In the discussion thread: Stewart Brand: Why Environmentalists Must Accept Nuclear [View all]
Response to wtmusic (Reply #27)
Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:09 AM
GliderGuider (17,087 posts)
28. I'll make a strong claim for the simplicity of this framework.
Last edited Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:16 AM - Edit history (3)
IMO this theory is a foundation that supports all of human history - all the major and most of the minor historical events for the last 10,000 years - with one principle (Odum's Maximum Power principle) and a single corollary (Harris' Primacy of Infrastructure). That seems more like parsimony than complexity to me.
Of course, for me the fundamental question I ask about the world is "Why?" Why is the current state of affairs what it is? Why are things heading in the direction they appear to be? Why can't we seem to do anything to change our course, to make GlobCiv 1.0 a more humane place to live? This theory answers precisely those questions.
Unfortunately, in doing so it steps radically outside the humanist worldview that has developed over the last two hundred years, that we all ascribe to. That entrenched worldview makes this theory a hard sell. It flies in the face of all the stories we've told ourselves about who we are, all the ideas we have used to give our lives meaning. As a result, it's uncomfortably dissonant with the way most people view the world - which may be the source of your comment, "We're simply not as helpless as you think we are." That's a classic humanist protest.
The framework does not imply that "the CO2 output of the US would have gone up as the economic growth has returned in the last few years". First of all, the worth of GDP as a measure of "economic growth" has been buggered beyond repair by the flim-flam artists of Wall Street. It's loose definition lets them count all kinds of leverage, debt accumulation and asset destruction as "growth". When you look deeper, at the manufacturing numbers, between 2005 and 2010 China's manufacturing output increased about 70%, while America's declined by 1.2% and the EU went down almost 9% according to World Bank figures. This completely agrees with the MPP, which implies that energy will always flow to the place in the global system that can make the most use of it. So the energy has flowed to China and its growing energy-intensive production, and away from the US and the EU, whose production is losing steam. QED.
Something I haven't addressed yet in most of my public posts on this theory is where it leaves the question of human values. I recently said that Gandhi's dictum, "Become the change you wish to see in the world" is absolutely correct - as far as it goes. I think he left out one important caveat - "Because in the end all you can change is yourself."
I was challenged on this, with the observation that Gandhi created enormous change. My response was that Gandhi indeed created enormous change, but only at the levels of values and some social institutions - the superstructure and structure of society. He had no impact on the level of India's use of resource technologies, or on their progress in using more and more energy and raw materials to become a more materially "successful" society - or on their birth rate. In other words, he had virtually no impact on the level of the infrastructure.
The same can be said about all the other great social leaders of history, from Mandela and MLK all the way back to the Christ and the Buddha. All of them created enormous change in the human world of values, and some of them caused some changes in social institutions, but they had virtually no influence on the course of development of our infrastructure.
That doesn't mean their lives were useless - far from it. People have to live in the world, and get along, and find meaning in their lives. Their great teachings have enormous value for that. But my position is that we shouldn't expect even revolutionary changes in those areas of life to affect the way we use energy or metals, or to bring down birth rates. Those things are governed by our infrastructure - the technology we use to interface with the natural world we live in - and that aspect of human development appears to be remarkably impervious to purely human dreams. We humanists may not like that, but that's what 10,000 years of history shows.
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|phantom power||Feb 2013||#3|
|diane in sf||Feb 2013||#20|
I'll make a strong claim for the simplicity of this framework.
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