Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 13, No. 2, February 2017
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
Home Page
Front Page


Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability


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

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.


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

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.


World Population Prospects
United Nations, July 2015

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

Human Development Data (1980-2015)

2016 Human Development Reports

2. Joint Integrity of Humanity and the Human Habitat

Avoiding Trade-Offs:
Can population policies promote
environmental protection and alleviate poverty?

Gregory Casey and Oded Galor

Originally published by
Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere
24 January 2017
under a Creative Commons License

Women gather to receive contraceptives in Malawi
Photo by Lindsay Mgbor, Department for International Development
| Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Climate change has the potential to cause significant harm to people and the planet (Stern, 2007; Weitzman, 2007; Tol, 2011). Thus, a great deal of attention has been devoted to devising mitigation policies, such as carbon taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, and energy efficiency mandates. These policies have economic costs and environmental benefits. As a result, when economists try to calculate optimal climate change mitigation policy, they must weigh these costs and benefits (Nordhaus, 2013; Golosov et al., 2014). But what if there are policies for which there is no trade-off between economic and environmental priorities? Such policies could alleviate poverty and improve living standards while still providing much needed environmental protection.

We recently published a paper in Environmental Research Letters, “Is faster economic growth compatible with reductions in carbon emissions? The role of diminished population growth,” that demonstrates the potential for slower population growth to simultaneously increase income per capita and lower carbon emissions (Casey and Galor, 2017). Population growth is a major driver of carbon emissions, both historically and in projections of future emissions (Raupach et al., 2007). Yet, relatively little attention has been devoted to investigating the potential for population policies to influence global climate change (O’Neill et al., 2012). By population policies, we refer to policies that affect population growth via voluntary decisions made by individuals. Indeed, the entire reason to prefer policies that achieve both economic and environmental priorities is to improve the lives of individuals as they value them. 

Our Findings

Decreases in population also decrease overall economic activity, leading to less carbon emissions. At the same time, there are many mechanisms through which decreases in population growth – especially when driven by fertility – increase output per person. Thus, decreases in population growth have two offsetting effects on carbon emissions: the direct decrease in economic activity and the increase in economic activity per person.

Our paper measures the overall effect of decreases in population growth on carbon emissions in a two-step process. First, we use cross-country data to estimate the elasticity of carbon emissions with respect to population and income per capita. Consistent with existing literature, we find that the elasticity with respect to population is nearly seven times larger. Thus, decreases in population growth could decrease overall emissions while still substantially increasing income per capita. The remaining step is to estimate the impact of lower population growth on income per capita. To do so, we focus on the example of Nigeria and use a recently constructed economic-demographic model to estimate the effect of lower fertility on economic outcomes (Ashraf et al., 2013). We find that reductions in fertility can simultaneously lead to a 15% increase in income per capita and a 35% decrease in carbon emissions by 2100 C.E.

Thus, our analysis demonstrates the potential for decreases in population growth – via decreases in fertility – to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental policy priorities, circumventing a trade-off central to most climate change mitigation policies. Our analysis demonstrates the potential for these outcomes, without providing estimates of effects on a global scale or in response to specific policies. We hope that future work will extend our analysis in these directions.

Policy Implications

Our results have important implications for climate change policy. There are two reasons why population-based approaches may garner more political support than more conventional policy options. First, the principle of differentiated responsibility is widely accepted in the international community, and population policies have the potential to let high-fertility, low-income countries decrease emissions without imposing an undue burden on poverty alleviation and economic prosperity (Brunee and Strick, 2013). Moreover, by eliminating the trade-off between environmental and economic outcomes, population-based policies may be able to overcome free-rider effects that hamper efforts to address problems that are global or international in nature (Stavins, 2011).

Our research abstracts from the specifics of population-based policies and focuses instead on an exogenous reduction in fertility, but considering specific policies is obviously an important component to future work. There are several policies that may lead to lower fertility, the most obvious of which is the provision of contraceptives. Evidence suggests that there is a significant unmet demand for contraceptives in developing countries (Gillepsie et al., 2013). Moreover, a recent study for the Copenhagen Consensus Project suggests that policies targeting fertility via contraception have high returns (Kohler and Berman, 2014). Our earlier paper on the subject provides a broader discussion of the types of policies that could affect fertility in both developing and developed countries, focusing on the economic factors that alter individuals’ incentives (Galor and Casey, 2014). As with all decisions, parents have limited resources to allocate to raising children, and as a result, many economic policies will influence fertility rates. In particular, parents must decide how to allocate resources between having more children and investing in the future of each child. There is considerable evidence for this `quantity-quality trade-off’ in the economics literature (Guinnane, 2011; Galor, 2012). Thus, policies that increase incentives for investment in education, for example, can also lead to lower fertility levels. Such policies could include targeted interventions, such as subsidies for education, or broader macroeconomic interventions, such as increases in the potential for high-skill migration or subsidizing industries that demand skills from local workers (Galor and Mountford, 2008; Wheeler and Hammer, 2010; Docquier and Rapoport, 2012).


Most policies aimed at mitigating global climate change face a trade-off between economic and environmental outcomes. By contrast, our recent paper provides evidence that population-based policies may have the ability to simultaneously increase income per capita and lower carbon emissions. This suggests that these policies could play an important role in the global response to climate change.  They may also receive increased political support by lessening challenges of international burden sharing and free-rider concerns.


Ashraf, Quamrul H., David N. Weil, and Joshua Wilde. “The effect of fertility reduction on economic growth.” Population and Development Review 39, no. 1 (2013): 97-130.

Brunnée, Jutta, and Charlotte Streck. “The UNFCCC as a negotiation forum: towards common but more differentiated responsibilities.” Climate Policy 13, no. 5 (2013): 589-607.

Casey, Gregory, and Oded Galor. “Is faster economic growth compatible with reductions in carbon emissions? The role of diminished population growth.” Environmental Research Letters 12, no. 1 (2017): 014003.

Docquier, Frédéric, and Hillel Rapoport. “Globalization, brain drain, and development.” Journal of Economic Literature 50, no. 3 (2012): 681-730.

Galor, Oded, and Andrew Mountford. “Trading population for productivity: theory and evidence.” Review of Economic Studies 75, no. 4 (2008): 1143-1179.

Galor, Oded. “The demographic transition: causes and consequences.” Cliometrica 6, no. 1 (2012): 1-28.

Galor, Oded, and Gregory Casey. “Benefits and Costs of the Population and Demography Targets for the Post-2015 Development Agenda” (2014).

Gillespie, Duff, Saifuddin Ahmed, Amy Tsui, and Scott Radloff. “Unwanted fertility among the poor: an inequity?” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 85, no. 2 (2007): 100-107.

Golosov, Mikhail, John Hassler, Per Krusell, and Aleh Tsyvinski. “Optimal taxes on fossil fuel in general equilibrium.” Econometrica 82, no. 1 (2014): 41-88.

Guinnane, Timothy W. “The historical fertility transition: a guide for economists.” Journal of Economic Literature 49, no. 3 (2011): 589-614.

Kohler, Hans-Peter, and Jere R. Behrman. “Benefits and Costs of the Population and Demography Targets for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” Copenhagen Consensus Center Population and Demography Assessment Paper (as of 3 October) (2014).

Nordhaus, William D. The climate casino: risk, uncertainty, and economics for a warming world. Yale University Press, 2013.

O’Neill, Brian C., Brant Liddle, Leiwen Jiang, Kirk R. Smith, Shonali Pachauri, Michael Dalton, and Regina Fuchs. “Demographic change and carbon dioxide emissions.” Lancet 380, no. 9837 (2012): 157-164.

Raupach, Michael R., Gregg Marland, Philippe Ciais, Corinne Le Quéré, Josep G. Canadell, Gernot Klepper, and Christopher B. Field. “Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, no. 24 (2007): 10288-10293.

Stavins, Robert N. “The problem of the commons: still unsettled after 100 years.”  American Economic Review 101, no. 1 (2011): 81-108.

Stern, N.H., 2007. The economics of climate change: the Stern review. Cambridge University press.

Tol, Richard SJ. “The economic effects of climate change.”  Journal of Economic Perspectives 23, no. 2 (2009): 29-51.

Weitzman, Martin L. “A review of the Stern Review on the economics of climate change.” Journal of Economic Literature 45, no. 3 (2007): 703-724.

Wheeler, David, and Dan Hammer. “The economics of population policy for carbon emissions reduction in developing countries.” Center for Global Development Working Paper 229 (2010).


Is faster economic growth compatible
with reductions in carbon emissions?
The role of diminished population growth

Gregory Casey and Oded Galor
Environmental Research Letters, 5 January 2017

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.



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


Harnessing the Demographic Dividend

Source: Population Reference Bureau, 20 May 2013

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.

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

Russell Hopfenberg, Biodiversity, 22 October 2014

Fostering Economic Growth, Equity, and Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa:
The Role of Family Planning

Ishrat Husain, Kaitlyn Patierno, Inday Zosa-Feranil, and Rhonda Smith
Population Reference Bureau, October 2016



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

Politics and the Changing Norms of Science, Lucas Bergkamp, Climate, Etc., 25 October 2016

Climate scientists open up their black boxes to scrutiny, Paul Voosen, Science, 20 October 2016

What a Trump Win Means For the Global Climate Fight, David Victor, Environment 360, 11 November 2016

Trumping the climate, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 13 November 2016

Carbon is not the enemy, William McDonough, Nature, 14 November 2016

Year 1 of the Trumpocene?, Stephan Foucart, Le Monde, 15 November 2016

The Trumpocene, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 18 November 2016

Prospects for a prolonged slowdown in global warming in the early 21st century, Thomas R. Knutson, Rong Zhang & Larry W. Horowitz, Nature Communications, 30 November 2016

Climate Heretic: to be or not to be?, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 5 December 2016

Energy Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration, David Gattie, Plugged In, 7 December 2016

King Canute vs. the Climate Planners, Jeffrey Tucker, Foundation for Economic Education, 14 December 2016

The tragedy of the horizon, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 21 December 2016

Internal climate variability as a confounding factor in climate sensitivity estimates, Frank Bosse, Climate Etc., 29 December 2016

The two-faced ‘reality’ of a clean energy future, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 2 January 2017

Will Trump’s Climate Team Accept Any ‘Social Cost of Carbon’?, Andrew Revkin, ProPublica, 11 January 2017

Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change, Clive Hambler, Climate Etc., 15 January 2017

Climate Policy in the Age of Trump: A Plausible Path Forward, Ted Nordhaus, Alex Trembath, and Jessica Lovering, Foreign Affairs, 24 January 2017

Conflating the Climate Problem with the Solution, Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 3 February 2017

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.


3. Mitigation of Habitat Degradation & Climate Change

Data vs. Dogma: Global Warming,
Extreme Weather and the Scientific Consensus

Mathias Weiss

20 January 2017

This is a revised version of an article originally published in
Planetary Movement for Mother Earth, 21 November 2016
under a Creative Commons License

NOTE: The original version of this article was previously republished in this journal
and mistakenly attributed to another author. The editor apologizes for the confusion.


Contrary to the popular belief there is no broad consensus among scientists about the causes of the so-called climate-warming/-change and its impacts and the increasing natural disasters of all kinds.

The debate about whether the so-called anthropogenic global warming or climate change exists at all and/or is caused through increasing CO2 emissions, due to natural variations of factors such as sunlight etc., or even through large-scale geoengineering experiments in the past and present is not yet clarified in the scientific debate and is still polarizing the scientific community. There are four different camps of opinion that clash here.

First: Those who solely make the anthropogenic CO2 emissions responsible for the so-called climate change (e.g. IPCC).

Second: Those who completely deny a change of climate, and thus an anthropogenic influence as well.

Third: Those who see a non-anthropogenic influence on the climate, primarily associating it with factors such as the cyclical solar activity, water vapor, etc. as a trigger.

Fourth: Those who in general see a human influence on the climate and the environment, but inter alia allocates the changes that occur to the experiments and programs to achieve climate and weather control and to the inventions of weather and plasma weapons for the control of the planet itself as Rosalie Bertell does.

Here, Prof. Dr. Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, speaks at a Senate hearing about how inconsistent the facts for the results of the IPCC report are, and how much room is given for interpretation in the scientific debate on the causes of climate change.

Climatologist Breaks the Silence on Global Warming Groupthink

Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over
the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth's Climate

It is obvious that in a political context it is consistently referred to a scientific consensus based on the reports of the IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a consensus which does not exist in this form. During the Senate hearing under oath of Sierra Club President Aaron Mair by US Senator Cruz on alleged global warming it gets obvious that a scientific discourse does not take place, and that the advocates of the first group are very reluctant to engage in such a scientific discourse. The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest environmental organization/lobby group in the United States, which argues from the standpoint of the IPCC.

Sen. Cruz Questions Sierra Club President Aaron Mair on Climate Change

The website is dedicated to this fact and has set itself the task of providing a different view on the theses and arguments of the human contribution to climate change. The daily page refers to scientific articles, press releases, economic studies, PR articles and blog entries and is divided into two columns. On the left side there are arguments and evidence that support the vision of the supposed consensus, embodied by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and assumes a significant anthropogenic warming by CO2 gas. The right side is dedicated to the skeptics and presents counterarguments and alternative arguments. To see a sample page, CLICK HERE.

It should be noted that in either case there is a view on the climate phenomena currently occurring that cannot be found in the hegemonic scientific discourse directed by the IPCC. This points to a problem which, except by Rosalie Bertell, was not identified yet.

This problem is to identify as the long and extensive history of military experiments and programs for weather and climate modification (see Flemming "Fixing the Sky" 2010) under the premise to bring the planet and its life systems themselves "under control" and to invent a new weapon, or rather use the planet itself as such a weapon (see Bertell, "Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War" 2000). Additionally, in the political as in the scientific debate on climate change it is concealed that the newly developed technologies are already in military and civil use for decades now. Thereby it is possible to legitimize the use of climate engineering techniques such as the deployment of stratospheric sulfate aerosols (sulfuric acid particles) to be distributed by plane as proponents of civil Geoengineering (“Civil” geo-engineers e.g. D. Keith, L. Wood, K. Caldeira, P. Crutzen) are demanding them as an urgent measure against the alleged CO2-induced climate change and to "save the planet".

Rosalie Bertell comments on it in her essay "Slowly wrecking our Planet" from 2010 as follows:

"This is not to say that military experimentation causes all atmospheric events and ultimately climate change. I am just saying that it is difficult in each case to separate out the military geo-experiments from the genuine heavings of the planet! The increase in violent weather is obvious to everyone. Is Mother Earth try to send us a message of distress? Is only the civilian economy responsible for climate change? I think not!" See Rosalie Bertell, Slowly wrecking our Planet, 2010; and Claudia von Werlhof: Remembering Rosalie Bertell (+ 14 June 2012), PBME, Toronto, 29 September 2012.


Mag. Mathias Weiss, born in 1983 in Salzburg Austria, is a PhD Student at the Department of Sociology, Faculty for Political Studies and Sociology, Innsbruck University, Austria. He attended the first international Conference on Climate Engineering "CEC14 – Critical global Discussions," in Berlin Germany, 2014, and is writing his thesis about the subject of "Climate Engineering vs. Civil Society." He is an active member of the "Planetary Movement for Mother Earth – PMME" and at the "Research Institute for the Critique of Patriarchy and Alternative Civilizations – FIPAZ."

4. Adaptation to Habitat Degradation & Climate Change

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:


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.



"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."


"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."


"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."


"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.


Earth lights. Photo credit:
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

Source: Dave Reede, CORBIS

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

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.

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.


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:


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

Bounded Population-Economic-Ecological System for Sustainable Human Development
Adapted from Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson, 2011, Figure 12.1, Page 195

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.


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.

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.



The following diagram represents the present world human system:

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.


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:

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:


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


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:


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


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.


The following diagram represents the future world human system:

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.


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:

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.


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


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

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.


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):


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):


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:


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.


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.


    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

    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.


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