Excerpts from the UNA “Global Engagement Summit” – 22 February 2019 – Prof. T.C. Weiskel

Knowledge Systems & Belief Systems:

People under stress behave not on the basis of knowledge but rather on the basis of belief.  Do we have the power to change our minds? This is a cultural question — not a technical one.  Changing our beliefs is not a trivial task.  As one poet observed in a time of civil-war: “We had fed the heart on fantasies; the heart’s grown brutal from the fare.”

Most of the imagery that animates our political discourse is completely nonsensical.  The youth know this, and they are beginning to say it.  The idea in economics of continuous growth on a finite planet makes no sense.  Yet we have grown up in a culture that thinks “growth” is normal.  It is not in any known ecosystem.  No known population can grow infinitely in a finite ecosystem.  Can’t happen; won’t happen.  Yet we still persist in believing it will.

See related:

“Sustainable Agriculture” is the only hope for the human community.   (…. consider the alternative… )

The agriculture of the modern world has become a petro-intensive agriculture.  The global food system only exists and persists through a large and continuous subsidy from non-renewable fossil fuels — for the fertilizers, the tractors, the pesticides, the pumped irrigation water systems, the processing, the freezing, the transportation, etc.  Without these subsidies the global food system will collapse.

This is a very recent and quite precarious situation.  In the last seventy to eighty years the human community has shifted from a solar-sustainable agriculture to a petro-dependent agriculture — just when the non-renewables are both becoming more expensive AND we are just beginning to experience the system-wide climate instabilities that our rapid use of fossil fuels has unleashed upon the world as a whole.  The “green revolution” is not the solution to our food problem.  Rather, to a disturbing extent it is now understood as a major source of our collective climate problem.  The “gene” revolution will offer little that is better in this regard, for it too is a heavily petro-subsidized form of production.

We need to move quickly as an entire human community to rediscover, recover, revive and now create new forms of solar-sustainable agriculture to move rapidly toward a solar-sustainable food system that “fixes” carbon underground rather than “releases” it in agricultural production.

No organism or population can outlive its food supply. Agriculture is humankind’s primary production system.  With the important exception of women’s breast milk, humans do not produce food; plants produce food.  We cannot photosynthesize because we are on the second tropic level in Earth’s ecosystem.  We need to learn rapidly how to assist plants in capturing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the Earth in continuous solar-driven cycles that in the process produce enough “food” for us to live upon.

Earth’s Energy Imbalance:

As a human community we are oxidizing carbon in just a few short centuries that it took hundreds of millions of years for plants to sequester within the Earth.  In effect we are “exploding” Earth’s carbon stores in a geological split-second.  It is no wonder that we are beginning to witness the result as a system-wide series of interlinked instabilities reverberating throughout Earth’s climate system.

Youth needs to act.  Start where you are, take us to where we need to go.  Learn how to “fix” carbon underground — not release it…

It is too late to “stop” climate change.  We need to focus instead on how to adapt as a species to the instabilities that our behavior in burning fossil carbon has unleashed around the world.


The Need for Some Sober Thought and Radical Realism

Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible.  We have lived through an exceptional epoch in human history in the post-World War II era of the “baby boomers.”  That period of global economic expansion was fueled by the combustion of non-renewables, leading to a three-fold increase in the human population in the life-time of those born immediately after World War II.  That rate of growth had never  before been achieved in human history, and it will never again be repeated in the life-time of children born today.

This exceptional period in Earth’s life history is based on an unrepeatable past, an unstable present and the continued naive belief in an improbable future.  It is time for some sober thinking and measured planning to move to a stable and solar-sustainable future in a world that human behavior has already radically destabilized in the recent past.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s