The math spoken of is miser-math, or as the poet said "here's one for you, nineteen for me", since there is no intention at all of an equitable sharing. The overwhelming majority of the loot will be reserved for official use. Only the crumbs left over are subject to equitable sharing.That's a mighty bleak view. He goes on:
No, we owe our kids increased well being rather than table scraps, leavings that we did not consume. Our task is to improve the world so that they can have a better start and reach a higher percentage of their potential than we did.But Steffen disagrees rather vehemently with such outcomes:
Planet's shrinking, clock's ticking: what to do? There are four usual answers. I'm ashamed to say, some people still think the first and worst is an option, that we ought to "let nature take care of the problem." .... The die-off plan isn't discussed much in liberal polite company. That it's ever discussed at all -- at the tail end of a century that saw the Nazis, the killing fields of Cambodia and ethnic genocides from Armenia to Rwanda to Bosnia -- is disgusting. It rings like jackboots on cobblestones to imply that a large number of one's fellow beings shouldn't be here, or may not be able to survive. The idea of drastic forced reductions in population is horrible. People are rightly appalled to hear about forced sterilizations, or the abuses of China's one-child policy. But the idea of die-off, of reducing the world's population through the simple expedient of letting millions and millions of people starve and murder each other when we might have saved them: that's both idiotic and evil. It's idiotic because dying and desperate people are no respecters of nature, the future or their legacies – they're desperate, and they will use any and all resources and tools at their disposal to survive.... And it's evil, simply and totally wrong, to do next to nothing to avoid the death, destruction and pain already unfolding around us in magnitudes that dwarf the Holocaust.Steffen goes on:
And are we really willing to cut back enough to live lives that are truly sustainable? I certainly don't see any evidence that we are.... And if we aren’t willing to live within those limits, why do we think everyone else will be? This is a story without clear good guys and bad guys. The First and Third worlds now live around the corner from each other, mutually dependent everywhere.He's got a warning, and a prescription:
Unfortunately, the model we used to get rich is no longer replicable. For everyone on Earth to follow the Western model of development, we'd need somewhere between five and ten additional planets'-worth of resources and waste sinks, which is somewhere between five and ten more than we've got. As 2002 Jo'berg Memo puts it, "[T]here is no escape from the conclusion that the world's growing population cannot attain a Western standard of living by following conventional paths to development. The resources required are too vast, too expensive, and too damaging to local and global ecosystems."What did back40 have to say about the same subject?
What we need, then, is a new model. We need a new model which allows unprecedented prosperity on a sustainable basis. We need a new model which will let everyone on the planet get rich and stay rich, while healing the planet's ecosystems. We need to create what some Brits call "one-planet livelihoods" which are so prosperous, so dynamic, so enticing that the alternative of chasing the old model of green follows gold seems simply moronic. Designing a system which would lead to that kind of sustainable prosperity would already present an epic challenge. But we're not done yet. For that system also needs to work in the real world. It must be rugged and shock-proof.
Looting the earth is not our best option since we are quite capable of producing our own loot.Funny, I thought that's what Steffen was saying, with the caveat that it is EXTREMELY important that we start doing it RIGHT NOW.
Even Randall Parker seems to agree. He quotes nobelist Richard Smalley approvingly, and winds up with an opinion of his own:
Just maybe, if we would take the time to read the whole thing, we'd find out that we're all reading from the same book. A little understanding instead of flaming is all it may take to get to the same page."It would be very nice to have an alternative to fossil fuels—an alternative to nuclear fission—that would be capable of providing energy for what will probably be 10-15 billion people in the middle of this next century. I believe that if this alternative exists, it has to be solar. Right now we do not even have a solar technology that is even laughably close to being able to handle—for example—80% of all the world's energy production. If you don't do 80%, you're not touching the problem. And if you don't provide energy technology that is economically cheaper than the alternatives, it won't be adopted at all. "Where is that solar technology going to come from? [It will come] not just from improving solar cells, but from something totally new...."We need to start working seriously on alternatives to fossil fuels.
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