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wili

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The Degrowth Imperative
« on: April 24, 2014, 07:54:06 PM »
The linked video is a presentation by ecologist William Rees on the concept of and necessity for economic degrowth.




However unlikely to happen, it seems the most humane plan if it could be carried out. It is essentially a planned collapse followed by a stable-state economy. Most of the talk is about where we are and how we got here. It's a bit bumpy at the beginning, so be patient.

Much of the question period is quite good, too.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 08:42:39 PM by wili »
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idunno

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 08:45:08 PM »

Jim Hunt

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 11:45:05 PM »
Here's the New Economics Foundation's "Impossible Hamster":

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 11:55:04 PM »
The linked video is a presentation by ecologist William Rees on the concept of and necessity for economic degrowth.




However unlikely to happen, it seems the most humane plan if it could be carried out. It is essentially a planned collapse followed by a stable-state economy. Most of the talk is about where we are and how we got here. It's a bit bumpy at the beginning, so be patient.

Much of the question period is quite good, too.

Thank you for this.

I agree with everything said and nothing  more about our current situation needs  to be said. What needs to be discussed is the process to implement planned collapse.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2014, 12:16:29 AM »

JimD

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2014, 03:39:00 PM »
Yes a good article and to the point.  Here is another just as good or better.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/the-earth-in-a-skillet/

Quote
Why Green Capitalism Will Fail

Green capitalism is destined to fail: You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. We can’t shop our way out of global warming nor are there technological magic wands that will save us. There is no alternative to a dramatic change in the organization of the global economy and consumption patterns......

There is just no escape from the dilemma we are in.  Green-BAU, Green-Capitalism, the invisible hand of the free market, magic renewable technology....it is all a big pile of BS.  There is no way one can look at the facts and run the numbers even a bit and not come to the conclusion that collapse is inevitable unless God comes down and saves us. 

Between climate change and being far beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth there is just no other conclusion.  And if there is even 1% of the card carrying environmentalists, climate scientists, AGW accepters and such that accept that (we are completely ignoring the rest of the folks) and are willing to act on it I will eat my hat.  There is no meaningful difference between the two camps when it comes to actually addressing what needs to be done. 

I was rereading one of the Limits to Growth books yesterday (2052 by Randers) and noticed that his conclusions about how long we have are already too optimistic.  His projected numbers on global mortality rates and birth rates are both off the to the bad side already.  Mortality is not yet increasing and births are not dropping as fast as projected.  We are certainly on the path to approx. 9.5 billion circa 2050.  Well over 2 billion more than today.  The news last night said that the birth rate in the US is once again climbing.  There is no possible way to reconcile those numbers and fixing AGW and carrying capacity.  IT doesn't matter what kind of technology you come up with.

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

Jim Hunt

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2014, 04:14:31 PM »
There is just no escape from the dilemma we are in.  Green-BAU, Green-Capitalism, the invisible hand of the free market, magic renewable technology....it is all a big pile of BS.  There is no way one can look at the facts and run the numbers even a bit and not come to the conclusion that collapse is inevitable unless God comes down and saves us.

Exeter University's Professor of Energy Policy in similar vein:

http://econnexus.org/transformational-climate-science-at-exeter-university/#comment-219491

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We as individuals and communities in civil society have to do all we can to get our politicians, neighbours, businesses, energy suppliers and so on to take climate change seriously. Climate and energy policy must take note of the IPCC warning and act now.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2014, 05:59:39 PM »
There is just no escape from the dilemma we are in.  Green-BAU, Green-Capitalism, the invisible hand of the free market, magic renewable technology....it is all a big pile of BS.  There is no way one can look at the facts and run the numbers even a bit and not come to the conclusion that collapse is inevitable unless God comes down and saves us. 

Between climate change and being far beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth there is just no other conclusion.  And if there is even 1% of the card carrying environmentalists, climate scientists, AGW accepters and such that accept that (we are completely ignoring the rest of the folks) and are willing to act on it I will eat my hat.  There is no meaningful difference between the two camps when it comes to actually addressing what needs to be done. 

Which leaves the only rational action to prepare to navigate collapse, surely?

Except in reality I think it'll be like a lung cancer patient swearing off cigarettes on their death bed, or a mass murderer finding religion in the electric chair. Too little, too late, and no good intentions at work.

That, of course, is the final nail in the coffin that guarantees a much more severe and long lasting collapse than would necessarily be inflicted upon us.

domen_

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2014, 02:17:41 AM »
Quote
There is just no escape from the dilemma we are in.  Green-BAU, Green-Capitalism, the invisible hand of the free market, magic renewable technology....it is all a big pile of BS.  There is no way one can look at the facts and run the numbers even a bit and not come to the conclusion that collapse is inevitable unless God comes down and saves us.
It's not that we couldn't fix our problems with renewable energy, the problem is that we aren't doing it.

It's not renewable energy's fault, it's our fault.

It's our political and social system that prevents doing what needs to be done in order to have a sustainable environment.

Here's an interesting perspective on limits to growth from physicist.



http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/sustainable-means-bunkty-to-me/
http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/

It's a good blog, worth of reading.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2014, 03:43:06 AM »
It's not that we couldn't fix our problems with renewable energy, the problem is that we aren't doing it.

It's not renewable energy's fault, it's our fault.

[snip]

It's a good blog, worth of reading.

The linked articles also appear to contradict your assertion that our problems can be fixed with renewable energy?

In any event, many of our problems are nothing to do with energy at all, at least not in the sense that renewable energy can solve them except in the most fantasy based view.

domen_

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2014, 12:22:24 PM »
The linked articles also appear to contradict your assertion that our problems can be fixed with renewable energy?
The link contradicts that we can grow our economy for much longer, but it's not saying that we can't have a steady state economy with our current consumption (which is what I had in mind with my assertion).

However, it does say that it is skeptical that we are capable of achieving it, because we haven't shown any serious effort to do so.

SATire

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2014, 01:27:42 PM »
The linked articles also appear to contradict your assertion that our problems can be fixed with renewable energy?
The link contradicts that we can grow our economy for much longer, but it's not saying that we can't have a steady state economy with our current consumption (which is what I had in mind with my assertion).

However, it does say that it is skeptical that we are capable of achieving it, because we haven't shown any serious effort to do so.
domen_, full agreement from here. In other words: Exponential growth is impossible, since it must result in a collapse at some time before we eat away the galaxy. That is a simple fact and logical.
The second point is also true - our current energy consumption can be renewable. That is also a simple calculation. Unfortunately, our consumption is not renewed today.

The contradictions arise from different interpretations - e.g. green BAU, where "BAU" is something related to exponential growth of natural ressources and "green" means something like sustainable. That is a contradiction in itself and thus a lie to cheat someone. But that is not found in the link but in our heads - also e.g. in heads from green parties poeple.

This weekend German green party has its party congress and traditionally that is an argument between "fundamentalists" and "realists" about which direction to go from here. Without those two "wings" the green party would never made it into mainstream and there would be no green BAU in Germany. But there is also a lot of manipulation in the discussions, since such poeple are politics by    heart.

What is the topic this year and why do I post this comment here? It is about economy. One wing says "we must overcome the necessity to grow" and wants to fight big industry. The other says "the necessary ecological modernisation is only possible together with industry and not against it". http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/gruene-streiten-ueber-neue-wirtschaftspolitik-a-972111.html

That is a fascinating discussion and right at the heart of our dilemma. We know we must degrowth now - but that is so uncool and you can not convince the poeple to follow you. So we start to cheat: We may artificially run short the ressources (e.g. by carbon tax) so we can increase some number like GDP while getting green. That is only show to let the situation looking nice. Or would you follow a Germany with constant reduction of GDP? You would lough at the weak soft poeple here and proceed doing "better". So we discuss how to degrowth while letting it look like growth. If ressources get more expensive and work gets paid higher we will have nice numbers. At the same time we reduce consumption and work towards a situation, where not only energy is renewable. Unfortunately "renewable" only means, that it could be renewed but not that that is true right now. To get sustainable all things must be renewed in true life and not only potentially. That is the task to to and the question is, how to get the poeple in that boat now: With the fundamental as well as with the realistic wing together. 

JimD

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2014, 03:56:07 PM »
The linked articles also appear to contradict your assertion that our problems can be fixed with renewable energy?
The link contradicts that we can grow our economy for much longer, but it's not saying that we can't have a steady state economy with our current consumption (which is what I had in mind with my assertion).
However, it does say that it is skeptical that we are capable of achieving it, because we haven't shown any serious effort to do so.

Big disagreement with your assertion that I bolded.  We have 7.3 billion people, population trends and demographics indicate we are going to somewhere around 9.5 billion by 2050, and we are already far in excess of the Earth's carrying capacity.  So, no we cannot maintain civilization by replacing fossil fuels with renewables.  There is far more to our problems than carbon emissions.  Folks just walk by this issue all the time.  The Earth cannot survive the numbers of people we have and are going to have.  Regardless of whether we stop emitting excess carbon.

Absent dramatic population reductions all efforts are a waste of time.  We must drop consumption far beyond any green ideas.  And AGW is not going take prisoners.  Even if we all lived like the 'average' African global carbon emissions would be 7-10 Gtonnes per year.  AGW would continue to worsen.  And then there are the building feedbacks from methane emissions.  And those coming 9 billion people would still be consuming far beyond the carrying capacity.  Sea levels are going to rise by huge amounts and that cannot be stopped any longer.  Eventually we are looking at probable 10+ meters when all is said and done.  By the time we are done stripping the earth of resources, exterminating the other species, raising sea levels, and heating the place up the carrying capacity is likely to be well below 1 billion.  The only steady state that is possible does not in any way resemble what exists anywhere on earth today.

We MUST collapse.  We will collapse. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily.  But it is happening and one can see its effects already.  Renewables cannot fix that problem.
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: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2014, 06:38:55 PM »
We MUST collapse.  We will collapse. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily.  But it is happening and one can see its effects already.  Renewables cannot fix that problem.
JimD - I guess "The Degrowth Imperative" implies, that the voluntary version would be appropriate in this thread. And I agree, renewable will not alter the necessity to degrow - such kind of energy will only enable us to replace some mussles by some technology. Of course to a much different extent than we are used to now. But that is another story.

But how to start the shrinkage now? How to convince the poeple in your city? Of course population reduction is key - so educate the girls in the educational under-developed countries like in Africa and parts of North America ;-) But even more complicated is it to prevent the poeple from judging their government by the GDP-growth it can "deliver". How do you name it in America? "It's the economy, stupid!". That silly idea is the brick in our way, the 1000 pound gorilla between us and our future. Any suggestions how to convince your poeple besides letting them collapse by viruses and such?

domen_

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2014, 07:26:53 PM »
Big disagreement with your assertion that I bolded.  We have 7.3 billion people, population trends and demographics indicate we are going to somewhere around 9.5 billion by 2050, and we are already far in excess of the Earth's carrying capacity.  So, no we cannot maintain civilization by replacing fossil fuels with renewables.  There is far more to our problems than carbon emissions.  Folks just walk by this issue all the time.  The Earth cannot survive the numbers of people we have and are going to have.  Regardless of whether we stop emitting excess carbon.
Of course there is a lot more to sustainability than just carbon emissions. We also need to stop overfishing, stop destroying arable land, stop depleting aquifers, and many more. But that doesn't mean there's some magical force that prevents us from fixing it. We can fix it.

There is plenty of energy from renewables and we can use this energy to fix other unsustainable things.

Population problem will take care of itself. When people are educated and women have right to control their bodies, then population stops growing. We have globally already reached peak child and increasing life expectancy is the only reason why global population will increase to 10billion in 2050. It will stabilize at that number (and possibly even decline like in many developed countries).

The problem of sustainability is not the problem of current population or technology. It is social and political problem. People are unaware of how bad the situation is and politics is intertwined with industries who benefit from pollution and unsustainable practices. These are the root causes of our inability to reach sustainability.

We have become a global species and we have global environmental footprint. This is the first time that has happened in human history and people don't understand it yet. It's not about one or other country (like small tribes in the past), it's about global governance over global environmental constrains.

Some people don't like it. Tough luck. If we want to have a sustainable planet, then there's no way around it.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2014, 04:28:28 AM »
Of course there is a lot more to sustainability than just carbon emissions. We also need to stop overfishing, stop destroying arable land, stop depleting aquifers, and many more. But that doesn't mean there's some magical force that prevents us from fixing it. We can fix it.

One tiny little detail you might be glossing over here - a lot of those things - the destruction of arable land, depleting aquifers, overfishing - those are partly consequences of trying to produce too much food. Sure, you might be able to fix them - but it would mean substantially throttling back capacity, and thus mean starving people.

If you're going to say that you can change consumption patterns to fix that, it immediately puts the lie to your assertion that current levels of consumption could be maintained - which they cannot anyway, as many truly finite resources are depleting at very significant rates (and most theoretical renewable resources are being depleted as though they were finite too).

There is plenty of energy from renewables and we can use this energy to fix other unsustainable things.

You can replace the fish in the sea? Restore extinct species? Prevent acidification? Reverse carbon dioxide levels very rapidly? Create new farmland? Replace fossil fuels not just in raw energy value but in applied utility? (ie a lot of heavy equipment burns them, and you're living on another planet than me if you think you can convert it all to electric propulsion with existing battery technologies).

Population problem will take care of itself. When people are educated and women have right to control their bodies, then population stops growing. We have globally already reached peak child and increasing life expectancy is the only reason why global population will increase to 10billion in 2050. It will stabilize at that number (and possibly even decline like in many developed countries).

Evidence we already reached peak child?

Even if we did - the problem remains that we are already too far into the red line. Plus it remains to be seen if the demographic transition is truly capable of holding long term (evolutionary pressures favour the more reproductively successful individuals).

There simply isn't time to make all these changes, taking historical precedents. Population will be controlled through famine, war and disease - just as with any animal that multiplies beyond carrying capacity. We are no different from rabbits, save a slower generational timespan. The timescales required for change massively exceed the remaining time from the bulk of the population becoming aware there is a real problem.

Even now, almost all I see is people talking about these problems (at most). Meaningful actions? Not really.

domen_

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2014, 12:19:59 PM »
One tiny little detail you might be glossing over here - a lot of those things - the destruction of arable land, depleting aquifers, overfishing - those are partly consequences of trying to produce too much food. Sure, you might be able to fix them - but it would mean substantially throttling back capacity, and thus mean starving people.
There are many things to do in order to avoid food shortages. We can stop wasting so much of our food and distribute it in a more efficient way. We can reduce meat consumption and feed more people instead.
Quote
If you're going to say that you can change consumption patterns to fix that, it immediately puts the lie to your assertion that current levels of consumption could be maintained
It depends on particular problem. We can't continue with overfishing, but we can continue with our energy use.
Quote
You can replace the fish in the sea? Restore extinct species? Prevent acidification? Reverse carbon dioxide levels very rapidly? Create new farmland? Replace fossil fuels not just in raw energy value but in applied utility? (ie a lot of heavy equipment burns them, and you're living on another planet than me if you think you can convert it all to electric propulsion with existing battery technologies).
We can't restore extinct species, but we can prevent further extinctions. We can make biofuels for heavy equipment. Renewables allow us to transform our economy from unsustainable to sustainable.
Evidence we already reached peak child?
First paragraph: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24835822
Quote
The timescales required for change massively exceed the remaining time from the bulk of the population becoming aware there is a real problem.
Bulk of population doesn't have big ecological footprint anyway. The top 10% are those who are causing these problems. They are the ones who are consuming too much and destroying environment. It's a social and political problem.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2014, 04:22:32 PM »
Of course there is a lot more to sustainability than just carbon emissions. We also need to stop overfishing, stop destroying arable land, stop depleting aquifers, and many more. But that doesn't mean there's some magical force that prevents us from fixing it. We can fix it.

There is plenty of energy from renewables and we can use this energy to fix other unsustainable things.

Population problem will take care of itself. When people are educated and women have right to control their bodies, then population stops growing. We have globally already reached peak child and increasing life expectancy is the only reason why global population will increase to 10billion in 2050. It will stabilize at that number (and possibly even decline like in many developed countries).

The problem of sustainability is not the problem of current population or technology. It is social and political problem. People are unaware of how bad the situation is and politics is intertwined with industries who benefit from pollution and unsustainable practices. These are the root causes of our inability to reach sustainability.

We have become a global species and we have global environmental footprint. This is the first time that has happened in human history and people don't understand it yet. It's not about one or other country (like small tribes in the past), it's about global governance over global environmental constrains.

Some people don't like it. Tough luck. If we want to have a sustainable planet, then there's no way around it.

Domen

Much (almost all actually) of what you wrote above is just nonsense.  It sounds good and humane, but it is just nonsense.  Stop repeating liberal social theory and look at the facts and how much time we have left and see what conclusion results. 

This nonsense about the population problem 'fixing' itself is just insane talk.  It astonishes me how often people throw it out.  Look at the actual numbers for christs sake!  Educating women is a great goal and a social good. BUT it in no way no how fixes the population problem as that demographic dynamic takes at least 2 to 3 generations to take full effect.  "That" is how we end up at 9.5 billion people in 2050.  Those numbers 'assume' education for women.  Population is growing fast!  By 2050 human population may have peaked but it will have risen 2.2 billion people.  That alone is more than the current carrying capacity of the Earth by a "wide" margin.  And carrying capacity is going down fast...........Population will fix itself all right.  By a viscious collapse.   OR by BAU and green-BAU approaches fully stripping the Earth of resources and precipitating an even deeper collapse.

You are very unrealistic about what is possible in this world.  Sustainability is impossible when you are beyond the carrying capacity.  That is the very definition of same.  It is not corporations and politics. It is too many people.  It is the stupidity of human nature. 

If you think that a global governance is even possible barring absolute mayhem you are just naïve.  Absolute mayhem is another way of describing collapse.

And I guess you must be in favor of the US running the global government (they will not put up with anyone else running it).  There are plenty here of course who like that idea and some who have that intent... But, knowing a lot of these people, I can state with real confidence that they do not see a vast number of our current population as having any real worth.  Especially folks who argue for equitable sharing.

Idealism is all nice and all that.  But this is the real world.  Some things are possible in the real world and some are not - no matter how nice they would be.

Renewables are great, and we will eventually run almost entirely upon them, but we will not run anything that looks like our current civilization on them.   The energy density of fossil fuels cannot be replicated with renewables.  That density (high EROEI) resulted in our vast population.  Absent that level of EROEI you cannot have this civilization nor the 9.6 billion people.

I have grown weary of these discussions.  I used to think that the BAU folks were the problem and that with enough education and data it would be possible to convince people to change.  I was stupid.  The green-BAU people are just as bad and working just as hard to maintain a sinking ship.  The green-BAU guys are the waiters serving the drinks to the BAU guys playing the band instruments while the Titanic sinks and everyone drowns - lifeboats?  What's that?.  It would be sad if it were not so predictable.
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: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2014, 06:55:26 PM »
I have grown weary of these discussions.  I used to think that the BAU folks were the problem and that with enough education and data it would be possible to convince people to change.  I was stupid.  The green-BAU people are just as bad and working just as hard to maintain a sinking ship.  The green-BAU guys are the waiters serving the drinks to the BAU guys playing the band instruments while the Titanic sinks and everyone drowns - lifeboats?  What's that?.  It would be sad if it were not so predictable.

The spiral of denial - worms all the way to the bottom (http://helpsurviveclimatechange.com/forum/index.php?topic=33.msg54#msg54).

Start with 7 billion people.

Eliminate all those insufficiently educated or intelligent enough to grasp the basic concepts of what is happening.
Eliminate those who refuse to grasp the basic concepts, who are at one level of denial or another.
Eliminate those who refuse to act.

Now, when we're talking about probable civilisational collapse - how many people are left after those rounds of elimination?

Anyway, I've given up on any notion of a group effort. The statistics to me indicate our species will be lucky if there are even a few isolated individuals really looking out for the longer term future.

domen_

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2014, 07:36:16 PM »
This nonsense about the population problem 'fixing' itself is just insane talk.  It astonishes me how often people throw it out.  Look at the actual numbers for christs sake!
The actual numbers say that we have reached peak child and that population will peak at around 10 billion in 2050 or so.

Quote
That alone is more than the current carrying capacity of the Earth by a "wide" margin.
You are confusing population with consumption. Most of the people don't consume much because they are too poor to afford it anyway. It's the top 10% that are consuming more than carrying capacity.

Undeveloped world doesn't matter. If 3-4 billion poor people suddenly died, we'd still be in overshoot. It's not the poor who are pushing Earth beyond sustainable limits.

We need to gradually reduce unsustainable consumption and this reduction must happen in developed world, because that's where it comes from.
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If you think that a global governance is even possible barring absolute mayhem you are just naïve.
It worked well in the case of protecting the ozone layer. GHGs are tougher nut to crack, but now that affordable alternatives are available it will be easier to make significant steps towards solution.

Societies can change rapidly. Everyone once thought Soviet Union was impenetrable fortress, yet it collapsed faster than anyone imagined. It's possible that the same will happen with carbon emissions (and possibly other unsustainable practices). Fossil fuels look like an impenetrable fortress, but in 10 years, who knows.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2014, 08:28:01 PM »
It worked well in the case of protecting the ozone layer. GHGs are tougher nut to crack, but now that affordable alternatives are available it will be easier to make significant steps towards solution.

I grant that an international agreement was reached, but the ozone layer is not "fixed". We just avoided making it very bad. Far from the same thing.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100505-science-environment-ozone-hole-25-years/

Quote
Now a complete rebound seems imminent. Some scientists project that by 2080 global ozone will return to 1950s levels.

And of course, it also happens to have masked the extent of the ultimate severity of the threat from Antarctica (which as recently reported seems to have been underestimated too):

Quote
"It's very difficult to quantify the impact on a global scale, but I think the evidence suggests filling the hole will have a regional effect on the Antarctic, possibly leading to more warming for the bulk of the Antarctic," Shanklin said. "That could drastically change predictions about global sea level change."

And the Montreal Protocol isn't necessarily fully implemented yet:

http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/airpage.nsf/webpage/Repairing+The+Ozone+Layer

Quote
All products containing less destructive ozone- destroying chemicals identified in the 1990 Act must be labeled by 2015.

Great, what about chemicals not identified at all in the 1990 Act?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/09/ozone-hole-antarctica-chemicals

Whoops.

So, no, I don't think one can claim the ozone problem was truly fixed. We might have acted enough to avoid immediate major problems - but it is not fixed now, nor necessarily certain to be fixed later if we keep making new chemicals that can damage it.

Furthermore the scope and scale of this problem was utterly trivial compared to greenhouse gas emissions. One of them concerned a semi obscure branch of chemicals used for niche applications, and the other utterly underpins modern civilisation. That's got to count for a difference in difficulty of several orders of magnitude at least (so not fully solving the ozone problem is a pretty poor precedent in that light).

Just to add a final insult to injury, some of the later effects of climate change might also significantly damage the ozone layer. So in the end, should our failure mean climate change proceeds that far (it would require substantial participation from natural feedbacks) - the Montreal Protocol is utterly worthless to those who must live in the future.

ritter

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2014, 11:13:58 PM »
You are confusing population with consumption. Most of the people don't consume much because they are too poor to afford it anyway. It's the top 10% that are consuming more than carrying capacity.

Undeveloped world doesn't matter. If 3-4 billion poor people suddenly died, we'd still be in overshoot. It's not the poor who are pushing Earth beyond sustainable limits.

We need to gradually reduce unsustainable consumption and this reduction must happen in developed world, because that's where it comes from.

No. Population is not sustainable at several billion even at the most meager level of sustenance. Look at this graph. What goes up at this rate will surely crash.



SATire

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2014, 10:19:44 AM »
Domen

Much (almost all actually) of what you wrote above is just nonsense.  It sounds good and humane, but it is just nonsense.  Stop repeating liberal social theory and look at the facts and how much time we have left and see what conclusion results. 

This nonsense about the population problem 'fixing' itself is just insane talk.  It astonishes me how often people throw it out.  Look at the actual numbers for christs sake!  Educating women is a great goal and a social good. BUT it in no way no how fixes the population problem as that demographic dynamic takes at least 2 to 3 generations to take full effect.
[...]
I have grown weary of these discussions.  I used to think that the BAU folks were the problem and that with enough education and data it would be possible to convince people to change.  I was stupid.  The green-BAU people are just as bad and working just as hard to maintain a sinking ship.  The green-BAU guys are the waiters serving the drinks to the BAU guys playing the band instruments while the Titanic sinks and everyone drowns - lifeboats?  What's that?.  It would be sad if it were not so predictable.
JimD - same weariness here. But there is no way out - a bird needs 2 wings to fly and not 2 wings fighting each other. From my own perspective I see the 2 wings of German green party as example here - just because I know them and they are active. But very sure there are similar folks are at your place. So "green-BAU" here is the "Realo" (realistic)-wing and the other (your side?) wing is the "fundamentalistic": The former wants to perform degrowth together/inside the system and the latter against it/without compromises. Both can not do allone and need each other to fly / to have effect in the real world - so stop that wing-fight.

To be more explicite JimD: "Much (almost all actually) of what you wrote above is just nonsense" is a word which can be applied to your words with similar arguments you used. That is typical for wing-fights.
If you want to convince us, that radical population reduction with cruelty is the way to go I ask you to consider to execute your plan with your family first. (Please do not do it - just consider!). Maybe you see reasons not to apply that plan in real life. To conclude: You can not convince the poeple to follow you if you do not kill yourself and you can not convince the poeple if you do it - since you would be dead. So please be realistic and try things, which are applicable in real world and are not only good ideas in forum discussions.

Please respect the green-BAU-waiters on the Titanic serving drinks to the economy which must die while you continue shouting hysterically "we must all die" to wake up the others to start actions (e.g. going the the sustainable life-boats or getting a drink while collapsing the old economy). Both guys are needed on a sinking ship. To fight each other is wearing off our possibilities to execute our work. So please - how to perform the degrowth with your folk at your place? Each kind of poeple needs different motivations and in an international forum we could get good new ideas. Not all ideas will work at your place but some could work elsewhere - so please let some room for ideas also for other places.

Laurent

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2014, 01:15:47 PM »
Satire I think you misinterpret what Jimd is saying...Where does he says that the we have to kill billions of people...I am not seeing that...Am I wrong ?
What I understand is that we are no way out of recovery if we go on with the population as it is now even with woman education at least not in due time to avoid a collapse...that's it nothing else and I am saying the same, I won't produce numbers I have no clue of what is the threshold it depends of so many things (technical, political...).
To fly you need two wings and they have to work together in the same direction.... we have a movement in France called "Colibri  http://www.colibris-lemouvement.org/ (french)" they are asking as to become colibri adding our bit to help extinguish the fire...well well there is a long time that Pierre Rabbi is preaching but still no effect (or so little)...part of the reason is that the colibris have the wings in fire bringing fire to everywhere they try to extinguish the fire.
As long as people (all of us, including me) will not recognise that they are the problem and it cannot be solved until we assess  (and eliminate) exactly the amont of green house gazes (not only EROI) that we are using directly or undirectly, indivually and collectively there won't be any solution.

SATire

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2014, 02:14:31 PM »
Laurent - surrely I am interpreting the comments while reading, what else could I do to learn?

If we assume, that current carrying capacity of the Earth is < 2.2 billion poeple (reply #17), than some necessary killing could be interpreted. 
I would deny that and I am sure, carrying capacity is larger: E.g. in Germany first population explosion was after invention of bread & beer - enough to sucessfully challenge the Romans. Second explosion was after introduction of potatos ~1800 - bringing us in the situation to challenge Europe. Third revolution was medicine - poeple stay older while reproduction was reduced. And since 1960 population is constant only due to immigration. To conclude: Population density in Germany can be maintained using beer, bread, potatoes and medicine - fossils are not necessary.

Second: It is postulated that population reduction is a long term thing. No - more than 50% of countries have negative reproduction ratio. Even countries like Ethiopia or Iran made the reduction possible in 1 generation just by some education after beeing freed from external powers. 1 Genration is sufficient to get the birth rate down. Of course it takes the time until that generation is dead to get population numbers down - that is why 2050 is the year for the world. And with a bit of education in Africa and USA the population problem could be addressed at least. The word solution is to big if you are not trying at all... 

But the problem we are not addressing here is how to get the GDP down. How to perform degrowth? How to convince the poeple to try that? I totaly agree that we are not solving the problem. But that is the case not because that is impossible but because we just do not start the work. Instead there are continuing wing-fights, which are really not suitable to convince the mass of the poeple! If the wing-fight would be arguments about how to do the next steps like current party congress here (see reply #11), that would be fruitful. But still to discuss if renewables should be used or not / a sustainable economy should be done or not / etc. - that makes no sense anymore. The only discussion needed is _how_ to do all that and then try it & learn by doing. So - how to convince the poeple to degrow and consume less and reduce the GDP? 

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2014, 02:18:11 PM »
ritter, the fact is that population growth is slowing down and will eventually hit zero growth because we've hit peak child.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth

This does not mean sustainability. On the contrary: we're far away from sustainability. Not because of population, but because of consumption.

If everyone wanted to live like Americans, then even 1 billion people would not be sustainable.

Developed countries must reduce consumption. There's no way around this.

And in the mean time, we have to find a way that takes people out of poverty and does not harm environment, so that undeveloped world doesn't go on the same destructive path as developed countries have been.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2014, 02:30:32 PM »
Quote
So - how to convince the poeple to degrow and consume less and reduce the GDP?
It's hard to imagine that degrowth would happen voluntarily. I think that we need market regulations for environmental constraints. For example: a price on carbon would effectively put an end to fossil fuel use. We should find similar solutions for other unsustainable problems.

SATire

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2014, 02:44:40 PM »
Quote
So - how to convince the poeple to degrow and consume less and reduce the GDP?
It's hard to imagine that degrowth would happen voluntarily. I think that we need market regulations for environmental constraints. For example: a price on carbon would effectively put an end to fossil fuel use. We should find similar solutions for other unsustainable problems.
Hi domen - that is exactly the position of "green-BAU" (e.g. the "Realo"-wing Green-party): To degrow inside the system by tailoring the regulations accordingly. I do agree to that position because poeple here are used to accept such ways and it is a gradual change they can adapt to. Also for economy it is possible to follow such route because it is well predictable ("and they may enjoy some last drinks on the Titanic"). Riots on the streets would also be minimal - but that must start really now and those are just my 2c.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2014, 03:04:24 PM »
ritter, the fact is that population growth is slowing down and will eventually hit zero growth because we've hit peak child.

Subject to decades of extrapolation, assuming all other factors remain constant? That's quite a stretch to say we can be sure of hitting zero growth (although we can, for a time, as the population must adjust to diminished resources and habitat at some point).

All the other points - fine sentiments - if people had acted on them decades ago, perhaps things might have been different. It's too late now though. And so far they mostly just seem to be that - fine sentiments - the life styles of the vast majority of even environmentally active and aware people are not remotely sustainable or just in developed nations. If the best of us cannot on average find a solution, what chance the masses?

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2014, 04:47:30 PM »
Quote
So - how to convince the poeple to degrow and consume less and reduce the GDP?
It's hard to imagine that degrowth would happen voluntarily. I think that we need market regulations for environmental constraints. For example: a price on carbon would effectively put an end to fossil fuel use. We should find similar solutions for other unsustainable problems.

How is making a decision to put a price on carbon not voluntarily choosing degrowth?

The simple fact is that to embark on a path of degrowth ( absolutely necessary if we are to survive) requires us to not only do it voluntarily but, given the crisis that is rapidly approaching, also aggressively. Aggressive degrowth is absolutely incompatible with our industrial market economy which is very simply a "growth system". The only possible solution to our conundrum is to devise a new way of organizing  human civilization".

The political and policy conflict that is currently occurring throughout every culture on the planet, certainly in the developed and developing world, is between advocates for growth and for those who have realized that continuing on the path of growth is suicidal. I would ask everyone to listen to the public discussions that are occurring in your world (regional, national, local and personal). Where I live (Midwestern U.S.) the discussion focuses on the need for growth.

I would like to focus on the "personal". Who here does not look at ways to improve their lives and the lives of  their families? We work to develop our careers, increase our incomes, pursue education to further our personal growth. All of us (and I mean all of us) accept the "growth paradigm" to guide our decisions. We are part of this growth system and everything we do serves to sustain the system.

If we want to save ourselves, each of us must reflect deeply on our role in this system. How are our decisions serving to support the existing system. We then must consciously choose to operate from a different paradigm and have every decision reflect this new paradigm. It is not until a fairly large group of people, in the developed nations choose this path that we will begin to transform this system from within.

We need a revolution but the revolution is personal.

If we cannot choose to do this in our personal lives, we are no different than the nations of the earth. Each of us is looking at the other and saying "You first". More accurately, we are looking at each other and saying "You do it so I don't have to".
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 05:13:57 PM by Shared Humanity »

JimD

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2014, 05:31:51 PM »
Domen

If you want to go around with your head stuck in the sand it is up to you.  None of your numbers survive logic investigation.

You say it is 10 billion by 2050.  Much worse than the projection of 9.5 billion.  If we hit 2050 with the population we have NOW it is game over.  That is the point.  This nonsense about rising affluence in the 3rd world lowering birth rates and saving us is thus disproved.  It simply will not work.

To think that poor people do not matter in the calculations of AGW is being willingly blind.  The 'average" African emits 1 tonne of carbon per year.  If we all lived like that today it is 7.3 Gtonnes emissions, in 2050 by your numbers it would be 10 Gtonnes.  AGW would continue to worsen.  2+2=4 not 5.  And I point out that you want to grow the economies of everyone so that rising affluence an education will result in lower birth rates.  You do realize that means that those peoples carbon emissions will rise don't you?  Thus any further growth makes the problem worse not better.

Economic and population growth must stop or there is no way to fix, adapt to, or mitigate the problem.  Faith in technical miracles is no different than faith in God coming down to save us.

It is naïve in the extreme to think that there is any real possibility of global governance.  It defies history, politics and, most importantly, it demonstrates a  complete misunderstanding of fundamental human nature.

SATire  I know that I have explained before that what I 'personally' propose as a solution to the population problem.  You know that I have never proposed exterminating people.  YOUR comment is kind of inappropriate don't you think?

The most humane way to  lower the population quickly that I can think of is a deliberate decision by the global population not to have ANY more babies.  Period.  No rich person, no poor person, no American, no African.  Nobody, no exceptions.  Everyone shares equally. And we do this for 20-25 years.  Personally painful for many, but NOT EVIL and not in any way a threat to our survival as a species. This would result in a population circa 2050 of under 5 billion people.  If we did this we would have a chance.

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: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2014, 05:56:16 PM »
JimD - I am sorry for the exaggeration. My comment is more inappropriate than yours and furthermore yours was not directed at me. So I was really unfair. But I will not edit it because the logic of that statement is so clear.

You are right, that forced birth control would be a solution to the population problem, that is not evil. Maybe some religions may have some problems with that but we do not have to take care for such things. So there is a way on that side of the road, too. So next to 0 fossil consumption for all we have a path with tiny fossil consumption for a few. More options are allways a good thing - unless you have the work with the choice ;-)

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2014, 06:02:15 PM »
The most humane way to  lower the population quickly that I can think of is a deliberate decision by the global population not to have ANY more babies.  Period.  No rich person, no poor person, no American, no African.  Nobody, no exceptions.  Everyone shares equally. And we do this for 20-25 years.  Personally painful for many, but NOT EVIL and not in any way a threat to our survival as a species. This would result in a population circa 2050 of under 5 billion people.  If we did this we would have a chance.

Humane perhaps, but intrinsically just another unfairness to be heaped upon the heads of my generation - another price we would be asked to pay on behalf of the decisions of our ancestors.

Not that I am under any illusions it would actually happen. Just as the US tries to hide behind China on the carbon issue, everyone would hide behind the African nations with the highest birth rates.

Anyway it couldn't be equal sharing without tackling the matter of inter-generational justice. I'm not saying I have any more humane (or even fair) ideas, just saying it is not equal and not fair even so. My generation would still end up with the shitty end of the stick (though at least if one could pull it off, one would limit the impacts onto future generations, which is the real goal).

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2014, 06:12:56 PM »
I would like to focus on the "personal". Who here does not look at ways to improve their lives and the lives of  their families? We work to develop our careers, increase our incomes, pursue education to further our personal growth. All of us (and I mean all of us) accept the "growth paradigm" to guide our decisions. We are part of this growth system and everything we do serves to sustain the system.

While I cannot argue I have quite yet entirely decoupled from the system of modern civilisation, I question that all of us accept the growth paradigm as a guiding factor for our decisions. In fact, I think mine are guided by the opposite premise - that growth will end and rapidly reverse (and probably chaotically and in an unmanaged fashion).

I certainly question that everything I do serves to sustain the system. I walked away from a secure job into significant insecurity, I resisted significant pressure to buy the cheapest shittiest house and lock myself into 25 years of slavery to pay for it (this won't make so much sense to people outside the UK, ie you need to understand the property market there to get this - and the perceived importance of "getting on the ladder"), have put my life and freedom on the line - at what point did everything I do serve to sustain the system, again?

If we want to save ourselves, each of us must reflect deeply on our role in this system. How are our decisions serving to support the existing system. We then must consciously choose to operate from a different paradigm and have every decision reflect this new paradigm. It is not until a fairly large group of people, in the developed nations choose this path that we will begin to transform this system from within.

More importantly, if individuals and small groups can raise their resilience and sustainability there comes a point where they become increasingly less dependent (and ultimately not at all) upon the wider system - meaning they can continue to function even when the main system crashes and burns.

Of course, the later this is left - the less scope there is to do so. Right now, I am strongly of the opinion that virtually everyone is going to leave these ideas until far too late, and thus collapse could become nearly absolute. The number of people equipped to deal with it and the amount of organisation will be so low that violent competition will be the only strategy available for the vast majority of people, exacerbating difficulty considerably for those with the foresight and motivation to have actually tried to prepare.

If we cannot choose to do this in our personal lives, we are no different than the nations of the earth. Each of us is looking at the other and saying "You first". More accurately, we are looking at each other and saying "You do it so I don't have to".

So isn't the question what every one of us is doing, as opposed to saying?

And if anyone answers that question, the next question must be one of sufficiency - is what they are doing enough. Doing anything less than what is sufficient is a placebo and bragging posture, not a meaningful solution.

ritter

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2014, 06:47:02 PM »
ritter, the fact is that population growth is slowing down and will eventually hit zero growth because we've hit peak child.

...

This does not mean sustainability. On the contrary: we're far away from sustainability. Not because of population, but because of consumption.
No, population is still the problem. If we all ate twigs-n-berries and lived in little tents, we'd plow through the Earth's bounty like a locust swarm at current populations. We are running out of water and land to grow food. Climate change will further impact that ability, complicating growing seasons with heat/cold, drought/deluge at unacceptable times.

Consumption is only symptomatic of the real problem--there are too many humans living in a closed system. I don't disagree that population will level off ~9 billion. But that leveling would have had to happen prior to 1800 at ~1 billion for us to have a chance of it saving us from a lack of resource-induced population crash.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #35 on: June 04, 2014, 07:57:53 PM »
You seem to have drawn a conclusion from what I typed that is inaccurate. I have been a fierce supporter of the growth system and quite successful I might add. I own a home that is worth $500K, have 4 adult children who have all gone to some of the top schools in the U.S. My wife and I, until recently, earned a combined $250K per year.

I include myself as someone who has spent his entire life doing what I needed to do to sustain the system. I am trapped in the same paradigm that all of us are trapped in. Anyone living in a developed nation who argues they are not guided by the growth paradigm is either delusional or a monk who has taken and adheres to a vow of poverty.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 08:11:05 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2014, 08:08:31 PM »
ritter, the fact is that population growth is slowing down and will eventually hit zero growth because we've hit peak child.

...

This does not mean sustainability. On the contrary: we're far away from sustainability. Not because of population, but because of consumption.
No, population is still the problem.

Consumption is only symptomatic of the real problem--there are too many humans living in a closed system. I don't disagree that population will level off ~9 billion. But that leveling would have had to happen prior to 1800 at ~1 billion for us to have a chance of it saving us from a lack of resource-induced population crash.

I agree. If you look at the world's population, 1 billion was a number we achieved while only at the very beginning of our fossil fuel driven mania. We, I believe, could easily support this number in a sustainable fashion. The ecosystems that are under pressure would rebound quite rapidly, fish stocks, water stocks etc. I would even allow for someone to argue that our current state of technological progress could mean a higher population would be possible, perhaps as high as 2 billion which, in 1930, was before the truly insane economic growth took off. This number, of course, would only be achievable if the 2 billion discarded the trappings of a materialistic culture.

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #37 on: June 04, 2014, 11:48:28 PM »
You seem to have drawn a conclusion from what I typed that is inaccurate. I have been a fierce supporter of the growth system and quite successful I might add. I own a home that is worth $500K, have 4 adult children who have all gone to some of the top schools in the U.S. My wife and I, until recently, earned a combined $250K per year.

I include myself as someone who has spent his entire life doing what I needed to do to sustain the system. I am trapped in the same paradigm that all of us are trapped in. Anyone living in a developed nation who argues they are not guided by the growth paradigm is either delusional or a monk who has taken and adheres to a vow of poverty.

If I am someone who has done little better than merely survive all his life, and most of what little better I have done has been ploughed into a response to the future I and others face (ie dealing with the problems caused by the growth obsession), would you then really argue I am actively sustaining the system?

I would question that, beyond the immediate imperative to interact with it to obtain the essentials for life - food, water, clothing, etc - and to leverage the system itself to construct the means with which to manage without it (my personal project absolutely requires the ability to operate without the system).

The basic needs the system forces participation with the threat of violence backing it up, so I'm not sure I see it exactly as voluntary participation, more that it is prudent to avoid criminality as much as possible in the interests of self preservation (and ironically the system would still feed you as a prisoner). That is to say that it is less risky to feed myself via the system (while developing alternative options) than to fight the system for food.

I think your perspective is coloured by your experiences of life, as is mine. And a person who grows up malnourished in Bangladesh would have yet another perspective, even further along the spectrum. Do they participate in the growth system? No, certainly not in the sense you claim to have. Where is the line between participant and victim? I grant I might fall under participant, in however minor a degree - but there are those where it's hard to argue are anything other than victims.

And you'll find those victims even in developed nations... just perhaps not in the spheres of influence you're used to. A less developed nation still has those who are benefiting from the system - by disposing of the natural resources to feed the insatiable appetites of the westernised consumer.

While I grant it's a nonsense for someone who has fully participated within the system to talk about anything else (nobody would follow it up with the actions required) - for those with less investment in the system, it's a lot easier to contemplate alternatives.

That's also why revolutions are usually started by the portion of the population of lesser socioeconomic means. Less to lose, more to gain.

It is of course the active (and increasing) oppression of the disadvantaged portion of the population that delays action, even as it will amplify the ultimately inevitable chaos. Those who are affluent and comfortable are quite happy with the status quo, and will, as you say - continue to actively participate and by driven by the growth imperative. Ironically, I think those people also talk more about the problems - as it is a luxury to be able to do so (as opposed to just try to fulfill the daily grind of survival).

The chattering classes...

wili

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2014, 04:41:06 AM »
I just noticed that Kevin Anderson has a blog, where he discusses degrowth as well as a variety of other issues: http://kevinanderson.info/blog/an-inconvenient-truth-us-proposed-emission-cuts-too-little-too-late/
"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."

wili

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2014, 05:34:08 AM »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2014, 07:27:35 PM »

Laurent

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2014, 07:25:04 PM »

Bob Wallace

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2014, 09:25:05 PM »
The US wastes 40% of all food produced.  Africa wastes 50%.  That's enough food to feed about 1.5 billion.  Much of Africa has poor agricultural practices.  Food output could be considerably increased.  Cutting back on beef consumption would free up massive amounts of food that could go directly to people.  We have agricultural technology that could considerably increase our food output if needed.

The Earth can feed another 3 billion.  (Assuming that to be where we'll peak out based on current growth rates.)  I'm not saying that 9 billion would be a good thing, just doable if we fail to cut growth faster.

The rest of the world might wish to live at US standards, but the amount of 'stuff' people have will be limited by the economics of acquiring.  And that means that most people will continue to live simpler lifestyles, without large houses, cars, jet skies, etc.  That does not mean a life of abject poverty for "non-Americans".  As we improve efficiency and lower manufacturing cost people can enjoy life with light, refrigeration, air-conditioning and the basic comforts.

We have sustainable ways to produce all the electricity anyone would need.  We can provide public transportation and basic personal transportation where needed.  (China, for example, has over 200 million electric motorbikes.)  We're starting to furnish people at the very bottom basic solar power which can give them clean lighting, cell phone charging and power a radio/tablet.  As those systems are paid off they can enlarge their system to run a fan, refrigerator, etc.

A crash?  I think not.  We don't go from 6 to 9 billion overnight, but gradually work our way there and make adjustments along the way.


Laurent

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #43 on: September 13, 2014, 02:01:56 PM »

ccgwebmaster

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #44 on: September 18, 2014, 08:21:37 AM »
The Earth can feed another 3 billion.  (Assuming that to be where we'll peak out based on current growth rates.)  I'm not saying that 9 billion would be a good thing, just doable if we fail to cut growth faster.

The current population is 7 billion I thought.

Either way - it's an unsafe assumption that the planet could feed an additional 3 billion given that we are already failing to consistently feed 7 billion, and when you take the timescale to add that 3 billion and compare it with resource availability and climate change, it's highly improbable you can in fact support that population - or for that matter the existing one.

Basic limits to growth stuff?

viddaloo

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #45 on: September 18, 2014, 11:44:46 AM »
The way I see it, policy planning for an even bigger population of perhaps TEN billion people is a crime. Just as planning for even further economic growth is criminal on this planet today.

Yeah, it is possible to feed ten billion, if that is the only thing that matters. But it implies setting a value of ZERO to people's lives in the decades that follow this stupid goal setting, as all areas must be depleted in order to produce the food for the big and hazardous "10 billion Guinness record attempt".
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domen_

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #46 on: September 18, 2014, 03:52:36 PM »
We can't feed 7 billion not because we couldn't produce enough food, but because we can't allocate food to those who need it. That's a big difference.

Poor people don't have money to buy food, so it's an economics problem.

Bob Wallace

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #47 on: September 18, 2014, 06:28:31 PM »
Correct.  We already produce enough food to feed 9 billion. 

Quote
As much as half of all the food produced in the world – equivalent to 2bn tonnes – ends up as waste every year, engineers warned in a report published on Thursday.

The UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) blames the "staggering" new figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with "poor engineering and agricultural practices", inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/10/half-world-food-waste

The world's population growth rate is dropping, is expected to peak, and then start dropping.  The peak might be 9 billion or even 10 billion.  It might even be lower than 9 billion if we worked harder at bringing down birth rates.

Long term we would be a lot better off to let the population shrink to half what it now is but that is a long process and we need to deal with the problems high population numbers are going to cause for the next century or so.



Bob Wallace

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #48 on: September 18, 2014, 06:44:20 PM »
Here's what has been happening to the world population growth rate over the last dozen years. 




If we would increase the slope a bit more we could peak out at a much easier to manage level. 

Population growth is a lot like energy efficiency.  The more we cut demand, the easier it is to supply demand in sustainable ways.

wili

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Re: The Degrowth Imperative
« Reply #49 on: September 18, 2014, 11:40:05 PM »
A growth rate of 1.1, if it persists at that level, still means doubling in under 70 years.

We will get a 'free' increase of the death rate as the 'first world' global baby boom matures, so if birth rates even just held steady, we'd see a reduction in growth rate from that over the coming decades. (I do wish they'd update that index mundi site soon.)

But the most of the very young populations of much of Asia and Africa have yet to come into their child bearing years.

Here are a couple very recent handy graphs. http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-population-century-billion.html

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