Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 11, No. 5, May 2015
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Man and Woman in the Anthropocene

Source: Six Degrees of Separation
From World Wars to Global Transitions

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!

Source: It's a Long Way to Tipperary.    [PLAY]
Lyrics by Jack Judge, 1912. Music by Albert Farrington, 1915.
Note: "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" became a very popular song among soldiers during World War I and is remembered as a song of that war. Next: Long (and painful?) global transitions.


Editorial: Man and Woman in the Anthropocene
Global Issues Matrix: An Analysis of Ecological Complexity , by Keith Zeff
Bounding the Planetary Future: Why We Need a Great Transition, by Johan Rockström
Review of Collision Course (Endless Growth on a Finite Planet), by Herman Daly
A Business Built for Resilience, by James Magnus-Johnston
Roots of Property Law: From the Moral Contract - and the Doctrine of Economic Justice - to the Social Contract. Is the Legal Contract Next?, by Carmine Gorga
Paradigm Junction - Paradigm Flaws: Other Paradigm Flaws & Compounding Issues, by Don Chisholm
Blueprint for Change Part 3: Food Autonomy Through Perennial System Design, by Carlos Cuellar Brown
Blueprint for Change Part 4: Regional Currency and Banking, by Carlos Cuellar Brown
Redefining Sustainability, by Jean-Francois Manzoni
Putting the Real Story of Energy and the Economy Together, by Gail Tverberg
The Hidden Reasons Behind Slow Economic Growth: Declining EROI, Constrained Net Energy, by Kurt Cobb


Advances in Sustainable Development (news, pubs, tools, data)
Directory of Sustainable Development Resources (1000+ links)
Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability (mitigation/adaptation)
Best Practices for Solidarity and Sustainability (business/governance)
Fostering Gender Balance in Society (peace, food, health, energy)
Fostering Gender Balance in Religion (religious traditions, spirituality)

EDITORIAL: Man and Woman in the Anthropocene

EARTH DAY 2015 was widely observed throughout the world, with many expressions of legitimate concern about the current ecological crisis. Indeed, environmental degradation and climate change do not bode well for the future of the planet. But the fact is that humans are the only ones that can do something about it. The planet is not the problem. Humans are the problem: too many of them, consuming too much, polluting too much, with small elites doing the most damage in utter disregard for the social and ecological consequences. Welcome to the Anthropocene!

Complexity of the Ecological System

Even if the elites -- the wealthy, the learned, the idealists -- want to do something about it, the complexity of the human-planet system boggles the mind. Too many factors involved (see the global issues matrix in the article that follows) with every factor related to all the others via open and/or closed loop impacts. The challenge of ecological complexity brings to mind Miller's "magical number seven, plus or minus two" and other attempts to isolate leverage points for effective action, such as system dynamics and the iceberg model. Lindblom's "science of muddling through" may still be the most reasonable model for the forthcoming transition from global capitalism to a more sensible synthesis; indeed, we are "still muddling, not yet through".

Global, National, and Local Issues

The article below provides a list of 51 global issues listed in alphabetical order. It is hard to imagine that any of these issues can be resolved in isolation from the others. In today's globalized world, each issue is directly or indirectly affected by all the others. Furthermore, similar matrices could be built for regional, national, and local issues. So imagine a hierarchy of matrices -- one for the planet, then one for each country, then one for each locality (province, county, city) -- with interlocking linkages between levels. Negotiating checks and balances between levels according to the principle of subsidiarity would be necessary, but not sufficient for a civilized transition unless planetary boundaries and resource limits are taken into account for sustainability. In the ultimate analysis, civilized sustainable development is unfeasible unless there is a balancing of individual rights and responsibilities with the common good. A new culture of solidarity -- between humans, and between humans and the human habitat -- is our only hope.

Human Relations and Energy Requirements

Energy is required for all human activity. The throughput of solar energy is limited. The reservoir of energy accumulated in fossil fuels is limited. Even if harmful emissions from fossil fuels could be neutralized, relying on remaining reserves to meet energy needs is not a long-term solution. Even if renewable energy technologies transform 100% of solar energy throughput into usable energy, it is still limited. It follows that, at some point in the future, infinite growth in population and consumption becomes an oxymoron. The oxymoron becomes even more oxymoronic when it is recognized that a good chunk of available energy is spent in wars and resolution of conflicts arising from uncivilized human relations. The most pervasive form of human misbehavior is manifested as a lack of harmony between the two halves of humanity -- the male half and the female half. As clearly and forcefully stated in the 2015 Peace & Freedom Manifesto, an essential requirement to eradicate wars, and reduce waste of human capital and natural resources, is to overcome "patriarchy, the subordination of women by men, in state, community and family, perpetuated by the social shaping of men and women into contrasted, unequal and limiting gender identities, favouring violent masculinities and compliant femininities." In both the secular and religious dimensions, gender equality is a sine qua non for a civilization of solidarity and sustainability.

Renewable Energy for the Techo-Anthropocene

There is a "clear and critical" need for sustainable energy development in the post-2015 global agenda. Given the risks of exacerbating climate change by continued accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it would not seem advisable to keep burning carbon. Nuclear energy is a technologically feasible option, but also risky. Investment to accelerate development of solar and other forms of clean energy is the only sensible option in the short-term, but making it happen is almost inconceivable given social inertia and resistance by powerful vested interests. Even if energy is available, other resources (water, minerals, space) will become limiting. There is no such thing as a long-term technological solution for the Anthropocene that would obviate mitigation of population growth and significant adaptation of consumption habits.

Humans, the Human Family, and Human Ecology

A significant cultural transition to a new global order of solidarity and sustainability is unavoidable. It may be accelerated by climate change and shortages of energy and other natural resources, but will be driven by human agency, voluntary or involuntary. Animals and trees are not responsible. Atoms and electrons are not responsible. Humans, individually and collectively, are responsible. The unity of humanity, male and female, will be tested. The complementarity of man and woman, and human relations at all levels, will be tested. The reciprocity between humanity and the human habitat will become an experiential reality. Human relations must evolve from competition by domination to cooperation in solidarity. All forms of human interaction with nature must evolve from exploitation to conservation. This evolution must be consciously fostered by all men and women of good will. There is simply no other alternative going forward. It will be "a long, long way to Tipperary," and will require a lot of "muddling through" (in solidarity, to mitigate the pain!) at the local, national, and global levels. We all need to start thinking and acting as "global citizens" for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Global Issues Matrix: An Analysis of Ecological Complexity

Keith Zeff

This article was originally published by
Fifty Year Perspective, April 2015

Global issues are interrelated, and it is important to consider what consequences might occur as a result of current decisions – and not only in the near term, but especially in the long-term. Unfortunately, neither business nor government decision-makers are prone to this approach. Stock values, quarterly profit and loss reports, and election cycles are more likely to dominate decision-making processes.

In a globalized world, a seemingly minor event in one place can have disastrous effects elsewhere. A relatively low-key event such as an election in a small developing country can be contested and ignite a sequence of reactions that spiral into armed conflict involving numerous countries.

Nothing has done more to “connect the dots” than globalization. In turn, globalization owes its progress to advances in transportation and communications. The world has shrunk both physically and virtually, such that events, developments, and trends are quickly communicated around the globe. The long list of what I have called “global issues” has myriad interrelationships among them. For example, foreign direct investment by a developed country in a developing country promotes international trade, providing employment, raising people out of poverty, raising standard of living, and increasing international security between trade partners.

There are 51 topics on the “Global Issues” matrix in a format that has a box connecting every issue to every other issue. They are all profoundly inter-related. Like the concept of Six Degrees of Separation, I think all the topics could be linked with fewer than six steps. An interesting exercise is taking one of the global issues and placing Xs in each box where that issue overlaps the other issues. The example below does this for the issue of Governance. The yellow shading highlights all boxes where Governance may overlap with all other issues. The twenty-nine Xs specify those global issues that could be said to have a first-degree relationship with Governance.

Global Issues Matrix with Highlighted Linear Impacts

The specter of unexpected consequences necessitates thinking about more than simply addressing the problem at hand. Just as Governance had potential interactions, good or bad, with 29 other issues, any issue in the matrix will have multiple relationships, both direct and sequential.

The matrix below illustrates a series of impacts that could start with the link between climate variability and agricultural productivity. Consider the on-going international debate concerning climate change. Among other impacts, global warming is causing some locations to become less hospitable to farming. People involved in subsistence farming are being displaced. (See the Number “1” on the matrix at the intersection of climate variability and agricultural productivity.) People displaced from marginally productive land become “climate migrants” (Number 2 on the matrix) and, without land, find themselves unemployed in urban areas and at the lowest rung of their new locality’s social structure (Number 3). Dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) exist to address the needs of these migrants (Number 4). In some countries the work of NGOs is viewed as a violation of state sovereignty and they are commanded to leave (Number 5). Ultimately the need for occupational education is recognized (Number 6), and the displaced migrants are prepared to find employment (Number 7). Concurrent with these events is the technological revolution in productivity and human worker displacement (Number 8). But technology itself must adhere to standards of energy use that do not exacerbate global warming (Number 9). While limitations may be placed upon emissions from agricultural machinery, use of the machinery will still replace manual labor, displace workers, and repeat the whole cycle.

Global Issues Matrix with Arrows to Show a Feedback Loop

This is just one example – how policy-making currently underway addressing climate change will have cascading impacts on migration, education, employment, technology, and more, and on distinct localities and international relations. The matrix is a visualization tool that enables decision-makers and stakeholders to consider and debate potential repercussion, both positive and negative.

In Fifty Year Perspective, each of the 51 issues is described under one of seven topics:

International Relations – How governments relate to one another has changed significantly since World War II. People, products, and money flow easily across international borders, raising concerns over security, trade advantage, and state sovereignty.

Physical Environment – Awareness that we are in an “Anthropocene Era,” when humans are affecting the earth’s stability and capacity to support life, requires new sensitivities toward what we mean by growth.

Human Capital - How do we enhance the capabilities of the population so that all people can be productive in contributing to the prosperity of the individual and a society?

Technology – Telecommunications has shrunken the distances between people with profound effects. We look to technology to solve problems from health, productivity, energy, and security, and live sustainably.

Economy – Can economic growth raise the destitute out of poverty and provide employment for people of all countries? Capitalism claims to be able to do it all, but governments and speculators alter the course of markets.

Politics – Western liberal democracy has not proven to be the best form of government for all cultures. Nor has it been fully successful in satisfying demands for political participation. Lobbying and political unrest challenge the decision-making processes of governments.

Human Relations – While technology and foreign travel have brought diverse populations into contact, differences in history and economic status still make agreement challenging.

Detailed descriptions of all 51 issues are found on the home page of Fifty Year Perspective. Global issues are interrelated, and it is important to consider what consequences might occur as a result of current decisions – and not only in the near term, but especially in the long-term. Unfortunately, neither business nor government decision-makers are prone to this approach. Stock values, quarterly profit and loss reports, and election cycles are more likely to dominate decision-making processes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Zeff is retired from two careers, first as a city planner for eighteen years, and later as a commercial real estate researcher for twenty-seven years. His education includes undergraduate degrees in architecture and a graduate degree in political science. His vocation and his avocation have been characterized by an interdisciplinary approach to decision-making. His concern for the future, both physical and social, plus his concern for the future of his eleven grandchildren, led him to research the complexities of globalization, geopolitics, and sustainability. Citing the frequent assertion by politicians that, “I am doing this for my children and grandchildren,” he decided to infer two generations with the title Fifty Year Perspective.

Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity:
The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity

Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Vatican Workshop, 28 April 2015

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Diogenes of Sinope (c. 404 – 323 BCE)


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