Overpopulation has been an on-and-off issue for many decades. With the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb in 1971, the issue came to a head…for a while. Then, with the apparent hopelessness of controlling population growth through public policy, few talked much about it for several decades. The idea of population control languished, … More Is the Over-Population Crisis a Non-Starter?
Many thoughtful comments by knowledgeable critics of COP27 and even institutional actors who recognize the climate crisis but fail to take serious climate action, reflect one fundamental underlying dilemma. Great ideas mean nothing unless converted into action. I am often amazed by the superficial clarity of statements of what must be done to avert or … More Global Triage: How to Optimize Opportunity While Mitigating Madness and Risk
“Risk on” and “Risk Off” are terms heard among stock market traders, analysts, and investment advisors. They indicate whether the speaker feels that risk is high or low for investing in markets or in a particular stock. Risk is always a matter of degree, except under conditions of certainty—and when does that happen? Yet, “risk … More Risk On Risk Off: Likely or Unlikely, Catastrophic or Not
All the policy talk around the “climate emergency” is either technical with reference to the effects of carbon pollution, emissions-reduction goals, or political with reference to cost, employment, or other policy matters. But the predicament we face in confronting the climate emergency is far greater and more complex than usually imagined. Public climate-change policy leaders … More It’s Not Just About Climate: The New Great Transformation is a Total Existential Threat and Opportunity
Yes, we do live in interesting times, which does not mean that we understand very well our place on time’s arrow. We pine for an idyllic past, misinterpret what is going on right now, and imagine a utopian future that cannot be. If only the experts will come up with impossible new technologies and materials … More Past Perfect, Present Imperfect, and Future Extreme
The global corporate economy of perpetually growing extraction, production, consumption, and waste, has already produced far too much. It has done so for a very long time, with increasingly inequitable distribution. Consumption and waste not only exhaust non-renewable resources; they contaminate the complex adaptive living systems we call ecosystems, that is, our habitats. The only … More To Transform Society for Survival, We Must Liberate Ourselves from the Endless Growth Economy
In a number of posts, I have discussed various social illusions such as the idea that the extractive industrial consumer economy could just keep growing permanently, as so many economists implicitly insist. That deeply flawed illusion rests on some equally defective assumptions. Many people also believe that as industrial materials reach a state of depletion … More Let’s Get Real: What is Sustainable in Markets, the Biosphere, and Society?
Sustainable This, Sustainable That; Green This, Green That. What exactly is the point? The “sustainability” meme seems to have gone culturally viral. Promoters use it to give any action or proposal at all a sheen of environmental respectability. But what does it actually mean? I am afraid that “sustainability” has come to mean nothing at … More The Sustainability Conundrum
Free Trade, Fair Trade, Tariffs, Trade Wars, and all such matters reflect a complex of political-economic issues that will soon become mostly irrelevant. Yet pundits persistently pontificate on their putative principles and pitfalls – within the bubble of business-as-usual. The problem is that all the parties disputing matters of international trade envision the future as … More Some Right Things Done in All the Wrong Ways for All the Wrong Reasons
It is always unnerving yet comfortably familiar to fly into LAX. I will need to do so again in a month or so. The vast urban landscape from Palm Springs westward to the Pacific shore is amazing to behold, if you really look at it. For about 125 miles, the mostly low-lying “built environment” stretches … More Over the Ultimate City: To Live or Die in L.A.