Figure 1. Blue Dot Governance
The era of global tragedy of the commons ends.
Paradigm Flaws: Governance, Inertia, Others
The new paradigm begins when
Interdependent Regional Governments
unite to form a chaordic organization called,
The United Regions
Where coordinated expertise in Earth Science, Human-Nature and Economics,
Provide Regional Guidance to Maximize Real Wealth:
Real wealth is a measurement of a robust ecology
and of the general health and happiness of the people!
Note: On many points touched on below there is a vast amount of literature
in books and journals along with web archives and new, relevant articles every day.
A few good summary web sites are referenced in the notes section.
Stated in the closing paragraph of a 2008 Summary report [R1] of the Club of Rome’s controversial book, Limits To Growth:
“…. The two missing ingredients are a realistic, long-term goal
that can guide mankind to the equilibrium society and the human will
to achieve that goal. Without such a goal and a commitment to it,
short-term concerns will generate the exponential growth that drives
the world system toward the limits of the earth and ultimate collapse.”
The Dynamic Systems section illustrated that any stable system must have: 1) a source of energy; 2) a viable goal; 3) a measurement system to determine deviation from that goal; and 4) a means of using this deviation (error signal) to generate effective feedback to enable the operating system to exercise control in the direction of that goal. This basic principle applies to any dynamic system, whether a living plant or animal or a human-created dynamic systems. Any system without these 4 components, operating within system limits, will fail. As pointed out in the Club of Rome’s summary paragraph, above, there is not now and never has been overall realistic long-term goal-oriented planetary governance. Today’s form of MCP grew out of decades of corporate hegemony achieved by lobbying governments for more and more power and less and less regulation: It now has an iron grip on the governance of civilization that appears transfixed on infinite economic growth on our finite planet home. [R2]
These hands that now influence governance are void of any connection to a viable, sustainable system. These thoughts plus many others will form the needed background as we consider developing the model of an optimum form of Blue Planet Governance.
On each brief heading commented on below, one could write a book, and many have been written. But this section hopes to illustrate that a few of today’s ‘normal’ ways of doing things will appear absurd when viewed from outside of today’s paradigm.
Progress of the hunter – and multiplying our numbers
Robert Wright’s ‘94 book, A Short History Of Progress, elaborates on how unpleasant histories tend to repeat over and over. He points to the Upper Palaeolithic period where, the perfection of hunting spelled the end of hunting as a way of life, explaining that easier access to meat from new hunting tools led to more humans, more hunters, and soon fewer animals to hunt. Does this sound familiar? In the 1970s there was an armada of high-tech cod factory ships working the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. And then the fishery collapsed from a lackage of fish – or a longage of people?
There is a more fundamental reason for resource collapses. According to Garrett Hardin, who wrote, The Tragedy of The Commons essay, resource collapse is not a problem of a shortage of resource, but from a longage of people – the result of growing human populations. This is another case of Jevons’s paradox where progress in one area becomes a negative because of its effect other areas. It occurs because the two issues are not generally recognized as components of one overall holistic system with a comprehensive plan and goal.
It seems that Mother Nature programmed her species to go forth and multiply but has made no provision for genetic characteristics that would guide us collectively to assess our future and to recognize limits to growth - and then to adjust our fertility and activities accordingly. Ironically, in human-built structures such as elevators, airplanes or buildings, the engineers post the maximum load and we are happy to comply. There appears to be an inbred human reluctance to measure and acknowledge human load limits for our finite planetary home. The concept of planetary limits to growth has not yet entered our common paradigm. As psychologist Ornstein suggested years ago, we need a conscious evolution in order to evolve toward acceptance of a changed paradigm.
Such reluctance is re-enforced by a few extreme paternalistic religions. The tenets of these AbRealities originated centuries ago. They ignore and deny science based data such Galileo or Malthus presented, or scientific data such as used today by the Global Footprint Network who tell us it that humanity now would require 2 or 3 planet Earths to sustain (temporary) today’s level of human activity. For the past two millennia some religions have exerted a great deal of influence over population growth rates in many countries, with devastating humanitarian and ecological impacts.
But these paternalistic influences are relatively new in millennial time frames. In the Appendix – Our Journey Into Today, data is gathered from books by Riane Eisler, Elsabeth Sahtouris and others who describe times and societies long before the CE (Common Era), when females often dominated leadership and when human spirituality and respect for nature guided human activity. Most aboriginal cultures today still harbour such ‘ancient’ values today. This suggests that sometimes, what is ancient is even more in tune with realities of today’s world with fossil-fuel energized technology unleashed with no viable holistic planet based guidance.
One of the key factors in human survival is the need to escape the influence of cultures that refuse to accept that humans are an integral part of nature, or cultures that teach that the female is less important than the male, or that sexual orientations are evil if not in line with the norm. Even the 15% of people who are naturally left-handed were once labelled sinister. And still today women may be stoned to death for adultery. The tyranny of these cultural tools must end. A prerequisite to a proven sensible human population policy is to enable women to be free and equal, and educated, and to have access to control over their fertility.
The 80/20 Guideline
We are not all the same. Species variation is an important consideration when speculating on escape from a toxic paradigm. A handy tool is the 80/20 guideline. As described in the Glossary:
When stating that, under these circumstances, people will do that, generally, the 80/20 rules suggests that only 80% will do that, and the remaining 20% will not do that. However, the dividing line is fuzzy with sometimes a wide range of overlapping views. It might be 99% to 1% on some characteristics. It applies to both physical and mental characteristics. Quite often these variations are expressed as a bell curve, with the “80” representing those within the bulk of bell, with the 20 being those at the skirt. See human variability. Social psychologist Milgram illustrates this point when he wrote: “We are puppets controlled by the strings of society. Yet what is also true is that not all puppets jump when their strings are pulled.” It is genetic variations within species that enables physical and mental evolutionary change.
Species variation enables superbugs to emerge and it may be the key that enables humans to escape our paradigm entrapment, and to begin dealing with our common dilemma with sensible approaches as suggested in Section 4 where a sustainable form of Blue Planet Governance, is described 50 years after paradigm change.
The power creep of corporations and money
“We have been disempowered by a corporate state that seduced and manipulated us through cheap mass-produced goods and sensual gratification. While we were entertained, the regulations that kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled.” Quote from Chris Hedges’ book, Death of the Liberal class.
Hedges is one of a growing chorus of journalists and writers with dire warnings about corporate power. Centuries of hegemonic power creep from corporations has led us to a point where they have incrementally taken a great deal of control over their own regulation. The MCP section mentioned the coup of the corporate banks a century ago when they won significant control over the regulation of money. Throughout the decades since, the transfer of power to corporations has accelerated. In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations now have all the rights granted to individuals under the US Constitution. They now have no limit to financial contribution to the political party or candidate of their choice. This makes the expression, we have the best government that money can buy, not only realistic, but today’s norm. Corporations have incrementally evolved to seek profit above any other consideration. This makes them psychopathic with regard to the natural world or individuals. Not surprisingly, in a recent article in the, Journal of Business Ethics, studies have found that many successful corporate leaders are psychopathic too [R3]
As corporations grew in size they eventually became transnational, and global trade went from a trickle to a stream. In the Reagan (US) – Thatcher (UK) years of the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher even coined the expression TINA, meaning, There Is No Alternative to Growth and globalization. Governments heavily influenced by corporations seek and sign international trade agreements that further enhance corporate influence on a transnational basis.
Holistic scholars such as Tad Homer Dixon, Paul Kennedy or John Ralston Saul write books explaining that globalism will be a short term event leading to disaster. Anyone not convinced of this should read Saul’s ’95 book, The Unconscious Civilisation, or his ‘02 The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World. Chapter one of this book titled, A Serpent in Paradise, opens:
Globalization emerged in the 1970s as if from nowhere, fully grown enrobed in an aura of inclusivity. Advocates and believers argued with audacity that, through the prism of a particular school of economics, societies around the world would be taken in new, interwoven and positive directions. This mission was concerted into the policy and law over twenty years – the l980s and ‘90s – with the force of declared inevitability.
Saul then elaborates on globalism’s inevitable end. [R4]
But as we approach globalism’s end, the toll to the Gaian system mounts. Every year more conferences emerge with much hand-wringing and warnings but no impact on the runaway growth-paradigm. The Anthropocene is a brief high speed video clip illustrating humanity’s deadly progress [R5]
Creeping expectations in individuals:
Bearing in mind the 80/20 guideline, the pursuit of more-and-more applies to individuals as well. Individuals soon become accustomed to apparent improvements in income and lifestyles and will strongly resist a step backward. If we acquire wealth, we would like more wealth. For many there is no limit to this trend as pointed out in the MCP–Appendix in reference to the growing rich/poor divide. But both the rich and blue-collar workers are likely to put roadblocks in the way of needed cut back on human activity. For most of the rich, their wealth depends on trade and commerce; for the blue collar workforce, their jobs and access to money depend on keeping that job even if their line of work is a source of ecological destruction – the large workforce at the massive Alberta tar-sands project is one example of many.
Ever-growing expectations do not stop after the acquisition of large sums of money. There are many articles explaining that the quest of more never ends, such as an Oxfam International article in January 2015.
Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I’m just as happy as when I had only 48 million. - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Global energy issues are another specialty area where a sense of entitlement inhibits progress toward a solution. Canada and many counties are slowly moving toward alternate energy sources. Progress is often delayed or stopped because people have grown comfortable in having their energy supplied from a central source, in someone else’s back yard. NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) hampers the move toward the capture of distributed natural flow-energy from solar, but especially from wind farms. Wind farms change the local landscape view to some degree, and are therefore opposed by those ‘entitled’ to a non-changing scenic environment. It disturbs their ‘sense of place’. These folks usually are well educated and employ the latest techniques of the data spin industry to create doubt and fear in the local population [R6]. The fact that their fossil fuel comfort is destabilizing their planetary life support system is apparently not their concern.
Who benefits from human invention?
Since the invention of the written word, humans have been accumulating knowledge. Year after year, century after century, accumulated knowledge is recorded and available for the next generation to build on in their own ingenious ways. The gems within the vault of accumulated knowledge are generally considered to be “public domain”. To prevent today’s inventions from filtering down into public domain, the power of corporations has created roadblocks via long-term patents and other devices so that today’s new innovations benefit corporate owners and shareholders – people with money – first and then to a lesser degree the industry workers (who were not laid off as a result of invention) and the general public.
With regard to automation made possible by new technologies, the Luddite movement of the 19th century made valid points when they destroyed the automated looms that replaced many workers. This condition of unequal benefits from automation was eloquently illustrated decades ago in the ’35 booklet, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays, by Bertrand Russell. He illustrated the issue in a paragraph about the manufacture of pins:
Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins. Pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacture of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as in the other plan, but half the men are totally idle and unhappy while half are overworked. In this way it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all around instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined?
Computerised automation has accelerated this insane process, as labelled by Russell. In assembly plants that traditionally employed a large labour force, after automation many workers are laid-off. Corporate profits grow and shareholders get richer. Like so many other unsustainable practices, this process is simply integrated into the system as ‘normal’. Any benevolent corporation will fail because the shareholders will dump stock and put their money elsewhere for higher returns. Shareholders of large corporations are generally oblivious to the human or environmental issues caused by their company: The shareholders are, in effect, absentee landlords.
The job loss to automation issue has been buffered somewhat in the growth era because those laid-off workers were generally able to get a job elsewhere in the expanding economy. But we know that peak-oil and other global factors have ended the growth era and so the insane process now adds to growing human unhappiness. [R7]
History tells of many bloody revolutions because leaders of their society permitted the land to be owned/controlled by people outside of the local community. Absentee landlord describes a person who owns property but does not live within the property's local economic region; they have locals operate their property. This practice is problematic because absentee landlords drain local wealth into their home region or country. Legal Definition: A landlord who resides so far from the leased real property that he is not, or is not expected to be, readily available to personally address any problems concerning the property.
Today public corporations represent the ultimate source of absentee landlordism with predictably disastrous results, especially when resource extraction projects are involved. In Canada the Alberta tar-sands hold the current title as the worst ongoing ecological disaster on Earth. In the sparsely populated area of Northern Alberta the local voices have no say in the matter. In the USA, to the dismay and outrage of local populations, mountain tops are blasted into the valleys and rivers below, all in order to expose nature’s coal seams in the Appalachian Mountain range. And then there is corporate factory farming, and ... , one could write a fracking
[R8] book on these issues.
But now the absentee landlord issue gets even worse. As we move through the second decade of 2000, the faltering giant economy of USA now exchanges material goods for treasury bills – a debt substitute for money whose future value is dubious. Foreign countries hold over 4 trillion US$ in treasury bills [R9], with China and Japan holding about 18% each. In order to get something of value for this ‘promissory’ money China, Japan and others are now buying up corporations with access rights to resources and prime farm land in countries all over the world. An in-depth review of shareholder information from Bloomberg shows that 71% of all tar sands production is owned by non-Canadian shareholders, with a large share owned by the Hunt Brothers.
Now the absentee landlord that may destroy an ecosystem in your back yard for minerals, crops or energy, may not even be from your country, but may be from the other side of the world.
Canadians are being doubly shafted with the treasury bill issue. In return for tar sands oil, we accept US$ treasury bills. From August 2010 to December 2014 our holdings increased from 44.9 billion to 70 billion. In the meantime China and other countries dump US treasury bills to increase their title holdings in Northern Alberta tar sands. And the environment of Alberta and the world bleeds as bioregional forests are cleared and water tables are increasingly polluted; and the absentee landlords don’t care. All of this destruction takes place to produce liquid fuel. But the Energy Return on Energy Invested ratio (ER:EI) in this disastrous process is only about 1.2 to 1
[R10]. That means the EI, the Energy Input that goes into the project almost equals the ER, Energy Returned. This is much like spinning your wheels and going nowhere - while spinning the wheels by using energy from natural gas and regular oil.
We resist change. The problem areas listed above have resulted from our basic human-nature that has evolved over the millennia along with our physical body. We have grown familiar with a form of governance with historic roots in a world that appeared to be without limits to growth. We collectively resist significant change to lifestyles or systems of governance that have become ‘normalized’. A key point here is this: significant changes to our paradigm (or our world view/zeitgeist) will be necessary if our species is to survive. Using the 80/20 guideline, let’s presume that 80%? of individuals are unlikely to accept that these changes are necessary – that they prefer to believe the comforting stories of denial industries that create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) etc. However, humans tend to be a herd animal that tends to shift beliefs, habits or behavior as a group, usually guided by a few leaders. It seems reasonable to assume then that if 20%? or less of individuals acknowledge the need to change some of our views and ways of doing things, that this may be enough to move the herd. What is needed is that a few good women and men to illuminate the pathway to change.
Here are a few examples of what change in world view , or zeitgeist that will be necessary if our species is to survive:
One is that in our rich ‘Western’ nations we have for years grown to expect to benefit from human-rights: But there has been little thought of individual human-responsibility, other than to obey local and national laws. A few good local leaders are needed to help the passengers on Spaceship Earth elect regional and global representatives who will create legislation that embraces the idea of our common responsibilities for the well-being of our planetary home – the small blue dot within the cosmos, both at the regional and the global level.
Another essential change is at the very personal level. We generally think of human procreation as very private matter. It is time to consider that our (preferably women’s) procreation choices, after one child, must become a public/planetary issue rather than solely a private matter. Such a consideration remains outside of the window of consideration for many. Nevertheless, there is convincing evidence that seven billion humans are far more than our small blue dot can sustain.
We have grown up using money from a debt-based money system significantly controlled by private banks with profit motive. While these fiat dollars are created out of nothing, they enable individuals who hold them to acquire goods and services – primary elements of wealth. The vast majority of goods are either mineral-based or products of Gaia. Mineral-based wealth is non-renewable. Gaia-based wealth has been seen as replenishable from the living Gaian system of nature – but only up to a specific yield. Due to two or three centuries of exponential population increase, many elements of Gaian wealth are no longer sustainable. We now live in an overdrawn system of natural wealth that cannot continue to provide for the demands of today’s massive human populations.
Since we cannot live without natural wealth, it appears evident then, that we need to base our monetary wealth, on what sustains us, as suggested in the header of each chapter of Paradigm Junction.
Real wealth is a measurement of a robust ecology
and of the general health and happiness of the people!
In the chapters of Section 4, the envisioned money system used in the year 050APC is a commodity-based monetary system where the ‘commodity’ is a basket of wealth factors that represent what humans need for nourishment, both physically and emotionally. All of these wealth factors are scientifically measurable, and accountable. Since wealth can be measured and accounted for, so must the monetary wealth, that gives us access to real wealth. As we will see in section 4, this transparent monetary system can enable us to deal with many other seemingly intractable wicked problems in today’s world.
Humans have caused the human predicament and only humans can make essential corrective actions. As touched on in the Human Nature section of The Triad, we have evolved with an unusual mix of strengths and weaknesses. Our survival capabilities, armed with new communication technologies, are about to be tested. Multiple reality indicators are telling us that there will likely be far fewer than today’s 7 billion humans on this planet less than a 100 years from now. The reduction will be done either by nature’s impartial means, or it will be by a human-orchestrated plan for population attrition and reduced resource usage. To follow our governments’ futile attempts to pursue its business-as-usual course into our collective future will leave it to nature’s usual cull methods to bring balance to, or extinction of, The Rogue Species, as coined in the title of John Livingston’s book [R11].
Survival of the Spaceship Earth crew depends on implementation of a new system of governance. And it will be created, at the edge of chaos [R12] where the new is being built as the old breaks down. Throughout all of this we need to adopt the wisdom of intelligent holistic-thinking people of the past as well as today. Albert Einstein said:
Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors...in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind.
Back to the Index
Next chapter: Envisioning A: Those Who Envision
For a summary of how humanity go into this mess, see Our Journey into Today. This is an essay written a few years ago that gathers data from writers who have provided glimpses of the nature of past cultures, long before CE (Common Era). It then moves into the past millennia and how the dominator culture emerged leading to today’s conflict between cultures & economics against Gaia, the source of life.
References and notes
2008 Summary of ‘72, Limits To Growth: After a discussion of the Closing paragraph: “... The two missing ingredients are a realistic, long-term goal that can guide mankind to the equilibrium society and the human will to achieve that goal. Without such a goal and a commitment to it, short-term concerns will generate the exponential growth that drives the world system toward the limits of the earth and ultimate collapse.
This summary report is also available from The Club of Rome.
Gar Alperovitz, in his book What we Must Do, explained how continuous hegemonic lobbying efforts have virtually stripped away “countervailing forces’ of labour unions, and other measures to contain corporate power; and how corporations, now recognized as legal persons, can cripple the efforts of any environmental protection measures that might interfere with profit.” These thoughts run parallel with Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.
From: The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis, The Journal of Business Ethics 2011. Abstract: "This short theoretical paper elucidates a plausible theory about the Global Financial Crisis and the role of senior financial corporate directors in that crisis. The paper presents a theory of the Global Financial Crisis which argues that psychopaths working in corporations and in financial corporations, in particular, have had a major part in causing the crisis. This paper is thus a very short theoretical paper but is one that may be extremely important to the future of capitalism because it discusses significant ways in which Corporate Psychopaths may have acted recently, to the detriment of many. Further research into this theory is called for."
Short video of John Ralston Saul explaining the end of globalism.
Welcome To the Anthropocene. A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the development of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes. The film was commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, London 26-29 March, a major international conference focusing on solutions.
Steps of the denial industry:
Step 1: Doubt the science.
Step 2: Question scientists’ motives and interests.
Step 3: Magnify legitimate, normal disagreements among scientists and cite gadflies as authorities.
Step 4: Exaggerate potential harms (scare the hell out of people).
Step 5: Appeal to personal freedom (I’m an American and no government official can tell me what vaccinations I need).
Step 6: Show that accepting the science would represent a repudiation of a key philosophy.
Source: The anatomy of denial: Why truth doesn’t always win, Christie Aschwanden, Grist, 26 April 2012. See also The War On Science, National Geographic, March 2015 front cover story.
From The Jobless Economy, by Martin Ford. "As improvements in computers, robotic technologies, and other forms of job automation continue to accelerate, more workers are certain to be displaced, and job creation will become even more challenging. Most economists dismiss concerns that this might lead to long-term structural unemployment. Indeed, the idea often elicits outright derision. The conservative media in the United States recently mocked President Barack Obama for suggesting that automation might hurt employment growth. But Obama was right to raise the question." Source: Project Syndicate.
NY Attorney General Sues Federal Government Over Fracking. The federal government is being sued for allowing natural gas drilling, which involves the potentially harmful "fracking" technique, without conducting a full environmental review. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit yesterday that seeks to compel federal agencies to conduct an environmental review before the regulations authorizing gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin are finalized. Obviously, this goes against the gas industry's motto of "frack first, question later."
US Treasury Bills. This is the official page from the US Treasury listing which country holds what in terms of US Treasury securities (as well as the overall totals). It only updates once a month but carries a decent amount of weight on the global securities and exchange markets. (Update is usually around the 17th of the month and is a month and a half in arrears). China holds less than $ 1 trillion from these numbers. See also Treasury Direct and the artcile on United States Treasury security in Wikipedia.
Energy returned on energy invested. See also
Energy In / Energy Out (EI:EO) – and our future, Don Chisholm, County Sustainability group, and Charlie Hall's Balloon Graph, Kurt Cobb, Scitizen, December 2007.
The Rogue Primate book written by John Livingston during his final years as professor of Ecological Studies, York University Toronto. He had been a broadcaster and naturalist for many years. This writer had several written exchanges with Livingston just before he retired in 1996. For a brief review of the book by Ken Kittlitz, click here.
At the edge of chaos: Below are some web sites that show the diversity of this area of thought.
Edge of Chaos
Strategy at the Edge of Chaos
Aid on the Edge
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Don Chisholm is a Director of the Gaia Preservation Coalition. He is a retired Engineering Technologist whose career path dealt with dynamic systems, maintenance, design, management and quality assurance auditing, generally related to the aviation industry. The past thirty years have been spent studying human behaviours, energy, and other areas related to the human predicament. For his complete biography and contact information, click here.
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