How fast is exponential growth?

Exponential growth of human impacts is the greatest threat to Spaceship Earth. The world GDP is currently growing at close to 4% per annum.  To find out how many years that it will take the total global GDP to double at this rate of increase, you simply divide the percentage rate into 70. Thus, if the 4% rate continues, the GDP value of all human activity will only take seventeen and half years. This means a doubling of all the stuff that we produce on Spaceship Earth in this time.  It took the whole of human history to arrive at our current loading of the planet! This blog from Jeremy Williams elaborates with two excellent links here. The videotaped lecture by  Prof. Albert Bartlett is a remarkable feat of undergraduate teaching and one of the best answers available to the question posed by this post. For a 6 minute video that shows how exponential growth is speeding toward limits to growth on Spaceship Earth see this lesson from Chris Martenson’s “The Crash Course”. This free online course for self-study is well worth watching in either its 45-minute or 3-hour version.

 

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Editorial bias about IPCC report

A fascinating glimpse at how editorials in leading newspapers see what they (and their readers) want to see is offered here in a look at the reaction of five leading US newspapers to the IPCC’s latest report on climate change.  The massive IPCC report maps the almost total consensus of climate scientists about climate disruption on Spaceship Earth arising from human activity, and emphasises the need to ‘adapt and mitigate’ given that emerging changes appear inevitable.   But still, the editorial in the  Wall Street Journal editorial manages to conclude: “The best environmental policy is economic growth. The richer you are, the more insurance you have, and wealth pays for prudent environmental regulations”.  Of course, the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media (here) is, by exposing editorial bias, open to accusations of bias! But the short article would be an instructive exercise for older students on bias detection of mainstream press coverage of an extremely important issue for our planet and one of its most crucial life support systems.

George Monbiot, the formidable campaigner against the corporate invasion of political life that is perhaps behind the Wall Street Journal’s biases, offers a much more extensive critique (here) of how corporate interests permeate much of public life and even institutions purporting to promote a sustainable future for our planet.  even his own liberal Guardian newspaper!

Think tanks are a major source of news used by journalists. Jeremy Williams comments in this blog on their lack of transparency and offers links to sites that evaluate how open they are in revealing the interests that fund them.

False hope about the future?

Paul Kingsnorth was the co-founder of the Dark Mountain project, a crowd-sourced initiative of writers and artists in the UK who seek to make a creative response to the dark future that they see for Spaceship Earth. In this interview (link here) Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition Movement, also in the UK, explores with Kingsnorth why environmentalism and the ‘green movement’ still cling to the hope that large scale global transformations can be controlled by reasonable policies and action. The conclusion is that local action is worthwhile, but that trying to mend a decaying system premised on unsustainable growth will not prevent its collapse. Although the notion of ‘glocal’ action – linking local action to global thinking, action and transformation – is not used in the discussion, Kingsnorth argues that this is false hope. Thus he would probably see the longer-term purpose of this CASE website as unattainable, while still encouraging us to expose what is really happening to Spaceship Earth so that, at least, we can help the next generation face the future with open eyes.

Short videos for teaching big issues

Many on-line teaching resources are available to stimulate classroom discussion and further research on big issues relating to Spaceship Earth and its future. One website worth examining is ourlandourbusiness.org  Here are two examples:

Global Wealth Inequality – This video reveals the shocking concentration of Global Wealth that shifts far more wealth from the poor countries to the rich than is provided in foreign aid. See the 4 minute video here.

Corporate Land-grabbing – A shorter cartoon video highlights the role of the World Bank in concentrating wealth in the hands of rich corporations by means of land-grabbing which dispossesses millions of small scale farmers of their livelihoods. The 1 minute 40 second video is here.