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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Degrowth–the promising climate change strategy no politician wants to handle

Degrowth – the promising climate change strategy no politician wants to handle?


Social Change Will Upend the Status Quo

Social Change Will Upend the Status Quo

The nation is fragmenting because the Status Quo is failing the majority of the citizenry.

The core narrative of the Status Quo is that nothing fundamental needs to be changed: all the problems can be solved with more “free money” (borrowed from the future at low rates of interest) and a few policy tweaks such as Universal Basic Income (UBI) (the topic of my new book Money and Work Unchained).

This core narrative is false: everything needs to change, from the bottom up.And that of course terrifies those gorging at the trough of status quo wealth and power.

The power structure can manipulate financial metrics, but it can’t manipulate rising wealth/power inequality or social discord. Whatever you think of President Trump, his election is a symptom of profound social discord–discord which author Peter Turchin explains is cyclical and cannot be squashed with phony reforms like UBI or police-state repression.

The nation is fragmenting because the Status Quo is failing the majority of the citizenry. The protected few are reaping all the benefits of the Status Quo, at the expense of the unprotected many.

As I have outlined many times, this unsustainable asymmetry is the only possible outcome of our socio-economic system, which is dominated by these forces:

1. Globalization–free flow of capital, labor arbitrage (workers must compete with the lowest-cost labor around the world).

2. Nearly free money from central banks for bankers, financiers and corporations.

3. Pay-to-play “democracy”– wealth casts the only votes that count.

4. State protected cartels that privatize gains and socialize losses.

5. A political system stripped of self-correcting feedback and accountability.

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

The Great Unraveling: Using Science and Philosophy to Decode Modernity

The Great Unraveling: Using Science and Philosophy to Decode Modernity 

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | CC BY 2.0

“Forty percent of the United States drains into the Mississippi. It’s agriculture. It’s golf courses. It’s domestic runoff from our lawns and roads. Ultimately, where does it go? Downstream into the Gulf.”

—Sylvia Earle

Our civilization is headed for a downfall, to be sure, in part due to the massive gulf between our hopes for the future and the omnipresent inertia regarding social change in mainstream politics, though a more apt analogy for our society might be circling the drain. The dark, shadow side of our industrial farming practices in the US has resulted in the hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately the size of New Jersey and growing every year. Caused by excess nitrates, phosphates, and various chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides draining from farmland into the Mississippi river basin, toxic algal blooms kill millions of fish, shrimp, shellfish, and, almost certainly, thousands of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico every year. There are hundreds of these dead zones around the world’s oceans, caused by agribusiness and sewage runoff from the world’s largest cities. There are also garbage patches in the Pacific (actually diffuse swathes of ocean littered mainly by microplastics) comparable to the size of Mexico.

Meanwhile on land, we have lost half of our wildlife in the past 40 years. The implications are inconceivable and beyond words, and calls for global action on a coordinated scale beyond anything that has been seriously considered by the so-called political leaders of the “world community”. This will require an immediate mobilization of international resources (a Global Marshall plan, which will need trillions of dollars of aid redistributed to the developing nations over decades) to combat three main crises: global warming, habitat loss, and accelerating species extinction rates, all of which are interconnected.

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

Shrinking the Technosphere, Part V

Shrinking the Technosphere, Part V

Before we proceed any further in describing how political technologies can be used to bring about the sort of dramatic social change that might grant humanity a new lease on life on planet Earth, let’s describe what “naturelike technologies” might look like. By “naturelike” we mean something that is in balance with nature—its rhythms, both diurnal and annual, and its cycles: of water, carbon dioxide, organic nutrients—and human generations. By “technologies” we mean the know-how, passed from generation to generation, which one needs in order to survive—not any fancy gadgets or machinery, not the internet of things, nano-this or genetically-engineered-that.

Of course, there must also exist political technologies that can sustain and defend such an effort, especially against the predations of profit-driven psychopaths who have imperiled human survival through rapid resource depletion and out of control industrial development, but let’s put this question aside for now…

While I was growing up in the USSR, every summer, from age five to age nine or so, my family would take off in some direction, east or west, on trips that could, in some of their aspects, be described as trips back in time. We spent one summer in a village so out-of-the-way that the locals demanded to know how we knew that their village existed. We hadn’t known, neither did the authorities in the local regional center, and the locals seemed keen to keep it that way.

We simply tagged along with a geological survey team that was doing seismic testing, blasting its way along a hydrocarbon seam. Our method of transportation was a “Smotka”—a reel truck that bumped along rutted dirt roads running cable between sensors stuck in the ground that triggered small explosive charges, then recorded seismic data as jagged lines on spools of graph paper spewed out by a seismograph inside the truck.

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

Shrinking the Technosphere, Part IV

Shrinking the Technosphere, Part IV

In the previous parts of this series, we started picking away at a very big subject: what a successful strategy for bringing about rapid social change would look like, such social change being necessary if we were to avoid the worst ravages of catastrophic climate change. This change must introduce “naturelike” technologies that would bring the technosphere back into balance with the biosphere.

To be effective, this strategy must rely on technology—but not in the usual sense of fancy gadgets or gewgaws, of which the following examples spring to mind:

• Smartphones and other such gadgets. (“Stupidpeople” no longer know how to get by without them.)
• Windmills that take plenty of coal and diesel to build and maintain, swat migratory birds out of the sky and produce energy in a form that cannot be stored effectively.
• Majestic sailing ships that transport fair trade chocolate, coffee and wine to delight effete foodies in “first world” countries.

No-no-no! The technology in question is political technology, designed to overcome the awesome force of social inertia and to cause society to move in a direction in which it initially doesn’t want to move.

Political technology offers ways of:
1. Changing the rules of the game between participants in the political process
2. Introducing into the mass consciousness new concepts, values, opinions and convictions
3. Directly manipulating of human behavior through mass media and administrative methods

Since the term “political technology” was new to most readers, we made a detour in order to put it in context. To recap, political technologies can be used to pursue the following aims:

1. To improve everyone’s welfare by pursuing the common good of the entire society, as it is understood by its best-educated, most intelligent, most decent and responsible members. Political technologies of this kind result in a virtuous cycle, building on previous successes to increase social cohesion, solidarity and setting the stage for great achievements. (These are the good kind.)

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

If you care about changing society, focus on strengths

If you care about changing society, focus on strengths

Permaculture in Auroville, India, created by the Transition movement. Credit: http://www.healthesoilcsa.org.

Permaculture in Auroville, India, created by the Transition movement. Credit: http://www.healthesoilcsa.org.

Social movements, including those opposing globalisation, environmental destruction and racism, typically start with a problem; a sense that things aren’t right and that change is needed. Often, they are fed by anger at the injustice, the violence or the environmental destruction surrounding us. They are often premised on struggle and resistance.

In 2009, after both my daughters had started school, I was ready to become involved in social change groups again. A few years earlier I had become immersed in strengths-based approaches to working with communities and wanted to explore this approach in the context of social change.

The Transition movement offered this possibility. It addresses some of the big environmental challenges we face – including climate change, our addiction to oil, the skewed economy and the myth of endless expansion – by creating alternative visions for communities and starting practical projects that help get there.

It sees the crisis we face as an “opportunity for doing something different, something extraordinary”.

The aim of Transition is to help you be the catalyst in your community for an historic push to make where you live more resilient, healthier and bursting with strong local livelihoods, while also reducing its ecological footprint. (From What is Transition)

The Transition movement is an example of a strengths-based approach to social change. Rather than focusing on all the barriers we face in creating more sustainable communities, it focuses on opportunities and potential. Transition groups attempt to create the change they want to see.

They might create local currencies like in Brixton, UK; kitchen gardens like inAuroville, India; community owned power companies like in Fujino, Japan; or start local conversations exploring what neighbours can do together that they can’t do alone, as in Newcastle Australia.

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



Naomi Klein Calls for System Change to Address Climate and Inequality

Naomi Klein Calls for System Change to Address Climate and Inequality

A radically new economic and social system is urgently needed to tackle climate change and address intersecting social justice issues, the internationally bestselling author Naomi Klein told activists meeting in London today.


It’s not too late to get off the road, to grab the wheel of history and swerve,” the author of This Changes Everything told an audience of more than 1,000 attending a one-day interactive conference on climate change and social justice inspired by her book.

It is possible to lower our emissions in line with what science is telling us,” she said via Skype. “But to do that means we need to change everything about our system.”

Klein argued that individual actions alone aren’t going to bring the level of emission reductions needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. Instead, “we need to look at large scale policies that make good decisions easier.”


The all-day event held at Friends Meeting House in Euston, London, included breakout workshops and tactic sessions – while also giving a platform speakers from across the environment and social justice movement.

Among those to join the debate were Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Channel 4 economics editor Paul Mason, and John Broderick, a research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. There was a consensus among all speakers that bold and broad social change is required to meet the climate challenge.


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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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