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wili

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Creating a viable future path for civilization
« on: January 10, 2014, 05:49:55 AM »
While I have some problems with some elements of this guy's approach (as I would with pretty much anyone's), I do think he is hitting many of the themes often brought up here, with an added psychological dimension we don't always fully address here. The full title of the piece is:

Hope in the Face of Disaster – Creating a sustainable, viable, future path for civilization

(I'll say right up front that I usually avoid any work that has either the words 'hope' or 'sustainable' in the title, since they are usually bs.)

Summary:

Quote
Taking a long term view, this paper explores the many crises that civilization and humanity will face over the coming decades some of which are already starting to have an impact. The paper proposes a central cause to these crises and particularly explores the widespread psychological inertia in the face of these vast problems. Some potential constructive choices that individuals, communities and nations could yet make are outlined.

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-09/hope-in-the-face-of-disaster-creating-a-sustainable-viable-future-path-for-civilisation

So what do I like about it? For one, some of the metaphors, for example in the "Where is civilization heading section" :

Quote
Like the philosopher in the story at the beginning it is useful to take a moment to climb the ‘tallest tree’ and to consider where civilisation is heading. Unfortunately the long term vista is not pleasant. Under the current business as usual economic model we are facing into a series of interrelated crises and global problems that are already beginning to have an impact.

Having spent much of my childhood in or near the tops of trees, I appreciate the metaphor, and it really gets to how little heed we have given to those who have bothered to actually climb the damn knowledge trees to figure out what is coming at us.

Much in the "Why is no one listening?" section is particularly good, too. It is a bit disappointing to see the Kubler-Ross stuff trotted out without much reflection, but that's kind of to be expected, and it is not altogether unuseful here.

The big conflict for me is between: "Honestly Accepting Reality" and "Creating a Positive Vision"--basically the more honest I am about reality to people, the less I am able to create a vision that will look positive. But still, the author has some very quotable statements in the latter section:

Quote
Unless we inspire people to act immediately, even a chance of a sustainable future will be lost. Every day that is passed without changing course makes a survival future less likely. We also have to be realistic about what is achievable. While we cannot avoid two degrees of warming, (which though catastrophic might be survivable) we can do a lot now to avoid four degrees (which will result in wide-spread collapse for human society).

Ultimately, my main problem is with the word "hope." He seems to use it in a different way than is it's common (often manipulative, political) use. For example his V. Havel quote: "Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out." I'm not sure what the Czech word is here, but for most people I know of 'hope' does indeed imply that something can turn out well, and specifically well for the person expressing hope. Hence the absurdity of Kafka's dictum: "There is hope, but not for us."

I think we do, indeed, need a word to express "certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out," but 'hope' does not seem to be a good candidate, to me. Of course, words change meaning all the time, and maybe that can be a new meaning for 'hope'--let's just say I am not very 'hopeful' that such a meaning change can happen quickly without massive confusion.

The other point about 'hope' is that it, like 'success' and many others, is a scalar/empty word. It has no meaning without context--hope for what? There is certainly hope to reduce one's contribution to the problem by some degree. Hope to form community, to come to a clearer understanding of our predicament...But by itself, "hope," like "success," defaults in meaning to "hope" that we can continue BAU.

But I do encourage people to read the whole thing and come up with their own ideas of what is valuable and what is problematic here, practically as well as semantically.

« Last Edit: January 10, 2014, 05:55:39 AM 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."

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2014, 11:41:55 PM »
Interesting life of the maya's in Guatemala.
Challenging the 'tragedy of the commons': new documentary explores how humans and nature can coexist (VIDEO)
http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0820-moll-rocek-48-cantones.html

I have heard there is drough overthere...hope they are doing well...Nice control on ressources and wonderfull philosophy.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 11:55:03 PM by Laurent »

viddaloo

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2014, 05:51:25 AM »
While we cannot avoid two degrees of warming, (which though catastrophic might be survivable) we can do a lot now to avoid four degrees (which will result in wide-spread collapse for human society).

Very quotable indeed. Before I read the paper, however, I have but 2 comments:

  • There is no such thing as stopping at 2 degrees. 2 degrees set off pos. feedback.
  • Collapse of Warrior–Death–Industrial Complex, also known by its more flattering nome de guerre 'Human Society'. To be saved at all cost from collapse?
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wili

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2014, 05:59:21 PM »
Thanks for bumping this, L and v, and for the good points, v.

And I think it's worse than that. I think most people assume that, however much we heat up the planet, when we decide to stop, it will just magically un-heat, all the ice sheets will refreeze, the species driven to extinction will reappear...

We have to get across that every fraction of a degree of increase is nudging the global system closer to a cliff whose bottom we can't see clearly.

Those who do understand this, though, are starting to come to the conclusion that whatever we can still save of the living planet is worth more than the whole of our global toxic Industrial Culture of Annihilation and Mass Extinction.

The sad thing is that there are still a few fairly straightforward behavior/policy changes that would vastly increase the likelihood that we could transition to something much more like a sustainable society--mostly vegan diets, mostly not traveling by ICE, mostly having one kid and only after 30 or so, massively insulating buildings, massively reforesting (and re-prairie-ing) various areas, buying a lot less crap, dethroning the 1%, planned global rapid phase out of coal, oil and gas mining/un-sequestering...

Over all we have to reduce emission by at least 10% a year starting now (ten years ago, at least, really...but time travel is...difficult).

Many of these would have the side benefit of fostering the diversity of life in other ways.

We need a Gimli attitude to face what's coming (1:25):

"Certainly of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?"
"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."

viddaloo

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2014, 06:34:07 PM »
Great answer. Here's what I think: First we (those who discuss this choice) need to agree on the science of the «2 degrees». The way I see it, saying we can settle for just a little bit above 2 degrees warming from Pre–Industrial is like saying we only bring 2 rabbits to Australia.

There's no such thing as just 2 rabbits. (At least if they fancy each other.)

If the concept of 2 degrees leading automatically to 3 degrees, that leads to 4 degrees etc, because of positive feedbacks, if this isn't just hyperbole and exaggeration, meaning if this really is the case, like 95% certain, then we don't even need to have this discussion.

Doing — or attempting very hard to do — all of those sensible things that you mention (going vegan etc etc) will then only be nice for us and our feeling of having done something, but they won't do any good in the real world, other than delaying things for maybe 1 or 5 or 10 years.

Both scenarios suck, of course, but losing 100% of human (and other mammal) populations in in 45 rather than 50 years doesn't make much of a difference.

(Again, I may be wrong here, of course. But do you at least agree that 2 degrees will automatically increase to 3 degrees?)
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Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2014, 11:10:14 PM »
I have no clue if 2°C increase will bring 3...Certainly so because we are right on track to release methane at a massive scale very shortly, if not already seeing the high concentration of methane already there.
What I am seeing is a proportionality between CO2 and T°, so if we had 4,5°C between the bottom of the glacial era and the interglacial (280ppm-180ppm= 100)then we should be set for at least 4,5°C increase since we have double the amount of CO2 (400-280=120) I should count the CO2eq wich is (480-280=200) so instead of 4,5°C we are set for 9°C...(It is certainly not proportional all the way up, I guess) should we continue as we are doing....euhhh no... That's to say we should not rely on a 2100 target (it is a mental trap) but on the equilibrium level. The things to do is what wili did say but most importantly reduce the CO2eq level to an "acceptable"(Still 9 meter of SLR) level wich is certainly around 300 ppm.

Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2014, 03:16:46 PM »
Laurent

One thing to remember wrt CO2 and temperature change is that it isn't linear, it is logarithmic. Comparable temp rise for each doubling of CO2.

So 180 -> 280 is 0.55 of a doubling.
280 -> 400 is 0.43 of a doubling. So not quite glacial cycle changes yet - that's only 10 years away :'(

And the glacial cycle is more like 6-10 Deg C

However that takes time and amplifying factors. And in our current climate the amplifying factors aren't quite as strong as during the exit from a glacial. There was SO MUCH ice back then that albedo changes due to ice retreat was a huge amplifier. Today, while the ice/albedo feedback is still present it isn't as strong since our starting point is less ice.

So done with the, relatively, optimistic stuff. Now the pessimistic.

Who cares what SLR etc will be - we can move and live in tents. The only metric that truely matters is food supply - everything else is just inconvenience. And collapse of food supply is THE driver of civilization collapse.

And in the current world, a significant proportion of our food supply is dependent on the maintenance of our civil/legal/technological/energy systems. How much food would we be able to grow today if we had a 18th century society?

So this is the death spiral (to be prevented at all costs)

- AGW (magnifying other pressures) degrades food supply.
- As a consequence civil/legal/technological/energy declines ensue. As a consequence capacities to adapt to AGW in food supply are curtailed and yields drop further.
- As a consequence civil/legal/technological/energy declines ensue. As a consequence capacities to adapt to AGW in food supply are curtailed and yields drop further.
- As a consequence civil/legal/technological/energy declines ensue. As a consequence capacities to adapt to AGW in food supply are curtailed and yields drop further.
- As a consequence civil/legal/technological/energy declines ensue. As a consequence capacities to adapt to AGW in food supply are curtailed and yields drop further.

... do I need to paint a picture?

The food supply impact on civilization is THE consequence.

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2014, 09:15:26 PM »
Glenn, I know it cannot be linear. But when I  am seeing the past datas, I clearly see a linearity (see my attachment circled in black) and the difference of temperature is really 4,5°C. I am not saying it will be 9°C for sure but I am very very suspicious of 2°C claims. We have to speak in term of equilibrium. Do you have past datas that can argument a bit ? If it is before the million year, the milankovitch cycle was different so it is highly probable to me that the proportionality between temp and CO2 was different so we'll have to convert using energy (W/m2?) if you have something of that kind, it would be great. that may seem inappropriate for the thread , a bit technical, but that question is fundamental to say what is a viable future. removing the cities along the coasts is not a viable future for me...

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2014, 05:16:41 PM »

ritter

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2014, 07:14:51 PM »
On Climate and the Environment, New York Is Leading Where Washington Fails
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-t-schneiderman/new-york-climate-change_b_5761700.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

Laurent,

The political constipation at the federal level here in the US is disgusting. States and local governments have been left to do what needs to be done at a national and international level. Perhaps some states, counties and cities will produce a working model that can be upscaled to national and international. We here in California are working the problem. If you're interested, take a look here:
http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/


Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2014, 05:14:55 PM »
I encourage you to see the link published by geoffbeacon :
http://www.apollo-gaia.org/Climate_Sensitivity.htm
https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,192.msg36150.html#msg36150

It does explain what seems to me a good approach of the climate sensiblity.

Quote
In private conversations, Hansen and Schellnhuber, both affirm that equilibrium temperature increase should not be allowed to rise significantly beyond that already achieved. In the light of the new value for
ESS that would imply that total anthropogenic forcing from all sources would have to be reduced from its
present value to the equivalent of a concentration of just under 300 ppm of atmospheric CO2.

To me 300 ppm comes with the fact that we did never reach above 300 ppm in the past million year. If we want a viable futur we need to stabilize the temperature at a stable level. (hard to grow food when the climate change).
We can be cynical about the Sea Level Rise but still a 9 meters change seen in the past is something we have to expect (at 300 ppm). We are not heading toward that, far away, once the Arctic is melted (in winter), we can expect a run away process. Also being at 300 ppm (with an arctic system), does give us the ability to temper the different possible energy excess, wich is very important in term of climate stability.

Quote
If the analysis of climate dynamics presented in this paper cannot be refuted, then it becomes imperative
that we move collectively, as a global civilisation, towards the total cessation of any and all activity that
increases the net radiative imbalance of the planetary climate system, or that profits from so doing. The strategic imperative applies equally to the reduction of the current concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases to the equivalent of c. 300 ppm of CO2e within a timeframe set by the thermal dynamics of the planetary climate system.
This has nothing to do with the availability or profitability of fossil energy, nor even political feasibility.
It is now an issue of survival in conditions of global crisis.

Letting the Green house gazes in the atmosphere is not acceptable we need to stop emmiting and absorb as quickly as possible.
David Wasdell
« Last Edit: September 08, 2014, 06:19:10 PM by Laurent »

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2014, 08:11:31 AM »
So this is the death spiral (to be prevented at all costs)

At all costs?

What if the cost of attempting to do so is to destroy the quality of life for the rest of humanity for the rest of human history? Is that really so acceptable? We've destroyed the future quite enough already.

I see little (if anything) in the operation of modern civilisation that seems to me to be worth causing additional damage to the future. Sometimes, one creates a mess so bad perhaps it really is better to just shrug and start over.

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2014, 05:47:19 PM »
Quote
From a moral perspective, equality cannot be a choice or a luxury of the most privileged societies. It must be a non-negotiable priority. In the face of unprecedented global change, we strive to build a resilient world. This will only be possible if we relentlessly pursue equality in every corner of our society.

The Gender Bias of Global Warming

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/parker-liautaud/the-gender-bias-of-global_b_5849686.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green
« Last Edit: September 20, 2014, 05:55:10 PM by Laurent »

Bob Wallace

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2014, 02:45:22 AM »
Quote
I see little (if anything) in the operation of modern civilisation that seems to me to be worth causing additional damage to the future.

So you'd throw away modern medicine, information technology, housing, transportation, food production and head back to the cave then start over?

How about we recognize the value of the good stuff we have, the damage we are currently causing, and work to eliminate and repair the damage?  Doesn't that seem a lot less work and a lot less painful?

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2014, 05:20:48 AM »
So you'd throw away modern medicine, information technology, housing, transportation, food production and head back to the cave then start over?

Note my use of the word modern. Civilisations of the past have been far more successful (at least in terms of longevity) than the one we live in today and had solutions to most (if not all in some guise) of those problems.

You also describe a world that a large proportion of people, probably a majority, do not experience today. Some proportion of humanity sitting affluently consuming a majority of the resources of the world may enjoy them - but if you ask someone who hasn't got them how strong a need they feel to continue them for those others who do... think they'd be so concerned? If you don't have those things, you don't have so much to lose, do you?

Bob Wallace

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2014, 05:32:54 AM »
Not everyone gets all the benefits at the same time.  Some benefits have spread to all.  No one has to worry about smallpox and even polio is almost absent from the planet.

Each year more people have access to decent medical care, communications and electricity.  The percentages go up, not down.

If you dwell on the part of the glass that is not yet full you may miss the part that is being filled.

wili

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2014, 03:53:07 PM »
"head back to the cave"

Cave??

Really??

Can we at least try to avoid such extremely tired cliches?

(Besides which, cave can be quite nice and comfy!  ;D)
"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."

Bob Wallace

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2014, 05:57:50 PM »
How about suggesting some rested cliches one can use for the stupid idea of tossing all our progress away and starting from scratch.

Crouching on a tree branch on the edge of the savanna?


wili

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2014, 11:35:32 PM »
"Crouching on a tree branch on the edge of the savanna?"

Much nicer!  ;D
"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."

Bob Wallace

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2014, 06:19:23 AM »
Should have been "at the edge".


Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2014, 10:19:40 PM »
Unless the UN is willing to get tough on countries like Canada and Australia wrt GHG emissions (see the following link); then how can they form an effective plan to create a viable future path for civilization?

http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140923/canada-australia-axis-carbon-obstacle-climate-pact
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2014, 10:53:52 PM »
Australia, Canada...UK (you can add France, US...)

Shale gas part of solution to climate change, David Cameron says
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/11114583/Shale-gas-part-of-solution-to-climate-change-David-Cameron-says.html

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2014, 03:30:11 AM »
"Crouching on a tree branch on the edge of the savanna?"

Much nicer!  ;D

Let's hope we (younger generations) and our descendants are fortunate enough to continue to enjoy trees and savanna.

morganism

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2014, 12:05:44 AM »
interesting comments down below article , really show how many people think we should solve problems here first, and a lot think there is no danger.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2014/09/08/where-build-off-world-colonies/

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2014, 06:16:10 PM »
Is Alaska the new Florida? Experts predict where next for America's 'climate refugees'
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/28/america-climate-refugees-us-population-shift-rising-temperatures

Floods, forest fires, expanding deserts: the future has arrived
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/28/climate-change-has-arrived-global-warming-icecaps-deserts
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 06:22:07 PM by Laurent »

Bob Wallace

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #26 on: September 28, 2014, 11:33:26 PM »
If I had the time left to start over I'd consider relocating to the Oregon coast. 

Saying that as someone on along the CA coast which has experienced a few drought years. 

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2014, 07:32:56 PM »
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 07:38:25 PM by Laurent »

Laurent

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Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #29 on: October 03, 2014, 01:59:14 PM »
May interest Us people.
Local Communities Dismantling Corporate Rule, part 1

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #30 on: October 06, 2014, 04:46:31 PM »
The Transition to Renewable Energy is Difficult but Feasible
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/the-transition-to-renewab_b_5938540.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

I am for abolishing Oil, gaz and nuclear right know no matter what the consequences are...we have no time for soft transition. Well ok, Let say 5 years transition...(I don't want to be a politician now)...

Tackling global warming will improve health, save lives, and save money
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/oct/06/tackling-global-warming-improve-health-save-lives-money
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 04:58:59 PM by Laurent »

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2014, 06:36:59 PM »
The way to the future passes through Rotterdam at Informed Cities conference
The City of Rotterdam (The Netherlands) will host the 4th Informed Cities Forum, themed “Which way to the future?
http://www.iclei-europe.org/news/?cmd=search&direct_search_param[month]=201410#nfddfac57

Laurent

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Re: Creating a viable future path for civilization
« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2014, 09:18:28 AM »
Good Jobs or Healthy Planet? We Can Have Both
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chuck-collins/good-jobs-or-healthy-plan_b_6005156.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

I am not sure that is possible, let's try... quickly !