Clifton Ware, Editor
This week I’m inviting Richard Heinberg to speak to you through his latest article, “Two Realities”. This well-known sustainability expert discusses two coexisting realities in our contemporary world, one that might be termed Political Reality (or political-social-economic reality) and Physical Reality, which is represented by energy, natural resources, and the laws of thermodynamics. The two realities are fundamentally different, and even contradictory in one crucial respect: how they view humankind’s role in a finite world.
Heinberg lays out the pros and cons of these conflicting realities, including the negative effects caused by the growth paradigm that has shaped socio-political-economic thought and behavior for the past 150 years. He thinks the most effective approach might be to find a balance between political and physical realities, beginning by acknowledging the earth’s physical limits, which, in turn, may lead to creating a steady-state economy, conserving resources, and reducing population.
Regarding the physical reality of extreme climate changes—and the impacts it will have on civilization and the planet—Heinberg acknowledges that it might be too late for humans to reconcile political and physical realities, opting instead to accept the urgent need for mitigation and adaptation in order to create resilience and sustainability. In his words:
“Too much is at stake to retire in cynical self-assurance that we are right, they are wrong; we are weak, they are strong. Yes, horrible consequences from past growth are inevitable; today’s physical reality is a given. However, tomorrow’s reality is still, at least to some degree, up to us.”
So now I encourage you to read the complete article: “Two Realities”.
One more thing: You’ll notice that later on, in the climate and environmental section, there are several sobering articles about extinction rates of species, and threats posed to civilization, including “Dark Age America: Climate” by John Michael Greer. I hope you don’t avoid them because of not wanting to read bad news. For what it’s worth, I read all this stuff, and though it’s disturbing at times, I manage to keep a sense of humor while seeking positive solutions. We simply can’t afford to be paralyzed by fear, self-deceived by denial, angered by bad behaviors, or saddened by grief. We need to pick ourselves up, shake off whatever it is that bothers us, and move forward with the goal of making a difference. Yes, we can!
ECONOMIC AND ENERGY NEWS-VIEWS
Peak Prosperity: What Is Money?: Crash Course Chapter 6. Money plays an incredibly large role in the world, but yet it remains poorly understood. What exactly is it? What do the pieces of paper we hold in our wallets and bank accounts actually represent? [Highly recommended!]
Resilience-Resource Insights (Kurt Cobb): Why Doesn’t The ‘Long Emergency’ Feel Like An Emergency? What appears to be masking the ongoing emergency is the rise in stock and bond markets. The disconnect between the still sluggish economy and the stock market which keeps hitting new highs is one indication that dangers lurk in the world economy.
Global Research: Shadow Banking–You Can’t Taper A Ponzi Scheme: “Time To Reboot” (Ellen Brown). It is up to us to educate ourselves about money and banking, and to demand a system that is accountable to the people and serves our long-term interests.
OurFiniteWorld: World Oil Production At 3/31/2014–Where Are We Headed? With world oil production, the trend in oil production looks fairly benign, with the trend slightly upward. If we look at the situation more closely, however, we see that we are dealing with an unstable situation.
The New York Times: The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less. The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation.
MPR-Daily Circuit: The Future Of Big Banks As People Consider Other Options. Most Americans continue banking with megabanks under the assumption that it’s the only way to bank with the latest mobile banking technology, but blame big banks for the financial crisis. Read more ›
Yahoo News-Reuters: More Than A Third Of U.S. Adults Pursued By Collection Agencies. Average debt in collections is $5,178, according to a study published on Tuesday by the Urban Institute.
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS-VIEWS
The Archdruid Report: Dark Age America: Climate (John Michael Greer). To begin with, I’m approaching history—the history of the past as well as of the future—from a strictly ecological standpoint. I’d like to propose, in fact, that history might best be understood as the ecology of human communities, traced along the dimension of time.
The Guardian: Climate Models Accurately Predicted Global Warming When Reflecting Natural Ocean Cycles. A new study shows that when synchronized with El Niño/La Niña cycles, climate models accurately predict global surface warming.
Daily KOS: Megadrought: Huge Surge Of Pacific Heat Fails To Start El Nino, Heats Planet To Three Warmest Months. Chances of a western North America mega-drought of an intensity not seen since before the arrival of European explorers just went up.
Science Daily: Worldwide Water Shortage By 2040. Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today.
Business Insider: Earth Is On The Cusp Of A Sixth Mass Extinction. Now, according to a July 25 review in the journal Science, the Earth seems to be at the cusp of a sixth mass extinction. Only this time, an asteroid is not to blame. We are.
Stanford News: Stanford Biologist Warns Of Early Stages Of Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction Event. The planet’s current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.
Ars Technica: Tracking And Combating Our Current Mass Extinction. Although extinction and defaunation are distinct issues, the underlying causes are the same. The authors mention overexploitation of species used for food, habitat destruction, and the impact of invasive species, all of which have played a role for centuries.
Business Insider: 5 Scary Things Experts Think Could Happen By 2050. This brief video conveys that Climate change may potentially lead to flooding, hunger, disease, war, and exile (refugees).
Jones: The Strange Relationship Between Global Warming Denial and…Speaking English . Depending on your survey instrument of choice, we regularly learn that substantial minorities of Americans deny, or are skeptical of, the science of climate change. Worldwide, the three major countries representing deniers are Australia, Great Britain, and the U.S. (the winner).
ENSIA: What Is Natural Capital, Anyway? In this easy-to-comprehend, and at times hilarious, video from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we learn that natural capital is “all the value that nature provides for us.”
NASA: Satellite Study Reveals Parched U.S. West Using Up Underground Water. A new study finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western U.S. than previously thought.
Physics.Org: ‘Shocking’ Underground Water Loss In US Drought.Experts don’t know exactly how much groundwater is left, or when the water is going to run out. NASA said the study is “the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states.”
Science Daily: Population Boom Poses Interconnected Challenges Of Energy, Food, Water. Providing enough food to prevent starvation and famine certainly will be a daunting problem. But we also have to meet the rising expectations of huge numbers of people who will be moving up into the middle class.
LOCAL, STATE, AND REGIONAL NEWS-VIEWS
Star Tribune: Where Are Sunniest Places In Minnesota? U Grads Found Out. If you’re wondering where to install solar in MN, check out this interactive: http://maps.umn.edu/solar/
Bismarck Tribune-AP: Report On Oil Trains Moving Through Minnesota Released. Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week, most traveling along the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway line between Moorhead and the Twin Cities.
CERTs: Commerce To Host ‘Improve Your Home’ Energy Exhibit At 2014 State Fair. For the third straight year, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources will host an “Improve Your Home” energy exhibit at the Eco Experience on the north end of the fairgrounds.
SUSTAINABLE IDEAS AND PRACTICES
Peak Prosperity: Escaping The Rat-Race. The changing nature of work doesn’t just matter to new graduates seeking their first career-track job—it’s equally important to experienced workers seeking to escape the corporate rat-race or build a new career after a layoff.
Yes! FabLabs, Time Banks, and Other Hidden Treasures You Didn’t Know You Owned. Self-organized commons are undergoing a renaissance today as one of the most robust alternatives to modern-day capitalism.
Resilience-Grassroots Economic Organizing: Against The Odds: Building a Just Economy Based on Trust and Care. Read testimony from four worker-owners, delivered at the New York City Council Committee on Community Development hearing this past February.
Resilience: Going Soil-Friendly (Shawndra Miller). This is one of the most exciting developments heard about in a long time. Farmers who want to stop using chemicals can get support when switching—and stay profitable during the transition.
CERTs: Sustainable Living Workshops Inspire Change Among Rental Community Residents. The idea of high-level sustainable living for residents of apartment buildings has been a concept in the minds of some in the Twin Cities metro area. http://futuregrowing.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/thegreenhouse/
CFS RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS
CFS—SAV VILLAGEFEST ACTIVITIES: Parade–Fri., Aug. 1, 7 p.m., SAV (on St. Anthony Blvd.), coordinated by CFS Bike-Walk SAV. Fair—Sat., Aug. 2, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., CFS-related groups participate. More info: http://www.stanthonyvillagefest.org/ JOIN US FOR SOME FUN EVENTS!
CFS PLANNING- BUSINESS MEETING: Sat. Aug. 16, 3-5 p.m., SAV City Hall Council Chambers.
CFS BOOK CLUB: Sat. Aug. 23, 3-5 p.m., St. Anthony Village Library (SAV Shopping Center). Books: Decline and Fall: The End of Empire (John Michael Greer; The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor’s Toolkit (Dmitry Orlov). Open to public.
NOTABLE UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS
Friends of the Mississippi River: Make Your Home River-Friendly – Workshop + Brewery Tour. Aug. 6, 6-7:30 p.m. Flat Earth Brewery, Historic Hamm’s Brewery, East Side St. Paul. More info: Here
MN350: Local Dollars, Local Sense: How Minnesotans Can Move Their Money from Wall Street to Main Street to Achieve Real Prosperity. Speaker—Michael Shuman (michaelhshuman.com). Thurs., Aug. 7, 7 p.m., MCDA Auditorium, 2501 Stevens, Ave., Mpls. Tickets ($8.38) Eventbrite (MichaelShumanAugust7.eventbrite.com)
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Eco Experience: Minnesota Goes Green. “Best Attraction 2013”. MN State Fair, Aug. 21-Sept. 1. Info: http://www.ecoexperience.org.