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Agric
Posted 24/3/2010 00:46 (#22)
Subject: Frodo's solution



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This began because I set myself the objective of finding a theoretical potential way out of the seemingly insoluble problems I see ahead for humanity.

I've copied most of it from my Google group posts, only have a couple more posts to type and they are written already. May I crave your indulgence by asking you refrain from replying until I finish the posts?
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Agric
Posted 24/3/2010 00:48 (#23 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Frodo's solution: Context



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This is going to be a series of at least 4 posts, an alternative name
might be 'Plan C', we are embarked on 'Plan A' and that destroys us
and more, 'Plan B' is here:
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/50317
http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/books/pb4/pb4_table_of_conte...

It's mostly a: population, consumption, resource, power, money,
equality, thinking, behavior andattitude problem.
You, by virtue of being here, are probably aware of
that, but I doubt you have glimpsed the scale of this problem.

William Catton "Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary
Change" (1980) described and analysed it well.

"We are already living on an overloaded world. Our future will be a
product of that fact; that fact is a product of our past." ... "The
most recent episode of limit-raising has had much more spectacular
results, although it enlarged human carrying capacity by a
fundamentally different method: the drawing down of finite reservoirs
of materials that do not replace themselves within any human time
frame. Thus its results cannot be permanent. This fact puts mankind
out on a limb which the activities of modern life are busily sawing
off."

You need to read this excerpt for the overview:
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/5874

I hope that will encourage you to read and understand further:
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/4632
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/6069

"...the conversion of a marvelous carrying capacity surplus into a
competition-aggravating and crash-inflicting deficit was a matter of
fate. No compact group of leaders ever decided knowingly to take
incautious advantage of enlargment of the scope of applicability of
Liebig's law, or subsequently to reduce that scope and leave a swollen
load inadequately supported. No one decided deliberately to terminate
the Age of Exuberance. No group of leaders conspired knowingly to turn
us into detritovores. Using the ecological paradigm to think about
human history, we can see instead that the end of exuberance was the
summary result of all our separate and innocent decisions to have a
baby, to trade a horse for a tractor, to avoid illness by getting
vaccinated, to move from a farm to a city, to live in a heated home,
to buy a family automobile and not depend on public transit, to
specialize, exchange, and thereby prosper."

It will all make devastating sense.

But it gets worse. It's not the future of a mere species (us) that's
at stake, the possibility of intelligent life in this solar system may
be gone if we blow it:

"If organic energy is sequestered in substantial reserves, as
geological processes are bound to do, then the appearance of a species
that can release it is all but assured. Such a species, evolved in the
service of entropy, quickly returns its planet to a lower energy
level. In an evolutionary instant, it explodes and is gone. ... It is
unlikely, however, that anything quite like human beings will come
this way again. The resources that have made humans what they are will
be gone, and there may not be time before the sun burns out for new
deposits of fossil fuel to form and intelligent new scavengers to
evolve. The universe seems to have had a unique beginning, some ten or
twenty billion years ago. Since that time, a star had to live and die
to provide the materials for the solar system -- which, itself, is
several billion years old. Perhaps life could not have happened any
sooner than it did. Perhaps Homo sapiens could not have evolved any
sooner. Or later. Perhaps everything has its season, a window of
opportunity that opens for a while, then shuts."
http://dieoff.org/page137.htm
http://dieoff.org/page175.htm

If we had been a wiser species, less exuberant in expanding our
population and appropriation of resources, then we would have more
time and resources to make the necessary change.

Our planet has been endowed with an abundance of concentrated mineral
resources, particularly useful metals and hydrocarbon energy supplies.
That abundance has encoraged their profligate use and blinkered us to
the inevitable need to replace those sources - perhaps from beyond
this planet - if we are to continue the success along the path we've
followed throughout our history. I think we probably missed this boat
30 years or more ago, but perhaps it's as well that we failed on that
route - any species like we are now would be a dangerous one to have
powerfully roaming this universe.

So, we will have to find another way.

Why "Frodo's Solution"? There are reasons for my choice of name, some
fairly obvious like the slim chance of success (and I think Slim
packed his bags a while ago), and the immense difficulty of the path,
but my main reasons are probably less obvious...

It would be seductive (and logical given our nature) for a country or
powerful group to think it should use its power, appropriate more
resources, and attempt to make the leap forward 'on behalf of the
human species'. That way lies chaos and failure as a species.

In the wider context the 'one ring' is some part of human nature that
has made us so successful as a species. Somehow we must destroy it and
choose to become something different, knowing that even if we succeed
we risk unmaking what we are.
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Agric
Posted 24/3/2010 00:54 (#24 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Frodo's solution: prelude & ramble



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There are 3 stages.The first has started - too slowly - and must be
accelerated greatly and completed within 5 years. That stage is mostly
easy enough compared with stage 2 which will likely take a generation
(25 years) or more. Stage 3 is needed for us to reclaim the freedoms
relinquished in stage 2 and to make us fit to progress, I've no idea
how hard that will be, could happen seemlessly as stage 2 develops and
concludes or be near impossible regardless of how well things have
gone till then.

As I write and you read this thread the thought "Agric's mad!" will
flit through your consciousness. I don't mind, it's a sane response,
that thought crosses my mind often enough. Sadly there's no other
evidence to suggest I am, I often wish it were so, I keep looking and
failing to find (with a psychology degree I should know what to look
for, though I'm not sure it helps). It would be by far the best
solution, it would make me very happy if you or anyone can convince me
of it - or at least that I am seriously delusional.

So far things have proceeded very much as I expected over the last 6
years. A few things have been slightly more positive, but more have
been more negative, most have been scarily close. One particular
negative has been the timing of recession relative to peak oil
awareness - something I discussed in 2005. We're now probably destined
to be hitting the downslope of oil production as we struggle out of
recession, that is the worst general case, would have been much better
if peak oil was obviously before and triggering recession.

In case you disregard me as a simple 'peak oil doomster' I need to
clarify: peak oil and (slightly later) peak fossil energy are serious
problems but they are surmountable if we face them honestly and in
good time. We haven't (past tense intentional and emphasised) so when
reality and realisation occur our economic and financial systems will
almost certainly largely collapse. Peak oil destroys the delusion we
currently inhabit, it is merely a powerful trigger, we are already the
'wily coyote', legs revolving in mid air, we just haven't looked down.

The solution is not 'pick and mix'. I anticipate that all aspects -
and more that I haven't seen or have time to mention - will have to be
achieved. Success is unlikely before 2040 at the earliest so few
reading this will see it. The more likely failure could become clear
much sooner and many of us may have the misfortune of seeing that.

It will be a very hard road. I'm not sure that a sane being who
clearly sees the path would willingly tread it, acceptance of failure
may be a more rational choice. But we are humans so we will and must
try, perhaps that is the main reason to hope - however foolish that, and we,
might be. By its [successful] end we'll still be humans but not as we
are today or have been in the past, a fundamental change will have
occured, that is an inevitable prerequisite and price of survival.

Aside...

A good interview with William Catton (mentioned in Frodo: context),
you can download as well as watch online, it would make a good focus
for a public view and discuss:
http://www.relocalize.net/interview_with_william_r_catton_jr_author...

"The Speech Obama Needs to Give" over at TOD, would be a good start
but would have to be built on very quickly:
http://campfire.theoildrum.com/node/5874

Presuming we do succeed we must hope that what we become gives us a
fair chance at the next big challenge (yet we dare not risk our
present struggle by consideration of that)... but methinks I'm looking
too far. Meanwhile...

"Lemmings"

I stood alone upon the highest cliff-top,
looked down, around, and all that I could see
were those that I would dearly love to share with
crashing on quite blindly to the sea...
I tried to ask what game this was,
but knew I could not play it:
the voice, as one, as no-one, came to me...
'We have looked upon the heroes
and they are found wanting;
we have looked hard across the land,
but we can see no dawn;
we have now dared to sear the sky,
but we are still bleeding;
we are drawing near to the cliffs,
now we can hear the call.

The clouds are piled in mountain-shapes,
there is no escape except to go forward.
Don't ask us for an answer now,
it's far too late to bow to that convention.
What course is there left but to die?

We have looked upon the High Kings,
found them less than mortals:
their names are dust before the just
march of our young, new law.
Minds stumbling strong, we hurtle on
into the dark portal;
No-one can halt our final vault
into the unknown maw.

And as the Elders beat their brows
they know that it's really far
too late now to stop us.
For if the sky is seeded death
what is the point in catching breath? - Expel it.
What cause is there left but to die
in searching of something we're not quite sure of?

What cause is there left but to die?
... I really don't know why ...

I know our ends may be soon
but why do you make them sooner?
Time may finally prove
only the living move her and
no life lies in the quicksand.

Yes, I know it's
Out of control, out of control:
Greasy machinery slides on the rails,
Young minds and bodies on steel spokes impaled...
Cogs tearing bones, cogs tearing bones;
Iron-throated monsters are forcing the screams,
Mind and machinery box-press the dreams...

... but there still is time ...

Cowards are they who run today,
the fight is beginning...
no war with knives, fight with our lives,
lemmings can teach nothing;
death offers no hope, we must grope
for the unknown answer:
unite our blood, abate the flood,
avert the disaster...

There's other ways than screaming in the mob:
that makes us merely cogs of hatred.
Look to the why and where we are,
look to yourselves and the stars and in the end
What choice is there left but to live
in the hope of saving
our children's children's little ones?

What choice is there left but to live?
to save the little ones?

What choice is there left but to try?

Van der Graaf Generator 1971, LP "Pawn Hearts"
http://www.gaudela.net/vdgg/lyrics-5.html#Lemmings
http://www.gaudela.net/vdgg/frames.html

Music available as torrents:
http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4095573/Van_der_Graaf_Generator_-_P...
If you want more, similar, vdgg then the previous album is also active
here:
http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/3620300/Van_Der_Graaf_Generator_-_H...
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Agric
Posted 24/3/2010 01:02 (#25 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Frodo's solution: stage 1



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First we must buy some time, a resource we are perilously short of. If
we can do that at vast expense for the financial system then we should
be able to do it for this more important need. We have taken some
small steps in this direction already but we need to do much, much
more, and very quickly.

Recycling, reuse, efficient use and conservation must be very heavily
encouraged; waste, inefficient and profligate use must be very heavily
discouraged. Taxation, outright prohibtion and subsidies will be the
main tools, used much more strongly than so far.

All use of non-renewable resources will be taxed, especially fossil
hydrocarbons. These taxes will be steadily increased based on the
estimated reserves of the specific resources. All countries will be
obliged to pay such taxes, including producers and profligate users
(like USA, Australia, Canada). The best method would be a global tax
based on a global non-renewable resource based / denominated currency
- but more on that later.

The above requires a thorough global audit of non-renewable resource
reserves. Currently that is largely resisted by countries and
companies who "own" and exploit those reserves, they must be forced to
comply and cooperate. These resources need to be seen as a global
endowment, even though the countries and companies who exploit them
benefit. Production of these resources will be managed on a globally
agreed basis like the Oil Depletion Protocol:
http://www.oildepletionprotocol.org/theprotocol

Investment in renewable resources to displace the use of non renewable
resources will be subsdised while (at least) the cost of the non
renewable resources have a price advantage. So will low input (of non
renewable resources) agriculture. Where renewable resources are used
(eg. timber) there will be an oblgation to replace on a 1:1 basis or
tax will be levied on the shortfall. Where semi renewable resources
are used (eg. underground water aquifers) there will likewise be a tax
based on their current depletion level and that tax will be used to
implement replenishment of that resource.

Money. This is a major topic, its current incarnaton is maladaptive.
Money has two main purposes: a means of exchange and a store of value.
It has become 'productised', it has almost become 'the measure of
everything', it has distorted our economies and thinking. Money, of
itself, produces nothing, it merely enables. How is it that the
'finance industry' has become about 30% of the GDP of economies like
USA and UK? Hmmm. Perhaps that 30% is really rather like a hidden tax
on the real economy and people?

Then there is the problem of a global 'reserve currency'. This role
has been held since the 1920's by US$, that will come to an end before
long. Such a country based reserve currency distorts the global
economy adversely (the Euro would exhibit similar problems as reserve
currency), it has allowed the USA to exploit the global financial
system and trade to its advantage and the particular disadvantage of
non industrialised resource producing countries - rather like empires
did more explicitly in the nineteenth century.

I'm not convinced by the use of gold as a basis of currency (and I
think I understand the arguments for that). What is needed is a
reserve currency that is independent of individual countries / trading
blocs. I think one based on non renewable resouces could be devised,
and if all trade in those non renewable resources was required to be
transacted in that currency it should impose discipline on countries'
use and abuse of their own currency and fiscal policies. This would
take time and thought to implement, and should start now.

One thing that would rapidly reduce the speculative nature of today's
financial markets would be a sliding tax on all such transactions
(stocks, currencies, commodities, futures etc) based on how long held.
Thus, if held for less than 1 hour there would be a 90% tax on any
profit, less than 1 day 75%, less than 1 week 50%, less than 1 month
25%. No tax would be paid if the buy / sell transactions realised a
loss but those losses could not be used to offset any such tax. It
could be implemented very rapidly, within weeks, since most exchanges
have had transaction taxes in the past if not now. A prerequsite
reform which is being considered already for derivatives would be the
requirement that all financial instrments are transacted using open
and official exchanges. Implementing this paragraph would calm
financial markets, reduce speculative trading substantially and rob
the casino parts of financial companies of much of their profit -
drastically cutting 'bankers bonuses' at source. It can and should be
implemented immediately.

These things can't fully happen without some form of effective global
system to discuss, devise, manage and implement. Initially it would
probably be a function of the UN but that will rapidly need to be
superceeded by a more effective, hierarchically representative
organisation. I'm absolutely not recommending a form of global
government. It needs to be much more focused and effective than that
would be. Some kind of 'Humanity and Earth Council'. Its remit will be
to research and decide the ways that all countries, companies,
organisations, people should interact amongst themselves and with the
planet.

Once establshed it will need to discuss, in addition to the things
above, other critical related issues: population, consumption,
governance, equality, fair guiding principles, etc. It will need teeth
that bite, hard, this will become clearer in stage 2, I don't want to
scare you too much yet.

Very rapid progress on all the above is essential, we need it
functional within 3 years (by end 2012) and operating effectively by
end 2014 if we are to have a chance. By then it needs to be an
accepted aspect of reality globally such that we wonder how we managed
without it. Debate on the harder questions of stage 2 will have
already begun.

I know that some people will see this as communism, communitarianism,
totalitarianism etc. They are partly right, to some extent it is, it
must be. We have to begin to think more as a species and more
responsibly. The alternative is the premature death of perhaps 50% of
humans, perhaps more, within the next decade or so, and the probable
ultimate failure of the human species.

We have abused our freedom. We can choose to discipline ourselves
effectively or the limitations we exist within will do it for us,
bloodily.
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Agric
Posted 24/3/2010 01:06 (#26 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Frodo's solution: stage 2



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So, it's late 2014-ish and we have successfully completed stage 1. All
important non-renewable resources have been audited; we know their
likely future production profiles; conservation and recycling is
rampant; a global resource currency established; high taxes on non-
renewable resource use; financial speculation near eliminated by a
sliding transaction tax; a democratic, hierarchical, representative
organisation has been established to analyse and guide this planet
through resource scarcity.

And it only took 5 years, LOL. That was the easy bit, if it takes
longer than that then Frodo is toast.

Stage 2 is harder and takes about a generation (25 years), possibly
double that. It is the painful management of a species back from
overshoot to sustainability. Doing it this way (managed) is probably
less painful than the alternative (unmanaged).

What follows is a list of what must be addressed with some comment on
how and the implications. It is not a recipe for 'how to do it', that
will take lifetimes of work. Probably all aspects below will need to
be dealt with, very likely more besides. You won't like it, it is
scary, it will hurt, it will kill. Reality is like that sometimes.

Footprint. Is population x consumption. Exponential growth (that is:
any consistent growth) within a limited biosphere will encounter
limits. We are there, now.

Population. We must birth less and die more. As availability of some
resources contract this planet will support less people at levels of
consumption we currently consider acceptable (and considerably less
than now). We will manage this or it will manage us.

Consumption. Average consumption will reduce. Since the poorest on
this planet (a significant number) cannot reduce consumption without
dying the consumption of the richest on this planet must reduce
dramatically. They can choose this or the poorer will choose to die
trying to kill them.

Carrying capacity. This planet and parts of it have a carrying
capacity. It is a function of footprint and resources. On a planetary
scale limits will impose themselves. More contentious will be
situations where parts (like countries) choose to exceed their
carrying capacity. I'll try to cover this in 'governance' later.

Health. In UK I think that about 75% of an average individual's
lifetime healthcare cost is incurred in the last 5 years of life.
Personally I think we should all be more willing, able and allowed to
die when reaching the latter stages of life. It is a sad fact that it
will be harder to support non-productive / net resource consuming
people in future.

Crime. Two main threads. Things we don't currently perceive as crimes
- like leaving lights on - will be perceived thus in future. There
will be less tolerence towards 'crimes against community' like
resource wastage.

Punishment. It will be work off your crime or die. Resources cannot be
spared to keep a criminal incarcerated if that means someone else
starves. If your crime is heinous or you persistently offend or can't
be trusted to work your penance then you will be killed.

Religion. Is fine, provided it does not try to impose itself on
others or try to 'outbreed' or out-kill the competition. All religions
will be required to comply, in spirit and practice, with birth control
and other relevent laws, if they fail to do so their leaders will be
tried for crimes against humanity, hence probably executed. If their
followers rebel then they will be toast, also, and the rest of
humanity will rejoice in the extra resources.

Economics. It's going to be a real struggle to stop this system
breaking. It is so seriously not designed for contracting GDP as we
know it. Odds are it will break and we will have to devise some more
appropriate system to replace it. What that might be is difficult to
guess, and is an important question we need to explore.

Wealth. Well, once the economic system breaks and old money ceases
utility this becomes more a sociological / social question than a real
question.

Ownership. Will become to belong to those who can make best use of the
resource rather than those who previously believed they had 'title'.
Many more iems will be held and used communally rather than
individually.

Work. Yes, and lots of it. Reducing supplies of fossil fuels will make
animal and human power more valued and necessary.

Equality. Reducing resources are a serious problem for those will
barely enough to survive on. Those with the most resources will have
to loose a lot. We might manage this by imposing arbitrary limits
like: there will be no more than a 20x difference between the richest
and poorest within a country, and a 20x difference between the richest
and poorest country. We may reduce those to 10x over time.

Governance. Countries will continue to govern themselves but the
global body (let's call it the GRC - Global Resource Council) will set
the parameters they work within. So, the GRC might say to eg. Vietnam:
you are allowed a population of up to 80 million but if you exceed
that you will be banned from receiving any disaster etc aid and you
will pay a premium on all non-renewable resources you import. You get
the drift.

I needed to say at least twice what I have to give a half-rounded
picture. A thousand pages would barely cover what is in my head and
I'm sure there's much I haven't properly thought on and much more that
others could beyond that. But I hope I've said enough for you to begin
to understand. The world is going to change more than it has for 300
years, perhaps more than it has for 3000 years. Soon.

All we can do is our best, let's try to give stage 1 a chance first.
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Agric
Posted 28/3/2010 02:43 (#59 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Frodo's solution stage 3



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Fast forward to about 2050 (2040 to 2070 is the probable range). Stage 2 will have been successfully implemented (imposed?). We will have just about achieved balance with our constraints.

Almost everything will be recycled, almost all energy will be from renewable resources. Global population will be below 6 billion (about a third less than current projections and lower than today) and dropping. Sea levels will be about 0.5m higher than in 2000, rising quite fast and near certain to be at least a further 0.5m higher by 2100 with more to come. The Arctic will have been ice free in summer for 20+ years.

Most food is produced locally, seasonally. Major coastal cities (including London) are being abandoned to the rising sea. Prime agricultural land is shrinking, perhaps 20% below 2000 levels, major aquifers are dry, water is very precious in the summer growing season, so too energy, and plastics, several metals etc. Most people do manual work, few live beyond 80 years, most die by 70 in what we currently call developed nations.

It's dangerous to look so far forward. In 1970 I'd have guessed that by 2010 a permanently manned moon base would be established, a mars base imminent, fusion power beginning to be rolled out, inter-stellar travel being seriously considered, nuclear weapons abolished, the UK working week down to about 20 hours, humanity free from starvation and most epidemic disease.

Instead there's been the rise of consumerism; the rise of the service and financial sectors; the rise of the media, entertainment, sport, celebrity, trivia. perhaps an incease in willful ignorance and the dumbing of the media. It seems to me we've bought a temporary delusion.

Yet there have been huge technological and other changes that have dramatically changed our lives. Here's a few with approximate dates...
- CD players and the beginning of digital rather than analogue media and transmission (1980)
- financial systems modernisation and globalisation (1985)
- personal conputers (1985)
- oil shocks (1973, 1979)
- recessions (1975, 1980, 1991)
- mobile phones (1995)
- internet (2000)

By 2050 everyone's perspective will have changed radically. Profligacy will be a serious crime, those taking power now will have led a life of conservation and sustainability. Individuals, countries, mass movements, that have behaved otherwise will have been punished, sometimes as far as mass deaths. Reality will have been imposed, often painfully. That was a necessity to return to a sustainable footprint. Excuses to reduce population (kill) will have been gleefully embraced by the many, we'll have been lucky if they didn't get out of control.

Humans have an advantage: they can change without evolving biologically through natural selection. We have the vectors of society, socialisation, information, education etc. The question is: are those enough for us to change sufficiently, sufficiently quickly, and effectively?

Stage 3 is the internalisation of the draconian processes of stage 2 with the help of the advantagous vectors above. It has to go sufficiently far that we would no more behave profligately than we would sexually abuse our own child. Many of the things we unthinkingly do now might brand us as evil as a child abuser in 2050. If, and only if, that occurs can the constraints overtly imposed in stage 2 be relaxed to allow what we presently consider 'normal' human freedoms and rights. Unless we all as individuals and groups reliably choose to behave responsibly then we must accept that our advantageous vectors are insufficient to counter our evolved biological imperatives. That leaves two main possibilities:
- ruthless imposition of responsibility (a hard version of Frodo stage 2)
- natural selection with its painful implications (most humans die prematurely)

So, stage 2 was the imposition - hopefully mostly consentual - of the values and rules to make our species sustainable and viable. Stage 3 is the internalisation of those by societal vectors. If we succeed we'll probably have a future, but we will almost certainly not be who we are now. Is that good or bad? Dunno, but it's near inevitable.
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Agric
Posted 28/3/2010 22:14 (#61 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Frodo's solution: afterword



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Posts: 212
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It would have been better had we not started from here. If we perceived the inevitable problems 50 or even 25 years ago then it would have been so much easier, there have been many that have warned of this coming even more than a century ago. So Frodo's solution is sub-optimal, though may be the best chance we now have.

Yet we still steadfastly refuse to perceive the problems, reality, hence the chance of even this desparate answer must be very slim. Do I think frodo's solution could succeed? Yes. Do I think that likely? Almost certainly not.

What do I expect, then? To see that we need to revisit what Frodo's solution aims to do: achieve sustainability with the least degree of pain (= loss of human life and quality of life). Frodo's failure implies that there will be more pain. So let us accept that and see what it brings while still aiming for the sustainability and success of our species.

If we don't curtail our population growth and resource consumption then physical limits will do it for us. Typically that will reduce populaton levels below sustainable levels as a first instance so probably to between 1 and 2 billion humans (currently population is about 6.7 billion). In that process we are likely to lose most of our knowledge and skills. This is the totally unmanaged route and the one we would likely follow in 5 to 20 years.

However, we have the technology, weapons and power groups (countries and others) who will INEVITABLY see this problem coming (I'm sure several of them do already and have plans) and will decide to partially manage the process. I confidently expect this to happen within 5 years. The basic intent will be to reduce population and consumption to about sustainable levels (as above) while minimising the loss (even maximising the profit) to those who have acted.

They will see it as the best chance for the human race and themselves, of course. It will be like a warped version of Frodo stage 2 but with them in control rather than a more global consensus. Welcome back serfdom, folks.

If we fail at Frodo stage 1 that may be the best hope. The struggle then will be for those not in power to overthrow and eliminate (and they will wisely eliminate them totally this time) those in power and then proceed hopefully successfully with a more consentual Frodo solution. Plus ca change, ne c'est pas?


There, I've said my damned piece and welcome replies to hopefully tear it apart.

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Martin
Posted 6/4/2010 21:22 (#73 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Re: Frodo's solution


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Agric, i think the substance of what you say is correct. It's very difficult to see our current way of life continuing much longer. However, I don't know how productive it is to put forward quite such a detailed and prescriptive "solution". It seems to me that we can only do what we can do, at the pace we can do it. It's asking too much of any individual at the moment to throw away everything they have and set themselves unequivocally against the status quo - a few brave souls may do so, but for the majority it's too far from their (our) experience of everyday life. What we are seeing is that some of these issues are becoming more readily discussed, which is encouraging. The idea that population is an issue to be tackled isn't something that is going to take the country by storm, but it is now on the agenda for Radio 4 listeners and Guardian readers, and I imagine in time it will become more widely accepted. And similarly with resource use, etc.

So, my view is, great that you've thought this through, it's something that lots of us need to do, but we won't necessarily reach exactly the same conclusion, and as we can't impose the solution anyway, it doesn't really matter. What is more important is that these ideas become more and more mainstream until it becomes politically acceptable to take action. I'm sure you'll say that will be too late, and maybe you're right, but I can't see any other way (short of armed insurrection) of changing things. meanwhile, all we can do is to keep changing things on a small, local scale, and making sure other people notice. Some will be relieved that we are thinking the same way they are, and that will give them the courage to do more, and then more people will notice, and think "maybe there's something in this Transition business".
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Agric
Posted 9/5/2010 22:09 (#116 - in reply to #73)
Subject: Re: Frodo's solution



Veteran

Posts: 212
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Very fair comments Martin.

Why I expounded such a detailed 'solution'? Well, I felt it encumbent on me to do so given that I persist in my 'we are doomed' diatribes - if I keep spouting such stuff then I feel I have an obligation to suggest what might be necessary / possible to avert it.

It might also be useful in helping to focus people's minds. It is indeed something we ALL should think through, though there is precious little to suggest that even anyone here has bothered much - well over a month and yours is the only reply.

I hope that some here have the balls to take their own look into the probable futures and find different and better solutions, I don't like mine at all, but I fear none of you are truly brave enough to do so, sorry.

Yes, we can only do what we can do. If that is insufficient then we fail, I think almost no one is being honest about that. That is the current path, there ain't gonna be no marines or cavalry.
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Penny
Posted 15/5/2010 18:28 (#128 - in reply to #116)
Subject: Re: Frodo's solution


Regular

Posts: 63
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Hi Agric
I finally got round to reading this stuff. Thanks for sharing it all. I didn't check out all your links, but will try to follow up some of them later.

My thoughts - yes, I absolutely can't see how we're going to get out of this one. Yes, I think some sort of collapse is coming. When, I'm not really sure. But the combination of population growth, climate change, peak oil and debt unleash a perfect storm. And that's not to even mention loss of biodiversity and wider resource depletion.

I can think of no real solution to this. Those in power either have not seen this coming or don't dare mention it for fear of the ensuing panic. You raise a third alternative that some have seen it coming and are doing something - quietly for now - for themselves and their own people. I'm sure some of that must be going on. Meanwhile everyone else just gets on with the consumption merry-go-round and wouldn't dream of doing anything to end the party.

The economic growth paradigm that we're in is a major block to making progress. I've done a lot of reading round this subject and its clear that getting a stable economy without growth is hugely challenging and well beyond the current paradigm. There is no evidence that ideas being generated in this area are being seriously looked at. However, I'd recommend Tim Jackson's book 'Prosperity Without Growth'. It is also worth reading books by Herman Daly - one of the few environmental economists.

In the absence of a solution, I have concluded that local transition is the only real responce for me.

Penny



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Agric
Posted 1/6/2010 01:31 (#150 - in reply to #22)
Subject: Re: Frodo's solution



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Posts: 212
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Local transition is the only viable response, Penny. I'd say the time for trying to nudge UK / country level policy in the correct direction passed at least 5 or 10 years ago (and plenty tried and failed).

Almost regardless of overall outcome an effective local transition system wins. If things remain relatively stable (unlikely) it still delivers benefits; if things get dicey but still coherent it provides a workable infrastructure for wider implementation; if (when) things break it becomes the lifeboats we'll need to rebuild.

Rationally I think that Frodo is almost certain to fail, even at stage 1 since there are no real signs that sufficient appropriate change is remotely probable. So, we must accept that probability and see / think / act accordingly.

Presently TBI is very young. It needs to grow up very fast. Over the next 6 months it needs to deliver its initial projects, increase its credibility, spread its awareness. Then it needs to do its visioning, start thinking hard about probable futures and appropriate responses to them. Simultaneously it will need to involve core aspects of the local community - especially farmers and other important local infrastructure resources. Hopefully out of those will come a set of circumstance dependent plans / strategies ready to implement as the situation demands.

I am not joking when I say that TBI has to be ready, in extremis, to step into a temporary governance role sometime in the next 2 to 5 years. I don't think we should plan to do that but I do think we should plan to be capable of doing that should circumstances demand it. Scary, I know, but less scary than the alternatives - should things turn the way I expect.

So, firstly TBI needs to become more functional and effective, implement what it has started, involve more people, start more practical subgroups like transport. Secondly it needs to find the time and resource to seriously explore probable futures and appropriate responses to them (the 'visioning' thing, I suppose, but that term feels a bit 'fluffy', lol). As part of that we'll need to look at money / resources / property - practically, philosophically, socially. I think we need to have done all that within 12 to 18 months (so by end 2011). By then (possibly / unfortunately a bit before then) the probable futures will have narrowed and the planning will need to get more hard and specific.

Once TBI has functional subgroups for all important practical dimensions (is transport the only major gap?) it needs to set up one or more subgroups that look at futures, money, property, resources, governance, logistics etc. A modern Doomsday Book for the Black Isle would not be a bad objective.

We are almost certainly (99%+ ) past the point when there is any acceptable way out of the present situation. We are now in the least worst solution space at best. Be very aware: there are a lot of very nasty solutions lurking in that space and they are looking more probable than the less nasty solutions. I hinted at some of them above and would be unwise to say more. For those like you and me local transition is the logical response, for others the calculation may be different. I think our response is much better, wiser but would we kill for it? Could be they think differently, and would. Thus must we?

To quote uncle Roy (Harper):
"We're both fighting for the very same breath, for very different reasons
...
We're both fighting for the very same breath, what did you say were your reasons?"

["Come out fighting Gengis Smith" 1969?]

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We are part of the rapidly expanding worldwide Transition Towns movement. The Black Isle is a peninsula of about 100 sq miles ENE of Inverness in Scotland, UK.


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