Abundant Energy: The Fuel of Human Flourishing (Values and Capitalism)
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Sign Up. Alyssa Battistoni. Capitalism is wreaking havoc on the world we live in. Climate change threatens to alter our planet beyond recognition, drowning coastal settlements, intensifying droughts and heat waves, and strengthening extreme weather. Human activity has transformed 1 the entire planet in ways that are now threatening the way we inhabit it— some of us far more than others. Production in the Soviet Union also ran on fossil fuels, degraded agricultural land, polluted rivers, and deforested vast expanses.
We need to value the work of ecological production — to recognize that the activity of ecosystems keeps the earth viable for human life, and care for them accordingly. Capitalism can certainly survive worsening environmental conditions, at least for a while — but it will survive under conditions of increasing eco-apartheid, with safety and comfort for the wealthy and growing scarcity for the rest.
Yet the twentieth-century socialist dream of maximizing production in the pursuit of abundance and equality seems increasingly untenable.
Marxists held that communism would arise amid postcapitalist conditions of superabundance: once the capitalist engines were roaring, they could be seized and put to the benefit of all. We need not only to seize the means of production, but to transform them. We also need a different vision of the future than has been put forth by the Left more recently.
But climate change and other environmental crises arising from global systems of production and consumption are systemic issues of political economy; addressing them will require more than just pockets of alternative practice. To what future should twenty-firstcentury socialism aspire? Historically, investors have been richly rewarded for this dream.
The world's economic output is roughly 20 times greater than it was in , and market valuations have increased accordingly. But this is the same growth that is driving our civilization to collapse. Today's market values are based on a belief that the world's economic output will triple from its current level by That implies three times as much pillaging of the world's resources than the rate that has led to the scientists' dire warning to humanity.
Like any Ponzi scheme, this global growth frenzy is based on maintaining the illusion for as long as possible. Once it becomes clear that this rate of growth is truly unsustainable, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. We saw in the financial meltdown a relatively tame dress rehearsal for what a full-scale financial collapse would look like.
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This is what the global power brokers don't want anyone to think about. It's ultimately why the media obsesses with Donald Trump's latest tweets rather than the devastation caused by climate breakdown-induced hurricanes. Like passengers moving deckchairs on the Titanic, much of the world's population has been hypnotized by a daily onslaught of celebrity spats and political feuds—anything to avoid the realization that we are all heading for collapse in order to keep the affluent in luxury.
However, the only thing that will truly avert collapse will be a radical restructuring of the economic system that is driving us ever more rapidly to that precipice. This will only come about when enough of us are ready to jettison the consumer values that pervasive mainstream culture foists on us.
In their place, we need to find other sources for meaning in our lives: growing the quality of our experiences rather than our consumption, building our communities together, and reconnecting with the natural world.
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On that basis, we'll be better equipped to join in the struggle to save humanity—and the rest of the Earth—from the plundering envisaged by the perpetual growth frenzy of global corporate capitalism. There are plenty of alternative paths available to us—we just don't hear about them because they never get the media's attention. Most Americans, for example, are completely unaware that the little country of Costa Rica, with a GDP per capita less than one-fifth of the U.
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There is valuable work being done around the world in visualizing a future based on different principles than the current Ponzi scheme. Well-developed plans to avert climate breakdown include a state-by-state and nation-by-nation pathway to reach percent renewable energy by , and a Climate Mobilization Victory Plan to restructure the U. There are radically different ways for a society to function effectively that could apply to nations around the world if given half a chance.
A flourishing future might involve more cooperative ventures, protection and expansion of the commons, and enhanced global governance with strict penalties for those who destroy ecological wellbeing. Collapse isn't the only future in store for humanity—it's merely the one we're headed for unless and until we change course.
Since the mainstream media isn't going to get the word out, it has to be up to each of us who cares about the future of the human race. Back in the day, we knew oceans were imperiled by pollution and overfishing. Then we learned about climate change. Then acidification. Now, plastic pollution.
Air pollution creates a high level of cancer risk for residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania, where at least 67 children have been diagnosed with rare cancers in some of the most heavily-fracked counties in the nation. And parents are demanding answers. Unexpected findings from sensors implanted in animals, a practice known as biologging, should cause a seismic shift in how wearable sensors are used to promote health in humans.
On a full planet, how we divide up finite resources, may well define our future—as one of conflict or one of enlightenment. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Human beings depend on energy. From burning wood to harnessing the atom, we have relied on the consumption of natural resources. As civilization grows and the demand for energy increases, we must ask ourselves how to best meet our energy needs while responsibly stewarding our resources.
Green provides a brief hi Human beings depend on energy. Green provides a brief history of our reliance on different sources of energy, explores the viability of both current and potential future sources, and offers a vision for the task of fueling human prosperity in the 21st century.
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