1 2 > 
 
   
 

Sleepwalking Toward the Edge of a Cliff

 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
02 April 2021 10:01
 

When a forum member called GAD used to post here, he’d counter my posts about climate change and environmental destruction by saying that he’d switch to green energy sources when they became cheaper than fossil fuel energy and nuclear energy.  This is the prevailing attitude of most Americans . . .  It’s cheaper to destroy life as we know it than to pay for more expensive energy.

https://theweek.com/articles/823904/sixth-mass-extinction-explained

What’s gone wrong?
As the human population has swelled to 7.5 billion, our species’ massive footprint on planet Earth has had a devastating impact on mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and marine life. We’ve driven thousands of species to the edge of extinction through habitat loss, overhunting and overfishing, the introduction of invasive species into new ecosystems, toxic pollution, and climate change. In the past 40 years, the number of wild animals has plunged 50 percent, a 2014 study found. And the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that populations of vertebrates — higher animals with spinal columns — have fallen by an average of 60 percent since 1970. The past 20 years have brought a 90 percent plunge in the number of monarch butterflies in America, a loss of 900 million, and an 87 percent loss of rusty-patched bumblebees. Only 3 percent of the original populations of the heavily fished Pacific bluefin tuna remain in the sea. “We are sleepwalking toward the edge of a cliff,” said Mike Barrett, executive director at WWF.

What are the consequences?
Potentially enormous. The loss of species can have catastrophic effects on the food chain on which humanity depends. Ocean reefs, which sustain more than 25 percent of marine life, have declined by 50 percent already — and could be lost altogether by 2050. This is almost certainly contributing to the decline of global marine life, down — on average — by 50 percent since 1970, according to the WWF. Insects pollinate crops humans eat. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” the WWF’s Barrett said. “This is actually now jeopardizing the future of people. Nature is not ‘nice to have’ — it is our life-support system.”

Read more in article.

 

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
Avatar
 
 
Jan_CAN
Total Posts:  3851
Joined  21-10-2016
 
 
 
03 April 2021 09:31
 

I think it’s clear that overcoming environmental destruction will require all of us, individuals and governments, and fundamental changes in attitudes and priorities.

And North Americans are the worst of the lot.  Abundance and relative prosperity has made us greedy, over-consumptors and unwilling to make individual choices for the greater good.  One doesn’t hear much talk about having fewer children.  People will talk about the importance of the environment and are willing to toss a few items in a recycle bin, but mention a carbon tax (which are proven to reduce emissions) or eliminating a convenience, and they’ll rebel.  God forbid we can’t have everything we want and deserve, right?

Why is it that the average home today is about twice the size of those during the baby boom?  And why aren’t we seeing more solar panels on new homes?

https://www.darrinqualman.com/house-size/
“Big houses require more energy and materials to construct.  Big houses hold more furniture and stuff—they are integral parts of high-consumption lifestyles.  Big houses contribute to lower population densities and, thus, more sprawl and driving.  And, all things being equal, big houses require more energy to heat and cool ... And multiply that kind of house times millions and we create a ‘built in’ greenhouse gas emissions problem.”

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  8814
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
03 April 2021 09:38
 

Albert Allen Bartlett springs to mind:

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

wiki Bartlett

(That and oligarchs of course wink  )

 
 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  8267
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
03 April 2021 09:56
 

Also “Cascade Effect”.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
03 April 2021 17:58
 
Jefe - 03 April 2021 09:56 AM

Also “Cascade Effect”.

Example:  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/sea-otters-eat-sea

“Sea otters eat sea urchins and sea urchins eat kelp. When sea otters are present, the coastal kelp forests maintain a healthy balance. But when the fur trade wiped out the otters in the Aleutian Islands in the 1990s, sea urchins grew wildly, devouring kelp, and the kelp forest collapsed, along with everything that depended on it. Fish populations declined. Bald eagles, which feed on fish, altered their food habits. Dwindled kelp supplies sucked up less carbon dioxide, and atmospheric carbon dioxide increased.”

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
05 April 2021 09:32
 
Jan_CAN - 03 April 2021 09:31 AM

I think it’s clear that overcoming environmental destruction will require all of us, individuals and governments, and fundamental changes in attitudes and priorities.

And North Americans are the worst of the lot.  Abundance and relative prosperity has made us greedy, over-consumptors and unwilling to make individual choices for the greater good.  One doesn’t hear much talk about having fewer children.  People will talk about the importance of the environment and are willing to toss a few items in a recycle bin, but mention a carbon tax (which are proven to reduce emissions) or eliminating a convenience, and they’ll rebel.  God forbid we can’t have everything we want and deserve, right?

Why is it that the average home today is about twice the size of those during the baby boom?  And why aren’t we seeing more solar panels on new homes?

https://www.darrinqualman.com/house-size/
“Big houses require more energy and materials to construct.  Big houses hold more furniture and stuff—they are integral parts of high-consumption lifestyles.  Big houses contribute to lower population densities and, thus, more sprawl and driving.  And, all things being equal, big houses require more energy to heat and cool ... And multiply that kind of house times millions and we create a ‘built in’ greenhouse gas emissions problem.”

How many people know in the marrow of their bones that the American way of life, American values are ruining the planet?  How many know that if the 4 or 5 billion people in developing countries lived like us civilization would soon collapse? 

At the present rate of consumption and pollution, will the first major resource to collapse be the oceans?

What is the food chain of the ocean?
“A food chain in the ocean begins with tiny one-celled organisms called diatoms, which make their own food from sunlight. Shrimplike creatures eat the diatoms. Small fish eat the shrimplike creatures, and bigger fish eat the small fish.”

https://mashable.com/2018/03/16/ocean-acidification-could-hit-base-marine-food-web-diatoms/

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/co-emissions-per-capita

[ Edited: 05 April 2021 09:36 by unsmoked]
 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  22633
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
05 April 2021 09:56
 

Our political structures and lack of unified democracy in the major world governments seem to make dealing with long-term, global problems very difficult. Our solutions are short-term, and major steps forward are likely to be undone by subsequent administrations (such as Trump backing out of the Paris Climate Accords).  A world body agreed upon by all nations with power to institute energy programs might be able to solve this problem, but I’m starting to doubt our ability to act rationally about this.

 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
05 April 2021 12:00
 
EN - 05 April 2021 09:56 AM

Our political structures and lack of unified democracy in the major world governments seem to make dealing with long-term, global problems very difficult. Our solutions are short-term, and major steps forward are likely to be undone by subsequent administrations (such as Trump backing out of the Paris Climate Accords).  A world body agreed upon by all nations with power to institute energy programs might be able to solve this problem, but I’m starting to doubt our ability to act rationally about this.

Thanks for this.  In post #5 I wanted to bring up the subject of our lack of effective world government.  A world government that can prevent, for example, the stupid and greedy overfishing that is presently leading to the collapse of fish stocks around the world. 

https://www.nps.gov/common/uploads/teachers/lessonplans/Overfishing—The-Grand-Banks-Collapse-pdf.pdf

 

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
06 April 2021 12:40
 

Sleepwalking Toward the Edge of a Cliff - (Buy now, pay later?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvAOuhyunhY  (trailer for ‘Dark Waters’ -  coming to a town near you? . . . dark waters, not the movie)

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/061913/why-monsanto-evil-dupont-isnt.asp  (We all live in a yellow atmosphere?) 

 

 

Image Attachments
 
124_2493-2.JPG
 
 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3808
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
09 April 2021 03:45
 
EN - 05 April 2021 09:56 AM

Our political structures and lack of unified democracy in the major world governments seem to make dealing with long-term, global problems very difficult. Our solutions are short-term, and major steps forward are likely to be undone by subsequent administrations (such as Trump backing out of the Paris Climate Accords).  A world body agreed upon by all nations with power to institute energy programs might be able to solve this problem, but I’m starting to doubt our ability to act rationally about this.

Arguably, each of the players in this game is acting rationally, with respect to furthering their own interests. The problem in games requiring cooperation is to come up with an adequate remedy against failing to cooperate. The fear of each participant is that “I” will be the one to foot the bill for the entire project, and that others will free-ride on “my” contributions. I probably need not point out that it’s considered a point of honor among some Americans to get “free rides” in collective endeavors to the fullest extent possible; it’s considered good business practice.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
09 April 2021 11:35
 
Poldano - 09 April 2021 03:45 AM
EN - 05 April 2021 09:56 AM

Our political structures and lack of unified democracy in the major world governments seem to make dealing with long-term, global problems very difficult. Our solutions are short-term, and major steps forward are likely to be undone by subsequent administrations (such as Trump backing out of the Paris Climate Accords).  A world body agreed upon by all nations with power to institute energy programs might be able to solve this problem, but I’m starting to doubt our ability to act rationally about this.

Arguably, each of the players in this game is acting rationally, with respect to furthering their own interests. The problem in games requiring cooperation is to come up with an adequate remedy against failing to cooperate. The fear of each participant is that “I” will be the one to foot the bill for the entire project, and that others will free-ride on “my” contributions. I probably need not point out that it’s considered a point of honor among some Americans to get “free rides” in collective endeavors to the fullest extent possible; it’s considered good business practice.

Are stockholders in the fossil fuel industry getting a free ride with tax breaks and government subsidies?  Societal costs?  https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-costs#:~:text=The United States provides a,to the fossil fuel industry.

Cheaper gas for the sleepwalkers?

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3808
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
14 April 2021 01:44
 
unsmoked - 09 April 2021 11:35 AM
Poldano - 09 April 2021 03:45 AM
EN - 05 April 2021 09:56 AM

Our political structures and lack of unified democracy in the major world governments seem to make dealing with long-term, global problems very difficult. Our solutions are short-term, and major steps forward are likely to be undone by subsequent administrations (such as Trump backing out of the Paris Climate Accords).  A world body agreed upon by all nations with power to institute energy programs might be able to solve this problem, but I’m starting to doubt our ability to act rationally about this.

Arguably, each of the players in this game is acting rationally, with respect to furthering their own interests. The problem in games requiring cooperation is to come up with an adequate remedy against failing to cooperate. The fear of each participant is that “I” will be the one to foot the bill for the entire project, and that others will free-ride on “my” contributions. I probably need not point out that it’s considered a point of honor among some Americans to get “free rides” in collective endeavors to the fullest extent possible; it’s considered good business practice.

Are stockholders in the fossil fuel industry getting a free ride with tax breaks and government subsidies?  Societal costs?  https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-costs#:~:text=The United States provides a,to the fossil fuel industry.

Cheaper gas for the sleepwalkers?

Well, yeah. It’s historical fact that nearly everyone favored the policies when they started out, especially since those enacting them made sure there there were benefits for most of the electorate resulting from them (e.g., cheap gas is still a major political motivator for a lot of Americans).

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
14 April 2021 10:24
 
Poldano - 14 April 2021 01:44 AM
unsmoked - 09 April 2021 11:35 AM
Poldano - 09 April 2021 03:45 AM
EN - 05 April 2021 09:56 AM

Our political structures and lack of unified democracy in the major world governments seem to make dealing with long-term, global problems very difficult. Our solutions are short-term, and major steps forward are likely to be undone by subsequent administrations (such as Trump backing out of the Paris Climate Accords).  A world body agreed upon by all nations with power to institute energy programs might be able to solve this problem, but I’m starting to doubt our ability to act rationally about this.

Arguably, each of the players in this game is acting rationally, with respect to furthering their own interests. The problem in games requiring cooperation is to come up with an adequate remedy against failing to cooperate. The fear of each participant is that “I” will be the one to foot the bill for the entire project, and that others will free-ride on “my” contributions. I probably need not point out that it’s considered a point of honor among some Americans to get “free rides” in collective endeavors to the fullest extent possible; it’s considered good business practice.

Are stockholders in the fossil fuel industry getting a free ride with tax breaks and government subsidies?  Societal costs?  https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-fossil-fuel-subsidies-a-closer-look-at-tax-breaks-and-societal-costs#:~:text=The United States provides a,to the fossil fuel industry.

Cheaper gas for the sleepwalkers?

Well, yeah. It’s historical fact that nearly everyone favored the policies when they started out, especially since those enacting them made sure there there were benefits for most of the electorate resulting from them (e.g., cheap gas is still a major political motivator for a lot of Americans).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_inequality_in_the_United_States#:~:text=A September 2017 study by,millionaires and billionaires by 2021.

“A 2014 study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern concludes that government policies reflect the desires of the wealthy, and that the vast majority of American citizens have “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy ... when a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose”

Tell me if you disagree, but I think this 2014 study is telling us that the wealthy are able to put lawmakers in office who will pass legislation to make them richer; for example,  Trump and his tax-breaks for the rich, or legislation to keep the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour - a wage that can’t support a family.

Millions of poor people support such legislation, cajoled by the rhetoric of the super-rich about ‘trickle-down’ economics, or the promise that they are supporting anti-abortion legislation, or a powerful military etc.  (the U.S. military budget is more than all other countries put together, yet most Americans are agreeable when it is increased even more!).  (the military-industrial complex with it’s super-rich CEO’s and stockholders have nothing to do with this ‘patriotic’ outpouring of popular support?)

https://ourworldindata.org/military-spending  -  scroll down to see chart

 

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3808
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
15 April 2021 00:44
 
unsmoked - 14 April 2021 10:24 AM

...

Millions of poor people support such legislation, cajoled by the rhetoric of the super-rich about ‘trickle-down’ economics, or the promise that they are supporting anti-abortion legislation, or a powerful military etc.  (the U.S. military budget is more than all other countries put together, yet most Americans are agreeable when it is increased even more!).  (the military-industrial complex with it’s super-rich CEO’s and stockholders have nothing to do with this ‘patriotic’ outpouring of popular support?)

https://ourworldindata.org/military-spending  -  scroll down to see chart

Military spending is easy to explain: many citizens want the sense that their country can whup any other country hands-down. One problem with basing that belief on defense spending is that the most money does not always buy the most effective stuff. Examples, of course, are far too numerous to list here.

The other stuff is more complicated, but may boil down to something I’ve read in an opinion piece recently, that there are people with a fundamental belief that “that’s just the way things are.” Implicit is the notion that attempting to change an undesirable feature of the contraption will cause the whole contraption to fail catastrophically.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  9944
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
15 April 2021 11:56
 
Poldano - 15 April 2021 12:44 AM
unsmoked - 14 April 2021 10:24 AM

...

Millions of poor people support such legislation, cajoled by the rhetoric of the super-rich about ‘trickle-down’ economics, or the promise that they are supporting anti-abortion legislation, or a powerful military etc.  (the U.S. military budget is more than all other countries put together, yet most Americans are agreeable when it is increased even more!).  (the military-industrial complex with it’s super-rich CEO’s and stockholders have nothing to do with this ‘patriotic’ outpouring of popular support?)

https://ourworldindata.org/military-spending  -  scroll down to see chart

Military spending is easy to explain: many citizens want the sense that their country can whup any other country hands-down. One problem with basing that belief on defense spending is that the most money does not always buy the most effective stuff. Examples, of course, are far too numerous to list here.

The other stuff is more complicated, but may boil down to something I’ve read in an opinion piece recently, that there are people with a fundamental belief that “that’s just the way things are.” Implicit is the notion that attempting to change an undesirable feature of the contraption will cause the whole contraption to fail catastrophically.

I highlighted the sentence about whupping another country hands-down.  Do the people who think that way assume that if Russia or China were being whupped hands down they wouldn’t totally destroy major U.S. cities with all their inhabitants?  In their mind, more military spending will make sure that doesn’t happen? 

If we spent what China spends on its military, could we save $400 billion annually and still have enough punch to destroy the planet several times?  https://www.csis.org/analysis/understanding-chinas-2021-defense-budget#:~:text=The Stockholm International Peace Research,2019 figure at $234 billion.

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3808
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
16 April 2021 01:20
 
unsmoked - 15 April 2021 11:56 AM
Poldano - 15 April 2021 12:44 AM
unsmoked - 14 April 2021 10:24 AM

...

Millions of poor people support such legislation, cajoled by the rhetoric of the super-rich about ‘trickle-down’ economics, or the promise that they are supporting anti-abortion legislation, or a powerful military etc.  (the U.S. military budget is more than all other countries put together, yet most Americans are agreeable when it is increased even more!).  (the military-industrial complex with it’s super-rich CEO’s and stockholders have nothing to do with this ‘patriotic’ outpouring of popular support?)

https://ourworldindata.org/military-spending  -  scroll down to see chart


Military spending is easy to explain: many citizens want the sense that their country can whup any other country hands-down. One problem with basing that belief on defense spending is that the most money does not always buy the most effective stuff. Examples, of course, are far too numerous to list here.

The other stuff is more complicated, but may boil down to something I’ve read in an opinion piece recently, that there are people with a fundamental belief that “that’s just the way things are.” Implicit is the notion that attempting to change an undesirable feature of the contraption will cause the whole contraption to fail catastrophically.

I highlighted the sentence about whupping another country hands-down.  Do the people who think that way assume that if Russia or China were being whupped hands down they wouldn’t totally destroy major U.S. cities with all their inhabitants?  In their mind, more military spending will make sure that doesn’t happen? 

If we spent what China spends on its military, could we save $400 billion annually and still have enough punch to destroy the planet several times?  https://www.csis.org/analysis/understanding-chinas-2021-defense-budget#:~:text=The Stockholm International Peace Research,2019 figure at $234 billion.

I chose the word whup to highlight that, in my opinion anyway, the opinion is not entirely based on objective rationality. I can illustrate this by opining that in a Trumpian world-view, America would have to be capable of whupping everyone else acting in concert simultaneously.

Your point on other superpowers’ response to existential threats is rational and objective, but few people have really studied strategy, especially deterrence theory, enough to grasp the point. Moreover, pure deterrence is not the capability that is currently being contested; projection of force to assist in obtaining economic and political objectives is. As an example, North Korea wants nuclear weapons to achieve some degree of deterrence against attack; their assumption is that any risk of nuclear destruction of one or a few of a potential enemy’s cities is sufficient to prevent any attack. North Korea (by which I mean the Kim family dynasty) is small enough and weak enough to be existentially at risk from even a non-nuclear attack from just about any major power, even South Korea supported by major power allies. Right now, they are somewhat protected by the deterrent capabilities of Russia and China, but what happens if events turn in such a way that these superpowers don’t find the Kim family convenient enough to go to war over? It’s unlikely but possible, and the lack of deterrence capability of its own restricts North Korea’s range of actions. The U.S. is definitely interested in constraining the range of actions of North Korea and other “rogue regimes”, because such countries limit the U.S. ability to control critical parts of the geopolitical balance. Controlling parts of the geopolitical balance (which has been generally synonymous with oil supply in recent history) is not about basic existence, unless one considers being “King of the Mountain” economically a requirement for basic existence.

Sorry for the long tangent, but it has a point. The military power of the U.S. is not just for deterring existential threat, but for projecting force and the aura of power to assist in preserving the current world economic order, which the U.S. and its backers profit from immensely. The purpose has been conflated in the American mythology with the much more acceptable one, to ordinary people and emotionally speaking, of maintaining American supremacy and “way of life”. The latter term is very nebulous and can be interpreted to mean that any need to adapt to changing circumstances is an existential threat. If there is a real existential threat from the loss of American supremacy, besides to the individuals in power at the time, it is to the economic dominance of those who profit primarily by that supremacy. The Military-Industrial Complex is certainly one of those sets of entities, and perhaps the one most concerned with the aura rather than the capability, but there are doubtless others who are not so obvious. To the extent that the welfare of ordinary Americans is dependent on the welfare of those economically dominant entities, they are also under threat, but it does not rise to the existential level, despite a significant number having become convinced that it does.

U.S. military spending cannot be compared with the military spending of potential adversaries for several reasons. One reason is that the purchasing power of Chinese and Russian dollar-equivalents are greater in their own countries than that of the U.S. in the U.S, because of cost-of-living differences and superior amenities. U.S. military personnel are paid more in terms of fractions of domestic GDP than their Russian and Chinese counterparts. Another reason is that U.S. military equipment is designed to be more capable on a per-unit basis than that of its potential adversaries, so as to reduce the number of units required to achieve superiority. This puts it on the unfriendly side of Lancashire’s Square Law, but incidentally not only inspires an all-volunteer military but provides the rationale for highly-expensive military equipment programs and, in turn, the apparently outsize incomes of defense contractors. A third reason lies in the wider range of power projection called for by U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. I have alluded to this above, but no other country in this era has assumed a foreign policy objective of global control, whatever the reasons behind it. Reduction of U.S. military spending would need to begin with rethinking foreign policy objectives, and is rife with the risk of creating power vacuums that either known adversaries or currently unknown or non-existent rogue elements (e.g., pirates) would be eager to fill.

 
 
 1 2 >