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1 Political Atheist  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 6:15:00pm


2 freetoken  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 6:25:44pm

From the list of abstracts:


CONTROL ID: 1503122
TITLE: Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism (Invited)
INSTITUTIONS (ALL): 1. Complex Systems Laboratory 0225, University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States.
ABSTRACT BODY: Environmental challenges are dynamically generated within the dominant global culture principally by the mismatch between short-time-scale market and political forces driving resource extraction/use and longer-time-scale accommodations of the Earth system to these changes. Increasing resource demand is leading to the development of two-way, nonlinear interactions between human societies and environmental systems that are becoming global in extent, either through globalized markets and other institutions or through coupling to global environmental systems such as climate. These trends are further intensified by dissipation-reducing technological advances in transactions, communication and transport, which suppress emergence of longer-time-scale economic and political levels of description and facilitate long-distance connections, and by predictive environmental modeling, which strengthens human connections to a short-time-scale virtual Earth, and weakens connections to the longer time scales of the actual Earth.

Environmental management seeks to steer fast scale economic and political interests of a coupled human-environmental system towards longer-time-scale consideration of benefits and costs by operating within the confines of the dominant culture using a linear, engineering-type connection to the system. Perhaps as evidenced by widespread inability to meaningfully address such global environmental challenges as climate change and soil degradation, nonlinear connections reduce the ability of managers to operate outside coupled human-environmental systems, decreasing their effectiveness in steering towards sustainable interactions and resulting in managers slaved to short-to-intermediate-term interests. In sum, the dynamics of the global coupled human-environmental system within the dominant culture precludes management for stable, sustainable pathways and promotes instability.

Environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups, increases dissipation within the coupled system over fast to intermediate scales and pushes for changes in the dominant culture that favor transition to a stable, sustainable attractor.


3 freetoken  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 6:26:27pm

These dynamical relationships are illustrated and explored using a numerical model that simulates the short-, intermediate- and long-time-scale dynamics of the coupled human-environmental system. At fast scales, economic and political interests exploit environmental resources through a maze of environmental management and resistance, guided by virtual Earth predictions. At intermediate scales, managers become slaved to economic and political interests, which adapt to and repress resistance, and resistance is guided by patterns of environmental destruction. At slow scales, resistance interacts with the cultural context, which co-evolves with the environment. The transition from unstable dynamics to sustainability is sensitively dependent on the level of participation in and repression of resistance. Because of their differing impact inside and outside the dominant culture, virtual Earth predictions can either promote or oppose sustainability.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, Geomorphology and Land Use Dynamics Program.

KEYWORDS: [4430] NONLINEAR GEOPHYSICS / Complex systems, [6620] PUBLIC ISSUES / Science policy, [1834] HYDROLOGY / Human impacts, [0510] COMPUTATIONAL GEOPHYSICS / Agent-based models.
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4 freetoken  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 6:37:41pm

The AGU is recording their lectures. The one in question is in this video:

Starts at 24:30

5 freetoken  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 6:49:44pm

I've only watched part of the video, but I see where he claims he's not a social scientist... but then his presentation is indeed mostly what one would describe as sociology.

Perhaps if a practicing sociologist would have presented the topic it would have had more "there there". As it currently stands the presentation doesn't appear to have much substance.

From a biological view our species is just transitory on this planet, and we know from anthropology that previous Hominini species last on the order of 10^5 or 10^6 years.

All of our "economics" are based upon agriculture, an invention from around circa 10,000 years ago. Through this invention we've greatly increased our numbers and thus our effects upon the rest of the planet.

It is unlikely, IMO, that any geophysical model can really include any detailed analysis of the human system, as even the best economists struggle with the most simple of system models of us.

6 EPR-radar  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 7:49:22pm

Actually I disagree with the title. We are not looking at an "Earth is fucked" situation as a result of human stupidity (i.e., short term thinking, profits uber alles, etc.).

We are looking at a "Humanity is fucked" situation.

7 Political Atheist  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 7:53:11pm

re: #6 EPR-radar

I would agree, but for the species we take down with us.

8 EPR-radar  Fri, Dec 7, 2012 7:57:36pm

re: #7 Political Atheist

I would agree, but for the species we take down with us.

I agree that the collateral damage from our actions is a real problem.

However, when appealing to centrists, right-leaning types, etc. I prefer to avoid anything resembling "tree-hugging" arguments and focus on "Let's not shit the bed" arguments.

And, to be a total pedant, Venus is a perfectly fine planet that happens to be incompatible with life as we know it. So nothing we can do to the Earth is going to fundamentally affect the planet.

9 lostlakehiker  Sat, Dec 8, 2012 1:57:06am

re: #8 EPR-radar

I agree that the collateral damage from our actions is a real problem.

However, when appealing to centrists, right-leaning types, etc. I prefer to avoid anything resembling "tree-hugging" arguments and focus on "Let's not shit the bed" arguments.

And, to be a total pedant, Venus is a perfectly fine planet that happens to be incompatible with life as we know it. So nothing we can do to the Earth is going to fundamentally affect the planet.

Yes. What's good for the planet is kind of an empty concept, and certainly nothing that will inspire many other humans to action. The argument has to be put in terms of "what's good for me and mine"? Here, if you think about it, time is a lot deeper than it looks at first sight.

Suppose, just to make up an example, there was a way to steer the earth and sun like a spaceship, and we could maneuver next to an enormous black hole that had all sorts of asteroids made of solid gold. Imagine we could capture these. But we, in turn, would be captured by the black hole. In ten thousand years, it would destroy us. But RIGHT NOW, maneuvering in to grab the gold would put us past the point of no return.

Would people really go for the gold? I doubt it. Even old people have relatives who are younger, or friends. All of today's young people will have to bear at least the leading edge of this storm we've conjured. And they will care about their children, who will bear the brunt of it.

Now higher CO2 levels aren't the same as dropping the earth into an incinerator that simply has a long fall to the flames. But the analogy is not too far off. We have, I judge, already crossed the point of no return when it comes to a major melt of the Greenland ice cap. The earth may not be fucked, but Rotterdam, NYC, Shanghai, Tokyo, LA, etc. etc. are. Not to mention Venice and New Orleans. All these cities will be under siege within a century or two. The most vulnerable will have been abandoned within this century, either as a precaution, or in the aftermath of a storm that killed tens of thousands.(Millions?) Right now, the net present value of real estate in those cities is seriously reduced from what most people seem to think it is. Building skyscrapers there, and building them to stand for centuries, is a fool's errand.

In the same way, consider farmland in Alabama or Texas. Buh-bye. It's going to be too hot there for growing anything but maybe sorghum or taro. And too dry in most of Texas. Then, kiss off Kansas and Iowa. True, Canada and Siberia will warm, but those places don't get as much sunlight and sunlight is the energy that drives crop growth. Square mile for square mile, northern croplands aren't a fair trade.

We are inventive, courageous, adaptable. We'll develop the wind/solar/nuclear tech we need, we'll adapt, and we'll come through chastened but stronger and better organized for the long haul. Capitalism will provide us the organizational scheme that gets this stuff built. The model can be what the US did in WW2. Set a goal and point the private economy at it.

Taxes on carbon based fuel can be the tool that sets the goal. It's not the best idea to set those taxes real high to start with; we need to improve our wind/solar tech before we go all in on building it. Right now, we can accomplish more for the same cost by improving the energy efficiency of our economy, and by pushing the R&D pace on wind and solar. And we have to get over our nuclear phobia. Nuclear energy can be part of the mix, and it's more nearly ready to go right now.

10 Obdicut  Sat, Dec 8, 2012 2:44:34am

re: #9 lostlakehiker

Capitalism will provide us the organizational scheme that gets this stuff built. The model can be what the US did in WW2. Set a goal and point the private economy at it.

That's pretty much a big jumble right there. When it's the central government commanding it, it's a command economy, it's not capitalism-- except insofar as those who control the capital of those companies will profit. But it's not the private economy.

Capitalism has completely failed in addressing AGW, as was easily predictable. Only communal, collective action can work.

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