of German agricultural practice. Apparently, Putin learned a great deal while stationed in Dresden.

HAWB 1940s-1950s Timeline of computer development shows crucial role of government

HAWB - How America Was Built

Libertarians like to shout their belief that “the welfare state has created nothing.” I wonder if they think the welfare state was not the one in the 1930s through 1960s that funded the basic research, then specific research to create transistors, computers, and the internet. Perhaps they think NASA was somehow not part of the welfare state? Perhaps all the spin-offs of NASA--such as modern medical monitoring equipment--or the Apollo Guidance Computer, which drove forward the technological boundaries of integrated circuits and software development as well as computers in general--do not really exist because “the welfare state” could not possibly have created them? (The libertarian ideology apparently must be kept pure–shades of the doctrinaire Marxist-Leninist!) Perhaps all those spinoffs are just figments of the fevered imaginations of those terrible statists who want to “redistribute wealth”?

People like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates and Peter Thiel and every single other chest-pounding libertarian CEO of Silicon Valley (it is frankly disgusting that so many people in the industry given such support to organizations like the Reason Foundation) would have NOTHING, absolutely effing nothing, were it not for what the U.S. government did in the 1930s through 1960s that resulted in the creation of computers and the internet. These people owe everything they have to the United States of America. Without those government programs and that government support — and let's not forget the tens of thousands of kids that were educated at public land grand universities — there would be no computers, no software, no internet, no transistors, no semiconductors, no Silicon Valley, no Silicon Valley fortunes, no Microsoft, no Intel, no Apple, no PayPal, no Amazon.

TIMELINE of Government Support for the Development of Computers

October, 1919. The Army and the Navy granted RCA the former American Marconi radio terminals that had been confiscated during World War One. Admiral Bullard received a seat on the Board of Directors of RCA. The result was Federally-created monopolies in radio for GE and the Westinghouse Corporation and in telephone systems for the American Telephone & Telegraph Company. The following cooperation among RCA, General Electric, the United Fruit Company, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) brought about innovations in high-power radio technology, and also the founding of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the US.

1925 - Western Electric Research Laboratories and part of the engineering department of the American Telephone & Telegraph company (AT&T) consolidated to form Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc.

1932 – Vannevar Bush becomes Dean of the MIT School of Engineering

1938 – Vannevar Bush becomes president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington

June 27, 1940 – President Roosevelt creates National Defense Research Committee on advice of Vannevar Bush; makes Bush chairman. Under the chairmanship of Bush the NDRC created new laboratories, including the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which aided the development of radar, and the Underwater Sound Laboratory at New London, Connecticut, which developed sonar.

June 28, 1941 – President Roosevelt creates Office of Scientific Research and Development on advice of Vannevar Bush; makes James B. Conant, President of Harvard University, chairman

June 5, 1943 – Army Ordnance Corps, Research and Development Command contracts University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering to design and build Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory. Code name “Project PX”. Moore School also built the Electronic Discreet Variable Computer (EDVAC), which used a stored program and sequential processing.

1944 – Fairchild Aviation changes name to Fairchild Camera and Instrument, aerial cameras for the military, and many other things

June 25-30, 1945 - John von Neumann's First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, which described the logical design of a computer using stored-programs, distributed by Herman Goldstine. Von Neumann was then working on the Manhattan Project, and in a strenuous attempt to develop a machine able to perform the physics calculations needed to build an atomic bomb. was basically prodding and informally coordinating the efforts to develop a computer at all the different university and military institutions working on various computer designs. Goldstine was serving as a lieutenant in the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory and acting as the BRL liaison to the computer projects underway at the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

July 1945 – Army Signal Corps’ Project 414A (becomes Nike Ajax, first operational anti-aircraft missile system) contracted to Bell Laboratories conceives of computerized command and control for USA air defense.

July 1945 – Vannevar Bush submits report to President Truman, entitled, Science, The Endless Frontier. Bush argued that basic scientific research was important to national survival for both military and commercial reasons, and required sustained government funding and support. Militarily, basic scientific research was the only way to ensure the development of superior weapons, and maintain that superiority. Commercially, basic scientific research was "the pacemaker of technological progress" which provided both new products and better, more efficient production capabilities.  "New products and new processes do not appear full-grown," Bush wrote in the report. "They are founded on new principles and new conceptions, which in turn are painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of science!" Science historian Daniel Kevles wrote that Bush's insistence "upon the principle of Federal patronage for the advancement of knowledge in the United States," was  "a departure that came to govern Federal science policy after World War II."  Read more. Bush's report led to legislation to create the National Science Foundation in May 1950.

1946 – Frederick Terman returns from MIT Radiation Lab to Stanford University as Dean of Engineering. Terman earned his doctorate studying under Vannevar Bush.

1946 – Jay Forrester at the MIT Servomechanisms Laboratory (funded by the Office of Naval Research) convinces DoD to expand Whirlwind flight simulator program to the design of a real-time general-purpose digital computer that could serve functions other than flight simulation. Magnetic core memories developed for Whirlwind (see Flamm p14-15)

1946 – Engineering Research Associates [ERA), was formed in St. Paul, Minn. By engineers from the Naval Communications Supplemental Activity, which had been involved in developing computers in support of the Navy’s work in cryptology. “With ERA,” summarizes the National Research Council (NRC), “the Navy effectively privatized its wartime cryptography and was able to maintain civilian expertise through the radical postwar demobilization” [1999, p. 9]. Ruttan P93-94

July 8, 1946 thru August 30, 1946 – Moore School lectures on “Theory and Technique for the Design of Electronic Digital Computers” sponsored and funded by the Office of Naval Research and Army Ordnance Dept. This is the specific point in human history when a new technology is deliberately made available to the entire world. before this lecture series, barely a handful of people in the entire world have any idea of the entire process of designing, building, and operating an electronic computer. Here, the Army Ordnance Dept. and the Office of Naval Research deliberatly invite a hundred or more people to a series of seminars and lectures to share with them this new knowledge. Read more.

January 1950 – George E. Valley, Jr., an MIT physics professor and chairman of the Air Defense System Engineering Committee, visits MIT Servomechanism Laboratory, conceives of Whirlwind as the basis for develop a computer-based air defense system. Major funding of Whirlwind shifts from ONR to the Air Force, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory takes over. IBM decides to work on project. Read more.

April 1950 – Standard Eastern Automatic Computer completed by the National Bureau of Standards; first electronic digital von Neumann-type stored-program computer; source of a number of important technical innovations, including solid-state logic. new input-output mechanisms, an early example both of time sharing and the interconnection of two computers (the SEAC and the DYSEAC) in 1954, the development of marginal checking, new memory mechanisms, and a graphical display. Its development was supported by both the Navy and the Army. [Ruttan p93n5; Flamm 1988, pp. 68-75] Read more.

May 1950 – National Science Foundation Act of 1950.

December 1950 – ERA’s first major computer system, the Atlas, was delivered to Navy [Ruttan P93-94]

Early 1951 – IBM begins Defense Calculator project, designed for commercial use, based on letters of intent from government agencies and defense-related firms. Renamed the IBM 701. [Ruttan P94]

1951 - Stanford Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman convinces the University to establish Stanford Industrial Park (later Stanford Research Park), based on the model of university-government cooperative research Terman experienced at MIT Radiation Lab during World War Two. The first tenant was Varian Associates, founded by Stanford University alumni to build military radar components. Stanford Industrial Park is the seed which blossoms into Silicon Valley. Read more.

October 28, 1953 – Air Force decides to build Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense project based on MIT Lincoln Laboratory and IBM Whirlwind. Uses largest computers ever built, IBM’s AN/FSQ-7, based on IBM 701.

1950-1952 – Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense project “was a driving force behind the commercial development of the American computer industry and has been deemed the most important learning experience in computer history.” (Ruttan, p96; and prev.)

March 1953 – first installation of an IBM 701, at Atomic Energy Commission’s Los Alamos Laboratory. [Ruttan P94]

1957 – eight engineers from Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory convince Fairchild to create Fairchild Semiconductor. Two of these eight, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, founded Intel in 1968.

1960s – Using money from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Doug Engelbart invented the mouse and hypertext-based collaboration tools in the mid-1960s, while at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International).

1988 – “Toward a National Research Network” submitted to Congress by a group chaired by UCLA professor of computer science Leonard Kleinrock, one of the creators of the ARPANET,

December 9, 1991 – High Performance Computing Act of 1991


Initial Operation, Computer, source of funding,
  • 1945, ENIAC, Army
  • 1947, Harvard Mark II, Navy
  • 1949, Eckert-Mauchly BINAC, Air Force
  • 1949, Harvard Mark III, Navy
  • 1950, NBS SEAC, Air Force
  • 1950, ERA 1101 (Atlas I), Army, NSA
  • 1951, Eckert-Mauchly UNIVAC, Army, Census Bureau, Air Force
  • 1951, MIT Whirlwind, Navy, Air Force
  • 1951, Princeton IAS, Army, Navy, RCA, Atomic Energy Commission
  • 1951, Univ of California CALDIC, Navy
  • 1951, Harvard Mark IV, Navy
  • 1952, EDVAC, Army
  • 1952, Raytheon Hurricane RAY-DAC, Navy
  • 1952, ORDVAC, Army
  • 1952, NBS/UCLA Zephyr SWAC, Navy, Air Force
  • 1953, ERA Logistics, Navy
  • 1953, ERA 1102 (3 built) Air Force
  • 1953, ERA 1103 Atlas II (20 built) Navy, NSA
  • 1955, Naval Ordnance Research Computer NORC, Navy


Ruttan, Vernon W., Is War Necessary for Economic Growth? Military Procurement and Technology Development. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Flamm, Kenneth, Creating the Computer: Government, Industry and High Technology, Washington DC, Brookings Institution Press, 1988.

Riordan, Michael, and Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age, New York, NY, W. W. Norton & Co., 1998.

Smith, Merritt Roe, editor, Military Enterprise and Technological Change: Perspectives on the American Experience. Cambridge, MIT Press, 1985.

Ceruzzi, Paul E., A History of Modern Computing, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 2003.

Some of the past posts in the series HAWB - How America Was Built

HAWB - Introduction - How America Was Built
Monday Jan 26, 2015

HAWB 1783 - Benjamin Franklin on the Augmentation of Wages - How America Was Built
Monday Feb 02, 2015

HAWB 1801 - Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin - How America Was Built
Friday May 29, 2015

HAWB 1791 - Alexander Hamilton rejected Adam Smith
Tuesday Oct 20, 2015

The Power to Govern
Tuesday Dec 08, 2015

HAWB 1863 - Admiral Benjamin Franklin Isherwood and Steam Power - How America Was Built
Monday Dec 28, 2015

HAWB 1791-2001Hamilton and the Apple I-phone - How America Was Built
Sunday Feb 28, 2016

HAWB 1800s - It was NOT free trade - How America Was Built
March 11, 2016

HAWB 1800s - The Doctrine of High Wages - How America Was Built
April 1, 2016

HAWB 1870s - American producer class hero Peter Cooper - How America Was Built
May 22, 2016

A Short Crash Course in American Political Economy
November 25, 2016

HAWB – Creating America’s Amber Waves of Grain – How America Was Built
January 1, 2017

Germany to Jump to Russia – U.S. Deep State has Lost

The latest rumblings from Berlin suggest that the SDP is going to cave, once again, and become the junior partner in Merkel's CDU-run government. This comes after the collapse of the so-called Jamaican coalition talks (CDU, Greens, and FDP.) You could smell that fiasco in the middle of North America. But that attempt comes after the SPD and CSU lost significant fractions of their vote in the last election and needed new blood. But Greens and FDP? That would be like Bernie Bros hooking up with the Koch brothers. (It seems to me that any coalition named for Jamaica should be negotiated to the sweets sounds of Bob Marley and good Ganja and the Krauts probably tried it with polka, bier, und schnapps.)

Of course, the interesting question is whether the German government will keep pursuing their hopelessly stupid neoliberal agenda because that is what the crooks at Deutsche Bank want, or will they begin catering to the industrial interests that really keep the economy going. (Producers vs Predators, ja) The problem with running a Producer agenda is that it is exactly what the EU and USA does not want.

My take is that while an economic realignment is seriously overdue, it will face major hurdles. The Neoliberals will not give up easily. On the other hand, there are elements in the German psychic that really like doing business in Russia and so this may lead to Germany abandoning sanctions. Luongo below has thoughts on this.

Germany to Jump to Russia – U.S. Deep State has Lost

Stratfor's George Friedman can't tell you the real story of why Germany has no choice but Russia.

Tom Luongo, 10/24/17

How do I know this? I didn’t write that title for click-bait or SEO purposes. I wrote that title because it’s true. This article will be one part geopolitical treatise and one part tutorial on how to read what isn’t said as much as what is said and, most importantly, who is/isn’t speaking.

We start with none other than Mr. CIA mouthpiece himself George Friedman. Freidman is the head of Stratfor, one of the most influential Washington D.C.-based ‘intelligence’ organizations around. In the past I’ve subscribed to Stratfor simply to find out what narratives the U.S. government wants me to believe.

Deep State Intelligencia

Stratfor’s intelligence is a masterful mixture of the truth wrapped up in a neat little ball spinning you like a fidget spinner. Friedman is the Dumbledore of Stratfor, speaking half in riddles. But as an insider with access to the real story and blithely, almost imperceptibly, not telling you anything of value he guides you towards a particular side of the story.

So, again, how do I know the Deep State is losing? Friedman’s latest piece for John Mauldin’s investment service hit Zerohedge this morning discussing the deplorable state of U.S./German relations.

People like Friedman absolutely need to be read. But, read them with the most skeptical eye. The intelligence is in knowing where the focus will be next. So, Friedman talking about how the Germans are about to be seduced out of necessity by the evil Russians is significant.

The focus of Deep State policy will move away from Syria and even Iran to try and shore up their position in Germany which has deteriorated alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popular support.

Friedman lays out Germany’s choice: figure out a way to salvage the EU or turn to Russia to get what it needs to grow. This is the essence of Germany’s problem. But Friedman lays it out in the most intellectually dishonest way imaginable.

And in doing so he makes the reader feel intelligent. That’s the pernicious part. That’s the “Master Persuader” part that Scott Adams talks about all the time. And that’s the part you have to watch carefully.

Deep State Russian Lies

Friedman uses sleight of hand to tell us that Germany needs Russia because:

Germany needs Russian raw materials. It also needs the Russian market to be far more robust than it is so that it can buy more German goods.

But Russia is incapable of rapid economic development without outside help, and with the collapse of oil prices, it needs rapid development to stabilize its economy. Germany needs Russia’s economy to succeed, and what it has to offer Russia is capital, technology, and management.

In exchange, Russia can offer raw materials and a workforce.

An alignment with Russia could settle Eastern Europe in Germany’s orbit.

This all sounds good. The conclusion is true. But getting there it a lie to suit the narrative. Germany needs strong exports to grow. Russia doesn’t. Germany needs raw materials. Russian doesn’t need technology. It has that technology it hasn’t deployed it to the private sector…. Yet.

Up to this point Germany has used southern Europe as its dumping ground, trading Italian and Portuguese sovereign debt for BMWs.

But that scheme has reached its limit and is tearing the EU apart. Germany doesn’t want to stop this arrangement nor does it want to pay its ‘fair share’ of the burden for its resolution, i.e. debt relief for what it considers the ‘Club Med’ countries.

German politicians like Merkel have exploited this cynically for political gain but, now that we’ve reached the debt limit she’s been exposed as nothing more than mouthpiece for U.S. Deep State policy, not the leader of Germany.

The U.S. wants a united EU, through NATO, to combat Russia geopolitically and so everything is frozen in this Cold War stasis that is resulting in major populist uprisings against Merkel’s enforcement of it. The costs are being paid by the younger generations now born into de facto debt slavery.

Russia, for its part, is not the Russia of even five years ago. It continues to leverage its robust energy sector to fund the broader economy. Putin made the switch from subsidizing Rosneft and Gazprom to agriculture and manufacturing in 2015. Igor Sechin howled. Putin ignored him.

Friedman knows this and yet peddles the same “Russia is a gas station on the way to China” meme that still works on Congress. He also knows that this was always Putin’s plan to first stabilize Russia and then remake it.

And that’s what scares him and the neocons he represents.

Putin used the energy sector to improve the lives of millions of Russians while waging a war of financial and territorial attrition against an aggressive U.S. Then made a stand (Syria) and reversed the entire board while defending the strategic positions of its energy sector.

While that played out, he redirected state funds away from energy at the crucial moment during the ruble crisis, which now can stand on its own, towards the broader economy. That part of the plan is just getting started. See my latest article at Seeking Alpha for a taste of what’s happening.

Once institutional investors realize that Friedman is selling them nonsense, the money will flow into Russia through a multitude of new channels that will help Germany make the right choice.

Germany’s Real Choice is not the Deep State

Germany’s real choice is, as Friedman suggests, to cut a new deal with Russia. Yes, Germany needs access to a vibrant Russian market but that will happen with or without Germany thanks to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its own dramatic military and diplomatic victories in central Asia and the Middle East.

Germany has no choice looking West. Britain is a shell of a country hanging on by the skin of its financial sector teeth. Western Europe is tapped out and needs to exit the euro, devalue and default on its debt to begin again and the U.S. will struggle with the same problems once Europe is finished working through the worst of theirs.

The only rational choice is Russia with its
  • 17% debt to GDP ratio, 
  • Intelligent trained workforce
  • Access to markets that will be the engines of growth past 2020
  • Its strengthening ties to the ‘buffer states’ of Eastern Europe that will likely exit the EU
It is this choice that was truly reflected in the German election results last month, not the anti-immigration policies of Alternative for Germany (AfD). That certainly played a role, but Merkel’s troubles in Bavaria are her real problems and Bavaria wants normalized relations with Russia.

And if she doesn't craft a cabinet that supports that, she won’t be chancellor for much longer.

And that’s the real story Friedman won’t tell you because it admits defeat. more

On Veblen and Puritanism

Well, folks, I keep trying. Someone whose stated qualifications for interest in Veblen was that he had been assigned to read The Theory of the Leisure Class in college, asked me to address his little group of the socially and politically interested called the Minnesota Branch of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims (I am NOT making this up.) Apparently, to be a member one has to be able to trace his or her genetic roots to the Mayflower.

This didn't sound like a good match but I gave the prospective appearance a good faith effort. I drove the event coordinator around the Veblen house and Valley Grove cemetery for almost three hours. Because the meeting site had no AV equipment, I got real 8 x 10 color photos produced. He even informed me I had to wear a jacket and wonders, I found one in a dusty corner of my closet. By this time, I had invested so much time and energy that I arranged for a friend with a NICE camera to record my efforts—a move that was allowed only with great reluctance and promises that the members would not be photographed.

As the proceedings got under way, I began to understand why these good children of Pilgrims didn't want to be identified. They had a quasi-religious ritual that included the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I come from a religious background but I had never seen these two combined in one ceremony. Most of the people I know would consider this blasphemy (along with a being a serious violation of the separation of church and state.) It reminded me of the scene in the 2006 movie called the Good Shepard where the Skull and Bones crowd gathered to control the world. They also mixed in Christianity with Angelina Jolie as the Senator's daughter noting that it was first Bones THEN God. I guess it is just easier to run the world if you think that God is on your side.

The guy sitting next to me informed me that he was going to be especially skeptical about my presentation because he was a BIG fan of von Hayek. Oh joy, someone who actually believes that old Hapsburg toady had anything interesting to say about economics. von Hayek was the guy who taught that socialized medicine was the Road to Tyranny. If you want to blame one person for the disaster that is USA medicine, von Hayek is a damn good candidate. I tried not to let this bother me because under any objective standards, von Hayek was not intellectually qualified to wash Veblen's shorts. Which of course, is the main reason von Hayek is treated as a god at the University of Chicago.

It got worse. At the end of my talk, I was subjected to questioning. The event planner asked the final question. He wanted me to comment on the rumors of Veblen's sex life. Veblen wrote 10 books and 100 papers. And this clown wanted to talk about the fact that Veblen lost his job at the Rockefeller-Baptist University of Chicago because he got a divorce. That's Puritanism for you—don't grapple with a man's ideas when you can talk about his sex life. Talk about getting stuck in puberty. It's no damn wonder this nation has become a cesspool of ignorance.

As I prepared to leave, the von Hayek fan made the claim that without government subsidies, Elon Musk (who I had used as an upper-level member of the Producing Class in my talk) would be nowhere. Of course, as Tony could have informed him for days without resorting to notes, virtually ALL scientific and technological advancement in USA was initially funded by the government. In my mind, people with the vision, imagination, and organizational ability of an Elon Musk should be told by the Federal government that we would be providing $20 billion per year to spend on any project he found interesting—especially projects that would help us transition us out of the Age of Fire.

Anyway, I thought I gave a good talk and friend Fabre captured fine video. So while I was busy casting pearls before swine, I think the effort was ultimately useful. Fortunately for me, this blog has readers who are anything BUT swine so I hope you enjoy the effort. I added a 2 minute 40 second graphic animation on my view of Veblen's distinction between business and industry which starts at about the 19 minute mark. This was a LOT of work.

15,000 scientists warn of scientifically predictable global destruction

This is one of those bad-news—worse-news stories. The bad news is that the science on climate change in 1992 was damn near flawless already. And we have gotten a LOT better at it in 25 years. And the science says that without a radical alteration in business-as-usual, we are doomed on this planet. No ifs, ands, or buts.

The worse news is that the brightest minds of the species seem to believe that warnings lead to action. Not without a plan they don't. Preachers have been warning about hell-fire and brimstone for thousands of years and I have yet to see how all that fear-mongering has ever led to a better society. Why is it any better when our best scientists believe that if only their warnings are dire enough, someone in the greater audience will somehow come up with a solution?

We get the point. Climate change is dangerous. Now, oh bright ones, lay out some reasonable possibilities for remediation. I don't want to get all worked up about a problem unless there is something  I can do to help. Otherwise, screaming headlines about the world coming to an end is just meaningless motivation.

Also, I am not at all certain it actually requires 15,000 scientists to tell us we are in deep shit. It seems like 500 could monitor our ride in the handbasket so that 14,500 could work on what to do next. Just a thought.

15,000 scientists just signed the largest-ever warning about Earth’s destruction

Scientists worldwide are getting heated over global warming.

Ephrat Livni, 11/14/17

There’s no place like home, our warm and watery planet Earth. But we won’t be living here long if humans don’t change their ways, say 15,365 scientists from 185 countries who want your attention.

On Nov. 13, the journal BioScience published the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” in four languages—English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The first warning was issued in 1992 when 1,700 members of the Union of Concerned Scientists argued that humans are “on a collision course with nature.” That group, which included numerous Nobel laureates, urged the world to save the Earth from extreme climate change by burning fewer fossil fuels, preserving forests, limiting population growth, and improving food production.

“On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response,” contemporary scientists write.

Brace yourselves—we didn’t respond well, the scientists find.
Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has “failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” the paper states. Its authors say they are especially troubled by “the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change…from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption.

They also point out that this rapid heating has “unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years.” Scientists predict many current life forms could be annihilated or near extinction by the end of this century.

Still, there’s some hope. Humans have shown that, with concerted effort, we’re able to make positive and sustainable changes. The global decline in use of ozone-depleting substances shows progress is possible and destruction isn’t inevitable, the scientists argue. Overall, humans have made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger, declines in deforestation in some regions, and rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector.

But more must be done. The paper calls on all to help by being informed consumers and voters, lest we find ourselves homeless. Time is running out, the scientists remind us:

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning…We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home. more