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In Denial: We Pursue Endless Growth At Our Peril

A requiem for planet Earth
Friday, May 29, 2015, 10:09 AM

As we've been discussing of late here at PeakProsperity.com, humans desperately need a new story to live by. The old one is increasingly dysfunctional and rather obviously headed for either a quite dismal or possibly disastrous future. One of the chief impediments to recognizing the dysfunction of the old story and adopting a new one is the most powerful of all human emotional states: Denial.

I used to think that Desire was the most powerful human emotion because people are prone to risking everything in their lives – careers, marriages, relationships with their family and close friends - pursuing lust or accumulating 10,000 times more money and possessions than they need in their desire for “more.”

Perhaps it was my own blind spot(s) that prevented me from really appreciating just how powerful human denial really is. But here we are, 40 years after the Club of Rome and 7 years after the Great Financial Accident of 2008, collectively pretending that neither was a sign warning of the dangers we face -- as a global society -- if we continue our unsustainable policies and practices that assume perpetual growth.

Economic Denial

In the realm of economics, the level of collective denial gripping the earth’s power centers is extraordinary. Perhaps that should be of little surprise, as we're now at the height of the largest set of nested financial bubbles ever blown in world history.

The bigger the bubble(s) the bigger the levels of denial required to sustain their expansion. These bubbles are doozies, and that explains the massive and ongoing efforts to prevent any sort of reality from creeping into the national and global dialog.

To understand this pattern of avoidance of unpleasant realities, consider the behavior of cities -- even entire nations -- which cannot bring themselves to talk openly about their state of insolvency, let alone do something about it.

Chicago has amassed debt and underfunded liabilities totaling $63 billion, or more than $61,000 per household. Illinois already ‘enjoys’ the second highest property tax rate in the nation at 2.28 percent of a property’s value, which means the average property tax bill for the median home is $5,200 per year. On top of that, Illinois' income tax is a flat 5% and brings in a total of $18 billion from 4.7 million households, or $3,800 per household. Combined, that's $9,000 in taxes per year per average household (which earns $38,625).

Here's the brutal math: the current city deficit is 675% of current tax receipts. How exactly does Chicago plan to scrape another $61,000 out of each household on top of the existing tax bills? 

It doesn’t. It has no plan. The plan is to simply remain in denial and ignore everything until it all breaks down. Which it has indeed started to do, with the ever-late, after-the-horse-has-already-left-the-barn downgrade of the city’s debt to junk status by Moodys.

Or perhaps we could note that of the six mayoral candidates seeking election to run the city of Philadelphia, not one has even talked about its massive $5.7 billion pension shortfall during the campaign, even as they promise expanded pre-kindergarten programs and tax cuts. Not one. Do you think that any of them has an actual plan to address that budget gap's dream-crushing burden?

They don’t. The only ‘plan’ they have is to remain in denial and ignore everything until it all breaks down. And then, we might guess, blame the prior administrations.

Japan has the most debt per person of any nation in the world, standing at nearly $100,000 per resident. And that burden is growing every year. Yet in 2005, Japan passed an important milestone as its population peaked at 128 million. It's been declining ever since. Japan lost 244,000 net residents in 2013, and is now trundling on a downwards population trajectory for the next 50-60 years. And at the same time, it is growing older -- Japan has the second highest median age in the world.

Clearly that demographic profile is a recipe for economic shrinkage, not growth. And yet the Japanese central bankers and politicians are hell-bent on creating rapid economic growth via the twin cattle prods of reckless money printing and excessive government borrowing. How is it that the leaders of Japan have convinced themselves that rapid economic growth is what they need (instead of the more rational and opposite case of managed economic shrinkage)? What’s their plan, exactly?

They have no plan. The plan is to simply remain in denial and ignore everything until it all breaks down.

The same story is written everywhere, with every example sharing the same common element of presumed perpetual growth. Everybody plans on growing steadily, forever into the future, amen.

The United States is no different. It's own entitlement shortfalls, pegged at anywhere from $60 trillion to $220 trillion, are themselves still derived with the assumption of future growth.

Here’s the ‘plan’ for the US according to the CBO:

Yes, the ‘plan’ is for the US to someday have an economy equal to the entire current world GDP as it stands here in 2015. Does that make any sense to anybody at all? Who thinks that’s a realistic plan?

By 2080 when this is supposed to take place, the entire world will be past the peak of all known sources of energy. And Phosphate. And soil. And fresh water. And oceanic fish biomass. And who knows what else. And yet the CBO blithely assumes that US, all on its own, will be producing and consuming 100% of what the entire world does today.

The above chart helps us visualize one of the largest and most potentially destructive forms of denial on display. Our collective denial of limits.  It's also good to remember that all of the entitlement shortfalls are 'only' as bad as they because of the assumption of uninterrupted US economic growth.  Should economic growth fall short of that spectacular run that will take the US to a worldly level of consumption and production, then the entitlement programs will prove to be just that much more underfunded.

Ecological Denial

Sadly, it's on the natural fronts that human denial seems to be at its most extreme. Hollywood visions and SciFi fantasies aside (where humans live in sealed capsules and subsist entirely on man-made foods), humans are 100% utterly dependent on the natural world for their survival. Food, water, oxygen, and predictable temperatures and rainfall patterns provide the basics of life.

To focus on just one part, which I also detail in The Crash Course book, humans are rapidly degrading our soils upon which everything depends.

Not only are we obviously losing topsoil to erosion and generally turning soil into lifeless dirt by stripping out its biological diversity, we are mining these soils for their micro and macro nutrients yet have no coordinated plan for replacing them.

Obviously if you take minerals like calcium and magnesium out of the soils in the form of harvested grains and vegetables, they'll need to be replaced. Right now they are mainly flushed out to sea, never to be economically recovered.

The situation is pretty grim as I recently outlined in a recent report on our nation's poor soil management practices. Here’s some more context for that view:

Britain has only 100 harvests left in its farm soil as scientists warn of growing 'agricultural crisis'

Oct 20, 2014

Intense over-farming means there are only 100 harvests left in the soil of the UK’s countryside, a study has found.

With a growing population and the declining standard of British farmland, scientists warned that we are on course for an “agricultural crisis” unless dramatic action is taken.

Despite the traditional perception that there is a green and pleasant land outside the grey, barren landscape of our cities, researchers from the University of Sheffield found that on average urban plots of soil were richer in nutrients than many farms.

“With a growing population to feed, and the nutrients in our soil in sharp decline, we may soon see an agricultural crisis,” Professor Dunnett said.

“Meanwhile we are also seeing a sharp decrease in bio-diversity in the UK which has a disastrous knock-on effect on our wildlife Lack of pollinators means reduction in food.

(Source)

Scientists in the UK are being matched by scientists elsewhere, noting that humanity’s general approach towards soils and farming are obviously destructive and exceptionally unsustainable. It should be setting off alarm bells that urban plots are found to be more nutrient-dense than many farms.

The loss of biodiversity is something that we just cannot yet fully comprehend, as all of nature is an enormously intertwined set of complex relationships. Of course, our failure to understand and appreciate the true role(s) of biodiversity will not protect us from the consequences of destroying it.

Any culture that ruins its soils cannot claim any sort of sophistication at all. That just flunks the basic IQ test. It’s not unlike watching a brilliant piano prodigy starve to death because he can't manage the details of making his own meals despite a well-stocked kitchen. No matter how beautifully he can play, he simply lacks the necessary skills to sustain himself.

Human security at risk as depletion of soil accelerates, scientists warn

May 7, 2015

Steadily and alarmingly, humans have been depleting Earth's soil resources faster than the nutrients can be replenished. If this trajectory does not change, soil erosion, combined with the effects of climate change, will present a huge risk to global food security over the next century, warns a review paper authored by some of the top soil scientists in the country.
The paper singles out farming, which accelerates erosion and nutrient removal, as the primary game changer in soil health.

"Ever since humans developed agriculture, we've been transforming the planet and throwing the soil's nutrient cycle out of balance," said the paper's lead author, Ronald Amundson, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley. "Because the changes happen slowly, often taking two to three generations to be noticed, people are not cognizant of the geological transformation taking place."

(Source)

Notice the shifting baselines phenomenon happening here. Because the changes have taken place over three generations, our culture is incapable of recognizing the threat, let alone properly responding to it.

Instead of a bucolic pastime, farming has become just another mirror reflecting our destructive ways. Rather than carefully working within natural cycles, the average farming practice seeks to dominate and override nature.

Just spray and you’re done! Easy-peasy. Of course, this has the chance of knocking out your birds and your bees as well as the butterflies and who knows what other essential and beneficial insects as I recently laid out in the report: Suicide By Pesticide.

Pesticides kill the bugs we don’t want and many more besides. Herbicides knock out weeds, but also lots of other life-forms we do need and want kept alive. Fungicides knock out bad funguses and good ones alike.

This lazy approach to farming, although chemically sophisticated, lacks any real connection to the cycles of nature the most obvious one being the strip-mining of the macro and micro nutrients.

There was a reason that the herbivores roamed over the same grounds for hundreds of thousands and even millions of years. That worked to keep everything in balance and led to the creation of the thickest and healthiest soils imaginable when the American West was first plowed not all that long ago (by historical standards).

Horribly bleak study sees ‘empty landscape’ as large herbivores vanish at startling rate

May 4, 2015

They never ateanybody — but now, some of planet Earth’s innocentvegetarians face end times.Large herbivores — elephants, hippos, rhinos and gorillas among them — are vanishing from the globe at a startling rate, with some 60 percent threatened with extinction, a team of scientists reports.

The situation is so dire, according toa new study, that it threatens an “empty landscape” in some ecosystems “across much of the planet Earth.”

The authors were clear: This is a big problem — and it’s a problem with us, not them.

This slaughterand its consequences are not modest, the article said. In fact, the rate of decline is such that “ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.”

Herbivores, it turns out, don’t just idle about munching on various green things. They play a vital role as “ecosystem engineers,” the paper said — expanding grasslands for plant species, dispersing seeds in manure, and, in the ultimate sacrifice, providing food for predators.

(Source)

It’s the last paragraph that’s essential to understand.

Nature is so subtle and complex, that we have only recently learned that wolves shape rivers. Or perhaps the Native Americans knew that and it is our ‘modern’ culture that is only re-figuring all this out. I was confused by the thought of wolves shaping rivers the first time I heard it too, but it’s all laid out in this handy 4 minute video:


The loss of large herbivores will re-shape the landscape in ways that we do not yet understand and therefore cannot appreciate. But they are certainly ‘ecosystem engineers’ and the loss of those services, to put it in transactional terms that economists might relate to, will lead to a whole host of as-yet-undefined changes some of which we will regret.

We're Not At The Tipping Point; We've Already Passed It

The roles of eating, digesting and spreading seeds and manure seem like things we can make do without, here at the apex of the petroleum age, but in a few short decades we will understand just how much energy was necessary and how much value was created by the actions of these herbivores.

In Part 2: Life Beyond The Tipping Point we look at the looming net energy crisis is mathematically certain to place increasing limits on the modern way of life, in our lifetime -- likely much sooner than we want or are prepared for. In sum, despite the intent of world leaders to blindly deny the economic, ecological and energetic cliffs we are hurdling towards, society has already long past the point where painful ramifications can be avoided. At this stage, destiny will be determined at the individual level, depending on what steps each of takes now, before those ramifications arrive in force. 

Click here to read Part 2 of this report(free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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187 Comments

Rector's picture
Rector
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 8 2010
Posts: 509
I liked it better when we talked about gold. . .

It's  depressing to see how stupidly we are managing our affairs.  When this stupidity is  constrained to the realms of economics and petroleum it seems like the collapse will "fix it".  But these ecological catastrophes will take centuries to fix.

We don't own these resources - we were tasked with managing them with care.  We  were called to be stewards of the resources of this planet.  And just like all bad managers we are going to be fired. 

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

Rector

 

HarryFlashman's picture
HarryFlashman
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 1 2008
Posts: 54
Stewards????

We are not stewards! We are part of the eco-system and a massively skewed part of it as I write this comment. Stewardship is a religious concept and it is that type of thinking that has got us into this situation and threatens to make it impossible to get out. 
 

This planet that we live on, almost certainly the only habitat in the universe ,that we have any hope of ever reaching or occupying, is badly overpopulated. We can argue about consumption and numbers and waste until the cow get slaughtered, but the people who live now are doing too much damage as it is, what happens when the rest of the world (the other 6/7ths who don't have a first world lifestyle) gets what we've got? (Well, nothing, because it's never going to happen, not enough resources, mi'lord! ). We need action now on population, but it's never going to happen, because no politician has the spine and would never get voted in on that platform. 

 

So, what does this mean? Nothing will happen, as Chris said, there will be no action, because it's too difficult and democracy will never allow it. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas! Happy extinction everyone! The following article says it all really! Just take a look at the comments from the Indians in there, basically,' You had it and we want it even if it kills everyone!' seriously........

 

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/may/27/why-india-is-captured-by-carbon

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 1628
Not stewards????

Harry wrote:

We are not stewards! We are part of the eco-system and a massively skewed part of it as I write this comment. Stewardship is a religious concept and it is that type of thinking that has got us into this situation and threatens to make it impossible to get out. 

"We are not stewards" is every bit a religious/faith belief as is "We are stewards."  Harry, I dare say there has been very, very little thinking among the masses of humanity throughout history that:

1. We are not the ultimate authority or power on the Earth or in the universe.

2. There is such an ultimate authority/power who created the universe.

3. That Power put us here as part of the Earth's ecosystem with specific instructions to prosper from the Earth's bounty (just like the rest of the Earth's organisms do), but also to take care of the Earth because we ultimately have to answer to that Power for how we have treated and mistreated each other and this Earth.

I believe it is to the extent that humanity has denied one or more of those three unproven beliefs above "that has got us into this situation and threatens to make it impossible to get out," as you said. 

However,

those who deny that there is an ultimate Power but still see that we have to take care of the Earth for humanity's own sake

are the allies of

those who believe there is an ultimate Power to whom we must ultimately answer for how we have treated the Garden with which we were entrusted.

I embrace you Harry as my ally on this Earth, even though you don't share my faith perspective.  I say we can work together wisely, within the natural limits and cycles of this Earth, to both prosper and hand off a healthier Earth to the next generation.

Will you join me in cooperation Harry, or have you made me and others like me your sworn enemies?

Tom

climber99's picture
climber99
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 12 2013
Posts: 185
When it becomes evident that

When it becomes evident that we are at the limits to growth, governments will be forced to reduce debts and liabilities.  There many ways that this can be done. Here are just a few; (see if you can see what they all have in common).  Debt jubilee (savers take the hit), currency revaluation (savers take the hit), debt free money creation (savers take the hit), negative interest rates (savers take the hit).  i.e. INFLATION.     Debts, liabilities and savings get diminished in equal measure.  Whatever way it is done, it will be deeply unpopular amongst savers and this is why politicians don't want to talk about it.

And by the way, before anyone attacks me, I will be affected just as badly as any other saver. If you are young and have been forced to take on too much debt to get educated or get a roof over your head then this will be a good thing.  There is no other way out.  The fact remains that savings are only borrowed money in our monetary system after all and this has evolved to expand and contract in line with underlaying GDP.

At the end of the day, we, the baby boomer gereration, have done very well out of it at the expense of the planet and future generations.

ps. I love your "we are at the apex of the petroleum age" phrase. 

Doug's picture
Doug
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Posts: 3176
Stewards

If we are not already, then we must become stewards of the earth's ecosystem.  We are the only beings on this rock who have the conscious ability to manipulate the ecosystem.  We've done a pretty bad job so far.  What we have done is more akin to pillaging than stewardship.  Along the way, of course, we have created a way of life in the developed world that is the envy of the rest of the world.  What most do not yet understand is that the status quo is not sustainable.  The so-called third world must come to terms with the reality that they cannot live like us.  It may not be fair, but as we have repeatedly been told, life ain't fair.

The developed world must come to terms with the reality that we cannot continue to live like this.  We must sacrifice...a lot.  Pretending that we can continue our lifestyle on renewable energy is a fantasy.  We have to start downscaling and soon if we are to salvage a survivable society using much less energy.

I'm taking a permaculture course in which we are told that developing our own landscape should be 2/3 work and 1/3 sitting around looking at the landscape, understanding how it currently functions and figuring out how we can transform it into a productive self sustaining resource that will support not only our family but produce a surplus for the community as well.  And then figure out how we can bring the rest of the community on board with the same goal.  It is an intimidating task and one I am far from certain can be pulled off.  But, it must be done everywhere if the planet and its inhabitants are to survive.

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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I wish, Tom

I could give you more thumbs up

HarryFlashman's picture
HarryFlashman
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'If we are not already, then

'If we are not already, then we must become stewards of the earth's ecosystem.  We are the only beings on this rock who have the conscious ability to manipulate the ecosystem.  We've done a pretty bad job so far. '

I couldn't agree more with this, but not from a religious perspective. We do need to become 'Stewards', but no higher power made us this way and if there was one, just imagine how annoyed he'd be with us for the dreadful mess we've made!

thc0655, yes,I'll work with anyone who doesn't expect me to share their nonsense, and who has the best interests of our species in mind. 'the best interests' means an end to reckless breeding, in opposition to 'go forth and multiply'..........

climber99's picture
climber99
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Posts: 185
Religious hogwash. 

Religious hogwash.  As the late Catton would say;  we are no different from yeast in a vat of sugar.  The population increases uncontrollably until all the sugar is used up and then it crashes.  Our sugar is fossil energy.  In a couple of hundred years time a few Homo Sapiens (numbered in millions rather than billions) may still be around.  In a couple of thousand years time the climate will have stabilised, radio activity from our abandoned nuclear power stations will be down to background levels and other species of animals will have recovered their numbers.  No doubt, other religions will have been invented by then and fought over. Same old same old.

New_Life's picture
New_Life
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Posts: 334
Thankfully a reasoned approach.
climber99 wrote:

Religious hogwash.  As the late Catton would say;  we are no different from yeast in a vat of sugar.  The population increases uncontrollably until all the sugar is used up and then it crashes.  Our sugar is fossil energy.  In a couple of hundred years time a few Homo Sapiens (numbered in millions rather than billions) may still be around.  In a couple of thousand years time the climate will have stabilised, radio activity from our abandoned nuclear power stations will be down to background levels and other species of animals will have recovered their numbers.  No doubt, other religions will have been invented by then and fought over. Same old same old.

Religon and the concept of a god is human made fiction, which thankfully we are (albeit slowly) evolving beyond.

Ever took a second to stop and think that given there are many religions that claim they know the answer, they can't all be correct, please consider just for a second that all religions are false.

We are all simply organic matter. Everything that has, does and will ever exist is purely the result of a moment of randomness exploding into infinite nothingness 13.7 billion years ago.

Its incredible (but also inevitable) that anything at all exists, even more so that we exist and are able to witness it.

The concept of god is purely that, it was just a less evolved mans concept/fairytale that's been handed down for probably less than 500 generations of humanity.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
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Posts: 3102
Caution - remember our Discussion Guidelines

I'm taking a moment away from working on the new book Chris and I are writing to request folks remember this site's Discussion Guidelines & Rules, specifically our requirement that we stick to empirical data and leave our own personal belief systems at the door (i.e., let's keep discussion of religion/politics/etc out of the comments)

Let's let the moderators have a restful weekend.

tx

A

ChandOne's picture
ChandOne
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Posts: 30
Lot of different perspectives

The amazing thing which stood out to me in reading the comments is that we all have a common desire to do what is right for future generations, regardless of religious/non perspective. But the skeptic in me reads Doug's comment "We are the only beings on this rock who have the conscious ability to manipulate the ecosystem. " and had to laugh a little.  I question this statement. We, on an individual level, sure, we can do this. But on a collective level, all the various special-interests come out and gum up the decision making apparatus to the point where all we can do is keep on walking the same path.  Collectively, I don't have much hope.

I read somewhere that when scientists model human decision making on a grand scale, they count us as incapable of foresight-based decision making. As only capable of changing as a result of crisis. I think that's true, leaving us all just as impotent as those over-breeding deer who couldn't help starve themselves to a population collapse. As a result, I fear our biggest bubble is not a currency bubble, but a population bubble. 

Lastly, my $0.02 on continued growth. I believe that CBO projection on economic growth is nearly exactly correct. For one reason - it is stated in fiat currency. The unlimited printing presses of the world can growth the economy to any extent required... but the Primary and Secondary forms of wealth will hit real limits of growth. That's inflation.

Chris' advice through the Crash Course led me to diversify into Primary and secondary forms of wealth, and I can happily state that, as of 2 months ago, I managed to buy 70 acres of forest land beside a lake here in the Pacific NorthWest, where I plan to put a house.  Now if things go really well, fingers crossed, I'm hoping that inflationary trend will wipe out my dollar-denominated debt... ;-)

Best wishes to everyone, and if there are PP'ers looking to gain experience in building a timber-frame house or setup a permaculture food-forest, reach out to me. I'm very much in need of volunteer's and/or people who know more about construction than I

 

New_Life's picture
New_Life
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Posts: 334
But let's get on

I'm not here to troll or be argumentative.

I accept that my views above are difficult for many to accept.

As Chris says let's focus on what we agree on, he is less interested in why our reasons differ for moving to action as they can be a distraction.

Peace and Prosperity to you all that care.

climber99's picture
climber99
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Posts: 185
Human perspectives

"we all have a common desire to do what is right for future generations".  Not sure about this.  As my wife tells me, as I bore her yet again about my predictions about the future, most people don't think about it at all. 

Page 19, Limits to Growth, Figure 1 Human Perspectives illustrates it perfectly.  Most people think in terms of "family" and "next week".  Very, very few think in terms of "world" and "children's lifetime".  This explains why such an important book as this has made exactly zero difference in the real world since it was first published in 1972,  why Catton compared us to yeast in his book Overshoot in 1980 and why sites such as this one continue to make very little impression on policy makers round the world.

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Posts: 3936
My fantasy

It is interesting that Religion has made an appearance. It means that the message has got through to us.

There are no atheists in foxholes.  Let me make a prediction. Theism will surge back as more people face their (inevitable) existential crisis.

I am in complete denial about mine. I phantasize about clean white sheets in a friendly hospice. I have my doubts. I think I will go and have a nice cup of coffee.

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Posts: 2839
Doomers, we get it

Head nod to the doomers out there, most here get it.  Population is going to come down, probably way down, most probably in an uncontrolled fashion.  Assuming we don't all go the way of the dodo, Nature is gonna be out of whack for a good long while for those that remain.

Doesn't get us off the hook for trying though. If you give a s*** you have to try. So maybe ease up a bit on the doom. Most here get it. And The Thing isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"Enjoying" another toasty warm day here in the Pacific Northwest.  With my tomato plants.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Posts: 1190
folks

Why did the negative karma come from the non-theists? isn't it usually the christians who spread vehemence and vitriol?

I believed Sartre when he said, "for the finite to exist, the infinite must exist as a reference." is it possible for all that to be a hominids anthropomorphization of the infinite?

smile yawl, we all love MaMa.

Rector's picture
Rector
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 8 2010
Posts: 509
How do we move forward?

You can tell what's true by what is angrily opposed. Thanks for the verification. 

How do we make "progress" on reducing the population?  What actions can we take?  Something like China has instituted perhaps?  That kind of final solution doesn't sound better to me. Especially since it seems like I might be part of the problematic group that needs to be reduced. I have 4 kids. Perhaps I should sterilize myself and then what?  Any ideas on implementation or can we get back to taking better care of the planet and our resources?

Stewardship - :  the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially  :  the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care <stewardship of natural resources>

Rector 

ezlxq1949's picture
ezlxq1949
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Joined: Apr 29 2009
Posts: 225
Sea change

I presume I'm not the only PP reader to have noticed the sea change in the tone and tenor of PP in the last few weeks: from vague optimism to clear pessimism.

But that's OK: PP is coming to terms with the fact that the world is NOT going to change course until forced to, and that will be destructive and painful.

Nothing new here. I and many others have been glum and pessimistic about the course of the world since the dawning of the environmental movement in the 60s. I remember a report back then in Time or Newsweek of an Alaskan businessman getting stroppy about this new concept of environment: "It used to be the limitless outback but now it's the [expletive deleted] fragile tundra!" Whether he ever came to terms with it is not recorded.

All of us in PP feel a collective responsibility to take the best care of our planet that we can, so let us continue in doing just that. Our example matters and is noticed.

kaimu's picture
kaimu
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Posts: 160
WELCOME TO COSTCO!

Aloha! What religion is worshipped anywhere other than "consuming"? Even Christopher Columbus and everything Captain Cook did was to further the religious beliefs of "consuming"! The BIGGEST empires consumed the most! That is how we measure the wealth of any Nation on Earth. That is how we measure the wealth of any individual on Earth! It is human nature. Sure there are a few Mother Theresas out there that stumble onto a meager existence and somehow promote it to the masses and get a few awards in the process, but those are the extreme rare humans ... the .000000001% of the .01%!!! The rest of us are just on Earth to consume our way through our life and we don't think! Let me say it again ... WE DON'T THINK!!! The economic misery index has to be off the charts lowest of the low for any group of humans to forgo their life of consumption in order to make the life of the next generation better.

I am sorry but who here would give up everything they worked for to be a George Washington or a Fidel Castro for that matter? Who wants to voluntarily give up their Lexus SUV and their mini-Mansion and hide in the Rocky Mountains fighting the US military for the next ten years? Show of hands???? Hmmmm ... any? Just one? Huh? Any "Freedom Fighters" out there? Not one? Ah ... okay ... 

If anyone here has children then "you were not thinking" about anyone other than yourself! Having children is one of the most self consumed actions any human can take and yet somehow we are all brainwashed into believing it has some noble purpose and that we deserve huge accolades! The IRS even hands out tax credits for your reckless behavior! I think you deserve huge tax credits for NOT having kids! Anyone have kids out there? How much of the Earth's resources will it take to get your child from a baby to 80?

Here you go ...

Holy ... man ... 3.11 million pounds!!! Unreal ...

I know ... maybe your child will be the one who invents a process that creates unlimited energy from one oxygen molecule! More than likely though it is this scenario that the human species is predestined to inherit in all its grandiosity ...

Josh Duggar and the Catholic Church take a bow ...

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Not thinking
Quote:

If anyone here has children then "you were not thinking" about anyone other than yourself! Having children is one of the most self consumed actions any human can take and yet somehow we are all brainwashed into believing it has some noble purpose and that we deserve huge accolades! The IRS even hands out tax credits for your reckless behavior! I think you deserve huge tax credits for NOT having kids! Anyone have kids out there? How much of the Earth's resources will it take to get your child from a baby to 80?

Clearly not everyones parents were thinking when they had offspring.

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Family planning
Quote:

  I have 4 kids. Perhaps I should sterilize myself

After 4 kids, yes, that's definitely something to consider.

The Sunkist operation ... great juice and no seeds!

We took that step after our third child.

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angry opposition, population problem

Rector-

You can tell what's true by what is angrily opposed. Thanks for the verification.

Eh, that's not a method of analysis I'd rely on.  In the real world, everyone has their own hot button issues - push hard enough, they will become angry, regardless of truth or falsity of the statement/accusation.

How do we make "progress" on reducing the population?  What actions can we take?

Chris has always said, "be the change you want to see."  Seems like that applies here.  That doesn't mean we all run around trying to impose change on everyone else - although that sure is tempting, it flies in the face of the whole "free will" thing.  Educating everyone as to impact of population growth seems like a good place to start.  Kaimu's baby article was - if accurate - pretty neat.

Understand the impact of everything we do.  Then we can all decide for ourselves if its the "right thing" or not.

Your four kids are already a done deal.  All you can do is educate them on the impact of each of them having four kids in turn.  Up to you what you tell them, of course.  Just like throwing litter out the window, no one individual is responsible for all the trash on the side of the road, but if we all stopped throwing trash, there wouldn't be any there to clean up.

We have a population problem.  Will adding more people to the problem help or hurt?  All else being equal, it will hurt.

"But my kids are a good addition."  I'm sure.  Yet here we are, in an exponential growth situation.

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We all agree that something

We all agree that something needs to be done.  Our resolve falters however when courses of action are suggested.  Here's a few to get you started and that you can all deride.

1.  End child support and child subsidies.  Penalise larger families through the tax code.

2.  Introduce energy rationing.  Everyone is allocated a 150 kWh per day credit card. This allocation to be gradually reduced over time to 100 kWh by 2030 and then further still.  (bear in mind that it is estimated that we consume about  200 kWh per day each, on average, in the US and Europe).  If you want to go above your allocation you can buy part of someone else's.  Children under the age of 16 have no energy allocation so it comes out of the parent's allocation.  (rather than energy rationing you can call it carbon credits if you like)

Not so keen now, are you all ?

Ha ha  best to forget about it then !!

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measure, then reward, farmers for increases

in their soils sequestered carbon.

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I'll take some responsibility for that...
ezlxq1949 wrote:

I presume I'm not the only PP reader to have noticed the sea change in the tone and tenor of PP in the last few weeks: from vague optimism to clear pessimism.

But that's OK: PP is coming to terms with the fact that the world is NOT going to change course until forced to, and that will be destructive and painful.

I knew that when I began to write more specifically about the Environment "E" that not only would more pessimism arise, but something deeper I'll call grief.

I'm not totally clear on the right word, because for me the feeling is a mixture of dread, shame and sadness. 

The dread from the sense that all of this is unstoppable, which is itself rooted in the profound gap between my complete faith in the individuals I know and my utter lack of faith I have in the big blob of humanity to do the right thing (without being forced to).

The shame comes from the feeling that everything in the entire world, human and natural, is magical, spiritually derived, and the manifestation of consciousness and energy dancing in ways I can barely detect but struggle to describe.  This quote comes close to articulating the source of my shame.

"Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that the Nature he is destroying is this God he is worshipping." - Hubert Reeves

It seems beneath us to be so unconsciously and carelessly destructive.  We can be more, so much more than we choose to be.  Maybe shame is too strong, perhaps I am just embarrassed for how we are behaving, as if one of my children went into a beautiful temple and carved their initials into a previously unblemished 1,000 year old elegantly carved wood panel.  My god child, what were you thinking?  Oh...you weren't...

My sadness, I now realize, comes from the awareness that I am connected to everything and all life.  As the strands of the web of life break something breaks inside of me.  When I read about the loss of the Rhino species, sadness arises, but I wonder if I did not already know that information on some level before reading about it. 

To me this helps to explain the deep seated anxiety that so many people express, in so many ways, rich or poor, S&P at new records notwithstanding.  We are all aware on some level that the very container in which we were formed is being destroyed by our own actions.  Imagine waking up one day and discovering that in a heroin induced haze you had irreparably harmed your own mother in body and spirit.

Regret, sadness, shame...those will be the legacy emotions that our species will need to process as a result of our fossil fuel induced haze.

So yes, this material runs deep and I am extremely proud and encouraged by my association with the people here at PP who are not afraid to wade into those turbulent waters, look the demons in the eye (even if that means looking in the mirror), and taking the first steps towards recovery.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

 

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Slipery Slope

Chris,

Thankyou for putting into words what I have felt for quite a while. Having the advantage of six decades of observation, it is indisputable that Mother Earth is suffering from our treatment. I applaud your willingness to address the third rail of religion even though the knives will undoubtedly come out. Prior to reading your post I read a blog article that basically denied that any climate or overpopulation issues exist because humans aren't in control of this precious planet, it is God's plan and we mere humans can relax and enjoy his ride, no worries ! Your quote from Hubert Reeves is simply the most eloquent expression of how this thinking misses the "forest for the trees", I have ever encountered.

        

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Nicely said ChandOne.

I live in the rural foothills of the Sierras and am currently helping friends in northern and central Idaho with plans to improve their properties. You can contact me via this site. 

I have been working with local folks here for the past 6 years to improve primary and secondary forms of wealth and I am always amazed at our dependence on the good old fossil fuels. Every time a milestone of sorts is reached I know another ah-ha moment is just around the corner.

An example is the broadfork. It is a soil decompaction tool and we fabricate our own to suit a persons body size and so on. Yesterday I was musing about how nice it was that the iron ore had been mined and turned into steel of a convenient size, that the tools for cutting and welding it were readily available. So simple yet so complex and so dependent.

That said, it is a far better use of resources than some other things I observe going on!!

Coop

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Your visit to California

You comment this morning Chris reminded me of the drive we took one afternoon several years ago across the Central Valley farmland of California. As we passed by the town of Manteca where housing developments were covering the farmland at a record pace I said something to you about my own shame as regards the practice of architecture. I felt as though I had failed my profession in not doing more to prevent that from happening.

I think the root of shame perhaps dwells deep inside all of us and is triggered by our desire to perhaps make things better or somehow to do more of the right thing.  But in recalling that moment I will not forget that along with the shame was also the desire to do something different and perhaps that is where a new narrative is created.

Thanks for keeping the light on here at Peak Prosperity Chris. I like the direction you have taken things recently and while the subject is difficult, it needs to be discussed.

Coop

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Farm Resettlement Congress

Chris,

Thank you for this article. A new awakening/movement has begun in the US midwest based on "resettling" all that has been "unsettled" (reference to Wendell Berry's works). Galen Chadwick of Missouri has launched the Farm Resettlement Congress, and it features a rigorous and inspiring 20 Year Plan to put land and land management back into the hands of We the People, resettle our youth, veterans and displaced farmers into a productive ecological and societal restoration. It is organized by biological regions as opposed to political boundaries, and focuses on sustainability and regeneration in food, economy, community and environment.

Jack Spirko has just posted an excellent interview with Galen on his podcast:

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/farm-resettlement-congress

Chris, I strongly suspect you will want to have a discussion with Galen yourself. He is quite an amazing individual with a character and a message that is rapidly building energy in the communities becoming organized under the FRC. Everyone please check out this very deep interview, and Chris I can put you in direct contact with Galen should you be so inclined. He would deeply value the opportunity to talk with you.

Doug

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Thank you Chris

for the change of focus.  This is exactly what we need to be looking at.  I'm glad that PP has become another avenue for me to focus on the important inner and outer work it points towards. 

When you posted the video from Andrew Harvey a few days ago in which he describes the 5 communal and 5 personal shadows, it was so spot on that I listened to it over and over, transcribing it so I could internalize it more fully.  It was a very well thought out description of just what stands between us and facing the predicaments that are so obviously in front of us with eyes, heart and mind wide open.

I've found myself more motivated to focus on both personal work and reaching out to others in a way that works for them over the past few weeks, at least partly due to the inspiration I get from your recent posts.  Thank you.

One more thing - I have lots of lettuce in the garden - and I was bringing an extra head to my next door neighbor yesterday evening.  She had a friend over and her 23 year old son - it just so happens they were making a salad at the moment, but that's another story.  They invited me to hang out around the fire in their backyard later.  After the kids were in bed I stopped by and got into a conversation with her son.  He quickly turned the conversation to the subjects we discuss here  - and he had a very balanced and well thought out view point like many people here.  He told me that just seeing me bring the home-grown head of lettuce over, he knew that I would be a good person to talk to.  I invited him to the event that Chris, Becca and Charles Eisenstein are speaking at in Connecticut on June 12, so maybe some of you will get to meet him.

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shame

Coop, my moment came when I was driving north into the Adirondacks 20 years ago to lead my first wilderness expedition with a paying customer.  It was a warm Columbus Day weekend.  Monarchs were still common them and they were migrating southwestward en masse.  It was so beautiful until I realized the shoulders of the highway were littered with butterfly carcasses.  And then I realized I was contributing to the carnage.  I did the best I could, driving slowly and even trying to avoid them, but wasn't 100% successful.  It wasn't lost on me that here I was taking people to learn wilderness living and nature connection skills and we were killing these beautiful creatures in the process. 

Since then, I've come to realize how important it is to be aware, really fully emotionally aware, of how our lives contribute to the destruction.  It is only through this awareness and the skills to process the emotions that come up in a healthy way that will will motivate us to live differently and set an example that others will be able to follow.

Steve

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U.N. to the Rescue

This should help too (in a round about manner), by cleaning up a backlog of pensioners (along with the requisite social benefits and caloric requirements).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/elder/11637179/Elderly-face-NHS-d...

Potential downstream solution to an upstream problem.

Carousel anyone?

 

 

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Pessimism : noun - the

Pessimism : noun - the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problem, etc 

Realism : noun - the tendency to view or represent things as they really are

Predicament : noun - an unpleasantly difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation that may not have a solution.

People who have labeled some of the comments as pessimistic do not fully comprehend the predicament that mankind is in. 

 

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the fictions we make

On a related theme, Hariri ' s Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind argues that humans basically make fictions that we place on top of the natural world. Whether that is Laws, Ethics, The Corporation, or Money. Some of these can persist as long as the underlying natural world supports us, but it does seem like our fictions are in for a rude awakening.

I have 2 great kids who are smart and questioning, but I can't share some of my deeper concerns with them yet. As for me I often flip from being optimistic to pessimistic / stoic all the time.

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Are we programmed for denial?

There's a very good reason almost everyone's in denial:  most of us are wired that way.

And I'd be very surprised if most PP followers are not INTJs too.

https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/programmed-to-ignore/

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Grief

 

Maybe it would be better if we were suspended in a larval state, given minimal nutrients for survival and lived out our lives in a simulation, like the movie the Matrix. Or perhaps we could dream about shopping for non-essentials rather than putting the planet through a Pacific gyr to satisfy our weird fads and neurotic obsessions. Consumers should be shipwrecked on floating islands composed of styrofoam, empty Pez containers, croc shoes and plastic water bottles. Bleccchhh!  Just for a day.  It might help. The future is going to be spartan -- either imposed on or embraced by the masses.  

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'Final Solution' did you really just say that?

@Rector,

 

Did you really just equate China's one child policy to the industrial genocide of WW2? I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and believing that's not what you intended,lots of people wouldn't. I'd be a bit more careful with your linguistic analogies next time......
 

I'd say that China's policy was the most responsible piece of statecraft there has ever been! How man extra consuming and despoiling and polluting humans did this policy prevent? 100 million, half a billion? However many it was, I thank their foresight everyday. How many tons of carbon unburned? How many tons of fertilizer unused? How many tons of fish saved and uneaten? How much pollution avoided? How many species still extant?

 

It's never going to happen, but I would go along with the other poster who suggested that all subsidies to have children be cut today and penalties be introduced( perhaps through the tax system). A coercive 1 or 2 child policy, with the option to have more if you can win them in a lottery( as some people won't have any....and perhaps be compensated for that). If this sound authoritarian, that's because it is! Time to get ahead of the predicament........

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Aristotle says it best

From the man himself;

Quote:

“We say this because it would be odd to think that political science or wisdom is the most excellent form of knowledge, given that man is not the best of the inhabitants of the universe. What is healthy and good for human beings is not the same as what is healthy and good for fishes.”

 

“It is evident that philosophical understanding is not the same as political science; for if you call concern with what is beneficial to yourself philosophy, then there will be many different philosophies. There will not be a single one concerned with the good of all animals, but a different one for each.”

 

“Wisdom is concerned with conduct; so we need to have both forms of knowledge, universal and particular – the latter, perhaps, more than the former. And here, too, there will be a kind that has a supervisory role.”

Guardians of Gaia? Sign me up!

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HarryFlashman
HarryFlashman wrote:

@Rector,

 

Did you really just equate China's one child policy to the industrial genocide of WW2? I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and believing that's not what you intended,lots of people wouldn't. I'd be a bit more careful with your linguistic analogies next time......
 

I'd say that China's policy was the most responsible piece of statecraft there has ever been! How man extra consuming and despoiling and polluting humans did this policy prevent? 100 million, half a billion? However many it was, I thank their foresight everyday. How many tons of carbon unburned? How many tons of fertilizer unused? How many tons of fish saved and uneaten? How much pollution avoided? How many species still extant?

 

It's never going to happen, but I would go along with the other poster who suggested that all subsidies to have children be cut today and penalties be introduced( perhaps through the tax system). A coercive 1 or 2 child policy, with the option to have more if you can win them in a lottery( as some people won't have any....and perhaps be compensated for that). If this sound authoritarian, that's because it is! Time to get ahead of the predicament........

 

Imposed limits on population, of you want to go there, would be a wonderful opportunity to cull the herd of anti-socials, too.  Witless hedonists who drink, become wife beating drug addicts, could be easily persuaded to have vasectomies. Those not already killed in the closed loop of murder by Big Mac and Big Pharma would be offered a life supply of liquor, in exchange for a vasectomy and given 5 minutes to make up their mind, with no turning back. As impulse control is comorbid with personality disorders, most would choose the vasectomy. Everybody's happy. No coercion involved.  No muss, no fuss.

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Birth Control in the Water
Rector wrote:

 

How do we make "progress" on reducing the population?  What actions can we take?  

Rector 

My wife believes that there should be birth control in the water and a person would have to demonstrate competence to get the antidote to have a child. Kinda like passing drivers ed., except that child rearing is much more important than driving.

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Be very careful what you wish for

Perhaps it is my background and life path that makes me bristle at this issue but I cannot let some of these comments pass without venting my angst.   I am half Irish, half Polish.  In the last three hundred years both peoples suffered the genocide and ethic cleaning imposed from from foreign governments who felt we had reproduced far too much, especially as we were not really human beings, or at least not up to par with glorious virtues of our oppressors.

My wife is Qubecois and first peoples (native American,  or (god help us) Indian).   Both these peoples suffered under governments desiring their elimination.  When pushing them off their land did not suffice, birth rates were suppressed largely through poor nutrition and lack of medical care resulting in high fetal and infant mortality rates.

If the present government in the United States had control of when you could reproduce you would need consent from your banker,(who would only say yes when you had accumulated sufficient debt to enslave you for life), your stock broker, (who would only consent after you invested in overpriced stocks and cds paying no interest), your local politician (who would only consent after you had sufficiently padded his or her campaign fund) and the NSA (who would never consent to a radical that frequented a site like this) before you would be allowed to conceive.

I understand the issue of over population. Forced compliance with the plan of some government is not the answer.  It would be the equivalent of having the DMV decide who could reproduce. Education and voluntary limiting of family size is the only way to achieve the goal of reducing population.

JT

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My apologies jtwalsh.....

I was joking about birth control in the water. But I have to agree with climber99 that education and voluntary limiting won't work when there are financial incentives to do the opposite. As he said we need to "1.  End child support and child subsidies.  Penalize larger families through the tax code."  Seems like an obvious first step.

 

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The other method

Jtwalsh said:

Education and voluntary limiting of family size is the only way to achieve the goal of reducing population.

Most people are probably not going to voluntarily limit their family size. My wife and I used birth control but still have many more children than most of you. That was by choice.

My perspective continues to be that too many people are focused only on rationing children. I think the focus should be on rationing resources. If families can only buy so much food then they are left having to produce their own to feed any extra mouths. That is not a route most families would take. I have taken it (I could not survive financially without producing much of my own food).

Climber99 said

2.  Introduce energy rationing. [snip] Not so keen now, are you all ?

I'm OK with this, but that is because I heat with wood and have solar panels, so I should be less affected than most people by this. An energy rationing system would also finally help me win my argument with my wife that we drive too much. I am trying to do my share by housing some oxen for a young hopeful farmer in return for them doing some of my tractor work.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn. I just get tired of people jumping immediately to the rationing of children. I also look at it this way. The US birth rate was barely at a replacement level last time I checked. So my large family was actually needed in this particular country. Other countries will have to deal with their situations in a manner consistent with their local ethos.

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This Afternoon

I was on a 32 acre property working with a friend on making it more accessible to people in general.  Great property with great future potential.  This is a friend who I would love to get to watch the Crash Course, he was one of the first friends I tried to have view it after I did several years ago.  He still hasn't, but he does have some great world view ideas that match with a lot of the content here.

Anyway, aside from not getting my buddy, to prepare (He is one of my best friends, Arg) he shared with me a conversation he had with his step father, who is otherwise and intelligent, hardworking individual.  Basically my buddy was home for the first time in several months and wanted to talk about some of the stuff in the news....make the point that things are changing rapidly, that buying organic or growing your own food is intelligent and safer.  He and his step father started arguing and it got pretty heated. Nearly every point my friend made, his step father simply retorted that he was being alarmist, that his concern wasn't necessary, that the world and humanity are always doing better.  Nothing is wrong.....

I just wanted to add this on a couple of levels.  First, I can't help but identify personal disappointment at not ever being able to get my friend to watch the Crash Course.  He is going to be up here in Vermont for the next month, so maybe now is the time to shove a beer in his hand, tell him to sit on the couch, and ask him to take the red pill.

Second, I share my friends shock at not being able to get his step father to even buy into at least one common sense perspective about a world in trouble.  Like, he would buy into nothing.  It was sad.  I think this is much of the frustration we feel about knowing a lot of the details in front of us, but not getting the mainstream to catch on and take interest. 

It really is a shame.  Sometimes, smart people just don't want to listen when their belief system is being challenged.

Going to continue to work on my buddy, though.

Jason

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agitating prop
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By personality type

I wasn't advocating ethnic cleansing just people volunteering for sterilization based on a their personality deformity.  They wouldn't be forced into sterilization, they would just miss out on free beer, if they chose not to.  I think it's perfect.  My only concern would be a possibility that drowning traits like impulsivity, recklessness and being a self serving yahoo in the gene pool, might inadvertently remove some necessary genes that code for spontaneous expression. It's a scientific conundrum, not a moral one.  

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The Morals of Eugenics.

Funny you should mention eugenics AP. (No, I am not going to go on some nostril flaring outrage.)

In his book "The madness of Adam and Eve" Horrobin recounts that before eugenics got a bad rap it was considered morally sound. To that end they made up a list of all the families in England who would be offered free lifetime support if they submitted to sterilization.  The criteria was schizophrenia.  Families with the condition were offered this choice.

The project was abandoned when it was discovered that there was a strong correlation between schizophrenia and genius. Lose one, lose both.

So now we have reverted to traditional methods of eugenics.  We let the womenfolk decide who gets to breed and loses out.

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replies

Oliveoilguy:  No need to apologize. I just needed to get my libertarian point across that government is probably not the best arbiter of how to resolve these issues.  I agree that there should be no governmental incentives for having children (like the income tax credit) but I am not willing to go so far as to say that government should be able to impose sanctions or negative economic consequences for having more than the proscribed number of children.

Once a child is here we are faced with a completely different problem.  Do we leave parents who cannot support their children to the vicissitudes of the marketplace or do we assist in providing food, health care and education to the child, in the hope that he or she will grow to be a productive and participating citizen.  A much more difficult question. 

efarmerny: I fully agree that no one, especially not the government, should be rationing children, as you described it. You also state that the United States was just barely at replacement level in its birth rate.  I do not have statistics at hand but my reading indicates that many European countries are well below replacement birth rates. It appears that education and economic reality have caused a reversal of centuries old beliefs of the more children the better.  I will amend my original statement to say that education, and economic reality (without artificial incentives from government) is the only practical way to approach this issue.  Any forced regime would by definition entail a massive curtailing of human rights.

Thanks for the discussion.  It forces my old and sedentary brain to open new neurons and rethink some of my positions. JT

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Arthur Robey wrote: Funny you
Arthur Robey wrote:

Funny you should mention eugenics AP. (No, I am not going to go on some nostril flaring outrage.)

In his book "The madness of Adam and Eve" Horrobin recounts that before eugenics got a bad rap it was considered morally sound. To that end they made up a list of all the families in England who would be offered free lifetime support if they submitted to sterilization.  The criteria was schizophrenia.  Families with the condition were offered this choice.

The project was abandoned when it was discovered that there was a strong correlation between schizophrenia and genius. Lose one, lose both.

So now we have reverted to traditional methods of eugenics.  We let the womenfolk decide who gets to breed and loses out.

 

No nostril flaring outrage!  Too bad, but your interesting comment makes up for it!  I have a schizophrenic sibling and a genius sibling.  Genius sibling and I both decided not to have kids...too risky. For me opting out of the gene pool was no problem. Is Horrobin the man who wrote about the role excess consumption of wheat may have played as a trigger in populations making them more susceptible to the illness?

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 28 2009
Posts: 863
jtwalsh wrote: Oliveoilguy: 
jtwalsh wrote:

Oliveoilguy:  No need to apologize. I just needed to get my libertarian point across that government is probably not the best arbiter of how to resolve these issues.  I agree that there should be no governmental incentives for having children (like the income tax credit) but I am not willing to go so far as to say that government should be able to impose sanctions or negative economic consequences for having more than the proscribed number of children.

Once a child is here we are faced with a completely different problem.  Do we leave parents who cannot support their children to the vicissitudes of the marketplace or do we assist in providing food, health care and education to the child, in the hope that he or she will grow to be a productive and participating citizen.  A much more difficult question. 

efarmerny: I fully agree that no one, especially not the government, should be rationing children, as you described it. You also state that the United States was just barely at replacement level in its birth rate.  I do not have statistics at hand but my reading indicates that many European countries are well below replacement birth rates. It appears that education and economic reality have caused a reversal of centuries old beliefs of the more children the better.  I will amend my original statement to say that education, and economic reality (without artificial incentives from government) is the only practical way to approach this issue.  Any forced regime would by definition entail a massive curtailing of human rights.

Thanks for the discussion.  It forces my old and sedentary brain to open new neurons and rethink some of my positions. JT

 

Does it even make sense to aim for replacement population? More automation, fewer jobs, deteriorating environment. How could one make an argument for keeping the population static.  Granted, there may be fewer tatoo parlours and baristas.  So many jobs are so superfluous, unnecessary, polluting, encouraging insane amounts of inane diversionary consumption.  It's undignified to have to be involved in any way in a silly society with silly people buying a bunch of dorky stuff.

 

 

 

 

Time2help's picture
Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2839
In the water
Oliveoilguy wrote:

My wife believes that there should be birth control in the water...

Wait, isn't that what the flouride is for?

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