Will Technology Save Us? (Clifton Ware, Editor/Publisher)
One of the optimistic themes underpinning the functioning of modern society is the common belief that science and technology will save civilization from any future calamities.
Some of the latest projected technical wizardries include: seeking new forms of plentiful, cheap energy; developing space travel; mining for precious minerals on asteroids; engineering ever-more genetically modified organisms; and, most significantly for civilization, artificially modifying Earth’s climate systems through geoengineering.
Advocates of the “dark green environmentalism” persuasion (like me) seriously question the “bright green environmentalism” tribe’s undying faith in technology to solve all of humankind’s challenges. I hasten to add that dark greens do embrace science and the scientific method, especially open-minded searches for answers and solutions based on confirmable evidence.
As humanity continues seeking ways to create a resilient, sustainable future, dark greens advocate finding an equitable balance between unbridled technology and judicious technology. For a brief overview of light, bright, and dark green environmentalism, go to bright green environmentalism (Wikepedia).
I discovered an article this week that addresses this issue with admirable substance, clarity and passion. Actually, it’s a recorded talk, with transcript, of a presentation given by Jerry Mander at the recent International Forum on Globalization “teach-in” (Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth), which took place October 25th-26th in New York City.
Jerry Mander is the founder, former director, and presently distinguished fellow of the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), a San Francisco “think tank” that, since 1994, has focused on exposing the negative impacts of economic globalization, and the need for economic transitions toward sustainable local economies. Click here to read and/or hear Mander’s talk: Questions We Should Have Asked about Technology.
ENVIRONMENT (Natural Resources-Wildlife-Climate)
> Resilience: Wild Carbon (Courtney White). “You cannot save the land apart from the people or the people apart from the land. To save either, you must save both.” ~ Wendell Berry. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the landmark Wilderness Act, so I thought I’d add a carbon perspective to the debate: Is there a role for wilderness in the twenty-first century?
> Huffington Post: Tuesday’s Election: A Record Day For Land Conservation (Will Rogers). One clear message was delivered: Americans cherish land and water and want to protect the special places they hold dear. And they sent that message most clearly in three large states — Florida, New Jersey and California –approving record spending to protect land and water. Voters approved 35 local and statewide measures, generating a record $13 billion in funding for conservation purposes.
> NY Times: U.S. And China Reach Climate Accord After Months Of Talks. China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.
> Huffington Post: The Big Climate Deal: What It Is, And What It Isn’t (Bill McKibben). If we want this to be a start, and not a finish, we’ve got to build even bigger and more powerful movements that push the successors of these gentlemen to meet what science demands. Today’s an achievement for everyone who’s held a banner, signed a petition, and gone to jail — and a call for many more to join us going forward!
> New York Times: Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path. Once considered the stuff of wild-eyed fantasies, ideas for countering climate change — known as geoengineering solutions, because they intentionally manipulate nature — are now being discussed seriously by scientists. The National Academy of Sciences is expected to issue a report on geoengineering later this year.
ENERGY (Fossil Carbon-Natural Resources-Renewables)
> Peak Prosperity: Peak Cheap Oil – Crash Course Chapter 20. Energy is the lifeblood of any economy. But when an economy is based on an exponential debt-based money system and that is based on exponentially increasing energy supplies, the supply of that energy therefore deserves our very highest attention.
> Our Finite World: Oil Price Slide – No Good Way Out (Gail Tverberg). The world is in a dangerous place now. A large share of oil sellers needs the revenue from oil sales. They have to continue producing, regardless of how low oil prices go unless they are stopped by bankruptcy, revolution, or something else that gives them a very clear signal to stop. History shows that many economies have collapsed because of diminishing returns.
> ASPO-USA: Peak Oil Review – 03 November 2014 (Tom Whipple). Here’s a weekly roundup of peak oil news, including: Oil and the Global Economy; The Middle East and North Africa; Russia/Ukraine; Quote of the Week; and The Briefs.
> Peak Prosperity: Central Planners Are In A State of Panic (Chris Martenson). In short, everything the central planners have tried has failed to bring widespread prosperity and has instead concentrated it dangerously at the top. Whether by coincidence or conspiracy, every possible escape hatch for 99.5% of the people has been welded shut. We are all captives in a dysfunctional system of money, run by a few for the few, and it is headed for complete disaster.
> The Daly News: Do U.S. Election Financing Laws Force Politicians To Ignore Limits To Growth? (Brent Blackwelder). Money in politics has stopped progress toward real economic reform and slowed efforts to move to a true-cost, sustainable, steady state economy. It will continue to do so unless people seeking to end today’s cheater economics, with its global casino-style economy, join in the ongoing efforts to change the election financing laws.
> Shareable: Michel Bauwens On The Rise Of Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives. A multi-stakeholder cooperative (MSC) is, as the name implies, a co-op that’s governed by two or more stakeholder groups. These groups can include workers, producers, consumers, owners, volunteers and community supporters. The brilliance of MSCs, also known as solidarity cooperatives, is that the various stakeholder groups throughout an enterprise have a shared vision that prioritizes equality, sustainability, and social justice.
> The Archdruid Report: Dark Age America: The End of the Market Economy (J. M. Greer). One factor that makes it difficult to imagine the economic consequences of the industrial age’s end is that we’re accustomed to a world where all forms of economic activity have been channeled through certain familiar forms for so long that very few people remember how things could be any other way. Another factor that complicates our thinking is that conventional economic thinking has invested immense effort into obscuring the possibility that things could be any other way.
> Common Dreams: Paul Krugman And The Tortoise: Why The Limits To Growth Are Real (Ugo Bardi). In the abstract realm of economics, the GDP can grow without natural resources; in the real world, it is not so. In the end, we need to be wary of abstract theories and remember that the limits to growth are real.
> Resilience: Genetically Modified Escalation (Eric Garza). How much money, effort and time must be wasted in the service of feeding today’s GMO escalation trap? In her book Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows articulates several traps that individuals and groups can fall into. Escalation is one of them, and it’s characterized by two or more opposing sides investing ever-greater resources towards the goal of triumphing over their opponents, like an arms race.
> Countercurrents: Ring The Bell: This Is Our Future By John James. When the IPCC promises that mean world temperature will rise by between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees by the end of the century if we go on as we are, what would this actually mean to our daily reality? We are told the likely outcome in very general scientifically correct sentences, but what do these words mean in the actual events we would have to live with?
> Common Dreams: Peace Ecology: Deep Solutions In An Age Of Water Scarcity And War (Randall Amster). A key concept of what we term “peace ecology” is grounded in the notion that conflicts and crises driven by scarcity of natural resources—such as water—can also be opportunities for us to reimagine what is possible and ultimately foster mutually beneficial solutions and longer-term sustainability.
EQUITY (Equality-Health-Social Concerns)
> Roar Magazine: The Protests, Occupations And Uprisings Changing Our World. The latest book by Cristina Flesher Fominaya, Social Movements and Globalization, comes as a careful dissection of some of the most intriguing concepts relevant to the economic and political processes of the last century and the enduring desire for social transformation. Fominaya provides us with a master compilation of all that catches our attention, grasps our interest and urges our understanding.
> Common Dreams: Please Note: Democratic Candidates Lost, But Progressive Issues Won (David Morris). My own opinion is that ballot initiatives more accurately take the ideological pulse of the people because debates over issues must focus on issues, not personality, temperament or looks. Those on both sides of the issue can exaggerate, distort and just plain lie but they must do so in reference to the question on the ballot.
> Common Dreams: The Billion Dollar a Month Club: A Runaway Transfer of Wealth to the Super-Rich (Paul Buchheit). Our national wealth has grown by an astonishing $30 trillion since the recession, but most of it has gone to people who were already wealthy. See also: The Peasants Still Have Their Pitchforks (Sam Pizzigatti).
Yes! 6 Ways Americans Voted Against Corporate Power In The Most Expensive Midterm Elections Ever (Mary Hansen & Kayla Schulz). In a few statewide ballot measures and local elections, Americans voted against corporate interests, embracing progressive policies. They endorsed protecting the environment from oil and gas companies, getting corporate money (like the record $3.76 billion spent during this midterm election) out of politics, and favoring local businesses over chain stores.
> Washington Post: Israeli Students Find Affordable Housing — In Metal Boxes. The Israeli have discovered a unique use for discarded shipping containers: inexpensive, practical housing for students.
> ENSIA: Can Sports Make Sustainability Mainstream? (Kellen Klein). For better or worse, sports are beyond mainstream. They’re integral to our global cultural fiber and have the kind of following sustainability advocates only dream of. With such a massive global audience, it’s no surprise that professional sports have also been major drivers of societal change.
> Yes! Land, Co-Ops, Compost: A Local Food Economy Emerges In Boston’s Poorest Neighborhoods. From kitchens that buy and sell locally grown food, to a waste co-op that will return compost to the land, new enterprises are building an integrated food network. It’s about local people keeping the wealth of their land at home.
> Energy Balance: Regenerative Agriculture: The Transition (Chris Rhodes). In the face of peak oil and in order to curb carbon emissions, methods of farming that depend less on oil and natural gas, respectively to run machinery and to make synthetic fertilizers, must be sought. Such options are to be found within the framework of regenerative agriculture, but the transition from current industrialized agriculture to these alternative strategies will prove testing.
> Common Dreams: Back-To-The-Future Agriculture: ‘Farming Like The Earth Matters’ (Courtney White). It is easy to forget that once all agriculture was organic, grass-fed, and regenerative. Seed saving, composting, fertilizing with manure, polycultures, no-till, raising livestock entirely on grass—all associated today with sustainable food production—was the norm merely a century ago.
> SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION FORUM (New Format): HUMANS AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. Sat., Nov. 15th, 3-5 p.m., St. Anthony Village Library, 2941 Pentagon Drive in St. Anthony Shopping Center. Presentations and discussions include a book, For Love of Lakes by Dave Demsey, presented by Idelle Peterson; plus discussion of articles by various writers, and presented by participants. Seating limited to 20 persons. RSVP (email@example.com)
> THIRD ANNUAL EVENT: SUSTAINABILITY FAIR, Thurs., Nov. 20th, 5:30-8:00 p.m., Silverwood Park Visitors Center, St. Anthony Village (Map). Co-sponsored by the cities of St. Anthony Village, Lauderdale, and Falcon Heights, in collaboration with Three Rivers Park District and U of MN sustainability faculty and students. Poster exhibits presented by 43 students and other exhibits presented by local sustainability groups, including CFS. Free and open to the public.
MORE EVENTS AND INFORMATION
> UM Institute on the Environment: Frontiers in the Environment: Big Questions, Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m., IonE Seminar Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul. Free. Watch online • Nov.19 — Environmentalists and Corporations Make Strange Bedfellows . . . Or Do They?
> Sierra Club-North Star: Minnesota Beyond Coal To Clean Energy, Sat., Nov.15, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sabathani Community Center, 310 East 38th Street Mpls., MN. RSVP: http://sc.org/MNBeyondCoalRetreat Questions: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
> Women’s Environmental Network: Transportation Funding: Opportunities And Obstacles In The 2015 Legislative Session. Wed., Nov. 19th, Olin-Rice Science Center, Macalester College, 5-6 p.m. Buffet Dinner ($20 professional; $5 student), 6-8 p.m. Panel (Free). Info: http://wenmn.org/
> MN350-MCAD: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (feature-length documentary of a filmmaker’s undercover investigation of the cattle industry). Sun., Nov. 23, 6:30 p.m., MN Institute of Arts Auditorium. 2501 Stevens Ave, Mpls. Free (donation requested).