Posts Tagged ‘systemic risk’

One day I want to be as composed and moderate as Post Carbon Institute Fellow Bill Rees who appears in the video below. I think there is enough justification to be emotionally explosive about the dramatic reality he describes, precisely because of how real it is. Bill is a source of inspiration not just in the scientific sense but also at the emotional level. Behind his refined and corteous professor demeanor lies a visible flame of outrage, passion and justice.

The message Bill provides is liquid gold, so concentrated and rich that it becomes precious. I feel I must not allow myself to run the risk of taking away anything you may get from his discussion by adding my own thoughts. If you read me enough you will realize I am on his page. Enjoy the potent flavor of truth.

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This post is about a recent scientific paper evaluating through a mathematical model the potential for collapse of human societies inferring our current risk, based on just two unsustainable dynamics in our modern economy, economic stratification or degree of inequality and ecological strain from resource depletion. The model has been validated recreating the failures of past civilizations which like ours enjoyed a relative high degree of sophistication.

Many people who have faith in the future a magic technological bullets will save us from these and other global threats but the truth of the matter is that it is only an illusion. No amount of technological prowess can keep us alive separated from or at odds with our life-sustaining system.

Our current and present risk for the demise of our civilization is no longer an alarmist tale or even an opinion. We have a quantifiable scientific probability.  That is called data. I challenge any PhD supporting the current unsustainable establishment to discredit this and other scientific studies which realistically dare to quantify the risks inherent to our ravenous devouring of natural and human resources driven by our insane debt based capitalism.

Enjoy this enlightening paper and do not let the societal manipulation of media and people make you believe you are cannot rationally and effectively evaluate the risks of our present global economic system.


Source: Another World is Posssible…

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Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. Source: Post Carbon Institute.

Despite the current complacency provided by green business, cleantech and the mainstream blind faith in the capacity of technology to save us from all global challenges (economic, environmental and social), someone needs to wake us up to the gravity of the actual reality outside of our modern life ‘bubble’. The post Carbon Institute has done a marvelous job with their wake up call. This book  is a reality check and a guide to face it. Its message is for those willing to acknowledge the extreme urgency to fundamentally phase out our unsustainable growth based, consumption driven global economy that coupled with our exponential population growth keep us in a planetary collision course. We do not have time to embellish our suicidal debt based economy with green products and services. We are in desperate need of a much deeper change. We are running out of time for a fundamental shift that if we do not take seriously ‘pronto’, it will be forced upon us by the effects our human infrastructure’s failure modes. As engineers we should have already implemented a DFMEA for modern civilization…

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A dream I had last night.


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Geo-engineering, the manipulation of the Earth’s climate system to counter Global Warming through large-scale technologies. Just like the increasingly popular trans-humanist technologies which I have discussed in recent blogs, geo-engineering is another example of emerging technologies which unchecked could result in global collapse.

Like all risk posed by the misuse of science and technology, it is rooted in three human flaws, ignorance, irresponsibility and fallability, both at the individual and collective levels.  Despite its noble original intention of making a better world, in this case countering global warming, geo-engineering risk has the same old three causes.

By ignorance I refer to the inability of humans to understand the complexity and fragility of the natural environment. Despite the fact that science has shown us we live in a complex and interdependent environment, that is an ecosystem, most people and particularly those who have the power to misuse these technologies, still think in Newtonian terms, which characterizes the aging industrial paradigm. In other words they simplify reality believing the world is a machine that can be reduced to its constituent components. That leads to the fallacy the world’s problems can ‘fixed’ in an isolated manner, one by one, without creating any side effects. This linear way of thinking ignores the fundamental reality that every element in the Natural ecosystem which is Planet Earth is linked to every other element. Subsequently the likelihood of  manipulating one element without impacting other elements is unrealistic. One good example of this at the human organism is the long list of side effects produced by pharmaceuticals. The simplification of the ecosystemic nature of the planet and reduction to a mechanism can lead to the destabilization of critical cycles in Nature that keep the Earth stable and habitable.

The irresponsibility with which geoengineering may be misused or prematurely used may result from corporate greed and from an obsession to play God with the planet. Unlike other modern day technologies the risk it poses is the maximum imaginable, destabilizing the whole biosphere.  That means as dangerous as global crises we have such as global warming or worse. American Businessman Russ George dumping of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean with the intention of fertilizing algal blooms that absorb carbon dioxide, is the latest example of this global risk.

Source: Iron Dumping In The Pacific Ocean Stirs Controversy Over Geoengineering

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