Jan 28 2013

The New York Times Recognizes Climate Change

Kal @ 18:30

The Climate Change Endgame by Thomas E Lovejoy:

WHETHER in Davos or almost anywhere else that leaders are discussing the world's problems, they are missing by far the biggest issue: the rapidly deteriorating global environment and its ability to support civilization.

The situation is pretty much an endgame. Unless pressing issues of the biology of the planet and of climate change generated by greenhouse gas emissions are addressed with immediacy and at appropriate scale, the matters that occupy Davos discussions will be seen in retrospect as largely irrelevant.

This week, in Bonn, out of sight and out of mind, international negotiators will design the biodiversity and ecosystem equivalent to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A full eight years have passed since President Jacques Chirac of France acted as host at a meeting in Paris to create this "Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services."

Progress has been painfully slow. Only now is the "platform" and its work program - to assess status, trends and possible solutions - being designed. In the meantime, rates of extinction and endangerment of species have soared. Ecosystem destruction is massive and accelerating. Institutional responsiveness seems lethargic to a reptilian degree.

Environmental change is happening rapidly and exponentially. We are out of time. Only three generations back - in the same decade as the original scientific publication of the greenhouse effect - my great-grandfather chaired the commission that designed the New York subway system. How was he to anticipate the sea-level rise that contributed in part to the impact of Hurricane Sandy?

How will things look just two or three generations ahead? Can we avoid the greatest intergenerational environmental injustice of all time?

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Resource Depletion

Oct 30 2012

Carbon Tax?

Kal @ 15:24

Taxes

by Bill Becker

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

That observation by Charles Darwin has interesting implications in these last weeks of the presidential election campaign. It suggests that both candidates may be missing what’s most important to keeping America safe, strong and competitive in the years ahead.

Jobs, education, tax reform and energy security all are important, of course. But the key to America’s success will be our willingness to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century.

One of those realities is that economic development as we have practiced it, and as it is now being replicated around the world, is rapidly pushing us toward several critical ecological boundaries and has already exceeded others. These boundaries are important not only because they threaten some species and some regions of the world; they’re important because exceeding them is an existential threat to continued peace and prosperity. These are not the relatively isolated and repairable environmental problems of the past. They involve global systems that support life, including the oceans, soils and freshwater resources. They also include the atmosphere’s ability to absorb man-made pollution without destabilizing the climate. The most available way to manage that risk is to reduce and eventually stop burning oil and coal to fuel economic development.

….

A central question in this election is whether we will be the architects of our future or its victims, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller. The United States and its economy are not exempt from the fundamental laws of evolution. We must adapt if we wish to remain the fittest and the strongest of nations.

Tags:

Category: Politics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jan 21 2011

Has collapse already arrived?

Kal @ 12:32

 

Lots of food for thought in the latest post from John Michael Greer, The Onset of Catabolic Collapse.

Empires are expensive:

That America is a prime candidate for catabolic collapse seems tolerably clear at this point, though I’m sure plenty of people can find reasons to argue with that assessment. It’s considered impolite to talk about America’s empire nowadays, but the US troops currently garrisoned in 140 countries around the world are not there for their health, after all, and it requires a breathtaking suspension of disbelief to insist that this global military presence has nothing to do with the fact that the 5% of our species that live in this country use around a quarter of the world’s total energy production and around a third of its raw materials and industrial products. The United States has an empire, then, and it’s become an extraordinarily expensive empire to maintain; the fact that the US spends as much money on its military annually as all the other nations on Earth put together is only one measure of the maintenance cost involved.

More...

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Resource Depletion | Economics

Oct 4 2010

Physics Trumps Money

Kal @ 10:31

George Mobus  writing in Question Everything - When what is happening in your world doesn't make sense, when it doesn't conform to your beliefs about how things should work, it's time to ask hard questions.

Work, Exergy, the Economy, Money, and Wealth -- A Sort-Of Tutorial

This is something of a tutorial on the relationship between energy and the economy. I have been dismayed by how often people express their lack of knowledge about that relationship. Such expressions come in the form of beliefs that money is what drives the economy. Or the belief that human desire to accumulate monetary wealth is the motive force for economic growth. Indeed I doubt that most people ever think of physics when they think of the economy. But the reality is that the economy is very much a physical process that requires energy to continue operating. All of the money in the world will not suffice to maintain the motivation of the wheels of industry unless it can be used to exchange for energy flow. Here is a guide to how the real wealth of nations is created and a more concise look at the nature of energy flow needed to do so.

More...

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Aug 16 2010

Full Employment – Gone forever?

Kal @ 23:05

A few days ago someone sent the following email with the subject: EMPLOYMENT MAP.....Shocking!!!

Incredible!
Wow!!!  Very sobering and enlightening.
Somebody spent a lot of time breaking this down by every county in the country.

Review this Unemployment map of the United States .
This is hard to believe! I had to review this map a couple of times to grasp the enormity of it.


Displayed this way sure brings the perspective up close and personal.
This is scary. If you have a job, be thankful!


Be certain to click the PLAY button in the middle of the map
and take note of the dates above the US map as it advances month by month
! ! !

http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Jul 2 2010

Beyond Petroleum – The Game Has Changed

Kal @ 21:39

The Oil Drum has a daily update article on The Gulf Oil Disaster. Today the article is named BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Some Less Technical Issues - and Open Thread, but it is a comment to that article that I found to be very interesting. It is by someone who signs himself as ccpo. Comment follows:

There are a lot of people on this forum who've not been here for the last several years, thus missed a LOT of discussion. We see that here in the blind allegiance to systems exhibited in this comment thread and zero acknowledgment of the limits we now face. I am not going to waste time trying to review years of discussion, but encourage all of you to consider carefully that you cannot discuss the spill or, for that matter, anything else in isolation. The game has changed.

What we know without doubt:More...

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Resource Depletion | Sustainability

Jun 5 2010

Beyond Petroleum – We need a plan

Kal @ 11:31

Mark makes the point that “just saying no” is not really an option, petroleum is too deeply ingrained into our lives. But we need a plan now to be done with this horror on an emergency basis as soon as possible.

Mark Morford at SFGate yesterday: Behold our dark, magnificent horror

Oil slick SFGate More photos in the article.

Like Satan's own finger painting.


There is, you have to admit, a sort of savage grace, a tragic and terrible beauty, to the BP oil spill.

Like any good apocalyptic vision of self-wrought hell, the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history has its inherent poetry. You see that creeping ooze of black, that ungodly wall of unstoppable darkness as it slowly, inexorably invades the relatively healthy, pristine waters adjacent, and you can't help but appreciate the brutal majesty, the fantastic, reeking horror of this new manifestation of black death we have brought upon ourselves, as it spreads like a fast cancer into the liquid womb of Mother Nature herself.

More...

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Peak Oil | Resource Depletion

May 26 2010

Beyond Petroleum

Kal @ 12:38

It is time to go Beyond Petroleum.  Way beyond petroleum, all the way to solar.

Start the drums rolling.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Peak Oil | Resource Depletion | Solar | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Apr 22 2010

Is collapse inevitable?

Kal @ 10:39

John Michael Greer has another of his well thought out posts up again at The Archdruid Report titled Economic Superstitions.

Economics is our modern superstition – well, one of them, at any rate, and one of the most popular among the political class of today’s industrial societies. Like any other superstition, it has a core of pragmatic wisdom to it, but that core has been overlaid with a great deal of somewhat questionable logic. My wife’s Welsh ancestors believed that the bowl of milk on the back stoop pleased the fairies, and that’s why the rats stayed away from the kitchen garden; the economists of the twentieth century believed that expanding the money supply pleased – well, the prosperity fairies, or something not too dissimilar – and that’s why depressions stayed away from the United States.

In both cases it’s arguable that something very different was going on. The gargantuan economic boom that made America the world’s largest economy had plenty of causes; the accident of political geography that kept its industrial hinterlands from becoming war zones, while most other industrial nations got the stuffing pounded out of them, had more than a little to do with the matter; but the crucial point, one too often neglected in studies of twentieth century history, was the simple fact that the United States at midcentury produced more petroleum than all the other countries on Earth put together. The oceans of black gold on which the US floated to victory in two world wars defined the economic reality of an epoch. As a result, most of what passed for economic policy in the last sixty years or so amounted to attempts to figure out how to make use of unparalleled abundance.

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Peak Oil | Politics | Resource Depletion | Solar | Sustainability

Feb 17 2010

Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year

Kal @ 16:09

From Alex Steffen at WorldChanging:

When We Talk Zero, We Sound Crazy. When Bill Gates Does It, Bankers Pick Up the Phone.

On Friday, the world's most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions.

And Friday, Gates predicted extraordinary climate action: zero. Not small steps, not incremental progress, not doing less bad: zero. In fact, he stood in front of a slide with nothing but the planet Earth and the number zero. That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED.

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability