What’s with all those big green and brown things that sway in the wind? Are they actually worth anything?

The way our society determines value is deeply flawed. It’s not that there’s no relationship between what things cost, and the resources expended to produce them, but a great many things are vastly over-valued, and many other things – including most life forms on the planet – are vastly under-valued. Those flaws are compounded by the fact that we seem to be increasingly encouraged to view every aspect of our lives through the lens of capitalism, in which things are generally deemed to have no value unless it’s proven someone will pay money for them. Unfortunately, that’s the world we’re still stuck in, so there’s probably some merit to calculating the economic value of life. When it comes to wildlife, the ways in which it benefits humanity are called “ecosystem services“, as part of what I view as a failed attempt to get capitalism to assign any value to a habitable environment. Quantifying their value to us may not do much to change policy or stop environmental destruction, but it does put things in terms to which we’re accustomed:

Trees sequester and store greenhouse gasses, filter air pollutants, provide wood, food, and other products, among other benefits. However, the service value of 400 individual tree species and tree lineages growing in forests and plantations in the contiguous U.S. was not previously known. To determine the ecosystem services value of U.S. trees, researchers mapped the value of trees and calculated the economic contributions to these services of every US tree species and lineage. They measured the net value of five tree-related ecosystem services by calculating the value of benefits provided, minus the direct costs incurred to produce these services. The five key ecosystem services included climate regulating services from carbon storage, filtration of particulate matter from the air that harms human health, and provisioning services from production of wood products, food crops, and Christmas trees.

The researchers found that the value of these five ecosystem services generated by trees totaled $114 billion annually. Carbon storage in tree biomass comprised 51% of the net annual value, while preventing human health damages via air quality regulation, contributed to 37% of the annual value. The remaining 12% of the net annual value came from provisioning services. Trees in the pine and oak families were the most valuable, generating $25.4 billion and $22.3 billion in annual net benefits, respectively. The study had several limitations that likely contributed to an undervaluing of ecosystem services since the researchers did not have access to data for many ecosystem services such as erosion control, flood regulation, and shade-related energy savings. They also did not evaluate disservices of trees. Future studies may provide more accurate estimates of the monetary value of these benefits.

According to the authors, “This study shows that the ‘hidden’ value of trees — the nonmarket value from carbon storage and air pollution filtration — far exceeds their commercial value. Sustaining the value of trees requires intentional management of forests and trees in the face of myriad and simultaneous global change threats. Our study provides information and an approach that can contribute to precision forestry practices and ecosystem management.”

Cavender-Bares adds, “The fact that tree lineages have evolved to inhabit different ecological niches across the continent is important for sustaining the ecosystem services that we depend on for our life support systems. These benefits from trees, however, are increasingly at risk. Our research team found that climate change threatens nearly 90 percent of tree species, while pests and pathogens put 40 percent of the combined weight of all U.S. trees at risk. We also found that the species and lineages of greatest ecosystem service value are the most at risk from pests and pathogens, climate change, and increasing fire exposure.”

One of the most irksome parts of this environmental collapse is that we know what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how to stop it. That’s not even a general “we know what’s happening”. We have thousands of scientists all over the world studying everything. That’s why we’re able to do things like putting a dollar value to trees, or wetlands. Day after day, week after week we hear the relentless accounting of everything that’s going on around us, and yet we still have to try to dress up reality with dollar signs and big numbers in a hopeless effort to get the tiny-minded ghouls who run the world to pay attention to what’s being lost.

It’s draining. But hey – at least we know roughly what trees are worth!

Action or despair? What’s the result of “climate deadline” rhetoric?

So I’m going to read the new IPCC report, and see if I have more in-depth commentary on it, but I wanted to say a couple words about the rhetoric surrounding the report, and a strategy I think basically anyone making six figures or more should consider.

While I get why it’s being pushed, the “now or never” rhetoric worries me for a couple reasons. The first is just that I’m worried it will push people to give up, since “now” clearly isn’t happening. The second is that I feel like it’s a continuation of the same obsession with the short term and with urgent crises that has gotten us to this point.

I have no evidence to back this up, but I think that if I was involved in climate messaging, I’d probably start making preparations for the world we seem to be creating, and simply talking about them in public on a regular basis. Store food against crop failures, and mention that it probably won’t be enough, if things keep warming. Start building water storage infrastructure, with rationing rules about how that emergency supply is to be used (very little for hygiene, for example). Put around plans to require new hotel construction (among other kinds of facilities) to double as emergency shelters with the capacity to keep indoor air at livable temperatures when it’s 45°C/113°F or higher, even if there’s a blackout. Put around draft regulations requiring new power plants to be able to operate safely under extreme heat wave conditions, because otherwise people will die.

If anyone with political or economic power happens to be reading this, and you actually care about climate change, the most powerful messaging you could probably do is to use the resources you have now to start making preparations for a much hotter world. You can be clear that you’re hoping this won’t be needed right away, but also paint a picture, with references to relevant research, of how our lives are going to change in the coming decades. Speeches will not work to convince people at this point – actions might have a shot.

And if people don’t like what your actions say about the future, then remind them that we know what we have to do to make that future better, we’re just not doing it.

I don’t know if this will be easier for politicians to do than directly tackling the fossil fuel industry right now, but I feel like it’s a powerful message to tell people that since corrupt monsters like Manchin (and many others) are preventing us from doing anything to slow or stop climate change, then it’s their duty to do what they can to help their constituents or communities survive.

Couple rhetoric with action wherever possible, and make it clear what path is being chosen for us with the status quo. I have a feeling that as things get worse, the political cost of opposing climate change adaptation measures will increase. It’s easy to abstract and confuse the causes of climate change, but when it comes to living with the effects, I think you’ll have a hard time convincing people that they don’t need to make any changes to survive.

It feels like we’re still stuck in the “capitalist realism” trap, where nobody seems to be able to conceive of any end to capitalism that isn’t also the end of the world. We know that technology and planning can help us survive more hostile conditions, but it really feels like the collective view is that if we can’t stop climate change from getting really bad, then we might as well just give up and die. It’s not just a bad strategy, it’s also frankly pathetic from a species with ambitions to live on other planets.

I don’t want to live in a world that’s a couple degrees hotter, but I don’t want to live under capitalism either, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up on my life and my species because a few rich assholes can’t be bothered to do the bare minimum for future generations. When we miss climate deadlines, that does mean certain changes are inevitable. It does not mean that if we don’t take action now, taking action a little later will be pointless – it’ll just be harder.


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Video: How climate change is affecting the habitability of the U.S.

There were a number of reasons why Tegan and I decided to leave the U.S. and seek our fortunes across the ocean. Better quality of life (like having a real healthcare system) was a big factor, but climate change was as well. We settled on Scotland as a place with good politics (if it can get free of England), good healthcare, and a climate that’s likely to remain reasonably comfortable – at least for me – for my lifetime. If nothing else, it’s almost certain that moving bought Raksha a couple more years of life, because I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have been able to survive a couple more Boston summers.

That said, we were – and are – lucky. Not everyone has the freedom or resources to make a move like this, and for all the benefits we’ve gotten, there are also downsides. While I think we should have open borders and freedom of movement around the world, we’re not there yet, so what can folks in the U.S. expect the climate to do in the coming decades? Here’s what PBS has to say:

Wherever you are in the US, the summers are going to get worse, so regardless of where you live, definitely make sure you have plans for surviving heat waves!

Climate science for all! A new science journal to keep an eye on

I’ve written before about the problem of paywalls in academia. I view them as a needless barrier to people’s ability to learn about pretty much all topics, or to do things like check the veracity of claims made by dishonest actors. It’s especially galling given how much research is publicly funded, and the inherently collaborative nature of science. Not to sound like an anarchist or anything, but when it comes to knowledge especially, I believe that all belongs to all. Science has always been a collaborative effort, even when some scientists treat their colleagues as competitors or enemies. Research is done based on the work of those who came before us, and any contributions we make will be just one stone in the foundation of what our descendants will create, if we can manage to give them that change.

All of this is to say, I’m pleased to tell you all about a new, open-access climate science journal.

Oxford Open Climate Change is a broad reaching interdisciplinary journal that aims to cover all aspects of climate change, including its impacts on nature and society, as well as solutions to the problem and their wider implications.

The journal will publish research from physical and biogeochemical aspects to social impact and response assessments; from economics and integrated assessments to health, politics, and governance; and from natural to technical solutions. The journal will play a key part in disseminating research findings across traditional fields, and removing siloes in readership seen in more traditional discipline specific journals.

Oxford Open Climate Change embraces openness principles which will further contribute to both the dissemination and the reuse of the published materials. The journal will include both invited contributions and regularly submitted contributions, as well as special issues that consider key problems from a wide range of disciplines. Article types will range across multi-disciplinary reviews, research articles, research letters, short communications, and editorials. Rigorous peer review is central to all content.

Hat tip to my dad for making me aware of this.

When I say the journal is new, I do mean new. It’s had a grand total of two issues so far. Their Rationale and Opening Remit makes a good case for the nature of the climate crisis, and while it doesn’t link that to the fact that the journal’s open access, I think it’s a point worth making. Leaving aside my earlier-mentioned beliefs about paywalls, it is outrageous that there is a financial barrier to accessing information about what may be the biggest crisis ever to face our species. We cannot adapt to climate change, or meaningfully slow its advance, if we keep treating everything in life as part of a competition.

Beyond that, I like what I’m seeing so far. The fact that it’s so new means I can actually read through everything they’ve got in a reasonable amount of time, and even give you an overview! The editorial section, in addition to their rationale and remit mentioned above, includes a clear call to go beyond the inadequate emissions targets currently set by most nationsand for wealthy nations to actually use their wealth to deal with this global emergency.

In particular, countries that have disproportionately created the environmental crisis must do more to support low and middle income countries to build cleaner, healthier, and more resilient societies. High income countries must meet and go beyond their outstanding commitment to provide $100 billion a year, making up for any shortfall in 2020 and increasing contributions to and beyond 2025. Funding must be equally split between mitigation and adaptation, including improving the resilience of health systems.

Financing should be through grants rather than loans, building local capabilities and truly empowering communities, and should come alongside forgiving large debts, which constrain the agency of so many low income countries. Additional funding must be marshalled to compensate for inevitable loss and damage caused by the consequences of the environmental crisis.

The fact that our “leaders” continue to obsess over profits and private property is a clear symptom of a mental rot spread throughout our ruling classes. Looking at history, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising to see how little they value human life, but this blind charge towards extinction honestly makes me worry about the possibility of nuclear war in the near future. In the meantime, we continue to do what we can to take power away from these people, so we can save ourselves, and give them the treatment they apparently need.

The “Short Communication” discusses the geopolitical issues surrounding geoengineering technologies like reflecting a significant portion of sunlight away from the Earth. Obviously, that’s something that would affect the entire planet, and thus everyone on the planet, or at least every nation, should have a say in whether or how it’s done. Given our current inability to cooperate at a global scale, I think it’s worth thinking about how we might go about building coalitions like that.

The research articles make for a good introduction to the breadth of topics that Open Oxford Climate Change means to tackle. The first article has everything you might need to know about the diets of a particular Canadian polar bear population,  followed by a discussion of “sustainability” in fast fashion, and the use of a fashion show as a vehicle for climate communication. I doubt there’s much interest in me going through everything they’ve published so far, but it seems that they intend to publish research that covers every aspect of climate change, from the study of past climate shifts and analysis of current climate sensitivity, to politics and culture.

I count this journal as a little bit of good news, both in terms of access to research, and in terms of the ability for the general public to actually see the work that’s being done. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.


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Living near green spaces reduces your risk of stroke by 16%.

One of my hopes for the future involves a more urban humanity, but with cities that have plants growing wherever possible. Instead of towers covered in glass, we can have them covered in ivy, or with tiered gardens. Instead of streets, we can free underground mass transit (or elevated railways), designed for accessibility. Also maybe bicycle taxis and the like. The streets themselves can be repurposed for gardening or leisure, or even just some version of “forest”. I want cities that look like strange forested landscapes from a distance, until it gets dark, and you can see lights twinkling through the leaves. There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which I’ve talked about before, but a big one is its affect on the overall health of the population, primarily by mitigating some of the air pollution associated with traffic and industry. We should be clear; air pollution is also a problem in rural areas. That’s why simply adding more vegetation to our current cities – while that’s a decent start – isn’t enough. We also need to change how and why cities are designed, and what the options are for getting around. Regardless, even in cities as they exist today, more green space seems to mean less risk of having a stroke, even controlling for factors like air pollution, smoking, and so on:

The results indicate a direct relationship between increased levels of NO2 in the atmosphere and the risk of ischaemic stroke. For every increase of 10 micrograms (µg) per cubic metre, this risk increases by 4%. The same happens when PM2.5 levels increase by 5 µg/m3. In the case of soot particles, the risk increases by 5% for every 1 µg/m3 increase in the atmosphere. These figures are the same for the entire population, irrespective of other socio-economic factors, age or smoking habits.

“It should be borne in mind that, unlike other air pollutants, which have various sources, NO2 is mainly caused by road traffic. Therefore, if we really want to reduce the multiple risks that this pollutant poses to people’s health, we need to implement bold measures to reduce car use”, says Cathryn Tonne, a researcher at ISGlobal.

“The study demonstrates the importance of environmental determinants in stroke risk. Given that it is predicted that the incidence, mortality and disability attributed to the disease will increase in the coming years, it is important to understand all the risk factors involved”, explains Dr. Carla Avellaneda, a researcher in the Neurovascular Research Group at IMIM-Hospital del Mar and one of the main authors of the study. Previous studies by the same group had already provided evidence on the relationship between factors such as soot or noise levels and the risk of suffering a stroke and its severity. All these factors act as stroke triggers.

In contrast, having an abundance of green spaces within the same radius from the home directly reduces the risk of suffering a stroke. Specifically, up to 16%. In this sense, “People who are surrounded by greater levels of greenery at their place of residence are protected against the onset of stroke”, says Dr. Avellaneda. Exposure to green spaces is generally considered to have beneficial effects through a variety of mechanisms, such as stress reduction, increased physical activity and social contact, and even exposure to an enriched microbiome.

Societies tend to be guided based on the goals of those governing them. Currently, the goal is ever-increasing wealth and power for those at the top. That’s not how things have always been, and it’s not how things have to be in the future. We can have a society aimed at giving everyone the time and resources to really seek meaning and happiness for themselves, and research like this can go a long way to showing us what that society should look like, at least in general terms. We should want things like a more verdant kind of city for the same reason we should want universal healthcare – it makes people’s lives better, and gives them longer, healthier lives.

The image shows concept art for China's Liuzhou Forest City. It shows buildings that are tiered almost like step pyramids, or some forms of mountainside farming. Each tier has trees growing on it, with the walls of the building showing white amid the greenery. Closer to the foreground is a sleek-looking railway station, and in front of that is a multi-lane highway. The overall effect is similar to that of overgrown ruins.


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Not Just CO2 – plants can clean up other pollution too!

When it comes to the question of pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, I’ve long been of the opinion that our best option is also the one that requires the least amount of new research and development – plants. Harvest fast-growing crops, subject them to a little processing, and store them. It won’t solve the problem alone, and it won’t solve anything overnight, but neither will any other options. Plants are also a good way to both lower city temperatures, and reduce industrial and commercial air pollution. They’re useful all around, really.

In fact, for all re-wilding is often framed as being either a way to soak up CO2 or a way to strengthen ecosystems, there’s also some evidence that it can be a way for use to work on cleaning up the various types of toxic waste we’ve left all over the planet. For all some folks get excited about impressive engineering solutions and pollution-eating nanobots or whatever, as with the carbon capture question, there’s a vast amount we could do to clean up the planet by applying our understanding of evolution, and doing a little ecosystem engineering.

Some more general things have been pretty well-known for a while, like the way beaver-made wetlands and mangrove swamps can help filter pollution out of water, as well as providing other benefits associated with a healthy ecosystem. There is also evidence to support the use of specific plants for specific pollutants. White lupin, for example, can be used to pull arsenic out of contaminated soil, and it seems that there’s growing evidence that bacterial life is evolving to take advantage of a newly abundant food source – our oil and plastic pollution:

Although reducing the manufacture of unnecessary single-use plastics and improving waste management systems will help ease the pollution crisis, our reliance on the convenience of plastic products is unlikely to be abated any time soon. Researchers are therefore looking at alternative approaches to “clean up” the more persistent plastics from our environment and it appears that microbes may offer some promising solutions.

“Certain bacteria harbor the necessary enzymes to degrade PET, the most problematic plastic environmentally,” explains senior author Shosuke Yoshida. “Our research has shown that the bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis converts PET into poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), a type of poly(hydroxyalkanoate) (PHA) plastic that is biodegradable,” he continues.

This finding is particularly promising because it addresses two current problems for the sustainability of plastics: degrading the most persistent form of petroleum-based plastic while sustainably producing biodegradable plastics.

“We believe that this discovery could be significant in tackling plastic pollution,” Yoshida states, “as we show that the PET-degradation and PHB-synthesis pathways are functionally linked in I. sakaiensis . This might provide a novel pathway where a single bacterial species breaks down difficult-to-recycle PET plastics and uses the products to make biodegradable PHA plastics.”

Given the overwhelming challenge of dealing with worldwide plastic pollution, this novel bacterial approach may be a significant part of the solution.

Things like this won’t matter if we don’t stop creating pollution. Even if we could find an organism to consume every poison we’ve unleashed on the world,  their ability to do so will never come close to the rate at which we’re generating pollution. Just as our production of greenhouse gases has outpaced the planet’s ability to absorb them, so is our production of chemical pollution outpacing the biosphere’s ability to adapt. If we’re going to survive, the first step is always to stop actively doing harm, to the greatest degree possible.

The hope that things like this gives me is not one that lessens the amount of work we have to do; it’s the hope that once we do that work, even if it takes multiple generations, it will be possible to heal, and to move forward into something better.


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Video: Post-Satire Capitalism

I don’t know if satire is dead, but a lot of this video gets at how I’ve been feeling for a while now. Life has a sort of surreal quality, with the cheerleaders of capitalism becoming ever more cartoonish in their praises for murderous profiteers. How is it that these people have so much power? How is this supposed to be the best the world can be?

How can this possibly last?

It can’t.

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Agrovoltaics 101: A synergetic relationship between food production and power generation

I’ve written before about the need for us to change how we do agriculture, to protect crops from climate change. A lot of where I think our focus should be is on moving food production indoors, but it’s unlikely that’s going to happen as quickly as I’d like, and doing what we can to protect existing farmland is also a good idea. Retrofitting is almost always going to be cheaper than building entirely new facilities. One of the approaches to climate-proofing I’ve seen discussed is “agrovoltaics” – the practice of using a piece of land for power generation and food production simultaneously. As with everything else, this isn’t going to be “the” solution for our power problems or our food problems, but it’s an interesting idea, and I’m glad to see people experimenting with it. I think this is a good introduction to the topic:

Good news! Urban forests are better carbon sinks than we realized!

I like cities.

It took me a while to admit that to myself. Throughout my teens, I lived in rural New Hampshire, and I spent a decent portion of my time doing stuff in the woods. Realizing that I actually do like living in cities was a bit of a blow to my identity. That said, there are ways in which I think city life could be made much, much better.

To begin with, every city I’ve lived in needed a better public transit system. A lot of modern cities are designed around cars, and I’d like to see that end. Ideally I’d want urban car traffic to be as close to zero as possible, not just because the roads have been reclaimed for pedestrians and other purposes, but also because getting around a city should be easier without them. That should include infrastructure to ensure full access for folks with disabilities. Another benefit of better public transit and few if any cars, is a dramatic decrease in urban air pollution, which in turn would mean a dramatic increase in the overall health of the urban population.

Another thing that I think should happen is a concerted effort to pack as much vegetation into cities as possible. I’m exaggerating slightly, but I do think that most urban roads, for example, should be converted into public parks with communal garden space, and/or communal greenhouses. I think this would go a long way toward improving people’s mental health in addition to their physical health. More greenery would also soak up some of the air pollution that can’t be avoided, and pull at least a little CO2 out of the atmosphere.

In fact, when it comes to that last bit, it turns out the news is better than expected:

“We think about forests as big landscapes, but really they are chopped up into all these little segments because of the human world,” says Hutyra, a BU College of Arts & Sciences professor of Earth and environment. Forests get cut into smaller parcels, as chunks are taken down to make space for roads, buildings, agriculture, and solar farms — one of the biggest drivers of forest loss in Massachusetts. These alterations to forests create more areas called forest edges — literally, the trees at the outermost edge of a forest.

It has long been assumed that these forest edges release and store carbon at similar rates as forest interiors, but Hutyra and researchers in her lab at BU have discovered this isn’t true. Soils and trees in temperate forest edges in the Northeast United States are acting differently than those farther away from people. In two recent research papers, Hutyra’s team found edge trees grow faster than their country cousins deep in the forest, and that soil in urban areas can hoard more carbon dioxide than previously thought. Their results can challenge current ideas about conservation and the value of urban forests as more than places for recreation.

Pretty much any scenario in which out civilization survives the next century will see that civilization change radically. In that time line, I’d expect to see us continue becoming an urban species, but also changing what urban life is like. Replacing streets with foot and bike paths and light rail would allow cities to pretty much be parks, and because the goal is an economy that lets need drive production, rather than greed, everyone would have to spend far less of our lives working, so we’d have time for stuff like growing food, and just hanging out.

Honestly, thinking about what cities could be like rekindles my irritation at mortality. If we did things right, cities could become some of the most fascinating ecosystems on the planet, with their own unique wildlife communities and crops. As the quoted article states, rising temperatures could reduce net CO2 uptake, but “greening” urban environments as I describe would also go at least some way toward combatting the urban heat island effect. I think there’s potential there for a feedback loop that actually works in our favor, which would be nice.

The last aspect of this I wanted to look at is the way it would affect more rural areas. Dedicating more of a city’s surface area to growing food would take some pressure off current farmland, especially if there’s a simultaneous effort to do large-scale indoor food production, which means more land can be either returned to wilderness, used for carbon capture and sequestration, or converted into things like food forests for less intensive food production.

Years ago, when I was part of a Quaker climate action group, I wanted to set up a “snowballing” climate fund. The basic idea would be that the New England Quaker community could pool some money, either regionally or at the local level. That money would be used to install things like rooftop solar, geothermal heat pumps, and insulation for the whole community, one house at a time. The money saved or even earned from that energy production would all go back to the fund, and once the whole community had gotten their “refit”, that fund could be turned towards other projects.

I think that responding to climate change could work rather like that hypothetical fund. Some of what we do will have immediate results, and some might take decades or even centuries to fully pay off, but in pretty much all cases, the outcome is the same. Taking action to mitigate or adapt to climate change will make life better, and will make it easier to take more action. We’re in the middle of a massive systemic change that has built up a fair amount of momentum. The upside is that we have the capacity to influence that system in ways that will sap some of that momentum. We’re not just stuck on a scripted march towards doom. Everything we do, year by year, can change our trajectory.

We just have to do it.


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Dipping into degrowth

I’m a believer in the power of repetition to spread and embed ideas in our culture. Just as repetition is useful for learning new subjects or skills, it’s also useful for making certain ideas familiar to people. An example that’s relevant to this blog is the switch from using “global warming”, to using “climate change” in mainstream public discourse. It was a deliberate policy, pushed by Frank Luntz, because his focus groups thought the latter was less scary than the former. Not only did that effort work, but it also paved the way for climate deniers to say that the change was made by environmentalists because there wasn’t any warming.

There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.

-Frank Luntz

I think this approach is also why it’s now pretty normal to heard the Democratic Party referred to as the “Democrat party”, because someone decided that change made them look worse, and the Republicans look better. Luntz is a horrible person, judged by the harm he has done, but I think his understanding of propaganda is worth learning from.

All of this was to say that I’m aware that I repeat myself on this blog, and to some degree that’s deliberate. That said, this blog isn’t just about spreading a set number of messages I believe should be spread. It’s also an ongoing learning process for me, and for anyone who happens to learn from my work. That means that as much as I do repeat myself, I also try to delve into new topics on a regular basis.

Degrowth is one of those topics that I’ve been meaning to dig into, but I’ve been putting off. At my current level of understanding, it feels a little over-simplified, but like an obvious conclusion. Infinite growth is not possible in a finite world, and so any system that relies on infinite growth is definitionally unsustainable, and so dangerous. As with the constant calls to “organize” or to “build collective power”, my knee-jerk reaction is to ask, “Ok, yes, but how? What can we actually do in our day-to-day lives that counts as ‘organizing’?”

I don’t have the answer, and my guess is that most other people are in the same situation. We mostly haven’t been taught how a post-capitalist society could even exist. The default stance in mainstream “western” politics is that capitalism and liberal democracy are the end goal of humanity, and that they should be how everything is run for the rest of our existence of a species.

This is, apparently, as good as it gets.

It’s not surprising that we weren’t taught to think outside that box – that’s not what our education systems were designed for. So I’m trying to do at least a little to fill that gap, as one human among a multitude working on the same project. I’m going to start learning more about “degrowth” and writing more about it, about the proposals for achieving it, and so on.

For now, here’s a video from Our Changing Climate on the subject:

There are lot of ways a degrowth scenario could play out, the worst of which would be forced upon us by the climate. I remain firm in my belief that we can build a sustainable society that still benefits from advanced technology, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t require big changes to our own lives as we change things at a systemic level. I think that the more pro-active we are about this, the better our chances for a good outcome, and the more room we will have to screw up without disaster.

Going forward, I’m going to be putting more effort into degrowth content, and stuff like that, and I welcome any input and suggestions that you, dear reader, may have.


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