Get ready for Monbiot Day! November 15 th
You’re the culprit. Unfolding collapse is down to you. Forget population overshoot. You’re consuming too much. Own it!
You’re the culprit. Unfolding collapse is down to you. Forget population overshoot. You’re consuming too much. Own it!
George Monbiot wrote that Rio+20 is 283 paragraphs of fluff. If this is the best our world leaders can come up with, what is the solution to our global environmental crises?
We are running out of time ..... does Iceland's arrest of corrupt government officials hold the key?
What can we do next?
George Monbiot wrote that Rio+20 is 283 paragraphs of fluff.
"In 1992, world leaders signed up to ‘sustainability’ however in no time this mutated to ‘sustainable development’ then ‘sustainable growth.’ Now, in the 2012 Rio+20 document it has become ‘sustained growth.’ But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability as we will soon run up against the natural limits to growth."
Apparently the Obama administration tried unsuccessfully to delete 'unsustainable consumption and production patterns' and disassociate economic growth from the use of natural resources.
The only thing to their credit was that the states to sign the draft haven't abandoned their declarations from the last Earth summit 20 years ago.
The Philippines were disappointed with the summit.
“The developing countries, including us, were not happy with the outcomes of the conference,” Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan wrote. See http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Rio+20-summit-found-disappointing&id=54419
Reaffirming the Rio 1992 commitments is perhaps the most radical principle in the entire declaration.
As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us precisely nowhere: 190 governments have spent 20 years bracing themselves to "acknowledge", "recognise" and express "deep concern" about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them. The declaration is remarkable for its absence of figures, dates and targets. There is no programme, no sense of urgency or call for concrete action beyond the inadequate measures already agreed in the declarations. Its tone and contents would be better suited to a retirement homily than a response to a complex of escalating global crises."
And while leaders do nothing at Rio, there is an alarming number of environmental activists being killed defending land and forests. In the last decade more than 700 land and forest defenders have been killed, rising to as many as 106 in 2011 - thats more than 2 per week.
Our leaders have failed to protect our earth and our future and instead immerse themselves in the glamour of lavish events like Rio+20 while effectively doing nothing of importance.
Monbiot concludes "It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve this draft have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us."
So what do we do now? Here in Tweed Shire, NSW we have a council that talks constantly of the need for economic growth while ignoring sustainability and protection of biodiversity and natural habitat. In N.S.W. we have an Environment Minister who says that logging is good for koalas and a state government that is hell-bent on supporting developers while ignoring rampant extinctions and potential loss of World Heritage values and has just approved a bill to allow amateur shooters in National Parks.
Isn’t it time leaders stopped letting activists defend the planet on their own...then again maybe it is up to us? After all, we outnumber them!
In Iceland they have recently arrested corrupt governments and Rothchilds bankers responsible for the economic crisis in 2008, fuelled by the Icelandic people’s demands.
It’s up to people to say ‘Enough is enough!'
Here is my solution: Planet Arktel
What is yours?
Poem by Marthaa Damuse (to be read to all our politicians at bedtime)
S is for signing
S states agreements
That are riddled with holes
A augments mining and consumption with a TAX
Inflating egos rinehart twiggy
Nearing devil pacts
A is for the aussie
Belching beers and beach
Igniting forests poisoned air
Lessons out of reach
I is for insanity
That politicians preach to
Youth hooked up on spending wheels
Sustaining the lies they teach
U is us, thats u n me
Staring past the fibs
Telling each and everyone
About our goals unreached
Now Near ending time
Abhorrent tho it seems
Because the word sustainable
Is taking childhood dreams
Lashing childhood energy
In fear and lack of hope
The word sustaining really means
You're sucked in, ya silly dope
George Monbiot is at it again.
See It’s the Rich Wot Gets the Pleasure of 27 Oct 2011.
George Monbiot is at it again.
Why does he and his ilk insist on asserting the primacy of consumption over population growth as the most critical factor toward aggregate resource liquidation and associated global catastrophes such as climate change?
BOTH conditions are the problem!!
Each one factors upon the other to deliver increasing resource depletion and system entropy.
Why waste time and public attention span arguing a false dichotomy?
That said, it is high material consumption standards that are, ostensibly, the central pursuit of our current capitalist value system. It lies at the very heart of the dominant economic growth fetish, which has a core metabolic need for all participants to consume, and to compete to consume, ever greater streams of 'stuff'. Why else would 'consumer confidence' be such a prominent indicator of economic health?
Population growth is merely a lazy way to bid up national or corporate GDP numbers in lieu of the productivity gains that the 'experts' incessantly tout as being the ideal means for economic growth. However population expansion does also serve to bid up the value of resource assets owned by the obscenely wealthy, so perhaps it does provide for an implicit core function within capitalist economy.
In the third world population growth is largely a collateral damage aggregated from the cultural and landscape destructions borne of colonial resource plunder. However globalisation has very successfully harnessed those who are too poor to be effective consumers into a yoke of corporate slave labor. Consequently unemployed westerners can at least afford shoes, shirts and gadgets, even if they are the discards of others who are easily able to buy too much at cheap-as-chips 'discount' prices.
Given this centrality of consumption to the modern economic equation, and the relative periphery of population growth, what is George's plan for reform?
It had better be a damn good one. Consumption levels are now, more than ever before, THE dominant socio-economic value. Radically decreasing them will require absolute system revolution, or a complete systemic collapse. Either way larger population only adds to the difficulties and risks involved within the transition. Without this revolution, incremental consumption will be ongoing and population growth will magnify its impacts upon both the planet and the poor.
Furthermore, excessive population growth also confuses and complexifies systems of communication and delivery, both local and global. The poor are clearly the biggest losers from such systemic 'entropy'.
So then, all things considered, why trivialise or malign concern about population levels?
Monbiot's view on Nuclear power reeks similarly of evidence that he is, in fact, a closet growthist. At complete odds with his stated views against 'over-consumption' he fails to observe that aggregate energy consumption is way, way too great. He implicitly accepts current and growing energy demand levels as a foundation of the problem at hand, factors this with climate change as the greatest concern facing humanity, and arrives at nuclear power generation as the solution.
The contradiction this poses with his 'over-consumption' fetish is astonishing. However the most salient flaw in his thinking is his complete oversight of high energy consumption as a core problem, no matter what the generation method. The most critical fact is that we move around too much, we build too much, we dig up too much stuff, we eat too much and we breed too much. All because we derive access to and consume too much energy. (It is vital to note that we do not 'generate' energy. We extract it from materials and systems occurring naturally around us, all of which have critical extraction limits. There is also always a loss between what we extract from system flows or sinks, thus depleting them by that amount, and what we can actually convert to our use from that extracted amount. These losses also create impacts, such as waste heat and frequency pollution. Our economic system externalises both the depletion and the conversion losses.)
The cold reality of advanced depletion across multiple vital resource values dictates that it's time to simply stop being so utterly and intractably frantic in our lives and in our expectations. It's time to learn how to just sit around a lot more; to think, talk and have simple fun; to spend our precious, finite time upon unhurried days with people and pastimes we genuinely like, rather than purchasing facile amusement and ego adornment with money that we mostly don't have. This shortfall obliges our permanent commitment to a mostly un-fulfilling, grinding work schedule to which our tenure is increasingly uncertain and destructively competitive. Such an uneasy commitment, welded to us by debt, debases our life to being a cellular input to the weight and power of the global industrial behemoth. We become one small cell in a burgeoning consumer battery. And then, like George, we have to conjure or adopt myths that can enable some belief in our personal metaphysical health. Admittedly George has carved a relatively well-configured position within the battery complex.
The commercial cost of genuine basic needs poses a significant problem to most of us when considering this necessary slowdown, most particularly the cost of amenable housing. Both the affordability and the amenity of housing are directly and seriously diminished by rapid population growth. Amenity includes access to land, private or common, on which to grow food bearing gardens. Thus population growth increases our need to work even harder to maintain our own basic standards, even when we renounce mainstream consumer behaviors. Thanks George. Appreciate your help and concern with this problem. Not!
This condition of bondage to growth might be something that the Occupy movements could very usefully focus upon.
I was motivated to write the following as a disclaimer to a link to the Guardian article If you want to know who's to blame for Copenhagen, look to the US Senate of Dec 09, linked to from the article A climate con: Analysis of the "Copenhagen Accord" of Dec 09 by David Spratt.
George Monbiot has written a number of very incisive and damning critiques of our corrupt corporatised New World Order including "How Did We Get Into This Mess?" of 27 Aug 07, which shows how the propagandists for the doctrine, referred to as economic neo-liberalism, including Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, began to organise at a meeting at a Swiss spa resort at Mont Pelerin in 1947, and, hence became known as the Mont Pelerin Society.
This article anticipated, albeit very concisely. by a few months, some of what was published in Naomi Klein's Towering "The Shock Doctrine" a few months later.
Nevertheless, in spite of this, some serious questions hang over George Monbiot's head.
The first is his downplaying of the peril that human overpopulation poses to our environment and our very future. Whilst proclaiming himself to be an environmentalist, he has absurdly claimed that human over population is relatively trivial problem in comparison to over-consumption and inequality. The implication that many draw from that message, whether or not that is his intention, is that one should focus almost exclusively on the former and do little about the latter. For more information, see other articles, tagged with "George Monbiot".
The second, and, I believe, even more serious, is his denial of the clear evidence implicating senior figures in the administration of President George W Bush in the false flag terrorist attack of 11 September 2001, otherwise referred to as '9/11'. On at least one occasion, Monbiot publicly argued this in a debate with David Ray Griffin.
For me, effectively helping to cover up that crime raises very serious questions for anyone purporting to oppose the agenda of George Bush and his successor, President Obama. This causes me to strongly suspect that Monbiot may in fact, be a 'left gatekeeper' in the mould of Noam Chomsky, of whom I have written in my article "Noam Chomsky, phony American dissident" of 26 May 09.
Philippe Legrain's puerile veneration of globalization and free market economics is, for its outrageous simplicity, alluring to some in the same way that Ayn Rand's uncompromising fantasies drew a cult following. His call for open borders is so boldly brazen that it disarms many of his incredulous audience in the manner that Milton Friedman or Julian Simon did theirs. But a glance at any best sellers' list will reveal that is typically those who stake out extreme and provocative positions without solid empirical foundation who attract readers and the favour of publishers. While those authors and commentators who are better informed of a broader and deeper knowledge, on the other hand, often lose their market edge because a more balanced account is inherently less exciting.
In fact, in his book review of Immigrants:Your Country Needs Them, Australian critic Mark O'Connor characterized Philippe Legrain as essentially "ill-read", "a rhetorician, not a thinker", who in his euphoric assessment of a world where mobility was unimpeded "ignores inconvenient issues of resources, spaces, greenhouse emissions and environmental degradation."
Like a tireless door-to-door salesman of a quack remedy that subsequent lab analysis would show to be lethal and fraudulent in its claims, the infamous open-borders advocate, economist and journalist Philippe Legrain knocked on French Canada's door recently to speak to the biweekly magazine L'actualitie. The message was practically the same one he has given to the Economist, the Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, Prospect Magazine, to the BBC and many foreign publications.
Actually Legrain did not say that verbatim, but in so many words. For one thing he has no evident concern or awareness of any ecological consequences from his miracle cure. It is enough for him that bringing down national borders would allegedly double the size of the world economy. The effect of this on greenhouse emissions or biodiversity is simply not on his radar screen. But it is on the radar screen of the Royal Academy of Sciences who according to Monbiot has virtually stated that economic growth will have to be halted if we are to escape that critical two degree rise in global temperatures. Clearly Legrain's economic utopia would be an environmental dystopia.
When asked by L'Actualitie why we should abolish all borders and open all countries to freedom of movement, Legrain responded with the same line that he had given the New York Times six months before in October. "It is first of all a moral question. We should end this global apartheid by which we set the door wide open for rich and well-educated foreigners but close them for poor ones thereby forcing them to stay in their poverty. It is also a humanitarian question", in that according to the IMF immigrants send $300 billion in remittances to their home countries, "which go straight to the pockets of local people." But unfortunately he doesn't appreciate that from the pockets of local people it goes straight back into the pockets of corrupt policemen and officials as bribes. Remittances take the edge off the worst of third world poverty and emigration allows incompetent regimes to export their poor, providing a safety valve so that corruption and overpopulation never gets solved. How many potential Nelson Mandelas and Lech Walesas would be lost to emigration under a global free movement protocol?
I must confess that I find it somewhat galling when an economist of any stripe should protest like Legrain that "it is abhorrent that the rich and the educated are allowed to circulate around the world more or less freely, while the poor are not." Mr. Legrain should know that there are lots of things that the rich can do with their money that the poor can't in the marvelous free-market economy that he champions. They all can drive hummers if they want to, for example. Does that mean that, as a matter of equity, every one in Bangladesh should be afforded a hummer? Migration has vast ecological consequence too. If Mr. Legrain wants to vent his closet socialist conscience, why doesn't express abhorrence over the low wages that his unskilled immigrants are making everywhere in the developed world?
Thomas Sowell also stated that people are not commodities, as commodities are consumed, while people generate more people, and immigrants impose a cost on the country. In his Canadian interview, Legrain argued that immigrants consume goods and services and generate economic activity, making the U.S. an economic powerhouse. What he did not mention, however, was the 2004 report by the Centre for Immigration Studies that showed that illegal immigrants consumed $10.6 billion more in services than they paid in taxes. Nor did he comment on the 1997 metastudy by the National Research Council that concluded that while immigration raises over-all output, the aggregrate additional net benefit to the U.S. native-born is nugatory--wiped out by taxpayer funded transfer payments to immigrants.
As for Britain, a House of Lords committee reported on April 1st of 2008 that ten years of record immigration has produced virtually no benefits to the country. The report argues that the 6 billion pounds that foreign workers supposedly add to the nation's wealth each year must be balanced against their use of services like health and education and the growth of the population. The error of conventional government assessments of migrant benefits to economic growth (15-20%), according to Professor David Coleman of Oxford University, is that it has excluded costs from crime, security, race relations and imported ailments like TB. And, according to visiting Professor Richard Pearson of the University of Sussex Centre for Migration Research, "these migrants are likely to be displacing, and reducing the incentive on employers to recruit and train low-skilled, indigenous workers."
If these are the results of a Labour government that critics say has lost control of the nation's borders, issued too many work permits and should not have exposed the labour market to Eastern Europe, what would have been the result if they had followed Philippe Legrain's formula for success and thrown open the borders entirely? One pill makes you sick so you take three or four more?
Legrain of course, can no doubt conjure up a study to show wage improvement in the wake of mass immigration, but other studies by more eminent economists like Borjas can counter them. But can't Philippe Legrain be honest here? Does he really believe that big employers lobby governments for more immigration so that they can raise wage levels? Is that why Bill Gates went to Congress to ask to loosen H-1B visa regulations and raise caps, as a philanthropic measure to improve the wages of IT workers in America? Give us a break, Mr. Legrain. It is as Garrett Hardin said, "immigrant labour pauperizes local labour." What is most sickening about Legrain's argument is that he presents it mostly as a cause of social justice for the global poor while it is in fact, really a cause to bring cheap labour to the developed world and improverish its indigenous working class. As socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont observed, five million middle income workers in America have been caught in a vice between out-sourcing and cheap immigrant labour and have dropped into the ranks of poverty during the Bush era. Even more sickening than Legrain's hypocrisy though has been the collusion of leftists and liberals in it. Imagine if Charles Dickens had teamed up with the Manchester school. Contemporary leftists are not internationalists. They are globalists, unwitting collaborators in the pyramid scam of runaway population growth that cloaks the naked profit motive under the attractive guise of cultural diversity and human rights.
Now for the old chestnut. The one Legrain repeats ad nauseum in countless interviews and essays in reference to several countries. The famous "they do work that locals won't do" routine. For example, he recently stated in his blog that "with France's growth slowing, its sclerotic labour market could do with an infusion of foreign blood—of hard-working , enterprising people who are willing to do the jobs that French people can't or won't." There is always an inference that native workers aren't hard-working, or "enterprising", and as far as a "sclerotic" labour market in a slow growing France is concerning, there is an alternative translation for that. The workers of France are benefiting from a "tight" labour market in a "stable" economy. As one should know, but many including Legrain apparently don't, there is no such thing as jobs that Frenchmen, Americans, Canadians or Australians "won't do". Merely jobs they are unwillingly to do at the wages offered. The phrase "they do work that locals won't do" evidences equivalent ignorance to other phrases that have consigned to the lexicographical museum like "I drive better when I'm drunk" or "my wife had it coming."
Legrain's open borders recipe, aside from presenting monstrous adjustment problems for recipient countries, would also pose problems for poor countries, one would think. When asked by L'Actualitie if they would not be crippled by an exodus of doctors and engineers, Legrain was cavalier and dismissive. Émigré doctors would only meet 12% of current needs if they were forced to return now, so therefore it was better just to assist developing countries in training more doctors. And then what? So they in turn could leave for the First World? Is that Legrain's vision? India and Africa as a big medical school for the West?
Philippe Legrain is not very re-assuring about terrorism either. Since "99.99% of immigrants aren't terrorists" then border controls don't make sense as a deterrent to terrorists. OK, Mr. Legrain, since 99.99% of all air-line passengers aren't bombers, on any plane that you are boarding, we won't bother to do any security screening or luggage checks.
It would seem reasonable, would it not, that when toying with the fate of 6.7 billion people and 194 plus countries that before unleashing a sweeping change of Philippe Legrain's prescription we first test the waters by leaving one or two nations defenceless against incoming hordes. Actually the experiment has already been conducted. Does anybody know how things have working out for Tibet the last little while? How have the ethnic Serbians made out in Kosovo? How did the Poles like their open borders in September of 1939? Must admit, those hard-working enterprising Germans did work that the Poles would not do.
I think it prudent then, despite Legrain's assurances, to first test the market as it were by granting an unlimited number of visas to all third word economists who wish live and work alongside Mr. Legrain in the UK. With an economist coming out of every manhole cover to bid for jobs as columnists with the Guardian and the Times and so forth, and as commentators on the BBC, Philippe Legrain could test his hypothesis that immigrants raise the wages of local labour.
If this pilot project was pronounced a success and British sovereignty subsequently dissolved, then I could look forward to moving into Legrain's London flat, with a host of my relatives, who have always fancied living in the great city. Even if it contained only the 76 square metres of space that the average British dwelling does, I am sure Mr. Legrain, as a matter of logical consistency, could have no objection to moving over and making room for us. After all, a man who favours open borders can hardly oppose open houses.
Quadra Island, BC
28 March 2008
The original title of this article was "Monbiot's flawed linear thinking could lead many astray"
Monbiot's statement below reveals a dangerous use of arithmetic and linear thinking.
In other words, if we accept the UN's projection, the global population will grow by roughly 50% and then stop. This means it will become 50% harder to stop runaway climate change, 50% harder to feed the world, 50% harder to prevent the overuse of resources.
It is certainly tempting to throw these concepts around because we all have a tendency to think linearly (the exception being that perhaps most people now at least realize that human population growth is exponential). Unfortunately, nature rarely works in such linear ways and there are thousands of examples of non-linear responses, threshold effects, and synergistic processes that undermine simple 1:1 relationships. So, increasing population by 50% will not necessarily result in a 50% more effort required to combat climate change (or whatever). It may mean that it takes 4 times the effort or who knows, that we cross a threshold where no amount of effort will result in a desired response.
Similarly, the recent use of the simple model that total consumption ("economy") is the product of population and the per capita consumption assumes that the two variables (per capita consumption and number of people) are independent and work in isolation. What we need to do is qualify this relationship by the phrase "all things being equal". So, for example, if population doubles and per capita consumption is cut in half, then total consumption remains unchanged all things being equal. Of course, all things are rarely equal and non-linear effects kick in, expected or unexpected. I doubt whether this relationship will ever really hold in this simple fashion.
This relationship also assumes steady state operating conditions and ignores indivisible baseline per capita consumption such as per capita use of oxygen, water etc. and upfront resource use needed to reduce human per capita consumption.
For example, in a de Jong world, (Frank de Jong is Ontario Green Party leader) we might imagine a projection of population of Ontario to double and might then go about (yeah right!) aiming at reducing per capita consumption to 50% of current levels in order to achieve no net increase in total consumption. However, doubling the population will entail upfront or continuing natural capital to achieve that lower consumption level and to simply meet baseline requirements of a larger population, regardless of its ultimate consumption level. Such up-front or one time capital is never included as an additive factor in the simple arithmetic relationship. Similarly, I am remined of China where the mean family size was reduced but the number of dwellings increased non-linearly with population due to the (unexpected?) desire of new generation Chinese to live without in-laws. You can all think of much better examples than mine but the bottom line is that we need to impress on people that nature is typically non linear and that we should qualify our simple arithmetic models with statements such as all things being equal and under steady state conditions. The more we use this kind of language the more we will be able to raise awareness of the myriad of caveats that are inherent in our (suboptimal) arithmetic.
Can you imagine for example the effect of a Green Party official saying something like:
If we double the population of Ontario and reduce per capita consumption by 50%, then, all things being equal and barring any non-linear responses by nature acting on our increased population, any unforseen threshold effects related to nature's goods and services (including abiotic and biotic), then under steady state conditions that ignore any first time start up consumption of resources, our total consumption will remain unchanged.
Keith Hobson is a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and a member of our pan Canadian Malthusian discussion group sinkinglifeboat|AT|topica com
Posted by Tim Murray sinkinglifeboat.blogspot.com