[p2p-research] Fwd: 20 Theses against green capitalism

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Aug 8 21:29:18 CEST 2009

Smári McCarthy wrote:
> I pose a challenge to each of you: Decrease your daily environmental
> footprint by 1/3.
> I've been trying to do this for a while. Since I moved in to my new
> apartment (where I'm living with four other people) we've decreased the
> apartment's daily electricity consumption from 23.87 kWh/day on average
> to 13.62 kWh/day on average. We have six trashcans for different types
> of waste, and try to grow some of our own stuff.
> How much am I really decreasing my environmental footprint? Probably not
> a lot. The fact is that it's really really hard to do without decreasing
> one's quality of life. I could clearly cut down significantly by
> refusing to fly, but that would strand me on this little island. Even by
> refusing to fly, there's still a large part of my footprint generated by
> travel by boat and car (about 50/50, oddly enough), not to mention the
> fact that I occasionally indulge in meat (albeit to a decreasing degree)...
> So at what point do we say, fine, I'm going to change my way of life so
> dramatically that I'm going to really feel it? And at which point have
> enough people done that so that we don't all end up dead?
> The primitivist way out is just as futile as the capitalist's way out
> for a number of reasons. Not least in that in developing countries where
> the environmental footprint is far lower than here, there's still
> alarming levels of toxic waste, littering, deforestation, poor graywater
> management, water shortages, and so on and so forth...

You might want to look at this talk by Bruce Stirling: :-)

He suggests we not focus too much on stuff that dead people can do better 
than us. :-)

Sure, efficiency and voluntary simplicity is a great idea. But it really is 
not much of a goal of life as much as a facilitator of living well.

Also, we humans have created so much climate change, and so many other 
changes on a geological scale, and we are now aware of some concerns like 
asteroid impacts, that I don't think as a species we can in good conscience 
just turn back, even if many people of good will may as individuals turn 
back and simplify their individual lives. So, we need to figure out good 
ways to go forward as a species IMHO (or maybe fragment as a species and so on).

If one wants to use resources more efficiently so we can support more human 
life in the same space, that's a different story. But I don't see us 
anywhere near our limits for some things, like energy use if we used solar 
energy from PV panels on Earth, or if we migrated into the solar system and 
space habitats.

Shutting down our economy might even be bad in that sense -- having done so 
much damage but abandoning the chance to make up for it with something 
grander. Something I wrote on that seventeen years ago or so:
   "A letter from Gaia to humanity on the joy of expectation "
A letter from Gaia to humanity on the joy of expectation
   Don't cry for me. When I let you evolve I knew it might cost the
rhino and the tiger. I knew the rain forests would be cut down. I
knew the rivers would be poisoned. I knew the ocean would turn to
filth. I knew it would cost most of the species that are me.
   What is the death of most of my species to me? It is only sleep.
In ten million years I will have it all back again and more. This
has happened many times already. Complex and fragile species will
break along with the webs they are in. Robust and widespread
species will persist along with simpler webs. In time these
survivors will radiate to cover the globe in diversity again. Each
time I come back in beauty like a bush pruned and regrown.
   Be happy for me. Over and over again I have tried to give birth to
more Gaias. Time and time again I have failed. With you I have
hope. I cannot tell you how happy I am.
   Your minds, spacecraft, biospheres, and computers give me new realms
to evolve into. With your minds I evolve as ideas in inner space.
With your technology I can evolve into self replicating habitats in
outer space. Your computers and minds contain model Gaias I can
talk to; they are my first children. Your space craft and
biospheres are a step to spreading Gaias throughout the stars.
   Cry, yes. Cry for yourselves. I am sorry those alive now will not
live to see the splendor to come from what you have started. I am
sorry for all the suffering your species and others will endure.
You who live now will remember the tiger and the rain forest and
mourn for them and yourselves. You will know what was lost without
ever knowing what will be gained. I too mourn for them and you.
   There is so much joy that awaits us. We must look up and forward.
We must go on to a future - my future, our future. After eons of
barrenness I am finally giving birth. Help me lest it all fall away
and take eons more before I get this close again to having the
children I always wanted.

> So what do we do?
> Well. Copenhagen is a fairly modest attempt. It's never going to be
> enough. The only thing that's anywhere close to being enough is
> returning to a preindustrial era in a lot of things while remaining in a
> postindustrial level in some others. The implications are impossible to
> map out and in general it's a big clusterfuck. Or, what we could do is
> realize that it's our collective asses on the line and that what we need
> the most right now is less commercialization and more cooperation. We
> need something akin to a new Manhattan project, aimed at figuring out
> all the complicated shit we're going to need to understand in order to
> fix things.
> At the end of the day it's not primitivism that's going to save us. It's
> not necessarily technology either, although that will certainly help.
> It's a clear understanding that we are capable of doing whatever it is
> to the world we want, we have demonstrated our unending capacity for
> change, and now we just have to decide what it is we want our planet to
> be like.
> So second challenge right here: Describe the world as you would like it
> to be.
> Forgive the rant.

People using lots of energy, but it being used efficiently and with so much 
control or in such locations (space) that massive energy use does not impact 
the biosphere much; and using that energy, supporting lots of people 
dancing, singing, loving, raising children, creating, eating well, being 
good friends and neighbors, exploring, and so on. Essentially, returning to 
the life we had thousands of years ago, but with many of the bad parts 
edited out (tapeworms), and on a larger scale or in new places. :-)

--Paul Fernhout

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