Share

cover art for 2024:14 A Climate Warning from the Past

The David McWilliams Podcast

2024:14 A Climate Warning from the Past

Season 2024, Ep. 14

Amidst the backdrop of the hottest January on record, surpassing pre-industrial averages by 1.6 degrees, join us this week as we embark on a gripping exploration of the economic history and pre-industrial climate change. From the medieval era to the tumultuous 17th century, we delve deep into its profound impacts on society, economy, and religion. We use the poignant saga of the Pont d’Avignon as our starting point. A 13th-century bridge succumbed to the fury of climate-induced mass flooding, while Europe reeled under the devastation of the 17th-century mini-ice age, that claimed over 500,000 lives in Ireland alone. The economy suffered as agricultural yields plummeted and food prices soared, leading to famine. Calamity bred religious fervor, with moralistic prohibitions and the rise of witch-hunts, while war ravaged the continent, targeting religious minorities, driving mass migrations. In the 17th century, climate change wasn't just a matter of inconvenience—it was a catalyst for chaos and conflict. History tells us we ignore climate change at our peril.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 32. 2024:32 Humanomics

    31:54
    The majority of my tribe, economists have been getting it wrong for decades, if you go back and look at economic research from the seventies, nobody is talking about coming inequality. Yet inequality afflicts the West, dominating politics. This week, in a not-so-groundbreaking revelation, Ben Bernanke's report on the Bank of England's failures shows us how out-of-touch economists really are. Economists need to get out more, mix a bit, walkabout more! A blind faith in mathematical precision has clouded our judgment. Humans are messy and economics is about humans, so let's be messy.Pre-order Money:A Story of Humanity here: https://linktr.ee/moneydavidmcwilliams
  • 31. 2024:31 What Elon's travails tell us about the New Cold War?

    30:24
    Elon Musk is to 2024 what Howard Roark was to 1943. In Ayn Rand's book Fountainhead, her hero Roark was brilliant, single-minded and flawed. Musk is a modern day Roark and yet despite his remarkable entrepreneurial success, from SpaceX to Neuralink, Tesla is on the skids. 10% of its workforce has just been fired and it's share price has dropped 30% since January, and its market share is dwindling in China. Musk's investments in China have also led to wholesale intellectual property theft. Standing back, Tesla's tribulations could be a microcosm of broader geopolitical tensions of trade disputes and intellectual property wars. The world is looking at the Mid East, the China/America rivalry echoes previous clashes
  • 30. 2024:30 Common Law or Common Sense? Nimbyism's Grip on Housing

    28:52
    In this week's episode, we plunge headfirst into the contentious issue of Nimbyism – should property ownership grant individuals the power to stop developments? We don't think so! Particularly not when contrasted with the backdrop of the housing crises gripping the English-speaking world. Bound by the chains of common law but bereft of common sense, our societies find themselves stuck in a self-inflicted housing crisis. Join us as we dissect how our flawed society has bred Nimbyism, and been perpetuated by the contented classes who turn their backs on their communities. From London to Los Angeles, Dublin to Sydney, we confront Nimbyism and explore potential solutions to reclaim our cities from this self-destructive spiral. 
  • 29. 2024:29 Eat the Rich with Nick Hanauer

    38:26
    Are we truly living in a Plutocracy', where we are governed by the wealthy elites instead of those we voted for? As election season heats up around the globe, we tackle the age-old question: should we tax the rich more? While the wealthy typically oppose such measures, there's one dissenting, wealthy voice: Nick Hanauer, podcaster, venture capitalist, and rich lad himself who thinks that we either force the rich to pay more in taxes, or the streets will revolt, and the pitchforks will come. Hanauer, who famously warned of imminent social unrest should inequality persist unchecked, shares his insights on why taxing the rich is not just a matter of fairness, but a crucial step in preserving social stability. According to Hanauer, we need to reshape our economic policies, or the revolution will come! Listen to Nick here and come to see him and chat with him at Kilkenomics next November.
  • 28. 2024:28 The Souk Versus The Citadel with Bassem Youssef

    38:48
    Palestine is one of the most, if not the most, tragic national stories of the 21st century. Divided, humiliated, abused, and abandoned by both West and East, the Palestinian nature has been strangled by Israeli occupation, asphyxiated by international indifference, and its children scattered all over the world. Bassem Youssef trained cardiologist turned comedian, talks to us about how the global conversation often reverts back to the less important matters surrounding the war - instead of what actually matters. Israelis may be winning the war but they are losing the battle - they are running out of options. Only the strong can make peace - in this case, that is up to Israel. Would that diminish the idea of the Jewish homeland? They only have four options left - lets delve into them in this episode.
  • 27. 2024:27 Sam Bankman Fried and Male Over-Confidence with Michael Lewis

    41:39
    Crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for fraud on hundreds of thousands of customers that unraveled with the collapse of FTX, once one of the world's most popular platforms for exchanging digital currency. We chatted to Michael Lewis recently, who spent over a year with SBF, immersing himself in the universe of crypto-bros, and recently published his book 'Going Infinite' which tracks back the entire story of the crypto-hack that is SBF. We discuss his limited emotional intelligence, male over-confidence, and the Dunning-Kreuger effect. With every new technology, there will be speculation, bubbles, and, most importantly, white-collar crime - SBF was one of the first in the crypto world but won't be the last.
  • 26. 2024:26 The Curse of Inheritance

    29:53
     Inheritance is a tricky one. We all want to leave something to our kids if possible, yet inheritance for society makes inequality permanent, favouring the children of the rich. Millennials are about to become the wealthiest generation, which begs the question - should inheritors of wealth play a role in driving social change? What should they give back? A recent Bank of Italy paper reveals the rich stay rich. Tax records dating back to 1427 reveal that the top twenty wealthiest families in Florence remain almost identical to the top twenty richest families in 2008. However, 15th Century Florentines understood that altruistic measures such as building museums, orphanages, piazzas, roads, and more would be their insurance policy to ensure social stability - but today's rich don't quite care. They avoid all responsibility, dodging taxes worldwide. As inequality pisses people off, does this mean violent, catastrophic social change is inevitable, or will democracy do its job more gently?
  • 25. 2024:25 Should We Copy The Swiss Or Is That Too Cheesy?

    39:58
     How best to run an economy and a country, bottom up or top down? A trip to Switzerland got me thinking should we invert power, making the local more consequential than the nation, should we devolve government, introduce fiscal federalism and instead of our "spectator democracy" should we opt for "direct democracy" . Unlike Ireland, where accountability seems elusive, Switzerland's governance is marked by subsidiarity and active democracy. With their frequent referenda, the Swiss distribute responsibility locally, fostering an engaged political system. The influence of Calvinism further shaped Switzerland, cultivating a deeply democratic and pragmatic society. Is it time for us to embrace for 'Protestant Pragmatism', where power is delegated to the people? Could this also be a framework for future Irish reunification?
  • 24. 2024:24 The Dehumanisation of Curiosity

    28:20
    The US House of Representatives has just approved a bill with the potential to ban Tiktok from America. But this story is about much more than corporate America's jealousy over its Chinese rival's more profitable and addictive business? Its about the direction of social media and an increasingly docile, addicted citizen, out-foxed and out-thought by an algorithm. What we are witnessing is an internal power-play within the tech cartel. With its personalised algorithm, TikTok means human curiosity now takes a backseat to endless scrolling. Curiosity is no longer an active endeavour but a preordained path. In this episode, we dissect the shift in our inquisitive nature, as algorithms dictate the content we consume, rendering Google search a relics of the past. Curiosity has been commodified as we enter a digital algorithm world.