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Intentional Ignorance

November 6, 2012

I wrote this essay to offer some essential information about our world and the future of our species, adding my voice to the many cries of alarm over the environmental crisis (lately reaching criticality). [More…]

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Sustainability

Establishment Politicians Be Damned. The People Have Had Enough.

The U.S. presidential election has finally demonstrated that the people have had it. They are rising up in large numbers to let establishment politicians know they won’t take it anymore. The surge of Donald Trump to the head of the Republican Party has confounded nearly everyone. But his populist appeal has won the day—with however crazy the vessel of that anger might be to thinking adults.

Crowd of peopleThe amazing crowds also drawn to Bernie Sanders rallies in the Democratic Party make the same point, with a similar message: We’ve had it with traditional politicians who line their pockets with huge financial gifts from wealthy donors determined to bend public policy toward their greed for money and power.

But in the most important area of all, the first of these protest movements misses the mark while the second is right on target. That is the likelihood of massive environmental, political, and violent disruptions at the hands of global warming. These may bring civilization to the brink of collapse in a few decades, if much more serious action to combat it is not taken now, quickly, and with massive changes in the way that civilization powers itself.

In consequence, a massive set of public protests, demonstrations, gatherings, and stunts is kicking off around the globe this month.  BREAKFREE has started a massive global series of actions to convince the world to abandon fossil fuels, leaving them safely in the ground, while switching to energy efficiency and renewable energy. These actions are being taken in the hopes of staving off the scourge of global warming now reaching epic proportions. The severe consequences of rampant, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions are proceeding unabated—even accelerating—with dire consequences for the future of humanity.

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Saving our World — Can it be Done?

Most of my scientist friends and colleagues, when they speak or write to each other about this topic, have a very dim view of humanity’s near term future on Earth. “Near Term” in this context spans the next several generations of humans.

The problem, of course, is the systematic taking apart of our life-support system, a global action in which we are all, collectively, embarked. Their dim view stems largely not from failures of science and other disciplines to identify, measure, and scope out the problems we are experiencing around the world, but from:

  • failures of education regarding the Earth and how it works plus what we are doing to it,
  • failures to accept the magnitude of the changes that must be made quickly enough to reverse the dangerous trend,
  • failures of current political system design (and/or operation) to recognize the scope and immediacy of the problem, and
  • failures to take actions of magnitudes worthy of the need.

(For a very effective short cartoon video, “300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds” showing what has brought us to the current turning point, check out this youtube link.)

Fortunately, academics in other fields outside science and many other educated and aware people have formed the same view of our future and are recommending a new movement to address the problem. This group has finally recognized the larger systemic nature of the problem faced globally — failures of governing systems to function on behalf of human sustainability, health, and general welfare. Two of four bullet points at the web site of this new attempt to create real change states the case thusly: Continue reading

Idea of The Humanity System as a Tool for Change

By Michael Tuckson

Formerly advisor in rural development in Thailand and Laos

Former government and university staffer in Australia

Degrees in geology, palaeoecology and human geography

 

Excerpts from “Changing the World: Using the Humanity System Idea

Reproduced by permission from  The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere

November 4, 2014

Paul Ehrlich’s first visit to Australia in 1970 drew me away from doctoral studies in palaeoecology towards a tutorship in human geography and a new life increasingly in human affairs.

….

In my journey from natural science into the social sciences I eventually came to see human ecology and the social sciences as together describing critical parts of the whole system that I began to call the ‘humanity system’. The system includes all of human thought, action and the short and long-term consequences.

….

The humanity system is best studied starting at least 200,000 years ago, including a-temporal concepts as they become relevant through time. Humanity systems evolved from nature harvesting through farming to city-centered systems, through ‘traditional’ and modern stages. With population growth, humanity systems have now replaced much of the biosphere with farming, mining, and rigidi-structure largely in arable regions of the world and degraded the rest of the biosphere.

 

None of the specialized subjects which populate the social sciences, nor human ecology, by themselves can fully explain our life on planet Earth. An integrating theory, which recognizes the influence of Nature, emotion, power and force, and avails itself of the best relevant ideas in each of the relatively specialized disciplines, is needed. It must be recognized that some of the theory of the social sciences is based on values influenced by emotion such as wealth, luxury and ethnic and national prestige.

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Human Place in the Antropocene

Quote for the day:

While not “silver bullets” able to guarantee global sustainability on their own,

near term population stabilization and subsequent consolidations are fundamental bio-physical steps in the global behavior change required to move towards a more sustainable future — and perhaps even more importantly,

acquiescence and acceptance of the necessity of these steps is a crucial mental turning point,

wherein a person moves

from allegiance to human-exceptionalism and human-entitlement

to a more humble and self-modest conception of human existence within the planetary whole,

wherein the primary driver of thinking is no longer centered on humans and our needs and wants, but rather is conscious of the entire eco-sphere and the rights of all the species that constitute it to exist.

 

—Joe Bish, Senior Population Communications Associate, Population Media Center, http://www.populationmedia.org/

 

Context: Dot Earth blog at the New York Times

Responses to “end of the world” scientist article and The Myth of Growth

Ross McCluney

The Population Media Center’s Daily Email of June 15th reported* on the work of an interdisciplinary group of 22 scientists, which combined paleontological evidence with ecological modeling, and concluded that the earth appears headed toward catastrophic and irreversible environmental changes.

Below is a somewhat more pleasing item, a report on the Brazilian success in lowering their fertility rate to below replacement level.

If you would like to see the Brazilian article, click here.

_________

*PMC also provided the following sobering look at the myth of economics by Paul Farrell of MarketWatch:

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Biodiversity loss: as serious a threat as most other fears.

I’ve been harping about overpopulation for some time now. Fortunately, there are major efforts around the world to reduce fertility levels to more sustainable values. But are they being implemented fast enough?

Of course, I don’t forget the additional (derivative?) concerns about inadvertent climate modification (including global warming) and its effects on ecosystems as well as people. We cannot neglect the role of what are called “nature’s services,” which depend upon maintaining biodiversity. [Do a Google search on “Nature’s services” for numerous links to information on that topic.]

Now, thanks to Joe Bish at Population Media Center, comes this pair of interesting articles on diversity loss:

Impacts of biodiversity loss rival those of climate change and pollution by Emmett Duffy on May 2, 2012 in SeaMonster – Ocean science, sports, and discovery

And

Diversity Loss v. Environmental Change: The Story of the Paper

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