Transition Brockville archive

Tag : Economic disruption (134)

WEF: Climate change is the world’s biggest risk

Climate Central / Brian Kahn / 12 January 2017

The rise of the machines isn’t the biggest threat to humanity. It’s climate change, extreme weather and other environmental factors.

The World Economic Forum surveyed 750 experts on what the most likely and impactful risks facing humanity are in 2017. In a report released Thursday, they ranked extreme weather as the most likely risk and the second-most impactful, trailing only the use of weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is responsible for driving an increase in the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events, notably heat waves.

Failing to adapt to or mitigate climate change and a host of other climate-connected risks including water and food crises and involuntary migration also rank in the top 10.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

2017 – A sea of exponentials

Peak Prosperity / Chris Martenson / 31 December 2016

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” ~ Al Bartlett

Perhaps the most vexing challenge remains how to more effectively communicate the various predicaments and problems we face.

It’s not having more numbers, or more data, that’s for sure. If numbers and data worked then we’d have taken a very different path sometime back in the 1950’s.

As Admiral Hyman Rickover said in a speech to a group of doctors in 1957:

“I think no further elaboration is needed to demonstrate the significance of energy resources for our own future. Our civilization rests upon a technological base which requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels. What assurance do we then have that our energy needs will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels: The answer is – in the long run – none.

The earth is finite. Fossil fuels are not renewable. In this respect our energy base differs from that of all earlier civilizations. They could have maintained their energy supply by careful cultivation. We cannot.

Fuel that has been burned is gone forever. Fuel is even more evanescent than metals. Metals, too, are non-renewable resources threatened with ultimate extinction, but something can be salvaged from scrap. Fuel leaves no scrap and there is nothing man can do to rebuild exhausted fossil fuel reserves. They were created by solar energy 500 million years ago and took eons to grow to their present volume.

In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift. Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank.

A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.

(Source)

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Sustainable activism: Managing hope and despair

resilience.org / Paul Hoggett, Rosemary Randall / 14 December 2016

Sustainable activism has what Gramsci called a ‘pessimism of the intellect’ which can avoid wishful thinking and face reality as squarely as possible. However it also retains an ‘optimism of the will’, an inner conviction that things can be different. By holding optimism and pessimism in tension, sustainable activism is better able to handle despair, and it has less need to resort to binary thinking as a way of engaging with reality. It can hold contradictions so that they don’t become either/or polarities and can work both in and against the system.

Whilst it believes there can be no personal change without political change it is equally insistent that there can be no political change without personal change. It insists optimistically that those who are not against us must be with us, and therefore carries a notion of ‘us’ which is inclusive and generous, one which offers the benefit of the doubt to the other.

Finally, sustainable activism holds that it is never too late. In the context of climate change it is able to face the truth that some irreversible processes of change are already occurring; that the two degrees limit in the increase in global temperatures agreed at the 2015 Paris climate conference may not be achieved; that bad outcomes are inevitable, and that some are already happening. Nevertheless it also insists that this makes our struggles all the more vital to reduce the scale and significance of these future outcomes, to fight for the ‘least-worst’ results we can achieve, and to ensure that the world of our grandchildren and their children is as habitable as possible.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

The end of growth and the rise of Trump

The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 10 November 2016

trump-protestThe economist Raúl Ilargi Meijer wrote an interesting essay explaining why there is a Donald Trump in September. He credited Trump’s rise to “the most important global development in decades.”

That development, says Meijer, is “the end of global economic growth, which will lead inexorably to the end of centralization (including globalization). It will also mean the end of the existence of most, and especially the most powerful, international institutions.”

“In the same way it will be the end of — almost — all traditional political parties, which have ruled their countries for decades and are already today at or near record low support levels (if you’re not clear on what’s going on, look there, look at Europe!),” he wrote.

“This is not a matter of what anyone, or any group of people, might want or prefer, it’s a matter of ‘forces’ that are beyond our control, that are bigger and more far-reaching than our mere opinions, even though they may be man-made.”

The end of growth is tied inexorably to the deplorable quality of energy now being fracked and mined in North America. Bitumen and fracked oil just can’t support rich societies because these poor resources invite debt, environmental ruin and poor returns.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Nicholas Stern: cost of global warming ‘is worse than I feared’

The Guardian / Robin McKie / 06 November 2016

nicholas-sternA lot has happened since Nicholas Stern, then a permanent secretary at the Treasury, produced his landmark review of the impact of climate change 10 years ago. His work was quickly recognised as the definitive account of the economic dangers posed to the planet by global warming.

Since then, global temperatures have risen to record levels. Arctic summer sea ice has continued to shrink, as have many major land-based ice sheets. Carbon dioxide is being pumped into the atmosphere in ever-increasing amounts. At the same time, low-lying coastal areas, such as south Florida and parts of Bangladesh, are experiencing more and more flooding as sea levels have risen. Scientists have begun to link extreme weather events to the planet’s changing climate, while animal and plant species are gradualling moving towards the poles. So, a decade on, is Stern plunged in despair over our prospects? Not quite. While the picture is certainly grim, the world’s top climate economist still believes there are grounds for modest optimism.

“We have been too slow in acting on climate change,” he told the Observer. “In particular, we have delayed the curbing of greenhouse gas emissions for far too long. When we published our review, emissions were equivalent to the pumping of 40-41bn tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year. Today there are around 50bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. At the same time, science is telling us that impacts of global warming – like ice sheet and glacier melting – are now happening much more quickly than we anticipated.”

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Alternatives to the growth economy: Real world examples

Peak Moment TV / 26 September 2016

The growth economy is historically relatively recent, and is now consuming 1.5 Earths and growing. Compound interest is sucking the lifeblood out of the real economy, from households to countries. Mike Lewis, co-author of The Resilience Imperative, tells the story of the successful JAK cooperative Bank in Sweden, which is based on saving on behalf of others and uses only simple interest. It’s one example from the book which illuminates “alternate pathways to move from a growth imperative to a resilience imperative… It presumes we will transition ourselves back to one Earth and find a different way of dealing with a number of ways we meet our basic needs — whether it’s with food, energy, shelter, land, or finance (an important part of the problem).”

«page 2 of 23»

The Transition Framework

Transition initiatives share many of the same goals as other groups, and works collaboratively with a variety of organizations in their local areas. Transition differs in that it focuses specifically on preparing communities for the changes associated with unprecedented resource depletion and transitioning away from fossil-fuel dependency.

— Transition U.S.
TB Projects

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Like to receive a monthly digest of our key posts plus local news and event listings?

Subscribe

View past issues

Subscribe to our Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.