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*Join us for the Art of Participatory Leadership training in Saco, Maine, April 11-13*

What may look like just another crowd-funding campaign is actually far more profound, a welcome sign of a cultural shift away from competition and scarcity toward mutual benefit and abundance.  

 

It's all a matter of perspective.  
 
In a previous post I argued that economic contraction is necessary and in fact underway.  Is this "Collapse" -- that scary term that so many authors love to throw around?
 
I find the C word to be counterproductive.  Depending on where you are standing as the grand cascade of change ripples through, the ruthless C word might be how it all feels to you in the moment.  But the big scary C word disclaims all the brilliant aspects of the new, emerging economy.  It denies that there is anything positive going on.
 
Huh?

This post is in response to one by Rob Hopkins, which was in response to one by David Holmgren.  

In case I don't use sufficiently 'skillful means,' please let me begin with stating: I am not advocating for intentionally creating an economic crash.

Rob says about economics "once it starts getting even vaguely complicated, leaves me rather puzzled." I don't shy away from complicated, although I do strive to simplify things as I explain them, so that more people can understand.  I have waded through tons of what many people lay out as possibilities for new economic alternatives, hunting for how to successfully unwind the terminally-flawed system we've got (success=relatively peacefully), and ideas for how to build a wiser parallel system.

In Rob's "One: A Post-Growth Economy = Economic Crash?" most of the thinkers Rob has selected to list -- including all the Steady Staters -- are missing a HUGE element as they create their post-growth economic pictures, while Holmgren seems to have understood it from the very early days of his Energy Descent curve: that element is Biocapacity, a.k.a. Ecological Footprint. Right now humanity consumes far more, and generates more waste, than the ecosystems of the planet can handle.

By Marissa Mommaerts, Transition US

12. If you help us meet our $10,000 challenge grant by year's end, your investment will be doubled!

11. We are radical. We’re building a new system that will render the existing unsustainable global economy obsolete.

We're caught in the squeeze right now.

Climate change is advancing at an incredible speed. We know we should do something, but we lack the political will to do what it takes to hold it to 2°C. UN committees are now being counseled to prepare for 4°C of warming. To keep it survivable, there's got to be a powerdown -- starting today.

Meanwhile green-tech enthusiasts cheer the rapid rate at which certain countries are installing renewable energy infrastructure. But reports are now surfacing of shortages in the rare earth ingredients needed to make that renewable infrastructure. We don't have enough rare earth materials to replace the whole fossil infrastructure and continue on our current level of consumption. No one dares speak the little secret: Even with renewables, there's got be a powerdown.

Shale oil is environmental desecration. But people are willing to consider it because there is potentially vast amounts of money in it because the easier-to-get-to oil is running out. Along with stopping fracking, there's going to be a powerdown. But no one is talking about that part.

We should "keep the coal in the ground" scientists are telling us, and activists have (rightfully) picked up the cry. But no one never mentions the other side of the Stop Coal equation: the powerdown. We have to start talking about what we are willing to give up. 

It's a sign of a really good essay when bits of it linger with you for days after you've read it and it keeps popping up in your mind. Naomi Klein's "Why Science is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet" is one of those. Her theme? "Global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that 'earth-human systems' are becoming dangerously unstable in response." 

"Serious scientific gatherings don't usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage," Klein writes. She describes UC San Diego geophysicist Brad Werner at a major scientific conference as "observing that mass uprisings of people -- along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street -- represent the likeliest source of 'friction' to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control."

The part that keeps itching at me, days after I read Klein's article, is the presumption that "mass uprisings" are the only way out of this mess. 

In so many ways, GMOs deplete any resilience in our food supply.
 
GMOs are perhaps the ultimate pinnacle of petroleum-dependent agriculture. These plants are laboratory-engineered specifically to work together with petro-chemicals: herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers. Headed into a world with increasingly less and less fossil resources, deepening the petro-dependence of our food supply is an absolutely disasterous course.
 
For thousands of years, humanity has fed itself “organically” — only your great-grandmother didn’t have a term for it. That was normal agriculture. This chemical-dependent stuff is very recent, widespread just since WWII. GMOs are the ultimate in UN-organic. The useage of farm chemicals with GMOs has vastly increased; it's now producing SuperWeeds and SuperBugs which are resistant to chemicals, requiring stronger chemicals in greater and greater quantity.  And the chemical-centric agribusiness process is stripping out our topsoils, polluting our waterways, sickening our farm workers.
 
The long-term impacts of GMOs on human health are completely untested.  For many years the companies that produced GMOs refused to allow independent studies, and there has been no transparency of scientific findings.  The first independent, longer-term studies are just now beginning to emerge in Europe, and these studies suspect the GM process itself (not just the chemicals) is detrimental to those who consume it.  (YouTube) We can indeed have a better life than this.

Tour a closed-loop water system where one critter's wastes become another's food. Inside a steamy greenhouse, Jeremy Roth of Aprovecho Center's Aquaculture Project shows us fish tanks containing tilapia just like you might order in a restaurant. Water from the tanks is pumped through troughs where pond plants take in the nutrients from the fish. Plant material is then returned to feed the fish in their tanks. The nutrient-rich water is also diverted to nourish veggies like chard, tomatoes, and water chestnuts rooted in a shallow gravel bar.
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