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French MPs Want To Ban Black Friday Because Of “Resource Waste” And “Overconsumption”

French MPs Want To Ban Black Friday Because Of “Resource Waste” And “Overconsumption”

Members of the French Parliament are now demanding the government prohibit Black Friday, reported The Independent.

French MPs passed an amendment Monday that could make the annual shopping holiday, widely popularized in the US, illegal, warning that a shopping frenzy causes “resources waste” and “overconsumption.” 

The proposal, led by France’s former environment minister Delphine Batho, is expected to be debated next month in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

France’s ecological transition minister, Elisabeth Borne, told Europe 1 radio on Thursday that Black Friday creates “traffic jams, pollution, and gas emissions.”

“We cannot both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and call for a consumer frenzy,” Borne said. “Above all, we must consume better.”

The amendment prohibiting Black Friday has been condemned by France’s e-commerce union. 

RetailMeNot estimates that French shoppers are expected to spend $6.5 billion this year between Black Friday and Dec. 1. 

Climate change activists from the Extinction Rebellion group’s French chapter have been out in force protesting shoppers. 

“Friday, Nov. 29, it’s Block Friday: a day when Extinction Rebellion joins the youth call for the climate,” the climate change group said on Facebook. “Together, we stand to occupy in a festive way or block ‘Temples’ of consumption in more than 20 cities in France.”

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The suburbs are the spiritual home of overconsumption. But they also hold the key to a better future

Once is the defining image of the good life under capitalism, commonly held up as a model to which all humanity should aspire.

More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Yet with the global economy already in gross ecological overshoot, and a world population heading for more than 11 billion, this way of living is neither fair nor sustainable.

To live within our environmental means, the richest nations will need to embrace a planned process of economic “degrowth”. This is not an unplanned recession, but a deliberate downscaling of economic activity and the closely correlated consumption of fossil energy. We don’t argue this is likely, only that it is necessary.

You might naturally assume this will involve pain and sacrifice, but we argue that a “prosperous descent” is possible. Our new book, Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary, envisions how this might unfold in the suburban landscapes that are currently emblematic of overconsumption.

The well-known documentary The End of Suburbia presented a coherent narrative of a post-petroleum future, but got at least one thing wrong. There is not a single end to suburbia; there are many ends of suburbia (as we know it).

Reimagining the suburbs beyond fossil fuels

Suburban catastrophists such as James Kunstler argue that fossil fuel depletion will turn our suburbs into urban wastelands. But we see the suburbs as an ideal place to begin retrofitting our cities.

This won’t involve tearing them down and starting again. Typically, Australia’s built environment is turned over at less than 5% per year. The challenge is to reinhabit, not rebuild, the suburban landscape. Here are some of the key features of this reinvigorated landscape:

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The unacceptable collateral damage of overconsumption

The unacceptable collateral damage of overconsumption

The Great Acceleration, un-burnable carbon, and global impacts

We are living in extraordinary times and transformation is already happening and accelerating all around us. Many technological, social, and environmental changes are racing up the steep end of the exponential curve. In almost every area of our lives old structures are breaking down as we are witnessing the unfolding impacts of unprecedented technological innovation and its rapid deployment in a globally expanding consumer culture.

Exponential growth on a finite planet

‘The Great Acceleration’ is happening within the context of an expanding human population, profound societal and economic transformation on all continents, and — most urgent of all — a dangerous destabilization of global and local climate patterns. There is a scientific consensus that we need to take immediate action if we are to avoid catastrophic climate effects on the future of humankind, the diversity of life and the entire planet.

Unsustainable exponential growth in many aspects of human and ecological systems (Source)

Already hundreds of thousands of people die every year due to climate change related extreme weather events and millions lose their homes, go hungry or are forced to migrate. Ecosystems everywhere, and the biosphere as a whole, are reaching dangerous tipping points. The prolonged impact of an industrial growth society addicted to fossil fuels and the rapid extraction of non-renewable resources is pushing against planetary boundaries.

Our current economic system is structurally committed to ever-increasing economic growth and intertwined with a financial system that generates money out of nowhere based on debt, and currencies that are not backed up by real material value (see module two). Attempts to resuscitate this structurally dysfunctional system are getting more and more expensive, as the cycles of economic crisis and costly (temporary) recovery are getting shorter and shorter.

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What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?

What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?

Fifteen thousand scientists have issued a dire warning to humanity about impending collapse but virtually no-one takes notice. Ultimately, our global systems, which are designed for perpetual growth, need to be fundamentally restructured to avoid the worst-case outcome.

For a moment, the most important news in the entire world flashed across the media like a shooting star in the night sky. Then it was gone. Last month, over fifteen thousand scientists from 184 countries issued a dire warning to humanity. Because of our overconsumption of the world’s resources, they declared, we are facing “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss.” They warned that time is running out: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.”

This is not the first such notice. Twenty-five years ago, in 1992, 1,700 scientists (including the majority of living Nobel laureates) sent a similarly worded warning to governmental leaders around the world. In ringing tones, they called for a recognition of the earth’s fragility and a new ethic arising from the realization that “we all have but one lifeboat.”

This second warning contains a series of charts showing how utterly the world’s leaders ignored what they were told twenty-five years earlier. Whether it’s CO2 emissions, temperature change, ocean dead zones, freshwater resources, vertebrate species, or total forest cover, the grim charts virtually all point in the same dismal direction, indicating continued momentum toward doomsday. The chart for marine catch shows something even scarier: in 1996, the catch peaked at 130 million tonnes and in spite of massively increased industrial fishing, it’s been declining ever since—a harbinger of the kind of overshoot that unsustainable exploitation threatens across the board.

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There Are 800 Fossil Fuel Subsidies Around The World

There Are 800 Fossil Fuel Subsidies Around The World

There are 800 different programs around the world that subsidize fossil fuels, according to a new report from the OECD. The OECD released the report ahead of the international climate change negotiations set to take place in Paris in December, where the world has a “moral imperative to reach an ambitious and actionable agreement.”

Tackling climate change will be a monumental task, but key to the effort will be scrapping “lose-lose” fossil fuel subsidies, as the OECD calls them. Subsidizing oil, natural gas, and coal leads to distortions in prices, contributes to overconsumption of energy, and saps developing countries of revenues that could be used for much better investments in education and infrastructure.

They also lead to environmental fallout, with capital flowing to pollution-heavy industry and energy extraction. These investments, once made, can last for decades, essentially “locking-in” pollution for a long time to come. That is one of the glaring downsides to subsidizing fossil fuels. “Because they change the stream of income investors expect to receive for holding a particular asset, those subsidies influence investment choices and change the allocation of capital across sectors. In the case of certain fossil-fuel subsidies, there is therefore the risk that investors end up favouring sectors that produce fossil fuels or use them intensively, at the expense of cleaner forms of energy and other economic activities more generally,” the OECD wrote.

Related: Peak Oil Has More To Do With Oil Prices Than You May Think

The report only surveyed the OECD member countries (consisting of Western Europe, Japan, Korea, North America, and a few other rich countries), plus Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa. All told, the OECD concludedthat the world subsidized fossil fuels to the tune of $160 to $200 billion per year between 2010 and 2014, across 800 subsidy programs. That is much more than the $121 billion that renewable energy receives each year.


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Burning down the house


Burning down the house

Today is World Population Day (July 11)

Picture the street where you live. Now imagine that a building in your neighborhood bursts into flame and burns to the ground. Day after day, the calamity is repeated.

With safety and livelihoods at risk, people begin to argue about the best way to counter the threat. Some say that the fire department budget should be increased to support more trucks and firefighters. Others say that infrastructure is the problem to fix, that building codes should mandate construction with nonflammable materials.

No one bothers to ask, “What is causing the fires? Is there a gas leak or an arsonist on the loose?”

If this were the public response to a crisis in your neighborhood, you’d call it dangerous. It would be laughable to simply fight the fires without seeking and addressing their cause.

And yet even that superficial level of conversation is deeper than the typical response to the ecological and social conflagration engulfing the Earth — the great unraveling of nature and the unprecedented number of people living in crushing poverty.

Mostly, we just don’t talk about it, let alone ask, “What is causing the fire? The answer is too uncomfortable. Unintentionally, but in effect, humanity has become a planetary arsonist, burning down the houses (habitat) of our neighbors in the community of life. Our numbers and behavior are transforming the Earth, causing unnecessary suffering for people and for the other creatures with which we share the planet.

It’s time to talk about the size of the human family and the way we organize our economic activity (and not just today, on World Population Day), in language that is both honest and non-accusatory. It’s time to move beyond old arguments about whether population size or overconsumption is most culpable (both matter) and work urgently to expand rights, opportunity, and health for people in high fertility countries.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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