New EOS website / Horizon Retirement

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The EOS Horizon has existed as a blog for four years, and have gradually increased in terms of number of unique visitors. Following my election as Board Chairperson in May 2015, we agreed to produce a new website, since there was a difficulty coordinating with the managers of the old one.

The new website is as of today officially launched, and we urge all our subscribers to follow it. You will find articles, analyses and discussions pertaining various topics there. We are immensely proud of the work done by Bihil and Nils in making it.

http://eosprojects.com

See you there folks!

/Enrique Lescure, EOS Board Director

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On politics

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

With regular intervals, we are contacted by people who appreciate the EOS very much, but wonder why we are not forming a party and engage ourselves in parliamentary politics. I feel that these concerns merit a response, since I’ve heard these questions numerous times.

The foremost response is that we do not at this point know whether The Design will work in its current form. We need to focus on being able to test it on a limited scale before attempting to implement any transitional plan in society at large.

That’s the main reason.

However, even if we for certain knew that The Design would work, there are still many factors that we must weigh in when deciding what strategies we should pursue when interacting with society. We need to establish a list of available options considering our resources and our ethical guidelines, and apply them wisely.

Overall, all indicators point that forming a party and entering parliamentary politics is one  of the least effective ways of distributing time, energy and resources for a movement.

TL;DR

  • Politics is by definition a zero-sum game.
  • Party systems with 2-10 parties tend to form and to become fairly stable and contain a predictable stage of parties.
  • Political parties are in today’s society generally prisoners of the concerns of their own membership base and the general public.
  • Mass media has taken over the role in mobilizing the masses in general.
  • By forming a party, you will marginalise yourself, but there are other strategies to attain political influence.

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Politics in western countries

Since the EOS as an organisation is based in Western Europe, we would definitely encounter the logics of Western politics if we decide to form a political party and stand in elections.

There are several different types of electoral systems in western countries, most of which implicitly seeks to create manageable parliamentary systems. In the Anglo-American sphere, the usual manner in which politicians are elected is through First Past the Post, a system which almost deliberately serves to reduce the amount of choice and force through situations where voters primarily seek to block the candidate they don’t like.

Other countries either use proportional systems, or mixed systems, usually with a limit for entrance into parliamentary politics of around 3 – 5% of the active electorate in every election.

That could sound like a small amount, but in a country with circa 10 million people, 7 million of whom are eligible voters of whom six in seven are voting makes for hundreds of thousands of votes. A quick glance on this chart shows how many votes parties in Sweden (a relatively small country) would need to get to be represented.

Moreover, the same kind of parties tend to emerge in most western countries. There tends to be a large left-of-centre party and a large right-of-centre party in most countries, whether they are two-party or multi-party systems. Even the smaller parties tend to have a similar role distribution in multi-party systems. You will always be able to find an ex-communist party, a farmer’s party, smaller liberal or conservative parties, a green party and a xenophobic party.

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 Coalition-building

There are several dilemmas of parliamentary systems, the foremost which is that politicians are supposed to be elected to carry out the promises to their constituents, but only are able to carry out said promises with the support of a parliamentary majority. I think we all have seen US presidents aiming to install reforms that have stalled in a Congress dominated by the opposing party.

In multi-party systems, minor parties usually have to choose between using their parliamentary platform as a stage ground for political campaigns, or to become the junior coalition partner in a government. The latter option often means that they have to give up 70-80% of what they desire in return for achieving 20-30%. It also means that they would have to accept things which are really detested by their voters (one example being how many green voters in Sweden reacted to the recent migration deal).

Ultimately, most western states (by which I mean European states) are run by coalition governments, headed by either a large left-centrist party or a large right-centrist party, supported by one or several minor parties to lock down the necessary parliamentary majority.

That is because most voters – unless there would be a complete crisis as in Greece – generally vote for the parties which are deemed most respectable and moderate. Most voters are as a rule supportive of the political consensus and want to believe in it since they have invested their mortgages and loans into the system.

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The Role of Media

Most people still are receiving their main source of information regarding the world from Television, Newspapers and online representations of mainstream media. Due to competition between privately owned media corporations, these sources are compelled to sell in “clickbaits”. Such clickbaits are often characterised by images of scantily clad representatives of the female gender, news about gruesome murders and celebrity news (the ideal is probably all three combined), all marked by deceptively attractive headlines.

These tendencies have increased in frequency and intensity since the mass consumption society was formed during the 1950’s. Nowadays, newspapers directed towards the working class mostly contain celebrity gossip, sex and violence. It becomes ironic when said newspapers in the same time present themselves as the defenders of human rights, decency, minorities and democracy, while they play an important role in desensitizing human beings regarding violence.

I would claim that the way in which mainstream media and “celebrity news media” choose and present their material for distribution is one of the greatest threats against the civic ideals necessary to uphold a functioning liberal democracy. Instead of striving to create a public spirit characterised by moderation, skepticism and critical thinking, this methodology strives to engage the baser urges of humanity, namely sex, violence and gossip – presenting it in an uncritical manner. The great danger is that it sends a message that it is not only “ok” to be anti-intellectual and driven entirely by impulses, but that it is somehow virtuous.

The clickbait culture also fuels a tendency to reduce one’s attention span (probably as an unconscious defence mechanism for one’s sanity) until most people have an attention span for less than a minute (which is damning for any political programme which demands five minutes or more to be explained).

This tendency has also crept into politics, leading to an individualization and celebritization of political discourse. It means that instead of focusing on important issues that will determine the future of our society, media is generally pre-occupied with emotionally engaging issues and demanding that politicians act immediately based entirely on emotional factors. This fosters a view on politics where politicians are assumed to just be able to make decisions whether we should have good or bad weather – which de-facto means that mass media is spreading an image of our systems in the west which has no relation with how our systems actually are built.

One example is when Barack Obama fails to pass legislation through Congress, and media is consequently painting him as ineffectual, omitting that the Congress is run by the Republican Party which had as a policy to try to make him fail in his reform programme during his first tenure in office.

Media also often reacts impulsively and generalises reality out of single cases. For example, if an immigrant is murdering two people, suddenly “all immigrants are coming to our shores and murdering people with knives and axes, and we need to close our borders otherwise we’ll be overrun by Islam”. The next week, maybe an immigrant child is drowning in the Mediterranean, and then the message is “we need to open up our borders and put down all Identity and health controls, for otherwise children will drown in the Mediterranean”.

If the perception is that the public wants emotional leaders who make decisions in relation to what mass media is presenting every week, politicians will adapt their public rhetoric and appearances with the discourse presented by media. This is a very tragic process and undermines the spirit of democracy.

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In short, mass media creates a culture of clickbaits to stimulate the baser cravings of the public. The public rewards media by buying newspapers, watching TV channels and clicking on articles. Since mass media also takes on the role of presenting reality, this gives them a legitimacy which they can use to influence the political discourse.

Often, mass media chooses to put the spotlight on certain protest groups, which may or may not represent a majority of the electorate. The politicians – which have learnt that their careers could stand or fall on the whim of the media houses – usually cave in to the demands of mass media, thereby awarding mass media extra legitimacy points.

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On the surface, this means that we live in a “Spin City democracy”, where the main concern of decision-makers is to be presented in good spotlight by mass media rather than to try to serve the electorate with some kind of consistent vision and fulfilling the spirit of their promises. Often, symbolical issues like religious clothing, nudity on bath houses, a student being discriminated against or males that are breast-feeding become more hot topics than really important subjects that will affect everyone. It can be discussed of whether such a discourse is an unintentional effect of the nature of the media landscape or a form of intentional conspiracy.

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 Really important issues

Really important issues, such as the European Union reforms, new surveillance programmes, international free trade agreements and foreign policy issues that regard the Middle East and Europe-Russia-relations… are simply not covered extensively.

That means that if a new political party would emerge and put emphasis on such issues, the public would simply not be able to comprehend such a programme since it doesn’t have the frames of reference provided by the media. It is not important whether it is an intentional design to keep the public away from important issues, or if it’s an unintentional consequence.

The Pirate Parties have suffered this fate, since the public perception of them is that they just are populist parties that want to legalize pirating of copyrighted material and pot, rather than that they engage in an important struggle against an emerging international surveillance state.

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Another way to affect politically

An observant reader might criticise my statements regarding western politics for being pessimistic. I mean that it is almost impossible for a new party based around serious issues that cannot easily be reduced to clickbaits to emerge as a serious player in national politics.

Also, it is nearly impossible for a smaller party to become a large party. If it refuses to partake in coalition governments, it cannot attract the moderate centrist voters needed to grow. If it partakes in coalition governments, it will either lose core supporters or attract supporters to the senior partner in the coalition.

It will also have to deal with  a hostile, indifferent mass media which want information consumers to be impulsive and have the attention span of fruit flies.

There is however a far superior way to engage with politics, and that is to form think tanks.

Think tanks act as political research facilities, political consultants and framers of political discourses. Parties try to contain some of the same functions within them, but are constrained by the need to win votes and pander to mass media. Think tanks can operate independently, and paradoxically engage larger groups of the electorate by courting political parties that already are established.

One example is how the libertarian activist group “the Freedom Front” in Sweden inspired the formation of both a libertarian political party and a libertarian think tank. The party at this day (the Klassiskt Liberala Partiet) have gathered less than a thousand votes, whereas the think tank during one period remote-controlled the Centre Party, a party with hundreds of thousands of votes.

The ethics of such politics are discussable, but then again, the ethics of the entire political system as it works today in a liberal western democracy is discussable.

If we engage in politics, we should definitely do so in a form similar to a think tank, not a political party. That means that we would be able to communicate with all parties in parliaments and operate trans-nationally as well.

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.

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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.

 

What lies in 2015 for the Earth Organisation for Sustainability?

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By Enrique Lescure

What the cooperation with Green Free Will has meant for us

Ultimately, the Green Free Will (GFW) Cooperation has been a success, and the biodome shell is now standing in Nordmaling. This has proven that we can contribute positively to the improvement of the local community, and also raised our media profile. The biggest positive feedback has been the talk we held during the Survival Kit Festival in Umea in October 2014, when we had the opportunity to describe the EOS for an audience of around thirty people.

This raising of our profile shows that the strategy pursued since May 2012, when we agreed to enter our relationship with GFW, has yielded much in terms of media exposure and positive feedback. It has also showed that EOS is about more than theory, that we intend to actively contribute to the raising of the environmental standards of a community.

The Biodome Project has a long way until it can reach the goal of a self-sufficient, automated, artificial eco-system. But thanks to the efforts of GFW and EOS members, it now has been manifested in reality. That is a large step for Alexander and Ann-Sofie and their team.

The internal changes that must occur during 2015

The EOS is entering a dynamic and challenging year, where we have an opportunity to transform ourselves internally and structurally. What I am referring to is of course the Board Election of 2015, which would occur during the Annual General Meeting in May month.

This Board Election will see the election of two new EOS directors. Dr. Andrew Alexander Wallace has declared that he will not stand for reelection for his directorship.

During the course of 2014, I had the privilege of hearing many proposals on how the Board could be improved. I presented these proposals before the Board, and we have agreed to initiate a process where we moves towards a professionalisation of the Board and a replacement of what doesn’t work with what is proven to work.

Firstly, we must disconnect the functional sequences from the executive functions of the Board. Sequence directors should not necessarily be board members any more, and consequently board members would not become sequence directors automatically any more. The functions of the Board will be to advise the sequence directors primarily, and the two functions will be autonomous from one another.

Secondly, board members will be divided into acting board members and board members, where the first ones would be those who either see themselves as deputies until the positions could be filled.

Thirdly, the EOS Manual needs to be updated to reflect on these changes.

Many more changes will occur as well, but those changes will rather be of substance than of forms.

How the future should look

(Enrique Lescure, Board Director)

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I have declared my candidacy for one of the Board directorship positions during this year’s Board election. My reasoning for my candidacy is that I have experience within EOS as one of the founding members and have experience with networking and recruitment. Also, I have played an important role in the Umea Biodome Project.

What I believe is that EOS should use the period of 2015 to 2020 to build on the gains harvested by the Biodome Project, and that we should focus on the growth of our organisation’s width and depth.

With width, I concretely mean that we need more active, devoted members, both to be able to more effectively handle our core presence on the web and locally in our communities. With depth, I mean the quality of what we are doing and how we are reaching our conclusions. We need to utilise the principles laid forth in The Design while we are making our decisions, and a central key aspect is that all active sequence operatives and board members have read and understood The Design.

Concretely, my first steps will be to structure up and recruit people to the sequences of administration and finance. The seuqence of administration has traditionally been responsible for the website, but the problem is that while the website is maintained efficiently, changes which the Board has voted on and agreed on have not been effectively implemented. More seriously, no new technate.eu mail addresses have been given since the board back in 2005-2010 introduced them.

We need to expand the amount of people who are administering the website, in order to modernise the website and making it a better expression to the public of what we intend to do. Moreover, we need to expand the website with a hub for blogs, a permanent EOS Youtube channel and a POD Radio show if possible (quantitatively and qualitatively).

The same can be applied for the sequence of finances. Traditionally the most “boring” and legalistic area, it has been handled by the Board directors, as it has proven to be difficult to find any active and devoted sequence directors to that area. We need to find these people and actively seek them out. Preferably, these individuals need to reside within the borders of Sweden and be familiar with Swedish law. Concretely, one of the SeqFin directors would administer the bureaucratic work while the other would focus on making the members pay their annual membership fees.

These are the two sequences most needing attention right now, and I will devote my work in 2015 to solve these issues.

For the longer term, we need to become better at raising our media profile and to utilise our capacities.

Meanwhile, we also need to raise the knowledge of the EOS and of the EOS Design amongst our members and sympathisers.

Also, I intend to recommend for the Board to have a female co-director in the Board. While I do not advocate a gender-binary constitution as a fundamental foundation for our organisation, I believe it will send a signal and that it also will serve to increase our appeal amongst everyone.

That is just one of the ways I intend to facilitate constructive change with.

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The challenge of this millennium

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(This is the second installment in the new articles collection of the renewed EOS website)

When this article was written, in the first of September 2013, the human civilization had already used up the equivalent of all the biomass produced during this year. For soon to be forty years, we have utilized more biomass than the Earth has renewed for every passing year, which has led to an ever increasing ecological deficit.

 

It is estimated that thousands of unique species are vanishing every year. The CO2 emission rate is still increasing, as new powerplants driven by coal and oil are opened every week. The oceans are stained by floating continents of decomposing plastic materials. Huge areals of pristine forests – the lungs of the Earth – are being replaced with field after field of monocultural crops, often seeped with poisons. Industrial chemicals and heavy metals are polluting our water reservoirs.

 

On an overall basis, natural systems built on interdependent relationships between species, arranged in elaborate, self-sustaining webs of life, are now on an increasing rate being replaced by linear systems, where resources are extracted, transported half-way cross the planet, refined, transported yet again and then sold to consumers.

 

The purpose behind that process is not to improve the livelihood of humanity, to benefit scientific or cultural development, to raise the infrastructure of the world or to explore the stars. Any improvements in these areas are secondary to the two main goals – to sustain a debt-based global monetary system, and to continue to enrich a camarilla of banks, institutions and multi-national corporations.

 

At this point, 1% of Earth’s population is controlling over 40% of the resources of the planet.

 

Over 1 billion of Earth’s seven billion inhabitants are starving, while another 2 billion are undernourished, despite that we collectively are producing enough food to sustain 12 billion people. Instead of seeing that those who are hungry are fed, we deliberately waste, burn and drown mountains of food every week, just so new refreshments can fill up the shelves at the supermalls quick enough, so that we can subsidize dubious industries and uphold an industrialised meat industry which is hazardous and violently repulsive.

 

Some of the proponents of the current system are claiming that whatever wrongs it has, it has managed to give more people than ever before access to education and healthcare, comparing to the lives of hardships suffered by generations during the pre-industrial eras of human history.

 

Yet, that presents a false dilemma. The choice is not between our current system and a 19th century agrarian society. The choice is between this current system and a system which is less wasteful, more sustainable and more humanitarian. There is nothing in “human nature” which compels us to mismanage the planet and to continuously abuse ourselves and underachieve.

 

The choice is between what we are achieving now, and what we know that we can achieve.

 

What we know that we must achieve.

 

The other “uncomfortable” facts that the forces fighting to uphold the status quo have wilfully chosen to ignore, is the fact that with the current rate of exploitation, the current biosphere will collapse at the latter half of the 21st century.

 

Such a collapse will mean a perfect storm of developments that would see the productive capacity of the Earth reduced. This will mean a global depression that very well can sweep aside the collective wealth that humanity has accumulated, leading to unrest on a planetary scale and a reduction of the human being to a  mere struggle for daily survival.

 

Why is it so that we humans, despite that we ought to know better, are destroying 65 million years ago of accumulated biological progress, in order for a mere two and a half centuries of exponential industrial growth? And all that to allow a small fraction of the Earth’s population the sovereignty of most of the productive capacity?

 

Stay tuned.

The Case for Life (New EOS website article)

I have taken the liberty to write a new introduction article to EOS, which I want to be used to convey a certain motivational function, rather than being another boring introduction. I am not 100% happy with it, as it tells very little about what EOS aims to do, but I think the message is beautiful and would like to have it included on the new website.Image

 

Earth. A shining sapphire of life in the vast ocean that is the Milky Way. A sphere, roughly thirteen thousand kilometres across, sheltering and harbouring a promise. A promise that can spread light through the galaxy.

 

For billions of years, the conditions on Earth has allowed life to develop from humble origins, into a beautiful, cascading symphony of life. This symphony has survived five mass extinction events, one where all but one twentieth of all life perished. This current symphony we are living through has been on-going for 65 million years. The Eocene era has been the golden age of mammals, which have established themselves as the dominant form of vertebrates on the land surface of the Earth.

 

During the later stages of the Eocene Era, Humanity was born. We are the first species on the planet who can deliberate the future, organise technological civilizations, ponder on our own inner nature and whether or not we ever will find any beings similar to us anywhere in the Universe. We can create music, architecture, arts, poetry, literature and philosophy, and feel awe and wonder for the time we have been given on this Earth.

 

We are also the first species that alone has come to determine the fate of all other species, all life-supporting systems and the entire biosphere…

 

We are about to usher the sixth great mass extinction of life on the planet, a fall which would drag us down into the abyss of a dark era. Yet, we have – by evolution or providence – been given the ability to imagine a better future, a future shaped by the beautiful and radiant capabilities of humanity.

 

This is fundamentally the reason why EOS is existing. We believe that the most valuable thing in our Universe is not gold, nor silver, nor oil. The most valuable thing in the Universe is Life. Worlds that can harbour life are, for all what we know, are rare as single drips of clear water in vast, scorched deserts. Thus, we conclude that a conscious and enlightened civilization would take it as its credo to pursue the preservation of its biosphere as its top priority.

 

That is unfortunately not the case with how the human race is behaving in this era. For the last generation, we have collectively been using more resources per year than the Earth can renew. If we continue down that slope, we will be heading for a gaping abyss, and our light will fade long before it reaches the farther end of the galaxy.

 

We believe that we, humanity, fundamentally are carriers of the greatness, beauty and light that we dreams of possessing, and that we – at the end of the day – will do what we must do in order to ensure both the survival of the biosphere, and the dignity of the human race.

 

We have the ability to create a sustainable, high-tech civilization. A civilization which will rise and spread throughout the Milky Way. A civilization unlike anyone previously seen on Earth, consisting of a blossoming diversity of cultures, values and diversities, all unified around the ethos of making life on Earth thrive. A civilization which has abolished war, hunger, homelessness, illiteracy and poverty, and has given all human beings the opportunity to rise to the upper reaches of their individual potential.

 

But, we do not have much time at our disposal. The severity of the crisis that we have all contributed to will in a few decades cause the collapse of the current biosphere. That will usher in a series of events that will cause suffering to fall on humanity, worse than any previously seen during the time our species has existed on Earth!

 

You are very lucky.

 

You have been born during the greatest challenge that has ever befallen mankind. You have the power to change the destiny of your species and the fate of the Earth.

 

What is mattering is not your age, your race or your gender. Not your income, your social status, your real estate, your flat screen TV or your Xbox.

 

What is mattering is whether or not you will save your world. Whether or not you will take an active stand in the greatest challenge that has ever been thrown on mankind. Whether or not you are willing to take part of the defining moments of the 21st century.

 

You are very lucky to have been given this opportunity. Future generations might never again experience the freedom to make an existential choice.

 

We want to help you embark on this journey into the unknown. We want to help you learn and develop your experiences. We want you to succeed. We want you to have fun.

 

We want to walk this road together with you.

 

We want to connect. To help build your community. To help you produce and thrive. To help you develop your potential. To help you gain true freedom and become the master of your own future.

 

The dawn of a new era begins now.

Doha

Sometimes, you hold on to a faint hope, that human beings and especially those who by all logic should have the highest wisdom and responsibility, should be able to finally reach a consensus like the responsible adults they presumably are. Evidently, they are not capable of that. This despite that the increase in world temperature seems to be greater than anticipated. There might still be hope for an – as usual – watered down agreement which would aim to unify “economic growth” with “sustainability”, which at the current conditions feels like mixing fresh water with gasoline and throwing a burning match on it all.

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I do not believe that the current world leaders are fools, but I believe that they are prisoners of an emergent system which has established itself during the last 200 years. A system characterised by financial, industrial, social and economic emergence that gradually decreases the manoeuvre space for those caught inside the system. We might – figuratively – be standing on the deck of Titanic. Given that an analogy could be made between Titanic and the world. And now the climate change issue is not the only debilitating environmental crisis in the world.

Another analogy would be that the Doha conference is a rehab meeting where everyone are addicts. But that would be too cheap. To a great extent, the climate change adjustment meetings are reminiscent of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Everybody has a motive to cheat, an agreement would lead to a loss in economic growth figures, but a disagreement would basically mean a major loss. The only difference is that it is the children’s children of the current world leaders who would live with the end result.

For a moment, imagine the relocation of the population of the Nile Valley Delta, or Bangladesh. We will be talking of over a quarter of a billion people. Most of them poor and more or less innocent to the destruction of the environment undertaken by a shortsighted and irrational system. Instead of only talking reduction of emissions, we should also discuss how to begin to relocate people, because some of the world’s most populated regions will be less habitable by 50 years.

Enrique Lescure, Relations Director, The Earth Organisation for Sustainability (EOS)

The Farthest Star

vnv_nationIt sometimes feels like this song is spot on for the situation that humanity now finds itself in. It is a truly amazing song, both strongly pessimistic and strongly optimistic, pro-humanity and pleading for the Earth, calling for us all to unite in action.

It is truly a song with a very strong message.

 

 

 

 

The Farthest Star ~ VNV Nation

The will to greatness clouds the mind
Consumes the senses, veils the signs
We each are meant to recognize.
Redeeming graces cast aside
Enduring notions, new found promise,
That the end will never come.

We live in times when all seems lost,
But time will come when we’ll look back,
Upon ourselves and on our failings.

Embrace the void even closer still,
Erase your doubts as you surrender everything:

We possess the power,
If this should start to fall apart,
To mend divides,
To change the world,
To reach the farthest star.
If we should stay silent.
If fear should win our hearts,
Our light will have long diminished,
Before it reaches the farthest star.

Wide awake in a world that sleeps
Enduring thoughts, enduring scenes.
The knowledge of what is yet to come.
From a time when all seems lost,
From a dead man to a world.
Without restraint, unafraid and free.

We possess the power,
If this should start to fall apart,
To mend divides,
To change the world,
To reach the farthest star.
If we should stay silent.
If fear should win our hearts,
Our light will have long diminished,
Before it reaches the farthest star.

If we fall and break,
All the tears in the world cannot make
us whole
Again.

We possess the power,
If this should start to fall apart,
To mend divides,
To change the world,
To reach the farthest star.
If we should stay silent.
If fear should win our hearts,
Our light will have long diminished,
Before it reaches the farthest star.

With kind regards
Enrique Lescure, EOS

Automatisation and unemployment in the west

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Since the 1990s, the Japanese economy have generally speaking stagnated. Economists have spent years analysing the reasons for the Japanese slow-down, an economy dependent on constant stimulus injections to try to save itself form the effects of a housing bust two decades ago. It was long assumed that the particular culture in Japan was not comsumption-friendly and that the Japanese people were averse towards spending and inclined towards saving – i.e their demand aggregate demand curve was very flat.

Recently, there has been headed warnings that the British economy is at risk of becoming a stagnated economy too, where growth numbers won’t increase despite whatever the British government decides to do. This is treated as an exception to the rule, but the question is whether the West has entered a sort of “GDP plateau”. Human beings do only have 24 hours at their disposal, and there is a limit on how much consumption they can engage in.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Sweden have accumulated impressive growth figures since 2008, despite the financial crisis and the great recession. A large part of this growth is however due to the fact that Sweden is a raw material exporter, mainly of metals and timber, and a lot of these are fuelled by growth in East Asia. The latest trend analysis is pointing out that the West will largely stagnate for the nearest 40 years, as domestic consumption will not increase in economies already so large (GDP/capita numbers could however improve due to a reduction of the fertility rates). The middle classes will continue their sheltered existence, largely protected from the effects of bad environmental and financial policies.

What we will see however and most likely, is an increasing competition on the labour market, not only between human beings, not only between the West and Asia and Africa on the other side, but also between machines and human beings. Even in labour-intensive China, Foxconn has announced they are going to start replacing their assembly line workers with robots, putting further stress on the Chinese economy which already is having the world’s largest net unemployment in terms of the number of people unemployed. It is not only the industrial sector that is affected, even in the service sector, simpler jobs are replaced by machines. As labour-intensive jobs are automatised or outsorced, youths, elderly and those without higher education are thrown into increasingly more unstable employments.

Sweden’s economy can today – despite the economy growing very much for a West European country in these years – not boast of a smaller unemployment than in 2006, the year when the current Alliance government was replacing the social democrats, largely on a programme of reducing unemployment. It cannot be claimed that the 7,1% unemployment today is the fault of the government, since the rest of the West is struggling with similar unemployment figures. It is hard to see what new net employment can be added as the automatisation continues. Of course, there will be a movement towards further liberalisation of the labour market, as well as salary decreases, which we already have seen the unions agree to (something that would have been unprecedented 20 to 30 years ago).

EOS believes that a humane society would look to utilise automatisation to reduce the number of work hours and create more stimulating and fun experiences in terms of meaningful activities. The current system is rather working on a social-darwinian principle of forcing human beings to struggle against one another in a race to the bottom where the entire lower middle class and the working class will lose as a whole. We cannot expect to keep a growth-oriented system, automatise and keep a welfare system. The social reasons alone would suffice for enough motivation to move towards a sustainable civilisation for all human beings.

We believe that sustainability is not a term opposed to human well-being, but a foundation for human well-being. Ultimately, we are humans, and thus the rational and empathic route would be towards establishing systems which would benefit the needs of human beings. Automatisation does not need to mean a rat race to the bottom in the society described in “The Design”, but rather an elevation of human beings. This must however be coupled with an end to any attempts to maximise consumption (either through commercials, planned obsolence or conditional programming of consumers). The current society is ultimately directing itself towards its own destruction, and the destruction of all the passengers who haven’t themselves chosen to be on this ride. Even if they for now enjoy the ride, they will suffer the day the contradictions between unlimited needs for growth and a limited planet are crashing together.

pet-tree-vertical-eco-planting-system1

To some extent, automatisation and unemployment can have good side effects of making people aware that a change in the institutional design of our current society is needed. Therefore, while the effects on unemployment herald social tragedies, especially for those workers who are above 50 years of age, the effects can be a refreshing wake-up call calling for an investigation of potential social alternatives. Therefore, automatisation can represent creative destruction which could help drive social development forward.

Technology is also a double-edged sword, and can also be applied by poor communities in order to increase their adaptive skills, their survival rates and their resilience. In societies with increasing unemployment, where social welfare systems are gutted, there is a rationale for communities organising themselves to produce their own needs. Open Source Ecology contains numerous examples of technologies that can be utilised in order to improve the livelihood and quality of life of ordinary people like you and me. EOS does however encourage people to organise in their communities, because it is more environmentally and economically efficient to build together and to network together with other groups than to try to make your own home self-sustaining in all regards. The Umea Biodome Project is aimed at increasing the quality of life and the food security of the people of the Umea region in northern Sweden.

EOS is supporting the UBG project, and we are willing to support your project as well, if you have anything you want to improve on in your community. Ultimately, we are all on the same boat.

Enrique Lescure, Earth Organisation for Sustainability

Overpopulation vs Overproduction

The reasoning for this post is an interesting topic which we discussed in the EOS Facebook Group recently. indian_family_22_oct_2003

When you put a dozen greens in a room, you generally get 60 differing opinions on various topics. One topic which usually makes the room go silent is the topic of population growth. There are three different reasons for population growth being a hot topic in green circles.

Firstly, this issue, when formulated as a problem, begs for political solutions – which often means intrusive measures carried out into the personal lives of people. This creates a natural cringe reaction, especially as many greens are young parents. It also leads to natural associations with various authoritarian governments, like Nazi Germany’s eugenics laws and the People’s Republic of China’s one-child policies. Even if the person claiming to want population control doesn’t specify how – or maybe exactly because of that – people’s thoughts are led to the nightmares of forced sterilisation, adoption clinics, police state measures and sex regulations. And nothing scare people as much as the thought of the state scrutinising their personal lives.

Secondly, harking from this, a lot of greens are aspiring politicians – even in smaller “deep green” parties. They are aware that if you talk about population control, people will flee your party like the cat is fleeing a cold bath. Population control is a kiss of death in western politics. The reasons for this are not irrational. Nobody (or at least a miniscule minority) are wanting intrusive measures into their own lives by the government.

For me, the most important argument against population control as the main source for combatting the ecological crisis is scientific and moral. I will discuss the scientific reasoning first, and that would make the third reason why the subject is cringe-worthy, and the reason which personally makes me tick.

The claim is that we have too little resources to sustain the current population of Earth, and that the population will constantly rise due to the “arithmetic factors” of growth. Professor Al Bartlett of the University of Colorado is claiming this in a lecture which has found its way into Youtube. He is contested by mainstream science, represented by professor Hans Rosling. While EOS has many criticisms against Rosling, it is worth noting that Malthusians like Al Bartlett are doing sustainability advocacy a huge misservice. Having listened to Bartlett’s lecture and read about his resumé, I cannot find any information which shows that he is an expert on population growth curves and trends.

Human beings are not bacteria, and do not reproduce mindlessly. The first warning sign was when he claimed there is no correlation between a “population growth reduction” and education and healthcare, but instead took wars and diseases as positive examples. All research examples are showing that when life expectancy and education are going up, population growth is dropping and eventually stabilising. While a peak of 9 billion might be a little optimistic, it stands clear that if current trends continue, human population growth will stagnate. PopulationGrowth

The main question then is if it is stabilising on a level which represents an acute threat to the planetary eco-systems. Proponents of expansion of agricultural production are usually claiming that we need to increase global production in order to sustain for all people who are starving. This is a misconception. We can feed more than ten billion people today more than adequately. The famines around the world would not exist if the system was designed to accommodate all human needs. Currently, the demand in supply’n’demand is very much designated by the demand of money, which means that if you lack money, you lack demand (and don’t presumably have any needs). The food scarcity is rather a monetary scarcity than a real scarcity at the moment.

Then what is the real problem?

If you look at the graph above, it shows that the global population was almost at  2 billion in the year 1900. Today, the world population is slightly above 7 billion. That represents around a 3,5 times increase since 1900, which is indeed something worth thinking about. That is dwarfed however, by the growth of the economy since year 1900. According to J. Bradford de Long of UC Berkeley, the global economy (GWP) has grown from 1 to 41 trillion USD (1990) between year 1900 and 2000, representing a 40 time increase, or 4000%. Economic growth is not de-attached from the physical resource economy, and the physical resource economy is co-existing in the same environment that constitutes the global biosphere.

That can explain why we are using more resources than the Earth can renew on an annual basis, the annual eco-deficit (a gradual reduction of the Earth’s bio-diversity visible in statistics). This continuous destruction of the Earth’s habitats is driven by the need of the current system to maximise growth figures, and not by people in the third world gaining access to education and healthcare. Those who claim that overpopulation is the main reason behind the ecological malaise are doing a very great disservice to the planet and to future generations. By misdiagnosing the disease, they are advocating faulty remedies which would not cure the problem.

I won’t claim that the overpopulation advocates are driven by any ulterior motives or malevolence, but the idea that overpopulation is the main road towards an ecological collapse in the latter half of the 21st century is looking very much like a shift of the blame from the wealthy parts of the world, where 80% of the world trade is traditionally conducted and where most flashy new products are made, to the poorest and least developed parts of the world, those parts which incidentally have the lowest global footprint. It is also a very real return to the discourse of the 1970s.

Saying that, I won’t omit to mention that we need to engineer social and institutional policies which are leading to a responsible human procreation and family planning. Ultimately however, according to The Design, this should be an issue determined democratically, not scientifically. Human beings must be encouraged to grow up into responsible citizens who can act as stewards of their planet. The purpose of the technate is not to babysit the population, but to ensure that the planetary resources are used in a wise manner.

Needless to say, the Facebook discussion pretty much ended with the population control advocates in disarray.

conspicuous-consumption-flattened-planet-earth

Enrique Lescure, EOS Sequence of Relations Director, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability

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