You are here
Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
The “Agricultural Revolution” is lauded as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the human race, proof positive of “Progress” and of our own exalted status “a little lower than angels.” Doubtless, it is among the most momentous changes that our species has experienced, on par with the utilization of fire, the development of language and the splitting of the atom. However, a closer look, based on research and scholarship, reveals that the adoption of farming led to declines in human health, caused sharp social inequities, started a war on the environment, and put us on a road that’s headed towards extinction.
If you haven’t come across the Global Footprint Network yet, check them out. Based in Oakland, CA, they produce fantastic data on the Ecological Footprint (EF) of nations around the world. EF is measured in units known as “global hectares” – an omnibus measure that includes resource use, waste and emissions.
The researchers at the Global Footprint Network calculate that our planet presently has enough biocapacity for each of us to consume about 1.8 global hectares per year. Anything over this means a degree of resource consumption that the Earth cannot replenish, or waste that it cannot absorb, and contributes to ecological breakdown.
“It is time we consider the implications of it being too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe in the lifetimes of people alive today.” (Jem Bendell)
In other words, the world is coming to an end.
Of course it is… but when?
Professor Jem Bendell’s brilliant seminal work, “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” d/d July 27th 2018, claims the time is now, within a decade, not sometime in the distant future. Not only that, he suggests embracing this transcendental experience that’s colloquially known as “End Times.”
YERINGTON, Nev. (Reuters) - Once seen as a laggard in the global mining industry, U.S. copper deposits have quietly drawn more than $1.1 billion in investments from small and large miners alike as Tesla and other electric carmakers scramble for more of the red metal.
Four U.S. copper projects are set to open by next year - the first to come online in more than a decade - with several mine expansions also underway across the country, home to the world’s fifth-largest copper reserves, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The rising popularity of electric vehicles - which use twice as much copper as internal combustion engines - and increasingly pro-mining policies in the U.S. while other nations exert greater control over their mineral deposits are fueling the spending, according to mining executives and investors.
I recently wrote a post criticizing ecomodernism as “magical thinking”. I argued that it ignores key scientific studies on the unviability of absolute decoupling in order to advance an ecologically reckless insistence on growth. Not surprisingly, ecomodernists were not particularly happy about this. Linus Blomqvist of the Breakthrough Institute posted a rebuttal. It’s worth reading, because it gives a useful indication of the arguments that ecomodernists fall back on when challenged, and presents an opportunity to stress-test them. This is an important process.
In 2018, the total number of air passengers increased in the US, with some periods of the year experiencing all-time high air travel volumes. Around the world, airlines carried 4.3 billion passengers in 2018, an increase of 38 million compared to the year before. Aviation accounts for about 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and that share is poised to grow.
The International Civil Aviation Organization anticipates that by 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected will be 70 percent greater than in 2005. By the middle of the century, they are slated to increase by upward of 700 percent. Every round-trip trans-Atlantic flight emits enough carbon dioxide to melt 30 square feet of Arctic sea ice.
Right now we are consuming about 85 billion tons of material stuff per year, exceeding the sustainable threshold by 70%. According to the UN, our resource use will rise to at least 132 billion tons per year by 2050, and possibly as high as 180 billion tons.
It is on this basis that scientists have concluded that absolute decoupling of GDP from aggregate resource use is not possible. But the ecomodernists at the Breakthrough Institute aren’t convinced.
With a life expectancy of 79.1 years and levels of wellbeing in the top 7% of the world, Costa Rica matches many Scandinavian nations in these areas and far outperforms the United States. And it manages all of this with a GDP per capita of only $11,000, one fifth that of the US. In this sense, Costa Rica is one of the most efficient economies on Earth: it produces high standards of living with low GDP and minimal pressure on the environment.