Light of the Stars: Earth’s Overshoot in the Cosmic Context

Book Cover - Light of the Stars

From the intellectual perspective, humankind faces two major challenges in tackling the ecological crisis.  The first is that the problem is massive and unprecedented, which means that critical areas such as economic theory and social organization must be rethought from the ground up.  Unfortunately most intellectuals, particularly academics, are rewarded for throwing bricks onto the existing piles of knowledge rather than starting new piles.  Their usefulness in such rethinking is therefore limited. Continue reading

Extinction Rebellion: Courageous Activism, Flawed Strategy

A newly-formed activist group, Extinction Rebellion, deserves high praise for its protests against the UK government’s inaction on climate change.  Guided by the principles of non-violent civil disobedience, the group has courageously blocked roads and invited arrests.  During the October 31 event in London, about 1,000 protesters expressed their outrage, and 15 were temporarily jailed.  Further actions are planned as the group tries to intensify and broaden its initiative. Continue reading

The IPCC’s Long Escape from Ecological Reality

In my last post I said that the IPCC has abandoned the original, scientifically sound strategy of reducing GHG concentrations to their safe levels.  It is now fixated on reducing emissions – the increments to the problem rather than the problem itself – in order to keep the global temperature rise below a specified target.  Its recent report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, is the latest example of this emissions fallacy.  Although the report proposes a decrease in the temperature limit from 2°C to 1.5°C, this retains the false strategy and is far from sufficient to prevent ecological collapse. Continue reading

“The Economics of Needs and Limits” – Kindle edition

The Economics of Needs and Limits - Book Front Cover

In 2007 I self-published a book that presented an economic theory called the Economics of Needs and Limits, or ENL.  As my economic thought evolved over the years I released several updates.  The most recent of these is now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store under the title, The Economics of Needs and Limits: A theory for sustainable well-being.  The book is available in paperback form, and it can also be downloaded as a free PDF.  For an overview of ENL itself, click here. Continue reading

The IPCC has Failed. Should it be Replaced?

A well-known scientist who has strongly criticized the IPCC responded positively to my last post.  I therefore proposed a joint article that would discuss the organization’s performance.  He agreed, and I submitted the draft article below.  This was summarily rejected because, “Although I agree with much of what you say, it is put in a way that is needlessly provocative – starting with the title.”   In my view this assessment is nonsense, and indicates the reluctance of even the most critical voices to seriously consider the IPCC’s radical reform and possible replacement. Continue reading

The True Danger is SOLUTIONS Denial

For those of us who are deeply concerned about the GHG crisis, an extremely useful YouTube channel is that of Peter Sinclair.  In his “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” series, which comprises 92 high-quality videos, he calmly demolishes the cherry-picking, illogic, and plain stupidity of those who dismiss this mounting disaster.  He admirably achieves what his channel promises: “Knocking down the nonsense of Climate denial”.  Unfortunately, confirming that a problem exists doesn’t fix it. Continue reading

The Material Interests Driving IPCC Support

This is the second of two posts that address the question: Why do the environmentally concerned continue to support the IPCC despite its objective failure?  In my first post I said that various manipulations have been used to achieve this end.  The most important of these was the creation of a false choice between the IPCC and the absurdities of climate denialism, which made this support almost inevitable.  In this post I briefly discuss the role of material interests in bolstering IPCC support among the global rich.  I then identify some key implications of these roadblocks to a sustainable world. Continue reading

The Manipulations Driving IPCC Support

In a recent post I stated that the supporters of business-as-usual (BAU) have used the IPCC to filter out any solutions to the GHG crisis that threaten economic expansion, thereby ensuring the organization’s environmental failure.  What must be explained now is why, despite this failure, the IPCC continues to be strongly supported by the environmentally concerned.  I believe there are two primary reasons: manipulations by the BAU supporters and the material interests of the global rich.  Here I discuss the manipulations; in my next post I will address the interests. Continue reading

My Demands for the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report

The IPCC has to date released five Assessment Reports (ARs) about the state of the climate system.  However, these reports and their resultant policies have failed to slow the Arctic meltdown or to reverse the atmospheric accumulation of GHGs.  With each AR cycle the organization boasts about the knowledge it has gained and the details it can now supply, but the outcome is always the same: a deepening and escalating ecological crisis. Continue reading

The Economic Roots of the IPCC’s Failure

As previously described (here and here), the IPCC has failed to rationally address the GHG crisis.  Like climate science as a whole, the organization uses poorly defined and conflated terms, illogically aims for reduced emissions instead of safe concentrations, lacks a valid ecological damage function, accepts a 2°C limit that has no scientific foundation, and marginalizes the only solution to global warming – geoengineering. Continue reading

Bending the Wrong Curve: the IPCC’s Ecocidal Strategy

Featured image - IPCC meeting

In my last post I said that climate scientists have done an admirable job of researching the environmental problems resulting from excess greenhouse gases (GHGs), but that they have failed to guide society towards rational solutions.  Here I address the IPCC‘s central role in this failure.  My claim is that the distortions of climate science are rooted in the IPCC’s ecocidal strategy: to bend the emissions curve to zero rather than the concentrations curve to a safe level. Continue reading

The Perilous Distortions of Climate Science

The Perilous Distoration of Climate Science - Featured Image

Due to the struggles against denialism and the political pressures to safeguard economic growth, climate science has become conceptually distorted.  This has severely compromised its capacity to assist humankind in finding rational solutions to the climate crisis.  In this post I identify the most significant of these distortions and suggest how they might be rectified. Continue reading

Capitalism’s Historical Dead End

In several of my previous posts, particularly Mainstream Mitigation and The Deep Politics of Ecological Inaction, I explained that nothing of any significance is being done to resolve the ecological crisis. In this post I identify the core reason for this disastrous inaction: the decision by the ruling capitalist class to remain in power after its economic system became objectively obsolete about 60 years ago. Continue reading

The Deep Politics of Rational Action

In my previous post I used the ideas of deep politics to determine that the capitalist ruling class is primarily responsible for the lack of rational action on the ecological crisis.  Such action would include immediate solar radiation management, rapid reductions in greenhouse gas concentrations, and the transition from economic expansion to contraction.  In this post I again use these ideas, but this time to locate an alternative social group that might take the necessary steps. Continue reading

The Deep Politics of Ecological Inaction

In a recent post I proposed the following three-part response to the ecological crisis:

  1. Immediate solar radiation management in the Arctic to prevent methane releases that would sharply accelerate global warming;
  2. Rapid drawdown and aggressive mitigation of greenhouse gases to reach safe atmospheric concentrations; and,
  3. Decreased per-capita consumption, lower populations, and higher efficiencies to significantly reduce the global economy’s environmental impact.

Although these steps are necessary to solve the crisis, there is no indication they will be implemented in the time that is ecologically available. Continue reading

A critique of two marches

For the environmentally concerned, two important marches were held this month.  On April 22 (Earth Day) the March for Science defended the integrity of science while protesting the anti-science policies of the Trump administration.  On April 29 the People’s Climate March chanted for environmental justice and jeered Trump’s anti-climate policies.  Although these events were superficially encouraging, they both featured major errors that must be identified and critiqued. Continue reading

Geoengineering taboo is waning, but urgency still missing

A few days ago the Guardian newspaper printed an article by Martin Lukacs that criticized an upcoming experiment on solar geoengineering (i.e., solar radiation management or SRM).  In today’s Guardian the main target of that criticism, David Keith, offered an effective rebuttal.  The only problem with Keith’s position is that it continues to downplay the extreme urgency of our climate predicament. Continue reading

A Rational Response to the Ecological Crisis

Rodan's Thinker

As previously stated, the ecological crisis is the result of humankind’s uncontrolled economic expansion since the Industrial Revolution.  This led to overshoot in the 1950s as numerous environmental limits were violated.  The most serious of these violations were the skyrocketing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations that produced today’s climate and ocean emergencies.  My proposed response to the crisis thus begins with measures that address these disasters.  I then proceed to measures for tackling overshoot itself. Continue reading

Geoengineering: the Arguments

In my last post I addressed the key facts about geoengineering.  Here I examine the arguments for and against this contentious approach.  Because emissions mitigation is often cited as an alternative to geoengineering, I begin by explaining their respective impacts on the environment.  For simplicity, I consider only the global warming effects of greenhouse gases (GHGs).  Ocean acidification and other non-warming effects are thus ignored.  See the diagram below. Continue reading

The Point Of No Return

Graphic of globe poised at edge of a cliff

When a team is behind in a basketball game, time becomes a serious factor several minutes before the final buzzer. What typically happens is that the team’s normal style of play gives way to an accelerated pace and intense pressure to regain the ball and score points. The ecological crisis is roughly analogous. We’re losing a game called “human survival,” and time is now a critical factor. Any strategy for resolving the crisis must therefore incorporate a sense of extreme urgency and a fixed deadline for decisive action. I use the “point of no return” concept to address these imperatives. Continue reading

Mainstream Mitigation, or How to do NOTHING

Mainstream Mitigation - To-do-list-nothing

Unless the emissions fallacy is quickly rejected, it will be calamitous for humankind and the biosphere. The fixation on increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations while ignoring their existing levels means that global warming and ocean acidification will proceed virtually unchecked. Unfortunately the situation is even worse than this because the mainstream approach to emissions mitigation is itself severely restricted. The result is that humankind’s response to the GHG-based emergencies is essentially zero – nothing at all. My aim in this post is to substantiate this claim. Continue reading

The Emissions Fallacy

I recently said that mainstream sources such as the IPCC implicitly use a falsified model of greenhouse gas (GHG) effects when offering policy prescriptions and making public statements. The central feature of this falsification is the emissions fallacy. This is the idea that the climate and ocean emergencies should be addressed exclusively through emissions mitigation, thereby ignoring reductions in existing GHG concentrations. In this post I address the fallacy in more detail. Continue reading

Nature’s Mortal Wound

Last summer I announced here that I was writing a book to elaborate on my strategy for ecological survival. In preparing for this task I carefully examined the current state of the crisis we face. I was stunned to discover that the situation is far worse than I had thought, and that some of my long-held assumptions were no longer valid. I therefore placed the book on hold and reassessed my environmental position. Here I summarize my key findings. In future posts I will explore the details. Continue reading

My Strategy for Ecological Survival

The most remarkable fact about the ecological crisis is that, even at this perilously late hour, no-one has devised a strategy to seriously address it. On second thought, the situation is far worse than that. With our ecological survival at stake, no-one has even come to grips with the basic realities that would allow such a strategy to be formulated. This is truly humankind’s darkest hour: we are facing an existential threat, we are equipped with powerful brains and impressive knowledge, but we have no clue how to proceed. What the hell is going on? Continue reading

“The Truth Doesn’t Matter”

Celia Farber is an independent American journalist who has written some ground-breaking articles on HIV/AIDS. After she was attacked in scurrilous fashion for her incisive reporting, she said in disgust that, “… what’s really scary and alarming and dangerous about our culture right now … is that it’s a culture of PR. It’s a public relations phenomenon. The truth doesn’t matter. What matters is the image.” Continue reading

The “Decoupling” Travesty

The economic growth fanatics have reached a new low in rationality and integrity. Recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that, despite 3% global economic growth, CO2 emissions from energy sources increased only slightly for the second straight year. The fanatics immediately told us what this meant: energy use has been decoupled from economic growth, so the latter can continue indefinitely. Continue reading

Book Review: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations

Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction.
Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg (2015).

Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg are business-oriented academics associated with the University of Sydney. Starting in 2008 they interviewed 70 employees at 25 Australian corporations to determine the corporate response to climate change. Continue reading

The Essence of Life

What is life? This question has been posed numerous times since Charles Darwin admitted his puzzlement in The Origin of Species (1859). Amazingly, the intervening years have brought scientists no closer to a convincing answer. This is despite the fact that biology has made huge strides in understanding life processes to the molecular level. Continue reading

The Youth Ecological Revolt

This is the last in a series of three posts that explore the plight of the young with respect to the ecological crisis. In my first post I characterized the crisis as overshoot, which refers to the concurrent violation of multiple environmental impact limits. I said that the rational response is rapid impact reduction, which entails the drastic curtailment of economic activities and sharp increases in ecological efficiencies. Continue reading

David Suzuki’s Ecocidal Role

This post is the second in a series of three that explores how the old have abandoned the young to a grim ecological fate, and how the young might respond in order to salvage both their future and that of the biosphere. In my previous post I said that the quality of life will soon plummet due to environmental degradation, profoundly affecting the young and their children. Continue reading

The Economics of Food Waste

The Economics of Needs and Limits (ENL) is an analytical framework that is intended to guide a contractionary, post-capitalist economy. It is based on the ethical principle that all human beings, present and future, are of high and equal worth. This implies that an economy must maximize well-being and equity while preserving the environment for future generations. This post is the first in a series that describes how ENL applies in specific situations. Continue reading

Dissenting Progressives: Ditch Suzuki and Klein!

A few years ago I listened to an interview with an insightful California activist named Saba Malik. As the mother of young children she was profoundly troubled by the escalating ecological crisis. She told the interviewer that, although she was involved in permaculture and other grassroots initiatives, “… everything is going the wrong way, so whatever we’re doing isn’t working, and we don’t have much time left.” Continue reading

Rational Capitalists: Free the Thinkers!

Until recently I firmly believed that bottom-up action could resolve the ecological crisis. It was therefore a shock when I realized that this view had become untenable. It is now clear to me that popular initiatives such as the environmental and progressive movements have failed to prevent the biosphere’s rapid degradation, and that they lack the potential to turn this around. If there is any hope for future generations, it lies with the world’s rational capitalists, particularly those in the richest and most ecologically destructive countries. Continue reading

The Perilous Deceit behind Emission Targets

In the months leading up to the UN climate change conference in Paris this December there will likely be increasing chatter about emission targets – the percentage decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that must be achieved by a specified date. The most ambitious of these may well appear to be serious attempts to address the crisis of global warming. Continue reading

Deep Concerns, Profound Illusions

Photo of Frank Rotering

In this initial blog post I would like to briefly explain this website’s rationale and to identify the topics I will address in the future. Based on the disturbing environmental events of recent years, numerous people on both the political right and left have become deeply concerned about the ecological crisis. Unfortunately, these concerns are largely negated by profound illusions that skew people’s thinking and prevent them from taking effective action. Continue reading