We can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. A carbon-based, market-driven economy can work, but it will look quite different than the growth-based capitalism we are used to. Cooperation and collaboration must replace competition.
At Every Level, Global to Personal. Nations are currently the highest level of political and governmental organizations. The current problem is that nations think nationalistically, not globally. Humans are the only species to have political boundaries.”
Utopia is not certain, but is a true possibility. It can be reached if we think, coordinate and act with an all-inclusive systems approach.
Oblivion as manifested by a collapse of civilization will happen if we do not take urgent action to move to a Finite Earth Economy. We must ALL become active crew members on Spaceship Earth.
Strategic Retreat: It is the planned and managed relocation of millions of people triggered by extreme weather, droughts, floods and Sea Level Rise [SLR]. It is impossible to determine exactly the number of people who will be forced to migrate due to climate change. most of the large cities threatened by SLR are in Asia. There will be tens of millions of people forced to move due to SLR. Where will they go? Will there be compensation for the lost value of their coastal homes? Who will pay for their resettlement? Insurance companies (especially reinsurers) have seen this coming for decades. Will they pick up the tab? Will the state or federal governments? Hardly likely. On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. Since there has never been a refugee problem due to climate change, it has not been incorporated into legal definitions. All refugee laws (national and international) must be rewritten. Climate refugees and strategic retreat are an opportunity for global compassion, collaboration and cooperation. Humanity must start to discuss, strategize and plan for the coming migration of over 100 million people in the next 30 years. Humanity must face and accept that extreme weather is the new norm, and take action to manage the risks. Humanity must accept that Sea Level Rise is occurring and should plan for it, budget for it, and construct infrastructure to manage it.
Population and Family Planning: population growth and climate change are two sides of the same coin Having one fewer child will save 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. “Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle.” To keep a population at a constant number, the replacement rate requires an average birth rate of 2.1 children per woman. The developed countries are mostly under this 2.1 number and countries in Africa and Asia are mostly above. Empowering and educating women is a primary area of focus in our move to a Finite Earth Economy Women should have the full say on how many children to have. Africa and Asia represent the biggest challenge (and largest opportunity) for population planning. Overpopulation causes more suffering than population planning.
Nation States: The benefit of this Fee and Dividend is that it is a financial redistribution from those that create carbon emissions to the citizens of the country. It has been estimated that the $40/ton fee will generate an annual dividend of approximately $2,000 for each family of four. The dividend offsets the increased cost consumers will pay at the pump and elsewhere. it could replace tariffs. A key principle is to tax the behaviors we want less of.
Tax what is bad. all currently tax-exempt entities such as religious groups and nonprofits must pay some discounted rate based upon their carbon footprint. Nonprofits don’t get taxed today because they exist in a profit-based economy. In a Finite Earth Economy, taxes are based on GHG emissions. The “nonprofit” will change to “non-carbon”. In the Population chapter we showed that the decision to have a child is the single most impactful carbon emissions decision a family can make. Given that 2.1 children per child-bearing woman is the replacement rate, there is a $20,000 one-time carbon fee due for child number three and any subsequent child.
it is a good time to create a non-military national service. Every country can create some form of national service that confronts climate change issues. The economic and other benefits of these Crews could solve multiple social and economic problems. We use US metrics here: Everyone gets paid $15 an hour. These mandatory service crews will largely be comprised of people who are 18 to 24 years old. Unemployed older citizens will be offered an employment opportunity if they choose to take it. For every year worked (minimum two years), each crew member would get a $10,000 credit for higher education, to be used within 5 years. This addresses the horribly high costs of college and universities. This benefit would be capped at $50,000 for five years. Widely implemented, this will create a national spirit of collaboration and cooperation… all working toward the common good. Different countries will have different agendas.
Corporations: as governments reach their limits of functionality and authority, corporations can step into the void. They (due to their size, resources and talents), will be leaders in the move to a Finite Earth Economy. They are often large GHG emitters. Their emissions must be cut drastically and eliminated altogether within a couple of decades. The move from monetary growth measurement to emissions reduction measurement will be the most difficult to undertake. between now and 2030, no growth in sales is the new target. Again, a difficult cultural and mind set transition. They will now need to promote non-consumption. Note to those that think ‘big bad corporations don’t care’ about climate change and their responsibility in helping to create it: this is why we must move to a carbon emissions/carbon footprint tax base. We will be moving from a focus on shareholders to a focus on stakeholders. Selling with the new metrics of the Finite Earth Economy creates an entirely new sense of collaboration between seller and buyer, between company and customers. advertising and marketing are in direct conflict with saving civilization.
States and Provinces: Make it clear to all state employees and citizens that we have entered a new age – The Age of Climate Change. And we must all evolve our mindsets from being passive passengers to active crew members on Spaceship Earth. Levy a purchase tax on all internal combustion engine vehicles. Based not on cost, but upon miles per gallon which convert to carbon emissions. Inform state residents that in the near future (establish a date), highway lanes will be allocated to encourage EVs. Some states and provinces have a personal income tax. These states would move from an income tax to a carbon footprint tax. States and provinces could provide trees to plant at a nominal cost. These would be the types of trees that survive best in the state’s climate and also absorb the greatest amount of CO2. Distributed energy is more resilient to natural disasters. States can provide a tax credit for the installation of “grey water” systems in homes and businesses. Grey water is water that has been used more than once. Fresh water is supplied to a home or business. Allow citizens and businesses to capture rainwater. Perhaps lawn could be allowed IF they are irrigated using a grey water system. The energy source and carbon footprint for all buildings must be transparent to city and state authorities (as well as the property owners).
Cities: Cities are the future of humanity. It was in 2013 that, for the first time, more than 50% of all humanity lived in an urban setting. That number is now 54%. Almost every population forecast increases that to 70% by sometime in the 2040s. Cities are where the majority of humanity lives. They also can move more quickly than states and nations, so they must lead the other levels of government to a Finite Earth Economy. Every year an increasing percentage of humans will live in cities. Megacities – those with more than 10 million people – will grow in number, and will increasingly be where human culture and commerce occur. There are a number of ways that city governance can trigger change and they all must be considered. What they do and how they do it will vary by location, climate and size of the city.
Personal – Becoming Crew: Every dollar we spend is a vote:
We are voting for where our food is produced – if it must be transported long distances, or is locally and organically grown.
We are voting for the ingredients that comprise each product we buy – are they toxic chemicals or non-biodegradable plastics?
We are voting for how much waste is generated in the manufacture of each product.
We are voting for the entire impact the product will have throughout its useful life and after it’s disposed of.
Think before you buy. Do you really need a new sweater? How many are sitting in your dresser drawer? Is your urge for a new sweater prompted by a need to stay warm, or is it because your sweater is no longer in style? “Fast fashion” is a major contributor to global warming. The fashion industry was responsible for 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2015. Buy quality over quantity. Have two sweaters in that dresser drawer instead of six.
Neighborhood: Alternative Transportation Challenge, Bike and Transit Buddy Programs, Bulk Energy Purchasing, Bulk Food Buying Clubs, Clean Up and Recycling Event, Community Composting, Community Vegetable Gardens, Neighborhood Green Business Agreements, Neighborhood Tool & Resource Sharing Programs, Neighborhood Tree Planting, Weatherization Teams
“It isn’t enough to do our best, sometimes we have to do what is required.” – Winston Churchill
Saving Civilization: Darwin suggested in his 1859 book “The Origin of Species” that in the 5,000 years prior, evolution had accelerated. This was due to the creation of civilization, religion, laws, government, culture, language, education and, of course, commerce. Evolutionary biologists have argued that from 1859 to the early part of the 21st century, in 150 years, humanity has achieved a leap of evolution rivalling the prior 5,000 years.
Today with the unfolding of big data, machine learning, global connectivity and accelerating breakthroughs in medicine, energy and Brain Machine Interface (BMI), we might well achieve another evolutionary leap by the year 2050 or 2060. We are ever accelerating, ever growing in complexity and functionality. Unfortunately, as we stand on this evolutionary threshold, we also are facing a global climate crisis. Every prior apex species has collapsed. Most for the same reasons… as byproducts of their success. They died out from overpopulation and resource depletion.
The 6th Extinction Event is well underway. It is of our own making. 200 years ago, there were one billion people on earth. Today we are almost eight times as many. Yet the Earth and its finite resources has not expanded. Living in growth economies, with ever more people, has now run its course, and is the cause of what we must now face, together. To ensure that our species has a chance to take the next evolutionary step, we must face this climate crisis with urgency.
Loosely speaking, Capitalism is now degrading Democracy. It is hard to think of an existing Democracy that has not been corrupted by money. Wealth inequality is putting both Capitalism and Democracy at risk. The endless pursuit of growth has hit the wall of a finite planet. It is truly time to let go of the status quo. Business as usual is killing us. We need to create a new form of capitalism that will put humanity, all living things and earth first.
Urgency is the state we must move to. The cost of not rising to this challenge is an uninhabitable home – for us, our progeny, and most other life on the planet. We must accept the reality that global warming is accelerating faster than expected.
In the U.S., a large part of the Defense budget is reallocated to the development of technologies to address climate change. The Pentagon determined that this expenditure was more effective in increasing safety and stability than the purchase of more advanced weaponry.
Asimov concluded with… “In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation. Convenience and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual matters.”