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'Save the planet', science leaders urge G8 governments - Comments

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 1 by Premiseless

Unless the preservation of our natural worlds key components becomes a market force, it will continue to be eroded and down spiral future generations into unrecoverable indebtedness for our present costly and often head in the sand consumerisms.

Tens of thousands of years of ecology are being erased within decades, as an exponential function of "civilized communities".

Can science supply low cost equivalent quality substitutes to all our indulgences?

The game is on. Right now the future is the loser.

Find me a place where the ancient and natural world is having percentage growth year on year. The figures don't look sexy!

Fri, 11 May 2012 14:13:55 UTC | #941024

Sample's Avatar Comment 2 by Sample

"In the long term, the pressing concerns are managing the environment in a way that assures that future generations have a quality of life that's at least as equivalent to the quality of life we enjoy today."

I don't think Liberians and Somalians will jump for joy with that assurance.

Mike

Fri, 11 May 2012 15:17:24 UTC | #941032

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat

and the text from their statements has ended up in the final summit communiques.

......which are usually all just hot air, if you'll excuse the pun. I don't detect any true sense of urgency when it comes to putting those words into actions.

To give but one example. Why are gas and electricity tariffs in the UK the reverse of what they ought to be ? There is a higher rate charged for usage up to a certain level.....above which it becomes cheaper. From a green standpoint this is ass backwards......as people should be getting charged more for high usage, not less. Those with the lowest usage are actually paying the highest prices per unit. What kind of incentive is that to use less ?

Fri, 11 May 2012 16:49:25 UTC | #941047

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 4 by ColdThinker

Comment 2 by Sample :

"In the long term, the pressing concerns are managing the environment in a way that assures that future generations have a quality of life that's at least as equivalent to the quality of life we enjoy today."

I don't think Liberians and Somalians will jump for joy with that assurance.

Mike

Well, if you look at the worst case scenarios, any hell hole on Earth today is a paradise compared to the cataclysmic future they predict. But who cares as long as a few US republicans stay rich until that.

Fri, 11 May 2012 17:03:32 UTC | #941049

Sample's Avatar Comment 5 by Sample

ColdThinker,

I want to clarify that I am not against the idyllic intentions of the conference. I hope much good comes from it. However, we all know that there is no evidence this planet can support 9 billion humans with the lifestyle otherwise known as financially secure.

Mike

Fri, 11 May 2012 17:37:15 UTC | #941054

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat

To give but one example. Why are gas and electricity tariffs in the UK the reverse of what they ought to be ? There is a higher rate charged for usage up to a certain level.....above which it becomes cheaper. From a green standpoint this is ass backwards......as people should be getting charged more for high usage, not less. Those with the lowest usage are actually paying the highest prices per unit. What kind of incentive is that to use less ?

There is a very simple reason for that. The companies factor in the cost of the gas pipes and power-lines, which they have to install & maintain whether customers use them or not! Beyond a certain point they have covered these costs, so they can supply further energy for less per unit.

Fri, 11 May 2012 19:20:58 UTC | #941070

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 7 by glenister_m

Reminds me of James Burke's "After the Warming" special, in which he pretended to be living in the future (after global warming was undeniable), looking back at how things had changed at the end of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st Century.

One particular scene was how over and over again from the 1980's onward was a "call to action" to get the 1st world countries to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce the amount of CO2 they were dumping into the atmosphere. Of course nothing was done...so here we have yet another one.

Fri, 11 May 2012 19:25:51 UTC | #941071

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 8 by ColdThinker

Comment 5 by Sample :

However, we all know that there is no evidence this planet can support 9 billion humans with the lifestyle otherwise known as financially secure.

Mike

This is very true. I'd like to be an optimist, but find it very hard. Sadly, the structure of our market economy focuses on an easy numerical measure called the standard of living, not on a hazy idea called the quality of life. I believe it could theoretically be possible to create a global society with a high quality of life for even such a high number of people, but our species is not wired to plan that far ahead.

Fri, 11 May 2012 20:00:36 UTC | #941078

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

David Cameron of the of the "Greenest Government Ever" electioneering promise, has just had his energy secretary support the dangerous and polluting process of gas fracking, on the grounds that it will provide "cheap energy" - (undercutting the prices of sustainable power-generation systems).

  • Clearly meriting a "Muppet of the Month award"!
  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/17/shale-gas-fracking-uk Shale has changed the equation. Abundant, relatively low-priced supplies now make natural gas a highly competitive alternative to both nuclear and wind power and even to coal generation. It has the added advantage of being relatively low-carbon. - Energy commentator Daniel Yergin

    Err! Low carbon but ONLY RELATIVE TO COAL & OIL, BUT ALSO HIGH ON METHANE LEAKS.

    Cuadrilla Resources claims to have found vast reserves at its site near Blackpool.

    But as fracking sites have multiplied so have the controversies. A 2010 film showed people near one US site setting tap water on fire and in 2012 a whistleblower claimed fracking could poison New York's drinking water. Meanwhile, Cuadrilla's UK operation was put on hold after causing tremors (tiny earthquakes), but a report by the UK government's advisers published in April 2012 gave the green light to fracking despite acknowledging the link between the process and 2011's earthquakes.

    "Let me be clear: hydraulic fracturing as it's practised today will contaminate our aquifers. Not might contaminate our aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing will contaminate New York's aquifers." Paul Hetzler, ex-staffer at an agency responsible for regulating fracking

  • Gas produces CO2 when burned but less than coal or oil
  • The industry claims shale gas could therefore reduce emissions
  • Green groups say shale gas may be as bad as coal

  • At the global level … where there is currently no carbon constraint, the exploitation of shale gas will most likely lead to increased energy use and increased emissions. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

  • This ex-labour minister is no better with his vague fanciful "requirements"!

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17987356 - And last month a government-named panel of experts produced a report that said fracking should continue, but under strict conditions.

    But fracking has been blamed for the pollution of underground and surface water supplies, as well as causing minor earthquakes.

    Lord Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he would not stand in the way of fracking in the UK, as long as certain requirements were met, arguing that "it could be part of the answer" to the UK's energy demands.

    The former Labour cabinet minister said the process was capable of causing environmental risks, but with careful monitoring these may be overcome.

    Wishful thinking! The mini-earthquakes, polluted drinking water, and methane leaks, have already been "monitored"! - But these clowns are not listening!

    Lord Smith said natural gas "has to be drawn out of the ground effectively and safely".

    He said that "means worrying about the way in which the drilling takes places, it means worrying about making sure the methane is captured rather than discharged to the air and it means making sure that none of the contaminated water gets into the ground water that sometimes can fill our water supplies".

    The process would have to be monitored and regulated "very rigorously", he said.

    ..and when the "monitoring" identifies polluted water and methane are leaking from miles and miles of shattered bedrock, then what? I recall it taking months to cap limited leaks from earlier oil and gas rig disasters, which were also allegedly regulated and "monitored"!

    "Whilst gas is better than coal in terms of its impact on greenhouse gases and climate change, nonetheless it's still a carbon intensive fuel," he said.

    He added that there was a need to for "carbon capture in storage for gas-fired power stations" to ensure that the carbon is not released into the atmosphere.

    Carbon Capture is a fanciful fudge and a sop to polluters. It is probably as polluting to ground water as fracking, and CO2 from the ground leaking into buildings or oceans would be a serious problem.

    He concluded that fracking "has to be done safely and we have to develop carbon capture in the storage to enable us to reduce the greenhouse gas impact that it will have".

    So there you have it! It's a dirty, dangerous polluting business which diverts resources away from sustainable power developments, but our "clever politicians" assure us it will be monitored and done "safely" and will reduce the release of greenhouse gasses a tiny bit!

    The Environment Agency chairman also gave his backing to nuclear power, saying "it has to be part of the overall landscape of the provision of energy".

    There is still a problem with the long-term nuclear waste storage, but the longer politicians prevaricate, the more we will need nuclear power as a stop-gap while renewables are established!

    Fri, 11 May 2012 23:33:09 UTC | #941104

    cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 10 by cheesedoff17

    If our worthy scientists imagine that because Merkozy have signed their statements something will be done, they will be disappointed.

    It is our politicians who have led us, despite our many many pleas, towards the environmental degradation of the entire planet and who continue to lead us into the economic black hole that is consuming Europe. Democracy has been perverted, our politicians are, for the most part, corrupt and should all be thrown out. Goldman Sachs and the Big Multi-Nationals are running and ruining the world.

    Sat, 12 May 2012 04:33:47 UTC | #941128

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 11 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 10 by cheesedoff17

    Goldman Sachs and the Big Multi-Nationals are running and ruining the world.

    With a bit of help from the likes of Faux News! Damn the planet! There are serious executive bonuses at stake here! - Priorities????!!! Austerity for the many! Luxury as a reward for greed and failure for the conspiring elite! ( Have you seen the millionaires luxury yachts in Greek etc. marinas?)

    Sat, 12 May 2012 09:54:40 UTC | #941165

    GPWC's Avatar Comment 12 by GPWC

    Was there nothing said about population?

    But in the shortish term, we have to break away from using GDP as the main indicator of economic health. Governments love GDP because they can easily and swiftly manipulate it upwards by borrowing and not have to worry about paying back as that will be someone else's problem. We need to see Governments cutting their spending dramatically to reduce consuption. As long as we job share the reduced and reducing jobs, then everyone will be in the same boat. But given the huge amount of waste which is endemic in Western economies, if we cut some of that out, we won't even suffer a drop in quality of life.

    Sat, 12 May 2012 16:11:06 UTC | #941199

    hhobbit's Avatar Comment 13 by hhobbit

    Millennial Christian theology is a prime suspect for environmental complacency explicit or implicit. Not that all religious are affected the same degree.

    Nevertheless I am thinking of changing my intellectual stance away from philosophy of secularism towards more active environmentalism for the sake of my grandchildren and their descendants. On a 100-200 year scale its more important and urgent. Population and hence consumption reduction matter more than things more purely intellectual.

    Its not out of the question that 40-50 years from today the most farsighted will think the mass obliteration, by whatever means achievable, moral or immoral, of 80%-90% of population is the least worst option.

    All the arguments against the morality of biblical genocide will then seem so trivial. Are humans smarter than bacteria in a jar? I don't really know the answer to that. On a very long timescale we do not understand or care that much about biological sustainability, but we, who care about lives not yet in existence, feel that need increasingly.

    I am an engineer, and I foresee the world will come to hate and curse our breed for having served consumerism and profligacy so well, even as they depend on science and technology for solutions. But engineers are not a sufficient source of political will to change. Indeed the very dangling of material goods before the eyes of mankind is what plays on our desires and hence actions to create the greatest tragedy of the commons, a tragedy not even imagined not to say acknowledged by all to many. If we cannot achieve change by consensus, or by social engineering, and that is a possibility, we face the unwholesome choice between painful catastrophe and dictatorial survivalism.

    We are only beginning to become aware of the Malthusian future awaiting the planet, we need the best brains allied with the best political wills to minimise the looming harm. My best motivation is founded on long term sustainablity and minimisation of total human suffering, both of those alive and yet to be born. What's yours? Please be smarter than me and not wait until you are a grandfather to think wider and longer.

    Sat, 12 May 2012 23:14:46 UTC | #941237

    quarecuss's Avatar Comment 14 by quarecuss

    Comment 13 by hhobbit

    Nevertheless I am thinking of changing my intellectual stance away from philosophy of secularism towards more active environmentalism for the sake of my grandchildren and their descendants.

    Maybe you should think of it this way. Environmentalism is a deepening and widening of secularism, not a separate "-ism" that you will change intellectual allegiance to. Science and reason are bedrocks of deep ecology. For me, atheism would feel like a negative intellectual stance were it not for a positive, enriching scientific environmentalism that both tries to understand and tries to conserve the natural world in all its Darwinian 'grandeur', a world that our grandchildren may see only in a degraded, impoverished form if we continue to ignore the warnings.

    Sun, 13 May 2012 14:35:27 UTC | #941286

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 15 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

    There is a very simple reason for that. The companies factor in the cost of the gas pipes and power-lines, which they have to install & maintain whether customers use them or not! Beyond a certain point they have covered these costs, so they can supply further energy for less per unit.

    I find the 'logic' behind that utterly bogus.....and the very antithesis of what makes for 'green' planning.

    What pays back the costs is ultimately the customers using the product. As gas and electricity tariffs currently stand, everyone pays an equal amount towards costs, in the form of a higher rate ( actually more than double the normal rate ) for the first xxx amount of units used. So, Joe Bloggs living on his own in a bedsit and using very little gas and electricity.....is actually paying the same 'costs' portion as Mr & Mrs Loadsakids living in a 15 bedroom mansion with the gas and electricity on full setting the entire day.

    If you consider that there's obviously an average cost for installing and supplying gas and electric to the neighbourhood......the reality is that taken as a portion of the total costs including fuel, the likes of Mr Bloggs are actually subsidising the heavy users. If anyone disagrees......consider that its actually no different to the argument of BT, for example, capping bandwidth usage for heavy users.

    It would be fairer....and more sound from a 'green' perspective, if the entire price of gas and electricity was based on actual usage. As it is, Mr Bloggs with his low usage is likely paying his entire bill at the higher rate ! His average price per kilowatt hour will be around 8 pence.......whereas Mr & Mrs Loadsakids will have an average price of around 4 pence per kilowatt hour. Those who use less are actually being charged a higher price !

    That is both economically unfair and environmentally insane. Far from there being any policies where people are encouraged to use less by paying less........people are actually encouraged to use more by paying less !

    What kind of a ludicrous environmental policy is it where the heaviest users actually get the cheapest overall unit price ??

    Sun, 13 May 2012 15:45:42 UTC | #941292

    hhobbit's Avatar Comment 16 by hhobbit

    I am not changing any allegiance, more a change of priority from secularism to environmentalism. I still think pursuit of truth is important! But a lot of atheism, the debunking part, is akin to (religious and philosophical) garbage collection and disposal, in an environmentally acceptable way of course:). But if you want to view human and environmental issues on a 100 to 200 year scale, our survival as a species in a decent environment is arguably a higher concern. Becoming a grandfather has that sort of effect I think.

    Comment 14 by quarecuss :

    Comment 13 by hhobbit

    Nevertheless I am thinking of changing my intellectual stance away from philosophy of secularism towards more active environmentalism for the sake of my grandchildren and their descendants.

    Maybe you should think of it this way. Environmentalism is a deepening and widening of secularism, not a separate "-ism" that you will change intellectual allegiance to. Science and reason are bedrocks of deep ecology. For me, atheism would feel like a negative intellectual stance were it not for a positive, enriching scientific environmentalism that both tries to understand and tries to conserve the natural world in all its Darwinian 'grandeur', a world that our grandchildren may see only in a degraded, impoverished form if we continue to ignore the warnings.

    Sun, 13 May 2012 17:58:54 UTC | #941302

    quarecuss's Avatar Comment 17 by quarecuss

    Comment 16 by hhobbit

    our survival as a species in a decent environment is arguably a higher concern. Becoming a grandfather has that sort of effect I think.

    Fully agree with the grandfather part. Having grandkids has made us look into the future and as Leonard Cohen sings, "It is murder!" I still think secularism/atheism underpins environmentalism because in the present we need to counter the fantasies our grandkids are fed which will make even their generation as skeptical of science as our generation and thus of climate change.

    But yes, let's tackle Isengard, Mordor and Mount Doom!

    Sun, 13 May 2012 19:56:56 UTC | #941307

    cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 18 by cheesedoff17

    Scientists have been issuing statements for seven years. No matter how politely their suggestions may be received, when push comes to shove, our politicians always give way to the Multi Nationals, or the Banks or the Petrochemical/Pharmaceutical Industries. If our grandchildren are to have any future at all, we have to change the entire outdated system. It's absurd that the lives of millions are left in the hands of a few. Look at the sad face Europe now due to being led by the deaf to reason and the blind to the facts.

    Scientists, Help, Help, get off your butts!

    Sun, 13 May 2012 21:19:28 UTC | #941313

    kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 19 by kaiserkriss

    Instead of just talking about it, we as individuals can actually DO something about it by controlling and acting on those things within our influence. Lead by example, don't just preach. If you have a point and can get it across, others will emulate what you are doing.

    Abdicating responsibility to politicians, expecting them to take responsibility for progress is a waste of time. They only cater to the lowest common denominator in order to get reelected..

    Over the past two years, rather than just preach change, I've actually taken the "bull by the horns", formed a company with like minded individuals, initiated R&D on some ideas, patented the technology, and by year end will have brought the technology to market- basically a renewable liquid fuel based on non food products able to compete with conventional Oil and gas in the market place. If I can do it, so can all you geniuses out there. So get off your duffs and put your ideas into practise, instead of just talking about them- expose them to the real world where they will be exposed to a true Darwinian challenge- competing to survive. jcw

    Mon, 14 May 2012 04:33:21 UTC | #941346

    Quine's Avatar Comment 20 by Quine

    Re Comment 19 by kaiserkriss, +1.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 04:53:18 UTC | #941347

    GPWC's Avatar Comment 21 by GPWC

    Comment 18 by cheesedoff17 :

    Scientists have been issuing statements for seven years. No matter how politely their suggestions may be received, when push comes to shove, our politicians always give way to the Multi Nationals, or the Banks or the Petrochemical/Pharmaceutical Industries. If our grandchildren are to have any future at all, we have to change the entire outdated system. It's absurd that the lives of millions are left in the hands of a few. Look at the sad face Europe now due to being led by the deaf to reason and the blind to the facts.

    Scientists, Help, Help, get off your butts!

    With respect, politicians answer to the electorate not "the Multi Nationals, or the Banks or the Petrochemical/Pharmaceutical Industries". The elecorate does not want to reduce their consumption or pay higher prices or accept unemployment. Many governments have fallen as a result of these things. I don't know any western government who has been voted out by the petrochemical industry.

    The view on the left that all governments are controlled by "big business" or some elite cabal has reached epidemic proportions and is nothing more than a conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, this is playing out into a distrust of free enterprise and thereby the promotion of the corollary - more government. Now, governments really do have power over you. In most western liberal democracies, government spending accounts for between 40-60% of GDP and rising - that's a whole big chunk of your freedom taken away from you right there. Then there is government's 100% monopoly power over the judiciary to make everything they do legal, not to mention their ability to call on the police and armed forces. With all the new techniques of surveillance and so called "non-lethal" weapons, I strongly think you should take direct action against government and the police much more than you should fear Goldman Sachs.

    Even if you believe big business is calling the shots behind the scenes, big government is what they need to execute their orders. Either way, small government is better.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 06:40:17 UTC | #941355

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 22 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 21 by GPWC

    With respect, politicians answer to the electorate not "the Multi Nationals, or the Banks or the Petrochemical/Pharmaceutical Industries". The electorate does not want to reduce their consumption or pay higher prices or accept unemployment.

    The view on the left that all governments are controlled by "big business" or some elite cabal has reached epidemic proportions and is nothing more than a conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, this is playing out into a distrust of free enterprise and thereby the promotion of the corollary - more government.

    So where do you think the parties get their big-money sponsorship for their campaigns, and disparagement or praise from Murdock & Fox news etc, providing voters with false information?

    In the UK we are investigating politicians with too close connection to business and the rogue media, and that is only the tip of the iceberg!

    Even if you believe big business is calling the shots behind the scenes, big government is what they need to execute their orders. Either way, small government is better.

    No they don't! All they need is weak noddy or irresponsible government to rubber-stamp their approval, or just ignore the problems! That is why the worst pollution is happening in developing countries and right-wing/corrupt countries, with minimal government regulation!
    Perhaps you should look at who is funding these potentially and/or actively dangerous and polluting projects! I think you will find it is "the Multi Nationals, the Banks and the Petrochemical Industries".

    They claim the Arctic Ocean ice-melt is BENEFICIAL, providing opportunities to drill oil well and run large oil tankers in VERY DANGEROUS places. They are going ahead with limited regulation from "big government"! What do you think they would do without an absence of regulation from smaller government?

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,719740,00.html - The decline in the amount of ice floating on the Arctic Ocean is clearing the way for new shipping routes to Asia. Traffic was already brisk this summer. New ships are being designed to cope with icebergs during the voyage. - They were expecting pack ice, icebergs and storms. As a precautionary measure, a Russian icebreaker had been dispatched to protect the freighter MV Nordic Barents from the ravages of the Arctic Ocean.

    In the end, though, only a few broken up ice floes drifted by on two occasions. "The nuclear icebreaker was more for decoration than anything else," says Felix Tschudi from the shipping company

    http://en.mercopress.com/2011/09/01/two-major-arctic-ocean-shipping-routes-open-simultaneously-as-ice-recedes

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/perils-threatening-the-northern-gateway-pipeline/article2353245/

    Following the BP Gulf Deepwater horizon oil spill, the UK "big government" has authorised BP to do deep-water drilling in the stormy and dangerous waters off the North of Scotland! The oil companies will probably get away with cowboy operations - FOR A WHILE!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-12121292 - A major oil leak in the North Sea or west of Shetland would be difficult to clear up, it has been warned.
    A committee of MPs has opposed any moratorium on deep water drilling for oil in the UK's seas.
    The MPs did however raise concerns over how equipment would deal with spills in harsh conditions west of Shetland and called for site-specific plans.
    The Energy and Climate Change Committee report comes in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
    Drilling in water up to 1,000m deep is taking place west of Shetland.

    A leak in this location would devastate prime fishing grounds - but hey! There's money to be made! - Even if the same technological construction industries could be (and already are on a limited scale) installing tidal turbines in the same area to provide sustainable power supplies.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 09:30:13 UTC | #941367

    cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 23 by cheesedoff17

    @GPWC comment 21

    Conspiracy theories are theories for which there is absolutely no evidence. Unfortunately, there is considerable evidence for many of the these so called theories when and if you take the time and have the inclination to investigate further.

    The major American banks have committed financial crimes for which their executives should be imprisoned but are not even being investigated.

    Many of the people in positions of power to day have passed through the offices of Goldman Sachs including the present head of the IMF , Italy and Greece. Where ever the IMF goes, poverty follows.

    If politicians listened to their electorate we would never go to war but war is the biggest business of all for the the banks and the armament industries.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 12:06:27 UTC | #941377

    GPWC's Avatar Comment 24 by GPWC

    Comment 22 by Alan4discussion :

    Hi Alan - large corporate donations to political parties are obviously about corporations seeking influence. I don't like it and am in favour of some other way to fund political parties - but no one seems to be able to come up with a good/fair alternative.

    On the wider question about the influence of "big business" on government environmental policy, I am skeptical that their infleunce is out of proportion to what is healthy. Sure, they are in there lobbying all the time and their malign effects are duly noted by me. But I object to the idea that there is a "big business" conspiracy working against saps like us:

    First, this ignores the vast number of companies who are lobbying which makes collusion difficult, and, though restrictive practices exist, most companies, whilst they have common ground, are competing against each other.

    Secondly, who benefits from all this "corporationary" activity? There's simply too much money swilling around for it all to end up in the hands of the Committee of 500 or whoever. Often, there are real jobs at stake with real people and real earners that politicians have to consider.

    Thirdly, worrying unduly about "big business" activity takes our eye off the ball. Our political system places ultimate power in the hands of the voter. Voting every few years isn't great, but it is something and to force change at government level you need the voters to understand the issues and campaign politically. At the very least, anyone who cares about the environment should join The Woodland Trust or Friends of the Earth or whoever to give power to their elbows.

    I have been active running a local Greenpeace group, I was one of the founders of BioRegional Group (an environmental charity - check it out if you like here) and I set up and ran a not for profit environmental company for a number of years. Unfortunately, I don't see the public really caring about the environment - what they want is jobs and cheap fuel. So until the public takes a more comprehensive view, politicians will not take serious action to avert the dangers we face, nevermind reversing the environmental degredation that has already taken place.

    Geoff

    Mon, 14 May 2012 12:10:20 UTC | #941379

    Sinister Weasel's Avatar Comment 25 by Sinister Weasel

    I find this incredibly frsutrating, including all of the comments on this article. Why is it taken as fact that we need more power, more food, more water and always more, more, more. Is it not startling obvious that all of the world's problems can be solved by reducing the population? Our population isn't stable as it is, why would anyone advocate it ethical to continue this genocidal plan? Or likewise who can argue it unethical to limit this growth? I am not suggesting a harsh one-child regime, but is it not practical to stop giving benefits and aid to those who already have a child. Especially considering how this has proven to allow the poorest in society to have the largest families, utterly dependent on the money we all pay them to have more children. The inevitable result being an increasing percentage of the population being from the less intelligent...we may have already reached the lowest low though judging from the decisions people make.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 12:16:28 UTC | #941381

    ConnedCatholic's Avatar Comment 26 by ConnedCatholic

    Comments 13 and 25 by hhobbit and Sinister Weasel -

    Well praise the lord there are at least 2 others out there that know the obvious.Its the population stupid!!

    I am trying to impose a policy on myself not to believe a word any politian says unless the first utterance is to do with the need to bring down the world's human population. It is difficult to do because it never happens.

    Why on Earth is this not the most talked about thing?

    I am not interested in anything anyone says about caring for the environment unless it includes a piece on the need to reduce human numbers. They can prattle on endlessly but nothing will make any difference without first addressing this issue properly.

    So until then I will continue polluting the planet in my own small way. At least I did not have any children.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 14:26:02 UTC | #941392

    cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 27 by cheesedoff17

    Populations throughout the animal kingdom increase when living is lush followed by death by die off when resources become depleted due usually to famine and war.

    If the poorest in the world, had not had/do not have, large families the more successful would never have succeeded as well as they have, for there would not have been/would not be, the large mass of ignorant, hungry people to exploit/profit from. It's like the food chain, big fish eat little fish.

    You should remind yourself sometimes that we in Europe bred "like rabbits" up until your grand/greatmother's day and that it's thanks to modern medicine and women that our population has been reduced.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 16:41:22 UTC | #941424

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 28 by Alan4discussion

    Comment 24 by GPWC

    Thirdly, worrying unduly about "big business" activity takes our eye off the ball. Our political system places ultimate power in the hands of the voter. Voting every few years isn't great, but it is something and to force change at government level you need the voters to understand the issues and campaign politically.

    I think you overrate the choices voters have. The candidates are selected by the political parties, with sponsorship money for campaigns being given serious consideration. Voters even if they have bothered to look into issues or read manifestos, are probably outnumbered by badge voters and tabloid-comic readers filled with disinformation. Many MPs are very much in the pocket of their sponsors. It is worse in the US.

    At the very least, anyone who cares about the environment should join The Woodland Trust or Friends of the Earth or whoever to give power to their elbows.

    It helps - We have a few hectares of Woodland Trust woodland to the East of our village, which my family helped to plant several years ago.

    Unfortunately, I don't see the public really caring about the environment - what they want is jobs and cheap fuel. So until the public takes a more comprehensive view, politicians will not take serious action to avert the dangers we face, nevermind reversing the environmental degredation that has already taken place.

    Caring about the environment and quality of life, requires time spent on understanding. The media and advertisers are actively promoting other attitudes and more superficially amusing and distracting activities. (% Time-wasting TV !?)

    Mon, 14 May 2012 17:49:49 UTC | #941437

    GPWC's Avatar Comment 29 by GPWC

    Comment 25 by Sinister Weasel :

    I am not suggesting a harsh one-child regime, but is it not practical to stop giving benefits and aid to those who already have a child. Especially considering how this has proven to allow the poorest in society to have the largest families, utterly dependent on the money we all pay them to have more children. The inevitable result being an increasing percentage of the population being from the less intelligent...we may have already reached the lowest low though judging from the decisions people make.

    I may have some fairly good news for you. Francis Galton who many regard as the father of eugenics wanted to prove that heredity alone caused genius or the reverse. But what he actually found was that although clever people had on average clever children, there was a fast regression to the mean and only 9% of his eminent people had an eminent grandchild. He wrote:

    "The child inherits partly from his parents, partly from his ancestry. ... The further his genealogy goes back, the more numerous and varied will his ancestry become, until they cease to differ from any equally numerous sample taken at haphazard from the race at large. ... The law tells heavily against the full hereditary transmission of any gift ... The law is even-handed; it levies the same succession tax on the transmission of badness as of goodness. If it discourages the extravagant expectations of gifted parents that their children will inherit all their powers, it no less discountanences extravagant fears that they will inherit all their weaknesses and diseases".

    (My highlights, by the way).

    In other words, as Peter L Bernstein puts it in his book Against the Gods - the remarkable story of risk:

    "[Galton's] study was momentous. Every group, no matter how small and no matter how distinct from some other group, tends to array itself in accordance with the normal distribution, with most of the observations landing in the centre, or, to use the more familiar expression, on the average".

    So what I've always taken from this is the rather good news that even if less intelligent people have more children (as seems to be the case at the moment), it won't actually make any difference to the general level of intelligence in future generations. I hope this proves to be true.

    Mon, 14 May 2012 18:16:06 UTC | #941447

    Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 30 by Helga Vieirch

    Comment 29 by GPWC

    Thank you. This idea that IQ is so simply heritable is a frequent misconception.

    As to the substance of this discussion so far, I want to remind everyone that humanity will likely face a major die-off during this century no matter what is decided by any government, elected or otherwise. It is too late in the day for anything else. And it will not be only the poorer nations that suffer, since the economic collapse that causes the die-off will be universal, if uneven in intensity. Things look considerably more grim this spring than they looked even a year ago, because Fukushima's dangers had not yet become apparent. But we are clearly beginning the inevitable slid down the Hubbert peak of world oil production, or governments would not be tempted to such desperate measures as permitting deep sea drilling off the coast of Scotland, or allowing vast parts of its western heartland to be turned into a poisoned wasteland in pursuit of bitumen (Alberta).

    It is true that the "voters" want jobs and cheap fuel. That is partly because they are completely ignorant about reality. And whose fault is that? Well, how many of you here on this site have ever taken Peak Oil seriously, or looked up some of the publications from members of the Post Carbon Institute? How many of you have ever taken the time to look at the writings or interviews of Colin Campbell? How many of you like to think, even today, that technology will find a way to allow our economic system to persist in giving us the standard of living we have?

    This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know. I find it encouraging that people here (and a lot of other bright, scientifically trained folks), have voiced concern about population, and rightly so. It is a huge part of the problem, but until now, it has been the main driver of growth in the world economy, which has always sought to turn raw materials into consumer "products".

    We are at the point of no return, or nearly there, in terms of running hard up against some very real limits to growth. One of these limits was Peak OIl, and that appears to have occurred worldwide between 2005 and 2008. Since these limits are often only visible in the rear view mirror, we may actually already have passed the limits for certain other systems, but it will not become clear for another ten years.

    By then, we might be looking at world with no surviving great apes in the wild, a world where seafood is only eaten by the very rich (and even then, perhaps only after a furtive purchase on the black market), where most people cannot afford to use their cars on a daily basis, where unemployment has climbed to the double digits in most older industrialized countries, and where theft and banditry have become so common that people mount guard over their vegetable gardens in the cities and towns, and farmers regularly hire armed guards to watch over their flocks and crops. A world where starvation and epidemics again stalk the land, even in industrialized countries… is hard to imagine. It goes against all the experience of the past 300 years that "progress" will stop, let alone go into reverse.

    Just wait. We humans are in for some very hard times, collectively speaking. The resurrection of Nazism and other ultraconservative political ideologies in certain European countries is not an accident, but should serve as a warning of what shape our political future might just take as the world is convulsed by the rage of disappointed masses who may well blame minorities or economically dependent people for the deteriorating economy (note that is category may include the so called 1%).

    Personally, I think the scientists who petitioned the G8 used language far too gentle and respectful, given the seriousness of the situation. I wonder what the news stories would have been like if they had been more blunt?

    Tue, 15 May 2012 03:37:45 UTC | #941528