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Less of What We Don't Need

Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.

The Dutch Cure

Paul Cox and Stan Cox

This is an excerpt from Chapter 9 of “How the World Breaks: Life in Catastrophe's Path, From the Caribbean to Siberia” by Stan Cox and Paul Cox, published last month by The New Press. The book's ten stories of unnatural disaster include post-Sandy New York and pre-inundation Miami. This passage expands on those stories.   
When danger looms in the United States of America, there’s always one answer close at hand: build a wall. Since well before they came into fashion for border control, concrete and earth have been piled along almost every coast and waterway to keep floods and storms at bay. Even in the decade following Hurricane Katrina—as obvious a case of this strategy’s failure as one could ask for—official attention focused on reinforcing the levees around New Orleans and the Army Corps of Engineers’ construction of a 1.8-mile-long storm surge barrier. But after 2005, with the nation’s attention riveted on Louisiana, planners also needed to show something fresher than the same old fortifications. So they called in the Dutch.

How the World Falls Apart

Paul Cox and Stan Cox

Geoclimatic disasters have loomed over humanity throughout our tenure on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we should accept anything about them. Each awful ordeal is an opportunity to learn and change, and the enemy of change is the idea that “these things just happen.” It’s the grand excuse of a global economy that spins off more catastrophes than any storm front. And it means more and more people, more and more often, will be joining the residents of recently flooded Ellicott City and White Sulphur Springs in the timeless landscape of the post-apocalypse.

What is the 'Green' in 'Green Growth'?

Larry Lohmann

The discourse of “green growth” has gained ground in environmental governance deliberations and policy proposals. It is presented as a fresh and innovative agenda centered on the deployment of engineering sophistication, managerial acumen, and market mechanisms to redress the environmental and social derelictions of the existing development model.

But the green growth project is deeply inadequate, whether assessed against criteria of social justice or the achievement of sustainable economic life upon a materially finite planet.

So where are the battery electric trucks?

Alice Friedemann

Heavy-duty diesel-engine trucks (agricultural, cargo, mining, logging, construction, garbage, cement, 18-wheelers) are the main engines of civilization. Without them, no goods would be delivered, no food planted or harvested, no garbage picked up, no minerals mined, no concrete made, or oil and gas drilled to keep them all rolling. If trucks stopped running, gas stations, grocery stores, factories, pharmacies, and manufacturers would shut down within a week.
Since oil, coal, and natural gas are finite, and biomass doesn’t scale up, clearly someday trucks will need to run on wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal generated electricity. Yet even batteries for autos aren’t yet cheap, long-lasting, light-weight, or powerful enough for most Americans to replace their current gas-guzzlers with. And given the distribution of wealth, few Americans may ever be able to afford an electric car, since two-thirds of Americans would have trouble finding even $1,000 for an emergency.

The Dark Side of Clean Energy in Mexico

Santiago Navarro F. and Renata Bessi

The Dark Side of Clean Energy in Mexico

A palm hat worn down by time covers the face of Celestino Bortolo Teran, a 60-year-old Indigenous Zapotec man. He walks behind his ox team as they open furrows in the earth. A 17-year-old youth trails behind, sowing white, red and black corn, engaging in a ritual of ancient knowledge shared between local people and the earth.

Neither of the two notices the sound of our car as we arrive "because of the wind turbines," Teran says. Just 50 meters away, a wind farm has been installed by the Spanish company Gas Natural Fenosa. It will generate, at least for the next three decades, what governments and energy companies have declared "clean energy."

From Copenhagen to Delhi, 'smart cities' call for smart solutions - like cycling

Colin Todhunter

The world's big cities are choking with pollution and endless traffic jams, writes Colin Todhunter - except one. Copenhagen, faced with these problems half a century ago, decided to act. Now it is showing the world that cycling is not just the basis of a sustainable transport strategy, but is key to making our cities clean, green, human and livable. May the global revolution unfold ...

India's cities are in crisis. They are clogged with traffic, choked with pollution, blighted by concrete flyovers, overcrowded, suffer from power and water shortages, are prone to flooding and can at times be almost unbearable to live in.

The plan to introduce 'smart cities' to India is intended to remedy many of these problems.

Basic Income, Basic Issues

Daniel Raventós & Julie Wark

Europe is an outsized indicator of the “shocking levels” of worldwide inequality. OXFAM’s September 2015 press release, “Increasing Inequality Plunging Millions More Europeans into Poverty”, makes a stark comparison between the “123 million people – almost a quarter of the EU’s population – at risk of living in poverty and its 342 billionaires”. Other reports show how, worldwide, the fortunes of the mega-rich have soared during the crisis, a situation summed up in the notorious statistic “Richest 1% Will Own More Than All the Rest by 2016”. The socioeconomic effects of this indecent inequality and how to deal with them are widely discussed and one product of the debate is a fast-expanding interest in the universal, unconditional basic income, which is usually presented as a measure for combatting poverty.

The Desperate Plight of Petrostates

Michael T. Klare

Once they were mighty, today they're in trouble! Michael T. Klare examines the fate of the "petrostate," ie; a state which funds itself primarily on oil procceds. In an age of the overproduction of that commodity leading to falling prices, facing the need to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, what were once seen as economic powerhouses are now facing economic difficulties.


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