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The planetary emergency we must avoid (spoiler alert: it’s not climate change)

The planetary emergency we must avoid (spoiler alert: it’s not climate change)

Rather than expanding our renewable electricity production and developing an EV fleet, a degrowth approach would be to initiate a massive energy conservation programme and investing in cities where we can live, work and play within 15 minutes’ walking or biking

Opinion: Purchasing an EV is something more people are doing to reduce the worst impacts of climate change. EVs are attractive and increasingly convenient.

But is this reaction to the climate crisis an example of the wrong solution to the wrong problem? Is climate change, as serious as it is, even the most important problem to address?

Climate change is certainly an existential threat and more needs to be done to mitigate its worst impacts. Yet even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, we would still face a range of environmental existential threats.

Part of the problem is we haven’t defined the problem correctly. Rather than trying to deal with specific issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and so on, there is an underlying cause that connects these threats. Understanding the cause could provide a new approach to dealing with many of these challenges.

First let’s step back and try to understand just what the threat is. As far as we know Earth is the only planet in the universe with complex living systems, with a biosphere covering its surface.

The biosphere is an intricately balanced network of living and non-living systems interacting with each other in a self-regulatory manner. This rare web of life provides for us physically, economically, aesthetically and spiritually.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Most plastic isn’t recycled, burns in fires at recycling centers

Most plastic isn’t recycled, burns in fires at recycling centers

Preface.  Plastics are just one of 500,000 products made out of oil and gas, but very important to just about every aspect of society, from making vehicles lighter so go further using less energy, to clothes, food storage, bags, toothbrushes, buckets, garbage bins, toys, carpets, fleece, plastic lumber, chairs, bottles and more.

The reason fossil fuels are used to make half a million products is that they are mostly just carbon and hydrogen: Natural gas 20% C 80% H, petroleum 84% C 12% H, and coal 84% C 5% H.

If you wanted to make plastics from something “greener” and more sustainable, what on earth is both abundant and chock-a-block with carbon and hydrogen that can replace fossil fuels? Let us start with abundant. The world is mostly made of soil, air, water, and plants. Dirt will not work, it’s 47% oxygen, 28% silicon, 8% aluminum, 5% iron, 3.6% calcium, 3% sodium, 3% potassium, and 2% magnesium. Air is nitrogen and oxygen. Water is hydrogen and oxygen, but no carbon.

That leaves biomass — plants such as trees, crops, and grasses, which has both carbon and hydrogen. But there’s a whole lot of other crap that would have to be removed at great energy and monetary expense since there’s also O, N, Ca, K, Si, Mg, Al, S, Fe, P, Cl, Na, Mn, Ti. Biomass carbon varies quite a bit, from 35–65% of the dry weight, and hydrogen roughly 6%.

But it also takes a lot of energy to use biomass instead of oil and gas, which flows through pipelines cheaply. Biomass has to be cut, transported, cut or mashed into tiny pieces, and conveyed to a plastics factory before it composts or spontaneously combusts.  And it’s expensive to remove some or all of the non carbon and hydrogen elements out.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Economist Steve Keen says the planet cannot sustain 8 billion people | The Business | ABC News

Overnight Degrowth

The Degrowth movement is gaining momentum. You’ve probably read articles about it and thought “Yeah, that makes sense, but it’ll never happen”. And today, you’d be right. Any government that tried to introduce it would soon become like the parrot, an ex-government.

However, we all know that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. Perhaps you’ve read one of the reports showing that environmental damage can’t be decoupled from GDP. COP26 showed there is no time to wait for a large number of countries to agree on meaningful action.

So, imagine that you and your social media buddies launch a campaign, and Degrowth becomes a household word, understood by many, and one brave government (my money’s on the Kiwis) decides to take the plunge. They secretly make preparations then introduce it – overnight.

You’re eating your muesli and your normal radio programme is interrupted with: “We now cross to the capital where the prime minister is about to make an important announcement”.

But first, a word of warning.

Some people might find the speech confronting. Scaring people is not my aim; rather, it is to present a scenario that could actually happen quickly enough to avoid catastrophic environmental and social collapse.

Facing reality is difficult. Ignoring the problems, or believing in myths like tech-will-save-us, is so much easier. And then there are those who are happy to just blame capitalism; but simply wishing it away won’t work. Or those who say we are doomed so why bother. Perhaps we are but we owe it to our kids not to give up.

The speech begins:

The time for pretending is over.

The governor-general has signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency.

The stock market will not open this morning, and will remain closed for one week while investors come to terms with what you are about to hear.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Quiet Part Out Loud

The Quiet Part Out Loud

Top Scientists: We Face “A Ghastly Future”

Editor’s note: According to the scientists who wrote the following paper, “future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”

We agree, and have been working to both inform people about these issues and to resist the destruction of the planet since our organization formed over a decade ago. “Any else [other than telling the truth about our ecological crisis] is misleading at best,” the scientists write, “or negligent and potentially lethal for the human enterprise [and, we must add, much of life on this planet] at worst.”

Modern civilization is a society of the spectacle in which media corporations focus more on who won the football game or how the queen is buried than about the breakdown of planetary ecology. This scientific report is essential reading and should be a headline news story worldwide. However, this information is inherently subversive, and therefore is either ignored or framed in such a way as to support the goals of the wealthy.

For years, our co-founder Derrick Jensen has asked his audiences, “Do you think this culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of life?” No one ever says yes. This is why Deep Green Resistance exists.

Deep Green Resistance starts where the environmental movement leaves off: industrial civilization is incompatible with life. Technology can’t fix it, and shopping—no matter how green—won’t stop it. To save this planet, we need a serious resistance movement that can bring down the industrial economy. Deep Green Resistance is a plan of action for anyone determined to fight for this planet—and win.


Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. First, we review the evidence that future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts. Second, we ask what political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action. Third, this dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business, and the public. We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future. The added stresses to human health, wealth, and well-being will perversely diminish our political capacity to mitigate the erosion of ecosystem services on which society depends. The science underlying these issues is strong, but awareness is weak. Without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problems and the enormity of the solutions required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals.

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

China’s Water Crisis Could Trigger Global Catastrophe

China’s Water Crisis Could Trigger Global Catastrophe

China’s water crisis is nothing new, but it’s gotten worse – and is now on the ‘brink of catastrophe and could trigger a global catastrophe, according to Foreign Affairs.

Dried-up riverbed of Jialing river, a Yangtze tributary, China, August 2022
Thomas Peter / Reuters

Given the country’s overriding importance to the global economy, potential water-driven disruptions beginning in China would rapidly reverberate through food, energy, and materials markets around the world and create economic and political turbulence for years to come. -Foreign Affairs

For starters, there’s no substitute for water – which is essential for food production, electricity generation and sustaining all life on earth.

In China, which consumes ten billion barrels of water per day (approximately 700x its daily oil consumption), decades of economic and population growth have pushed northern China’s water system to unsustainable levels.

According to the report, the per-capita water supply around the North China Plain at the end of 2020 was nearly 50% below the UN’s definition of acute water scarcity at 253 cubic meters. Other major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, are at similar (or lower) levels.

For comparison, Egypt had per-capita freshwater resources of 570 cubic meters, and has nowhere near as large of a manufacturing base as China.

Not fit for human consumption

Also worrisome, is that 19% of China’s surface water is not fit for human consumption according to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Roughly 7% was deemed unfit for any use at all.

Groundwater was worse – with around 30% considered unfit for consumption, and 16% unfit for any use.

In order to utilize this water, Beijing will need to make major investments in treatment infrastructure, which will require a significant increase in electricity usage in order to power the equipment.

Working against progress is China’s farming and industrial industries, which dump contaminants into the country’s groundwater – potentially setting the stage for decades of additional impairments.

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

UN, World Economic Forum Behind Global ‘War on Farmers’: Experts

UN, World Economic Forum Behind Global ‘War on Farmers’: Experts

They say ‘Agenda 2030’ development goals at root of sustainability policies that could lead to food shortages

The escalating regulatory attack on agricultural producers from Holland and the United States to Sri Lanka and beyond is closely tied to the United Nations’ “Agenda 2030” Sustainable Development Goals and the U.N.’s partners at the World Economic Forum (WEF), numerous experts told The Epoch Times.

Indeed, several of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are directly implicated in policies that are squeezing farmers, ranchers, and food supplies around the world.

High-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members within the U.N. system helped create the SDGs and are currently helping lead the organization’s implementation of the global plan, The Epoch Times has previously documented.

If left unchecked, multiple experts said, the U.N.-backed sustainability policies on agriculture and food production would lead to economic devastation, shortages of critical goods, widespread famine, and a dramatic loss of individual freedoms.

Epoch Times Photo
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is seen at the opening of the WEF Davos Agenda in Cologny, Switzerland, on Jan. 17, 2022. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Already, millions of people worldwide are facing dangerous food shortages, and officials around the world say those are set to get worse as the year goes on.

There is an agenda behind it all, experts told The Epoch Times.

Even private land ownership is in the crosshairs, as global food production and the world economy are transformed to meet the global sustainability goals, U.N. documents reviewed by The Epoch Times show.

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

3 Sustainable Ways To Reduce Your Dependence on the Supply Chain

It’s no secret that the supply chain disruptions have created global impacts on us. Many of us are feeling the burn of soaring food prices and are ready to do what is necessary to continue to feed our families. It’s not about choice, it’s about survival, and now is the time to take the necessary steps to ensure you can make it when the entire food supply system crashes.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your dependence on the supply chain is to start finding ways to phase out food sourcing and make it a priority! That means you will need to be innovative and think of other ways food can be acquired than just going to the grocery store.

23 Things You Can Forage For From April to June

Create more sustainability around your life and you learn to live more simply in the process. You will realize how much you actually have and other ways of putting items to use. As well, as building a more localized food supply. You will also be reducing greenhouse gases due to the gas used to distribute fresh produce. This also boosts local economies and strengthens food security locally, which is where the focus needs to be. Quite honestly, it’s already around you – you just have to know where to find it.

  1. FORAGE: A simple way to start is to learn how to forage for edible plants. These plants live all around us, are abundant, and better yet; are free! Not only that, these edible plants can be medicinal and will have a lot of nutritional value! Here are some food freebies you can find in your own backyard.

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

Deforestation and world population sustainability: a quantitative analysis

Deforestation and world population sustainability: a quantitative analysis

Abstract

In this paper we afford a quantitative analysis of the sustainability of current world population growth in relation to the parallel deforestation process adopting a statistical point of view. We consider a simplified model based on a stochastic growth process driven by a continuous time random walk, which depicts the technological evolution of human kind, in conjunction with a deterministic generalised logistic model for humans-forest interaction and we evaluate the probability of avoiding the self-destruction of our civilisation. Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse.

Introduction

In the last few decades, the debate on climate change has assumed global importance with consequences on national and global policies. Many factors due to human activity are considered as possible responsible of the observed changes: among these water and air contamination (mostly greenhouse effect) and deforestation are the mostly cited. While the extent of human contribution to the greenhouse effect and temperature changes is still a matter of discussion, the deforestation is an undeniable fact. Indeed before the development of human civilisations, our planet was covered by 60 million square kilometres of forest1. As a result of deforestation, less than 40 million square kilometres currently remain2. In this paper, we focus on the consequence of indiscriminate deforestation.

Trees’ services to our planet range from carbon storage, oxygen production to soil conservation and water cycle regulation. They support natural and human food systems and provide homes for countless species, including us, through building materials. Trees and forests are our best atmosphere cleaners and, due to the key role they play in the terrestrial ecosystem, it is highly unlikely to imagine the survival of many species, including ours, on Earth without them…

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

The Dutch have decided: Burning biomass is not sustainable

The Dutch have decided: Burning biomass is not sustainable

EU member states are increasingly turning their coal plants into biomass plants in an effort to cut carbon emissions. [Mizzou CAFNR / Flickr]

The Netherlands should phase out the use of biomass for generating electricity as soon as possible, the advisory board of the Dutch government said in a report presented earlier this month.

Biomass is an “indispensable” resource for the circular economy, but burning it is wasteful.

That is the main message of the report issued on 8 July by the Socio-Economic Council (SER), an independent advisory board of the Dutch government consisting of entrepreneurs, employees and independent experts.

In the chemical industry, the building sector and agriculture, biological materials are crucial for the transition to a circular economy, the council writes. But sustainably produced biomass is too scarce to keep using it for the production of heat or electricity, for which other low-carbon and renewable alternatives exist, the report states.

Accordingly, the billions worth of subsidies that were intended for biomass combustion plants should be phased out as well, the advisors say, calling however for measures to preserve “investment security” when designing a phase-out plan.

This means compensation should be handed out to companies who stand to lose out from the abrupt end of bioenergy subsidies.

“In case of a faster phase-out than companies and employees could have reasonably foreseen, compensation for investments, labour consequences and social consequences is appropriate,” the document states.

The ball is now in the court of the Dutch government, which will use the advice to construct a national “sustainability framework” for bio-resources due to be presented after the summer.

The new framework will “expand on existing criteria” laid down in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive to design “widely supported and coherent criteria on the sustainable production and use of biomass” in the Netherlands.

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

False Beliefs and Denial

False Beliefs and Denial

Sam’s Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina border

I have embarked on quite the journey over the past year. I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to begin writing this blog. I do enjoy discussing energy and resource decline and climate change, because of the stark implications they present. I’m less comfortable talking about extinction due to the uncertainty of a timeline and the controversy surrounding it. Despite my knowledge in this field, I never feel like I know enough; so I’m always digging for more information. The studies, articles, videos, and other media I have discovered are sometimes difficult to digest. I often have to step back to think about what I am writing and how it will be received for those few who are reading it. I am ever mindful of how I felt upon first discovering where we are as a species and precisely how we continue chopping off the limb we are perched upon. It is quite difficult at times, understanding not only where we are but where we are headed; also comprehending the inertia behind us pushing us into new realms and sending us beyond tipping points. Today’s article combines an eclectic mix of both recent events and stories with new material from Tom Murphy, William Rees, Jeff Masters, Alice Friedemann, and many others. Those of you familiar with my posts will be unfazed; new readers may be horrified.

The way some of my articles are received by a few point to anger and denial. I understand this because I was also there for a while, although I quickly progressed beyond those stages of grief. Despite my knowledge regarding human denial of reality and then the accompanying optimism bias which often typically lead to overshoot, I am still surprised by the sheer scale of this denial..

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

Blueprints for impossible futures

Blueprints for impossible futures

“A People’s Green New Deal” demands a different kind of impossible

Over the past two decades, a proliferation of “Green New Deal” literature has promoted various strategies for changing the structure of the global energy system to combat climate change.  While the term was first coined by the neoliberal economist Thomas Friedman, it has since been taken up by more progressive voices, from Keynesian social democrats to eco-socialists. Sadly, despite the promise of a new wave of climate-conscious legislation, from the European Green Deal and the UN Climate Agreement to the AOC-Markey legislation of 2019, each seems as unlikely as its predecessors to enact substantive change. At the recent COP 26 Climate Summit, for example, the United States failed to join 30 other nations in pledging to phase out sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 worldwide. With the US federal government dominated by fossil-fuel friendly Democrats and climate-change denying Republicans, the chances of passing ambitious climate legislation appear bleak. In the absence of real political force, GND proposals often serve as blueprints that respond to a largely speculative question: what would we do if we were in a position of power to create meaningful, lasting, and necessary change?

Instead of offering another blueprint for an impossible future, Max Ajl’s A People’s Green New Deal levels a critique at the genre itself, raising significant questions about the way that plans are proffered, and how most green futures implicitly accept the ongoing violence of capitalist imperialism. Ajl’s work engages critically with a wide spectrum of GND proposals, from policy documents like the European Commission and European Environmental Agency’s “European Green Deal” and Senator Ed Markey and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s House Resolution 109

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

Putting Post Growth Theory Into Practice

The Post Growth Entrepreneurship Incubator helps founders break free from traditional business models and implement sustainable non-extractive practices.

Annie Spratt via Unsplash

How do you define Post Growth Entrepreneurship?

A three-minute Post Growth Entrepreneurship primer

What brought you to post growth thinking and approaches?

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

“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…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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