tagged w/ Civilization
On global warming, indigenous peoples and scientists face off against capitalist policymakers.
The countries with large and influential indigenous populations are well in the lead in seeking to preserve the planet. The countries that have driven indigenous populations to extinction or extreme marginalization are racing toward destruction.
There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.”On global warming, indigenous peoples and scientists face off against capitalist... more
“the idea of returning to civilization’s point zero” and trying to start all over from scratch and do it better. Wolfe predicted that history will record that Haight-Ashbury period as “one of the most extraordinary religious experiments of all time.”“the idea of returning to civilization’s point zero” and trying to... more
"More broadly, there is growing recognition that an end to or reversal of growth will be an essential rite of passage for global civilization as humanity comes to understand that climate change and natural resource scarcity are rooted in the impossibility of perpetual human growth in a finite biophysical environment.""More broadly, there is growing recognition that an end to or reversal of growth... more
How much more proof do we need?
Few scientists doubt that Earth's climate is changing and growing warmer. Only a small number of skeptics dispute that humans are a prime cause of the problem.
But still, as a nation, we dither. The United States is among the world's top three emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, along with China and India.
And yet our so-called leaders continue to tiptoe around the issue as if they might wake a sleeping baby.
At least some people are awakening. They've slept late, but they're awakening nonetheless.
UC Berkeley physics Professor Richard Muller has joined the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is real, and that human-caused pollution is a major culprit.
Describing his "total turnaround," Muller wrote in a Sunday column for The New York Times: "Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. "I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause."
This summer offers a sense of the consequences of inaction. We've seen massive drought, Colorado on fire, and the hottest day in Atlanta in its recorded history. While it's impossible to tie specific events to climate change, these are exactly the kinds of extremes predicted by the climate models scientists have been developing for decades. And we will witness increasingly dramatic and dire climate calamities unless emissions are brought under control.
On the campaign trail, there is plenty of vague talk about "energy independence" or "clean energy," with both presidential candidates ducking what policies they will pursue to reduce greenhouse gases.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has been a major flip-flopper, depending on the audience, providing little confidence that he knows where he stands.
In 2003, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney said climate change "is beginning to affect our natural resources and that now is the time to take action." In 2005 he supported the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system among Massachusetts and eight other states, calling it a "great thing" for Massachusetts' jobs and economy.
Then he got cold feet and withdrew his support.
Fast forward to the current campaign, and Romney has been all over the map.
In June 2011, he said, "I think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you're seeing."
A few months later, he said the opposite: "My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course."
Obama made climate change a priority in running for president in 2008, saying future generations would look back and say, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
But he has backed off in the face of Republican opposition in Congress. On the campaign trail this year, he talks about "energy." Addressing climate change is a promise Obama has failed to deliver upon.
Both candidates must be pressed on what policies they would pursue, nationally and globally. If Muller can change his tune on climate change, Obama and Romney can at least discuss the issue and offer solutions. The stakes involved couldn't be higher.
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/08/01/2308493/presidential-contenders-cant-duck.html#storylink=cpy
http://disasterandemergencysurvival.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Global-Warming.jpgHow much more proof do we need? Few scientists doubt that Earth's climate is... more
In the Northwest, coastal tribes are noticing melting glaciers and rising sea levels.
Native tribes are working with climate scientists to utilize their holistic knowledge.
Some tribes have been collecting generations of information.
Native American tribes are teaming up with climate scientists to monitor environmental changes along the coast, changes that are disrupting indigenous ways of life that tribes say are key to their survival.
Tribal leaders say their understanding of natural ecosystems such as long-term weather patterns or wildlife migrations can be just as important as CO2 measurements or satellite data.
“The long term perspective of our people has scientific value,” said Micah McCarty, chairman of the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington. “We can establish a more holistic baseline of the big picture of things. Some scientists may be more narrowly focused and have an excellent perspective, but we have a broader perspective to draw from. That’s a value."
The Makah people and their descendants have been living in the area for 4,000 years, and have collected generations of information about their environment. That environment has recently been changing, McCarty noted, as droughts have destroyed freshwater streams that are important salmon spawning nurseries and shellfish that are collected for traditional clothing and crafts are facing threats from increasing ocean acidification.
“We live on one of the wettest places on earth,” McCarty said about his tribal lands on Washington’s rainy Olympic Peninsula. “The salmon could not go upstream because there wasn’t enough water. If we experience more and more of these events, what are we going to do to adapt?"
The Makah aren’t the only tribes facing changes. The Quinault people of Washington are watching the disappearance of a glacier that feeds their local salmon stream, while tribes living along the Bering Sea in Alaska are abandoning their villages because of rising sea levels. Tribal leaders from Hawaii, Samoa, the Marshall Islands and other low-lying atolls are also worried about the future and planning to relocate, according to Dan Basta, director of the office of marine sanctuaries for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“These cultures have been codifying to a fine scale so many natural factors that they are a treasure trove of knowledge if we pay attention,” Basta said.
This unique collaboration between tribal leaders and federal climate researchers will be the subject of a three-day gathering this week at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC., sponsored by NOAA, the NMAI; the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute Tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation – all of whom live on the Olympic Peninsula.
McCarty and other tribal leaders hope the meeting will form the basis of a collaboration between tribal members and scientists to act as “first responders” in the face of environmental shifts. That includes working together on monitoring sea levels, water quality, thickness of mollusk shells and fish and wildlife migration patterns, he said. Future meetings will include tribal members from other parts of North America, including those facing drought in the Southwest or rising sea level along the Gulf Coast.
“We’re hoping to build a coalition to address climate change,” McCarty said, “so we have more people doing what needs to be done to change how we live on this planet.”In the Northwest, coastal tribes are noticing melting glaciers and rising sea levels.... more
We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities... writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.
Known as Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh), the site is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals—a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.
At the time of Göbekli Tepe's construction much of the human race lived in small nomadic bands that survived by foraging for plants and hunting wild animals. Construction of the site would have required more people coming together in one place than had likely occurred before. Amazingly, the temple's builders were able to cut, shape, and transport 16-ton stones hundreds of feet despite having no wheels or beasts of burden. The pilgrims who came to Göbekli Tepe lived in a world without writing, metal, or pottery; to those approaching the temple from below, its pillars must have loomed overhead like rigid giants, the animals on the stones shivering in the firelight—emissaries from a spiritual world that the human mind may have only begun to envision.
Archaeologists are still excavating Göbekli Tepe and debating its meaning. What they do know is that the site is the most significant in a volley of unexpected findings that have overturned earlier ideas about our species' deep past. Just 20 years ago most researchers believed they knew the time, place, and rough sequence of the Neolithic Revolution—the critical transition that resulted in the birth of agriculture, taking Homo sapiens from scattered groups of hunter-gatherers to farming villages and from there to technologically sophisticated societies with great temples and towers and kings and priests who directed the labor of their subjects and recorded their feats in written form. But in recent years multiple new discoveries, Göbekli Tepe preeminent among them, have begun forcing archaeologists to reconsider.
At first the Neolithic Revolution was viewed as a single event—a sudden flash of genius—that occurred in a single location, Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now southern Iraq, then spread to India, Europe, and beyond. Most archaeologists believed this sudden blossoming of civilization was driven largely by environmental changes: a gradual warming as the Ice Age ended that allowed some people to begin cultivating plants and herding animals in abundance. The new research suggests that the "revolution" was actually carried out by many hands across a huge area and over thousands of years. And it may have been driven not by the environment but by something else entirely.
Klaus Schmidt knew almost instantly that he was going to be spending a lot of time at Göbekli Tepe. Now a researcher at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Schmidt had spent the autumn of 1994 trundling across southeastern Turkey. He had been working at a site there for a few years and was looking for another place to excavate. The biggest city in the area is Şanlıurfa (pronounced shan-LYOOR-fa). By the standards of a brash newcomer like London, Şanlıurfa is incredibly old—the place where the Prophet Abraham supposedly was born. Schmidt was in the city to find a place that would help him understand the Neolithic, a place that would make Şanlıurfa look young. North of Şanlıurfa the ground ripples into the first foothills of the mountains that run across southern Turkey, source of the famous Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Nine miles outside of town is a long ridge with a rounded crest that locals call Potbelly Hill—Göbekli Tepe.
In the 1960s archaeologists from the University of Chicago had surveyed the region and concluded that Göbekli Tepe was of little interest. Disturbance was evident at the top of the hill, but they attributed it to the activities of a Byzantine-era military outpost. Here and there were broken pieces of limestone they thought were gravestones. Schmidt had come across the Chicago researchers' brief description of the hilltop and decided to check it out. On the ground he saw flint chips—huge numbers of them. "Within minutes of getting there," Schmidt says, he realized that he was looking at a place where scores or even hundreds of people had worked in millennia past. The limestone slabs were not Byzantine graves but something much older. In collaboration with the DAI and the Şanlıurfa Museum, he set to work the next year.
Inches below the surface the team struck an elaborately fashioned stone. Then another, and another—a ring of standing pillars. As the months and years went by, Schmidt's team, a shifting crew of German and Turkish graduate students and 50 or more local villagers, found a second circle of stones, then a third, and then more. Geomagnetic surveys in 2003 revealed at least 20 rings piled together, higgledy-piggledy, under the earth.
The pillars were big—the tallest are 18 feet in height and weigh 16 tons. Swarming over their surfaces was a menagerie of animal bas-reliefs, each in a different style, some roughly rendered, a few as refined and symbolic as Byzantine art. Other parts of the hill were littered with the greatest store of ancient flint tools Schmidt had ever seen—a Neolithic warehouse of knives, choppers, and projectile points. Even though the stone had to be lugged from neighboring valleys, Schmidt says, "there were more flints in one little area here, a square meter or two, than many archaeologists find in entire sites."
The circles follow a common design. All are made from limestone pillars shaped like giant spikes or capital T's. Bladelike, the pillars are easily five times as wide as they are deep. They stand an arm span or more apart, interconnected by low stone walls. In the middle of each ring are two taller pillars, their thin ends mounted in shallow grooves cut into the floor. I asked German architect and civil engineer Eduard Knoll, who works with Schmidt to preserve the site, how well designed the mounting system was for the central pillars. "Not," he said, shaking his head. "They hadn't yet mastered engineering." Knoll speculated that the pillars may have been propped up, perhaps by wooden posts.
Puzzle piled upon puzzle as the excavation continued. For reasons yet unknown, the rings at Göbekli Tepe seem to have regularly lost their power, or at least their charm.
Every few decades people buried the pillars and put up new stones—a second, smaller ring, inside the first. Sometimes, later, they installed a third. Then the whole assemblage would be filled in with debris, and an entirely new circle created nearby. The site may have been built, filled in, and built again for centuries.
Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C. Göbekli Tepe was all fall and no rise.
Continued at linkWe used to think agriculture gave rise to cities... writing, art, and religion. Now... more
Founded in 2008, The Zeitgeist Movement is a Sustainability Advocacy Organization which conducts community based activism and awareness actions through a network of Global/Regional Chapters, Project Teams, Annual Events, Media and Charity Work.
The Movement's principle focus includes the recognition that the majority of the social problems which plague the human species at this time are not the sole result of some institutional corruption, scarcity, a political policy, a flaw of "human nature" or other commonly held assumptions of causality.
Rather, The Movement recognizes that issues such as poverty, corruption, collapse, homelessness, war, starvation and the like appear to be "Symptoms" born out of an outdated social structure. While intermediate Reform steps and temporal Community Support are of interest to The Movement, the defining goal here is the installation of a new socioeconomic model based upon technically responsible Resource Management, Allocation and Distribution through what would be considered The Scientific Method of reasoning problems and finding optimized solutions.
This "Resource-Based Economic Model" is about taking a direct technical approach to social management as opposed to a Monetary or even Political one. It is about updating the workings of society to the most advanced and proven methods Science has to offer, leaving behind the damaging consequences and limiting inhibitions which are generated by our current system of monetary exchange, profits, corporations and other structural and motivational components.
The Movement is loyal to a train of thought, not figures or institutions. In other words, the view held is that through the use of socially targeted research and tested understandings in Science and Technology, we are now able to logically arrive at societal applications which could be profoundly more effective in meeting the needs of the human population. In fact, so much so, that there is little reason to assume war, poverty, most crimes and many other money-based scarcity effects common in our current model cannot be resolved over time.
The range of The Movement's Activism & Awareness Campaigns extend from short to long term, with the model based explicitly on Non-Violent methods of communication. The long term view, which is the transition into a Resource-Based Economic Model, is a constant pursuit and expression, as stated before. However, in the path to get there, The Movement also recognizes the need for transitional Reform techniques, along with direct Community Support.
For instance, while "Monetary Reform" itself is not an end solution proposed by The Movement, the merit of such legislative approaches are still considered valid in the context of transition and temporal integrity. Likewise, while food and clothes drives and other supportive projects to help those in need today are also not considered a long term solution, it is still considered valid in the context of helping others in a time of need, while also drawing awareness to the principle goal.
The Zeitgeist Movement also has no allegiance to a country or traditional political platforms. It views the world as a single system and the human species as a single family and recognizes that all countries must disarm and learn to share resources and ideas if we expect to survive in the long run. Hence, the solutions arrived at and promoted are in the interest to help everyone on the planet Earth, not a select group.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmeIMjsen28&feature=player_embeddedFounded in 2008, The Zeitgeist Movement is a Sustainability Advocacy Organization... more
Monday, March 19, 2012
Evolution Under a Temperamental Sun
By Faye Flam
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
You didn’t need to be a solar physicist to be riveted by the “solar storm” that sent a blast of charged particles our way this month. That particular flare-up fizzled, but in the long term, the sun’s temper is worthy of our attention.
Our sun changes, and living things adapt or die.
Our planet circled a very different star when life first emerged on Earth some four billion years ago. The sun was dimmer and cooler, but more violent, sending deadly blasts of X-rays as well as particles that would have lit up the skies with spectacular auroras.
The displays would have been visible worldwide, but probably had no spectators, since life needed to stay deep underwater or buried inside minerals to survive until the sun calmed down.
For most of human history no one realized that the sun was fickle, breaking out in spots, flares, and eruptions, and would eventually kill all life on our planet.
“It was a huge part of Western culture that the heavens were forever and unchanging,” said University of Michigan astronomer Fred Adams, who has written books on the beginning of the universe and the end.
Galileo was the first to see spots on the sun, which did not ingratiate him with the church. Even Einstein was influenced by the cultural bias toward unchanging heavens, Adams said, altering his theory of general relativity to work in a static universe. Soon after he published his theory, Edwin Hubble showed the universe was in fact expanding.
It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that people realized the sun was running on nuclear fusion, and that when its fuel started to run low, the sun would die a violent death, blowing up into an enormous red giant.
For those concerned that the Mayans have forecast the end of the world this year, the astronomers’ threat of more solar storms may seem even more ominous.
It’s true we’re moving into a stormy season that should last into 2013, but this happens every 11 years, said Douglas Duncan, an astronomer at the University of Colorado and director of the Fiske Planetarium. Astronomers still don’t know why solar storms come in cycles or why it takes 11 years, he said. Duncan has catalogued similar cycles on other stars, and learned that sunspots and solar storms come in cycles all over the galaxy.
The cycles vary in length depending on a star’s age — the cycles lengthening as stars get older.
During the peaks, or solar maxima, the spots on the sun increase, and the sun bursts with flares and storms. The sun always sends us a solar wind of protons and electrons, but during a solar storm, these shoot out in gusts. When the particles reach Earth, they light up molecules in our atmosphere as if it were a giant fluorescent bulb.
The effects on Earth are more dramatic if the gusts are released on a direct path to Earth, as scientists thought happened earlier this month. That would be unlikely to affect human health directly, but it could have disabled satellites, particularly ones that channel GPS signals.
When Duncan was comparing sunspot cycles on different stars, he said he got a call from Carl Sagan wanting to know how solar activity might influence the course of life on Earth. That, Duncan said, would take an expert on our planet’s early history.
We humans couldn’t have tolerated the ultraviolet radiation and X-rays that pummeled our planet during life’s early history. About three billion to four billion years ago, the UV intensity was between 8 and 20 times what we have now, said geochemist Stephen Mojzsis of the Université Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. So for several billion years, life survived protected by water. As the sun cooled down and oxygen began to rise with the advent of blue-green algae, he said, life expanded to fill up the land as soon as it became habitable.
The sun was also cooler and was red rather than yellow, and we may carry an evolutionary fossil of that time in our eyes, he said. On the early Earth, microbes that were just starting to use photosynthesis began manufacturing a pigment called rhodopsin, which is good for absorbing red light. As the sun became yellow, the ability to make rhodopsin persisted, though different organisms used it for other purposes.
We use it in our retinas for night vision.
The sun was also 30 percent dimmer in the distant past, said Mojzsis. If it dimmed that much now, the Earth would freeze solid, but on the early Earth, different configurations of land masses and a different atmospheric chemistry kept the oceans liquid under such a cool sun.
The sun is getting hotter because it’s fusing hydrogen into the heavier element helium. That’s causing the sun to get denser and the nuclear fusion that powers it to become more efficient.
Scientists estimate that in 500 million to 1.5 billion years, the sun will be hot enough to wipe out all life on Earth. Moving to Mars would only postpone the apocalypse.
Our neighbor, Alpha Centauri, shines in a brighter, more bluish light because it’s older and hotter than our sun. If it had any habitable planets, they are now burnt to a crisp, said Mojzsis.
In an additional five billion years, the sun will start to run out of fuel, and before it dies, it will expel its outer layers, becoming a red giant. Astronomers used to assume that the sun would swallow our planet, said Duncan, but more recent calculations show it will expand to just about the size of Earth’s orbit. Either way, it will broil us.
As for those pessimists who worry about the Mayan predictions, Duncan said he’s looked into the matter and the ancient civilization didn’t really predict the world would end this year. Mayans did create an advanced calendar that was so good they extended it many centuries into the future. It just happened to end with 2012.
.Philadelphia Inquirer... . Monday, March 19, 2012 Evolution Under a... more
...in Response to Utopia and Walden Two
This paper will aim to recognize the coming automated global economy and explore an idealistic solution known as The Venus Project that agrees with Utopia and Walden Two in its rejection of a monetary based economy but also seeks to eliminate the need for people to submit to daily labor in order for society to prosper and grow. With education and resources completely accessible to anyone in the world, humanity would best be able to contribute its very fortunate gift of the ability to problem solve and begin to eliminate the many socials problems that exist on a global scale and are therefore shared by all people in one way or another. No financial, political, or authoritarian limits would deter the progress of humanity, and we would race into a new frontier of human civilization of which was once only possible in our imaginations such as one of peace and great scientific exploration and even human experiences we cannot yet imagine. People need to know that such a future does not need to be relegated to our imaginations and that with current technology it is all very possible to achieve. Not only do we have the ability to completely transform our world into a utopia such as those depicted in Utopia and Walden Two, but we have the ability to transform it into one which even Frazier would envy and Raphael would probably never even thinking of leaving.
The communities explored in B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two and Thomas Moore’s Utopia both attempted to completely reshape the social order of civilization by changing human values and social norms. With money insignificant to the daily operations, both societies imposed the elimination of private property and promoted communal living. Both social structures removed money from being the main economic focus of society while disassociating it from labor, but neither society disregarded money altogether or attempted to free people from hard labor. In Utopia, this resulted in the elimination of value in scarcity among the citizens, reflected in Raphael’s tale of the visiting foreign elites who came decorated in gold and jewels, only to find that in Utopia, such accessories were found to be worn by slaves in order to identify them from regular citizens (More 2003). The society explored by Burris and company in Walden Two was similar to Utopia in that the social order aimed to minimize the amount of hard labor necessary to produce the goods and services for society, but was different in that each citizen did not hold a specific occupation as they did in Utopia. Walden Two also focused its social structure on the scientific method, willing to change or improve any and all facets of society with the proper evidence found in experimentation and study. Science and technology has changed our world in dramatic fashion since the middle of the last century which is when Walden Two, the more technology-focused society of the two, was published (Skinner 1948).
We are experiencing a gradual elimination of labor due to growing automation in the production of goods and services. Through the gradual implementation of automation and computerization in creating workerless factories and eliminating jobs formerly performed by people, technology is threatening to single-handedly dismantle our existing social order of owners and workers, leaving owners and unemployed or displaced workers. In the 1990’s, the Information Age, which was only in its infant stages, was already completely eliminating employment categories and dooming certain occupations to extinction. Just as the technological developments of the Industrial Revolution sought to replace the requirements of physical human labor, the Information Age’s technologies are threatening to replace the human mind’s contribution to economic and industrial functions (Rifkin 1996).
The Information Age has produced new markets and thus new occupations, but its rapid evolution in technology threatens to remove most of those jobs which it has created through the development of more sophisticated computerized systems. Complete global automation of production and services will inevitably completely remove the need for human labor to serve society, but then what? It is important that new social structures for a post-market world be considered because one way or another, we will end up in one. It offers humanity a golden opportunity to completely leave behind all that is wrong and corrupt with the current system - that which is sought to be remedied in Utopia and Walden Two: greed, poverty, irrationality, and exploitation. However, before proposing the utopian solution for the new era of human civilization, identifying the fundamental aspects of what is wrong with the current social system is crucial so as to better recognize how our social norms and value systems need to change in order to achieve an semblance of a utopian society like those studied but minus the need for human laboring.
The reality of our current social paradigm is one which contains misery, destructive behavior, exploitation, aggression, conflict, and poverty. This is where the traditional social norms and value systems have gotten us. Many say it is human nature for people to be aggressive, territorial, acquisitive, and competitive, and the social structure humankind has built around the world could be verification of that. However, just as was evident in the fictional lands of Utopia and Walden Two, the environment and upbringing of a person shapes their social tendencies and values more so than any imaginary pre-wiring of the human mind (More 2003, Skinner 1948). Our social environment is provided by longstanding social institutions. They are political, legal, and religious institutions. They are social institutions such as the family unit, social class, and occupation specialization, and they serve as the framework by which our perspectives and understandings of the world before us are formed. However, no other social institution has a more broad-reaching affect on the elements of our society and modern human behavior than that which is the monetary system (Joseph 2008).
Our economic system in the United States has been incredibly resilient. It has overcome credit crunches, food shortages, banking crises, energy crises, and hyper-inflation (Skousen 1989). However, the monetary system is inherently corrupt. Poverty, competition, and scarcity are built into the system using the fractional-reserve system created by the central banking system of the United States, the Federal Reserve. In our monetary system, money is created from nothing with the stroke of a keyboard and there never exists enough actual currency to pay off the entire debt owed to the lenders plus interest, forever dooming society itself as a slave to money and more specifically, the monetary system. The same system, in its core principles and policies is shared in every developed or developing country in the world. The only difference between capitalism, communism, and socialism is who owns what. None of these systems has shown a way to solve the problems, which result from money being the lifeblood of society (Joseph 2008).
In regard to labor, our modern world finds itself facing yet another contradiction within its current socio-economic structure. While the gradual elimination of labor is occurring due to computerization and automation, ...
Continued at :
http://scopicthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/03/envisioning-social-order-for-future-in.html...in Response to Utopia and Walden Two This paper will aim to recognize the coming... more
In this extract from his book, To Cook A Continent, Nnimmo Bassey argues that climate negotiations, from Durban in late 2011 onwards, will increasingly confront the issue of climate justice.
The atmosphere is a common space, a global commons. Industrialised nations pumped a disproportionate amount of emissions into the atmosphere and they have cornered a disproportionate amount of global resources, largely by exploiting nations that are on the other side of the coin. Climate impacts are already being felt in a severe way in Africa as well as in other regions of the global South. Centuries of exploitation have weakened the resilience of these regions and in tackling climate change these historical facts must be addressed. One way of addressing this is by the payment of climate debt to make the needed financial and technological resources available to these vulnerable regions.
The Conference of Parties at Copenhagen and the following one at Cancun did not generate outcomes consistent with scientific warnings that the world faces a severe climate crisis. Copenhagen ended with an accord spearheaded by President Barack Obama of the United States with the backing of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) concocted in a 'Green Room' dreamed up by Denmark's conservative ruling party. In that room, Patrick Bond recalled, were 26 countries 'cherry-picked to represent the world. When even that small group deadlocked, allegedly due to Chinese intransigence and the overall weak parameters set by the US, the five leaders (Obama, Lula da Silva, Jacob Zuma, Manmohan Singh, and Wen Jiabao) attempted a face-saving last gasp at planetary hygiene.'12
The demand of climate justice is that those who created the climate problem must be the ones to mitigate it, and in the process must transform their economies and societies.13 There are two ways to go about making this happen. First, rich nations must reduce rapacious consumption patterns and address the climate crisis with real solutions and not ones that have been seen to be false. Second, the rich nations have to support the poor nations who are being forced to adapt to a situation they did not create. One practical way of making that happen is through support for sustainable, green development paths.
Among governments, the Bolivians have made the clearest call for climate justice while India and China have used related arguments to defend their growth paths. At a time when the world has been calling for a curtailment of polluting industrial establishments, China has been building new coal-fired power plants at a prodigious rate.14 It is interesting to note that while China is massively expanding its coal-powered plants, it is also quickly assuming leadership in the utilisation of wind power. The discourse on how much both China and India must do in tackling global warming must not overlook the fact that vast numbers of people in both India and China still require electricity supply and that meeting that gap requires huge financial outlays.
Following the catastrophic outcome of the United Nations climate negotiations held in Copenhagen in December 2009, President Evo Morales of Bolivia announced that the world would meet in Bolivia for a thorough and inclusive discussion on this vital issue.
The summit, held in Cochabamba in April 2010, attracted 35,000 participants from 140 countries. The summit stood in sharp contrast to the Copenhagen event in many ways. First, this was an assembly of governments and peoples. In Copenhagen no effort was spared in keeping civil society out of the conference: the conference was marked by lockouts of civil society, detentions of climate activists and outright brutality towards non-violent protesters on the streets. In Cochabamba the police were offering assistance and were also participants. Whereas Copenhagen showed a disdain for the voices of the people, Cochabamba was about raising the voices of the people. The only similarity between the events is that they were both held in cities whose names start with letter 'C' followed by nine letters.
The key outcome of the Cochabamba conference was the People's Agreement. This agreement demanded that countries cut their emissions by at least 50 per cent at source in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013–17), without recourse to offsets and other carbon trading schemes. In terms of finance, the People's Agreement demands that developed countries commit 6 per cent of their GDP to finance adaptation and mitigation needs. The financial suggestions of the Copenhagen Accord are a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to secure vulnerable peoples and nations. The peoples of the world also affirmed that there is a climate debt that must be recognised and paid. The payment is not all about finance but principally about decolonising the atmospheric space and redistributing the meagre space left. Developed countries already occupy 80 per cent of the space.
The climate debt is also about taking actions needed to restore the natural cycles of Mother Earth and one clear way of achieving this will be through the proclamation of a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, with clear obligations for humans. Bolivia is in the forefront of promoting the adoption of this declaration at the United Nations. The People's Agreement recognises that the causes of climate change are systemic and that systemic changes are needed to tackle them. On this note, the model of civilisation that is hinged on uncontrolled development can only compound the crisis. The world needs to move towards living well and not continue on the path of domination of others and of conspicuous and wasteful consumption.
An area glossed over in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations is the role of industrial agriculture in climate change. The People's Conference debated this key sector and reached the agreement that the way to a sustainable future is through the enthronement of food sovereignty based on agro-ecological agricultural systems. The issue of access to water being a human right was also affirmed by the people and later on in the year by the United Nations.
In all, the People's Agreement recognises that real strategies to tackle climate change must be based on the principles of equity and justice in dealing with the structural causes. Without climate justice it will also clearly be impossible to achieve the much talked about Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Cochabamba resonated with calls for urgently securing the rights of Mother Earth as a means of reconfiguring our relationship with the earth and with each other – in a way that respects the past, today and the future. All these will be a pipe dream unless peoples' sovereignty is supported, restored or built across the world. Cochabamba was a turning point in the march to transform our world from the path of conflict, competition, exploitation and domination to a path of solidarity and dignity. It held a ray of hope for Africa.
More at the link
I posted this excerpt from this article because it hits the nail on the head about the mechanisms involved in the schemes being put forth by industrialized nations, the World Bank and corporations (industrial agriculture especially) looking to use this planetary emergency as a way to profit from it without really doing anything to address it. And that includes our seeds and water. Our voices now can make a dfference and they must be heard.In this extract from his book, To Cook A Continent, Nnimmo Bassey argues that climate... more
IPCC Extreme Weather Report Is Another Blown Chance to Explain the Catastrophes Coming If We Keep Doing NothingFortunately, the public already understands that global warming makes extreme weather more severe, as new polling reveals:
September polling by ecoAmerica found that 57% of Americans already understand “If we don’t do something about climate change now, we can end up having our farmland turned to desert.” Duh:
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is coming out Friday with its umpteenth watered down report on climate science, in this case on extreme weather. The thing to remember about IPCC reports is that pretty much everyone involved has to sign off on every word, so it is inevitably a least common denominator document.
The actual scientific literature from 2011 is far more useful than this report — see “Study Finds 80% Chance Russia’s 2010 July Heat Record Would Not Have Occurred Without Climate Warming” and “NOAA Study Finds Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts.” I will provide the links to as many recent studies as possible in this post.
Indeed we already know from a major 2011 study that “human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.” As predicted, the warming has put more water vapor in the air, making deluges more intense. Climatologist Kevin Trenberth explains:
There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms,
Obviously, since it’s getting hotter, we’re worsening extreme heat waves — both in intensity and duration and scale (the area the heat wave covers). For the same reason, we know humans are making droughts worse — in intensity, duration, and scale. The earlier snow melts also makes summer droughts worse.
Actual observations reveal that since 1950, the global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% of global land area per decade (see here). Heck, our best scientists are already using global warming to help them predict dangerous extreme weather (see “USGS Expert Explains How Global Warming Likely Contributes to East Africa’s Brutal Drought“).
The reinsurance industry understands all this (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).
Again, much if not most of the public appear to have a better sense of what’s happening right now than you’ll find in the summaries of a typical IPCC report, to go by Yale’s 2011 polling and the September poll from ecoAmerica quoted at the top, which also found:
69% of Americans Know “Weather Conditions (Such as Heat Waves and Droughts) Are Made Worse by Climate Change”
The American public can’t miss the extreme weather because it is everywhere now and increasingly off the charts (see “A New Record: 14 U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in 2011“) and links below.
Of course, what’s to come is the real issue, since we still have control over that. We’re facing 5 to 10 times the warming this century that we’ve seen in the past half century.
Unfortunately, the IPCC continues to conflate uncertainty in future emissions of greenhouse gases with uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity to those emissions. This means they present a very large range of possible overall impacts — and that allows the deniers to trumpet the low range with their powerful fossil-fuel-funded megaphone and induces the media to provide “balance” in their stories between the mid-range and the low range.
The reality is we are on the highest emissions trends (see “Biggest Jump Ever in Global Warming Pollution in 2010 means “levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago”). And the latest science and observation points towards the high end of the climate’s sensitivity (see Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity”).
Most climate scientists know what is coming if we don’t act quickly– and more and more are shedding their reticence to speak out, even if that is not yet reflected in bland, least-common-denominator IPCC reports (see Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization”).
And as long as the deniers, inactivists and climate ignorati rule the debate, inaction is assured, which means that we are risking extreme weather beyond imagination, extreme events on top of an average warming this century that could hit 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 25°F in the Arctic:
More at the linkFortunately, the public already understands that global warming makes extreme weather... more
International Energy Agency: “On planned policies, rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.”
“… we are on an even more dangerous track to an increase of 6°C [11°F]…. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”
The International Energy Agency has issued yet another clarion call for urgent action on climate. Their 2011 World Energy Outlook [WEO] release should end once and for all any notion that delay is the rational course for the nation and the world.
The UK Guardian‘s headline captures the urgency:
World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns
If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change
We must start aggressively deploying clean energy now through myriad policies, including a price on carbon. That has been the conclusion of most authoritative studies, of course, including the recent one by California’s independent state science and technology advisory panel (see “Study Confirms Optimal Climate Strategy: Deploy, Deploy, Deploy, Research and Develop, Deploy, Deploy, Deploy“).
The IEA report deserves the label “bombshell,” though, because for most of the past two decades, the IEA was the source of bland, conservative, business-as-usual analysis. When I was Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy in 1997, no one at DOE paid much attention to IEA reports. And that perspective continued through most of the 2000s.
But in just the last few years they have woken up to the risks posed to peak oil — see IEA top economist warns (8/09): “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us” — and especially climate change. In releasing its 2009 WEO, the IEA warned, “The world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing a major assault on global warming.”
Now the IEA has done the calculation a different way, concluding, “Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.” Those who counsel waiting for breakthrough technologies are urging us on a path that is unsustainable, irreversible, potentially catastrophic, and economically indefensible, according to the IEA.
The IEA is one of the few organizations in the world with a sophisticated enough global energy model to do credible (i.e non-hand-waving) projections of the cost of different emissions pathways and the costs of delaying efforts to achieve them. Their 2008 analysis of the 2°C warming pathway demonstrated that the total shift in investment needed to stabilize at 450 ppm is only about 1.1% of GDP per year — and that is not a “cost” or hit to GDP, because much of that investment goes towards saving expensive fuel (see “IEA report: Climate Progress has the 450-ppm solution about right“).
The new analysis shows that because of soaring emissions, we are running out of time for the “450 Scenario.” We are at risk of irreversibly “locking in” dangerous warming — a point I agree with mostly, but not entirely:
More at the linkInternational Energy Agency: “On planned policies, rising fossil energy use... more
In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103190356.htmIn the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio... more
Peak Moment 169: As a historian, Carolyn Baker has a keen eye for current events that are indicators of the collapse were seeing all around us. But she's also a psychologist concerned about how we personally navigate the turbulence and find meaning within it. The author of Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilizations Collapse, she describes the old story that isn't working anymore (humans are separate from nature), and the new story we must live by for real sustainability. Her Speaking Truth to Power website is a rich collection of articles reflecting both collapse and preparedness action. [www.carolynbaker.net]Peak Moment 169: As a historian, Carolyn Baker has a keen eye for current events that... more
- A $20 trillion "externality" appears to present civilization with its BIG CHOICE: economic destruction or ecological destruction, both with chilling global security implications. Here's why, along with a practical and more hopeful alternative to "Sophie's Choice."
Carbon Tracker has released an illuminating report, "Unburnable Carbon - Are the world's financial markets carrying a carbon bubble?"[i]
The report nicely describes the potential "stranded asset risk" to resource company investors, and calls for a regulatory response on disclosure. What the report does not make explicit is the BIG CHOICE: Barring a miracle technology advance in the next decade (keep working brilliant scientists and entrepreneurs), if we want to avoid civilization-transforming and global security threatening climate change, we must absorb a global security threatening $20 trillion write off (that's 40 percent of global GDP) into our already stressed global economy. Even if gradually spread over a decade or more, with partial offsetting value creation in sustainable energy industries, this is an unprecedented challenge.- A $20 trillion "externality" appears to present civilization with its BIG... more
Central China’s worst drought in more than 50 years is drying reservoirs and stalling rice planting, and threatens crippling power shortages as hydroelectric output slows, state media said yesterday.
Rainfall levels from January to last month in the drainage basin of the Yangtze, China’s longest and most economically important river, have been 40 percent lower than average levels of the past 50 years, the China Daily said.
The national flood and drought control authority has ordered the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, to increase its discharge of water by 10 percent to 20 percent for the next two weeks.
The measure is aimed at sending badly needed water to the Yangtze’s middle and lower reaches for drinking and irrigation.
Watermarks in more than 1,300 reservoirs in Hubei Province, where the dam is located, have dropped below allowable discharge levels for irrigation, the paper quoted Hubei Reservoir Management Director Yuan Junguang (袁俊光) as saying.
Rainfall in some areas is as much as 80 percent lower than usual, while the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Zhejiang along with Shanghai municipality are mired in their worst droughts since 1954.
“Without adequate water, we lost the spring planting season for rice,” Hubei farmer Zhou Xingtao was quoted as saying.
The paper said many other farmers in Hubei have lost their existing crops or given up on planting summer rice, fearing the emergency water supplies will be inadequate to sustain their fields, with more hot and dry weather forecast.
The agricultural impact is likely to further alarm officials already trying to tame high prices of key items such as food.
China — and the Yangtze river region in particular — is prone to the alternating threats of crippling drought followed by devastating flooding.
Just last summer, sustained torrential rainfall across the region caused widespread flooding and even some concern over whether the giant Three Gorges Dam would be able to contain the deluge.
More than 3,000 people were reported killed in the flooding and related landslides.
Nearly every year, some part of China suffers its worst drought in decades, and meteorological officials have said previously the extreme weather may be because of climate change.
The State Grid, China’s state-owned power distributor, reportedly said this week that 10 of its provincial-level power grids were suffering severe shortages because of the drought’s impact on hydroelectric generation, including grids in Shanghai and the heavily populated southwestern Chongqing region.
China could face a summer electricity shortage of 30 gigawatts — the most severe power shortfall since 2004, the company said.Central China’s worst drought in more than 50 years is drying reservoirs and... more
"There are no ready-made answers on how this epochal effort should unfold. No comforting alternative dogma waits in the wings. Old ways of thinking seem immutable because new paradigms are not yet equipped with clear formulations or solutions. But what emerges from this period of introspection does not depend so much on dazzling original ideas. Realigning our worldly projects with civilizational purpose depends entirely on those whose honesty will not be compromised by ideology or held captive by prejudices and pet assumptions. Indeed, perhaps the most precious skill in this context will be the ability to live with ambiguity and ambivalence while cultivating self-awareness. This need not involve recourse to morally demanding philosophers like Gandhi. The sixth century B.C. Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, left behind the dictum that success depends on knowing yourself before you know your enemy. Recovery to business-as-usual is the enemy. Our current wilderness—economic and social—is a space where we can come to know ourselves better.""There are no ready-made answers on how this epochal effort should unfold. No... more
Peak oil, biodiversity loss, peak water, pollution, illness, diseases and an industrial agricultural system broken due to reliance on fossil fuels that threaten our ability to maintain ours and other species. All reasons along with the intensification of the effects of CO2 and greenhouse gas forcings upon the Earth's natural cycles to work towards a clean energy economy. It matters not your politics, your beliefs or your religion, the need to switch to other energy sources due to overconsumption and waste is now essential. This documentary shows us how to get there. And we need to get there fast.Peak oil, biodiversity loss, peak water, pollution, illness, diseases and an... more