Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. Award-winning writer and activist Raj Patel makes the case that in making these things cheap, modern commerce has governed, transformed and devastated the earth. Also included, an interview with Patel and co-author Jason Moore.
From Jacobin Magazine: The New York Times’ blockbuster story on climate change concludes that democracy and human nature are to blame for the climate crisis. They’re wrong. You cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism. This isn’t just a missed opportunity or a partial story—it’s the wrong story.
Climate science has consistently underestimated the effect of biology on climate. A geomechanical bias holds sway, seeing life as hostage to fluctuations in atmospheric components. In contrast, a living planet view holds that fundamentally it’s life itself that maintains the conditions for life, and the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate.
Ratheesh Pisharody writes: There’s really nowhere to run whether we are mammals, trees, insects or even indigenous tribes. What chances do we see for the planet’s revival? When humans take away both “space” and “time” from our co-passengers on this planet, we’re leaving no “leverage” for the others to “somehow” adjust and make it through.
Here are three leading observers on the world’s increasingly shaky energy situation. Minqui Li presents a through-going analysis of the global energy scenario from 2018-2050 based on the latest data, Kurt Cobb suggests that ‘peak oil’ maybe a process, rather than a event, while Chris Martenson issues a stark warning on the coming oil crash.
Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.
From The New Left Review: If fidelity to GDP growth amounts to the religion of the modern world, then Herman Daly surely counts as a leading heretic. Benjamin Kunkel interviews the preeminent figure in ecological economics, and the author of perhaps the most fundamental and eloquently logical case against endless economic growth that’s yet produced.
Kerry Emanuel writes: There are strong cultural biases against discussion of ‘tail risk’ in climate science; particularly the accusation of “alarmism”. Does the dictum to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” not apply to climate scientists? If we omit discussion of tail risk, are we really telling the whole truth?
From Nature: Science fiction is increasingly in the here and now. With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton? Six prominent American science fiction writers reflect on what the genre has to offer about our common future.
Reading about energy today, it’s easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting. There’s a different issue that we are not being told about. It’s the fact that having enough energy – quantity – is extremely important, as well.
In this keynote address delivered at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Post Carbon Institute’s Nate Hagens discusses how our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but less concentrated energy types.
Limiting global warming to 1.5C requires strictly limiting the total amount of carbon emissions between now and the end of the century. However, there is more than one way to calculate this allowable amount of additional emissions, known as the “carbon budget”. In this article, Carbon Brief assesses nine new carbon budget estimates released recently.
Kevin Anderson writes in The Conversation: Most political and economic pontificators, buttressed by naysayers and established elites, remain incapable of seeing beyond their familiar 20th century horizon. But the 21st century is already proving how the future is a different country –one that could yet be shaped by alternative interpretations of prosperity, sustainability and equity.
This latest news immediately brings some questions to mind: Does this mean that we should stop working toward mitigating climate change? Should we stop worrying and enjoy mindlessly by indulging ourselves in senseless consumerism? I really don’t know. But what I definitely know is that the window of opportunity to act is closing really fast.
From Toward Freedom: The second iteration of ConCiencias, a conference creating dialogue between the Zapatista’s and leading left wing scientists from throughout the world, took place at San Cristobal de Las Casas. The struggle to decolonize knowledge is part and parcel of the Zapatista’s broader project of resisting indigenous genocide, neoliberal capitalism, and political repression.
We’re not going to get a decarbonized energy system by 2050. We’re going to fail the climate targets, probably by a large margin, and I suspect that a warming of about 3 degrees centigrade is going to be almost inevitable. It’s perfectly possible that self-amplifying feedback mechanisms under way will amplify this change even more.
Adrian Ayres Fisher writes: Part of the relatively new ‘cli fi’ genre, Kim Stanley Robinson‘s novel ‘Green Earth’, is full of climate change related, extreme weather disasters. It could have been yet another nightmarish fantasy trip. Instead, with underpinnings of Shakespearean comedy, its tone and structure convey hopefulness and there are moments of true joy.
Daniel O’Neill writes: If everyone on Earth were to lead a good life within our planet’s sustainability limits, the level of resources used to meet basic needs would have to be reduced by a factor of two to six times. These are the sobering findings of our research, recently published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Most courses on energy deal with it in an instrumentalist manner, as if it were another substance that humans can tap and use for their benefit. Platform for Sustainability and Equity and Ecologise are pleased to announce an online course that places energy at the centre of all transformations— abiotic, biotic and in human society.
“Is western civilisation on the brink of collapse?” the lead article in this week’s New Scientist asks. It’s a good question, but it seems too narrow. These pathologies are not confined to “the west”. The rise of demagoguery (and the pursuit of simplistic solutions to complex problems) is everywhere apparent. Environmental breakdown is accelerating worldwide.