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Author Topic: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins  (Read 93872 times)

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #250 on: March 22, 2014, 03:13:51 AM »
What I reacted to was perhaps a misunderstanding on my part. It felt that you were suggesting that you, personally, could only go on with business as usual while hoping that we could somehow avoid business as usual regarding CO2 emissions. My point is that each of us going on with business as usual guarantees that BAU with regard to CO2 emissions will also be BAU. We are the demand that defines our economy.

Or perhaps poor communication on my part for that matter.

Each of us needs to allow this new paradigm to guide our purchases. Certainly, in the short run, we need to make choices that reflect our personal situation. I live in Chicago and do not own a car. I am able to do this but someone in the suburbs might not. I never set my thermostat above 64 in the winter. We dress like it's winter, wear sweaters, warm socks inside the house. I have never had air conditioning where I live. In hot weather my family will move outside, take dinner on the shaded porch, sit under the trees that I planted in the yard, drink lots of water. I use no herbicides or pesticides, no artificial fertilizers in my vegetable garden. My yard has been over run by praying mantis, which eat all manner of pests. Some of them are more than 6 inches long. I compost everything, have rain barrels and have installed a French irrigation system under my garden. I avoid plastics and synthetic fabrics, anything made from oil really. I buy all of my dry goods in bulk, legumes, grains, flours, dried fruits etc. I store them in the saved cardboard cans in which I buy my coffee. Most of the glass containers, we reuse. I recycle everything. I use cloth rags instead of paper towels. I eat very little meat. When I do, it is usually for flavor (a bit of ham, bacon, dried fish).

The sort of things that you list - as well as those mentioned on a couple of occasions by Anne in relation to how people of my grandparents generation lived (and parents when they were children I suspect) - I consider very worthwhile.

For that matter, anyone who cuts their impact significantly through personal choice rather than the blunt force of economic adversity in my view is doing especially well. The main reason my lifetime impact is pretty modest is general economic adversity - I cannot be sure I would have made the right choices given a more affluent situation and closer initial integration with my society. Notwithstanding that I have made some degree of such choices latterly (ie I did have choices at some points), I cannot be sure I would have come to the realisation as to which choices were the right ones without being on the margins for so long?

The perspective on the modern world is surely very different from the outside looking in, than it is if you are on the inside surrounded by it?

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #251 on: April 16, 2014, 06:59:10 AM »
tried to tie economical events to the speed of CO2 rise here, it's likely ENSO (and possibly some other oceanic oscillations) effect the speed atmospheric CO2 increases.

http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,66.msg24209.html#msg24209


JimD

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A very good read by Ilargi.

Quote
If we can agree for a moment that there is a very real possibility that we will have both much less capital and less energy available to us in the future, what should we do to define our response to this possibility? The obvious answer would seem to be to scale down, and do that as best we can without causing our societies to crumble because of it. We could take comfort in the knowledge that, despite the huge range of inventions and surge in wealth we have developed over the past 150 years, there is no proof whatsoever that we are happier today than our ancestors were in the Paris of 1900 or Chicago of 1950. We could also acknowledge that our present lifestyles are highly destructive to our habitat, so scaling down would seem to be a good idea from that perspective as well.

Quote
...
The short tenure of the human species marks a turning point in the history of life on Earth. Before the appearance of Homo sapiens, energy was being sequestered more rapidly than it was being dissipated. Then human beings evolved, with the capacity to dissipate much of the energy that had been sequestered, partially redressing the planet’s energy balance.

The evolution of a species like Homo sapiens may be an integral part of the life process, anywhere in the universe it happens to occur. As life develops, autotrophs expand and make a place for heterotrophs. If organic energy is sequestered in substantial reserves, as geological processes are bound to do, then the appearance of a species that can release it is all but assured. Such a species, evolved in the service of entropy, quickly returns its planet to a lower energy level. In an evolutionary instant, it explodes and is gone....

“Today, the extrasomatic energy used by people around the world is equal to the work of some 280 billion men. It is as if every man, woman, and child in the world had 50 slaves. In a technological society such as the United States, every person has more than 200 such “ghost slaves.” to do our work for us.


Quote
Is there really a solid reason, apart from our religious adherence to the equally religious gospel of growth beyond infinity, that would keep us from taking a step back? Are we capable of recognizing the folly of our ideas, and of choosing a different path? That is not an easy question to answer. We certainly are as individuals, but as a group, as a society, different rules apply. Scaling down would collapse our economies, since they depend on ongoing growth – and energy use -. It would also collapse our political systems, which for better or for worse are integral parts of the organization of our societies. This probably means we’re not going to get anywhere in any scaling down efforts if as individuals we stay where we are, if that is a typical American or British or continental European community. Which in turn means most people may switch a light bulb or get a less inefficient vehicle, but that’ll be it, and they’ll stay put. And help David Price’s predictions along.

It’s entirely possible that there is no way out for us. That we are merely a species that evolved to “redress the planet’s energy balance”, and the best we can lay claim to is that we are “an integral part of the life process”. However, again, we’re not gone yet. But we will be if we keep doing what we do. The pinnacle question is whether we can cross the great divide between what we can do as individuals and what we need to do as societies

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-may-18-2014-how-to-redress-the=-planets-energy-balance/
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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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

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http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-end-of-employment.html

Not a bad article, but I think the premise that we are better equipped to deal with collapse this time around is slightly flawed as it's only true while we retain the knowledge and technologies that give us an advantage over those who went before. Our situation is ultimately incomparably worse, I would argue.

The idea of transition (in an employment sense) is also strongly represented in the final conclusions. I think that's seriously flawed - particularly in the developed nations, where people have been conditioned to fit into the corporate machine. Let's face it, if you're desperate it's just as easy to turn to crime as it is to reinvent yourself.

Shared Humanity

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A very good read by Ilargi.

Quote
If we can agree for a moment that there is a very real possibility that we will have both much less capital and less energy available to us in the future, what should we do to define our response to this possibility? The obvious answer would seem to be to scale down, and do that as best we can without causing our societies to crumble because of it. We could take comfort in the knowledge that, despite the huge range of inventions and surge in wealth we have developed over the past 150 years, there is no proof whatsoever that we are happier today than our ancestors were in the Paris of 1900 or Chicago of 1950. We could also acknowledge that our present lifestyles are highly destructive to our habitat, so scaling down would seem to be a good idea from that perspective as well.

Quote
...
The short tenure of the human species marks a turning point in the history of life on Earth. Before the appearance of Homo sapiens, energy was being sequestered more rapidly than it was being dissipated. Then human beings evolved, with the capacity to dissipate much of the energy that had been sequestered, partially redressing the planet’s energy balance.

The evolution of a species like Homo sapiens may be an integral part of the life process, anywhere in the universe it happens to occur. As life develops, autotrophs expand and make a place for heterotrophs. If organic energy is sequestered in substantial reserves, as geological processes are bound to do, then the appearance of a species that can release it is all but assured. Such a species, evolved in the service of entropy, quickly returns its planet to a lower energy level. In an evolutionary instant, it explodes and is gone....

“Today, the extrasomatic energy used by people around the world is equal to the work of some 280 billion men. It is as if every man, woman, and child in the world had 50 slaves. In a technological society such as the United States, every person has more than 200 such “ghost slaves.” to do our work for us.


Quote
Is there really a solid reason, apart from our religious adherence to the equally religious gospel of growth beyond infinity, that would keep us from taking a step back? Are we capable of recognizing the folly of our ideas, and of choosing a different path? That is not an easy question to answer. We certainly are as individuals, but as a group, as a society, different rules apply. Scaling down would collapse our economies, since they depend on ongoing growth – and energy use -. It would also collapse our political systems, which for better or for worse are integral parts of the organization of our societies. This probably means we’re not going to get anywhere in any scaling down efforts if as individuals we stay where we are, if that is a typical American or British or continental European community. Which in turn means most people may switch a light bulb or get a less inefficient vehicle, but that’ll be it, and they’ll stay put. And help David Price’s predictions along.

It’s entirely possible that there is no way out for us. That we are merely a species that evolved to “redress the planet’s energy balance”, and the best we can lay claim to is that we are “an integral part of the life process”. However, again, we’re not gone yet. But we will be if we keep doing what we do. The pinnacle question is whether we can cross the great divide between what we can do as individuals and what we need to do as societies

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-may-18-2014-how-to-redress-the=-planets-energy-balance/

This essay and  the associated excerpts from the author, David Price" says far more eloquently the point I have been making regarding growth systems (capitalism) constrained by a finite resource (earth). Such a system (their are countless examples in nature) have only 2 possible outcomes, achieve a dynamic equilibrium with the finite resource or grow exponentially until collapse. There simply are no other possibilities. Does this mean human extinction? Not necessarily. Nature is replete with examples of alternating booms and busts where a predator population, faced with a seemingly limitless prey population, grows exponentially until the prey population suddenly collapses and this is quickly followed by a collapse of the predators. As prey populations recover, the cycle begins anew.

There is one other thing about growth systems that are constrained by finite resources. If there is a significant lag in the feedbacks in such a system (AGW is just such a feedback) the likelihood of achieving a dynamic equilibrium drops dramatically. Also, if the stocks that are drawn from the finite system replenish very slowly (think fossil fuels and the hundreds of millions of years it took to form) then the rebound from a collapse will be very slow and look entirely different than the initial development. Human civilization, as it rebounds, cannot possibly look like the past 10,000 years.

What is really very spooky about this article is that my name is David Price. I am not that David Price.

Shared Humanity

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http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-end-of-employment.html

Not a bad article, but I think the premise that we are better equipped to deal with collapse this time around is slightly flawed as it's only true while we retain the knowledge and technologies that give us an advantage over those who went before. Our situation is ultimately incomparably worse, I would argue.

The idea of transition (in an employment sense) is also strongly represented in the final conclusions. I think that's seriously flawed - particularly in the developed nations, where people have been conditioned to fit into the corporate machine. Let's face it, if you're desperate it's just as easy to turn to crime as it is to reinvent yourself.

I agree, a great article. I also agree with your feeling that we are not better equipped. This is due, in large part, to the fact that the growth system we now have (the world wide modern industrial society) is more complex than anything that has come before. The larger and more complex a  system is, the more spectacular and devastating is the collapse. Furthermore the more integrated you are in this system, the worse that impact will be.

Think of the Roman Empire, a growth system that spanned the Mediterranean and most  of Europe. When it collapsed, it plunged this area of the world into the dark ages and it took nearly 1000 years to recover. Meanwhile, China was unaffected.

JimD

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What is really very spooky about this article is that my name is David Price. I am not that David Price.

hmmmm.....I thought we found you out!   ;D
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

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I agree, a great article. I also agree with your feeling that we are not better equipped. This is due, in large part, to the fact that the growth system we now have (the world wide modern industrial society) is more complex than anything that has come before. The larger and more complex a  system is, the more spectacular and devastating is the collapse. Furthermore the more integrated you are in this system, the worse that impact will be.

I think that last point - being more integrated in the system and consequently the impact being worse - is what he's getting at. But I think he's ignoring many of the realities of our world, not exactly his fault - his blinkers are a result of his upbringing and social immersion (and age), as we all have to some extent (some more than others).

Consider what he is saying with respect to employment though, and apply it to oneself. Part of what he is saying is that the management classes need to go and the structure to become flatter - fair enough. I've already done that as circumstances prevent me from participating in the local labour market, but it means competing in the global market place - and that means earning a lot less on account of competition from India and China (and having little job security). So my boss is me, but I pay a steep price (even if I do realise other benefits, I don't think they remotely outweigh the cost, I just have no realistic choices).

However, while my expertise (software engineering) may fare better than plenty of other professions - surely there comes a point in the process of collapse and simplification where there are far too many software engineers (one of countless professions supported by the cheap plentiful energy he identifies as underpinning modern civilisation)? That is my one area of arguable expertise, and while there are other things I can do, I have no qualifications in anything (including software engineering), and not a great deal of experience in anything else. The odds of my changing to another profession in the face of competition from people with much greater experience and pieces of paper are therefore pretty small, excepting to find some sort of a strange niche.

So what am I to do, should I become unable to afford to eat?

I have enough experience of poverty to know what the limitations of society are, and can read the writing on the wall well enough to know I would be an absolute fool to trust to the mercy of the "system" as implemented by my society (or any other I might be passing through).

In an ideal world I would control some land and be able to support myself fairly self sufficiently upon it. However the price of land in nations I can legally live is so high that I would have spent far more to do that than I have spent to do what I have done - and therefore it is an option that is simply mathematically unavailable (have never been able to afford to do it, just as I never could afford to buy a house).

That leaves the option of heading into the wilderness to try to survive with my accumulated resources and knowledge, or if unable to decouple from society to that extent - to fall back upon violence for survival. As collapse accelerates, in some senses everywhere could be said to become wild in the sense that law and order will retreat, but there is at least some moral ground (and sensible strategy) to opting out of violence as long (and much) as reasonably possible.

If you take my personal attributes and my resource level and place in society - violence is ultimately an entirely rational choice (especially without sufficient preparations for completely decoupling from society). I'd be curious to know what counter arguments he could make to that.

Think of the Roman Empire, a growth system that spanned the Mediterranean and most  of Europe. When it collapsed, it plunged this area of the world into the dark ages and it took nearly 1000 years to recover. Meanwhile, China was unaffected.

Therein lies a reason it is a worse collapse by far than most previous - it's global in reach - and from a population base previously unprecedented for our species (far more scope for violence, far less places to run and hide).

JimD

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ccg

It may be a skill that you are completely uninterested in or would avoid due to your commitment to fighting AGW, but for someone living on a boat there is and will be for a few decades a need for skilled marine diesel mechanics. I am sure you know this.  A guy with knowledge and on board tools could undoubtedly make some good exchange on the side almost anywhere he goes.

Not to mention the ability to fix/repair a lot of the hardware found on those boats as well.

Just a thought.
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

ccgwebmaster

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It may be a skill that you are completely uninterested in or would avoid due to your commitment to fighting AGW, but for someone living on a boat there is and will be for a few decades a need for skilled marine diesel mechanics. I am sure you know this.  A guy with knowledge and on board tools could undoubtedly make some good exchange on the side almost anywhere he goes.

Well, the question was partly rhetorical in the sense most people haven't taken the choices I have (I would imagine my self sufficiency far greater than most people my age).

I have of course had to learn a little about diesels (and outboards) by virtue of having to fix my own problems, but I'm a very long way from a useful level of expertise. Diesel mechanics are relatively common and easy to find, especially in areas where demand is high. While I imagine it is seldom a show stopper it is technically illegal for one to work for hire/reward in most jurisdictions (it does mean in practice that you cannot safely advertise).

And there are of course quite a few other things I've learned (and have the tools and equipment to do) in the process of working on my boat. However, one is speculating a world where I can't support myself working online as a software engineer - does one really think there will be that much work out there for my much weaker skills by then? Or that there won't be intense competition from countless other people trying to get by? (in general boating as a leisure industry means a lot of the money evaporates in times of economic adversity in any case)

Charter or day trips are similarly legislatively problematic (a pity, my boat is a decent size). In general - for younger people, I feel confident saying I think the world has grown such that we are strangled by regulations and legalities our parents generation had far less of (and their parents even less of again).

Not to mention the ability to fix/repair a lot of the hardware found on those boats as well.

Just a thought.

But you're still projecting from the current time, and just subtracting one element - software engineering. I suspect leisure boating will fade away before the demand for software engineers does.

Of course, someone who hadn't taken such drastic choices would have greater ability to participate in local economies. I guess that's why so many younger people with degrees can be found waiting tables or unemployed now (particularly in certain European nations). That's of course another case in point - what do those people do when they can't even get that job?