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Deep thought - Feb 26

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Monbiot: Cutting consumption is more important than limiting population

George Monbiot, Guardian
Population growth is but one factor contributing to pressures on resources and environmental damage. So why is it a hobby horse for so many?
---
Every time I give a public talk, the same thing happens. Someone in the audience stands up and complains that no one ever talks about population: why not, when it is obviously the major environmental issue? That's an awful lot of no ones.

... Population growth, as King's graph shows, and as he admitted during his presentation, is self-limiting: the entire global population is going or has gone through demographic transition. Consumption is not. It will rise until it causes ecological collapse, which is the problem we are seeking to avoid. By all means let's help people to get access to the contraceptives they want, and assist women to make full and free reproductive choices. But let's not pretend that their fertility is the overwhelming environmental issue.

So why does such a large congregation of no ones keep banging on about this issue? Well I can't help noticing that at least nine out of ten of them are post-reproductive, middle-class white men. They come from a group which is, in other words, more responsible for environmental destruction than any other class in history.
(25 February 2009)
My gripe about population is that I see very few well written articles on the subject. I encounter heartfelt concern but very little investigation and research.

What efforts have been made in the past at population control? What has been the Chinese experience? What are the complicating factors (e.g. the dependence of modern pension schemes on population growth? What do demographers say? -BA

UPDATE (Feb 26) EB contributor Ann writes:
Our former senator and current envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, used a lot of population research about 20 years ago to discover that lower childbirth correlated highly with the status of women, especially education. He was/is concerned with the environment, and was working toward lowering childbirth. He wrote a book with his colleague William Cohen. The material he used may still be available.



Interview with William Halal and Dmitry Orlov
(audio)
Carl Etnier, WGDR via Radio4all
Is the present financial collapse a blip on the road to a high-tech future full of quantum computers, smart robots, and space tourism, or are we seeing the beginning of the collapse of the US empire, leading to shortages of basic goods, breakdown of government services, and breakup of the United States? Or could both happen at the same time?

William Halal, is author of Technology's Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society, and Dmitry Orlov is author of Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects.

Carl Etnier hosts Equal Time Radio one day a week, focusing on energy, food, and the local economy at the end of the age of oil. More information about the program, and audio from other hosts, is available at www.equaltimeradio.com.

William Halal's web site is:
http://www.techcast.org

Dmitry Orlov's blog is
http?//www.cluborlov.blogspot.com
(23 February 2009)



World Made by Hand and post-apocalyptic fiction: a prepper’s perspective

Jerry Erwin, Culturechange.org
One recent evening with Jan Lundberg on his sailboat, I was discussing James Howard Kunstler’s World Made by Hand with him, from my perspective of a preparedness consultant who also focuses on predictive analysis regarding societal collapse. Jan then suggested that I write a review for CultureChange.org. As a fan of both James Howard Kunstler's weekly Clusterf--- Nation and of post-collapse/dystopian fiction, I couldn't resist the idea.

Over the years, I've noticed a huge gap in the way that post-collapse stories are written. At one end of the spectrum are novels that are heavy on useful information, skills and techniques, but somewhat low on writing style. One novel that we consider had the premise of collapse created by a global credit crisis, and a subsequent collapse of the US Dollar.

At the other end of this sub-genre are books that are very well-written, yet weak on technical detail, with regards to the re-engineering of available resources, weapons, etc. Or, for that matter, with regards to armed groups in a post-collapse environment, as well as individuals or groups that may have been prepared, prior to the collapse.

A good example of the former would be Jim Rawles’ Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse (1996), a prophetic novel. The writer is the modern patron saint of survivalism. The book is actually an instruction manual, dressed as fiction, for legal purposes. This book is considered the bible of modern survivalism, and is actually used as reference material. Jim Rawles, A former US Army All-Source Intelligence Officer, already walks-the-walk, and has written several books on preparedness, but is not a traditional fictional writer, per se (although Rawles does have a separate screenplay, currently looking for a film-maker).

The character descriptions in Patriots are somewhat lacking. The reader has to tolerate some fundamentalist Christianity. Regardless, the average survivalism / preparedness-minded individual will be absolutely glued to this book for its information, as well as its well-written scenes involving combat with modern weapons. It is also ominously predictive: The collapse in his novel is created by a global credit crisis, and a subsequent collapse of the US Dollar.

The late Gordon Dickson’s Wolf and Iron (1990), also takes place in the aftermath of a socio-economic collapse. Dickson was a well-established science fiction author, who did his research. In Wolf and Iron, he describes subjects such as blacksmithing, firearms, knife-fighting, searching for/concealing weapons, and the fabrication of items such as crossbows, made from automotive parts. There is even a horse-drawn covered wagon featured in this novel, built from tractor-trailer parts by a wealthy individual, who, as in other novels of this type (including Kunstler’s), saw the collapse coming. This wagon is complete with bedrooms, workshops, and modern military crew-served weapons.

I would have to rate Wolf and Iron at a distant second to Jim Rawles’ Patriots as a novel that can be tabbed and used for reference.

As for well-written and less detail, the perfect example here would be World Made by Hand. Having read The Long Emergency, it was obvious to me that Kunstler, a long-established author of fiction and non-fiction, was next trying to get the world’s attention, particularly those who may, or may not have read The Long Emergency. World Made by Hand is basically a fictionalized companion to his brilliant predictive non-fiction piece regarding the societal effects of resource depletion and climate change.
(20 February 2009)

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