Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 14, No. 1, January 2018
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Population, Consumption, Technology, and Integral Ecology


The equation I = PAT means that ecological impacts (I) are the product of population (P), affluence in terms of consumption per capita (A), and technology (T). Note that P times A is GDP (Gross National Product). Mentioning population degrowth is taboo, and mentioning consumption degrowth is politically inconceivable. But, given the laws of conservation of matter and energy, it is equally inconceivable that any technology can neutralize ecological impacts if population and consumption keep growing perpetually. How can responsible citizens act to reverse the politically correct absurdity of "sustainable GDP growth"?


Keep In Mind: The Thugs Running the U.S. Government Are a Small Part of the Story, by Anne H. Ehrlich and Paul T. Ehrlich

Reflections and Chronicles From the End of Time: Stuck in the Game of Likes, by Carlos Cuellar Brown

The Cognitive Prison Habits of Economic Growth and Development, by David MacLeod

The Population Crisis – A Call to Arms, by Eric Rimmer

Earth as Weapon, Geo-engineering as War, by Claudia von Werlhof

GDP, Jobs, and Fossil Largesse, by Nate Hagens and D.J. White

Book Review of Guy Standing's The Corruption of Capitalism, by Brian Davey

From Silent Spring to Silent Night: Agrochemicals and the Anthropocene, by Tyrone Hayes and Martin Hansen

How Do We Get There? The Problem of Action, by Paul Raskin

Article Summary of Discussing Why Population Growth is Still Ignored or Denied, by Helen Kopnina & Haydn Washington

Announcement of the Seventh World Sustainability Forum (WSF2018), University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China

Basic Income and the Growth of Economic Democracy, by Michael Howard

Everyone in the World Should Be Taxed on Their Energy Footprint, by Iason Athanasiadis

How the Patriarchy Exploits Toxic Masculinity and What You Can Do About It, by Amanda Sparks


Advances in Sustainable Development

Directory of Sustainable Development Resources

Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability

Best Practices for Solidarity and Sustainability

Fostering Gender Balance in Society

Fostering Gender Balance in Religion

Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature


Keep In Mind: The Thugs Running the U.S. Government
Are a Small Part of the Story

Anne H. Ehrlich and Paul T. Ehrlich

Originally published by
Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, 5 December 2017
under a Creative Commons License

The moment when the surface of a soap bubble, broken by a nail, has begun to collapse
and fall apart, but hasn't finished yet. Collapse by Sober Rabbit | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Everyone seems fascinated by the behavior of the sexual predator who is president of the United States, his rogue cabinet officers trying to undo decades of progress, and the incredible actions of the Republican Congress struggling to steal large amounts of money from poor Americans to increase the wealth of our billionaires.  All this is shocking political theatre – shaking us so thoroughly that we’re re-examining our thinking on rates and mechanisms of the cultural evolution of norms.

But well before the Trump disaster, knowledgeable scientists were increasingly looking at the probability of a collapse and trying to consider how preparations might be made to ameliorate its impacts.  The existential risks, any of which might trigger such a collapse, include nuclear war, climate disruption, giant pandemics or famines, global toxification, and a shaky debt pyramid. All those threats are still with us, magnified by time.  And we shouldn’t lose sight of them in our personal and political planning.

But now, the capacity to deal with them in the U.S. (and to a degree globally) has been dramatically damaged by the thug administration – and the damage is already long-term.  The appointment of a relatively young but rigidly conservative man to the Supreme Court plus the packing of the federal court system with right-wing judges may weaken the judiciary for decades, while the hollowed out State Department and Environmental Protection Agency, among other entities, will take many years to rebuild if a sane and competent government is ever restored.  The same can be said for reversing the success of the Republican war on science, on women and minorities, and on equity in general.  A dismal picture if we have only a decade or so to avert assured calamity, and maybe much less if Trump chooses to distract attention from his criminal activities by starting a nuclear war.

So what can people who pay attention to the fate of civilization do now that a collapse is clearly on its way?  We have four answers.  First, we should keep searching for knowledge that might help soften our landing and make a more viable reset possible.  The results of Paul’s work on the evolution and ecology of butterfly populations, useless today, might help people trying to restore some of Earth’s biodiversity after a collapse.  For example, it might  lead them to protect parcels of land that are mixes of hills and valleys rather than larger flat parcels, providing more varied habitats less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Second, we should keep trying to determine how, after a collapse that leaves some modern infrastructure intact, a reset can be accomplished with a socio-economic system that avoids the lethal growthmania that is wrecking today’s civilization.  Growthmania is a product of Europe of the past few centuries, which was avoided for millennia by a technologically advanced Chinese empire. Economists should be able to use the Chinese experience to help insulate a new system from the disease.

Third, at the same time, we should mate that new economics to a governance system that can strive for equity, perhaps by learning lessons from our hunter-gatherer ancestors.  We’re genetically and culturally small-group animals that long existed in groups of hundreds at most, and now are trying to live in a gang of billions.  Cultural evolution might be nudged in that direction if the long success of human organizations where leadership was diverse and related to talent (hunt leader, wise elder judge, medicine woman) was broadly recognized.

But don’t hold your breath.  Considering today’s state of affairs we can’t be optimistic, so our fourth answer is live the best possible life you can while you have the chance, drinking good wine to keep your internal environment in good shape while the external goes down the drain.


Anne Howland Ehrlich is the American co-author of several books on overpopulation and ecology with her husband, Stanford University professor Paul R. Ehrlich. She is associate director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.

Paul Ralph Ehrlich is an American biologist, best known for his warnings about the consequences of population growth and limited resources. He is the Bing Professor of Population Studies at the Department of Biology of Stanford University and president of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology.

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