Saving Civilization

A massive mobilization is needed to prevent total collapse.
Saving Civilization

Saving civilization will take a massive mobilization, and at wartime speed. The closest analogy is

the belated US mobilization during World War II. But unlike that chapter in history, in which one country totally restructured its economy, the Plan B mobilization requires decisive action on a global scale.

On the climate front, official attention has now shifted to negotiating a post-Kyoto protocol to reduce carbon emissions. But that will take years. We need to act now. There is simply not time for years of negotiations and then more years for ratification of another international agreement.

It is time for individual countries to take the initiative on their own. Former Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand led the way. In late 2007 she announced that New Zealand would boost the renewable share of its electricity from 70 percent, mostly hydro and geothermal, to 90 percent by 2025. The country plans to cut per capita carbon emissions from transport in half by 2040. Beyond this, New Zealand plans to expand its forested area by some 250,000 hectares by 2020, ultimately sequestering roughly 1 million tons of carbon per year.

We know from our analysis of global warming, from the accelerating deterioration of the economy’s ecological supports and from our projections of future resource use in China that the Western economic model – the fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy– will not last much longer. We need to build a new economy, one that will be powered by renewable sources of energy, that will have a diversified transport system and that will reuse and recycle everything.

We can describe this new economy in some detail. The question is how to get from here to there before time runs out. Can we reach the political tipping points that will enable us to cut carbon emissions before we reach the ecological tipping points where the melting of the Himalayan glaciers becomes irreversible? Will we be able to halt the deforestation of the Amazon before it dries out, becomes vulnerable to fire and turns into wasteland?

What if, for example, three years from now scientists announced that we have waited too long to cut carbon emissions and that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet is irreversible? How would the realization that we are responsible for a coming 7-meter (23-foot) rise in sea level and hundreds of millions of refugees from rising seas affect us? How would it affect our sense of self, our sense of who we are? It could trigger a fracturing of society along generational lines like the more familiar fracturing of societies along racial, religious and ethnic lines. How will we respond to our children when they ask, “How could you do this to us? How could you leave us facing such chaos?”

From Lester Brown’s Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

173 comments on the article “Saving Civilization”

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Page 10 of 18

tin

Originalpie, I don't think there's any cause for conspiracy among scientists to blow the environmental crisis out of proportion and market it as global warming. You sound very much like Bush Jr. Exactly how do you explain the polar ice caps' race to melt? It does not take a genius or even a college graduate to actually notice the changes in our environment and in the climate itself. You have your five senses for that, and it's unfortunate if they all point to the mythology of global warming. But what is even more distressing about fact that people are still debating on this issue, is that our motivations to act positively is anchored only on the reality of climate change. IF this were not true, as you believe, does this mean that we should all relax and resume our excessive, wasteful lives because the impending apocalypse is fictitious? Aren't the environmental crises and refugees all over the world motivation enough? Isn't peak oil reason enough to sound the alarm and change not only our consumption patterns but our relationship to our environment?

tin

Originalpie, I don't think there's any cause for conspiracy among scientists to blow the environmental crisis out of proportion and market it as global warming. You sound very much like Bush Jr. Exactly how do you explain the polar ice caps' race to melt? It does not take a genius or even a college graduate to actually notice the changes in our environment and in the climate itself. You have your five senses for that, and it's unfortunate if they all point to the mythology of global warming. But what is even more distressing about fact that people are still debating on this issue, is that our motivations to act positively is anchored only on the reality of climate change. IF this were not true, as you believe, does this mean that we should all relax and resume our excessive, wasteful lives because the impending apocalypse is fictitious? Aren't the environmental crises and refugees all over the world motivation enough? Isn't peak oil reason enough to sound the alarm and change not only our consumption patterns but our relationship to our environment?

JimBrown

Civilization has changed for many hundred of years. Before civilization was simple but now it has evolved and it will continue to change. And so does the earth, it also changes. 

JimBrown

Civilization has changed for many hundred of years. Before civilization was simple but now it has evolved and it will continue to change. And so does the earth, it also changes. 

Anonymous

The only problem with going back to a hunter-gatherer society is that we can't go back to that exact state. Capitalism has fucked everything up so much that we can't even see how much even anti-capitalists are still influenced by it. So even if we did try to reinstate a hunter-gatherer society, there will still be a spirit of privatization that capitalism has thoroughly ingrained in us. For example, people will still be prioritizing to gather as much food for their own family as possible. And then, gone will be the systems that allow for donating to the poor or to people who cannot hunt or gather for themselves. So I would imagine that we have to re-educate first before we act. Trade systems have existed since the beginning of time (just look at sex: it only works if both people have an orgasm. I please you a certain way, hoping that you please me a certain way in return (whether now or later). Otherwise it's just dictatorship. Sex is, in essence, the first trade relationship/agreement). So we have to separate capitalism's bad influence from ruining good trade relationships. Unfortunately, if we just erase all the progress we have made in civilization, we will be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Civilization still does at least try to prohibit assholes and jocks from just taking things that they want from others. And all the capitalist marketing has made sure that just such idiots want a lot of shit that they realistically can never have (and jealousy is inherently human: three year olds know that). So, in a hunter-gatherer society, does this mean that I would have to physically arm myself to resist guys on steroids from taking my food? Probably. Or... we could hire some strong people whom we all trust (and who are perhaps better educated than knuckle-draggers) to make sure the jocks know they cannot just take things because they are physically stronger than others. ... but that, ladies and gentlemen, sounds awfully close to a police force. I guess we have to agree that there are good and bad aspects about everything (even the po-po) and that it's so much more complex than just abolishing civilization. After all, civilization is really only an admission that I as an individual am limited. There are some things that I cannot do that I need other more qualified people to do for me. For example, I do not know which herb to take as a cure for my migraines. My sister, however, knows exactly which one and how to prepare it. I would be more than happy to bake her favorite cake for her in exchange for her medical help. That isn't capitalism; that's just a really good social exchange. So what if it is called a "service." People will always need services and people will always consume, unless we find a way to stop eating altogether. But capitalism didn't invent trade, goods or services.

Anonymous

The only problem with going back to a hunter-gatherer society is that we can't go back to that exact state. Capitalism has fucked everything up so much that we can't even see how much even anti-capitalists are still influenced by it. So even if we did try to reinstate a hunter-gatherer society, there will still be a spirit of privatization that capitalism has thoroughly ingrained in us. For example, people will still be prioritizing to gather as much food for their own family as possible. And then, gone will be the systems that allow for donating to the poor or to people who cannot hunt or gather for themselves. So I would imagine that we have to re-educate first before we act. Trade systems have existed since the beginning of time (just look at sex: it only works if both people have an orgasm. I please you a certain way, hoping that you please me a certain way in return (whether now or later). Otherwise it's just dictatorship. Sex is, in essence, the first trade relationship/agreement). So we have to separate capitalism's bad influence from ruining good trade relationships. Unfortunately, if we just erase all the progress we have made in civilization, we will be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Civilization still does at least try to prohibit assholes and jocks from just taking things that they want from others. And all the capitalist marketing has made sure that just such idiots want a lot of shit that they realistically can never have (and jealousy is inherently human: three year olds know that). So, in a hunter-gatherer society, does this mean that I would have to physically arm myself to resist guys on steroids from taking my food? Probably. Or... we could hire some strong people whom we all trust (and who are perhaps better educated than knuckle-draggers) to make sure the jocks know they cannot just take things because they are physically stronger than others. ... but that, ladies and gentlemen, sounds awfully close to a police force. I guess we have to agree that there are good and bad aspects about everything (even the po-po) and that it's so much more complex than just abolishing civilization. After all, civilization is really only an admission that I as an individual am limited. There are some things that I cannot do that I need other more qualified people to do for me. For example, I do not know which herb to take as a cure for my migraines. My sister, however, knows exactly which one and how to prepare it. I would be more than happy to bake her favorite cake for her in exchange for her medical help. That isn't capitalism; that's just a really good social exchange. So what if it is called a "service." People will always need services and people will always consume, unless we find a way to stop eating altogether. But capitalism didn't invent trade, goods or services.

Anonymous

It's called barter (trading goods for other goods) and it sounds great in theory, like Communism, but in reality it doesn't work. This is why people thousands of years ago came up with money. The best system, that I am aware of, for balancing the influence of the 7 deadly watchamajiggas is obviously Socialism, which is basically just a way of diluting Capitalism. Capitalism is great too; for like 2% of the population. Most people are not 18 - 25 year olds with nothing to lose and therefore are pretty unlikely to go for the whole revolution thing without some goal at the end of it. There is no point in trying to destroy Capitalism unless you can find someone with enough brains to think up a better alternative. Come on. There must be someone out there with a unified theory of economics that could justify the brewing revolt at an ideological level!!!!!!!!

Anonymous

It's called barter (trading goods for other goods) and it sounds great in theory, like Communism, but in reality it doesn't work. This is why people thousands of years ago came up with money. The best system, that I am aware of, for balancing the influence of the 7 deadly watchamajiggas is obviously Socialism, which is basically just a way of diluting Capitalism. Capitalism is great too; for like 2% of the population. Most people are not 18 - 25 year olds with nothing to lose and therefore are pretty unlikely to go for the whole revolution thing without some goal at the end of it. There is no point in trying to destroy Capitalism unless you can find someone with enough brains to think up a better alternative. Come on. There must be someone out there with a unified theory of economics that could justify the brewing revolt at an ideological level!!!!!!!!

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