Sunday, June 16, 2013

Neo-malthusian dimensions arising from the climate change denial vs. apocalyptic environmentalism 'debate' and modern geoengineering capabilities.

Last Update *Books excerpt 'Carrying Capacity' added January 10, 2014. (After references.)

Conservatives and environmentalists alike, beware: Neo-malthusian dimensions arising from the climate change denial vs. apocalyptic environmentalism 'debate' and modern geoengineering capabilities.

There is no doubt, we are living trough a period of climatic change brought about by, among many factors,  the natural variability of the climate [1][2] exacerbated by antrhopogenic activities. [3] 

But there is also another factor,  geoengineering emerging out of the shadows of the military environmental and climatic weapons research and development (developed) arsenal [4] and not the other way around as both critics and proponents of geoengineering wrongly suggest.

Although we can't point to specific climatic or environmental catastrophes as intentionally driven, we can say that technologies and philosophies exist that would make intentionality of this type of events no longer impossible nor unthinkable. 

With that in mind I leave you with the following excerpt.

2. Thinking Locally, Acting Globally
My point is that the choice Harding demanded on the grounds of pure mathematics opened certain options while closing others. Biomass calculus accredited the origins of and the solutions to the ‘population problem’ not to history and politics but to biology. Population ecologists justified coercive measures through science, (Emphasis mine) and carrying capacity became their economic instrument. In terms of populations carrying capacity demarcated the maximum number of a species that an environment could support indefinitely without reducing its ability to support the same number in the future. In terms of nature’s revenues, Harding defined carrying capacity as “the level of exploitation that will yield the maximum return, in the long run.” 19 The problem of limited ecological carrying capacity gave rise to the question of how to dispense with increasing “surplus” of human beings and entire populations. 20 (Emphasis mine)

Advocates of sufficiency argued in terms of absolute limits, stressing the need for sustained resource use and complete material recycling. As Roberson points out, the economist Kenneth Building, one of the founders of ecological economics, promoted ecological integrity and steady state economy (96). However, also promoters of efficiency called on the Spaceship Earth metaphor. The architect Richard Buckminster Fuller built on the proficient technological design to achieve development and economic growth. Fuller meant to overcome relative limits trough ecological modernization. Spaceship Earth to him became the prototype of an environment yet to come, controlled by the global science and engineering elite. 23 (Emphasis mine)

Excerps  from comments by Sabine Höhler’s, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm  on review of Thomas Robertsons’s The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism
H-Enviroment  –  H-Enviroment Roundtable Reviews

Volume 3, No. 3 (2013)

Last Update Jan 10, 2014

 In a HARDtalk interview broadcast on 18 August 2009, Stephen Sackur talks to the environmental scientist James Lovelock.

On population:
S Sackur- What do you think is a viable figure that Gaia,.. that the planet can sustain?

J Lovelock- "I would guess, living the way we do, not more than 1 billion, probably less."

Before his death (Erroneous, as of April 2016 Lovelock still living. Age 96), Lovelock goes on to retract these kind of statements:

From The James Lovelock Bashers:

    He [Lovelock] said he still thought that climate change was happening, but that its effects would be felt farther in the future than he previously thought.

    “We will have global warming, but it’s been deferred a bit,” he said.

Link to video:

Updated July 2, 2013

A great example of how science may be used or abused can be found in following article by the Observer, reprinted by the Guardian UK. Unfortunately mathematics is not the only science that can be used in this manner, not only to 'advance' a philosophical viewpoint but also to justify implementation of any given 'solution to a perceived threat'.

Humans: the real threat to life on Earth
If population levels continue to rise at the current rate, our grandchildren will see the Earth plunged into an unprecedented environmental crisis, argues computational scientist Stephen Emmott in this extract from his book Ten Billion

Coercion for Environmental Motivation
by kelly.forbush on Mon, 17/10/2011

"Jenkins takes into account the various complexities involved in addressing climate change to present guidelines for a new multifaceted ethic.  He is pushing for an ethic which carries both a hopeful vision and realistic actions.  I believe that balancing between these two pulls is vital for religious communities – they can neither be so hopeful or visionary as to abandon this world, nor so realistic and practical as to forgo any meaningful action for change.   The underlying question is how religious communities can motivate themselves – and potentially others – through these two pulls towards environmental action.  One means of motivation is coercion, which Jenkins supports by arguing for setting a price on carbon. (49)  If faith communities can use political coercion to motivate individuals towards sustainable choices, what other forms of coercion are permissible?  Ought faith communities to utilize social psychology to guide, or manipulate, individuals towards its desired ends, namely actions addressing climate change?  Can physical violence be used, if it seems to be the only means to the desired end?  While I whole-heartedly agree with the ends, how much coercion and what kind can faith communities enlist?  More importantly, how does a faith community determine the answers to the above questions?

 Is it possible to motivate individuals and communities without the use of any coercion?  Is a strong theological story sufficient motivation?  For those with a deep faith and lives firmly rooted in their religious tradition, a compelling theology may be enough motivation.  I have worked with some such people.  However, in both my work in progressive reformed churches and in activist communities not religiously identified, I have witnessed more activism grounded in a gut feel of what is “right” or loosely tied to theological platitudes than activism deliberately developed from deep theological reflection.   That is only to say that we need more than a compelling theological story to motivate religious actors towards sustainability efforts.  
Are there means of motivation which offer more than a story, but do not resort to coercion?  Are they feasible options in addressing climate change?"


[1] Solar Variability and Terrestrial Climate - NASA SCIENCE - Science News

[2] Natural Variations in Climate - NIWA (The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) - Taihoro Nukurangi

[3] Pollution in Northern Hemisphere helped cause 1980s African drought By Hannah Hickey June 2013

[4] Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism   by Jacob Darwin Hamblin

Amazon book description:  Publication Date: May 2, 2013

When most Americans think of environmentalism, they think of the political left, of vegans dressed in organic-hemp fabric, lofting protest signs. In reality, writes Jacob Darwin Hamblin, the movement--and its dire predictions--owe more to the Pentagon than the counterculture.

In Arming Mother Nature, Hamblin argues that military planning for World War III essentially created "catastrophic environmentalism": the idea that human activity might cause global natural disasters. This awareness, Hamblin shows, emerged out of dark ambitions, as governments poured funds into environmental science after World War II, searching for ways to harness natural processes--to kill millions of people. Proposals included the use of nuclear weapons to create artificial tsunamis or melt the ice caps to drown coastal cities; setting fire to vast expanses of vegetation; and changing local climates. Oxford botanists advised British generals on how to destroy enemy crops during the war in Malaya; American scientists attempted to alter the weather in Vietnam. This work raised questions that went beyond the goal of weaponizing nature. By the 1980s, the C.I.A. was studying the likely effects of global warming on Soviet harvests. "Perhaps one of the surprises of this book is not how little was known about environmental change, but rather how much," Hamblin writes. Driven initially by strategic imperatives, Cold War scientists learned to think globally and to grasp humanity's power to alter the environment. "We know how we can modify the ionosphere," nuclear physicist Edward Teller proudly stated. "We have already done it."

Teller never repented. But many of the same individuals and institutions that helped the Pentagon later warned of global warming and other potential disasters. Brilliantly argued and deeply researched, Arming Mother Nature changes our understanding of the history of the Cold War and the birth of modern environmental science

*Books excerpt added January 10, 2014 from:

Encyclopedia of Global Change: Environmental Change and Human Society, Volume 1
December 2001 ISBN-13: 978-0195108255

“These geo-engineering schemes seek to mitigate the effect of fossil fuel combustion on the climate without abating fossil fuel use” 

(Emphasis mine)

Carrying Capacity

“That resource limits, including geographical space, set the maximum population size of a species was conventional wisdom at one time in ecology and maintains varying degrees of currency (for example, in conservation biology and ecological economics).  Such relationships are referred to as carrying capacity and are measured by the number of an organism that can be supported by the requisite renewable resources of the environment.  It would be a mistake, however, to assume that the application of the carrying capacity concept to human-environment relationships was borrowed directly from the modern science of ecology.  Phrased differently, the antecedents of its applications to human populations are old, traced back in Western though at least to the seminal population-resource a relationship of Thomas Robert Malthus (1798) (and assumed closed system) sets the limits to which human population numbers can grow.  Beyond these limits and without a change in technology, the resource base collapses, the environment degrades and a Malthusian crisis ensues (Coleman and Schofield, 1986).”
“Critical states and flows at least by implication are thought to be largely unsusbstituable and operate at global rather than local scales.  Exogenous flows at the level of the biosphere are reduced by some to incoming solar radiation, funneled through human appropriation of net primary productivity, for example (Vitousek et al, 1997).  Places and regions differ in their roles as sources and recipients of global change, and in their abilities to respond to change. They are however, recognized as connected and ther “carrying capacities” calculated trough such measures as “ecological footprints” (Rees and Wackernage, 1994).  This change ins usage may alleviate the problems inherent in the former meaning of carrying capacity, but it raise new criticisms, largely of a political nature.  Reformulated this way, it is suggested by some that the economically developed world seeks to assert a new kind of authority over the remainder of the world, potentially retarding development elsewhere.

   The carrying capacity principle remains in its cycle of interest that began in the 1990s.  Other versions will no doubt emerge in future cycles.  Its staying power rests in its centrality to the ultimate human environment questions.  Does the environment ultimately set limits on humankind?  Or, can human ingenuity restructure nature as needed for human use?  These questions and carrying capacity are central to the tensions surrounding the emergence of ecological economics and attempts to calculate the economic value of the biosphere (Costanza et al., 1997, Pearce, 1998)—the ultimate limit?”

Other links (Upadated Jan, 10, 2024)

Dumb Question Dept.: If Earth is a Closed System and We're Running Out of Water, Where's it All Going?
By Jeremy Elton Jacquot – TreeHugger – August 2007

’10 billion’: a strangely unscientific and misanthropic book
Monday 8 July 2013 by Chris Goodall

Population Growth and Pollution: the Facts Continue to be Ignored
Robert Wilson July 2, 2013

The End of Population Growth
Sanjeev Sanyal October 20, 2011

Almost half of the world's food thrown away, report finds 
Rebecca Smithers January 10, 2013
(In other words: The world right now, produces enough food to feed twice the population)

Why are birthrates falling around the world? Blame television.

World death rate

List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions

Anual CO2 emissions in thousands of tonnes

Weekly on #Geoengineering #Climate Issues

Para una corta introducción sobre la Geoingeniería del clima visite:

Los invito a que lean también mi semanario en español:

GEOINGENIERIA DEL CLIMA - Temas sobre la Geoingeniería Climática - Modificación del Clima 

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