Archive for the 'Wave Guide 2: Public Opinion' Category

May 05 2013

Citizen Hearing on Disclosure Supports Maslow Forecasts

This week’s Congressional-style inquiry into the reality of ET contact with humans was very significant, both in terms of its content and what it reveals about our societal trajectory.

Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr. — who allegedly examined the Roswell crash debris in 1947 — testified last week at the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
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Running from April 29 to May 3 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the “Citizen Hearing on Disclosure” — while not perfect — hit a genuine homerun.

Before I get to the details, here’s the context:

A variety of long-term and current indicators — including macroeconomic (financial Panic of 2008), geopolitical (the Iran-North Korea crisis), technology (the Mach 25 X-37B space plane), and others — suggest strongly that we are rapidly approaching a 1960s-style “critical state,” apparently due to self-organization over decades of the international economic system.

Such twice-per-century “critical states” can be traced back to Lewis and Clark and always dramatically change the world. Although typically preceded by financial panics and geopolitical stress, critical states are best seen through Maslow Windows that are triggered by major JFK-style economic booms and driven briefly by the societal euphoria (“ebullience”) that always follows.

The most recent Maslow Window was in the 1960s and featured an extraordinarily diverse agenda typical of critical states including the Cuban missile crisis, Apollo Moon program, and Peace Corps. A similar transformative, albeit bumpy road is expected with the arrival of the next critical state/Maslow Window — by mid-decade.

Over the last 100+ years, public fascination with intelligent life in space has surged as we approached each new Maslow Window; Click: State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage
And recent interest in UFOs, extra-solar planet discoveries, and now the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure indicate this pattern is continuing.

The CHD featured an unprecedented gathering of 40 of the world’s most significant UFO researchers and witnesses.

My favorite was the Tuesday afternoon panel on tampering with nuclear ICBM launch sites in the U.S.. Four former USAF personnel (including three officers) violated their security oaths (one, Capt. Schindale, for the first time) by describing multiple examples of UFOs hovering around Minuteman launch sites, including instances where ICBMs were mysteriously disabled by the UFO. The men and their stories continue to be believable and the national security implications are obvious and stunning.

The Wednesday afternoon panel on the UFO crash at Roswell in 1947 was good too; it featured the usual riveting suspects — Kevin Randle, Don Schmitt, and Stan Friedman. It’s always impressive to hear Dr. Marcel describe his first-person view, as an 11-year old, of the Roswell debris that his father brought home directly from the crash site.

During the week, several participants were invited to speculate on rationales for the multi-decade UFO cover-up by the U.S. government. The suggestions ranged from military technology to new game-changing energy sources.

However, on the Friday “Truth Embargo” session, historian-researcher Richard Dolan recounted two stories of the very disturbed emotional states that former President Jimmy Carter and (later) a high-level Reagan official appeared to be in after receiving key classified information regarding the nature of UFOs. Dolan speculated that a fear-factor may also be involved in the cover-up.

The CHD organizers hope that increased exposure of the facts about UFOs to the media and the public will trigger a true Congressional investigation into what the government and all its retired members actually know about UFOs.

And it’s likely the CHD will be a key step in that direction as we begin to become engulfed by the 1960s Camelot-style ebullience of the approaching Maslow Window.

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Aug 09 2012

Celebrating Curiosity’s Landing with the Mars Society

According to the Wall Street Journal (8/4/12), the social network crowd was genuinely jazzed about Sunday evening’s landing of NASA’s “Curiosity” rover on the Red Planet. Their analysis of traffic on Twitter and Facebook between July 30 and August 3 indicated that 59% of people expressed “excitement.”

For example, the comments included:

It’s absurd how excited I am about the Curiosity landing … Is it super nerdy that I’m CRAZY excited?

They should have been at the Pasadena Convention Center Sunday evening with the truly exuberant Mars Society folks at the 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention.
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I was happy to be there to participate in a panel discussion on “Our Future in Space” along with former astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave, Princeton astrophysicist Dr. J. Richard Gott, and the Mars Society founder Dr. Robert Zubrin. We chatted until 10 pm in front of a packed house and then watched the JPL engineers do their thing.

Robert set the stage by reminding everyone of the singular importance of human exploration and settlement of Mars, and what a huge step Curiosity is in that process. Richard, who Saturday evening had addressed a plenary session on “The Mars Colonization Imperative,” commented on the prospects for encountering simple life on Mars. I mentioned that before Phobos-Grunt failed, I suspected that mission success would have resulted in Russia and China considering a joint Mars colonization initiative, but now they appear to be moving Moon-ward. Also, the newly recognized fractal nature of NASA space programs suggests Apollo-level programs — like a Mars colonization initiative — emerge during a “critical state” that self-organizes over decades, and both long- and short-term indicators point to the arrival of a 1960s-style critical state by mid-decade. Story indicated a strong preference for an international manned Mars exploration initiative. Due to China’s emergence as a global space power, he believes China would make a good Mars expedition partner for the U.S..

After a few audience questions we began watching operations at JPL just prior to Curiosity’s landing.

Here’s the ebullient scene at JPL as the first Curiosity images returned.
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Jun 20 2010

State of the Wave: How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age — An Update

Eighteen months into the Obama administration it’s appropriate to check Obama’s progress on space. I first sketched his status in 9/24/09; See “How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age.”

Does the BP oil spill threaten the new international Space Age as well as the environment?
Click .
(Image: U.S. Coast Guard)

In reality — as the last 200+ years have shown — extraordinary pulses of activity in exploration and engineering are enabled by reliable, long-term business cycles. And all indicators suggest we’re sneaking up on the edge of another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology(GAPET).

Typically, during the twice-per-century upswings of the long economic wave and within a decade after a major financial panic (such as the Panic of 2008) and its major recession, we emerge into an ebullient, transformative decade known as a Maslow Window. Perhaps the most ebullient one followed the Panic of 1893 and was led by Theodore Roosevelt: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window from 1903 to 1913. But before that the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window produced the “technological jewel of the 19th century,” the Suez Canal, and the famous Lewis and Clark Maslow Window opened the Great Northwest to the world in 1805.

Our most recent Maslow Window — the stunning 1960s Apollo Moon decade — was unique in the last 200+ years in that it wasn’t immediately preceded by a financial panic or great recession. But the approaching Maslow Window, expected to open near 2015, resumed the much more “normal” sequence of the last 200+ years when the Panic of 2008 heralded its impending arrival.

But since last September, much has happened in the economy, in Washington, and in the world. And given the high likelihood of our next Maslow Window materializing near 2015, the key question remains: How will Obama create the exceptional prosperity that is the hallmark of such Camelot-like times?

As before, there are basically 2 options:

OPTION I: Obama becomes a 2-term President: He becomes the new John F. Kennedy without the Vietnam-style baggage of LBJ.
Historical/Economic Model: The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Three ways Obama could trigger prosperity are:

a) The recession will end naturally and prosperity will follow.
Post-War recessions have averaged 11.3 months in length (with the longest 16 months) and the current one is 22 months old. Most economists think the economy hit bottom recently and is currently recovering.

UPDATE: Some indicate that recent gains in the stock market and modest economic growth suggest we are on the verge of a robust recovery. However other indicators continue to cast doubts, including U.S. unemployment hovering near 10% and the record $ 13+ T national debt.

Indeed, The Economist for May 29- June 4, 2010, leads with a front cover headline, “Fear Returns. How to Avoid a double-dip recession.” And inside they continue with, “Governments were the solution to the economic crisis. Now they are the problem.” And New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (5/23/10) argues that “There is no margin for error anymore.” He quotes experienced global investor Mohamed El-Erian who warns that, “The world is on a journey to an unstable destination, through unfamiliar territory, on an uneven road and, critically, having already used its spare tire.”

b) Obama will “reset” his presidency resulting in prosperity.
Ted Van Dyk, a long-time Democrat and formerly Vice President Hubert Humphery’s assistant in the LBJ Whitehouse, advises Obama to cut back his proposals and expectations (WSJ, 7/17/09):

“You made promises about jobs that would be ‘created and saved’ by the stimulus package. Those promises have not held up. You continue to engage in hyperbole by claiming that your health-care and energy plans will save tax dollars. Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates otherwise.”

UPDATE: For better or worse, this hasn’t happened. Obama passed his health care bill and recently revived discussion of climate legislation and new multi-B $ bailouts.

c) The Keynesians are right and major government spending and deficits result in prosperity.
For example, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the idea of slowing major stimulus spending would be an “error of historical proportions,” (WSJ, 9/22/09; B. Stephens).

UPDATE: The New York Times (5/23/10) reports Europe is “rethinking its safety net,”

Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

And the U.S. is not far behind. America’s public debt is (V. Kohlmayer, American Thinker, 6/10/2010),

more than 90% of the country’s GDP. Public debts of more than 60% of GDP are considered unhealthy. Public debts above 90% of GDP cause severe disruptions in the country’s financial framework and the economy at large.

According to the Obama administration, America’s public debt will exceed 100 % of GDP in the next fiscal year.

Bottom Line for Option I:
The economic case for Obama eventually becoming the new JFK is weaker than it was last September.

However, if he can overcome current challenges, Obama can still become the new JFK. He would continue the brilliant, transformative lagacy of Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal, that began with Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

OPTION II: Obama becomes a 1-term president: He becomes the new Grover Cleveland (and possibly LBJ), and leads to a pro-prosperity Republican presidency.
Historical/Economic Model: The Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13).

The New York Times (9/6/09; Richard Stevenson) observed that,

Nearly eight months after the inauguration, the economy … has stabilized sufficiently that the nation is no longer gripped by the sense of urgency that allowed Mr. Obama, almost without challenge, to carry out an audacious act of industrial engineering: reshaping the automobile industry from the Oval Office in a matter of weeks … The most relevant political framework instead appears to be a more problematic one inherited from his predecesser: a general loss of faith in government.

On August 21, the Wall Street Journal (8/25/09; William McGurn) reported that,

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said his boss was “quite comforrtable” with the idea that sticking to his agenda may well mean “he only lives in this house” for one term.

Indeed, if unemployment remains high into 2012, reelection will be a challenge for Obama.

Three things that could hinder Obama’s reelection are:

a) The Stimulus has not worked.
The Wall Street Journal (9/17/09; Cogan,Taylor,Wieland) reports that,

The data show government transfers and rebates have not increased consumption at all … and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic — not the fiscal stimulus program — deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first to the second quarter.

And as unempoyment heads toward 10%, Obama’s promise that rapid passage of the stimulus package would keep unemployment below 8% has not been realized.

UPDATE: Little has improved here. In late February, Harvard’s Robert Barro (Wall Street Journal, 5/23/10) concluded that “The fiscal stimulus package of 2009 was a mistake.” Based on his long-term empirical model of past U.S. fiscal actions, he estimates a spending multiplier of 0.4 (in the same year) and 0.6 (over 2 years). Increased government spending reduces other portions of GDP like “personal consumer expendature, private domestic investment, and net exports.” According to Barro,

Viewed over five years, the fiscal stimulus package is a way to get an extra $ 600 B of public spending at the cost of $ 900 B in private expenditure. This is a bad deal.

b) Obama’s economic policy may be fundamentally flawed.

Published economic research by the current head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors — Christina Romer — raises doubts about Obama’s policy of major government spending to end the recession. The Wall Street Journal (8/21/09; Alan Reynolds) considers Professor Romer’s 1999 study (J. Econ. Perspect.) and concludes that, based on economic history since 1887, “bigger government appears to produce only bigger and longer recessions.”

If this is true, Obama’s large stimulus/bailout packages and large federal budgets will not stimulate the economy in his first term.

According to William Gale of Brookings,

The budget outlook at every horizon is troubling: the fiscal-year 2009 budget is enormous; the ten-year projection is clearly unsustainable; and the long-term outlook is dire and increasingly urgent.

UPDATE: Little improvement here. According to Robert Reich (WSJ, 4/12/10), President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, “Many outsourced jobs will never return, and median income will likely continue to fall…”

Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan (WSJ, 6/18/10) sees “growing analogies to Greece.”

The current federal debt explosion is being driven by an inability to stem new spending initiatives … We cannot grow out of these fiscal pressures. The modest-sized post-baby-boom labor force … will not be able to consistently increase output per hour by more than 3% annually. The product of a slowly growing labor force and limited productivity growth will not provide the real resources necessary to meet existing commitments … Our policy focus must therefore err significantly on the side of restraint.

Former Reagan advisor Arthur Laffer (WSJ, 6/7/10) sees an “economic collapse” for the U.S. in 2011 unless the Bush taX cuts are extended. “The result will be a crash in tax receipts … If you thought deficits and unemployment have been bad lately, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

c) Afghanistan turns into Vietnam.

The New York Times (8/23/09; Peter Baker) has focused on the dangers a protracted conflict in Afghanistan could have on Obama, “The LBJ model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.”

UPDATE: Afghanistan continues to be a controversial “roller coaster.” Although Obama has tripled the number of U.S. soldiers there, “The conduct of a counterinsurgency operation is a roller coaster experience. There are setbacks as well as areas of progress or successes,” according to Gen. David Petraeus.

Also strategically controversial is Obama’s order to begin reducing American forces by July, 2011. According the the Los Angeles Times, (6/13/10; J. Barnes), “Petraeus did not elaborate on his own reservations and left the hearing moments later after becoming ill. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was worried that the timeline had undercut Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s support for the U.S.-led war effort.”

d) Something New — Widespread questions about Obama’s leadership capability arise.

UPDATE: This has centered on his administration’s slow response to the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill, and goes to the core of his ability to function as a visionary president.

For example, the New York Times (6/13/10) had several complaints.

It certainly should not have taken days for Mr. Obama to get publicly involved in the oil spill … It took too long for Mr. Obama to say that the Coast Guard and not BP was in charge … These are matters of competence and leadership. It;s time for Mr. Obama to decisively show both.

Response from Obama’s supporters to his first Oval Office television address was likewise unfavorable. For example, Chris Matthews (MSNBC) said, “I don’t sense executive command.” Maureen Dowd (NYT) commented that, “instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness there’s the bitter draught of helplessness.” And Time’s Mark Halperin described his own, “fierce, unforeseen disappointment.” With friends like that you can imagine the shots from the Right.

Broadening the critique to all areas of presidential leadership, Dorothy Rabinowitz (WSJ, 6/9/10) crafted the eye-catching headline, “The Alien in the White House;” not referring, of course, to his native-born status, but to “the distance between the president and the people.” And Peggy Noonan (WSJ, 6/19/10) thinks Obama is “snakebit,” in that he’s “starting to look unlucky, like Jimmy Carter.”

As before, an interesting bottomline emerges:

Re: Prospects for the New Space Age Near 2015:
Based on patterns in macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200 years, all realistic roads still lead to a 2015 Maslow Window featuring a Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology, although wildcards are possible.

Re: Mr. Obama’s Prospects:
Despite the fact that Mr. Obama is currently setting the stage for a robust, transformative new Space Age within the next 3-5 years, his presidential prospects remain uncertain and have become even more so since last September.

Obama’s long wave timing and election circumstances (i.e., panic/recession) have more parallels with the 1893-1913 Peary/Panama Maslow Window — in which a 1-term Democrat (Grover Cleveland) was replaced by a pro-prosperity Republican — than with the 1949-1969 Apollo Maslow Window of John F. Kennedy. And Obama’s continuing challenges with high unemployment, record deficits, huge budgets, Afghanistan, and now the oil spill, pose real dangers for him.

As the New York Times noted and as evidenced by Obama’s descending poll numbers, many Americans are expressing skepticism about big government and the economy. Obama will have to create prosperity — the cornerstone of the 2015 Maslow Window — and given Obama’s abilities and resources, he’s remains quite capable of doing it.

But he will have to reverse some of the above trends and perceptions.

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Jan 31 2010

Does Obama’s New Space Policy Indicate He is JFK, Richard Nixon, or (god forbid) Grover Cleveland?

This is an elaboration of my recent post: “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2010,” which appeared before Obama’s state of the union address. Reports that NASA’s Moon program will be discontinued raise questions about U.S. leadership in space. And much of the current chatter in blogs and news reports ignores long-term trends in the economy, geopolitics, and politics — that have governed large-scale technology and exploration projects for the last 200+ years — and thus presents a somewhat confused picture.

When will an American astronaut see this view — Earthrise from lunar orbit — again? Click

Florida Today reports today (1/30/10) that the adminstration will kill the Constellation program designed to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020, but still provide funds for development of a new Saturn V class launch vehicle, favored by the Augustine committee. According to Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida,

My concern is that if all that $6 billion goes just to commercial rockets, then that’s going to push the development of (a new NASA heavy-lift) rocket well into the next decade, and that just means we get behind China and Russia. I think they will announce on Monday (a research-and-development) program to develop the new (heavy-lift) rocket. I just hope that it is not a puny R-and-D development that will push us off well into the next decade before we have the new rocket.

Pushing the heavy lifter “well into the next decade” would not only help China and Russia get ahead in space, it would also push our luck with Maslow Window timing; i.e., the 2015 Window should extend to 2025 but is subject to wildcards. For example, imagine what would have happened if the Vietnam War had intensified a year or two earlier than 1968. We might have lost all of Apollo instead of just the last 3 missions (Apollo 18, 19, and 20).

NASA will reveal the details of its proposed budget Monday.

Is President Obama really “worse” than Richard Nixon?

On January 27, former NASA boss Mike Griffin asserted that President Nixon’s termination of the Apollo Moon program was “one of the most significant, yet strategically bankrupt, decisions in human history.” But that President Obama’s anticipated ending of human spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit is “even worse.” Despite the tens of thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians who lost their jobs in 1972 due to Nixon, at least he “left us with the Space Shuttle,” According to Griffin, Obama’s action would leave “NASA and the nation with no program, no plan, and no commitment to any human spaceflight program beyond that of today.”

Griffin believes that the nearly complete International Space Station will be held …

… hostage to the hope that presently nonexistent commercial spaceflight capability can be brought into being in a timely way. The president has chosen to recommend that the nation abandon its leadership on the space frontier.

While it’s tempting to assign Obama an even lower place in the space history hierarchy than Nixon, it’s not entirely justified and may be premature. We need to consider the long-term economic and political context. For example, Obama was elected during the Panic of 2008 and has had to contend with the current great recession. This anti-ebullient time plus Obama’s growing political difficulties make it difficult for him to support visionary space programs. And history shows this is not the time anyway. When prosperity and affluence-induced ebullience return, the next Maslow Window will appear to open almost automatically.

Is Obama the next John F. Kennedy?

Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com, we’ve been asking this question since before the election, and still believe it’s possible but is not without speedbumps. For example, in his National Review Online (1/29/20) column — “Obama is No JFK” — Jeffrey H. Anderson states that,

at a time when the president claims his focus is on jobs, scrapping these (Moon-related) programs — on which we’ve already spent nearly $10 billion — would cut public spending in one area that actually creates jobs.

You know those great pictures of Earth from outer space … No (astronaut) has seen that view since the Apollo program ended 38 years ago … Now, unless Congress rejects the president’s recommendations, the next people to see that view will likely be the Chinese.

Whether it’s tax cuts or defense spending; or whether it’s the courage, ambition, and sense of wonder that combine to lead great souls to great feats of exploration and discovery; one can surely say this much about Barack Obama: Mr. President, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

Again, these comments cry out for context. President Kennedy was fortunate to lead the nation during the greatest economic boom up to then. Plus the surprise launch of Sputnik (1957) by the Soviets mobilized the country into founding NASA (1958), revitalizing support for education, and providing a slam dunk in Congress for anything JFK wanted in space. Obama and the nation are experiencing a 180 from JFK’s 1960s-style Camelot. But a world-altering Sputnik-like event — especially within the next few years — cannot be ruled out.

Could Obama become another Grover Cleveland?

I include the Cleveland link above for all of us history-challenged Americans (and others) who may not have read the 24th (and 22nd, by the way) U.S. president’s biography lately. To make a long story short, Cleveland was basically a principled guy who got caught up in the vicissitudes of the financial Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession. His economic policies were ineffective, the people lost faith in him, and he was replaced by William McKinley 4 years later.

The point is that the Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession have real parallels with the Panic of 2008 and our current financial difficulties. In fact, our current economic trajectory seems to have more in common with the 1890s than with the (post-World War II boom) 1950s just prior to the Apollo Maslow Window.

If Obama cannot reverse his record 20 point approval rating collapse in 2010, he could become the next Grover Cleveland. Polls reveal the public’s growing concern with unemployment, government spending, and deficits, and show the economic challenges facing the president. The public wants to see light at the end of the financial tunnel; i.e., signs that the current recession will soon begin its transformation into the next major economic boom.

All this is consistent with the long-awaited 2015 Maslow Window being a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology, as they all have been over the last 200+ years.

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Jan 16 2010

30 Years of Global Cooling…Don’t Like the Numbers? Change ‘Em

Last night I happened to catch John Coleman’s TV show, “Global Warming: The Other Side” on KUSI-TV, an independent TV station here in San Diego. Coleman’s an extremely interesting guy — founder of the Weather Channel, expert TV weatherman (formerly with “Good Morning America” on ABC), an irresistible, effervescent personality.

John Coleman — A resourceful “David” successfully challenging the global warming “Goliath.” Click .

In his hour-long news special (available HERE) Coleman takes aim at some major holes in global warming, and features serious charges that the temperature data on which global warming theories are based has been deliberately altered in the direction of warming.

Computer expert E. Michael Smith and Certified Consulting Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo discovered extensive manipulation of the temperature data by the U.S. Government’s primary climate center: the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina. Smith and D’Aleo found that NOAA manipulated temperature data to give the appearance of warmer temperatures than actually occurred by trimming the number and cherry-picking the location of weather observation stations.

You can see more details in their report HERE.

Recently in the Wall Street Journal (1/14/10), Stanford economist Michael Boshkin observed that “If a CEO issued the kind of distorted figures put out by politicians and scientists, he’d wind up in prison.” As a scientist myself, I am especially saddened to see scientists referred to this way but that’s what Climategate’s all about. For example, Professor Michael Mann, a key figure in Climategate, indicated a private desire to “hide the decline” in global temperatures in recent years, and is currently under investigation by Penn State University. At the same time National Review Online is reporting that the Obama administration has awarded $ 500,000 to Mann as part of their economic stimulus package. So much for job creation and scientific peer review.

Earlier this week Fox News (1/11/10) reported this rather strange headline, “30 Years of Global Cooling Are Coming” according to a “leading scientist” at Germany’s Kiel University. An author of the UN’s IPCC report, Professor Mojib Latif believes we’re in for a “mini ice age.” This is an interesting switch on global warming alarmism, but it suffers from one big problem: No climate model can reliably forecast climate decades ahead.

For those who didn’t already know, this was confirmed by Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder in a Climategate email, “The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” In his email, Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of NCAR, acknowledges privately a key point: In 1998 climate models did not predict the cessation of global warming that has occurred — despite continued increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide — over the last dozen years, and no one can explain why it happened. So climate forecasts decades in the future like Professor Latif’s are simply unreliable.

The decline of global warming politics is what we would expect as we approach an ebullient golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology known as the 2015 Maslow Window. Polls indicate the public has already moved on. They are eagerly looking forward to prosperity and even a Camelot-style zeitgeist like that of the 1960s and of all other ebullient Maslow Windows of the last 200 years — all the way back to Lewis and Clark.

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Jan 11 2010

The Mysterious Russia-Apophis Connection — Another Perspective

On December 30 major media outlets reported on a new, proposed Russian mission to deflect asteroid Apophis from a possible Earth-impact trajectory in 2036. Discovered in 2004, Apophis is 3x larger than the 1908 Tunguska impactor or almost 3 football fields long. NASA has estimated that a collision with Earth could produce a 880 Megaton impact — almost 20x the largest H-bomb ever tested (in 1961 by Soviets) and more than 4x the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

What does asteroid Apophis tell us about our world?
Click
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(Artist: Don Davis)

Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, said that Apophis’ flight trajectory was gradually approaching the Earth. “I don’t remember exactly, but it seems that by 2032 Apophis will ram into Earth,” (Pravda, 12/30/09).

Pravda also indicated that, “Russian specialists will choose the strategy to save planet Earth from Apophis and then invite world’s leading space agencies to join the project.”

This all seemed a little abrupt and surprising to me so I emailed Rusty Schweickart, Apollo astronaut and co-founder of the B612 Foundation, to find out if he’d been working with Perminov. He replied almost immediately that he had not been “involved.” The same day Rusty warned in the New York Times (12/30/09; Ellen Barry) that “It takes a very small change in the Apophis orbit to cause it to impact the Earth instead of missing it. There are a million asteroids out there. Find another one.”

Interestingly, JPL calculates that on April 13, 2036, Apophis’ closest approach to Earth will be 18,300 miles or about 8% of the Moon’s distance. And the odds of a collision are only about 1 in 250,000, justifying the Space.com (12/30/09) headline, “Russia May Attack Asteroid That’s Virtually No Threat.”

So what should we make of Perminov’s surprise December 30 announcement? Let’s speculate about two possible connections.

First, in August former Harvard professor Richard Pipes wrote that, “Russia is obsessed with being recognized as a ‘Great Power’…” This is partly due to their victory over Germany in World War II and “the success in sending the first human in space.” But Russia’s veering in the direction of a new cold war hasn’t helped them economically; “Russian aggression against Georgia has cost it dearly in terms of capital flight.” And Russia’s dependence on the global price of energy caused their exports to drop by 47% in first half of 2009.

So Russia — like the rest of the world — sees being a great space power as a key part of being an important global power. And they see the approaching new Space Age as an important time to demonstrate again their impressive capabilities in several areas, including manned space (e.g., transportation to ISS), new infrastructure (e.g., the new Vostochny Cosmodrome), and future planning (e.g., asteroid deflection missions).

But Apophis doesn’t become even a tiny threat until 2036, and even the Apollo Moon program took less than 10 years, so why make the announcement now?

This second question is more speculative than the first but the announcement’s timing may be related to two issues:
1) The Russians may have sensed that the world is rushing toward a new Space Age and now is the time to get organized and allocate resources for planetary defense; this is consistent with the timeline I’ve previously suggested for the formation of a global space agency.
And even more speculative is,
2) The Russians may feel a Copenhagen connection. As public concerns about global warming decline and because the science no longer supports a “climate crisis” (e.g. including Climategate), the Russians may feel it’s time to refocus attention on a real threat to global civilization that’s occurred in the past (e.g., 1908 Tunguska), and will occur again — asteroid impacts.

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Dec 31 2009

Why Do Some People Have Negative Feelings About the Future?

Musician/producer Brian Eno asks this compelling question in This Will Change Everything (Ed. J. Brockman, 2010) about our future,

What if we come to feel as though there were no “long term” — or not one to look forward to?  What if … we started to feel that we’re on an overcrowded lifeboat in hostile waters, fighting to stay on board, prepared to kill for the last scraps of food and water? … Suppose that people start to anticipate the future world … (as) the nightmare of desperation, fear, and suspicion described in Cormac McCarthy’s post-cataclysm novel The Road.  What happens then?

No doubt many people have  felt that way recently because of the financial Panic of 2008 and the subsequent great recession that we appear to be recovering from.  But I think Eno’s question looks beyond current problems, and there’s plenty of reason to take him seriously.  For example, historian Eric Hobsbawm refers to the interval after the collapse of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window in 1914 (due to WW I) until the end of the Cold War in 1991 as “the age of extremes.”  Writing in 1994:

For those who had grown up before 1914 the contrast was so dramatic that many of them … refused to see any continuity with the past. … The First World War involved all major powers … troops from the world overseas were, often for the first time, sent to fight and work outside their own regions.

Commenting on the “world economic breakdown” between World War I and II,  Hobsbawm asserts that,

Indeed, the proud U.S.A. itself, so far from being a safe haven from the convulsions of less fortunate continents, became the epicenter of  this, the largest global earthquake ever to be measured on the economic historian’s Richter Scale — the Great Inter-war Depression. In a sentence:  between the wars the capitalist world economy appeared to collapse.  Nobody quite knew how it might recover.

This feeling is echoed in an interesting book of essays by 22 authors and historians  published in 1949 on the “essential events of American Life in the chaotic years between the two World Wars.”  It’s title: The Aspirin Age, 1919-1941.

Eno speculates that our dark future might look like this: 

Humans fragment into tighter, more selfish bands.  Big institutions, because they operate on long timescales and require structures of social trust, don’t cohere; there isn’t time for them.  Long-term projects are abandoned; their payoffs are too remote … Resources that are already scarce will be rapidly exhausted … Survivalism rules. Might makes right.

 Although no one can predict the far future with certainty, there are 2 key points which do not support Eno’s future-world nightmare.

1. Hobsbawm himself provides clues to the answer by his comments on the peace and prosperity of the pre-1914 world (the Peary/Panama Maslow Window), and his description of  “a spectacular, record-breaking global boom from about 1850 to the early 1870s …”  which, as we see now, is the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window.

The last 200 years reveal rhythmic, twice-per-century clusters of Great Explorations (e.g., Lewis and CLark), MEPs (e.g., Panama Canal), and, sadly, major wars (e.g., WW I) that are fundamentally linked with major economic booms. The booms trigger widespread ebullience that catapults many in society to higher  levels in Maslow’s hierarchy; their expanded world views make exceptional explorations and massive building projects seem momentarily almost irresistible. The last Maslow Window — featuring the Apollo Moon program — was in the 1960s.  All signs — including  ironically the Panic of 2008 — suggest the next Maslow Window should open on schedule by 2015, thus countering the likelihood of an indefinitely lingering, Eno-style dark age.

2. Equally importantly, the Maslow Window concept offers us the prospect of eventually being able to moderate global economic crises and conflicts that occur between Maslow Windows.  The first step in this planning process is recognition of the global effects of long economic waves on technology booms, international conflicts, and human expansion into the cosmos. 

And imagine what this will do for our morale!

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Dec 06 2009

Climategate and the New Space Age

The Climategate scandal involves “some of the world’s leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data — facts that were laid bare by … disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit…” (Wall Street Journal, 12/1/09; B. Stephens).

Climategate connects with prospects for near-term space colonization in at least 3 major ways. One is financial.

Anything that weakens the potential for re-ignition of the major economic boom — actually the greatest global boom ever — that was interrupted by the Panic of 2008, might delay the near-term development of widespread affluence-induced ebullience that has powered each of the spectacular Maslow Windows (e.g., the 1960s Apollo Moon program) over the last 200 years.

One such potential factor is Cap and Trade. “The Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institution and the National Black Chamber of Commerce all found that the bill will have devastating economic impacts … (including) significant losses in employment and GDP.” Republicans are not shy about characterizing it as “”the largest tax increase — about $ 400 million USD per year — in the history of America.” And according to Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (WSJ, 11/27/09), in response to a question from him, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated it won’t significantly reduce global CO2 emissions.

As countries like the U.S. struggle to recover from the current great recession, major new taxes are considered unwise government policy by most economists. This is especially true in the U.S.’s current deficit situation.

According to former Congressional Budget Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin,

The federal government ran a 2009 deficit of $ 1.4 trillion — the highest since World War II — as spending reached nearly 25% of GDP and total revenues fell below 15% of GDP. Shortfalls like these have not been seen in more than 50 years.

Equally threatening to the next Maslow Window which, based on 200-year timing, should open near 2015 and extend to around 2025, is that there is no relief in sight.

Our national debt is projected to stand at $ 17.1 trillion 10 years from now, or over $ 50,000 per American …

Regarding the potential upswing (characteristic of a Maslow Window), Holtz-Eakin comments that,

The planned deficits will have destructive consequences for both fairness and economic growth … Federal deficits will crowd out domestic investment in physical capital, human capital, and technologies that increase potential GDP and the standard of living.

Mr. Holtz-Eaking concludes that the president’s “policies are the equivalent of steering the economy toward an iceberg.”

The deficits are also taking a political toll as President Obama’s poll numbers decline. According to Karl Rove (WSJ, 11/27/09),

Anger over deficits was picked up in a late October NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which asked voters if they’d rather boost “the economy even though it may mean larger budget deficits” or keep the “budget deficit down, even though it may mean it will take longer for the economy to recover.” Only 31% chose boosting the economy; 62% wanted to keep the deficit down.

This is consistent with Gallup polls (9/17/09) indicating Obama’s lowest marks on his handling of the deficit; only 38% approved and 58% disapproved.

The good news for Obama’s popularity and the deficit — as well as the 2015 Maslow Window — is that Climategate has weakened the prospects for Cap and Trade. According to Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (WSJ, 11/27/09),

Cap and Trade is dead … Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in.

The second way Climategate connects with prospects for near-term space colonization is psychological.

Over the years Global Warming has been presented as a near-certain chamber of horrors including sea level rises of 3 feet or more resulting in devastating, global coastal flooding, huge temperature increases of 5 or more degrees producing plant and animal extinctions, increasingly intense hurricanes and extensive ecosystem damage … and on and on. All because humans are commiting the sin of releasing too much carbon into the environment. And we much stop now before it is too late.

Even the wildest claims about the dangers of global warming are routinely trumpeted by much of the media, including that giant Burmese pythons will migrate as far north as San Francisco and take over one-third of the U.S.. I heard the python story on local radio one day in Southern California and was very amused, but not everyone is. For example, many young children — who are much too young to evaluate the political and scientific issues involved — are frightened. One recent survey shows that 1 of 3 children aged 6 to 11 fears that our planet won’t exist when they grow up, and over one half believe that the Earth will be “a very unpleasant place to live.”

The usual solution to global warming fears is an anti-growth, anti-technology message. The “science is settled” so all we can do is dramatically cut back our use of fossil fuels, submit to trillions of dollars of taxes, and end our hopes of increasing prosperity due to crippled economies.

Even before Climategate, the public was not buying it. For example, in 2006 Gallup found that the percentage saying global warming will “pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime” was only 35%; 62% thought it would not. And earlier this year, Gallup reported “the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject.” The Climategate scandal is likely to accelerate this trend among the public.

A number of scientists have proposed innovative technological approaches to mitigation of global warming if it were to become a serious problem in the 21st century. Perhaps the most interesting examples are from Roger Angel, the discussion in March/April, 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs, and the distinguished Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson.

This trend toward a more positive and realistic approach to climate change — being accelerated now by the revelations of Climategate — is very consistent with historical trajectories of public attitudes at comparable times over the last 200 years. As I pointed out in a previous post:

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, two other effects will increasingly come into play: 1) the fact that Maslow Windows are characterized by unusually optimistic (even ebullient) public attitudes, and 2) the increasing global fascination with large, international technology programs and space colonization — expected during the 2015 Maslow Window — will suggest to many around the world that solutions to key global challenges (e.g., the environment, energy) will benefit from space technology and resources.

The third way Climategate connects with prospects for near-term space colonization is through science.

Science is special. It is the only objective way humans have of probing physical reality and learning about the Universe. Scientists collect data about a natural system and then propose a model for how it works. Scientists use the model to make predictions about what should be observed in the real world. Those predictions are checked by observations of the natural system; any deviations from physical reality are used to change the model and thus improve it. Repeatedly using this process — making observations, sharing data, openly discussing issues — can result in a convergence of the model with physical reality.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. But the scientific method can break down, even for major questions. And when it does it shakes the foundations of what we know about the Universe, including potentially the public’s belief in our ability to expand human civilization into the cosmos, or even just to prosper on the Earth.

Here are some examples:

1. “The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” Dr. Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
In his email, Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of NCAR, acknowledges privately a key point: In 1998 climate models did not predict the cessation of global warming that has occurred — despite continued increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide — over the last dozen years, and no one can explain why it happened.

MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen (WSJ, 11/30/09) points out that articles by climate modelers attrribute “the failure of these models to anticipate the absence of warming for the past dozen years was due to the failure of these models to account for natural internal variability …” like El Nino and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. “Thus even the basis for the weak IPCC argument for anthropogenic climate change (i.e., human-caused warming via CO2) was shown to be false.”

The bottomline is that: 1) modelers are admitting that something other than carbon dioxide can drive global climate change (e.g., natural variability), and 2) because the climate models cannot explain even the current lack of global warming, their predictions for warming 10, 20, or more years into the future are unreliable. And thus while global warming might indeed become a major problem at some point in the future — as astrophysicists assure us it will within a billion years when the Sun’s luminosity predictably increases and evaporates Earth’s oceans — we cannot accurately predict even near-term warmings or coolings with current climate models.

If the scientific method had been operating normally, these and many other secret conversations would have been shared with other scientists and the public in real-time. Instead, sadly we had to wait for Climategate to reveal them and clarify important issues.

2. “Science is not always what scientists do.” J. Allen Hynek (d. 1986), formerly Professor and Chair, Department of Astronomy, Northwestern University.
Scientists are people first and scientists second. They are subject to the same fears, greed, jealousies, ambitions, anger, etc., as anyone else. In fact, scientists are only being scientists when their professional activities conform to the scientific method as sketched above.

Sometimes scientists behave with almost quasi-religious attitudes. Religions are atrractive to the vast majority of people because they involve belief systems and world views that give meaning to life. Plus challenges to their beliefs do not usually disturb the believers because they are based on faith. In essence, while religions may be supported by historical or physical evidence, they are not fundamentally driven by it, as science is.

For example, in August 2009 more than 60 prominent German scientists — including several UN IPCC scientists — declared that global warming has become a “pseudo religion” in an Open Letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They noted that rising CO2 has “had no measurable effect” on temperatures and that the “UN IPCC has lost its scientific credibility.”

Sometimes scientists behave more like politicians than scientists. In real democracies the people often vote to make decisions on important issues. In science, voting or authority figures do not determine our picture of physical reality, only data does. Today we especially admire Galileo for standing up to the authority of the 17th century Roman Inquisition and not disavowing his then controversial telescopic observations of the Sun, Moon, and planets. This idea of the primacy of observational data has penetrated deeply into modern life, even beyond the natural sciences. For example, the British economist John Maynard Keynes — father of Keynesian economics — once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Sadly, the Galileo Principle of the primacy of observational data in science is not reflected in the private emails of Climategate. For example, Professor Phil Jones, who has stepped down temporarily as head of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia while Climategate is investigated, speaks privately of modifying temperature data sets to “hide the decline” in global temperatures. According to John Lott of FoxNews.com (12/1/09), another CRU professor,

Tim Osborne, discusses in emails how truncating a data series can hide a cooling trend that would otherwise been seen in the results. Professor Mann (of Penn State) sent Professr Osborne an email saying the results he is sending shouldn’t be shown to others because the results support critics of global warming. Time after time the discussions refer to hiding or destroying data.

When ideology trumps science, some scientists act like politicians. They secretly modify data to conform to their party-line beliefs. I am not surprised that some scientists are dishonest; they are regular people and that’s to be expected. My concern is the way the scientific method has been deliberately ignored for many years by many scientists around the world, who definitely know better. This, including the destruction of the original temperature data sets by Climategate scientists, has obscured our view of the details of real global climate change. And certainly, as Professor Lindzen points out, “Claims that climate change is accelerating are bizarre.”

3. Is science dying?
As a planetary scientist who’s worked in the aerospace industry and in academia, and has been thrilled by the idea of space colonization since a very young age, my major concern is what Climategate means for science. Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal recently asserted (12/3/09) that “science is dying.” Henninger continues,

I don’t think most scientists appreciate what has hit them … For years, global warming and its advocates have been the public face of hard science. The public was told repeatedly that something called ‘the scientific community’ had affirmed the science beneath this inquiry … Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because ‘science’ said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons.

But because of the Climategate scandal — an “epochal event” — the public’s view of science is about to change.

The average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and “messy” as, say gender studies … If the new ethos is that “close-enough” science is now sufficient to achieve political goals, serious scientists should be under no illusion that politicians will press-gang them into service for future agendas. Everyone working in science, no matter what their politics, has a stake in cleaning up the mess revealed by the East Anglia emails. Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.

For some, global warming politics and ideology are all that matter; you can recognize them by their lack of interest in the details of climate science and their attempts to ignore or divert attention from the science-related content of Climategate.

Science should be quite different from politics in both methods and goals, and certainly needs to move farther away from politics so that the scientific method can flouish again. As long as politics and ideology dominate science — as they have in the climate change field — we can never know what really exists in the Universe and how it works.

If the universities and governments affected by Climategate take appropriate action against those who stifled the free and open discussion of scientific data and issues in Climategate, the essence of science and even science’s public image can recover.

In a best-case scenario, Climategate could ironically help stimulate the New Space Age by strengthening our global financial picture, helping people everywhere regain a positive, even ebullient feeling about the future, promoting 1960s-style pro-technology, prosperous attitudes, and reaffirming that science is indeed a reliable tool for expansion of human civilization from a vibrant Earth into the cosmos.

If the last 200 years of Maslow Windows are any guide, that’s what we should expect will happen.

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Sep 24 2009

How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age

Fear not. The Augustine Commission and Congress notwithstanding, President Obama is setting the stage for the next Space Age. And below I examine 2 specific, well-constrained scenarios, and their dynamics, showing how this is likely to occur.

Norman Augustine, former Lockheed Martin CEO, states we need $ 3 billion more per year to have a viable Moon program. Click augustine.jpg.

It is true that chair Norman Augustine — who’s becoming known as “the 3 billion dollar man” — insists, “The current program that’s being pursued is not executable,” because a return to the Moon requires $ 3 B more annually. It’s also true that in response to an Arizona Congressman (who’s married to an astronaut) who accused Augustine of presenting “a set of alternatives that look almost like cartoons,” Augustine retorted, “I respect your feelings, but I must question your facts.”

But this is all just the usual short-term political stuff.

In reality — as the last 200+ years have shown — extraordinary pulses of activity in exploration and engineering are enabled by reliable, long-term business cycles. And all indicators suggest we’re sneaking up on the edge of another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology(GAPET).

Typically, during the twice-per-century upswings of the long economic wave and within a decade after a major financial panic (such as the Panic of 2008) and its major recession, we emerge into an ebullient, transformative decade known as a Maslow Window. Perhaps the most ebullient one followed the Panic of 1893 and was led by Theodore Roosevelt: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window from 1903 to 1913. But before that the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window produced the “technological jewel of the 19th century,” the Suez Canal, and the famous Lewis and Clark Maslow Window opened the Great Northwest to the world in 1805.

Our most recent Maslow Window — the stunning 1960s Apollo Moon decade — was unique in the last 200+ years in that it wasn’t immediately preceded by a financial panic or great recession. But the approaching Maslow Window, expected to open near 2015, resumed the much more “normal” sequence of the last 200+ years when the Panic of 2008 heralded its impending arrival.

So one key lesson of the last 200 years is: The Panic of 2008 supports our expectation that the next Maslow Window — the next Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology — will open near 2015.

And President Obama is playing a key role in triggering GAPET, although there is understandably a lot of confusion about that, especially among those unaware of the long-term forces that govern the ebullient, large-scale human affairs of Maslow Windows.

For example, shortly after the Panic of 2008, Reagan economist Arthur (“Laffer Curve”) Laffer complained that President George W. Bush “will be remembered like Herbert Hoover…(and that) the age of prosperity is over,” (WSJ, 10/27/08). And others — including Obama — have compared Obama to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was president during the Great Depression. Surprisingly, Keynesian economists George Akerloff (a Nobel-winner) and Robert Shiller don’t think FDR (or Hoover) went far enough:

“Confidence — and the economy itself — was not restored until World War II completely changed the dominant story of people’s lives, transforming the economy.”

In reality, 21stCenturyWaves.com has identified the Great Depression as an example of panic/recessions that occur 16-18 years after a Maslow Window (another is the Great Victorian Depression of 1873); they tend to be very long and severe as the long wave descends. Conversely, the Panic of 2008 is typical of upswings in the long wave that precede, by less than a decade, the transformative GAPET of Maslow Windows. While still an economic crisis characterized by major suffering, the Panic of 2008 had only a small chance (e.g., WSJ, 9/1/09; Allan Meltzer) of ever evolving into a true 1930s-style Depression (e.g., 25% unemployment).

Given the high likelihood of our next Maslow Window materializing near 2015, the key question is: How will Obama create the exceptional prosperity that is the hallmark of such Camelot-like times?

There are basically 2 options:

OPTION I: Obama becomes a 2-term President: He becomes the new John F. Kennedy without the Vietnam-style baggage of LBJ.
Historical/Economic Model: The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Three ways Obama could trigger prosperity are:

a) The recession will end naturally and prosperity will follow.
Post-War recessions have averaged 11.3 months in length (with the longest 16 months) and the current one is 22 months old. Most economists think the economy hit bottom recently and is currently recovering.

b) Obama will “reset” his presidency resulting in prosperity.
Ted Van Dyk, a long-time Democrat and formerly Vice President Hubert Humphery’s assistant in the LBJ Whitehouse, advises Obama to cut back his proposals and expectations (WSJ, 7/17/09):

“You made promises about jobs that would be ‘created and saved’ by the stimulus package. Those promises have not held up. You continue to engage in hyperbole by claiming that your health-care and energy plans will save tax dollars. Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates otherwise.”

c) The Keynesians are right and major government spending and deficits result in prosperity.
For example, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the idea of slowing major stimulus spending would be an “error of historical proportions,” (WSJ, 9/22/09; B. Stephens). And George Akerloff and Robert Shiller (WSJ, 4/24/09) believe that,

An understanding of animal spirits — the human psychology and culture at the heart of economic activity — confirms the need for restoring the role of regulators as guiding hands in a healthy, productive free-enterprise system. History — including recent history — shows that without regulation, animal spirits will drive economic activity to extremes.

Importantly, an especially intense version of animal spirits (called “ebullience” here) is apparently responsible for the extraordinary exploration and engineering activities during Maslow Windows.

Bottom Line for Option I:
It appears that combinations of b and c are unlikely, but various combinations of a and b or a and c could occur.

In either case, Obama becomes the new JFK. He continues the brilliant, transformative lagacy of Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal, that began with Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

OPTION II: Obama becomes a 1-term president: He becomes the new Grover Cleveland (and possibly LBJ), and leads to a pro-prosperity Republican presidency.
Historical/Economic Model: The Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13).

The New York Times (9/6/09; Richard Stevenson) observed that,

Nearly eight months after the inauguration, the economy … has stabilized sufficiently that the nation is no longer gripped by the sense of urgency that allowed Mr. Obama, almost without challenge, to carry out an audacious act of industrial engineering: reshaping the automobile industry from the Oval Office in a matter of weeks … On health care, he is getting no such philosophical pass … The most relevant political framework instead appears to be a more problematic one inherited from his predecesser: a general loss of faith in government.

On August 21, the Wall Street Journal (8/25/09; William McGurn) reported that,

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said his boss was “quite comforrtable” with the idea that sticking to his agenda may well mean “he only lives in this house” for one term.

Indeed, if unemployment remains high into 2012, reelection will be a challenge for Obama.

Three things that could hinder Obama’s reelection are:

a) The Stimulus has not worked.
The Wall Street Journal (9/17/09; Cogan,Taylor,Wieland) reports that,

The data show government transfers and rebates have not increased consumption at all … and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic — not the fiscal stimulus program — deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first to the second quarter.

And as unempoyment heads toward 10%, Obama’s promise that rapid passage of the stimulus package would keep unemployment below 8% has not been realized.

b) Obama’s economic policy may be fundamentally flawed.

Published economic research by the current head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors — Christina Romer — raises doubts about Obama’s policy of major government spending to end the recession. The Wall Street Journal (8/21/09; Alan Reynolds) quotes Professor Romer’s 1999 study (J. Econ. Perspect.) that between the pre-WW I era and the era of big government (post-WW II), “recessions have become only slightly less severe…and recessions have not become noticeably shorter,” in fact post-WW II recessions are one month longer. WSJ concludes that, based on economic history since 1887, “bigger government appears to produce only bigger and longer recessions.”

If this is true, Obama’s large stimulus/bailout packages and large federal budgets will not stimulate the economy in his first term.

According to William Gale of Brookings,

The budget outlook at every horizon is troubling: the fiscal-year 2009 budget is enormous; the ten-year projection is clearly unsustainable; and the long-term outlook is dire and increasingly urgent.

Add to this White House projections of a 10-year record federal deficit of $ 9 T, and by next decade’s end the national debt will be 75% of GDP, and it’s easy to see why Obama’s job approval ratings have settled into the low 50s.

c) Afghanistan turns into Vietnam.

The New York Times (8/23/09; Peter Baker) has focused on the dangers a protracted conflict in Afghanistan could have on Obama, “The LBJ model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.”

And despite considerable personal popularity around the world, “All that good will so far has translated into limited tangible plicy benefits for Mr. Obama … foreign leaders have not gone out of their way to give him what he has sought,” (NYT, 9/20/09; Peter Baker)

An interesting bottomline emerges:

Re: Prospects for the New Space Age Near 2015:
Based on patterns in macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200 years, all realistic roads lead to a 2015 Maslow Window featuring a Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology, although wildcards are possible.

Re: Mr. Obama’s Prospects:
Despite the fact that Mr. Obama is currently setting the stage for a robust, transformative new Space Age within the next 3-5 years, his presidential prospects remain uncertain.

Obama’s long wave timing and election circumstances (i.e., panic/recession) have more parallels with the 1893-1913 Peary/Panama Maslow Window — in which a 1-term Democrat (Grover Cleveland) was replaced by a pro-prosperity Republican — than with the 1949-1969 Apollo Maslow Window of John F. Kennedy. And Obama’s continuing challenges with high unemployment, record deficits, huge budgets, and Afghanistan, pose real dangers for him.

As the New York Times noted and as evidenced by Obama’s descending poll numbers, many Americans are again expressing skepticism about big government and the economy. Obama will have to create prosperity — the cornerstone of the 2015 Maslow Window — and given Obama’s popularity and flexibility, he’s quite capable of doing it.

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Aug 07 2009

State of the Wave — Public Support For Space is Robust

Recent opinion polls suggest the American public’s support for the space program is remarkably resilient, especially considering the current global recession.

Gallup shows that public support for space has increased since 1979. Click gallup1.doc.

Just prior to Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary (July 10-12) Gallup found that 58% of respondents believe “the space program has brought enough benefits to justify its costs,” while only 28% did not. This number has increased since the late 1970s when, 10 years after the first Moon landing, only 41% agreed with Gallup’s statement; it was 47% in 1994 and increased to 55% in 1999.

This positive progression is what we’d expect as we approach the excitement of the 2015 Maslow Window, but it is especially impressive given that we’re apparently at the bottom of the worst global contraction since the Great Depression.

Dan Cano, a consultant and former political appointee in NASA, recently summarized the attitudes of many toward space costs (Space News 8/3/09),

While I fully appreciate that the international space station is a technological marvel and necessary steppingstone to learn how to live and work in space for longer trips to Mars than the Moon, it is not necessary and sufficient by itself. We need to be going somewhere. And when I hear that our nation cannot afford such journeys, I have to ask: Why can our government afford so many other things? Look at how little is spent in space exploration today compared to 40 years ago, and compare that investment and what the achievement meant to our nation and the world, even 40 years later.

Gallup also found that the fading memories of some Baby Boomers are not quite as fired up as the imaginations of those too young to have witnessed the Moon landing themselves. While 63% of those 18-49 think the space program’s costs are justified, only 53% of those 50 and over concur. Here we are beginning to see the support of 80 million Millennials (born 1980 to 1995) — who love technology and progress — for space.

Gallup’s July summary is revealing.

Americans remain broadly supportive of space exploration and government funding of it. In fact, Americans are somewhat more likely to believe the benefits of the space program justify its costs at the 40th anniversary of the moon landing than they were at the 10th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries.

Although support for keeping NASA funding at its present level or increasing it is lower now than it has been in the past, the fact that 6 in 10 Americans hold this view in the midst of a recession suggests the public is firmly committed to the space program.

This is particularly interesting in light of the Rasmussen 7/21/09 poll about a U.S. manned mission to Mars, in response to a proposal by Buzz Aldrin, where only 51% opposed it. It’s likely as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window and our current economic dstress subsides, that support for manned Mars will soar.

Today I received a comment from Chris in North Carolina that is characteristic of those somewhat unsure about our space program. I appreciate his sending it and wanted to share his comment and my response.

From Chris in North Carolina:

I think, if we can come through the problems we have now (like our over-reliance on fossil fuels), then we’ll have a chance of making meaningful progress in space sometime in the next century or so. It definitely won’t be 2020.

There’s only one thing we can say “definitely” about the future: It definitely cannot be predicted with certainty!

That’s why I use a technique based on 200+ years of global economic, technology, and political trends. When you see patterns popping up repeatedly over 2+ centuries you have to be impressed. The media and most commentators have us so saturated with ultra-short term thinking that it’s hard for most to identify with a long-term perspective — that’s one reason 21stCenturyWaves.com was created.

But I think you’ve got it a little backwards, we aren’t waiting to solve all our problems on Earth before we go into space; that’s like waiting until we get well before we go to the doctor!

In reality, we’re going into space to help solve our problems on Earth !! A very important point. Energy is a perfect example of how this will work.

It’s 2009. By 2025 — within 16 years or so of right now, based on the Maslow Windows on the past 200 years — we should have international bases on the Moon, solar power satellites near Earth, and maybe the first folks on Mars. But asserting this is like time-traveling back to 1953 and walking up to someone and saying, “Do you realize that in 16 years or so the first men will land on the Moon?” But of course it happened! And it’s getting ready to happen again for the same economic and psychological reasons it did before.

That’s why this website exists: To show how how these brief, but magnificent Maslow Windows originate and how they enable unprecedented exploration and technology programs that transform the world. And that it’s starting again, right now. Even our current global recession is a typical part of this picture; please check my archived posts on this topic.

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