Monday, 18 June 2012

Comment #4: -- 'Sustainability'

The inspiration for this mini-essay:
'Stanford biologists call for humanity to 'scale itself back''

- Overpopulation
- Unmitigated economic growth
- Falling biodiversity

All of these are massive problems that we must face. And if we fail? Well, we'll get naturally selected.

Highly generic species (think of dragonflies to bacteria) tend to be most long-lasting. Peculiar species that find themselves comfortable little niches tend not to last as long.

We are not a generic species. We are an odd species; comfortably wedged into a peculiar little niche of behaviour that no other Earth species has ever been known to exhibit.
We must not expect to succeed, or we will fail.

-- Thanks to the work of people like Norman Borlaug, overpopulation has been held back. Population rise has slowed, because fewer people are living in food-related austerity. And all thanks to his work in genetically modifying food crops to give higher yields.
But if we don't build on their work, then all we will have done will be to push the population crunch further into the future. The crunch will happen at a later date, and with a higher population, but it will still happen.
If populations continue to rise, food scarcity will rise again, starvation-related austerity will increase, and this species' hormonal compulsion to outbreed austerity will re-amplify.

Borlaug bought us time. We must use it.

-- One way we can do that, is to give up on the fallacy that is capitalism. We must reject the false notion that money has its own value, and the pretence that it is not just a medium of exchange for things that do. We must reject the notion that hoarding capital is somehow a marker of success.
Only because of the capitalist fallacy is economic growth lauded so much. All economic growth is, is committing more and more money exchanges, achieved by doing more and more work, and churning out/buying more and more products. All this does is accelerate the rate at which capitalists can hoard profit.

This is not sustainable, and it is highly dangerous. Increasing production means increasing resource consumption, means increasing pollution and increasing resource price as supply fails to meet demand.
In order to produce, work has to be done. To do work, a power source is required. That power source, currently, is fossil-fuel reserves. This is why economic growth correlates so well with CO2eq emissions.

We must replace the fossil fuel source with renewable powers - solar and wind, primarily. And we must reduce the rate at which unnecessary goods are churned out. Like the article says, it's the rich nations, with their habit of disposable goods, that dominate the environmental impact stakes.

-- Another way to reduce the austerity that motivates people to overpopulate is to fight biological and social illness - disease and superstition.
Increasing food supply and water supply is one easy way to improve health, and thereby reduce the austerity that people experience. Another, is to eradicate prevalent diseases, like the rich have done with tuberculosis, cholera, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, etc.
An amplification of these benefits is achieved through cultural reforms. In Europe, the renaissance and the enlightenment coincided with improvements in living standards. Today, medical and mortal superstitions are less potent in less austere regions of the world.
The 'girl' effect is a well-identified method by which to improve living conditions for all - emancipation of women is the closest thing to a cultural panacea, and has been opposed by Religion for as long as history extends in to the past.

-- But, most of all, what this species needs, in order to survive, is a scientific attitude. None of these problems - any of which could be our collective downfall - will be resolved without an evidence-based attitude, and enough able people willing to act.
The only way any of the above will be heeded and acted upon is if they are appreciated and the importance of their resolution acknowledged.


'More people, more environmental stress'
"The population and economic growth that can be anticipated in coming decades will tend to push emissions substantially upward"

'Urban wasteland: World Bank sees global garbage crisis'
"The World Bank economists called for better waste management and recycling to combat greenhouse gas emissions, saying the old concept of "throwing away" trash no longer works."

'Why are some people greener than others?'
Culture will be crucial when it comes to tackling social and environmental problems. A positive, liberal disposition will maximise our chances of succeeding.

'WWF says over-consumption threatens planet'

"Clean drinking water and basic sanitation are human rights. Yet almost 780 million of the world's population still have no access to drinking water and some 2.6 billion people live without sanitary facilities."

'Green homes use 80 per cent less energy'

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