An Ecomodernist Manifesto: intensify to spare nature

Brave New Climate

Originally published here on The Conversation.


Earth is now a human planet. Our species uses of a large proportion of its land-surface area for living space, agriculture and mining. We domesticate and transport a multiplicity of plant and animal species across continents. We sequester and divert freshwater.

We heavily exploit the world’s plants, animals and ecosystems, including the oceans. We are altering the atmosphere and changing the climate.

So if humanity wants to preserve “wild nature” forever, it seems reasonable to argue that we must pursue policies and actions to reverse these drivers of global change. This argument has been a cornerstone of environmental advocacy for decades.

This view motivates concern for the “population bomb” and “limits to growth”, and underpins ideas involving the transition of consumer societies to simpler, ecologically sustainable cooperatives.

In a newly released thesis, “An Ecomodernist Manifesto

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On the brink of WWI overload – Opinion| Stuff.co.nz

ALASTAIR PAULIN, Opinion.

“The story we tell ourselves about Gallipoli is that the Anzac forces fought bravely in terrible conditions, and in doing so, established a reputation of which we should be proud. And so we should. But the other part of the story that is buried under millions of symbolic poppies is that those soldiers fought for nothing. The campaign was abandoned, the surviving soldiers evacuated, and in strategic terms, the deaths of 2779 New Zealanders and more than 8700 Australians, among Allied deaths of 44,000 and 87,000 from the Ottoman Empire, made barely any difference to the war’s outcome…

via – ipad-editors-picks | Stuff.co.nz.

China does not support rogue African states, it creates them —new study says | Mail & Guardian Africa (Mobile edition)

WITH China’s flagship event showcasing how its influence has grown in Africa set for the continent this year, the focus will inevitably be on the amount of new aid and loans Beijing dangles at the continent.

The last summit of the triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) saw president Hu Jintao put on the table $20 billion in loans to African countries, doubling its previous offer.

As bilateral trade volumes have grown, Beijing will be expected to offer billions more at this year’s forum in South Africa, despite its domestic economy having cooled in recent months.

However, Africa can also expect to witness notably more incidences of state-sponsored domestic violence, both against civilians and competitors such as rebel groups, as Chinese aid increases, a new study shows.

Authors Roudabeh Kishi and Clionadh Raleigh, of the University of Sussex’s Department of Geography, say this effect is largely because aid from China is fungible, with its use determined by recipient countries.

Their working paper, titled Chinese Aid and Africa’s Pariah States, finds that political violence by the state increases with receipt of Chinese aid.

The same is not observed with aid from ‘traditional’ or Western donors, which comes tagged with conditions.

via China does not support rogue African states, it creates them —new study says | Mail & Guardian Africa (Mobile edition).

Our Public Water Future: New book on the remunicipalisation of water

the anthropo.scene

coverwaterFrom the book launch website:

The book is launched in the run-up to the World Water Forum in South Korea (12-17 April) and comes in the wake of Jakarta’s decision in March 2015 to annul its privatised water contracts citing the violation of the 9.9 million residents’ human right to water.

This is the largest remunicipalisation in the world, suggesting that water privatisation is running out of steam and the pendulum is swinging back in favour of a reinvigorated, accountable and sustainable public control of water.

The TNI book is co-published jointly with Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), Multinationals Observatory, European Public Services Union (EPSU) and the Municipal Services Project (MSP).

Key findings of the book

Water remunicipalisation refers to the return of previously privatised water supply and sanitation services to municipal authorities, and is also broadly used to refer to regional and national-level services in some cases.

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European Commission agrees to use social progress tool alongside GDP | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

Reposted from the Guardian.

In a breakthrough for campaigners seeking a more holistic approach to measuring the health of nations, the European Commission has committed to integrating social and environmental considerations into the heart of its economic decision making.

The EC’s director general of regional and urban policy, Walter Deffaa, has agreed to use the Social Progress Index (SPI), which enables countries to evaluate how effectively they translate economic success into social progress, as a key tool in deciding how to allocate €63.4bn to deprived regions in the European Union.

Focusing on GDP growth fails to account for the value of nature

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The index uses 52 indicators ranging from healthcare and housing to ecosystem sustainability and freedom from discrimination.

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An EC spokesman said: “Going beyond GDP is a longstanding interest of the Commission services. Through this work we hope to understand where GDP is a poor proxy for a region’s quality of life or its social progress.”

While it is no easy task to create an SPI for all 272 regions in 28 European countries, the EC says the ability for different countries to share knowledge on socially innovative policies “was identified as a key demand arising from policymakers”.

Harvard professor Michael Porter, the creator of the concept of shared value, created the index in 2013, arguing it made no sense to be measuring success purely on the idea of growth at a time when countries are facing massive social upheavals.

Rather than seeking to integrate wellbeing and happiness into the economic agenda, the SPI looks only at social and environmental considerations and therefore gives them authority in their own right, enabling them to be compared and contrasted with traditional economic measures.

via European Commission agrees to use social progress tool alongside GDP | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian.

California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth – NYTimes.com

APRIL 4, 2015

LOS ANGELES — For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty. It was the cutting-edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards.

But now a punishing drought — and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption — is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature.

The 25 percent cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises fundamental questions about what life in California will be like in the years ahead, and even whether this state faces the prospect of people leaving for wetter climates — assuming, as Mr. Brown and other state leaders do, that this marks a permanent change in the climate, rather than a particularly severe cyclical drought.

This state has survived many a catastrophe before — and defied the doomsayers who have regularly proclaimed the death of the California dream — as it emerged, often stronger, from the challenges of earthquakes, an energy crisis and, most recently, a budgetary collapse that forced years of devastating cuts in spending. These days, the economy is thriving, the population is growing, the state budget is in surplus, and development is exploding from Silicon Valley to San Diego; the evidence of it can be seen in the construction cranes dotting the skylines of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But even California’s biggest advocates are wondering if the severity of this drought, now in its fourth year, is going to force a change in the way the state does business.

Can Los Angeles continue to dominate as the country’s capital of entertainment and glamour, and Silicon Valley as the center of high tech, if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists worry about coming? Will businesses continue their expansion in places like San Francisco and Venice?

Continue reading the main story

via California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth – NYTimes.com.

13,800-year-old Haida site found underwater in Canada | Ancient Origins

Estimates of people’s presence in the Americas have ranged from about 12,000 to 50,000 years. A new study by a team of archaeologists that has been researching the subject, has found a site dating back 13,800 years, now underwater in the Juan Perez Sound off British Columbia in Canada.

The underwater area they examined was once dry land, inhabited by the Haida people. The Haida have an old flood tale on Frederick Island that tells of how the peoples became dispersed in the New World.  Frederick Island is a different site than the one recently studied.

The team, led by archaeologist Quentin Mackie of the University of Victoria, found the site this past September near the Haida Gwaii Archipelago. They found a fishing weir, a stone channel structure that was probably used to catch salmon, the CBC reports.

via 13,800-year-old Haida site found underwater in Canada | Ancient Origins.

“The Fuse is Blown”. Glaciologist’s Jaw Dropping Account of a Shattering Moment

Indeed it is. Blown.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

If you’ve missed the other segments of our interview with Glaciologist Eric Rignot – do not, repeat, do not, miss this one.

Rignot was a co-author of the “holy shit moment” paper from last spring, showing that large areas of the West Antarctic Ice sheet are now in “irreversible decline”.
That news made for one of my most harrowing videos of the last year, which you can, and should view if you have not – below the fold.

I’m keeping these clips from our interviews minimally edited – I want the raw video to speak for itself to current readers, and to historians, who will undoubtedly understand all too well why we were peeling our jaws off the floor after this one.

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