PRISM(NSA)/Tempora(GCHQ)

Posted by | Posted in government, Life | Posted on 22-06-2013

I find the whole PRISM(NSA)/Tempora(GCHQ [1],[2]) thing quite depressing but at least I have “nothing to fear, nothing to hide” right? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2013/jun/09/data-snooping-law-abiding-citizens-nothing-fear-hague-video)

Only, this has been debunked so frequently in the quite recent past, and in fact was one of the major counter arguments against ID cards (http://www.biometricidentitycards.info/articles/NoHideNoFear.htm), that it really does make you wonder about the people doing the snooping if they’re still naively clinging to it as a defence.

This is the results of just a quick Googl’ing:
http://theartofprivacy.com/2011/02/02/why-ive-got-nothing-to-hide-is-such-a-fallacy-4/
http://www.biometricidentitycards.info/articles/NoHideNoFear.htm
 http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/
 http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/the-data-trust-blog/2009/02/debunking-a-myth-if-you-have-n.html

That’s all just seconds away from anyone reading, and it’s all true. Example after example, cases from history, ongoing problems around the world etc. It’s such a dumbass defence.

Of course in many of these people minds the “ends justifies the means“, but no-one that I’ve spoken too thinks like that. Most of the commentary I read is outraged that their government really would behave like this, not surprised I note, frequently disappointed but never surprised. Everyone I’ve spoken too actually seems to feel the the “ends” are almost irrelevant and that it’s how we’ve behaved getting to them, the “means“, that actually matters the most.

Perhaps this is because we’ll live the “means” and we all know that the “ends” are like tomorrow, it never comes.

So if we’re going to have to live with the “means” then, since the “ends” are as mythical as world peace and unicorns, shouldn’t they be the only thing that actually matters?

What we seem to have here are two governments, colluding and abetting, the mass spying of their own, each other, and everyone’s citizenry because they think we won’t mind.

Just like we didn’t mind ID cards then?

I see no way out of this current mess except eventually leaving … what? The country? And go to another country? That does the same only hasn’t been exposed yet? We really do seem to have reached a point where those in power, or who want to be in power, have nothing in common with those who elect them nor do they understand that they’re meant to be protecting their electorate from these kinds of abuses of power rather than perpetrating them.

Energy bill delays setting carbon target until 2016

Posted by | Posted in climate change, environment, government, Life | Posted on 23-11-2012

So a government, this one not that it really matters, has failed to achieve the hopes of meeting the minimum targets hoped for on the environment/carbon/climate-change (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20451189).

These weren’t lofty goals either, these were the minimum goals that we’ve legally agreed too.

Those legal agreements weren’t the best course possible either, they were the minimum required to provide a 50/50 chance of avoiding “catastrophic” climate change and keep temperature rises below 2C by 2100 (it’s 2012 btw keep that in mind) and then only if we were following the best-case predictions.

Then recent reports have indicated that the rate of change and it’s effects might have been underestimated by up to 5 times, i.e. things we expected not to happen until 2100 appear to be on course to happen by 2020-to-2035 (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628923.100-we-are-leaving-emissions-cuts-too-late.html & http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628914.700-estimates-for-future-global-warming-narrowed-down.html).

So this is the situation… we’ve just failed to set policy which would let us meet a weaker-than-required agreement, which was targetting the bottom-end of a best-case scenario which we already new was wrong, which has recently been shown to be out by at least 2 but possibly up to 5 times.

Remember that was the target to have a 50/50 _chance_ of stopping “catastrophic” climate change. Not, merely “a bit bad” but “catastrophic“. Severe damage to the environment and changes which make it difficult for us to do useful things like grow food, prevent flooding and storm damage to our biggest cities, survive summer heat waves, yet not freeze to death in the winter. Not exactly little things are they.

This isn’t a post about the environment by the way.

No, I’m just confused by the way that governments, companies, even individuals decide what to do about the things they face.

The above case is drastic but a perfect example: We’re failing to prevent, or even slow, the race to “catastrophic” climate change. We’re failing because of a series of things which all aim to do the bare minimum for the most cheerful and optimistic predicted outcomes that meet our hopes rather than face our realities. Then to compound the error we seem to accept that falling short of the commitments we’ve agreed is ok.

All this seems to mean that we’re setting ourselves up for inevitable failure. I bet we do it in a range of things, I can think of several on my own personal scale where I do the same, where I fail to commit and then eventually abandon stuff because it’s not working… of course it’s not working, I’ve identified something that will take 100% of my effort to do, then I  allow myself 20% of that in time or money, then when “real-life” gets in the way I accept that I can only meet 15% really. Then I fail.

In my life that might mean the bathroom needs some work that I’ll eventually have to get someone to pay for. Or that the oven really stinks sometimes because of something bubbling over.

When the governments of the world give 15% to prevent something like climate change.

Then it seems that we’re all fucked.

So why do we go into these things half heartedly? Why do we pick the most optimistic outcome? We all know the maxim or preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Yet repeatedly we prepare for the best, hope for the best and then have to rush and panic to deal with the worst that we’ve allowed to happen by doing so.

We could turn the fact that we’re building whole new energy industries into a major bonus, new energy industries, new infrastructure, new jobs!
We could be investing in things like Desertec (http://www.desertec.org/) (I mean in technology like it not the company necessarily) and then reaping the benefits in owning the suppliers of energy to ALL of Europe and Africa. Just like Russia does with it’s gas supplies to Europe, an industry worth many billions of pounds to it’s government.

If something like Desertec ever does happen we’ll just be another customer, we’ll pay, but we won’t earn.

We could be going into these things 100%, whilst accepting that the worst case might not happen, but it’s so bad that we should be preparing for it. We can all hope that it works out just fine, but that’s not what we should be prepared for.

Damn, it did turn into an environment rant.