Connect with us

A web of Life for ALL Life

Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope

Published

on

Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.

The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

The ecology movement in the 1970s benefitted from a strong infusion of systems thinking, which was in vogue at the time (ecology—the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments—is an inherently systemic discipline, as opposed to studies like chemistry that focus on reducing complex phenomena to their components). As a result, many of the best environmental writers of the era framed the modern human predicament in terms that revealed the deep linkages between environmental symptoms and the way human society operates. Limits to Growth (1972), an outgrowth of the systems research of Jay Forrester, investigated the interactions between population growth, industrial production, food production, resource depletion and pollution. Overshoot (1982), by William Catton, named our systemic problem and described its origins and development in a style any literate person could appreciate. Many more excellent books from the era could be cited.

However, in recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion. Today, most environmental reporting is focused laser-like on climate change, and systemic links between it and other worsening ecological dilemmas (such as overpopulation, species extinctions, water and air pollution, and loss of topsoil and fresh water) are seldom highlighted. It’s not that climate change isn’t a big deal. As a symptom, it’s a real doozy. There’s never been anything quite like it, and climate scientists and climate-response advocacy groups are right to ring the loudest of alarm bells. But our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.

Why have environmental writers and advocacy organizations succumbed to tunnel vision? Perhaps it’s simply that they assume systems thinking is beyond the capacity of policy makers. It’s true: If climate scientists were to approach world leaders with the message, “We have to change everything, including our entire economic system—and fast,” they might be shown the door rather rudely. A more acceptable message is, “We have identified a serious pollution problem, for which there are technical solutions.” Perhaps many of the scientists who did recognize the systemic nature of our ecological crisis concluded that if we can successfully address this one make-or-break environmental crisis, we’ll be able to buy time to deal with others waiting in the wings (overpopulation, species extinctions, resource depletion and on and on).

If climate change can be framed as an isolated problem for which there is a technological solution, the minds of economists and policy makers can continue to graze in familiar pastures. Technology—in this case, solar, wind and nuclear power generators, as well as batteries, electric cars, heat pumps and, if all else fails, solar radiation management via atmospheric aerosols—centers our thinking on subjects like financial investment and industrial production. Discussion participants don’t have to develop the ability to think systemically, nor do they need to understand the Earth system and how human systems fit into it. All they need trouble themselves with is the prospect of shifting some investments, setting tasks for engineers and managing the resulting industrial-economic transformation so as to ensure that new jobs in green industries compensate for jobs lost in coal mines.

The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes. The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors. After all, everybody loves technology. It already does nearly everything for us. During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined. Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful. I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.

The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”). Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.

In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point. Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations. These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.

Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed? Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether. Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice. Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope. The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either. A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.

The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself.

The good news is that systemic change is fractal in nature: it implies, indeed it requires, action at every level of society. We can start with our own individual choices and behavior; we can work within our communities. We needn’t wait for a cathartic global or national sea change. And even if our efforts cannot “save” consumerist industrial civilization, they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.

There’s more good news: Once we humans choose to restrain our numbers and our rates of consumption, technology can assist our efforts. Machines can help us monitor our progress, and there are relatively simple technologies that can help deliver needed services with less energy usage and environmental damage. Some ways of deploying technology could even help us clean up the atmosphere and restore ecosystems.

But machines can’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path. Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

Source: EcoWatch

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

A web of Life for ALL Life

The Case for Rights of Nature in Practice

Published

on

The Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights (CDER), Honor the Earth, the Native Organizers Alliance, and Menīkānaehkem are pleased to present a “deep dive” workshop on the White Earth Band of Ojibwe’s case to enforce the rights of manoomin (wild rice), Manoomin v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Watch to learn about the case, the “Rights of Manoomin” law that it is enforcing, the case status, and its implications.

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading

A web of Life for ALL Life

We are One

Published

on

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Steven Jay

PRODUCED BY
Steven Jay + Michael Caporale

EDITED BY
Michael Caporale

WORLD PREMIERE
Free Speech TV

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading

A web of Life for ALL Life

About Mobilized

Published

on

About/Meet us Objectives Team Principles Events Calendar Resource Guide/Career Center Global Summits SIGN UP HERE


Empower your inner Einstein: Your front row seat to the changes you wish to bring to the world.


Mobilized.news is an international production company which produces quality evidence-based editorial content along with our flagship events and television series. We are a community of media makers and earth-shakers, scientists and social activists who unite in Solidarity for the health and well-being of personal and planetary health. We understand that the ways of the past have led to the consequences of the present, and therefore our collective efforts are dedicated to embracing the wit and wisdom of the worlds ultimate network: Nature.

” What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth, and the elimination of egoism and pride which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife… Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment…” — Nikola Tesla

About Us
Mobilized is the world’s new progressive media platform with an editorial focus on open collaboration, cooperation, new developments in affordable clean energy, technology, health and well-being, encompassing world-changing ideas into action, cooperatative creativity, architecture and design. As an open access platform, we believe that people everywhere need access to the wisdom and knowledge required for a healthy and peaceful co-existence. We partner with progressive solutions-focused media makers and earth-shakers who are committed to sharing their wisdom across the borders of perception.

Mobilized is inspired by nature, powered by passionate people and empowered by imagination with a core focus on balancing evidence-based knowledge with imagination for a better tomorrow, today. We inspire people to think with a whole system mindset, lead with purpose, embrace integrity, and understand that science is constantly evolving. The science fiction of yesterday is the science of today. We are here to unite people into an ecosystem of open collaboration for better together.

Launched in March of 2016 by a team of media professionals, scientists, biologists and academics, Mobilized was build on a foundation of ethics, integrity and purpose: we knew that the world was changing, businesses were starting to embrace the changes and some were leading the way.

Evolution never happens in a boardroom.
But many of the ways of the past no longer serve us. As we learn from the past, we set our sails on creating a platform where people from any part of the world could have access, translate into a multitude of languages, and understand how to navigate the changes. While many businesses were trying to figure out their footing, a new world of businesses based on ethical service was trying to be heart. We are here to share their stories so that we can head towards a sustainable future together. (more…)

Get Mobilized and Make Love Go Viral!
Continue Reading
INTERVIEWS8 hours ago

The Undertow with Mark Metz : How Corruption in the Energy Sector Sabotages Sustainability

INTERVIEWS9 hours ago

GAIA TALKS: The Earth Speaks: Mohamed Ismail from Egyptians Abroad For Democracy Worldwide

Paradigm Change1 day ago

People Power Now

Paradigm Change2 days ago

An Empowered World: People, we are Ready!

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Conscious capitalism and Raising the Bar of Human Possibility

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Open Collaboration on an Epic Scale: The Future is Cooperatively Decentralized

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Energy and Transportation

Paradigm Change3 days ago

An information upgrade whose time is now

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming agriculture and food systems for optimal planetary and personal health

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Planetary Public health

INTERVIEWS6 days ago

Wa’echun Hour: Personal Power and Decolonization

Featured1 week ago

Truths or Consequences: Failing State or Shining Light?: The USA Role in the Twenty-first Century

Featured1 week ago

The Undertow: The Corrosion of Corruption: Cleaning up the Chaos with Heidi Cuda

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The time is NOW to Rethink: James Arbib of Re-Think X

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Savor This: Allan Savory on Real World Solutions Now

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Ecologic Economics and Steady State Economies with Brian Czech

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The unlimited potential of space solar Power with John Mankins

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Understanding the real transition to clean and renewable energy with Professor Chris Rhodes

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The Father of the Environmental Justice Movement

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Sustainable Growth on a Finite Planet is Not Possible

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Help!!! We’re drowning in a sea of Plastic: A conversation with Dr. Julie Peller

The Web of Life2 weeks ago

It is time for a better relationship with our beautiful, blue planet.

Editorials2 weeks ago

As the Golden Globes lose their luster, can we create a better version of Hollywood?

Featured3 weeks ago

How Our Grassroots Energy Projects Are Taking Back Power From Utility Companies

Arts3 weeks ago

How The Pentagon and CIA Have Shaped Thousands of Hollywood Movies into Super Effective Propaganda

Arts3 weeks ago

How The Pentagon and CIA Have Shaped Thousands of Hollywood Movies into Super Effective Propaganda

The Web of Life2 weeks ago

It is time for a better relationship with our beautiful, blue planet.

Featured3 weeks ago

How Our Grassroots Energy Projects Are Taking Back Power From Utility Companies

Featured1 week ago

The Undertow: The Corrosion of Corruption: Cleaning up the Chaos with Heidi Cuda

Editorials2 weeks ago

As the Golden Globes lose their luster, can we create a better version of Hollywood?

Featured1 week ago

Truths or Consequences: Failing State or Shining Light?: The USA Role in the Twenty-first Century

INTERVIEWS6 days ago

Wa’echun Hour: Personal Power and Decolonization

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Ecologic Economics and Steady State Economies with Brian Czech

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Savor This: Allan Savory on Real World Solutions Now

Food4 weeks ago

How Climate Change Narratives are Used Against Us

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The time is NOW to Rethink: James Arbib of Re-Think X

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Sustainable Growth on a Finite Planet is Not Possible

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Energy and Transportation

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Conscious capitalism and Raising the Bar of Human Possibility

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Help!!! We’re drowning in a sea of Plastic: A conversation with Dr. Julie Peller

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Open Collaboration on an Epic Scale: The Future is Cooperatively Decentralized

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

Understanding the real transition to clean and renewable energy with Professor Chris Rhodes

Paradigm Change2 days ago

An Empowered World: People, we are Ready!

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The unlimited potential of space solar Power with John Mankins

Paradigm Change1 day ago

People Power Now

Paradigm Change3 days ago

An information upgrade whose time is now

INTERVIEWS2 weeks ago

The Father of the Environmental Justice Movement

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming Planetary Public health

Paradigm Change3 days ago

Transforming agriculture and food systems for optimal planetary and personal health

INTERVIEWS9 hours ago

GAIA TALKS: The Earth Speaks: Mohamed Ismail from Egyptians Abroad For Democracy Worldwide

Trending

Translate »