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Commons in the political mainstream?

Brian Davey

The Labour Party in the UK, which has a good chance of taking political power at the next election, has been involved in a process of policy development which involves taking up ideas from the commons movement and is focused around the revival of and protection of commons.

In one week I have now been to three public events commemorating the Charter of the Forest of 1217 – a companion volume to the famous Magna Carta. Whereas the Magna Carta was about political and civil rights, the Charter of the Forest was about economic rights and, most sigificantly, it pre-supposed a commons based economy. At the three events that I attended the main speakers were Peter Linebaugh and Guy Standing who explained the historical significance of the Charter and of the enclosures over many centuries, and started the process of discussion about what a Charter for the Commons in the UK would and could mean today.

Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won’t Save Us

Richard Heinberg

Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from 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. The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species, and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

Staving Off the Coming Global Collapse

William E. Rees

‘Overshoot’ is when a species uses resources faster than can be replenished. We’re already there. And show no signs of changing.

Humans have a virtually unlimited capacity for self-delusion, even when self-preservation is at stake.

The scariest example is the simplistic, growth-oriented, market-based economic thinking that is all but running the world today. Prevailing neoliberal economic models make no useful reference to the dynamics of the ecosystems or social systems with which the economy interacts in the real world.

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