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Author Topic: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins  (Read 98484 times)

SATire

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #50 on: January 22, 2014, 07:35:28 PM »
Meanwhile, here's another response to Holmgren/Hopkins...
Thank you for that very interesting article. Unfortunately, some things are a bit difficult to understand for me - maybe cultural things make it even worse again. The philisophical part is not part of the problem (of course) and I like the line from Marx to Peak Oil narrative. Funny, that the Marx-followers sit in US these days ;-) Strange to read that Peak Oil was considered a problem and not climate change...
 
But I could not understand what "Transition Movement" is - is that what some poeple here call "green BAU"? Something similar to European green liberals who try to live on smallest footprints and trying to explain others how to live?

And where does this idea of "violence" fits in the last paragraph? Is that "deconstruction" something similar to early days "Luddite" and maybe similar to Germans still Romantic relationsship to nature and the resulting fighting things like acid rain and nuclear? But it is sounding much more dangerous than that...

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #51 on: January 22, 2014, 07:43:52 PM »
I'm glad you found it interesting.

Quote
But I could not understand what "Transition Movement" is - is that what some poeple here call "green BAU"? Something similar to European green liberals who try to live on smallest footprints and trying to explain others how to live?

More like the latter. I think of 'green BAU' as just middle class folks not making much change except changing light bulbs and buying a prius SUV and assuming that alternative energy is going to (or already has) done the rest. My experience with Transition Movement is that they are people who are really trying to live as if the earth existed--radically downscaling their footprints and doing a lot of work to get others to do the same, while trying to strengthen community resilience in various ways. I learned recently that it sprang from the permaculture movement.

Holmgren is one of the founders of permaculture, and Hopkins (one of his students, iirc) basically started the Transition Town Movement.

I think the use of the term 'violence' here is misplaced, unless one thinks (as some here seem to) that removing support from a deeply violent system is itself an act of violence.

The original Holmgren article that the others are ultimately responses to called on people in the Permaculture and Transition movements to move themselves and get as many others as they could to radically accelerate their trajectory away from the finance economy and toward resilient, cooperative self-reliance. But now with the specific goal of depriving the national and global financial system of enough assets that it could trigger a general collapse of the whole system. This is the goals that some described as 'violent.'

I see it as simply recognizing that one is involved in violence by participating in such a system, and on that recognition, removing ones support from that system. The system itself has baked violence into the cake no matter what.

It's as if a suicide bomber has locked a bunch of people into a building with some explosives taped to his body. He (=the system) is telling the people in and outside the building that if they don't give him more explosives, he is going to set himself off and take down a lot of people with him.

If one refuses to give this idiot more explosives, is that itself a violent act? I don't happen to think so, though of course some violence may (or may not) happen due to it. What is clear is that giving the dude ever more explosives makes ever more violence ever more probable/inevitable.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 08:35:14 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."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2014, 09:03:52 PM »
My 2c's. Every attempt at civilization has developed a system similar to the social insects. [Must be something in game theory that covers this] A central powerful ruler, a warrior/police caste and an actively befuddled worker caste serving the system rather than their own interests. At every attempt the sociopathic genes have increased, way beyond the numbers that made sense in a hunter-gathering group. Unfortunately another artifact of our evolution is that we're adapted to have about 150 relationships, [in an extended group of maybe 750?]. So we all end up living in disconnected bubbles along with our 'social equals' and each group develop their own self serving world view. What with universal surveillance and the msm propaganda we stand on the brink of the most profound choice that we could make as a species, no more conscious of it than unfolding extinction event we've brought down on ourselves.

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #53 on: January 22, 2014, 09:26:49 PM »
Wili  The last link is a great find and I am sucked into starting what is likely to be a long response to it (this is your fault btw  :P  I find that I have some very profound alternative outlooks (disagreements I guess) to the article.  But I really liked it in any case as it really has made me think and focus on why I think otherwise.  More later if I have the energy.

ccg  I also want to respond to your last and will try and get to it as soon as I have time.
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

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #54 on: January 22, 2014, 09:47:35 PM »
Mea Culpa!   :D

Ah, the joys and tribulations of the life of the mind.

Get energy where you can, and do share your thoughts. I had a similar reaction to the piece--thought provoking but also disagreement provoking.
"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."

AndrewP

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #55 on: January 23, 2014, 07:29:34 AM »
This just seems to substitute one hopeless plan (green lifestyle and public policy) with another (intentionally collapsing the financial system).

Neither plan is likely to occur in the short to medium-term future because you could never get enough people committed to either solution. The former requires sacrifice but prevents the worst costs of AGW, the latter causes chaos and collapse of civilization.

So all that one is doing is substituting one very difficult to attain solution with another even more difficult to attain solution that isn't really a solution.

jonthed

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #56 on: January 23, 2014, 03:50:17 PM »
Very interesting discussion everyone, thank you all for the time you’ve put into articulating your thoughts.

I’m afraid I might not have much to contribute but I did want to pick up on the point about current population levels being unsustainable, and that suffering and death of millions (billions?) was inevitable.

Sure, the consumerist economy and all the products associated with it may not be able to be sustained at its current level, let alone at a level where all the world’s population has been elevated to the same standard of living, but necessities, particularly food, should be within our capabilities, without even needing to go vegan.

Firstly, I’m sure it has been stated many times that we could eliminate hunger already, if only the food would not be wasted and could be distributed fairly. But regardless of this fact…

Allon Savory is trying very hard to get people to adopt holistic practises when it comes to land management and the raising of livestock. His Savory Institute (http://www.savoryinstitute.com/) uses grazing practices that are organized in a way that mimics nature, allowing for huge herds that actually help the depleted grasslands replenish and thrive, (reversing desertification), and be capable of sustaining much more biomass and livestock than current farming practices allow, and even altering the ecology of the landscape to retain water better and develop year round streams and wetlands. If these techniques are adopted worldwide, the restoration of so much land to good agricultural land capable of sustaining huge numbers of livestock as well as providing opportunities for holistic crop and vegetable growing, would be an incredible boost to our food growing capacity.

Perhaps more importantly, it would also serve to sequester a huge amount of carbon, not just in the biomass of the new plants and animals supported, but in the continued enrichment and growth of the soil.

Another kind of projects coming at the food problem from the technology angle are vertical farming and the Sahara Forest Project (http://saharaforestproject.com/). Vertical farms could be built on a grand scale in or near cities by the hundred, making the cities practically self-sufficient for food. The Sahara Forest Project has demonstrated that using only sunlight and saltwater, they can grow food, make drinking water, renewable electricity and biofuels as a profitable enterprise in the desert. If this was scaled up and seawater pipeline infrastructure developed huge areas of desert could be turned to useful food production with a potentially negative carbon footprint.

Both of these technological approaches would require a huge investment, but if it’s profitable then it could happen, or a strong government could make it happen anyway if it was needed. Eitherway, it is possible.

Then if we also stop using fertile land to grow crops used for livestock feed (no longer necessary with the holistic approach) or biofuel, we would have even more arable land to put to use feeding humans.

All together, the food production capacity of this planet could be massively increased.

Biofuels will soon be able to replace petrol and even jet-fuel, and will be able to be made from algae bio-fuel plants using only brownfield sites and saltwater.

Plastics will likewise be able to be made from algae.

3D printing will make most international shipping unnecessary.

Electricity can of course be wholly renewable.

We could build and build (tech-farms, algae-farms, renewable power), and be able to sustain an ever increasing number of people, without increasing our geographical footprint, and in fact even letting the amazon and other devastated ecosystems regenerate and return to the natural state and original size.

We are only limited by the actual raw materials on the planet, namely carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

The technologies we need to facilitate our modern way of life and standard of living for the whole human race are already here or very nearly. We only need for there to be a concerted effort to make these become our dominant technologies and methods. This could even be purely market driven, with government incentives or a carbon tax, or simple consumer choice, after all, these technologies are going to be cost competitive soon, and a good investment for forward thinking companies.

What I’m trying to say is this, we can feed the planet and elevate standard of living for everyone, sustainably and without sacrificing diet or lifestyle. And we could even combat climate change at the same time. This could be achieved without a massive collapse and within the current capitalist framework. Or it could be forced through strong government action.

Whether or not we’ll ever even start on that path is another matter. Even though the technology is within reach, the political will to take hold of it may never materialise in time. We could well see global food crises and famine and civil unrest and government crackdowns all over the world, and the kind of collapse you have been talking about. But it’s not the only possibility.

So, I am optimistic that the technological solutions are at hand. I am pessimistic that they will be adopted with any speed. But I am optimistic that they will win out in the end due to basic market forces, despite efforts from the vested interests. Only a few industries would crash. The governments and economies would survive intact (unfortunately) but a collapse will have been avoided and mankind can proceed into a clean, renewable, sustainable future. Not some backward carrot-growing pre-industrial feudal existence. So I think I could live with that.

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #57 on: January 23, 2014, 04:43:14 PM »
jonthed

I won't disrupt this thread with a detailed response, but as I read through your post I don't think there was any point in it which I could substantially agree with.  As the post more properly belongs in the Agriculture thread or the population threads you might want to review the posts there which discuss almost all of your points in detail.  And then if you still feel that way repost your comments there.  But when you say you are an optimist that surely is an understatement. Thanks for joining the discussions.
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: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #58 on: January 23, 2014, 04:55:40 PM »
ccg

Quote
Therefore I'm arguing that while the general principle of rule by the strong is too much of human nature to do much about - there is nonetheless potentially a lot of latitude within that to work, to build an ideology that constrains everyone (just as the ideology of money even constrains the wealthiest and most powerful people today - and in some respects constrains them even more thoroughly than those with less), and that represents something more ethically noble than simple brute force.

At the foundation of civilisation, I suppose I see ideology, which is something we can do an awful lot about (at least in theory). It must fit human nature - but there is plenty of wriggle room in there if you look at the details and historic examples. Inasmuch as the sheep usually follow regardless, one is perhaps concentrating mostly upon the ideology that binds the strong?

I too share your dreams of a society structured along moral and ethical principals.  Where there is equity, fairness, equal treatment, a sense of responsibility, a recognition that many of our most common weaknesses are not in our best interests, and is a place where we are safe and secure and happy.  Is there an ideology which is based upon these goods or can there be one?  I don't know, but these ideals have always been in our thoughts and dreams and nothing has ever really come of them along the lines of what you speak.

I do not believe that society is set on an ideological foundation.  Many ideologies are resident in any society (or civilization) with one or occasionally more being in positions of dominance.  Capitalist ideology is clearly the dominant one of our time by any measure.  Capitalism however is not the foundation of society which I would argue is actually an institutional representation of the sum of the behaviors which comprise human nature.  Human nature has no ideology as it is not a reasoned rational set of behaviors or beliefs.  Capitalism is just a narrative which has successfully addressed a large enough set of the individual sub-conscious components of our basic human nature that it has risen to dominance.  These ideological narratives have come and gone throughout history with various levels of success.  Capitalism of course is hugely successful, perhaps more than any previous ideology.  It is certainly turning out to be a spectacular failure and bears the most responsibility for the mess we are currently in.  Not that we would not have figured out how to get in this mess absent capitalism as all it is doing is triggering an effective set of our basic human responses which would have led us here in any case.

Can an ideology be created which provides a structure supporting  the desired human behavior described above.  I would say yes.  Could it have the narrative power to rise to dominance amongst other competing ideologies.  Perhaps.  One might suppose that Capitalism will fall out of favor some time in the coming years as its inadequacies might become generally evident.  Though that would take some doing as it so effectively maps our basic nature.

Quote
The issue is not necessarily rule by the strong - but rather the metric that we use to determine strength, and the ideologies and behaviours adopted by a society (and this is important - it is not just the very wealthiest and most powerful who have destroyed the future at this time - but most people doing their little bit).

One must work within the constraints of human nature, certainly. Does that mean a small group of people will be headed by the strongest? Yes - most likely. But even here the question of how that strength is assessed comes into play. Do we mean the physically strongest? The most intelligent? The most effective at socially networking and persuading people? The most suited in terms of knowledge and skills?

But I must say that the above discussion has to be considered in a different light as well.  It would seem we are far beyond the point where a competing ideological narrative has time to be designed and promoted throughout civilization where it could compete and win dominance.  While a worthy ideal it might have to wait for when the dust settles.  Parts of the train we are on have already left the tracks and we are inevitably going to stack the cars up in a big pile. 

We have in essence already made our decisions for the foreseeable future on what metric we use to pick our leaders...our strong men to rule.  Sure the strongest rise to the top and given that our leaders in today's world do not go out onto the fields with sword and prove their mettle in physical battle we can be certain that their self selection (as that is what it always is) has parts of all of your criteria.  Physical strength and courage never hurt of course and may sometime in the future once again have more prominence than now.  But for now it is a different kind of courage they possess along with the typical traits of ruthlessness and tendencies towards brutality.

Quote
Today we mean the richest. By any measure of strength I would value, that is worthless. There is only limited correlation between that wealth and any of the other attributes (indeed much of the wealth of the richest was originally gained through criminal or immoral behaviour if seen through the eyes of the present day world they now dominate - eg drugs, slavery, war crimes, etc).

I have trouble accepting that all of the people you describe above have none of the strengths you value.  I would posit that some of them are among the most effective genius's we have produced.  Many have great intellect, tremendous courage to follow their instincts, and are among the most persuasive people there are.  But as people like Hitler and Stalin have shown us having great capabilities does not mean you are an admirable person or interested in the general welfare of your fellow citizens. 

 
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

Bruce Steele

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #59 on: January 23, 2014, 05:09:52 PM »
"Only a few industries would crash. The governments and economies would survive intact (unfortunately) but a collapse will have been avoided and mankind can proceed into a clean, renewable, sustainable future. Not some backward carrot-growing pre-industrial feudal existence. So I think I could live with that."
Jonthed, I think you are dreaming. Both JimD and I are "carrot-growers" and I am sure Jim would find that last sentence as insulting as I do. Pasture management is completely dependent on rainfall so although rotating stock is preferable, and not the least bit original, to overgrazing it is never going to feed the world. The vertical farm stuff is pure fantasy.
 Before well meters were mandated we had ( acres / crop) calculators to figure water use from agriculture wells. I used to pay for 9 acre feet of water to irrigate ~ 5 acres of crops with the calculator but after putting a meter on my well I paid for 3 acre feet of water used last year. So I use about a third of what wasteful flood or sprinkler systems use. Pasture demands those types of wasteful water practices because drip-tape just won't work. Pumping out of wells will also preclude most pasture or livestock so the area where livestock rotations work is limited to areas with substantial
and consistent rainfall. So write off most of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona , etc. for the "Savory" plan.
 I guess if you can ignore most of the comments up thread on what is going to happen as we plummet off the cheap energy curve that has pushed human populations far past carrying capacity then you can believe what you choose. I have always been a backward carrot growing feudal type so lots of luck on feeding yourself with fantasy .
     

JackTaylor

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #60 on: January 23, 2014, 06:32:59 PM »
Quote
jonthed: Reply #56;
"All together, the food production capacity of this planet could be massively increased."
You "could" be correct.  Here, have another bowl of rice for your hunger.
How about some ladies' fingers (okra) cooked in palm oil?  Reasonable hot climate crops.

Just think when a method to avoid crashing turns research dollars away from animal feed and fuel crops you will probably see what amounts to a substantial increase in food availability.  Research available on this - looking for my reference(s).

What are people going to eat when issued a 'Ration Yard' for only about one-pound or one-half-kilo of animal protein per month?  Going to roll-over and starve refusing to change dietary preferences?

« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 10:38:00 PM by JackTaylor »

SATire

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #61 on: January 23, 2014, 09:09:48 PM »
The different culture thing again?

I can understand some of the critics aboye aiming at jonthed - you may discuss each and every point in his long list and you could come to a more pessimistic conclusion. But I think he is right that mankind easily could do it but probably refuses to try it. And I think he is also right that even a survival based on future technology miracles would be more probable than 50% of the poeple agreeing on a planned collapse - the latter is totaly unrealistic and sounds like a pipe dream.

As an example - let me take a look at the place where I live:
* High population density - but not very much higher than 100 years ago. So - why should it collapse or why should we starve if we go back even to energy consumption 100 years ago?
 
* We can savely assume, that the 100% renewable energy scenario would result in about twice of todays energy costs (based on existing technology - no breakthroughs needed). Why should we starve with double energy costs? Just put a bit less into consume and then another bit and that is it. It would still be much more comfortable than 100 years ago. Even easy-going "green BAU" would work out better much better than the collapse.

* Why should anybody go for a planned collapse in such situation? Never will you get 50% of the poeple for that crazy plan - so forget it. You may forget any plan without at leat 50% of the poeple. One would have to take Hitlers way again towards his planned collapse - but nobody will follow that way again.

I mean - hey, energy will be more expensive. So - pay a bit more for that and buy less other stuff. "Economy" will not die because of that - since poeple will not die. Just do a bit de-growth like in Japan, South Europe (and Germany 10 years back) and let us repeat that 5-10 times. OK - you probably will stopp growing crops in places like California or Saudi Arabia - but that would be common sense. In such case the Japanese will have to grow their own grass for their feeding Kobe cows instead of buying cheap virtual water from the Californian desert...

To conclude: Try to get the poeple to start some action. Getting more and more radical just will disgust everybody and you can not make it with anyone. That is my answer to Homgren: All that whining is only killing any action. You probably will call me optimistic and naive again - but we did proove that we can survive much harder times than expensive energy and things.

Bruce Steele

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #62 on: January 23, 2014, 10:24:48 PM »
Satire, I think farming with low energy inputs demands enormous labor inputs. I think refrigeration,transportation,and electrical costs for wells requires energy costs that the rest of BAU supports. I don't honestly know if a population that changes to a much higher number of farm laborers would find enough land close enough to large population centers to keep the cities fed.
I am in a small way trying to answer those questions by growing and selling locally and trying to keep track of energy inputs and crops( energy) produced. The fact that I am experimenting with things that are potentially relevant to how we are all suppose to be living within the next 50 years should bother people more than it does. I don't know how anyone can really talk about how secure our food system is unless they really honestly look at EROEI. What are the energy costs for the food you eat? 
 If I understand Holmgren he is saying that if enough people walked away, quit buying things, fed themselves, and lived very small, the economic system would collapse. That however is pure conjecture that I don't personally believe is happening even with large numbers of people already there. For me that argument is less relevant than how we work ourselves off of our fossil fuel dependence?  We are suppose to radically reduce our ff use.. Farming will not somehow be exempted.
 I think doing the very things Holmgren promotes ,live small etc.,are commendable ,moral ,and they will most certainly result in lots of poverty. There are worse things going on than poverty however.
I am a carrot grower now and if become very poor I will still be a carrot grower...  And that my friend is optimism.     

SATire

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #63 on: January 23, 2014, 11:16:42 PM »
Bruce, I think I am with you. One should go the way that one is a bit familiar and used to. Therefore, any kind of "BAU" could work until it does not depend on holes in the ground or CO2 in the air. "Green BAU" or "carrot BAU" could do the trick similarily. And if you say "collapse" just means the transition to such reasonable acting, I am totally with you again. But if you would say collapse goes with several billions dead poeple I would be out - of course.

Probably at different places with different poeple different ways are appropriate. E.g. labor intense "carrot BAU" without fossil-based fertilizers are a way, if a lot of poeple are going to move from cities to rural live - so it could fit at such places, since it makes sense. My conclusion is - stopp fighting between the different sustainable BAUs and let us try all doable things. And let us tell Holmgren to stopp whining and keep on working. We need the poeple with our future and not against it.

JackTaylor

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #64 on: January 23, 2014, 11:22:17 PM »
Quote
Satire: Reply #61;
"Why should we starve with double energy costs?"

Agree.  We will change our dietary habits before we starve.  The will to live (survive) is very strong.

Reduction of "Tillable Agriculture Land (TAG)" could cause a crash.

For example, desalinated water costs approximately double current conventional sources (ground extraction or surface reservoir storage), but the largest part of cost of desal is energy, renewable's could become a very convenient marriage.  Presents a problem for disposable of 'brine salt'.

As long as it's possible for a Corporate Profit to be made feeding masses of people it will be done.

BTW, industrial fertilizer (nitrogen component),  is CH4 Methane Gas a substantial part of it ?  Can more be easily recovered from warming of higher latitudes?   


Neven

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #65 on: January 23, 2014, 11:32:48 PM »
Quote
If I understand Holmgren he is saying that if enough people walked away, quit buying things,

I am trying this in my own way, and I can tell you it's very, very difficult. Unless you want to revert to medieval lifestyles, which I don't even see the hippies I know do.
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

ccgwebmaster

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #66 on: January 24, 2014, 06:37:17 AM »
If I understand Holmgren he is saying that if enough people walked away, quit buying things, fed themselves, and lived very small, the economic system would collapse. That however is pure conjecture that I don't personally believe is happening even with large numbers of people already there. For me that argument is less relevant than how we work ourselves off of our fossil fuel dependence?  We are suppose to radically reduce our ff use.. Farming will not somehow be exempted.

I really ought to make time to read through the original links etc - but the impression I get from what you say above is that he's advocating people with the money to buy land and retreat from the system do so? He is offering nothing for those unable to obtain their own land with which to grow food upon? Save perhaps to seize their food from whatever source they could if they were not participating within the system that virtually enslaves everyone?

That is to say that for most people to totally non participate within the system (and surely he himself participates within it significantly) is to court starvation or conflict (with the system). There are little details like food, shelter, water - that the system controls people through, that you can only get independently of the system by participating in the damn thing in the first place.

The system also controls the land for permaculture. To buy land - you participated within the system. You depend upon the same system to enforce your ownership of that land (and by implication the exclusion of other people from it).

Isn't it contradictory to advocate collapsing the system in this context? What does he think replaces it? If the system is brought down - or collapses of it's own accord - there are consequences, even for those who think they left it...

I think doing the very things Holmgren promotes ,live small etc.,are commendable ,moral ,and they will most certainly result in lots of poverty. There are worse things going on than poverty however.

Those things are commendable - but they only make sense in the context of transition, don't they? Isn't there a supposition that it is viable to transit to a new system (without absolute disintegration in between) to strongly advocate such things?

Certainly there must be a selective assumption that you can collapse the economic system and people practising permaculture could retain their land ownership and protection from those without that type of economic wealth?

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #67 on: January 24, 2014, 04:51:21 PM »
ccg

I think you need to read Holmgren's article as you are missing a big part of what Holmgren is saying. 

Holmgren's article is a break with his previous work with permaculture and his association with the Transition Town movement.  It appears that he has come to the realization that Green-BAU approaches like the Transition Town movement and his more fundamental Permaculture movement are an insufficient path to bringing us out of this complex mess we find ourselves in (such a conclusion is old news to most of us - SATire and jonthed being exceptions from their recent posts).

As such he is openly contemplating a radical departure from his previous work in that he is starting to advocate "deliberately" collapsing the economic system (and thus the whole system) with all the pain and suffering it implies.  We would just accept the consequences and try and pick up the pieces.  Not a new idea at all as many here have suggested that instigating a deliberate crash now is the best long-term solution in terms of taking responsibility and suffering the consequences for our own actions is more moral and it would also leave more resources for future generations to live off of.

Holmgren has capitulated.  He has finally seen enough data to become convinced (like a lot of us are) that there is no path forward of any kind which assumes that any version of BAU is followed and if our modern complex civilization is continued. 

His chosen method to cause this collapse, in my opinion and that of many others, is completely impractical and would not work.  But that is sort of beside the point as the real news is his conversion and advocacy of immediate deliberate collapse.
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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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #68 on: January 24, 2014, 05:25:03 PM »
The different culture thing again?

I don't think so this time.  Unless you are meaning that from the philosophical perspective that some things are too horrible to think about and thus are exempt from the discussion.

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I can understand some of the critics aboye aiming at jonthed - you may discuss each and every point in his long list and you could come to a more pessimistic conclusion. But I think he is right that mankind easily could do it but probably refuses to try it. And I think he is also right that even a survival based on future technology miracles would be more probable than 50% of the poeple agreeing on a planned collapse - the latter is totaly unrealistic and sounds like a pipe dream.

Your assumption that is would take 50% agreement to generate a collapse is completely unfounded.  Depending on the cause of the collapse it could be a number as small as one person.  Holmgren's proposal for about 10% of the current middle class (I believe he is thinking by US or Aussie standards) deliberately walking away from the system being sufficient to trigger financial collapse is not outside of reasonable possibility.  The big issue with his proposal is getting them to do it.  Highly unlikely. 

The chance of a technical miracle saving us is certainly not anywhere near 50%.  Articles on this idea by PhD level physicists indicate that the prospects of a technology development capable of providing a solution to AGW is almost non-existent. 
 
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As an example - let me take a look at the place where I live:
* High population density - but not very much higher than 100 years ago. So - why should it collapse or why should we starve if we go back even to energy consumption 100 years ago?

Since borders in Europe have been so fluid since 1900 there is no way to count by countries.  However Europe has at least 50% more people than it did in 1900.  So to me that is a LOT higher and it should be pretty obvious that you cannot feed all of those people minus fossil fuels and industrial agriculture.
 
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* We can savely assume, that the 100% renewable energy scenario would result in about twice of todays energy costs (based on existing technology - no breakthroughs needed). Why should we starve with double energy costs? Just put a bit less into consume and then another bit and that is it. It would still be much more comfortable than 100 years ago. Even easy-going "green BAU" would work out better much better than the collapse.

No, I don't agree that you can safely assume that.  Show me a full cost analysis from minerals in the ground all the way thru the lifecycle of the equipment built and installed that even comes close to proving that.  Most analysis shows that a significant percentage of alternate energy installations are built using fossil fuels and there is no prospect of changing that for 10-20 years.  Don't forget that the core precept of the quick collapse is to "save" critical resources for future generations.  If we run out the string via BAU there will be dramatically less resources left for the folks who make it through the bottleneck to try and build a new civilization upon. 

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* Why should anybody go for a planned collapse in such situation? Never will you get 50% of the poeple for that crazy plan - so forget it. You may forget any plan without at leat 50% of the poeple. One would have to take Hitlers way again towards his planned collapse - but nobody will follow that way again.

The idea is to do it for the innocent of the future.  To follow BAU is to shirk our responsibility for fixing this mess now that we know its scope.  Following BAU is cowardice in my opinion.  And like I said above it does not take democratic agreement. 

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I mean - hey, energy will be more expensive. So - pay a bit more for that and buy less other stuff. "Economy" will not die because of that - since poeple will not die. Just do a bit de-growth like in Japan, South Europe (and Germany 10 years back) and let us repeat that 5-10 times. OK - you probably will stopp growing crops in places like California or Saudi Arabia - but that would be common sense. In such case the Japanese will have to grow their own grass for their feeding Kobe cows instead of buying cheap virtual water from the Californian desert...

To conclude: Try to get the poeple to start some action. Getting more and more radical just will disgust everybody and you can not make it with anyone. That is my answer to Homgren: All that whining is only killing any action. You probably will call me optimistic and naive again - but we did proove that we can survive much harder times than expensive energy and things.

My answer to the above is contained in hundreds of posts on this forum.  It is just not in any way logical to think that BAU approaches will result in anything but a far worse collapse in the future than what Holmgren is advocating today. 

Those who remember my posts here will know that I think we will follow the path of what you are advocating because we are weak and fearful and because we hope for miracles to save us.  And it will result in utter catastrophe. 
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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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #69 on: January 24, 2014, 05:54:47 PM »
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I can understand some of the critics aboye aiming at jonthed - you may discuss each and every point in his long list and you could come to a more pessimistic conclusion. But I think he is right that mankind easily could do it but probably refuses to try it. And I think he is also right that even a survival based on future technology miracles would be more probable than 50% of the poeple agreeing on a planned collapse - the latter is totaly unrealistic and sounds like a pipe dream.

Your assumption that is would take 50% agreement to generate a collapse is completely unfounded.  Depending on the cause of the collapse it could be a number as small as one person.  Holmgren's proposal for about 10% of the current middle class (I believe he is thinking by US or Aussie standards) deliberately walking away from the system being sufficient to trigger financial collapse is not outside of reasonable possibility.  The big issue with his proposal is getting them to do it.  Highly unlikely. 

The chance of a technical miracle saving us is certainly not anywhere near 50%.  Articles on this idea by PhD level physicists indicate that the prospects of a technology development capable of providing a solution to AGW is almost non-existent. 

JimD - you misunderstood me allready in my first point. Maybe because of that you may believe I did not read a good amount of your posts - I did. 

As I mentioned further above - if you consider democratic societies 50% of poeple would be needed for decision. If not - 1 suicide bomber with a killer virus could do that. I did ignore that point and explained why. And I did explain allready above that 10% drop out of middle class will not do the Holmgren trick - we have allready >10% out at my place and it does not matter.

I never assumed 50% probability for a technological miracle. I assume that probability to be close to 0%. But I think the probabilty, that you will get 50% of poeple to agree on a planned collapse is even lower. Especially if you consider a "catastrophic" collapse. So please forget it.

The other points - it makes not much sense to discuss about 50% more here or less there. Such things will be doable - even with 50% less things/food/... you can survive quite well. As long as you do not start to fight each other - that will take much more ressources. So please let us end the fight between green BAU and carrot BAU or whatever BAU... 

We have to do some work and we have to rely on some things we can do and know - so we all rely on some kind of BAU. In future we must rely on all kinds of BAU without holes in the earth and CO2 in the air. That is all - not a catastrophy but some work.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 06:01:43 PM by SATire »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #70 on: January 24, 2014, 06:07:50 PM »
]
I really ought to make time to read through the original links etc - but the impression I get from what you say above is that he's advocating people with the money to buy land and retreat from the system do so? He is offering nothing for those unable to obtain their own land with which to grow food upon? Save perhaps to seize their food from whatever source they could if they were not participating within the system that virtually enslaves everyone?

That is to say that for most people to totally non participate within the system (and surely he himself participates within it significantly) is to court starvation or conflict (with the system). There are little details like food, shelter, water - that the system controls people through, that you can only get independently of the system by participating in the damn thing in the first place.

The system also controls the land for permaculture. To buy land - you participated within the system. You depend upon the same system to enforce your ownership of that land (and by implication the exclusion of other people from it).

Isn't it contradictory to advocate collapsing the system in this context? What does he think replaces it? If the system is brought down - or collapses of it's own accord - there are consequences, even for those who think they left it...

I think doing the very things Holmgren promotes ,live small etc.,are commendable ,moral ,and they will most certainly result in lots of poverty. There are worse things going on than poverty however.

Those things are commendable - but they only make sense in the context of transition, don't they? Isn't there a supposition that it is viable to transit to a new system (without absolute disintegration in between) to strongly advocate such things?

Certainly there must be a selective assumption that you can collapse the economic system and people practising permaculture could retain their land ownership and protection from those without that type of economic wealth?

Collapsing the system means just that. The rules that the system currently operates under will simply not function. Implied is that new rules will need to be put in place to govern society. It is simply not the case that the wealthy will maintain their position of dominance as that wealth is absolutely dependent on the functioning of the system in place. Think, stock and bond markets and the amount of wealth the rich have invested in these markets. Think of the value of physical capital like commercial space and factories that are dependent on business as usual.

It is likely true that we lack the courage to engineer a collapse. This means we will work to perpetuate BAU as long as possible. We will develop and implement technologies to do this. It does not matter how practical they are (scrubbing of emissions, expansion of alternative energy etc.) or how exotic (geo-engineering of our oceans and atmosphere), postponing the collapse by sustaining BAU has only one possible outcome. By pushing us further up the exponential growth curve, the collapse will be more horrific. There are no magical technologies that will allow us to avoid this fate.

Why? Because our current method of organizing human civilization, the modern industrial state, is a growth system constrained by a finite resource, the planet. All growth systems, constrained by a finite resource ultimately collapse. Any anthropologist could list many previous civilizations that suffered such a fate as they bumped up against the limits of their regions. What is unique about the current situation is that, for the 1st time in human history, this system is global, larger than any that has come before it.

The collapse will be spectacular!

If you look at the exponential growth in population, really accelerating at the beginning of the industrial revolution in 1850, (any number of other charts will display the same exponential trends such as energy consumption)  you might argue that a horrific collapse is already inevitable. If this is so, why not just enjoy the system and the toys that it provides? With any luck, we'll have gone peacefully to our graves without having to witness it.

This, in my opinion, is immoral, highly unethical and, if I believed in God, would certainly condemn us to Hell.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 06:43:52 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #71 on: January 25, 2014, 01:19:57 AM »
I think you need to read Holmgren's article as you are missing a big part of what Holmgren is saying. 
[snip]
His chosen method to cause this collapse, in my opinion and that of many others, is completely impractical and would not work.  But that is sort of beside the point as the real news is his conversion and advocacy of immediate deliberate collapse.

My impression following a quick skim is actually that people are fixating (predictably) almost entirely on his statements that relate to crashing the system. He doesn't actually appear to be exactly saying that - but rather suggesting people retreat into locally resilient smaller systems with the collapse of the main system as a fortunate byproduct of that process. Seems to me he could've said all the same things without even talking about crashing the system and been taken more seriously and with less opposition for it.

To that extent as I think you pretty much said in an earlier response he isn't really helping anyone by talking about it, even if it was really his goal. The goal would be more likely to be achieved by not talking about it.

Also, a little cynically, I don't think he really grasps how the world works. The global economy is on really shaky ground already. It's going to fall over sooner or later. That doesn't mean the end of the system - just that those with power will consolidate and maintain their power more directly (and violently) than they did before. Sure, you will see effective revolutions in some countries - but in others you will see resurgent police states and authoritarian policies.

Indeed you can always see that happening - no reasons to think those running the show don't know everything we do (and more).

My view - the collapse of the global economic system is only the first big step in the process of final collapse. There are other uglier ones that will follow close behind.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #72 on: January 25, 2014, 01:44:25 AM »
I do not believe that society is set on an ideological foundation.  Many ideologies are resident in any society (or civilization) with one or occasionally more being in positions of dominance.

Then how do you define a civilisation? Is it not more than a group of people just living and following their basic animal needs? Does it not require ideas upon which these people base their life? What makes the ancient Egyptians different from the Romans, Greeks, Inuit, modern day westerners, etc? It seems to me that the only difference is ideology (given that human needs and desires remain constant in all cases). The ideas that drive the civilisation and upon which it is predicated shape the people living within it and shape the macroscopic effects the civilisation has on the planet and other civilisations. Thus you see some civilisations that go to war for resources and some that preferred to trade, some that believed it was their divine right to conquer and pillage and others that valued the earth. Human nature was the same in each person in each civilisation and thus I'd defend my argument ideology is at the foundation of civilisation?

I am not saying that the underpinning ideology may not be fluid, may not at times change - but the civilisation changes with it. An example might be in societies that moved from polytheism to monotheism. Human nature is a constant and it is the ideas that change, hence my perspective.

Capitalist ideology is clearly the dominant one of our time by any measure.  Capitalism however is not the foundation of society which I would argue is actually an institutional representation of the sum of the behaviors which comprise human nature.

Again I'm not sure I agree. Money as the dominant ideology in our society is so firmly rooted as such that it is the gatekeeper to even the fulfillment of basic human needs. Try to find the basic things you need to survive (food, shelter, water, etc) in a strongly capitalist society - without money? Good damn luck is all I can say, it'll be a lot harder than in a society that believes in looking after each other (a much stronger idea in more primitive societies, I'd wager).

Capitalism is just a narrative which has successfully addressed a large enough set of the individual sub-conscious components of our basic human nature that it has risen to dominance.  These ideological narratives have come and gone throughout history with various levels of success.  Capitalism of course is hugely successful, perhaps more than any previous ideology.  It is certainly turning out to be a spectacular failure and bears the most responsibility for the mess we are currently in.

I am not even convinced capitalism does address a large set of the components of our basic nature. I think it is a luxury that we have simply because we have managed to make the daily struggle to survive trivial and easy enough that we no longer need communities, or compassion, and can focus on the cult of the individual and their wealth. This is a technologically assisted fantasy that we have been led into by those with most to gain - those who stand atop the ideological pyramid. It is in our nature to compete, to breed, to consume, etc. - yes - but it is also in our nature to cooperate and support one another without having to use imaginary tokens to facilitate the process. Apart from the premise that money is required to support a very complex civilisation (and I think capitalism is not the same as money - money is a tool, capitalism is an ideology) - I see no advantages to capitalism save for the few.

I am not convinced capitalism is actually fundamentally harmful to the environment - consumption certainly is, but one could imagine forms of capitalism which did not destroy the future and consume all resources and where the only harm was to people less successful within the capitalist framework (this seems a necessary part of the capitalist thinking, that there will be more losers than winners). That would perhaps not be a purely capitalist ideology (and I am using the term ideology a little loosely perhaps to refer to collections of ideas and belief frameworks as well as single ones).

But I must say that the above discussion has to be considered in a different light as well.  It would seem we are far beyond the point where a competing ideological narrative has time to be designed and promoted throughout civilization where it could compete and win dominance.  While a worthy ideal it might have to wait for when the dust settles.  Parts of the train we are on have already left the tracks and we are inevitably going to stack the cars up in a big pile. 

I do not think there is time to implement a new ideology in time to avoid collapse - nowhere near enough. I think it is however a question of great importance after the dust settles though - as to me that's a foundation stone for a civilisation - and something that can last for a long time (far longer than a human lifetime).

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Today we mean the richest. By any measure of strength I would value, that is worthless. There is only limited correlation between that wealth and any of the other attributes (indeed much of the wealth of the richest was originally gained through criminal or immoral behaviour if seen through the eyes of the present day world they now dominate - eg drugs, slavery, war crimes, etc).

I have trouble accepting that all of the people you describe above have none of the strengths you value.  I would posit that some of them are among the most effective genius's we have produced.  Many have great intellect, tremendous courage to follow their instincts, and are among the most persuasive people there are.  But as people like Hitler and Stalin have shown us having great capabilities does not mean you are an admirable person or interested in the general welfare of your fellow citizens.

To be clear I wasn't saying that they possessed none of those traits - I said there was limited correlation. That isn't the same thing as no correlation. I would hesitate to call most of them geniuses though - unless you mean in the very narrow sense of those who built themselves up from nothing and through their own ideas and efforts rather than luck.

I don't think they self select though, for the most part. The dominant people are a group and have much influence in who joins them. In many cases - just as with the old kings - they remain in the group through accident of birth far more than through personal merit.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #73 on: January 25, 2014, 10:35:44 AM »
The collapse will be spectacular!
Depends what you call a collapse.

Following Holmgren it would look like the thing we had in 2008 in Germany - sudden stopp of investions and a dip in economy for 1-3 years. Poeple made it through that without problems. But that did not change CO2 emissions much... About 10% less CO2 if 10 % of poeple step out.

Following your population curve: If you say collapse = end of exponential growth of population, we had that >50 years ago in Germany. But CO2 emissions did not drop to <80%...

The only thing spectacular to imagine is - that we will get CO2 emission down to 10% in 10-30 years. The faster the better for us. That is much work. I would not call that a collapse but the end of the transient period called "modern age" - and the beginning of the stable phase with constant population, constant CO2 content, stable everything. Perhaps the time to lean back...

But if Holmgren really wants to crash the system and to perform a catastrophic collapse a possible route e.g. for Australia could be like this: Stopp making holes for exporting resources and tell China, that US told you to do so - since the most reliable way to collapse of the biosphere is still nuclear winter. And of course that would be a crime against humanity and everything. Just like any intentional collapse. Last example for such an attempt here was Hitler and years of collapse 1945-48.

For me the desire for collapse is looking like the religious mania heading to paradise via doom. A silent suicide without bothering the reasonable would be more helpfull.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #74 on: January 25, 2014, 04:47:18 PM »
This post is in response to the article by Erik Lindberg linked by wili in post # 47 on Jan 22nd.  I highly recommend reading it.

Due to size limitations on posts I have broken this post into two parts.  This is part 1

Since I am about to try and beat up on Mr. Lindberg I first off want to state that I fantasize about being able to write with the skill and sophistication that he does.  In human discourse it is a tremendous advantage to have an extremely articulate way of speaking.  It naturally garners support for your positions, even when the arguments you are making may not be the best description of what the state of affairs may be, or also many times even when people do not understand what you are really saying.  This, of course, points back to my post to ccg on leadership skills and how they can be used in various ways.  Not to imply that Lindberg has bad motives because I don't think he does.  I just think that he is missing the point of what is going on by a wide margin.  Lindberg article is very long and so interesting that it is going to take me quite a while to finish up.  It also transitions back and forth between the Peak Oil dynamic and the AGW dynamic.  As wili and I have been drifting in and out of the Peak Oil blogs together for a good 8 years I can't not address those aspects at least for our interests.  Off we go.



I found Lindgren's scholarly description of the philosophical breakdown of the various reasoned approaches to Enlightenment thought and how Agency (to what extent, if any, can humans be purposeful agents of historical change) is perceived by the several philosophical camps.

Notably the Liberal camp which espouses "...that we can make history as we please if we maintain the proper virtues and qualities of leadership.  Thus history is a battle between great men and presumptuous villains and fools, just nations and misguided tyrannies.  Choice and free-will are highlighted in this version that stays closer to the original Enlightenment ideal....men did make their own history and just as they pleased--or at least they could if they became sufficiently enlightened and freed themselves from what Kant referred to as the childhood of previous ages, in which they accepted guidance from another rather than their own reason...".

The deconstructive camp which "...sees history as little more than chaos, disorder, and chance; the historian’s work, which is viewed with suspicion, is the doomed attempt to impose a false order on this chaos.  According to this view, history doesn’t have a narrative; rather humans tell historical fictions by selecting  between details and by choosing a causal connective tissue that serves the interests of his or her story and the will to power it represents....".

And the Marxian camp which "...argues that history has its own underlying logic.  This logic tends to be the product of human activity; but, importantly, it is not the conscious choice of any single or group of individuals making history as they please.  Rather the struggles and interactions of humans follow some sort of progressive or regressive laws of development, growth, or decline. ...".

He goes on to point out where many of the most prominent authors of the current period, on the subjects of Peak Oil, Climate Change and Collapse, fall into this philosophical structure.  With some good justification I might add.  But also with a pretty broad brush and sort of a rigid categorization which I am sure almost all of the authors he specifically mentioned will take the time to disabuse him of.

My take on this philosophical structure and categorization of these individuals is that it may be academically pure but it does not represent reality.  I see more of a continuum in the passage from one of his categories to another.  They are not mutually exclusive of each other except perhaps at the extremes.  His authors all seem to me to express views which are a mixture of these various philosophical viewpoints.  I expect that even Marx and Nietzsche would not feel comfortable pigeonholed as such and would find common cause with other categories to some extent.  Kant?  Who knows, because I do not believe anyone can actually understand what he is saying to really know what he thought.

This first half of this article was very thought provoking and I really enjoyed it.  But only as a intellectual philosophical discussion.  I go over it because I found it so interesting and he spent a lot of time on it.  I do not think it actually substantially addresses the core issue of initiating collapse nor really explains the pros and cons.  At this point the article morphs a bit into the real world from the theoretical world and this is where I think Mr. Lindberg slowly leaves the tracks.

The meat of the Holmgren article, which prompted Lindberg's response, was the question of whether it is time to try and crash the system deliberately; i.e. radical action.  To differentiate a bit, Lindberg describes the dilemma of the "activists",  "These philosophical dilemmas might strike some as rather abstract, but they have weighed like a nightmare on the minds of many activists and the plans of most radical politics.  The Liberal history has in the modern era been the official history of the most powerful nations, their powerful  people, and their vested interests.   Critics operating within this tradition tend to be reformist.   While agency is accepted without question, it is confined to the role of voting citizens and leaders working within a legislative process.   Extreme action, in a Liberal context, involves protesting and marching, publishing and petitioning. "  One cannot argue very hard with this description.  And the "radical" who "The radical, in contrast, believes that the fundamental structures or organization of society need to be changed, something that cannot be done through the “free” agency of a voting populace, most of whom are victims of the myths and beliefs of the Liberal historian and their naïve histories of the triumph of freedom and reason."

To Lindberg the activists foundered on the problem that his first two philosophical divisions provided no support and left them to function in a world where "it was increasingly difficult to imagine how to proceed except by the slow, but safe, work of reform." within the dominant system.  In this dominant system it appears to the activist that  "If history did have its own logic and inherent direction, however, it seemed to be moving in the direction of increased freedom, expanding technology, and a global market economy. ".  Thus perhaps a giant reason that so many who are worried about the future glom onto to solutions which the data and trends indicate have little to no prospect for success.  Green-BAU is born.  Activists are co-opted by the dominant ideology and support the system.  For the radical he states "While radical criticism flourished, any radical politics that might be serious about actually confronting the basic structure or organization of industrial civilization had died." seems to be mostly born out by the facts.  Real radical action has been effectively suppressed and has no impact on the system at all at this time.  But this, of course, misses the point that radical action is always suppressed....until it succeeds and then the paradigm changes.

Lindberg goes on to categorize some of the prominent authors who originally appeared as commentators on the Peak Oil scene, notably Holmgren, Hopkins and Geer, and draws parallels between their outlooks for the future and what level of impact they think agency can have on the outcome.  This then places them in one of his categories of philosophical outlook.  Others like Heinberg land in another category and your mainstream environmentalist land in another.  Some see little impact from human agency, like Geer, and basically indicate that building skills and preparing for post collapse conditions is all we can do as our ability to effect meaningful change in civilizational systemic behavior is minimal and maybe not even desirable.  Others, most notably those among the Green or mainstream environmental movement see some form of opportunity to evolve human behavior to a more fair just system through some form of rise in consciousness.  And if this can be done now it would in some way prevent collapse, or post collapse it would allow us to build some version of a Utopian society which lives sustainably in harmony with nature.

Another interesting juxtaposition made by Lindberg is the description of the differences between the narratives put forward by those authors originally triggered by the Peak Oil issue and how their perceptions are almost entirely oriented towards the issue of collapse from a viewpoint based almost solely on energy dynamics and this factor being a hard limit on the possible options available to human agency.  Alternatively the narrative of those who focus almost exclusively on climate change (the environmental camp) focuses on the possibilities of how that all a free and independent people need to do is learn how to limit their exercise of free will and impose limits on their freedom and power and all will turn out right. "that nature has fixed no limits to our hopes,” which consist of, “the destruction of inequality between nations; the progress of equality in one and the same nation; and lastly the real improvement of man.”   I must say I find his description of these two groups pretty spot on, with the caveat that there is a melding between them and rigid categorizations are not valid.  One would not have much trouble placing many of the posters on Peak Oil and AGW blogs into Lindberg's categories.  Lindberg's characterizations have great explanatory power about their desires for the future and what they see as possibilities and how they perceive the proper moral approach to dealing with our complex problem. 

A critically important issue in understanding the Peak Oil narrators like Geer, Foss, and Holmgren was always their placing of AGW in a secondary position to that of energy supply issues.  Cheap energy is easily demonstrable as the key driver of the scale and complexity of modern civilization and is certainly responsible for our vast population.  Their belief has always been, and I personally have been arguing with them about this since about 2006, is that the decline in cheap energy from the peak of Peak Oil would relatively painlessly dial back civilization over time.  This is the catabolic collapse argument made so eloquently by Geer. Peak Oil would thus prevent the level of carbon emissions required to bring on the worst effects of AGW therefore we did not really need to worry about it all that much.  Civilization would collapse, but almost in a managed fashion as long as we anticipated future needs and skills.  Events, of course, have shown conclusively that this dismissal of the risk of AGW was not warranted.  Most all of the Peak Oil narrators still cling to this viewpoint however.  Holmgren's article is so impactful in that he has moved out of this category and accepted that AGW requires action and it needs action now.  Lindberg clearly is vacillating over this same realization and his article clearly states his angst over what this means.

The conclusion that Lindberg leaves us with is thus philosophical.  Two primary narratives.  One in decline who's adherents are largely demoralized and currently out of balance.  The other in ascendancy who's dominant adherents envision a Green-BAU supported by technological miracles which will lead to a more just and equitable society.  He rightly points out that these competing narratives exist outside of the mainstream of society and thus have little to no impact on where that society is going at this time.

These comments of his bear emphasizing:  Please read them carefully.

"I think much of the debate precipitated by Holmgren’s  “Crash on Demand” comes down to the sudden realization that if there is to be radical change of the sort necessary to avert a climate disaster of unimaginable scale, we can’t depend on some sort of historical necessity to make this change for us.  The moral narrative of climate change is eclipsing the peak oil narrative of respond and adapt, even as the more sophisticated students of peak oil remain ruefully aware of the limits on agency.  The trepidation, fear, even anger that has been breaking out in recent commentaries has to do with emerging possibility that we, as a subculture of activists, may have a series of unbearable decisions in the days and years ahead.  Most of us are, I believe, of peaceful demeanor.   I think this is a great blessing.  Many of us understand the perils of revolution and violence, the simple fact that it has so infrequently worked.  We understand, moreover, that the collapse of global economies, of civil society creates its own predictable violence.  We understand that the result and consequences of any action that pursues radical, human designed change is neither controllable nor predictable.  But at the same time, refraining from radical, potentially destructive, action is also a choice whose results are unpredictable and almost certainly dire.  The stakes are as yet beyond comprehension.   The question is no longer whether we can make history as we please, but whether history itself will continue to exist.  This is difficult.  Let us be patient and tolerant with ourselves and each other."

End of Part 1  In the next post I will try and explain why I think Lindberg does not understand what ground he is standing upon.
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: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #75 on: January 25, 2014, 04:48:55 PM »
This post is in response to the article by Erik Lindberg linked by wili in post # 47 on Jan 22nd.  I highly recommend reading it.

Due to size limitations on posts I have broken this post into two parts.  This is part 2


This is the point where I am going to try and beat up on this narrative.  Lindberg is so focused on the philosophical nature of the thoughts of everyone commenting on problems he has actually ended up not realizing the state of the problem at all.  One can argue that Holmgren is at last realizing where we now stand, Lindberg is not yet grounded in reality.  Lindberg notably does not include anyone from the mainstream of society; namely the BAU folks, the dominant religious groups, the general public and how they relate to this discussion.  They are the elephant in the room and the agency we are talking about will be aimed directly at them.  And they know it and are not pleased about it at all.  Belatedly and reluctantly Lindberg is going to come to the realization that, while he currently thinks it is getting to be time to make a decision about whether to follow Holmgren's lead, that time actually came and passed some time ago and every decision he makes supports one side or another in this war.

In a recent interview Lindberg has this to say about his children.

"I try not to think much about the difficult world they are likely to grow up into. I hope the world has re-ordered its collective priorities enough to save our remaining resources to create things we really need and that can create a better future for a long time, rather than maintain economic growth for one more election cycle," Lindberg says."
 
Hope does not solve problems.

I offer a quote for those who espouse the ideals of a more just, fair and equitable world but do not believe action now is warranted.

"An actions morality - or at the very least its perceived morality - can shift depending on one's perspective, but also of course on circumstance."  Derrick Jensen founder of Deep Green Resistance.  Jensen advocates tearing civilization down to its very foundations.  Or further.

We long ago passed the point where philosophical discussions are useful for any more than intellectual entertainment.  We are well into the beginnings of the descent to the collapse point.   Every decision everyone is making right now or has already made is a choice about the future.  There are no neutral choices.  To put this situation into terms of conflict, the war is not a philosophical or theoretical possibility, it started a long time ago.  Those who think that there is time to evolve human society and that it can be accomplished if we just spend enough time talking about right and wrong, and morals and ethics, have completely missed the point that they have already made their choice about the future.  The choice they unthinkingly made was to ally themselves with their most diametrically opposed opponents;  the supporters of the status quo, the BAU forever folks, the fossil fuel industry, the Rapture is coming religious right, the free market capitalists, the Imperialists, the empire builders.  They have chosen to avoid personal responsibility and not to suffer the consequences of their actions, and to defer that inevitable payment to future generations.  We fix it or those of the future fix it as there is no avoiding it.  Ignoring it is a choice of going with the status quo.

We collectively face the greatest challenge of human existence.  Survival is at stake.  Truly, really at stake.  No joke or exaggeration.  Not for us but for our descendants.  There are only two sides to this war.  There is no middle ground, there is no correct moral path unless that path leads to survival.  Every action that everyone takes is a choice one way or the other.  Survival or not.  As Jensen above points out, the morals of a decision depend on the circumstance governing that decision.  There is no choice to be made here between the guilty suffering the consequences and not the innocent.  Almost everyone is fundamentally innocent as virtually no one had any idea what we were doing.  Some of course could care less, but I am sure most feel remorse about past actions and are just bewildered about how to move forward.  However, all of our descendants are of course completely innocent.  The moral choice is to fix this problem now.  The methodology is not particularly important just that it works or has a good chance of working.  Whomever has the capability to effect this fix is morally and ethically obligated to execute it regardless of the cost to themselves.   And time has almost run out so they had better do it soon.

The great dilemma, of course, is what do the rest of us do who do not have the capability to perform the fix nor do we adhere to the mindless march of BAU.  How do we behave in a moral fashion as we have that obligation as well, even if we do not have the power.  Holmgren has proposed we join him in a quest to collapse the financial system.  As someone pointed out above the probability of him getting the kind of support he needs from the right people is not high.  And one could make the argument that any slack added into the system by an action like he proposes would just be sucked up like any unexpected extra capacity by the growing population.  This does not mean I am against his trying, just that I don't think it will work.

What are our options.  Can an individual action, which only has the power to degrade the system comparable to what an individual is worth in the system, have meaningful impact?  Clearly not.  Tens of millions of individual actions do make mass?  Perhaps that works.  An argument can be made (and it is another difficult one) that the most effective way for the average person to help bring the system down is just to continue living the way we do now.  Or even to maximize that lifestyle.  Promote growth, consume, drive a big car, eat meat.  For it is certain that every person acting Green with the intention that by everyone doing so would build a path to a solution is actually prolonging the pain and deferring the payment of this debt we owe to someone else but us.  If you are working low impact solutions and building old fashioned skills so that you can pass them on to others who will hopefully come through the bottleneck and be able to use them to rebuild I have no issue with that as it has value.  Thus my point to willi earlier that Holmgren should stick to his area of expertise as that is the value of permaculture.  I say the above in all seriousness because I hold a few truths to be self-evident (I am borrowing some of the premises from Derrick Jensen's book Endgame here but modifying them a bit or adding to them some comments).

1.  "Civilization is not and can never be sustainable.  This is especially true for industrial civilization."

7-9 billion people living the standard of living common in Africa would quickly destroy the earth and generate enough carbon emissions for AGW to run wild.  This means that we will never achieve sustainability.  Period.  We cannot return to the hunter-gatherer mode and live off the bounty of the earth because we have already destroyed most of that bounty and AGW and 7-9 billion people are going to destroy the rest pretty soon.  We are stuck with some form of civilization like it or not and the only way we can get our consumption down to the point that the earth can recover is to eliminate all but a small percentage of the people and essentially eliminate our carbon emissions.  And then ride out AGW.  If we can survive the coming storm and rebuild in a world which can support us, even if not in a permanently sustainable fashion, for thousands of years of time maybe we can sort out the rest of our dreams and make something else happen.  Or we can choose to live a pre-civilizational lifestyle at a real sustainable level as Jensen wants.  By any rational measure our population is a good 4 times the level it would have to be to be able to operate any kind of complex civilization and not press the carrying capacity of the Earth beyond its ability to heal itself.  We must dramatically reduce population for any solution to have a chance of working.

2.  It follows that those who have to have resources will do what it takes to get them.

3.  Our way of living is based upon, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.

4.  Violence, like s**t, flows downhill.  Those at the bottom get both.

5.  Those at the top get to keep theirs and they eventually get yours as well.

6.  Civilization is not redeemable.  Our basic nature is formed and will not undergo a voluntary change to a fair, equitable, sane and sustainable way of living.  Evolution does not work that way.   Accept what you are and make it work.

7.  The longer we wait for civilization to crash the worse it is going to be.  Do it now or pay a worse price later.

8.  The needs of the natural world are more important than ours.

9.  Dramatic population reductions are inevitable and will undoubtedly and frequently be very violent.  The longer you wait the worse the violence will be.

10.  Humans are not capable of reasoned rational thought.  Jensen refers to our culture being insane.

13.  Those in power rule by force and only recognize force and only yield when forced.

15.  Loving this world and other people does not imply pacifism.

16.  The material world is primary.  Faith will not heal us.  We are here.  We have to deal with reality.  The Earth is the point.

17.  It is a mistake to base our decisions on the feelings of people.  An actions morality - or at the very least its perceived morality - can shift depending on one's perspective, but also of course on circumstance.  We are in the land of circumstances.

18.  The way we think about ourselves is no more sustainable than any other part of our civilization.

I should conclude at this point though I am tempted to keep going for a few hundred pages.

We have spent years looking at AGW, critical energy issues, our degrading environment, over population, depleting resources, etc. and it is clear that we cannot and will not long continue in this vein.  Collapse is certain and unavoidable.  So we need to decide what we do. 

Those who might have the capability to bring the system down (if there are any that can) should make the attempt to do so post haste.

One can choose a path to build resilience, skills and knowledge and to teach such things as they will be needed by the survivors of the coming bottleneck and this is a worthy task.

One can do whatever they can manage to bring the system down in an incremental fashion as that is the only option available to most of us.

A hidden bonus is that everyone who does not fit the above, i.e. the various BAU'ers, are unknowingly working to incrementally bring the system down along with us as that is what their actions will do.
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: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #76 on: January 25, 2014, 05:58:03 PM »
ccg.  Interesting post.

I do not believe that society is set on an ideological foundation.  Many ideologies are resident in any society (or civilization) with one or occasionally more being in positions of dominance.

Then how do you define a civilisation? Is it not more than a group of people just living and following their basic animal needs? Does it not require ideas upon which these people base their life? What makes the ancient Egyptians different from the Romans, Greeks, Inuit, modern day westerners, etc? It seems to me that the only difference is ideology (given that human needs and desires remain constant in all cases). The ideas that drive the civilisation and upon which it is predicated shape the people living within it and shape the macroscopic effects the civilisation has on the planet and other civilisations. Thus you see some civilisations that go to war for resources and some that preferred to trade, some that believed it was their divine right to conquer and pillage and others that valued the earth. Human nature was the same in each person in each civilisation and thus I'd defend my argument ideology is at the foundation of civilisation?

I am not saying that the underpinning ideology may not be fluid, may not at times change - but the civilisation changes with it. An example might be in societies that moved from polytheism to monotheism. Human nature is a constant and it is the ideas that change, hence my perspective.

I think you and I have different interpretations of the words ideology, society and civilization.  Or at least I think so.

Civilization
Webster's dictionary:  "a high stage of social and cultural development."
Oxford dictionary: "a developed or advanced state of human society."
Derrick Jensen: "a culture - that is, a complex of stories, institutions and artifacts - that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities.." with cities being defined as a complex of living places which cannot be lived in in a sustainable fashion as can a village or camp.
From Wiki:  generally refers to state polities which combine these basic institutions, having one or more of each: a ceremonial centre (a formal gathering place for social and cultural activities), a system of writing, and a city. ..... Civilizations have more densely populated settlements divided into social classes with a ruling elite and subordinate urban and rural populations, which, by the division of labour, engage in intensive agriculture, mining, small-scale manufacture and trade. Civilization concentrates power, extending human control over both nature, and over other human beings.

Society
From Wiki:  A society, or a human society, is a group of people involved with each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Human societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent members....More broadly, a society may be illustrated as an economic, social, or industrial infrastructure, made up of a varied collection of individuals.

Ideology
From Wiki:  An ideology is a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (compare worldview) as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization).....Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.

So my perception of ideology is that it is the dominant narrative promoted by the ruling class who use it as the lever to guide the society that they sit on top of and benefit from.  A civilization is any collection of people who have concentrated themselves into an unsustainable mass and have to create and exercise the various levers of coercion to supply themselves with the resources they need.  As soon as you form a civilization you set yourself on the road to state and empire and endless conflict regardless of what type of society forms to rule that civilization and what ideology the ruling elite of that society use to manage the masses.

So I think (and tell me if I am wrong) that you and I largely agree but we are not using the same definitions of the key words we are using.

Quote
Capitalist ideology is clearly the dominant one of our time by any measure.  Capitalism however is not the foundation of society which I would argue is actually an institutional representation of the sum of the behaviors which comprise human nature.

Again I'm not sure I agree. Money as the dominant ideology in our society is so firmly rooted as such that it is the gatekeeper to even the fulfillment of basic human needs. Try to find the basic things you need to survive (food, shelter, water, etc) in a strongly capitalist society - without money? Good damn luck is all I can say, it'll be a lot harder than in a society that believes in looking after each other (a much stronger idea in more primitive societies, I'd wager).

Money can in no way fit my definition of ideology.  I don't think money is the main facilitator of capitalism either but rather that debt serves that function.  Money is just a way of counting.  Capitalism is a form of institutionalized slavery for those at the financial bottom of society.  Money, as the chosen means of exchange, is used to control and manage the actions of the slaves.

Quote
Capitalism is just a narrative which has successfully addressed a large enough set of the individual sub-conscious components of our basic human nature that it has risen to dominance.  These ideological narratives have come and gone throughout history with various levels of success.  Capitalism of course is hugely successful, perhaps more than any previous ideology.  It is certainly turning out to be a spectacular failure and bears the most responsibility for the mess we are currently in.

I am not even convinced capitalism does address a large set of the components of our basic nature. I think it is a luxury that we have simply because we have managed to make the daily struggle to survive trivial and easy enough that we no longer need communities, or compassion, and can focus on the cult of the individual and their wealth. This is a technologically assisted fantasy that we have been led into by those with most to gain - those who stand atop the ideological pyramid. It is in our nature to compete, to breed, to consume, etc. - yes - but it is also in our nature to cooperate and support one another without having to use imaginary tokens to facilitate the process. Apart from the premise that money is required to support a very complex civilisation (and I think capitalism is not the same as money - money is a tool, capitalism is an ideology) - I see no advantages to capitalism save for the few.

If one examines the philosophical beginnings of capitalism and the rise of industry I think we could come to a different conclusion.  Its structure and arguments were specifically designed to break down the existing dominant narrative (which was clearly partly socialist in that the common man was entitled to use of the common land).  In England the elite passed laws specifically designed to outlaw the use of common land and place it under the control of the elites.  Thus pushing the poor farmers who now no longer had the means to live sustainably off the land and into factories which needed labor to make the elite increasingly wealthy.  We know how that transition worked out for them and for the elite.  I question very strongly that the non-elite are actually better off than they used to be in any non-trivial sense.  Capitalism was designed to allow the strongest and most ruthless to rise to the top and dominate everyone else.  The most basic of our many hidden natures.

Quote
I am not convinced capitalism is actually fundamentally harmful to the environment - consumption certainly is, but one could imagine forms of capitalism which did not destroy the future and consume all resources and where the only harm was to people less successful within the capitalist framework (this seems a necessary part of the capitalist thinking, that there will be more losers than winners). That would perhaps not be a purely capitalist ideology (and I am using the term ideology a little loosely perhaps to refer to collections of ideas and belief frameworks as well as single ones).

It is interesting to note how difficult it is to imagine a form of capitalism which does not orient towards a few big winners and a mass of losers.

Quote
But I must say that the above discussion has to be considered in a different light as well.  It would seem we are far beyond the point where a competing ideological narrative has time to be designed and promoted throughout civilization where it could compete and win dominance.  While a worthy ideal it might have to wait for when the dust settles.  Parts of the train we are on have already left the tracks and we are inevitably going to stack the cars up in a big pile. 

I do not think there is time to implement a new ideology in time to avoid collapse - nowhere near enough. I think it is however a question of great importance after the dust settles though - as to me that's a foundation stone for a civilisation - and something that can last for a long time (far longer than a human lifetime).

It never hurts to try and the goal is certainly admirable.

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

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #77 on: January 25, 2014, 06:07:45 PM »
Wow, Jim. I'm glad my linked article gave you a chance to wax so eloquently and at such length.

For now I'll just say that, as to your comment: "Lindberg is going to come to the realization that, while he currently thinks it is getting to be time to make a decision about whether to follow Holmgren's lead, that time actually came and passed some time ago and every decision he makes supports one side or another in this war."

I said much the same thing in the comment section (though I have no confidence that I can guess when or if Lindberg will realize any particular truth.

I also agree that a fuller account by Lindberg should include other potential 'agents,' of which I would particularly include CEO's and board members of top international corporations (as I also mention in the comments.)

Thanks for the reflections. I'll need to spend more time on them before I respond further.

I'll just say for now that I spent some time last night googling "Holmgren" and "crash" and was distressed to find little discussion on line about it besides the few responses at that Resilience site, this site, and a very few others. These are issues that pretty much the whole world should be vehemently arguing out.

But what do you think is going to happen do Justin Bieber's reputation after his arrest?? 8) :-\
"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: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #78 on: January 25, 2014, 07:25:55 PM »
Depends what you call a collapse.

Absolutely. The collapse will be spectacular (horrific) only if we stumble into it by attempting to prolong BAU. A deliberate, engineered collapse could be far easier to manage and the worst effects of transitioning from this growth system to system that has arrived at an equilibrium with the biosphere could be avoided.

Collapse is unavoidable. Do we want to prolong BAU and suffer a chaotic, violent collapse as human civilization finally bumps up against constraints of our biosphere? Famine, disease and violence will be rampant. Alternatively, do we choose to collapse this growth system and transition to a new method of organizing human civilization in a deliberate and methodical manner. This second approach would still be difficult but we could avoid some of the worst effects of a chaotic collapse.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #79 on: January 25, 2014, 07:48:54 PM »
Quote
We collectively face the greatest challenge of human existence.  Survival is at stake.  Truly, really at stake.  No joke or exaggeration.  Not for us but for our descendants.  There are only two sides to this war.  There is no middle ground, there is no correct moral path unless that path leads to survival.  Every action that everyone takes is a choice one way or the other.  Survival or not.  As Jensen above points out, the morals of a decision depend on the circumstance governing that decision.  There is no choice to be made here between the guilty suffering the consequences and not the innocent.  Almost everyone is fundamentally innocent as virtually no one had any idea what we were doing.  Some of course could care less, but I am sure most feel remorse about past actions and are just bewildered about how to move forward.  However, all of our descendants are of course completely innocent.  The moral choice is to fix this problem now.  The methodology is not particularly important just that it works or has a good chance of working.  Whomever has the capability to effect this fix is morally and ethically obligated to execute it regardless of the cost to themselves.   And time has almost run out so they had better do it soon.

Nicely put.

Really, the only issues I have with pretty much any of your essay (and I am looking forward to the next few hundred pages) are in this section--not surprisingly being the paragraph about what to do:

Quote
What are our options.  Can an individual action, which only has the power to degrade the system comparable to what an individual is worth in the system, have meaningful impact?  Clearly not.  Tens of millions of individual actions do make mass?  Perhaps that works.  An argument can be made (and it is another difficult one) that the most effective way for the average person to help bring the system down is just to continue living the way we do now.  Or even to maximize that lifestyle.  Promote growth, consume, drive a big car, eat meat.  For it is certain that every person acting Green with the intention that by everyone doing so would build a path to a solution is actually prolonging the pain and deferring the payment of this debt we owe to someone else but us.

If we agree that individual green actions (and non-actions) are not adequate in themselves to effect any real change, I hope we can see that the very same point means that individual 'brown' un-environmental actions are equally unlikely to effect systemic changes of the types we are discussing.

It is hard for me to imagine that the folks in the boardrooms of top corporations are shivering in their shoes that people might consume so much that they will collapse the capitalist system.

I think the point of withdrawal from the 'system' can have many sides and can possibly incorporate many potential allies. The 350 movement is now focused on getting schools and other groups to divest from FF companies. I can imagine this expanding to divesting from major banks that invest in the same. Churches are moving toward removing their funds from banks that did so much to create the last financial crisis. These are the types of groups whose divestment initiatives helped end apartheid. Combine these with those who follow or at least respect the likes of Holmgren and the various environmental groups (who have been getting more and more radicalized), and you are indeed starting to look at a critical mass that could be large enough to "crash" (or severely hinder plans of) the global financial network and the fossil-death-fuel companies.

The overall effort must be to de-legitimize these entities in the eyes of more and more people. Holmgren, after all, traces his realization of the fragility of the system to Reagan's statement that it is belief in the system that supports it. Lot's of people stopped believing in the Soviet system, and one day it suddenly and completely collapsed. The aftermath has not always been particularly pretty, but it is a precedent for a massive, seemingly unassailable (except by nuclear annihilation) oppressive system suddenly collapsing in a relatively non-violent way.

People on PO fora used to say--if you want to bring on PO, just drive around even more. Well, that hasn't worked very well. All those folks showing that they are willing to pay every higher prices for oil meant that all sorts of crud that folks thought would never be economical to extract have been--hence Holmgren's "Brown Energy Path." An exhortation to drive more and eat more meat is, to me, a call to vote for exactly that dirtiest of paths (however insignificant any one such vote may be, either way).

But perhaps I'm missing something?

"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: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #80 on: January 25, 2014, 09:46:21 PM »
JimD - it was great to read your first answer to Lindberg and in most parts I would agree to your summary. Your second answer was much more difficult for me to follow. I missed most of that points in Lindbergs article so I can not follow your critics. Maybe I missed something. During reading usualy I concentrate on descriptions, ideas and new ways of thinking. But most time I overlook opinions. E.g. you write "Hope does not solve problems"- but I can not find Lindberg stating hope as a solution, I missed that completely.

JimD, Shared Humanity and ccgwebmaster -
you are way to fast for me with words like "collapse", "BAU", "system" and such - those words have a very broad span of implications, not all of those implications are "good" or "bad" (and one has to ask: Good or bad to achieve what? Good or bad for you or me?).

Quote
What are our options.  Can an individual action, which only has the power to degrade the system comparable to what an individual is worth in the system, have meaningful impact?  Clearly not.  Tens of millions of individual actions do make mass?  Perhaps that works.  An argument can be made (and it is another difficult one) that the most effective way for the average person to help bring the system down is just to continue living the way we do now.  Or even to maximize that lifestyle.

Before answering I need some explanations of the 3 words.

* system: The system is not something outside. The system is us, our society, the way we decide to live. And of course the system evolves, since some individuals step outside and propose a change of the system and if sucessful it becomes mainstream of the new system. So - it makes no sense to fight the system. The radical approach failed badly 1968-1980. Furthermore, governments and companies are not bad per se - we had radical green politicans in governments and I know a lot of fundamental green poeple running sustainable companies and even banks. Also schools are not all to blame - in every city there is a Waldorf school where children practice organic agriculture and holistic thinking. Our system is complex, very colorful and variable - since it consists of all of us and can respond with a multidude of behaviors to any threat. It will not collapse - it will evolve (OK, I ignore again your killer virus and the nuclear winter - of course).

*BAU (business as usual): Business as usual is a good thing as longs as it works. Unusual business is often not executed because it did not work previously. But some of the businesses we usualy did will not work in future - because of AGW (just ignore peak oil - that may help but we can not rely on that). So we have to change our business to be CO2 neutral. And we have to make those changes mainstream and one of the new BAUs. Call it "green BAU" or "carrot BAU" (or "granola BAU" as a German movement of the 80s could be translated) - those things are allready quite mainstream here, which is a good thing. So - please do not fight BAU since we need BAU in future. We can not rely on untested unusual business and only "hope" to survive by it.

* collapse: That word has a lot of different meanings in this forum - ranging from total collapse of the biosphere or the Mad Max world to a stable world without further growth. Some poeple even consider the stable world as awful threat while I would call stable=sustainable=mission accomplished. I had the feeling Holmgren was talking about the latter - but I am not sure. If not, he is totally wrong for sure for obvious reasons.

So, finally I should answer JimD.
Does the individuum has impact? Of course, because it is part of the system. But the impact is tiny. A teacher, a company leader, a politician have more impact, but still small since they are indivuals, too. But to change a system you need more - 50% of poeple is a good guess. So your action should involve some marketing to be attractive. That is the reason why the anti-nuclear movement was peacefull 1980-2000 and become mainstream in Germany. You may find an overview of that history e.g. here: http://www.ndr.de/regional/chronikgorleben101.html (sorry, only German language  - I think that strategy was only copied in Japan after 2011 but ignored elsewhere).

To conclude: If an individuum can convince 50% of the local poeple, it can change the system. If the individual becomes more and more radical, it can not - of course.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #81 on: January 26, 2014, 03:36:58 PM »
From wili & SATire's responses I see I have a lot more work to do - as I expected I would.

First, SATire your post I think, for the most part, needs to be answered in a new topic as you have highlighted for me a lesson I end up relearning over and over again.  That is, "What are the working definitions of the key words we are using?".  I will start a topic where we can discuss what we mean by the words system, BAU, collapse and, I am going to throw in, sustainability.  There are obviously many ways to use these words as there are not a set or rigid definitions and given that on this blog there are a number of non-native English speakers as well as a variety of cultural differences which impact how one uses and perceives the use of words.  Not to mention that these words have taken on a life of their own in the mass of literature on the subjects we talk about on the Forum and elsewhere.  This will be helpful I think as from reading your post I can see that just between you and I we are not using these words in the same way at all.  Without a doubt most everyone else is working from varying definitions as well.  Sort of like the different ways ccg and I have been using ideology, society and civilization in the posts above.

Re: this

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E.g. you write "Hope does not solve problems"- but I can not find Lindberg stating hope as a solution, I missed that completely.

I was making a statement about his quote.

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In a recent interview Lindberg has this to say about his children.

"I try not to think much about the difficult world they are likely to grow up into. I hope the world has re-ordered its collective priorities enough to save our remaining resources to create things we really need and that can create a better future for a long time, rather than maintain economic growth for one more election cycle," Lindberg says."
 
Hope does not solve problems.

Lindberg is largely a philosophically oriented person not an action oriented person as is seen by his article (and I also sought out some of his other work and statements as I was writing my post).  When talking about the future and his children he acknowledges the problems his children face and says that he tries not to think about that and, in essence, just "hopes" that things work out for them.  Statements like that really annoy me.  There is a famous quote that applies here that describes my viewpoint on things like this, "It takes just as much energy to wish as it does to plan."

More on your other comments later.
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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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #82 on: January 26, 2014, 04:04:33 PM »
I was making a statement about his quote.
I see. Maybe you were a bit biased during interpreting Lindberg. I would read that citation like: He has no working solution at hand. So maybe he hopes someone else will frind a solution. But he clearly does not state that hope is a solution. That would be stupid - since he is not stupid that interpretation is not likely.

If you are going to cite my stable=sustainable above - please do not assume that I say stable=no exponential growth - it must include that all input of the system must equal its output. A sustainable system must be closed - the only energy input is the sun (and resulting wind, plants, ...). So stable/sustainable means also "no holes in the ground" and no more CO2 in the air. I wrote that allready above but there may be the risk you overlooked that.   
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 04:09:45 PM by SATire »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #83 on: January 26, 2014, 04:10:59 PM »
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But perhaps I'm missing something?

I don't believe you are missing anything. Each of these efforts to move away from the current system are worth doing and, if enough do this, the system will collapse. We cannot expect businesses to contribute to this needed collapse. They are and will continue to be completely committed to BAU.

Divestiture is a move away from the system and will contribute to this collapse. Tens if not hundreds of millions moving to a meatless diet will do the same. Simply walking away from the consumer culture, buying only to satisfy basic needs that include, food, clothing, housing and (I must emphasize this) socializing will also contribute. Gardening, buying local, getting off the energy grid etc. are all valid approaches. All that needs to happen is for there to be a  critical mass and the collapse will be unstoppable.

When you compare this to the collapse of the Soviet Union, I would argue that the collapse of the modern industrial state will be even less violent. In the Soviet Union, the methods of control, the source of  power was political and autocratic. This collapse required mass movements, confronting this autocratic power on the streets. In the modern industrial state, we simply need to individually and in sufficient numbers decide to stop buying shit. The collapse would be a slow crumbling of the  economic edifice, leaving stable political structures to address the inevitability of transitioning to a new method of organizing  civilization.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #84 on: January 26, 2014, 04:14:13 PM »
SATire

I personally am not going to set the definitions of the words in the new topic so do not be concerned about that.  I am just going to describe what they mean to me, how I use them, and other various ways I think others in the field like Geer, Foss, Holmgren, Hopkins, the Peak Oil folks, the Green folks, the BAU folks, etc. use and define them.  You and any other interested posters should jump in and tell us the equivalent. I think this would be valuable.  I find activities like this sort of fun and interesting.

And I will try in future posts to be more clear on what I mean when I use them.
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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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #85 on: January 26, 2014, 04:39:20 PM »
I would also like to comment regarding how many people contributing to collapse would be needed. Some have argued we would need 50% of consumers to effect this collapse. This is not the case.

A far smaller percentage would have to alter their lifestyles to trigger this collapse as long as their efforts involved a complete shift of their lifestyles. This group of perhaps 10% to 20% of consumers would need to embrace every single strategy to disengage from the system. Modern western states are currently seeing growth rates in GDP of 1% to 2%. This low growth is causing cracks in the edifice to be visible. If a movement to minimize participation by 10% to 20% were to occur, this low growth could easily slip into a 5% to 10% contraction as the reduced demand of the 10% ripples through the economy.

Make no mistake, such a decision will have a significant impact on their lives. This will not all be bad however. Two years ago, I sold my car. I quit eating meat. I eat like a king however. Nadia and I eat primarily organic, all fresh produce, organic rice and beans. I bake my own bread. We only buy clothes (all natural fibers, no oil based synthetics) when we need them, live in a wonderful turn of the century apartment, and take advantage of all sorts of free events that occur in Chicago. Things for our apartment are purchased almost exclusively in resale shops. We spend so little money that we are able to eat out at various ethnic restaurants several times a week. I have no debt and no longer have a credit card. I walk and ride my bike everywhere. I have so much time on my hands as a result of simplifying my life that I am able to mend my clothes by hand. I have become an expert with a needle and thread. I have a seemingly endless amount of play time. My stress levels have fallen dramatically. My quality of life has improved. Over the past 4 years, as I made this transition, I have slowly lost 50 pounds. I am as healthy as I have ever been in my adult life. I no longer seem to get sick, no colds, no flu.

For me, extracting myself from (or more accurately altering my interaction with) the system has been wonderful.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 05:00:48 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #86 on: January 26, 2014, 04:54:46 PM »
JimD,

actually I am not asking you for your personal definitions of those words. Also I am not sure if I would find a discussion about definitions interesting. But I would like to ask you to be more careful with such words, because you may risk to scare some poeple - that would limit your chance to get them and finaly will make us fail.

We need to get the poeple. We need >50% of them. We need them now to start action - that action may take 20 years, so we must not risk to lose any time.

If you tell poeple things like: "Let us make collapse. Perhaps 90% of us will die because of that action." That is not attractive and it is very probable wrong - so you are out and failed. So please avoid the word collapse since we actually only want 0 emission and not dead poeple.

Same with BAU - To ask poeple to do any "non-usual" things is risky and you will fail. Please ask poeple to do known and prooven things which result in 0 emissions. And those things must become BAU. So please do not fight BAU because sustainable BAU is our goal.

If you want the poeple - do not tell them what to do not. Tell them what to do. We need a positive attraction and not fear. Of course your poeple are different from my poeple here - so we need different attractions.

E.g. exit nuclear here was a very good motivation to kick on renewables. Reduction of CO2 emission in the beginning was considered futile - since that stuff just will burn elsewhere. But different places need different actions - so you should know what will work at your place to get >50% of the poeple. Go that way.

SH - I did answer your comment allready above. We have >10% out here and the system is fine. And if you reduce your middle class that would be compensated by increased middle class in China. You must be emission free but GDP does not matter.

edit: Nice way of life, SH. It sounds like the way I called "granola BAU" above and is widespread here, too.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 05:09:16 PM by SATire »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #87 on: January 26, 2014, 05:06:10 PM »
You must be emission free but GDP does not matter.

I could not disagree more strongly. GDP, growth if you will, is at the very heart of the system. Driving a stake through it will force a reconciling. The system is absolutely dependent on growth. Causing a dramatic contraction will absolutely empower, require actually, other institutions to step in to replace the collapse of the growth system.

Also, it is not necessary for anyone to suggest that "doing without" is needed. In fact, my personal experience is that extricating yourself from the growth system is remarkably rewarding.

Also, growing the middle class in China, is absolutely dependent on western nations continuing to consume things they do not need. Here is a chart of China's trade surplus.

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/china/balance-of-trade
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 05:11:23 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #88 on: January 26, 2014, 05:17:27 PM »
Shared Humanity,

please do not get me wrong intentionally. The goal is zero emission. That is something to agree on.
0 GDP could be one way to go there but it is not a goal. You can have high GDP in granola BAU - e.g. by high priced cran berries. So you may have high GDP at zero emission - but that really does not matter! GDP is just a number, how could it matter!

That you should not consume things is clear - that would not be emission free!

edit: Germanys trade surplus is similar - it only means, that our emission numbers are overrated because we imported emission from places importing our products.
But the Chinese increasingly consume - they will not stopp before they consume more than US poeple per capita, of course. But also they will start with some kind of alternative zero emission life - Zen-BAU or something...

« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 05:24:04 PM by SATire »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #89 on: January 26, 2014, 05:43:50 PM »
Quote
What are our options.  Can an individual action, which only has the power to degrade the system comparable to what an individual is worth in the system, have meaningful impact?  Clearly not.  Tens of millions of individual actions do make mass?  Perhaps that works.  An argument can be made (and it is another difficult one) that the most effective way for the average person to help bring the system down is just to continue living the way we do now.  Or even to maximize that lifestyle.  Promote growth, consume, drive a big car, eat meat.  For it is certain that every person acting Green with the intention that by everyone doing so would build a path to a solution is actually prolonging the pain and deferring the payment of this debt we owe to someone else but us.

If we agree that individual green actions (and non-actions) are not adequate in themselves to effect any real change, I hope we can see that the very same point means that individual 'brown' un-environmental actions are equally unlikely to effect systemic changes of the types we are discussing.

It is hard for me to imagine that the folks in the boardrooms of top corporations are shivering in their shoes that people might consume so much that they will collapse the capitalist system.

I think the point of withdrawal from the 'system' can have many sides and can possibly incorporate many potential allies. The 350 movement is now focused on getting schools and other groups to divest from FF companies. I can imagine this expanding to divesting from major banks that invest in the same. Churches are moving toward removing their funds from banks that did so much to create the last financial crisis. These are the types of groups whose divestment initiatives helped end apartheid. Combine these with those who follow or at least respect the likes of Holmgren and the various environmental groups (who have been getting more and more radicalized), and you are indeed starting to look at a critical mass that could be large enough to "crash" (or severely hinder plans of) the global financial network and the fossil-death-fuel companies.

The overall effort must be to de-legitimize these entities in the eyes of more and more people. Holmgren, after all, traces his realization of the fragility of the system to Reagan's statement that it is belief in the system that supports it. Lot's of people stopped believing in the Soviet system, and one day it suddenly and completely collapsed. The aftermath has not always been particularly pretty, but it is a precedent for a massive, seemingly unassailable (except by nuclear annihilation) oppressive system suddenly collapsing in a relatively non-violent way.

People on PO fora used to say--if you want to bring on PO, just drive around even more. Well, that hasn't worked very well. All those folks showing that they are willing to pay every higher prices for oil meant that all sorts of crud that folks thought would never be economical to extract have been--hence Holmgren's "Brown Energy Path." An exhortation to drive more and eat more meat is, to me, a call to vote for exactly that dirtiest of paths (however insignificant any one such vote may be, either way).

But perhaps I'm missing something?

Well this section certainly needs some work as I meant to imply with my little phrase "this is a difficult one".  It is far too complicated to brush across with one paragraph as I proved so well.

Let me turn your post upside down and start with the Peak Oil point.

Quote
People on PO fora used to say--if you want to bring on PO, just drive around even more. Well, that hasn't worked very well.

You say that this did not work out well as a tactic, but was the tactic actually executed?  As an old Peak Oil blogger I think you would probably accept my statement that the current media hype that Peak Oil is dead and industry has proven them wrong is complete propaganda.  We are on the long talked about bumpy plateau.  What has been proven to date is that the extreme positions that the peak and decline would happen very quickly did not pan out (and there was little logic to that position if I may say so).  Fossil fuels are a finite resource and EROEI is physics so there is no mathematical doubt that we are peaking overall and that the decline in C&C by the original definition is underway.  In light of that summary if we turn back to the point of maintaining consumption, or even increasing it, as a tactic to bring the decline forward in time it would be fair to say that it has to work and is functionally working right now as, in sum, that is what the US population is essentially doing.  Not everyone of course, and the rise of alternative energy sources and hybrid vehicles has a small impact, but in aggregate we are executing that tactic.  But, any such tactic will take a looong time to have substantial effect.

The above point I am going to use to counter this part of your post

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If we agree that individual green actions (and non-actions) are not adequate in themselves to effect any real change, I hope we can see that the very same point means that individual 'brown' un-environmental actions are equally unlikely to effect systemic changes of the types we are discussing....

...I think the point of withdrawal from the 'system' can have many sides and can possibly incorporate many potential allies. The 350 movement is now focused on getting schools and other groups to divest from FF companies. I can imagine this expanding to divesting from major banks that invest in the same. Churches are moving toward removing their funds from banks that did so much to create the last financial crisis. These are the types of groups whose divestment initiatives helped end apartheid. Combine these with those who follow or at least respect the likes of Holmgren and the various environmental groups (who have been getting more and more radicalized), and you are indeed starting to look at a critical mass that could be large enough to "crash" (or severely hinder plans of) the global financial network and the fossil-death-fuel companies.


First I have a question and my answer to that question.  What is yours?

If you have two people who are doing essentially the same action. But one of those people is consciously and deliberately executing that action with the goal of bringing down the system (collapsing it to a much lower state of energy consumption which will result in a dramatically lower population).  And the other person is executing that same action with the goal of salvaging the system in order to maintain it and the population at roughly the same levels of complexity, lifestyle and size.  Are these two people actually doing the same thing?

My answer is a definitive NO.

The above situation is the one we are living in.

Bill McKibben has a long track record of environmental commentary going back many years.  I have read many of his works and recognize him as a deep thinker and not a naive person in any sense.  He has struggled for many years for change and fully recognizes the danger of AGW and knows that deep collapse is coming.  He knows that it is likely too late to fix the situation but he is making his last try to make the result less worse than it will otherwise.   He created 350.org as a last ditch attempt to exercise what power he has to try and fulfill what the first person in my question above is intending to do.

He knows that premise 1 is true, likely believes that premise 6 is true, is trying to execute premise 7, and utterly believes premise 8.

The vast majority of the people who support McKibben and 350.org think they are executing what the second person in my question above is doing.  They are the Green-BAU folks I dig at all the time.  They do not actually understand the situation we are in (or perhaps they do subconsciously and are incapable of formulating it in their conscious minds) and are trying to "save" civilization, their way of life, create a fair and equitable society, and cannot conceive any form of dramatic population reductions.

McKibben knows that what his supporters want is not possible, and that if they knew what he was really trying to do most of them would not support him or help him.  He is using them.

This is where I have hopefully have started to differentiate this group of people into their respective categories and thus make a little more clear what I was trying to say in my long post. 

If you are executing Green-BAU with the goal of continuing today's world in essentially the same form, but with a greater percentage of alternate energies and some sort of striving for "sustainability" you are tilting at windmills.  Such a thing simply cannot be accomplished as the laws of physics do not offer that as a possible solution.  That is why I say that these people have made their choice already  "...that they have already made their choice about the future.  The choice they unthinkingly made was to ally themselves with their most diametrically opposed opponents;  the supporters of the status quo, the BAU forever folks, the fossil fuel industry, the Rapture is coming religious right, the free market capitalists, the Imperialists, the empire builders.".

McKibben is not naive.  He is using these people to try and bring down the system.  If the goals of 350.org were actually achieved that is what would happen.  This is exactly what Holmgren is suggesting be done.  It would dovetail in exactly with what McKibben is doing and since I am sure the two know each other it would not surprise me that they have had some deep discussions along this very line.

Doing what McKibben is doing is morally different than what his followers are doing.  McKibben is found here; "An actions morality - or at the very least its perceived morality - can shift depending on one's perspective, but also of course on circumstance."  His followers are definitely NOT in the same place.  McKibben is using his followers just like the US military uses its soldiers.  The military's goal is to support the empire, which is not a good selling point when asking soldiers to sacrifice their lives, so it tells the soldiers that they are putting their lives on the line to save their freedom and their families from evil.  It works like a champ!

So we reach the point where we say intent matters just as results matter.

Premise 1:  Civilization is not sustainable.  Green-BAU supports civilization so it inevitably fails.

My other point about intent was this.  If you are executing a 'green' lifestyle and checking out of civilization as much as you possibly can with the intent to learn and recreate skills which are critical to the post-collapse world you fall into a different category than the Green-BAU folks described above.  That is completely different than trying to maintain BAU.  It is an essential activity and one that I engage in myself every day.  I am too old to see that future, but I want to try and pass on the skills the survivors of the bottleneck will need.  This is the place that I perceive posters like ccg, Bruce and Neven being in.  That may be presumptuous, but that is where I think they are working.

Does this clarify the point I was trying to make for you?
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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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #90 on: January 26, 2014, 06:05:24 PM »
SATire.....I understand now what you are saying and, for the most part, we are saying the same thing. Obviously zero emissions is the final objective. My point is that disrupting the current growth system is a requirement to move in this direction.

When I say collapsing the system, I do not mean some sort of violent action or reaction. This system needs growth and putting in place an ongoing contraction will render the rules of the existing system obsolete. This can be done more easily than most of us think.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #91 on: January 26, 2014, 06:11:14 PM »
SATire et. al.

I sometimes get strident or testy in my posts. This is only because I am passionate about the problems and possible solutions. I value everyone's contribution here, even those who disagree with or are critical of my comments.

I just wanted to put that out there.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #92 on: January 26, 2014, 06:12:41 PM »
JimD,

actually I am not asking you for your personal definitions of those words. Also I am not sure if I would find a discussion about definitions interesting. But I would like to ask you to be more careful with such words, because you may risk to scare some poeple - that would limit your chance to get them and finaly will make us fail.

I stated the intent to create the topic because I see a lot of misunderstanding about different meanings. If you are not interested it makes no difference to me.  As to your second sentence I completely disagree with you.  My intent IS to scare people and I think failure of the Green-BAU approach is certain so it is not possible for me to impact its failure.

Quote
We need to get the poeple. We need >50% of them. We need them now to start action - that action may take 20 years, so we must not risk to lose any time.

The time to start implementing your type of solutions was the first Earth Day protest in 1970 which I participated in.  The time when such solutions could have worked is long past.  You are standing on the beach trying to tell all the nude sunbathers that that big dark line on the horizon is a tsunami coming and we need to run.  It is too late for both of you already as you cannot outrun the wave. Best grab one of their surf boards and try and ride it out.

Quote
If you tell poeple things like: "Let us make collapse. Perhaps 90% of us will die because of that action." That is not attractive and it is very probable wrong - so you are out and failed. So please avoid the word collapse since we actually only want 0 emission and not dead poeple.

Zero emissions will not save us.  It will be decades before you could achieve that and to do so would absolutely require a dramatic population reduction (which you also don't like).  By then the carbon emissions added to the system will result in AGW effects sufficient to crush civilization.  You must have zero emissions right now.  And then actions which pull the co2 levels down substantially every year.  Do you actually think that is possible?  Without a dramatic population reduction starting right now?  Zero carbon emissions requires you turn off the fossil fuel industry right now.  You have to stop making cement.  You have to turn off industrial agriculture.  Doing that guarantees global collapse right now and results in dramatic population reductions almost immediately.  And don't forget that those newly struggling people are going to immediately go out and start cutting down every tree for fuel and digging up their own coal which is easy to do and start burning that.  They will also be forced  to clear almost all of the forest of North America and Europe to grow food upon in the attempt to feed themselves.  What will that do to carbon emissions.

Quote
Same with BAU - To ask poeple to do any "non-usual" things is risky and you will fail. Please ask poeple to do known and prooven things which result in 0 emissions. And those things must become BAU. So please do not fight BAU because sustainable BAU is our goal.

Civilization is not sustainable.  7-9 billion people are so far beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth that what you are suggesting amounts to a suicide pact for the future.

Quote
If you want the poeple - do not tell them what to do not. Tell them what to do. We need a positive attraction and not fear. Of course your poeple are different from my poeple here - so we need different attractions.

E.g. exit nuclear here was a very good motivation to kick on renewables. Reduction of CO2 emission in the beginning was considered futile - since that stuff just will burn elsewhere. But different places need different actions - so you should know what will work at your place to get >50% of the poeple. Go that way.

There is no German solution just as there is no American or Chinese solution.  The problem is a global one and the only solution must be a global one.  This should be obvious I would think.

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: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #93 on: January 26, 2014, 06:39:51 PM »
There is no German solution just as there is no American or Chinese solution.  The problem is a global one and the only solution must be a global one.  This should be obvious I would think.
JimD - do you remember that you once convinced me here that US  never will accept a global solution (other than nuking the world or other kind of suicide-rapture-rushing)?

The solution is 0 emission everywhere. The road may be different and the way to get the poeple will be different.

I understand that you are frustated and want to stopp action and collapse now. But I am still able to do things - now more than before, so I will proceed. And I continue teaching my children also to work for sustainable society. Probably you are right and it is futile - but I can not stopp trying - of course. We will try as hard as we can and than we will see, what we did. Surely not everything we will have done will be considered good in the end - for me it is to early to judge my life but it is the time to try harder.

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #94 on: January 26, 2014, 07:52:16 PM »
Does anyone have any idea how much of current industrial ag is actually used to directly feed people with the grain/legumes produced. I'm thinking it is a minority of total acres, but I have no idea how much. My impression is that most industrial ag is used to feed livestock and to make ethanol. Does anyone know where to find info on this?

The flip side of this is what percent of the world's poor supply what portion of their calories come from industrial ag and what comes from small farms and gardens, either their own or from farmer's markets...

I'm not saying that a collapse of industrial ag will not result in massive food shortages. I just do wonder how much of that food shortage will be due to ongoing wasteful use of what food is available, and how much will be due to actual, physical shortages.

ETA: OK, I got off my sorry @$$ (actually, I did all this sitting down--so much for metaphor), and looked up some stats. Here's one on meat:

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35 percent of the world grain harvest (760 million tons) used to produce animal protein

http://www.earth-policy.org/data_highlights/2011/highlights22

The ratios given here are 7 pounds of grain for one pound of beef weight gain, 3 for pork, and 2 for poultry and farmed fish. So just shifting more of the meat eating there is to pork and (especially) poultry and fish would go some way in the right direction. (I know these numbers are somewhat contested, but mere conservation of energy/mass means that you will get less out than you put in.) But really moving mostly off meat would get us faster where we need to be.

I'll see if I can find out, but I would have to assume that soy bean production would be a similar number. Grain figures get better when soy is mixed it (though the same is true for the value of these grains and legumes for humans as far as protein goes).

ETA again: OK, it looks like almost all soy production in from major producers is used for meat and oil production (though these two are not broken down further here):

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Only about 10 percent of all of these soybeans was eaten as tofu or some other food; the rest were crushed for animal feed and soybean oil.

I don't know what the ratios are for pounds of soy feed per pound of meat produced, but I imagine they are similar to the grain ratios.

Soooo, We could lose a third of total grain production and nearly all soy production and it would mostly come out of meat consumption. Yes, those calories/proteins would have to be made up, but that could happen much more efficiently that through CAFO fed cattle, etc.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 08:23:57 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."

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #95 on: January 26, 2014, 08:05:48 PM »
There is no German solution just as there is no American or Chinese solution.  The problem is a global one and the only solution must be a global one.  This should be obvious I would think.
JimD - do you remember that you once convinced me here that US  never will accept a global solution (other than nuking the world or other kind of suicide-rapture-rushing)?

You misunderstand me.  The US is the world's dominant empire.  It will not accept your solution it will attempt to impose its own global solution.  Big difference.  And it won't be alone as the I fully expect all powerful countries to largely go along with the path the US decides to take as they have little choice in the matter and everyone wants to be left standing.  That includes Germany, which in many ways is even more bought into the industrial worlds method of operating than the US is.  Give me a shout when Germany hits zero emissions. Consider the following numbers in light of sustainability.

Germany 225 people per sq km  approximately equal to 1.1 acre per person

US 32 people per sq km approximately equal to 8 acres per person

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The solution is 0 emission everywhere. The road may be different and the way to get the poeple will be different.

I understand that you are frustated and want to stopp action and collapse now. But I am still able to do things - now more than before, so I will proceed. And I continue teaching my children also to work for sustainable society. Probably you are right and it is futile - but I can not stopp trying - of course. We will try as hard as we can and than we will see, what we did. Surely not everything we will have done will be considered good in the end - for me it is to early to judge my life but it is the time to try harder.

While I have no illusions about the paths we all are likely to take - BAU will run the show until collapse happens.  I find it impossible not to at least occasionally focus on reality and the only path that the data indicates could have a chance of actually largely (certainly not completely) getting a substantial number of us out of our dilemma.
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

Bruce Steele

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #96 on: January 26, 2014, 08:54:36 PM »
 If zero emissions is the goal it is just a question of how long it will take to get there and how much damage we will do to the earths climate  between now and when zero emissions are achieved. Any lessons that inform the zero rate goal are important to pursue but getting those lessons passed on to future generations is critical also. Wanting to help and actually doing so are separated by results.
 Primitive skills for procuring and preparing food as well as local knowledge about spring locations,salt licks,and animal + fish migration patterns are the knowledge sets that got humans and human ancestors through millions of years without planet wide self inflicted disasters. Those skill sets will be important again someday but it would be nice to hand along a legacy that improved on those skill sets with both self sustainable farming and hopefully mechanical aids that don't get us back into our current predicament.
 None of these lessons or goals will be improved upon by continuing Co2 emissions. If civilization means maintaining large cities there will be no civilization. None of our skill sets from ~ 300 years ago can support very large population concentrations. Every question now comes down to time. Ten years ago when I first jumped into the rabbit hole we were emitting ~27 gt Co2 per year now we are at
~35gt Co2 and there isn't any indication this increase is changing anytime soon. This site and I would think everyone here would agree that 45 gt or 50 gt per annum will result in summer melt of arctic
sea ice. I am convinced it will also impact the ocean carbon sink negatively and the resultant heat increases will also reduce the terrestrial carbon sinks. For these reasons the carrying capacity of planet earth is already less than it was 200 years ago and it will drop from here until we get emissions below the  2 gt carbon ( ~5.2 gt Co2 )that the ocean can put into long term carbon sinks.
 We are intervening in the planets ability to maintain it's carbon sinks. This will result in a much hotter planet. We are going to push an enormous number of species into extinction and large mammals that our ancestors depended upon are high on that list. I am trying to say time is very important. Ever day in our current overshoot will reduce the eventual number of humans this planet can support. Carbon sinks do not recover quickly once compromised .
 The only thing to fear isn't fear.   
   
 

Shared Humanity

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #97 on: January 26, 2014, 08:55:18 PM »
Does anyone have any idea how much of current industrial ag is actually used to directly feed people with the grain/legumes produced. I'm thinking it is a minority of total acres, but I have no idea how much. My impression is that most industrial ag is used to feed livestock and to make ethanol. Does anyone know where to find info on this?

I did a little research for the U.S. In 2011 there were "43.4 billion pounds of beef harvested under USDA inspection."

http://www.beefusa.org/beefindustrystatistics.aspx

Since it takes 7 kg. of grain to produce 1 kg. of beef, this means that it took 138 billion kg. of grain to produce one years production of beef.

In 2012, the U.S. produced 354 million tons of grain or 321,818,181,818 kg. of grain. If my calculations are correct and if you assume a steady state of annual production, 43% of all grain grown in the U.S. is used to produce beef.

Please keep in mind that this is only for beef. Pigs and chickens consume another large amount of  the grain grown.

SATire

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #98 on: January 26, 2014, 08:58:19 PM »
You misunderstand me.  The US is the world's dominant empire.  It will not accept your solution it will attempt to impose its own global solution.  Big difference.  And it won't be alone as the I fully expect all powerful countries to largely go along with the path the US decides to take as they have little choice in the matter and everyone wants to be left standing.  That includes Germany, which in many ways is even more bought into the industrial worlds method of operating than the US is.  Give me a shout when Germany hits zero emissions. Consider the following numbers in light of sustainability.
[...]
I find it impossible not to at least occasionally focus on reality and the only path that the data indicates could have a chance of actually largely (certainly not completely) getting a substantial number of us out of our dilemma.
JimD - again you make it very easy to get a sharp and sudden focus.

Following that precise logic Germany will hit 0 emission just when US will. And the latter never will hit 0, because even the radical greens there consider burning fuel in vain to drive the collapse road and never will make it with the 50% of the poeple. It will stay stalled in radical positions fighting itself. The logic of collapse but human nature dictates to fight it anyway and to continue working for the future - in vain and knowing that facts. Good luck everybody.

Shared Humanity

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #99 on: January 26, 2014, 09:02:08 PM »
Let's do a little hypothetical mind game. I love to do these, not because they are real but because they help frame a discussion.

What would happen to the industrial agriculture system in the U.S. if Americans stopped eating beef? 43% of all grain grown is consumed by cattle. Much of our grain is produced by this industrial system. How would this industry look if 43% of the demand for their product suddenly disappeared?