Thursday, August 30, 2018

California Continues Showing the Way to Clean Energy

In a landmark vote, the California legislature approved a complete shift to alternative electric energy production by 2045.  California joins Hawaii, which passed its carbon-free goal in 2015.  California leads the nation in deployed renewable infrastructure with 35%, and plans to be at 60% in twelve years. The state also reached its greenhouse gas emission goals four years early. The increase in alternative energy deployment is driven by decreasing cost of photovoltaic panels. SB 100 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for signing into law. Brown has already set out ambitious goals to expand renewables and the use of electric cars. The state legislature has already passed a law that requires newly built homes to be equipped for solar power.

Redding, CA
A report released on Monday says the state is in for more of the same devastating wildfires [photo] if nothing is done to ameliorate climate change.  It is the fourth statewide climate change assessment since 2006.  Rising temperatures could lead to 11,300 more deaths by 2050, and the number of days of extreme heat will increase exponentially.  The 2006 heatwave killed over 600 people according to the report and cost an estimated $5.4 billion in damages. Wildfires will consume on average 77% more acreage; in 2018 fire destroyed 671,000 acres. [photo]   Brown  reacted to the report by terming the threat posed by climate change, "apocalyptic".

Detroit To Shut Off Drinking Water in Schools

Remember the days when you came in from recess and slaked your thirst with cool water at the hallway water fountain? Those days are gone in Detroit. Just days before the school year begins, Detroit's Public Schools District will shut off drinking water after elevated levels of copper and lead were found in the latest round of testing in 16 of 24 schools.  The announcement was made Tuesday. Water for non-drinking purposes will still be available. Aging buildings and plumbing are probably the cause of the problem. The buildings require $530 million in improvements.

Testing in 2016 was prompted by the Flint, MI lead contamination crisis. A third of the city's schools tested positive for elevated levels of metals. Detroit's municipal water supply conforms to EPA standards, but the elevated levels of metal contamination in the schools' fountains and sinks points to contamination within the school buildings.; Lead is a neurotoxin that can damage child brain development, cause behavioral problems and sicken adults. Copper can cause gastrointestinal distress, and long-term exposure can damage the liver or kidneys. The problem caused the District to line some pipes with a silicate to prevent more leaching of metal into school drinking water. Meanwhile the Trump regime is spending $1.6 billion to build the 'wall' on the southern boarder. In reality, that is very far from the brain of Trump, the money will replace or repair existing fencing

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

California Stops Trump's Offshore Plans

Hair Further's plan to drill all of the outer continental shelf was dealt a setback by the state of California's legislature which passed a bill today barring the state's Land Commission from approving new leases that would support off-shore drilling for oil and gas.  The bill does not block maintenance activities of current offshore drilling infrastructure including that used for transporting oil and gas in state waters.  The representatives from Santa Barbara, which suffered a catastrophic oil spill in 1969, pushed the bill through the Assembly where it received bi-partisan support.  It will go to the Senate where a version of it has already passed by large majority.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Management has prepared a draft environmental impact statement for expanded drilling on the Pacific outer continental shelf.  There are thirty-eight active leases off California's coast.  A public opinion survey conducted in July show 67% of respondents oppose more drilling in federal waters off California.  Since 1986, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, more than 600 oil and gas pipeline spills, explosions and other incidents have occurred in California, causing at least $769 million in damages, 200 injuries and close to 50 deaths. “The threat and reality of oil spills impact all communities. Our legislature joins this growing multitude of voices in taking legislative action against the shortsighted expansion of offshore oil drilling,” said one of the bill's sponsors.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

'Toontime: Humpty Trumpty Has a Great Fall Coming

credit: M. Streeter, Savannah Evening News
After the conviction of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for eight financial crimes and the guilty plea to eight counts including two election finance offenses by former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, one would think no more bombshells would go off this week in the Russian Connection investigation. NOT. The latest, and probably the most damaging defection from the Trump Gang is its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. He was granted immunity in return for his cooperation with federal investigators. As one commentator who wrote a book on the role of CFOs in convicting top corporate executives for criminal schemes, "when the feds get to the CFO, its usually curtains." CFO evidence played a large role in the successful prosecution of Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. Weisselberg, in addition to serving as the CFO of Trump's business empire, also serves as trustee for his financial assets while he is in office. In short, he knows where the bodies are buried.

Fusion GPS, which commissioned the now famous Steele Dossier, has said there is "wide spread evidence" that Trump worked with dubious Russians in business arrangements that raise questions of money laundering. Real estate is often the investment of choice in money-laundering schemes.  Trump was selling property to Russians at a time when his only credit source, Deutsche Bank, was involved in a massive laundering scheme.  Russians own $98.4 million of Trump properties according to Reuters. A German newspaper has reported that Mueller subpoenaed the bank for information relating to Trump's deals. All this is potentially more damaging to Mr. Yuge than any Russian hacking operation to which he turned a blind eye.

Trump's dealings with bogus Russians goes back to the 1980s when the bankrupt businessman was desperate for capital.  David Bogatin, a Russian emigre with an auspicious name bought six Manhattan Trump Tower condos for cash.  According to the Treasury Department's financial crimes unit, buying real estate for cash, thereby avoiding disclosure to finance companies, is a red flag.  The Department estimates that a third of high-end real estate transactions are fronts for washing dirty money. Bogatin was convicted for a massive gasoline bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters. After fleeing the country, his condos were seized by the government as shelters for criminal gains.  The Senate investigation of Bogatin revealed he was a major figure in the New York branch of the Russian mob.  According to one journalistic investigation, one-fifth of the condos in Trump's properties were bought with cash, many by shell companies. p; And then their his casino operation, the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.  It was fined a relatively paltry amount for 106 violations of anti money-laundering laws in its first eighteen months of operation.  The casino was a favorite gambling hang-out for Russian mobsters living in Brooklyn.

Sure, sex sells, but it will be his financial crimes that bring Humpty Trump down from his throne of lies.   As Alena Ledeneva, an expert on Russian business practices, explained to The New Yorker: “It is possible that there is kompromat in the hands of several different business groups in the former Soviet Union. Each would have bits and pieces of damaging information and might have found subtle (or not so subtle) ways to communicate that fact to both Trump and Putin. Putin would likely have gathered some of that material, but he would have known that he couldn’t get everything.”* But witnesses like Cohen and Weisselburg, who have no personal loyalty to Hair Further, will provide the evidence of his perfidy.

credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
BC Idonwanna sez: Maybe so, Little Orange Man, but plenty crimes!
*If this characterization is accurate, then Putin is Trump's krysha or "roof", protecting him from unauthorized leaks of damaging information, as well as providing Putin enormous leverage. Putin has amassed an estimated $40 billion personal fortune hidden in various shell companies. The source is thought to be the sell-off of government assets to private interests after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Marine Reserve in New Caledonia

The French overseas territory of New Calendonia in the southwest Pacific voted on Tuesday to establish a 28,000 km² marine reserve to protect its rich marine life including five previously unprotected reefs.  The vote comes after years of work by conservation agencies including World Wildlife Fund.  The reserve will help conserve fish populations and protect near pristine reefs from tourists eager to glimpse the astoundingly beautiful underwater world.  The Entrecasteux Reef, one of the five newly protected reefs is a World Heritage site.

In 2013 a National Geographic team set out to survey New Caledonia's offshore assets.  The expedition and resulting scientific publications helped convince New Caledonia's government to protect what abundance Nature has bestowed.  Watch the NatGeo video of what the explorers found.  Green Kudos go to New Caledonia!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Chart of the Week: More Drought & Fires

One of the predicted symptoms of global warming is an  increased number of droughts and longer droughts in sections of the country.  This chart from the EPA shows that in the period 2000-15 up to 70% of the land area of the US experienced conditions that were at least abnormally dry. During the later half of 2012 more than half of the US land area was affected with moderate to extreme drought conditions.  The southwestern US being the region most affected.

With droughts come more wildfires as undeveloped land becomes more prone to ignition.  The drought year of 2012 was the third worst year on record for wildfires.  The US spent $!.7 billion fight wildfires in 2013 alone; the costs of fire fighting is up over 600% from the costs in 1985.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Artic is Melting--Fast!

The Trump Gang--after the latest developments in the Russia Connection investigation, it can be truthfully called nothing else--have an innate sense of poor timing*.  His pathetically weakened EPA announced its pro-coal industry substitute for Obama's Clean Energy Plan when the UK's Guardian contemporaneously reports that the Arctic's strongest, oldest ice cap north of Greenland has broken up for the first time in recorded memory.  Scientists say this radical new development is "scary"; the event indicates the incredibly fast rate at which the entire Arctic region is disastrously warming.  In fact, melting has occurred twice this year, driven by a record heat wave in the northern hemisphere.  This Arctic region was presumed to be the last area of ice to go as the planet gets hotter.   The Gulf Stream, responsible for weather patters in most of the northern hemisphere is at its weakest point in 1600 years. Predictions of global environmental collapse into a "hothouse" state do not appear to be very far-fetched if the current heating trend continues.

Ice in Greenland's north is usually compacted by the Transpolar Drift Stream, one of two major weather patterns that push ice from Siberia across the Arctic to the coastline, where it lodges against land.  This past winter prevailing winds pushed the ice away from the coast into the warming sea where it melts more easily.  Ice coverage in the Svalbard region is 40% lower than average according to the Norwegian Ice Service.

While all this melting and catastrophic climate alteration is going on,  "King Kong" claims he is 'saving jobs'--the usual justification for conservative's de-regulation--by proposing administrative rules that will dramatically increase air pollution, including climate destroying CO₂.  His proposal by its own admission projects 470-1400 premature deaths because of increased levels of microscopic particulate matter that cause lung and heart disease.  Compare this profit-obsessed plan to the Clean Power Plan that projected avoiding 1500-3600 premature deaths by 2030.  A glimmer of hope is offered by conservation organizations like NRDC who vowed the Trump dirty power scheme will be defeated in court because it "mangles the facts, the law, and science" says the Center for Biological Diversity.

*In case you have been locked in a closet without your smart phone, CNN reports the shattering developments as:
1. Paul Manafort, the man who spent five critical months leading Trump's campaign in 2016, was found guilty of eight financial felony crimes. On the 10 other charges brought against Manafort, the jury couldn't reach a unanimous conclusion and the presiding judge declared a mistrial on those counts.
2. Longtime Trump personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen agreed to a plea deal in the Southern District of New York.  He admitted guilt on eight charges and acknowledged that he had discussed or made hush payments to two women alleging affairs with Trump in order to keep damaging information from becoming public, at the direction of and in coordination with a candidate for federal office. That candidate, although Cohen didn't name him, is obviously Donald Trump.  These payments are potential campaign finance law violations.  
Cohen is cooperating with federal investigators.  Lanny Davis, Cohen's attorney told CNN that he believes Cohen has more information of interest to Mueller's investigators. It seems Mr, Yuge is melting too!

Monday, August 20, 2018

'Toontime: Black is White, And Truth Is Not Truth

credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

Cartoonist Kevin Siers hits it on the head, again.  Taking pages from Huxley's dystopian classic, "King Kong's" team is hell-bent "double thinking" the reality swirling around them, creating a toxic unreality show for the 'Merican public.   Far from a witch hunt, the Mueller investigation has indicted, convicted and is trying high government officials, presidential advisors, and foreign agents for their corruption of the American political system.  It would be the height of immorality if the chief architect of this conspiracy to illegally influence the election's outcome--an impulsive, angry egotist--were to escape the conspiracy unscathed.  Mr. Yuge targeting the security clearances--a lucrative carte blanch in security-crazed Washington--of critical former government officials such as "erratic" former CIA director Brennen, indicates the extent to which he is willing to punch below the belt to remain in office.  Clearly, there is a negative correlation as suggested by Joe Heller:

credit: Joe Heller

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dear Readers

US Person will be away from his desk for the remainder of this week.  Come back next week for more high impact blog at Persona Non Grata.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Another Beloved Lion is KIlled by an American

About five hundred male lions are killed each year by trophy hunters in Africa. To a species as threatened as the African lions are, that is a major and perhaps unsustainable. Killing a large, dominant male lion has significant sociological effects for his pride. Fighting, sometimes to the the death, ensues to take his place, and worse cubs are killed to educe estrus in pride females. Another high profile male, Skye, who lived in Kruger National Park may be the lion killed Jared Whitworth from Hardingsburg, Kentucky on June 7th. Skye, the head of the Western Pride has not been seen since then. [photo] Whitworth baited and killed a male lion in Umbabat Private Reserve adjacent to Kruger.

Baiting is generally illegal and if the lion was six year old Skye, he was too young to be shot. Authorities have refused to identify the lion despite inquiries from the press. His skin is being stored by a taxidermist in South Africa until the trophy can be imported into the United States under the "new rules" for lion trophy hunting implemented by the Trump regime. The Fish & Wildlife Service has yet to clarify what those rules are now, despite a Freedom of Information Act request for details of the alleged "case by case basis". Certainly the killing of an iconic pride male does not enhance the survival of the species, if that finding is even relevant any more. Lion numbers have plunged 42 percent in just over 20 years. And if the lion was Skye, the importation of his body parts into the US would violate the Lacey Act since that requires an animal be taken in accordance with local regulations. Both the Center for Biological Diversity and the US Humane Society have asked the Service to block importation until the dead lion's identity could be independently verified. So far, no one involved with the hunt is talking beyond denial of any wrongdoing.

The hunt was organized by professional hunter Graham Sales. An informant told Don Pinnock, a South African journalist, that the hunt was billed as a baiting of a big Kruger Park male. The claim made by Umbabat Private Reserve that the target was an older non-dominant male in the area is not consistent with male lion behavior. A dominant male such as Skye would not have tolerated an older male in his territory even if the older male were not in top form. Would Whitworth have allegedly paid $80,000 for a skin-and bones trophy? Also significant is the fact that one of Skye's cubs has been found dead, which is a typical result of a pride takeover by another dominant male. Trophy hunting, even of animals that have a population size that can withstand human predation has very little, if any ethical justification during the Sixth Great Extinction. Lions are struggling to survive in a world radically changed for the worst by man industrial activity. To add the insult of sport hunting for human ego gratification to their great injuries at the hand of man is simply intolerable.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

'Toontime: Memories of Tyrants Past

credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
Sound familiar? It should. Only a man attempting to lie and bully his way out of a legal predicament would call a deposition under oath a "perjury trap". The obvious solution to the problem is to tell the truth. But just like his infamous predecessor in office, the telling of truth is an option often overlooked by him.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Creature Feature: Tiger!

Regular readers of this space know that US Person is partial to BBC wildlife documentaries, which he considers among the best in the world. Of course David Attenborough is also unsurpassed as an insightful narrator of these intimate studies of Nature's treasures. Enjoy this heart-warming glimpse of a ten day old tiger cub with mum at home in the Indian forest.  In memory of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, co-founder of the Panthera conservation organization:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

This Month in WW1

The failure of the Kaiser Offensive to break through the allied lines in the Spring of 1918 and the consequent diminution of manpower and resources set the stage for the last major allied offensive of the war that began in August, 1918  in Picardy.  The 100 Day Offensive would result in retaking Belgium towns overrun by the Germans in 1914, reaching the border of Holland, and the American army engaging in its first independent action in the St. Mihiel salient near Verdun before hostilities ceased on 11 November 1918.  Against a weakened German army, the offensive succeeded in turning a war of attrition once again into a war of movement.

French Renault tanks en route to Montdiddier
The Third Battle of Picardy launched on 8 August in a fog on a fourteen mile front involved British and French forces that were supported by 435 tanks in advance of the infantry.  The attacks caught the Germans off-guard; they were pushed back about ten miles in the swift advance.  30,000 Germans were taken prisoner, and 300 artillery pieces were captured.  The strategic Paris-Amiens railway line was again in allied control.  Montdiddier was recaptured by the French 3rd Army on 10 August.  By 12 August the first phase of the offensive concluded.  When the Germans lost the town of Amiens, Chief of Staff Ludendorff informed German emperor William II of the disaster. William replied, “We have reached the limits of our capacity. The war must be terminated.”

ruins of St. Quentin cathedral, 1918
The second phase known as the Second Battles of the Somme launched on August 21st by the French army supported by Canadian and ANZAC (Australian-New Zealand Army Corps) troops.  By 4 September the Germans had retreated to the Hindenberg Line, a fortified defensive position established in the winter of 1916-17 near Soissons.  The Germans were running out of supplies, men and morale; war production plans had failed to meet projected levels.  Civilian morale was very low after the so-called Turnip Winter of 1917-18 when a potato crop failure forced Germans to eat turnips.  There was widespread hunger, and labor unrest.  Eventually allied superiority in material together with increasingly effective combined arms allowed them to break through the Line by the beginning of October, 1918.

On 29 September the British Fourth Army, including the US II Corps, attacked the Hindenburg Line from Holnon north to Vendhuille while the French First Army attacked the area from St Quentin to the south. The British Third Army attacked further north and crossed the Canal du Nord at Masnières. In nine days British, French and US forces crossed the Canal du Nord, took 36,000 prisoners and 380 guns.  German troops were short of food, had worn out clothes and boots, and the retreat back to the Hindenburg Line had terminally undermined their morale.  By October the German government was suing for peace.  Armistice was declared 11 November 1918.  The war to end war that killed 18 million people was finally at an end.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

'Toontime: The Emperor Without Clothes

credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
BC Idonwanna sez;  Red Queen want off with his head!

Hair Further, perhaps, is running out of rope. From the days of "no collusion" to nights of "collusion is not a crime" his PR mantra has definitely disintegrated a few notches. Technically he is correct, there is no federal crime labeled "collusion" in the book. But there is a felony provided for foreign nationals--GRU agents in this case--attempting to influence a federal election. And then there are the attendant legal concepts of conspiracy or aiding and abetting. Even 'Gouli' ought to know that. A criminal conspiracy is a prosecutor's playground because it does not take much evidence to prove one--simply an agreement between two or more persons to a common plan or scheme to achieve an illegal end, and an act to further that plan. See 18 USC ℥371.

Ok you plead, suppose Mueller cannot prove even a conspiracy to illegally influence the election, and Mr. Yuge's act in furtherance of it--such as sending his son-in-law to a Trump Tower meeting with a connected Russian lawyer. What about aiding and abetting an illegal attempt to influence the US presidential election by foreign nationals? In this scenario, Mr Yuge would have to: one, have a criminal intent to illegally influence the election outcome--as in 'I want Russia to find those missing Hillary emails'--and two, commit a substantial step toward committing the crime such as sending a representative to the aforementioned meeting. Either one of these established criminal law theories should be enough to fill the constitutional rubric of "high crimes and misdemeanors".  So let the Kabouki theater on the Potomac commence.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Chevron Defeated in Ecuador High Court

The oil giant, Chevron, lost its final appeal of a $9.5 billion judgement against it for polluting the Amazon basin. {10.10.12}  Ecuador's Constitutional Court handed down a 151 page opinion in which it rejected all of Chevron's arguments, including being victimized by official fraud, to set aside the lower court verdict.  The case is a total victory for the indigenous people who brought the suit, represented by Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia. The final victory raises the number of jurists in Canada and Ecuador which have ruled against the company to 29.  The decision is the fourth rendered by Ecuadorian courts.  The case was originally filed in New York federal court in 1993, but was moved to Ecuador when the company submitted to jurisdiction there.

In 2014 a federal judge of the prestigious Southern District of New York, Luis Kaplan, ruled the original verdict against Chevron was obtained fraudulently.  Kaplan relied on false testimony from an admittedly corrupt Chevron witness, refused to impanel a jury to try the facts, and refused to admit any evidence of Chevron's massive environmental contamination. Chevron's witness was Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorian judge who admitted taking bribes.  He was moved to the US by Chevron, and later admitted he lied on the stand after being coached for fifty-three days by Chevron lawyers.

Ecuador's trial court that rendered the initial verdict in 2011 relied on 105 technical reports finding that Texaco, now Chevron, poisoned a 1500 square mile area of the Amazon rain forest with carcinogenic oil wastes. {10.10.12} Thousands of people who live in the forest have suffered a catastrophic health and humanitarian crisis. Health care is nearly non-existent, so many Indians have died of cancer without treatment.  The problem now is how to force the multinational giant to pay the judgment.  It has vowed to never pay the $12 billion it owes, which includes interest, and subject the winners to a "lifetime of litigation". That attitude typifies an industry that deliberately polluted an entire region through operational decisions intended to save money and enrich executives, not to mention its waging a two-decade legal battle intended to exhaust its legal opponents.  It is the same arrogant disregard and contempt for the rights of Nature that brought you the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The reach and breath of Chevron power to manipulate the judicial system is rankly revealed by personal cost to a US attorney involved in the case, Steven Donziger. His license to practice law was summarily suspended July 18th.  Attorneys at the New York state disciplinary committee called Donziger an “immediate threat to the public order” despite his distinguished public service practice without a client grievance for twenty-five years. Rex Weyler, a co-founder of Greenpeace and friend of Donziger, called Donziger a “hero” for standing up to Chevron. “This is always the way the status quo power structure protects its own,” Weyler says. “The more frightened they are by the truth, the greater their lies.  US Person can certainly testify to the truth of that statement.

The Sentience of Whales

Good news for whale admirers:  Iceland has shut down its whaling industry due to lack of profits.  Only six minke whales were killed in June and none in July, the smallest harvest since the country resumed whaling in 2003.  The scarcity of whales required the hunters to go farther offshore consequently costing more to operate.  Iceland and Norway openly defy the international ban on whaling while Japan uses the thinly disguised "scientific research" exception to continuing its whaling activities.  The EU threatened economic sanctions against Iceland in 2014 for continuing the hunt.  Is it truly inexplicable that a giant male sperm whale rammed and sank the Essex after witnessing the tortuous death of so many of his extended family at the hands of merciless humans? 

credit: K. Balcomb
News that adds to the mounting evidence of whale intelligence and sentience is a resident female member of the Puget Sound orca (Orcinus orca) community, has carried her dead calf for eight days say observers. [photo] The grieving mother is falling behind her J pod, but relatives are staying close to her and may be bringing her food.  Tahlequah (J35) gave birth to the female calf on July 24th.  It only lived for a half hour.  Since its death, she has carried the infant by a fin or pushed the body through the water on her head.  The twenty year old female is a breeder, and therefore essential to the pod's survival.  Researchers have documented a decline in the number of resident orcas in the Puget Sound region.  Morning for her offspring must be exhausting, since she has to dive deeply to retrieve the body if she looses her grip.  Conservation advocates are attempting to keep gawkers at a respectful distance while they monitor the situation. The crisis with J35 comes as another member of J pod, J50, appears to be starving to death.

NOAA is mounting a rescue attempt to aid J50, a four year old female before it starves to death according to the Seattle Times.  The agency hopes to feed the orca with live chinook salmon dosed with medicine.  J50 has lost about 20% of her body weight, and may be suffering from a serious infection. The Lummi Nation is helping to obtain a source of fresh fish that could be fed to the ailing whale from a sluice on a jet boat.  A health assessment is planned which includes taking samples of blood, breath and scat.

The agency has successful track record intervening to save sick orcas. Springer, or A73, a young northern-resident orca whale, turned up in Puget Sound near the Vashon ferry dock in 2002, malnourished, ailing and orphaned.  The agency captured her and rehabilitated her back to health in a cove enclosure near Manchester, Washington.  Six weeks later, a healthy Springer was released back to the wild.  She has thrived in the wild, bearing two calves as of last year.  This tragic drama in Puget Sound should remind us that humans, as the planet's dominant animal, have a responsibility to respect and care for our fellow inhabitants, and should limit our predation and exploitation to only what can be sustained within natural limits.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

COTW: End of the Dream

One of the axioms of personal investing is that a home is the biggest investment most working people will make in a lifetime. That investment has been a good one since home prices have risen since the 'Great Recession'.  Demand created by a demographic bulge--the baby boomers--has provided a steady upward impetus.  But that is coming to an end as boomers reach old age and less consumption.  Many of them are "downsizing" once their families are out of the nest.  It is no secret that Millennials are not buying homes as early or to the same degree that their parents and grandparents did.

What has happened to the Japanese home market, may be significant for the US market going forward.  The Japanese have experienced falling home prices for twenty-seven years as the population becomes older.  Their market bubble began around 1979, peaking in 1991 at age 42:

The reason is fairly simple: people nearer to death are sellers, not buyers, and since real estate is imperishable (tell that to residents of Redding, CA) the impact of the end of life is more significant.  When Millennials began buying real estate, it was not enough to offset the downward trend.  If an adjustment is made for this effect--subtracting "dyers" at age 84 from buyers at age 42, the chart looks like this:

In this analysis, the real estate market in Japan does not bottom out until 2033, or forty-two years from the bubble peak of falling real estate prices!  Japan is not the US, obviously.  But the same demographics are at work here and Harry Dent, who produced these cautionary charts, says the US down leg from the last bubble top in 2006 will last thirty-three years.  The US market has a double peak, with the second upswing (current) eclipsing the first.  The trend is predicted to turn negative around 2020, collapsing 40-50%:

Since 2007, ownership has dropped by 3.6 million and renters have gone up by 1.9 million.  The reasons include tighter lending standards, low supply of affordable homes, along with soaring valuations.  Homes are 75% more expensive than rental units, and much more so given flat incomes.  US demographics are not as unfavorable as Japan's, but when the same adjustment is made subtracting "dyers"-- at age 76 in the US--from buyers at age 42--more of those than in Japan--the chart still looks distressing.   Prices do not take a swan dive until 2025 when the greatest number of boomers die, so you still have time to take your equity and run.