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Richard Heinberg: Sustainability Metrics, Growth Limits, and Philanthropy…

 

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From Richard Heinberg

As the metrics of sustainability become ever more robust and sophisticated, it is ever more apparent to many of us who study those metrics that industrial civilization, as currently configured, is unsustainable.

Ecological footprint analysis tells us that we are presently using 1.5 Earths’ worth of resources annually. We are able to do this only by drawing down renewable resources at a rate that exceeds their ability to regenerate; in other words, by stealing from the future.

Planetary Boundaries analysts have identified nine crucial parameters that define a safe operating space for humanity within the global ecosystem. We are currently operating outside that safety zone with regard to four of the boundaries. Exceeding just one boundary far enough, long enough, imperils both human society and the ecosystem on which it necessarily depends.

The most widely discussed of those boundaries is the planetary carbon budget. As we all know only too well, the CO2 content of the atmosphere now exceeds 400 parts per million—up from the pre-industrial level of 280ppm—and we appear to be well on our way to 450, 550, or even 650ppm, while climate scientists have determined that 350 ppm is the safe limit.

Those numbers, plus extinction rates, rates of ocean acidification, rates of topsoil erosion, and rates of deforestation, are the metrics of sustainability that tend to be most frequently discussed by environmentalists, and the alarming numbers being reported for these indices are certainly sufficient to support my opening assertion that current industrial society is unsustainable. However there are two other important metrics that have fallen out of fashion, largely because many people assume they measure society’s health rather than its vulnerability. One is human population growth. We all love humanity, but how much of it can the Earth support? World population stands at about 7.3 billion, and is on course to reach between 9 and 11 billion later this century. Yet a growing human population makes all those previously mentioned ecological perils—including climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and soil degradation—harder to address.

Dunce For The Confederacy: The Lost Cause of Shelby Foote…

 

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From Otoolefan

“Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.”

—–Clarence Darrow

This statement has long been a favorite quote of mine, especially since it’s attributed to one of my favorite Americans (a triumvirate that includes Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln). But while I heartily agree with this sentiment in general, there’s one sinister exception in particular unrivaled in American history—namely, the Confederate cause during the Civil War. The Confederacy’s effort to establish a separate nation in order to preserve, protect and defend slavery is the most shameful hour in our nation’s life—an effort that must not  be forgotten, but also one that should never be celebrated. If ever a cause deserved to be lost and stay lost, it’s this one. It was a cause, Ulysses S. Grant said, that “was, I believe, one of the worst for which people ever fought…”

But don’t tell Shelby Foote that. According to him, “The “Confederates fought for some substantially good things.” Yes, some good things, folks, except of course for that whole pesky preserving slavery thing. But hey, no system is perfect, Yank!

Shelby Foote (1916 – 2005) was a talented American writer from the South in the tradition of William Faulkner who started out writing novels and then spent 20 years of his life from 1958 to 1974 writing a massive, three volume narrative history of The Civil War. But Shelby Foote is probably best known for his participation and 89 cameo appearances in Ken Burns’ landmark PBS Civil War documentary, which aired in 1990. The series turned Foote into a reluctant celebrity, but it also made him a millionaire with his Civil War trilogy reaching a whole new audience.

Although I love American history, I must confess that I didn’t see Burns’ celebrated documentary until about 2 years ago. Like so many viewers, I was initially charmed by Mr. Foote. With his Mississippi delta drawl and air, he looked and sounded like the perfect Southern gentleman right out of central casting–or a bourbon ad. I enjoyed the series very much. But a day or two after finishing it, I found myself thinking about a lot of what Shelby Foote  had said during those 9 episodes and something didn’t sit well with me. More about that later…

Watching Ken Burns’ documentary got me interested in checking out Shelby Foote’s celebrated three volume history of the conflict entitled simply: The Civil War: A Narrative. As a history buff since 8th grade, I’d read my share of Civil War books already and knew what had caused the war, so a narrative approach of the events appealed to me. I was genuinely looking forward to reading Volume 1 when I brought the dog-eared 800 page paperback home with me from our local library. So, that was my mindset when I opened this book.

I couldn’t get past the first 50 pages, folks.

Where is the grave-yard of dead gods?…

 

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From H. L. Mencken (1922)
[Repost]

What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a day when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter to-day? And what of Huitzilopochtli? In one year–and it is no more than five hundred years ago–50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest. Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried on with the sun. When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted he was watered with 10,000 gallons of human blood. But today [in 1921] Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha, and Wotan, he is now the peer of General Coxey, Richmond P. Hobson, Nan Petterson, Alton B. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler, and Tom Sharkey.

Thom Hartmann explains Democratic Socialism; and FDR’s Bill of Economic Rights…

 


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“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.
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Income Inequality Worldwide…

 

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9 Annoying Things You Do at Farmers’ Markets, According to Farmers…

 

 

Image Matej Kastelic

From City Lab

Get your grubby hands out of the produce bin.

On any given summer weekend, you’re bound to find a farmers’ market in some corner of your city. Once there, you’ll find a of mix of vendors peddling produce, flowers, and packaged goods—and plenty of people snapping Instagram photos of mountains of colorful carrots and overflowing berry baskets… sometimes nudging customers out of the way to compose the perfectly artisanal shot.

Recently, CityLab interviewed a number of farmers and vendors at some of our favorite markets. Their responses were overwhelmingly enthusiastic—they love that locals are excited to support small-scale local agriculture. But after a little while, they loosened up and swapped tales of nightmare customers, such as serial produce nibblers or sample snatchers. Then there are the aesthetic elitists, who sniff at the “misshapen” heirloom tomatoes.

Below are some of these vendors’ most common—and most surprising—complaints. They just might help you make the farmers’ market experience more bucolic for everyone.

Back To Doom…

 

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From Ran Prieur

Esquire has a new article about the emotions of climate scientists, and it mentions scenarios all the way from human extinction to “We can solve this problem in a way that doesn’t disrupt our lifestyle.”

I want to divide this topic into three levels: science, society, and psychology. Science can tell us about rising temperatures and melting glaciers and acidifying oceans. A good book on this subject is Under A Green Sky by Peter Ward. This is the worst scenario you can get to with good science, and still Ward admits that it won’t be as extreme as the Permian-Triassic extinction, because too much carbon has been locked up in limestone. And even the P-T extinction only killed 70% of land vertebrate species. It’s not a lottery — the delicate specialist species go first, and humans are among the toughest and most adaptable.

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door…

 

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Jim Jeffries on Gun Control…

 


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The reason I’m no longer a doomer…

 

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From Ran Prieur

The reason I’m no longer a doomer is simply that I got tired of being wrong. And I started to feel contempt for other doomers who shamelessly made the same wrong predictions year after year. And you have to make precise predictions because otherwise what does “collapse” even mean? Do you think we’re still going to have internet? Container ships? Large scale grain farming? Banks? Taxes? Electrical grids? Hospitals? Stock markets? Elections? These are all different subjects that require different specialized knowledge. Even something like “manufacturing” could have vastly different answers for different products. And for each thing that’s going to go away, how long will it take, and by what chain of events?

Everyone wants to be right, but people who persist in being doomers want to be right in a different way than I do. I want to say what’s going to happen, and then it actually happens. Some people want to feel like they understand the mechanism for how things happen. But the real world is much too complex for any one person to understand, so we make simplifications. In the context of collapse, the simplest idea is business as usual plus sci-fi extrapolation. The next simplest idea is total collapse: every one of the above things goes away, because they’re all part of the same One Big Thing, and some of the conditions that made the One Big Thing possible are disappearing.

Everyone is stupid, but smart people know how they’re stupid. I know that modern civilization is only One Big Thing inside my head, and out in the world it’s billions of people I don’t know, their knowledge and habits and intentions, plus trillions of physical objects and all the connections between everything. I know that you can’t have perpetual economic growth on a finite planet, that renewable energy is not coming online fast enough for a smooth transition out of fossil fuels, and that presently fertile regions will become deserts; but it would be arrogant to think that large complex high-tech society cannot adapt to these conditions, just because I can’t personally imagine how it can adapt.
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Reaganism: A Failure From Kansas to Greece…

  

From THOM HARTMANN
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Last Battles

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From The New Yorker
Thanks to Janie

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
In some future footnote or parenthetical aside, it may be observed that although General Robert E. Lee surrendered in 1865, the Confederacy’s final retreat did not occur until a century and a half later. The rearguard movement of Republicans in the aftermath of the slaughter in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church marked the relinquishing of the Confederacy’s best-fortified positions: the cultural ones. We have for decades willfully coexisted with a translucent lie about the bloodiest conflict in American history and the moral questions at its center. Amid the calls last week to lower the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol, the defenders of the flag averred that it represents “heritage, not hate.” The great sleight of hand is the notion that these things were mutually exclusive.

Americans, both in the South and beyond, attach a particular brand of exceptionalism to the region. This is the reason that there is a Southern Historical Association but not a Northern one; a genre known as Southern literature but no Northern corollary; and a concept of Southern politics as something distinct from the national variety. The notion of the Confederate flag as a benign tribute to that exceptionalism rests upon another premise that illustrated, long before our present concerns with climate change and vaccination did, the political usefulness of denial: the idea that the Civil War was not fought over slavery—a claim that would have bewildered those who served in it—allowed Southerners to memorialize the leaders of an armed insurrection without the sticky moral baggage of bondage attached.

That interpretation held that the war was sparked by a conflict over tariffs that penalized Southern agriculture to the benefit of Northern industry. Or, more vaguely, that the war was fought over “states’ rights.” This evasion proved amazingly effective. Monuments to the valor of the Confederate ideal dot the South like matériel left on a battlefield. But none of these arguments bear scrutiny. Were the Southerners who erected those monuments concerned primarily about the valor of men, there would be many more dedicated to the former slaves who fought for the Union and risked death or, arguably worse, reënslavement. Were the war mainly about tariffs, we would be left to think that these fugitives fled farms and plantations to join the Union Army because of their abiding belief in trade protectionism. Or that the nearly forty thousand of them who died did so defending their views on Federalism. The Confederates themselves did not believe this. Here is the South Carolina convention in 1860, explaining the rationale for secession:

Why I Left The Scientology Cult…

 

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From Gawker

I was a Scientologist for eight years. Although I identified as one I didn’t really understand what actually being a Scientologist fully entailed until after a couple of years of being heavily indoctrinated. The reality of Scientology is deceptively hidden and cleverly disguised. When I look at Scientology today, I have to forgive myself for not seeing through the manipulation sooner. I’ve spent the last 13 years keeping Scientology out of my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve realized that the religion is built on a foundation of violence. I’m proud to add my voice to the many who, despite fear of retribution and humiliation, have come forward to tell of our experiences. This is my story.

The day I was taken to The Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles for the first time, I had no idea how much the visit would change and shape me into the person I am today. Or what I’d be like if the fates had something different in mind for me.

I bought a one-way ticket from Georgia to California when I was 19. My dream was to be an actor. Four months after arriving, I met the person who would introduce me to the organization around which my life would soon begin to revolve. Jason Lee, the actor best known for My Name is Earl, and I were introduced at an action sports trade show in San Diego where I was working as a model for an indie clothing label. Jason was at the height of his pro-skateboard success. We got married in 1995 after being together for one year. 

What This Cruel War Was Over…

 

cThe Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery

From The Atlantic

The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the  people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

Why the Saudis Are Going Solar…

 

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From The Atlantic

The fate of one of the biggest fossil-fuel producers may now depend on its investment in renewable energy.

Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud belongs to the family that rules Saudi Arabia. He wears a white thawb and ghutra, the traditional robe and headdress of Arab men, and he has a cavernous office hung with portraits of three Saudi royals. When I visited him in Riyadh this spring, a waiter poured tea and subordinates took notes as Turki spoke. Everything about the man seemed to suggest Western notions of a complacent functionary in a complacent, oil-rich kingdom.

But Turki doesn’t fit the stereotype, and neither does his country. Quietly, the prince is helping Saudi Arabia—the quintessential petrostate—prepare to make what could be one of the world’s biggest investments in solar power.Near Riyadh, the government is preparing to build a commercial-scale solar-panel factory. On the Persian Gulf coast, another factory is about to begin producing large quantities of polysilicon, a material used to make solar cells. And next year, the two state-owned companies that control the energy sector—Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, and the Saudi Electricity Company, the kingdom’s main power producer—plan to jointly break ground on about 10 solar projects around the country.

The Religious Right’s Full Page Denunciation of the United States Constitution…

 

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From PoliticusUSA

As theocracy arrives in North Carolina and Michigan, the Religious Right, going with its penchant for hyperbolic full-page ads in major newspapers, publicly announced last week that if forced to choose between Bible and Constitution, the Constitution will lose.

Then, almost as though begging us to laugh at them, they used their various propaganda organs like the Tea Party, The Catholic Beat, Christian Examiner, World Net Daily, and so forth, to announce how heroic and great they are for putting their unconstitutional AND unbiblical beliefs on full display.

The ad, which took the form of an open letter to the Supreme Court, appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, and in other papers, offered us the voice of all the usual suspects – Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Frank Pavone, Don Wildmon, Jerry Boykin, Alveda King and Alan Keyes:

“We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”

Wow, that would be great but these folks have demonstrated their lack of a biblical understanding of marriage, because there is very little in the way of examples of biblical marriages that are between one man and one woman.

California is literally sinking, and it’s getting worse……

 

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From Reveal

California is sinking—and fast.

While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it.

Last summer, scientists recorded the worst sinking in at least 50 years. This summer, all-time records are expected across the state as thousands of miles of land in the Central Valley and elsewhere sink.

Some places in California are sinking more than a foot per year.

The Cost of China’s Industrialization: 700 Million People with Diabesity /Cancer /Lung Disease and 225 Million with Mental Disorders

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From Charles Hugh Smith

That the China Story is going to implode is already baked into the public health catastrophe that will unfold with a vengeance in the coming decade.

The financial pundits gushing over “The China Story”–that the Middle Kingdom’s industrialization is a permanent boon to the global economy and China’s poor–never calculate the human cost of that runaway industrialization and the vast inequalities it has unleashed.

The human cost is staggering: at least half the population is suffering from chronic lifestyle/environmental-related illnesses and 225 million suffer from mental disorders. For context, the population of China is estimated to be 1.39 billion, roughly 4.4 times the U.S. population of 317 million, and about 20% of the total global population.

Here are some estimates of China’s public health problems: (source links below)

An Organized Collection of Irrational Nonsense…

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Click on image to enlarge…
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WikiLeaks Strikes Again: Leaked TISA Docs Expose Corporate Plan For Reshaping Global Economy…

 
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Leaked Docs reveal that little-known corporate treaty poised to privatize and deregulate public services across globe…

“It’s a dark day for democracy when we are dependent on leaks like this for the general public to be informed of the radical restructuring of regulatory frameworks that our governments are proposing,” said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. (Image created by Common Dreams)

An enormous corporate-friendly treaty that many people haven’t heard of was thrust into the public limelight Wednesday when famed publisher of government and corporate secrets, WikiLeaks, released 17 documents from closed-door negotiations between countries that together comprise two-thirds of the word’s economy.

Analysts warn that preliminary review shows that the pact, known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), is aimed at further privatizing and deregulating vital services, from transportation to healthcare, with a potentially devastating impact for people of the countries involved in the deal, and the world more broadly.

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