The Need For Radical Change
In his recent New York Times article, op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman asks the critical question: is it time for radical change?
The Critical Question
Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more”?
We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese …
We can’t do this anymore.—Thomas Friedman, The Inflection is Near
The recent precipitous decline in stock market value is alarming, but what is the alarm signaling? Ought we not to be equally alarmed about our rapidly diminishing stocks of natural resource? Especially when considered in respect of the global population explosion? As long as our dominant paradigm values economic concerns above ecological principles, and continues the rapacious conversion of the planet’s natural stocks into financial resources, we persist at our peril.
“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.
“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”—Thomas Friedman, The Inflection is Near
The Great Disruption
One of those who has been warning me of this for a long time is Paul Gilding, the Australian environmental business expert. He has a name for this moment — when both Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once — “The Great Disruption.”
We are taking a system operating past its capacity and driving it faster and harder,” he wrote me. “No matter how wonderful the system is, the laws of physics and biology still apply.” We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.
Gilding says he’s actually an optimist. So am I. People are already using this economic slowdown to retool and reorient economies. Germany, Britain, China and the U.S. have all used stimulus bills to make huge new investments in clean power. South Korea’s new national paradigm for development is called: “Low carbon, green growth.” Who knew? People are realizing we need more than incremental changes — and we’re seeing the first stirrings of growth in smarter, more efficient, more responsible ways.—Thomas Friedman, The Inflection is Near
Isn’t it time to rethink our socioeconomic models? And reconsider the values at the core of our socioeconomic system? Isn’t it time for an economy that is firmly rooted in integral ecological principles? One that values the physical-emotional-psychological well-being of the planet’s inhabitants above financial growth? Our present economic and ecological crisis are truly alarming, but failure to recognize and properly respond to the message the alarm is signaling will have grave consequences indeed.
There are moments in a nation’s–and a planet’s–history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction.
Today is one of those days.
by Luke Keioskie
See original article at Coffs Coast Advocate
Dr Phillip Munday, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said rising levels of acidity in the ocean was causing clownfish to lose the sense of smell that guides them home.
“Like many coastal fish, clownfish are swept off their home reef into the open ocean as tiny babies and use their acute sense of smell to find their way back again,” Dr Munday said.
“Fish lose their sense of smell when sea water becomes more acidic, with potentially devastating consequences for sea life.”
Ocean acidification caused by the absorption of human-released carbon dioxide at the ocean surface is now recognised as a serious threat to marine ecosystems.
“But every time we start a car or turn on the lights, a third or more of the carbon dioxide we emit ends up in the ocean, turning its waters imperceptibly but inevitably more acidic,” he said.
“We found that baby fish no longer responded to scent cues at all when the acidity rose to the sorts of levels likely by the second half of 2100.”
Dr Munday said ocean acidification would have significant consequences for the replenishment of adult populations and could lead to declines of many coastal species.
- Hello, Fish!: Visiting The Coral Reef by Sylvia Earle
- Explore the Wildlife Kingdom: Dolphins – Tribes of the Sea (DVD) starring Grant Goodeve
- Ocean (American Museum of Natural History) by Fabien Cousteau (Foreword)
- The Living Sea (IMAX – DVD) Starring Steven K. Katona and Meryl Streep
- Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas (National Geographic Atlas) by Sylvia A. Earle and Linda K. Glover
- Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans by Sylvia Earle
- Meet My Grandmother: She’s a Deep-Sea Explorer by Lisa Tucker McElroy
For the past 100 years the US Forest Service has maintained a policy of “fire suppression” to “protect human life, property, and at risk land and resources.”
The unintended consequence of this interdiction policy has been to deprive forests and wild-lands of the beneficial role that fire provides in maintaining the long-term health and integrity of ecological systems. This beneficial role, simply put, is the elimination of weak, superfluous and undesirable elements accumulated within the system as a natural product of growth and competition.
The suppression of fire, eventually, not only compromises the vitality of the forest’s natural immune system, it also produces the conditions most amiable to absolute catastrophe. Continue Reading »
Leading scientists from all over the world call for immediate action to stop ocean acidification. The oceans have long buffered the effects of climate change by absorbing a substantial portion of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. But this benefit has a catch: as the gas dissolves, it makes seawater more acidic. Now an international panel of marine scientists says this acidity is accelerating so fast it threatens the survival of coral reefs, shellfish and the marine food web generally.
More than 150 leading marine scientists from 26 countries are calling for immediate action by policymakers to reduce CO2 emissions sharply so as to avoid widespread and severe damage to marine ecosystems from ocean acidification. Continue Reading »