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Can the economic crisis save the planet?

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  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 07:05am

    #1

    Ruhh

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    Can the economic crisis save the planet?

As a long time activist I’ve always opposed an economic model based on growth and mindless consumption. There was this old Adbusters line that pushed it’s readers to ask their leaders and to ask themselves…

"Is economic progress killing the planet?"

The answer has always been obvious if we kept going the way we were.

The news gets darker every day in terms of unemployment and loss of wealth. As it gets closer and closer to home I worry about my family and friends loosing their jobs. I worry that they haven’t the slightest clue as to what is coming to them and their refusal to make lifestyle changes in preparation or precaution (even after I’ve talked to them and nearly begged them to watch the CC to no avail). I see tough times and uncomfortable changes ahead for many of us.

Despite my feelings I have to look at the bigger picture and when I do I see light at the end of the tunnel. And for once in my life I’m feeling like there is some true direction to my future and purpose.

The current economic crisis coupled with the recent mainstreaming of environmental values bring me nothing but long term optimism. I see this as an exhilarating time filled with opportunity.

Could this be what sparks a true paradigm shift?

Can the economic crisis save the planet?

I think so and I hope so. Things need to get worse before they get better. Like an addict sometimes needs to hit rock bottom to see they’ve got a problem.

Just felt the need to spew and hoping to share some optimism with those who are still at a different stage of awareness. Your thoughts are most welcome.

Visualize whirled peas!
Ron.

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 07:44am

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

Q. Can the economic crisis save the planet?

A. I sure hope so.

Q. Can the economic crisis save the planet and thus save the human species?

A.  I sure hope so.

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 09:40am

    #3
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

Will the economic crisis bring about a change in our perception about populations?

I don’t know what the answer to this question is… and I believe this is what matters in the end.

 

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 02:36pm

    #4
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

[quote=sunson]

Will the economic crisis bring about a change in our perception about populations?

I don’t know what the answer to this question is… and I believe this is what matters in the end.

 

[/quote]

i agree… we need to cease the expon. growth of popul.

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 03:09pm

    #5
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

The planet – and life – will go on, with or without us.

To my mind, the real question is, "Can the economic crisis save the planet so it will continue to support human life?"

The answer is, I think, a qualified yes. The qualification is that we need to reduce our population by about 60%. How will we do that? It’s possible that nature will do it for us, with the intervention of the 4 Horsemen – Pestilence, War, Famine and Death (a sort of catch-all category for anything not covered by the other three).

Other possibilities would be to reduce births by fiat, as was done in China. While we know that education – of women particularly – results in lower birth rates, this was something that was acheived with only limited success while the world was wealthy, so I think it unlikely that in the midst of our current depression any sort of "mass education of women worldwide project" will gain traction.

I think it is unrealistic to expect the entire human race to limit its production of new people willingly – it’s a "Tragedy of the Commons" situation writ large. 

The existence of a large proportion of the human population on this planet is dependent in large part on a complex and fragile web of production and distribution that is itself heavily dependent on fossil fuel inputs. Any disruption in this system, due either to reduced access to fossil fuels, a plague that affects plants which the monocultures found in industrial agriculture are particularly susceptible to (something that is already afflicting bananas, which could soon vanish from stores as a result) or a large-scale conflict that prevents dependable shipments is likely to cause shortages that could result in starvation.

It is all, in my estimation, hanging by a thread.

I don’t think we can fix the system. It’s too large, too complex, and it is based on a cheap energy paradigm that is vanishing rapidly. 

Does this mean we give up? Of course not! You can’t fix the world, but you can fix your own locale. You can grow food, you can get your neighbors to grow food, you can learn about Transition and other social movements that seek to change the complex paradigms that our world depends on and find local solutions that are self-sustaining.

One thing, I think, is certain: None of our "leaders" has the faintest idea how to fix the problem. And that’s as it should be, because I don’t think it can be fixed. The only way to survival is to take matters into our own hands and, together with our families, friends and neighbors forge a simpler, but much more fulfilling, world.

Arthur 

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 03:25pm

    #6
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

[quote=Arthur Vibert]

The planet – and life – will go on, with or without us.

To my mind, the real question is, "Can the economic crisis save the planet so it will continue to support human life?"

The answer is, I think, a qualified yes. The qualification is that we need to reduce our population by about 60%. How will we do that? It’s possible that nature will do it for us, with the intervention of the 4 Horsemen – Pestilence, War, Famine and Death (a sort of catch-all category for anything not covered by the other three).

Other possibilities would be to reduce births by fiat, as was done in China. While we know that education – of women particularly – results in lower birth rates, this was something that was acheived with only limited success while the world was wealthy, so I think it unlikely that in the midst of our current depression any sort of "mass education of women worldwide project" will gain traction.

I think it is unrealistic to expect the entire human race to limit its production of new people willingly – it’s a "Tragedy of the Commons" situation writ large. 

The existence of a large proportion of the human population on this planet is dependent in large part on a complex and fragile web of production and distribution that is itself heavily dependent on fossil fuel inputs. Any disruption in this system, due either to reduced access to fossil fuels, a plague that affects plants which the monocultures found in industrial agriculture are particularly susceptible to (something that is already afflicting bananas, which could soon vanish from stores as a result) or a large-scale conflict that prevents dependable shipments is likely to cause shortages that could result in starvation.

It is all, in my estimation, hanging by a thread.

I don’t think we can fix the system. It’s too large, too complex, and it is based on a cheap energy paradigm that is vanishing rapidly. 

Does this mean we give up? Of course not! You can’t fix the world, but you can fix your own locale. You can grow food, you can get your neighbors to grow food, you can learn about Transition and other social movements that seek to change the complex paradigms that our world depends on and find local solutions that are self-sustaining.

One thing, I think, is certain: None of our "leaders" has the faintest idea how to fix the problem. And that’s as it should be, because I don’t think it can be fixed. The only way to survival is to take matters into our own hands and, together with our families, friends and neighbors forge a simpler, but much more fulfilling, world.

Arthur 

[/quote]

HOLY CRAP!!!  I AM SOOO GLAD TO SEE YOU BACK!!!! YAH!

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 03:57pm

    #7
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

[quote=Arthur Vibert]

Does this mean we give up? Of course not! You can’t fix the world, but you can fix your own locale. You can grow food, you can get your neighbors to grow food, you can learn about Transition and other social movements that seek to change the complex paradigms that our world depends on and find local solutions that are self-sustaining.

[/quote]

Yeah, that’s the only thing that’s keeping me from feeling depressed and see a sense of hope.

I completely agree with you every bit. But "Life will go on"? How are you so sure about that? If we’re already beyond the tipping point… if the phytoplanktons die-off, there is a possibility we’d have massive positive feedback loops causing the planet to become uninhabitably warm – like venus or something.

I wonder if anybody has done any math on how much CO2 we’ll put into the atmosphere if just 50% of the population burns firewood for a few hours a day.  

Even if this ‘extreme’ doesn’t happen, it is likely the web and complexity of life will be reduced by several orders. Maybe there’d just be some fundamental stuff (microbes) and it would probably take a million years for complexity to come back.

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 04:31pm

    #8
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

sorry… ehem..Embarassed

You might’ve been back but I this is the first post I’ve seen from you in awhile.Smile

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 04:37pm

    #9
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

The world was inhabited for the first couple of billion years exclusively by bacteria, as near as anyone can tell. Then, over time as a byproduct of a new development called photosynthesis a new poison found its way into the atmosphere – oxygen. This was a great challenge at first but life ultimately overcame it, and of course it paved the way for the complex multicellular life as we know it today.

So, am I absolutely sure that "life will go on?" No. But I am 99.999… sure. Perhaps only as bacteria, though I doubt there would be an extinction event so catastrophic that only bacteria would remain.

My real point is that, from the human perspective, it doesn’t really matter what happens, if we’re not around to see it.

Something will be here. I’d like it to include at least some of us.

Caroline – you’re a sweetheart Smile

 

Arthur

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 05:30pm

    #10
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Can the economic crisis save the planet?

Mass depopulation is of course the only "Big Fix" option left that can make the planet habitable for humans and many other species on a long-term "sustainable" basis. The actual number of people that can be supported with a reasonable standard of living is open to debate, but there is no question that the number is significantly lower than the current 6+ billion.

Nature does not care one whit about any aspect of the human condition; we have to play by her rules whether we accept it or not. Let’s just hope that we make some deliberate attempts to reduce and control our numbers, and don’t leave it entirely up to the laws of nature, because it will not be pretty

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