Who’s concerned about the planet and what are they saying?
The Earth’s limited resources pose “carrying capacities” for populations of species – the number of individuals an environment can sustain. Yet through efficient use of resources and energy, and evolving clever mechanisms to adapt to and overcome environmental conditions and challenges, ecosystems have maximised the sustainable sizes of diverse populations. Nature constantly increases its efficiency and has proven to be the most economic actor of our planet.
The first industrial revolution lead to modern day pollution; the second industrial revolution allowed humans to grasp the extent of threat this destruction poses to our own lives: we have recklessly passed our carrying capacity. The general public feels helpless in finding a way out.Human production and consumption patterns are no longer sustainable. Numerous examples around the world prove that we can imitate nature’s designs, perfected over millions of years, in our own production – using the waste of one product as the input for another. These innovations will revolutionize the industries they are applied in, making consumption of those products a positive action. Thus, it will become possible to live in a sustainable way, responding to all basic needs for water, food, energy, health and shelter. Thinking in systems and cycles, we become metabolists – witness the dawn of the 3rd industrial revolution!
There is now unequivocal evidence that humanity has seriously reduced the ability of the planet to support civilization indefinitely. The cumulative knowledge from the natural sciences has clearly shown that the global ecosystems upon which humanity depends have been significantly degraded. Without a fundamental shift in how people perceive and use ecological capital and services, the indefinite continuity of societies around the globe, an unchallenged assumption of past thinking, is now seriously in question. With this decisive diagnosis of the ill-health of our life-support systems there is the clear need for remedy. The MAHB’S core commitment is to develop that remedy. It proposes to do so by first growing a global network of social scientists, humanists, and scholars in related fields whose collective knowledge can be harnessed to support global civil society in shifting human cultures and institutions toward sustainable practices and an equitable and satisfying future.
Karl Marx went on and on about the tendency of capitalism to so fixate on growth that in time it would forget the need to put on a friendly face for society and would drive home too clearly and brutally its advantage over labor. Ironically, in some way he and Engels looked forward to globalization and the supranational company because they argued it would make capitalism even more powerful, over reaching, and eventually reckless. It would, they claimed, offer the capitalists more rope to hang themselves with or, rather, to be hung with, in the workers’ revolution. The rope for the job, they suggested with black humor, would be bought from briskly competing capitalists, eager till the end for a good deal. Well, time marches on and it’s going to be hard to have a workers’ revolution with no workers. Organizing robotic machine tools will not be easy. However, Marx and Engels certainly got the part right about globalization and the supranational company increasing the power of capital at the expense of labor. To interfere with Marx’s apocalyptic vision, we need some enlightened governmental moderation of the new globalized Juggernaut (even slightly enlightened would be encouraging) before capitalism gets so cocky that we have some serious social reaction. But for me capitalism’s complete fixation on growth at all cost that Marx concentrated on is not as important as the other issues discussed here. Capitalism, by ignoring the finite nature of resources and by neglecting the long-term well-being of the planet and its potentially crucial biodiversity, threatens our existence. Fifty and one-hundred-year horizons are important despite the “tyranny of the discount rate,” and grandchildren do have value. My conclusion is
that capitalism does admittedly do a thousand things better than other systems: it only currently fails in two or three. Unfortunately for us all, even a single one of these failings may bring capitalism down and us with it. – Jeremy Grantham, from GMO Feb 2012 Newsletter.
“Today we are faced with the need to achieve rapid reductions in global fossil fuel emissions and to nearly phase out fossil fuel emissions by the middle of the century. Most governments are saying that they recognize these imperatives. And they say that they will meet these objectives with a Kyoto- like approach. Ladies and gentlemen, your governments are lying through their teeth. You may wish to use softer language, but the truth is that they know that their planned approach will not come anywhere near achieving the intended global objectives. Moreover, they are now taking actions that, if we do not stop them, will lock in guaranteed failure to achieve the targets that they have nominally accepted.”
“We, in contrast, still have the opportunity to preserve the remarkable life of our planet, if we begin to act now. We must rally, especially young people, to put pressure on our governments… We must be jolted into recognizing the remarkable world we inherited from our elders, and our obligation to preserve the planet for future generations. ” – James Hansen,