The Global Climate Treaty

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

And so we came to this day. A global climate treaty has finally been agreed upon by 195 participating countries. World leaders and many activists are celebrating these happy news – in a political year which have not contained much of these.

This treaty represents a morale booster for the western countries – France in particular – which have consistently failed to handle the Ukraine crisis, overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria or save the Schengen Area from an implosion caused by the refugee crisis. The climate treaty should be understood with regards  to the failure to manage other crises – if political leaders consistently are mishandling – or perceived as mishandling – crises, their prestige will suffer. If such failures erupt more and more frequently during several administrations, the public morale will decrease and thus the support amongst the masses for the legitimacy of the establishment will weaken.

This created an atmosphere which saw it as paramount that a new treaty would come in place, not only because that the environmental situation is getting more dire, but also because of the aforementioned crises and the needs for political leaders to come back from Paris with successes.

While 1,5 degrees indeed is an ambitious goal, especially as the treaty has arrived so late in the process since this issue became one of global importance.

The purpose of this article is to study the climate treaty in the context of antropogenic global climate change as well as our current socio-economic system, and to discuss some of the actions that can be done to reduce the impact of warming.

TL;DR

  • The greenhouse effect is not – as you probably know – something sinister brought by our tampering with the environment, but a part of a natural process.
  • For the last few million years, our climate has gravitated between warm periods and ice ages. The release of CO2 from fossile sources has shifted this balance towards a warmer climate, but the cycle is still existing.
  • The threats against human civilization are manyfold and serious, and require responses and sacrifices which currently are politically impossible to advocate.
  • The Paris Treaty consciously leaves a lot regarding implementation to be decided by the signatory powers.
  • Ultimately, we need to focus on more issues than emissions, one of the most pressing being the protection and expansion of the world’s woodlands.

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What is the Greenhouse Effect?

The climate of the Earth is regulated by many factors – the distribution of continents and oceans, tectonic activity, internal heating, the intensity of solar flares, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, the amount of vegetation and the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the name for a process whereas heat from the Sun is trapped under the Earth’s atmosphere and serves to heat up the Earth. Without it, multi-cellullar life on Earth as we know it would be impossible, and the Earth would have frozen to an ice planet aking to Hoth in Star Wars.

The Greenhouse effect is not caused by humans, but something which has existed since time immemorial. It allows heat from the Sun to warm up the surface of the Earth. Neither is it unique for the Earth, both the other rocky planet’s in the Sun’s Goldilock zone have greenhouse effects, though the greenhouse effect is very weak in Mars and extremely strong in Venus.

The greenhouse effect has also varied under different aeon’s and geological periods during our planet’s turbulent history. During the Silurian era, prior to the Cambrian explosion, the Earth was for thousands of millennia covered by ice. When the Dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the planet was so warm that there were no permanent polar ice caps, and the climate was fairly stable with few fluctuations.

In contrast, the Eocene and Paleocene eras have been dynamic and unstable in regards to the planet’s average temperature. During only the last two dozens of million years, multiple ice ages have seen sheets expand over the hemispheres, the Mediterranean have evaporated several times, leaving a salt desert between Europe and Africa, and the sea levels have shifted hundreds of metres, often within just years.

The Flood myths described in numerous holy texts may have a foundation in reality as several events during the stone age led to the rise of sea levels and (probably) massive floods.

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Ice Age World Map by Fenn-O-maniC (Deviantart)

The human civilization, established in the river valleys of the Nile, of the Euphrates and Tigris, of the Ganges, Indus and the Yangtze, and developed into today’s global civilization, was starting to form following the end of the last global Ice Age.

From the latter half of the 13th century, the warm period reached its peak, and then the planet’s cycle started to move towards an ice age again. From the 1860’s and onward until today, this trend towards a colder climate first stalled and then reversed – today proven to be caused by human intervention due to the burning of coal and oil.

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Effects of antropogenic climate change

By altering the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, we are strengthening the effects of the greenhouse effect and therefore increasing the Earth’s average temperature gradually, though at a higher speed than previously done.

This will not mean that we won’t have cold winters any more, or that temperatures in some regions cannot actually can become colder over time, but it means that we are shifting and altering the Earth’s climate cycle towards on-average warmer temperatures.

Such a climate alteration will have effects on crop harvests, monsoon rain patterns, sea currents, vegetation and species, and also on the Greenlandic Ice Sheet – the last large remnant from the recent Ice Age. If it partially or completely collapses, which can happen within a few centuries, it will affect the sea levels of the Earth globally, drowning coastal areas, amongst which are some of the most populated regions on Earth.

Another single factor that can create havoc for human civilization globally, is the end of the Himalayan glaciers. They supply the great rivers of India and China with water, and if they melt there could be a permanent shift of these regions towards a drier climate, which would increase the cost of living. The Middle East could become more dry, as well as the United States.

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Since Civilization first was established, most of humanity has lived in an east-west band stretching from East Asia to Western Europe. The 21st and 22nd centuries may correspondingly see China, India and the Mediterranean basin becoming more desert-like, whereas other regions on the other hand can become more hospitable, for example Scandinavia, Northern Canada, Siberia and parts of the southern hemisphere.

Thus, a shift in the habitability of the Earth’s regions could lead to a mass migration of hundreds of millions to billions of people, which forever could alter the geographic distribution of the human race.

Climate change as a political issue

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Between the beginning phase of the Kyoto negotiations and the signing of the Paris Agreement in December 2015, two decades have passed by. During that time, more emissions have been added on, as the debt-based monetary system requires growth and the technologies available today which creates the fastest growth rates are based on non-renewable energies. Thence, while indeed the usage of green technologies have grown, they have not grown at the expense of fossil fuel-technologies, but rather their growth have been concurrent.

There are two problems with legislation aiming to curb climate change. The first one is the aforementioned fact that our leaders are bound to a growth paradigm, and the second is the fact that the Earth consists of 195 countries. Regarding some issues, like for example a failure to abide to the needs of economic globalization, sovereignty is seen mostly as a matter of inconvenience, while other issues, such as keeping up emission rates, are met with far more understanding than not wanting to partake in international trade agreements.

Ultimately, the absolute majority of the states on Earth, to not speak of businesses, are invested in a global socio-economic system based on fractional reserve banking, which means that in order to pay off ever increasing debts, we find ourselves in continuous need to create conditions so favourable as possible to exponential economic growth. This system is also seen as the best potential system we can have, and economic growth has also an ideological foundation. Most of the states on Earth are not nation-states but rather former colonial territories, composed of multi-ethnic, multi-religious communities. In such states, the main legitimising factor for governments that are both simultaneously weak and authoritarian, is economic growth. You may have to long for buying new shoes, but your son may buy himself a bike.

This means that climate agreements are meeting far more resistance from both business, lobbyist groups and governments keen to keep up economic growth, than for example free trade agreements. The Kyoto Protocol failed because the Bush Administration refused to ratify it. The Copenhagen Summit is widely considered a failure. The French government therefore decided on a strategy where the emphasis was put on the goal – that the temperature may not increase with more than 1,5 degrees Celsius (0,5 degrees under the 2 degrees Celsius seen as the threshold for global warming). All countries partaking under the Paris Agreement have bound themselves to find ways to reduce their emission rates, but the Agreement doesn’t specify how or with what means, and does not at all install any controls or punishments for participants violating the agreement.

On the other hand, if the agreement had contained more binding resolutions, specifications and relinquishment of controls, it would have been rejected by a significant number of countries.

So in short, the choice was between a broad-sweeping but shallow agreement, or no agreement at all. Most analysts hope that green energy and green technology can help making the shift towards sustainability while economic growth is preserved.

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The Elephant in the Room

While we have reasons to be hopeful due to the increase of the usage of solar panels, wind turbines and other forms of green energy, green energy is only a part of the puzzle. Most of the emissions today are within the meat industry and transport, and the growth of green energy has not contributed so much to the decline of the price of oil.

Rather, while the demand of oil has grown, the supply has grown even quicker due to the ascent of North American shale oil and the response of the Gulf States to dump the price of oil by increasing their supply. What we are seeing behind the curtains is an oil war initiated by Saudi Arabia and directed against both the USA and Russia. While this has hurt all oil-producing states, oil consumption overall is increasing.

What stands clear is that emissions may be reduced regionally, but globally they will still pose a threat. The kind of exponential economic growth intrinsically connected to the current system is – through the invisible hand of the market – seeking the paths of least resistance. Innovations and ambitions can alter this balance, but the balance in itself under the current paradigm is problematic.

Therefore, while supportive of green technologies and aims to curb emissions, I remain skeptical of the ability of achieving the objectives of 1,5 degrees without putting under question the ideological predominance of the current socio-economic system.

The current system is collapsing, or rather in its very design it is a system under constant collapse, threatened to be choked by the mountains of debts that it is pushing before itself. It can only survive by cannibalising the Earth, generating economic growth, but the more growth it generates, the more growth it has to generate. Thus, growth numbers tend to decline as demand shrinks and the economy grows, creating stagnation which means that new markets have to emerge in order to fuel the constant need to pay interest rates to the banks which simultaneously function as both the parasites and the creators of the system.

If we do not question the wisdom of this, we will continue to destroy the Earth. The problem is that arrangements like the Paris Agreement, the surprisingly – in relation to the scope of the challenges before us – toothless and impotent treaty, are not only unable to criticise the system which all participants have invested themselves in, but also to propose far-sweeping efficient measures to combat climate change.

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Actions that can be undertaken

Of course, for maximum efficiency, most of the transformation must necessarily occur at the grassroot level, though the creation of municipal solar panels, neighbourhood greenhouses, car pools, the upgrading and upcycling of means of transportation, increased consumption of locally produced goods and services, and increasing the autonomy and resilience of local communities overall. Education of both young and adults is also necessary.

However, we cannot move towards that and a globalized economy of the kind the proponents of free trade agreements like the TTP and the TTIP are dreaming of. One particular thing that definitely is conflicting between the kind of free trade agreements that are proposed today and long-term sustainability is transportation. If we want to reduce emissions, we need to install carbon pricing on goods and services, so the price starts to reflect the environmental cost. Goods that are produced far away would need an additional price tag. This is not the same as a punitive tariff as it will be imposed in relation to distance rather than national borders in themselves.

Massive investments need to occur in public transit systems (and in sea walls). We need to gradually shift ourselves away from Suburbia and create more concentrated urban habitats which also should have an ability to sustain at least a part of their own food production potential through vertical farming.

We need to massively reduce our dependency on meat, and then especially red meat, since it stands for a significant chunk of the emissions. This means that meat must become far more expensive, to pay for its share of the environmental damage which it causes.

More trees will have to be planted, at the expense of mono-cultures and grasslands. We should probably even build floating platforms on the seas and grow trees on them. All plants are breathing carbon dioxide and binding it before releasing it and returning it to the cycle when they die. Trees have the benefit that they can live for centuries, and therefore they can bind carbon for significantly longer amounts of time. The ideal would be if we could approach the number of trees which the Earth contained during the Stone Age, meaning that we would have to double the amount of trees to 6 billion.

These are but some of the actions that should be considered, and where governments on the local and national level could play a significant role (and should play it, especially regarding preparations for moving entire cities).

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Long term Geo-engineering

Ultimately, we have shifted the Earth’s climate development. What we need to do after we have stabilised it is to establish a long-term strategy to manage it, using carbon dioxide, oxygen, vegetation and technology to both monitor and gently steer the climate, both to prevent future disasters generated by us as well as managing the human civilization and the eco-systems through large-scale natural disasters such as meteorite impacts and super-volcano eruptions.

This would require some form of global administrative system, and signals that we are moving towards a Type-1 civilization if we manage to answer to the challenges of this century. Therefore, the public discourse should not focus on the coming five years, but the coming five decades at least.

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Review: This Changes Everything

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Yesterday, I frequented a climate event in Umea, and had the privilege to watch This Changes Everything, of course streamed from a computer to a cinema screen. All those watching the improvised movie theatre left with sense of optimism and feel-good hope in their bellies.

All except one.

Sometimes, there can be a refreshment in bluntness. So, I would put forth my points in a very rash and frisky manner. I think ‘This Changes Everything’ is basically just stating what documentaries on the subject of Global Warming have been stating for the last twenty or so years.

Technically speaking, it is probably one of the best documentaries on the subject as of yet, filmed with HD cameras and tying together the issues of global warming with the de-facto disenfranchisement of local communities.

Still, I do believe that documentaries like these can do more harm than good, especially as Naomi Klein, one of the two producers and the author of the same book, have failed in defining the real problem with contemporary Capitalism.

Therefore, this entry, rather than being a whole review of the film, will focus on the issue of Naomi Klein’s background and how it can have influenced the film.

No Logo

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Naomi Klein, a journalist and author from Canada, became well-known within the Alt-Globalization Movement of the 1990’s, as a critic of the type of economic globalization which went into a new phase during that decade.

In her breakthrough book, No Logo, she made an ardent work visualising how multinational corporations are exploiting the absence of worker’s rights in third world nations, and how logotypes have turned into mythical symbols within advertisement.

Naomi Klein is highly critical of the economic school of monetarism – most often referred to as “neo-liberalism” by its critics – and generally is positively inclined towards protest movements against austerity, natural resources exploitation and anti-war sentiments.

All this is highly evident in “This Changes Everything”, and if you have read Klein before watching the film, you can be able to predict everything in it. That is not where my critique against Klein lies.

Klein’s thesis and solution

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Klein’s thesis in ‘This Changes Everything‘ is that the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century created a culture where we view nature as a resource to be exploited and the Earth as a “machine” that we have the power over and can manipulate as we want. This is also the reason behind for example the addiction to growth.

According to Klein, growth addiction is an example of a political choice that is ideologically structured and follows the principles of Capitalism, which in itself flows from the Scientific Revolution. As a conflicting principle, Klein presents the aboriginal principle of ‘the Earth as a nurturing mother’ and the principles of democratic sovereignty (hailing back to the populistic practices of Gaius Gracchus).

While not directly mentioned, it is indicated that the Scientific Revolution and Capitalism are masculine principles, while Nature worship and Democracy are feminine principles. For example, most of the proponents for democratic activist movements interviewed in the film are female, while most proponents for the exploitative forces that are interviewed are males.

Klein’s solution to the current problem is that the free market has caused these problems, and the solution should be to increase government interventionism and regulate the market more. Since the governments (according to Klein) do not desire to follow such policies, activist movements would have to protest and stop mining projects and then move on towards advocating public investments in green technology – solar panels and windmills everywhere.

Essentially, the solution is that people should protest to roll back deregulation to the 1970’s, while deepening democracy.

Klein is essentially right, or rather moving in the right direction in her critique of the current system. But her solutions are essentially flawed and (I would claim) build on several misunderstandings and ignorance.

The flaws of Klein’s solutions

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Naomi Klein makes three basic misunderstandings about the reality of the system we are living in, either because she herself has not studied these issues or because she deliberately omits to tell certain things which are essential to know if we truly want to change the system.

The first misunderstanding lies in the nature of the environmental crisis.

Klein focuses very much on climate change, but climate change is only one of five serious environmental challenges that are causing the current mass extinction as I write these words. The oceanic crisis, the soil crisis, the freshwater crisis and the biodiversity crisis are as serious for the well-being of life on Earth. Green energy won’t solve these problems, and emphasising this issue will block out public understanding of the other issues. I believe it is essential to see antropogenic climate change as a part of a wider environmental crisis caused by the current system.

The second misunderstanding lies in Klein’s understanding of free markets contra government intervention.

It seems that Klein has a very binary view on the system, which can be understood as ‘government intervention good’, ‘markets bad’. What that fails to account for is that both governments and private businesses operate as economic actors with the goal of creating economic growth. Keynesian economics have nearly exactly the same goals as monetarist economics, namely the stabilization of the growth curve to ensure stability for investors and economic growth. Keynesians want to focus on low unemployment, while monetarists see inflation as the main threat to the well-being of an economy. To a large extent, deregulation has been caused as much by technological development as by political choices – in an evolutionary process within Capitalism itself.

The third, and most serious misunderstanding, is the idea that economic growth primarily is an ideological choice, and that by consuming smarter and changing the ruling ideology from Liberalism to Green Social Democracy, we will have started to save the Earth.

The core of this lies in that Klein omits to put focus on the nature of money within the framework of modern Capitalism. Ultimately, money today is Debt. Within the banking system, banks only need to keep a part of the money of their clients as deposits, and can loan out the rest – as illustrated by the image above. This means that from an  original deposit of $1000, the bank can create an additional amount of money several times larger than the original $1000.

These loans from the bank have to be repaid with interest. Since both the loans and the interest is created from capital that doesn’t currently exist, this demands that the capital is created. And most of that capital is created from turning parts of the Earth into utilities for the market. This means that the current system both demands a constant growth rate and the continued transformation of the biosphere into linear production units to satisfy the demand for exponential growth as seen in these oil palm plantations in Sumatra.

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For a more comprehensive description, see this entry.

Summary

I hold no doubt that Naomi Klein truly believes that the current situation represents a mortal threat, but I suspect that she also is emotionally invested for other reasons in moving away from monetarism towards neo-keynesianism.

The problem is of course that neither of these two systems are able to solve the current ecological crisis.

Now it is possible to claim that different documentaries should focus on different issues, and that nobody can focus on everything, but by many small groups focusing on different issues, we will together solve the problem and making the world a better place.

The problem is of course that ‘This Changes Everything‘ is claiming to present the path-way to solve the entire problem of climate change, by connecting it to economic growth and questioning its ideological foundations. The thing is, economic growth is not an ideological choice, but a survival imperative for the current system.

Therefore, no matter if it is monetaristic neo-liberalism or green social democracy, the system demands the repayment of debt, and in order to repay the debt more resources would have to be transformed to utilities. If the shark doesn’t swim, it drowns.

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Omitting the ‘shark in the bath-tub’ is a disservice, since it doesn’t correctly informs activists about the true nature of the socio-economic system and keeps them preoccupied with trails of thought that only move around in circles.

I am truly impressed by the engagement of First Nations activists who protest against the tar sands in Canada. I also share Naomi Klein’s sentiments that the reason for our destruction does not lie in human nature. Yet, I think that any failure to mention the problems with fractional reserve banking is going to hurt all those people ultimately, since even if they achieve their political objectives, they won’t be able to change the system if they don’t understand it.

 

Why the US Economy is in serious trouble

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By Mark Ciotola

How we arrived here

As EOS and Technocracy have long pointed out, our lassez-faire economic system is inherently unstable. Profits tend to accumulate out of the hands of consumers and concentrate into the hands of a few wealthy people. When the people who spend run out of money, then the people who save can’t get any more profits, and the whole system collapses. Ironically, during economic downfalls, many of the savers lose a lot of money, too, and even go bankrupt.

Upon the advent of earlier economic crises such the Great Depression, means were taken to prevent excessive concentration and control of wealth by the few. The founding fathers of the USA invoked an aggressive estate tax to prevent the emergence of an aristocracy and power that was was obtained by mere luck of birth. Antitrust laws were created to prevent monopolies. Labor unions were finally allowed to protect wages and the consumer spending so vital to the endurance of an economy. Banking legislation prevented the formation of banks that were too large to fail, and Glass-Steagall prevented banks from problematic conflicts of interest. Progressive tax rates diluted money out of the hands of the wealthy and some of it back in the hands of consumers, reducing dangerous build-ups and improving economic activity.

However, once the shock of the Great Depression ended, and memory of the social debt owed to the veterans of World War II receded, big business interests began to dismantle these economic protections. Progressive tax rates were significantly rolled back. Manufacturing was transferred on a near emergency basis to Japan and elsewhere to bypass North American unions. China was given most favored nation status by the USA that greatly accelerated this process. Banking “games” lead to the destruction and theft of the previously consumer-owned savings and loan associations. Glass-Steagall was revoked, allowing consumer banks to engage in especially risky investment banking operations. Such banks could now issue fraudulent consumer mortgages and package them into instruments for unsuspecting investors.

As consumers ran out of money, we increasingly became a “debt” economy. With domestic wages falling or frozen due to often subsidized foreign competition, consumers turned to home equity loans, student loans and credit cards to maintain their former standard of living. U.S. Federal Reserve chair Allan Greenspan called lenders heroes of the economy. As consumers could not afford to take on more debt, banks whipped up profits by doubling, tripling, etc. consumer loan interest rates. Rates exceeding 50% were common.

Finally, the wealthy couldn’t make enough money by actually producing anything or even lending to consumers at what were once legally usurious rates. They began buying and selling exotic financial instruments known by cryptic names such as butterfly options, derivatives, puts and calls. A particularly devastating was the “naked short”. It allowed a party to make large amount of money by selling millions of shares of nonexistent stock, flooding the market with this bogus stock until the market price of that stock collapsed and drove the underlying company out of business. The naked short sellers made fortunes, the newly unemployed executives received their $10 million golden parachutes, the laid-off employees received a few months of unemployment aid, and the pension funds/mom-and-pop investors received shallowly apologetic letters (if even that).

The only thing that saved the global economy from total melt-down was unprecedented government financial injections into banks, companies and certain national budgets (e.g. USA, China), and other stimulus measures.

An Economy on Life-Support

Supposedly, we learned our lessons after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 nearly melted down the entire global economy. A few consumer protections were enacted. Banks were slightly more regulated, and given FDIC protection for their high-risk investment banking operations (this latter should really terrify you). Lending was tightened up for consumers. Pensions were cut. European economies adopted severe austerity measures. Numerous automobile manufacturers were sold off to China. Indeed, the global economy has regained some semblance of order.

Yet, DO NOT be deceived! This is clearly an economy on life support. The Global Financial Crisis has resulted in tremendously-increased concentration of wealth and consequentially has produced long-term damage to consumer spending. Once the stimulus ends, the economy will return to chaos. It may even do so with continued stimulus.

The following graph shows how ill the economy has become since 2008. This Sizzle Index is an indicator of US economic “heat”. (It was developed by a member of Technocracy). Notice the peak at the year 2000 due to the dot com bubble. A second peak during 2005-2006 represents the housing bubble. Then in 2008 and 2009, the US economy literally fell off a cliff during the Global Financial Crisis. The Sizzle Index decline was about triple the magnitude of the dot com/9-11 crash of 2001. This was an unprecedented drop in recent times. This you already know.

What you may not know is what happened next. Despite some improvement of the US economy, the Sizzle Index is not only highly negative, but it is still declining despite massive quantitative easing (a more polite term for stimulus). The life energy is literally draining out of the economy despite massive. The deflationary pressures on Japan and Europe show similar declines globally.

By Mark Ciotola

Figure by Mark Ciotola

Nowhere to go

Interest rates earned by large investors are at historic lows, due to ongoing stimulus. Meanwhile, these near-zero interest rates are devastating to retirees, and pension funds are in serious trouble. The Federal Reserve has been hoping to bring interest rates back up slightly, but the markets have been extremely resistant.

Federal Reserve must be terrified about recently increased volatility in stock markets. If the economy tanks again, there is nothing left of interest rates to cut!

Technocracy predicted this!

One may ask why we are trapped in such a doomed economic system? Technocracy pointed out these problems, but people have tended to turn to illusory Libertarian-sounding gimmicks. When wealth becomes too concentrated, lobbyist- driven legislatures cut taxes to allow money to “trickle down” to consumers. When wages fall, they open up more foreign competition to reduce living expenses. When consumers can’t borrow enough to make up for those lost wages, banks get deregulated and numerous consumer bankruptcy protections end. Do you see the pattern?

Endgame

The world probably won’t end due to this economic dead end we are racing towards. However, the situation may get so bad that many of us will wish we were dead: children we can’t support, the slavery of endless debt, and the environmental destruction of unrestrained economics. We either have to change our way to doing things or face a future conceivable only from the worst science fiction films.

Mark Ciotola is an academic researcher on the San Francisco State University. His interests are spanning a wide area, from Fast Entrope and the e th Law to Physical history and economics, Intellectual property issues, Carbon Labeling, Energy Accounting and Brown Dwarf and Exoplanet Atmospheres.

Moo! Exponential growth, outspacing, food and livestock.

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 by Enrique Lescure

An issue of waste. An issue of space.

Oftenmost when mainstream organisations are dealing with environmental concerns, they are focusing their attention on one particular issue close to the heart of that very organisation. It could be conservation, energy, emissions or rainforests. However, despite their best efforts to counter the trend, the usage of the planet’s biosphere has increased for every passing year – as evidenced by the Earth Overshoot Day that for every year is moving backwards throughout the weeks and months.

Some people believe that the current system in itself is fundamentally good, though they also believe that it has caused some problems. They do however believe that these problems can be managed within the exponential growth system, and that the problems themselves are mainly caused by insufficient technology.

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Wind, solar, geothermal will put an end to oil dependency, and we will continue to have the current socio-economic system, and growth will continue so everyone will continue to have it much better in the future as GDP per capita will increase (now we for a moment ignore that real wages amongst the US middle and working classes have not increased since the late 1970’s). That is the mantra of the mainstream.

The way of the EOS is not to say no to optimism, but to say no to illusions. This is why we must poke a hole in this illusion.

Exponential growth on a confined space such as a planet will not – under any circumstances involving real biospheres – ever be able to sustain itself for eternity. Either it will be stopped by a stagnation of demand (as happened during the 1920’s), or by the very limits of the planet itself.

Proponents of the system then claim that when resources turn too expensive, humanity will – through the creative processes of capitalism – automatically find alternatives that are both cheaper and cleaner and offer a higher standard of life to the consumers and better profits to businesses.

The issue of space

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Of course, they have it partially right. The world is not a zero sum game, and it is possible to find more efficient ways of doing things through technology. But technology in itself is most often not a problem. What is problematic, however, is the idea that the Earth is just a sum of resources, which has been the basis of Economics since the 18th century.

What they tend to ignore however, is the issue of ecology. The biosphere consists of tens of thousands of complex eco-systems, consisting of millions of animal-, plant- and fungi species. These eco-systems are more or less stable webs of life that interacts through interdependent relationships.

What tends to be forgotten is that we do not only take things from nature. We are also transforming nature, by turning areas into production zones for food and raw materials. One last point before we move along, is that proponents of the current system often refer to the Coase theorem, an economic theorem formulated by Ronald Coase, who basically sums up that the environment first deteriorates during early stages of economic growth, to recover later because the public has increased their income so much that they demand a better public environment (it can also be summed up as that well-defined property rights can regulate any problems). In short, to heal you first have to wreck.

These proponents often cite the well-known facts that Europe and North America today have more forests than they had a 100 years ago, to show that this law holds and that it is general. Given that, how then come that even if we use up less of our forests in the developed world today, our global footprints are increasing?

Simple.

We are simply shifting more of the logging to the developing world, especially the rainforests of Africa, South America and South-east Asia – some of the most biologically diverse places on Earth.

Linear resource flows

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A mere 200 years ago, most economies were local village and town economies where most things utilised by humans within a confined area also were produced within that area. Today, even relatively simple items such as drawing pins are often consisting of substances that are extracted wherever it is cheapest and most effective to do so from a profit perspective.

Modern mega-cities are existing because they extract their resources from the entire Earth. The organic direction that this endeavour takes is characterised by what I call linear extraction systems. Such systems are characterised by the reformation of space into monocultural production zones, which de-facto are an industrialisation of nature. Such production zones are necessitating the destruction of the natural eco-systems previously located within the very same space.

In short, you must wreck to make.

Of course, all types of human activity will affect the environment, but the current system in employment in itself is based around production models that seek rationalisation above everything else. What means with rationalisation is the transformation of space and resources to best suit the profit demands of the market.

The effects of this can be seen throughout the world.

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Moo!

If we for a moment place ourselves outside of Earth and outside of time, we can see that while there has been human cultures and tribes that have been carnivorous, most humans prior to the modern age lived on a largely vegetabilic diet – out of pure necessity. Meat requires animals to be grown up, and animals eat food.

However, with rising living standards, first in the west and later in the non-western world, new technologies and the rise of an increasingly urban middle class has led to a rise in meat consumption. Moreover, meat – at least for the generations who first had access to refrigerators – symbolised an increased social status and prosperity.

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Apart from refrigerator technology and increasing abilities to preserve and transport meat, the 20th century has also seen the birth of a meat industry, which often is completely inhumane, dependent on steroid feeding animals and denying them the opportunity to pursue their natural behaviour. However, this industry is also contributing immensely to the destruction of the planet.rexfeatures_1141708a

A large part of the meat industry is consisting of cattle and sheep, two hoofed animal species with similar digestive systems. This digestive system is very good at producing methane emissions, which contributes immensely to climate change. Methane for the record is a more potent gas than carbon dioxide.

Moreover, cattle demands much nutrients to grow, as well as much water. This means that  the world’s 1,5 billion cattle is a high resource cost in terms of both space and actual emissions. Around a third of the world’s land surface is needed to feed the current population of cattle and sheep. Moreover, this has a direct impact on soil erosion and freshwater depletion. To not speak of greenhouse gas emissions. It is measured by a recent report by World Watch that this industry alone stands for 51% of the total emissions, meaning that it is the major contributor.

The solution

The film Cowspiracy recommends everyone to become vegetarians/vegans, which would solve the demand issue. The problem with that solution however is that it would not account for the lands already being damaged by the demands of the meat industry, and that it doesn’t take into account that not all people have the opportunity to arrange their consumption after environmental/vegan demands (even though that could change if more people became vegans since that would make vegan food commercially viable).

What we have seen is that we have an economic system which unintentionally punishes good behaviour and rewards bad behaviour in terms of sustainability.

The solution must then be to form a better form of market which would better reflect the needs for a holistic approach to the planet, especially where the cost of products would be measured against their ecological impact. The EOS has proposed such a model, called Energy Accounting. Under such a model, the cost of obtaining food would resemble the ecological impact of that particular food production model, which would pennalise for example the consumption of beef, as well as production that is not ecological.

What needs to be done globally however, is that we need a global accessment on how to minimise the amount of space we use to produce food on, so to give these areas back to the eco-systems which need to fill them so this planet should have a functioning biosphere.

This would require a mobilization of forces on all levels, from grassroots to global associations, in order to consciously steer our civilization towards food sustainability. EOS has worked on this together with Green Free Will on a local basis in northern Sweden, through the Umea Biodome Project. However, we need such initiatives in every city in every country on Earth.

It is a matter of the survival of the human civilization after all.

Anti-capitalism vs Post-capitalism

"Caging Humanity" by Don Davis

“Caging Humanity” by Don Davis

Enrique Lescure

Introduction

I would like to use this article as a continuation of my previous article, Reality? What Reality?

The subject however would be what differentiates an organisation that is moving towards a post-capitalist discourse, such as EOS, with organisations based around anti-capitalist views, to which we can count everything from Marxism-Leninism to the Alt-Globalization Movement and #Occupy.

Or put more eloquent: What is the difference between an outlook based on science and one rooted in emotional resentment.

What do we mean by Capitalism?

Capitalism, like all words that evoke emotions, has as many definitions as there are proponents or discontents. These definitions are not singular ideas framed around the concept, but are drawn from competing cosmologies which often are mutually hostile.

To take two extremes, we can look at the Market Libertarian position vs the Marxist definition.

The Market Libertarian definition, to which we can also count the Objectivist definition, is that capitalism is productive human action, free individuals that agree on whether they want to buy or sell products and services on a free market. Ideally, all markets should be free and unregulated, and this would produce – per the theories of Adam Smith and David Ricardo – the highest possible level of human well-being. Capitalism in short is individuals making free decisions. All cases of repression and poverty do not stem from inherent flaws in the market, but either from individual weakness (something which proponents of this worldview tend to be quiet about since that position would alienate potential followers), or (more usually) from regulations of the market.

The Marxist definition is that capitalism is a specific system of production, based around a hierarchical concentration of wealth and power. This system has succeeded similar systems in the past, such as Slavery and Feudalism. What separates Capitalism from Feudalism is that while Feudalism is centered around Land, Capitalism is centered around Capital – the concentration of possessions. The Capitalists are providing capital to start up companies, and strive to pay as little money as possible to the Labourers, who are those who are producing the actual value (see the Labour Theory of Value). Thus, the profit of the owner(s) represent (according to Marx) a theft of the productive potential of the labour force.

Capitalism will eventually, according to Marx and Engels, have so many contradictions that it will lead to an inevitable worker’s revolution and a system based on the dictatorship of the proletariat, which will develop into a classless society where all the means of production are owned collectively by the people.

It says itself that two so wildly divergent cosmologies would appear as monstrous before one another.

The Cosmology of the EOS

What is Capitalism, according to the EOS?

It is a form of socio-economic system built on the intrinsic need for exponential growth.

The goal is to maximise profits for capital owners, and is made possible by fractional reserve banking (sorry Austrians), which allows credit for investments and production that can grow the size of the economy. This leads to increased standards of living for most people, even though those who already have the most access to capital are those who benefit the most.

The problems with this system is that it relies on maximising exponential growth in a mostly closed economy, the planet Earth. This will eventually exhaust the planet’s ecology, unless the system invents ways to create abundance (which ironically also would make Capitalism obsolete). However, given how stark the situation currently looks, with the energy crisis, climate change, soil depletion, freshwater depletion and a mass extinction looming on the horizon, our best hope is to actively pursue ways to move away from exponential growth.

Why Post-capitalism is inevitable

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Everything is transitionary, and even if society today does not develop much in a year, you can safely be sure that society has changed dramatically during your life-time in comparison to how it looked when you were born, no matter what decade on the 20th or 21st centuries you were born in.

Moreover, humanity has existed as a species for 200.000 years. Agriculture was invented 12.000 years ago, and industrialism and modern capitalism co-evolved a little bit over 200 years ago, which is 0,1% of the course of the entire human history on Earth. To claim that Capitalism is a universal truth much like gravity and never will be replaced by another system is rather an emotional than a fact-based statement.

In fact, what we can say for certain is that Capitalism will be replaced within the next two centuries, and that there are three possible scenarios for how it can evolve into something else.

What is Post-capitalism?

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Post-capitalism is not a vague concept like Communism. In fact, it is even simpler.

Post-capitalism is whatever system of production and distribution that succeeds Capitalism. It is not intrinsically better than Capitalism, nor intrinsically worse. It is simply put a society which do not longer fulfill the criterion for Capitalism, namely exponential growth, either because it has found other ways to generate wealth and well-being, or because it has exhausted itself to the point that only survivalism is an option.

Since we – as a planetary organism – have followed the general trajectory of Limits to Growth, we can be sure that a lot of us would experience Post-capitalism firsthand during our lifetimes, which may – if we fail to take action – be an experience we would like to avoid.

There are three alternatives for the future, I would line them up with the least likely first, and then proceeding down to two feasible alternatives.

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I. Fusion power, asteroid mining and space colonisation solves all our problems, thanks to American and Chinese governments and mega-corporations. This leads to such an abundance that Capitalism is gradually replaced with Post-capitalism, either through institution of basic income and cooperation from progressive elites, or through a struggle from the masses to achieve that future. Eventually, this will lead to a post-monetary society.

Unlikely, not because we lack the capability to initiate those changes, but because the inherent unsustainability of the current system is so large, and these new techs are so underdeveloped that we would probably reach a collapse before they are profitable. When that happens, resources will be moved towards security rather than innovation, and we would end up in…

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II. A global ecological collapse, that will lead to a global socio-economic collapse and a collapse of living standards across the planet. This will lead to such a collapse that there will be a massive loss of complexity in society, as more people will have to focus on survival rather than producing economic, cultural, institutional or scientific value. In short, there will be a new dark age.

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III. A conscious transition towards a post-growth society. This would mean that we on all levels, as human beings, strive to establish sustainable relationships with our surroundings. On the micro-level, it could mean urban farming, recycling, seasteding and rewilding. These acts would however not be enough to counter the second scenario if we do not reverse monocultures, the dependency on fossil fuels and the institutions which exist today which are built upon the idea of limitless exponential growth. Eventually and if successful, these grassroot networks of conscious individuals and groups can form a global civilization of human creativity, which can achieve the first scenario.

So… when we in the Earth Organisation for Sustainability are evaluating the future, we can see three different types of Post-capitalism take hold. What is important for us is not the labels of a socio-economic system, but that the system in question fulfills the criteria of being able to create and distribute wealth while not destroying the foundations of that wealth, our beautiful planet.

Post-capitalism vs Anti-capitalism

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While protests and direct action oftentimes are necessary in order to create the foundations for political change, we cannot let primitive emotional responses take over our approach. Anti-capitalism is per definition such a primitive emotional response, and oftentimes built not only on noble emotions such as compassion and solidarity with disenfranchised groups in society, but also on ressentiment and puritan moralism.

Ressentiment and puritan moralism are gateways to absolutism and totalitarianism, and are unacceptable deviations for a movement such as the EOS.

Of course, it is true as anti-capitalists claim that Capitalism in itself bears a responsibility for the situation we are in, as the current ecological crisis wouldn’t exist if not for the exponential growth system. But it is also true, as pro-capitalists say, that without Capitalism and Industrialism, we would live in feudal societies with very low standard of life and probably worse social conditions.

However, we don’t owe Capitalism to let it continue to exist only because it allowed an unprecedented standard of life in the western world during the 20th century.

Anti-capitalist attitudes are unproductive for a movement like the EOS, since we cannot preoccupy ourselves with real or perceived injustices. Instead we must move on to discussing how the transition to the unavoidable post-capitalistic society should work out, and how we all humans would want that society to provide for, and what it can provide for.

Ultimately, a large role will have to be played by progressive-minded capitalists who have realised that we are moving towards an abyss. These brave individuals, who have realised that we are moving towards an ecological collapse, are a huge asset for the future, because their influence can be used to a great extent to assist with the transition.

Summary

Post-capitalism is inevitable, but it is up to us all to steer the process in such a manner that we don’t end up in a situation that no one in their right mind would want.

What does post-monetaryism mean?

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Since 2008, the terms “post-monetary future” and “resource-based economy” have been floating around the web, appearing on comments to articles, youtube videos and blog entries. I am writing this entry partially to – as we say on Swedish – “bone out” what should be meant with post-monetaryism. I do not write this to define Energy Accounting as the only or ultimate formed of proposed post-monetaryism, but rather to create some broad basic definitions of what a post-monetary system, as opposed to a pre-monetary or monetary system could be defined, so a flexible agreement on the definitions can finally be reached.

I have meant to write this article for a long time, and the reason why is that I have observed on Facebook and on other places of the Internet a lot of individuals who are either putting forward new age and conspiracy-related proposals on how a post-monetary system would look like, or people who in the 00’s would have defined themselves as “anarcho-primitivists”/”green anarchists” and claim that we can establish a post-monetary system through gift economics, passive technology or “upgrading” to a hunter-gatherer society.

This post is not meant as a critique of anyone else than those individuals.

Pre-monetary systems

Pre-monetary systems have been the dominant systems for most of the existence of sedentary human civilization, and also dominated during the pre-civilizational era. Even until the 19th century, most of the economy of advanced civilizations such as Europe, China and the Middle East existed on a pre-monetary level – the farm, the village, the local town. Most people consumed what they produced, and could not trade their surplus because there was no surplus. Prior to industrialization, most people simply had to use most of their energy (in terms of their physical energy) to endure.

The local village economies were most often built on gifts, sharing or barter. We should note that most goods produced – tools, clothes, herbs, food – was goods that could easily be entirely assembled in their raw components and produced by one individual or a small group of individuals. The materials were most often collected from the immediate surroundings, and there was not much trade with the wider world.

Monetary systems

With arising cities, division of labour came into being. For comparative benefits, different trades started to arise 5000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and the Nile Valley. This led to a gradual increase in the amount and number of goods, and thus to an increasing complexity in the systems. Since humans are adaptable, gradually one good, no matter if it was beer, salt or any form of metal (whatever there was more of than needed in the system) arose to become a sort of interim good for individuals to obtain what they desired. In 13th century Sweden for example, inter-county trade was conducted with salt as the dominant currency. Thus, even without money, currency regimes arose naturally.

Money as legal tender is a method of institutionalising a currency and centralising the control of the issuing, minting and/or printing, to secure the pre-dominance of institutions. Such institutions have often arisen a long time after the currency system in itself has been established.

The two characteristics of monetary systems, which can be summed up here, is that money allows for increased trade and for market economies to establish themselves, and that money allows the accumulation of wealth. This later aspect has led to a massive divergence in wealth between different social groups in most developed and developing nations. However, the establishment of national and international trade and national currency regimes can also be said to have contributed in a greatly positive manner in the matter of technological development and increasing access to water, housing, food and medication (though the increasing inequality also contributes vastly to destroying the conditions of life for perhaps a majority of the human population).

Eventually, monetary systems reaches a point in economic growth where human labour is increasingly replaced with automated labour, and where the exponential growth moves over a tipping point where the planetary eco-systems are starting to become exhausted. We are living at precisely this juncture in time at this point in 2014 CE.

Post-monetary theories

The truth is, there are probably countless theories floating around since at least the 19th century on how post-monetary systems could or should be arranged. Most of these proposals are stemming from convictions, opinions and aesthetic tastes amongst philosophers and pseudo-philosophers alike.

What I would like to offer is a definition of a post-monetary system which can – in a broad way – set it apart from a monetary system. The first marker is that a post-monetary system does not exclude accounting. On the contrary, it must rely on accounting.

Even the RBE concepts of Jacque Fresco must (theoretically) rely on a type of accounting. The main difference is not the non-existence of accounting or calculations, but the idea that these functions should be relegated to AI’s, which work within a cybernated planned economy. While some RBE followers will disagree on this, it shows more that they should read more about the theories which they are proselytizing.

As for myself, what I would like to offer to this discourse is a simple definition which can be read like this: A post-monetary system is an advanced system of economic calculation where the unit of exchange has transformed into a unit that cannot be accumulated over longer periods of time, and/or where other functions of the thing which we used to define as “money” has transformed beyond recognition. It is not moving back to barter or pre-monetary/pre-civilizational models. It exists within the context of a society that advances towards automation, and is based on the needs of such a society.

This definition is in my opinion more beautiful, broad and inclusive than either the both vague and sectarian RBE definitions, as it is including concepts from time-banking, ParEcon, RBE, to Energy Accounting and Labour Accounting. It also purposely excludes the New Age and Anarcho-primitivist definitions.

Post-Monetary

Energy Accounting


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This is another one of the series of proposed articles for the updated EOS website. It delves into the subject of Energy Accounting, which can be pretty complex to explain. I have tried to be as concise and clear as possible, given that this subject is unfamiliar to the overwhelming majority of people.

Introduction

 

Now when we have established why we don’t appreciate the current monetary system, we would like to offer our alternative. Before we start this segment, we would however like to remind you that we do not aim to dogmatically enforce our views on the world.

 

EOS is aiming to utilise research, science and testing to allow alternative systems to emerge and evolve in harmony with the needs of the participants and of the environment. We feel that is necessary in order to provide a social environment that would treat it’s participants with respect and dignity. Nowhere do we claim that we know this would work, but we believe that it offers a potential way out of the gridlock which the human species have got stuck into.

 

We also want you to keep an open mind while reading this article, even if the conclusions can seem radical. We are building our conclusions on how the planet is working, as well as on our values, our views that all forms of life should be treated in such a dignified manner as possible, that we need to balance our needs with the needs of the biosphere, and that all human beings should have the rights to a minimum standard of living.

 

We mean to form a realistic model of how such a mutually beneficial relationship can be established between humanity and the Earth.

 

The Earth’s renewal capacity

 

For the last 65 million years, we all living beings who have had the privilege to enjoy the fresh water and fruits of the Earth have been living under what we could call “The Eocene Biosphere”. It is an ecosystem which is characterised by two features.

 

One: The dominant form of animal life on most of the continents of the Earth are mammals.

 

Two: The climate has been characterised by warm periods and ice ages following one another in a cyclical pattern, regulated by humidity and vegetation.

 

The biosphere is working in a circular system. In the natural world, there is no landfills. Instead, everyone’s waste is someone’s gain. The system is self-renewing and de-centralised, composed of multiple emergent agents that consist of plants, insects, birds, mammals, and the networks that emerge out of their interactions.

 

This system gradually establishes dynamic equilibriums, where an abundance of plants leads to an explosion of herbivores, which leads to a subsequent growth in the number of carnivores. Often, there are interlinked webs of thousands of different species, making up different ecosystems.

 

The biosphere is materially consisting of biomass, which consists of all accumulated organic matter on the planet. Under natural circumstances, given that the system is not enduring a geologically volatile period or a period of rapid climate change, the system is generally adding new biomass to itself, thus growing. This new biomass is generally generated in the world of plants, where sunlight, water and minerals together are an important part of the individual nutritional cycle of a plant.

 

However, for the last decades, this natural order has been upset by the linear growth-oriented economy of the current human civilization. In the year of 2013 for example, we had already consumed up the equivalent of all the biomass the Earth could generate during that year at the 22nd of August.

 

In general, this rate of global ecological cannibalism is creeping 14 days closer to January every passing year. By that point, we will have surpassed the planet’s ability to regenerate itself with one year.

 

Thus, EOS has concluded that it might be wise to base the new socio-economic system on the Earth’s renewal capacity. By directly tying our accounting system to the Earth’s renewal capacity, we hope to be able to receive direct information on how to better manage our common resources.

 

The Energy Survey

 

We imagine that the society in the future, in order to feed the billions of people on the planet, would still need to be a society with a technological infrastructure, and that technological progress will continue. The reason for this is both realistic and humanitarian. We cannot feed more than one billion people if we would return to an agrarian economy on a global scale, and we can only feed ten million if we moved back to a global hunter-gatherer production system.

 

However, a technological system has a few benefits when it comes to the rational evaluation of the available resources. It allows us to gather data and information, analyse it and have a more transparent an open evaluation than ever before.

 

Therefore, we believe that the best way to move forward is to be aware of what we can do, and what effects that would bring to the environments. We must measure and compile data from all ecosystems on a constant basis, as the situation of the Earth is so dire now that we need to survey the status of local eco-systems.

 

But more than that, and central to this article, we hope to establish a global network that can gather data about the renewal capacity of the Earth on a yearly basis. This process will be called The Energy Survey, and will determine exactly how much we as a species could collect from the planet without depleting the natural foundations for life on Earth.

 

Energy Accounting

 

The new form of currency which we want to test as an option are called “Energy Credits”, and they will represent fractions of the total renewal capacity on Earth translated into the emergy cost – in short what energy it will take to extract resources, produce items, transport them and then recycle them.

 

That will represent the cost factor of the new socio-economic system, which will mean that all prices will represent the actual environmental costs, at all segments of the product cycle.

 

Moreover, since the total amount of energy credits should represent the total amount of renewal capacity on the planet for a certain period of time, it would be impossible to utilise the system to overexploit the resource base of the planet.

 

The line is that the share should be divided as such, that one part will go to maintaining infrastructure, another one (which will be the largest) will be distributed directly to the citizenry, and a third part will be “reinvested” into the biosphere, which will mean a biomass net gain.

 

This system is called “Energy Accounting”.

 

Basic Income

 

It is too early yet to discuss exactly what proportions should be allocated to the three different areas of distribution, and it is most likely that if the system is implemented, the proportions will wary in accordance with the interests of all engaged parties.

 

What stands clear however, is that a large part of the energy credits distributed to citizens will be consisting of universal basic income for all citizens. It is a core tenet of the values of EOS, that no human being should be homeless, starving, freezing, thirsting, or deprived of healthcare and education.

 

Human beings have differing backgrounds, talents, interests, personalities and levels of intelligence. Under this current system, people are punished because they are badly adjusted to the needs of the labour market, often through no fault of their own. Even in developed nations, there are many homeless and mentally ill people who are abandoned on the streets.

 

Nobody deserves to become ill or die due to their social incompetence or physical disability. All human beings deserve to have basic dignity.

 

Consumption, how?

 

People receive their income in accordance with the rules that the citizenry have agreed upon.

 

Then the question arises, is there any difference in how trade and exchange is supposed to work in comparison to the current world?

 

Yes, there is a difference.

 

Under our proposed model, the consumer allocates shares of her energy credits to various goods and services. Instead of each actor paying money to the prior actor in the product cycle, from consumer to raw materials extractor, the consumer allocates energy credits which represent the environmental cost of the entire product cycle for producing and transporting x numbers of a particular product.

 

This means that the demand – or the will of the citizens – will have a larger influence over the supply side. The consumers will decide, through their allocations, what will be produced, and from which producers they want to purchase their products.

 

On the other hand, there will be no advertisement in the manner there is today. It would make no sense at all to try to actively encourage consumers to increase their rate of consumption. Moreover, goods will be assembled only when requested by the consumers. We believe that such an organisation of production will serve to decrease the production of for example electronic products, cell phones, fashion clothes, magazines and other products, especially as many products in today’s world are never sold or used.

 

 

Reduced labour hours

 

With the vastly decreased production rate, and the production ceiling, there would be no more needs to try to increase demand and thus the production rate of the good. Moreover, with the system of Energy Accounting, employments would not anymore be founded on the principle of maximising profits, but rather on the principles of maximising social utility. This can be used to reduce unemployment significantly (we will return on that issue in the next article), especially within the sectors of education and healthcare.

 

If more people are gainfully and meaningfully employed within a sector, the labour hours of all the participants can be reduced. They will be able to spend more quality time with their family and loved ones, and more time in pursuit of their interests and passions. In short, they would have more time to fulfil their human desires.

 

On the other hand, several sectors will shrink and disappear. This will of course serve to free more labour to be employed in gainfully productive jobs.

 

The ramifications of this should of course however be left to the local communities to determine, as our proposed alternative to this current system – as you will see in the next article – is characterised by a high degree of de-centralisation and organisational flexibility.

 

When it comes to barter between individuals, it is best left to the regulation of the local communities as well.

 

Wise growth

 

This new form of socio-economic system that emerges through Energy Accounting will probably have slower rates of growth in more than a few sectors. This does not however mean that there will be zero growth.

 

Rather, the amount of energy credits – or rather the purchasing power of said energy credits – will increase as new technological innovations are arriving, which are making production, transports or resource extraction more ecologically friendly.

 

Of course, the existence of such a system would stimulate inventions that would save energy and reduce the amount of materials used in production. In short, stimulating more sustainable ways of utilising energy.

 

Summary

 

Energy Accounting as a design offers several potential benefits, both to the well-being of the biosphere, the harmony of the communities, and the quality of life of human beings. These benefits are the following:

 

Ecological

 

·         Real-time awareness of the state of the planet.

 

·         A production ceiling marked by the renewal capacity of the planet, ensuring that the biomass is not degraded and that biological diversity – Life as we know it – would not be harmed.

 

 

·         The cost of the product in terms of purchasing cost will reflect the environmental stress exerted over the environment.

 

 

·         Cheaper relative costs for purchasing more environmentally friendly products.

 

 

·         Total balance between demand and supply, through a demand-driven economy.

 

 

·         A decreased production rate.

 

 

·         Stimulate innovations that reduce the energy usage and materials, and increase the sustainability of goods and services.

 

Social

 

·         A guaranteed basic income for all the participants in the system.

 

 

·         Guaranteed housing, healthcare and education.

 

 

·         Reduced labour hours, allowing for more time to be a human being.

 

 

·         No forced long-term unemployment and social alienation.

 

 

A scientific path forward

 

EOS is aware that this system is untested, and that there are many questions that remain unanswered. For example, we do not know how human incentives would respond to this new socio-economic environment. Will people for example – during the end of an Energy Survey period – consume frantically to not lose their remaining energy credits? Or will people try to avoid work?

 

We are not a political movement, and do not aim to try to introduce this system tomorrow on a global scale if we had the chance. That would be highly irresponsible and immature. It could lead to unprecedented disasters, and actually to consequences that would damage both the Earth and the human race even more, and bring us farther away from our goals.

 

Instead, we aim to test Energy Accounting on a limited scale, during different conditions, to be able to judge what parts of the idea that works and what parts should be adjusted or abandoned altogether. Any adverse effects would happen in a limited environment. Our goal is to allow Energy Accounting to evolve and develop itself through the interactions of networks of humans, collaborating with one another in a voluntary and rational manner.

 

We are also aware, that if Energy Accounting is ever implemented, it will look different – perhaps even alien – to the current design. That does not bother us. We embrace evolution and development.

 

Energy Accounting does neither, if ever implemented, represent the final step in the evolution of the human civilization. Rather, it would then just be a step towards another, hopefully superior way of managing resources. After all, we would one day stretch beyond the Earth, and throughout the stars.

 

Final words

 

 

The important thing is that the new system, during the time it is implemented, should fulfil the two core objectives.

 

First: That no more should be taken from the Earth than what the Earth can replenish.

 

Second: That all human beings are given access to basic standard of life.

 

Hopefully, the 21st century will be the century when we eliminate the triplet evils of poverty, illiteracy and famine. Despite that we are facing an environmental challenge, greater than any before, it remains the hope and conviction of EOS that humanity can unite and overcome Her adversities and help a better human civilization to emerge.

 

We can do better than we are doing.

 

And we can become better than we are.

 

Or else our light will vanish before it reaches the farthest star.”  – Ronan Harris, VNV Nation

Why we are failing (Proposed article)

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Okay. Here is another proposed article for the updated EOS website. It is pretty much longer, and I know the articles should be short. But I have comprimed 500 years of human history in less than five pages. It was pretty difficult I must admit.

Introduction

 

We want to apologise for the length of this article beforehand.

Energy accounting is originally a concept from the US technocratic movement of the 1930’s, which EOS has developed as a conceptual template. To understand what Energy Accounting is and why we want to carefully examine it as a potential replacement to the current monetary system, we need to understand how the current monetary system is working.

 

Firstly, what is money? Money is a medium of exchange, in order to simplify transactions between various parties. Originating in the mists of the Bronze Age, monetary economies connected regions and allowed trade to perpetuate itself.

 

Yet, we must understand that early monetary regimes were often tenuous at best, most often local and requiring the protection of patrons with access to mines – most often the dukes, kings, sultans and emperors of the various states of the medieval world.

 

This could also help to explain our points, as to why our current system is failing in regards to our collective environmental obligations as a species.

 

Early Monetary Systems

 

The first monetary systems that arose either arose spontaneously from small communities, which used either a “key good” or a form of “semi-available rarity” as currency. When the first coins were made, in Asia Minor around 2700 years ago, they were made both to stimulate and facilitate trade between villages and towns, and to strengthen the legitimacy and strength of the early state (especially as money often trickled down into market places from the payment of soldiers and other public employees).

 

The rise of money is a thoroughly complex process, but the rise of the monetarised global system is a relatively recent occurrence. For much of the ancient and medieval world, money was inherently deflationary as its value rested on the control of copper, silver and gold. Thus, the system encouraged savings and hoarding, and retarded the development towards a full-scale monetary price system. In medieval markets, every licensed merchant often had with him his own scale, to judge the value of the money in terms of its weight.

 

Even in the advanced Roman Empire, only a small fraction of the taxes were collected in the form of money! Most taxes were collected in the shape of grain, minerals and other resources.

 

Most people in the pre-industrial world were self-sustaining farmers and rural labourers, who for most of the time directly worked to feed themselves from what they could produce out of nature.

 

The rise of Banking

 

Trade could be a perilous business during the middle ages. Highwaymen, barons, wars, storms, the Black Death and other occurrences could easily separate a merchant from his gold during the many dangerous voyages through lands and seas.

 

The wealthiest and most prosperous region of Europe was northern Italy, where the cities never had vanished during the dark centuries following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

 

During the Renaissance, cities like Venice, Genoa, Milan, Pisa and Florence sent out merchants far and wide throughout the Mediterranean world, Europe and the Middle East, often exchanging gold for valuable luxury products from the Far East.

 

To facilitate this exchange, several of the great trading families began to engage in the insurance business. Gold chests were heavy, clumsy and hard to transport, not to speak of being magnets to thieves and pirates. Families like de Medici could specialise in offering securities by depositing the gold (for a fee) to other merchants, giving them a receipt which allowed them to gather the same amount of gold in for example Alexandria, Constantinople or Kaffa.

 

These firms soon started to lend money to various cities and kingdoms for interest fees. Thus, “banking” in the conventional sense was born.  

 

The rise of Fractional Reserve Banking (FRB)

 

Given that both the depositing and the lending were made with receipts, the gold would not under normal circumstances leave the confinements of the bank vault. It would be impractical for the client to withdraw it physically, and people who deposited gold in such a bank where often years away travelling. At the same time, borrowing money became increasingly popular, especially as the European monarchies and republics of that era became increasingly dependent on hiring mercenaries to fight their many destructive wars. Banking houses were offered lucrative contracts, without having the necessary deposits to be able to lend money to the states in question.

 

We don’t know exactly when banks started to lend money without having access to the necessary balance to do so, but it stands evidently clear that the temptation and the low risks associated with the scheme would soon or later have coalesced into the practice today known as Fractional Reserve Banking.

 

Shortly speaking, Fractional Reserve Banking is a mechanism that allows banks to lend more credits than are covered by their deposits. This is possible because of multiple clients depositing their fortunes at the same time, and that it is unlikely that all these clients would remove their deposits at the same time.

 

Moreover, the clients were thereby obliged to pay back gold which had never existed in the first place, plus interest.

 

In the terms of laypersons, Fractional Reserve Banking means that you lend out money that you don’t have, while those borrowing the non-existent money are forced to pay back in the form of real money, with a little bit more.

 

Where the alchemists of the dark crypts and poisonous laboratories failed, the perfumed bankers living in the luxurious Venetian and Florentine palaces succeeded.

 

Sustained capital accumulation and western supremacy

 

Even though Northern Italy was eventually destroyed, through the violence of the mercenary armies funded by the Italian bankers, Fractional Reserve Banking is a part of the explanation why the western world from the late 15th century and onward managed to create sustained economic, technological and colonial expansion.

 

The banks of Italy, and later of the Netherlands and Britain, were funding colonial ventures, the development of new weapons and technologies, scientific breakthroughs, commercial enterprises, the booming slave trade and the establishment of the first factories.

 

The reason why is simple. With a full deposit cover, the bankers who lend money would lend out gold that actually is entrusted them by clients, and thus would be unwilling to support projects that hold high risks for failure, or which are new and untested. Thus, the employment of FRB systems can accumulate and utilise capital more aggressively than the crude agricultural economies previously were able of.

 

During the 19th century, the gradual gains of trade, colonialism, technical and scientific innovations and capital expansion culminated in a sustained industrial boom that transformed the entire civilization. The modern world was born.

 

As innovations and growth rushed, however, so did the many bankruptcies and failures. The world grew faster, and with the telegraph and railways, information spread quickly throughout the now very much smaller world. Rumours, true or false, stock rushes, companies and ventures falling apart and the increased competition for more and more scarce resources fuelled an increasing number of bank runs – events when the deposits were retrieved by the clients as a result of a loss in trust. Such events usually led to liquidation of the bank itself, and the destruction of capital – both real and imaginary. It says itself that unregulated capitalism from the 1870s and onward experienced more and more shocks following the collapse of one commercial bank after another.

 

To counter this development and to restore stability, most developed nations turned towards establishing central banks in order to guarantee the deposits of the commercial banks and their clients – if necessary by sacrificing the interests of the weakest citizens. In the USA for example, the US Congress of 1913, at the behest of the big commercial banks and the US mega-corporations, established the Federal Reserve during the first Wilson administration.

 

Usually, central banks are a pillar stone in regards to the regulation of interest. This practice is referred to as interventionist monetary policy. After the Second World War, it has usually been coordinated with interventionist financial policies, which are carried out by governments. These policies exist in order to smoothen the business cycles and prevent either overheating or sudden crashes.

 

Nowadays, the signs are everywhere that the system is crumbling. The dominant power in this system, the United States, is suffering massive de-industrialization and an enormous debt on both the federal and state level. The European economy is stagnating. China is experiencing declining growth rates and increasing environmental pollution and class conflicts.

 

The system has accumulated a mountain of debt, and we are on the verge of what can spiral out of control and become World War Three.

 

So, why are we failing?

 

The addiction to growth

 

The global monetary system is not dependent on growth because it has the wrong priorities, or because it is in the knees of multi-national corporations and consumerism. It is not dependent on growth because of “human nature” or because of greed, even if greed plays well into the mechanisms it is built on.

 

It is dependent on growth because it must grow, otherwise it will start to crumble and eventually collapse.

 

Think of it for a moment.

 

Only 10-15% of the loans of modern commercial banks have to be covered by the deposits of the customers. Thus, the banks are really lending money from the future. This means that FRB has not only realised alchemy, but also for all purpose invented time-travelling!

 

Some critics claim that FRB is a system which is creating money from thin air. That is however not entirely true. The money is created in the figurative world by the banks, but then created a second time – this time in the real world – through investments, labour and the production of goods and services. In short, the economic activities of all the corporations and individuals who have been compelled by need or by their dreams and ambitions to ever accept a loan from a bank.

 

This process allows the capital to multiply itself, and make credits accessible for the future development of the economy.

 

The hidden danger in this pyramid scheme lies in the fact that it requires permanent economic growth, or at least the belief in permanent economic growth. A growth which can turn the debts in the balance sheets into actual financial assets.

 

For this to be permeated however, it requires one thing:

 

The continued destruction of the Earth’s biosphere.

 

What really matters

 

For hundreds of millions of years, the Earth has had a complex system for the acquisition and renewal of resources. This system has been characterised by complex relationships unified within an emergent dynamic equilibrium. This system is called “the biosphere”.

 

It can more simply be referred to as Life.

 

The human civilization is ultimately resting on the fact that we are based on a planet characterised by a wide variety of ecosystems of living beings. The current way in which we are heading is the equivalent to raising a palace while removing the ground and foundation of to gather more materials. It is foolish, and not the least sustainable.

 

It stands clear to every aware individual that our civilization at the present point is on the route towards causing a new mass extinction amongst the species, bringing the entire Eocene Biosphere to an end.

 

Climate change is but the most well-known of the challenges ahead. The swift increase of the global average temperature is upsetting weather and drought patterns, affecting the natural cycles of storms, contributing to an accelerating rise of the sea levels, and affecting multiple species of animal and plant life negatively.

 

There have been several major conferences on this issue, and all of them have either produced semi-failures or complete breakdowns. While the leaders and decision makers have been aware of this issue for the better part of 20 years, they have been unable to turn the development around or even slow down the increasing usage of energy that produces CO2 emissions.

 

There are many reasons for this monumental human failure. You can blame the oil lobby, the United States, China, the consumers, the politicians, yourself or human nature in general for this failure.

 

The fact, however, is that it is extremely difficult to enact any kind of meaningful change in the energy sector as long as we have  a monetary system that automatically seeks to expand as much as possible, since a contraction will mean that it will be crushed underneath a mountain of debts piling up before it.

 

At the same time, we are silently allowing a real deficit to constantly grow, by using more resources for every year than the Earth can possibly renew. The continuation of that practice will eventually produce an ecological disaster of hitherto unseen proportions, at least for the last 65 million years.