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Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/03/2008 22:16:03 MDT Print View

For a site devoted to outdoor pursuits I'm surprised at how little discourse there is on environmental issues. Yes, we have the Carbon Flame War (which has ballooned into something that few would be able or willing to follow at this point) and we've had a few is UL "green" or not arguements, but aside from this, I don't see much discussion. I'm curious as to where those who frequent these forums stand on the state of our planet and culture... here goes. Maybe this will be inflammatory enough to get some discussion going amongst a larger group.

Industrial civilization has never been, is not, and will never be sustainable.

We will not be able to shop ourselves to a "greener" future. Democrat or Republican or whatever controls whatever country, we will not enact laws that protect our planet from resource exploitation and the destruction that is being perpetrated against it; government serves to protect the very financial institutions and systems that are chiefly responsible for the destruction we see. We are ultimately headed for a collapse, and as far as the natural (non-civilized) world is concerned, the sooner the better.

I'm not arguing against the personal changes one can make and the actions one can take. Nor am I arguing against fighting the system that is killing our world with whatever tools are appropriate to you...These actions are vital.
Ultimately, though, industrial civilization will collapse, with or without our help. How many species (including us) it takes with it, depends on how soon it goes and the nature of the collapse.

Am I wrong? Why? How do you see things? Is there even a problem?

Edited by xnomanx on 07/03/2008 22:23:19 MDT.

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
get a grip on 07/03/2008 22:21:43 MDT Print View

We are not going to collapse and everything will work out in the end. There are plenty or resouces in space and nanotech will allow us to reuse the ones we have used before over and over again. besides you really don't want to see a collapse because the people like me would be the ones left and we have the weapons and some grudges

Edited by glad777 on 08/05/2009 19:57:58 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Wow. on 07/03/2008 22:56:58 MDT Print View

Ok, so that's one point for the "There is no problem" camp.

The bit about weapons and dead leftists was a nice touch!

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
re: "Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?" on 07/03/2008 23:24:00 MDT Print View

Craig, FWIW, you might try killing this thread and beginning another that steers clear of your obvious personal bias, assuming you're looking for a genuine discussion and are not instigating troll-like heck-raising (which may well not be your intent, reading between the lines).

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: re: "Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?" on 07/03/2008 23:49:30 MDT Print View

Yes, my statements are inflammatory, I admitted to that when starting this thread.

Is this "troll-like heck-raising"?

Are the ideas I've presented beyond thoughtful, rational, discussion?

Of course I'm biased. I'm VERY, VERY, VERY, biased.
But that does not prevent me from having a thoughtful debate of ideas and listening to what others have to say. I want to be as up-front and open about my biases as possible- without doing so I think we're all wasting time trying to read between the lines. I figure that being explicit about our premises only allows anyone involved to have a more honest discussion.

...if this is not the time or place or audience with which these types of ideas can or should be discussed I'm happy to drop this right now. (I suppose that if by post #2 we're already talking about killing people this probably isn't the place.)

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
Re: Re: re: "Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?" on 07/04/2008 00:24:07 MDT Print View

Well, I can relate to your sentiments and sometimes am very pessimistic about our future and can envision various problems and calamities as things progress. What I envision is not at all "PC" and involves massive amounts of people dying, etc., so I won't go into that.

However, it's the wealthy, industrialized countries - who are presumably using up the resources - who always have the advantage when calamities strike (when oil prices skyrocket, when food prices go through the roof, etc.).

Other times I am more optimistic about the potential for developing sustainable energy sources, but even then the tendency to overextend ourselves due to forces of competition remains. I don't know if space travel will ever become cheap enough to effectively take us beyond the limitations of our planet.

Just some thoughts.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: re: "Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?" on 07/04/2008 01:08:53 MDT Print View

Rick, I understand, but this is the type of thing that really saddens me.
When you mention that "What I envision is not at all "PC" and involves massive amounts of people dying, etc., so I won't go into that.".... I have to wonder, where can we talk about these things? Shouldn't we be talking about these things? How many people see things this way?

I fully understand why you might not want to go into details in a public forum, so I won't go there.

I started this thread because I feel like every time a discussion turns to the environment, everyone ignores the elephant in the room: industrialized civilization and the consumption/destruction it necessitates.

But I really think we NEED to be talking about this. I know I need to be talking about it, to try not to go mad. We need to talk about reality, regardless of whether it offends, regardless of whether or not we have to point the finger at ourselves.

Otherwise, we get nowhere.

You, (as well as the second poster on this thread, who said everything is fine, interestingly enough), mention looking to space for resources.
What is that saying about what we have done here, on Earth?
Doesn't that imply a belief that we will not have enough to sustain ourselves here and must then search the heavens for a place to "develop"?

When we talk about resources from space, what are we talking about? Energy? Minerals? Fresh water? Fresh air? Trees? Tuna? Beef steaks and broccoli? Magic beans? Can space fix what is happening here, bring back forests, heal oceans, revive near extinct species, feed millions of people and lift them from poverty? Or will it simply give us (or more accurately, industrialized "first world" nations) the resources necessary to continue the way of living that has gotten us into this mess in the first place?

And what if space doesn't work? What do we do? Magical technologies not invented? Will we discover magic beans? Or is this just a way of relieving ourselves of responsibility and trusting that some smart scientist somewhere will figure out something and we'll all be OK...

Please keep in mind that I include myself in this critique as well...Despite everything I'm active in, I'm hardly "above" the problems I mention.

Edited by xnomanx on 07/04/2008 01:12:28 MDT.

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
Re: Re: Re: Re: re: "Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable?" on 07/04/2008 01:42:38 MDT Print View

Not all industrialized countries are eating up resources as the same rate. European economies are often quite sustainable, with much care given to environmental protection. Iceland's economy is wholly sustainable, but they have vast geothermal resources.

It's paradoxical that often the worst ecological situations are to be found in the poorer countries. Research has shown that the average GDP first rises to a certain level (I believe around $6000 per capita), THEN countries begin implementing pollution-reducing technologies. There are so many things that can be done to cause less damage to the environment, but when people are trying to feed themselves, they don't care.

Humanity, as any species, is expansive; that's why we look to space. Not just for resources, but also "because it's there."

I believe the only way to artificially limit consumption is through international pacts ("we won't do it if you won't either"). Otherwise, it is in each nation's selfish interest to develop and consume more resources than the others. Yes, developed nations and especially the U.S. are at the head of the "high-consumption" pack, but there are about 200 other countries that would like to be consuming as much as Americans do.

I think practice shows that when the end is in sight (of losing a species or experiencing some other irreplaceable loss), people usually group together to try to avert it. As long as there is tons of oil, people are going to use it.

I think there are things individuals can do to be part of the movement to reduce our impact, but ultimately our success depends on society-wide processes and to some degree on political decisions.

Sadly, many developed societies don't offer low-consumption lifestyle options, such as living in a few rooms somewhere instead of a private home, or riding a bicycle everywhere instead of driving a gas-guzzling car. I would like to see options like this begin to appear on a wide scale in the U.S. and elsewhere, but it involves a completely different city development paradigm.

Edited by Legkohod on 07/04/2008 01:46:10 MDT.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
post deleted on 07/04/2008 04:56:32 MDT Print View


Edited by huzefa on 07/04/2008 10:11:47 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/04/2008 05:39:43 MDT Print View

I have a lot thoughts on the subject as well, but also try to keep them to myself for fear of looking like a politcal/socio nut job and just getting into pointless partisan politics.
But, ok
I would like to know what you mean by Industrial civilization excactlly, Because I think Industrialism is just like anything else you can use it or abuse it.
I mean all industrialism is,is an efficient means of production that drives cost down for consumers and profit up for manufactures. In contrast to the fine hand craftsmanship of the old guilds that made high quality objects but they where expensive for example.
So Indusrialism is for me just efficiency which is MORE sustainable.
Now if you mean a civilization that is based around the automobile I agree that cant go on. Travel in general as we know it is not sustainable. And the means of production associated with it.
I think that people will have to become more self sufficient in genral, growing more of there own food making and repurposing more goods.
I do not see or want any international government! It will be impossible to control and unresponsive to the needs of the people and ripe for corruption.
The more local the government the better, people will have more control over there own towns and lives and so be able create better living standards for themselves. This was once the most important part of American politics not some generalized idea of "democracy"., Local food, local production, local government, a better Industrial civilization for all of us.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
simple answer - YES on 07/04/2008 06:23:42 MDT Print View

I know this will be an unpopular view on this forum, but capitalistic market driven forces without governmental intervention will solve most problems.

Pick a problem - the market can answer it. Big government can not.

Gloom and doom are not the answer. The search for the "majic beans" is.

Let me have it,


Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
Ok seriously on 07/04/2008 07:14:29 MDT Print View

Ok just fooling around with you before. Here are some stats you havn't heard of I bet. Global temps are currently declining at .005 degrees C per day do to solar cycle 23 having not ended there is only one visible sun spot on the sun. We may be going into a mini glaciation period.
China is getting in to renewable engergy in big way with almost 4 GW of solar and windpower coming on line next year with that doubling every year for awhile

I am more worried about declining CO2 levels starting around 2022 due to piplined nanotech sucking it out too fast.
I could go on and on.....

Edited by glad777 on 08/02/2008 13:10:44 MDT.

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
Yes!!! on 07/04/2008 07:38:34 MDT Print View

Thanks David it is statists/socilists who basically destroy everything they touch. Freedom,Liberty and Markets solve problems. Oh and high oil prices are great as they get our asses moving on pipelining more solar,nuke and wind power in the US and everywhre else too ie. China. China has 22 nukes coming online in the next 3 years by the way in addition to all of solar and wind they are putting online. However, thier agricultural system is falling apart do to centralized ag planning.....

Edited by glad777 on 07/29/2008 19:05:19 MDT.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:industrial civialization on 07/04/2008 09:12:34 MDT Print View

i have to agree with Tim and David. big government is not the way to solve the problems. look how useless the U.N. is. they sure do like our money, but everything is our fault, such as global warming, etc. china is the biggest user of oil right now. no one is telling them they have to conserve energy. we need to have population control so the resources we do have will not be overused. i have a question for Craig. do you live in cave, ride a bike or horse, grow your own food, etc.??? if you live in a house made of trees and are complaining about cutting down trees then you are a hypocrite. if you drive a car and complain about using steel, you are a hypocrite. even if you live in a brick house, bricks are not renewable. trees are. the forests management where i live are very concerned about replanting the trees. if not, they will not have jobs. we all need to be concerned about our using of resources,but not to the extent of being ridiculous like so many people on the far left.

Edited by clt1953 on 07/04/2008 09:21:28 MDT.

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
horses on 07/04/2008 09:30:11 MDT Print View

Enviro impact of horses is much worse than cars in every way. It's not even close with cars. Think about what it takes to keep a horse alive and the waste they expell the methane from 200 million horses would cook the earth methane is a super warming gas almost as bad as water vapor co2 dosn't warm anything like the way methane does though and water is the worst....
Check out the sahara used to be covered with trees they were all cut down for ag and wood for ships. The eco system fell apart. Check out the US more trees here now than when the settlers came. Hmm statist dictators (kings) created the sahara relative freedom more trees than ever before hmmmmm how can the be could it be MARKET forces?

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
bricks on 07/04/2008 09:41:31 MDT Print View

Bricks are made of dirt I live 3 miles from a brick plant. Metal is reusable over and over again. Some upcoming tech will alow us to revover everything ever put into land fills and reuse it over and over. However what we think on as "industrial" ie. big manufacuring plants, power plants etc. will go away over the next 50 years giving way to decentralized solutions. Think solar and wind and fuel cells for indivual power needs nukes and big solar big wind for big power needs. Solar power sats lots of them sent up by India and China sooner than anyone thinks.
Population control is more and matter of memes and wealth than anything else when children become non producers for the lower classes they stop having them the way to control populations is market forces end welfare transfer payments and you get less poor people having kids. Oh and by the way world popultions are about to hit a demogrphic global decline anyway teetering there now check out russia and china and japan....

Edited by glad777 on 08/02/2008 13:15:24 MDT.

Huzefa Siamwala
(huzefa) - M
Re: Re: Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/04/2008 10:10:37 MDT Print View

Brian, after reading your post I think my comments were a bit naive. What you say makes sense to me.

I am deleting my previous post so as to not embarrass myself.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:industrial civialization on 07/04/2008 10:13:31 MDT Print View

Tim, you are exactly right about horses, bricks, steel etc. just trying to get Craig to see how everything we use has some impact on our environment. it's a matter of degrees. some good, some not so good. i live on the iron range, so mining is a big industry up here. they have taken lots of steps to keep pollution down. i really don't think that is the case in the overseas mines. they do not have as stringent regulations as here in this country. to bad that we are always made out to be the bad guys......

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: re:industrial civialization on 07/04/2008 10:59:40 MDT Print View

"I have a question for Craig. do you live in cave, ride a bike or horse, grow your own food, etc.??? if you live in a house made of trees and are complaining about cutting down trees then you are a hypocrite."

Thank you for mentioning this, Victoria.
Nowhere in any of my arguments did I state that I am free from being part of the problem. One cannot exist in an industrialized country and live the lifestyle it affords without being a part of major global problems. But I will not let guilt render me inactive. Is it possible to fight a system that one is also bound to? Can one critique a system that one is a part of? ABSOLUTELY, yes!
I don't buy the "You wipe your butt so you're just as responsible for killing trees as Pacific Lumber, Kimberly-Clark, Weyerhauser", whoever...

By buying that argument we become complacent, frozen by a sense of guilt DISPROPORTIONATE to our actions and theirs.

We have the benefit of enjoying all of the rewards without having to see the damage. We don't have to see the wars. We don't have to see the clearcuts (although I have). When you mention the forests where you live are being replanted, are they being replanted with the same species being taken, or fast growing commercial crops (Douglass Fir). Can we replace the biodiversity of a lost forest with a monoculture and still maintain THE SAME thriving ecosystem? We don't have to see the millions that labor (and literally die) to produce cheap consumer goods. We don't see the dioxin, carcinogens, and other toxins accumulating in our bodies (present in the breast milk of most women on this planet now). If you will not acknowledge this, maybe you are the hypocrite.

No, I don't live in a cave. Yes, I ride a bicycle. I grow as much food as I can, thank you (I've got some great tips on container gardening of vegetables if you're interested).
But I, personally, AM NOT responsible for the behavior of major corporations destroying this planet.
I do not use or purchase Kleenex, even if I did; are you aware that Kimberly-Clark, the parent company, is one of the leading culprits of clearcutting old-growth pacific northwestern forests? Why? For pulp, for Kleenex and Cottonelle toilet paper. They have decided...let me repeat, THEY HAVE DECIDED that NOT using recycled content instead of virgin pulp is in their financial best interest.
Ultra high decibel sonar being used by the Navy and oil exploration firms for underwater mapping...also wreaking havok on mammal populations. We're talking about 260+ DB blasts. To put that in perspective, around 170+ is the survivability threshold for humans, the point at which your ears would bleed. They have decided to do this, not me. They have decided this is what we need, NOT ME.

I don't even eat meat or animal products, so I won't go into too much detail about the industrial meat system- I think we all know- ocean trawlers that kill EVERYTHING in their path (we're talking mile-sized nets) the "bycatch" thrown away to die, billions of cattle eating billions of tons of grain, using god knows how much fresh water- resources that could go to hungry humans if we were willing. Forests being cleared all over South and Central America to support the beef farming...

Did I create this system? I don't even eat meat. Even if I did, DID I CREATE THIS SYSTEM? DID YOU? Or is it something bigger than us.
Who does this system serve? Corporate profits or our land? Our children or stockholders? Nonhuman species or unchecked, unending economic expansion? Who are we protecting? Who are you protecting?

Yes, we all benefit and in turn we are asked not to question. Mind you on post #2 violence was threatened in a vague way because I even asked these questions. But the true benefactors of this system are those in power, people whose wealth ensures that they will NEVER have to see the consequences of their actions.

Oh, look, a Seinfeld rerun is on.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Does anyone actually think that industrial civilization is sustainable? on 07/04/2008 11:14:29 MDT Print View

Of course people are demanding that China conserve energy and do a lot more about the disastrous environmental problems it has. If you live in Asia everyone is aware of that. And not just China, but all the big, heavily populated developing countries. Look at Japan, the whole world is decrying Japan's slaughter of the whales. Where do people get the idea that only the US is criticized???

The UN doesn't work because no one lets it work. Too many cooks with too much self interest. To say that an international government can't work simply implies that most nations are still too absorbed with themselves to face the global nature of our world today. I agree that for local issues only local governments can handle the details, but for things like the world oil crisis or working together to come to terms with arctic ice melting or dealing with cross-border conflicts like the Iraq War, only an international government can handle those problems. If the "local government only" argument truly held sway, then the argument against going to war against Iraq is stronger than ever.

Of course, for an international government to truly work for everyone fundamental shifts in the way we run governments and include citizen's equal participation would have to be seriously addressed. The way things are at the moment there is no way it could work.

So far, the human race has a pretty good track record of addressing every challenge it faced.

If you are talking of the entire human race surviving to this point, then we certainly have done awfully well. But if we are talking about civilizations which rose and fell, well, there are truly a lot of them which disappeared, often due to environmental destruction. We have an awful record in that regard.