The People Bomb Hoax - 'Overpopulation'

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(Youtube) Overpopulation: The Making of a Myth

(Youtube) Food: There's Lots Of It

"Blaming overpopulation for everything, does nothing but distract us from the real problems we actually have".

I couldn't have said it better myself.

MrK's picture
MrK
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Comments

Well...think about it.

It's the size of the population that puts a drain on the world's resources...including oil for shipment, trucks for shipment, ships for shipment. Economic systems aren't condusive to that. Resources go where the profits are...to the wealthy (and over-populated) nations who can make monetary claims on the llimited resources.

When costs of shipping food are more than costs of the food itself...it become unaffordable. When seed is introduced that requires expensive fertilization and irrigation....food costs increase and become out of reach for those at the bottom of the economic pile. It gets fed to livestock..and is consumed by the wealthier countries as meat...

It was known 30 years ago that the world could feed the existing population....and didn't. Not a whole lot has changed.

We have something new in the mix. An environment that won't be able to grow enough food to feed the world's current population. If you haven't noticed...., environmental systems are in a meltdown mode.

Water wars will join oil wars. India and Pakistan are already rattleling their sabers over water. It's ironic that Pakistan has just had one of the worst floods in the history of the world....wiping out food crops and effecting nearly 20 million people. The damage exceeds the country's GDP. Less people...smaller effect.

Russia has its worst heat wave in a time frame going back as far as can be accurately examined....1,000 years. No wheat exports this year. The wheat went up in flames..LIterally.

Wheat-exporting Australia has been in a decade-long drought. Livestock dead from thirst can't even be used as dog food.

Global warming creates extremes in heat/cold, rainfall/drought.

Human population will diminish on its own just like every species does when its numbers outpace the environments capacity to sustain it. Through famine..

If deteriorating agriculture brought on in the U.S. by global warming continues, we may not be exempt from that.. The Calif. Valley that produces nearly one-third of U.S. food outside of grains...is turning into a dust bowl.

Fisheries in the Gulf are dead by our own hand. Fisheries in the Eurozone are on the brink. Blows from global extremes of rain/drought as global warming intensifies will throw additional stones..

This probably isn't the best time in human history to advocate increasing the population.

In the meantime, the fiddlers in Washington and the worlds "important" capitols play the same merry old tunes...while the world gradually plunges into chaos. They'll seriously address global warming later....when its politically more convenient...and too late...Let the good times roll. Is there an embassy party tonight?

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Curious... ...are you familiar with theory of "The Iron Law of Wages"?

Personally, I think parts of it sounds an awful lot like Thomas Robert Malthus' "Essay on the Principle of Population."

Anyway, I would suggest engine searching and reading about both.

bonnie
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

California is not having a drought this year. In fact most of the summer the weather has been cooler than normal at least in the Bay Area (which is fine with me).

Again we see that capitalism is not a good way to manage things. We grow to much stuff that doesn't nourish anything but a few rich pig's pocketbooks.

Agreed that "go forth and multiply" is a concept way out of date. Most intelligent folks I know don't have large families if they are even bothering with having families at all. But we sure have a bunch of fundie Christians in this country who think having a lot of children is a wonderful thing even if they can't afford them.

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captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Polycarp2,

" We have something new in the mix. An environment that won't be able to grow enough food to feed the world's current population. If you haven't noticed...., environmental systems are in a meltdown mode. "

That's because we are using the wrong technologies. Fossile fuels, plastics and chemical fertilizer/pesticides/herbicides (all coming out of the same petro-chemical industry, finding new uses for it's waste products) are the wrong technologies.

Solar energy, local food production and organic farming are the solution. Organic farming does not put a strain on the earth's ecosystems, it adds carbon to the soil, it does not poison water supplies, it does not cause diseases.

One big hint that overpopulation is not the problem, is that developing countries have among the lowest population densities in the world. They also have very little of their countries under cultivation.

And that is where the growth lies. More irrigation instead of relying on rainfall, state support for small scale farmers, in education, infrastructure, sales/marketing, and all these countries could be growing food for themselves and for the planet.

Small farmers in developing countries are so neglected by the State, that even a little support has a massive multiplier effect on production.

Example, please check out Kenya's Citizen TV:

Lessons from Malawi

Also, I don't know if you are familiar with Masanobu Fukuoka's 'Natural Farming', which uses the Asian traditional practice of returning everything except the foodstuff (rice grains, corncobs) back to the land, traditionally as compost, or in Fukuoka's method, as dried stalks and leaves. This way, and using crop rotation, land can continually produce one crop after another other without laying fallow, and do so for decades if not centuries.

There is also a great book called Farmers Of Forty Centuries, by F.H. King.

They even used weeds from hill country to add as compost to their fields. And they made use of a lot of humanure for composting. Some people have speculated that this prevented a lot of the plagues that ravaged Europe, resulting in the high population numbers South and East Asia today.

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MrK
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote captbebops:

California is not having a drought this year. In fact most of the summer the weather has been cooler than normal at least in the Bay Area (which is fine with me).

I wonder if the cooler, wetter summer is an effect of an increase in the melting of the Northpole's icecap putting more moisture in the atmosphere.

MrK's picture
MrK
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

This comes from one of republican's core beliefs that are the opposite of reality:

"Money creates jobs" when the reality is "Work makes money"

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Rodriguez
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Try "work earns money." I have found the term "making money" to be hilarious because it sounds like counterfeiting (somethings the banksters get away with). Sort of like "we're here in our garage making money."

Some people think we'll become a bartering economy but that was why money was invented because people may not have something you want in trade.

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captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

MrK, 1/3 of U.S. non-grain foods comes from a semi-desert irrigated valley of Calif.....larger than most states. The irrigation system is failing because snowfall in the Sierras is failing due to global warming..

Snow that does fall melts more quickly...rather than through-out the summer.. No water.

I'd venture a guess that one of three things is going on...or a combinaton of the three.:

One: Clouds would have increased moisture content from warmer seas....some of which may be triggered to fall before it hits the Sierras. The atmosphere may reach its maximum carrying capacity now before it reaches the mountains. where the colder temps would trigger the release of moisture.

Two: Increased temps over the Sierras allows the moisture reaching the Sierras to remain in the atmosphere...some even going over the Sierras into other areas.

The greater the temps. the quicker the absorption of moisture. Sometimes, the atmoshere may reach its carrying capacity before it reaches the coast...and rain over the ocean.

Three: There are disruptions in the hot Easterly Wind Belt. It's widened. That can have a major effect on where it rains/doesn't rain.. All these things effect where percipitation falls..

What I would say at this point is...don't count on food producing areas to remain productive. Some major agricultural areas will shift...some will disappear as they did in some African nations. The big disaster today is Niger. No rain. Dried rivers. . No water...The heated atmosphere over that country and the expanded Easterly retains the moisture. Cloud formation can't take place let alone percipitation..

I haven't done a research study on the Sierras as I did with the desertification of the Sahel...and the same principles apply. Discovering where the Sierra percipitation is falling would answer a lot of questions...though probably wouldn't offer any solutions. . I haven't done that.

I think I'm spending too much time on this Board...and letting my other interests go by the wayside....The environment we've adapted to as a species is melting down...and I'm typing on a message board.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Poly, try a "La Niña". At least that's the reason they give for California cooler than usual weather. <wink>

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captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I live in Merced, CA--right in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley. It has been a relatively cool summer. We've been in a drought, but had good rainfall last winter. I think the snowpack in the Sierras was at 150% of normal. However, the reservoirs are very low. I drove by San Luis reservoir last weekend. I remember as a kid it always being full. It's well below capacity now. I know that well drillers have been very busy over the past few years. The water table has been dropping and farmers have been deepening their wells. This won't last. As far as warming trends in this area, I notice it more in the winter. The summers have always been hot, and still are(this year is an exception). I remember quite often,as a kid, the puddles being iced over on the way to school but it rarely freezes anymore.

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MarkRoger
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Jul. 20, 2010 12:50 pm

Anybody who thinks that human overpopulation is a myth is delusional at best. The only reason that we can support as many people as we do right now is primarily due to a) cheap fossil fuel and (b) so many do with so little. For example, sure there's excess food production, but that's due to highly intensive agriculture based on mechanization, use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc. Now, throw peak oil into the mix and what happens to food prices? What happens to the global economy? Much of our food relies on irrigation because natural rainfall can't be depended on, so what happens when aquifers are depleted to the point that the water is unusable? China can't grow its economy and feed itself and so leases land in other countries to grow its food. And, intensive food production has high negatives such as creating dead zones in coastal areas and depleting resources by relying on marginal land.

As noted in another thread here, about a basic income, if the destitute of the earth were to be able to afford what the First World does, then we'd need more than one earth to supply those resources and that's impossible or the First World would have to do with only about 1/5 of theresources they do today to equilize resource distribution, with ever decreasing amounts due to population growth into the future. Also, human encroachment is destroying wildlife habitat and leading to massive deaths of nonhumans worldwide from outright slaughter to lack of resources to sustain life.

Don't fool yourself, human overpopulation is the main problem we face. We've been destroying earth's systems as we've grown to the present number and will collapse a few as we stupidly add more.

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jeffbiss
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Stealth Anti-Choice claptrap.

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/rhetoric/category/population-research-inst...

Why hide your agenda ?

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Terrapin
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Wouldn't higher fuel costs serve to decentralize agriculture? I figured out many years ago that access to exploitable labor (immigrant farm labor)was one advantage that let California farmers take over food markets around the world. With all the shipping involved, cheap fuel is another. Higher fuel costs would create more opportunity for local farming to compete with multi-national agri-business. The demand for food will always be there.

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MarkRoger
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Jul. 20, 2010 12:50 pm
Wouldn't higher fuel costs serve to decentralize agriculture?

Not as I see it. Fuel is what drives mechanized production whether it's on small family farms or large corporate farms, so higher costs will primarily serve to drive food costs higher with some pressure to produce locally due to transportation costs. It may not provide pressure to decentralize though.

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jeffbiss
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

"'Blaming overpopulation for everything, does nothing but distract us from the real problems we actually have'.

I couldn't have said it better myself''"

I have to admit that when I read the above statements, I thought I had accidentally stumbled onto "The Onion" website. I was saddened to find that i hadn't.

I have not had time to read every post, but has anyone addressed the most important point?

More people require more housing. Housing, whether it is a $1,000,000 condo or a sod shack requries the removal of vegetation. Plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. More carbon in the air makes a warmer planet. Take your fingers out of yours ears and stop chanting because pretending won't help.

Therefore, more people=fewer plants=more carbon=global climate change. Even a modern "American" (sic)(k) should be able to understand that equation. Oh, wait...evidence to the contrary is on every local news weather report where they celebrate just how great the 80 and 90 degree weather feels. In the Pacific Northwest... in April and May...in what is SUPPOSED to be the Temperate Zone.

But not for me, I have to drink to tolerate the daily stupidity.

BTW, animals, including the modern parasitic kind of humans, require oxygen.

Additionally, plants, especially large trees, have a cooling effect on the air. Those of you who doubt this should get out of your lavish offices once in a while and go to a forest. Don't worry, the bunnies usually don't bite(unless you're a Georgia peanut farmer in a canoe).

Realistically, anyone who contends that more people is good, and that climate change is: a lie, not manmade, or just the best damned thing since sliced bread, has an agenda.

The churches want many, many sheep to give them money.

The corporate masters want a huge labor pool because they know that supply and demand is not about economics, it's a natural law.

And the vast pool of unintelligent people want more people just like them.

Years ago, I read about research that showed that there is a limited amount of intelligence in each species and that as the population grew, the individuals got dumber-my word, not theirs. As someone who works in retail and exposed to many more people than I care to be, I can confirm this wholeheartedly. And I know it's only going to get worse.

Sweet dreams:)

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JEK1959
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Jul. 3, 2012 4:12 pm
Therefore, more people=fewer plants=more carbon=global climate change.

More people = more dams = more vegetation = more carbon sequestration.

Malthus was wrong. He never counted on increases in technology and knowledge.

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Roger Casement
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Nov. 22, 2011 10:07 am

Not wrong. He just anticipated the population cap occurring sooner rather than later because he couldn't foresee technology.

It's the same technology by the way, that's bringing about an environmental collapse...the ability of the planet to sustain the species.

His predictions probably weren't dire enough.

As I wrote my niece, the Apocalypse began a few years ago. Though science describes it, it doesn't use the biblical term. 8-9 years and it will be full blown. At that point, even climate change deniers may get it.

3 more years and it's irreversable. i don't see much being done.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Malthus was certainly not wrong. He was merely unable to include in his calculations the imminent discovery of oil based and nuclear based technologies and their potential in the hands of some of the most ignorant, selfish, brutish creatures on the planet to destroy the very life upon which we all depend while they arrogantly pat themselves on the back for their achievements.

Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?

Although there is an urban legend that the world will end this year based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, some researchers think a 40-year-old computer program that predicts a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human population in this century may be on target.
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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

The idea that there are better and even abudant sustainable farming methods does not mean that the finitude of food and the numbers of humans go away. The idea that technology will solve... is bad betting technique.

Even if "overpopulation" is the real issue, attacking it directly may not be the best way to deal with it. Every consideration of the methods to enforce population control becomes creepy. Thom's mantra that education and increased social power for women is the best form of birth control suggests a better way. It treats overpopulation as a symptom of a more basic immorality or wound in the human/earth body. That brings us back to greed, violence, domination and exploitation as the context for population imbalance.

What we are not finding is that hunger is being ended and healthcare made available, resulting in some population boom. There are some extended years attributable to modern medicine, and I hope we can celebrate any improvement in women and childbirth and infant health. The best response to the pathological flare up in population is to have social harmony and balance with nature and ourselves. If we live well together, we will find the balance in the abundance of nature.

Obesity is not the result of love of food. It can be a gluttonous obsession or being hooked on fast food "crack" for the mouth. Real food eaten to savor and enjoy is not fattening. There is an analogy here to overpopulation. There are many poor reasons to have children and a number of good ones, depending upon who you are and what you are ready to undertake. If we shared the burdens of childcare and nurture, or just supported those who did, we would all have lots of kids in our lives to bring us out of our elder funk. We could end the status derby of parenting or the gene transmission immortality myths.

The important thing for prospective parents to know is that, like poker, you have to go all in and cannot fold this hand. Enjoying the ride is not without bumps or getting splashed.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am
Quote polycarp2:It's the same technology by the way, that's bringing about an environmental collapse...the ability of the planet to sustain the species.

It isn't the technology, it is the hoarding of resources that is the problem. Even the continued reliance on oil is about the ability to commodify energy. Oil and gas can be put in a barrel which you can put a price tag on, and solar energy cannot. That's why we haven't switched to solar 30 years ago.

We are not bumping up to the real limit of natural resources or even against the limits of this particular economic model.

What we're seeing is the struggle for global domination by the banking cartel as Matt Taibbi called it. The how is that this war is waged between corporations and their proxies, as well as collectively against nationalist governments.

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Roger Casement
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Nov. 22, 2011 10:07 am
Quote drc2:

The idea that there are better and even abudant sustainable farming methods does not mean that the finitude of food and the numbers of humans go away. The idea that technology will solve... is bad betting technique.

DRC2,

The simple fact is that middle class people have smaller families. Solution: make everybody middle class, and population growth stabilizes.

As long as women will not be able to count on the fact that their children will survive into adulthood, they will have more than they really need to even out the score.

My problem comes with the people who think it is somehow wrong or dangerous to make everyone middle class. Who see development in the developing world as a danger.

Other than that, there is no problem. We know the effect of increased wealth on family size, so there is the solution.

Roger Casement's picture
Roger Casement
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Nov. 22, 2011 10:07 am
Quote .ren:

Malthus was certainly not wrong. He was merely unable to include in his calculations the imminent discovery of oil based and nuclear based technologies and their potential in the hands of some of the most ignorant, selfish, brutish creatures on the planet to destroy the very life upon which we all depend while they arrogantly pat themselves on the back for their achievements.

(Source)

1800 Population 0.978 billion; Malthus: there are too many people
1970 Population 3.692 billion; Paul Ehrlich: there are too many people
2012 Population 7.0 billion; Neo-malthusians: there are too many people

Forecasts of scarcity

In 1798, the economist Thomas Malthus incorrectly predicted that continued

population growth

would exhaust the global food supply by the

mid-19th century

. In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich reprised this argument in The Population Bomb, predicting

mass global famine in the 1970s and 1980s.

The dire predictions of Ehrlich and other neo-Malthusians were vigorously challenged by a number of economists, notably Julian Lincoln Simon. Agricultural research already under way, such as the Green Revolution, led to dramatic improvements in crop yields.

Food production has so far kept pace with population growth

, but neo-Malthusians point out that the Green Revolution

relies heavily on petroleum-based fertilizers

, and that many

crops have become so genetically uniform

that a crop failure could potentially have global repercussions.

To the last two points. Relying on petroleum based fertilizers is not a sign of desperation, but of control over our use of energy by giant corporations and their bankers. This is not a sign that there are too many people. What we should be seeing is the local production of food, instead of shipping food half way around the world as happens now.

Genetic uniformity of crops can also easily be dealt with by having many smaller, local farms rather than giant corporately owned industrial sized farms.

Organic agriculture takes more labor because it can happen on a much smaller and more efficient scale (if you measure efficiency as the intensity of land use).

They key to developing countries is that much of their potential has not been developed. They have very low population densities. Much of the arable land is not in use. Nearly none of the potentially arable land is in use, because no money is being put into irrigation.

So the idea that we are somehow pushing the envelope of land use or resources simply is not in evidence.

For instance the use of fracking is not a sign that resources are running out, because most of the oil reserves are still there, and more get discovered with time. Fracking is a sign we aren't allowed to let go of fossile fuels, and that the oil companies will extract every penny of profit before we switch to solar. From which they cannot extract any profit at all. You don't have to fill up with solar energy. All they can do is sell you the solar panel - once.

Roger Casement's picture
Roger Casement
Joined:
Nov. 22, 2011 10:07 am
Quote Roger Casement:
Quote .ren:

Malthus was certainly not wrong. He was merely unable to include in his calculations the imminent discovery of oil based and nuclear based technologies and their potential in the hands of some of the most ignorant, selfish, brutish creatures on the planet to destroy the very life upon which we all depend while they arrogantly pat themselves on the back for their achievements.

(Source) 1800 Population 0.978 billion; Malthus: there are too many people 1970 Population 3.692 billion; Paul Ehrlich: there are too many people 2012 Population 7.0 billion; Neo-malthusians: there are too many people
Forecasts of scarcity In 1798, the economist Thomas Malthus incorrectly predicted that continued

population growth

would exhaust the global food supply by the

mid-19th century

. In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich reprised this argument in The Population Bomb, predicting

mass global famine in the 1970s and 1980s.

The dire predictions of Ehrlich and other neo-Malthusians were vigorously challenged by a number of economists, notably Julian Lincoln Simon. Agricultural research already under way, such as the Green Revolution, led to dramatic improvements in crop yields.

Food production has so far kept pace with population growth

, but neo-Malthusians point out that the Green Revolution

relies heavily on petroleum-based fertilizers

, and that many

crops have become so genetically uniform

that a crop failure could potentially have global repercussions.

To the last two points. Relying on petroleum based fertilizers is not a sign of desperation, but of control over our use of energy by giant corporations and their bankers. This is not a sign that there are too many people. What we should be seeing is the local production of food, instead of shipping food half way around the world as happens now.

Genetic uniformity of crops can also easily be dealt with by having many smaller, local farms rather than giant corporately owned industrial sized farms.

Organic agriculture takes more labor because it can happen on a much smaller and more efficient scale (if you measure efficiency as the intensity of land use).

They key to developing countries is that much of their potential has not been developed. They have very low population densities. Much of the arable land is not in use. Nearly none of the potentially arable land is in use, because no money is being put into irrigation.

So the idea that we are somehow pushing the envelope of land use or resources simply is not in evidence.

For instance the use of fracking is not a sign that resources are running out, because most of the oil reserves are still there, and more get discovered with time. Fracking is a sign we aren't allowed to let go of fossile fuels, and that the oil companies will extract every penny of profit before we switch to solar. From which they cannot extract any profit at all. You don't have to fill up with solar energy. All they can do is sell you the solar panel - once.

"We aren't allowed...."

I don't know what those kinds of statements mean to people.

Nor do I understand why you bothered to quote me, Roger. Your post has nothing to do with my main point. My concern is the ongoing global ecocide currently taking place as a result of the exponentially growing human population and their technologies, and what humans as a whole are doing as societies to the biosphere of this planet -- that is what I'm referring to in that quote. So let me give it another try.

First of all, in reference to your points, you left out one of the main ingredients to any form of agriculture, even permaculture, which is what I practice. Water.

One of the main agricultural engineers of the Green Revolution at Michigan State University (we used to call it Moo Yoo, it was one of the big state agricultural universities involved in developing today's industrial agriculture known as the Green Revolution) came into our ecology class in 1973 and plopped down a book he'd just finished. He'd recently begun researching water resources and where agriculture will be as a result of industrial agriculture, and also the need for water for arable land, irrigation, or otherwise, in the 21st Century. After looking at us for a few moments he finally announced in an emphatic voice that the Green Revolution has already been wiped out. We just don't know it yet.

That prediction was made some years before this climate change research was in full swing. And we at this point have no idea where that's going to take the planet on this depleting water issue. That was before things like modern irrigation systems began to mine and empty ancient pools of stored water and began to deplete the more dynamically renewing aquifers like the great Ogallala that underlies much of the midst of the continent.

I have a strong intuition that anyone who imagines that the present global system of industrial-based political regimes will suddenly wake up and change course is not facing the historical precedents of human social reality. Such a change of course would entail a dramatic attempt at planning a major societal transformation, one that would somehow result in a total systemic global shift to organic farming techniques -- I'd be more inclined to think of such a shift as a shift to permaculture principles -- that could feed 7 billion people (and still rapidly growing) on this planet before mass famine strikes, I think one is ignoring the in place reality, especially when one takes into consideration the system of property ownership, who owns what and how ownership methodologies are kept in place by the monied interests of this planet. All of that needs to be addressed when people attempt to fantasize about change.

Here's what I consider a fair summary of the in-place ingredients for catastrophe in terms of mass famine that we are looking at with all the systems that are in place. This is from Richard Heinberg's Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines:

Quote Richard Heinberg:

However, there are reasons to think that our current anomalous abundance of inexpensive food may be only temporary; if so, present and future generations may become acquainted with that old, formerly familiar but unwelcome houseguest — famine. The following are the four principal bases (there are others) for this gloomy forecast. The first factor has to with looming fuel shortages. This is a subject I have written about extensively elsewhere, so I shall not repeat myself in any detail. Suffice it to say that the era of cheap oil and natural gas is coming to a crashing end, with global oil production projected to peak around the year 2010 and North American natural gas extraction rates already in decline. These events will have enormous implications for America’s petroleum-dependent food system.

Modern industrial agriculture has been described as a method of using soil to turn petroleum and gas into food. We use natural gas to make fertilizer. We use oil to fuel farm machinery and power irrigation pumps, as a feedstock for pesticides and herbicides, in the maintenance of animal operations, in crop storage and drying, and for transportation of farm inputs and outputs. Agriculture accounts for about 17 percent of the US annual energy budget; it is the single largest consumer of petroleum products as compared to other industries.

Heinberg, Richard (2010-10-12). Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (p. 48). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

---------->

The second factor potentially leading to famine is a shortage of farmers. Much of the success of industrial agriculture lies in its labor efficiency: far less human work is required to produce a given amount of food today than was the case decades ago (the actual fraction, comparing the year 2000 with 1900, is about one seventh). But that very success implies a growing vulnerability. We don’t need as many farmers, as a percentage of the population, as we used to; so, throughout the past century, most farming families — including hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions that would have preferred to maintain their rural, self-sufficient way of life — were forced to move to cities and find jobs. Today so few people farm that vital knowledge of how to farm is disappearing. The average age of American farmers is over 55 and approaching 60. The proportion of principal farm operators younger than 35 has dropped from 15.9 percent in 1982 to 5.8 percent in 2002. Of all the dismal statistics I know, these are surely among the most frightening. Who will be growing our food 20 years from now? With less oil and gas available, we will need far more knowledge and muscle power devoted to food production, and thus far more people on the farm, than we have currently.

The third worrisome trend is an increasing scarcity of fresh water. Over 80 percent of fresh water consumed nationally goes toward agriculture. California’s Central Valley, which produces the substantial bulk of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables, receives virtually no rainfall during summer months and relies overwhelmingly on irrigation. But the snowpack on the Sierras, which provides much of that irrigation water, is declining, and the aquifer that supplies much of the rest is being drawn down at many times its recharge rate. If these trends continue, the Central Valley may be incapable of producing food in any substantial quantities within two or three decades. Other parts of the country are similarly overspending their water budgets, and very little is being done to deal with this looming catastrophe.

Fourth and finally, there is the problem of global Climate Change. Often the phrase used for this is “global warming,” which implies only that the world’s average temperature will be increasing by a couple of degrees or more over the next few decades. The much greater problem for farmers is destabilization of weather patterns. We face not just a warmer climate, but climate chaos: droughts, floods, and stronger storms in general (hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms) — unpredictable weather of all kinds. Farmers depend on relatively consistent seasonal patterns of rain and sun, cold and heat; a climate shift can spell the end of farmers’ ability to grow a crop in a given region, and even a single freak storm can destroy an entire year’s production. Given the fact that modern American agriculture has become highly centralized due to cheap transport and economies of scale (almost the entire national spinach crop, for example, comes from a single valley in California), the damage from that freak storm is today potentially continental or even global in scope. We have embarked on a century in which, increasingly, freakish weather is normal.

Heinberg, Richard (2010-10-12). Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (pp.49- 50). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

The main point I was making, however, was not about encroaching catastrophe of human famine, it was about the mass ecological destruction that's taking place as a result of the utterly blind eyes of most of the people on this planet. While you quoted that point you also you unnecessarily failed to include the following link to a Scientific American article in your quote, which is, of course, a significant part of my point.

Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?

The article contains a number of scientific references including this link to a recently published (June 13, 2012) book : 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

Perhaps you didn't notice that link to Apocalypse Soon? Perhaps your attention went to be addressing my first sentence about Malthus and you thought it had something to do with Malthus and all your quotes about mistaken population predictions? Malthus, by the way, was more concerned about the effect a growing population of humans would have on wages than the effect he imagined (which was none, he didn't think of such things) it might have on the planet's vast and complex biological systems. Within his very narrow field of perception, his theory was accurate enough. Being rational and correct is not necessarily a mark of understanding or wisdom. But that's not my concern.

I am much more concerned about what Malthus was unable to anticipate because the science hadn't even begun to be developed yet to study ecology. I have many more science-based resources regarding the on going eco destruction we are as a whole species causing for anyone interested in understanding how we are as a society performing mass eco destruction of the planet, but I don't hold much hope there are many of those around these days. It's popularity came and went rather quickly and those of us who still care are a marginalized group for the most part. A couple of us did have a brief discussion in the environment forum recently where I brought out a few references on this thread: MIT researchers offer grim assessment. Those types of discussions don't seem to hold many people's attention spans these days. Systems, especially ecological systems, are complex and hard to put into sound bytes.

Recently an international conference was put together for global nation states in Rio -- Rio+20. It was pretty much a failure in terms of getting any consensus on how to develop national policies to minimize this ongoing devastation, pretty much as all the other such organizing efforts going back to the original Rio conference in 1992 have been failures, or at best, means for the transnational corporations to get even more of their programs in place by manipulating politicians through "realistic" compromise, not to mention problems with funding involved in getting any such efforts in place, given that everything eventually comes down to money in modern societies.

Ignorance of our ecological systems has not been addressed on a mass scale. Doing so is pretty much a prerequisite in order that people can become knowledgeable and begin to act for themselves, and begin to pressure politicians for change, to the extent that's even possible. In lieu of that, and aside from the trivially small number of us acting on our own, the bulk of humanity now has a vertically integrated global system of corporate industrial politics to rely on if any efforts are to be made to change.... Here in the U.S., with this election round we get to choose from the Obama version or the Romney version of planning to solve our environmental destruction problems. Obviously my votes for the Green Party will go for naught. That's the political reality for now.

If anything the industrial propaganda systems that rose to the task as the result of a much worried about rise of environmental regulations after Nixon signed the EPA legislation have been employed diligently to enhance mass ignorance. No Child Left Behind is like the coup de grace in this process as it does not test ecological knowledge, and teachers are now ever more channeled to teach to those tests -- at least that's what my fed-up teacher friends are telling me. Thus influential collective bodies, like the US Chamber of Commerce that grasped the threat to our American Way of Business, thanks to the influence of people like Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell (The Powell Memo), have helped to keep the study of environmental systems from being offered in public education, and, from my observation, they've been successful at preventing the actual systemic ecological destruction taking place from making it as prominent front page or evening news headlines in their corporate owned media.

Thus people in general, driving their cars to the office, filling their gas tanks, shopping in grocery supermarkets, have no idea what is involved in destroying the ecology of the planet. No more than a collection of parasites or cancer cells have any idea that bio-mechanically following their DNA prescriptions will kill their hosts. Unfortunately we humans only have one host to kill, mother earth.

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.ren
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I suggest you take a college level course in Geography and the Environment. It is a liberal arts course, so extensive science background is not a pre-requisite.

There you will learn that the biggest problem we have is GARBAGE and hazardous waste, and people make both.

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leighmf
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Quote leighmf:

I suggest you take a college level course in Geography and the Environment. It is a liberal arts course, so extensive science background is not a pre-requisite.

There you will learn that the biggest problem we have is GARBAGE and hazardous waste, and people make both.

I would normally ignore such ambiguously directed posts, but since it follows mine I'm inclined to ask: Whose post are you addressing?

Garbage and hazardous waste are a subset of a much larger systems problem of human-caused environmental degredation. I think if people fail to develop a systems view of society they will parse the information while looking for dialectically-derived objective causes and hopefully solutions to general and more pervasively integrated systemic issues. While I strongly recommend courses in geography myself -- and we had a good one on geography and the environment when I was taking courses at the Huxley College of the Environment at WWU -- I am also well aware that garbage and hazardous waste are the result of a whole system. You can't simply abstract one element out of that system, eliminate it, and still have the systemic way of living we have developed through the evolution of the industrial revolution that's resulted in our modern global technological societies.

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.ren
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Excuse me .ren, I was not replying to your post. I meant to reply to #1-

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leighmf
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No problemo, leighmf.

Still, I want to emphasize the importance of looking at our problems through a systems lens. It's not an easy lens for our modern rationalistic (and generally binary) mode of thinking, but it can do wonders to expand our consciousness if we make the attempt. Many of the debates on this board, and as presented in the media, devolve into trivialities when one attempts to imagine an entire complex system in action.

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.ren
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You are clearly my superior in population dynamics! Sometimes my replies get misassigned I have noticed. It may happen when several responses are being entered at once (?). Or it may be my glasses.

My reply to #1 was based on this paradoxical statement

"Blaming overpopulation for everything, does nothing but distract us from the real problems we actually have".

Now, as you say "garbage and hazardous waste are the result of a whole system," don't you mean the Human system? What plants or animals make garbage and hazardous waste? The Bacterial, Plant and Animal Kingdoms (excluding Homo sapiens ) regulate population control amongst themselves.

My husband always throws in, "But Man is part of Nature."

Here we must wax philosophical in saying that Man is part of Nature but he has also been given Dominion over the other Kingdoms in the Natural World.

Man has free will to trash the earth or to cultivate its health. It appears we are not having a very good record of stewardship over Nature's Bounty. And, even avid recyclers, vegans, environmental activists make so many pounds of garbage and waste each day of just living.

I encourage everyone to get a 30 gallon garbage bag and put all their personal trash of a day into it and weigh it. Then multiply that by the world population. Of course, that won't account for all the other types of waste too numerous to list which are generated by human activities of each day- manufacturing, industry, medicine, running the office-

In Florida, for example, where landfills indemnify surrounding residential sections, it has been proposed by engineers to inject garbage into deep wells which we have no way of knowing could expose our entire water supply and soil to hazardous, unforseen danger which no one would have a clue how to remediate. The rule in Florida has been, destroy first and let the next guy worry about it later.

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leighmf
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Quote leighmf:

the biggest problem we have is GARBAGE and hazardous waste, and people make both.

leighmf,

Only because we are forced by the trillionaires to rely on petrochemicals.

There is a 'Pacific Garbage Patch' made from styrofoam cups and plastic bags, which is clogging the Pacific.

Now imagine all bags and cups by law were made from hemp fibre. That would mean that these cups and bags would just biodegrade. Problem solved.

The Fukushima plant provides energy through radiation. Guess what - Japan is a huge island chain. They can get energy from the tides. They have the technology and the industrial base to do just that. They also support 1/3 the population of the United States.

Landmass:

USA 9,826,675 km2, or 3,794,101 sq miles
Japan 377,944 km2, or 145,925 sq miles

Population:
USA: 313,955,000
Japan: 128,056,026

So, Japan has 40% of the population of the United States, living on 3.8% of the landmass. (And yes, Japan has a lot more water, but at the same time much of it's land is uninhabitable because it is mountainous and covered with pine forests).

Japan at one time of course also was the United States' biggest competitor. Is this talk about 'overpopulation' really driven by the fact that there are too many people on the planet, or is it really about ensuring that they have no competition, especially from Africa which borders Europe?

After it developed technologically, no one is any longer stating that Japan is overpopulated, and must rapidly reduce it's population size so it can prosper and avoid famine, like Margaret Saenger believed and stated her interview with Mike Wallace.

In other words, there is no overpopulation, what we are seeing is the endphase of a struggle for global controle among the trillionaires.

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Roger Casement
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Quote leighmf:

Now, as you say "garbage and hazardous waste are the result of a whole system," don't you mean the Human system?

Human beings create systems, planet earth is a system, and I thought I was clear that I was referring to the industrial technology systems that humans have created, a creation that especially began to concentrate itself as problematic, though many believed it to be a great progressive leap forward, with the onset of our industrial "revolution".

Nature, it might be clearer to say, is a system we evolved out of, one that we humans may need to acknowledge, to figure out, and to try to understand, if we wish to successfully develop our own systems to survive in the larger in-place system we can barely at this point understand. Now, whether any one is responsible for creating the biosphere of planet earth is, I would say, a religious question, and I leave that question to those folks to try to answer. That our biosphere is an ongoing process of evolution seems to be as clear as anything we can figure out using our various analytical capacities, including what we call the scientific method. But we humans cannot, though we often attempt to, ignore the fact that we are creating a system within that larger system.

And so I mean both. I do not intend to imply either/or.

And I think that's why people have so much trouble trying to communicate about complexities. They like to believe they've rationally come to an answer. Egotistically people will fight for their "answer" to be the right answer. But chicken and egg type answers about complex systemic issues are always troubling and that's one of the drawbacks of going through a rationalists-only lens. Which is also the lens (coming out of our self styled, egotistically named Renaissance Enlightenment era) used to develop the myopically devastating industrial technological systems that are so prevalent and emerging as problematic for the larger system we call planet earth.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

Roger, just our personal garbage alone is mounting. And you are completely off-the-mark if you don't think over-population isn't a reality. Have you ever heard of China?

Technically, radioactive waste is our most dangerous substance to get rid of and that is the central argument of nuclear vs fossil fuel.

None of us are forced into a non-biodegradable existence. We can choose to get up with the sun and go to bed at sundown. We can choose to walk. We can choose to avoid containers and grow our own food, to brew our own brew. We can choose to paddle a canoe hollowed out of fallen tree instead of motor-boating and cruising the seas. No one is forcing you- you are in charge of what you do on earth. You just aren't willing to give up petrochemical conveniences. A hard habit to break.

It is easier to educate people to acknowledge their individual garbage debt and stop having 4-8 babies at once. It is easier to educate children not to have babies.

Why don't you try my experiment for a week- collect all your PERSONAL garbage- I mean every match, kleenex, box, container, food scraps- everything. Weigh it. Calculate your personal fuel consumption for a week. Multiply these by the number of people in your county. Is your county full of trillionaires?

Of course, trillionaires generate more garbage than the median family living on $48,000/yr. Trillionaires have yachts, diamonds, gold, stolen art, ivory, coral, and piles and piles of other contraband . They eat more. They eat animals near extinction as delicacies.

Think of the garbage the Royal Wedding generated, crowds and all. Enough for another Florida landfill, truly.

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leighmf
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.ren- #31 See, I can't reply properly.

I couldn't say Nature is a System. To me, Nature is a Puzzle. I can't tell if it is a system or not.

Taxonomists have systematized the classification of species, and we have defined all types of habitats as ecosystems, but these are ranked definitions that humans use to agree on the Order of Nature. It doesn't make Nature a system just because we can pick up threads of an intelligent order in the functioning of our surroundings.

Nature as we have defined it thus far in science textbooks is a "Kingdom" with Orders, Classes, Races, Families, and members of families, even varieties of family members. The genealogy of this is what we have called Evolution as genetic findings continue to refine, confirm or change where a certain piece, or species fits into our system of classification.

There is a lot to be learned from Linnaeus and subsequent taxonomists who, in using the dead, or non-evolving language of Latin, were able to leave all kinds of information for The New World which is hidden in the scientific names of plants and animals. Ultimately science and not religion unveils the Light we seek, but for the most part, people don't know enough Latin.

Even the Catholic Church is phasing it out....

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leighmf
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Quote leighmf:

.ren- #31 See, I can't reply properly.

That works, or you can click on the "Reply" or "Quote" option under any given post. Your above post I'm replying to indicates you were replying to your own post, I'm not sure if that's some sort of an anomaly that comes up with this board's software when things get rearranged by editing our posts, or if you actually clicked on the reply under your own post, which is now post #32.

Quote leighmf:

I couldn't say Nature is a System. To me, Nature is a Puzzle. I can't tell if it is a system or not.

Is it necessary for anyone to say Nature is a System? If you want to parse that detail, knock yourself out. I don't really care what anyone wants to call it. What I've said is we barely understand it. I'm not sure we humans can, especially coming from an individual, phenomenological perspective. When people thought the earth was flat it was a little difficult to imagine it as a globe floating in space. Needless to say we are always discovering our mental limits.

Whatever Nature may be, you are pointing to something someone has taken the trouble to identify and figure out (garbage) that's a human caused problem (to something). By that argument you identify that there is a problem of some kind and that you may even see a solution by identifying its cause. I would also hypothesize that you might think there is a something that's being affected by human trash -- systemic or whatever Nature's nature might be. If we aren't in some way part of that something, what's your point? So what does that get us? Does it matter what humans do if they are not a part of Nature? It would appear to me many don't believe that what we individual humans do in relationship to this whole earth is a problem. How do you get anyone who thinks that way to even be bothered to worry about the trash they accumulate and throw away?

Apparently you want to raise consciousness by pointing out that particular indicator activity that's a part of what humans are doing. I would say good for you! That's a very good idea! Beyond that, what point is there to this discussion? I'm not saying there isn't one, I'm just wondering what it might be for you.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

.ren,

"We aren't allowed...."

I don't know what those kinds of statements mean to people.

It means that 32 years ago, Ronald Reagan ripped the solar panels off the White House.

We could have gone solar many times over between then and now. However, when you know that the real backing of the US dollar is not gold but oil, and if you look at the significance of the Middle East mainly because of oil, when you see that 25% of chemicals used in agriculture are used for growing cotton and those chemicals are by products of the oil industry, then there are a lot of powerful forces aligned against switching to a democratic energy source like sunlight, which falls on everyone's roof and yard.

Oil is the energy of choice of the oligarchs, because it has to be shipped in from far away, you can put a price tag on it (commodification) and use it as a proxy for paper money.

Sunlight is free for everyone.

The way I would like to see irrigation develop is not through massive canals, but through farm-specific projects that have minimal impact on the surrounding ecology.

I would suggest everyone checks out this Geoff Lawton video:

(YOUTUBE) Permaculture Water Harvesting Through Swales

Geoff Lawton on using swales for water harvesting.

Leihgmf,

Roger, just our personal garbage alone is mounting. And you are completely off-the-mark if you don't think over-population isn't a reality. Have you ever heard of China?

I hear they are about to take over the world. ;)

The reason there are so many people in China, is that from very early on, they created large irrigation canals. There is an excellent book called Farmers of Forty Centuries, by FH King, which was written well over 100 years go, and is a part travelogue around East Asia and highlights it's 100% organic farming methods.

People are mainly water, and if you want to have lots of people, you need lots of water. Irrigation is one way of making that happen.

A lot of what are called 'developing countries' have very little investment going into facilitating human beings - roads between cities, dams and general irrigation. If much more money was invested in irrigation works that helped people, there would be no problem with overpopulation for centuries to come.

It is the wilful underdevelopment that comes from the policies of austerity from the World Bank and IMF, that are causing havoc. If you think Greece looks bad, think of what 30 or 40 years of these policies will do, especially if you have a rapidly growing population.

But it is not the population growth that is the problem, it are the policies that, for instance, deny governments revenues from raw materials exports, that keep money out of the hands of local entrepreneurs through a liquidity gap (for instance 2% savings rates and 25% lending rates).

Think of it this way: the famine in Somalia was caused by the World Bank. They knowingly destroyed ('creative destruction') a barter system that had been operating for centuries, in order to replace it with their ideologically driven 'export led growth'. They dumped staples on the local market, driving subsistence farmers off the land and into the cities or toward growing cash crops for export. Then the nomadic people with whom they used to barter their grains for goats and sheep started to run out of food, and you get the images of the Somali famine, Food Aid, etc. But no one ever put the blame at the World Bank's policies. And because they didn't, no one addressed the real issue by reversing their 'free trade', New World Economy policies.

And Somalia in the 1980s of course is a dramatic example, but these policies have been applied all over Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Corn farmers in Mexico were driven off their land in the same manner, through dumping heavily subsidized (more 'efficiently produced') corn.

Check out: Somalia: The real causes of famine, by Michel Chossudovksy.

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Roger Casement
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Nov. 22, 2011 10:07 am
Quote Roger Casement:.ren,

"We aren't allowed...." I don't know what those kinds of statements mean to people.

It means that 32 years ago, Ronald Reagan ripped the solar panels off the White House.

We could have gone solar many times over between then and now. However, when you know that the real backing of the US dollar is not gold but oil, and if you look at the significance of the Middle East mainly because of oil, when you see that 25% of chemicals used in agriculture are used for growing cotton and those chemicals are by products of the oil industry, then there are a lot of powerful forces aligned against switching to a democratic energy source like sunlight, which falls on everyone's roof and yard.

Oil is the energy of choice of the oligarchs, because it has to be shipped in from far away, you can put a price tag on it (commodification) and use it as a proxy for paper money.

Thanks for explaining what you mean by "We aren't allowed...." Like I said, I don't really know what people mean when they say that. I suppose I need it explained every time.

I'm aware, from being an adult environmentalist at the time, that before Reagan ordered those solar panels taken off the roof of the White House and before he put the environmentalists' enemy, born again Christian James Watt, in charge of the EPA, it was Carter who sought the counsel of geostrategist Zbignew Brezinski about the need to "control our interests" in the Strategic Ellipse, and Carter did a foreign policy about face on his energy self sufficiency policies (the 32 solar panels on the White House were a symbolic part of that), resulting in what is now A Road Not Taken. The Carter Doctrine came about a year after he installed the solar panels, which, along with the Reagan Corollary, set the groundwork for policies "we" continue to follow with damn few whimpers from the voting public who continue to drive up and down the highways of the U.S. in packed hordes. I'm only pointing that out because I think it illustrates just how deeply the programming that people are willing to accept goes, and then rather than act against the propaganda politically, they'll uncritically adopt one binary opposition policy (Democrat) over another (Republican) or vice versa, neither of which lead to any fundamental structural changes in their lives.

Corporate propaganda works. People let it work. They don't have to be victims. That's why I steer clear of terms like "We aren't allowed...."

Only a few nut cases like me are pursuing permaculture practice, which is as much about changing culture and daily living practices as it is about growing food. Most everyone wants a good, secure, well-paying job, an education that trains them in how to work for a corporation or a government version of a corporate bureaucracy, and they want a shiny new car that runs on the still relatively cheap gas. It's not that everyone has to do that. Right now, despite all the complaining, it's still pretty easy to keep doing it, and so it's what they choose to know about and do.

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.ren
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