Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

AGW in general => Policy and solutions => Topic started by: wili on April 24, 2014, 07:54:06 PM

Title: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili 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.

William Rees // Part 1 of 3 // Why Degrowth? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJQdVCwOZ1Y#ws)


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. Q&A // Part 3 of 3 // Why Degrowth? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owhuUJjZ7s0#ws)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: idunno on May 27, 2014, 08:45:08 PM
An interesting and eloquent essay by Monbiot in the Guardian...

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/if-we-cant-change-economic-system-our-number-is-up (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/if-we-cant-change-economic-system-our-number-is-up)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 27, 2014, 11:45:05 PM
Here's the New Economics Foundation (http://www.neweconomics.org/pages/what-we-do)'s "Impossible Hamster":

http://youtu.be/Sqwd_u6HkMo (http://youtu.be/Sqwd_u6HkMo)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Shared Humanity 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.

William Rees // Part 1 of 3 // Why Degrowth? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJQdVCwOZ1Y#ws)


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. Q&A // Part 3 of 3 // Why Degrowth? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owhuUJjZ7s0#ws)

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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Shared Humanity on May 28, 2014, 12:16:29 AM
An interesting and eloquent essay by Monbiot in the Guardian...

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/if-we-cant-change-economic-system-our-number-is-up (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/if-we-cant-change-economic-system-our-number-is-up)

Very nice.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: JimD 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/ (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/the-earth-in-a-skillet/)

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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.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Jim Hunt 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 (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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ on June 01, 2014, 02:17:41 AM
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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.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fphysics.ucsd.edu%2Fdo-the-math%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F07%2Fgalaxy-1024x768.png&hash=7125251afe26c4bbe3acd0f79c79894f)

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

It's a good blog, worth of reading.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire 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 (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. 
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: JimD 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire 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?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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 (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24835822)
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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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: JimD 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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 (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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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.

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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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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/ (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100505-science-environment-ozone-hole-25-years/)

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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):

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

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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 (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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ritter 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.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fkenrapoza%2Ffiles%2F2011%2F10%2Flarge_GS.POPULATIONChart.jpg&hash=e76b425ffff5a69d4c7ab88ebeac4e50)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Laurent 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/ (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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire 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? 
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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.
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2Fa%2Fa4%2FWorld_population_growth_rate_1950%E2%80%932050.svg%2F640px-World_population_growth_rate_1950%E2%80%932050.svg.png&hash=6ecbae5af54d44ab3458dbd9d612ea28)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth (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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Shared Humanity 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".
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: JimD 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.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire 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 ;-)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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).
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ritter 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Shared Humanity 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Shared Humanity 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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...
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili 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/ (http://kevinanderson.info/blog/an-inconvenient-truth-us-proposed-emission-cuts-too-little-too-late/)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 10, 2014, 05:34:08 AM
A new paper talking about the consequences of the work of Anderson and Bows:
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-09-03/degrowth-and-the-carbon-budget-powerdown-strategies-for-climate-stability (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-09-03/degrowth-and-the-carbon-budget-powerdown-strategies-for-climate-stability)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Laurent on September 11, 2014, 07:27:35 PM
A Zero Emissions Manifesto for the Climate Justice Movement
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-weis/a-zero-emissions-manifest_b_5762566.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-weis/a-zero-emissions-manifest_b_5762566.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Laurent on September 12, 2014, 07:25:04 PM
Waiter, What's This Diesel Fuel Doing in My Coffee?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-muncrief/waiter-whats-this-diesel-_b_5811262.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-muncrief/waiter-whats-this-diesel-_b_5811262.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace 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.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Laurent on September 13, 2014, 02:01:56 PM
Climate crimes: Naomi Klein on greenwashing big business
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/13/greenwashing-sticky-business-naomi-klein (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/13/greenwashing-sticky-business-naomi-klein)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster 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?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo 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".
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ 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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace 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 (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.


Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace 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. 

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2F2014-09-18_093756.png&hash=1b873ddfbffa4e28feca0c6628bf7ff3) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/2014-09-18_093756.png.html)


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.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili 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 (http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-population-century-billion.html)

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn.phys.org%2Fnewman%2Fgfx%2Fnews%2Fhires%2F2014%2Fworldpopulat.jpg&hash=15501ccf57bb3426deb82713441aa1e3)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 19, 2014, 12:58:50 AM
Poor people don't have money to buy food, so it's an economics problem.

Unfortunately, labeling it as an economics problem doesn't make it any easier to solve. So yes, it's a technical difference perhaps - but not a practical one (over a billion still go hungry daily, despite there actually currently being enough to feed them).

The fact that we couldn't feed everyone properly even when energy was cheap and plentiful and resources in abundance augurs really poorly for a world on track for resource and climate crunches. I present exhibit A - the world of today - demonstrating this.

So talking about running 10 billion, in a world theoretically producing food for same number - is a fairy tale, even if that world ever could exist in terms of the resource depletion and climate change clocks we're racing. We can't feed 7 billion when we produce food for 9, can we? The evidence of years says we can't in practice (even if we could in theory).
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 19, 2014, 03:03:28 AM
" growth rate of 1.1, if it persists at that level, still means doubling in under 70 years."

Yes, but if you look at the data I presented the trend is downward.  1.3 in 2000 and 1.1 in 2012.

If you read the text that goes with the graphs you posted you'll see that the authors talk about dropping populations in Asia.  Only Africa, in terms of regions, continues to show population growth.

We're watching an almost world-wide change in reproduction rates.  Some area has to be last to join the movement.  Do you think it a better bet to assume Africa will end up going its own way or acting like the rest of the world?

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 19, 2014, 03:13:10 AM
"The fact that we couldn't feed everyone properly even when energy was cheap and plentiful and resources in abundance augurs really poorly for a world on track for resource and climate crunches. I present exhibit A - the world of today - demonstrating this."

More accurately it should read "The fact that we haven't been feeding everyone properly..."

We've grown the food.  In Africa we've let half the food go to ruin because we haven't had the transportation (roads) and storage (secure grain bins and refrigeration) needed to store and move the food to where it is needed.

" when energy was cheap and plentiful"

In the hungry parts of the world energy has been neither cheap nor plentiful.  That is changing and will likely change very rapidly.  With distributed generation we don't need to finance and wait for large central generation plants to be built and the grid extended into the farthest regions.  For those people energy will be cheap and plentiful in amounts they could never have imagined.

"We can't feed 7 billion when we produce food for 9, can we?"

Again.  Right now we have about 4 billion people in Africa.  Africa feeds most of them while wasting about 50% of the food it produces.  And, in many places, has poor agricultural practices.

If, as suggested, almost all population growth is to be in Africa then what we have is not a food problem but most a problem of getting food to people before it is spoiled.

(Were we really smart we would be working to keep the peak lower than 9 or 10 billion.  Lowering demand is generally cheaper than meeting higher demand.)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo on September 19, 2014, 03:25:08 AM
Right now we have about 4 billion people in Africa.

Seems you've quadrupled the population figures for Africa, there, Bob. Wiki says 1.1 bn.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 19, 2014, 03:56:11 AM
Oops.  Sorry.  What was I thinking? 
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 19, 2014, 05:05:51 AM
"the authors talk about dropping populations in Asia"...yeah...after about 35 years and many hundreds of millions more people.

You probably got your 4 billion number from this:
Quote
Most of the anticipated growth is in Africa, where population is projected to quadruple from around 1 billion today to 4 billion by the end of the century.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-population-century-billion.html#jCp (http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-population-century-billion.html#jCp)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 19, 2014, 05:09:00 AM
We've grown the food.  In Africa we've let half the food go to ruin because we haven't had the transportation (roads) and storage (secure grain bins and refrigeration) needed to store and move the food to where it is needed.

You personally let half the food go to waste? (by the way the figures are not that much better in developed nations such as the UK if memory serves, the wastage is just for different reasons)

Whose responsibility is this? Whose job is it to fix this? Who should be making sure that the world is a more fair and just place?

That gets you to the heart of the problem, I think you will find. Rich affluent nations such as the US and UK have every interest in poor desperate and easily exploited African nations for their resource base. It is the nature of humanity to want more, even when one has enough and thus the greed of the affluent overrules any concern they might have for their fellow man.

Is that really so easy to fix? We see the pattern repeated even (and I would argue especially) within the more affluent nations - growing inequality of wealth, increasing numbers of people living in poverty (and increasingly even actual food insecurity)

I don't dispute that progress is made in some regions in some of these issues - but would argue it is being lost in others almost as fast (and increasingly fast over time as stresses build). It isn't the trivial problem people like to think it is, not once you add human nature into it. We've long been able to build a better world for ourselves, but we haven't.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 19, 2014, 05:48:19 AM
If you don't think the world we live in now is better than the world we lived in 50 years ago is better then you're walking around blind, deaf and dumb.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo on September 19, 2014, 06:20:54 AM
More suicidal, perhaps. Not better.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 19, 2014, 01:26:34 PM
How many habitats and species have been lost in the last half century?

The percentage of the population undernourished has gone down by about half, but the total population has more than doubled, so we still have about the same number of undernourished/starving people. Is that 'better'? http://thebritishgeographer.weebly.com/food-security-and-strategies-to-alleviate-food-shortage.html (http://thebritishgeographer.weebly.com/food-security-and-strategies-to-alleviate-food-shortage.html)

"Better" depends on what you consider important to measure.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 19, 2014, 10:56:05 PM
50 years ago people my age had a future. Today we do not.

I am not 50 years old, so I can't really comment well on things over that span. But in my personal experience, no, things are not and have not got better. The older generations in my society were able to afford houses, they got free higher education via university grants, they have (objectively measured) taken more out of the social systems than they paid in. They had final salary pensions and secure jobs and the benefits of the post war boom in freedom and prosperity (my parents generation did not fight in the war leading up to that). My generation has none of those things unless very lucky or with significantly wealthy parents.

I was born into rural poverty in Scotland just as the ideology of selfishness and greed really took root in UK society, and have struggled to escape those origins every since - with very limited success, and with any success replaced by a host of new problems, even setting aside the extremely bleak future I see ahead for my generation and beyond.

So maybe for you, things got "better" over the last 50 years - but please let's not assume it's a universal truth. To do that requires you to state metrics and demonstrate scientifically that improvement has occurred - and of course ideally without statistical spin. I mean - lets remember that not only are there just as many undernourished people than ever (even if the proportion shrank) but that there are also more people (literally) enslaved than ever! Progress? Where?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo on September 19, 2014, 11:16:34 PM
What clouds most people's minds is the (sound) advice from friends, therapists etc, to view things positively. This is benign when it comes to your individual life and/or the little things, but the same advice or way of thinking becomes a malign deadly threat when applied to ecology and our species' effect on it. "Thinking positively" — ie cherrypicking the things we feel like thinking about — is the recipe for disaster, as it implies forgetting exactly those things that are most serious and/or dangerous to life on earth.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bruce Steele on September 20, 2014, 02:26:35 AM
Although I need glasses now , and my hearing isn't as good as it was 50 years ago I wouldn't agree to the dumb part. Otherwise I would argue the world is worse now than then but arguing "better" or "comfort" or worse or whatever value judgement you might prefer to debate ad infinitum is an intended diversion in how we engage a degrowth discussion.
 I think each and every person who can get their head around an >80% decrease in their personal Co2 footprint will quickly meet our degrowth friend. We can learn by each others experiences and maybe employ some technological tools to soften the decent but without first agreeing to the radical cuts in our personal impacts we probably can't effectively argue for how everyone can help.
 I also think the whole< 2 degree temperature goal is far to easy for people to dismiss. Tell them that they have to cut back their Co2 emissions by80% and their city infrastructure, state infrastructure and their federal infrastructure individually and collectively have to cut back 80%. Tell them that and they will quickly tell you " it's impossible ".  They then seem happy to accept a 2+ degree warmer world with no real concern for the consequences .  I would like to argue that 80% lessCo2 now would certainly result in degrowth but to delay we enter crash territory. So to sum our choices are degrowth or crash and any argument about values like"comfort"should take a back seat to the 80% less Co2 goal. At this point delay = failure.
     
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 20, 2014, 08:11:02 AM
I would like to argue that 80% lessCo2 now would certainly result in degrowth but to delay we enter crash territory. So to sum our choices are degrowth or crash and any argument about values like"comfort"should take a back seat to the 80% less Co2 goal. At this point delay = failure.

Should we want even the slimmest hope of success, I think all routes now are crash territory. We just still have the option to attempt a managed crash as opposed to accelerating into the wall as we are.

Personally I am under no illusions, it isn't just that people and nations alike continue to ignore the mainstream consensus of the IPCC with their increasingly clear and blunt warnings - but that the IPCC itself is still very likely too conservative in their outlook.

That leaves me in my view - with navigating an unmanaged crash as the only option worth considering. That outlook has only tended to be reinforced for some years now. Nobody much seems to be considering that either though...
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo on September 20, 2014, 06:23:15 PM
That leaves me in my view - with navigating an unmanaged crash as the only option worth considering. That outlook has only tended to be reinforced for some years now. Nobody much seems to be considering that either though...

Unmanaged crash. Word!

And with that, I go subsistence fishing here in the Norwegian wilderness.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 02:54:09 AM
Quote
More suicidal, perhaps. Not better.

Are you old enough to remember what the world was like 50 years ago?

Are you able to remember when smallpox and polio were diseases we had to worry about?  When cancer was pretty much a death sentence?  When organ transplants were science fiction?

Are you able to recall how amazingly polluted most American and European cities were?  How nasty so many of our rivers had become?

Can you remember when all were worried about a World War III between the USSR, China, Europe and the US?  That was a time at which the entire northern hemisphere approached suicide.

Do you remember even back 20 years when our access to information was limited to traveling to the library and hoping they'd have a relevant book?

I'm sorry.  What we have created and accomplished over the last 50 years is nothing short of wonderful.  That doesn't mean that we've done everything correctly nor have we solved every problem.  The wise approach, IMHO, is to take the good and keep working to eliminate the bad.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 03:00:12 AM
Quote
How many habitats and species have been lost in the last half century?

Far too many.  Now we need to work harder and protect what is left to the best of our ability and restore what we can.

The number one thing we need to do is to get off fossil fuels as soon as feasible.  We have the tools we need but the job will take several years.  As we work our tools will improve and our rate of change will almost certainly increase.

Humans didn't evolve in an environment in which long term planing was important.  Feeding oneself and protecting oneself from dangers in the near term was what counted.  I'm not sure we've managed to move beyond short term thinking, in general.  It seems that we have to mess our nest before we realize that we're messing our nest.

We're now becoming very aware of the mess we've created with fossil fuels and we're starting to leave them behind.  We won't get out of this mess without some damage, but we've got a good chance of minimizing it.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 03:14:37 AM
Quote
What clouds most people's minds is the (sound) advice from friends, therapists etc, to view things positively

What clouds some people's minds is the doomerism in which they allow themselves to wallow. 

Being overly optimistic isn't necessarily a good way to lead ones life, but if that's the best you can do it will at least get you out of bed in the morning and out looking for opportunities.  The early bird gets the worm most likely because it spends the most time looking for a worm.

Live with the black cloud of pessimism and you're almost certainly guaranteed to fail.

Let me suggest that people might be best off to adopt a problem solving attitude tempered with a reasonable amount of reality.  See the problems, work on solving them, and at the same time recognize the progress that has been made.   
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 03:17:45 AM
I would like to argue that 80% lessCo2 now would certainly result in degrowth but to delay we enter crash territory. So to sum our choices are degrowth or crash and any argument about values like"comfort"should take a back seat to the 80% less Co2 goal. At this point delay = failure.

Should we want even the slimmest hope of success, I think all routes now are crash territory. We just still have the option to attempt a managed crash as opposed to accelerating into the wall as we are.

Personally I am under no illusions, it isn't just that people and nations alike continue to ignore the mainstream consensus of the IPCC with their increasingly clear and blunt warnings - but that the IPCC itself is still very likely too conservative in their outlook.

That leaves me in my view - with navigating an unmanaged crash as the only option worth considering. That outlook has only tended to be reinforced for some years now. Nobody much seems to be considering that either though...

That sounds to me as if you are unaware of what is happening in the world.  Are you really not aware of how many countries are installing serious amounts of renewable energy?  Are you not aware of how affordable renewable energy has become?  Are you not aware how close we are to have alternatives to petroleum for transportation?

If you aren't aware then I can understand your bleak outlook.  Perhaps you should spend some time learning about our progress off fossil fuels.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 21, 2014, 05:16:14 AM
If you aren't aware then I can understand your bleak outlook.  Perhaps you should spend some time learning about our progress off fossil fuels.

I'm aware that carbon dioxide emissions are continuing to increase and last year the gain was the most in around 30 years. I'm aware that the signal of effects in the earth system is increasingly clear today with decades of committed further change even in the total absence of further emissions. It doesn't matter how much renewable energy there is or what vehicle transport fuels there are if one continues to emit carbon dioxide - or quite possibly even if one merely maintains the existing atmospheric concentration.

I'm aware that the oceans are acidifying and a majority of the coral reefs are essentially doomed, to say nothing of various land based ecosystems (arctic sea ice, amazon rain forest, to name but two). Many species are extinct or going extinct at far above background rates, and this is likely only to worsen. Levels of sea rise sufficient to destroy many major population centres are also already committed. There are serious questions about natural feedbacks even where we are now.

So when I become aware that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have peaked and are starting to decline, that committed effects are manageable and fully expressed within the earth system, and that a stable regime for civilisation persists not just climatically but also in terms of management of key resources - then I might be more optimistic. I don't believe you can reasonably make any of those claims as things stand today. It doesn't matter one jot how much progress there is or what is done if it is insufficient to solve the problem.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 05:29:30 AM
Europe peaked in CO2 emission many years ago.  The US peaked in 2005.  China appears to be hitting peak coal and has started a major movement to put their drivers into EVs.

Even India appears to be backing off coal use.

Coal stocks have lost half their value in the last two years as the market seems to be collapsing.

The levelized cost of energy of leading PV technologies has fallen by nearly 20% in the past year, and nearly 80% in the last five years.

Onshore wind costs have fallen dramatically.  More than 15% in the past year and nearly 60% in the last year.

Renewables are rapidly becoming less expensive than fossil fuel generation.

It will take a little while for this to show up in annual CO2 emission numbers.  But it looks like we'll be on the down slope within five years.

Watch the leading indicators.  It takes a while to slow, stop, and reverse large systems.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 21, 2014, 04:20:23 PM
"adopt a problem solving attitude"

Most problems are the result of solutions.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 05:54:42 PM
"Most problems are the result of solutions."

That's silly wili.

Of course when we implement solutions we sometime encounter unexpected complications.  If one expects solutions to be born perfect right out the box then they will be disappointed. 

If one is more realistic then they'll recognize that it takes work to fix stuff.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bruce Steele on September 21, 2014, 06:50:39 PM
So long as we agree that a Co2 emission peak ,followed by a decline, is our goal then at least we agree on something . Having the Co2 emissions rate increase another five years followed with the same rate of decline for five years after that results in another 380 gT Co2 additions over the next ten years . We will still be emitting 37 gT Co2 annually. So we will have accumulated about 725 billion tons of CARBON in our earth systems stress test. 
 If we agree the trillionth ton will push us past the 2 degree temperature limit then from 2025 till the end of our carbon bonanza we will have about 275 gt C left to squander even under Bob's prediction of a peak in five years. However unwise it will be to test that limit it will only take 25 years at current emissions trajectories . 
 So degrowth now and accept the costs of a 2.5% decline rate in emissions or wait another ten years for a much larger decline rate or wait 25 years and hit the wall?
 Degrowth, lowered expectations and more physical work will be part of the toolbag that will also include renewable energy options.        
 http://trillionthtonne.org/
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 07:23:50 PM
Degrowth, puh.

Smart, sustainable growth.

A few bits from a piece Paul Krugman published a couple days ago.

"I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses.

Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago.
....
But back to the main point: It’s easier to slash emissions than seemed possible even a few years ago, and reduced emissions would produce large benefits in the short-to-medium run. So saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free.
....
But climate despair produces some odd bedfellows: Koch-fueled insistence that emission limits would kill economic growth is echoed by some who see this as an argument not against climate action, but against growth. You can find this attitude in the mostly European “degrowth” movement, or in American groups like the Post Carbon Institute; I’ve encountered claims that saving the planet requires an end to growth at left-leaning meetings on “rethinking economics.” To be fair, anti-growth environmentalism is a marginal position even on the left, but it’s widespread enough to call out nonetheless.
....
So here’s what you need to know: Climate despair is all wrong. The idea that economic growth and climate action are incompatible may sound hardheaded and realistic, but it’s actually a fuzzy-minded misconception. If we ever get past the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet, we’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/opinion/paul-krugman-could-fighting-global-warming-be-cheap-and-free.html (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/opinion/paul-krugman-could-fighting-global-warming-be-cheap-and-free.html)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 07:40:29 PM
Quote
So long as we agree that a Co2 emission peak ,followed by a decline, is our goal then at least we agree on something .

Quote
“A leaked draft of the (IPCC) report sent to governments in December suggests that in order to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) by the end of the century — the stated goal of international climate talks — emissions need to fall by 40-70 percent by 2050.”

http://www.evwind.es/2014/04/05/what-is-the-future-of-fossil-fuel/44609 (http://www.evwind.es/2014/04/05/what-is-the-future-of-fossil-fuel/44609)



40% over 35 years is 1.1% per year.  70% over 35 years is 2% per year.  The IPCC upper bound requires a little less cutting than the 2.5% TrillionthTon is recommending.  Personally I think we should aim for 2.5% or higher, the consequences are so severe that it's better to aim high than to try to sneak by.

Now, can we do 2% or 2.5% without degrowing?

Clearly we can with personal transportation.  Over the next 35 years we can move almost all personal transportation from petroleum to renewable electricity.  If batteries fail to continue to improve we could switch to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. 

Clearly we can with electricity.  The world currently gets about 70% of its electricity from fossil fuels.  Getting down to the IPCC 70% top bound would mean switching abut 1.4% generation from fossil fuels to renewables per year over the 35 year span.  The US is close to doing that much right now and other countries such as Germany have already done better.  Germany has more than met that requirement and ended up with a strong, growing economy.

Heating is the other big user of fossil fuels.  With advances in building construction/efficiency, heat pumps and geothermal heating/cooling we should be able to meet the necessary goals as well.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: domen_ on September 21, 2014, 08:19:10 PM
Something like 80% of world population lives in tropics and subtropics and solar power+battery can provide pretty much 100% of their power.

I don't see a problem why poorer countries (which are mostly in these regions) couldn't sustainably increase their energy use.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 21, 2014, 08:58:15 PM
It's disingenuous to cherry pick specific sectors and say they can be reduced at those rates and to then ignore the overall bigger picture. A significant amount of carbon emissions come from agriculture, for instance. What about the additional energy footprint of replacing infrastructure ahead of it's design lifetime? (if there was to be a truly effective push to cut carbon which to date there is not - adding renewable power is not automatically the same as cutting carbon...)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 09:43:34 PM
The fossil fuel component of CO2 emission can be replaced with a combination of electricity and biofuel.  Methane from feedlots and dairy operations can be captured, used in place of NG.  We may not be able to get agricultural GHG emissions to zero but we can cut them significantly.

In the US, in 2012, only 10% of all GHG gas emissions came from agriculture.

Closing and replacing generation early.  First, closing a dirty coal plant takes a huge amount of CO2 out of the picture.  Wind turbines and solar panels are made mostly with electricity and as our grids get cleaned up that GHG output drops.

Sixty percent of US GHG comes from electricity and transportation.  Another 10% from residential and commercial activities, which I would imagine is mostly fossil fuel heating and which I addressed.

I hardly cherry-picked when, in a quick comment, I covered 70% of the problem.

BTW, most of the coal capacity in the US is aging out. 

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FCoalNucPlantAge.png&hash=3a07c5633277ee24e49a74aecf8dd303) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/CoalNucPlantAge.png.html)

And during the last year most of the installed capacity in the US has been wind and solar.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 21, 2014, 09:52:45 PM
In the US, in 2012, only 10% of all GHG gas emissions came from agriculture.

Unfortunately though (or maybe fortunately actually), we don't all live in the US. It doesn't matter what the US does if the rest of the world doesn't (won't or can't) follow suit. Right now, I think you'll find US responsibility for carbon emissions (including traded goods) continues to rise anyway. But if demand for fossil fuels is cut - that might price out the less easily extracted fuels - but all the easier to extract fuels will still be consumed unless the renewables price falls so far it ceases to be economic to do so. That's still an awful lot of carbon that's cheap enough to release, but too dangerous to do so. Additionally any solution must be capable of being scaled up globally - not just over a single affluent nation.

If we were really near to a peak in carbon dioxide emissions, shouldn't we already be seeing the rate of increase in the atmosphere level off...? We aren't... in fact last year was a rather significant increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the trend so far has been for continued rate increase year on year.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 21, 2014, 10:29:41 PM
Some of the world is moving faster than the US.  Some of the world is moving slower.  But most countries are starting to switch to renewables at some rate.

I showed you the 10% drop in CO2 for the US post 2005.  That cannot be attributed to moving industry to China since that largely occurred prior to 2005.  What we've seen in the US is lowered amount of fossil fuels used for electricity, higher mileage vehicles being driven fewer miles, and a lot of efficiency which has caused a drop in energy use.

Wind and solar are now cheaper than fossil fuels for electricity generation in the US.  Driving a mile in an EV costs a third or less what it costs to drive a mile in a gasmobile.  We've crossed the economic threshold.

http://www.evwind.es/2014/09/19/levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis/47531 (http://www.evwind.es/2014/09/19/levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis/47531)

"Additionally any solution must be capable of being scaled up globally - not just over a single affluent nation."

With wind and solar becoming the two cheapest ways to bring capacity on line any nation can scale up clean energy.  And that is largely what is happening around the globe.  Few countries have their own coal or natural gas supplies.  If they have to import then renewables are a no-brainer.  If they have resources and have to create the infrastructure to extract, ship and consume their own fossil fuels renewables are still a no-brainer.

"If we were really near to a peak in carbon dioxide emissions, shouldn't we already be seeing the rate of increase in the atmosphere level off...?"

No, because China is yet to plateau.  It looks like China is plateauing but it will take a couple of years to make sure.  The Chinese government has said that they will hit peak coal in 2015 to 2017 and, to date, their statements about energy have been largely reliable.

The data is mixed and will take a little more time to sort out, but it looks as if China might have slowed their growth in coal consumption.  This graph was published by Green Peace but the numbers have been both challenged and supported.  It may be that consumption was a bit higher than graphed because some stockpiled coal was consumed.  The graph is based on coal produced and coal imported. 

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi619.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Ftt275%2FBob_Wall%2FChinaPeakCoal.png&hash=ad251de3c9e350dbad827503e5b1d8f4) (http://s619.photobucket.com/user/Bob_Wall/media/ChinaPeakCoal.png.html)

I've little doubt that China will hit peak coal in less than five years.  India will also likely cut their coal consumption.  Add in the US and that's over 70% of the coal burned in the world.  There are no other countries that burn in the double digits.  If the three biggies are cutting then CO2 is going down.


Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 21, 2014, 11:39:32 PM
We have a fairly unphilosophical soul, here, I'm afraid. So there is a limit how much more it is worth caviling with him.

The whole mindset of looking at situations as 'problems' to be 'solved' is itself a problem (but not one to be 'solved' exactly).

I'll let that sink in for a while and come back later.

If you don't think driving the entire community of complex life to the verge of extinction isn't a moment to stop and reflect deeply on our presuppositions, well, I'm not sure what situation would, in fact, prompt you to take such a reflective turn.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo on September 21, 2014, 11:59:44 PM
Well put, wili. I'll follow your advice.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 22, 2014, 01:20:09 AM
We have a fairly unphilosophical soul, here, I'm afraid. So there is a limit how much more it is worth caviling with him.

Actually up to a point I find it rather edifying - firstly as some sectors of discussion effectively represent both the specific affluent sector of the world and the older generations. Secondly it reminds me that so much time and effort are being wasted engaging in never ending discussion - fiddling while the city burns I daresay. If the same time and energy were put into solutions - and I mean at the achievable smaller scale, not the grandiose techno-optimistic let's all join hands and sing happy songs sort of stuff, couldn't we do more things? (by we, I really mean anyone doing substantially more than just tossing words out over a keyboard)

The discussions repeat and precious time passes, to act becomes infinitely more important.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bruce Steele on September 22, 2014, 01:56:16 AM
Ccg, I wrote this while you were posting and would add getting angry at each other is undoubtable counterproductive.I also appreciate sage advice,"if the same time and energy were put into solutions" in this case from a younger generation. I have to think putting the trottle down on renewables like solar , wind and bio is the best chance we have at softening the body blow. My brain strains at the hard edges, extinction, runaway feedbacks and the acknowledgment that the  views i hold are currently the exception and not the rule. I am forced to navigate the present . We need as many people as possible  to agree on achieving a Co2 emissions peak( soon ) and engineering the decent afterwards. On that point everyone here agrees.
 We don't however agree on the pain necessary to achieve this goal. Some people might argue "pain" isn't necessary at all but the 2 degree warming limit will surpass the biological limits for many coral reefs worldwide. The 2 degree limit we can agree to will surely result in more extinctions and if there is a definition of "pain" this is one for me.
 There may never be enough willingness in  accepting  this burden or the self inflicted pain I think will be necessary in achieving  a 2.5% emissions rate decline today or 5% later. The burden however gets bigger the longer we wait.  Somehow we need to get the people willing to accept the Co2 emissions reductions goal to work together in achieving it . Bob's five years till peak is as good as I might hope
for so I would think the emissions rate needs to break below the 1% increase sometime before then.
Waiting.               
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 22, 2014, 05:51:58 AM
What I think some people are missing is how "good and cheap" our tools for transitioning off  fossil fuels are becoming.  A few years ago it would have been very expensive to abandon fossil fuels, replacing them with nuclear, wind and solar.

We now live in a world in which the price of wind and solar have drastically dropped and will continue to drop.  What would have been, even five years ago, very heavy lifting has become moderate lifting and will approach somewhat easy lifting.

We are very, very, very lucky puppy dogs.  We dug ourselves into a very deep hole and we've managed to give ourselves a ladder for climbing out. 

Let me try to give you some perspective.  Let's say you're an average US driver - 13,000 miles a year.  And you drive an average US car - 25 MPG.  You're burning 520 gallons of gasoline each year and pumping a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere.  And it's costing you almost  $2,000 per year just for fuel.

Soon you're likely to be able to purchase a 200 mile range EV for about the same price as the ICEV you drive.  You could put about 2.5 kW of solar on your roof and produce all the electricity you'll need for the next 40, 60, ? years.  At today's prices that would cost  you about $11k.  (Subsidies not included.)  Over 40 years that would be $275 a year.  Compared to $2,000 for gas (and don't forget inflation).

Were we installing rooftop at UK, Germany, Australia costs those panels would cost you about $5k.  $125 per year over 40 years.

This is what I mean by lucky.  We have the ability to abandon petroleum for personal transportation and save a ton of money at the same time.

The same holds for electricity.  The all in price of electricity for coal is over 15 cents/kWh.  Wind, without subsidies, has now fallen below 4 cents/kWh.  PV solar is now around 8 cents/kWh.

We toss coal aside, avoid that CO2 generation, and end up with cheaper electricity.

The cost of wind and solar will fall further....
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Glenn Tamblyn on September 22, 2014, 03:11:00 PM
Bob

Broadly I agree with you about how amazing the price changes for PV solar and wind have been but there are some caveats to what you have said.

4, 60 years is unreasonable for PV panel life - more like 20-25

The price drops for PV solar - of the order of 80% in the last 5 years or so - can't contribute as much improvement in the future. Now the cost of installation and ancillaries is becoming the price bottleneck - it still costs as much for the installers on your roof who are installing the panels for example. Perhaps the next big price breakthrough - order of magnitude stuff - will come from much more efficient panels - the theoretical efficiency that a PV panel could achieve is much much higher than the typically 15% at present. So for the same capacity you would need much less ancillary frames, mounting etc.

Because solar and wind are a diffuse energy source the raw materials needed to build them at scale are huge. Without steel and concrete you don't have wind turbines for example.

There are some troubling critical raw materials shortages issues looming as scale ramps up. Hafnium for the bearings on the turbines, Indium to coat the solar panels etc.

But the prospects today are so, so much better than they were 10 years ago. Maybe even good enough to get us through this. With the aging of the US coal plants for example, the bbig issue is going to be what China and India do wrt coal. Their existing facilities as much as any new build. Renewables are certainly cost competitive against goal and perhaps even gas for new build power plants. Whether they are at the point of forcing the premature shutdown of existing coal plants isn't as certain yet but it is coming. And the financial markets are starting too factor that in, downgrading coal bonds and issuing investment warnings against the FF industries.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 22, 2014, 06:59:23 PM
20-25 years is the typical warranty given by panel manufacturers, it's not the expected lifespan.  Cars typically get 30,000 mile, 36 month warranties but we commonly drive far more than 100k miles over many years.

Our oldest installed solar array is now over 40 years old.  It was taken down and individual panels were tested at age 35.  After 35 years of operation the array was operating at 96% of original output.  A 0.1% loss per year.

http://www.presse.uni-oldenburg.de/einblicke/54/files/assets/downloads/page0009.pdf (http://www.presse.uni-oldenburg.de/einblicke/54/files/assets/downloads/page0009.pdf)

A recent study by the NREL found -

" For monocrystalline silicon, the most commonly used panel for commercial and residential PV, the degradation rate is less than 0.5% for panels made before 2000, and less than 0.4% for panels made after 2000. That means that a panel manufactured today should produce 92% of its original power after 20 years, quite a bit higher than the 80% estimated by the 1% rule."

Loss rates are highest in high UV conditions.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51664.pdf (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51664.pdf)

A 60 year panel losing 0.4% per year would still output 76% of original.  We know of no "solar cliff" at which cells simply cease functioning.

As for price, the industry sees utility scale solar for under $1/watt.  In some parts of the world (China, Italy) costs are already at or very close to $1/W.  Rooftop in the US should fall below $2/W. 

"Because solar and wind are a diffuse energy source the raw materials needed to build them at scale are huge. Without steel and concrete you don't have wind turbines for example."

I'm not sure what to make of that.  We have steel and concrete.  We are also opening more REM mines and processing plants. 

China is clearly working to stop and reduce their coal use.  The Chinese government, probably more than any other government, has spoken out about the need to curtail climate change.  They have a big job ahead of them but are making major pushes for wind, solar and EVs.

The new government in India is going after solar in a major way.  India recognizes that it needs to get coal out of their energy mix.

Coal stock prices have fallen 50% in the last two years.  There is a major understanding at the financial level that coal is now a bad investment.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Neven on September 24, 2014, 12:28:24 AM
Degrowth, puh.

Smart, sustainable growth.

A few bits from a piece Paul Krugman published a couple days ago.

I've read the Krugman piece and found it somewhat disappointing. Not that I was a big Krugman fan anyway. He sometimes touches on the underlying stuff, but he clearly is unwilling to skin the rabbit.

Just a few quotes:

Quote
But climate despair produces some odd bedfellows: Koch-fueled insistence that emission limits would kill economic growth is echoed by some who see this as an argument not against climate action, but against growth. You can find this attitude in the mostly European “degrowth” movement, or in American groups like the Post Carbon Institute; I’ve encountered claims that saving the planet requires an end to growth at left-leaning meetings on “rethinking economics.” To be fair, anti-growth environmentalism is a marginal position even on the left, but it’s widespread enough to call out nonetheless.

Okay, I guess he's talking about a person like me, one of those people who believes there are limits to growth. But apparently neoclassical economics is the be-all and end-all. There are no possible alternatives. It's the Holy Grail, and rightfully as natural as breathing, in the sense that we don't even have to think about it.

Quote
But you know that such assessments will be met with claims that it’s impossible to break the link between economic growth and ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, a position I think of as “climate despair.”

This is a bit of a strawman. The problem isn't just AGW, there are a lot more problems tied to the concept of infinite growth, like resource wars, ocean acidification, (exported) pollution, declining public health, top soil erosion, etc. I can't believe I almost forgot financial bubbles and the rise of oligarchies (most efficient and thus best for GDP growth).

Quote
So saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free.

It's not about saving the planet, Mr. Krugman. It's about saving modern society and as many inhabitants as possible.

Quote
Enter the prophets of climate despair, who wave away all this analysis and declare that the only way to limit carbon emissions is to bring an end to economic growth.

No, bring an end to the current (arbitrary) definition of economic growth, re-define it, so that you can afford to do stuff that damage GDP growth, like internalising costs.

Quote
And you sometimes see hard scientists making arguments along the same lines, largely (I think) because they don’t understand what economic growth means. They think of it as a crude, physical thing, a matter simply of producing more stuff, and don’t take into account the many choices — about what to consume, about which technologies to use — that go into producing a dollar’s worth of G.D.P.

Maybe those hard scientists appreciate that nothing can grow infinitely in a finite system? Because Krugman is basically saying that GDP growth as currently defined can go on indefinitely. Or if he isn't, when does the moment come that the economic system has to change? Silly classical economists like Smith and Stuart Mill talked about these things, as a goal for society when a sufficient level of wealth was reached. Apparently we have reached this goal when we are all as rich as the 1%. But there can be only 1%.

Perhaps that's what Krugman wants, as a high-level servant of the system. Oops, I just confirmed being a lefty whacko terrorist.

Seriously, perhaps it's true that we need to step on the gas instead of the brakes, so that we can jump over the cliff. But there's no need to demonize/marginalize people who point out that "the greatest shortcoming of the human race is its inability to understand the exponential function."

Krugman's piece is way too simplistic, on the verge of being greenwash.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 02:44:36 AM
Krugman limited his piece to energy, carbon and climate change.  You are talking about issue he did not address in his article. 

Quote
I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 24, 2014, 03:29:03 AM
Krugman limited his piece to energy, carbon and climate change.  You are talking about issue he did not address in his article. 

But don't you need to look at the problem holistically? You're living in and promoting a harmful fantasy to spread a message of growth if you are ignoring real constraints in the process. Anyone suggesting one can continue as is has to address the totality, not just cherry pick a few bits and pieces that seem to give the answers that support their personal reality.

The modern system is broken in many ways at many levels, it is disingenuous to suggest you can solve the problem of the future of civilisation with any single action, however large. The whole paradigm that drives the system is flawed, not just any single foundation stone.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 04:18:52 AM
You're also going past what Krugman was talking about.  His point is that research is now finding that we can de-carbon our energy supplies without causing harm to our economies.

We have many, many problems to solve.  Some are related, some not.  In general we will isolate problems and parts of problems and solve those problems/parts as we can.  As we've done throughout the history of humankind we'll stumble forward fixing what we are capable of fixing at that point in time.  Perhaps we'll solve our problems fast enough so that they don't drive us to extinction, perhaps not.

Now, help me out.  Why is it that some people seem unable to accept good news and celebrate it?

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 24, 2014, 05:17:21 AM
Good points, Neven. Here is another response to the Krugman piece that you may find interesting:

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-09-22/paul-krugman-s-errors-and-omissions (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-09-22/paul-krugman-s-errors-and-omissions)

Here's my highly edited version of Heinberg's response essay:

Quote
...in our view Krugman himself is guilty of five critical errors, and three equally serious omissions. First the errors:
 
1. He mistakes post-growth realism for anti-growth activism. ... we see clear evidence that growth is ending of its own accord because our economy is hitting biophysical limits at a speed and scale that are outpacing humanity’s ability to adapt. ...
 
2. He misrepresents his sources. ...“On their own, these measures would not be sufficient to achieve the full range of emissions reductions likely to be needed by 2030 to prevent dangerous climate change.” ...
 
3. He assumes that wind and solar can substitute for all uses of fossil fuels. Oil fuels transportation, which is at the core of the trade-dependent global economy... there just aren’t any alternatives ready to replace oil in all the ways we use it, at the scale required, and in the time available.
 
4. He claims it is easy to slash carbon emissions. The rapid build-out of renewables constitutes an enormous infrastructure project that will itself consume significant amounts of fossil-fuel energy... The faster we push the transition, the more fossil fuels we’ll use for that purpose...
 
5. He assumes that a meaningful price on carbon would only impact direct energy prices. ...When energy prices rise, that impacts all we do. Does Krugman believe that the global economy can continue to grow despite higher prices across the board?

Quote
Now Paul Krugman’s omissions:
 
1. He omits mentioning what rate of greenhouse gas emissions reduction he thinks is necessary.
Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, who has taken the important step of producing a carbon budget that puts society on a safe trajectory to the internationally agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius warming, calculates that industrialized nations need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 10 percent per year starting now.  In Anderson’s opinion, this is “incompatible with economic growth.” The only hope of maintaining economic growth while cutting emissions at such a pace is to rapidly decouple GDP from CO2; PriceWaterhouseCoopers says  the decoupling would have to proceed at 6 percent per year, which is entirely unprecedented. Is that rate achievable, in view of errors 3, 4, and 5 above?
 
2. He omits mention of constraints to fossil fuel supplies. Oil has become far more expensive in the past decade; production costs are rising at over 10 percent per year. The major petroleum companies are investing much more in exploration today, but their production rates are declining. For oil, the low-hanging fruit is gone...
 
3. He omits mention of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI.

Quote
To be clear, we at Post Carbon Institute advocate massively deploying renewable energy and putting a price on carbon. If humanity has any hope for the future, there is simply no other option. But we just don’t see how this can be achieved without: 1) raising the cost of energy and 2) leading to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions during the renewables build-out, unless other parts of the economy are allowed to contract. When it comes to energy, there is no free lunch.
 
Ultimately, climate change is not the only reason perpetual economic growth is incompatible with a finite planet. The world faces a suite of ecological problems related to water, soil, and biodiversity, all stemming from past growth, and all seemingly requiring reduction in human consumption levels for their solution...

Also, if you haven't already seen this, you may find it interesting:
http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/ (http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2014/03/27/the-biophysics-of-civilization-money-energy-and-the-inevitability-of-collapse/)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 06:08:51 AM
That Resilience article stinks to high heavens.  The author got his fee-fees hurt and put up a pile.

I'll take them number by number...

1.
Quote
The most critical limit to economic growth is the availability of affordable fossil fuels,

Well, the solution is to quit fossil fuels and move to other energy sources.

2.
Quote
“On their own, these measures would not be sufficient to achieve the full range of emissions reductions likely to be needed by 2030 to prevent dangerous climate change.”

The topic was carbon, not all greenhouse gases.  But, whatever.  Krugman said nothing about rate of changeover.  The author commits a foul.

3.
Quote
and there just aren’t any alternatives ready to replace oil in all the ways we use it, at the scale required, and in the time available

We seem to have some time available in which we can get off fossil fuels.    Some of the problems will be more difficult than others.  And some problems may need to be solved by changing the way we do things, rather than using a different energy source.  We might need to move manufacturing closer to market rather than shipping over oceans and we might have to sit on the beach in SoCal or Baja rather than Maui.

4.
Quote
The rapid build-out of renewables constitutes an enormous infrastructure project that will itself consume significant amounts of fossil-fuel energy. New solar panels won’t immediately pay for themselves in energy terms; indeed, research at Stanford University recently showed that all solar PV technology installed until about 2010 was a net energy sink. It will fully “pay back the electrical energy required for its early growth by about 2020,”

Now there's some grade A horseshit.

We installed very little solar pre-2010.  There's not that much sunk energy. 

Somewhere around 2011/2012 we reached the point at which on line solar was producing more energy in a year than was used in a year to manufacture solar panels.  Cradle to grave.  We reached that point earlier with wind.

The energy payback time for a solar panel is now less than 1 year (thin film) or 2 years (silicon).  Followed by decades of energy generation.  The energy payback time for a wind turbine is 3 to 8 months, depending on the strength of wind resources where it is installed.  At least 19 years of generation, possibly a lot more, follow.

5.
Quote
The entire economy is energy-dependent. One example: as minerals deplete, we have to use more energy (per unit of output) in mining and refining ever-lower grades of ores

Which means that we move to cheaper non-carbon energy sources and keep production costs down.  We already mine with tethered and battery powered large equipment.  We already smelt in electric furnaces.

1. 
Quote
He omits mentioning what rate of greenhouse gas emissions reduction he thinks is necessary.

That was not a topic of the article.  He also didn't talk about the problem of ingrown toenails or tomatoes splitting from irregular watering.

2.
Quote
He omits mention of constraints to fossil fuel supplies. Oil has become far more expensive in the past decade; production costs are rising at over 10 percent per year.

Why should he have discussed the rising cost of fossil fuels when he's talking about how we can quit them?  Does no one edit that site?

3.
Quote
He omits mention of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI.

As he should.  EROEI is an important concept when one is talking about a finite and shrinking supply.  EROEI has no importance for renewable energy when the inputs are renewable.  The cost of energy is important in that it helps determine the final cost of the panel/turbine.  But "used up" energy is not important as when one is using oil to extract oil.

BTW, the manufacturing cost of a solar panel, from ore extraction to getting ready to box it up for shipment has dropped below $0.50/watt.  Exactly how much energy do you think might be embedded in that 50 cent cost?  Remember, you're paying for mining, refining, shipping, and factory cost and a fair amount of labor in addition to energy in that massive half dollar.

I'll leave you with an outtake from Krugman's article on the cost of moving away from fossil fuels.  The one in which he did not cover Ebola or why Miley hasn't been twerking as much lately.

Quote
The most dangerous proponents of climate despair are on the anti-environmentalist right. But they receive aid and comfort from other groups, including some on the left, who have their own reasons for getting it wrong.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Neven on September 24, 2014, 08:34:16 AM
Quote
Krugman limited his piece to energy, carbon and climate change.  You are talking about issue he did not address in his article. 

Why is it that some people seem unable to accept good news and celebrate it?

My problem is not with the subject of the piece per se, but with the marginalising of the opinion that economic growth (as currently defined) is the root cause of all problems, that this cannot go on indefinitely, no matter how much you greenify it. Krugman equates a whole group of sincere, intelligent and hard working people to the free market fundamentalists that want to keep their pollution carte blanche. It's simply demonizing and benefits no one, except perhaps the 1%.

The reason I'm not celebrating the good news, is perhaps personal in the sense that I don't see it anywhere around me, I don't see a change in attitude, I don't see anyone making meaningful changes to their lifestyle (except for maybe one friend) or even contemplating making a sacrifice. All I see is people constantly buying stuff (a lot of it unhealthy and unethically produced), travelling as if they're the Jetsons,  doing whatever pops up in their mind if they can afford it, and absolutely not willing to talk about what goes on around them, in places they can't see, and about their role and responsibility in all that.

But if what Krugman writes and advocates is true and we can have a sustainable consumer culture and a planet full of childlike junkies who constantly crave sugar, meat and entertainment, then my objection is purely ethical/philosophical and thus of no (physical/measurable) consequence. I can live with that.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 09:33:45 AM
I think you're missing the point.

The cost of renewable energy has dropped to the point that we can have all the clean, carbon free energy we need for about what we now pay.

That does not solve every problem in the world.  It is one specific, but very important, problem which looks like is being resolved.

The cost of wind and solar has fallen where they are (or soon will be) our cheapest ways to generate electricity.  Electric vehicles are (or soon will be) our cheapest ways to haul ourselves around.  This means that renewables and EVs will push fossil fuel aside in most applications.  And fossil fuels will get pushed aside simply because they will be the more expensive alternative, not because we will use some sort of governmental mandate to reduce their use.

Governments will no longer be able to oppose renewables on the basis that they are too expensive and would harm the economy.  Utilities will install renewables simply because they cost less.

On the part of the average Jane and Joe, they don't need to change their lifestyles when it comes to energythey will, it appears, be able to continue using energy without harming their budgets.  And the energy they use will not be harming the planet.

If Paul is right, and I'm pretty sure he is, we can now let the process of transitioning off fossil fuels proceed and put more of our efforts into the unsolved problems.

(That is not to say that we shouldn't help the invisible hand push things along faster.)

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Neven on September 24, 2014, 11:09:59 AM
I get the point, Bob, and I sincerely hope that you are right, as AGW is by far the biggest sword hanging over our heads. I don't know if you're right, as I don't have the time to thoroughly investigate, but I really hope you are. I actually enjoy the good news you bring.

Where we part ways, is at how deep we prepare to go. You say let's solve the problems one by one, I'm saying let's take away the root cause (exponential growth, as currently defined) so that the symptoms have a chance at getting solved at all. Maybe I'm not being practical, maybe you're too positive and making it too simple, I don't know.

Again, my problem with Krugman's piece isn't so much the subject itself (AGW will very soon no longer be a problem, or at least not a huge, uncontrollable problem), but his disparagement of people who do not agree with the status quo on an economics level. This clearly shows that he is in the neoclassical economics camp, which in my view is a huge part of the problem.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 24, 2014, 01:32:18 PM
"take away the root cause (exponential growth, as currently defined) so that the symptoms have a chance at getting solved at all."

Nicely put.

"AGW will very soon no longer be a problem, or at least not a huge, uncontrollable problem"

Not sure what to make of that. Do you mean because we'll all be dead??

And, apropos of nothing much in particular, but something that I hope all here can enjoy: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-blows-up-on-gop-over-climate-change-pushing-a-million-pounds-of-idiot-up-a-mountain/ (http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-blows-up-on-gop-over-climate-change-pushing-a-million-pounds-of-idiot-up-a-mountain/)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Neven on September 24, 2014, 01:52:59 PM
"AGW will very soon no longer be a problem, or at least not a huge, uncontrollable problem"

Not sure what to make of that. Do you mean because we'll all be dead??

I don't mean anything with that. I'm just paraphrasing Krugman's (and Bob's) point.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: viddaloo on September 24, 2014, 01:54:39 PM
Close your eyes and make a wish: The real world doesn't work that way.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: S.Pansa on September 24, 2014, 02:24:32 PM
Well, I think sometimes it is very helpful to run a few basic numbers. And then we realize that a lot of taking is merely wishful thinking.

In 2011 total electricity production of the world (from http://wdi.worldbank.org/table/3.7 (http://wdi.worldbank.org/table/3.7)) was 22,160 TWh, 3,344 came from hydropower, 900 from new renewables like wind and solar. That leaves a gap to for renewables close of about 18.000 TWh.


Let's make a few assumptions based on the BP Energy Outlook 2014 (http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/press/press-releases/energy-outlook-2035.html (http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/press/press-releases/energy-outlook-2035.html)):

1) hydro elec. prod.  grows with 2% per year (BP says 1,8, but let's be generous)
2) electricity demand will grow by 1,5% per year (That's what BP assumes for total energy demand)
3) new renewables BP estimates to grow with 6,8% per year until 2035

What would the gap,  that  renewables have to close, look like in 2030 based on these assumptions?

Well the gap would have grown out (if my math is right, which is very doubtful  :P) to 24,500 TWh
If new renewables grow 10% a year the gap would be 19.000 TWh, less but still 1.000 more than today.

So how do we want to replace the fossil fuel powerplants when the gap is growing out further? With horsshit? Or by stopping to grow our demands any furher?



Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: SATire on September 24, 2014, 04:23:02 PM
History told us several times: Adding a new energy to the mix does not result in less use of older energies - that adding results in more demand.

So by adding renewables to the mix we can not assume that fossils are vanishing "by itself". No - that must be done by brute force: The use of fossils must be punished. In the beginning only by cost / added taxes and such. Later by prison and war - because those criminals burning coal are playing with the lives of others, similar to using a machine gun on a bus...

But until the most powerfull poeple / countries are not in the boat, that force is ludicrous and ignored by most poeple. Only a few "man on the hill" are exercising today what will be common law in the (not so far) future... 
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 24, 2014, 07:33:41 PM
So how do we want to replace the fossil fuel powerplants when the gap is growing out further? With horsshit? Or by stopping to grow our demands any furher?

Which is why Bob's "good news" is bogus - a dangerous distracting illusion painted from a non reality. Market forces alone are not going to solve this, I think that's pretty clear. Even if you did scale up renewables and they became cost competitive - and drop in demand for the fossil fuels will tend to lower the price, enabling everyone else to keep burning them cost competitively.

About the only win would be that the extraction of the more technically demanding fuels would likely not be viable, but there's still far too much carbon out there that isn't hard to extract.

It is an absolutely lethal set of flaws with the modern system in my view that neither human life nor the future have any inherent value at all. The true price of burning all those fossil fuels is far higher - just deferred to the future. So the market is broken, flawed, ridiculously enabling us to destroy the future and then run around patting people on the head with the implausible claim it will all magically fix itself.

While the direct and immediate problem is carbon dioxide - the system itself is fundamentally flawed. We need to change it.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 10:02:40 PM
" I'm saying let's take away the root cause (exponential growth, as currently defined) so that the symptoms have a chance at getting solved at all."

The problem is not growth.  The problem is the part of growth which is unsustainable.

We can provide every person in the world a wooden chair to sit on if we cut trees at a sustainable rate.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 10:13:11 PM
"So how do we want to replace the fossil fuel powerplants when the gap is growing out further? With horsshit? Or by stopping to grow our demands any furher? "

Don't overlook what we are achieving with efficiency.  In the US, for example, demand has been roughly flat since 2005.  4,042,602 million kWh in 2005 vs. 4,045,855 million kWh in 2013.

The same efficiencies are spreading throughout the world as the products we buy use less and less electricity.  That makes the target easier to hit.

Now, your date of 2030.  Is it imperative to get all fossil fuels off our grids in the next 15 years?  Or do we need to get them off by 2050?

If it's 2050, 35 years from now, basically all we have to do is to replace worn out coal plants with renewables and develop storage to push NG into a deep backup role.

2030 or 2050, the important news is that renewables are now affordable replacements for fossil fuel generation.  We don't have to ask people to spend more in order to save the planet.  That's a very major accomplishment.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 24, 2014, 10:16:34 PM
We can provide every person in the world a wooden chair to sit on if we cut trees at a sustainable rate.

Actually, that is not automatically true. Wood rots, breaks, is eaten, etc. and you need space and ecosystem inputs for the trees so you can only produce a finite quantity of wooden chairs at any given time and if the number of people exceeds that, not everyone can have a wooden chair to sit on. Additionally as the number of people increases, there is less space for trees to be sustained, reducing your capacity to produce wooden chairs.

We live in a finite world, even when one is talking about renewable resources that are used sustainably (many of them of course being depleted today by being consumed far above sustainable levels, wood arguably included).

The number of wooden chairs is limited and can at best approach equilibrium. Mismanage things grossly as today, and the equilibrium number plummets to a much lower value and then there are far fewer wooden chairs to sit upon than there might have been.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 10:20:52 PM
" Market forces alone are not going to solve this, I think that's pretty clear. Even if you did scale up renewables and they became cost competitive - and drop in demand for the fossil fuels will tend to lower the price, enabling everyone else to keep burning them cost competitively."

No, you need to look at the economics.

We will have to replace worn out coal plants at some point.  They generally last about 40 years.

The median overnight cost of coal is $2.95/W (http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/ (http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/)). Financing costs during construction will add somewhere between 50% and 100% more to the finished cost. Then add in fuel costs. 

The average overnight cost of onshore wind it $1.63/W (DOE 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report).  There are no fuel costs.

The installed price of utility scale solar in the US has fallen to $1.81/W (Greentech Media  2nd Qtr 2014 Executive Summary).  There are no fuel costs.

You cannot lower the cost of building a coal plant.  You cannot run a coal plant without purchasing fuel.  Even if the mine gave away the coal for free there is still a significant cost in shipping between mine and plant.               
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 24, 2014, 10:28:04 PM
" Market forces alone are not going to solve this, I think that's pretty clear. Even if you did scale up renewables and they became cost competitive - and drop in demand for the fossil fuels will tend to lower the price, enabling everyone else to keep burning them cost competitively."

No, you need to look at the economics.

We will have to replace worn out coal plants at some point.  They generally last about 40 years.

You know that globally there is still plenty of them being built, right? So demand is committed for multiple decades by definition, and that's an awful long tail and far more carbon dioxide than we can afford to emit. Even if they cost more to run than wind and solar they still provide valuable baseload power, and it could be even more expensive to build them and then prematurely cease to operate them.

You cannot lower the cost of building a coal plant.  You cannot run a coal plant without purchasing fuel.  Even if the mine gave away the coal for free there is still a significant cost in shipping between mine and plant.

But worse, just because coal loses value as a power source in combustion fuelled power stations does not mean it won't get dug up and used for other things. Are you familiar with coal to liquid processes? Can't you see the economic value of coal to make up the deficit in fossil transport fuels? (and we're smoking something pretty good if we think global transport requirements are going to be met with lithium ion batteries)

As the price of liquid transport fuels rises as oil supply is increasingly constrained, more polluting and costly alternatives start to make sense. Thus coal is still a fossil resource that will be extracted, because the market says it's still worth something (and potentially quite a bit).
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 10:36:07 PM

I state that we can provide everyone with a wooden chair if we cut our forests at a sustainable rate.

You state that we cannon provide everyone with a wooden chair if we cut our forests at a non-sustainable rate.

I've never argued that resources are unlimited.  I simply argue against the opinions that we have to massively "degrow" and/or that we're headed to a crash of civilizations and back to hunting rats with chipped points.

We have to move to sustainable practices.  It looks like we might have solved the energy problem and solved it at a very affordable price.

We need to work harder on our unsustainable practices.  We need to implement sustainable agriculture and firm up our food storage/delivery practices.  We need to replace limited feedstocks in our manufacturing processes with sustainable ones. 
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 24, 2014, 10:39:25 PM
You state that we cannon provide everyone with a wooden chair if we cut our forests at a non-sustainable rate.

Incorrect. I state that it may not be possible to provide everyone with a wooden chair even if we cut the forests at a sustainable rate. Wooden chairs have a finite lifespan and will disappear from the world as surely as they are created, meaning there is a maximum number that can be in circulation at once even if you cut the wood sustainably.

If population exceeds that maximum number, it is quite simple - you cannot provide everyone with a wooden chair.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 10:48:50 PM
Yes, I do know that there are many coal plants being built around the world.

I also know that most of those plants were started before renewables became affordable.  I get the feeling you don't realize how rapidly the cost of renewables has fallen and how it takes a little time for markets and industry to adjust to massive price changes.

And I also know that the most advanced countries have either stopped or are in the process of stopping new coal plant construction.  And some of the countries still constructing coal plants are building replacement plants for old inefficient plants, not adding new capacity.

The cost of building a coal plant is sunk.  Fuel costs.  Since wind is now cheaper than coal less coal will be burned.  We already see coal plants shut down for months when demand is down and wind/hydro are up.

Yes, I know we can make liquid fuel from coal.  But not as cheaply as we can make electricity to power our transportation. 

Actually I'm not at all concerned about conversion of coal to liquid fuel.  Some will be done, simply because there are a few knuckleheads with deep pockets who let their opinions lead them rather than math.  Murray is buying more coal production as the bottom is dropping out of the coal market.

As we move to more efficient ICEVs and EVs start to eat into demand the price of oil will drop.  We've got a very wide range of production cost from under $5/barrel in the Middle East to ~$15/barrel in Nigeria to ~$60/barrel in the Canadian tar sludge industry.  As demand drops the least expensive producers will drop price in order to maintain market share.  New production at $100/barrel will stop.  Production over $50/barrel will go next.  The price of oil will drop to the point at which it won't be economical to extract liquid fuel from coal.

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 10:52:38 PM
Yes, if our population soared to 20 billion then we may not have enough trees.  Or if people start destroying their chairs after only a year.

But how about we limit our discussion to reasonable limits and not stretch into the improbable in an attempt to win a point?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Neven on September 24, 2014, 11:06:46 PM
Yes, if our population soared to 20 billion then we may not have enough trees.  Or if people start destroying their chairs after only a year.

Or if the chair is produced in such a way that it breaks after one year (planned obsolescence), or because advertising makes people think that they need a new, improved  model every year (perceived obsolescence), because shareholders demand that the company maximizes profits, because that's the best thing for GDP growth as currently defined. The system demands this, and it will keep on demanding it, whatever the source of energy is.

So, what's the next step? Printing trees with a 3D printer?

Just like you I believe it's important to stay positive and work at solutions, but Green BAU just doesn't do it for me.

Quote
We don't have to ask people to spend more in order to save the planet.

The planet is fine. Don't worry about the planet.  8)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 24, 2014, 11:18:48 PM
I talk about sustainable growth and you talk about unsustainable growth.

Do you not see the disconnect?  Of course we can continue along unsustainable pathways and crash.  The issue at hand is find a sustainable route.

The sustainable route has multiple components.  Energy is one of them.  It looks like we have pretty much solved the sustainable energy part.  There are other parts yet unsolved.

What I see are two routes.  We can 1) "degrow", shrink our productivity/lifestyles down to levels which allow us to continue along in unsustainable ways for a significant amount of time or 2) move to sustainable solutions that allow us to continue growing and improving our quality of life.

I think the probability of people agreeing to the degrowth solution is about zero.  If we wish to avoid a civilization crash then we need to solve the remaining problems of creating a sustainable lifestyle.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Neven on September 24, 2014, 11:50:53 PM

What I see are two routes.  We can 1) "degrow", shrink our productivity/lifestyles down to levels which allow us to continue along in unsustainable ways for a significant amount of time or 2) move to sustainable solutions that allow us to continue growing and improving our quality of life.

How about we do both routes at the same time? For that, of course, we need to re-define growth.

Quote
I think the probability of people agreeing to the degrowth solution is about zero.  If we wish to avoid a civilization crash then we need to solve the remaining problems of creating a sustainable lifestyle.

A truly sustainable lifestyle is an impossibility according to the current economic definitions, as it will crash the economy. We can't just stop consuming things we don't need. We can't just start growing our own food and be healthier. We can't just get rid of our addictions to drugs, foods and entertainment. All of that is bad for the economy.

Rather than trying to greenify all those unneeded things we consume, or making our addictions sustainable, so that GDP can continue growing exponentially, wouldn't it be much smarter to re-define growth, so that we can relieve ourselves of this neurosis?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 25, 2014, 12:23:32 AM
I'm 100% behind moving to a sustainable economy.  Not doing so would be foolish.

"Growth" has a specific meaning in economics.  We can't redefine the meaning.  But can change the ways we grow our economies.

We need, for example, to stop producing growth by extracting and burning fossil fuels.  We can continue to expand our energy supply by switching to renewable sources.

A solar panel repays its energy input in less than two years and then produces electricity for 20, 30, 40 or more years.  A wind turbine repays its energy input in 3 to 8 months and then produces electricity for 20 or more years.

We can build solar panels and wind turbines sustainably and, each year, generate more electricity.  That's sustainable growth.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 25, 2014, 12:45:26 AM
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8155 (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8155)

"The purpose of this exploration is to point out the absurdity that results from the assumption that we can continue growing our use of energy—even if doing so more modestly than the last 350 years have seen."

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theoildrum.com%2Ffiles%2Ftmp-1024x768.png&hash=83fb7a3513aa7a58d7ef89441ba82d4d)
Quote
Figure 3. Earth surface temperature given steady 2.3% energy growth, assuming some source other than sunlight is employed to provide our energy needs and that its use transpires on the surface of the planet. Even a dream source like fusion makes for unbearable conditions in a few hundred years if growth continues. Note that the vertical scale is logarithmic.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 25, 2014, 12:54:58 AM
What's your point, wili?

If we use solar energy (wind is simply one version), use it for work, and the work turns the energy back into heat where do we go wrong?

We do need to reduce the GHG blanket and let heat escape, but that's the point of moving to renewables.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on September 25, 2014, 02:17:08 AM
Hmmm. I'm not sure how to explain it much more plainly than the graphic and its caption.

No matter what kind of energy source we use, growth at what is considered to be acceptable if not stellar rates, cannot continue beyond about 400 years or the planet just becomes too hot, even without added global warming. (But I'd be happy to be corrected if I'm missing something here.)

You just can't grow anything, including an economy, for ever on a finite planet.

And the sooner we figure out that stunningly obvious fact is true, the better.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 25, 2014, 03:52:55 AM
If we limit our energy use to only what is coming in from the Sun plus what is coming up from the core and we return our atmosphere to a state where it isn't capturing too much heat then how is it that we heat the planet?

Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 25, 2014, 05:09:17 AM
Yes, if our population soared to 20 billion then we may not have enough trees.  Or if people start destroying their chairs after only a year.

But how about we limit our discussion to reasonable limits and not stretch into the improbable in an attempt to win a point?

I'm not stretching into the improbable because in the real world people need an awful lot more than just chairs - the metaphor may seem stretched to you, but only because you aren't thinking about the countless other things people need (or think they do).

The bottom line remains very simple - growth has a limit, beyond which you can not sustainably expand (and another limit beyond that where you cannot expand unsustainably either).

Worse, some resources are renewed over geological timescales (or possibly not at all) and there is no precisely sustainable rate to draw them down at (modern civilisation is absolutely harming future people in this way by squandering so many finite resources).

Any sustained growth at all and you will ultimately run out of chairs. It is that simple. The terms sustainable and growth are contradictory, growth cannot be sustainable - it must end, preferably at a steady equilibrium - or in the modern world most likely with an almighty crash because we're eroding our limits and using even renewable resources in a non renewable fashion (and yes, even wind and solar power are subject to limits!).

Given we are already beyond sustainable parameters on even renewable resources in many cases, degrowth is the only way to put the system back into a safe state in a controlled fashion with a minimum of human suffering. I am under no illusions myself about this happening. We will fight instead, competing for a dwindling resource pool to the end.

I realise this notion may not sit well with affluent populations composed largely of members behaving in this dreadful manner, but it's OK - the crash will fix it in the end either way. The laws of physics cannot be bent by hopium and dogma. We act as though we have all the time we want to solve these problems, presumably because we created them and somehow think we therefore control them.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on September 25, 2014, 05:10:49 AM
If we limit our energy use to only what is coming in from the Sun plus what is coming up from the core and we return our atmosphere to a state where it isn't capturing too much heat then how is it that we heat the planet?

You just used the word limit. Do you therefore agree growth cannot be sustained indefinitely at least?
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on September 25, 2014, 05:49:29 AM
I don't know what the limit to growth might be as long as we stick to sustainable inputs.

But since it seems to damned important to you to believe that there's some limit out there I'll say 'yes' just so you can go back to enjoying your fantasies of a crash of civilization and you sitting around wearing animal skins and chipping flint.

(I had my fingers crossed when I typed 'yes'.  Hard to do when one is a touch typist.)   ;D
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on October 01, 2014, 02:44:29 AM
Unless we change direction, the world will warm 3.3-5.6 degrees Celsius this century
(at least)

http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-degrees-celsius.html (http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-degrees-celsius.html)

Quote
Global temperature is likely to rise 3.3-5.6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, unless international climate negotiations in Paris next year are more effective than expected, according to a report released Monday by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The predicted temperature increase surpasses the threshold identified by the United Nations as necessary to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change, altering precipitation patterns and heightening the pressures of population and economic growth....

The outlook report extends the existing measures after they end to evaluate global changes under possible post-2020 climate action. It uses UN population data and projects economic growth to explore the connections between socioeconomic factors and changing climate, land use, and water.

"Population and economic growth are key drivers of change," Reilly says.

We have to slay the dragon of economic growth before it slays us. Then, or better at the same time, do all we can to get to negative population growth.

Elsewhere: http://www.feasta.org/2014/09/26/fourth-international-degrowth-conference-report-by-sean-conlan/ (http://www.feasta.org/2014/09/26/fourth-international-degrowth-conference-report-by-sean-conlan/)

Fourth International Degrowth Conference

Quote
...Overall Conclusions

Degrowth firmly challenges all the economic paradigms of not just growth, but austerity and many of the basic assumptions of capitalism itself. It was truly refreshing therefore, to assist in a creative, experimental event based on living and practising the principles the organisers preach.

Of the many interventions, one of the most notable was the call from Sunita Narain (CSE India) who highlighted the immense challenges of India in addressing the growing needs of the poor while still remaining within planetary boundaries. In highlighting a range of issues from climate change – ‘the Monsoon is the Finance Minister’ – to energy provision for all, she appealed for new transformational trajectories of economic development for the poor and the rich.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on October 01, 2014, 05:04:47 AM
http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-greenhouse-emissions-threaten-goal.html (http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-greenhouse-emissions-threaten-goal.html)

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn.phys.org%2Fnewman%2Fgfx%2Fnews%2F2014%2Ftheworldstop.jpg&hash=2bf1a5498cced16c879c4c34f2e0e32f)

Note the accompanying text: "Manmade CO2 emissions must be cut by 7% a year to stop the Earth's temperature rising by over 2 degrees C."
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: ccgwebmaster on October 01, 2014, 06:03:41 AM
http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-greenhouse-emissions-threaten-goal.html (http://phys.org/news/2014-09-world-greenhouse-emissions-threaten-goal.html)

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn.phys.org%2Fnewman%2Fgfx%2Fnews%2F2014%2Ftheworldstop.jpg&hash=2bf1a5498cced16c879c4c34f2e0e32f)

Note the accompanying text: "Manmade CO2 emissions must be cut by 7% a year to stop the Earth's temperature rising by over 2 degrees C."

And that graphic says the US rose 2.9% in 2013 - so where is the reduction after 2005 that a certain poster has been banging on about...? Not much of a reduction, eh? Maybe the claimed reduction is a cherry picked ghost in the machine or a temporary blip following the onset of the great recession, but nothing about this graphic above suggests the US is cutting emissions, notwithstanding that most reporting fails to account for the massive amount of imported carbon (which would considerably worsen the US figure).

Furthermore, the accompanying text is missing another important note - that the models used to make those predictions almost certainly do not include multiple significant feedbacks that may release carbon from natural resources, or otherwise alter the temperature balance of the planet (eg albedo shifts).

2C is a fantasy now. As we well know, more is likely catastrophic, even if 2C were safe - which it assuredly is not.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Bob Wallace on October 01, 2014, 07:10:28 AM
Due to rising NG prices there was a small movement back to coal consumption.  Coal produces roughly 2x as much CO2 per MWh.  That is almost certain not to last with the 189 (to 400?) coal plants closing by 2016. 

In 2013 the US got 1.7% (market share) more of its electricity from coal while NG dropped 2.8%.

Of that 1.1% loss for fossil fuels renewables picked up 0.7% and nuclear 0.4%.  In the first half of 2014 renewables grabbed another 0.5% market share and should end up with more than a 1% additional share by year's end.  That's not as fast as we need to see thing to move, but rates are accelerating.

The loss of cheap coal capacity along with the higher price of NG will help drive wind and solar faster.  Wind is now <4c/kWh (without subsidies) and solar is closing on 6c/kWh (also without).

There was also, I think, a small increase in miles driven.  But that should be offset with rising fuel efficiency.

Just like melting out the Arctic sea ice, things do not progress in a smooth line fashion but bounce around a bit.
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Laurent on October 02, 2014, 02:38:37 PM
Human consumption driving wildlife loss
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2577428/human_consumption_driving_wildlife_loss.html (http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2577428/human_consumption_driving_wildlife_loss.html)

Five ways to stop the world's wildlife vanishing
http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2577327/five_ways_to_stop_the_worlds_wildlife_vanishing.html (http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2577327/five_ways_to_stop_the_worlds_wildlife_vanishing.html)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on October 05, 2014, 06:56:34 PM
http://theconversation.com/life-in-a-degrowth-economy-and-why-you-might-actually-enjoy-it-32224 (http://theconversation.com/life-in-a-degrowth-economy-and-why-you-might-actually-enjoy-it-32224)

Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it


Quote
What does genuine economic progress look like? The orthodox answer is that a bigger economy is always better, but this idea is increasingly strained by the knowledge that, on a finite planet, the economy can’t grow for ever....

We used to live on a planet that was relatively empty of humans; today it is full to overflowing, with more people consuming more resources. We would need one and a half Earths to sustain the existing economy into the future. Every year this ecological overshoot continues, the foundations of our existence, and that of other species, are undermined.

At the same time, there are great multitudes around the world who are, by any humane standard, under-consuming, and the humanitarian challenge of eliminating global poverty is likely to increase the burden on ecosystems still further.

Meanwhile the population is set to hit 11 billion this century. Despite this, the richest nations still seek to grow their economies without apparent limit...
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: Laurent on October 08, 2014, 10:54:06 AM
Is US economic growth over? Faltering
innovation confronts the six headwinds
http://www.cepr.org/sites/default/files/policy_insights/PolicyInsight63.pdf (http://www.cepr.org/sites/default/files/policy_insights/PolicyInsight63.pdf)
Title: Re: The Degrowth Imperative
Post by: wili on October 13, 2014, 04:13:21 PM
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-10-10/paul-krugman-and-the-limits-of-hubris (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-10-10/paul-krugman-and-the-limits-of-hubris)

Quote
... According to a study Krugman himself cited in his previous op-ed, [ http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2014/wp14174.pdf (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2014/wp14174.pdf) ] the first 10 percent of emissions cuts can be achieved without much pain. But beyond that, they’re all at a net cost to the economy.

By acknowledging that climate change is a serious threat to humanity’s future, Mr. Krugman is in effect acknowledging the existence of environmental limits to economic expansion. He would probably object that climate change is merely a limit to a fossil-fueled economy, and that a renewably-energized economy could happily expand forever. But once we open the limits box and peer inside, a long series of other critical boundaries quickly comes to light.

Let’s get real. The Earth is a bounded sphere, and the human economy is an engine that extracts raw materials and produces waste. If we keep that engine’s operation within the bounds of what our planet can absorb or replenish through its normal ecosystem functions, all is well. But if the economy continues to grow year after year, at some point the planet’s systems will be overwhelmed—even if we’re using renewable energy to extract and transform raw materials. Our uses of energy and materials can be made somewhat more efficient, but only up to a point. If the Earth itself were expanding at an ever-increasing rate, perpetual economic growth would pose no problem. Yet last time I checked, the planet hadn’t gotten any bigger—while our demands upon it continue to increase....