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 Author: bobstockdale
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:59 pm 
Two of the most dangerous lies in common belief are 'Economic Growth is Good' and 'The Energy We Need'. Every dime we spend buys energy, resources, and pollution. That's what money buys. By definition, to grow the economy is to increase energy and resource consumption with a concurrent increase in pollution. The money we spend buys the energy and resources our children won't have and the pollution they will. In the U.S. only a small percentage of the energy and resources we consume and the pollution we leave for our children has anything to do with real need [food, shelter, transportation and health care]. Most of the money we spend goes to ego, fashion, and fun. The dangerous and deadly side effects of our cultural addiction to the pleasures of consumption are becoming obvious, but just as it is with most addictions, denial is still the order of the day. We're hardcore energy addicts.

 Author: bobstockdale
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:33 am 
Picking up the timeline around two centuries ago;
As the industrial revolution exploded around the world, smog became a problem, but it was local. For the next hundred years or so, advances in technology increased our ability to produce thousands of times as much stuff to ease the burdens of life and we put up with the pollution. There was still plenty of room out back to take a dump. Cleanup was an afterthought when it started to interfere in too many lives, and it was local.

The next fifty years gave us the chemical revolution and the communication revolution, which multiplied the complexity of product production manyfold again. In combination with a peak in global population growth rate and a steadily decreasing death rate, this brought on our first taste of global pollution, but it was generally seen as just a nuisance.
The cyber revolution has given us a whole new multiplication of the poisonous byproducts of production and consumption that we have to deal with, and for the first time there's no more room out back to take a dump. Just about every place is someone's back yard.

Even though we're becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of the millions of different chemicals we're pouring into our environment, all our advances in technological innovation for cleanliness and efficiency aren't even coming close to keeping up with the environmental consequences of our desire to consume. We're hardcore energy addicts. Every increase in efficiency just lets us consume more. All forms of consumption involve pollution of some sort. Today, levels of greenhouse gasses and particulate smog are still increasing, and the number and volume of poisons in our air and water are increasing exponentially.

The more you eat, the more you shit. We'll either discipline our consumption, or we'll choke on our shit.

 Author: bobstockdale
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:45 am 
If you research the total effects of the production, consumption, and disposal of everything you buy for even a day and spread it over the surface of the earth multiplied by a few billion, what does it look like?

Not just the visible stuff like the layer of smog that’s clearly visible from space, but the knowledge of the many thousands of different chemicals that it's composed of.
Not just the flood in Los Angeles, but the knowledge of what's in the huge toxic plume as the entire LA basin is washed and flushed into the sea. The rubber worn off millions of tires. The antifreeze and oil dripping from many thousands of cars. The herbicides and pesticides sprayed around a million houses. The residue and spills of the thousands of chemicals used by the thousands of factories around the valley. The layer of particulate smog that settles on everything in the valley.

Not just the product sitting on the shelf, but the chunk of central Canada that was turned to wasteland for the oil it took to get it and you to the store, multiplied by fifty million.

Not just the electricity, but the power plant that produced it. Visualize the energy and pollution that it takes to build and maintain a coal fired facility, and all the products of combustion that it spews out. The average human burns about 5 pounds of coal a day. Are you an average human? Visualize 180,000 railcars a day rolling to the worlds coal fired power plants. Visualize 1,200 miles of coal train rolling continuously at fifty miles an hour.

Visualize a nuclear power plant and what it's likely to look like in a few hundred years. Surveying state of the art technology for the disposal of a nuclear power plant, it seems likely that many of our nuclear reactors will end up spilling their guts one way or another as they become old and derelict.

Not just the fuel we put in our cars, but the products of combustion that come out the other end. Stick your nose in it for just a second and see what it smells like. What you can actually smell is only the smaller and less dangerous portion of what's coming out of the pipe. Multiply that by 3,600 an hour to visualize the size of your plume. Multiply that by 1,000,000,000 to visualize the global plume. Is it decomposing or is it piling up?

One fillup at the gas station can do more work than a strong healthy human body can do in several years. This is not, however, a measure of accomplishment, it's just a measure of work done. Around town, a bicycle would get us there almost as fast, sometimes faster, but the car has to move twenty times as much weight and push many times as much air as a bicycle. The car also consumes about eighty times more energy and resources in its production, and produces hundreds of times more pollution.

What will happen to the billions of old batteries as we convert to electric cars?

When you put on your makeup, do you visualize the energy, resources, and pollution it took to make it? It's mostly just a fad like bustles and corsets and pantyhose. It's just a money scam that women have been conned into. The men I know think that painted eyebrows and false eyelashes are a tacky distraction. When done with discretion, makeup can enhance beauty, but it can't create it. Beauty comes from the inside.

If you buy a cheap plastic toy for your kid, do you visualize the environmental costs our children will have to deal with because of the billions and billions of cheap plastic toys we've bought for our kids? Do you think about what your child will learn from the toy?

Looking ahead a few hundred years, what will we do when most of our resources are homogenized, polluted, and useless in the landfill?

In everything you consume, visualize the results of your consumption. Visualize the results of everything you consume multiplied by millions and billions, and compare that to the size of the earth.

The general populace is awash in a sea of advertising conning them into consuming vast amounts of energy, resources and the subsequent pollution, buying toys to play with for a moment, then throw in the landfill or spend more energy recycling.
The energy industry advertises with the phrase "The energy we need". It's one of the biggest lies the community ever bought. It's mostly just the energy we want. I want the energy and vitality that cocaine brings, but I know that, in the long run, it will bring misery and an early death, so I look for other ways to get energy and vitality or I do without. On a larger scale we're just starting to become aware of the consequences of our energy addiction. We don't need to stop wanting, but we sure need to change what we want.
Inherent in the nature of an addiction are the difficulties associated with quitting. When you're stuck in a rut, it's much easier to stay in the rut. Unfortunately the rut we're in is headed for extinction. It's going to take the very hard and painful efforts of billions of people to climb out of this rut. Until a sufficient percentage of humanity become sufficiently aware of where capitalism is taking us to be motivated enough to make the required effort, it ain't gonna happen. So learn and teach and create a new way. Set aside your toys for a while and get to work. Time is short.

Don't give me any cowardly, fatalistic bullshit about how it's too late. Get your ass in gear. It's way too late to hit the brakes, so grab the wheel and find another way.

 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:33 am 
A vivid description of the engine of the Anthropocene -- the geologic age we have created and now inhabit. Climate change is just the top layer of humans' remaking of the planet. Most science fiction imaginings of the end of the habitability of Earth have posited a sudden nuclear holocaust as the coup de grace. Now we can easily imagine a similar disaster based on the accumulation of a trillion insults.

Capitalism has been an incredibly creative and dynamic force, and has lifted more than half of the 8 or so billion humans now alive out of the hand-to-mouth level of subsistence that was the lot of the vast majority through most of recorded history. Our Republican politicians would have us further "unleash" the power of this immense, more or less self-organizing system, hoping for the return of the abundance of opportunity to make a killing that characterized the late 19th and early 20th century America. They seem quite comfortable with ignoring the costs of that doubling down on the existing arrangement, which is already unleashing the almost unimaginable tide of toxins Mr. Stockdale sketches. The beauty of the system, from the perspective of its enablers, is that no one needs to overtly direct it. The "invisible hand" keeps the top spinning, and the internal logic of the economy demands its never-ending expansion, which must equal at least 3% per year lest we be plunged into one of the system's inherent crises, otherwise known as depressions. We routinely applaud politicians' calls for increased GDP, a bigger pie for all to theoretically share (although the sharing hasn't recently panned out). And 3% doesn't sound earth destroying. But in a world economy burning at well over 100 trillion dollars per year, just 3% per annum amounts to a lot of additional coal, oil, gas, and trees consumed, and a whole chain of additional Mt. Trashmores.

Since the Progressive Era in the early 20th century, a political faction, now centered in the Democratic Party, has sought to rein in the worst abuses of the world-straddling capitalist grinder, to at least ameliorate the dislocations it imposes on the population and to try to reduce the environmental carnage -- its so called "externalities." But we are all riding this tiger, and no mainstream politician can safely suggest dismounting. The battle instead focuses on specific programs like Medicare or ACA or a higher minimum wage, on banning the worst toxins, and on saving endangered species and setting aside parks and monuments. That much could be at realistically pursued without committing political suicide.

But the sixth great extinction, the disappearance of thousands of miles of polar ice, the absence of familiars like the Monarch butterfly -- those put everything in a new context. Amelioration around the edges -- as important as the many individual initiatives have been -- isn't going to keep the worldwide biosphere from spinning further out of kilter. The fundamental nature of our method of living on the Earth now has to be taken into clear-headed consideration. My guess is the terror associated with that prospect is the subterranean heat that's driving our current political chaos. Fear and loathing of immigration and outright racism are always convenient tools for whipping up broad support for the status quo ante (and for the owners of the status quo), but the vague and unacknowledged fear that the whole shooting match is out of control and might be unsustainable turns the heat to 11.

Humans somehow evolved consciousness, and the amazing ability to communicate complex ideas. It's a mysterious power, which doesn't seem to be entirely subject to the same implacable laws that drive most of nature. It's that incredible power that has enabled our transformation from subjects of nature to its (admittedly thoughtless) dominators. Perhaps we can use it to escape the dead end that looms before us, to envision and work toward a new set of operative principles.

Those of us who participated in the various cultural awakenings of the sixties know that radical changes of individual, and even generational, consciousness are possible. We also know changing consciousness doesn't mean the world will change in meaningful ways. We have no choice but to plug away at moving society toward the difficult decisions that have to be made. One step at a time, but with a clear understanding that the full distance must be covered. Lots of good examples are out there (mostly in other countries, unfortunately, or on a very small scale here), and there's no reason to think we can't get there. But there's also no reason to think it will be easy.


 Author: timothius
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:16 pm 
I’ve read your posts and find them very interesting and unnerving. I’m with you to the extent that my knowledge will allow at this point. I have also wondered why economic growth was so important? Why can’t people just live? Because we’ve been taught that we have to have something to show for it! Right now my family is learning to make and preserve our own food that we grow. I have solar panels doing as much power work as possible without a total installation, which I can’t afford, we recycle everything we can in fact the garbage can probably go out once a month. The recycling bin goes out filled to the brim every week. I’ve never quite thought of this in the macro or micro aspect, like economics. On the very large scale it is truly scary. That’s me! Hardly a dent in the scheme of thing you’ve discussed.

So now we have the other 8 or 9 billion to contend with. Not all on the socioeconomic level, and many don’t care one way or the other. We have technology to make things we know are better, but instead we do it the way we do now until forced to go a step further. This all done for the sake of greed. If we just went ahead and embrace the new and more efficient technology, we would still be moving but with perhaps less pollution and waste. This problem is as old as humanity! We can make make change. but we have to educate our fellows, and many could care less because of tradition, culture and economics. So if I live in a small town and I know what to do, and nobody cares. Then what? Do I do what I can and then move because of the stench provided by the others?

Even though I think I understand what you’re saying, and what’s happening I still see us at a loss. We are not, and most likely not provide much for our own survival! We could be likened to a cancer slowly eating our host away. But wait! That’s not all! We may figure out away to move to another part of the whole body, and start the very same project again. Unfortunately with the very same results.

So I think that as long as we stay industrialized with out any real environmental controls with planet and humanity as the main benefactors, were are and are going to be in very deep shit. We already are! It sure doesn’t look as though many of us are going to wake up in time. I’ll still try and hope.

 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:13 pm 
Take heart, Timothius. Your frugal, earth-saving lifestyle is spreading. The US as a whole actually had a decline in the most recent CO2 global report, largely due to our uptake of renewable energy sources. We can of course do much, much more, and we must, if we're going to head off the worst effects of climate change. But the underlying point of my argument is that the inherent logic of capitalism, especially as it has been elaborated in the US, works in direct opposition to what we need to be doing. Our economy is based on an endless glorification of consumption, and any drop-off in the endless flood of production and sales and consumption can send it over the edge into recession or worse. "Business cycles" are part of the core of capitalism, especially if political leaders spend all their time railing against and in fact eliminating regulations intended to moderate the excesses of capital. Europe has, at various levels and times, come to realize the body politic must protect itself from the heedless impacts of capital. Admittedly they wax and wane in terms of the boldness and consistency they display in reining in corporate and individual greed, but at least the basic need to do so, to a significant degree, is generally accepted. (England is probably the exception, but then they're Brexiting.) In the US it's virtually sacrilege to denounce capital as I'm doing here; we have moved in the opposition direction from the Europeans, and from our own successful New Deal compromise, for the last 40 years. Freebooting capitalists are somehow now seen as all-American heroes, towering individuals bucking the odds. Is it any wonder we now have billionaires running everything? It's time we put some of those old myths to rest, including the ersatz and (among Republicans) wildly popular Ayn Rand regurgitations of them. Unless our political discourse can return to a balanced view where the needs and rights of the community as a whole have at least as strong a claim on political decision making as "individual rights", we will never turn this ship around. A good step one would be overturning the heinous Citizens United decision, whereby billionaires' and corporations' secret spending is judged to be "free speech" and our democratic elections are almost entirely corrupted.


 Author: gorwest
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:06 am 
A lot of us seem to be very aware of the problems, yet there is little awareness or action on solutions. The solutions involve solving problems that are very little understood. Shelby touched on one of the roots - our system, or perhaps better to say culture, of economics.

"You can't fix a problem until you understand what the problem is."

"An entrepreneur sees problems as the seeds of opportunity."

Just as there is more than one root problem, there must be more than one solution. Some potential solutions are very big and speculative - political actions are in that category.

Other solutions that are doable by us as individuals are microscopic and may seem unimportant to fixing the BIG problem. It is curious that we will practice some of the tiniest fixes, which really are fundamentally unimportant (recycling), but avoid only slightly larger solutions because they are too inconvenient (investing locally). It's tough to go alone against the culture, which is like a river flowing towards a waterfall. But as a community (creeks tributary to the global cultural river), beginning with smaller communities of activist people within larger generic communities, we can start helping each other to swim upstream and fix our watersheds, slowing down the runoff and stopping the erosion.

I have been working for three decades on a number of community scaled solutions that are promising eddies in our cultural creek. Not wanting to sound negative, but there has been a very poor response from the community at large to jumping in to help, much to my immense frustration.

The core fix revolves around local investment. The global economic system controls most of the money, and it takes money to make things happen. The global money culture does not care about anything but making more money, and it virtually ignores any non monetized benefits to the health of communities or the environment. We are indebted to Donald Trump right now for showing us clearly how this is so. But we are caught in the flow of that river, and are heading rapidly for the waterfall. Even knowing we are headed to catastrophe, it is difficult to separate from that culture - it is very inconvenient. It is especially hard to do individually. This is one of the fundamental and largely unexamined problems.

Lately, however, there seems to be a growing interest in communities, in sustainability, in regeneration, in doing for ourselves what government and corporations will not do for us. At the individual and community level we cannot directly solve all of the world's problems. What we can do is fix the watershed of our creek.

Many people in our community have projects and interests that are small fixes, and I am sure that we all face the same obstacles to fulfillment. A major problem is that we are scattered and none are getting adequate support. I am convinced that all could flourish with community investment at a level that will not even be all that inconvenient. I am also convinced that the benefits will eclipse those currently resulting from investments in the global economic system.

The projects I am involved in are these:
San Vicente Farms; we need a new member to buy into the LLC. We need financial and physical support to build the farm into a significant local food producer; an educational center; and a research facility. Recent new collaborations with The Volunteer Center and with Aldo Leopold Charter School are starting to blossom, and support is also needed for them.

Biochar Systems; A small number of us have formed a new company, The Trollworks LLC, that is doing R&D on the making and use of biochar. We are beginning to manufacture Biochar+Energy systems, which are being marketed locally and nationally. A grant proposal for a pilot project in northern NM is in the works - we need to have a pilot project in our home community, as well. Trollworks needs business participants and investment capital. The potential for triple-bottom-line benefits is substantial, including the possibility for significant reduction in atmospheric CO2! Trollworks is actually poised to have the ability to be a global fix.

Forest, watershed, and soil restoration; Gila WoodNet and collaborators are still alive and kicking, but in need of real community support in both the human and financial capital realms.

We got problems - we got solutions. Let's not continue to allow our reluctance to work on the local solutions to be one of the problems.


 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:06 am 
Thanks for bringing us back down to the firm ground of possible solutions, Gordon. If you're ready to expand the investor base of Trollworks, I'm with you. It's a very exciting concept. Will give you a call. Shelby

 Author: bdlb
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:57 am 
This Wall Street Journal video is somewhat responsive:
https://www.wsj.com/video/series/moving ... 72EC8AB882

 Author: choshe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 7:11 am 
A very provocative file by WSJ; thank you, Bdlb! While I've always preferred a decentralized concept of capitalism, I believe in the post-capitalist concepts that Jeremy Rifkin has popularized in Europe because this perspective has indeed founded new social organizations that can expand private resources through "block chain" business patterns, such as Uber or Air bnb. These economic reorganization patterns also provide options for personal reinvestment of shared resources that can create channels of revenue outside the two "substandard" choices we have always been taught were the only options in America. That is: Either own, invest in, or work for a corporation--or get the government to do it. But the conversations I've had with Europeans show this social reorganization is really working--and it's rebuilding community in Europe--as WSJ suggests.

Yes, Rifkin's work is literally working....And I'm thrilled that his socioeconomic approach is based on the same system I had in: the information theory of biological systems, combined with the physics of energy. No, entropy doesn't just disappear outside the system, and yes, Ilya Prigogine's "dissipative structures" are real. For example, see: https://www.osti.gov/accomplishments/prigogine.html. The question, however, for those who believe that dissipation can be mitigated in local eddies, or pools, of chaotic order--so that entropy doesn't automatically sweep us over the waterfall--hang on, there's enough left in that decrepit plane to hold you up--if you can lift your feet over your head--is: How can organic and social structures be intertwined differently to prevent dissipation through time?

While I believe that "biomimicry" holds the key, I also believe it's our responsibility as social beings to learn to converge local systems so that we can "grow" local economies, (i.e. through living biochar), that can truly "mimic" the patterns of energy in nature. To me, that means local investment in non-dissipative systems also requires "connective investment" in the necessary skills that are essential to the system's growth--and reproduction--and that means new training and retraining paradigms.

WNMU's designation as an "Applied Liberal Arts" is a great way to develop curriculum that applies this "connective investment" or reorganization perspective, but it also requires rethinking the traditional dividing line of public vs. private institutions. For example, when I came to Western as a "Visiting Professor" in 1990, I was given a class labelled: "Business Communication." Except it wasn't. This class was a designed, funded, and filled by Applied Technology. It was an example of a new area in our discipline I was trained in called: "Applied Communication." I was thrilled. I threw out the textbook, developed work groups, and had my Applied Technology students brainstorm new areas of technology that could converge with existing curriculum for applied training areas--AND this was the key: they had to develop projects that applied their training so that it would bring them both jobs AND revenue to the University. Why?

This is not your typical Cartesian split where we think that public institutions only take money and private ones can only make money. This requires a new type of Imagineering--one that looks forward in time to see if there's some way to regenerate our systems to prevent or at least slow down dissipation.

Having spent about 15 years in higher education by that time, I could see the funding crisis coming, and I believed that we should break up our block grant ideas about public vs. private funding. I think if public institutions are to serve the population, then they need to demonstrate how businesses can be profitable--and I did that by applying a triple bottom line to the University. One of the several projects my students developed, for example, was to build a lodge on top of James Stadium hill. This Lodge would capture the wind with turbines up there to run the facility, and develop AA degrees to train students in hotel and facilities management, hospitality, and the culinary arts. It just makes sense. Western makes money to help pay for the bricks and mortar, the students get training in jobs that are--adventurous to say the least--and that will always be in high demand, and the community gets a great asset for tourism. This is clearly a 3BL solution.

So, what can be done to promote such convergence locally now? My suggestion is a Water Institute, funded by the State legislature, co-managed with NMSU, and located in Silver City because we have the water. Unlike the Water Institute in Louisiana--which primarily focuses on water pollution--ours should focus on water conservation and enhancement. Oh, and divert some of those diversion funds into establishing co-ventures with other state & federal agencies--like Gila Trout aquaponics since both USF&W and NM Fish and Game both have funds and facilities--or developing organic, cyanobacteria fertilizers, like Spirulina, that are being developed on-site in Colorado--or applying structured water experiments to see if they can both increase production and reduce water consumption, like the Rainwater H2O devices are suggested to do--or maybe even testing the filtered glass that is now being produced from pulverized, recycled glass....

All of these convergent 3BL industries require water--pure water--and highly skilled technicians, like our local geochemists @ WNMU & Aldo Leopold, that know to imagineer and manage testing and water conservation projects. And while we're at it, let's also expand and integrate the healing arts that are a part of our region's history. Let's truly celebrate "Las Cienegas" by building Roman baths with radiant heat floors, and store some of that water in limestone cisterns underground--with amethysts embedded to enhance mineral ionization--or combine shungite that's used to purify water in Russia with locally-produced copper urns as the ancient Ayurvedics used to store water--instead of digging big holes in the ground, and allowing that ionization to dissipate as surface water--or diverting it into irrigation fields--that are filled with what kind of nitrogen pollutants?

And where would this Water Institute be situated? Well you might call me crazy, but I think it should be placed at the golf course. Why? First of all, because it's a Town property that's already managed by WNMU. Second, because I think it's a great test facility. The course uses gray water from the wastewater treatment facility--most of the time--but it could also benefit from testing of structured water devices--that are designed to increase both conservation and hydration. The Town also has water rights, I think, on an adjoining property that would allow for future well testing and/or the development of underground water tanks, and the location could also accept pulverized glass for water filtration tests--(which by the way, the Brits have shown can stop lateral seepage into groundwater) or maybe all that pulverized, recycled glass could be dumped there to build bigger--and better--sand traps. I'm imagining butterfly-shaped traps, filled with resilient, pulverized glass, that collect the early-morning run-off of structured water that has a higher viscosity so that the balls would spin faster, instead of being ground into the sand, and literally fly out of the trap with the stroke of your club....It might even make being "above par" more fun....Now that's what I call "imagineering"--with an applied twist--but then, I've always liked a good rum & tonic if it mixes business with pleasure....Saludos!

 Author: choshe
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:19 pm 
Here's another "green" project that requires dedicated and well-managed water sources. Nature is inherently integrated....Most problems do not exist in a "test tube." Just like the European perspective of "both/and," seeing the world in foreground/background gestalts can help widen your perspective, so you're able to see "the forest for the trees." "Black or white," or "either/or" mentalities belittle the environmental component systems. As my college Communications professor once asked us when we were discussing the functionality of a door, "So, would that door exist without the wall?"

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisFuture/ ... 890507564/

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