May 7, 2017 at 7:45 pm #1073
As an older celebrant of humanity, please consider my comments/content with the recognition that they are well intended and can only reflect the skepticism accrued with their discovery.
After auditing several other MOOC’s dealing with ‘sustainability’ and the sobering challenges housed therein, I’d like to offer a perspective that places our recognition of the ‘hubris’ that causes our failure at assimilating this planet – as precondition for designing realistic mitigations for our destructive human behavior. Without humility (including intellectual humility) we are likely to prescribe solutions that, although sincere, are no more likely to succeed than those offered by our equally thoughtful precursors in the dustbin of history.
On the edgy brink of colonizing space, both as proof of evolutionary success and evidence of our failure to comprehend this earthly context of an interdependent ecology – are we confident that we can fundamentally change? I’m willing to recognize many of our clever innovations to a smaller carbon footprint, but less inclined to see in the emerging ‘populism’ here in America and Europe, a likelihood of sharing Earth’s shrinking resources. It’s the sharing, not the technological innovation that is missing from the ‘sustainability’ dialogue.
Please, jump in.
May 8, 2017 at 3:25 pm #1075
You are correct the earth has finite resources so growth has an ending point. At that point more people will have to do with less. Until we have the tools in place to move to other planets some ideas to limit population growth has to be in place. The problem that creates is the whole economic system is based on a growth factor. At some point the economic system has to collapse due to unfunded debt.
Sustainability has to be when the life style, matches the resources natural replenishment rate. No one wants to lose the freedoms and liberty of having more children. No one wants to admit population and growth are the problems fueling the failing health of earth.
May 8, 2017 at 5:37 pm #1078
Friends, you both are right but to get less economic growth we must also have less population on Earth: We cannot be so afraid of getting older and dying, getting worse off and not advancing in economic and social status. All our philosophical and religious systems must change (in my opinion pointing to a common end) because technological changes and wealth sharing are not going to be the only tools to achieve sustainability. Therefore, enhanced communication may put our ideas and viewpoints closer.
May 9, 2017 at 2:49 pm #1080
Today’s news “Sub-Saharan Africa risks becoming poorer in per capita terms after years of fast-paced growth, the International Monetary Fund warned, as the region’s economic expansion slows while its population growth continues to accelerate.”
May 9, 2017 at 7:17 pm #1081
There’s no way to solve the predicament we’re in. The UN population forecast for the rest of the century gives 4 billion inhabitants in Africa south of the Sahara. Perhaps they could be fed, with algae or whatever the chemical industry can come up with, but how will we solve the conflicts that are bound to arise over scarce resources? Our capacity to think in the long term and find solutions based on international collaboration is minimal.
i think we’ll see a very segmented world towards the end of this century: some heavily defended hi-tech enclaves, and extreme misery for the rest of humanity. We’ll wreck what’s left of nature and wildlife, let the world heat up, the water supplies dwindle and fight senseless wars over what’s left of resources.
I absolutely agree that “our philosophical and religious systems must change”, but that won’t happen before the current growth philosophy collapses.
May 9, 2017 at 9:55 pm #1082
Monterrico, have you read Dan Brown’s “Inferno”? It is very interesting and really profound. Some things mentionned therein are already happening; fewer children per couple since sterility is mounting due to environmental reasons and a stressful way of life. To sum up, I agree with some parts of your reasoning but we must clarify others:
1.- Our willingness and capacity to think together is minimal. You are absolutely right on this score.
2.- We are walking quickly to a very segmented world but NOT ONLY in the sense that some parts of the Earth (Africa, Latin America) will fare MUCH POORER than the U.S. and Europe. Inequality in wealthy nations with poor economic growth are also making them fragmented societies with little solidarity left.
3.- You mention “wars over what’s left of resources” by the end of this XXI century but I wonder whether real present wars like Syria’s are not ultimately caused by this lack of resources sharing although we see as its primary reason the spread of islamic fundamentalism. After all, tensions between Turkey, Syria and Iraq on water supplies from the Eufrates and Tigris rivers are well known.
May 9, 2017 at 10:20 pm #1084
Buenas tardes y mucho gusto de conocerle, Luissega,
A problem with this forum is that everybody seems to agree. I agree entirely with your three points, but have my reservations about Dan Brown , who I believe is a hyped up bestselling author. I must admit, however, that I’ve never read Inferno.
We’d be much better off on this tiny globe if most people became sterile. One way or another, we’ll have to reduce the world population to below 1 billion inhabitants, the world population before we started burning coal. The big question is who’s got to depart, and how.
August 25, 2017 at 1:33 am #1376
It is not a matter of who will depart but one of economics when the population starts to fall. The wold is in big debt and has been borrowing from the future and expected growth. When limits are put on procreation and or eugenics that breed better humans we are left with many people getting old with few younger people to provide for them. Even robots will not be up to the task and as with limited medical resources they will have to be rationed. Who will get what?
August 25, 2017 at 11:12 pm #1378
Your comments are interesting. Apparently, Japan is faring quite well now, although they have a dwindling population and few young people to provide for the elderly. If we could decrease our population gracefully, Japanese style, we’ll be fine. I’m more worried about countries in the Middle East and Africa with an average of four children in each family and insufficient agricultural production. A worldwide economic collapse is a quite realistic scenario, and food imports for the starving masses may then be discontinued.
August 26, 2017 at 11:32 pm #1379
Every day 5000 children and 23000 adults die from lack of clean water or food. Nature is not just or fair but to have children without having the resources to support them is just lacking intelligence. Yes it is emotionally crude but rational thinking requires facts and logic. Is it worth destroying the earth and renewable resources to feed people to make more children?
May 10, 2017 at 3:34 am #1086
It does look pretty bleak. On the other hand, there’s plenty of hope on the local level. In my surrounding area, there are wildly divergent lifestyles, some clinging to a suburban past, but others committed to a smaller footprint. I’m especially willing to acknowledge these thoughtful pioneers as especially worthy global citizens.
Anyone who isn’t chasing the money gets a nod from me.
June 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm #1233
I agree that one of the main stumbling blocks–perhaps the main stumbling block to achieving the SGDs is the inherent selfishness of humanity. Perhaps this is an evolutionary limitation (ensuring the survival of ourselves and our kin and rejecting concern for those whose lives do not directly touch our own). It is an attitude that must be overcome, but I have no suggestions other than education as to how this might be done and educating one generation alone may not be enough. An excellent book on this topic is ‘Reinventing Prosperity’ by Maxton and Randers.
June 8, 2017 at 5:04 pm #1234
Sybil, I agree that humankind is still tribal, our solidarity with people outside our own circles is superficial. And I doubt that that can be changed through education, because we’re now in the middle of a historical shift in how this world works. Earlier, capitalism needed workers and the army needed soldiers. That is no longer true: Production is increasingly automatised and wars can be fought with drones and computers. We’re now entering a phase where most of the world’s population is useless. That gives them little say about what happens next.
June 8, 2017 at 9:13 pm #1235
I think that this moment is foggy (with a lot of smoke) so we must be very careful when judging facts. We’re selfish: sure, human nature is so but on the other hand there has been a lot of proofs of generosity, such as NGO and volunteers even in far away countries. Education is useful but the greatest devils in the last century appeared in very cultured societies (like Germany in the 30s) so the real solution could be strong ethics. Capitalism used to need workers to handle machines and tools, sure. Production now is becoming increasingly automatised. Anyway, production without consumption is foolish, really nonsense and a society in which people are unemployed because machines have taken their posts is unsustainable. Automatised armies is quite different: you’re right Monterrico that this is a big problem but you can look at this kind of war we’re suffering: terrorism. You cannot defeat it only with a sofisticated technology because terrorists hide among us and may use elementary weapons. We need in my opinion more police, better laws and, above all, a better implementation of common sens security.
August 25, 2017 at 1:41 am #1377
It is man made laws that got us into these problems. Humans fail so there is not enough resources to put everyone in jail. The idea is to have laws we all can live with not laws based on religion or cultures. If you look at poverty people are not even keeping their own spaces clean. Laws will not change people’s spirits. Remember 50% of the human population have below average I.Q.
Nature is not fair or just so I doubt humans can be secure since everyone dies. What you want is a false sense of security which is not reality.
June 9, 2017 at 4:32 am #1236
Even though our self-serving behavior, which precluded a graceful assimilation on this planet, might still be judged as a success on some other one – the heroic shine we so meticulously adorn us with has faded more than a little.
August 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm #1380
We speak about the time bomb that represents a booming worlwide population and specially in Africa and Latinoamerica with no economic model in sight and old mental habits about having lots of children but
We’re judging from an outside perspective. After all, 200 or 300 years ago we were in same situation.
Widespread hungers and illnesses have long been tools to balance booming populations.
Those countries need strong governments. We can compare them with Communist China but let’s take into account that China took several years to get a stable post imperial governement and even the Communist made a lot of mistakes that occasioned huge sufferings (The Great Leap Forward and subsequent Cultural Revolution) before having rational policies.
We may be in the middle of a change in Africa and Latinoamercia that we don’t so far see.
August 27, 2017 at 3:18 pm #1381
Allow me to continue with my reflections:
What really disturbs us isn’t the fact that lots of adults and children day from illness and malnutrition everyday. After all, it’s been so forever. What is worrying for the West are the huge migrations that are invading Europe and the US as a consequence of them. We’re in the same scope as the Late Roman Empire rulers with the barbars. Firstly, they took the sensible policy of letting them station in some poorly inhabited parts of the Empire as friends and loyal allies. It ended with mismanagement, abuse and ultimate attack to the Gods which inflicted the Romans the severe defeat of Adrianopolis. And this represented the end of the Empire.
A sensible policy for us would be (1) to establish Islamic Mediterranean countries as friends to stop migrations, even with subsidies and preferential commercial treaties and (2) to enhance economic prosperity in the areas exporting migrants. I know that Spain has long had a special relationship with Morocco, which has helped to halt migrants in Spanish Northafrican cities and to prevent terrorist attacks. Maybe, some form of Western involvement in Africa is unavoidable.
Dagny, I’ve also read that in the West we’re hugely indebted from future generations. That’s true. Monetary policymakers are hesitant whether and how to normalize things (they’re in a common gathering in the US). In my opinion, we’re in the middle of changing times difficult to understand.
August 27, 2017 at 9:03 pm #1382
The problems are much worse today than any past history. Humans have magnified the destruction of the planet hundreds of times fold. International trade has split the populations into slave and masters. China has discarded communism in favor of capitalism. The human function of greed has proved a superior over compassion. India also has a class system that separates the values of lives. Cultures value different behaviors. Most wars are over values both moral and economic. Cultures that give different values to gender, class, race, religion, etc. have reasons for such general stands. What holds in one future is not always true for the next.
The grass is always greener someplace else. But reality is always the same. The difference is personal experience the individual has of that reality. The superior intellect with the least emotions will use their power to take advantage of the weak minds. Propaganda and psychological manipulation can turn humans in to nothing more than a trained animals to obey the master’s commands.
The dollar has power because of the military power behind it. The world is taxed when the dollar is inflated. Economic power is the key to military power which keeps the master on top. Science is stolen by the clever next powerhouse who will enslave most of the rest of the world.
August 29, 2017 at 6:48 pm #1383
Dagny, I’m afraid we’re mixing up all the problems so the whole is really enormous, hard to grasp. In my opinion, a better way to assess difficulties would be to separate problems:
1.- Slaves and masters have always existed but, as a community, Humankind has improved. We can say that the West is faring more poorly than previosly, but the situation in the past centuries weren’t normal, so situation is getting more balanced with some parts of emerging countries joining the Industrialised World /China and Far East Asia)
2.- Culture (and religions) have always fed wars and backed social injusticies based on racial and gender differences and social classes. I think anyway that in the Christian countries, things are much better. And not only because the Church (the Catholic one in my country) doesn’t enjoy the same power, but because there ‘re some things it feels ashamed to speak about (Inquisition, “the Book of Josue” that supports Holy Wars and is still a part of the Bible, but that is NEVER read in masses).
3.- Propaganda and psychological manipulation is present in our World. I’m pretty sure of them because I witness them, but you can and must discern truth from lies, so they aren’t so powerful unless you believe them to be so. Ultimately, the decission to accept a lie is mine (in my case)
4.- We’re destroying our planet, depriving it from needed ressources. Climatic change is leading us to Catastrophe. Sure, but a cleared understanding of it is arising. You may know it much better than me but we weren’t nearly so scrupulous in the XIX and early XX centuries. And we had never been so sensitive about people dying in Africa as we’re now.
Something is moving within our consciences and societies and I hope in the upper political circles as well.
September 2, 2017 at 3:37 am #1385
You do not need ownership papers to have use of slaves. Many products we buy are made by people who have no other choice in life. Freedom and liberty require free choice and not limited free will.
Is belief in any religion reality? What does science that requires evidence gain by beliefs? Civilization requires virtue, rational thinking, and responsible adults to bring about the best we can be, not different religious dogmas.
Truth is a human construct based on consensus and culture. The data we need to make rational decisions has to have evidence not just beliefs or emotions. Climate has always changed. Knowing what extent humans cause a change is not very clear. Being able to prevent it is even less feasible.
Our conscious ability is not the objective reality our body lives in. Being conscious is human and still an unknown.
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