Steven Hawking sez the jig is up...

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7935505/Stephen-Hawking-mankind-must-move-to-outer-space-within-a-century.html

harry ashburn
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

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He does have a point. In the past when human societies destroyed their environment to the point where it could no longer sustain them....they just moved on. There isn't anyplace to go. Environmental degredation is now global.

A few hundred being shipped to another planet to maintain the species has some esoteric interest. Probably the 6 billion+ souls remaining here wouldn't receive much comfort from that. as they died off in squalor, hunger and disease.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

And go where? Forget about worrying about alien life, there's no planet to go to that can support us. Mars is very cold and has no magnetosphere, so forget about going to Mars. So, where?

I've got news for everyone who thinks that we can "colonize" space. We can, but as poly says only a small number of people will be supported. The only answer is to reduce our population to a sustainable number, between 2-3 billion, and live in harmony with earth's systems. All other "solutions" are delusions, including "colonizing" space.

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jeffbiss
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where to go? there's always 'Bizzaro'. "Get Angular!!" I think its more likely we will die off from failure to reproduce, as toxins make us fatter and endocrine disrupters shrink our dicks to the point we can no longer reproduce.

harry ashburn
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Hehehheee... ...Harry - you're funny. :) You're right so I guess it's funny in some sort of sad ironic sort of way.

Anyway, what I think is ridiculously funny is it takes a celebrity genius to get people to listen to something that goes beyond common sense. Every human being on this planet should have this internal "feeling".

When you break it down we really are nothing more than colonized organisms in a petri dish called Earth. There's only so much space and "agar" to sustain the colonies for so long. And that's if the toxins and pollutants given off the by the colonies doesn't kill them first.

bonnie
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Mother Nature is Reformatting. Given the unprecedented severity of the current environmental problems - and our current trajectory - I believe flora and fauna will eventually (over a relatively swift geological time period) die back to just about nothing but extremephiles. But whatever ends up happening, rest assured that the switch to the Anthropocene epoch from the Holocene is going to be filled with some serious "dying time".

I really, really, really doubt our global society is capable of rising to the challange required to stave off all but the most severe environmental outcomes.

Mass Extinction Threat: Earth on Verge of Huge Reset Button?

LiveScience Senior Writer Jeremy Hsu

livescience.com – Thu Sep 2, 2:30 pm ET

Mass extinctions have served as huge reset buttons that dramatically changed the diversity of species found in oceans all over the world, according to a comprehensive study of fossil records. The findings suggest humans will live in a very different future if they drive animals to extinction, because the loss of each species can alter entire ecosystems.

Some scientists have speculated that effects of humans - from hunting to climate change - are fueling another great mass extinction. A few go so far as to say we are entering a new geologic epoch, leaving the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch behind and entering the Anthropocene Epoch, marked by major changes to global temperatures and ocean chemistry, increased sediment erosion, and changes in biology that range from altered flowering times to shifts in migration patterns of birds and mammals and potential die-offs of tiny organisms that support the entire marine food chain.

Scientists had once thought species diversity could help buffer a group of animals from such die-offs, either keeping them from heading toward extinction or helping them to bounce back. But having many diverse species also proved no guarantee of future success for any one group of animals, given that mass extinctions more or less wiped the slate clean, according to studies such as the latest one.

Then and now

Looking back in time, the diversity of large taxonomic groups (which include lots of species), such as snails or corals, mostly hovered around a certain equilibrium point that represented a diversity limit of species' numbers. But that diversity limit also appears to have changed spontaneously throughout Earth's history about every 200 million years.

How today's extinction crisis - species today go extinct at a rate that may range from 10 to 100 times the so-called background extinction rate - may change the face of the planet and its species goes beyond what humans can predict, the researchers say.

“The main implication is that we're really rolling the dice,” said John Alroy, a paleobiologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. “We don't know which groups will suffer the most, which groups will rebound the most quickly, or which ones will end up with higher or lower long-term equilibrium diversity levels.”

What seems certain is that the fate of each animal group will differ greatly, Alroy said.

His analysis, detailed in the Sept. 3 issue of the journal Science, is based on almost 100,000 fossil collections in the Paleobiology Database (PaleoDB).

The findings revealed various examples of diversity shifts, including one that took place in a group of ocean bottom-dwelling bivalves called brachiopods, which are similar to clams and oysters. They dominated the Paleozoic era from 540 million to 250 million years ago, and branched out into new species during two huge adaptive spurts of growth in diversity - each time followed by a big crash.

The brachiopods then reached a low, but steady, equilibrium over the past 250 million years in which there wasn't a surge or a crash in species' numbers, and still live on today as a rare group of marine animals.

Counting creatures better

In the past, researchers have typically counted species in the fossil record by randomly drawing a set number of samples from each time period - a method that can leave out less common species. In fact two studies using the PaleoDB used this approach.

Instead, Alroy used a new approach called shareholder sampling, in which he tracked how frequently certain groups appeared in the fossil record, and then counted enough samples until he hit a target number representative of the proportion for each group.

“In some sense the older methods are a little like the American voting system - the first-past-the-post-winner method basically makes minority views invisible,” said Charles Marshall, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who did not take part in the study. “However, with proportional systems, minority views still get seats in parliament.”

Marshall added that the study was the “most thorough quantitative analysis to date using global marine data.” But he added that researchers will probably debate whether the PaleoDB data represents a complete-enough picture of the fossil record.

Nothing lasts forever

The idea that rules of diversity change should not come as a surprise for most researchers, according to Marshall.

“To me, the really interesting possibility is that some groups might not yet be close enough to their caps to have those caps be manifest yet,” Marshall told LiveScience. Or “evolutionary innovation” might happen so quickly that new groups emerged to increase overall diversity, even if each sub-group reached a cap on diversity.

If anything, the record of past extinctions has shown the difficulty of predicting which groups win out in the long run. “Surviving is one thing and recovering is another,” said Marshall, who wrote a Perspectives piece about the study in the same issue of Science.

One of the few consistent patterns is that growth spurts in diversity can apparently happen at any time, according to Alroy. He added that the background extinction of individual species has also remained consistent - the average species lasts just a few million years

Of course, the ongoing extinction crisis of modern times goes far beyond the background extinction rate. Alroy noted that it could not only wipe out entire branches of evolutionary history, but may also change the ecosystems shaped by each species.

That means today's species matter for environments around the world, and so humans can't simply expect replacements from the diverse species of the future.

“If we lose all the reef builders, we may not get back the physical reefs for millions of years no matter how fast we get back all the species diversity in a simple sense,” Alroy said.

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telliottmbamsc
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I think Steven Hawking has been smoking too much weed.

dhavid
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Jul. 16, 2010 9:41 am

Or not enough. It's a tough balance.

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jeffbiss
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But colonization is what got us into trouble in the first place. Humans always want more. Perhaps were not worth preserving?

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Common_Man_Jason
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

OMG! There is always someone talking about the end of the world. Malthus was the latest to cast it in mathematical form with near certainty. But guess what? He didn't even think we'd make it this far! We've made it this far because our food production is not linear, and our population is not quite exponential! Why? Because of education... which is why I believe our greatest resource is well-educated children! Granted, there are many problems for our children (and us, while we're still alive) to solve, but "reduce the human population to 2-3 billion"!!!! That sounds like you are looking forward to the next World War or the next Black Plague!!! What kind of policy is that going to be?

We should not dumb down the challenges ahead, we should not just throw our hands up and give up or abandon ship! We should teach our children to think wholely and rationally. My 7-year-old knows about the ozone layer, he knows about polution from gasoline. His generation will help bring a green energy revolution into the mainstream. If we do not teach our children about math and science (including environmentalism and ecology) we will delay this revolution (and allow other countries to excel beyond us).

Ever since I learned that our sun was fated to become a red giant, I always know that our future was out in space. If we get there who knows. I was inspired by great science fiction writers (Asimov) to believe that we can. Whether we only have 100 years to do so, that is probably only true if we do nothing.

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rysl
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Malthus was the latest to cast it in mathematical form with near certainty.

The only hting Malthus got wrong was the timeline due to the fact that he had no real idea as to the resilience of the systems we are degrading. We are more a cancer than a heart attack.

but "reduce the human population to 2-3 billion"!!!! That sounds like you are looking forward to the next World War or the next Black Plague!!! What kind of policy is that going to be?

I think you should really think as to why you jump to war as the solution. It isn't. All that has to happen is that people do not create people who already do not exist. Simple, yet tragic that most people see their desire to have a baby as a higher priority than the right to resources of those who exist.

Ever since I learned that our sun was fated to become a red giant, I always know that our future was out in space.

Out in space on earth. There is no other choice, only delusion. Really. read my post #2 for the reason. In science fiction an answer is limited only by imagination because it's science fiction. Science reality is an entirely other beast.

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jeffbiss
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Whether we are noble creatures or not, whether we can solve these problems or not, depends on how soon we learn that everything connects to everything else. We have no chance unless we first learn to control our own egos. Our economic system is based on expansion and consumption, much like cancer. If we continue to see ourselves as consumers living in an economy and not noble citizens living in a just and sustainable society, then we will kill the host upon which we live and feed. When that happens, well . . . .

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Choco
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Our economic system is based on expansion and consumption, much like cancer.

Not like cancer, but cancer. According to the medical definition cancer is:

"An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize (spread)"

Which precisely defines our economic system and our behavior within that system. This is no meme, as many who support free market capitalism contend, but real. There is no control on human population growth, and we spread all over. There are no controls to any economy, as growth is the point to all, including control economies. The only difference is that at the high level, cells are not the cause, we are.

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jeffbiss
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Do you or anyone here know of any economic modeling being done in universities aimed at solving or at least significanlty slowing this economic conundrum? I have books, Natural Capitalism and Beyond Growth, both dealing with a paradigm shift in our approach to economics based on natural limits to growth. I haven't heard of any significant modeling done on the university level. I would not be suprised as to why not, but just wondering if our scholars are resigned to the fact that our economic system will result in the death of the planet or the death of countless millions. Seems like that would be a good project to study.

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Choco
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Do you or anyone here know of any economic modeling being done in universities aimed at solving or at least significanlty slowing this economic conundrum?

I haven't heard of any. I don't think that economics is relevant to that question though. Economics is supposedly concerned with how we interact and behave with regards to resources, trade, etc. Sustainability however is the purview of geology, hydrology, ecology, etc. as those scientific discliplines are concerned with the real world whereas economics is concerned with our desires and perceptions. Economics is given far too much credit and paid far too much attention. All economics can do is posit how a given policy may work, how we'd react to it.

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jeffbiss
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I believe that the earth is a living organism with cancer, and we're the cancer. I believe the earth will kill the cancer; it may be gruesome or peaceful, i.e. failing to reproduce rather than mass die-off.

harry ashburn
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I simply am not ready to capitulate to the lower minds in our society who respond greatest to fear. We may be similar to a cancer, but we are sentient beings able to think and act our way along the inclinded path of evolution. I am not in the camp that says we are human, we are consumers, our economy depends on expansion and consumption, therefore we are doomed. All that is true, except for the projected conclusion. I think we can fix it with the proper application of knowledge guided by wisdom.

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Choco
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Economics has become primarly concerned with how to generate the largest amount of capital accumulation. It's no longer very much concerned with basic economic functioning..

Until recently, it's considered environmental costs to be zero. That's slowly changing.

A merging of economic collapse with environmental collase will generate some sort of change,. Whether it will be good or bad is up for grabs..

A population die-off will be a part of environmental collapse. which will probably include pandemics.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

.

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
I simply am not ready to capitulate to the lower minds in our society who respond greatest to fear. We may be similar to a cancer, but we are sentient beings able to think and act our way along the inclinded path of evolution. I am not in the camp that says we are human, we are consumers, our economy depends on expansion and consumption, therefore we are doomed. All that is true, except for the projected conclusion. I think we can fix it with the proper application of knowledge guided by wisdom.

And just what in our history do you base that on? In most cases, it took near catastrophe to get us to change our behavior and I doubt any less this time.

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jeffbiss
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High fructose corn syrup manufacturers are trying to legally change the name of the same ingredient to corn sugar. This is because the public has cottened onto the destructive substance known as high fructose corn syrup. Sales of the chemical sweetner are way down.

People can learn and even something as simple and non-martyrish as shopping can affect positive change. We just need a catylist to get everybody moving.

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Choco
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High fructose corn syrup manufacturers are trying to legally change the name of the same ingredient to corn sugar. This is because the public has cottened onto the destructive substance known as high fructose corn syrup. Sales of the chemical sweetner are way down.

People can learn and even something as simple and non-martyrish as shopping can affect positive change. We just need a catylist to get everybody moving.

Is that your evidence that we will change our behavior? I don't buy it. There's nothing in human history that indicates that we will change our behavior to end the threat of environmental catastrophe. The only things that brought any change were catastrophe, such as rivers burning. The mere fact that Hawkings proposes colonizing "space" provide enough delusion to forestall change as most people don't think it's required as technology will provide an answer if not god.

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jeffbiss
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Maybe an environmental catastrophe wil be the cataylist to lead us to avoid further enivornmental catastrophes, in any case, you sound as if you've given up.

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Choco
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Maybe an environmental catastrophe wil be the cataylist to lead us to avoid further enivornmental catastrophes, in any case, you sound as if you've given up.

Basically I have given up. I hear about new ways of helping people who can't have babies have them but absolutely nothing about persuading people to not have them to reduce human levels to something sustainable. We're severely deluded and nothing seems to matter but "me", so what's to hope for? Wildlife habitat is being destroyed for economic development and simple survival, while we continue to add to overpopulation, so there's nothing fuel hope.

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jeffbiss
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Unfortunately Jeff, it may take a merging of economic/environmental collpase for people to finally get that change is required. That doesn't mean just tweaking what's currently so. It means total cultural shifts.

Those societies that can do that will survive above a level of barbarism.. Those who can't, won't. We're on the cusp of another Dark Age. Some will have an enlightened response to that and some won't..

Collapses are sudden and abrupt when a critical mass is reached. Gorbachev was Pres. of a country one day...the next day it ceased to exist. A merging of economic/environment collapse will be much, much greater than that...and global..

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/9217110#utm_campaigne=synclickback&source=http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_on_moral_courage_20100901/&medium=9217110

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a diseasae"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Unfortunately Jeff, it may take a merging of economic/environmental collpase for people to finally get that change is required. That doesn't mean just tweaking what's currently so. It means total cultural shifts.

Definitely. People don't change until there are no alternatives. There's few examples to indicate otherwise but myriad proving that point, such as the Great Depression, WWI, WWII, etc.

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jeffbiss
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re # 5; anybody who sez 'Nothing lasts forever " never read your posts.

harry ashburn
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I find it ironic, that people who are concerned with overpopulation often say its inevitable because we will grow beyond our resources. Yet this ignores the real problem, which is the distribution of resources. THIS problem is solvable! We just have to have the political will to make it happen.

Jeffbiss, perhaps you have already read The Botany of Desire, but I think is makes a convincing argument that our influence on the rest of the world has not been ALL bad.

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rysl
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You do realize that if the resources of the planet were distributed equally, the U.S. would have to cut its consumption by 4/5ths, don't you?

Industrial agriculture isn't sustainable. Univ. studies point towards a collapse of US. agriculture.

Probably shipping the equivalent of of a freight train 125,000 miles long filled with top soil to the sea every year isn't a very wise thing to do. That's what industrial agriculture causes...and it feeds a lot of people in the short-term.. Plants don't grow in subsoil.

When previous societies stripped the environment of its ability to support them, they moved on. There is no place left on this planet to go. We don't yet have the capability to move the nation, let alone humanity, to another planet.

Supporting elbow to elbow, standing room only, probably isn't the solution.we should be looking for.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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I think what Stephen Hawking said about our limited time on this planet is correct. I think it is obvious that nearly 7 billion people with make this place uninhabitable sooner rather than later.

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sdougreid
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I find it ironic, that people who are concerned with overpopulation often say its inevitable because we will grow beyond our resources. Yet this ignores the real problem, which is the distribution of resources. THIS problem is solvable! We just have to have the political will to make it happen.

Jeffbiss, perhaps you have already read The Botany of Desire, but I think is makes a convincing argument that our influence on the rest of the world has not been ALL bad.

This problem is solvable only if we drop human population to a sustainable level of between 2-3 billion people. I suggest that you do the math. Using a very oversimplified method, right now, we, about 5% of the world's population, use about 25% of the earth's resources. That means that the remaining 95% use 75% of the earth's resources. For comparison, each percent of the US uses 5% of the resources whereas each percent of the rest of the world uses 1.27%. For your "solution" to work, we'd need to provide the impoverished with more resources, which means that either a) the people of the US reduce what we use to equal that of the rest of the world or (b) we find other earths. There's no political will in the developed world to use less and there's only one planet we can use.

Delusion is no way to run a world, but it appears to be the preferred way. The only way to avoid collapse is to change our behavior to comsume less and reduce our population to between 2-3 billion people total.

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jeffbiss
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The other solution is accelerated photosynthesis. If we can grow a tree as quickly as we can burn one, problem solved. The reason resources are scarce is because capturing the sun's energy takes much longer than consuming it. It took 100s of millions of years for oil (dead organic material) to get created. We've burned through half of it in just over 100 years.

However, I can imagine such a solution would bring many more problems with it. So I'm not actually an advocate of it. But it is something that people work on.

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Common_Man_Jason
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The other solution is accelerated photosynthesis. If we can grow a tree as quickly as we can burn one, problem solved.

Not necessarily because there's the issue of soil depletion. Forests are perpetual because the trees remain in the forest after death to compost. Burning them removes that, and ends up destroying the forest and thus requires intensive farming methods that are currently creating dead zones and ruining farmland. It's better to use less and reduce population, which aint going to happen until collapse.

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jeffbiss
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Jeffbliss said: This problem is solvable only if we drop human population to a sustainable level of between 2-3 billion people. I suggest that you do the math. Using a very oversimplified method, right now, we, about 5% of the world's population, use about 25% of the earth's resources. That means that the remaining 95% use 75% of the earth's resources

Club of Rome says:

Fifth, "Limits to Growth" did not just call for a reduced level of consumption of resources. The Club has argued that humankind needs to re-evaluate its exploitative attitude towards humans and the earth itself. The failure to give more foreign aid is indicative of the increased selfishness of rich countries. Meanwhile, the world's richest 20 per cent of the population consume 86 per cent of its goods and services, over half its energy and nearly half its meat and fish. There is little indication that most of the world's richest people are willing to heed the warning from "Limits to Growth", they are too busy making the most of today.

Therefore, the reluctance to give foreign aid and help the Third World is in itself a reflection of the prevailing economic mindset: making a virtue out of selfishness. There is no doubt that the market system is the best way to create wealth (by encouraging everyone to look out for their own best interests). But the market system was not designed to share wealth or protect the environment - as even The Economist magazine is having to admit. So, as it stands, the market system enriches the wealthy, impoverishes the poor, and endangers the planet.

So the question remains, is our economic crisis a result of random cause and effect or designed cause and effect? If it's designed cause and effect then economic theories and systems are largely irrelevant. If the people who control the world's banking have decreed that we need to collapse industrial nations so that they can no longer artifically support unsustainable human numbers, and these same international power players control the world's governments, then the political process is largely a distraction, a contrived contest, like football, designed to occupy the masses while the plans for world poverty and starvation are carried out.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/rome/default.htm

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Choco
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Quote jeffbiss:
The other solution is accelerated photosynthesis. If we can grow a tree as quickly as we can burn one, problem solved.

Not necessarily because there's the issue of soil depletion. Forests are perpetual because the trees remain in the forest after death to compost. Burning them removes that, and ends up destroying the forest and thus requires intensive farming methods that are currently creating dead zones and ruining farmland. It's better to use less and reduce population, which ain't going to happen until collapse.

Accelerated photosynthesis wouldn't literally be a tree in a forest. It would be a synthesized plant of some sort that probably would not rely on soil (hydroponics, man). I can imagine household "gardens" which make use of the house's compostable materials.

But again, I've already pointed out there are more problems this would create, and I don't actually advocate it. I just find it an interesting concept. Not sure why you feel the need to turn it into debate, but that does seem to be your MO.

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Common_Man_Jason
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There is little indication that most of the world's richest people are willing to heed the warning from "Limits to Growth", they are too busy making the most of today

There you have it. The only thing missing is that the vast majority of people are delusional to the point that they don't think that reducing human population is necessary. So, in effect a perfect storm of greed and idiocy.

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jeffbiss
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It's sort of like a merry-go-round. More people means more markets and more jobs to create customers for the markets, , and more people to create more markets requiring more jobs, and more people to buy the production and more markets to absorb the production requiring more people and more jobs so they can buy the production, and more people to expand markets, that require more jobs...... Round and round.

Native Americans didn't get on that merry-go-round. They had stable, sustainable populations. in tune with what the environment could support indefinately.

"That which isn't sustainable won't be sustained" - Stiglitz

History is rampant with collapsed societies whose population claims on the environment exceeded the environments carrying capacity. We aren't the exception to the rule.

"Only when you have cut down the last tree, poisoned the last stream and eaten the last fish will you understand you can't eat your money." - Creek prophesy.

In the meantime, let's work on increasing the market size and market share. The "best of all possible systems" will work until it doesn't. Then there will be hell to pay.

It should be common sense that a pie divided up among 6 people goes further than a pie divided up among a hundred.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Attending land and resource meetings for years helps clarify the methodology of destruction. Think of a sheet of paper as representing the land base. The stakeholders sit down and agree to a compromise and divide it in half. One half is preserved for the environmental benefits, the other half is logged and mined. Then a few years later, another group sits down and looks at the half that was saved and says, lets work on a compromise, and so the saved portion is cut in half. Years later this quarter is the new land base that has not been purchased and denuded and still holds worth. The stakeholders want to compromise and so divide it in half. On and on this compromising process continues untl they are fighting over the last tree. "Let's just cut half of it down and preserve the other half."

Yes, that sounds fair.

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Choco
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I know that I am in the minority on the left when it comes to this topic, but I am also not at all with the right. We DO have an environmental crisis that is looming over us. The only reason why I say that it is looming, is the absence of widespread destruction. Yes, there is starvation, but there always has been to some degree, and I believe most of it is a failure of government. Melting of glaciers is very bad, but a least temporarilty, fresh water is still coming from them. IMO, the worst crisis is the HIV epidemic in Africa.

But there are different ways of looking at something. First, we can say these are crises, or we can say that they are challenges. Second, we can talk about these as fated or as choices. Yes, everyone in the US needs to reduce consumption, we need to conserve, and we need to recycle. It is wasteful and stupid not to. BUT we should not stop and try to reverse. That is falling into the "fated crisis" mode. My point is that many of the problems have solutions, and that is the attitude to have, not just giving up.

When computers became popular, everyone talked about the "paperless office". I bought into this, and thought that instead of printing out or photocopying all the research papers that I read (~300 per year) that I would just read them online. But I found that I did not read them as much, and couldn't take notes on them as I could before, and frankly did not feel as productive. If all of science did that, there would probably a significant impact on scientific progress (which neo-Luddites would certainly welcome). Now, I print out the papers, but I make sure they are two-sided copies. Perhaps the paperless office is good when people used to order 10,000 brochures, hand out 1,000, and put the rest in a landfill.

As to growing trees faster, I know of people who are growing algae in solar powered bioreactors. A portion of the algae is continuously filtered out of the water, compressed and dried. The biomass produced will be used for a variety of things.

Recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it.

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rysl
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The only reason why I say that it is looming, is the absence of widespread destruction.

But there is widespread destruction: deforestation, the bushmeat trade, the illegal animal parts trade, poaching, destruction of wildlife habitat to make farms, greenhouse gas emissions, growing dead zones, depletion of fresh water resources, desertification, etc. Recognizing that we are the problem requires us to solve us, which is highly unlikely as we are more concerned with enjoying life than life itself.

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jeffbiss
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I should have been more clear, by widespread destruction, I meant "to humans" not the environment. Yes, us humans have caused widespread destruction on the environment, but it has not lead to cataclysmic death to humans (like the movies "The day after tomorrow" or "The day after"). Yes, environmental destruction is a problem, since it will eventually lead to our own extinction.

But "We" are not the problem, some (or many) of our actions are. If it was "we", than our own extinction will "solve" us. Yes, we will need to change the way we enjoy life if we want our children to enjoy life. I am, for example, gradually removing subsidies for fossil fuels (even though it cost more) because that allows people to choose with their wallet. Even better, I am in favor of incorporating (to whatever degree possible) the environmental impact into the cost of things. In Munich, for example, people have to buy plastic bags at the grocery store. People's behavior's change though in these situations, so more people bring cloth bags.

When I was a child, I did not think about things like "where does my trash go?" Generations ago, people did not ask these questions, because there probably were places where the trash could go, just as there was always "more forest" or "more fish". But, now we do think about these things, and my son (whose 7) even knows about these things. He also has options: landfill, recycle, and compost, and it will be normal for him.

I think when we try consider ALL the impacts we have (or potentially have), it is paralyzing. But when we address the impacts we directly have, we can make our way past the problem (and hopefully create less new problems). Foresight helps A LOT, and is unfortunately in short supply.

rysl's picture
rysl
Joined:
Aug. 10, 2010 9:30 am

Probably livng within the planet's ability to sustain human life shouldn't be looked upon as a reversal, but as a progressive step away from regression. A step away from societal collapse and possible extinction.

At one time, only one continent boasted settled communities with functioning democracies that were environmentally sustainable and pretty much free of conquests, empires and kingdoms. The rule of man over man was absent.

Then regressive elements of mankind destroyed it. Mistakenly, it was called progress.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Oh my God, you're right. The destruction of the planet has been called progress. That's it, I'm starting a new political movement, the regressive party. Do you think it will catch on?

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Choco
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

re #41: good idea, but you ought to leave open to those who are torn...call it the "Passive/Regressive Party"!

harry ashburn
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Currently Chatting

The other way we're subsidizing Walmart...

Most of us know how taxpayers subsidize Walmart's low wages with billions of dollars in Medicaid, food stamps, and other financial assistance for workers. But, did you know that we're also subsidizing the retail giant by paying the cost of their environmental destruction.

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