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Less of What We Don't Need

Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.

Sooner or later, we have to stop economic growth — and we’ll be better for it

By: 
Richard Heinberg

We’ve gotten so accustomed to growth that governments, corporations and banks now depend on it. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re collectively addicted to growth.  The end of growth will come one day, perhaps very soon, whether we’re ready or not. If we plan for and manage it, we could well wind up with greater well-being.

The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug

By: 
Bruce Levine

The drumbeat for ketamine as a way to halt the rising suicide rate is upon us, as the New York Times has now joined the chorus. This is encouraging news unless of course you recall a couple of things: how recent enthusiasm from the medical-industrial complex for increased opioid use for pain resulted in the current opioid epidemic; and how the NYT has joined other notorious choruses such as Ahmed Chalabi’s one that sang about WMDs in Iraq.

Agriculture as Wrong Turn

By: 
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

The “Agricultural Revolution” is lauded as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the human race, proof positive of “Progress” and of our own exalted status “a little lower than angels.” Doubtless, it is among the most momentous changes that our species has experienced, on par with the utilization of fire, the development of language and the splitting of the atom. However, a closer look, based on research and scholarship, reveals that the adoption of farming led to declines in human health, caused sharp social inequities, started a war on the environment, and put us on a road that’s headed towards extinction.

The problem with the Human Development Index in an era of ecological breakdown

By: 
Jason Hickel

If you haven’t come across the Global Footprint Network yet, check them out.   Based in Oakland, CA, they produce fantastic data on the Ecological Footprint (EF) of nations around the world.  EF is measured in units known as “global hectares” – an omnibus measure that includes resource use, waste and emissions.

The researchers at the Global Footprint Network calculate that our planet presently has enough biocapacity for each of us to consume about 1.8 global hectares per year.  Anything over this means a degree of resource consumption that the Earth cannot replenish, or waste that it cannot absorb, and contributes to ecological breakdown. 

U.S. copper projects gain steam thanks to electric vehicle trend

By: 
Ernest Scheyder

YERINGTON, Nev. (Reuters) - Once seen as a laggard in the global mining industry, U.S. copper deposits have quietly drawn more than $1.1 billion in investments from small and large miners alike as Tesla and other electric carmakers scramble for more of the red metal.

Four U.S. copper projects are set to open by next year - the first to come online in more than a decade - with several mine expansions also underway across the country, home to the world’s fifth-largest copper reserves, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The rising popularity of electric vehicles - which use twice as much copper as internal combustion engines - and increasingly pro-mining policies in the U.S. while other nations exert greater control over their mineral deposits are fueling the spending, according to mining executives and investors.

Ecomodernism and the Sacred Shibboleth

By: 
Jason Hickel

I recently wrote a post criticizing ecomodernism as “magical thinking”.  I argued that it ignores key scientific studies on the unviability of absolute decoupling in order to advance an ecologically reckless insistence on growth.  Not surprisingly, ecomodernists were not particularly happy about this.  Linus Blomqvist of the Breakthrough Institute posted a rebuttal.  It’s worth reading, because it gives a useful indication of the arguments that ecomodernists fall back on when challenged, and presents an opportunity to stress-test them.  This is an important process.

Air travel is surging. That's a huge problem for the climate.

By: 
Umair Irfan

In 2018, the total number of air passengers increased in the US, with some periods of the year experiencing all-time high air travel volumes. Around the world, airlines carried 4.3 billion passengers in 2018, an increase of 38 million compared to the year before. Aviation accounts for about 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and that share is poised to grow.

The International Civil Aviation Organization anticipates that by 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected will be 70 percent greater than in 2005. By the middle of the century, they are slated to increase by upward of 700 percent. Every round-trip trans-Atlantic flight emits enough carbon dioxide to melt 30 square feet of Arctic sea ice.

The Magical Thinking of Ecomodernism

By: 
Jason Hickel

Right now we are consuming about 85 billion tons of material stuff per year, exceeding the sustainable threshold by 70%.  According to the UN, our resource use will rise to at least 132 billion tons per year by 2050, and possibly as high as 180 billion tons. 

It is on this basis that scientists have concluded that absolute decoupling of GDP from aggregate resource use is not possible.  But the ecomodernists at the Breakthrough Institute aren’t convinced. 

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