Record-breaking floods have devastated Western Europe, leaving at least 170 people dead and over 1,300 unaccounted for. This catastrophe will have long-lasting implications on European – and global – politics and policies, including an impact on the forthcoming German general elections in September, and the rollout of the EU radical energy policy package that was unveiled on July 14. This includes commitments to be the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
The worst hit country, Germany, suffered the most casualties, with 143 confirmed dead and the toll still rising. North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate are the states which sustained the brunt of the damage, as floods swept away whole villages. The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France were also affected.
Intense rainfall over a very short period caused riverbanks to burst, inducing flash floods and mudslides on a scale not seen in the past 100 years. Parts of Germany received between 4 and 8 inches of rain in under 24 hours – in some cases triple the monthly average. While local officials were quick to respond, initial warnings by forecasters went unheeded in the days leading up to the deluge. Necessary evacuations never took place.
Speaking on the catastrophic events, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia (and the likely Christian Democrat Chancellor candidate in the September 2021 elections) Armin Laschet claimed the weather event was caused by global warming: “We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate production measures…because climate change isn’t defined to one state.”
According to Hannah Cloke, professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading: “The fact that other parts of the northern hemisphere are currently suffering record-breaking heatwaves and fires should serve as a reminder of just how much more dangerous our weather could become in an ever-warmer world.” Scientists tell us that heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) is fueling more intense and more frequent extreme weather events.
The floods’s timing will have possibly the decisive impact on acceptance of forthcoming EU climate strategies. EU officials recently unveiled a set of sweeping legislative proposals aimed towards carbon neutrality by 2050. The main tenets include taxes on jet fuel, making air travel much more costly, development of “green” aviation fuels, requirements for countries to swiftly renovate buildings not deemed energy efficient, and tighter emissions requirements for autos, ending the sale of new internal combustion and diesel vehicles by 2035.
New environmental provisions face obstacles in being approved by the 27 states of the EU and European Parliament. However, the European commission remains confident that the plan will be adopted. Some have argued that the proposals don’t go far enough in addressing climate change, claiming that the enclosed provisions are set too low. Others, such as in Poland, fear devastating consequences for the country’s coal industry.
The floods in Western Europe come watershed moment for climate agenda in the region. Upcoming elections in Germany are likely to be most affected by fallout from the environmental devastation, potentially reviving the Green Party movement. The Greens have struggled to compete with the surging Christliche Demokratische Union (CDU), the party of the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, in recent months, falling 9.5 points behind the front in opinion polls.
Despite falling poll numbers, the Greens remain the party with the highest potential to challenge CDU for majority in the Bundestag. Running primarily on a platform of energy transition, climate protection, and gender equality, the party has outlined ambitious targets that aim for German climate neutrality, halting reliance on coal by 2030. In addition, overambitious party leaders have signaled their willingness to make short-haul flights superfluous and petrol vehicles obsolete in the next ten years.
Perhaps most interesting about the Greens are their beliefs in addressing aggressive Russian and Chinese interference in European affairs. Analenna Baerbock, the designated candidate for Chancellor, remarked in April that the most important thing was “to increase pressure on Russia” after military buildups on its Eastern border with Ukraine. Later, she stated that “If the Chinese government requires Chinese corporations such as Huawei, for example, to pass on European data and information, we cannot integrate such manufacturers into European infrastructure.”
Though Angela Merkel’s successors were expected to prevail in the September elections, the immediate and devastating nature of the recent flooding could drive swing voters towards the Greens. Destruction that has cost lives and billions of dollars in infrastructure damage will likely complement calls for immediate and radical changes to address climate change. This serves the Green party ambitions, as the other mainstream parties have not made climate a central issue of their campaigns.
The impact of the flooding will certainly spur other established environmental movements and radicals throughout Europe to use the catastrophic events to call for far-reaching climate measures — including those that may impede growth and lower the living standard. The floods may prove to be a pivotal moment for the trajectory of European climate policy and further evolution of the Old Continent’s political direction for decades to come.
With Assistance from Liam Taylor
Week In Politics: Republicans Urge Vaccine Hesitant Citizens To Get The Shot – NPR
‘It’s 2021, it’s not 1950:’ Women politicians in N.S. show support for Robyn Ingraham – Global News
Pamela Lovelace is no stranger to the sexism encountered by women in politics.
She ran for Liberal nomination back in 2013, and is now a Halifax regional councillor for District 13 and says she’s encountered all sorts of comments — because she is a woman — while trying to get elected.
“I remember someone saying ‘why are you here? Why are you doing this, you have a family?’” said Lovelace. “I said, ‘well my opponent has a family too’ and the response was ‘yeah, he has a wife though.’”
While Lovelace says politics is still very much an old boys’ club and that it’s hard for women to get into office, she says parties should support diversity among their candidates.
She says it was discouraging to find out a Liberal candidate in this provincial election was kicked out of the party for posting and selling boudoir photos online.
“I was really disappointed to hear that the political landscape is talking about what a person has done with their body rather than the actual ideas that Nova Scotians care about,” Lovelace said.
Earlier this week Robyn Ingraham withdrew as the Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South. She originally posted online that it was due to mental health reasons, but then she later posted to her Instagram account that the party had taken issue with her boudoir photos and Only Fans account despite her having disclosed that during the nomination process.
A barber and small business owner, Ingraham also published an email she said she had sent to Rankin, which stated the party had made a mistake by forcing her out. “The misogynistic behaviour of those above you is not tolerable,” she wrote to the premier. “It’s not my job to make old white men comfortable.”
Former Liberal candidate says party ousted her over ‘boudoir photos’
On Friday, Rankin’s news conference in rural Cape Breton about tourism funding quickly turned into a barrage of questions from reporters about how the ousting of Ingraham occurred, what was said and who was responsible. He confirmed his team “assisted” Ingraham with her resignation statement and said he has been repeatedly trying to contact her to learn her version of events.
But in a brief interview with The Canadian Press at her barbershop in Dartmouth, N.S., Ingraham said she doesn’t plan to speak with Rankin.
“I haven’t spoken to him and I have no intention of speaking to him,” she said. “I just wanted my story to get out there.”
She also said she doesn’t want to run for any other party. “I just want to get back to running my business,” she said at her shop, called Devoted Barbers and Co.
Lovelace said what was done to Ingraham was an injustice.
“Let’s get her back on the ballot,” said Lovelace. “It’s 2021, it’s not 1950, so let’s move on to better politics in Nova Scotia.”
Claudia Chender is running as the NDP candidate for the same riding Ingraham has dropped out of and says this whole situation shows the double standard for men and women in politics.
“I think we are past the point where we should be embroiled in this type of situation as a scandal, but unfortunately we still have a lot of misogyny, frankly, in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia politics.”
Chender says whether or not someone takes or sells revealing photos of themselves does not have an impact on how they can help the community.
Nova Scotia housing prices an election issue
“Political candidates should be judged on how are you going to make things better, how are you going to fix things?” said Chender.
“I think anything else that’s happening in their own personal lives that isn’t causing people harm is nobody’s business.”
Ingraham’s removal from the ballot has caught the attention of women across the country and many are showing her their support.
In a Twitter post, Mackenzie Kerr, a Green Party candidate in British Columbia posted her own boudoir image with the caption “It’s time we change the definition of professionalism.”
Back in Nova Scotia, a former PC candidate for Dartmouth South says she can’t believe women are still being judged for taking control of their own bodies.
“It’s horrible because Robyn is experiencing what I went through,” said Jad Crnogorac.
Crnogorac is a fitness instructor and says she herself has had professional boudoir photos done and hasn’t been shy of posting those photos or bikini photos of herself online.
She says when she was nominated as a PC candidate the party knew all of this but says just before the writ dropped she was approached and asked to remove some of her photos.
“I was really really angry,” said Crnogorac. “This is why strong women don’t go into politics because someone always finds a way to drag you through it and it’s just not appealing.”
Crnogorac was ultimately kicked out of the PC party as a candidate after tweets deemed racist surfaced but she maintains there’s a double standard for women in politics versus men.
“The leader of a party can do something illegal and have two DUIs and still be the leader of the party,” she said, referring to Iain Rankin’s recent admission to past impaired driving charges.
“Why do we have to have this picture-perfect female versus the men who can do whatever they want and still be a politician?” she asks.
–With files from The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Politics: The Minders and Mandarins of Capitalism – The Wall Street Journal
James R. Otteson’s “Seven Deadly Economic Sins” (Cambridge, 305 pages, $27.95) is a fine effort to introduce readers to the basic principles of market economics. The hamartiological framing—the “sins” are bad assumptions about how markets work—is part of the author’s effort to make the subject more engaging than a typical treatise on economics. It works. Mr. Otteson, a professor of business ethics at Notre Dame, writes with an apt combination of casual wit and rigorous logic.
I only regret that the book had to be written at all. There was a time in this country’s history—if the reader will allow a bit of declinist gloom—when America’s political class understood by instinct that wealth in a market economy comes about by voluntary exchanges in which all parties benefit. We do not live in such a time. About half of this country’s high-level elected officials appear to believe that some Americans have money because they took it from other Americans (the rich got rich “on the backs of workers” is a common trope). And so it is left to scholars such as Mr. Otteson to spell out the difference between zero-sum and positive-sum economic relationships.
A transaction based on extraction or theft is zero-sum (1 – 1 = 0). A transaction based on a mutual exchange is positive-sum (1 + 1 = 2). Wealth in most societies before about 1800, he reminds us, was based on the former model; wealth in market economies is based on the latter. What we need is someone able to explain to our well-intentioned politicos that the wealth they want to reallocate came about from mutually beneficial positive-sum transactions and not from zero-sum extraction. The way to diminish poverty and aid the disadvantaged is therefore not to punish positive-sum exchanges by taxation, but to allow more of them.
Other chapters in the book treat the “Good Is Good Enough Fallacy,” or the idea that every beneficial end is worth pursuing by all available means; the “Progress Is Inevitable Fallacy,” or the idea that a certain level of prosperity is guaranteed no matter what we do; and the “Great Mind Fallacy,” or the idea “that there is some person or group that possesses the relevant knowledge to know how others should allocate their scarce time or treasure.”
This latter point isn’t new—you can read the gist of it in Friedrich Hayek’s essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945) or Thomas Sowell’s book “Knowledge and Decisions” (1980)—but Mr. Otteson helpfully elucidates it in terms of individual experience. The experts may know that high-sugar carbonated drinks are on balance bad for your health, but they cannot know if you, in your circumstances, should or shouldn’t have a Coke. Most people would agree with that observation, but it is remarkable how many government policies are premised on its antithesis. City bans on unhealthy habits, state subsidies for favored industries, tax breaks meant to encourage virtuous behavior—these and a thousand other state-backed strategems assume the authorities and their experts understand immeasurably complex circumstances that they can’t possibly understand. But the alternative—allowing the people who do understand them to make their own decisions, even if they’re wrong—isn’t so satisfying to our governmental minders.
“The Power of Creative Destruction” (Belknap/Harvard, 389 pages, $35), translated by Jodie Cohen-Tanugi, is a full expression of the Great Mind outlook. Not that the authors—Philippe Aghion, Céline Antonin and Simon Bunel, all associated with the Collège de France—are socialists or militant redistributionists. They are mandarins. They recognize that you can’t pay for the modern welfare state or enjoy high levels of prosperity without robust economic growth. But capitalism, in their view, is constantly menacing itself and requires the aid of sage policy makers to prevent its collapse.
The authors are heavily influenced by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter. In “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” (1942), Schumpeter contended that capitalism was doomed by its own logic. The capitalist system depends on a constant succession of entrepreneurs dislodging established firms—a process he called “creative destruction.” But eventually, he saw, yesterday’s innovators become today’s monopolists and learn to use the levers of power to prevent further innovation. Growth diminishes; a dissatisfied public demands welfare-state protections and restrictions on entrepreneurial activity; and capitalism, deprived of growth, slowly transmutes into socialism.
Clearly some parts of that analysis are valid, although Schumpeter was mistaken, in my view, to think of capitalism as a “structure” that can’t adapt to the demands placed on it by an intermittently irrational public. Mr. Aghion, Ms. Antonin and Mr. Bunel share Schumpeter’s overdefined understanding of capitalism. “Capitalism must reward innovation,” they write, “but it must be regulated to prevent innovation rents”—rents meaning profits accruing to incumbent firms—“from stifling competition and thus jeopardizing future innovation.”
And what sort of regulations do they think will encourage innovation, foster competition and save capitalism from itself? You may have guessed already. Industrial policy: tariffs and other protections, subsidies to viable industries and firms, “investments” in R&D and higher education, and so on. What capitalism needs, if I may put their argument in my own words, is more public officials ready to heed the advice of centrist academic economists.
The book is rife with charts and graphs, and the authors cite a bewildering array of highly specialized studies. Much of this technical argumentation strikes me as overdone. I appreciate, for instance, the conclusion that lobbying and barriers to entry are likelier than innovation and competition to aggravate inequality. But people who think markets worsen inequality are committed to an unfalsifiable ideology and won’t be moved by any combination of graph-packed quantitative studies.
Love and death in a utopian community, the remorseless business of slavery, a passion for peacocks, updating Sir Gawain and more.
“The Power of Creative Destruction” is an impressive book in its way, but the authors don’t acknowledge the—to me—obvious objection. Once you afford governmental bodies the power to manage the economy, you also give established firms the tools with which to insulate themselves from competition. Wouldn’t it be easier and more effective to deprive incumbent firms of any special privileges and let them figure out how to survive? Then again, if we did that, we wouldn’t need so many mandarins.
This Week in Apps: Clubhouse opens up, Twitter talks bitcoin, Snap sees record quarter – Yahoo News Canada
New Brunswick to move to Green phase on July 30; reports three new COVID-19 cases Friday – CTV News Atlantic
Tokyo 2020: Canada wins first medal after swimming to silver in women's 4×100 freestyle relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Media17 hours ago
Social-Media Manager, the Most Millennial Job, Comes of Age – The Wall Street Journal
News20 hours ago
India flights to Canada: When will they be allowed? – Canada Immigration News
Tech18 hours ago
EA Play Live featured Dead Space, Battlefield, and Grid news | bit-tech.net – bit-tech.net
Sports16 hours ago
2021 NHL Draft day one recap: Trades! Trades! Trades! and more Trades! – Pension Plan Puppets
Economy13 hours ago
Student Loan Cancellation Won’t Stimulate The Economy, According To New Research – Forbes
Health21 hours ago
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
Health17 hours ago
CDC Panel Says J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Benefits Outweigh Risks – Healthline
Media12 hours ago
Watch Live: Oliver Ekman-Larsson addresses media after trade to Canucks – Sportsnet.ca