Consider the Paris agreement’s preamble, which states that signatories will work to keep the rise in average global temperature “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and even suggests that the increase could be kept to 1.5 degrees. This is empty political rhetoric. Based on current carbon dioxide emissions, achieving the target of 1.5 degrees would require the entire planet to abandon fossil fuels in four years.
But the treaty has deeper problems. The United Nations organization in charge of the accord counted up the national carbon-cut pledges for 2016 to 2030 and estimated that, if every country met them, carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 56 gigatons. It is widely accepted that restricting temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius would require a cut of some 6,000 gigatons, that is, about a hundredfold more.
The Paris treaty is not, then, just slightly imperfect. Even in an implausibly optimistic, best-case scenario, the Paris accord leaves the problem virtually unchanged. Those who claim otherwise are forced to look beyond the period covered by the treaty and to hope for a huge effort thereafter.
. . . Acknowledging the Paris treaty’s flaws does not mean endorsing the Trump administration’s apparent intention to ignore climate change. Real progress in reducing carbon emissions and global temperatures will require far-reaching advances in green energy, and that will mean massive investment in research and development—an annual global commitment of some $100 billion, according to analysis by the Copenhagen Consensus. When green energy is economically competitive, the whole world will rush to use it.
Economists have long been puzzling over why productivity has downshifted over the past decade, often blaming waning technological innovation for the pullback. New research, though, points to an overlooked culprit: the shortage of credit to many companies that followed the financial crisis. . . Tight credit conditions and balance-sheet vulnerabilities could be responsible for as much as one-third of the productivity slowdown in advanced economies following the 2008 global financial crisis, according to an International Monetary Fund research paper by Gee Hee Hong, Romain Duval and Yannick Timmer. This slowdown has swept across nations like Japan, the U.S. and France.
Unemployment dropped last month to its lowest level since 2001, yet wage growth is below levels seen in the late stages of previous economic expansions and underemployment remains above the lows of the previous cycles. These dissonant readings point to an increasing mismatch between workers’ skills and the roles employers are seeking to fill, a conflict measured by the Beveridge curve, which tracks the relationship between unemployment and job vacancies. The higher level of the curve since the 2008 crisis shows the workforce isn’t entirely satisfying the need for skills that have become more important in the postrecession economy.
Chief executives of America’s largest companies say failure to pass sweeping tax-policy changes soon could damage hiring and investment.
But they remain optimistic for now about the prospects for tax reform and deregulation under the Trump administration, said members of the Business Roundtable, who released an updated outlook Tuesday.
Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.
At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)
At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.