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“The dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion” – Pt. 1 of 2

“The dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion” – Pt. 1 of 2

Moreover, says Dr. William Rees, even if it were possible, it would not solve climate change and would exacerbate the real existential threat facing society, namely overshoot. —

William Rees

“Climate-change and other environmental organizations urge governments to act decisively/rapidly to decarbonize the economy and halt further development of fossil fuel reserves.  These demands arguably expose:

    • ignorance of the role of energy in the modern economy;
    • ill-justified confidence in society’s ability to transition to 100% green renewable energy;
    • no appreciation of the ecological consequences of attempting to do so;
    • and little understanding of the social implications. 

Without questioning the need to abandon fossil fuels,

    • I will argue that the dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion. 
    • Moreover, even if it were possible, it would not solve climate change and would exacerbate the real existential threat facing society, namely overshoot. 
    • I then explore
      • some of the consequences and implications of (the necessary) abandonment of fossil fuels in the absence of adequate substitutes, and
      • how governments and MTI [Modern Techno-Industrial] society should be responding to these unspoken biophysical realities.”

— Dr. William Rees, CACOR ZOOM Webinar 2021

Dr. William Rees is a population ecologist, ecological economist, Professor Emeritus, and former Director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.  His academic research focuses on the biophysical prerequisites for sustainability.

About CACOR — The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) was founded in 1970 as one of the first of now more than thirty national associations affiliated with the International Club of Rome.  CACOR is autonomous, independent, and nonpartisan. Its main objective is to further the sustainability of the global ecosystem including the survival of humanity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Don’t blame capitalism. Capitalism itself isn’t “bad”; it’s the effects that are bad. — Nate Hagens

Don’t blame capitalism. Capitalism itself isn’t “bad”; it’s the effects that are bad. — Nate Hagens

Capitalism has allowed us to throw a two-century party – We trashed the place, drank the booze, burned the furniture — It’s time to wake up, act like adults, and behave responsibly. —

Nate Hagens

“Here in America when bad shit happens, we immediately perceive it as an injustice — it’s not fair or right – and then we logically have to blame someone or something. …. If capitalism is to blame, what is capitalism? Here’s a definition from the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. ‘Capitalism. is an economic system in which private actors own and control property in accord with their interests and supply freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society. The essential feature of capitalism in the motive to make a profit.’…. Capitalism, on the backs of fossil armies, brought billions of people out of poverty, allowed hundreds of millions of humans to live like kings and queens, and enabled billions of people to be born and live lives on earth by turbo-charging the food supply. It is too weighty and complex of an issue to label as simply ‘bad’ or ‘good. In some ways, complaining about capitalism is a luxury enabled by capitalism. Capitalism itself isn’t bad – the effects are bad. Many of the bad effects aren’t about wealth itself, but wealth inequality, which has ebbed and flowed over thousands of years, but naturally will spike during the highest surplus or monetary surplus representations. …. Any ‘ism’ linked to a culture that extracts carbon 10 million times faster than it was sequestered by nature us going to have disastrous long-term effects. Relative to other ‘isms’, capitalism did it faster…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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George Monbiot champions wealth taxes on ultra-rich as best way to prevent environmental collapse

George Monbiot champions wealth taxes on ultra-rich as best way to prevent environmental collapse

Why do we tolerate the massive environmental impacts of the very rich? Most of our dysfunctions are caused by pandering to the rich. —

George Monbiot

“Why do we tolerate the massive environmental impacts of the very rich? Most of our dysfunctions are caused by pandering to the rich. The way governments have allowed democracy to be eroded by lobbyists (including politicians with lucrative private interests); the deregulation that lets corporations, oligarchs and landlords squeeze their workers and tenants, then dump their costs on society; the permissive environment for profiteering during the pandemic; the degradation of health, education, and other public services by the constant drive towards privatization: all these are symptoms of the same condition. The same applies to the worst of our predicaments: the destruction of our life-support systems. The very rich arrogate to themselves the lion’s share of the planetary space on which we all depend. It is hard to understand why we tolerate this attack on our common interests…. Big money now buys everything: even access to the meetings that should address these dysfunctions. On some accounts, Cop26 is the most exclusive of all climate summits. Delegates from poor nations have been thwarted by a cruel combination of byzantine visa requirements, broken promises to make Covid vaccines available, and the mad costs of accommodation, thanks to government failures to cap local prices, or make rooms available. Even when delegates from poorer nations can scale these walls, they often find themselves excluded from the negotiating areas, and therefore unable to influence the talks….

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Satirical video slices and dices deceit of governments’ “Net-Zero by 2050” COP-26 pledges

Satirical video slices and dices deceit of governments’ “Net-Zero by 2050” COP-26 pledges

Fact is, say scientists, that “Net-Zero by 2050” really means we’re “net-fucked by 2050.” —

CAUTION: Readers may find the word “fucked” in this piece offensive. Personally, I find the reference to “government deceit” far more disturbing.

“The latest satirical video from The Juice Media takes aim at humanity’s inadequate response to the climate emergency. Humanity is on a catastrophic global heating trajectory that will pass what scientists call the ‘net fucked by 2050’ point and is risking ‘irreversible chain reactions beyond our control’ just so billionaires can grow even richer. ‘Being honest isn’t an option for us. Which is why we’ve come up with the next best alternative: net-zero by 2050.’ No, that’s not today’s report out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s the latest Honest Government Ads satire video from the Juice Media. The Australian company has been producing boat-rocking political and social satire videos since 2008, and now they’ve got humanity’s woefully inadequate response to a potentially existential planetary emergency in their sardonic crosshairs; specifically, insidious ‘net-zero’ pledges that dangerously delay the immediate carbon emission reductions needed to avert a worst-case climate scenario.” —Common Dreams / The Juice Media

The Juice Media is an Australian company that produces contemporary political and social satire. The video series Honest Government Ads is a satirical take on Australian Government advertising. Each video targets a current social or political issue and highlights potential consequences of the Government’s position and policy on that issue.

My repost is presented in three segments:

  • First: Common Dreams’ abridged introduction to the video with my added subheadings and text highlighting. Excluded from my repost are copies of three tweets.
  • Second: my embedded 3:45-minute You Tube video of Australia’s Juice Media’s blistering satirical attack on governments’ “Net Zero by 2050” pledges pedalled at COP-26.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Reporter’s call for Trudeau to grow the economy ignores threat to humanity’s very survival

Reporter’s call for Trudeau to grow the economy ignores threat to humanity’s very survival

Read my critical letter in reply to reporter John Ivison, of the National Post, who wrote the article. —

My letter to John Ivison

Dear John Ivison,

Your article “How Trudeau wasted a chance to spark Canadian economic growth during the pandemic” reflects your appalling ignorance of humanity’s existential predicament.

Decades of unrelenting global economic growth have driven us to a planetary breaking point of ecological overshoot – way too many people are using way too much energy and material resources and dumping way too much waste.

Moreover, there’s already way too much disinformation and misinformation in circulation. As a newspaper reporter, you have an added responsibility to become responsibly informed about the science-based reality of the human predicament. Judging from your readers’ comments to your article, you, sir, are adding to the dissemination of disinformation.

But that is about what I have come to expect from the rightwing National Post.

Yours truly,

Frank White, etc.

**********

Excerpts from Ivison’s article

How Trudeau wasted a chance to spark Canadian economic growth during the pandemic, That’s the title of reporter John Ivison’s article that appeared in the National post’s Saturday, October 16 edition.

Ivison’s article, 1934 words in length — reposted in full at the bottom of this post — begins:

The Liberal government is more focused on redistributing the existing economic pie than generating the wealth needed to ensure future prosperity

Paul Romer coined the phrase “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” back in 2004. “I tried to suggest that there is a risk of complacency in ordinary times and that a crisis is the time when you might be able to mobilize some coordinated efforts to do better,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist said in an interview with the National Post this week…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Unrelenting economic growth on a finite planet is laying waste to entire living systems

Unrelenting economic growth on a finite planet is laying waste to entire living systems

Meanwhile, governments everywhere are talking about “supercharging our economy.” —

No 2784 by fw, October 5, 2021—

George Monbiot

“There is a box labelled ‘climate’, in which politicians discuss the climate crisis. There is a box named ‘biodiversity’, in which they discuss the biodiversity crisis. There are plenty of other boxes, such as  pollution, deforestation, overfishing and soil loss, gathering dust in our planet’s lost property department. But all these boxes contain aspects of one crisis, that we have divided up to make it comprehensible. The categories the human brain creates to make sense of its surroundings are not, as Immanuel Kant observed, the Thing-in-Itself. They describe perceptual artefacts, rather than the world. Nature recognizes no such divisions. As Earth systems are assaulted by everything at once, each source of stress compounds the others…. What would we see if we broke down our conceptual barriers? We would see a full spectrum assault on the living world. Scarcely anywhere is now safe from this sustained assault. A recent scientific paper estimates that only 3% of the Earth’s land surface should now be considered ‘ecologically intact’. …We have no hope of emerging from this full-spectrum crisis unless we ramp down economic activity. Wealth must be distributed – a constrained world cannot afford the rich – but it must also be reduced. Sustaining our life-support systems means doing less of almost everything. But this notion – which should be central to a new, environmental ethics – is secular blasphemy.” —George Monbiot

George Joshua Richard Monbiot is a British writer known for his environmental and political activism. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and is the author of a number of books.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Democrat and Republican parties work together against “We, the People”: Ralph Nader explains

How Democrat and Republican parties work together against “We, the People”: Ralph Nader explains

Politicians from both parties exploit voters on behalf of their big corporate bosses. —

polarized – divided or cause to be divided into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs.

*****

Ralph Nader the Warrior

“‘Polarization’ is the word most associated with the positions of the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The mass media and the commentators never tire of this focus, in part because such clashes create the flashes conducive to daily coverage. The quiet harmony between the two parties created by the omnipresent power of Big Business and other powerful single-issue lobbyists is often the status quo. That’s why there are so few changes in this country’s politics. In many cases, the similarities of both major parties are tied to the fundamental concentration of power by the few over the many. In short, the two parties regularly agree on anti-democratic abuses of power…. Right now, both Parties are readying to give over $50 billion of your tax money to the very profitable under-taxed computer chip industry companies like Intel and Nvidia, so they can make more profit-building plants in the U.S. These companies are loaded with cash. They should invest their own money and stop the stock buyback craze. Isn’t that what capitalism is all about?” —Ralph Nader

Below is my repost of Ralph Nader’s article, “How the “Polarized” Political Parties Work Together Against the Public Interest.” – Ralph documents 16 crucial areas of Republican and Democrat accord, not discord.

Both Parties,” declares Nader, “vote as if the American middle-class taxpayer is a sleeping sucker…. Sleep on America, you have nothing to lose but your dreams.”

To read Ralph’s penetrating attack, click on the following linked title on his website.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The old wars are over. Welcome to Biden’s new wars

The old wars are over. Welcome to Biden’s new wars

Biden begins his first address to the UN General Assemble with a lie: “…the U.S. is not at war.” —

Joe Lauria

“Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, told world leaders Tuesday: ‘I stand here today, for the first time in 20 years, with the United States not at war.’ According to the latest available White House war report, the U.S. was involved in seven wars in 2018: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. The U.S. withdrew last month from Afghanistan, so the number of current U.S. wars is likely six.  Likely because in an age of so-called counter-terrorism operations it’s not entirely clear where U.S. forces are deployed. … In any case, the United States is not at peace, as Biden implied. With 800 military bases and installations around the world the U.S. remains perpetually on a war footing. … After leaving Afghanistan last month Biden indicated the Pentagon’s attention would focus even more intently on Russia and China. The controversial, new U.S.-U.K.-Australia defense pact is clearly aimed at Beijing. Unlike Obama, Biden did not utter the words Russia or China in his speech.  Instead he condemned them under the coded language of  ‘authoritarianism.’ War is over. Welcome to the new war.” —Joe Lauria, Consortium News

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Richard Heinberg explores the flawed thinking behind proposed solutions to climate change

Richard Heinberg explores the flawed thinking behind proposed solutions to climate change

He explains why real climate progress will require large numbers of people in wealthy countries to forgo forms of power they currently enjoy. —

*****

“power — the ability to do some­thing, the ability to get someone else to do something, or the ability to prevent someone else from doing something — is everywhere in the human world.” – Richard Heinberg (from “Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival”, page 1 of Chapter 1, Introduction).

*****

Richard Heinberg

“Climate change is often incorrectly described as an isolated pollution issue. In this flawed framing, humanity has simply made a mistake in its choice of [fossil fuels as] energy sources. The solution entails switching [to renewable energy] sources and building enough carbon-sucking machines to clear the atmosphere of polluting CO2. Only the political power of the fossil fuel companies prevents us from adopting this [renewable energy] solution and ending our existential environmental crisis. But techno-fixes (that is, technological solutions that circumvent the need for personal or cultural change) aren’t working so far, and likely won’t work in the future. That’s because fossil fuels will be difficult to replace, and energy usage is central to our collective economic power. In other words, power is the key to solving climate change—but not necessarily in the way that many pundits claim. Solutions will not come just from defeating fossil fuel interests and empowering green entrepreneurs; real climate progress will require the willingness of large swathes of the populace, especially in wealthy countries, to forgo forms of power they currently enjoy: comfort and convenience, the ability to travel far and fast, and the option to easily obtain a wide range of consumer products whose manufacture entails large inputs of energy and natural resources.” —Richard Heinberg, Common Dreams

  1. …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The prolific, inimitable Nate Hagens strikes again: This time with a new book on the human predicament

The prolific, inimitable Nate Hagens strikes again: This time with a new book on the human predicament

“This will be the century which tests the human potential for mediocrity against the human potential for greatness.” —

“Earth’s currently most successful large creature is now in a predicament; a predicament brought about by a compelling combination of human traits and its (relatively) recent discovery of vast stores of fossil flammable fuel. … This “Carbon Pulse” is a brief period of human history in which much of the carbon sequestered as these substances over hundreds of millions of years is expended in just a few centuries. The resulting impacts on wealth, economies, and ecologies are earth-shattering. Humans are reaching the end of the carbon pulse. Now we face a time of change that requires a quality of “systems thinking” and future planning never before required of our species. … In the following pages, we will give short overviews of scientific themes central to our thesis that humans are in a predicament and why, and how we can change. It is hoped that our work will give you a greater grasp of the complex challenges facing humanity this century, as well as inspiration on how to live meaningful, effective and enjoyable lives.” Nathan J. HagensDJ White

The above passage is excerpted from the Introduction to a new, 345-page book, “Reality Blind: Vol. 1: Integrating the Systems Science Underpinning Our Collective Futures”, co-authored by Nate Hagens and DJ White.  (You can purchase a copy here: https://read.realityblind.world/view/975731937/i/To download a free PDF copy, go to the black border at the bottom of your open window, below the book, and click on the download icon to the right of the printer icon.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Myth #22: Nate Hagens discredits claim “We Can Always Get More Resources If We Have More Money”

Myth #22: Nate Hagens discredits claim “We Can Always Get More Resources If We Have More Money”

We can create money, but we cannot create energy, only extract what exists — FASTER.”

“We can create money, but we cannot create energy, only extract what exists — FASTER. And importantly, when money is created the interest is not. This creates a growth imperative for our economy to be able to pay interest in the future. Whenever we’ve encountered resource or energy limits – for example, the 1970s – we started to use the social construct of credit to overcome the near-term economic pain. In every single year since 1965, the United States and the world have grown their total debt more than they’ve grown their economies.”  —Nate Hagens, from his Myth #22

My transcript of this repost focuses on Nate’s 2:55-minute crash course in economics – a valiant attempt to explain to the untutored (like myself) the relationship between money and resources. Without fully understanding his explanation, I’ll just accept at face value that he effectively discredits Myth #22: “We Can Always Get More Resources If We Have More Money.” Myth #22 is one of 33 myths Nate covered in his May 21st Earth Day talk titled, Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality. The beauty of his 2hr, 52min long, information-rich Earth Day talk is that it is more of an indexed reference tool for recurrent consultation than a lecture meant to be assimilated in one sitting.

At the bottom of this post is a complete time-stamped list of the titles of all of Hagens’ 33 myths, plus his opening Introduction and closing Interventions (and Wild Ideas). The myths can be watched in any order — but, as Hagens mentions, the order decided on seems logical.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Myth #19: Nate Hagens dismisses the insistence we can achieve Net Zero!! (by 2050 or any date)

Myth #19: Nate Hagens dismisses the insistence we can achieve Net Zero!! (by 2050 or any date)

“When people use the term “Net Zero” it’s mostly shorthand for maintaining economic growth while doing some magical technological salvation in the future.” —

“There is an increasingly popular theme in climate change media called “Net Zero emissions.” The idea that by 2050 – or any date – we can both swap out our fossil fuel energy base for renewables, and, additionally, use complicated and yet-to-be developed technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere – together resulting in humanity reducing the current emissions of our 17 terawatt economic system to zero, in less that 3 decades…. The waste from our current population and consumption levels is a dire problem. But thinking we can continue to consume at anything close to today’s levels, and magically whisk away the waste products from a carbon-based economic system, is a myth. In a 17 terawatt economy, 80% powered by fossil fuels, Net Zero emissions is biophysically delusional; however, accepting this biophysical reality will [also] be politically delusional, so maybe we can meet in the middle.” —Nate Hagens, from his Myth #19

My transcript of this repost focuses on Nate’s concise 5-minute review of the evidence that effectively refutes Myth #19: “We can achieve Net Zero (by 2050 or any date!!” Myth #19 is one of 33 myths Nate delivered in his May 21st Earth Day talk titled, Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality. The beauty of his 2hr, 52min long, information-rich Earth Day talk is that it is more of an indexed reference tool for recurrent consultation than a lecture meant to be assimilated in one sitting.

At the bottom of this post is a complete time-stamped list of the titles of all of Hagens’ 33 myths, plus his opening Introduction and closing Interventions (and Wild Ideas). The myths can be watched in any order — but, as Hagens mentions, the order decided on seems logical.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is the National Observer intentionally ignoring reports by/about leading climate scientists?

Is the National Observer intentionally ignoring reports by/about leading climate scientists?

Why has Observer reporter not responded to my email promoting work of Dr. Nate Hagens? 

On May 31, I sent a polite email to National Observer reporter Chris Hatch in response to his open invitation to readers to share “comments or suggestions” related to his efforts as climate correspondent to sort through “the kaleidoscope of news, ideas, politics and culture to figure out what’s working in the race against climate change.”

A copy of my email to Mr. Hatch is reposted below. But first, I want to point out that my letter to Hatch was not the first time I had contacted the National Observer to express my concerns re its absence of any coverage of the work of leading climate scientists and experts in related fields. In fact, last year, because of this failure, I did not renew my subscription and shared my reason with the paper.

Here is a slightly abridged copy of my letter to Mr. Hatch. Coincidentally, not only has he failed to reply to my request for feedback, he did not have the common courtesy to acknowledge receipt of my email.

Dear Chris Hatch

Frank White, here, of Windsor Ontario. Thank you for your invitation to share “comments or suggestions” related to your efforts as climate correspondent to sort through “the kaleidoscope of news, ideas, politics and culture to figure out what’s working in the race against climate change.”

Before sharing my thoughts with you, here’s a bit of relevant, personal background information. For the past 11 years I have been editing a blog, Citizen Action Monitor, that focuses primarily on major contemporary global and Canadian-specific issues, including climate change. I offer my readership a news and information filtering service that involves monitoring, selecting, and  reposting articles from authoritative online sources…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

COLLAPSE! — Think of collapse as a drastic and chaotic reduction in energy and resource use

COLLAPSE! — Think of collapse as a drastic and chaotic reduction in energy and resource use

“… my fundamentally conservative core requires a default position that collapse is the most likely outcome,” says physicist Tom Murphy. —

Tom Murphy

“The first thing I should say is that the word ‘collapse’ freaks me out. I don’t use it often, for fear of sounding like an unhinged alarmist. Surely, respectable scientists should want nothing to do with it…. What keeps pulling me back to it — despite my innate repulsion — is not only credible elements of risk that I will get to in this post, but also that I think it’s too important to tolerate our natural tendency to hide from the prospect. Ironically, doing so only raises the odds of that ill fate: mitigation requires direct acknowledgment. Failure to speak openly and honestly about the less-than-remote possibility of collapse is not in our best interest, ultimately. So let’s grit our teeth and confront the collapse monster. What conditions make it at once likely and off most people’s radars? It is a heavy lift for one blog post to do a complete job in motivating collapse as a realistic outcome of the human enterprise. Any one argument can be picked at, but the totality should be considered. This is a long post, so buckle up. For the purposes of this post, we can think of collapse as a drastic and probably chaotic reduction in energy and resource use per person, the result looking primitive by today’s standards.” —Tom Murphy, Do the Math

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. Murphy’s keen interest in energy topics began with his teaching a course on energy and the environment for non-science majors at UCSD…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Our rapid ascent in energy and resource use has distorted our view of “normal”

Our rapid ascent in energy and resource use has distorted our view of “normal”

The new reality warns we are on a collision course with Earth’s finite limits —

Tom Murphy

“The delirious ascent in energy and resource use witnessed over the past few centuries has been accomplished via the rapid, accelerating expenditure of a one-time inheritance of natural resources—a brief and singularly remarkable era in the long saga of human history. It has produced a dangerously distorted impression of what “normal” looks like on this planet. …Thus far, heeding physical boundaries has not been necessary for the most part, as the scale of human endeavors has only recently become significant in a planetary context. We are now entering into a new reality: one in which our ambitions are on a collision course with natural limits on a finite planet. It is a slow-motion trajectory that has been apparent to some for an embarrassingly long time*, but not yet acute enough to have grabbed the lasting attention of the majority. [*D H Meadows et al. The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. Universe Books, 1974]” —Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. Murphy’s keen interest in energy topics began with his teaching a course on energy and the environment for non-science majors at UCSD. Following his natural instincts to educate, Murphy is eager to get people thinking about the quantitatively convincing case that our pursuit of an ever-bigger scale of life faces gigantic challenges and carries significant risks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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