From BBC: Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the 11 other cities worldwide that are most likely to run out of water.
“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.
Richard Heinberg writes: Many problems are converging at once because society is a complex system, and the challenges we have been discussing are aspects of a systemic crisis. A useful way to frame an integrated understanding of the 21st century survival challenge is this: we humans have overshot Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for our species.
Here’s how you make a dystopia: Convince people that when disaster strikes, their neighbors are their enemies, not mutual saviors and responsibilities. The belief that when the lights go out, your neighbors will come over with a shotgun isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a weaponized narrative. It is what turns mere crises into catastrophes.
Peter Buffet writes: Reconsider. Everything. Is it feeding fear? Is it feeding off trauma? Is it creating more suffering? Most of our institutions will crumble under the weight of these questions. And when we have reconsidered the lives we have built, how will we live? Look to the people that are weathering the early storms.
From WSWS/Automatic Earth: Bitcoin has been hailed as the currency of the future; and dismissed as a bubble at best, or a tool for organised crime at worst. But one thing is clear; its soaring demand is a direct result of a broken global financial system trusted by nobody and on the verge of breakdown.
A coalition of investigative journalists, privacy activists and alternative economy enthusiasts including Nafeez Ahmed, John Pilger and Barkha Dutt, have announced Presscoin/Insurge, a fascinating new hybrid platform that seeks to meld cutting-edge journalism with activism and alternative currencies. “Dedicated to people and the planet, it represents a fundamental break with the old paradigm,” Nafeez says.
Mankind is facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population, says a new, dire “warning to humanity” written by 15,000 scientists from 184 countries.The message updates an original warning sent 25 years ago. The experts say the picture now is far, far worse than it was in 1992.
William Robinson highlights some revealing statistics to expose what is really behind the rapid digitalization of global capitalism, the rise of authoritarian leaders and the creeping spread of the global police state. These, he says, are nothing but an insecure transnational capitalist elite’s attempt to insure themselves against rising inequality and a looming economic crisis.
Hurricane Maria, which has devastated Puerto Rico, has left 97% the island’s population without power. Electricity is the essential pillar upon which the operations of all modern industrial societies depend. When electricity stops, pretty much everything else stops, as Puerto Rico demonstrates. Given an increasingly unstable climate, it’s a warning for everyone, writes Kurt Cobb.
From International Socialist Review: Catastrophism explores the politics of apocalypse —on the left and right, in the environmental movement, and from capital and the state —and examines why the lens of catastrophe can distort our understanding of the dynamics at the heart of these numerous disasters —and fatally impede our ability to transform the world.
Richard Heinberg writes: Over the past century-and-a-half, fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is only a symptom.
From The Conversation: If the global economy grows by 3% till 2100, it will be 60 times larger than now. The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable, so we simply cannot“decouple” growth from environmental impact. This paper looks at policies that could facilitate a planned transition beyond growth–while considering the huge obstacles along the way.
Even when we question the personal impacts of modern technology, how many of us consider how our dependence on technology might be harming us? Or question the belief that technological advances will save us from our most pressing environmental and societal challenges? Richard Heinberg tackles this thorny issue in this brilliant essay and animation feature.
Joe Brewer writes: There is a reason only 5 men have the same aggregate wealth as half the human population. And that the Earth’s climate is ramping up for a phase transition that threatens our entire civilization. It’s because the 500 year old Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction is designed to produce exactly these outcomes.
It is not often that an article about climate change becomes the most hotly debated item on the internet. But David Wallace-Wells’ lengthy essay published in New York Magazine did exactly that. The full text of the essay –admittedly a worst-case scenario- which has kicked up a firestorm of debate online, along with selected responses.
Kurt Cobb writes: The idea of progress is embedded in the socio-economic system, and we cannot attack carbon emissions without attacking the idea of progress itself. If the progress we’ve made since the beginning of industrial civilization only leads to a complete reversal of all our supposed gains, can we really call what’s happening progress?
As global capitalist economic growth accelerates planetary ecological collapse, Richard Smith argues that – impossible as it may seem at present – only the most radical solution -the overthrow of global capitalism, the construction of a mostly publicly-owned and mostly planned eco-socialist economy is the only alternative to the collapse of civilization and ecological suicide.
From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism almost everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.
Richard Reese writes: In ‘Scarcity: Humanity’s Final Chapter?’ Christopher O. Clugston analyses 89 key non-renewable resources that are essential to the existence of our industrial global society, and finds that 63 of them have peaked globally. His conclusion is that the only possible outcome for a society that is dependent on these resources, is collapse.