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Less of What We Don't Need

Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.

The Fallacy of Endless Economic Growth

By: 
Christopher Ketcham

The idea that economic growth can continue forever on a finite planet is the unifying faith of industrial civilization. That it is nonsensical in the extreme, a deluded fantasy, doesn't appear to bother us. We hear the holy truth in the decrees of elected officials, in the laments of economists about flagging GDP, in the authoritative pages of opinion, in the whirligig of advertising, at the World Bank and on Wall Street, in the prospectuses of globe-spanning corporations and in the halls of the smallest small-town chambers of commerce. Growth is sacrosanct. Growth will bring jobs and income, which allow us entry into the state of grace known as affluence, which permits us to consume more, providing more jobs for more people producing more goods and services so that the all-mighty economy can continue to grow. "Growth is our idol, our golden calf," Herman Daly, an economist known for his anti-growth heresies, told me recently.

“Peak Hats.” Social Change And The Coming Demise of Private Cars

By: 
Ugo Bardi
For a long time, hats were oversized and expensive status symbols more than tools for protecting people’s heads. During the past half century or so, they have nearly disappeared. A similar destiny may befall on private cars, also oversized and expensive status symbols rather than tools for transporting people. With the disappearance of cars, we may see hats coming back. 

If you look at images of people taken before mid 20th century, you’ll notice that almost everybody was wearing hats. In those times, people would often wear top hats or bowler hats, but by the 1920s, everyone was wearing the ubiquitous Fedora hat, as you can see in any gangster movie set in the 1920s and 1930s.

Secretly Approved in Alaska, Will LNG Trains Soon Appear in Rest of US?

By: 
Justin Mikulka and Steve Horn

In 2015, a federal rail agency authorized the Alaska Railroad Corporation to ship its first batch of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail in Alaska, but granted this permission behind closed doors, according to documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and provided to DeSmog.

The documents, a series of letters and legal memoranda obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), show that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) may have violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by permitting the shipping of LNG, a highly combustible and flammable material, via rail without any public notification or comment period. The agency granted the Alaska Railroad Corporation a legal exemption under 49 C.F.R. § 174.63(a).

El Salvador Makes History: First Nation to Ban Metal Mining

By: 
Ricardo Navarro and Sam Cossar

El Salvador made history last week by becoming the first country ever to ban metal mining.

The success of this decades long struggle is proof that people can take on corporate interests and win.

This is the story of how the people of El Salvador took on mining giants.

Mining has a dark history in El Salvador. Years of unregulated, pro-investor policies coupled with rapid industrialization has led to the widespread contamination of rivers and surface water, poisoning people and destroying farm lands.

Early Dakota Access Pipeline Spill Angers Tribal Chairs

By: 
Talli Nauman

When reports surfaced that the newly finished Dakota Access Pipeline hd experienced its first crude oil spill in South Dakota even before the private project went into service, tribal chairmen were incensed.

“The Dakota Access pipeline has not yet started shipping the proposed half million barrels of oil per day and we are already seeing confirmed reports of oil spills from the pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Dave Archambault II said on May 10. He said the incident goes to show “what we have said all along: Oil pipelines leak and spill.”

How to Kick the Growth Addiction

By: 
Tim Jackson

Physics in the mid-1980s in the UK was a difficult and unfulfilling place. I found no joy in the academy, which was not interested in the ideas to which I was drawn. At that time, I also had a passion for playwriting, and the BBC picked up some of my work. After completing my PhD, I moved to London to make a living as a playwright.

It seemed like a good idea, at least until I received my first few paychecks. I was doing odd jobs to supplement my meager income when, in April 1986, the fourth reactor in Chernobyl melted down. That event galvanized my interest in the nexus of economics, technology, and the environment, and inspired me to make a visit to Greenpeace, where I expressed my skepticism of nuclear technologies and my desire to help develop and promote alternatives. I started working as a volunteer and then as a freelancer, analyzing the economics of renewable energy technologies. Before I knew it, without intention or design, I was an ecological economist. The world told me what it wanted me to do. And I haven’t looked back. After thirty years, I still write plays. But the visit to Greenpeace remains pivotal to my trajectory.

A Huge Mining Conglomerate Wanted to Poison This Country’s Water. After a Long Fight, They’ve Finally Lost.

By: 
Pedro Cabezas

The people of El Salvador and their international allies against irresponsible mining are celebrating a historic victory. After a long battle against global mining companies that were determined to plunder the country’s natural resources for short-term profits, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly has voted to ban all metal mining projects.

The new law is aimed at protecting the Central American nation’s environment and natural resources. Approved on March 29 with the support of 69 lawmakers from multiple parties (out of a total of 84), the law blocks all exploration, extraction, and processing of metals, whether in open pits or underground. It also prohibits the use of toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury.

The Curse of Bigness

By: 
Christopher Ketcham

THE NEXT TIME I HEAR a politico or banker or Detroit executive talk about institutions “too big to fail,” I’ll direct them to the 34 percent of Americans who are obese. Last I heard, these big Americans, themselves a kind of cultural institution, were failing en masse, racked by diabetes, asthma, heart trouble, and bound for early death. The human form can only grow so big. Or I could point them to Pig #6707. Conceived in the laboratories of the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the 1990s, Pig #6707’s embryo was genetically altered with a human growth gene to develop a super-pig, bigger and faster-growing and more productive of meat. But the genetic alterations produced a monster, impotent and nearly blind, its legs arthritic, its body crippled, the creature able to stand up and be photographed only with the support of a plywood board. When asked by a reporter why he created the sick pig, the lead researcher said his intent was to make livestock more efficient.

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