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Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:16 am
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:00 am
@jp - I think a general perspective on that would be one of "unmet expectations" which is similar to how financial struggles happen at all levels of spending but beyond a very modest level of income are caused by always spending 5% more than one's income. I see the melancholy or bitterness as originating in lost [perceived] potential. Most people can't even define what climate is and so "climate" occupies a very small part of their brain space. If they're told that the climate is breaking down---well, what's the problem and can't we just compensate by installing some "climate control"?
Yesterday, I saw a year old report that the bird population in France has collapsed by 70%
(thus following the insect collapse of a similar magnitude). But "birds" do not occupy that much of my brain space. In my mind, because I'm not all that interested in birds, they are simply a collection of animals with two wings and a beak. I can maybe name and recognize about 5 different ones. So to me, the collapse of the bird population is just a factoid that gets filed with the general collapse of eco-systems.
But that news to an ornithologist or a bird-watcher would be far more devastating because birds occupy a much larger part of their brain space.
I think this is why climate scientists take climate breakdown particularly hard. And they take it harder the longer they've been involved. The effect of unmet expectations is cumulative. Climate scientists could probably learn from medical doctors in how they deal with patients who habitually ignore their advice. I believe there's a mantra doctors repeat to themselves when dealing with such patients: "You can't fix stupid." When it comes to climate change, humanity is such a patient.
@vexed87 - Interesting to see back and forth between the two---there's a response from Bendell to that post and then a counter-response. I think the fundamental difference between Deep Adaption and Deep Transformation is that the latter tries to solve the predicament at the same level of complexity that created it ("we must create some movements that will mature into new and better institutions like the one's we have and those institutions will replace the one's we have"), whereas Deep Adaption tries to solve the predicament at a lower level of complexity ("we need to surrender the idea of institutions entirely---quit our jobs and start growing our own guns and food after spending a mourning period coming to terms with this"). The dichotomy/tension between these originates in the sense of time scale. In watching the two camps, there's a clear difference in how urgent the respective camps are and
how quickly they believe such transformations can occur.
I noticed this in the language used. [Hopeful] Politicians and activist types have mostly adopted the line that "we have 12 years to solve this problem". Borrowing "saving for retirement" as a near perfect metaphor, their thinking is like the 55 year old who realizes they have zero savings and 12 years until retirement. We all know some like that. What do they do? With the fear of setting up a straw man argument, I declare that there are three ways normal people handle this.
- Despite their predicament, they propose a plan that involves minimal savings rates, perhaps 10% but choosing riskier investments to "grow the money faster". This preserves their current lifestyle. 12 years later, they are too old to work, but because of their minimal efforts, they have only achieved minimal results and their retirement will therefore be much tougher. I'll call this the "Greener version of business as usual"-model. (Tweak the existing institutions.)
- Realizing their predicament, they start talking to other people in the same situation, and figure that maybe what's needed is a new form of retirement where they all live together and take care of each other instead instead of relying on paying for nurses, etc. Maybe some of them can still work selling artisanal soap or start a gift-economy once they've banned the use of money. This would be the "Transform society"-model. (Replace existing institutions with new ones.)
- Realizing their predicament, and realizing that they started too late for a full solution, they increase their savings rate to 66% causing immediate and sustained austerity to their lifestyle, but by the time of their retirement, they will actually have enough money to retire. This would be the "Deep Adaption"-model.
I think scientists (in particular) often underestimate (at least in their official writings) institutional inertia and overestimate what's possible politically. Activists and politicians in turn overestimate what's possible technologically. This is why there's disagreement along the timescale variable---each side expecting the work of the other side to be rather trivial. And because of this inherent disagreement between different classes of humans, I think Deep Adaption is the only realistic perspective on the predicament.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:25 am
The article you linked mentions 97% decline in Monarch Butterfly population, but I saw a tree covered with Monarchs at a Northern Michigan park just last week. There are also all sort of bees buzzing around the borage growing on my hugel-bed. And, I am typing this post from a third floor apartment in front of a large window overlooking a man-made pond where I recently witnessed a mated pair of swans with 4 gawky cygnets aggressively ejecting a rather large flock of geese, so they could have all the resources of this small eco-system to themselves.
Of course, the environment I inhabit is somewhat exceptional due to having experienced an economic collapse leading to reduction or lack of growth of human population from which it is just beginning to somewhat recover. One of the school districts in which I teach has a large population of immigrants, or refugees, from Bangladesh which is an extremely densely populated nation very likely to be obliterated due to sea rise, and also Yemen which is in center of MidEast oil shit-storm. Last spring I took a temp job during the spring rush in a big box garden/home improvement store. One busy weekend, the store was filled with young immigrant families from my teaching district who had driven up the expressway to the suburbs to buy rat poison, fruit trees, insulation, decking, weed whackers, washing machines, etc., The kids who recognized me from other setting would boldly yell "Hey!" or shyly smile, and I would chat for a moment with a young Dad looking for somebody friendly and English-fluent to offer advice on supplies for fixing up a falling down house in the hood for his newly arrived cousin. It was crazy busy, which is an environment I rather like, but the stressed-out assistant manager of my department was inclined towards seeking release through racist commentary.
Lately I've been feeling like I have pretty much read myself in a circle on this topic, but I happened upon "Sustainable Energy-without the hot air" by David J.C. MacKay by way of "Information Theory: A Tutorial Introduction" by James V. Stone, and I felt compelled to give it a read, since MacKay is obviously a genius. This book is intended to be very hard nosed realist solution oriented for the never-did-calculus reader, but MacKay does briefly touch on ethical considerations on his way to placing them mostly off-bounds for his purpose of developing potential models for engineering future fossil-fuel-free Great Britain. For obvious reasons, historical share per capita of CO2 emissions correlates extremely well with the economic data researched by Pickety in "Capital" and related trends discussed by Frey in "The Technology Trap", Das in "The Age of Stagnation" and Hall in "Energy and the Wealth of Nations." Coal and related industrial development in colonialist pre-World War 1 Western Europe and then oil and post-World War 2 development in the U.S. , and now a global flattening of income disparity as technological knowledge or organizational methods necessary for exploitation of fossil fuel resources towards production have spread in tandem with increased income inequality in post-industrial-development realms as savings (of the more affluent) increase and improvements in production stall. Mackay (and others, of course) notes that perhaps it would be unfair to not allow those humans who are late to the fossil-fueled party to at least get some share of the bounty towards development of at least lowest rung stable middle-class lifestyle. What he doesn't say is that this is what is going to happen anyways. Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose, Swan, Robot. Eventually, it will be your turn to run.
The interesting thing is that although what daylen wrote about locality being an illusion is true on the level of imagining the creation of titanium boundaries, it is the opposite of true at the level of realizing that the complexity and chaos of the larger system is also apparent at just about any level of zoom. So, I would argue that the construction of any successful model, no matter how small, could be useful and antidote to despair.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:36 pm
(channeling Ego) Why not do all 3?
@jp: I have been mixing up my data science and eco/econ reading binge with a good deal of very contemporary literature. Barely a peep on the topic of global climate change in any of these quite intelligent novels, but there does seem to be a focus on expensive label fitness clothes wearing wives of bland/douche finance-bro as symbol of everything wrong with our society, especially when they run in packs. But, this sort of character is often the wife or sister of the only-one-step-removed-from-this-level-of-affluence protagonist, so eventually is accorded some empathy. So, it is kind of like the ultra-wealthy/wasteful are serving as distraction from garden-variety very affluent American behavior and waste. The Millennial generation seems to be obsessed with the danger of falling over the upper-middle class cliff. The young women in particular seem to feel like they have to do everything right in order to approximate decent situation for their children. I definitely see some of this in my own DD28 and her social circle.
It was all such an insult, the Hamptons. It was an insult to economic disparity. It was an insult to leading a good life and asking hard questions about what one should sacrifice in the name of decency. It was an insult to having enough-to knowing that there was such a thing as enough. Inside these houses weren't altruistic, good people whom fortune had smiled down upon in exchange for their kind acts and good works. No, inside those columned, great-lawned homes were pirates for whom there was never enough. There was never enough money, goods, clothing, safety, security, club memberships, bottles of old wine. There was not a number at which anyone said, "I have a good life. I'd like to see if I can help someone else have a good life." These were criminals- yes, most of the were real, live criminals. Not always with jailable offenses, but certainly morally abhorent ones: They had offshore accounts or they underpaid their assistants or they didn't pay taxes on their housekeepers or they were NRA members.
And the worst of it all, the biggest insult there was, was where this all was situated. It was at the tip of Long Island, which itself was a bunion on Manhattan. This luxury tip was so precariously placed and so prone to terrible weather, surrounded on most sides by water as the Hamptons was, that the most offensive part of it all was that such wealth was planted in such tenuousness. One bad storm and all these houses were blown away. And you know how these pirates felt about that? They didn't give a shit. Go ahead, let God blow the wrath of shame and destruction down on us. Not to worry, we'll make a killing on the insurance, and also we have a place in Aspen!- "Fleishman is in Trouble" - Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:09 pm
@7wb5 - I think that's channeling Dragline. All 3 are being done. I'd estimate about 7.7 billion people in the first group, several thousand in the second group, and a few hundred in the third group. Since they are not independent(*) (and one group dominates), both the second and third group ultimately operates within the boundary conditions/environment set by the first. Preppers often talk about the zombie apocalypse in a joking way (you can even go to zombie camp and learn how to defeat them), but in more serious terms, zombies refer to anyone living with their blinders on and dealing with zombies (that is, group 1) during a crisis situation is an extremely important part of whatever solutions are proposed by groups 2 and 3.
Within the context of ERE, the solution towards reforming work-life balance was thus not to use a group2-style approach and try to convince everybody else to create a lifestyle/culture in which work was optional and voluntary (see all UBI schemes for a group2 example), but essentially develop enough FU money and operate within the system of group1 in a way that didn't destroy group1 coherence.
(*) It's not like we can divide the Earth into three separate pieces where consequences and future histories remain isolated from each other.
Solving this problem is similar except the required strategy is to provide a viable alternative to group1 (via group2 or 3---where I believe that the deep adaption approach will ultimately be much more effective because it's ultimately realistic and at some point reality will catch up) w/o triggering the zombie apocalypse. Not sure that's ultimately possible though. See nearest national border for how it's currently going. That's essentially one aspect of the institutional world order (the nation state) that's under pressure as existing living areas on the planet are getting eliminated starting from the equator going polewards.
Add: Correction, I don't think there's 7.7B in the first group. Clearly, there's a much larger 0th group.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:42 pm
I think you highly underestimate people in the 2nd and 3rd group. Maybe by a few orders of magnitude. If you're figure were true, I'de know most of them by sight and they'de all be French or Germans. This or you have much stricter criterion than me.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:29 am
What I meant by "do all 3" is that there is no reason why you can't simultaneously take calculated risks, co-operate with others, and go on austerity plan. Though as you noted, the time frame/goal will tend towards defining strategy. For instance, "I want to be a millionaire in 3 years!" clearly can't be accomplished through austerity alone unless income is already quite high.
The stable global lowest rung middle-class income is about 1/2 jacob/capita. So, if, for example, you reconfigured your current household spending to include support of your wife's slightly doddery great-aunt and a 9 year old kid you sprung from Chicago youth prison system, you would still be in the global middle class which is now approaching 50% world population (median $2920/capita in 2012 PPP adjusted.)
So, reduction of emissions to tolerable level simultaneous with universal achievement of global middle-class income would require huge redistribution of resources in some thoughtful manner (education of females for example) , but it is not unpossible on paper. The problem is the continuing desire for lifestyle spending increase of almost everybody with income already above approximately 1 jacob/capita, which obviously includes a lot of people who are only maybe now half a generation away from extreme poverty. It's kind of like when I was dating this guy who boot-strapped himself up from the projects and he really cared about having silverware that impressed a decent heft in his hand. How are you going to hustle everyone right up the ladder from digging for food in the dump to BIFL/check it out of the library in 12 years (half a generation?) It's waaaay easier if your father maybe taught you about compound interest when you were 8 and half of your great^10th grand-mothers were literate. So, it's like there is a little bit of "Let them eat cake." in even the most fair-minded individualist calculations.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:45 pm
The answer is very simple actually. Global population will shrink one way or another and eventually humanity will not be such a burden on the planet anymore. At some point, the expectations for a "improved lifestyle" will be way lower. If the species survive, hopefully the lesson will have been learned, and hopefully we are able to preserve at least enough oral history to not make the same mistakes again.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:13 pm
@bigato: In "Capital", Pickety rationally-optimistically projects almost every region besides Sub-Saharan Africa achieving catch-up on production per capita levels equivalent to U.S. /Western Europe by 2050. That's likely within even my lifetime and certainly yours. IOW, not some 2300 post-apocalyptic problem.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:31 pm
Uh yeah, if we don't die of starvation before due to the insect apocalipse in the next decade or so. It's pretty scary.
Re: Deep Adaptation
Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:57 am
I don't mean to convey optimism, but one thing to bear in mind about insects is that, unlike other large mammals about to become extinct, they reproduce on much smaller cycles than humans. So, London after the plague to London packed full of puny children working in coal-fired factories, might be less than 12 years for an insect population. Highly unlikely that high density pool of energy offered by flowering plants will remain unexploited for very long, although frequency of one-on-one correspondence of pollinators will likely result in crash of genetic diversity. IOW, rough generalists will be strongly favored over refined specialists. Interesting how the same sorts of patterns emerge in different systems, isn't it?
The sort of modern division of labor among humans which Henry Ford is sometimes credited with inventing, is dependent upon energy density. Dollars spent is a reasonable first approximation of energy usage or emissions, but it breaks down at level of market basket analysis, because:
. An hour's work of the typical wage-earner in the twenty-first century can buy just as many haircuts as an hour's work a hundred years ago, so that purchasing power expressed in terms of haircuts has not increased (and may in fact have decreased slightly)- "Capital"- Pickety
IOW, pure service work, for obvious reasons, remains at the same level of energy density (solar acre) as 18th century cottage industry. So, I would argue that cutting your own hair, although good frugal choice for other reasons, is not likely to reduce emissions unless resultant starvation of the barber is also included in the calculation towards model.