2020年5月21日 星期四

Outrage Could Endanger the Economy 紓困引發民怨 恐危害美經濟

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2020/05/22 第305期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Outrage Could Endanger the Economy 紓困引發民怨 恐危害美經濟
Study Sees 'Cliff Edge' Of Die-Offs Over Climate 氣候變遷 將使野生動物驟然消亡
Outrage Could Endanger the Economy 紓困引發民怨 恐危害美經濟
文/Neil Irwin
譯/陳韋廷 核稿/樂慧生

紓困引發民怨 恐危害美經濟

The United States economy is in free fall, with tens of millions of people unemployed and countless businesses at risk of collapse. Congress has already allocated nearly $3 trillion to contain the crisis, and it is widely understood that it will need to do more.


Yet with stunning speed, the political conversation has pivoted from whatever-it-takes determination toward a different feeling: outrage.


Increasingly, lawmakers, media coverage and ordinary voters are focused not on preventing a potential depression, but on litigating which recipients of federal rescue are morally worthy and which are not.


For many on the political left, that has expressed itself as outrage at big corporations taking advantage of government rescues or cheap credit supplied by the Federal Reserve. On the right, it has included anger at federal government support for state and local governments, and at expanded unemployment insurance benefits supporting the jobless. For the news media, it has meant articles about rescue money going to arguably unworthy organizations like prep schools and steakhouse chains.


In effect, a scramble is underway to define who counts as deserving of a piece of the multi-trillion dollar federal rescues. The risk is that this fuels a sense of scarcity, of zero-sum jockeying. It has the potential to limit the government's response and suspend help to affected individuals, businesses and governments before the crisis is anywhere close to ending.


"My conservative friends don't think states and cities deserve help," said Tony Fratto, who worked in the George W. Bush White House and is now a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies. "My progressive friends think certain businesses don't deserve help. And my libertarian friends don't want anyone to get help."


"These are the seeds of long, slow, painful recoveries," he said.


In particular, there is an emerging tendency to apply a lens that made more sense in the 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath: the idea of "moral hazard." Economists use the term to refer to the bad incentives that are created when people or companies know they will be rescued from their mistakes.


In the last crisis, conservatives complained about mortgage relief for home buyers who had borrowed more than they could afford.


The bank bailouts of that era involved huge moral hazard problems, in that the very financial institutions that had fueled a mortgage bubble were being protected from its full consequences.


But arguments that similar concerns should apply in the COVID-19 crisis are less persuasive.


But that crucial difference — that corporations are victims of the coronavirus, not the cause of it — is ignored by an emerging thread of commentary.


Study Sees 'Cliff Edge' Of Die-Offs Over Climate 氣候變遷 將使野生動物驟然消亡
文/Catrin Einhorn

氣候變遷 將使野生動物驟然消亡

Climate change could result in a more abrupt collapse of many animal species than previously thought, starting in the next decade if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to a study published last month in Nature.


The study predicted that large swaths of ecosystems would falter in waves, creating sudden die-offs that would be catastrophic not only for wildlife but also for the humans who depend on it.


"For a long time things can seem OK, and then suddenly they're not," said Alex L. Pigot, a scientist at University College London and one of the study's authors. "Then, it's too late to do anything about it because you've already fallen over this cliff edge."


The latest research adds to an already bleak picture for the world's wildlife unless urgent action is taken to preserve habitats and limit climate change. More than 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction because of the myriad ways humans are changing the Earth by farming, fishing, logging, mining, poaching and burning fossil fuels.


The study looked at more than 30,000 species on land and in water to predict how soon climate change would affect population levels and whether those levels would change gradually or suddenly. To answer these questions, the authors determined the hottest temperature that a species is known to have withstood and then predicted when that temperature would be surpassed around the world under different emissions scenarios.


When they examined the projections, the researchers were surprised that sudden collapses appeared across almost all species — fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals — and across almost all regions.


If greenhouse gas emissions remain on current trajectories, the research showed that abrupt collapses in tropical oceans could begin in the next decade. Coral bleaching events over the last several years suggest that these losses have already started, the scientists said. Collapse in tropical forests, home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, could follow by the 2040s.


But if global warming was held to below 2 degrees Celsius, the number of species exposed to dangerous climate change would drop by 60%. That, in turn, would limit the number of ecosystems exposed to catastrophic collapse to about 2%.


The study does not take into account other factors that could help or hurt a species' survival. For example, some species may tolerate or adapt to higher temperatures; on the other hand, if their food sources could not, they would die off just the same.


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