Saturday, September 28, 2019

Action on Environmental Change Rather Than Climate Change

Life draws resources from the environment and exhausts waste back to the environment, in doing so the environment is changed. The environment of tomorrow can never be the same as the environment of yesterday.
Want action on climate change, well in principle its relatively simple. Simply shutdown, turn off and stop.

It's admirable that kids are seeking action on climate change. So here's a short list of actions to take.

Sorry you're walking to school from now on. No car, no bus, and no bicycle. No computer, no TV, and no internet. No electrical appliances, and no battery operated electronic junk, so no mobile phones. No video games, no social networks, no cloud. No electricity, full stop. No hot water, no oven, no refrigerator, no washing machine, no clothes iron, no vacuum cleaner. Forget about solar panels and wind turbines, the materials of construction are out. Certainly no aluminium support frames, and the mining of most of the other materials out.

No bicycle, as steel and synthetic polymers (plastics) are out. Steel is out because it requires coal, and coal is out. Coal is one material the activists are vocal about, and explicitly demand we stop using. You want, you got it, its out. Though, interestingly coal saved us from one environmental crisis back in the 1800's. The woodlands which provided wood for heating and cooking, were being stripped bare to coke steel. Then it was discovered coal could be used for steel production. It could also be used to heat our homes, and for cooking.

Polymers are out because these are typically derived from coal, natural gas or oil. So no nylon, acrylic, polyethylene, PVC. So no fake fur for teddy bears, so teddy bears and many other toys are out. No synthetic fibres for clothing, will have to use cotton, wool and other natural fibres. Though cotton uses large amounts of water, and the global potable water supply is unstable and insecure: so maybe cotton's out as well.

uPVC is typically used for water supply pipes, sanitary drainage pipes (sewers) and storm water drainage pipes. So these are out. Some pipes are Copper, and that is also out. All metals, and anything which requires forging and , casting or firing is out. So ceramics and fired bricks are out.

With no metals, cutting tools are largely out. So no tools to work timber or stone. Cold-working of metals is out, as requires electricity to provide the drawing power. So could make bamboo bike, if could cut the bamboo, but that's probably out to.

Public transport typically designed around walking speeds of 5km/hr or a slightly slower 80 m/min. Allowing 5 hours/day, that is 25 km/day. Anything more than a 25 km away is out, all resources have to be local. The multi-storey buildings being promoted to create walkable cities, and reduce urban sprawl they have to go. As the sprawl is not caused by the car, it is caused by over sized buildings which have to be supported by large populations. Large populations which cannot afford to live in close proximity to the offices and other facilities, because of high land values. High land values which apparently favour making tall buildings. There is a lack of local centres.

With mechanical transport out, back to human and animal power. A hand cart however requires timber and possibly metal treads. With no cutting tools potentially no means of making a cart, so limited to backpacks and similar.

Though cattle and pigs are out. Can have wool, but no leather or pigskin. Though depending on the requirements for cleaning wool, it may also have to go. Rubber comes from too distant a location so that is also out. Which all severely limits the materials suitable for shoes, so likely walking barefoot.

Fibres will have to be spun by hand and also weaved by hand looms. As powered looms are out, though return to water wheels maybe viable. Though without metals, the working of timber is a problem: so both traditional water wheels and wind mills have limited potential.

Without power, broad acre agriculture is out. Most of the production of modern agriculture will not be able to be delivered to the people. The massive industrial cities draw resources from all over the world to support populations over 10 million, will grind to a halt. The populations will have to move, on foot, to where the food is produced. They will also have to move closer to water supplies, because pumped storage systems will not function. If water cannot flow by gravity to where it is needed and water is pumped into elevated tanks, then those water supplies will be shut down.

All up with power shut off, and most materials removed from production, there will be little work, so there won't really be much need to continue with school. Only thing left will be to sit and chant and contemplate the nature of the universe. But won't be able to do that for long, because there won't be enough food for everyone, and it won't becoming to a neighbourhood near you any time soon. So will need an entirely different culture.

The stone age will look awesome by comparison.

Now that's the easy part: deciding what we don't want and its direct consequences and some of its run on consequences.

Now complex decisions are not based on what we like and don't like, or what we want and don't want. Decisions need to be based on the benefits we seek, the consequential and unavoidable side effects that we are willing to accept and tolerate. A greater benefit may have more destructive side effects and thus to avoid those unwanted side effects we have to settle for a lesser benefit.

Now for the kids in school, you still have opportunity to study, 12 years of grade school and possibly 3 years at university or trade school. Are you going to make a choice based on highest paid future job, or on the knowledge required to solve the problems humanity faces?  What knowledge do you need? Do you understand the problems faced? Is compulsory education going to provide the knowledge and tools needed to tackle the future?

It is important to understand that our ancestors did not go to school and acquire knowledge, they took an interest in the world and created knowledge. If they had not done that, then there would be no knowledge to present in the schools. The current generation of school students have libraries full of books and an internet full of knowledge. You shouldn't study to get a job, you should study to understand your place in the world, you're impact on the environment, and determine that which is necessary to survive.To learn how to adapt to the changes, that your very presence and existence generates.

(Money doesn't attract talent, it attracts those who need to fuel their own greed)

The problem. What knowledge is valid? What can be believed? How can we test the validity of what we read? Never take something has valid because some appointed authority says it is so? Science is not religion? Science is not a democracy? School yard nonsense such as I have more peers backing my work than you have: is not science. Question everything and seek understanding, not knowledge? A brain dead unimaginative block of silicon can mindlessly recite knowledge, the skills to have are understanding, reasoning, and the ability to otherwise put knowledge to work.

The fundamental task of rational scientific planning, design and management is:

To maximise the benefit from the available but otherwise limited resources.

It is highly unlikely that we can undo that which has been done and revert to some earlier state of the environment, and then move forward from there without changing the environment at all. Further more, apparently at some point the sun will burn hotter as it burns out, the atmosphere will be lost along with all water. Life will be fried and baked. Then everything left will freeze. But this is apparently millions of years away. The point is, thus far, we only have one planet, we have no space colonies and no other place to live. Eventually humanity will perish from this earth, and from the universe unless we can find a way to travel the stars.

Assuming currently have 6 billion years left, then we have 2 billion years to go and explore, 2 billion years to return and indicate where new planet is and 2 billion years to get the rest of humanity there. All of which indicates we don't need a planet, just a space ship and access to planets to get needed resources.

There are too many people on this planet already. Not so much due to limited resources, but mostly due to the limitations of our cultures and societies. We need a new way of life. New activities. We need to move away from entirely market driven economies: the market is not sociable it doesn't care about the planet nor humanity.

Action is not, absolutely not, required to stop climate change. It is done, and cannot be undone. Our task is to adapt to the changes in the environment: and understand every action we take changes the environment. Understand that diversity is important, to reduce dependence and minimise local concentration of pollutants and other damage.

Rivers do not flow along the same paths indefinitely and they do not flow forever. Rivers erode their banks. Oceans erode coastlines. This is not climate change. These are just natural changes which are consequence of a dynamic environment. They maybe happening faster than we would like, and faster than maybe previously predicted. But they are happening, and were going to happen in any case. The geology and archaeology indicates much of the land masses were once under water. We cannot expect that the land masses will stay above water forever.

We can build ships, floating platforms and elevated buildings. We can move inland and into the hills. We can build cities on the ocean floor. We even have the potential to build cities on the moon and orbiting, floating space colonies. This all requires energy: fuel.

The task is to investigate the industrial food chain. Identify dependencies and inefficiency and better integrate relate industries and activities to cut waste. To remove the need for pointless unnecessary upgrades. Mostly they are not upgrades they are different products with different functionality, often diminished over the previous product: so certainly no justification to call an upgrade.

We need to understand action and reaction, and the dynamic adaptive behaviour of the systems we rely on and otherwise have an impact on.

The task ahead is far more complicated,  than reducing environment to climate, and abbreviating carbon dioxide to carbon, and talking nonsense about what is and is not green or environmentally friendly. None of it is environmentally friendly. Life changes the environment, full stop. The issue is whether or not the change forms part of a restorative cycle. If not part of a restorative cycle, then how long till the system grinds to a halt? Are we willing to tolerate such, do we have a plan to change to another resource when we run out.

Irrespective of climate change our civilisation was expected to grind to a halt. The architects,civil engineers and politicians failed to design cities which are sustainable. They were built based on power sources which potentially had limited life spans, and otherwise encouraged population growth in these cities with no thought to the future. Millions of people trapped in cities with no access to land to grow food, and no means of getting food into the cities.

We need to know the minimum population required to meet all the necessary and wanted services of modern civilisation. Such population levels need to be sustained to maintain the benefits provided by an industrial society. If such populations are exceeded then more towns would be needed. How many towns can we build? {I have previously mentioned industrial city states 100km in diameter with maximum population of 10 million, with maximum sustainable population assumed to be 10 billion, 1000 such cities are required. I otherwise looked at cells 5 km in diameter, with current world population, the estimate was 1000 people per cell. }

There are social, political, historical, environmental and technical aspects of the problems to be considered. The task has always been there, and will always be there: it is life.

Further Reading (in the News):

  1. Greta Thunberg is leading kids and adults from 150 countries in a massive Friday climate strike
  2. Are the Kids Alright in the Era of Climate Change?
  3. No future, no children: Teens refusing to have kids until there's action on climate change
  4. When teaching kids about climate change, don’t be a downer
  5. Greta Thunberg and 15 other children filed a complaint against five countries over the climate crisis
  6. 'We've listened to the science, we are not brainwashed kids': school strikers
  7. Ever wondered what our curriculum teaches kids about climate change? The answer is ‘not much’
  8. In defence of having children in the face of climate change
  9. Indian 'anti-natalist' Raphael Samuel taking legal action against his own parents for having him
  10. How did CEO pay get to 500 times the wages of ordinary workers?
  11. Why Greta Thunberg triggers the troglodytes among us
  12. Students say adults have not learnt childhood lessons in sharing Murray-Darling water

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[28/09/2019] : Original