Presentation on theme: "+ Sustainability Class 3: State of Earth POLS 319 P. Brian Fisher."— Presentation transcript:
+ Sustainability Class 3: State of Earth POLS 319 P. Brian Fisher
+ Human-Environmental Interface Part I Berry (Dream of the Earth), McKibben (“end of nature”), and “Being in the World”
+ McKibben, “End of Nature” Main Point: Natural nature has been replaced by an hybrid nature in whose processes human beings now play a part. Humans have changed the land, forest, air, atmosphere, ice/glaciers, oceans, rivers/lakes—all that composes the “environment” We cannot escape them by fleeing to the woods. We have progressed beyond removing parts of the earth from the domain of true nature -- through farming, mining, construction -- to actually altering the global processes that define our environment. Our environment is now in part defined by our actions ME: Think about what we have built in this process of change Humans and natural nature are now “tightly bound”…Our cars, our houses, plastics, and pesticides are as much a part of the world we know as are the trees, waters, and hills that we live among. The human race will need to decide between our material world and the natural world. "One world or the other will have to change.” In this world, McKibben thinks that human beings could take a less dominant relation to nature, and nature might once again establish itself as independent, constant.
+ Lynn White, “Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” Main Point: Our solutions to environmental issues are determined by how we see ourselves in relationship to the environment. Until this shifts, little will be accomplished in preserving the environment Support: We all change our environment or “modify its context” Industrial Rev turning pt in our history Combined Technology with Science to create a potent destructive force to environment Baconian Mentality: “Earth as a resource” Driven in large part by Christianity “dominion over nature” mode of Anthropocentrism Man created in “God’s image” is superior over rest of nature Conclusion: Religion-driven attitudes have created indifference toward environment; technology/science won’t help either. It’s human ideas about nature that must change. they must abandon "superior, contemptuous" attitudes that make them "willing to use it [the earth] for our slightest whim."
+ Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth Humans as Conscious Agents “What is happening is unthinkable in ages gone by. We now control forces that once controlled us, or, more precisely, the earth process that formerly administered the earth directly is now accomplishing this task in and through the human as its conscious agent.” (p42) “It is not simply adaptation to a reduced supply of fuels or to some modification in our system of social or economic controls. What is happening is something of a far greater magnitude. It is a radical change in our mode of consciousness.” (p42)
+ Comparative History: Role of Environment (Diamond and White) Part II Diamond (Collapse and “Last Americans”)
+ Diamond, “The Last Americans” and Collapse Diamond’s research compare many past and present societies that differed with respect to environmental fragility, relations with neighbors, political institutions, and other "input" variables postulated to influence a society's stability and their likelihood to lead to decline/collapse or buildup Thesis: Civilizations prosper and ultimately decline because of environmental conditions Thesis of Collapse: All (but one) factor associated with rise and fall of civilization has to do with population growth (and technology) vs. earth’s carrying capacity (or resources) Population, deforestation, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production reach limits that outstrips resources leading to societal decline
+ Diamond, Factors contributing to past Societal Collapse 8 Factors Contributing to Past Societal Decline/Collapse Deforestation and Habitat Destruction Soil Issues, including erosion and salinization Water management Overharvesting/Overfishing Overhunting Non-native species introductions Population Growth Increased affluence/consumption 4 other ‘new’ factors may contribute to social decline (in future): Climate change Build up of environmental toxins and contaminants Energy shortages Utilization of earth’s photosynthetic capacity
+ Diamond, Misconceptions about Environment 1. Must balance the environment against human needs: actually the reverse—we depend on the environment! 2. Can Trust technology to solve problems (GMOs, hydrogen, biofuels, etc) ”all of our current enviro probs are unanticipated harmful consequences of existing technology” 3. Environmentalists are fear-mongering, overreacting extremists—the problems we face are compounded by ignorance and arrogance (lack of history)
+ Systems: Human-Environment Sustainability in the past? Supported by what and by whom? Historically, closed societies reliant on resources within walking distance As societies could access resources beyond their borders, mass exploitation began first through wars, and now through global divisions of labor, comparative advantage facilitated by consumption is “consumption” a war? Focus shifted from survival to economic growth Today, people and ecological systems are exploited en masse to support over consumptive patterns in industrialized areas, the waste/outputs distanced, and and universal emphasis on econ growth (as driver of development) Examining the systems that generate the structure at lower levels that dictates (in part) behavior is critical to understanding sustainability. NOTE: in this light, can we even talk about Sustainable Development as an answer? As Berry and White are arguing the consciousness of human beings is being shaped by these systems, and how we perceive “environment” along with it. Many scholars would add that “culture” now engrains this myopic perspective of consumption and econ growth into all. Many then fail to SEE the problem. Most environmentalists believe that some shift in values about the “Environment” must shift first to induce sustainable change, while sustainability advocates would argue that we must change human systems first
+ State of Earth Part III Berry (Dream of the Earth); WorldWatch (State of the World), United Nations “Unsustainability” Data
+ Thomas Berry “Through human presence the forests of earth are destroyed. Fertile soils become toxic and then wash away in the rain or blow away in the wind. Mountains of human-derived waste grow ever higher. Wetlands are filled in. Each year approx ten thousand species disappear forever. Even the ozone layer above the earth is depleted. Such disturbance in the natural world coexists with all those ethnic, political and religious tensions that pervade the human realm. Endemic poverty is pervasive in the Third World, while in the industrial world people drown in their own consumption patterns. Population increase threatens all efforts at improvement.” (p36)
+ Production – Consumption Cycle Part of the “Materials Economy” Production Extraction of resources Using resources to produce goods Distribution of goods Consumption Acquisition of goods Use of goods Waste: Getting rid of goods used Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Current System: “Cradle” (extraction) to “Grave” (disposal)
+ Carbon Emissions Facts Per person emissions: 4.6 metric tons or 10,000 pounds of CO 2 per individual. American: 26 metric tons African: 0.9 metric tons CofC Student: 6.7 metric tons (includes only campus activities) 45% of CO 2 from human activities stays in atmosphere; 55% absorbed by sinks. US Home today has 4 times the space a home did in 1950—emissions growing at 2%/yr Transportation—also growing 2%/yr (China/India)
+ Country Emissions US historically responsible for 30% of historic emissions, and 20% of annual emissions (with 4% of population) China’s emissions growing at 10% annually China passed US in total emissions recently (2006-2008) UK: 6% historically b/c of industrial revolution, but now 2%.
+ Unsustainable Stats Water - by 2025, 1.6 billion people will live in countries with absolute water scarcity; 440 million school days are already missed every year because of diarrheal diseases. Land use - modern agriculture exploits land more intensively than it has in the past. In 1987, a hectare of cropland yielded on average 1.8 tons of crops, today the same hectare produces 2.5 tons. This increased productivity comes at a cost - overexploited land is degraded and becomes less productive. Fish - 2.6 billion people rely on fish for more than 20% of their animal protein intake, yet as the intensity of fishing increases, the biodiversity of the ocean and the ocean's capacity to produce more fish decreases. Air - more than 2 million people die each year because of indoor and outdoor pollution.
+ Living Planet Index Put out by the WWF and Zoological Society of London (used by the UN) Examines the biodiversity of the planet Database contains over 10,000 population trends for more than 2,500 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
+ Ecological Footprint Measure of human demand on ecosystems An ecological footprint is a standard measurement of a unit’s influence on its habitat based on consumption and pollution Today, humanity's total ecological footprint at 1.5 planet Earths – in other words, humanity uses ecological services 1.5 times as fast as Earth can renew them
+ Ecological Footprint Ef = Hectares Affected per capita population
+ State of the World 2010 “In considering how societies can be put on paths toward a sustainable future, it is important to recognize that human behaviors that are so central to modern cultural identities and economic systems are not choices that are fully in consumers’ control. They are systematically reinforced by an increasingly dominant cultural paradigm: consumerism.” (p7)
Unsustainable Consumption Affluent: individual average footprint of 21.9 hectares per person estimated by UNEP, includes the areas required to produce the resources we use, as well as the areas needed to process our waste. Pop Growth: Almost 6.9b today, estimated to reach 10b by 2050. We add 1/3 of the US population to earth every yr.
+ What is Unsustainable Environment – Air and Water Pollution Poverty Inequality Disease (AIDS, Malaria, Dengue, etc) Food/Agriculture Water Economic Development Fisheries Forests Energy Climate Health Biodiversity Ecosystems
+ Freshwater Nearly ½ World’s population will experience water shortages by 2025 Acutely intensified by CC
+ Inequity US accounts for 23% of world’s emissions, 30% of its energy use, 32% of expenditures, with only 4% of population Top 500 million RICHEST people account for more than 50% of world’s emissions In India, even those making $5k-6k, which many would feel is subsistence, are already at levels unsustainable
+ 3 Conclusion from “Limits to Growth” 1. If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next 100 years (from 1972) 2. It’s possible to alter these growth trends and to establish a condition of ecological and econ stability that is sustainable. The state of global equilibrium could be designed to meet basic material needs of each person on earth 3. If the world decides to strive for this 2 nd outcome, the sooner they begin working to attain it, the greater the chances of success
+ History of Environmental Problems—Globally Part V McNeil (Something New Under the Sun); Sachs (Common Wealth)
+ 3 Massive Historical Changes Social Triumph at a Price: Economic Growth Population Growth Massive Increase in Energy Use (primarily driven by fossil fuels)
Economic Growth YEARGDP Per cap 1500 $240b$595 1820 $695b$651 1900 $2t$1263 1950 $5.4t$2138 1992 $28t$5145 Today $69t$10400 Per capita, the world economy has grown 120 fold since 1500; yet, individual (avg) income has grown only 9 fold.
+ Energy 2 Costs of Energy Intensification: 1. fossil fuel combustion generates pollution and GHGs 2. fossil fuel use SHARPLY increased the inequities in wealth and power globally (McNeil, 15-6) Global Energy Use in 1800: 250m (metric tons of oil equivalent) Global Energy Use in 1900: 800m Global Energy Use in 2000: 10,000m
+ 3 Marked Results from 20 th Century 1. Econ Growth: Exponential increased economic growth & living stnds (because of ↑ pop, ↑ tech) 2. Environmental Harm: Increases in widespread environmental degradation (from burning of fossil fuels for energy consumption & waste) 3. Inequality: Modern expansion, while liberating to many, brought severe inequality
+ Sachs, Common Wealth, pp. 17-31 1. Process of sustained Economic Growth for all (income per person) avg poor person is getting richer 2. World’s population will continue to grow augmenting the global economy More output per person but more people Medium estimates put 9.2b people in 2050 3. Largest increase will be in Asia, where half the world’s population The economic center in 2050 will be in Asia 4. Way people live is changing Urbanizing globally For first time in human history, more people live in Cities. Crossed the threshold in 2008. Rapidly growing. 29% lived in cities in 1950 to 50% in 2007; high income world: 75% live in cities 5. Impact of human activity on biophysical environment is producing multiple environmental crises, never seen before in human history 6. Gap between the richest and poorest is widening to proportions never seen in human history. “Poverty Trap” for bottom billion where they cannot achieve sustained econ growth 6 Earth Changing Trends Unprecedented in History
+ Sachs, Common Wealth, pp. 17-31 1. Economic Convergence: per capita income in poor countries will continue to converge with rich World Economy will be MUCH bigger by 2050 Avg income for developing countries will be ~$40k, which is the avg income for US in 2005, while in US it will be ~$90k. 2. More People, but higher incomes for more people ** Must stabilize population at 8b; then econ growth can be positive if we can manage environmental side effects. 3. Asian Century: Historic shift in the economic gravity of World 4. Urban Century: Continuing urbanizing trends Means that cities have tremendous potential, but also will be sites for major destruction: pollution, disasters, and disease with higher density 5. Poverty Trap: Poorest billion are not achieving econ growth, which is dangerous: 1. Death from starvation 2. Lack basic needs (food, water, nourishment, shelter) 3. Lack political and economic stability 4. Most population growth 5. Most enviro destructive 6. Most potential for conflict 7. Cycle is self reinforcing, not self-correcting requires global policies and funding 6 Trends that will Shape the 21 st Century
+ Sachs, Common Wealth, pp. 17-31 6. Environmental Challenges: Rapid econ growth (in a linear system) means unprecedented enviro destruction; climate change will intensify many of the challenges I = P*A*T (IPAT equation) By 2050: P = increase 40% (1.4 fold increase) A = increase 4 fold P * A = 6 fold increase I (env harm) = 6 times more destruction, if T is constant Technology works both ways: can protect or destroy If world is already unsustainable, what will a 6 fold increase in the destruction do? Based on this equation, two things must happen if we agree A is necessary, reduce P (population) and make technology sustainable Environmental Challenges in the 21 st Century
+ Population & Environment Video Population and Environment Video (5m) Population and Environment Downsides to Economic Growth (Bill McKibben) (6+m) Downsides to Economic Growth
+ Governance of Unsustainability (Hardin and Policy) Part VI Hardin (Tragedy of Commons and Policy)
+ Global Policy Solutions Elite powerbrokers/nations erected new politics, ideologies, and institutions predicated on this principle. Harnessing fossil fuels played a central role in widening gap wealth & power RESULT: 1. More environmental degradation than any pt in history 2. More inequality between humans than any pt in history 3. More complexity to problems themselves 4. Ideology that technology is part of “progress” that will save day; abstraction of nature Global Policy since 1950 (post WWII) has been an emphasis on: 1. faster economic growth (“rising tide raises all boats”) 2. raising standards of living
** Changes in i) Problems themselves, ii) Structure of Int’l system, and iii) Agency 49
+ ‘Tragedy of the Global Commons’ Def’n: areas beyond the sovereignty of any nation which produces a conflict b/w individual and the common good over resources and protecting spaces. Problem of ‘collective action’ : Rational self-interested individuals or nations will not act to achieve their common or group interests. Thus, those with more resources will carry the load, while others forced or by choice ‘freeride’. EXs/ Oceans, subsoil, atmosphere, outer space, Antarctic ‘Tragedy’: It’s rational to use, which leads to exploitation, of these areas without reciprocation or regeneration Positive : the herder receives all of the proceeds from each additional animal Negative : the pasture is slightly degraded by each add’l animal
+ McNeil, Epilogue “human history since the dawn of agriculture is replete with unsustainable societies, some of which vanished but many of which changed their ways and survived. They changed not to sustainability but to some new and different kind of unsustainability. Perhaps, we can as it were, pile on unsustainable regime upon another indefinitely, making adjustments large and small but avoid collapse…most societies, and all the big ones, sought to maximize their current formidability and wealth at the risk of sacrificing ecological buffers and tomorrow’s resilience.”
+ McNeil, Epilogue “with our new powers we banished some historical constraints on health and population, food production, energy use and consumption generally…but in banishing them we invited other constraints in the form of the planet’s capacity to absorb wastes, by-products, and impacts of our actions…Our negotiations with these constraints will shape the future as our struggles against them shaped our past.” (p 362).
+ Conclusions Historic drivers (mcneil) Current Drivers (sachs) Limits to Growth and Resources Current Effects (State of World) = Unsustainable Future Drivers will exacerbate many of the current effects Climate Change Population growth Current Economic Expansion and Wealth Consumption Waste Without changes in human-environmental compact, Diamond suggests societal collapse; at a minimum, growing unsustainability means intensified global instability and insecurity