Environment & Sustainability

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"Externalities" The world's oceans under threat. The Economics of Sustainability – A Comparison of Economic Models. Our current economic paradigm is one in which the continuous acquisition of monetary wealth and material resources is both demanded and valued.

The Economics of Sustainability – A Comparison of Economic Models

In many of the wealthier nations economic growth has come at great cost to indigenous populations who were invaded and usurped, and to other nations who suffered the looting of their resources as they were colonized. In some cases populations suffered by literally being enslaved for the sake of generating further wealth for the already powerful owners of capital. Current statistics regarding the unequal distribution of wealth in today’s society indicate that little has changed since the days of the conquistadores and their ilk. Disproportionate rates of poverty, unemployment and homelessness reflect the inherent inequalities that are built into a system based on violent acquisition of scarce resources. In order to understand how best to address the failings of our current paradigm it is necessary to examine the model and its alternatives. Dealing with the Overpopulation Myth.

To start off, as long as the market system is in place and profit is the main motivation to do anything, what I talk about won't happen (social entrepreneurs, fortunately, aren't profit-motivated, but that's a different discussion).

Dealing with the Overpopulation Myth

However, assuming the infrastructure is in place to meet everyone's essential needs (food, water, shelter, healthcare) and essential luxuries (transportation, energy, education, communication), the population would cease to increase and may even begin to decrease [1] (nations with lower levels of poverty have fertility rates at or below replacement levels, while nations with greater levels of poverty have fertility rates well above replacement rates, strongly suggesting that guaranteeing everyone's basic needs would stop, or reverse, population growth). Furthermore, a report by the United Nations [2] predicts the global population rising to, at most, 10.6 billion by 2050 (a worst-case scenario, essentially).

Education is easier. Globalized Growth Is the Problem, Localism Is the Solution. (Photo: Steve Goodyear)The ceaseless expansion of economic exploitation, the engine of global capitalism, has come to an end.

Globalized Growth Is the Problem, Localism Is the Solution

The futile and myopic effort to resurrect this expansion—a fallacy embraced by most economists—means that we respond to illusion rather than reality. We invest our efforts into bringing back what is gone forever. This strange twilight moment, in which our experts and systems managers squander resources in attempting to re-create an expanding economic system that is moribund, will inevitably lead to systems collapse. The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism.

And very few of us are prepared. Heinberg also highlights what he calls "the highly dysfunctional U.S. political system," which is paralyzed and hostage to corporate power. Dr Jack Visits the Earthships. Eco-homes: Living the good life. "Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable?" by Kenneth Rogoff. Exit from comment view mode.

"Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable?" by Kenneth Rogoff

Click to hide this space CAMBRIDGE – I am often asked if the recent global financial crisis marks the beginning of the end of modern capitalism. It is a curious question, because it seems to presume that there is a viable replacement waiting in the wings. The truth of the matter is that, for now at least, the only serious alternatives to today’s dominant Anglo-American paradigm are other forms of capitalism. Continental European capitalism, which combines generous health and social benefits with reasonable working hours, long vacation periods, early retirement, and relatively equal income distributions, would seem to have everything to recommend it – except sustainability. Indeed, it is far from clear how far China’s political, economic, and financial structures will continue to transform themselves, and whether China will eventually morph into capitalism’s new exemplar.

Fourth, today’s capitalist systems vastly undervalue the welfare of unborn generations. Can Civilization Survive Capitalism? The term "capitalism" is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the "too-big-to-fail" government insurance policy for banks.

Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

The system is highly monopolized, further limiting reliance on the market, and increasingly so: In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, reports scholar Robert W. McChesney in his new book "Digital Disconnect. " "Capitalism" is a term now commonly used to describe systems in which there are no capitalists: for example, the worker-owned Mondragon conglomerate in the Basque region of Spain, or the worker-owned enterprises expanding in northern Ohio, often with conservative support -- both are discussed in important work by the scholar Gar Alperovitz. The truncated democracy that Dewey condemned has been left in tatters in recent years. It is not public opinion that drives American policy off the international spectrum. Robert F. Kennedy challenges Gross Domestic Product.

Planned Obsolescence – The Obvious Insanity of Capitalism. In today’s capitalist world, all of our collective hopes and dreams are thought to have the best chance of manifestation through the practice of maximizing profit.

Planned Obsolescence – The Obvious Insanity of Capitalism

The thought is that by maximizing profit, we are maximizing the “efficiency of capital”, and through that process an “invisible hand” will guide society towards prosperity for all. For centuries, this practice worked. Four hundred years ago, John Locke, one of the founding fathers of capitalism, observed that average citizens lacked access to basic goods such as bed linens, books, pots and pans, utensils, and many others.

Resources at the time were truly abundant and for all intents and purposes, limitless. An economic system was born to facilitate the transformation of raw materials into usable products to make the daily lives easier for the entire population. To induce additional growth, a concept of planned obsolescence was developed. Do you agree or disagree? Why are Conservatives Childishly Opposed to Environmentalism? Eleven Fifty Nine. We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say. Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 By Brian Merchant / Motherboard What’s the number one reason we riot?

We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say

The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many—poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc—but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It’s hunger, plain and simple. If there’s a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it’s food becoming too scarce or too expensive. In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did.

The MIT Technology Review explains how CSI’s model works: “The evidence comes from two sources. Pretty simple. But how accurate is the model? Today, the food price index is hovering around 213, where it has stayed for months—just beyond the tip of the identified threshold. Yet the cost of food hasn’t quite yet risen to the catastrophic levels reached last year. Like this: Why food riots are likely to become the new normal. Just over two years since Egypt's dictator President Hosni Mubarak resigned , little has changed.

Why food riots are likely to become the new normal

Cairo's infamous Tahrir Square has remained a continual site of clashes between demonstrators and security forces, despite a newly elected president. It's the same story in Tunisia, and Libya where protests and civil unrest have persisted under now ostensibly democratic governments. The problem is that the political changes brought about by the Arab spring were largely cosmetic. Scratch beneath the surface, and one finds the same deadly combination of environmental, energy and economic crises. We now know that the fundamental triggers for the Arab spring were unprecedented food price rises.

Since 2008, global food prices have been consistently higher than in preceding decades, despite wild fluctuations. The key issue, of course, is climate change. The US Department of Agriculture predicts a 3-4% food price rise this year – a warning that is seconded in the UK. We Are Close To Global Riots. Syria, Water, Climate Change, and Violent Conflict – Significant Figures by Peter Gleick. There is a long history of conflicts over water – the Pacific Institute maintains an online, searchable chronology of such conflicts going back 5,000 years.

Syria, Water, Climate Change, and Violent Conflict – Significant Figures by Peter Gleick

There were dozens of new examples in 2012, in countries from Latin America to Africa to Asia. (A full update for 2012 has been posted.) Access to water and the control of water systems have been causes of conflict, weapons have been used during conflicts, and water systems have been the targets of conflict. One especially disturbing example of a major conflict, with complicated but direct connections to water, has developed over the past two years: the unraveling of Syria and the escalation of massive civil war there. Water has always been a scarce resource in the region – one of the driest in the world. Robert Worth noted that this drought contributed to a series of social and economic dislocations. The political problem was worsened by water mismanagement, poor planning, and policy errors. [Figure 1. Peter Gleick. Experts Fear Collapse of Global Civilisation. By Stephen Leahy | 11 January 2013IPS Experts on the health of our planet are terrified of the future.

Experts Fear Collapse of Global Civilisation

They can clearly see the coming collapse of global civilisation from an array of interconnected environmental problems. “We’re all scared,” said Paul Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. “But we must tell the truth about what’s happening and challenge people to do something to prevent it,” Ehrlich told IPS. Global collapse of human civilisation seems likely, write Ehrlich and his partner Anne Ehrlich in the prestigious science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society.

This collapse will take the form of a “…gradual breakdown because famines, epidemics and resource shortages cause a disintegration of central control within nations, in concert with disruptions of trade and conflicts over increasingly scarce necessities”, they write. Already two billion people are hungry today. Global population is projected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050. World Water Day: 10 facts you ought to know. Could the Middle East run out of water? New NASA images warn of water shortage. Peter Joseph Radio Lecture "A Profile of Collapse" [ The Zeitgeist Movement ]

The Socialist Party of Great Britain. Is Earth F*cked? Scientist Says Yes, and He's Not Even Talking About the Outcome of COP18. Koshy koshy/CC BY 2.0 Talk about great timing: COP18 is over, after two weeks of the usual brinksmanship bargaining adding up to virtually nothing worthwhile (if the goal is still to actually come up with a political deal to combat climate change). And now, as io9 reports, we have scientific data proving something that many TreeHugger readers, climate change politics watchers, biodiversity wonks, anti-deforestation activists, consumer culture critics already probably know, or at least fear, deep down in their hearts: Earth is fucked.

Don't blame me for lack of decorum in using such language—and frankly, if you convinced that a bit of cussing is the worst problem we've got, the biggest sign of impeding civilizational collapse, you've come to the wrong shop—it's straight from the title of a recent talk at the annual American Geophysical Union conference. That's hardly a novel idea in environmental circles. But it's in how to solve the situation that disagreement is likely to arise.

Peak soil: industrial civilisation is on the verge of eating itself. A new report says that the world will need to more than double food production over the next 40 years to feed an expanding global population. But as the world's food needs are rapidly increasing, the planet's capacity to produce food confronts increasing constraints from overlapping crises that, if left unchecked, could lead to billions facing hunger. The UN projects that global population will grow from today's 7 billion to 9.3 billion by mid-century. According to the report released last week by the World Resources Institute (WRI), "available worldwide food calories will need to increase by about 60 percent from 2006 levels" to ensure an adequate diet for this larger population. At current rates of food loss and waste, by 2050 the gap between average daily dietary requirements and available food would approximate "more than 900 calories (kcal) per person per day.

" Indeed, global agriculture is heavily water intensive, accounting for 70 per cent of all freshwater use. Earth 'on course for eco-crunch' The planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch", according to a report issued by conservation groups. The document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third. The Living Planet Report is the work of WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network. It says that more than three quarters of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal. This makes them "ecological debtors", meaning that they are drawing - and often overdrawing - on the agricultural land, forests, seas and resources of other countries to sustain them.

WWF's David Norman says the world will need two planets by 2030 The report concludes that the reckless consumption of "natural capital" is endangering the world's future prosperity, with clear economic impacts including high costs for food, water and energy. China Is Burning Almost as Much Coal as Rest of the World Combined. See this sobering graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): As the data show, China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world — combined. And despite impressive support from Beijing for renewable energy and a dawning understanding about the dangers of air pollution, coal use in China is poised to continue rising, if slower than it has in recent years. That’s deadly for the Chinese people — see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing this past month — and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world. Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change.

Of course, there’s a reason why coal is so popular in China and in much of the rest of the world: it’s very, very cheap. The EIA’s chart also shows how limited President Obama’s ability to deal with climate change really is. MORE: The War on Coal Is Being Won in the U.S., but the Real Battle Is Overseas. World 'on collision course with nature', OECD green growth report warns.

Green growth is the only way forward for rich and poor countries alike to achieve sustainable development because of tremendous economic and livelihood losses from severe climate change and the depletion of natural resources, a thinktank said on Tuesday. The Development Co-operation report 2012 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) calls for radical changes to an economic model in which rapid growth has come at a price for the environment and many of the world's poorest people. "We are on a collision course with nature," Angel Gurría, the OECD secretary general, said at the launch of the report on Tuesday in the ornate surroundings of Marlborough House in London, as he urged developing countries not to adopt the "develop first, clean up later" approach. "It is time for a radical change. If we fail to transform our policies and behaviour now, the picture is more than grim," wrote Gurría in the report's foreword. Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes.

Edible City: Grow the Revolution (2012. Internet of food: Arduino-based, urban aquaponics in Oakland. Game Over For The Climate? Capitalism Has Run Its Course. Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives. Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse. An Inconvenient Question - Socialism and the Environment. The-cancer-stage-of-capitalism. Thursdays, 8pm on ABC1. UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet. Eat less meat and improve farming efficiency to tackle climate change. Halve meat consumption, scientists urge rich world.

In examining the hypothetical situation of a world of human vegetarians, a few simplifications must be made. Collapse - The End Of The Age Of Oil. 300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds. A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash (2006) There's No Tomorrow. Could ‘economic peak oil’ rival the banking crisis? Peak Oil and a Changing Climate. How will peak oil affect the economy? Energy Shock: How Peak Oil Will Change Your Life. No Jobs & No Oil: the unsustainability of full employment and cheap energy - Jake Gordon's Dissertation.

Oil: In perpetuity no more - Features. The End of growth-Richard Heinberg. IMF study: Peak oil could do serious damage to the global economy. YOU ARE HERE: The Oil Journey (Narrated by Peter Coyote) Story of Stuff (2007, OFFICIAL Version) Michael Ruppert - Confronting The Peak Oil Crisis. Peak Oil F.A.Q. Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks. Colin Campbell predicts credit crunch due to peak oil 2005. The End of Suburbia - 52 minute documentary on peak oil.

Climate Change

The Crisis of Civilization : Full Movie. From endless growth to a new model of democracy: Nafeez Mosadeqq Ahmed at TEDxHornstull. What is the Crisis of Civilization? Nuclear Testing 1945 - 1998 Complete Video HD.