2018/10/08: The Paris Agreement notes how it will take a little longer for poorer countries to fully decarbonise, raising the bar still further for the UK, USA and other wealthy nations.
To genuinely reduce emissions in line with 2 C of warming requires a transformation in the productive capacity of society, reminiscent of the Marshall Plan. The labour and resources used to furnish the high-carbon lifestyles of the top 20% will need to shift rapidly to deliver a fully decarbonised energy system.
No more second or very large homes, SUVs, business and first-class flights, or very high levels of consumption. Instead, our economy should be building new zero-energy houses, retrofitting existing homes, huge expansion of public transport, and a 4-fold increase in (zero-carbon) electrification.
Sadly, the IPCC fails, again, to address the profound implications of reducing emissions in line with both 1.5 and 2 C. Dress it up however we may wish, climate change is ultimately a rationing issue.
2018/09/21: it is impossible to achieve absolute decoupling of resource use from GDP on a global scale, even with rapid efficiency gains and aggressive taxes on resource extraction. This is the conclusion reached by literally every existing study that has been conducted on the matter (you can follow links to the original research here). The reason is simple: the rate of decoupling is outstripped by the normal rate of GDP growth, even in high-efficiency scenarios. To make matters worse, there are physical limits to resource efficiency, and as we approach them the rate of improvement slows down, giving yet more force to the scale effect of GDP growth.
Unlike resource use, GDP can (thankfully) be dramatically decoupled from carbon emissions. But this solves only one dimension of our ecological poly-crisis. Even if we magically switched to a completely clean and renewable energy system tomorrow, we would be no closer to reversing our overshoot of all the other critical planetary boundaries: biodiversity collapse, chemical loading, deforestation, etc.
What are we going to do with all that clean energy? The same things we’re doing with fossil fuels: raze forests, intensify agricultural extraction, produce mountains of stuff, send waste to landfill – and do all of this at an ever-increasing rate, because our economic system is programmed to require endless expansion.
I have never said that poor countries shouldn’t grow – nor has anyone in this field of study (which Noah would know had he read any of the relevant literature). I have simply said that we can’t continue with aggregate global growth. What we need, then, is a fairer distribution of global income, with much more of it going to poor countries (and poor people within rich countries).
Is it politically impossible? Well, it would certainly require a struggle. But it’s far less impossible than Noah’s preferred alternative, namely, to transcend the laws of physics.
the real cause of lower fertility isn’t higher GDP but rather better girls’ education. GDP is a confounding factor.
While poor countries may need some GDP growth, that should never – for any nation, rich or poor – be the objective as such. The objective should be to improve human well-being: better health, better education, better housing, happiness, etc.
there is no evidence that relying on a switch to services, in and of itself, reduces the material throughput of the global economy.
2018-09-18: In recent decades, China and India have presented the world with two different models for how such countries can climb the development ladder. In the China model, a nation leverages its large population and low costs to build a base of blue-collar manufacturing. It then steadily works its way up the value chain by producing better and more technology-intensive goods. In the India model, a country combines a large English-speaking population with low costs to become a hub for outsourcing of low-end, white-collar jobs in fields such as business-process outsourcing and software testing. If successful, these relatively low-skilled jobs can be slowly upgraded to more advanced white-collar industries. Both models are based on a country's cost advantages in the performance of repetitive, non-social and largely uncreative work -- whether manual labor in factories or cognitive labor in call centers. Unfortunately for emerging economies, AI thrives at performing precisely this kind of work.
Without a cost incentive to locate in the developing world, corporations will bring many of these functions back to the countries where they're based. That will leave emerging economies, unable to grasp the bottom rungs of the development ladder, in a dangerous position.
the best thing emerging economies can do is to "recognize that the traditional paths to economic development -- the China and India models -- are no longer viable." Countries with "less-educated workers" are advised to build up human-centered service industries.
2018-09-19: In the study, much of the assumed transformation is achieved by near-universal digitalization. The authors focus on end-use energy services, suggesting that most of these could be delivered far more efficiently using microelectronics. Household and commercial electricity use could be slashed as multiple pieces of equipment are foregone for a smart phone—whose 5 Watt power consumption would substitute for 450 Watts of consumption from cameras, calculators, TVs, game consoles, DVRs, radios, scanners, tablets, stereos, alarm clocks, GPS, weather stations, video cameras, etc. Some of these uses have already been taken over by smart phones. Moreover, the authors assume that household appliances will all be connected to the Internet of Things, to allow for their optimal operation and seamless availability for demand response.
What’s not mentioned in the Grubler scenario is that universal digitalization would require a robust, dependable electricity supply and electronic communications network. This would entail substantial new infrastructure and electricity demand to accommodate data transmission, storage, and processing for nearly every piece of equipment on Earth. It would also require a great deal of copper. And it would all have to work together seamlessly 24/7.
but... industrial uses of energy (especially for high-temperature process like cement making) will be difficult to de-carbonize, and such processes figure into nearly all supply chains. The Grubler scenario excludes aviation and shipping from consideration.
2'18/09/16: For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations. But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment. We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required. Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have.
Growth is also becoming harder to achieve due to declining productivity gains, market saturation, and ecological degradation. If current trends continue, there may be no growth at all in Europe within a decade. Right now the response is to try to fuel growth by issuing more debt, shredding environmental regulations, extending working hours, and cutting social protections. This aggressive pursuit of growth at all costs divides society, creates economic instability, and undermines democracy.
2018/06/01: Data on the global use of energy and raw materials indicate that absolute efficiency has never occurred: both global energy use and global material use have increased threefold since the 1970s.
Therefore, efficiency is better understood as a rearranging of resources expenditures, such that efficiency improvements in one end of the world economy increase resource expenditures in the other end.
Many people believe that issues of scarcity can be solved by using more efficient production methods., but this is nothing but The Jevons Paradox.
Smart City is a technology-led urban response to global environmental challenges.
Smart City may imply technological determinism, privatisation and depoliticisation.
ICT may open the prospect of alternative, non-capitalist urban transformations.
Degrowth should establish a critical dialogue with ICT-led urban transformations
2018-09-08: To produce a gold ring today, up to 30 tonnes of waste is created. This includes toxic waste such as cyanide, mercury, and sulphuric acid, which then finds its way into the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers. Ten years ago, up to ten times less waste was created because the quality of ore was higher. Today, there is more gold in one tonne of waste electricals than there is in one tonne of ore. We need to be recovering this gold from waste before mining virgin ore.
Author: Maurice Golden MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
2013-10-03 : The bottom line is, we can get substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions from making things at home,” Pearce said. “And the home manufacturer would be motivated to do the right thing and use less energy, because it costs so much less to make things on a 3D printer than to buy them off the shelf or on the Internet.
We need to invest in finding sustainable and scalable alternatives to plastic. Even marine plastic is in large part a fishing issue: 46% of the Great Pacific garbage patch is composed of discarded nets,
The point is not that solar should not be considered, but that it should be considered, warts and all, alongside coal, nuclear and hydro with all their drawbacks. Too often, renewables' drawbacks and deficiencies are glossed over, not the least of these being that are unlikely ever to meet global energy needs
Economists are pointing to Japan, which has been trapped in low growth and deflation, as a dark vision of the future for the West.
2013/01/03: The localist form of citizenship may empower us, but it cannot confront capitalism. Against a global network of power must emerge globalised forms of struggle.
Around two decades ago, scientists began seriously discussing the prospects and suitability of geoengineering as a response to climate change. The options which have the potential to make a difference over a short timeframe revolve around 'Solar Radiation Management' (SRM)226128149technological interventions in the earth's climate system designed to enhance the reflection of incoming solar radiation
Of course overpopulation is a problem, a huge problem. Look around. I live in one of the most crowded pieces of real-estate in the world.
A groundbreaking study in Elsevier's Ecological Economics journal by two French economists, for the first time proves the world has passed a point-of-no-return in its capacity to extract fossil fuel