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 20 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.

  • Ozone holes (not growing fast, but still there)
  • High technology war (nuclear weapons, biological weapons, psyops, etc.)
  • Disposal of wastes (from nuclear wastes to clearing of old minefields)
  • Hot wars (these usually disrupt ecologies)
  • Topsoil depletion and erosion
  • Biodiversity loss (loss of pollinators gets 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 world wide)
  • Plastic trash and microparticles (found everywhere on earth)
  • Sick population; pandemics of chronic diseases
  • Endocrine disruptors (affect glandular systems of both humans and animals); cumulative effects
  • Water availability; floods; droughts; depletion; pollution.
  • Oceans: warming, acidification, pollution
  • Air pollution (more serious than generally recognized)
  • Electromagnetic pollution (from 5G radiation to severe solar flares)
  • Landfllls (where to locate them, leaching from them, and in many places, trash for lack of them)
  • Natural disasters (more damage & death because of human population density; effects on ecology)
  • Food security (and lack of nutritious foods)
  • 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: greenhouse gases in the air, ocean warming, even shifts in major ocean currents

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.

  • 8 PM Eastern, 2/11/2020

Click here to return to the Compression Thinking Series of all 12 podcasts and 12 teleconferences >

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