Clif Ware, Editor
Opinions, Facts, and Four Common Beliefs
As we know, many opinions and beliefs are not founded on facts (reality), but more commonly on hearsay, the media, and irrational, illogical thinking that result in personal opinions (views, interpretations), which may or may not be founded on factual evidence. Labeling something as a fact, when it is really an opinion or falsehood, is a gross misuse of human intelligence. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence in the political arena, when proponents of any idea or behavior desperately seek credibility.
Most of us know people who make up their “closed minds” on controversial topics, and refuse to be confused with any facts. We observe such responses when the media features persons spouting extremes views, left and right, holding fast to beliefs that are unsupported by factual evidence. Unproven beliefs are very powerful determinants of behavior, and when founded on half-truths (cherry-picked), complete falsehoods, or wishful thinking, they exacerbate human conflicts that lead to lose-lose outcomes, as evidenced by the deep growing gulf between progressives and conservatives.
Based on the facts and evidence I’ve gathered, I, along with many other truth seekers, have developed this prime belief: “For the first time in history, the human race must confront the physical limits to growth on a finite planet”. In connection with this belief, let’s consider four popular beliefs (myths) that are seldom questioned:
- Material Growth creates Prosperity. Thanks to plentiful cheap energy and pro-growth business and political forces, we’ve grown very comfortable with a weakly regulated free-market economy that encourages extravagant consumerism, and a financial system founded primarily on creating massive debt. Growth in non-material dimensions, such as happiness, is mostly overlooked.
- Expanding technologies and increasing complexity can solve our problems. The long-term “external costs” of technological advances tend to be overlooked, notably the chemical pollution of air, water, and soil that eventually makes its way into the bodies of all living creatures, in addition to the ongoing depletion of finite carbon-based energy resources.
- The economy is independent of nature. This disconnect is perhaps the most insidious of all, as we have become increasingly dependent on a global economy that provides goods and services by unknown numbers of people worldwide. Nature is viewed in three principal ways: as a utilitarian commodity to be exploited for human good; as a source of beauty, inspiration and recreation; and as an integrated, interdependent ecological bio-system capable of supporting existing life forms. The view of nature as a utilitarian commodity is largely responsible for the many challenges we’re experiencing.
- Common sense serves us better than critical thinking & factual evidence. Perhaps it would be more useful to replace common sense with good sense, which relies more on the use of critical thinking and factual evidence.
So, if we don’t always rely on good sense, how did we get this way? This is a question for a future exploration. Meanwhile, please look over the following articles and read those that attract your attention.
ECONOMIC AND ENERGY NEWS-VIEWS
Weathering the Storm: Management By Crisis (Michael Conley). Any hope of responding effectively to the perfect storm will require a thoughtful and strategic approach – the antithesis of what’s happening in Washington today. The current Highway Trust Fund insolvency battle is a good case in point. Free “Weathering the Storm Guide” www.weatheringthestorm.net
Peak Prosperity: Money Creation: Banks – Crash Course Chapter 7. As a follow-on to the previous chapter explaining the nature of fiat money, this week’s video details one of the two methods by which it is created: fractional reserve banking.
Post Growth: The Circular Economy And The Access Economy. In managing resource and waste management, a lot of muscle-building effort has gone into strengthening the Circular Economy muscle, and the Access Economy muscle is one we’ve only just discovered we can build.
Resilience-Resource Insights: Bubble Time: Friends And Relatives Act As If We’ve Returned To Business-As-Usual. There is no more long-term in the stock market or any market. The relentless, if zigzag, rise in financial markets for the past 150 years has been sustained by cheap fossil fuels and a benign climate. We cannot count on either from here on out.
Humanity’s Test: Energy & The Financial System: Presentation To Energy Systems Conference (June 2014). This informative 12-minute Vimeo presentation by Roger Boyd discusses the financial system as an accelerator and multiplier of the economic and social impacts of energy depletion.
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS-VIEWS
The New York Times: Shattering Myths To Help The Climate. Each new climate-change study seems more pessimistic than the last. This May and June, for example, were the hottest ones on record for the planet. Why aren’t we demanding more forceful action? One reason may be the frequent incantation of a motley collection of six myths, each one rooted in bad economics.
Climate Progress: At EPA Hearing, Religious Leaders Call Carbon Pollution ‘An Affront To God’. The recent EPA hearings were not the first time that religious groups have rallied to fight global warming. Earlier this month, The World Council of Churches announced that it would pull all of its investments in fossil fuels, saying it had determined the investments were no longer ethical.
Climate Progress: Delaying Climate Policies Could Cost U.S. Economy $150 Billion Each Year, Report Shows. The thesis for the Council of Economic Advisor’s report is this: policies are needed to curb the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Carbon will continue accumulating, raising temperatures, and increasing the negative impacts of climate change, including economic costs.
New Economics: We Can’t Have Social Justice Without Environmental Sustainability. The interests of people and the planet are bound together and depend on each other. Yet social and environmental policies are too often stuck in separate silos, as though it barely matters how deeply they affect each other.
Peak Prosperity: Michael Klare: Finite Resources And The Geography of Conflict. Ukraine. Iraq. Nigeria. Libya. Tunisia. Syria. All are hotspots of conflict in different regions of the world, yet the same underlying cause behind each can clearly be seen when looking through the lens of finite resources.
Aljazeera: Report: World Faces Water Crises By 2040. Globally, there has been a three-fold population increase in the past century and a six-fold increase in water consumption, the report said. If trends in population and energy use continue, it could leave a 40 percent gap between water supply and demand by the year 2030.
National Geographic: Groundwater Depletion In Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk To Water Security. We have two choices: continue flying water-blind into the future and leave the consequences to the next generation, or get our heads out of the sand and take action to monitor, manage and balance our water books.
Resilience-Eco Watch: California Experiencing Most Severe Drought Ever Recorded. One of the worst North American droughts in history could be getting a whole lot worse. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map released on Tuesday, more than 58 percent of California is in an “exceptional drought” stage.
LOCAL, STATE, AND REGIONAL NEWS-VIEWS
Star Tribune: Minnesota Crossed By 50 Oil Trains A Week. Fifty oil trains, each loaded with more than 1 million gallons of North Dakota crude oil, pass through Minnesota each week, and almost all of them go through the Twin Cities, according to the first detailed reports on the state’s crude-by-rail traffic obtained by the Star Tribune.
MPR: Charting Minnesota’s Future Water Supply. The Metropolitan Council has outlined options for restoring water levels in White Bear Lake. The Legislature asked the Met Council to study possible solutions both to White Bear Lake’s low water and to concerns about unsustainable groundwater pumping in the region.
MPR: Researchers To Conduct First Survey Of Minnesota’s Native Bees. This summer DNR researchers are traveling the length of western Minnesota to conduct the first population survey of native bees. Minnesota has a list of native bees, but it was written in 1919 and is missing many of the state’s more than 350 different species of native bees.
Finance-Commerce: Sustainable: B3 Guidelines Are MN’s Alternative To LEED. The “Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond” guidelines are aimed at collecting energy data and helping architects and builders to create more efficient buildings.
SUSTAINABLE IDEAS AND PRACTICES
Transition Voice: Transition To A World Made By Hand (Lindsay Curran). “Say what you will about whether anybody’s personal efforts makes a damn bit of difference in a world hurtling toward climate hell and energy crisis, but I remain in the camp that would rather being doing something positive that builds resilience and community than helplessly awaiting the end”.
Star Tribune: Building Efficiency: The Invisible Clean Energy Strategy. Most energy experts agree that energy efficiency in buildings is the low-hanging fruit for reducing the production of deadly greenhouse gases. Buildings account for around 70% of electrical consumption and 40% of carbon emissions in the U.S.
Catholic Free Press: Build A Straw-Bale House. an Ohio religious order is hoping its energy-efficient straw-bale house will sprout ideas in the minds of visitors to reduce fossil fuel consumption and even invest in renewable forms of energy for heating and cooling their homes.
ENSIA: Is Sharing Really Green? Many have sung the sharing economy’s environmental praises, but the evidence may not be there to back up their claims. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t embrace sharing. We should. Read more…
ENSIA: Has Meat Met Its Match? Bugs. Test-tube burgers. 3-D food. Are you ready for the future of meat? Read more…
Shareable: 20 Urban Food Forests From Around The World. The concept of a food forest has its roots in permaculture, a philosophy that advocates for managing agricultural landscapes in harmony with nature. The practice emphasizes perennial, low-maintenance crops that leverage natural nutrient inputs, drainage patterns and climate to achieve a self-sustaining, food-producing ecosystem.
Yes! Indigenous Seed Savers Gather In The Andes, Agree To Fight Climate Change With Biodiversity. As climate change makes it more difficult to practice agriculture in their ancestral homelands, indigenous communities are exchanging seeds in hopes of finding the hardiest varieties.
Organic Consumers Association: Regenerative Agriculture: Sowing Health, Sustainability And Climate Stability. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that since 1960, a third of the world’s arable land has been lost through erosion and other degradation, caused largely by increased demand for GMO crops used to feed factory farm animals, produce subsidized biofuels, and make processed foods.
CFS RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS
CFS—SAV VILLAGEFEST ACTIVITIES REPORT: Several CFS participants walked and biked in the VF Parade last Friday evening, and several managed CFS related booths at the VF Fair on Saturday. 2 CFS members managed the VF Recycling Project. Thanks to all who participated!
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
Waite Park Community Gardens: Stroll and Strum. Sat., Aug. 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m.,3601 Lincoln St. NE, Mpls. Featuring garden samples and acoustic folk music by Skunk Hollow Band. Info: http://www.waiteparkcommunitygarden.org/
Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in MN & Citizens’ Climate Lobby: “A Call to Climate Action: America’s New National Purpose“– featuring Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg. Thurs., Aug. 14, 7 p.m., at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 8600 Fremont Ave S, Bloomington. Invite friends (https://www.facebook.com/events/564891456953783/)
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Eco Experience: Minnesota Goes Green. “Best Attraction 2013”. Aug. 21-Sept. 1, MN State Fair, St. Paul; Info: http://www.ecoexperience.org.
Renewing the Countryside: Healthy Local Foods exhibit at MN State Fair. Aug. 21-Sept. 1 MN State Fair, Saint Paul
SAV Chamber of Commerce: Touch-A-Truck. A fun, educational, “hands on” experience for kids of all ages! Saturday, September 13, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., 39th Ave NE, Silver Lake Village. Info: Tony Fragnito (firstname.lastname@example.org; 651-748-7860), or Jan Fillmore (email@example.com; 612-788-1675).