Erika Gavenus

Erika Gavenus

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    • #7281

      On behalf of Warwick Rowell:

      A major reason for pursuing adaptation is that it gives bureaucracies the world over the chance to say they are doing something, but any one group of ‘crats will not be accountable because they won’t have to find the money, do the work, or be proved wrong. Perfect!

      We have a classic local example: nine coastal Shires have spent $3/4M drawing a contour one metre higher than the coast, identifying the hot spots – ie the most valuable real estate (only 21 ha over a coastal distance of nearly 200 kms), and making conceptual proposals about – of course – more research to discover the best way to ameliorate the 1m rise.
      Nothing about loose coastal sand plains, interspersed with limestone outcrops, variable sand drift along a curved coast, nothing about the second metre… cross making!

      Warwick Rowell

    • #7271

      On behalf of Michael Mielke:

      Summary The Save Ourselves Now Plan, designed to achieve a Breakthrough to Climate Stabilization in 2014, because we may not have more time, is the only plausible plan that provides a means and mechanism to actually avert climate catastrophe and allow humanity to construct a viable future. Released in August, 2013, it relies on philanthropy providing some 100 to 1,000 times more financial resources than are now available for a consequential awakening and an effective public movement. Specific hurdles the SOS Now Plan discusses are the public’s complete ignorance of the climate crisis, the absence of the issue in the public consciousness or conversation, the cultures consumerism and nihilism, the paralyzed political system and the complete failure thus far of the Obama administration related to the climate crisis.

      “What is the point of (their) sitting on this vast sum in a world irredeemably on course for a 6°C temperature rise and beyond? There will be little that can be done with endowments in that meltdown….. How would (Philanthropy &) foundation leaders answer if their children were to ask in 2025, say, in a world staring down the barrel of a runaway greenhouse effect, why they had not thrown their hundreds of billions into the fight when there was still a chance? ”………………Jeremy Leggett


      2014 is the year of decision. We will make traction on our SOS Now Plan and begin a Breakthrough to Climate Stabilization, or we can give up on a viable future for children coming into our world. Without fundamental and profound change, they inherit the ash and cinders of what remains when we have pushed the living systems beyond what these systems can tolerate.

      We use the best science to clarify. Review Kevin Anderson’s “Real Clothes for the Emperor” video from a year ago. Or, the analysis of the Copenhagen agreement in 2011, (the slide show is superb). The December 2013 letter to the European Commission shows how decarbonisation targets are being constructed in a vacuum of scientific evidence; and Europe is at least pretending to reduce fossil fuel use, unlike the US, Canada and China. The fourth related document explains how most climate scientists are unable or unwilling to tell all of us the truth of what they know. What they know is we are headed beyond civilization’s ability to adapt.

      The dramatic change in our energy use and concomitant economic consumption required for our survival represents a complete transformation in how a significant part of humanity lives. Our Plan argues that this change can be possible if and only if the part of humanity that is the US, Canada and the UK understands that this change, accomplished quickly is a life and death matter for each and all of us. Essentially, the conversation about our excesses must take place where the excesses are, and have been the most egregious. Moreover, we note that this critical part of humanity still believes it can continue to increase its energy use and consumption indefinitely. The US government and its Department of Energy say so. Additionally, climate denialists are spending billions of dollars in untraceable dark money to help continue cooking our world well done. Massive sums are spent convincing us in advertised ways and other related ways that an increase of our energy and economic consumption is just what we need to solve all human problems, particularly the economic ones.

      The vast majority of those in the overdeveloped world don’t know the scope of the warming problem, nor its scale and certainly not its urgency. Nowhere in the culture is there any conversation about how close we now are to irrevocable catastrophes and how fully the future is being compromised and destroyed. The normal person in the key countries of the US, Canada and the UK not only don’t know about the crisis, they don’t know that they don’t know.

      This is why our SOS Now Plan does not spend much time on lobbying the Congress or pushing the Administration at this point. Any push is wasted until and unless normal folks know that the crisis is upon us. What are the foundations that work on global warming and the leaders of the climate movement doing? Well, they are working too much on trying to change a Congress both indifferent to catastrophic warming and also uncooperative and intractable when it comes to the science of climate and the evidence of carbon fuels’ pollution. Meanwhile the Obama Administration has given up, insisting on trying the entirely impossible and completely foolish, i.e., adapting to climate chaos. The governments of the United Kingdom and Canada are no better; at best they will follow the US.

      With the key political systems captive of corporate, fossil fuel and financial interests, there can be no policy change that even begins to move in the required direction for sustaining our civilization unless the people of these counties demand that their governments change. That is why a massive climate education campaign is necessary. That is why it’s necessary to kick start a comprehensive conversation where the facts and evidence related to looming climate chaos are explained and the denialists’ obfuscations are illuminated.

      It would be very helpful if instead of focusing on adaptation and accepting full climate catastrophe that the President would at least ask for that cultural conversation. But the Administration has not responded to our inquiries so far: letters to the Secretary of Energy, letters to the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change and letters to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and her senior aides have all gone unanswered and completely ignored. Someone in the Office of the President who understands the crisis must be reached because we will need the President both to ask for the cultural conversation and also to seek world-wide agreement on effective climate catastrophe mitigation.

      Given that the US, the UK and Canada citizenry don’t know they have been and still continue to burn up the future for all of us, our SOS Now Plan relies heavily on the entity that cares about humanity since humanity is ignorant of its own self-destruction. We are counting on Philanthropy. We see the 10s and 100s of Billions of dollars pledged to Philanthropy, particularly through the Giving Pledge, and we watched the November 2013 video on the willingness of the group to take on world scale problems, so we know the money to educate and awaken the citizenry is available. Actually, the video and extra segments argue that we are in the second golden age of Philanthropy, with a segment suggesting: Buffett and Gates: Today’s Carnegie and Rockefeller? Again, the implication is that scale problems like climate destabilization can be addressed by Philanthropy. Finally, we know that the money that philanthropies and foundations are now spending on problems like maternal and child health, or alleviating poverty or eliminating hunger are working on “superficial symptoms while the fatal disease continues to rage.”

      ATL’s SOS Now Plan published this past August details the key parts of the needed transformation:

       Besides hundreds of times more resources deployed than before 2014, Philanthropy will fund a national grassroots campaign 1o+ billion dollars per-year to explain the crisis and warn humanity of the urgency, an education and advocacy effort that mimics what was done 25 years ago for national transformation, blankets all media and performs a Paul Revere function.

       Philanthropy’s aim is to awaken the moral consensus that is necessary for transformation. This can result from a “continental conversation” begun in the US, Canada and the UK. President Obama must be reached in 2014 and call for that international conversation. Systems of mutual restraint, mutually agreed upon by the majority of the people affected can be realized if the alternative is the sure loss of our progeny and everything we value.

      These two+ pages above have discussed the ATL SOS Now Plan and what is needed to execute it. Nowhere else is a Plan of the scope or scale required, one that also realizes the urgency, to meet the climate crisis. We ask you to react to this Plan and give us your feedback and constructive criticism.

      We have said that we must get Philanthropy to liberate its resources to effectively address the climate crisis. We show that the money is available and waiting to be requested. The President could accomplish the liberation. Also, one or two billionaires or individuals who can access those billionaires are enough to catalyze the release of the funding. Those with great wealth have executive assistants and personal staff who can take the time to review the available information so that great wealth can now know without doubt that their future and their children are at stake. When great wealth has known this before, the part that is defined as Philanthropy has responded as needed, like the first golden age of Philanthropy responded.

      We must see traction toward a Breakthrough to Climate Stabilization this year. We don’t have more time to dither. The staff of the SOS Now Plan will continue their effort to reach the President. But before spring, this Strategy with these Tactics, those contained in the SOS Now Plan must be given public notice. That means publication and discussion. Perhaps we need a SOS Now Climate Monthly; others have tried this idea. On March 21 Equinox, we will present in Salt Lake City the major parts of the SOS Now Plan.

      Please provide your comments and constructive criticism. We need your help. We all need help stabilizing the climate we have now so that we may continue. And so that we might have any kind of future worth living in.

      Plan at

    • #7269

      On behalf of Thomas Rudel:

      A comment and a question – First, the comment. In any forthcoming climate change compact between countries, it would seem reasonable to allow countries to meet their ghg emissions reduction targets through population declines as well as through direct cuts in emissions from the now more energy efficient activities. Countries like Italy, currently slated to see a large population decline over the next 35 years, could achieve a considerable decline in emissions through population declines.

      Second, what sorts of effects does immigration have on ghg emissions? The problems of finding younger workers might lead to the easing of some restrictions on in-migration. The arrival of immigrants with higher fertility rates has raised fertility rates in the US, but, thinking about the counterfactual, the move to the wealthier countries should lower fertility rates among the immigrants. What are the net effects on population and on ghg emissions?

      Tom Rudel

    • #7267

      On behalf of Max Kummerow:

      So how vulnerable are phytoplankton to changing conditions? What would cause a collapse? This might be hard to say because of predator prey relationships that might become unstable, or changes in species composition (community structure), but surely somebody has tested to see how changing pH and temperature affect growth? Up to a point more C02 should increase productivity?

      – Max Kummerow

    • #7265

      On behalf of Warwick Rowell:

      We wrote the material below some ten years ago:

      Why Here?

      Why choose this location? Over and above that we feel it is a very beautiful part of the world, David Bellamy influenced our thinking about where to locate ourselves. He argues:
      There is mounting evidence that environmental factors are increasingly impacting on the health of people in the northern hemisphere. There is growing evidence that the economic and social systems of Europe and North America are breaking down. So smart people there are starting to consider becoming environmental refugees. They are looking primarily at the low middle latitudes of the southern hemisphere.
      South Africa has many internal issues to resolve. Few have the Spanish that would lead them to Chile or Argentina. This leaves Australia and New Zealand. If you want the most stable climate you must live on the west side of a continent. This leads you to south-west Western Australia, south-west Victoria, western Tasmania or New Zealand. Then local weather becomes a greater consideration; WA’s highest latitude is 35 South. This means only Western Australia and the north island of New Zealand avoid the roaring forties. These massive and persistent winds make living conditions rather harsh on the other western coasts.

      David Bellamy goes on to give other reasons why this south-west corner of Western Australia is the best bioregion in the world. He talks about the bioregion being relatively wealthy, politically stable, having democratic government, well-educated people, no national boundaries, and it is isolated – surrounded by thousands of kilometres of ocean, and over a thousand kilometres of desert to other major bioregions. He then chides us, asking “If you do not become a model for the rest of the world about building a sustainable society, what hope has anyone else got?”

      We hear his message. But as permaculture designers we need to go into even further detail. We worked out that our needs would be best met by living within fifteen to twenty minutes drive of a large town, which has restaurants, specialist medical units, local theatre, a secondary education provision, and a range of shops, services and small businesses. We want to live where the sea breeze has an impact on local climate, but not so close as to face the salt corrosion problems of people right on the beach. We didn’t want to live downwind of any major industrial area. A permaculturist planning for catastrophe and looking at the greenhouse effect, and its wider impacts on climatic and food production systems, would choose to live on the north-east side of a granite hill.

      There will be people considering emigrating permanently from their countries who are seriously analysing where else they might raise their families. We believe this is an ideal alternative.
      For more information on climate change, read the essay Permaculture and Climate Change in Western Australia on the website.

      Top of Page

      © Copyright 1999-2002 Rowell Consulting Services Pty Ltd.
      Last updated 22 July 2002 by Rosneath Information Services.

      – Warwick Rowell

    • #7263

      On behalf of Michael Mielke:

      I knew Australia was bad and also in bad shape, but this is really scary and intimidating. I had always wanted someday to visit, but I don’t think so anymore.

      -Michael Mielke

    • #7261

      On behalf of Judy:

      Does the permaculture movement in Australia have any political clout or a strong grassroots presence that would help shape policy going forward?


    • #7255

      On behalf of Fernando Baquero:

      What do we know about phytoplankton and the survival in water of potentially human or animal bacteria? I am very interested in decreasing environmental (water bodies) decontamination by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

      -Fernando Baquero

    • #7009

      On behalf of William Lidicker:

      Anthony Oliver-Smith’s comments on the essay by Ehrlich, dated Dec. 5, are correct in pointing out that human populations will vary in their experiences and vulnerabilities to major disasters. Contributing to this variation are political structures, access to power and wealth, and the “adaptive capacity of human beings.” To this we can add the geographic setting of various human groups. While these variations are real, they are mere ripples on the larger picture of the human predicament. The essential point is that as human numbers increase, both the numbers of serious disasters and the negative impact of those occurrences will increase. Moreover, these increases will be not just incremental but proportional, that is, on a per capita basis. This is unfortunately just an unavoidable consequence of living on a finite planet with finite resources for life support. Wealth, power, ingenuity, and geography can delay and reduce these negative impacts for some of humanity. However, if we focus too much on the “ripples” we will only delay any serious attention to the realities of the “big picture” as summarized by Ehrlich.

      Bill Lidicker

    • #7007

      On behalf of William Lidicker:

      Anthony Oliver-Smith’s comments on the essay by Ehrlich, dated Dec. 5, are correct in pointing out that human populations will vary in their experiences and vulnerabilities to major disasters. Contributing to this variation are political structures, access to power and wealth, and the “adaptive capacity of human beings.” To this we can add the geographic setting of various human groups. While these variations are real, they are mere ripples on the larger picture of the human predicament. The essential point is that as human numbers increase, both the numbers of serious disasters and the negative impact of those occurrences will increase. Moreover, these increases will be not just incremental but proportional, that is, on a per capita basis. This is unfortunately just an unavoidable consequence of living on a finite planet with finite resources for life support. Wealth, power, ingenuity, and geography can delay and reduce these negative impacts for some of humanity. However, if we focus too much on the “ripples” we will only delay any serious attention to the realities of the “big picture” as summarized by Ehrlich.

      Bill Lidicker

    • #7005

      On behalf of Jack Alpert:

      The goodness imparted by this project is similar to ten candles lit on a listing Titanic’s dinning table to warm people’s hands —
      — real benefits, creative use of resources, and meaningless.

      Join “Change the Course”

      Jack Alpert

    • #6999

      On behalf of William Lidicker:

      Paul Erhlich’s blog appropriately puts “natural disasters” in the context of population size. Toward the end of his essay he mentions the terms “density dependence” and “density independence” that are still widely used in population ecology. These terms are loaded with ambiguities, and since the 1970’s I have been trying to get these terms rejected and replaced with the clearly descriptive terms: regulating, anti-regulating, and non-regulating. Although there has been some progress, the classic terms remain entrenched.
      Paul’s example of the term “density independence” as analyzed by Andrewartha and Birch can serve as an example. He posits that this term can mean that an environmental factor can have “the same power regardless of the size of the population.” He gives as a hypothetical example severe cold weather mortality and the proportion of cold-sensitive individuals in the population. Other possible examples are floods, lava flows the drying up of ponds, and habitat destruction. So this interpretation is possible, but as he points out generally such influences, while not changing themselves in response to changes in some target population, actually have an impact on the subject population that is very much related to its size. So, the first ambiguity is: does density independence mean that the factor itself is uninfluenced by changes in the population, or is it that the impact (power) of the factor does not vary with population density. The same ambiguity applies to so-called “density dependent factors.” A second ambiguity is whether or not the influence (density independent or dependent) has a positive or negative effect on population growth; both are common. Thirdly, even when a factor’s impact does change with density, is this change merely numerical (absolute) or is it proportional, that is, the change is per capita? This last consideration is vital if we are at all concerned with the extent to which environmental influences can actually stimulate or inhibit population growth. If such factors can cause or contribute to causing a population to stop growing as it gets larger and to encourage growth as it gets smaller, this is regulation. Factors which influence growth in the opposite direction are anti-regulating, and those whose impacts are trivial and/or not related to density are non-regulating.
      Paul exhorts us to not be fooled by terms like “natural disasters.” To this good advice I would like to add that we not be fooled by ambiguous terms like “density dependent “ and “density independent.”

      -William Lidicker

    • #6881

      On behalf of Anthony Oliver-Smith:
      As someone working in the field of disaster research for over 4 decades, I read this blog with interest. Ehrlich is almost always interesting, even though I think this argument is flawed. Of course disasters are not natural, but not because of population numbers or density. Vulnerability to hazard impact is not a function of population, but of the way a population is organized in terms of access to power and wealth that benefits some with environmental security and exposes others to extreme risk. Arguing only on the basis of number and density of population leaves out the role of power and wealth as well as the adaptive capacity of human beings. Population numbers do not construct or constitute vulnerability; society does. Society, not population, takes the naturalness out of “natural disasters.” That his analysis may ring somewhat true today is because of current political economic conditions in the world and so it may have some descriptive traction rather than being analytically correct.

      -Anthony Oliver-Smith

    • #6859

      On behalf of Matt Herring:

      Thanks Paul and Andrew. Clive Hamilton’s latest book – “Earth Masters, playing god with the climate” – covers these and other key geoengineering issues in penetrating and wide ranging detail. I highly recommend it.

      -Matt Herring

    • #6857

      On behalf of Michael Huesemann:

      It is disturbing that is has come to this: We have messed up the atmosphere with one set of technologies (i.e., fossil fuel burning machines and power plants) and then attempt to “fix” the problem with another set of bizarre geo-engineering technologies. As pointed out in “Technofix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment”, foreword by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, (, techno-fixes such as geo-engineering won’t offer long-term satisfying solutions because they have unintended consequences that are inherently unpredictable by science and they don’t address root causes (i.e., fossil fuel burning), thereby delaying the implementation of lasting solutions.

      The Kaya equation, which is similar to the I=PAT equation (P.R. Ehrlich and J.P. Holdren, “Impact of population growth”, Science, 171:1212-1217, 1971), can be used to analyze the root causes of CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions are the product of “population” (number of people or consumers) times “material affluence” (GDP per person or per capita GDP) times “carbon intensity of the economy” (tons of CO2 emitted per GPD generated).

      We can reduce the carbon intensity by having more fuel efficient cars and power plants and by switching to renewable, carbon-neutral energy sources. However, the large-scale generation of renewable energy, on a scale needed to replace fossil fuels, is likely to also have negative environmental consequences.

      We can stop the endless growth of material and carbon-intensive affluence by transitioning to a steady-state economy, as advocated by Herman Daly and others for decades. Unfortunately, mainstream economists still don’t get the message.

      And we can reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of consumers by having clear population policies, a subject that seems taboo despite Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s persistent effort to inform the public. According to an analysis by Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax (“Reproduction and the Carbon Legacies of Individuals”, Global Environmental Change, 19:14-20, 2009), avoiding the birth of a single child has a much a greater effect on reducing CO2 emissions than environmentally conscious consumer behavior. For example, it is estimated that an average citizen participating in personal conservation measures could reduce his/her lifetime carbon dioxide emissions by 486 tons, which is 20 times LESS than the CO2 emissions avoided by choosing to have one fewer child.

      Clearly, there are more constructive ways for mitigating climate change than tinkering with geo-engineering, the ultimate techno-fix.

      -Michael Huesemann

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