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Deep Creek Hot Springs

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (70% of Full)


Re: SC87

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March 10, 2009 09:21PM

To Feel Lucky as Collapse Progresses / Tom Friedman's Awakening

........Dealing with collapse proactively is getting all the more urgent, and that includes realizing that the talking heads have been hopelessly invested in a broken system that was painful and wrong from the get-go. Fortunately, one of them must have had a revelation or had the equivalent of some psychedelic trip:

Tom Friedman of the New York Times has woken up. In last weekend's column "The Inflection Is Near?" he has come around to the basic position Culture Change has maintained for two decades. The column has brilliance, and he's talking to smarter people now. Unlike his economist colleague Paul Krugman, Friedman now sees limits to the Earth's capacity to give up resources and be polluted, and thus a new direction is indicated as of 2008. Several people have sent the column to me, including a long-time reader of Culture Change who has differed with me over the technofix: "Friedman’s beginning to sound like you!" Here it is, with my only quibble afterwards:

The Inflection Is Near?
By Thomas L. Friedman
March 7, 2009

Sometimes the satirical newspaper The Onion is so right on, I can’t resist quoting from it. Consider this faux article from June 2005 about America’s addiction to Chinese exports:

FENGHUA, China — Chen Hsien, an employee of Fenghua Ningbo Plastic Works Ltd., a plastics factory that manufactures lightweight household items for Western markets, expressed his disbelief Monday over the “sheer amount of [garbage] Americans will buy. Often, when we’re assigned a new order for, say, ‘salad shooters,’ I will say to myself, ‘There’s no way that anyone will ever buy these.’ ... One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless [garbage]? I hear that Americans can buy anything they want, and I believe it, judging from the things I’ve made for them,” Chen said. “And I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away. So wasteful and contemptible.”

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”
We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...

We can’t do this anymore.

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.

“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate ...’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”

Over a billion people today suffer from water scarcity; deforestation in the tropics destroys an area the size of Greece every year — more than 25 million acres; more than half of the world’s fisheries are over-fished or fished at their limit.

“Just as a few lonely economists warned us we were living beyond our financial means and overdrawing our financial assets, scientists are warning us that we’re living beyond our ecological means and overdrawing our natural assets,” argues Glenn Prickett, senior vice president at Conservation International. But, he cautioned, as environmentalists have pointed out: “Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts.”

One of those who has been warning me of this for a long time is Paul Gilding, the Australian environmental business expert. He has a name for this moment — when both Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once — “The Great Disruption.”

“We are taking a system operating past its capacity and driving it faster and harder,”............

............“When we look back, 2008 will be a momentous year in human history. Our children and grandchildren will ask us, ‘What was it like? What were you doing when it started to fall apart? What did you think? What did you do?’ ” Often in the middle of something momentous, we can’t see its significance. But for me there is no doubt: 2008 will be the marker — the year when ‘The Great Disruption’ began.

And, Sharon Astyk's take on Friedman's mindset reversal:


Evil Parasitic Caterpillar that has Been Eating Thomas Friedman’s Brain Finally Dies!

............Thomas Friedman, uncritical neo-classical economist, whack job proponent of globalization and porn-star-style mustachioed New York Times columnist has actually decided that growth is bad. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/opinion/08friedman.html?_r=2

This stunning development occurred after the evil, parasitic alien caterpillar that has been residing on his upper lip died, ending its multi-year position controlling all of Friedman’s brain activity. This is the only possible explanation for a sudden shift to rationality from a man who has done more to encourage the globalizing destruction of all hope for sustainability than most.

In a news conference, Friedman also renounced the “science” of economics, and vowed to help develop a new steady state economy. He also reassured those who would miss his famous look that despite the death of his parasite, he’d be keeping its corpse on his upper lip, since he’s gotten used to it.

(Ok, the last part isn’t true. But the article is, and this is the only way I can think of that really makes sense ;-)).



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