Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
BeDLaM#29

The Great Disruption

Recommended Posts

Currently reading this book by Melbourne boy Paul Gilding

 

It's well summed up in this article from the NY Times and the following TED talk:

 

 

 

 

Article for the click impaired:

 

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

 

“The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.” “When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”

 

Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists, which calculates how many “planet Earths” we need to sustain our current growth rates. G.F.N. measures how much land and water area we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, using prevailing technology. On the whole, says G.F.N., we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

 

This is not science fiction. This is what happens when our system of growth and the system of nature hit the wall at once. While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker truck delivering water in the capital, Sana. Why? Because Sana could be the first big city in the world to run out of water, within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.

 

“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

 

It is also current affairs. “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently. “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.” What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that “the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller in terms of physical impact.”

 

We will not change systems, though, without a crisis. But don’t worry, we’re getting there.

 

We’re currently caught in two loops: One is that more population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability. At the same time, improved productivity means fewer people are needed in every factory to produce more stuff. So if we want to have more jobs, we need more factories. More factories making more stuff make more global warming, and that is where the two loops meet.

 

But Gilding is actually an eco-optimist. As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”

 

We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

 

I'm interested in what Atomicans think.

 

Have we passed the point of no return for environmental crisis?

 

Is it useless to talk about carbon pricing and should we be bracing for impact and preparing for clean up?

 

Does humanity need such a crisis to pull its finger out and evolve as a society?

 

Is our current economic model of growth doomed to failure?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We need a 'B' Ark

The only problem I see with this is that at least half of the population if not more belong on the 'B' Ark......

 

So yeah good plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are they measuring total earth resources, or just some? Why does more jobs = more factories?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that a good deal of the solution will be technological drago, but I don't think the funding necessary will come without crisis. I also don't believe a purely technological will be able to solve the problem and maintain current growth. Lifestyle change is absolutely necessary.

 

This change has already begun; when a socialist system maintains the worlds strongest economy, when the major capitalist countries apply socialist solutions to economic problems, when a company that has never made a dollar and only accrued social capital can sell for billions, we have moved away from a purely capitalist society. I think our political and social systems need to acknowledge this and stop putting economic interests above all else.

 

I like Rudolf Steiner's solution of social threefolding where political, social and economic interests are kept separate. I am certain though that our current shareholder capitalist system cannot continue unabated.

 

And nich I think they are referring to the traditional industrialist solutions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they are referring to traditional industrialist solutions, and pure capitalism, then I think they are probably too smart to be living in the past, and are trying to abuse past ideology.

 

I'm also not sure what you mean by putting economic interests first, and the problem of doing so - are we talking money for the sake of money is bad? Is expressing the relative worth of things in dollar terms a bad thing? Is trying to make sure you don't spend more than you earn a bad thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they are referring to traditional industrialist solutions, and pure capitalism, then I think they are probably too smart to be living in the past, and are trying to abuse past ideology.

 

I'm also not sure what you mean by putting economic interests first, and the problem of doing so - are we talking money for the sake of money is bad? Is expressing the relative worth of things in dollar terms a bad thing? Is trying to make sure you don't spend more than you earn a bad thing?

I don't see it as a matter of good and bad, simply of function. I believe the function of money is to allow for the fair and equitable exchange of goods and services, though it has mutated into something different in our current society. I do bel;ieve that the idea of money for money's sake is disfunctional and essentially leads to greed and exploitation. I think we have a tendancy to place to high an importance on economic considerations; I don't think they shoul take priority over environmental and social considerations. It is ofcourse a good thing not to spend more than you earn, but in terms of environmental footprint that is exactly what we are doing; using more resources than is sustainable and growing at a rate that cannot be managed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, I've been thinking of starting a thread about opinions on the technology side of the future.

 

Anyway thats something, we don't need a crisis exactly we need an incentive. This has been shown with the X Projects or whatever they are called and the challenge DARPA presented to the public (shredded paper sorter/reader challenge). When there is an incentive and an obvious objective people seem to act. Stopping a crisis might be the incentive needed though to get GLOBAL involvement and conversion.

 

I have to wonder what his opinion is on The Singularity Theory. As he said technology seems limitless and even going by computer advancements the speed at which it is improving is also increasing.

 

I can imagine the Middle East without oil. If they follow in the UAEs footsteps they might then become the fastest sustaining countries. The UAE was looking at building a fully sustainable city or similar, not sure if they have started yet with constructing it. But if the Middle East didn't waste there money and followed them, they might surprise everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit of background on the guy. He is a professional environmentalist. Former ceo of Greenpeace Australia and now runs a successful environmental consultancy firm. He's the guy who convinced Dupont to halt CFC. production two years before the ban. He's unlikely to think much of singularity theory as a solution and I must say I agree. We are still a ways off biological independent intelligence being replicated by technology.

 

He also questions the legitimacy of the top down incentive solutions you talk about singularity. Whilst they have a place, he believes that the solution lies in a bottom up shift in consciousness which he believes will only manifest when the problems affect the every day lives of the bulk of humanity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know we had a similar thread to this recently. But, kind of disappointed this one didn't take off more.

 

I've been reading a book called "The birth of plenty" by William J. Bernstein, which describes the incredibly delicate confluence of factors which are needed to maintain modern society.

 

Ie: Schools, hospitals, modern agriculture, flourishing business, a free and supported arts and technology sector and stable sovereign government.

 

He states that four pillars of societal state that have been hard won, and must be maintained, for our current state of wealth to carry into the future. They are:

 

a). Secure property rights, not only for physical property, but also for intellectual property and one's own person--civil liberties

 

b). A systemic procedure for examining and interpreting the world--the scientific method

 

c). A widely available and open source of funding for the development and production of new inventions--the modern capital marketplace

 

d). The ability to rapidly communicate vital information and transport people and goods

 

If there is an inability to maintain any one of these four pillars of modern society, then our civilisation will fall, as so many of the other great civilisations have.

 

Only this time it will be a greater fall, as we will be falling from a far greater height.

 

I believe we are on the razors edge of almost complete destruction, and the blossoming of a civilisation, of heights unimagined.

 

The deciding factor will lie in the sum total of the inner state of all individuals. The ability to weigh up right and wrong, and apply that to everyday living.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe we are on the razors edge of almost complete destruction, and the blossoming of a civilisation, of heights unimagined.

 

The deciding factor will lie in the sum total of the inner state of all individuals. The ability to weigh up right and wrong, and apply that to everyday living.

This.

 

The deciding factor will not be technology, it will be a shift in consciousness.

 

If we can do this, we will flourish; if we can't we will become extinct.

 

We are in a unique position as we can make a decision whether we are going to survive or not. Every species in the past has been at the whim of natural selection, their ability and traits were what decided whether or not they thrived in their environment. We can make a conscious choice to thrive in our environment through living in harmony with it.

 

We are still not making it, however a growing mass of people are beginning to. We are on our way, it is an exciting time, I do think it will be crisis that tips us over the edge. I wish it could be different, but my own life has taught me that sometimes we need a kick in the arse to do what we know we need to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt humans will die off though, assuming we don't take the steps to fix the current dependance on non renewable resources, we are a pretty hearty species, whoever is left will probably just return to a nomadic sort of lifestyle scrounging what they can from whatever is left, probably the countries with oil will be the center of some epic battles where billions will die fighting over the last scraps of crude oil like savages.

 

who knows it might be what we need to realise our destructive ways are wrong.

Edited by nesquick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt humans will die off though, assuming we don't take the steps to fix the current dependance on non renewable resources, we are a pretty hearty species, whoever is left will probably just return to a nomadic sort of lifestyle scrounging what they can from whatever is left, probably the countries with oil will be the center of some epic battles where billions will die fighting over the last scraps of crude oil like savages.

 

who knows it might be what we need to realise our destructive ways are wrong.

It's not often. But I agree with you here.

 

If it all heads down the shitter. I think there will be a few hardy individuals who survive, quickly revert to outright savagery. And live day to day, tooth and nail. Seeking food and shelter, fighting and fucking.

 

Then in a few million years we will have another shot at brilliance. Only to flush it down the crapper again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×