Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Yminale, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Yminale

    Yminale Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  2. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    That's hilarious. I especially liked "Werner, sporting a neon green winter hat over bright pink hair." Yeah, that says it all. :D

    "But resistance movements – Werner cited the Arab Spring and Occupy movements as recent examples – could disrupt our otherwise inevitable course of enviro-destruction."

    Planetary salvation via roving rape gangs. Who knew?!
     
  3. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We know she had sex with Theia, and they even had a child, so yes.
     
  4. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So... lets see, the conclusion of the article is that it's either Capitalism (monetary based system) or its 'back to the stone age' (get rid of technology)?
    Seriously?
    Capitalism is NOT the only system on the planet that can work - and its on the verge of collapse.

    This assumption that without money, we would revert back to bartering or would blast ourselves into the stone-age is inherently idiotic, especially since we live in a world where increasing levels of automation are being used (and at present, with the technology we already have, we can automate 75% of the global workforce using robotics/machines/computers - while most of the jobs are inherently unproductive to society, seeing how they exist solely for the purpose of 'moving money around' and could cease to exist with a different perception).
    Of course... without enough people to change the environment, it won't materialize - and the present system will continue to go on for as long as it can (until it finally grinds to a halt).

    Oh and... cultural personality is ALREADY in the pre-technological era. Majority of the people on the planet aren't even aware of the technology we had 50 years ago at our disposal, let alone today... hence why they keep saying things are 'impossible' to do (coupled with the notion that some are die-hard defendants of the present socio-economic system, who in turn also have a tendency to think that anything else is 'bad').
    Lack of relevant general education causes ignorance and makes people that much more prone to being manipulated/used by others because they were not exposed to other things in life. They get their info from the sources that are 'deemed credible' and therefore, they rarely if ever consider other things when making decisions.
     
  5. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    So, if I'm getting what he said, unless we abandon capitalism and revert back to the stone age, capitalism, which is the only non stone-age system available, will put us back in the stone age?

    This guy's either on drugs, or should be, or is aiming for a career in satire. Which he's not going to get
     
  6. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    So, this guy wrote a model he won't actually share with anyone, but uses it to comfortably declare that capitalism is doomed and Earth is boned unless Occupy Wall Street brings down The System? :lol:

    Okay, then.

    I'll grant that the planet is screwed up and is getting worse, and there are real problems we aren't doing enough to address, but his suggested approach is just absurd.
     
  7. MNM

    MNM Captain Captain

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    Capitalism has been "on the verge of collapse" for decades if you listen to some people.
     
  8. Aeronef

    Aeronef Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Since about 1848, in fact.
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ And since then it HAS collapsed, several times in several places, in some cases spectacularly. What usually happens is the locals get up, dust themselves off and rebuild their institutions using a less materialistic, more socially-oriented set of economic policies, which are then slowly rolled back over successive years to make those policies more and more palatable to capitalists.
     
  10. Aeronef

    Aeronef Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ^Oddly enough, given the progressive slant of your post, I think you're making the same mistake that many right-wing people make: namely, equating "capitalism" with "laissez-faire capitalism."

    I do agree with you that some ways of managing a country's economy are more humane and rational than others, and that free-market fundamentalism inevitably leads to the sort of spectacular pile-up we saw in 2008.

    I'm not convinced, however, that a "less materialistic, more socially-oriented set of economic policies" must necessarily be un- or anti-capitalist.

    What's more, I'm not convinced that capitalism has a monopoly on economic injustice, or that only capitalist economic systems fail. Some of the most atrociously unjust and unsuccessful economic systems in history had nothing capitalistic about them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's like equating "gun" with ".50 caliber automatic machinegun." If it's pointed at a child's head when it goes off, that's a distinction without a difference.

    True as that is, I was mainly alluding to the disaster-capitalism experiments that devastated Argentina in the 1980s and other similar misadventures in South and Central America. There's a fairly large collection of broken countries and broken governments in our recent history who saw their economies implode basically because somebody (or a large group of somebodies) pulled a leveraged buyout of all their key industries and then stuck the taxpayers with the bill.

    Many capitalists are quite insistent that it IS. And I am not sufficiently impressed by the achievements of capitalism to pretend that it is an appropriate solution to all possible social/political needs.

    Put that another way: capitalists are great at producing new commodities or superior versions of old ones. They are great at driving industry, at employing people, at creating wealth and prosperity. They are great at innovating and evolving new capabilities in existing technologies. There are, however, a number of things that capitalists do exceedingly poorly. Social investment -- that is, maintaining the stability of important institutions that promote broad social stability -- is one of those things. Justice and law enforcement is another, along with education, emergency response, political discourse and military defense. None of those things are capitalistic in nature, and a civilized society cannot function properly without them.

    Problems arise when capitalists insist on being placed in charge of these inherently non-capitalistic institutions and running them as if they were commodities. This is the equivalent of using a loaded gun to hammer in a nail because your gunsmith told you that "guns don't kill people, they're just really useful tools." Then when the mishandled gun inevitably goes off, the wounded patch themselves up and resolve to start using the right tools for the right job. They buy smaller guns and fewer of them, much to the chagrin of the local gunsmiths.

    True, but only capitalist economic systems fail systematically. Socialist systems mainly fail when/because they are designed to benefit influential party members at the seat of power to the expense of everyone else. They're actually QUITE successful in that context, considering that they tend to remain relatively stable for long periods of time with only occasional disruption. It's probably similar to the kind of stability that sideshow bo-- er... the author of the OPs paper had in mind when he wrote this paper.

    True as that is, just because a system is unjust doesn't make it a failure. Saddam Hussein, for example, was arguably the most effective leader Iraq ever had, despite the fact that he was basically a gangster with an army of psychopaths at his beck and call.

    What causes a lot of problems is that many people -- especially capitalists -- like to believe that capitalism is a social/political system as well as an economic one. When it is used in this way, it inevitably disrupts and collapses the social and political apparatuses it sought to improve. To put that another way: many people in many countries have found out the hard way that while there are many capitalist MARKETS, there is no such thing as a capitalist SOCIETY.

    Thus few people are willing to admit that Iraq possesses and has always possessed a capitalist economy, even under the Hussein regime. Its long term stability had much less to do with the inherent stability of capitalism than it had to do with the imposed stability of Saddam's iron-fisted rule.
     
  12. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So, what does this have to do with the Earth again?

    Humanity may very well be F**ked as described, but that's not the same thing as the Earth. Realistically speaking, we are not going to destroy the entire biosphere. As some of the commentators on that site pointed out, the planet will continue just fine without us. Just another mass extinction.

    Of course, some people may consider the fate of humanity and the fate of the Earth to be the same thing, but that's merely hubris.
     
  13. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    It's just shorthand. Obviously, this planet is going to go on, whether we're here or not, probably until the Sun swells up and swallows it in a few billion years.

    "The world," as far as we're concerned, doesn't exist if we are all dead.
     
  14. Aeronef

    Aeronef Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This is a non-sequitur.

    My point, in case I wasn't clear, is that your post confused one particular type of capitalism with capitalism in general. And that this is exactly the sort of reductionism that pervades the discourse of market fundamentalists, who argue that markets can never fail--only be failed. The difference being, that they regard capitalism as something essentially good, while you seem to regard it as essentially evil.

    What's more, you pretty much admit that I was correct to point this out. For as you yourself go on to say:

    That is to say: you were talking about a small number of cases, in the past couple of decades, and making sweeping generalizations based on this very limited data set. Thank you.

    So what?

    Many conservatives insist that President Obama is a communist Muslim who secretly wants to destroy America. Are they correct?

    This is a straw man.

    I never said that capitalism is an appropriate solution to all possible social/political needs. What I said was that I do not believe that a "less materialistic, more socially-oriented set of economic policies" must necessarily be un- or anti-capitalist.

    I don't believe that because, as I said above, I don't accept the market fundamentalists' reductionist definition of "capitalism". Or yours, for that matter.

    I don't disagree. But I think you're confusing capitalism with business, and making an artificial distinction between the market and the state--once again, much as market fundamentalists do.

    Markets are not separate or distinct from states: they exist within, and are shaped by, and are dependent upon, certain legal and political (and social and cultural) frameworks. It's all connected, and the character of any capitalist economy is determined by these various circumstances.

    For example:

    Actually, problems arise under many more circumstances than this. See, for example, Great Britain in the 1970s--a country which no one would ever accuse of being run by capitalists who insisted on managing state institutions as businesses.

    If you want to understand the rise of the New Right and market fundamentalism, then you need to understand the contexts in which these movements arose and flourished, and the weaknesses and failures of the ideologies, institutions, and systems they sought to replace.

    No. That's obviously not true.

    You mean, like when somebody (or a large group of somebodies) pulls a leveraged buyout of country's key industries and then sticks the taxpayers with the bill?

    What you're describing is not a problem with socialism, or capitalism, or any other economic and political system: it's much more basic than that. It's the problem of power.

    With great power comes great irresponsibility. People will only behave in a responsible fashion if someone or something actually has the power to make them answer for their actions. The more power we have, the fewer the people to whom we have to answer, until, like God, we are all-powerful, and answerable to no one. And at this point, we indulge our every whim, no matter how bizarre, and find any resistance or inconvenience intolerable

    The classical answer to this problem has been to try to create a division and balance of powers--to balance, for example, the power of the monarch, the aristocracy, and the populace. If one becomes too powerful, the others will restore the balance by combining against it. This is the foundation on which the US Constitution was built.

    The problem with both capitalism and socialism is that, left unchecked, they both have a tendency to produce concentrations and imbalances of power: under socialism, an imbalance of political power that distorts the economic process; and under capitalism, a concentration of economic power that distorts the political process. They both 'systematically fail' if they're pursued too far.

    I don't see how you can say that.

    Let's leave aside the lack of freedom, the torture, the executions, and the use of chemical weapons against rebellious Kurds. Let's assume that a regime can be considered effective, even when it rules by force and terror, and systematically violates the rights of its own people.

    This "most effective leader" practically destroyed his country, by leading it into a decade-long confrontation with the United States that ended only with Operation Iraqi Freedom. His dream of making Iraq the dominant regional power led to the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, and years of debilitating economic sanctions. And in the process, he made himself a convenient target for a United States that wanted to live out an action-movie revenge fantasy after 9/11. He might as well have painted a bullseye on Baghdad.

    Whatever his economic policies may have been--and I confess I don't know much about that--whatever economic successes his regime may have enjoyed, they were more than counterbalanced by its political failures. And those failures were the all-too-predictable outcome of the nature of his regime.

    That also is obviously not true, for the reasons I've already explained.
     
  15. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Somehow, I have a feeling that if Earth survived KT--it will survive us just fine thank you.

    But we have no futurists. We either vote for a party that wants to take us back to the stone age (the worst of the greens who influence the DNC) or the Dark Age with the Republicans.
     
  16. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    From the article, I feel that the scientist is not so much assailing capitalism; he is assailing the thinking that occurs in a capitalist society.

    An example from American history. In the decades prior to the Civil War, the Southern aristocracy was getting rich from cotton. They believed that more cotton fields would bring in more profits for them. Their solution? "Offshore" their farm lands to the Midwest, and plant the newly opened fields with cotton. Now you are making more money, and the Midwest plants crops that will be later sold to the South after harvesting.

    Then the Civil War comes. The South secedes. The Midwest joins the Union. So, the crops that fed the South are no longer being sent to them, and, in within two years, the South is starving.

    This is what I think the scientist is referring to in his analysis, where our thinking is based on short term gains, and we don't create long term plans.

    However, I don't think it is exclusive to capitalistic societies. I think it is because this is how we behave as a species.

    On Easter Island, the natives devasted their ecosystem as they were erecting massive stone heads to honor their ancestors. Combined with climate change (nothing happens from one cause), their civilization collapsed. The inhabitants weren't capitalists. They were driven by ambition and ancestral reverence to create the next largest statue, and they weren't considering what might happen to their children and grandchildren. We are the same way.

    For me, personally, what will bring about the collapse of our civilization will be a combination of factors - environmental, economical, political, religious, et cetera - and, like before, our descendants will build a new civilization on the ruins of the past. We are a cyclical species.

    Like others said, we are incapable of screwing up our planet to the point where it is destroyed. We go extinct, the planet keeps on chugging along.
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No it isn't. You're implying laissez-faire capitalism is somehow different from regulated capitalism, presumably because it's safer or less prone to economic disasters. The fact is, even a tightly regulated market can still fail, and the fact that it was tightly regulated before it failed doesn't really mitigate the consequences.

    I got your point. I'm saying it's not a confusion because CAPITALISM IN GENERAL has this feature. Laissez-faire capitalism is merely the least stable form of it, which doesn't change the fact that capitalism itself is inherently unstable.

    Yes, in the same way that I could refer to a half dozen gunshot victims and say "Bullet wounds tend to be traumatic and painful."

    There are lots of things that can mitigate the fallout from an economic meltdown. Government oversight and regulation isn't one of them; at best, those are mechanisms that are meant to PREVENT those kinds of disasters from happening in the first place, and fact that almost all responsible first world governments employ them should tell you something.

    They very well could be... IF they were speaking as members of the Obama campaign and/or his administration.

    I'm disinclined to believe at face value what capitalists and/or conservatives claim about their OWN position, but the fact that they make the claim about themselves instead of something of which they are not a part means I can't ignore it either.

    It WOULD be if I ascribed that belief to you, which I did not. There are, in fact, two competing schools of thought that are related but utterly independent. There's YOUR position:

    Which differs sharply from the position of many capitalists that the free market an provide those same socially-oriented services more effectively and more efficiently than the government.

    The "market fundamentalists" have this position as much more than a philosophical point. It's proscriptive rather than theoretical; they believe that they SHOULD provide those services, and have a well documented tendency to try and convince politicians of this as well.

    That, more than anything, is why I cannot dismiss the "market fundamentalist" position as mere reductionist error. They don't simply believe it, they also PROMOTE it, and they are extremely prolific even in tightly regulated markets. For this very reason ALL capitalist economies trend gradually towards laissez-faire capitalism, and policies to reverse these trends are usually enacted only after the damage has already been done.

    Just because they're related and impact each other doesn't mean they're the same thing. MANY things are interconnected and interdependent that otherwise have nothing to do with each other; you might as well suggest that basketball teams are not separate or distinct from police departments because both depend on the patronage of their home city to exist.

    It's a foregone conclusion that governments can -- and in some cases MUST -- influence markets, and the reverse is also true. But there is still the trend among capitalists to prefer the market to have more influence over the government than the reverse, and where this has been easy to accomplish -- in central and south america, for example, where the capitalist class controlled considerably more wealth than the governments of those countries -- the result has been consistently disastrous.

    Half right. Great Britain's troubles were caused by people who thought the state WAS a business and sought to run it like one. In their case, the conservative backlash has alot to do with the fact that actual businessmen realized the government was being managed incompetently and assumed -- possibly correctly -- that they could have done a better job. That spawned a more sweeping generalization that turned into a philosophy that private businesses ALWAYS do a better job than government, which isn't always the case, and isn't always the point.

    Exactly. And the fundamental problem with capitalism is the basic imperative of its participants is the pursuit of greater economic power, ostensibly for the purpose of driving even greater market activity and making still greater returns on those investments. Altruism and public interest are possible, but strictly voluntary, and therefore there is a built-in competitive advantage for capitalists who DO NOT act responsibly. That, as I'm sure you understand, is the whole reason why market regulation exists.

    As long as capitalists -- not even all of them, just the irresponsible few -- are motivated to deregulate markets and remove the controls on their own power, they will continue to exploit momentary weaknesses or divisions in the government bodies responsible for containing them. Like water seeping through a concrete dam, it happens somewhat slowly and is hard to reverse.

    The reason socialism never systematically fails is because it is never systematically implemented. At their cores -- where they relate to one another, at least -- capitalism is an economy controlled by private investors while socialism is an economy controlled by the public. The fundamental difference between them is where the money comes from: in pure socialism, all investments are made collectively through the the delegation of tax dollars, while in pure capitalism all investments are made voluntarily and individually.

    The problem is, socialist countries never actually place their economies under public control. The people who actually wield that power are as far removed from public accountability as their capitalist counterparts and are perfectly positioned to maintain their advantage at the expense of everyone else. In theory, an inept or corrupt socialist government should be subject to democratic review and scrutiny at all times and in an ideal world could be removed the moment he is caught doing something that doesn't serve the public interest. Capitalism, by contrast, assumes that the driving force of the market is the return on investment, and the only responsibility of the capitalist is to protect the investments of his business partners; those investments may sometimes be at odds with the public interest, especially for a section of the public that has nothing invested in that particular business venture.

    IOW: socialism fails whenever it is not implemented properly (and it almost never is). Capitalism fails whenever it IS implemented properly (and it, too, almost never is). That, more than anything, explains why capitalism has a much better track record than socialism.

    Purely as a matter of political efficiency and economic growth. Iraq was a rich country under Saddam. Miserable and terrified, sure, but they did experience fairly steady growth and prosperity until they got their asses kicked in the Gulf War. OTOH, losing a war is typically the worst thing that can ever happen to a country's economy, and under Saddam Iraq lost basically all of them, so his MILITARY leadership is unquestionably lacking.

    It wasn't his POLITICAL failures that were the problem. It was his inability to defeat the most powerful military on the face of the Earth in two separate engagements.
     
  18. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Earth is not fucked. Our modern world civilization is fucked, but that's not such a big deal.
     
  19. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Central and South America weren't capitalist (by our example), as they had a ruling class or ownership class which excluded the vast majority of people from membership. They're closest to French merchantilism under the old monarchy.

    As Hernando De Soto pointed out, these countries flip between ruling juntas, "business" leaders, socialists, and quasi-Marxists, and nothing actually changes except who you have to bribe.

    Don't confuse capitalism with stock markets. American capitalism is the result of letting everyone buy, sell, and own land, businesses, or products, which are rights not recognized (or overly regulated and restricted, such as making peasants spend twenty years bribing officials to get a deed to your own house and a license to hire people to sew buttons on shirts) throughout much of the non-Western world.

    Socialism only works to the extent it's not implemented, which is one reason why Western Europe scaled it back dramatically. As Margaret Thatcher observed, socialism works until you run out of other people's money (and then you're screwed).

    Under socialism you replace 300 million very engaged brains with a mere hundreds of brains, which is why it always fails. Collectively, people are as dumb as crowds, and there's no way around the problem that the people who step up to think for them them will be the power-mad, narcissistic, Dunning-Kruger idiots. It's an information problem, and no government can collectively process all the information of free people conducting transactions on an hourly basis. It's like thinking you can beat the complexity of a rain-forest ecosystem with a top-down management
    policy that dictates tree height.

    Iraq was a very poor country, dependent on oil revenues handed out by the government, which didn't have much interest in passing the revenues around very freely. We've all seen the pictures. It was a third-world socialist hell-hole with a dysfunctional infrastructure, intermittent electricity and non-existent sanitation. When we invaded, the people there talked about how they remained frozen in the 1970's, as if the world slowed to a stop as Saddam and the Arab socialist Bathists took power. Saddam's inspiration was national socialism and communism. He should've known it wouldn't end well.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Technically that's an oligarchy, but even if you're correct I don't see mercantilism (or oligarchy) and capitalism as being mutually exclusive. One is sort of the evil cousin of the other, sort of like socialism and communism.

    Neither are they GUARANTEED in the West. The difference is we have an "investor class" that controls most of the money and has the incredibly odd ability to use that money to buy MORE money and increase their power without actually DOING anything. Remember, monopolies of various types are also common features in capitalism.

    Read on the rest of my post, actually, where I said essentially the same thing. At its purest form, Socialism SHOULD involve the collective engagement of the entire population, sharing both their money and their knowledge and experience in keeping the economy running smoothly. The reality is that there's no practical way to coordinate that many people without turning all of them into full-time politicians, so socialists wind up sharing their money without actually sharing any control of what happens to it.

    Total agreement. Socialism is the perfect system for a perfect world, which is why it never actually works.

    And it had a fuckton of oil revenues to hand out. And even with the Baath party's unmitigated greed and the Jaba-the-Hut lifestyle of Saddam's family, they still refrained from imposing a centrally planned economy and allowed Iraq to be maintain an otherwise totally free market.

    Don't get me wrong, the Baathists controlled Iraq with an iron fist, socially and politically. They did not as tightly control the MARKET, however, because there simply wasn't a need. They were getting all their bribes, so they were happy; the Boss was getting his tribute, so he was happy. The Sunni oligarchs were up to their armpits in oil revenues, and the shiites were wallowing in poverty where they belonged. As far as they were concerned, the market was doing just fine.

    There was nothing socialist about it, and the breakdown of its infrastructure was an immediate consequence of war ( in particular, the thumping they got in the first Gulf War). The decade-long conflict with Iran didn't do them any favors either, but that at least would have been recoverable... IF Saddam had convinced that Bush Administration to look the other way on Kuwait.

    Yes, THAT was what they talked about. The awful anti-growth socialism of the Baath party.:rolleyes:
     

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