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NET-GOLD  June 2008

NET-GOLD June 2008

Subject:

Re: Civilization's Last Chance?

From:

"David P. Dillard" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Net Gold Listserv List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 4 Jun 2008 21:59:29 -0400

Content-Type:

MULTIPART/MIXED

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (340 lines)



Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2008 14:17:10 -0700
From: Richard Hake <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Cc: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask],
     [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]
Subject: [Net-Gold] Re: Civilization's Last Chance?


If you reply to this long (14 kB) post please
don't hit the reply button unless you prune the
copy of this post that may appear in your reply
down to a few relevant lines, otherwise the
entire already archived post may be needlessly
resent to subscribers.


***********************************


ABSTRACT: In response to my Physoc/Phys-L post
"Civilization's Last Chance?" Art Hobson
recommended Bill McKibben's book "Deep Economy,"
in which, according to one reviewer "McKibben
incisively interprets a staggering array of
studies that document the symbiotic relationship
between fossil fuels and five decades of dizzying
economic growth, and the many ways the pursuit of
ever-higher corporate profits has led to
environmental havoc and neglect of people's most
basic needs." Gus Speth in "The Bridge at the
Edge of the World" evokes a related message,
writing "Working only within the system will . .
. not succeed when what is needed is
transformative change in the system itself."
Would Speth regard Arjun Makhijani's "Carbon-Free
and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy"
as unworkable because it appears to  "work within
the system"?


***********************************

Art Hobson (2008) responded to my post
"Civilization's Last Chance?" [Hake (2008)]
regarding Bill McKibben's (2008a) Los Angles
Times opinion piece "Civilization's last chance:
The planet is at a tipping point on climate
change, and it gets much worse, fast" as follows:

"I'll recommend one of McKibben's recent that I'm
just finishing reading.  It's called 'Deep
Economy'. . . . .[my insert - for pedantic
reference freaks, the academic reference is
"McKibben (2008b)"]. . . .  It's a call for most
local economic interactions, things like farmer's
markets, local food co-ops, small farms, buying
local products, regional radio and TV,  talent.
He thinks we need to move beyond growth as the
paramount economic ideal."

McKibben (2008b) and Gus Speth (2008) appear to be
on similar wave lengths.

According to a review of Speth (2008) at
Amazon.com <http://tinyurl.com/5v6m4w>  by Ross
Gelbspan
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Gelbspan>:

"Contemporary capitalism and a habitable planet
cannot coexist. That is the core message of 'The
Bridge at the Edge of the World,' by J. 'Gus'
Speth, a prominent environmentalist who, in this
book, has turned sharply critical of the U.S.
environmental movement. Speth is dean of
environmental studies at Yale, a founder of two
major environmental groups (the Natural Resources
Defense Council and the World Resources
Institute), former chairman of the President's
Council on Environmental Quality (under Jimmy
Carter) and a former head of the U.N. Development
Program. So part of his thesis is expected:
Climate change is only the leading edge of a
potential cascade of ecological disasters. 'Half
the world's tropical and temperate forests are
gone,' he writes. 'About half the wetlands . . .
are gone. An estimated 90 percent of large
predator fish are gone. . . . Twenty percent of
the corals are gone. . . . Species are
disappearing at rates about a thousand times
faster than normal. . . . Persistent toxic
chemicals can now be found by the dozens in . . .
every one of us.' One might assume, given this
setup, that Speth would argue for a
revitalization of the environmental movement. He
does not. Environmentalism, in his view, is
almost as compromised as the planet itself. Speth
faults the movement for using market incentives
to achieve environmental ends and for the
deception that sufficient change can come from
engaging the corporate sector and working 'within
the system' and not enlisting the support of
other activist constituencies. Environmentalism
today is 'pragmatic and incrementalist,' he
notes, 'awash in good proposals for sensible
environmental action' -- and he does not mean it
as a compliment. 'Working only within the system
will . . . not succeed when what is needed is
transformative change in the system itself.' . .
. . . . . . . . . "

Considering the last sentence,  would Speth
regard Arjun Makhijani's (2007) "Carbon-Free and
Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy"
[recommended by Hugh Haskell (2008)] as
unworkable because it appears to  "work within
the system"?



Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
<[log in to unmask]>
<http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake/>
<http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi/>



REFERENCES

[Tiny URL's courtesy <http://tinyurl.com/create.php>.]

Hake, R.R. 2008. "Civilization's Last Chance?"
online at
<https://carnot.physics.buffalo.edu/archives/2008/6_2008/msg00011.html>.
Post of 1 Jun 2008 10:50:19-0700 to PHYSOC and
Phys-L.

Haskell, H. 2008. "Re: Civilization's Last Chance?" PHYSOC post of 1 Jun 2008
21:15:34-0400; online at
<http://tinyurl.com/4v758d>. To access the
archives of PHYSOC one needs to subscribe, but
that takes only a few minutes by clicking on
<http://listserv.uark.edu/archives/physoc.html>
and then clicking on "Join or leave the list (or
change settings)." If you're busy, then subscribe
using the "NOMAIL" option under "Miscellaneous."
Then, as a subscriber, you may access the
archives and/or post messages at any time, while
receiving NO MAIL from the list!

Hobson, A. 2008. "Re: Civilization's Last Chance?" PHYSOC post of 1 Jun 2008
16:30:41-0500; online at
<http://tinyurl.com/6cr4g3>.  To access this
post, see the above reference.


**********************************


McKibben, B. 2008a. "Civilization's last chance:
The planet is at a tipping point on climate
change, and it gets much worse, fast," Los
Angeles Times, 11 May; online at
<http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-mckibben11-2008may11,0,7434369.story>.
McKibben wrote:

   ". . . . .all of a sudden, those grim Club of
Rome types who, way back in the 1970s, went on
and on about the "limits to growth" suddenly seem
... how best to put it, RIGHT (emphasis in the
original).

All of a sudden it isn't morning in America, it's dusk on planet Earth.

There's a number -- a new number -- that makes
point most powerfully. It may now be the
most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts
per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A few weeks ago, NASA's chief climatologist,
James Hansen, submitted a paper to Science
magazine with several coauthors. The abstract
attached to it argued -- and I have never read
stronger language in a scientific paper -- that
*if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar
to that on which civilization developed and to
which life on earth is adapted, paleoclimate
evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that
CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385*"

See also McKibben's website <http://www.350.org/4/>.


**********************************


Makhijani, A. 2007. "Carbon-Free and
Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy."
Ieer Press. Online as a 4.4 MB pdf at
<http://www.ieer.org/carbonfree/index.html>.
EggheadBooks information at
<http://www.eggheadbooks.org/books/carbonfree.htm>.
Egghead wrote:

"In a world confronting global climate change,
political turmoil among oil exporting nations,
nuclear weapons proliferation, nuclear plant
safety and waste disposal issues, the United
States must assume a leadership role in moving to
a zero-CO2-emissions energy economy. At the same
time, the U.S. needs to take the lead in reducing
the world's reliance on nuclear power. This
breakthrough joint study by the Institute for
Energy and Environmental Research and the Nuclear
Policy Research Institute shows how our energy
needs can be met by alternative sources. Wind,
solar, biomass, microalgae, geothermal and wave
power are all part of the solution. 'Carbon-Free
and Nuclear-Free ' is must reading for people
concerned with energy politics and everyone who
wants to take action to protect the planet's
future."

Amazon.com information at <http://tinyurl.com/3l6jd6>.

A good review by John Roeder, soon to be on the
"Teachers Clearinghouse for Science and Society
Education Newsletter "
<http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/~lindenf/pse/>
can be download at <http://tinyurl.com/4ba8el> -
scroll to the bottom and click on
<Reviews(W08).doc>.


**********************************


McKibben, B. 2008b. "Deep Economy: The Wealth of
Communities and the Durable Future." Holt
Paperbacks. Amazon.com information at
<http://tinyurl.com/5yt7m4> contains this review:

   "Beginning with his prescient treatise on global
warming, "The End of Nature" (1990), McKibben has
been investigating and elucidating some of the
most confounding aspects of our lives. He now
brings his signature clarity of thought and
handsomely crafted prose to a pivotal,
complicated subject, the negative consequences of
our growth-oriented economy. McKibben incisively
interprets a staggering array of studies that
document the symbiotic relationship between
fossil fuels and five decades of dizzying
economic growth, and the many ways the pursuit of
ever-higher corporate profits has led to
environmental havoc and neglect of people's most
basic needs. At once reportorial, philosophic,
and anecdotal, McKibben, intoning the mantra
'more is not better,' takes measure of
diminishing returns. With eroding security, a
dysfunctional health system, floundering public
schools, higher rates of depression, 'wild
inequity' in the distribution of wealth, and
damage to the biosphere, McKibben believes a new
paradigm is needed, that of a 'deep economy' born
of sustainable and sustaining communities
anchored in local resources. Using the farmer's
market as a template, he explains the logistics
of workable alternatives to the corporate
imperative based on ecological capacities and the
'economics of neighborliness.' With the threat of
energy crises and global warming, McKibben's
vision of nurturing communities rooted in
traditional values and driven by 'green'
technologies, however utopian, may provide ideas
for constructive change."
         - Donna Seaman, American Library Association.


**********************************


Speth, J.G. 2008. "The Bridge at the Edge of the
World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing
from Crisis to Sustainability. "Yale University
Press (YUP), publisher's information at
<http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=978030013611>

YUP writes:

"How serious are the threats to our environment?
Here is one measure of the problem: if we
continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no
growth in the human population or the world
economy, the world in the latter part of this
century will be unfit to live in. Of course human
activities are not holding at current levels-they
are accelerating, dramatically-and so, too, is
the pace of climate disruption, biotic
impoverishment, and toxification. In this book
Gus Speth, author of "Red Sky at Morning" and a
widely respected environmentalist, begins with
the observation that the environmental community
has grown in strength and sophistication, but the
environment has continued to decline, to the
point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe.

Speth contends that this situation is a severe
indictment of the economic and political system
we call modern capitalism. Our vital task is now
to change the operating instructions for today's
destructive world economy before it is too late.
The book is about how to do that."

See also Speth's website
<http://www.thebridgeattheedgeoftheworld.com/>,
where among other things, appears:

"My point of departure in this book is the
momentous environmental challenge we face. But
today's environmental reality is linked
powerfully with other realities, including
growing social inequality and neglect and the
erosion of democratic governance and popular
controlŠ As citizens we must now mobilize our
spiritual and political resources for
transformative change on all three fronts." _-
Gus Speth

   "When a figure as eminent and mainstream as Gus
Speth issues a warning this strong and profound,
the world should take real notice. This is an
eloquent, accurate, and no-holds-barred brief for
change large enough to matter." - Bill McKibben


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