Dr Bill Rees, “Why we’re in denial”

Dr Bill Rees founder of “The Ecological Footprint” and co-developer with Matthis Wackernagel, spoke at the recent International Conference on Degrowth in Montreal. “The Extraenviromentalist” team of Seth & Justin did a great job of covering the conference. http://www.extraenvironmentalist.com/blog/2012/05/24/degrowth-american-dream/

It is very rare that someone is able to concisely and clearly spell out what the inhabitants of the Earth are facing, but someone as respected as Bill Rees who has studied many areas of life on earth is worth listening to.

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LIMITS TO GROWTH, the case gets stronger.

At a recent Oxford University lecture cycle entitled “IS THE PLANET FULL?” –  some serious responses were put forward to further the work of Limits to Growth – the book written in 1972 by Denis Meadows et al, sponsored by the Club of Rome and Massachusetts Intitute of Technolgy. This film clip features Ian Johnson, for 26 years  the World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development (ESSD), a contempory of Herman Daly, and now secretary general of the Club of Rome.

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For some other very interesting talks including the “burning issue” of population go to the Oxford University’s website http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/videos/view/141

DEMOCRACY, ENVIRONMENT, GROWTH, which is the odd man out ?

The 3 concepts of Environment, Growth and Democracy cannot co exist. The false hope of having a healthy environment, exponential economic growth and a flourishing democracy has been exposed drammatically since the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009. The final act of this tragi-comedy was played out during the G-20 summit in November 2011, when Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece was told his idea of a referendum to decide the fate of the next  austerity measures would not be allowed. If he pursued the idea, an $8 billion bail out, essential for Greece to exist, which had been agreed, would be witheld.

Silvio Berlusconi, at the same conference, arrived without any extra proposals to rein in Italy’s $2 trillion debt, perhaps hoping for some “bunga bunga”. He was told EU commissioners would be installed in every Italian government department to ensure austerity measures were enacted. The next issue of Italian government bonds saw no purchases by the European Central Bank which had intervened when other PIIGS nations bond issues had been undersubscribed. The interest rate on Italian bond issues climed over 7%, Italy was facing financial collapse caused by the recently formed “Frankfurt Group” at the very same G-20 Summit that disposed of the elected Greek Prime Minister.

The European Union has always had problems with democracy, a messy process that can interfere with the grand designs of people at the top who know best. When Ireland voted no to the Nice Treaty, it was told to come up with the right result in a second ballot. The real decisions in Europe are now taken by the Frankfurt Group, an unelected cabal made of up eight people: Lagarde; Merkel; Sarkozy; Mario Draghi, the new president of the ECB; José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission; Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the Eurogroup; Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European Council; and Olli Rehn, Europe’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner.

This group, which is accountable to no one, calls the shots in Europe. The cabal decides whether Greece should be allowed to hold a referendum and if and when Athens should get the next tranche of its bailout cash. What matters to this group is what the financial markets think not what voters might want.

To the extent that governments had any power, it has been removed and placed in the hands of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF. It is as if the democratic clock has been turned back to the days when France was ruled by the Bourbons. (Larry Elliot, Guardian, 9/11/2011).

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Richard Heinberg in Totnes, The End of Growth.

No discussion of energy or economic growth is complete without the invaluable insights of Richard Heinberg. He is the author of ten books including:

  • The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality (June 2011)
  • Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis (2009)
  • Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2007)
  • The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism and Economic Collapse (2006)
  • Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World (2004)
  • The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (2003)

He is Senior Fellow-in-Residence of the Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators. He has authored scores of essays and articles that have appeared in such journals as Nature, The Ecologist, The American Prospect, Public Policy Research, Quarterly Review, Z Magazine, Resurgence, The Futurist, European Business Review, Earth Island Journal, Yes!, Pacific Ecologist, and The Sun; and on web sites such as Alternet.org, EnergyBulletin.net, TheOilDrum.com, ProjectCensored.com, and Counterpunch.com.

This talk was given at Totnes, the first Transition Town, which together with Rob Hopkins has set a standard for being informed and offering solutions.

In this film clip Richard introduces 5 principles that must be adopted which mirror the basic tenets of a Steady State Economy, and in doing so suggests that we are on the verge of the Sustainability Transition.

http://www.postcarbon.org/

http://transitionculture.org/

Andrew Simms, Limits to Growth

Andrew Simms is the head of new economics foundation (nef), a U.K. “think tank” that has published many reports centering on consumption, economic growth, and in this talk, Limits to Growth. Again he cites the pioneering work of Herman Daly and ecological economics as a response to resource depletion, climate change and exponential growth on a finite planet. An excellent and energetic speaker.

Their website is full of great stuff to download and at the forefront of solutions.  http://www.neweconomics.org/

Tim Jackson at Transition Town Totnes.

This blog has to date portrayed the various problems associated with current economic, social and environmental systems. The “Occupy” movement appears to present support for that disquiet. What will be included now are the systems that appear to present solutions. Most center around The Steady State Economy, one of the most eloquant advocates is Professor Tim Jackson

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Prof Tim Jackson’s Economic Reality Check

The 2008 Global Financial Crisis and subsequent recession has provided the ONLY reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in over a decade. The following years have seen repeats of economic instability, severe social unrest and a resumption of record levels of greenhouse gas emissions. An eloquant solution has been provided by Prof Tim Jackson in “Prosperity Without Growth”

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