Archive for December, 2013

04
Dec

Distortions of the Anthropocene

For the first time in earth’s history, a species through its own self-centered behavior, is responsible for ending one geological epoch, the Holocene, and initiating another, the Anthropocene. The Holocene, which began roughly 12,000 years ago with the end of the Pleistocene ice age, is generally associated with a globally warming climate and the rapid spread of the human species as ...

04
Dec

Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth a year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two ...

04
Dec

Interestingly, the trend of US government financial obligations parallels the growth of ecological overshoot – particularly since the year 2000 when overshoot became more evident in terms of climate change, ecosystem damage and commodity shortages. In the following chart we see the growth of total US government obligations relative to GDP. Total obligations include implicit debt (unfunded liabilities to Social Security, ...

04
Dec

The US government – like most national governments – is reluctant to recognize the ecological/economic damages being done by its command-and-control management systems. Therefore over the past several decades it has increasingly fudged the numbers on the ongoing economic decline. The following charts attempt to take the fudge out of some important official numbers, giving us a more reliable picture ...

04
Dec

Exhibit Four: Stock Market Returns Adjusted for Inflation

In real (inflation adjusted) returns the US stock markets have lost money since the year 2000. This suggests a deflating and increasingly volatile economy, which is consistent with our ecological overshoot scenario. During this time world central banks have printed trillions of dollars in new money, intervened in the currency markets and ...

04
Dec

Exhibit Five: Shifting the Burden Archetype

The core problem we see in the foregoing charts relates to treating the symptoms of the overshoot rather than the structural causes. This has been a consistent pattern of the Anthropocene – reflecting a widely shared sense of denial that there are natural limits to resource consumption. The Shifting the Burden Systems Archetype – reflected in the causal loop diagram below ...