Category Archives: Ecological Economics

The economy is part of the environment, not vice versa.

Methane (Again)

Harder than it looks

There’s bad news on the climate front.  Methane emissions are quite a bit worse than previously thought. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science is now all over the internet and in the news. It shows that methane emissions are 50% greater than previous estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency.  It’s not only our consumptive lifestyle overall, but specifically meat consumption, which is the problem. Continue reading

“Limits to Growth” and the Shutdown

The BP oil spill

Drama! Don’t you love it! The debt ceiling and government shutdown debates illustrate that what the government lacks in problem-solving ability, it makes up for in entertainment value. The government is running again, the debt limit has been raised, and once again things are back to “normal,” whatever that is.  But the problem has not been solved, because the real problem has no solution. This is a “limits to growth” issue which no political leader has acknowledged even exists. Continue reading

Interview with John Howe

John Howe, with a solar tractor and solar car

John Howe is a vegetarian who “walks the walk” concerning sustainability and simple living on his farm in Maine. He is the author of The End of Fossil Energy. His book is excellent and deserves more attention, especially from vegetarians. For further information and/or to obtain the complete nine-chapter manuscript, contact howe@megalink.net. My questions are in bold, with his responses following.

Continue reading

Response to the Post’s editorial

Another part of Chatfield slated for destruction under the proposal

We still have a few more hours to protest the proposal to destroy the heart of Chatfield State Park to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Comments are due by midnight September 3 (that’s today). Send an e-mail to chatfieldstudy@usace.army.mil. If you can’t think of anything else to say, just say this is a really stupid idea and quote me as your authority.

But I digress.

Last time, I responded to the Denver Post‘s editorial, “Chatfield expansion will benefit public.” In defense of their editorial, they make four points.  None of their four points mention the most glaring problem: this project will result in “zero dependable yield” of water, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Here’s my response to their points. Continue reading

Chatfield State Park to be destroyed by greed

An insipid, half-baked plan to destroy Chatfield State Park is now going full-steam ahead. Today The Denver Post has weighed in on the side of the “greed” faction. The opportunity to speak out is closing fast – comments are due by September 3.  For what you can do, go to the Save Chatfield web site.

I have some news for the Post.  Water is quite scarce out here, and no one’s making any more of it! We can only take it away from a place where it already exists. People need to think about this whenever yet another scatter-brained water project that destroys natural habitat is proposed. We need to be able to say “no” to the developers. Continue reading

Great New Book on the Collapse of Civilizations

Secular Cycles. Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov.  Princeton University Press, 2009.

Secular Cycles is a phenomenal and important book.  It is clearly of interest to anyone who is concerned about things like the collapse of civilizations, and specifically the possible collapse of our civilization. Even though it’s new to me, it’s actually not new — it was published in 2009, and I’m only now finding out about it, and reading it!  I first heard of it through Gail Tverberg’s blog, “Our Finite World,” and I hope it finds a wide readership. But a word of warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to love the subject or you’ll never make it through the book. It doesn’t use a lot of technical terms, and is clearly written, just very academic. Continue reading

Is Violence Declining?

Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, in The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Penguin Books, 2011), argues that human violence has declined. Violence was much more widespread in primitive societies than in historical times, and more widespread in the Middle Ages than in the twentieth century — yes, even worse than the First and Second World Wars. After reading his lengthy but quite readable book, I am convinced — violence between humans has indeed declined. It’s an engrossing and ground-breaking book, by the way; everyone from Peter Singer to the Wall Street Journal has praised it.

However, there are a few small points I want to raise concerning the book. Specifically, violence towards animals has increased; and the peace between humans is largely dependent on our relative affluence, which in turn depends on our exploitation of natural resources, which are now seriously depleted. Continue reading

The Fire Blog (continued)

Black Forest Fire, as seen from Colorado Springs, June 11 at 9:30 pm

Last year, I wrote a blog about the wildfires in Colorado. Wildfires were huge, and after the Waldo Canyon fire, President Obama came out to Colorado and gave a soothing speech. This year, we once again have wildfires burning in Colorado.

This year’s Black Forest fire, cause still unknown, was actually more destructive than last year’s Waldo Canyon fire. Yesterday, 19 firefighters were killed fighting a similar fire in Arizona. Maybe climate change has something to do with this?  Do you think? Continue reading

Are We Screwed?

The April 2013 issue of VegNews, their environmental issue, asks on the cover: “Are We Screwed?” The cover quickly adds: “We don’t think so—219 reasons why!”

I don’t see any list of 219 reasons, but the ones listed on the cover are definitely not convincing to anyone who understands the seriousness of climate change and resource depletion. The VegNews cover advertises, “Eco-entrepreneurs are turning trash into treasure”; “New Zealand’s pristine beauty,” “detoxing your home is a breeze,” and some others (see photo). Inside, there’s even an article on travel to New Zealand! Continue reading

Anthony Marr

Anthony Marr

We went to hear Anthony Marr last Monday night.  He spoke on “How to Save Planet Earth.”  Anthony Marr is unusual in the vegan community because, unlike most vegans, he has a scientific background and clearly understands the whole problem of peak oil, climate change, and economic collapse. He made a number of points, but here are three points he made that I thought were especially significant: latent heat, the most poisonous substance, and economic collapse. Continue reading

Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is a just-released documentary which makes climate change both undeniable and vivid. James Balog, a National Geographic photographer who was once a climate change skeptic, sets out to photograph evidence of the effects of climate change. He goes to the far north with a team of fellow adventurers (dubbed the “Extreme Ice Survey”), where he sets up cameras in really hard-to-get-to places to take time-lapse photos of glaciers and ice caps, so that we can find out just what is going on. Continue reading

Clueless on Climate Change

Which is worse, a President who doesn’t believe in climate change, or a President who believes in it but won’t do anything about it? President Obama’s brief remarks on climate change (about 500 words) at yesterday’s news conference clearly demonstrates that we face four more years of inaction (at best!) on climate change.

Mark Landler asked, “What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?” Continue reading

Clueless

Romney and Obama debate

The second debate between Obama and Romney demonstrated that both are clueless over the most critical issues facing the country and planet earth: those concerning the environment.  Do we really have another four years to fiddle away while climate change and resource depletion continue their march forward, and we have a President who doesn’t understand the basic nature of the problem? Continue reading

Who’s Afraid of the Fiscal Cliff?

Everybody agrees the U. S. national debt is too high, but no one can agree on what to do about it.  Raise taxes, or cut spending, or both? So Congress decided to kick the can down the road one last time, by specifying a number of “drastic” measures (tax increases and spending cuts) which will go into effect automatically at the end of 2012 unless Congress can come up with something better.

So, are you worried?

This “fix it or else” alternative is known as the “fiscal cliff” because if these cuts and taxes go into effect, everyone fears it will mean another serious recession. The Fiscal Cliff is a symptom that we have run into the limits to growth advertised in the 1972 book of the same name. Continue reading

Why Does Whole Foods Sell Meat?

(Hint: It has something to do with the economic system)

James McWilliams recently (September 4) wrote an open letter to Whole Foods asking them to close their meat counters.  This is noteworthy because John Mackey, their CEO, is himself a vegan, even though Whole Foods sells a lot of animal products.  Continue reading