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Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 12, No. 10, October 2016
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability

SUMMARY & OUTLINE

This page attempts to provide a synthesis of principles and strategies for the transition to a world of solidarity and sustainability.

1. Primacy of Integral Human Development
2. Joint Integrity of Humanity and the Human Habitat
3. Mitigation of Habitat Degradation & Climate Change
4. Adaptation to Habitat Degradation & Climate Change
5. Solidarity, Subsidiarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence
6. Non-Renewable & Renewable Energy Resources
7. Simulation Scenarios of the Transition to Sustainability
8. Variations of the Integrated Transition Strategy
9. Strategic Data Sources & Global Transition Megatrends
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SIMULATION (SDSIM) 2.0

Simulation Scenarios of the Transition to Sustainability

The key working hypothesis is that the transition from consumerism to sustainability will revolve around the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, and this transition will come to pass whether we like it or not. However, the amount of human suffering during this process will depend on human adaptability and social cohesion. The simulations are not meant to be predictive but to show a range of plausible scenarios.

SDSIM2BAU19003900SI298.jpg Solidarity reinforces Sustainability and vice versa
The horizontal and vertical scales are not shown in order to avoid giving the impression that this is a prediction. This is a simulated scenario, not a prediction. It portrays dynamic modes of system behavior that can be expected during the transition from consumerism to sustainability, as follows:

~ Population, production, and consumption peak, stagnate and/or oscillate with downward trend, and eventually decrease to long-term sustainable levels.
~ The peak in energy availability is followed by a long decline until it settles to the steady-state flow that is allowed by solar (and perhaps other cosmic) sources of energy.
~ The solidarity index is an indicator of social cohesion, which is tightly coupled with the sustainability of resource usage.

This is not intended to be an "alarmist" scenario. However, it would be wise to take the Precautionary Principle into account when formulation sustainable development policies as we enter the Anthropocene Age. Widespread violence is bound to emerge if demographic and consumption adjustments are to be made involuntarily. Is this "the future we want" for the entire community of nations? NB: The current SDSIM 2.0 is a demo, not a capability.

SEE SECTION 7 FOR A SUMMARY OF WORK IN PROGRESS

1. Primacy of Integral Human Development

Human Development, the 2030 Agenda
and the SDGs: How are they Connected?

Selim Jahan

Originally published in
Human Development Today
Human Development Report Office, UNDP
September 2016
under a Creative Commons License

This month marks the first anniversary of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed at a historic UN summit in New York. As SDGs inform the development discourse around the world, how can human development and Human Development Reports contribute to it? In this video, Selim Jahan, Director of the Human Development Report Office explains the links between human development and the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and reflects upon how Human Development Reports can make an intellectual contribution that helps to ensure that no one is left behind.

Selim Jahan, Director of the UNDP Human Development Report Office, talks bout the existing linkages between human development and the 2030 Agenda and how will Human Development Reports influence the development discourse in the next 15 years:


Source: UNDP Human Development Report Office, 18 July 2016

maslowpyramidselfgivingthecell
Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs
Adapted from Wikipedia
As a matter of principle, any strategy for the transition to clean energy must recognize integral human development as the most fundamental requirement to guide both public and private initiatives. Integral human development builds on respect for human rights and diligence on human duties, both individually and institutionally. A fundamental document is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

Hierarchy of Human Needs

Abraham Maslow (USA, 1908-1970) created the "hierarchy of human needs" in the 1940s. Maslow's model explicitly takes into account the physiological, safety, emotional, love/belonging, esteem/self-esteem, and self-actualization stages of integral human development. The hierarchy of human needs is usually represented as a pyramid, with the most basic needs at the bottom and the socialization needs at the top. There are many variations of the pyramid: one is shown to the right and others can be easily found. Going upward, the progression for each human being is to satisfy (1) the basic physical and physiological needs, (2) the need for safety and security, (3) the need psychological well-being, (4) the need for self-actualization (self-esteem, social responsibility), and (5) self-giving to others, or at least the desire to seek the common good in conjunction with legitimate self-interest. For further discussion of Maslow's "levels of human development" - and other models of human development - the reader is referred to the May 2010 issue of Mother Pelican. Attaining a culture of solidarity and sustainability is practically impossible under level 3, and generally requires level 4. This means that enabling people "to live to their full potential" requires, beyond meeting basic physical needs, access to educational and job opportunities as well as freedom for each person follow their "vocation" in life under conditions of human solidarity, social justice, and ecological sustainability. It is becoming increasingly difficult to provide such opportunities in the context of current population growth trends.

POPULATION GROWTH & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT TRENDS

World Population Prospects
United Nations, July 2015

Enlarge
0815.Fertility-Rates-Global.jpg
Global Fertility Rates, UN 2015
"The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a United Nations report released today. The revised U.N. estimates counter previous projections, which had said that global population would peak at roughly 9 billion by 2050, then gradually decline. Most growth will occur in developing regions, the new report says, especially Africa, which is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050. India is expected to become the most populous country, surpassing China around 2022. Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050, which would make it the third-largest country in the world, the U.N. projects. “The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality,” said John Wilmoth, a director in the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs." Source: Environment 360, Yale University, 29 July 2015


Rethinking Work for Human Development
2015 Human Development Report, UNDP, 14 December 2015

Development: Slow down population growth
John Bongaarts, Nature, 24 February 2016

Voluntary family planning to minimise and mitigate climate change
John Guillebaud, BMJ, 20 May 2016


WORK IN PROGRESS
Unwinding the Human Predicament
Jack Alpert, Stanford Knowledge Integration Laboratory


2. Joint Integrity of Humanity and the Human Habitat

Human Population Growth Continues to Threaten Biodiversity

Tim Radford

Originally published in
Climate News Network and TruthDig, 26 August 2016
under a Creative Commons License

CROP-Biodiversity-Congo.jpg
The Congo Basin rainforest in West Africa is one of the biodiversity
hot spots that face increasing pressure from human impacts.
(Severin Stalder via Wikimedia Commons)

Foresters, geographers and ecologists have some good news. Although human population growth between 1992 and 2009 was 23%, and the global economy grew by 153%, the devastation to habitats, ecosystems and wilderness increased by only 9%.

But this single ray of good cheer is countered by a bleak warning from the same scientists that threequarters of the planet’s land surface is experiencing measurable human pressures.

And although the scientists found that the “footprint” of humanity has not grown to the same scale as the mass of humans and their goods and chattels, they report in Nature Communications that “pressures are perversely intense, widespread and rapidly intensifying in places with high biodiversity”.

The study’s lead author, Oscar Venter, a forest scientist at the University of Northern British Columbia, says: “Seeing that our impacts expanded at a rate that is slower than the rate of economic and population growth is encouraging. It means we are becoming more efficient in how we use natural resources.”

Pioneering study

The “human footprint” is ecologists’ shorthand for the impact humanity makes on the natural world—the growth of towns and cities, mines, smelting works, power stations, and the conversion of what would once have been savannah, wetland or forest.

The first pioneering study of the human footprint was based on data from the 1990s and published in 2002. Dr Venter and his colleagues looked at data for the built environment, roads, crops, pasture, night lighting, railways, navigable waterways and human population density to measure the subsequent pattern of impact.

In 1993, there were areas of no measurable human footprint over 27% of the continents, other than the Antarctic. In the subsequent decades, humans encroached onto 23 million square kilometres of these once-empty plains and forests.

“Our maps show that 97% of
the most species-rich places on Earth
have been seriously altered.”

The remaining pressure-free lands, the researchers write, are in the boreal and tundra regions, the Sahara, Gobi and Australian deserts, and the remote moist forests of the Congo and Amazon basins.

Worryingly, regions with the highest biodiversity were also associated with the highest levels of human pressure.

The scientists zeroed in on the detail, and examined 772 “ecoregions”—including Canadian aspen forests, peninsular Malaysian montaine rainforest, Belizean pine forest, Baffin coastal tundra, and New Guinea mangroves—in the map of natural terrestrial habitats.

Only 3% of these registered a decline in human pressure, which increased by more than 20% in 71% of the rest,

“Our maps show that threequarters of the planet is now significantly altered and 97% of the most species-rich places on Earth have been seriously altered,” says James Watson, an ecologist at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Booming economies

The researchers had expected that nations with booming economies would also reveal expanding environmental impacts, but this wasn’t always so.

Eric Sanderson, senior conservation zoologist of the Wildlife Conservation Society, who led the original 2002 Human Footprint Study, says: “It is encouraging that countries with good governance structures and higher rates of urbanisation actually grew economically while slightly shrinking their environmental impacts of land use and infrastructure.

“These results held even after we controlled for the effects of international trade, indicating that these countries have managed in some small measure to decouple economic growth from environmental impacts.”

The study is timed to coincide with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s world congress in Hawaii next month, and the maps and data are intended as guides for researchers and policymakers who must make decisions about the protection of wildlife reserves and natural habitats.

The challenge, says Dr Venter, is to make development sustainable. “Concentrate people in towns and cities so their housing and infrastructure needs are not spread across the wider landscape,” he advises, “and promote honest governments that are capable of managing environmental impacts.”

Tim Radford, a founding editor of Climate News Network, worked for The Guardian for 32 years, for most of that time as science editor. He has been covering climate change since 1988.


Human development cannot happen in a vacuum. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of the human habitat is essential for sustainable human development. One fundamental document is The Earth Charter, approved by the Earth Charter Commission 29 June 2000 after 5 years of preparation and worldwide consultation. Another fundamental document is the annual Human Development Report of the United Nations, in which the Human Development Index (HDI) is correlated with Ecological Footprint data on a country by country basis, showing that "only a few countries come close to creating such a globally reproducible high level of human development without exerting unsustainable pressure on the planet’s ecological resources." There is an emerging consensus that climate change has become the central issue of human habitat desintegration.

HUMANITY AND THE HUMAN HABITAT

HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN THE PLANET SUPPORT? CONSUMING HOW MUCH?

Sustainable Development and Population Dynamics: Placing People at the Centre, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, UNFPA, 19 June 2013

Humans: The Real Threat to Life on Earth, Stephen Emmott, The Observer, 29 June 2013

Rapid Population Booms are a Bust for Government Efficacy, Stephen Norgaard, MAHB, 3 June 2014

Climate change isn’t the problem: A population bomb is killing us, Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch, 23 September 2014

Natural capital and ecosystem services informing decisions: From promise to practice, Anne Guerry et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 June 2015

DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS

Can Earth's and Society's Systems Meet the Needs of 10 Billion People?
Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: National Research Council
The National Academies Press, 2014.

"The Earth's population, currently 7.2 billion, is expected to rise at a rapid rate over the next 40 years. Current projections state that the Earth will need to support 9.6 billion people by the year 2050, a figure that climbs to nearly 11 billion by the year 2100. At the same time, most people envision a future Earth with a greater average standard of living than we currently have - and, as a result, greater consumption of our planetary resources. How do we prepare our planet for a future population of 10 billion? How can this population growth be achieved in a manner that is sustainable from an economic, social, and environmental perspective?

"Can Earth's and Society's Systems Meet the Needs of 10 Billion People? is the summary of a multi-disciplinary workshop convened by the National Academies in October 2013 to explore how to increase the world's population to 10 billion in a sustainable way while simultaneously increasing the well-being and standard of living for that population. This report examines key issues in the science of sustainability that are related to overall human population size, population growth, aging populations, migration toward cities, differential consumption, and land use change, by different subpopulations, as viewed through the lenses of both social and natural science."


An expansion of the demographic transition model:
the dynamic link between agricultural productivity and population

Russell Hopfenberg, Biodiversity, 22 October 2014

"The classic demographic transition model illustrates the pattern of birth and death rates over time, shifting from high and equivalent to low and equivalent, with population increasing sharply during this transition as a society industrialises. However, the model has a limited temporal frame and cultural scope. It also overlooks that human population trends follow agricultural productivity. Because food is an essential carrying capacity variable and a fundamental economic driver, as food availability is increased the population increases leading to severe biodiversity loss. The current analysis expands the classic model, taking into account all of human history, and highlighting the basic carrying capacity foundations of fertility changes. This comprehensive model shows birth and death rates in Stage A as low and equivalent before the advent of the agricultural revolution. Stage A is followed by Stages B and C, in which the increasing birth rate precedes the increasing death rate, causing a rise in population. The stages then progress as in the classic demographic transition model."

NATIONAL & GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENTS

LINKS TO RECENT REPORTS & ARTICLES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate models and precautionary measures, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 5 January 2016

Is nuclear the cheapest way to decarbonize electricity?, Peter Lang, Climate Etc., 19 January 2016

The Trojan Horse of the Paris Climate Agreement: How Multi-Level, Non-Hierarchical Governance Poses a Threat to Constitutional Government, Lucas Bergkamp and Scott J. Stone, SSRN, 20 January 2016

History and the Limits of the Climate Consensus, Philip Jenkins, The American Conservative, 21 January 2016

Undersea volcanoes may be impacting long-term climate change, Alan Longhurst, Climate Etc., 24 January 2016

Making sense of the early 2000’s warming slowdown, John C. Fyfe, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Michael E. Mann, Benjamin D. Santer, Gregory M. Flato, Ed Hawkins, Nathan P. Gillett, Shang-Ping Xie, Yu Kosaka and Neil C. Swart, Nature, 1 February 2016

Some realism about technological fixes, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 16 February 2016

Walking the climate talk, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 21 February 2016

What is Energy Security? Definitions and Scenarios, Evan Hillebrand, Climate Etc., 3 March 2016

New Report Says Science Can Estimate Influence of Climate Change on Some Types of Extreme Events, National Academy of Sciences, 11 March 2016

Science and Politics Clash as Humanity Nears Climate Change Tipping Point, Greg M. Schwartz, EcoWatch, 13 March 2016

Attribution of extreme weather events?, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 14 March 2016

Paris agreement: A risk regulation perspective, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 28 March 2016

Controversy over comparing models with observations, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 5 April 2016

The paradox of the climate change consensus, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 17 April 2016

Updated climate sensitivity estimates, Nick Lewis, Climate Etc., 25 April 2016

Rise in CO2 has greened planet Earth, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 26 April 2016

A Changing Oil Industry Poses Increasing Climate Risk, Union of Concerned Scientists, 11 May 2016

Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 23 May 2016

Assessment of Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 7 June 2016

Climate polarization requires long, deep look at our worldviews, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 30 June 2016

AMS: Weather, Water and Climate Priorities, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 18 July 2016

Sea level rise, acceleration and the closure problem, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 20 July 2016

Frontiers in Decadal Climate Variability, National Academy of Sciences, July 2016

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program: The first 20 years, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 28 July 2016

The art and science of climate model tuning, Frederic Hourdin et al, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 29 July 2016

The art and science of climate model tuning, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 1 August 2016

Climate Scientists' New Hurdle: Overcoming Climate Change Apathy, JoAnna Wendel, EOS, 11 August 2016

COP21 & Developing Countries, Robin Guenier, Climate Etc., 16 August 2016

Refocusing the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), David Wojick, Climate Etc., 29 August 2016

Climate policy: Fake it ’til you make it, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 30 August 2016

Assessing the causes of early industrial-era warming, Nic Lewis, Climate Etc., 1 September 2016


UNITED NATIONS
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
Fifth Assessment Report (AR5),
Summary for Policymakers (Final), 3 June 2014
IPCC.WG2.AR5.3June 2014.png
"Illustration of the core concepts of the WG2 AR5. Risks of climate-related impacts results from the interaction of climate-related hazards (including hazardous events and trends) with the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems. Changes in both the climate system (left) and socioeconomic processes including adaptation and mitigation (right) are drivers of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability."

0815.Rockefeller.UPEACE.jpg Democratic Equality,
Economic Inequality,
and the Earth Charter


Steven C. Rockefeller
Earth Charter, 29 June 2015

This essay is organized around the following themes: The Modern Democratic Concept of Equality; Economic Inequality; The Earth Charter and the Principle of Equality; The Earth Charter and Economic Inequality; A World Founded on Visions of Equality and Sustainability.

FREE DOWNLOAD



3. Mitigation of Habitat Degradation & Climate Change

There are two broad sets of strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the human habitat: mitigation and adaptation. As currently formulated in a globally patriarchal context, neither one assures a civilized transition from consumerism to sustainability. Such a transition becomes feasible if, and only if, there is a confluence of energy balance and gender balance. Energy balance, and a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, is indispensable. The other indispensable catalyst is the transition from patriarchal domination to cross-gender solidarity.

Mitigation Strategies

In general, mitigation strategies attempt to minimize the risks associated with an impending threat. Ecologically, mitigation strategies attempt to reduce the rate of natural resource depletion and other negative impacts of economic activity on the human habitat. There are many kinds of mitigation strategies depending on culture, geography, the nature of the threat, vulnerability to a given threat, and the human/habitat resources to be protected from a given threat. All mitigation strategies entail a tradeoff between economic growth and the ecology of the planet:

New Report Says Science Can Estimate Influence of Climate Change
on Some Types of Extreme Events

National Academy of Sciences, USA, 11 March 2016

It is now possible to estimate the influence of climate change on some types of extreme events, such as heat waves, drought, and heavy precipitation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The relatively new science of extreme event attribution has advanced rapidly in the past decade owing to improvements in the understanding of climate and weather mechanisms and the analytical methods used to study specific events, but more research is required to increase its reliability, ensure that results are presented clearly, and better understand smaller scale and shorter duration weather extremes such as hurricanes and thunderstorms, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.

“An increasingly common question after an extreme weather event is whether climate change ‘caused’ that event to occur,” said committee chair David W. Titley, professor of practice in meteorology and founding director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at the Pennsylvania State University. "While that question remains difficult to answer given all the factors that affect an individual weather event, we can now say more about how climate change has affected the intensity or likelihood of some events.”

Extreme event attribution is a fairly new area of climate science that explores the influence of human-caused climate change on individual or classes of extreme events compared with other factors, such as natural sources of climate and weather variability. The science typically estimates how the intensity or frequency of an event has been altered by climate change and provides information that can be used to assess and manage risk, guide climate adaptation strategies, and determine greenhouse gas emissions targets. For example, in the wake of a devastating event, communities may need to make a decision about whether to rebuild or relocate and need input on how much more likely or more severe this type of event is expected to become in the future.

Some extreme event attribution studies use observational records to compare a recent event with similar events that occurred in the past, when the influence of human-caused climate change was much less. Other studies use climate and weather models to compare the meteorological conditions associated with an extreme event in simulated worlds with and without human-caused climate changes. The report finds that results are most reliable when multiple, different methods are used that incorporate both a long-term historical record of observations and models to estimate human influences on a given event.

The most dependable attribution findings are for those events related to an aspect of temperature, for which there is little doubt that human activity has caused an observed change in the long-term trend, the report notes. For example, a warmer climate increases the likelihood of extremely hot days and decreases the likelihood of extremely cold days. Long-term warming is also linked to more evaporation that can both exacerbate droughts and increase atmospheric moisture available to storms, leading to more severe heavy rainfall and snowfall events. However, temperature alone does not fully determine the probabilities of extreme events. Attributing specific extreme events to long-term climate change may be complicated by factors such as natural long-term fluctuations in the ocean surface temperatures.

Statements about event attribution are sensitive to the way the questions are framed and the context within which they are posed, the report says. For example, choices need to be made about defining the duration of the event, the geographic area impacted, what physical variables to study, what metrics to examine, and what observations or models to use. These assumptions and choices can lead to large differences in the interpretation of the results, and should be clearly stated.

The committee supported continued advancements in weather and climate modeling, and noted that focused research on weather and climate extremes would improve event attribution capabilities. In addition, community standards for attributing classes of extreme events would make it easier to compare results from multiple studies. Objective event selection and definition criteria could reduce potential selection bias and help elucidate how individual events fit into the broader picture of climate change.

Event attribution is retrospective, but the report calls for the development of predictive weather-to-climate forecasts of future extreme events that account for natural variability and human influences. This could be based on concepts and practices within the Numerical Weather Prediction framework, including routine verification of forecasts using observations and rigorous approaches to improving the forecast system.

DOWNLOAD FREE PDF OF THE REPORT


4. Adaptation to Habitat Degradation & Climate Change

Howe.Book.2016.jpg
Peak Oil and Climate Change: The End of Fossil Energy and Per Capita Oil
John G. Howe, 5th Edition
Scheduled for publication in 2016
As already mentioned in the previous section, there are two broad sets of strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the human habitat: mitigation and adaptation. Most probably, attaining global energy balance will require significant adaptation of human behavior in conjunction with radical economic reforms. Such behavioral adaptation and structural reforms are contingent on gender balance and integral human development. As currently formulated in a patriarchal context, neither one assures a civilized transition from consumerism to sustainability. Such a transition becomes feasible if, and only if, there is a confluence of energy balance and gender balance. Energy balance, and a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, is indispensable. The other indispensable catalyst is the transition from patriarchal domination to cross-gender solidarity.

Adaptation Strategies

Adaptation strategies attempt to reverse environmental degradation by changing patterns of human behavior regarding production and consumption of goods and services.

The following are links to online resources on adaptation strategies:

Both mitigation and adaptation strategies have a role to play in attaining the transition to sustainability. But assuring the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation strategies will require a radical upgrade in the quality of human relations, and this in turn will require a cultural transition from patriarchy to solidarity. This cultural transition has already started, but it may take a long time to run its course as it entails overcoming 5000+ years old bad mental habits. The transition from fossil fuels to clean energy may take a few decades but it is a matter of overcoming habits that are only 300 years old. Hopefully, increasingly pressing ecological issues and constraints will trigger human awareness and motivation to the point of enabling both transitions to unfold simultaneously and before it is too late. The following article is a good example of mitigation-adaptation tradeoffs:

The Only Global Warming Chart You Need from Now On
Steven Hayward, Power Line, 21 October 2015
See also these examples of CHARTMANSHIP


Example of Chartmanship:

Chartmanship.Brignell2001.gif

Greenpeace Study Says Global Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Possible by 2050
The Hill, by Timothy Cama, September 21, 2015
See also the GREENPEACE Report and the RENEWS Report

Excerpt: "The world could completely phase out fossil fuels and use only renewable energy by 2050. In a joint project with the German Aerospace Centre, Greenpeace concluded that the transition would not be cheap. It would cost about $1 trillion per year to invest in the generating capacity, transmission and other infrastructure. But the fuel savings over that same time period would be $1.07 trillion a year. Further, the 2050 timeline would create jobs and be cost competitive when compared with a continued reliance on fossil fuels. Within 15 years, renewables' share of electricity generation would triple from 21% today to 64% - covering nearly two-thirds of global electricity demand, the report said. Wind power would be the largest source of electricity globally by 2050, supplying about 30% and 32% respectively. The wind industry alone could employ 8 million people by 2030, nearly 10 times more than today, almost twice as many people as currently employed by the oil and gas industry."



5. Solidarity, Subsidiarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence

Transitioning from consumerism to sustainability will require shifting gears in many significant ways. The following principles will be instrumental in attaining the transition to clean energy.

KEY PRINCIPLES

PRINCIPLE OF SOLIDARITY

"Solidarity is not a matter of altruism. Solidarity comes from the inability to tolerate the affront to our own integrity of passive or active collaboration in the oppression of others, and from the deep recognition of our most expansive self-interest. From the recognition that, like it or not, our liberation is bound up with that of every other being on the planet, and that politically, spiritually, in our heart of hearts we know anything else is unaffordable."

PRINCIPLE OF SUBSIDIARITY

"Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority... A central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level... Subsidiarity is, ideally or in principle, one of the features of federalism, where it asserts the rights of the parts over the whole."

PRINCIPLE OF SUSTAINABILITY

"Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. For humans, sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions."

PRINCIPLE OF NONVIOLENCE

"Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle (e.g. "She believes in nonviolence.") (2) It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action (e.g. "The demonstrators maintained their nonviolence.")

A shift is needed from consumerism and the profligate use of non-renewable energy resources to moderate use of renewable energy resources. Technologies to develop and deliver clean energy are readily available. But existing technologies, and improved ones to be developed, can make a positive contribution if, and only if, the human side of the equation (as outlined in the preceding sections) is taken care of.

SOLIDARITY, SUBSIDIARITY, AND SUSTAINABILITY IN TODAY'S WORLD

Energy&Slavery-EcoJesuit31May2012.jpg
Earth lights. Photo credit: industrial-energy.lbl.gov
Looking Back on the Limits of Growth: Forty years after the release of the groundbreaking study, were the concerns about overpopulation and the environment correct?, Mark Strauss, Smithsonian Magazine, April 2012
Energy and Slavery, Guillaume Emin, EcoJesuit, 31 May 2012
America the Posssible - Part 1: From decline to rebirth, James Gustave Speth, Orion Magazine, March/April 2012
America the Posssible - Part 2: A new politics for a new dream, James Gustave Speth, Orion Magazine, May/June 2012
A Missing Pillar? Challenges in Theorizing and Practicing Social Sustainability, Special Issue: Guest Editor Magnus Boström, SSPP, Winter 2012
Energy and Water Linkage: Challenge to a Sustainable Future, Royal Society UK, 6 June 2012
Those who govern should be required to be eco-literate, Sharon Abercrombie, NCR, 13 June 2012
New report outlines key steps to reduce poverty in a green economy, Michael Oko, Lauren Zelin, Environmental Expert, 13 June 2012
Twenty Years from Now, Gar Alperovitz, New Economics Institute, 19 July 2012
Saving Subsidiarity: Why it is not about small government, Vincent J. Miller, America Magazine, 30 July 2012
A Move Towards More Sustainable Transportation, Worldwatch Institute/Sustainable Prosperity, by Michael Replogle & Colin Hughes, August 7, 2012
Driving a Global Shift to Sustainable Transportation, Michael Replogle and Colin Hughes, CSRwire, 22 August 2012
Renewed global partnership critical for post-2015 development agenda, says UN panel, UN News Center, 27 March 2013
WPP Strategic Action Plan for Phase II (2012-2016), Water Partnership Program, World Bank, July 2013
Catastrophic Shocks in Complex Socio-Economic Systems: A Pandemic Perspective, Phoebe Bright, Feasta, 19 July 2013
Moving Beyond Fossil Fuels Before It’s Too Late, WorldWatch Institute, 23 July 2013
An overview of EU environment policy targets and objectives, EEA, 25 July 2013
Towards a Green Economy in Europe - EU environmental policy targets and objectives 2010-2050, EEA Report, 25 July 2013
Richest countries have 'heads in sand' on global debt, Staff, Ekklesia, 9 September 2013
New Estimate: 30 Million ‘Modern Slaves’ Exploited Worldwide, America, 4 November 2013
Elites Will ‘Consider Inequality’, Ray Smith, IPS, 22 January 2014
Pro-poor Resource Governance under Changing Climates, Matheus Alves Zanella, Judith Rosendahl, and Jes Weigelt (eds), IASS/IFAD, March 2015
BREXIT: The role of subsidiarity, Philip Booth, The Tablet, 29 June 2016

AirPollution.SolarLight.jpg
Source: Dave Reede, CORBIS
THE SOLIDARITY-ENERGY-CLIMATE CONNECTION

Can We Survive the New Golden Age of Oil?, Steve Levine, Foreign Policy, 6 June 2012
Human-induced global ocean warming on multidecadal timescales, P. J. Gleckler et al, Nature Climate Change, 10 June 2012
Study fingers humans for ocean heat rise, Richard Chirgwin, The Register, 11 June 2012
The Battle Over Climate Science, Tom Clynes, Popular Science, 21 June 2012
Global Warming's Terrifying New Math, Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, 19 July 2012
The Human Factor, Editorial, Nature Climate Change, 27 July 2012
Global Warming: "Humans Are Almost Entirely the Cause", Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 29 July 2012
Our current infrastructure was built for a different planet , Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights, 29 July 2012
New Report Says Extreme Downpours Up 30 Percent; Links Trend to Global Warming, Environment America, July 31, 2012
Study Outlines Fossil Fuel Industry Opposition to Renewables, Sierra Club, August 2, 2012
New Report Follows Money Trail Behind Attacks on Clean Energy, Mary Anne Hitt, Huffington Post, 3 August 2012
Clean Energy Under Seige, Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club, 3 August 2012
New Study Says Extreme Heatwaves 50 to 100 Times More Likely Due to Climate Change, Ben Geman, The Hill, 5 August 2012
Rising Temperature Raising Food Prices, Earth-Policy Institute, by Lester R. Brown, August 8, 2012
July 2012 Marked the Hottest Month on Record for the Contiguous United States, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 8 August 2012
July Global Temperatures Fourth Highest on Record - Arctic Sea Ice Is Second Lowest July Extent on Record, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, August 15, 2012
The RTCC Climate Change A-Z, RTCC Staff, 15 August 2012
Greenland's massive ice sheet has melted at a record-setting pace this year--and summer isn't over yet, Lauren Morello, ClimateWire, Scientific American, 16 August 2012
The Arctic Ice Crisis: Greenland’s glaciers are melting far faster than scientists expected, Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, 16 August 2012
The Discovery of Global Warming, Spencer Weart, Scientific American, 17 August 2012
Climate Action Book 2011-2012, Climate Action/UNEP, 2012
Africa without Ice and Snow, UNEP GEAS, August 2012
A new low for global warming: Sea ice retreats to furthest point on record, Steve Connor, The Independent, 28 August 2012
Fossil-Fuel Subsidies of Rich Nations Five Times Climate Aid, Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 3 December 2012
The economics of oil dependence: a glass ceiling to recovery, New Economics Foundation, 10 November 2012
The Market and Mother Nature, Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, 8 January 2013 Constructing a Transnational Climate Change Regime: Bypassing and Managing States, Kenneth W. Abbott, SSRN, 9 February 2013
UN Sustainable Energy Initiative Could Put World On a Path to Climate Targets, Science News, 24 February 2013
Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index, PERI, University of Massachusetts, June 2013
Sustainable development is only possible with ecological balance, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Swati Mathur, India Times, 25 June 2013
Integrated Analysis of Climate Change, Land-use, Energy and Water Strategies, Mark Howells et al, Nature, 25 June 2013
The Rising Cost of Carbon Pollution, Gayathri Vaidyanathan, Discovery Channel, 6 June 2013
America's Top 10 Climate Change Polluters, Tim Wall, Discovery Channel, 25 June 2013
Solidarity not partnership, to redefine the poorest nations, Dickson Ng'Hily, IPP Media, 26 June 2013
Fossil Fuel Use Pushes Carbon Dioxide Emissions into Dangerous Territory, Emily E. Adams, Eath Policy Institute, 23 July 2013
Carbon fix, Editorial, Nature Climate Change, 28 August 2013
Groupthink: Collective Delusions in Organizations and Markets, Roland Benabou, Review of Economic Studies, September 2013
Social Cost of Carbon Greatly Underestimated, Brian Kahn, Climate Central, 13 March 2014
Fossil Fuel Giants Guzzling World's Water as Poor Go Thirsty, Jacob Chamberlain, Common Dreams, 21 March 2014
Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity, PAS, Vatican, 28 April 2015

6. Non-Renewable & Renewable Energy Resources

EIAEIO2011Figure2
Source: IEO 2011 Figure 2, US DOE/EIA, 2011
Continued use and abuse of non-renewable energy sources is unsustainable. In the long-term, renewable energy sources will be indispensable. Technologies are available (or can become available with appropriate incentives) that would make it possible to meet most human energy needs with clean energy by 2050. However, to make it happen is mainly a social issue, not a technical one. Most projections on energy supply and demand reflect a "business as usal" mindset that entails continuation of recent trends. For instance, consider the data and projections (left) from the International Energy Outlook (IEO) 2011, Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, September 2011. For a more comprehensive set of charts, see Energy Perspectives.

Most projections to 2050 and beyond suggest that, while energy demand will continue to grow, no significant shift from fossil fuels to renewables is to be expected. Indeed, the demand for fossil fuels is very inelastic; what other choice do people have as long as there are no clean energy alternatives?. But humans are bound to be affected by continued environmental deterioration and climate change, so the extrapolation of recent growth trends into the future does not bode well for either the future health of the planet or the wellbeing of humanity. Thus is the nature of an economic system in which short-term profits are the sole arbiter of production and consumption decisions.

CharlesHall-EROI2010WIKI
Source: Charles A. S. Hall, 2010, reprinted in Wikipedia
Lurking under the rosy projections of global energy production and consumption is the implicit assumption that economic growth - in terms of production and consumption of material commodities - will continue to grow even if population stabilizes. Any other assumption would be "politically incorrect" and therefore ruled out. However, the energy return on energy investment (EROEI, or EROI), and therefore the financial return on investment, is much higher for non-renewables than for renewables, as shown in the chart inserted to the right. As long as this is the case, the worldwide carbon-based economic and financial systems - driven as they are to minimize "time to market" and maximize short-term profits "one quarter at a time" - are utterly unable to shift priorities from carbon-based growth to sustainable stability. As economist Milton Friedman has pointed out, "only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend upon the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable." A compilation of such alternatives, by no means exhaustive or definitively integrated, is presented in Section 7.

FossilFuels.NewNormal.jpg
LINKS TO RELATED ARTICLES AND REPORTS

The Great Transition From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy, Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute, 25 October 2012
New NREL Data Book Shows Renewable Energy on the Rise, Rachel Gelman, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 12 November 2012
Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, 1 February 2013
Coal Plants Are Victims of Their Own Economics, Dan Ferber, Science Magazine, 18 February 2013
Discovery May Lead to the Creation of Biofuel from CO2 in the Atmosphere, SciTechDaily Staff, 26 March 2013
World’s Growing Oil Resources, Deborah Gordon, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 17 April 2013
Uncovering Oil’s Unknowns, Deborah Gordon and Chris Malins Article, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 19 June 2013
Fossil Fuels – A New Normal, Deborah Gordon, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 15 July 2013.
The Fragmented Governance of the Global Energy Economy: A Legal-Institutional Analysis, Rafael Leal-Arcas and Andrew Filis, Journal of World Energy, Law, and Business, 19 July 2013
Energy and the Economy: Basic Principles and Feedback Loops, Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World, 22 July 2013
Sustainable Energy Breakthrough: Hydrogen Fuel from Sunlight, Jim Scott, LiveScience, 17 August 2013
The Energy Community and the Energy Charter Treaty, Rafael Leal-Arcas and Andrew Filis, Oil, Gas & Energy Law Journal, 28 May 2014
Ban launches UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, India Blooms News Service, 6 June 2014
Know Your Oil: Creating a Global Oil-Climate Index, Deborah Gordon et al, Carnegie Endowment, 11 March 2015
Global Solar Alliance Launched by 120 Countries at COP21, PV-Tech, Tom Kenning, 30 November 2015
Global Geothermal Alliance Ready to Officially Launch December 7, 2015, ThinkGeoEnergy, 2 December 2015
Can Coal-Fired Plants be Re-Powered Today with Stored Energy from Wind and Solar?, Davis Swan, Climate, Etc., 6 December 2015

Renewables 2015 Global Status Report
REN21, June 2015

"First released in 2005, REN21’s Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) provides a comprehensive and timely overview of renewable energy market, industry, investment and policy developments worldwide. It enables policymakers, industry, investors and civil society to make informed decisions. The Renewables Global Status Report relies on up-to-date renewable energy data, provided by an international network of more than 500 contributors, researchers, and authors. Check out REN21’s Renewables Interactive Map for country specific data underlying the various trends highlighted in the GSR."

Renewable Energy: Technologies and Global Markets
PRNewswire, January 11, 2016

"A new study by BCC Research finds that the global renewable energy market (excluding biofuels) reached $432.7 billion in 2013 and $476.3 billion in 2014. This market is expected to increase to $777.6 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3% from 2014 to 2019. The global hydroelectric technology market for renewable energy was valued at $298 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.2% from 2014 to 2019 to reach a value of $422.1 billion in 2019. In terms of revenue, the wind power market was valued at nearly $104.9 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $180.1 billion in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 11.4% from 2014 to 2019."

7. Simulation Scenarios of the Transition to Sustainability

This section presents the emerging synthesis of all the information in sections 1 to 7. The synthesis is presented in the form of a concept that integrates the social, economic, and energy issues that must be resolved to attain a civilized (i.e., humane) transition during the first half of the 21st century. Energy balance for entropy control is a non-negotiable requirement, and gender balance for violence mitigation is an indispensable catalyst for the transition. The strategy is presented next from the process, time-phasing, and system perspectives:

INTEGRATED TRANSITION STRATEGY - PROCESS VIEW

The following is a conceptual diagram of the sustainable development process:

TRANSITIONMODELV3
Bounded Population-Economic-Ecological System for Sustainable Human Development
Adapted from Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson, 2011, Figure 12.1, Page 195
BASIC ARCHITECTURE FOR SDSIM 2.0

There are three sets of feedback loops: human development, human adaptation, and industrial mitigation. The human development loops (yellow arrows) improve gender equality and other human capabilities, and guide the allocation of income/commodities generated by the economic system. The human adaptation loops (red arrows) drive ecological investment so as to enhance the sustainability of ecosystem services. The industrial mitigation loops (green arrows) improve the productivity of energy and other resources by using "industrial engineering" methods. The working hypothesis is that mitigation loops are helpful as long as their operation is subservient to, and do not interfere with, the human development and human adaptation loops.

The convergence of gender balance, energy balance, and sustainability emerges from gender imbalance and energy imbalance jointly driving human civilization toward unsustainability. Many other factors are involved, but gender and energy imbalances are the most pervasive, and balancing them would have a neutralizing effect on all the other factors that conspire against a sustainable human society. If the transition from consumerism to sustainability is to be attained in a timely and civilized manner, i.e., before it is too late and minimizing violence as much as possible, balancing gender relations and energy flows would be the best (perhaps the only?) way to go.

INTEGRATED TRANSITION STRATEGY - PHASES VIEW

There are four phases: concientization, incentivation, redistribution, and democratization. Phases may overlap recursively. Time is of the esence, but the specifc start/end dates for the time windows are impossible to predict.

TRANSITIONCONCEPTV7
The following acronyms, and terminology are used in this transition concept and subsequent discussion:
Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
Energy return on Energy Investment (EROEI)
Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)
Global Citizens Movement (GCM)
Human Development (HD)
Human Development Index (HDI)
Human Development Report (HDR)
Integral Human Development (IHD)
International Standards Organization (ISO)
Land Value Tax (LVT) or Resource Value Tax (RVT)
Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs (MASLOW)
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Principle of Solidarity (SOLIDARITY)
Principle of Subsidiarity (SUBSIDIARITY)
Principle of Sustainability (SUSTAINABILITY)
Sustainable Development (SD)
Sustainable Human Development (SHD)
Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
The formula I=PxAxT, known as "Ehrlich's Equation," is generally recognized as a good model for the ecological impact of economic activity. The impact is a nonlinear function of human population (P, # of persons), affluence (A) measured as consumption per capita ($/person), and a technology factor (T) that quantifies the impact (in physical units) per dollar of consumption. Note that for impact (I) to decrease, the technology factor (T) must go down faster than the product of population (P) and lifestyle (A) grows.
Several formulations are possible for IHD. The best known is the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI) which includes three components: life expectancy, years of schooling, and GNP per capita. The are many variations of the HDI to include, for example, the gender equality dimension. Other indices attempt to replace GNP with other measures of human wellbeing, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), the GINI Cofficient of Inequality, and the Happy Planet Index (HPI).

The transition entails maximizing human development and wellbeing as much as possible, and minimizing ecological impacts as much as possible, in a manner that leads to economic and ecological stability. Clearly, maximizing human wellbeing and minimizing ecological impact are mutually contradictory goals as long as human wellbeing is measured in terms of material consumption per capita. Since there are resource limits, and there are limits to efficiency improvements via technological innovation, something must give: humans must adapt by shifting expectations of wellbeing from economic affluence to other human development goals. It is impossible to predict how this adaptation process will unfold, but the following synopsis of the transition phases is proposed as a point of reference:

The first phase is concientization to enable incentivation. The objective is to create widespread popular support for the required revisions of tax codes and energy subsidies. In other words, the first phase is about creating a collective mindset of global citizenship and social responsibility, strong enough to translate into political will to face the inevitable transition and implement required reforms. Gender equity is key.

The second phase is incentivation to enable redistribution. The objective is to reform tax codes and energy subsidies to expedite the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Applicable reforms include shifting taxes from earned income to the usage (extraction) of unearned resources and the release of pollution, as well as taxing financial transactions of dubious social value. Gender equality is key.

The third phase is redistribution to enable democratization. The objective is to institutionalize democracy with gender balance and distributive justice. This may entail adopting a Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (i.e., a basic minimum income rather than a minimum wage) and a Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (i.e., an upper limit on financial wealth accumulation) that can be democratically adjusted periodically.

The fourth phase is worldwide democratization. The objective is democratization of global, national, and local governance with deeply ingrained gender balance and widely institutionalized implementation of the solidarity, subsidiarity, and sustainability principles. Decisions are to be made at the lowest possible level consistent with governance capabilities and the common good of humanity.

The four phases are not envisioned to be strictly sequential. They most probably will overlap, with recursions and convulsions along the way. The term "gender equality" is not to be understood as "gender uniformity." By gender equality is meant equality of dignity and personal development opportunities across the entire gender continuum. In other words, full equality in all dimensions of human life: physical, intellectual, psychological, vocational, spiritual. The term "clean energy" is to be understood as "clean renewable energy" that is naturally replenished and does not produce GHG emissions when used. It does not include absurdities such as "clean coal." The combination of gender balance and energy balance is hereby proposed as the necessary and sufficient driver for a civilized (i.e., humane) transition, and are expected to have a multiplying effect throughout the global human system.

INTEGRATED TRANSITION STRATEGY - SYSTEM VIEW

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX

The following diagram represents the present world human system:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADOX
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX
The positive signs indicate positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loops
Based on the Ecocosm Paradox Diagram by Willard R. Fey & Ann C. W. Lam, 1999

The downward flow at the center is the flow (lifecycle) for all kinds of merchandise. The feedback loop on the right-hand side is the population growth process. The feedback loop on the left-hand side is the economic growth process. If human consumption keeps increasing, natural resources are depleted and pollution accumulates. If human consumption decreases/stabilizes, the current economic/financial system destabilizes/collapses. This is the "infinite growth in a finite planet" paradox, which is more commonly referred to as the "sustainable development" paradox or simply the sustainability paradox.

The connecting arrows in the diagram indicate a ceteris paribus direction of influence. In the current world system the sense of every influence is positive, i.e., "more" leads to "more." However, the strength of the influence may change with time depending on various factors. For instance, the strength of the influence from "General Human Wellbeing" to "Net Human Fertility" may decrease after a certain threshold of wellbeing, higher levels of education, and accesibility to reproductive heath care. The strength of the influence from "Material Human Comfort" to "Decisions to Borrow and Invest" may increase when lines of credit with low interest rates are easy to obtain.

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX
WITH SUPERIMPOSED TRENDS

The following diagram represents the present world human system with samples of recent trend data for population, consumption, and the physical flows of energy and materials:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADOX-TRENDS
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX WITH SUPERIMPOSED TRENDS
World Population 1950-2100 (UNDATA, 2010 Revision)
World Consumption Per Capita 1965-1995 (World Bank, 2011)
World Human Consumption 1960-2009 (World Bank, 2011)
World Energy Consumption 1990-2035(DOE EIA, IEO 2011)
World Average Land Surface Temperature 1800-2005 (Berkeley Earth, October 2011)

At the moment, the world's population is approximately 7 billion people but the rate of growth is slowing down. Global consumption of goods and services is approaching 60 trillion dollars, with 80% of commodities going to 20% of the population. Empirical data shows that consumption is growing faster than population, even though over one billion people remain in abject poverty. The global financial system is in total disarray. Worldwide, the rich-poor gap is increasing increasingly. Billions of tons of minerals and fossil fuels are being extracted from the earth each year, and billions of tons of waste and pollutants are being dumped back into the environment. Climate change, induced by global warming, is already impacting some human communities. Specific numbers are important, but recent growth patterns and their projected continuation are the main concern. It is impossible to predict the timing of forthcoming events, but it is reasonable to anticipate that infinite material growth in a finite planet is a mathematical impossibility.

The above hypothesis on how economic growth dynamics unfold can be refined in many different ways. For instance, the following diagram includes only the economic growth loops (left portion of the diagram) to show additional investment loops on financial credit, job creation, technology development, and advertising. Now we have a multiplicity of positive feedback loops that reinforce each other and jointly reinforce human consumption, as in the following diagram:

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX
WITH MULTIPLE ECONOMIC GROWTH & JOB CREATION LOOPS

The following diagram represents the present world human system with added detail on job creation in conjunction with the economic growth process:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADOX-JOBS
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX WITH MULTIPLE ECONOMIC GROWTH & JOB CREATION LOOPS

Another way to expand the hypothesis is by including the financial growth loops whereby banks lend to industry and, in addition, lend to investors seeking financial gain for the sake of financial gain (i.e., nothing is produced or consumed). Such is the case, for example, when investor A borrows money from bank X at a given interest rate, then lends the money to investor B at a higher interest rate and pockets the additional gain. This kind of financial speculation activity (which is perfectly legal and facilitated by currencies no longer being under the gold or some other tangible resource standard) that may lead to financial bubbles and crises as happened recently in the USA and more recently in Europe. Consider the following diagram:

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX
WITH MULTIPLE FINANCIAL GROWTH LOOPS

The following diagram represents the present world human system with added detail on the financial dimension of the economic growth process:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADOX-DERIVATIVES
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADOX WITH MULTIPLE FINANCIAL GROWTH LOOPS

There is empirical evidence that total world population is now increasing decreasingly, so current economic conditions suggest focusing on the economic side of the sustainability paradox. The economic growth process is driven by growing consumer demand for additional material comfort in the form of goods and services. This induces decisions to invest for expansion of industrial capacity, new technologies, and more advertising. Banks reinforce investment by lending to investors, and also by lending to consumers eager to increase their per capita consumption, which is currently growing faster than population. Since the dollar and other currencies are no longer based on gold, banks also can lend for trading in derivatives and other "financial weapons of mass destruction." This unbriddled capital accumulation process, driven by short-term profits and a systematic discounting of the future, assumes that there can be infinite growth in a finite planet, and actually requires continued and unlimited growth to keep functioning. This is the essence of the sustainability paradox.

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADIGM

The following diagram represents the future world human system:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADIGM
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADIGM
The positive signs indicate positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loops
The negative signs indicate negative (self-correcting) feedback loops

The new connectors at the top linking natural resources to population and consumption per capita create adaptation loops (dotted lines). As long as natural resources are not limiting, these loops remain inactive. When one or more natural resources (e.g., minerals, water, fossil fuels) become limiting, resource prices are bound to increase and adaptation must take place by limiting population growth, economic growth, or both. On the economic side, this entails reducing consumption, substituting one resource by another, or both.

The new connectors at the bottom linking waste/pollution accumulation to human comfort (material or otherwise) are mitigation loops (dashed lines). As long as environmental degradation does not affect human comfort, these loops remain inactive. When the accumulation of pollutants is such that human well-being (material comfort, health, etc.) is impacted, the costs of environmental remediation are bound to increase and mitigation must take place by shifting priorities from comfort to survival.

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADIGM
WITH EMBEDDED INPUT-OUTPUT MATRIX

The following diagram represents the future world human system enhanced to show the vector of resource intensities, the matrix of inter-industry transactions, and the vector of emission factors:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADIGM+IOMATRIX
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADIGM WITH EMBEDDED INPUT-OUTPUT MATRIX
The positive signs indicate positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loops
The negative signs indicate negative (self-correcting) feedback loops
Intensity factors are in resource input units per unit of merchandise produced
The input-output matrix is the Leontief matrix of interindustry transactions
Emission factors are in emission output units per unit of merchandise consumed

When the mitigation and adaptation loops are activated, analysis of possible trade-offs and substitutions will require an embedded inter-industry transactions matrix. How specificity of the analyzable trade-offs will be contingent on the granularity of industry decomposition captured by the input-output matrix. For instance, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) divides GDP into 24 major industry sectors which in turn are decomposed into a total of 2228 industries. The web-based Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) at the Green Design Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, divides GDP into 27 "broad sector groups," each further decomposed into a number of "detailed sectors." See also the System of National Accounts (SNA), United Nations, 2009.

SYSTEM VIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADIGM WITH PROPOSED
RESOURCE VALUE TAXES (RVT) AND FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAXES (FTT)

The following diagram represents the future world human system further enhanced to show self-correcting environmental and financial management loops:

SUSTAINABILITY-PARADIGM+RVT+FTT.jpg
THE SUSTAINABILITY PARADIGM WITH ENVIRONMENTAL & FINANCIAL LOOPS
The positive signs indicate positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loops
The negative signs indicate negative (self-correcting) feedback loops
Resource Value Taxes (RVT) are a function of natural resource depletion/deterioration
Financial Transaction Taxes are a function of RVT and the volume of non-real financial assets
RVT and FTT serve to reinforce job creation and employment opportunities

The formulation of adaptation and mitigation policies will attempt to integrate several dimensions of scientific knowledge and human experience, including gender equality issues, in order to simulate some plausible (but by no means predictive) transition scenarios and trade-offs. For a detailed list of supporting references click here. Nothing is totally unrelated to sustainable human development, and there are many variations of any conceivable transition scenario. Some of the variations to be investigated are identified in the following section.

SDSIM 2.0 ARCHITECTURE

The architecture of SDSIM 2.0 integrates the sustainability paradox into the transition strategy:

TRANSITIONMODELV4.jpg
SDSIM 2.0 ARCHITECTURE (WORK IN PROGRESS)
P1, P2, and P3 are the positive population-industrial-financial loops
which currently drive the sustainable development ("infinite growth") paradox
E1, E2, and E3 are negative energy production-consumption and behavioral loops, and
AMD stands for human adaptation-mitigation decisions in response to energy availability constraints

This architecture is proposed as the simplest possible model to capture both the positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loops of the growth paradox and the negative (self-regulating) feedback loops that are bound to emerge during the transition. It is anticipated that dominance will gradually (or not so gradually) shift from the P loops to the E loops as the transition unfolds. The E loops can be generalized to include natural resources other than energy, but energy is the primary concern for SDSIM 2.0. Consideration of other resources, such as water and minerals, is planned for subsequent revisions of the architecture (SDSIM 2.1, 2.2, etc.). AMD is a function of material consumption, financial gain, and energy scarcity and serves to calculate the adaptation and mitigation decisions that are forced by economic and energy constraints. The inverse of AMD is being investigated as a possible model of social cohesion, or the collective capacity to make adaptation and mitigation decisions motivated by human development incentives as opposed to biophysical constraints.

It is critical to take explicitly into account how people and governments will behave in response to changes in the mix of financial profitability and energy availability. What function could be used to model of how people will react to changes in financial profitability and energy scarcity in a given solidarity-sustainability culture? What would be the consequences for population growth (or decline), economic growth (or decline) and quality of life during the transition from consumerism to sustainability? These are the kind of questions to be investigated (via simulation experiments) with SDSIM 2.0. It is understood that social systems are more than closed-loop feedback structures no matter how highly refined the mathematical equations and parameter values. The intent of the SDSIM project is not to provide any final answers but simply to contribute, in some small way, to define more precisely the key questions that must be answered, in a broader context of practicality and wisdom, in order to attain the transition and avoid, to the extent possible, unnecessary human suffering in the process.

SOME PRELIMINARY SIMULATIONS

The current SDSIM 2.0 is a demo, not a capability. For instance, the graph below is a simulation of world population, gross industrial production, average consumption per capita, energy availability, and social cohesion ("solidarity index") trends, during 200 years (1900-2100):

SDSIM2BAU19002100SI.jpg

Sustainable Development Simulation (SDSIM 2.0) from 1900 to 2100

This simulation suggests that, toward the end of the 21st century, population and social cohesion are declining while GDP and per capita consumption are still rising even as energy availability is peaking. Is this leading to a steady-state economy at high levels of production and consumption? The next graph shows the same system simulated during 1000 years (1900-2900, as shown in the horizontal axis):

SDSIM 2.0 BASELINE SCENARIO
SDSIM2BAU19002900SI.jpg

Sustainable Development Simulation (SDSIM 2.0) from 1900 to 2900

Due to significant time delays in adjusting population growth and resource consumption rates, and further delays in developing new technologies to "do more with less," the system goes into an extended period of oscillations in population and consumption levels. The amplitude of the oscillations seems to be gradually declining toward new steady-state levels of population and consumption, but at the expense of significant decline in social cohesion (fierce competition over increasingly scarce energy resources?). However, toward the end, drastic adjustments are induced by energy availability returning to the pre-1900 level, i.e., after a very long tail, all fossil fuel resources are finally exhausted.

Extending the simulation for another 1,000 years (next plot), the calculations suggest that another transition would be needed before long-term stability is attained:

SDSIM2BAU19003900SI.jpg

Sustainable Development Simulation (SDSIM 2.0) from 1900 to 3900

Beyond 2100, it would seem that the system is leading to steady-state albeit via a long series of oscillations of decreasing amplitude. However, after 2800 or so, energy availability is depleted to just above the 1900 level, or basically solar influx plus of minimum amount of energy from remaining fossil sources. Then, even if massive starvation is avoided by human adaptation, the system adjusts down to a much lower steady-state in terms of population, economic throughput, and "standard of living." Time will tell whether this will make social cohesion decline even further, or eventually induce a much higher level of solidarity (human capacity for virtue out of necessity?) as suggested by the simulation. It cannot be overemphasized that this is a simulation, not a prediction. The simulation simply shows that eventually the system must go back to an energetically sustainable steady-state.

SUMMARY OF BASELINE SCENARIO

This is a simulated scenario, not a prediction. It portrays dynamic modes of behavior that can be expected during the transition from consumerism to sustainability. Both simulated time (horizontal axis) and simulated variables (vertical axis) can be adjusted without changing the fundamental patterns of growth, oscillations, and degrowth. During the transition, undoubtedly there will be noise due to short-tem social, economic, and ecological perturbations, but the overall patterns of peaks and valleys will persist in the long-term, as follows:

  • Population peaking, then oscillating and finally decreasing to a long-term sustainable level. Note time-phasing with GDP and per capita consumption of material goods and services.
  • The peak in energy availability is followed by a long decline until it settles to the steady-state flow that is allowed by solar (and perhaps other cosmic) sources of energy. The "long-tail" is the result technological developments with gradually decreasing return on energy invested.
  • The solidarity index is currently formulated as a nonlinear function of human population, material consumption, and energy flows. It is an indicator of social cohesion, which is tightly coupled with the sustainability of resource usage. Solidarity reinforces sustainability and vice versa.
  • The general patterns of peaks, oscillations, and eventual settling to steady-state are indicative of turbulence during the transition, with high risk of cultural disruptions and violence. The myth of "infinite growth in a finite planet" will not be easy to overcome.
  • This is not intended to be an "alarmist" scenario. However, it would be wise to take the Precautionary Principle into account when formulation sustainable development policies as we enter the Anthropocene Age. The past cannot be changed, and the future is unknown. The exact sequence and timing of events cannot be predicted, but the general transitional patterns can be anticipated on the basis of energy biophysics. Specifically, there is empirical evidence to the effect that:

    1. Fossil fuel resources are high in energy content but are not infinite.
    2. Fossil fuel emissions are environmentally detrimental and/or potentially unsafe.
    3. Currently known clean energy alternatives offer relatively low energy content.
    Given that fossil fuels are being depleted, pollution levels are damaging the environment, and clean energy alternatives may not provide enough energy to sustain industrial economies, is it wise to just continue doing "business as usual" and trusting that some earthshaking technological breakthrough will come to pass soon enough? Is it fair for people in the "developed" nations to keep indulging in energy consumption and waste while one billion people must subsist on $2 per day or less? How will population growth rate and per capita consumption change in response to impending resource constraints? Will demographic and consumption adjustments be voluntary or involuntary? If they are involuntary, there is a high risk of violence emerging in conjunction with fierce competition for resources throughout the world. Is this "the future we want"?

    Modeling and simulating the basic variables shown above is not easy but is feasible (as forty years of Limits to Growth analysis has amply demonstrated), and it is self-evident that natural resources (energetic and otherwise) currently being used are not infinite. It is also possible to quantify other physical variables such as polluting emissions, food availability, etc. The big challenge is to formulate mitigation and adaptation decision functions (the AMD node in the architecture diagram) that could reasonably mimic some plausible ways in which human behavior might change as quality of life is impacted and resource scarcities cannot be ignored any longer. Needless to say, the intent is not to be predict but "simply" to analyze, hopefully in a way that yields some useful insight. Easier said than done, as complex financial and cultural factors will come into play.

    The Human Development Index, the Environmental Performance Index, the Ecological Footprint, and other such metrics, are useful in the sense that they show the social and ecological impacts of past human decisions. However, they do not take into account how human behavior might change in response to forthcoming dynamics of the transition from consumerism to sustainability. It remains to be seen whether or not such functions can be formulated in a way that is reasonable and useful to enlighten the discussion.

    INTEGRATION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE DYNAMICS

    It is becoming increasingly clear that anthropogenic climate changes may be a critical factor forcing human behavior changes during the transition from consumerism to sustainability. A comprehensive model should, therefore, integrate the human and climate systems. In terms of feedback loop structures, the following series of articles may provide a basis for such enhancement of the simulations:

    8. Variations of the Integrated Transition Strategy

    In terms of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, there seems to be a convergence of outlook that is shared by business, agencies, and NGOs. This convergence is reflected in the UN IEA and US EIA scenarios. However, in terms off replacing fossil fuels with clean energy is a post-carbon world, the Paul Chefurka's scenario is the most "pessimistic" and Stuart Staniford's scenario is the most "optimistic." Actually, it is not a matter of being optimistic or pessimistic. The divergence between "best case" and "worst case" scenarios may be due different sets of explicit
    TRANSITION SCENARIOS

    Source: Jack Alpert / YouTube, 19 September 2012
    assumptions about the timing of supply peaks for non-renewables and ramping up capacities for renewables plus different sets of implicit assumptions about human behavior and policy decisions in the context of an exceedingly complex system. Energy in some form is behind everything that moves, and there are many moving parts in industrial economies.

    In their recently published book, Energy and the Wealth of Nations, Hall and Klitgaard point out that discrediting economic theories that have served us well in the past serves no purpose. It is not a matter of choosing between classical economics, or neoliberal economics, or behavioral economics, or ecological economics, or biophysical economics. But, as they also point out, it is the separation of the biophysical and social dimensions of economics that renders either one useless in confronting newly emerging issues at the intersection of human behavior and physical flows. In every case, however, energy flows are the point of intersection between the behavioral and the physical dimensions, and it could well be that "economic energetics" is the key for integrating both and developing a new synthesis, as proposed long ago by (among others) economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and ecologist Howard T. Odum. In this regard, the "ecological economics" synthesis of Herman Daly deserves especial mention. Hall & Klitgaard's contribution is to isolate energy flows as the focal point for analysis (and hypothesis testing) via the "Energy Return on Investment" (EROI) index.

    For the current level of climate change mitigation technologies, it would seem that Staniford's scenario is too optimistic in assuming that the production of fossil fuels can be sustained and the planet can absorb the resulting accumulation of GHG emissions without potentially catastrophic climate disruptions. On the other hand, Chefurka's scenario may be too pessimistic and hopefully will not come pass as the human-impact implications would be severe. EIA's scenario seems to be the most plausible with current technologies and economic conditions. However, the emergence of radically new and economically feasible technologies cannot be ruled out, and there is always the need to plan for the worst case scenario. With this range of scenarios in mind, the following variations are being considered for modeling and analysis:

    • Variations in the desired "Quality of Life"
      • Variations in the perceived value of human solidarity
      • Variations in the perceived value of ecological sustainability
      • Variations in the combined value of human solidarity and ecological sustainability
    • Variations in the timing and duration of human adaptations
      • Variations in the human propensity to consume (volume, choices, fix vs replace
      • Variations in the human propensity to adapt (climate, migration, transportation)
      • Variations in the pace of progress in secular gender equity, equality, and balance
      • Variations in the pace of progress in religious gender equity, equality, and balance
    • Variations in the adaptability of the world financial system (speculation, regulation)
    • Variations in the resilience of the human habitat (pollution, climate, ecosystem services)
    • Variations in fossil fuel reserves and the timing of "peak oil"
    • Variations in the timing and intensity of climate changes
    • Variations in the performance, schedule, and cost of clean energy technologies
    • Variations in the EROI values of non-renewable and renewable energy sources
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource discovery
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource development
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource extraction
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource conversion during production
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource conversion during consumption
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource conversion during disposal
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource emissions during production
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource emissions during consumption
      • Variations in the EROI values for resource emissions during disposal

    Given the complexity and nonlinearity of complex ecological-economic systems, computer simulation methods are more promising for the analysis of dynamic modes of behavior related to both the "sustainability paradox" and the "sustainability paradigm" systems are diagrammed above. However, input-output analysis could be very useful to calculate specific interindustry propagations of energy resource substitutions within paradox/paradigm scenarios.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: These variations are to be formulated and explored with SDSIM 2.0 (to view SDSIM 1.5, click here).

    9. Strategic Data Sources & Global Transition Megatrends

    Listed below are links to the best data and knowledge sources in two categories: strategic data sources and global transition megatrends.

    KEY LINKS:


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