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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The Real Economy

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Right now, the air is buzzing with the rumours of the next financial crash. This is starting to become an autumn tradition in the more conspiracist camp. The Petrodollar is going down, it is time to invest in gold, weapons or canned food. This time, however, even mainstream newspapers are warning for an impeding financial meltdown – which everyone with the slightest understanding of the current system and of Fiat currencies know is inevitable.

At the same time, we must bear in mind that a Fiat system can theoretically be rebooted by the addition of credits which are pumped into the finance industry. When these credits are not corresponding to what increased growth rates are needed, another financial crash will happen, a recovery occurs and the economy stabilises for shorter and shorter intervals with higher and higher structural unemployment as a result.

As long as there is reason for faith in economic activities, the system can be rebooted again and again, despite its glaring similarities with a pyramid scheme. There is a relationship between the Fiat economy and the Real economy, though it is often vague and the two systems are standing on different foundations. While one rests on human estimations, gut feelings, optimism and wishful thinking, the other simply is.

This entry will be about what the Real Economy is, and what consequences it will have running it to the ground. Sadly, one of the aspects of the Fiat system is to incentivise economic behaviour that is serving to run the Real Economy into the ground.

TL;DR notes (because I like lists)

  • Since the Cambrian explosion, the Earth has formed complex multi-agent biospheres that are built around Earth’s natural cycles (sunlight, perspiration, rainfall, seasons), but which also are building themselves by slow but mostly continuous increases in complexity.
  • For all what matters, to have a human economy demands interaction with the Earth’s biosphere, and human activities will affect the biosphere.
  • Thus, the human economy cannot be seen as something separate from the biosphere in itself, but is essentially a part of what builds this planet.
  • This also means that the biosphere will affect human well-being, and that this well-being depends very much on how we treat the systems on the planet that are making the biosphere possible.
  • Ultimately, what we need now is to unlearn the cosmology of Individualistic Consumerism, and to approach the issue of what the economy is by looking at total resource flows and not just focus on the human activities.

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On the Real Economy

The Real Economy is not linear but a multi-agent system, meaning that each species and each individual is both on the receiving and returning end of the system, and the purpose – rather than growth – is for individuals and species to survive and improve their survival skills within this context of existence. The system is interdependent with the soils it has created, with the groundwater and rainfall and with the climate it is engineering.

The cycle of ice ages and warm periods are partially affected by the amounts of trees, binding greenhouse gasses. Colder periods lead to a drier climate which in turns lead to forest fires that are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increasing the average temperature. This leads to a moistlier climate that grows forests and bind carbon dioxide, slowing down the increase in temperatures.

A growth in the amount of vegetation increases the number of herbivore species, which creates a good opportunity for carnivores to increase their numbers as well, until the collapse of the herbivore population allows the flora to recuperate. As the carnivores are decreasing in number, herbivores can return to the fray.

This is the real economy. It has existed since time immemorial. As it gradually grew, it has transformed itself from a few one-celled organisms stewing in a primordial soup, into a vibrant dynamic equilibrium that can recuperate from mass extinction events such as the Cretaceous-Tertiary Meteorite that wiped away the dinosaurs. This economy is characterised by a slow, gradual increase of biomass and of complexity, off-set periodically by extinction events which could have destroyed complex life on Earth.

We can imagine a countless, countless number of Earths out there, tens of thousands of light years from us, where life has been wiped out by meteorite impacts, volcanoes, supernovae or climate change. There is perhaps an even greater number of worlds where life has never evolved beyond single-cell or even sub-cell organisms.

It is truly a miracle that our Earth has survived five mass extinction events and has built six biosphere regimes.

And this Earth is what allows you to live, to breathe and to aim for your objectives.

The economies of human civilizations, no matter how they look like, have all been dependent on the Real Economy, the Biosphere, and are thus – no matter if they want it or not – a part of it.

By Stella McCartney on Prezi

By Stella McCartney on Prezi

The Real Deficit

Often, we hear that many western economies are suffering under public and private debt, which can either be solved – within the framework of Fiat currencies – through either stimulus (to create growth that can allow us to grow the economy) or through austerity (cutting back the provision systems for the weakest members of society to save money). Often, these two policies are following one another, first a stimulus to the financial institutions taken from the tax payers, and then a punishment of the tax payers and the poor by tax increases and welfare cuts.

In the long-term however, only one deficit matters.

That deficit is marked by the Earth overshoot day, the day when our resource usage exceeds the ability of the planet to provide for our demands without the global biomass and biodiversity shrinking. This means that we have a global ecological deficit, which has grown above the limit since the 1970’s.

Five of nine vital life-supporting systems underpinning the biosphere are today being ravaged by the need for infinite exponential growth caused by the credit-based fiat system. The climate is being disturbed, the soils and the freshwater reserves depleted of nutrients, the land-based eco-systems are being outcrowded by artificial, linear production areas, and the oceans are being outright sexually molested.

All of this means that we are heading for a sixth mass extinction event, caused by our current civilization, within the next 100 years.

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The root cause

The root cause for this is actually what we think of as our “economic system”. The creation of “money” is – through fractional reserve banking – preceding the actual creation of capital. That means that our current system is reliant on credits, meaning that for the system to survive, money must be used to increase economic production, by creating demand for products and satiating said demand.

A reduction in growth rates is not enough, since the growth must at least follow the increase of the amount of debt in the system, otherwise interest rates will go up and the social stability of the system will be threatened. Thus, the system in itself incentivizes economic activities that are destroying the Biosphere, and is rewarding behaviour that strives to minimise costs in terms of investment and maximises outcome.

Environmental Economics of the type where the needs of the Biosphere (i.e the needs of Life on Earth) is placed below the needs of maximising economic growth, are a consequence of the perverse idea that an economic system which has developed for around 200 years is more essential that an economic system that has existed for 65 million years.

Economic growth has one good effect, and that is an increase in living standards. The only good argument left by growth proponents is that within the next 50 years, a person earning €1,25 today would earn €5 instead (and afford a car). That is however offset by the fact that economists generally have little knowledge of how much damage our environmental destruction would do on our eco-systems in the long run, and that the system will invariably collapse.

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Energy Accounting as an alternative

Energy Accounting is described in more detail in the article linked herein. We do not know how it will work out in real conditions yet, which is why we must test it. There are potential drawbacks and bottlenecks as well. The goal with Energy Accounting is however not just to install itself, but to fulfill three criteria which we need to fulfill to have a sustainable civilization.

Thus, Energy Accounting is designed as a tracking system, to keep an overview of the resource flows of the planet. It is designed as a post-monetary currency which aims to create a better balance between demand and supply – through creating a system where things do not have to be produced before there are willing users. It is also designed as a system which factors in the demand and supply curves of the Biosphere itself, thus incentivizing economic actions that are either neutral or beneficial to the well-being of the planet, while penalizing actions that are damaging to it.

Within the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, we are aiming for the testing of Energy Accounting, to see how aspects of it can work and how we can improve our Design.

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Summary: A strategy to claim the problem formulation initiative

We must – as a movement – always strive towards focusing on the Real Economy. While we must accept the existence of the crumbling Fiat system for now, we must work towards a transition away from it, by transitioning away from looking at the world through the lenses of the City of London and Wall Street.

The Fiat System ultimately relies on faith in its regulations. It will crumble, probably faster than the Biosphere itself. The challenge is to transcend the worldview where the greatest potential disaster is a stock market crash and a massive hike in unemployment.

How we do that is not primarily by questioning or accusing or being obsessed by the injustice of the current system, but by instead laying our focus on the Real Economy, and how we as a species are embedded in it and how most of us for the foreseeable future will be dependent on it.

That does not mean that we should not focus on social issues, but that we must find a way to integrate social issues into the narrative of the Real Economy.

The Earth Organisation of Sustainability does not deal with the binary world-view of eco-systems contra humanity. Instead, we view Life in itself as the most valued and cherished concept. Thus, what is good for the Biosphere is good for you, as an individual, and for us collectively as a species.

We must as a civilization make a conscious choice to accept the truth – that we are a part of the Biosphere and that we need to model our civilization in a manner that integrates it into the Biosphere and integrates the Biosphere into the infrastructure. This also means a life-positive outlook, where we have an obligation to design our societies so they allow individuals the freedom to express themselves, create, form their lives and achieve safety, meaning and liberty.

After all, as a system, the Biosphere strives towards more and more diversity and abundance. We should definetly try to mimic the beauty and splendour of nature.

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Aqua

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watercluster.org

By Enrique Lescure             

Introduction

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The craddle of life on Earth can be said to be found in the blue. For many hundreds of millions of years, the ascending continents of the young planet were as dead and barren as the wastelands of Mars, while the oceans and lakes were teeming with life. Water was the solvent in which the first life-bearing cells emerged during the chaotic epochs after the birth of the Moon.

From a world fraught with volcanic eruptions, a poisonous atmosphere and constant meteor storms, Earth has evolved into a planet able to create complex and beautiful life-forms, forming an ever-changing and ever-evolving biosphere.

Much of the freshwater reservoirs have accumulated during millennia and are ensuring that the plants have enough nourishment to produce and renew soil and to establish the foundations for complex ecosystems to exist within.

Today however, we have destroyed or are on the verge of destroying a third of the world’s freshwater reservoirs. Many regions of the world, such as the Middle East and South America, are already experiencing social upheaval in relation to water depletion. China and India, the two most populous nations on Earth, are also experiencing water depletion on a massive scale.

This presents two kinds of challenges, one which is really long-term and the other which is relatively short-term. The first challenge relates to the fact that in the long-term, depleted freshwater reservoirs create a drier climate, meaning that fewer trees can grow, which leads to soil erosion. 5000 years ago, the Middle East and the Southern Balkans were largely forested regions, which gradually became more and more arid due to massive irrigation projects by city-states and hydraulic empires (aided by climate change).

The same process is repeating today in Brazil, the United States, India, China and Central Europe.

The second challenge is how billions of people in the future should be provided with water for drinking, for hygiene, for cooking and for other activities, while eco-systems should be taken cared of to ensure long-term survivability. This will be one of the most important issues for the Earth Organisation for Sustainability in the future.

Our challenge, as always, is how to be able to weigh the needs of today with what the environment needs in order to stabilise, and how to ensure that communities can participate in this process.

Short Notes (TL;DR)

There is not one singular solution to the challenge of freshwater depletion – rather there must be a transition process which is on-going and is coordinated between five distinct areas. The areas in this regard are all equally important, though emphasis has to be put on different areas depending on the local and regional pecularities of distinct regions of our planet.

~ Short-term solutions, policy-based and social. Rationing, water salvaging, public education regarding water treatment and stimulation of local projects.

~ Medium-term solutions, infrastructure projects, construction of artificial aquifiers, aqueducts and water salvaging plants. Migrations and redistribution of population.

~ Long-term solutions, the creation and re-terraformation of depleted regions by the (re)construction of destroyed eco-systems or new eco-systems. Monitoring of the process.

~ Research, time investments into technologies that can make desalinization more cost-effective, new technologies for recycling and upcycling water quality, reducing the need for water in home appliances and in infrastructure overall.

~ Ensuring the dignity of communities and a fair distribution, namely that the affected populations themselves are having democratic influence in the process of how their transition process should be managed and how much they want to participate in that management.

The future – short-term solutions

Mars base by Douglas Shrock 1

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We have largely been treating water as if it was air – as if we could use as much as possible of the groundwater and then… well, not having to think about the management. Sure, in most developed nations, there is water management, which works more or less well (the Nordic countries are generally very high up on that scale, with drinkable tap water and very large and unspoiled reserves of ground water, with hundreds of thousands of lakes).

In the future, there is a profound risk that we – at least in some regions – would have to treat water in a way similar to how we would endure on a Mars base, namely by careful management and a circular hydraulic economy, where water is moved from household appliances and infrastructure to large aquaponics facilities, where rainwater is gathered, filtered and cleaned and utilised within the habitat, with zero to little usage of aquifiers. In fact, we should move towards minimising our usage of groundwater, instead focusing on water recycling, rainwater usage, water from rivers (though we should be careful with river water as well and have systems that can replenish the water to the rivers from the base). 20131003142909-NEW.Aquaponics-IconUrine may have to be filtered and turned into drinkable water again.

In terms of personal usage, this would probably entail local water regulations where people are given either a water quota for a community tank, or their own individual tanks where they could use water. A lot of the functions that today are individually allocated might have to become communal, like washing clothes, bathrooms, kitchens and so on. When two or more distinct communities are sharing the same source for their water, there needs to be a form of common management or at least transparency and concord between these two communities, thence holons should be formed for these tasks.

Ensuring human survival – Medium-term solutions

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In particular cases, there might be needs to transport water from either deep aquifiers (like the Sahara aquifier) or from regions with abundant water reserves to regions where water shortage threatens the survival of hundreds of millions, and can cause the collapse of over-stressed communities. This can be achieved through the construction of closed aqueducts or water pipelines, and must be managed both by a convent of representatives of the affected communities, and a technical authority managing the infrastructure of such projects. In some cases, the Earth itself may have to be transformed to construct fresh-water lakes with adjacent forest eco-systems to form the basis of medium-term water sustainability in the social term.

Or, we might even need to consider large-scale migrations, for example from the United States into Canada, from China into Siberia and from the Mediterranean countries into north-eastern Europe, in order to alleviate the resource stress on China and the US by distributing the population more evenly, as the polar regions become more habitable due to climate change while the temperate regions become less able to provide for their population. This would also reduce the need to transport water from the north to the south, by instead making it possible for people to migrate from the south to the north.

Another project worth considering is to create closed-loop rivers in Sahara and then form communities around them, where people from Africa and parts of the Middle East (and even from flooded Islands like the Maldives) can settle, in oasis city states built alongst a string of pearls in the vast Saharan desert.

Lastly, the final two areas for human resettlement are Antarctica and the Oceans, and both represent technological challenges in terms of how to attain enough water to supply significant populations.

Ensuring the well-being of the Biosphere – Long-term solutions

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encuentura.wordpress.com

When we in the EOS are talking about long-term solutions, we mean long-term, in terms of 10.000-50.000 years. This means partially that humans would have to live in different forms of communities. Mega-cities housing tens of millions of people should not be subsidized as an ideal form of life, which they are in today’s exponential growth-oriented model. Neither would a massive, evened-out distribution of the population be a good solution, since it would wipe out forests and eco-systems. The ideal would be concentrated inter-linked communities ranging in the thousands, though there would be no forced population redistribution.

The first thing that needs to be done is to ensure that our biological waste is used to renew soil cultures, or to build new soil cultures where old ones have been depleted. This means that we should not put our waste in the oceans or in lakes, but instead use human manure as a valuable resource to be utilized as a part of recreating and strengthening soil quality. What we term as waste from mines can also be valuable, since rock often contains important resources that increases the nutrition levels.

We need to ensure to reduce soil erosion, both by the construction of terraces and especially by the growing of plants, allowing eco-systems to take hold. We need to move away from mono-cultures and grow food more vertically and within the confinements of urban centres. Of course, it is not possible to remove all mono-cultures, but we need to reduce the amount significantly over a long span of time.

If we cannot reestablish eco-systems that have been lost, we must see whether we can build new eco-systems to compensate for the lost ones, and if these new eco-systems would have a positive impact on the Earth’s biosphere.

And – a lot of this means that we have to create more preserves where human-oriented activities are minimised, and that we let these preserves be untouched for hundreds of generations, that said – until a new equilibrium is established.

Applying and multiplying knowledge – Research

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panacea-bocaf.org

There is much valuable research done today within the space industry, regarding the effective usage of water in order to create self-containing artificial eco-systems and provide food on space stations or on Mars bases. This technology can also be applied on the Earth in order to salvage resources and increase our resilience. However, the technology needs to become more energy efficient and as ecological as possible without compromising the values behind. The things envisioned to be used one day on Mars should also be utilised in villages in Morocco, Honduras or Kerala, and thus the knowledge must spread horizontally in an exponential manner (there can EOS be of immeasurable help, by providing educational programmes aimed towards local communities).

Desalinization should also be investigated, and an emphasis should be put on making the process cleaner, more effective and cheaper in terms of resources and construction. Especially within small-scale appliances, a focus should be made, so that every home in a community can contribute to the process of turning saline water into freshwater.

A third area is in terms of the development of household machines that use less water, either by design features or by the usage of more advanced technology, for example smaller treatment plants and the integration of treatment plant infrastructure into the modular features of future homes. To this we can also add technologies that can treat infected water and clean it.

Lastly, we should not omit to mention the integrated features of intelligent cities, which can be used to predict the usage of water over long-term and come with proposals over how water management should be carried out.

Including the communities – the social aspect

socialearth.org

socialearth.org

An integral part of what we in EOS are striving to create, is that people locally and regionally should be able to exert influence over their own destinies. This does not only mean to guarantee the protection of individual rights – both through a Constitution and through giving individuals the means to defend their autonomy – but also the protection of the rights of communities. An important aspect of this is that communities should bear the responsibility of the natural resources within their area – including water.

This can be problematic though, because the irresponsible usage of natural resources is a great part of what is wrecking our biosphere right now and causing the Sixth Mass Extinction. Therefore, there is a balance between the democratic autonomy of a community and their right to exert the main part of the influence on how natural resources should be used locally, and the rights of the Biosphere to exist and prosper.

There is no fixed answer on how to resolve this potential conflict, but every local area is unique. What is important however is to identify needs, to establish a dialogue with the local community, to create management plans together with representatives of the local community, both political leaders, traditional leaders, economic actors, representatives of the civil society and the general public, and to include them in the process where holons are established to oversee aspects and manage aspects of the hydraulic infrastructure. The grade and depth of the management and the collaboration will vary between regions and areas.

This also includes the right for the local area or region to withdraw from the cooperation or renegotiate. However, what we need to establish is a consensus and an awareness of how water usage affects the environment and how a changed environment will affect the future of local communities. Thus, EOS needs to act primarily as an educational organisation, while we need to incorporate the knowledge and wisdom of local communities and understand that situations need to be addressed with a sensitivity to the values and norms – in order to be able to canalise the force of the community towards the gathering of new knowledge that can be utilised to improve water management.

Summary

scientificamerican1109-80-I1

Some new age spiritualists are claiming that we will soon enter the age of Aquarius, or that we have already. Aquarius as a symbolic figure is a human being that pours water – enlightenment – over humanity. It can be seen as an appropriate metaphor in one way, because if the knowledge of how much we have damaged our water reservoirs was better known, there would be a greater movement towards solving these problems.

Some aspects of the article you have read may seem rather radical. The problem however is that the more we are stressing and depleting the reservoirs of water and soil needed to sustain a complex land-based supra-civilization as present-day humanity, the more radical the solutions would eventually have to be.

The important thing to remember is that interventions must happen with the permission and active participation of local communities, and that they should interfere as much as necessary but not more into the livelihood of the people. Interventions can be intrusive, so therefore the most essential part of any transition is that the population is made aware of the nature of the situation, that the population is prepared for when interventions would happen and how far they will go, and that the public can affect the process and partake in it.

Water must be managed in an ecological manner, but it must ultimately also be managed by the people.

Push and Pull

foodwaste_flickr_sporkist_640

Photo by Sporkist

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

A surprising move by the French government has seen the ban of food waste in supermarkets. While this undoubtly are positive news, which are putting the focus on the practices of food management within the retail industries, there are also problematic aspects with this approach. I will take the opportunity to use this post to discuss some of the problems with punitive policies, and also to offer the contures of a more holistic approach.

moral

Moralism & Practical repercussions

The concept of morality has been an integral part of human social interactions for all of recorded history, and probably during the entire period of human sapience. Morality affects both laws, but also the institutions forming around our legal systems. It affects unwritten rules and etiquette, and provides a common cultural framework within which a culture is developing its values.

You may already have understood that there is a difference between morality and moralism as concepts. A moralist view of the world is defining the world from an antropocentric perspective in which actions generally are defined as good or evil, and where good actions should be rewarded and evil actions punished (moralists tend to weigh on punishments). Thus, the important thing is not the consequences for the greater good, but the intention of policies. For example, strict anti-drug policies may not work, but they send a signal that society does not accept “aberrant behaviour”.

Often, we imagine that moralism is the realm of political and cultural conservatives, who hold to social views where for example inner city neighbourhoods fraught with crime, poverty and violence are seen as entirely a result of bad upbringing, absent fathers and a lack of faith in scripture. I would not make any statements on where moralism is most usual, but it tends to varies between periods in time. For example, during the 1980’s and 1990’s, we have had “moral panics” regarding metal music, veganism and role-playing games (from evangelical fundamentalists), while during the first decade of the 2000’s and increasingly during the 2010’s, we’ve seen more moral panics regarding gender issues, racial issues and the issue of immigration.

When an issue has become a moralist issue, it is difficult to hold an adverse opinion on a matter, since the one opposing the “good” position is suspected of being tainted by evil.

That’s not saying that moralists cannot have good points, for in most cases, they strive towards a better society and they are putting the focus on for example social ills. But the discussion that is created around the subject tend to become increasingly shrill and symbols-focused, which reduces the ability to access the practical situation on the ground and build the foundation for an inclusionary discussion. This kind of dialogue – which really is a monologue from one party – can turn into a moral panic, especially if there is one “offending group” which is seen as representatives of evil. This can lead to a witch hunt, in which people’s personal lives and integrity are harmed. If the moral panic occurs from more than one direction, the results can be catastrophic.

However, to return to the retail policies of Valls’ cabinet, it seems to me at least as symbolic measures that are hitting on a seemingly random point in the linear resource chain. Firstly, a lot of food is thrown away or destroyed during the production phase, which is incredibly wasteful in its own right, especially as the food industry is more and more reliant on mono-cultures for every passing year. As you can see on the image below, every staple has an own linear chain like this, and at every stage, you can be sure that resources are wasted.

Food-Supply-Chain

If the French government has not anchored this new policy in the retail industry, the results will be that the retail industry maybe will buy in less food (as the best possible result), but that will affect other parts of the food production chain, and transport the waste there. Sadly, farmers are often in developed countries subsidized to discard food. The retail industry can also adapt by for example giving away excess food as aid to developing countries or to homeless people. But giving away the food as aid would probably hurt farmers in the Third World, outcompeting small family farms and inevitably replacing them with cattle ranches or mono-cultures (producing grain mostly used to feed cattle and sheep), contributing heavily to both freshwater waste, soil erosion, dependency on fertilizers and climate change.

So while this policy probably has both pragmatic and moralist foundations, it seems at the moment to be a random swing aimed at an industry which has immoral practices.

A holistic approach

energy-sustainability21056

The Human Civilization can be defined both as an integrated network of eco-systems and as a super-organism. Our cities are visible as crimson and greyish spots from space, our monocultures have transformed Europe, China, North America and the Amazon Basin. To understand human activity on Earth and how profoundly it has transformed our planet, we must move away from an individualistic approach where we view the society as a fixed entity and the one with the choice how to act – the conscient agent – is always an individual.

We must understand that society is more than our consumer choices, more than our political or lifestyle choices, and even more than the culture we were born and raised in. Human civilization is – from a physical perspective – an intricate web of resource flows, and the infrastructure which both makes these flows possible and also is a result of their current. Civilization is an emergent meta-organism. Now, I am not saying that civilization is “evil”, nor that all civilizations (both real and imagined) are the same.

However, without a realization that food waste is a part of a civilization based on a destructive way of utilizing the environment, rather than an aberrant outlier in an otherwise “good” civilization, we would just continue to create new ecological crises until we’ve exhausted the ability of the planet to maintain an advanced human civilization. One central problem is of course that governments – as one of the commanding tops of what can be called the consciously organized part of Civilization – must base their existence and legitimacy around the idea that our current civilization is ultimately good and at least better than any conceivable alternatives. Cultural memes are also largely centered around reinforcement of norms and values that will support the existence of the civilization and its structures (given that, western civilization has undercurrents that allow for criticism in certain directions, this criticism can later be applied and included into the process through democratic and academic means, thus creating a greater degree of adaptability than in other cultures).

To return to the main point, policy-makers must realize that ecological issues (avoid the term environmental issues) are not just a policy area amongst others, but the base on which civilization rests. Therefore, a thorough set of ecological policies must be arranged in such a manner that they have a profound effect on all activities inside the Civilization, and with a good overview over not only resource flows, but also financial flows and population flows.

The goal of such an approach would be a long-term transition towards a sustainable circular economy which can exist within the limits of nature.

Push and pull policies

graphicdesign.stackexchange.com

graphicdesign.stackexchange.com

Governments can not alone form or lead the transition. It requires an integrated approach from political leaders, financial leaders, community leaders, civil society, non-governmental organisations, economic actors, grassroot groups and individuals and families. What governments can do is however to install the legal framework to affect behaviour amongst different segments of society.

Such frameworks can be designed  to punish bad habits or rewarding good habits. Punishing bad habits can for example be to increase taxes on fossil fuels, or on companies selling fossil fuels, or to outright ban certain practices (another example would be to reduce or take away all parking spaces in city centres). Rewards can be to install subsidies for green energy solutions, or to reward car owners for swapping into eco-friendly cars. It can also be to for example create free public transit.

Given this, we need to discuss how an effective transitional approach would work – and that is depending on two factors. Firstly, how grave is the ecological situation right now within the area you want to affect positively (I advice you to look into the article about the Three Criteria for an elaboration on information-gathering). Secondly, exactly what kind of transition do we want to foster?

The direction of for example subsidies or taxes, or more legalistic measures like outright bans would shape the outcome in some way, and the question is how large ripple effects one could get.

What is certain is that both push and pull methodologies are necessary within the framework of today’s financial system in order to make effective transformations possible. In general, bans are not advisable, especially not of processing aspects of industrial systems (of which the retail industry is an example). Rather, it would be more effective to tax unsustainable food management practices and make additional fines if the industry is not compliant.

Then it is of course a matter of how large taxes there should be. Ideally, for example the meat industry should be taxed with so high – even punitive – tax rates, that it ceases to be able to operate. That will sadly have adverse effects on everyone from butchers to Argentinian gauchos and Fast Food employees, but unemployment is ultimately an insignificant problem in comparison with the future of the Planet.

There does however also need to exist rewards, and investments into alternative ways of managing resource flows. Instead of just focusing on aspects of production, we must analyse the energy weight of entire production chains, and policies should be shaped after the realization that our civilization is an integrated physical system. Therefore, revenue taken from the processes that are damaging the planet could be invested into projects that facilitate processes that are either neutral towards or would improve the long-term well-being of the biosphere.

Ultimately

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability has come to the conclusion that to create a sustainable civilization on Earth, we need a way of managing resources that is profoundly different than today’s. We need to know how much resources we can take from the Earth, we need to arrange these resources within a circular economy, and we need to provide basic sustenance to all human beings.

But to reach that point, to go from here to there, we must employ the available tools of the current system, both to create new tools, to manage and reverse ecological decay, and to transition our socio-economic system. Only by employing a holistic approach can we reach constructive results for the future of our planet.

P.S – also do not forget to Like our Facebook page.

On the urgent need of a new reality consensus

Multiple-Universe

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

No human being has a complete oversight of what objective reality is, but instead understand the world from the collective input of information that all members of that human’s local community share amongst themselves, as well as from the output provided by society, and what organised society has deemed worth to put their focus on in their presentation of reality.

This presentation is most often formed in the context of a grand narrative, which most often is focusing on the preservation and continuation of the memetic transmissions that help to cement the cultural framework of the civilization and its values.

The issue is to identify the core of the current mainstream reality consensus in the Western Civilization, and to identify in which ways this reality consensus is helping to destroy the planet’s environment and ultimately it’s own civilisationary host as well.

After that, the issue is to discuss on what values and focus a new reality consensus should be formed.

The chatter in the tree

Fighting_Like_Cats_and_Dogs_2_by_wldjeepgrlCampuses, cafés, kitchens and reddits are all filled with discord and irritation. The others do not simply understand. If everyone just could agree, we would solve all the world’s problems. Yet, all the others are holding incomprehensible beliefs based on baseless scare-mongering and weird ideals. Especially if they have studied strange courses at the University.

There are of course many humans who hold no strong opinions and who, for various reasons, decide they want to follow the majority or simply disentangle themselves from having to care about worldly matters. This author could not put any blame on them. It seems that in today’s world, people are often leaving debate rooms more puzzled than when they entered, and in a state of mellow confusion, and no issue is ever really resolved. Hardly surprising, a lot of people react by actively and aggressively trying to make the proponents of new ideas shut ut, just so they do not need to think over new ideas and concepts.

Why do people attain and embrace wildly divergent ideals and norms, which build the foundation which they then base their political and social values on? No one is really sure, and most likely it does have a variety of sources, socio-economic, cultural, experiences and even genes can play a part. Nevertheless, people often hold divergent beliefs about the world, and this stems in a way from the information that people receive. Since people most often hang out with peers in terms of gender, ethnic origin, academic level, profession or neighbourhood, they often experience similar things in their nearby environment, which influence their worldview.

Twenty or so years ago, most people were still taking in the information about their world from Television, which offered a few sources of valuable news which often shared very much the same consensus. Nowadays, people are increasingly moving towards other sources which are readily available on the Internet. This is mostly a profoundly positive development, since it allows for information that has been suppressed or which the elites do honestly not know much about to be shared. The downside of course is that the amount of disinformation has also increased during this process.

One national example is the infested debate on migration in Sweden, where one side claims that Sweden is taking in too many refugees and that it has adverse effects on housing, crime and ghettoisation. Some proponents of that side claim that many immigrants who belong to a certain world religion are more loyal to said world religion and are attempting to mold Sweden into a form more reminiscent of that religion. Many proponents of this worldview are also claiming that those who are pro-immigration are hating Swedish culture and attempt to destroy Sweden.

The other worldview is based around a narrative where immigration is benefitting Swedish society, which is an aging society, and that the labour market in the future would need a powerful injection of young people to function. Those who are claiming that there are too many immigrants are – according to this worldview – really trying to hide a xenophobic and even outright racist agenda, and are striving towards a society where people have different worth depending on their ethnic origin.

If we assume that both sides try to meet in a room with furniture, we can suspect that not much furniture would stand when they have finished their attempt to reach a consensus.

Yet, we can see that the differences of their opinions really are forming from two factors, namely their view on the state and capacity of the Swedish economy, and possibly their view on whether more people are a burden or an asset. From this follows these divergent views.

The same could be said of the so-called culture wars in the United States. Where one side sees the advance of the rights of women, LGBT people, ethnic minorities and other socially disadvantaged groups, the other is seeing an assault on traditional society and the destruction of the fabric of community. When the divergence grows to the degree that the proponents start to demonize one another and believe that those of a different opinion are really evil and aim to destroy everything they love and cherish, violence is not far away.

That is related to whether the mainstream consensus can hold or would break.

The Mainstream Consensus

western-civilization.120115234_std

The mainstream consensus is the reality within which society as a whole is pre-supposed to operate. It provides the world-view and the context for within what spectrum it is socially acceptable to form opinions around. Things outside of the existing narrative are at best accepted within insulated islands of like-minded, or isolated at the fringes of society. This consensus can be achieved though both repression, but also through culture, architecture, popular media, sermons and general etiquette.

Summarizing this, we can state that the mainstream consensus is informed by memes and behavioural patterns and expectations on the micro-level, by stable and predictable institutions at the middle level and by a common myth and a grand narrative embedding this myth on the grand level.

What is our current grand narrative in the Western Civilization, which  – for better or worse – is the basis of thestatue-of-liberty-nyc current global civilization? One obvious thing is that the Western Civilization is subdivided into partially different cultural spheres with different values and divergent family structures, economic values and values on individualism contra collectivism.

The centre of the Western Civilization does however lie in the Anglo-American sphere, and especially in the United States. While it could be said that France was the cultural centre of the Western world during the 17th and 18th centuries, the cultural stimulus of the West since the beginning of the 20th century has largely come from the US.

Through Television, music and cinema theatres, three to four generations of the western population have been exposed to the cultural impulses of Sit-coms, Hollywood films and Hit Music, and have attained a large part of the values and conventions expressed in these products.

In the more conventional sense, mass media, institutions of power and parts of academia have expressed a more formalized view on what the current zeitgeist of our age is and should be. This view is centred around two things, namely that the current system of Globalising Liberalism, with its attached values of economic growth, consumerism, multinational corporations and constitutional parliamentary democracies with (increasingly) limited power over economic policies is the ultimate form of civilization, and that all development from now on should focus on secure the Earth for this kind of system for the foreseeable future, and that our history is the history of the establishment, adversities and eventual triumph for this kind of system.

The elites within major think tanks, strategic analysis groups and clubs associated with this formula are building their normative approach on that the continuation and deepening of globalization should be the end goal of our society, through economic treatises and increased military and political coordination, possibly leading to the beginning of the formation of a global federal structure within 100 to 200 years, with the United States as its core model.

While there are groups with other agendas, most notably intellectuals associated with the BRICS (who strive for a multipolar world reminiscent of the world prior to 1914) or the Islamic political movements, it stands clear that the dominant force right now are holding their hopes around an agenda aiming for a globalized market economy dominated by harmonized financial and monetary institutions, where multi-national corporations can continue to unite the world, and bring larger and larger groups of people into prosperity, until everyone who are willing and able to work can be elevated to a global middle class of continuously rising income.

The only problem with this vision is that it is impossible to achieve within the constraints of nature, at least in the core form that the proponents are envisioning.

When reality fails to meet expectations

Financial-Crisis

For myths and grand narratives to function, they need to correspond to at least parts of the values transmitted through earlier experiences, and to the reality that people can experience around themselves. When the myth tells people that everything is possible and that they can become the main character in the great narrative about their own life, and they cannot see any way to achieve that, as class mobility stagnates or collapses, they become demoralized and will gradually become increasingly alienated from their own grand narrative.

One example of a failed grand narrative that contributed to the collapse of a civilization was the narrative and myth of Soviet Socialism, which stressed that the population lived in a glorious socialist paradise, the most developed society the planet had seen. This was so obviously disconnected from reality that more than a majority of the population disregarded the propaganda machine, and subsequently the population was thoroughly demoralized and both unwilling and unable to defend what the elites tried to sell as the mainstream culture.

Ancient civilizations could endure deprivation and poverty quite well, because their promises and foundation was often ethereal, celestial and spiritual (“if you obey the norms and uphold the institutions that allow the landed elites to be in power, you will go to a happy place after you leave your mortal shackles”). Civilizations which build on the idea that people should have material gains must be able to create the foundations to provide this.

The motivations for people in the current “global civilization” to be abiding citizens and accept events even when

A woman sells skinned pawpaw, papaya, as she walks in a market on World Food Day in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. The U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization is marking World Food Day on Tuesday, a day dedicated to highlighting the importance of global food security. The FAO said hunger is declining in Asia and Latin America but is rising in Africa. One in eight people around the world goes to bed hungry every night. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

these events run counter to popular interests, is the expectation of future economic growth. If you believe that your situation will be better the next year, compared to this, you have an expectation invested in the system.

If this expectation is never provided for, the likelihood increases that investments are reduced and that people experience more and more privations, which can lead to riots and instability.

Due to the fact that economics is one of the few sciences which is based predominantly on expectations for the future, it is a concern for the well-being of the system that positive news (from a financial and growth perspective) are emphasised, for if there are too many negative expectations, they will be self-realised due to altered consumer patterns, creating increased volatility in the system.

Compartmentalization

Economic-Growth

There are two competing views of the situation of the world in the future, where the first (proposed by many economists, some technologists and a few intellectuals) state that economic growth necessarily will improve most indicators of well-being both in society and in the environment, and that we will live in a better, richer and more secure world by 2050.

Ecologists and environmentalists on the other hand, are seeing resource deprivation and the destruction of the environment as event chains that can possibly lead to the collapse of the current civilization.

The world can not both turn into Paradise and Hell, neither can probably the trajectory be placed on a linear spectrum between the vision espoused by economists and the one proposed by ecologists for future trends. Most likely, both sides are either partially wrong, or one side is entirely wrong.

Given that, the economist argument for future economic growth is a statistical one, namely that what has happened for the last decade will continue to happen for the next decade, with some alterations regarding demographics (how many new births, how many people will leave the labour force and retire). A prognosis like this below does not take into account the “externalities” or how the biosphere is a self-regulating system which can collapse (and have collapsed before).

World Bank

World Bank

Ecologists on the other hand may ignore the positive effects of new technologies brought into the economy, as well as some of the mitigating effects of the Coase theorem. Given that, if China should consume as much as we see above, China alone would need a few Earths for itself in order to sustain such wealth.

Club of Rome

Club of Rome

The interesting thing of course is that the Club of Rome does not represent a marginal environmental group, but rather a few of the world’s most influential people, who have cooperated extensively with ecologists and biologists regarding how resource usage will affect the world in the future.

It is scary how little communication there is between the groups of people who have made these diverging predictions of the future, and how different the grand narratives that they base their predictions on are. When researchers move inside such different realities, communication between them will definetly be suffering by the different expectations they hold for the future – a pub meeting would certainly be entertaining but it would be difficult to draw any conclusions for a layman spectator.

Summary and recommendations

Footprint Network

Footprint Network

If there is such a wide divergence in studies on future trends, it can only be because researchers focus primarily on the factors they are accustomed to. Scientists are like all other people, and are suffering from bias and information defiency. The Dunning-Kruger effect, that states that when people are ignorant in a field they tend to believe themselves better than average on said field, can apply to scientists as well – especially within the areas which the scientist in question, no matter if they are an ecologist or an economist, have not studied.

This increasing specialization and narrowing of the information focus may improve the technical qualities of scientists within narrow fields, but may handicap the scientist’s ability to process information adequately and result in too much reliance on limited data.

A necessary first step towards a consensus that can help us address the challenges of the 21st century would perhaps be if scientists from different fields who have produced such divergent prognoses of the future could meet and establish a consensus on what information to process and how data gathering on the future should be organised.

Only this could provide decision-makers and the public with the data base to make informed decisions on how we are collectively going to shape tomorrow.

On Anarcho-Primitivism; or “why we need a civilization”

Wizards, 1977

Wizards, 1977

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

“why can’t we fight and win, Mommy?”
“Because they have
weapons and technology.
we just have love.
” ~ Quote from Wizards, 1977.

Sometimes, it feels like I shouldn’t need to write some posts. Yet, evidently, some posts have to be written, since there apparently are ideas floating around that can be picturesque and charming when applied to arts, morality tales, philosophy and spirituality, but would undoubtly sow confusion the moment someone starts to seriously advocate these ideas as a correct way of thinking, not only for oneself but for all of society, we will start to get into trouble.

I am of course referring to an ideology known as “anarcho-primitivism”, which from a shallow glance can appear deeply sympathetic, but which intellectually and ideologically is a dead end.

Culturally however, anarcho-primitivism has had influence both within academia and within popular culture. My personal take on the issue is that anarcho-primitivism is interesting as an intellectual experiment, but an actual programme to change the world based from anarcho-primitivism would resemble a trainweck without a wheel on the swamps – which I suspect is one of the deeper meanings.

Reason and passion

Caspar David Friedrich, 19th century

Caspar David Friedrich, 19th century

Culturally speaking, European civilization (which later would evolve into the western civilization) stood at a crossroads in the early 19th century, with one boot in the feudal past and one in the industrial future. It is probably well-known by everyone that the 19th century saw two political conflicts erupt – one regarding ancient privileges contra increased political representation (semi-egalitarian), and another regarding the economic rights of workers and poor people, leading to the evolution of parliamentarism and trade unions respectively.

One struggle which however also was highly visible (though decidely less bloody) than the other two was fought in the realm of culture, and formed around whether the world should be conceptualised through reason or emotion. During the 18th century, following the collapse of medieval Christendom during the wars of religion of the preceding two centuries, the Age of Reason blossomed. This trend in science, literature and aesthetics was partially a result of the end of the Reformation in 1648 and the mechanical/scientific revolution spearheaded by the likes of Galileo and Newton.

The Age of Reason cultivated several literary and cultural concepts still in use today. The foundation of the enlightenment was the idea that the methodologies of the mechanical revolution could be applied on social and political issues of the day. Instead of viewing states as mystical entities ruled by God-ordained sovereigns, the 18th century philosophers increasingly came to see the state as a social contract and as a machine devised to achieve certain aims, much like a clockwork.

This was a culmination of a trend which began with the likes of Descartes, Newton and Locke, who transformed the view of the world from the work of an inscrutable Creator who worked through miracles into a clockwork, de-mystifying reality, replacing mysteries with science and reducing the world from a living embodiment of God’s creation into matter which reacted and worked according to predictable mathematical and chemical patterns.

When the de-mystification had destroyed the ideology of Divine Right which governed Europe’s absolutist

A modern example of the

A modern example of the “noble savage genre”, James Cameron’s Avatar, 2010

monarchies, it was just a matter of time before France flared up. During the late 18th century, a trend towards embracing passion and the storms of the heart had flared up within enlightenment thought, embodied both by the philosophy of Rousseau and by the growing “noble savage” genre which celebrated triumphs on both sides of the English channel.

During the Revolutionary Era of 1776 to 1815 and beyond (towards the Greek Revolution of 1823 and the French July Revolution), the ideology of Liberalism (a product of Age of Reason-thought) was fuelled by a deep-seated passion. Leaders like Robespierre and poets like Byron were all burning with indignant passion and defiance, and struggled for largely the same ideals, namely the overthrowing of tyrants and the expression of the will of the people. As late as during the latter half of the 19th century, revolutionary leaders like Garibaldi were still drawing air from the same tendencies.

During the period immediately following the Bourbon restoration in France (1815), reactionary and conservative authors, composers and painters started to create a discourse where reason and enlightenment was seen as depriving the world from its true meaning – a spiritual and mystical meaning which could not be understood with intellect, only with emotions. The Middle Ages, previously seen as “the dark ages”, were glorified and seen as an age when magic, honour and spirituality prevailed. This trend affected most of Europe deeply, and resonated deepest of all in Germany.

It should be noted here already that it is not to me intrinsically a matter of reason versus passion, as for example this anti-nazi cartoon tried to convey, but rather that there have been historical periods when people due to technological and social trends have come to view reason and passion as being in conflict with one another. This today holds true for example for the New Atheists, of whom some tend to view passion in itself as a negative thing, and for some sci-fi authors who tend to hold predominantly the same worldview (one example is Robert Sawyer’s Quintaglio and Hominids trilogies).

Speaking of nazis, the second time when movements started to emerge that questioned reason and progress was during the 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s. The second half of the 19th century was not only a golden age for technological innovations, economic growth and urbanisation (and also for colonialism, racism, growing social inequality and genocides not to forget), but also for a conviction that the world was definetly moving towards a better, more advanced and more progressive society. Sci-fi authors like Jules Verne and H.G Wells were highly popular.

The First World War shattered this reality, and fragmented the ordered world indefinetly moving towards greater prosperity. In its stead came a world which was highly contested between various groups, ranging from ultra-progressives to ultra-reactionaries. Fascism and National Socialism had different roots, but came to be expressed through similar rhetoric, namely a sense of abandoning “bourgeois individualism” and becoming as one with the Nation, to be able to be released from alienation.

Alienation as a concept started to become popular in the 19th century, but its usage exploded in the early 20th century. A sense of being lost dominated many societies, and entire cultures searched for new identities to be re-baptised and reborn in. These tendencies are however not excluded to the industrial era, and has been prevalent in all high cultures (otherwise religions like Buddhism and Christianity would not have emerged).

The United States liberated Western Europe from Fascism, and in many ways came to inherit the Western World. A society more culturally cohesive than Europe, which had sustained far less damage by the world wars, had managed to preserve the optimism of the late 19th century, and even build on it.

The breakthrough of mass media, the successful social revolts of the 1960’s and the inability of the US army to win 937613_f520the Vietnam War did however lead towards questioning of the ideology of constant progress. In Europe, this questioning had led to the birth of totalitarian, far-right and far-left movements. In the US, the response was a loose libertarian-leftist subculture more directed by fashion and by memes than any political leaders or even political movements.

The green wave, which came to influence Europe during the 1970’s and 1980’s, began in the US during the 1960’s. The green wave, like any other wave, was of course influenced from many roots, and its seeds were taken up by many movements and individuals. Awareness grew that industrialism and emissions had many negative effects on the environment. Two books worth mentioning from this era are Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, which both have been hugely influential.

The roots of anarcho-primitivism can be found in the US.

The anarcho-primitivist case

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Anarcho-primitivists argue that the main problem in the world is human civilization itself. With that, they mean that civilization is intrinsically opposed to life on Earth and is only capable of destroying and wrecking eco-systems. Human development is a hubris that will end with civilization exhausting Earth and then collapsing, hopefully leading to a humans yet again embracing nature and establishing egalitarian societies.

According to anarcho-primitivism, pre-civilisationary societies are generally egalitarian, have little violence and healthy social environments characterised by inclusion and no sense of alienation. Like in some forms of marxism, alienation is a tremendously important concept within anarcho-primitivism, and denotes the human sense of being alienated from the genuine natural existence.

Anarcho-primitivists are divided into two factions. While being a small movement (or rather trend, since anarcho-primitivists tend to be organised in mainstream green organisations or in leftist organisations), most anarcho-primitivists are peaceful and claim that civilization will collapse by its own right. A small minority are doing violent direct action, either individually or through groups, though it is significantly rarer today than in the 90’s, which were a sort of heyday for violent direct activism.

The case against anarcho-primitivism  ~ Why we need a civilization

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Anarcho-primitivists are correct in the matter that our current civilization is unsustainable. However, there is a broad generalisation on their part that civilization in itself will automatically develop along a linear course towards collapse, and that there is nothing we can do apart from abandoning civilization as a concept that can salvage us. I will address this point later, but now I will move towards anarcho-primitivists who argue for violent resistance in order to overthrow civilization and establish an egalitarian gatherer society.

Firstly, there will soon be nine billion human beings on this planet. When agriculture and civilization was first born in the Middle East 12.000 years ago, there were around 10 million human beings on the planet. For all what it was worth, that was probably the upper limit during that time. If we are generous, we can say that the planet is warmer today and therefore (if we disregard environmental destruction) we can perhaps feed 25 million people today would we all live as hunter-gatherers.

This would mean that most of humanity today would starve, and while a few humans always will be suicidal, humans in general want to maximise their own chances at survival. Therefore, even if we disregard the ignorant (or worse; callous) assumption that the abolishment of civilization will usher in a golden era of tribal egalitarianism, we can safely presume that humans in general will try to survive.

Therefore, no matter if civilization is overthrown by anarcho-primitivist revolutionaries or “collapses” as predicted by anarcho-primitivist philosophers and ideologists, billions of humans will die, and humans will actively struggle against the abolishment of their infrastructure (which provides non-lethal water, warmth, cooling, healthcare, vaccinations, food and – to paraphrase Zizèk, and so on and so on).

I do in fact part agree with the anarcho-primitivists that civilization can collapse. It has evidently happened before that many high cultures have experienced a collapse, or what scientists call a loss of complexity. This is the key however, a collapse of a civilization does not mean that all technology and infrastructure disappears. Most of us who are alive now have experienced the collapse of a civilization during our lifetime, namely the fall of the Soviet Union (which thankfully was a relatively bloodless collapse). While infrastructure, industry and buildings indeed started to suffer decay in a few regions, what happened was instead a transition towards new economic and political modes.

Maybe the anarcho-primitivists rather have a situation where the infrastructure suffers collapse as a vision or model? I would argue that experiences from that type of collapse, which we also have modern examples of, rather resembles Mel Gibson’s The Road Warrior than Kevin Costner’s Dances with the wolves.

Nowadays, there is a growing club of failed states, where infrastructure is helplessly decaying, where hospitals are Somaliaturned into fortresses and where the market for AK47’s are growing. Somalia. Yemen. Congo. Libya. Syria. All countries where society has fractured and where a massive loss of complexity is experienced.

Anarcho-primitivists perhaps would argue that this kind of collapse is symptomatic of “Civilization”. However, according to anarcho-primitivists, the fall of “Civilization” is in itself symptomatic for “Civilization”.

There are indeed examples of societies where economic collapses and crises led to a greater deal of solidarity between the citizens, like for example in Argentina when workers during the 2002-2003 currency crisis occupied factories and continued to produce goods. The type of collapse envisioned by anarcho-primitivists however is in itself a far more reaching variation of the type of collapse experienced in countries in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

A summary of the practical arguments against the feasibility of anarcho-primitivism could be that anarcho-primitivism ignores the population issue (a population in the billions are dependent on a high-tech civilization to provide for them) and also that the collapse of civilization won’t mean that people suddenly lose knowledge of technology – especially not martial technology. This all means that a collapse will rather mean that the current civilization will be replaced by a less complex culture characterized by more brutish social relations.

However, this answer – while it repudiates anarcho-primitivism as a practical answer – does little to deprive the primitivists of the moral high ground. After all, are not anarcho-primitivists defining “Civilization” in terms of how it distorts human nature rather than the buildings and infrastructure?

The allure of Eden

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The human being lived in blissfull ignorance, sheltered in a bountiful garden where everything was flowing with abundance. Alas, she ate the forbidden fruit and was cast out of Eden, judged to toil and suffer within the shackles of human society.

Eden. The lost world, and the lost innocence.

The moral claim of anarcho-primitivism is alike that of the myth of that fabled garden. The lost unity with God’s presence is replaced with the lost unity with one another and with Nature. The moral imperative is that we are impure because we are believed to have rejected our animalistic roots and embraced enlightenment.

Very much alike fire-and-brimstone preachers, anarcho-primitivists are condemning humanity, that we need to suffer so a few elect shall be able to turn to their natural sense of unity and wholeness with nature. This longing is as much an internal psychological need as an ideological conviction. The problem with primitivism is that the primitivist does not only believe that they themselves would be happier living in a cottage collective without electricity and running water, but that everyone would be happier with that, and that all humans deep inside want that.

This idea is not unique for anarcho-primitivism. The longing for lost innocence and childhood follows throughout human history and have formed the basis for many teachings.

Apotheosis – the answer of EOS

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The anarcho-primitivists do not really believe that we can stop destroying our planet, nor do many of them really want to try. The reason why is that if we humans prove capable of doing so, the hated concept of civilization will also survive, and thus negate the core tenets of anarcho-primitivism (that we must repent).

Thus, anarcho-primitivism offers no answer on how we should move forward from the crisis that we have allowed our current socio-economic system to place us all in.Cheering_crowd_in_a_concert

We, The Earth Organisation of Sustainability, on the other hand, believes in the human race. We believe that we have the power to take control over the situation and transition towards a sustainable future. We believe that humanity can and will ascend towards a Type-1 civilization, and that we will accept that what we do today will affect the evolution of Life on Earth for millions of years. We believe that we will transcend towards a civilization where we have grown to realize that what truly matters in the Universe is Life, and Life-bearing Earths.

There is nothing which we cannot do.

We can and we will solve the social problems on the planet. We can and we will end the wars. We can and we will create a world where all human beings and all communities can live in dignity, liberty and diversity within what the Earth can provide. In this world, anarcho-primitivists can and will have the freedom to live in their communities according to their ideals, and also have the freedom to choose to leave their communities.

Anarcho-primitivism rejects human culture, human curiousity, human questioning and human personality, instead opting for us abandoning our humanity and returning to nature. But is not our humanity ultimately derived from nature itself, and a testament to nature’s ingenuity and diversity?

What we want is for humanity to make a choice.

A choice to form a sustainable civilization on Earth, that can provide all humans with a good quality of life, autonomy, diversity, human rights and freedom to realise themselves. And we believe that humanity is ultimately capable of transcending, and that we will continue to transcend, beyond the stars.

And our light will reach the farthest star.

Priorities: What must be done?

earth___stop_climate_change___by_h_4rt-d6eu3x11Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Why does the Earth Organization for Sustainability exist?

It can be argued that our mission is to design and test alternative socio-economic systems, but that does rather answer the how than the why. The why is so future generations of living beings, humans and other species, will have the opportunity to live on an ecologically and socially sustainable Earth. I believe that our name might indicate this too. There is a slight difficulty in this, however, which we must take into account.

We are living under a mass extinction

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This problem, is of course that we currently are causing what could very well be the Sixth Great Mass Extinction in Earth’s History. Especially three issues have to be solved as soon as possible. The first one of these you all already are familiar with – namely antropogenic climate change. The second and third issues are the destruction of bio-diversity in the oceans (which might be beyond saving) and on land. These encroachments are caused partially by over-fishing and direct destruction of habitats, but also by pollution, medicines, artificial estrogen and the gradual out-crowding of diverse eco-systems.

All of this ultimately derives from a socio-economic system (fuelled partially by the bizarre values of consumerism) which values the following three months of growth rates higher than the previous 65 million years of evolution. At the current rate, humanity is using up between 133-150% of the Earth’s annual regeneration capacity per year. If we continue to move on this trajectory, we would basically have made most eco-systems collapse by the early 22nd century.

What must be done?

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The first thing that needs to be done, by all major institutions and actors, is to reduce our footprints with nearly a third, until we move slightly below the 100% treshold.

The achievement of this can be done independently from transitioning to the kind of socio-economic system that EOS envisions. But for the long-term well-being of the planet, it is necessary that we evolve towards a system where we can have a circular economy that sees all flows of resources being monitored to eliminate waste and bottlenecks and ensure the optimum usage of the resources.

As our house is burning, we need to implement some other policies as well, that in themselves would demand stark choices. It is about halting or outright stopping the devastation of the eco-systems. That would mean an inversion of the current priorities of the elite establishments, from Davos to Rio.

This places a dilemma upon us. Because the economy is built as it is now, where poor people’s complacency are bought not by promises of Heaven but with promises that their children would afford cars instead of bicycles or sandals, halting and reverting the expansion of most of the things we are doing right now will probably increase dissatisfaction temporarily, and can affect the lives of human beings adversedly.

Hard Greens can argue that we need not to be disheartened by any choices in order to save planet Earth. However, our movement is built not only on the values of bio-diversity, but also that we must create optimal conditions for human life to occur. Therefore, it is essential that while we advocate for a shift to a Earth-centred and rational approach to the current crisis of the Earth, that we also should protect and uphold the needs of individuals and communities, in terms of both their basic rights to live and to their civic rights.

Ultimately, the well-being of the biosphere is the basis of human well-being on Earth. At the moment, there are however very, very tough choices that have to be made, by everyone.

How EOS should approach this

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Or rather, how everyone should approach this…

There must be a broad consensus within the human civilization that this current path will lead to a new mass extinction, and that we must revert it, for the sake of the most important thing that the Universe holds – Life. It is unworthy of an intelligent species to destroy the conditions for this most valuable thing. Rather, an intelligent species should support life.

There should be honesty in that a transition towards a sustainable future will be painful, and will probably present the greatest challenge that our species ever faced. In fact, the first global challenge we’ve ever faced. The wrong way to approach this crisis is to claim that we can solve this within a few years time and that it would be completely painless. It can lead to more followers, but it would be unethical since it would partially be misinformation or disinformation.

We need to reach a concord with the various establishments populating the echelons of power. This one might be controversial, since the establishments (for obvious reasons) are the main benefactors of the current system. Thing is, even if you are wealthy and see this current system as a way for you to secure your future and the future of your children, your children’s future will be devastated too if we destroy the foundations for complex life on Earth.

We do not have the luxury for political upheavals or wars between nations any more. The more we procrastrinate and behave as if the problems can be solved by the next generation, the harder the problems will be to solve, and the more radical the means to solve the problems will be. Eventually, the problems will essentially be unsolvable and the issue will no longer be how to save the planet, but rather on how to save humanity.

EOS does not aspire to lead humanity. We are not a political party or revolutionary movement. We are not moralists, but pragmatics.

What we must do is to conduct our field tests of Energy Accounting and the Holonic model, and create a vast social network of like-minded individuals, while simultaneously advocating our issues and interacting with the public and with the various establishments in order to help contribute to the consensus regarding the issues that we all must face, since we all share this world.

We need one another ultimately.

What is social entropy?

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By Enrique Lescure

What is it?

I’ve been asked multiple times today what social entropy is. I admit that I have coined the term, and now I will try to briefly explain what I mean with it.

Entropy is traditionally defined as a term designating that physical systems tend to fall back into their constituent parts as time passes on.

Societies, much like eco-systems or individual organisms, are consisting of interacting networks of individuals, clans, regions, interests, institutions and norms. These tend to form cultures which create in society an overall sense of predictability. This predictability is supported – in complex societies – by force and by laws, dictating what people may not do and what consequences they will experience if they breach these rules. Often, these rules are directly or indirectly for the gain of a ruling elite.

Social entropy however, is a centripetal force that strives to dissolve the “higher” or “medium” institutions of any society, reducing it to its component forms. Being left unchecked, this destructive force will cause lawlessness, riots, and unpredictability. Our societies are dependent on that people are following the norms in terms of getting up, getting to work, paying for goods at the local cornershop (even if they most likely could get away with theft), not stealing or vandalising property nor hurting other people.

I would argue that most societies are characterised by social entropy. It is not like it is a force that only appears when the law ceases to work. Rather, it is humans violating the social norms of predictability in terms of how society functions and affecting in some way the economic predictability of society (causing damage which costs resources and time to repair).

Even such a predictable and well-arranged society as the Swedish welfare state is continuously experiencing social entropy, in the forms of crime, vandalised bus stops and graffiti on unwanted walls. I would not herein state whether or not social entropy is desirable. Some societies are genuinely repressive, some are benevolent (though fundamentally unsustainable) and some are genuinely repressive, but their removal has led into worse states, either of repression or of social entropy.

Where social entropy is allowed to roam free, the society is experiencing a loss of complexity (which usually is termed civilizational collapse and the end of the world by those experiencing it). Examples range from the Roman Empire to the Easter Island, from Medieval Iceland to modern-day Somalia, and from Detroit to Syria.

Revolutionaries usually secretly or openly desire such a calamity, believing it will usher in (their imagined) paradise.

However, experiences show that it takes long time for old civilizations to rebound, and even longer time for newer civilizations to emerge. Experiences also show that revolutions are uncontrollable and unmanageable events that are causing tremendous suffering for the participants.

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is certainly advocating social change, but that not because we desire chaos, but that we seek to prevent that the inherent unsustainability of the current system would usher in the greatest loss of complexity in human history, to not speak of the greatest loss of ecological diversity since the Dinosaur apocalypse.

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What is the EOS about?

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By Enrique Lescure

Reality

Fundamentally, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability are an organisation that is devoted to reality.

What then is reality? Ultimately, there are only two things you can be sure of existing, namely your own mind and reality (everything that your mind in itself cannot affect without some sort of action through your body). The only thing that you fundamentally know about reality is that it exists independent from your mind. There are some worldviews that disagree with this accessment, especially from the neo-spiritual direction, but EOS bases its analysis on the idea of a reality that exists independent of human opinions about it.

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This means that we believe that if you dress in a Superman outfit and tries to jump from the twelfth floor, it won’t end very well. Chances are high that you would agree with that accessment.

However, not the same can be spoken of our civilizations.

The Eocene Biosphere

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The last mass extinction event was roughly 65 million years ago. It was most likely caused primarily by a meteorite impact outside the Yucatán Peninsula in what would later become the Caribbean Sea. This event ended the era of the Dinosaurs, and led to the birth of the era of the Mammals, who gradually filled out the ecological vacuum left in the smouldering ruins of the Mesozoic eco-systems.

Of course, the rich diversity of land and marine animals we currently enjoy on this Earth are not identical with the species found during the early to middle Eocene phase. In general, evolution tends to fill niches and develop new species and ecosystems in a never-ending symphony.

Evolution can hardly be described as a “hurricane in trash dump”, nor blind and random. Rather, it tests itself against the physical reality and bends itself around it, challenging it and forming a colourful diversity of life. Life also rearranges the very environment itself, forming complex webs of interrelationships – ecosystems – that strive to survive. After all, life wants to live.

meerkat-familyBut does evolution  have an end-game? Isn’t it so that evolution has played out its role, as a few transhumanists assert, as it has reached it’s purpose (producing us)? For certain, evolution continues to go strong, albeit “slow” from the perspective of a human life-time.

The great Canadian Palaeontologist, Dr Dale A. Russell, observed a trend in fossils, namely that the brain-to-body ratio has been steadily rising amongst animal populations in geological time. He predicted that if evolution continues for another 900 million years, brain-to-body ratios of typical animals then will be six times greater than today – meaning that humans are truly exceptional – as the first species that has acquired sapience, but that does not mean that many more intelligent species will see the light of dawn as evolution progresses. If we – or the species descending from us – are still there many millions of years from now, we will be able to observe and experience that very process. We will be able to meet friends we could never have imagined, and will be able to learn much from them on an equal basis.

The Sixth Great Mass Extinction

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Our current civilization is built on exponential economic growth. A large part of the legitimacy of the current socio-economic system is derived from abilities to create consumer cultures and increase the living standards within the frameworks of such a system. After all, as a largely and increasingly secular civilization, we don’t have any heavenly ethos that can legitimise poverty and perpetual debt. But due to economic growth, your children will certainly have it better than you!

The industrial civilization has existed for 200 years, and it can probably last 100 to 200 years more. During its first 200 years, it has managed to create a widening and deeper ecological deficit. It has managed to transform the rules of Earth’s climate and transform the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, upsetting the established climate cycle on the planet. Moreover, it has managed to create extinction levels of species 1000 times faster than the normal rate. In short, we are right now living through a mass extinction event.

The destruction of groundwater and soil to feed our unsustainable agro-industry will serve to accelerate this process, and eventually it will smother the very system it is intended to feed, creating an industrial collapse and see the civilization lose complexity and undergo collapse and dark age phases until we’ve learned the lesson of not overshooting.

However, evolution will go on, and the damage we have done to the planet will be healed during millions of years, until a new balance emerges and new species branch out.

The ethos of EOS

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For every eco-system we destroy, for every species that we make extinct, alter or transform in order to feed the insatiable thirst of oligarchical institutions that mostly benefit a super-elite on the top, we are depriving evolution of opportunities, and depriving the future of potential diversity. We are doing it, either actively by participating in it, or passively by accepting it, because we need to maximise economic growth for the next quarter of a year.

Earth will cope with it.

It is not sure humanity will.

What we want to do is to offer humanity a way that allows us to reach our full potential as an intelligent, responsible and empathetic culture. That the primary goal of the human civilization should be eudaimonia, within the capabilities of the planet, that we should add to the diversity and beauty of this world, not destroy it and turn it into a concrete desert. That we should seek to expand our knowledge and creativity, and act as responsible caretakers of this beautiful world teeming with life.

We are a sapient species. It is time we start behaving as one.

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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.

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