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JimD

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Is the Earth F**cked??
« on: December 25, 2013, 06:36:22 PM »
Werner’s research implies that, eventually, we’re definitely fucked. Civil resistance is our best and probably only hope.

From a presentation at the American Geophysical Union yearly meeting in 2012.  Very interesting from a variety of points.  Werner presents an interesting position that we have reached the point where the only solution is direct action to disrupt the current political/economic system.  I have held this position for a long time.  Are we starting to see a ground swell of opinion?  We will know for certain when Earth First! or the ELA start burning down the house.

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...Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”...

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There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage.
....

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....Anderson and Bows inform us that the often-cited long-term mitigation target – an 80 per cent emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2050 – has been selected purely for reasons of political expediency and has “no scientific basis”. ......

Which is why Anderson and Bows argue that, if the governments of developed countries are serious about hitting the agreed upon international target of keeping warming below 2° Celsius, and if reductions are to respect any kind of equity principle (basically that the countries that have been spewing carbon for the better part of two centuries need to cut before the countries where more than a billion people still don’t have electricity), then the reductions need to be a lot deeper, and they need to come a lot sooner. (insert by JimD - there is no chance what-so-ever that an equity principal will ever be implemented.  Drop this nonsense and move along!)

To have even a 50/50 chance of hitting the 2° target (which, they and many others warn, already involves facing an array of hugely damaging climate impacts), the industrialised countries need to start cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions by something like 10 per cent a year – and they need to start right now. But Anderson and Bows go further, pointing out that this target cannot be met with the array of modest carbon pricing or green-tech solutions usually advocated by big green groups. These measures will certainly help, to be sure, but they are simply not enough: a 10 per cent drop in emissions, year after year, is virtually unprecedented since we started powering our economies with coal. In fact, cuts above 1 per cent per year “have historically been associated only with economic recession or upheaval”, as the economist Nicholas Stern put it in his 2006 report for the British government.

 Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, reductions of this duration and depth did not happen (the former Soviet countries experienced average annual reductions of roughly 5 per cent over a period of ten years). They did not happen after Wall Street crashed in 2008 (wealthy countries experienced about a 7 per cent drop between 2008 and 2009, but their CO2 emissions rebounded with gusto in 2010 and emissions in China and India had continued to rise). Only in the immediate aftermath of the great market crash of 1929 did the United States, for instance, see emissions drop for several consecutive years by more than 10 per cent annually, according to historical data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre. But that was the worst economic crisis of modern times.

If we are to avoid that kind of carnage while meeting our science-based emissions targets, carbon reduction must be managed carefully through what Anderson and Bows describe as “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations”. Which is fine, except that we happen to have an economic system that fetishises GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, and in which the neoliberal political class has utterly abdicated its responsibility to manage anything (since the market is the invisible genius to which everything must be entrusted).

So what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed.
....

Ok.  I agree with what we need to do, but PLEASE stop with the immature nonsense that we can avoid economic catastrophe when we stop the capitalistic/growth economy!  We obviously MUST start taking direct action and this WILL, if it succeeds, crash the global economy and result in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.  That is just a given so quit crying about it and get to work.

From The Decline of the Empire

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...In short, some scientists are now turning to enviromental activism. (Read the Slate article if you want the details). However, there is a constant avoidance of the only question which really matters, which in the context just above, turns out to be—

Why can't humans get their shit together?

You can see the avoidance in Brad Werner's talk.

The bulk of Werner’s talk, as it turned out, was not profane or prophetic but was a fairly technical discussion of a “preliminary agent-based numerical model” of “coupled human-environmental systems.”

He described a computer model he is building of the complex two-way interaction between people and the environment, including how we respond to signals such as environmental degradation, using the same techniques he employs to simulate the dynamics of natural systems such as permafrost, glaciers, and coastal landscapes.

These tools, he argued, can lead to better decision-making. Echoing Anderson and Bows, he claimed it as a legitimate part of a physical scientist’s domain. “It’s really a geophysics problem,” he said. “It’s not something that we can just leave to the social scientists or the humanities.”

This is easily the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard a "scientist" say. Werner has built a computer model describing the two-way interaction between humans and their environment, using the same techniques he employs to simulute the dynamics of natural systems such as permafrost, glaciers and coastal landscapes.

In short, Brad has a hammer, and everything, including typical human behavior and decision-making, looks like a nail to him.

Now, allow me to be blunt. Why can't humans get their shit together and stop fucking up the Earth? This is a problem with humans, it is about humans, and to figure out what that problem is, you have to step outside the Human Condition (to the extent possible) and take a long, hard look at what humans are, and why they do what they do.

This is not the kind of problem which can be solved with the same techniques used to simulate the dynamics of natural systems like glaciers or coastal landscapes. Do I have to say it? Apparently I do—

Investigating human behavior is not the same kind of thing as investigating the behavior of glaciers or coastal landscapes. The investigation of Human Nature takes place on an entirely new level of understanding. Necessarily, it requires self-knowledge. You must observe what humans typically do in the present, and study what they have done in the past, and draw your conclusions accordingly.

Therefore, you need a entirely new set of cognitive skills to figure out what humans are and why they do what they do. It is only by applying such "introspective" and "objective" skills that you will be able to figure out why humans are fucking up the Earth.

One might say that humans must attain a "higher" level of consciousness to solve their self-created problems.

In the past, I have referred to the tragic lack of self-knowledge of the human animal. Well, now you know what I mean by that. But Werner is completely immersed within the Human Condition. He can not step outside of it (to the extent possible) in order to draw some conclusions about human behavior. So he has come to the totally absurd conclusion that he can facilitate "better decision-making" with a computer model of human-environmental interactions. But it is that very human decision-making which is at issue! He has begged the question!
....

Well interesting reading.  The time truly has arrived.  Who is going to step up to the plate?  IS any one? 

http://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/is-earth-fucked-asks-geophysicist-brad-werner/

http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

http://www.declineoftheempire.com/2012/12/is-the-earth-fcked.html

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/09/1306051/agu-scientist-asks-is-earth-fked-surprising-answer-resistance-is-not-futile/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Sigmetnow

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 08:18:25 PM »
Der Spiegel has a good article about thinking outside the box, economically speaking.

First, it describes the Vikings as leaving Greenland because their livestock couldn't survive, when they couldn't conceive of eating fish....  Similarly, we have to conceive of eating insects for protein and give up eating beef and pork, if not all animal flesh, to keep what grains we are able to grow for feeding us.


And here's a new twist on capitalism:

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'Economy for the Common Good'

This means we need a method of searching for new strategies that can't be coopted by the sleek, but unfortunately destructive, principle of capitalism. Imagine, for example, what might happen if a large number of businesses make the improvement of the common good -- instead of an increase in their profits -- the goal of their commercial efforts.

There are in fact already more than 1,400 companies, if small ones, in German-speaking countries that have made a commitment to the concept of the "economy for the common good," an idea developed a few years ago by Christian Felber, the Austrian co-founder of Attac. Around one third of these companies have annual balance statements to show it.

In the medium term, the "economy for the common good" movement aims to make such accounting legally binding. The principle is that the more common-good "points" a business achieves, the more legal benefits it should enjoy. For example, companies with a positive common-good balance could benefit from lower taxes, obtain loans from national banks at lower interest rates and be given priority in public purchasing and the awarding of contracts. This reversal of the existing incentive system would serve to make products and services that are produced and traded fairly, and are environmentally sustainable, cheaper than ethically problematic products and nondurable, disposable items.

The appeal of this approach lies in the fact that -- as with the many energy and consumption cooperatives, ethical banks, swapping platforms and venues for giving things away that have sprung up in recent years -- there is no longer a reason to generate additional surplus, once enough has already been produced. This counters capitalism's logic of valuation far more effectively than any sort of symbolic act, because such experiments in alternative economic practices intervene directly in the economic metabolism. Rather than continuing to generate more and more arguments, they generate new facts."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/warsaw-climate-conference-shows-capitalism-root-of-climate-failure-a-937453.html#ref=rss
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 08:29:13 PM »
And this, from "A Climate Truth-Tellers Honor Roll of 2013" by Wen Stephenson (emphasis his):

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With his colleague Alice Bows, a climate mitigation expert at the Tyndall Centre, Anderson points out that we have lost so much time to political stalling and weak climate policies—all while global consumption (and emissions) ballooned—that we are now facing cuts so drastic that they challenge the fundamental logic of prioritising GDP growth above all else….

what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules.


Anderson and Bows, Klein notes, have “laid down something of a gauntlet” for fellow scientists, essentially arguing, as Klein puts it, that “in order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research.” She quotes Anderson, who wrote this past August:

Perhaps at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit, or even at the turn of the millennium, 2°C levels of mitigation could have been achieved through significant evolutionary changes within the political and economic hegemony. But climate change is a cumulative issue! Now, in 2013, we in high-emitting (post-)industrial nations face a very different prospect. Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for the ‘evolutionary change’ afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2°C carbon budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony” [his emphasis].

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/12/24-4
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wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2013, 11:40:39 PM »
I posted this on another blog (POForums/Environment), but it seems more apt here:

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The head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, speaks for the scientific consensus when he says that time is fast running out to avoid the catastrophic collapse of the natural systems on which human life depends.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/a ... rt/280045/

Add that to:

1) James Hansen, former top climatologist at NASA, saying that we need to immediately start reducing global carbon emissions by 6% per year or more (which are so far rising by 2-3%/year) PLUS rapidly ramp up carbon sequestration (which might not/probably won't work since we've never done anything like at on any remotely appropriate scale) if we are to have even a chance of avoiding climate catastrophe.

2) Kevin Anderson, head of the top research center in UK, saying that industrial nations must crash carbon emissions by 10% per year or more starting now to have any remote chance of avoiding a 2 degree C increase, which itself in now known to be far above anything like a 'safe' level.

3) Yvo de Boer, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2009, saying: “There is nothing that can be agreed in 2015 that would be consistent with the 2 degrees. The only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy.”

4) Ira Leifer, one of the top atmospheric and marine scientists, saying: “Some scientists are indicating we should make plans to adapt to a 4C world. While prudent, one wonders what portion of the living population now could adapt to such a world, and my view is that it’s just a few thousand people [seeking refuge] in the Arctic or Antarctica.

All the evidence points to a locked-in 3.5 to 5 degree C global temperature rise above the 1850 ‘norm’ by mid-century, possibly much sooner. This guarantees a positive feedback, already underway, leading to 4.5 to 6 or more degrees above ‘norm’ and that is a level lethal to life. This is partly due to the fact that humans have to eat and plants can’t adapt fast enough to make that possible for the seven to nine billion of us — so we’ll die.”

...

--Not to mention Hadley Center, Potsdam Institute, International Energy Agency, World Bank, PWC and others (and not even to whisper the names of such great scientists as Wadhams, Nissen, Semiletov and Shakhova) all saying that global temperatures ~2-6 (or more) C above pre-industrial levels is now essentially inevitable by century end or well before--levels not compatible with global civilization (at the low end) or even probably the survival human and most other complex life forms (at the high end).

Suddenly, Guy McPherson doesn't look like such a lonely voice. He just puts a somewhat firmer and closer date on it and a slightly starker assessment of the consequence (and he messes up a few details).

The difference between "a few thousand people" and total extinction of the species is just one (more) relatively small catastrophe--and there will be plenty of (and ever more frequent) extreme (and ever more extreme) events around to do the trick!
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Bruce Steele

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2013, 12:23:15 AM »
 I do not know my audience, I can imagine the time when zero fossil fuel farms are of interest but there are no working examples for me to promote. The whole intent is lost on my peers but there is a future audience and for you I devote my final years. 
   It has only been five generations from when all farms where maintained without mechanical power. I saw bits and pieces, some horses still pulled plows, dry land farming ( without wells or well water ) was still viable but during my time the machines had taken over our farms. Grandpa rode a horse to school and his grandfather drove a team pulling a covered wagon west. They still knew how to farm without fuel, they had more room to graze horses, grow dry land crops, and they put in the long hours required to feed their families. 
   There isn't much time to prepare a new model , there are so many people now.
We have solar power and wind power that those early settlers didn't have but we expect so much comfort and speed that our renewable power seems frivolous. No one feeds their family anymore and we airfreight food commodities around the world. People think feeding, clothing and shelter demand our pursuit of catastrophe.
We know now our time is short, the seas are acidifying, the arctic sea ice is approaching melt out , the terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks are compromised .
We have seen into the future, those willing to look, and we are still willing to rob you, my readers. 
   You will have lived through the thinning and how that turns out we can not see from this distance . Whether you choose to follow in our steps and revive the hunt for fossil energy or you more reasonably adapt a scorn for our values I can not know. I would hope you find your farms and attend to rebuilding them but I would hope you farmed more like my great grandfather than the farms currently feeding our want. 
   I can't make promises as to the viability of my efforts . I am at this point an outlier, not alone to be sure and nowhere near perfect. I have up to this time in my life been one more cog in the wheel that ground down your futures, and I have contributed as much as the next man. I have of late figured I have to change and not just a little. I need get my fossil fuel consumption down to an amount I could carry. So as a goal I need to get my total for the year down to about twenty gallons. Then I need to get that to zero. At this point most people reading this that happen to be living fat times will laugh at the suggestion they help me . I don't expect I need much more than work to pull it off. There are other people working out the tools for this transformation. There are farmers counting the few gallons of fuel they use and also tracking the calories of food they produce. It will take many more farmers than we have these days but so many things will have changed before large numbers again can call themselves farmers and stewards of the land. I again would like to emphasize my belief that the technology already exists for transformation of our food networks.
  Solar powered houses and commuter cars are off the shelf available right now. Wind and solar are also capable in powering small farms , now off the shelf. The question about how many people in urban settings can one solar farmer feed is a valid one. At current lifestyles and expectations very few, but how many with everyone pulling a load in order to eat and survive?   
             

Atomant

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2013, 12:46:35 PM »
Good day Bruce.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure

Farming has moved from the hands of the people to the corporate state ... and it's global. Monocultures of all types spread from Brazil to Borneo destroying habitats that are thousands of years old along the way. The future of food for those without their own farm/land is at the hands of corporations. People from cities get already fed this way via fast food outlets and other food processing points of sale-namely super/hyper market chains and this is settled in society as normal. The corporate state also pushes/lobbies for GM products to be sold everywhere and consumed by everyone. Said GM crops are coincidentally designed to cope with climate conditions like droughts and pests allegedly helping secure future food supply.

... this so far has not happened globally and pockets of GM resistance remain resilient but looking at the behaviour of some politicos it'd seem we are heading that way whether we want it or not. Equally, the consumption of fossil fuels and its many derivates keeps being pushed/lobbied on a global scale in a bid to continue business as usual, to support growth. With no signs of the necessary changes to the economic model anytime soon and no sign of political will to make them happen it wouldn't be wrong to assume that Geo Engineering will be the chosen option to mitigate some of the effects of AGW, if only to keep the status quo for the profiteering few.

I do agree, like many, that a revolution is needed but that has to start within the individual. The corporate state likes profit, financial success and greed and sells the idea very well. The results are hordes of youths wanting to be popular, wanting to make a quick buck,... short time profit and an egocentric view with no thought of the consequences. Fewer and fewer relate to the environment and more and more are disconnected from it. The corporate state controls food and energy in developed countries,... the uniformed consumer is at their mercy and I'd like to think they know where we are heading AGW wise, hence their race towards total control over energy and food.

The solution would be to end the corporate state. Once personal interest and gain is out humanity can work towards a common goal. Subsidies directed to the right zero emission, clean technologies. Oil refineries could be modified to refine seed oils like Hemp and produce tough bio degradable plastic and bio-fuels. Have a read here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp, Hemp is a better monoculture all around with many advantages, environmentaly friendly and a large list of good uses, yet its UN status makes near impossible to benefit from this crop. The history of the demise of Hemp is an interesting one with cotton industry owners and polymer producers pushing/lobbying for a blanket ban to eliminate competition. Same old, same old.

Happy holidays.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2013, 04:12:39 PM »
And if we’re switching things up economically, consider this: 
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activists have secured a vote in Switzerland on an audacious proposal: providing a basic monthly income of about $2,800 U.S. dollars to each adult in the country.

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What is a universal basic income, and why are we hearing more about it now?

The proposals that are floating around the world vary a lot. But the basic idea is, no matter what you do, if you’re a resident — or in some cases, a citizen — you get a certain amount of money each month. And it’s completely unconditional: If you’re rich you get it, if you’re poor you get. If you’re a good person you get it, if you’re a bad person you get it. And it does not depend on you doing anything other than making whatever effort is involved to collect the money. It’s been a topic of discussion for several decades. Why is it happening right now? I think it’s obvious that it’s a reaction to the high level of economic inequality that we’ve seen. Most European countries haven’t had big increases in inequality at the same scale that we [in the U.S.] have, [but] some of them have had much more than they’re used to.

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/11/rather_than_savage_cuts_switzerland_considers_star_trek_economics/
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2013, 05:45:26 PM »
Atomant, Breaking out of our self imposed box will require work, and a willingness to cut the stilts that perpetuate our elevated self love. Revolution ,in my opinion, must work itself up from the bottom. I am not interested in " going to the tower solutions ". The system will come crashing down but then what? It should be readily apparent to anyone following this blog that our government corporate state will not help us downsize our desire for comfort, easy outs, and genocidal tendencies.
  A 10%-6% decrease in energy use will result in blood in the streets. There is just no way out at this point. We maintain status quo and the earth system crashes, we cut energy use 10% annually and civilization revolts. Same bloody outcome.
  Our modern value system drives the conundrum. Like your article on the commons said it was the poverty of subsistence farming that gave rise to the notion there was an easy out, comfort in mechanized solutions, and the expectation that every man could live like a king. We have arrived at the limits to that fantasy. Now we will either accept our poverty or sacrifice a major portion of life on this planet.  If I can offer anything it is only the notion we can moderate that poverty slightly with a few simple tools. We have invented some technologies in the last 500 years to make dirt farming a little less drudgery but nothing can feed 7-8 billion people, the fantasy is over.
  To some degree I have been trying to bait JimD. I would like Jim to imagine society rebuilding after the crash. What values might better suit our progeny ? 

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 05:53:40 PM »
Bruce

I think about that a lot.  There is no space here for that I think.  At least not at the level I have been thinking about.  I have been contemplating starting my own blog so I would not swamp this place or maybe write an e-book (the family is on me to do the book).  But I can't make up my mind on that issue.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 06:13:25 PM »
A subject strongly related here is the idea of degrowth of the economy.  Here is an interesting article about that issue.

Malign Confusion about Growth, Economic Growth or “Degrowth”: Which Way Forward?  (from Part 2)

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-1.html

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-2.html

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-3.html

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“De-Growth”:  A Serious Proposal

Lately, climate scientists have stepped into the gap where economists have generally feared to tread and have suggested that intentional “de-growth” is the only hope to stop the rising emissions associated with economic development and growth.  No news to anyone who follows developments in climate science, the earth’s climate is facing tipping points beyond which a recognizable human civilization will be almost impossible to maintain due to the expansion of inhospitable or entirely uninhabitable climate zones, destruction of existing human settlements by water and weather, and the destruction of co-evolved species (including food) upon which we depend.....

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Prior to the recent interest in de-growth, the hope has been that through either a regime of carbon pricing or a massive government program of green investment or both that the developed economies would decarbonize, yielding economic growth with progressively less emissions until such time as economies would grow without adding in net to the earth’s carbon cycle.  No one has suggested that this decarbonization could happen overnight or without initial costs in emissions.  .....  The “market-based” approach of either cap and trade or carbon tax advocates take a more leisurely approach to decarbonization, with a highly unlikely achievement of that goal if at all.  Either way, it is assumed that growth of some sort is the mechanism by which change occurs in capitalist monetary economies, though in the P2M Plan, I posit that the growth is a transitional state to a achieving a steady-state economy....

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While a number of climate scientists have called for direct political action and civil disobedience over the last several years, mainstream climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows of the leading Tyndall Centre in the UK have gone further and called for governments to institute radical and immediate de-growth strategies in wealthy countries to sustain year over year reductions of 10% in carbon emissions.  A recent conference at the Tyndall Center collects a number of proposals along these lines.  Anderson and Bows arrive at the 10% annual reduction number, via a series of calculations based on a 2 degree Celsius maximum warming target and a relative permissiveness towards the developing world to increase emissions for another decade.  They come upon degrowth as the route to 10% per annum reductions via Nicholas Stern’s estimation that economic growth is conceivable only with 3-4% annual emissions reductions via in a decarbonizing economy..   The developing world would have a few years to grow using conventional means until 2025 and then it too would need to “de-grow” or develop on a path that would to zero net contributions to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.....

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...With global warming and the climate crisis we are seeing with an ever more quantifiable basis that the growth of the economy dependent on fossil fuels is becoming tightly coupled with the degradation of the natural basis of human life and the co-evolved life-world.   The buffering capacity of the natural environment to receive, dilute, and transform, the toxic or damaging byproducts of industrial civilization has been diminished and/or its incapability to perform these “ecosystem services” is becoming more apparent....

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...With current and near-future technology, there is a trade-off between immediate degrowth and rapid decarbonization, as building green infrastructure will in an era of emissions-intensive building techniques and materials (like steel and concrete) mean increased emissions attributable to large construction projects.  These emissions might be trimmed by innovative use of materials but we are still looking at a massive construction project.    ..... However, given the historical record and acute crisis the priority of emissions reductions, it is understandable that a serious proposal for radical emissions reductions would focus on economic shrinkage in the developed, some would say “overdeveloped” countries.....

Quote
...While economic growth is integral to capitalism, an already highly unequal socioeconomic system, growth, in particular robust growth of the real economy, is one of the few means by which those with middle and lower incomes can improve their economic positions.  An unequal economy that doesn’t grow or grows slowly is likely to see increases in inequality,....  Hope for the future is often predicated on the possibility of a positive change of one’s personal or family circumstances, into which the economy’s overall growth plays a large role in exciting hopes and planning for a change in life circumstances for the better.

Within a capitalist economic framework, against which no one is proposing a likely and detailed alternative, degrowth of the entire economy is with very high probability going to have differential negative impacts on poor and working people.  While there are and could be a variety of degrowth recommendations, most aim at cutting the excess consumption of the middle- and upper-classes in the developed world by policies that are either mandated by governments or a government-facilitated form of voluntarism in the face of impending disaster.  .... these recommendations overlook the feedback effects of sharp reductions in demand within a monetary economy.  Reduced consumption by the upper- and upper-middle-classes would reduce the currently-weak overall aggregate demand in the real economy even more.  That aggregate demand drives economic activity and if it were to shrink in net, it would lead to shrinkages in incomes from employment, increases in unemployment, and consequently of overall demand even further.   It could only be within the context of a reinforced welfare state that the economic shrinkage envisaged by degrowth advocates would not increase poverty and differentially harm the less wealthy.  It is not accidental that degrowth seems to have its strongest advocates in countries that already possess a substantial welfare state, an economic institution which luckily does not seem to be a target of degrowth advocates.

Anderson and Bows are aware of the potential that degrowth polices they propose would appear indifferent to the lot of the less fortunate in developed countries.  The policies they suggest involve a combination of voluntary and mandated changes in the economy that would differentially effect the well-to-do.  However they seem not to operate with an understanding of the economy, like the climate, as an dynamic system, treating their proposed subtractions from the consumption of the well-to-do as isolated within the economic system.  ....

BAU leads to collapse, Green-BAU leads to collapse, no growth leads to collapse, and degrowth leads to collapse?  Hmmm......
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JackTaylor

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 07:09:10 PM »
Civil resistance is our best and probably only hope.

In some circles claims are made the initial steps toward "civil armed resistance" have occurred.

Now just supposing half the scenarios of dire consequences posed in this forum occurs.

Using USA as an example.

1.
150 million, or more, hungry people without adequate food, each has at least 2 personal weapons and a share of  billions upon billions of rounds of ammunition for their pistols - assault rifles - machine guns etc.

2.
Members of the military will go NOT home on leave to visit relatives for fear of execution - them or theirs.  How long will a military force be available to "suppress rebellion?"

3.
Will a "softball civilized" collapse occur?
My Answer: Not if it get as bad as some predictions.

Looking forward to more comments about an ef'fed earth.







johnm33

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2013, 08:11:12 PM »
Growth is an essential part of the money system we [UK,US,+EU] have, money is only ever created as debt, and if the debt was paid all the money would disappear, leaving us still owing the interest.
 http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/100-years-enough-time-make-fed-public-utility.html
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/federal-reserve-system-causes-unpayable-debt-unemployment-inflation-high-interest-rates.html
It's worth following the links to Ellen Browns site too, she recently wrote about how 35%+ of all transactions go to pay interest on loans, and that goes before any tax's. To abandon growth all those debts would have to be repudiated [as well as GOV debt], no mainstream economists have sufficient grasp of economics and how money actually works to manage or advise on the ensuing chaos. Not sure anyone has but would look first at the numerous economists who were shouting about the  financial meltdown, some for years, whose warnings drifted away into the void. Hudson and Keen spring to mind but there were many others.
Of course if this doesn't happen by design it will surely still happen.

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??if
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 09:01:38 PM »
Jack

It is probably not a popular opinion here, but I tell all the liberals (no need to tell the conservatives) I know that they are crazy if they do not arm themselves. Not in a stupid way, but in a sensible way.  I think if you believe that catastrophic collapse is coming, as most of us here seem to, or that there is a high probability of it then everyone should be armed who can manage it.  It is just a sensible precaution.  It may not save you but it cannot hurt along those lines either.  It is a form or risk/benefit analysis.

The kind of chaos we are talking about is going to be lethal for a very large number of people.  There is no rule that one cannot try and live through it. 

Having arranged to be able to grow food and to have a type of work which will still be needed are right at the top of any list also.  But, if the crap hits the fan, there are going to be a lot of predators out there who will try and feast off the weak.  There will also be good people who band together and try and makes things work out.  But if those good people are defenseless they will not make out all that well.

Having a good quality rifle, shotgun and handgun (which one is competent in using) with a moderate amount of ammunition is no less sensible than having a couple of extra hoes and spare handles for all of the farm/garden tools.  Not to mention a good selection of knifes designed for various uses up to combat.       
 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

SATire

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??if
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 09:27:10 PM »
Having a good quality rifle, shotgun and handgun (which one is competent in using) with a moderate amount of ammunition is no less sensible than having a couple of extra hoes and spare handles for all of the farm/garden tools.  Not to mention a good selection of knifes designed for various uses up to combat.       
JimD - those will not help you against your killer virus or the nukes.

Learn to life sustainable & think in circles. Everything you take should be brought back where it came from and should be used again.

Weapons are OK for defence - but you will have to kill others just trying to defend themself, because there defence will just start at that place where you want to eat "their" food.

And all this future collapse just because you love your iPhones and stuff - that behaviour just makes no sense...

SATire

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2013, 09:30:08 PM »
Growth is an essential part of the money system we [UK,US,+EU] have, money is only ever created as debt, and if the debt was paid all the money would disappear, leaving us still owing the interest.
johnm33 - you know that every dept is just the money of someone else who had no other idea what to do with the money? So the solution is easy - take the money by tax or something else and the dept is vanished. Those dept / your savings are just a trick to make you work more and life less and it is up to you to play that game or not...

Steven

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2013, 10:03:04 PM »
All the evidence points to a locked-in 3.5 to 5 degree C global temperature rise above the 1850 ‘norm’ by mid-century, possibly much sooner. [...]

You seem to attribute this quote to Ira Leifer.  But in fact it's a quote from Guy McPherson. 

McPherson claims that there are studies from international agencies which project 3.5°C global temperature rise by 2035 or 5°C by 2050.  But that is wrong.  For example the 3.5°C refers to the long term effect of a certain emission scenario that was described in detail up to 2035 (Here's a link to the original and often misquoted press release from the International Energy Agency, especially the third paragraph on page 2).
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 12:42:20 AM by Steven »

wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2013, 10:16:09 PM »
Thanks for catching that, Steven, and for the link. The Leifer quote should be just the part that says:

“Some scientists are indicating we should make plans to adapt to a 4C world. While prudent, one wonders what portion of the living population now could adapt to such a world, and my view is that it’s just a few thousand people [seeking refuge] in the Arctic or Antarctica.”

(My emphasis.) I think McPherson (along with the AMEG folks) is the main one positing very firm very early dates to these consequences, but really, they are only off by a few decades from what others are saying. The main thing to keep in mind is that most of the time, the more we know, the sooner and harder it looks as though things are going to go south, the loss of Arctic sea ice volume being the most famous example, of course.

Jim wrote: "[owning firearms] cannot hurt"
I REALLY don't want to side track the main conversation, but I hope you know the stats on the increased likelihood of killing yourself or a loved one if you keep a gun in the house. I'm not even arguing against arming yourself, but saying "it cannot hurt" seems to be going a bit further than the evidence suggests.

On another note, I would like to join Jim's family in encourage him to write the book, e- or not!

And on yet another note, this passage from the last block quote in Jim's post above suggests to me that economist have to start thinking more outside the box:

Quote
Reduced consumption by the upper- and upper-middle-classes would reduce the currently-weak overall aggregate demand in the real economy even more.  That aggregate demand drives economic activity and if it were to shrink in net, it would lead to shrinkages in incomes from employment, increases in unemployment, and consequently of overall demand even further.

We really have to come up with a different way of employing people and occupying their time than creating crap and buying crap. There are all sorts of valuable things that people do that aren't part of the formal economy but that keep things going. The middle and upper classes will presumably still need to eat.

--Intentionally moving away from low-labor industrial agriculture (which we will have to do anyway) is a clear example of something that could employ lots of people.

--Most houses and other buildings need to be refit with better insulation and re-landscaped for food production, water conservation and species preservation. Those sound like jobs that could employ a lot of people for a while at various levels of skill.

--We need to retool our transportation sector, but we can't wait till then to drastically reduce our car use. So lots of people could be employed both retrofitting our ubiquitous SUVs and minivans into Jeepnies (something between a bus and a cab) that could then employ a lot of people as drivers (an idea developed in Plan C by Pat Murphy.

--People will still need to be educated and taken care of medically, both of which can be done in fairly low-carbon ways and both of which could employ yet more people.

--And of course a greatly accelerated build out of renewables will be employing many people.

--And of even more course, most full-time jobs can be turned into 30 or 20 hour jobs, instantly employing millions more people...

And there are many, many more approaches like that that mostly aren't even on the radar screen of most mainstream economists.

I'm just some dumba$$ typing away on my Mac. If I can come up with numerous ways around this, why can't people who spend their lives studying economics come up with even one?

The economy is something we make up. We can make it up in any number of ways. But if one's mind is stuck in rigid ideas of how things can and cannot be done--and if the economy continues to primarily serve the interests of 'investors' (and even more, the multi-millionaire CEOs and high finance crooks) rather than primarily serving the earth and society--any major change will seem impossible.

(Is SH still around? Would s/he be willing to weigh in on any of these with her/his background in economics?)
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 11:05:28 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

johnm33

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2013, 11:47:56 PM »
SATire No, when the [central] banks 'lend' money to the government it's not money they had, they create new money using thin air, validated by the government 'bond' which they take possession of, as an interest earning debt. Same thing when you go to a regular bank for a mortgage, they lend you the money, which appears as a credit in your account, [debt in theirs] and they register your promise to pay, and the security they demanded, as a credit in theirs [debt in yours]. Their ability to do this is validated by the securities [bonds] they hold against government debt, and in old fashioned banking they could lend out 90% of the value of those bonds, and then 90% of the subsequent credits [mortgages/securities] and then rinse and repeat. In the UK the only kind of institution that until recently lent in the primitive way you suggest were building societies, clearly operating at a distinct disadvantage to licensed bankers.
 Addressing the topic a little closer, my view is, we have three major imminent threats the first is the loss of arctic sea ice which will disrupt NH weather patterns beyond agricultures ability to cope. The second is the loss of ice on the West Antarctic Peninsular and the consequent disturbance of every ice shelf and glacier that reaches the ocean in fairly short order. The third is the disruption of the Hadley cells in the NH, this could lead to intense and prolonged snowfall in either North America or Europe, also the normal SW winds that drive the Gulf Stream/NAD could fail, reducing their volume, and allow the saline waters of the arctic ocean basins to escape through Fram  at depth only to be replaced by warmer waters from the south with all the implications that has for methane release. Again, my view, this is all baked in but with luck could be 20 or more years away, I don't feel lucky, but I did make just about the worst estimates [low] for last seasons minimum. 

SATire

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2013, 12:27:43 AM »
Johnm33, you are right - the bank things are quite different in US and in Europe... here someone allways has to pay the bill in the end.

And you are also right, that we should prepare for 1-2 m sea level rise and also different weather from merging cells. For sea level rise it is quite well prepared here -  but the weather is a bit difficult to prepare for since the future is far from clear. We have to prepare for some more unexpected things.

But nevertheless next to preparation for the change we have to do our share to bring CO2 levels back in this century. The earlier the easier that is - so the right time is now. If we would not do that work it will get really bad later - not clear, if it could ever be fixed then. So - there is not much of a choice.

It is bad luck for us and our children - we have both to prepare for unforseen changes and to stop what we did and learn something else. But hey - others before us managed to survive a world war and the following collapse, so this it is surely not the worst time and the work can be done.

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2013, 02:59:27 AM »
Wili

Quote
...Jim wrote: "[owning firearms] cannot hurt"
I REALLY don't want to side track the main conversation, but I hope you know the stats on the increased likelihood of killing yourself or a loved one if you keep a gun in the house. I'm not even arguing against arming yourself, but saying "it cannot hurt" seems to be going a bit further than the evidence suggests....

Sure I know that, but I have lived in a house with many guns in it almost 100% of my life.  Plus I have carried various weapons as part of my job.  So I am pretty comfortable along those lines.  To me a weapon is just a dangerous tool, like an axe or knife which one has to be careful with.  But the context I meant was: if you are in a survival situation it cannot hurt to have weapons even though they may not end up being sufficient to actually survive.  But, as you say, I don't want to draw this into a gun debate either.

SATire  One cannot protect themselves from everything its true, but we can in some ways.  BTW no iphone here, or cable tv, or suv's, or Christmas presents.  We try and avoid the consumer world as much as we can.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Sigmetnow

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2013, 04:31:29 AM »
Wili @16,

The US President, Secretary of State Kerry, and many members of Congress know what to do -- the problem is that they can't do anything with the current Congress.  But the tide is turning.  By the 2014 or 2016 elections, the Tea Party will either have seen the climate light, or they will be trounced at the polls.  (See: recent Virginia elections.).  People are starting to demand action, and that groundswell will grow.

In World War II, we switched manufacturing plants over to bombs and airplanes, and employed new (women!) workers almost overnight -- unthinkable, before we actually did it.  We blacked out the East Coast at night, and rationed food and gasoline.  We can make radical changes and sacrifice.  We just need to find the national will. 
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2013, 06:47:53 AM »
S, thanks. Yes all of that is true. And as you say, we could, we have, but will we now, when we most need to, most urgently, NOW?
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

SATire

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You are quite safe if what you do makes sense
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2013, 01:24:36 PM »
SATire  One cannot protect themselves from everything its true, but we can in some ways.  BTW no iphone here, or cable tv, or suv's, or Christmas presents.  We try and avoid the consumer world as much as we can.
JimD - that is the way to go. Avoid thinks that make no sense and do things, that make sense for you and others. Nobody would kill you if you do valuable things - instead poeple will feed you. That is the way human life works. So I am going to stay pacifistic - I could not life without my society anyway.

And it is really some kind of life-style to do things that make sense. I am very sure Neven is happy with his eco-house and loves to discuss about it. My doughter is vegetarian just to prove herself that it is possible to have a smaller foot-print. And in the next days I will get my fair traded smart phone http://www.fairphone.com/ - it is life-style to do things that make sense.

It is prooven by a lot of examples on all scales that it is feasible to life both sustainable and with high quality. For every aspect of life there is an alternative and we just have to put the things together. The basics of sustainability we learned from the American poeple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_generation_sustainability 

But you are right that we will also need some direct action - poeple who are not willing to understand and refuse to act sustainable are a threat for other poeple and their children. Since freedom ends where you start to harm other poeple some force could really make sense to protect the future of our children.

JackTaylor

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2013, 04:43:32 PM »
JimD, (and other members)
I do not wish to make this a discussion on gun control either.

My comment-reply was based on the boldness of the original post:
Quote
Quote from: JimD on December 25, 2013, 06:36:22 PM
Civil resistance is our best and probably only hope.

While we each may have a differing opinion of what constitutes "civil resistance"
there can be no denying the USA has become almost an armed camp.

Approximately two firearms for each adult, 'head in sand' not to acknowledge.

I agree:  Let's not discuss the pro's and con's of gun ownership.

However, my belief is effective "non-violent civil resistance" to avoid the dangers of AGW
is not likely to occur before it too late.  It would take away too many conveniences and pleasures of too many people.  The only exception I could have a belief in is an "immediate short term profit motive" for huge corporate - financial institutions.

So what remains as a course of action in the USA - we can hope our efforts participating in endeavors such as this forum will raise enough awareness to lead to "non-violent civil resistance" to correct the path we're on.  Plus, individually doing what we consider is a non-warming lifestyle.

But, if the dire predictions most people here seem to agree on, then when armed people get really hungry ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2013, 05:25:52 PM »
Jack

I agree with you.  The desire to avoid turning this into a gun topic is what Willi and I were wanting to avoid.  And, if Neven would not choke on it, someone can always start a gun topic and I will be more than happy to debate guns and such there.

Weapons are certainly a pertinent issue when the subject of resistance comes up.  There is no such thing as non-violent resistance at the level where one is trying to overthrow the current governing/economic paradigms.  Even Ghandi's method required vast amounts of violence (which he deliberately planned on being inflicted on his supports as his best chance of being a winning tactic - not because he was against violence.  IMHO). 

I am certain that the amount of direct action against the current dominant forms of government/economic systems will grow over time and will inevitably turn violent.  Most of the early casualties are most likely going to be those performing the direct actions.  Governments are going to be all over this type of stuff - they are 'terrorists' after all.  Those performing direct action will be attempting to bring forward the collapse we talk about in order to reduce the long-term damage of continuing the various forms of BAU.  They will be sacrificing themselves for the future.  But everyone who is not on board with them is going to hate them and will willingly participate in their demise I expect. 

The BAU people are quite ready to do violence to those who oppose them.  They are planning on it.  To give you an example.  I personally know someone who infiltrated one of the most prestigious right-wing think tanks in the US.  This organization helps push an extreme right-wing ideology at both the philosophical level and via direct lobbying of Congress, it receives vast amounts of funding from all those BAU interests we talk about all the time.  In one of the meetings this person I know attended that consisted of at least 100 people the folks running the meeting were openly discussing when the day would come when they would have to start killing all the "extreme" liberals like the environmentalists, socialists and anarchists.  Openly discussing this.  It was just assumed that they were 'going' to kill them.  The discussion was about how long it was going to be before that happened.  These people are enemies of the future.  You cannot reason with them.  If you want to be able to oppose them you can't show up defenseless.   
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2013, 05:41:31 PM »
To go back to my post above about degrowth for a bit.  In the links provided to the 3 part article one finds in part 1 his plan to get emissions down.  It is an interesting list to look at as it really brings home how difficult it is for even the completely convinced in AGW and its eventual destructive power over civilization.  He is still all wrapped up in the Green-BAU mind set.

Quote
The Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan

Assumptions:

1)    No revolutionary technological innovations required but evolutionary improvements expected

2)    Self-interested economic actors (people, businesses, government representatives) with some interest in community well-being and well-being of future generations (modification of Homo Economicus)

3)    Government as the primary force that has the potential to represent and institutionalize community/national/international values in the economy

Physical Principles:

1)    Base as much supplementary,  non-food (“exosomatic”) energy on renewable energy flows as possible

2)    Reduce energy required per unit effective work that serves human ends (energy efficiency and conservation)

3)    Use electricity as the energy carrier of choice (as opposed to biofuels or hydrogen) for most applications

4)    Where applicable for energy system applications, increase growing biomass and therefore carbon fixing capacity on cultivated and uncultivated lands.

Technological Goals:

1)    Electrify land-based transportation and machines
1.Shift long-distance freight transport to electrified rail or electrified grid-charged or powered trucks.  Build out rail infrastructure to allow modal shift to rail versus road.
2.Shift freight and passenger fleets to battery electric transportation with battery swap or in-motion inductive charging capability.
3.Build high speed rail, electrified express rail or equivalently rapid electrified public transit between major cities to replace much short and middle distance air travel.
4.Shift high traffic public transportation routes to electrified commuter rail, light rail, subway, elevated rail, trolleybus, street car or electric bus.
5.Build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in multifamily, single family residences, office parking facilities and public streets
6.Build rapid charge, roadway charging, and/or battery swap infrastructure to facilitate electric vehicle travel over middle and longer distances.
7.Increase electrical energy storage performance by a factor of 2 per decade
8.Facilitate transition from self-driven to programmable computer driven autonomous vehicles (increasing capacity of existing road infrastructure and reducing emissions)

2)    Generate electricity via renewable energy
1.Build rooftop and building integrated solar
2.Build transmission infrastructure to internetwork wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric facilities across regional boundaries to balance energy flow
3.Build large scale renewable generation plants in areas where renewable energy flows correspond with electricity demand while minimizing impacts on vistas and natural habitats where possible.
4.Build distributed and centralized electrical energy storage facilities

3)    Explore potentially safer, alternative nuclear generation designs
1.Build and test prototypes for cleaner and (weapons) proliferation-resistant nuclear energy via alternative designs to light water reactors (Thorium reactors, etc.)

4)    Reduce energy demand with equivalent useful work or outcome
1.Build new buildings to the passive house standard reducing or eliminating the need for space-conditioning energy
2.Retrofit existing buildings to the passive house standard where possible.
3.Build suburban and urban areas more densely, reducing the required number of passenger-miles and vehicle-miles traveled, facilitating walking, biking and public transit use via appropriate street design.
4.Encourage, by design, shared infrastructure and durable goods use, to increase capacity utilization.
5.Decrease demand for transportation by increasing Internet broadband capacity to enable high bandwidth virtual (eventually holographic) communication to become more visually more realistic and accessible to the public.
6.Facilitate the development of novel energy efficient solutions via energy pricing policy (see below).

5)    Eliminate petroleum fuel in air travel and freight
1.Transition to biofueled or hydrogen-fueled air transport

6)    Transition to non-fossil fueled marine propulsion
1.Implement hybrid marine propulsion systems that reduce fuel consumption by implementing modern sail technology
2.Transition to hydrogen and biofueled mechanical marine propulsion systems

7)    Store atmospheric carbon in buildings, durable goods and infrastructure
1.Encourage engineered wood use in buildings and manufactured goods.
2.Reduce concrete and steel components in durable infrastructure and buildings where structurally possible

8)    Build fossil fuel-independent food production, processing and transportation infrastructure
1.Develop, manufacture and distribute mechanical cultivation and harvesting equipment powered by on-farm or near-farm renewable energy
2.Develop non-fossil-fuel powered freight system that enables timely transportation of foods to market.
3.Develop locally grown food production where feasible to increase variety of food species and food system resilience.
4.Build water efficient irrigation systems

9)    Reduce, reuse and recycle society’s waste and waste water stream
1.Reduce packaging where possible
2.Encourage use of recyclables and recycled materials for single use products
3.Develop compost waste infrastructure and collections to minimize methane release from waste stream.
4.For remaining waste stream, build high temperature waste to energy power plants that do not form dioxins or emit toxic gases.
5.Reduce water use to lowest feasible levels in sanitation systems/build black water to potable water systems where water is imported or desalinated
6.Build grey water systems for sanitation systems in buildings

There are a whole host of items in his plan that are just non-starters from an EROEI or physics perspective.  But the real blindness just comes from his inability to take the data available and the knowledge of basic human nature and follow it to its natural conclusion.  Plans like this and the old "wedges" plans of Sokolow are just dead on arrival as they are impossible to execute.  Not to mention when they needed to be started to even be technically possible. 

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-1.html

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-2.html

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-3.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

TerryM

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2013, 10:18:08 PM »
I think the answer to the question posed has to be answered in the affirmative. Johnm33's link exposing Volker's contributions to Western politics indicates the huge amounts of money being used to fight against any policy changes that might be beneficial. These guys have been buying public opinion for decades & have painted climate change & environmentalism with the same shades as Marxism, Atheism, Animal Cruelty and Pedophilia.
It's not just that they have all the guns, they supply the hormonally altered butter as well.
We're not going to be taken seriously by our oil slicked politicians & if we did resort to monkeywrenching or civil disobedience our personal participation in the population problem would be terminated with prejudice.
Without a voice politically and without a chance in rebellion all we'll be left with is the rather dubious reward of being able to scream "I told you so" as we watch the looming horrors unfold.
I think I'm old enough & that my health is poor enough for me to escape the wrath of my grandchildren when they come to realize what my generation has bequeathed them. Many here are attempting to lower their carbon footprint, engage in sustainable agriculture or take other steps that if successful may do little more than to extend the agonizing period when civilization comes crashing down on our collective heads.
The time to act was 20, 30 or 40 years ago & the actions even then had to be on, at minimum, a national level. A community that succeeds in unplugging from the grid, feeding itself sustainably and leaving the world a better place will be squashed by others for espousing methods that threaten the very core of Western Philosophy. Greed is Good & no other Gods can be allowed to hold sway over the minds of potential consumers.
The invisible hand of the marketplace wields an invisible sword that kills not only competing ideas but eventually disembowels even true believers in a final grizzly rite of Seppuku, although Seppuku indicates an acknowledgment that an error was made & invisible hands probably aren't capable of this amount of introspection.
I think the steps being taken by Neven, Bruce, Jim, ccg and Sh are wonderful, noble, inspiring and doomed. I sincerely hope that I'm very, very wrong.
Terry

SATire

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2013, 11:40:14 AM »
The Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan

Assumptions:

1)    No revolutionary technological innovations required but evolutionary improvements expected

2)    Self-interested economic actors (people, businesses, government representatives) with some interest in community well-being and well-being of future generations (modification of Homo Economicus)

3)    Government as the primary force that has the potential to represent and institutionalize community/national/international values in the economy

Physical Principles:

1)    Base as much supplementary,  non-food (“exosomatic”) energy on renewable energy flows as possible

2)    Reduce energy required per unit effective work that serves human ends (energy efficiency and conservation)

3)    Use electricity as the energy carrier of choice (as opposed to biofuels or hydrogen) for most applications

4)    Where applicable for energy system applications, increase growing biomass and therefore carbon fixing capacity on cultivated and uncultivated lands.

Technological Goals:

1)    Electrify land-based transportation and machines
1.Shift long-distance freight transport to electrified rail or electrified grid-charged or powered trucks.  Build out rail infrastructure to allow modal shift to rail versus road.
2.Shift freight and passenger fleets to battery electric transportation with battery swap or in-motion inductive charging capability.
3.Build high speed rail, electrified express rail or equivalently rapid electrified public transit between major cities to replace much short and middle distance air travel.
4.Shift high traffic public transportation routes to electrified commuter rail, light rail, subway, elevated rail, trolleybus, street car or electric bus.
5.Build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in multifamily, single family residences, office parking facilities and public streets
6.Build rapid charge, roadway charging, and/or battery swap infrastructure to facilitate electric vehicle travel over middle and longer distances.
7.Increase electrical energy storage performance by a factor of 2 per decade
8.Facilitate transition from self-driven to programmable computer driven autonomous vehicles (increasing capacity of existing road infrastructure and reducing emissions)

2)    Generate electricity via renewable energy
1.Build rooftop and building integrated solar
2.Build transmission infrastructure to internetwork wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric facilities across regional boundaries to balance energy flow
3.Build large scale renewable generation plants in areas where renewable energy flows correspond with electricity demand while minimizing impacts on vistas and natural habitats where possible.
4.Build distributed and centralized electrical energy storage facilities

3)    Explore potentially safer, alternative nuclear generation designs
1.Build and test prototypes for cleaner and (weapons) proliferation-resistant nuclear energy via alternative designs to light water reactors (Thorium reactors, etc.)

4)    Reduce energy demand with equivalent useful work or outcome
1.Build new buildings to the passive house standard reducing or eliminating the need for space-conditioning energy
2.Retrofit existing buildings to the passive house standard where possible.
3.Build suburban and urban areas more densely, reducing the required number of passenger-miles and vehicle-miles traveled, facilitating walking, biking and public transit use via appropriate street design.
4.Encourage, by design, shared infrastructure and durable goods use, to increase capacity utilization.
5.Decrease demand for transportation by increasing Internet broadband capacity to enable high bandwidth virtual (eventually holographic) communication to become more visually more realistic and accessible to the public.
6.Facilitate the development of novel energy efficient solutions via energy pricing policy (see below).

5)    Eliminate petroleum fuel in air travel and freight
1.Transition to biofueled or hydrogen-fueled air transport

6)    Transition to non-fossil fueled marine propulsion
1.Implement hybrid marine propulsion systems that reduce fuel consumption by implementing modern sail technology
2.Transition to hydrogen and biofueled mechanical marine propulsion systems

7)    Store atmospheric carbon in buildings, durable goods and infrastructure
1.Encourage engineered wood use in buildings and manufactured goods.
2.Reduce concrete and steel components in durable infrastructure and buildings where structurally possible

8)    Build fossil fuel-independent food production, processing and transportation infrastructure
1.Develop, manufacture and distribute mechanical cultivation and harvesting equipment powered by on-farm or near-farm renewable energy
2.Develop non-fossil-fuel powered freight system that enables timely transportation of foods to market.
3.Develop locally grown food production where feasible to increase variety of food species and food system resilience.
4.Build water efficient irrigation systems

9)    Reduce, reuse and recycle society’s waste and waste water stream
1.Reduce packaging where possible
2.Encourage use of recyclables and recycled materials for single use products
3.Develop compost waste infrastructure and collections to minimize methane release from waste stream.
4.For remaining waste stream, build high temperature waste to energy power plants that do not form dioxins or emit toxic gases.
5.Reduce water use to lowest feasible levels in sanitation systems/build black water to potable water systems where water is imported or desalinated
6.Build grey water systems for sanitation systems in buildings

JimD - while some of the points look feasible and are similar to efforts made elsewhere some others seam to me very ambitious or overambitious. Is this plan to be executed? Are the poeple really behind all that points?? E.g. the transportation part would be very difficult to do in here - since without the poeple you can not do anything.

But if that plan would work that could proove TerryM wrong - I am sure he would love to hear that. But I am very sceptical - especially considering the post #3 upwards from JimD, that poeple may start to prepare to kill each other instead to find a consensus how to execute the plan...

wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2013, 04:23:44 PM »
Back to the title of the thread--It is pretty clear that the earth's oceans are pretty well F'cked:

http://peakoil.com/enviroment/jeremy-jackson-ocean-apocalypse

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2013, 05:54:01 PM »
SATire

Quote
JimD - while some of the points look feasible and are similar to efforts made elsewhere some others seam to me very ambitious or overambitious. Is this plan to be executed? Are the poeple really behind all that points?? E.g. the transportation part would be very difficult to do in here - since without the poeple you can not do anything.

There is no execution of this plan in the works.  It is just the authors plan on how he thinks we should proceed.  As indicated, I agree with you that many parts of it are impractical or impossible to execute. 

I expect that Terry is correct in his analysis.  My hope is that within the rubble of civilization there will remain a living root which will regenerate.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2013, 06:02:34 PM »
Back to the title of the thread--It is pretty clear that the earth's oceans are pretty well F'cked:

http://peakoil.com/enviroment/jeremy-jackson-ocean-apocalypse

What is happening with the oceans and might happen is probably the most disturbing aspect of all of the AGW, environmental pollution effects of human actions.  I believe that some humans will manage to survive long after collapse and the effects of AGW are fully dialed into the climate.  But collapse of the ocean ecosystems may disturb the web of life and food chain to such an extent that it may imperil that assumption of mine.  My understanding of the total of biology and the interrelatedness of life and the connections between ocean and land based life is not sufficient to have formed an opinion of what is likely to or may happen along these lines.  But it certainly is of deep concern.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2013, 06:54:49 PM »
I think the steps being taken by Neven, Bruce, Jim, ccg and Sh are wonderful, noble, inspiring and doomed. I sincerely hope that I'm very, very wrong.

Speaking for myself, I find it completely irrelevant whether my actions will lead to anything or not. Firstly, because that's more motivating to continue doing it, despite being somewhat of an outcast. But more importantly, it's about living responsibly. I want to try and find the right way to live, not just think about it.

And it's pure selfishness. By becoming relatively energy and food independent, and relatively debt-free (which is extremely difficult, unfortunately), one's life is so incredibly improved. This is perhaps what I would like to show to others, without unwillingly offending them.

It's not just good for the planet or the climate, it's so incredibly good for YOU (your health, your body, your (peace of) mind, your relationships, your wallet), when compared to the urban rat race.

I think the Earth is f***ed, but I'm not sure about the timing. The more time we get, the more "living roots which will regenerate" might be created. I know I will need the rest of my life to just get a few persons, or perhaps my community, to see the light.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 07:00:53 PM by Neven »
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

ghoti

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2013, 08:20:11 PM »
I agree with Neven. I feel it is important to do whatever you can do. I can't expect others to act appropriately if I'm not willing to act. Whether my action significantly changes the world or not isn't important - but it is clear that if nobody is willing to anything the world won't be changed.

Think global but act local.

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to longer day lengths when my house will go net positive for electricity again.

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2013, 01:26:01 AM »
Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?

From Scientific American

Article discusses the Limits to Growth studies and the latest " 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years "  by Jorgen Randers one of the original authors of the Limits to Growth.  It also quotes Dennis Meadows who was also one of the original authors.

Quote
...Jorgen Randers of the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, and one of the original World3 modelers, argues that the second half of the 21st century will bring us near apocalypse in the form of severe global warming. Dennis Meadows, professor emeritus of systems policy at the University of New Hampshire who headed the original M.I.T. team and revisited World3 in 1994 and 2004, has an even darker view. The 1970s program had yielded a variety of scenarios, in some of which humanity manages to control production and population to live within planetary limits (described as Limits to Growth). Meadows contends that the model's sustainable pathways are no longer within reach because humanity has failed to act accordingly.....

Quote
...Instead, the latest global data are tracking one of the most alarming scenarios, in which these variables increase steadily to reach a peak and then suddenly drop in a process called collapse. In fact, "I see collapse happening already," he says. "Food per capita is going down, energy is becoming more scarce, groundwater is being depleted."...

Quote
..Randers's ideas most closely resemble a World3 scenario in which energy efficiency and renewable energy stave off the worst effects of climate change until after 2050. For the coming few decades, Randers predicts, life on Earth will carry on more or less as before. Wealthy economies will continue to grow, .... Food production will improve:.... Population will increase, albeit slowly, to a maximum of about eight billion near 2040. Eventually, however, floods and desertification will start reducing farmland and therefore the availability of grain. Despite humanity's efforts to ameliorate climate change, Randers predicts that its effects will become devastating sometime after mid-century, ...."Very likely, we will have war long before we get there," Randers adds grimly. He expects that mass migration from lands rendered unlivable will lead to localized armed conflicts....

Quote
...Meadows holds that collapse is now all but inevitable, but that its actual form will be too complex for any model to predict. "Collapse will not be driven by a single, identifiable cause simultaneously acting in all countries," he observes. "It will come through a self-reinforcing complex of issues"—including climate change, resource constraints and socioeconomic inequality....As scarcities mount and inequality increases, revolutions and socioeconomic movements like the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street will become more widespread—as will their repression....."We're in for a period of sustained chaos whose magnitude we are unable to foresee," Meadows warns. He no longer spends time trying to persuade humanity of the limits to growth. Instead, he says, "I'm trying to understand how communities and cities can buffer themselves" against the inevitable hard landing....

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=apocalypse-soon-has-civilization-passed-the-environmental-point-of-no-return&page=2

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

johnm33

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2013, 03:10:01 PM »
JimD I'm in general agreement with all of that unfortunately, the only analogy that occurs is it's as if we were in Russia in early Feb 1917 almost no one having an inkling of the coming uprising, never mind the ensuing horrors and chaos of the following decades. Except swap decades for centuries.
I came across this interesting series on the problem of growth
  
That series of three links on degrowth was featured over at Naked Capitalism too and drew some interesting comments.

Shared Humanity

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2013, 06:12:28 PM »
When I read "Limits to Growth" originally in class at the University of Chicago in 1973, I felt we were already doomed to catastrophic collapse, not because we could not avert it if we acted quickly but that we simply would not take any action to avert it. The world's population was 3.8 billion in 1972 when the book was published, already well past the equilibrium level but, if rapid action had been taken, we could have engineered a soft landing. We instead continued exponential growth and there are now 7.2 billion of us.

In 1972, we were 2 seconds away from collapse but the world looked like it could support growth forever. Evidence of the approaching collapse was available such as the increasingly violent conflict between nations over resources throughout the 20th century. The search for and massive exploitation of oil in the 20th century was not a benefit but was the equivalent of finding and doubling the resources available to humanity. We used it to fuel a dramatic increase in available food, postponing collapse by exactly 1 second. Anyone who suggests technological solutions to  our dilemma, no matter how seemingly sane or radical (wholesale expansion of nuclear energy, colonizing the planets), are suggesting a policy that might postpone the collapse for, at most, one more second. Postponing the collapse will only make this inevitable collapse more horrific.

We are now less than a second away from collapse (in fact collapse is already happening). We have neither the collective intelligence nor the will power to turn away from our fate.

Shared Humanity

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2013, 06:34:43 PM »
For anyone who would argue this view is too pessimistic, I would suggest you look at these population charts. This is real and the approaching catastrophe is unavoidable. What is needed now is a radical, concerted effort by the world to engineer the softest landing possible. We will instead do what we have always done, allow war, famine and disease to deal with the problem.

For those in the wealthy western world who think that, by virtue of this wealth, we can insulate ourselves from the approaching horror, they simply do not understand the logic of exponential growth and the nature of collapse. The nations most dependent on the growth system will, in the long run, suffer the most. Colonialism was Europe's desperate attempt to avoid impending collapse in their societies. The Americas were doing just fine, thank you. By colonizing the new world, Europe postponed their collapse for a few seconds.

The nations that will suffer the least are those that are least dependent on the growth system, (use trade as an indicator), have few resources that will be needed by a collapsing system (no oil or natural gas is critical) and are substantially self sufficient with food. I've looked at this; Bolivia is a prime candidate (being land locked is good), Peru and Ecuador are too.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 04:15:09 PM by Shared Humanity »

Shared Humanity

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2013, 07:00:21 PM »
So, what will this collapse look like? It will be so horrible, we cannot imagine it and, if we could, we would choose not to. If you look at the above population charts, you can at least get a sense of the population collapse we should expect to see. From these charts, one might conclude that a decent carrying population for the planet would be about 1 billion.

If you think this is too grim, you need to consider that it was the industrial revolution, with all of its amazing technological breakthroughs, that fueled population growth from the 1800's on. This revolution in industry is at the very heart of the growth system. It allowed for the exploitation of the world's energy and water resources in a way that was never before available to humanity and will never again be available to humanity in our future.

This collapse to 1 billion in population (OK, I'll let you argue 2 billion if it makes you feel better.) will start with a vengeance in the next 50 years and play itself out over the next three generations, at most five. It is the nitty gritty details of the collapse that are most terrifying. War, famine and disease will reign over the planet in a manner never before seen, unspeakable brutality, genocide and cannibalism. Yes, cannibalism. Anthropologists, looking at collapses in civilizations in the past, have found evidence of this. Anasazi resorted to this at the end of their civilization in the late 1200's. Human beings are capable of the most brutal behavior when faced with mass starvation. Just ask the Donner Party.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 03:46:31 PM by Shared Humanity »

Shared Humanity

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2013, 07:10:46 PM »
And now on a humorous note, this is how humanity is approaching our fate.

wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2013, 08:09:39 PM »
Another graph that bodes ill, the world population growth rate, after declining for the last three years, shows a slight uptick this year:

http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?v=24&c=xx&l=en


Year     2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007   2008   2009   2011   2012
World   1.3   1.25   1.23   1.17   1.14   1.14   1.14   1.17   1.19   1.13   1.09   1.1

The actual amount may be be statistically no different from an unchanged figure, but there is certainly no evidence here for the kind of relatively steep declines seen from 2008 to 2011 or from 2000 to 2003.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

johnm33

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2013, 02:53:56 PM »
Whether this is about Fukushima, new pathogens as a consequence of all the microscopic plastic particles, the plastic itself having reached an unthunk threshold, changes to habitat connected to altered weather patterns, a combination of these or something else altogether, I don't know.
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/radiation-seals-sea-lions-polar-bears-bald-eagles-sea-stars-turtles-king-salmon-sockeye-salmon-herring-anchovies-sardines-west-coast-north-americaseals-sea-lions-polar-bears.html

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #41 on: January 01, 2014, 08:39:23 PM »
They had a report about the eagles today and they died of West Nile Virus.  What exactly is that doing in Idaho?

Interesting link on the Sea Star die off.

http://data.piscoweb.org/marine1/seastardisease.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

johnm33

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2014, 08:57:44 PM »
JimD
In the link, quoted from the LA times they say they thought it was probably that virus tested for it and ruled it out.

JimD

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #43 on: January 02, 2014, 04:54:27 PM »
John

You are right the LA Times link does say that, but here is a link which says testing said it was West Nile.  Note I meant to type Utah in the other post not Idaho.

Quote
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said in a statement Tuesday that that laboratory tests done on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile Virus.

http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/12/31/2951453/officials-eagles-deaths-caused.html#storylink=cpy
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

bligh8

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2014, 08:21:44 AM »
A subject strongly related here is the idea of degrowth of the economy.  Here is an interesting article about that issue.

Malign Confusion about Growth, Economic Growth or “Degrowth”: Which Way Forward?  (from Part 2)

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-1.html

Jim
A 6% forced reduction in co2 emissions per year sounds about right….it would be a somewhat controlled decent into pandemonium. 10% or BAU are nearly unthinkable.

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-2.html

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/12/malign-confusion-growth-economic-growth-degrowth-way-forward-pt-3.html

Quote
“De-Growth”:  A Serious Proposal

Lately, climate scientists have stepped into the gap where economists have generally feared to tread and have suggested that intentional “de-growth” is the only hope to stop the rising emissions associated with economic development and growth.  No news to anyone who follows developments in climate science, the earth’s climate is facing tipping points beyond which a recognizable human civilization will be almost impossible to maintain due to the expansion of inhospitable or entirely uninhabitable climate zones, destruction of existing human settlements by water and weather, and the destruction of co-evolved species (including food) upon which we depend.....

Quote
Prior to the recent interest in de-growth, the hope has been that through either a regime of carbon pricing or a massive government program of green investment or both that the developed economies would decarbonize, yielding economic growth with progressively less emissions until such time as economies would grow without adding in net to the earth’s carbon cycle.  No one has suggested that this decarbonization could happen overnight or without initial costs in emissions.  .....  The “market-based” approach of either cap and trade or carbon tax advocates take a more leisurely approach to decarbonization, with a highly unlikely achievement of that goal if at all.  Either way, it is assumed that growth of some sort is the mechanism by which change occurs in capitalist monetary economies, though in the P2M Plan, I posit that the growth is a transitional state to a achieving a steady-state economy....

Quote
While a number of climate scientists have called for direct political action and civil disobedience over the last several years, mainstream climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows of the leading Tyndall Centre in the UK have gone further and called for governments to institute radical and immediate de-growth strategies in wealthy countries to sustain year over year reductions of 10% in carbon emissions.  A recent conference at the Tyndall Center collects a number of proposals along these lines.  Anderson and Bows arrive at the 10% annual reduction number, via a series of calculations based on a 2 degree Celsius maximum warming target and a relative permissiveness towards the developing world to increase emissions for another decade.  They come upon degrowth as the route to 10% per annum reductions via Nicholas Stern’s estimation that economic growth is conceivable only with 3-4% annual emissions reductions via in a decarbonizing economy..   The developing world would have a few years to grow using conventional means until 2025 and then it too would need to “de-grow” or develop on a path that would to zero net contributions to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.....

Quote
...With global warming and the climate crisis we are seeing with an ever more quantifiable basis that the growth of the economy dependent on fossil fuels is becoming tightly coupled with the degradation of the natural basis of human life and the co-evolved life-world.   The buffering capacity of the natural environment to receive, dilute, and transform, the toxic or damaging byproducts of industrial civilization has been diminished and/or its incapability to perform these “ecosystem services” is becoming more apparent....

Quote
...With current and near-future technology, there is a trade-off between immediate degrowth and rapid decarbonization, as building green infrastructure will in an era of emissions-intensive building techniques and materials (like steel and concrete) mean increased emissions attributable to large construction projects.  These emissions might be trimmed by innovative use of materials but we are still looking at a massive construction project.    ..... However, given the historical record and acute crisis the priority of emissions reductions, it is understandable that a serious proposal for radical emissions reductions would focus on economic shrinkage in the developed, some would say “overdeveloped” countries.....

Quote
...While economic growth is integral to capitalism, an already highly unequal socioeconomic system, growth, in particular robust growth of the real economy, is one of the few means by which those with middle and lower incomes can improve their economic positions.  An unequal economy that doesn’t grow or grows slowly is likely to see increases in inequality,....  Hope for the future is often predicated on the possibility of a positive change of one’s personal or family circumstances, into which the economy’s overall growth plays a large role in exciting hopes and planning for a change in life circumstances for the better.

Within a capitalist economic framework, against which no one is proposing a likely and detailed alternative, degrowth of the entire economy is with very high probability going to have differential negative impacts on poor and working people.  While there are and could be a variety of degrowth recommendations, most aim at cutting the excess consumption of the middle- and upper-classes in the developed world by policies that are either mandated by governments or a government-facilitated form of voluntarism in the face of impending disaster.  .... these recommendations overlook the feedback effects of sharp reductions in demand within a monetary economy.  Reduced consumption by the upper- and upper-middle-classes would reduce the currently-weak overall aggregate demand in the real economy even more.  That aggregate demand drives economic activity and if it were to shrink in net, it would lead to shrinkages in incomes from employment, increases in unemployment, and consequently of overall demand even further.   It could only be within the context of a reinforced welfare state that the economic shrinkage envisaged by degrowth advocates would not increase poverty and differentially harm the less wealthy.  It is not accidental that degrowth seems to have its strongest advocates in countries that already possess a substantial welfare state, an economic institution which luckily does not seem to be a target of degrowth advocates.

Anderson and Bows are aware of the potential that degrowth polices they propose would appear indifferent to the lot of the less fortunate in developed countries.  The policies they suggest involve a combination of voluntary and mandated changes in the economy that would differentially effect the well-to-do.  However they seem not to operate with an understanding of the economy, like the climate, as an dynamic system, treating their proposed subtractions from the consumption of the well-to-do as isolated within the economic system.  ....

BAU leads to collapse, Green-BAU leads to collapse, no growth leads to collapse, and degrowth leads to collapse?  Hmmm......

wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #45 on: January 03, 2014, 10:02:12 AM »
We've had deaths here in MN from West Nile (it showed up about ten years ago, iirc), so I wouldn't be surprised if it showed up in Utah (or Idaho, for that matter).

Bligh, did you intend to add a further comment to that quoted piece? In any case, those are different collapses--the rate of degrowth needed at this point may indeed look something like collapse, but it would ideally be a managed, relatively humane collapse of the human capitalist economy.

The other collapses are of the living world and the systems that support it--very different level.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #46 on: January 03, 2014, 11:03:29 AM »
My problem with the term 'de-growth' and the whole idea behind it, is that is still predicated on the arbitrary definition and measurement of GDP. And it is that which will have to change. The whole system needs to change.
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wili

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #47 on: January 03, 2014, 11:18:55 AM »
You're right of course. On the one hand, though, it has to be clear that the path we must take is pretty much diametrically opposed to the path that we have been on. So there is some usefulness in keeping some of the old reference points (such as GDP) for such illustrative purposes.

But ultimately, yes, we need new reference points. Well being indexes are a start. But ultimately I think we have to move to non-exclusively-anthropocentric bases for the economy--an economy must be judged based on whether it leaves a more or less viable planet in its wake, while providing at least minimal services to its human participants (basic health care and education for example).

So far, pretty much all versions of modern industrial societies fail this test in one direction or the other -- or frequently both. (Cuba came the closest in a WWF study a few years back iirc, but I think that was partly because it was going through its 'special period.')
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #48 on: January 03, 2014, 07:06:05 PM »
My problem with the term 'de-growth' and the whole idea behind it, is that is still predicated on the arbitrary definition and measurement of GDP. And it is that which will have to change. The whole system needs to change.

The destruction of a real ecosystem and the irreversible consumption of finite resources with the goal of pursuing an imaginary number derived from an imaginary system, that seems to be the current system.

I'm not quite sure if change is the right word - a new system is needed - it's hard to see how the existing system could be changed into a suitable one without destroying it in the process? (due to the pressures resisting change even on the small scale)

To do so via gradual change strikes me to be about as easy (and probable) as turning a life long old drug addict hunting their next fix on the streets into a top flight neurosurgeon?

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Re: Is the Earth F**cked??
« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2014, 12:40:40 AM »
I watched a documentary called Growthbusters last week. The guy who made the documentary, ran for council of Colorado Springs, and stubbornly kept saying that he was against growth. I like that stubbornness, I'm totally like that myself. But in this case not only was he putting everybody off, even the lefty greenies, he was also wrong in that the problem is not growth per se (hold on, I'm not finished), but GDP growth. If he would've said we need to grow other things, like for instance soil fertility, or grow towards that stationary system that classical economists like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill spoke about, less people would've been put off. 

It's the same for the whole de-growth term, where you try to play by the wrong rules and get nowhere.
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