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Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grand Challenge Manifesto (GCM)

Dire times ahead! That is not the message that the young want to hear - but it is the stark reality that society will have to cope with. Industrial civilization has used up so much of the stored natural material wealth, including oil, that it is becoming so scarce that supply will not be able to meet demand in the future. Technology has provided the means to use this natural wealth but not the means to handle the material wastes produced or to repair the ecological damage that industrialization has done. So now the vast, aging infrastructure is addicted to using up the limited natural material capital as it runs out. Surviving future generations will curse their inability to do no more than make decisions about how to power down as the goods and services provided by civilization decline. They need a Grand Challenge Manifesto to guide them on the way down.

Denis Frith

Curiosity rover and the other side of the coin.

The achievement of the NASA team in sending Curiosity Rover to Mars is indicative of the high level of technical expertize that humans are able to reach. It is therefore surprising that our scientists do not seem to understand the fundamental principle that has governed physical operations here on Earth for eons. Natural laws have always determined what can possibly happen. They will continue to do so despite the research and development efforts of our scientists. The natural laws are inviolate.

If our scientists had understood that side of the coin, many of the unintended deleterious consequences of the development of civilization could have been avoided. However, that has not happened so we have the Curiosity Rover as a positive being more than offset by rapid, irreversible climate change, acidification of the oceans, pollution of land, sea, air and people as negatives.

Ironically, will not be long before scientific effort will be primarily focused on  trying to remedy some of the problem created by industrialization.  These efforts will have to make use of some of the available natural forces.

Denis Frith

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Truth and certainty

Many commentators on the global economic and ecological scene wishfully call for truth and certainty. Is it a bull market or is it a bear market? Will the bail out of Greece (or Spain or Italy or California) work? Is the Chinese economy peaking? Will India be able to manage the common power failures? Will the current US drought do irreparable damage to world food production? Is there any way to stop global warming?

Many pundits address the pros and cons of all these issues. Confusion reigns! Complexity grows and resilience declines. The bewildered masses strive to make do despite the apparent uncertainty engendered by all the blather. They are at a loss because they have not been told the truth.
This is not surprising because the natural forces that control what happens do not have a voice. They have just acted for eons, despite that actions of human technological tools irreversibly drawing down on the limited natural material capital. As a consequence, the truth is the certainty this century of demise of industrialized civilization. No rhetoric, no decisions, of humanity can change that destiny.

Denis Frith

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Divestment of natural capital

George Monbiot published a piece, The Great Imposters, in the Guardian of 7th August 2012 in which he describes the trend to commodify natural capital so market forces will determine their usage.The argument in favour of this approach is coherent and plausible. Business currently treats the natural world as if it is worth nothing. Pricing nature and incorporating that price into the cost of goods and services creates an economic incentive for its protection. However, it does not take into account the fact that many components of natural capital, such as oil, soil fertility, phosphorus, the marine ecosystem and the climate are being irreversibly degraded by the operations of the systems of civilization. Incorporating the ecological cost into business plans is a logical improvement on what has been done in the past but it still does not take into account the divestment of the natural capital. It is an unsustainable process so future generations will learn the hard way how unwise their forebears were.

Denis Frith