Our global civilization drives its systems into collapse in modes that both visible and invisible, material and psychological. There are incomprehensible and denied system feedbacks that elude our normal understandings of individual and social behavior. This article is for future historians, should our species survive. The present human leadership is highly keen on keeping the global mega-machine on full growth acceleration ahead, as befits their salaries.
This continues until our collision with our finite biosphere systems results in a rolling downhill collapse. By which time all the remaining lifeboats may have been burned. This is a consequence of our species being endowed with a highly imaginary and emotional consciousness. We have instincts for biological survival that evolved in entirely different evolutionary circumstances. Best to admit that in our present challenges, we can no longer possibly cope with ourselves, and the rest of the non-human planet cannot cope with us either. We are now in the uncontrolled phase of global systems de-compensation, and our systems of human cooperation and sympathy are also collapsing.
The acceleration overshoot, started about 200 years ago, and has been accelerating ever since. Global population was about 1 billion in 1800, and already various
West Asian nations had found that their overshoot of national carrying capacity required national footprint expansion. Being great problem solvers, we settled on organized fixes of fossil fueled industrialization, colonization, competitive trade, wars, and subjugation of other parts of the planet to feed ourselves and our economies.
Now we are at the very peak of this fossil fueled growth, in stagnation, heading for collapse. We have two global wars behind us. Some have calculated that the global carbon budget for 2 °C is already as good as blown, as fossil fuel mining will continue until it is finally unable to, possibly because we no longer continue on.
Our still rising Green House Gas emissions, do not yet have any sort plan to be reduced fast enough. Not even wars between global superpowers and economic - trade sanctions have yet dampened our fossil fuel extraction rates. Everything we do just requires us to pump harder for more energy extraction. What we need to do is to stop doing stuff. Not even the worst estimates of decline rate of production of major global oil fields, about 6% a year, is a fast enough speed of GHG decline needed to avoid climate catastrophe tipping points.
We now demand our politics to switch us into an accelerated alternative energy systems transition. Building this technology still impacts our biosphere. It cannot be built to anywhere near the scale required to replace the energy expenditure of this fossil fuel civilization. There are not enough quality resources in this finite world, for our systems rebuild, even if time were available.
The mining, materials, and biosphere impacts of industrial production of renewable energy technology are reported to be just as big and bad, and unsustainable as the fossil energy and mining required to build them, and later on dispose of them at the end of their lifecycle. Even though all wind and solar energy is clean and diffusely available, most of the manufacture and disposal of harvesting technologies is a dirty energy intensive business, requiring a fossil fueled industrial economy. (Through the eye of a needle - Seibert & Rees) No doubt we will keep struggling to build and maintain them even after our economies collapse to a much reduced technology level.
Because of decades of time lost, GHG reduction rates for limiting global heating now require something like 12% as year, and that is "unacceptable" rapid global economic collapse. We are still fixated on not losing GDP growth. Until we give up on rising GDP, global climate mitigation is going nowhere. GDP decline is exactly what is we need retain a stable climate system.
GDP decline is unacceptable to national governments and the global elite parasitic rentier finance classes, who are totally loss averse in proportion to their political power and paper wealth. It is all fiat currency after all. GDP decline is being achieved today by the brilliancy of the UK government which is now doing its very best to reach a high rate of economic systems collapse for its citizens. This was done by the step of instant de-globalization, from cutting its biggest umbilical cords of trade with the European Union. We should be loudly praising UK elites for sacrificing the well being of their citizens, while still looking after the well being of their own financial empires.
Let us be absolutely honest and clear. There is no such possible thing as a "Safety Mechanism" for GHG emissions, such as proposed in Australia, since it cannot limit GHG emissions. Buying carbon credits is not the same thing. It is a just a bigger money churn for the carbon corporations. Perhaps its legislative passage will succeed with real GHG restriction improvements. It will surely not be passed by the government unless it permits the expansion of new fossil fuel projects.
Real climate legislation now appears to be impossible in Australia
Australia's modest domestic emission reduction target cannot be met by while having lots of new and expanding fossil fuel mining projects, so its carbon accounting has to be faked for national political party policy credibility. No one in any sort of reality business could be fooled by this. The previous mining party government scrapped all the best previous efforts at having carbon price/tax combined with a redistributive measures. It had a successful implementation start, until the next election. A hostile mining funded media campaign, had the prime minister and political party ejected from government, as a sort of "democratic coup". As a result Australia is unlikely to ever again to enact climate legislation against the will of global banks and mining corporations.
Mining corporations reason for existence is to sell fossil fuel resources to their global customers, free of climate mitigation obligations, in order to get maximum returns on their investments. This is their shareholder constitution. New mine projects require more than a decade of planning and money investment. Investors require assurances that governments will allow them to have maximum returns. It is only one tiny step further on for mining corporations to secure their trillions of bank money investments by ensuring that government parties are controlled, and party members and policy is disciplined, by funding the careers and pre-selection of "reliable" candidates.
There are trillions of dollars in resource value at stake to be extracted, to supply energy and minerals to an expanding global economy. Contraction means loss of demand, and drops in prices below financial viability of the sunk money invested. Global growth is by design of our current interest payback paper money banking systems.
Australian state and federal governments are extremely friendly to investors and banks, and expect to be getting back long term mining royalties, after paying corporate mining subsidies of around 10 billion dollars a year. Farmers and our food production systems are being destroyed as a result. No doubt that this a pattern plays out in global systems of money control of all national governments. Money is paid everywhere for resource results. Global banks and money generate full systems control of national governments and cook our climate. This is the climate reality of our current "rules-based" world order. It is money generation based. Money doesn't feel climate impacts. Some investors do point out that climate risk is also investor risk, but this does not appease a majority of hungry money sharks in the corporate eating global pool
Carbon budget analysis has demonstrated this, that starting new fossil fuel projects now is incompatible with a future survivable climate. Our decline of existing fossil fuel production sources is already not fast enough.
So far all other climate solutions are beyond our means, or unproven. Solar radiation management and carbon capture and burial systems are our management science fiction fairy-tales
"Safety Mechanism" is carefully crafted, PR scam, designed so that the current flavor of the Australian fossil biased government can say they are doing something to meet their paper GHG emissions reduction targets, in order to keep generating more paper money. The Minister for Climate Change has more or less admitted publicly that it is to safeguard new mining projects against political climate activism. It is in keeping with the latest fashion trend for fossil fueled governments to increase fines and incarceration terms for climate activists, for business as usual and investor money security.
The Australia Climate Council, has published a current market survey of the "dirty dozen" that profit from australian resources and credulity.
All the Scope 1 emissions in Australia will continue to rise no matter what carbon credit discounting scheme, and how much we pay the PR consultants.
The order of magnitude times higher export emissions exported must also rise known as "Scope 3" emissions, without dubious benefits of "offsets". Atmosphere and ocean CO2 will continue to buildup, and biosphere systems will continue to die. Australian overshoot will continue to cook our planet.
Nevertheless, the Climate Council of Australia commissioned an analysis, and received a report, on the governments emissions coverup scheme, and is gamely trying to intervene in the current political game of lets pretend it isn't happening, and ask that the Australian government do something real to exert responsible control, not just be remotely controlled by the global mining, finance and economic growth lobby. So you too can express your democratic opinion and sign the petition on their "dirty dozen" web page, like I did, so that it can probably die unheeded later on just like all the other petitions that are already dead and buried by the ignorands of this "Australian" parliament.
In order to reduce the pain and suffering of the economic, ecological and fossil fuel resource dependent systems collapse, and loss of renewable resources of water, soil and oceans, and prevent domino-like chains of species extinctions, requires that human species suffers ongoing aims of 10-fold cut-backs in consumption, and cut-backs in future family sizes. A #JustCollapse to a #OneEarthLiving, is required, and a global policy of #OneChildFamily needs to be encouraged, until such trends in carrying capacity of the earth, and its climate system are well on the way to being healed. The alternatives are worse. By then maybe we will have learned our species lesson.
Why are we kicking the can?
Why are we not already taking global cooperative steps to cut down our global ecological overshoot impact? The longer it takes to follow this course the faster the biosphere damage becomes irreversible and leads to widespread systems collapse, de-compensation (loss of systems ability to return to a stable state), climate tipping points and mass extinctions. The reason is a tragic mix of our cognitive biases as individuals and groups.
We are our species worst enemy, we are driven out of our minds
We are very much prone to loss aversion. The changes for the common good of all we need to make involve individuals and societies giving up possessions and status now. The thought of this hurts far more mentally than the distributed future gains and losses averted further into the future. To leave fossil fuels and potential profits unexploited goes, needs to overcome strong "fears of missing out", such that other groups will step in later to snatch up the free rewards. This forms the basis of our national territoriality. The constant competition of great national powers, involves invasions, wars, exploitation, occupations, resource pillage and overall fear. This is used to great effects in national media propaganda, to magnify tribal loyalty, and build up hostilities for killing, conscription, and war atrocities. All part of the process of driving our emotions, which are reported every day in news feeds until all cooperation impulses to care for nature and each other are driven out of our minds by emotional stress.
Population stress on the "simple" brains of rodents
Science uses rodents for research for all sorts of good and convenient reasons. An important one is our relative evolutionary nearness. Nature employs, and reuses in our genes much the same neuro-chemical and hormonal organizers in our brains and bodies to drive behaviors to control mating, reproduction, parental care, cooperation, and competition that are essential for species survival. What we feel in our emotions are the survival traits of evolution.
Population overcrowding is definitely part of our human overshoot process. Mammals are prone to population overshoot stress, because it interferes with long time necessary to care for and raise offspring. Rodent behavioral experiments showed that parenting breakdowns are how population stress levels feed back, to even cause complete population collapse. It is how our civilization is already breaking down, similar to "rat overcrowding" experiments of John Calhoun. Species "behavioural sinks" are created well before limits to reproduction space occurred, while all food resources still available. We have social media sinks to help us now.
Human wars happen over "living space".
"Living space" is often the directly given rationale for human wars. We cannot abide other groups impinging on territory we feel we need to live. Migrations are how animals seek new resources to live and reproduce. We've had two world wars commencing from nations seeking to eliminate their fears of missing out on gaining resources from colonies and subjugation to feed their own population. It is exactly the mirror image of "econological overshoot". The ecological footprint of global civilization is now 1.75 earths, and the only way to gain more living space is to have a war to take what is left of their best stuff from some other human nation, is to steal even more of productive lands from our dying biosphere. Now even highly productive farmland is sacrificed for the underground fracking and cracking of new coal and gas mines, so the word "productive" means producing the biggest financial profit for those with political power over land and sea.
The more we have, the more we feel insecure
This is our loss aversion again. Our hanging on to fossil fuel resources includes an awful big slice of our national insecurity pie, which gets hyped up in trade and political contests between resource hungry nations and corporation. We could easily loss everything we have ever known in global nuclear holocaust. This only further inflames our loss anxieties.
Humans are innately unsustainable
William Rees summarizes biological explanations for our makeup for our loss averse psychology, in his publication "The Human Nature of Unsustainability". Our human brain is a product of evolution, and has not been evolved to cope with extinction consequences of our short term technological success combined with our actual mental insecurity.
The entire world today is in the thrall of a particularly powerful “meme complex” whose effect is to reinforce humanity’s expansionist tendencies
-- William Rees