Archive: 01/2012

The Pentagon on Climate Change

Skeptics of climate change unremittingly contend that the science is inconclusive and the debate is still unsettled. Backed by the coal and oil industry, the skeptic lobby has cast doubt on the human role in global warming and the environmental risk of burning fossil fuels.

The U.S. military, on the other hand, has followed the climate science with a growing sense of alarm.

As far back as 2003 (during the first term of the pro-oil Bush/Cheney Administration), a specially commissioned Pentagon report warned that rapid climate change could “potentially destabilize the geo-political environment, leading to skirmishes, battles, and even war” over scarce food, water and energy supplies.

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A Most Unusual Nebraska January

by Bruce Johansen

Like anyone else, I can draw some joy out of a sunny, mild day in the middle of January. We take enough punishment in Nebraska to deserve a few of them. But nearly a month of them, back to back (from mid-December, 2011 to at least mid-January, 2012)? Dare I rain—or snow, sleet and hail—on this parade?

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Occupy Economics, Occupy the Economy

by Hank Van den Berg
UNL Professor of Economics

I am writing this column on the airplane while returning from a conference at the University of Massachusetts organized by the “International Coalition of Associations for Pluralism in Economics” (ACAPE). This is an idealistic organization that brings together economists from a wide variety of fields and perspectives in order to help the profession escape from the narrow cultural bias that currently dominates economic thinking. This organization is the polar opposite of the mainstream economics organizations which mostly propound the same failed ideas that led to the Great Depression, the 2008 Great Recession—and the next failure of our economic system. I found it stimulating to experience the defiant mood among these economists from the Marxist, libertarian, institutional, historical, structural and other heterodox schools of economic thought. Their defiance no doubt stems from the fact that many of them foresaw the current economic crash and recession.

Now, while mainstream economists continue to ignore reality and ‘cautiously’ suggest that economic recovery is underway, the economists assembled in Amherst were not so blind. They saw that unemployment is not getting better, government debts are still growing, investment is insufficient to maintain critical infrastructure, education was being cut at all levels, incomes were not growing for most people, and carbon emissions were still rising rapidly. They were not afraid to point out that the economic system has failed. These heterodox (non-orthodox) economists accordingly voted overwhelmingly to “occupy economics.”

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The Bullying Threat

by Kerry Beldin, Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and NFP board member

This past holiday season, the family of Ben Lewis had to celebrate without him. In November, the 15-year old Lincoln East sophomore took his own life at his grandmother’s home. According to the family, Ben’s suicide was yet another tragic end to ongoing victimization and bullying by peers. Stories such as this have become sadly commonplace as the topic of bullying has garnered increasing attention both at the national and local level.

According to KLKN TV Channel 8 in Lincoln, Ben’s history and profile are not surprising. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, a condition that can make academic environments challenging and social interactions difficult, Ben had left an Omaha school to avoid the bullying he had experience there. Following his death, his family states they wished he would have spoken out, wish he would have told others he was experiencing bullying. Ben’s uncle, Jeremy Bibelheimer is quoted by the news channel as saying, “Schools advocate 'We have a zero-tolerance policy against bullying' and what exactly does that mean? Yes, you have a zero-tolerance policy but what does that mean? What are the resources? What's that you know?"

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