Podcast #2. The Earth is Finite

Listen to the podcast; join the follow-up teleconference.

Follow Up Teleconference: Seen from space, the earth is finite. Its resources, space, and disposal capacity are limited, but we behave as if consumption could expand forever. Economic thinking goes upside down. We don’t want to think about this, but we must. But we’ll start with the environmental problems. A list of 23 of them are below. These can be classified in different ways, but they all interrelate, and given existing trends most would become existential were global “warming” not happening.

  • High tech conflict (nuclear, biological, psyops, etc.)
  • Disposal of wastes (food, nuclear wastes, old minefields, leaching landfills, etc.)
  • Hot wars (very disruptive of ecologies)
  • Topsoil depletion and erosion
  • Biodiversity loss (pollinators get the most attention)
  • Light and noise pollution (diminishes wildlife in human occupied zones)
  • Dispersal of many different pollutants (dead zones from nitrate runoff, for example – 400 of them world-wide)
  • Ozone holes: still there, and are they “reviving”?
  • Plastic trash and microparticles (found everywhere on earth)
  • Sick populaces: global pandemics, plus chronic diseases, like diabetes
  • Endocrine disruptors (affect glandular systems of both humans and animals); have cumulative effects
  • Water security; floods; droughts; depletion; pollution
  • Oceans: warming, acidification, pollution, oxygen levels dropping
  • Air pollution (more serious than generally recognized)
  • Electromagnetic pollution (from 5G radiation to severe solar flares)
  • Trash (damaging wildlife, like coral reefs, overflowing landfills, harboring pathogens)
  • Natural disasters (more death & destruction because of human population density and building density. Disasters affect ecology too)
  • Food security (lack of nutritious foods; obese malnutrition)
  • Cybersecurity and proliferation of disinformation
  • Depression and its effects, like drug use, suicides
  • Increasing human population, especially the consumption footprint of that population
  • Climate change effects: Atmospheric heat trapping, ocean warming, even shifts in major ocean currents
  • Psychological blockage: inability to see our situation and deal with it.

The major issue is what to do about this. What actions would stop or reverse all these trends? What would they imply for our economic systems and ways of life? The severity of changes is usually underestimated because we want to save the environment without losing our present ways of life. We’ll discuss a couple of helpful subconcepts. One is awareness of return on energy, how much energy is required to obtain more energy. Another is that we cannot “Compress” if we continue to expand, relying on unit improvements. For example, we can decrease the energy use of individual buildings, but more than offset it by adding more and more buildings. But perhaps the key problem is the last on on the list — us — our inability to see our situation and deal with it. 

  • 8 PM Eastern, 2/11/2020

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