The Road to Enviro-Economic Ruin?

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Fung Koo, May 5, 2008.

  1. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    I prefer to think of myself as a pragmatic realist ;)

    I'm all for this. 100%, it's what we need. It's a mindset we need to encourage and engender. My question is simply -- how do we do it? Like, how do we really do it? Surely proposing that we go about nude fornicating wantonly isn't the actual answer -- that's more of a result, isn't it?

    The thing is -- to me -- the depth of this question of how we get people to realize that they are a part of the planet appears vastly complex and goes into every element of life. But there could be a lynch pin -- something to create a trickle-down effect through the entire complex. I don't think we can afford to be nice in our approach to the answers. We have to play hardball. But we also have to be devious. We have to think of something that makes people responsible without even realizing that they're being responsible. We're a society of teenagers. We need to be shaped subtly.

    My step-father is a fairly big player in international environmental policy. He heads up water-table management projects across the world, but mostly in China, South America (primarily Peru, Columbia, and Brazil), and India. He's done work in Pakistan and Mongolia, too. So, speaking from what he's told me: no, the vast majority is no more "less than modern" than we are.

    Like us, China has developed and not-so-developed regions. Much of which is for the same reasons we have. Particularly aboriginal/traditional type people, who tend to live in remote areas, are not being modernized with the same attention as the cities. The cities are the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

    As for their pollution record -- yes, it's currently worse than ours. But they've only started to approach post-industrial consumerism as their production model in the past 15 years or so. Whereas we've been doing it since the 40's/50's. We've gone through the dirty stage, realized how dirty it was, and started cleaning up. So it's all well and good for us to criticize them as being terrible polluters, but they're playing at catch up to compete with us. The old omelette and eggs thing.

    I agree again. But we should make sure that we use what we do know to our best advantage and not ignore obvious faults. Like cutting down forests to create fields of solar panels -- probably short sighted. Or covering our wilderness with wind turbines that kill 10's of thousands of birds annually. We need to find a solution that let's us use what we have with lesser detriment. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but isn't the point of this kind of discussion, and of science, to try to put corrective lenses onto foresight?

    When have I ever displayed a knack for succinctness? C'mon now... :D

    OK. As short as I can make it: there are probably a small handful of things we do/have that make our entire way of life work (the two videos were to illustrate the interconnectedness of our basic systems, and the issues each represent). If we try to change one, it will either change the others, or the others will prevent that one from changing. What, in your individual assessment, are the fundamentals that allow our current system to work? What effect will changing them have on both us and the environment (as both separate and connected systems)? And, what might such change mean as it relates to our values?

    Or, as a rough-draft intro/thesis-statement for a paper: "Current environmental science has been roundly accepted by world governments and NGOs that our way of life is threatening our very ability to live into the future. Science fiction has envisioned a future where technology is our saviour, and interstellar colonization disperses humanity throughout the cosmos. Resources are everywhere to be found; utopia might lay around every corner. Fantasy has taken the opposite approach, imaging worlds where magic, mysticism, and faith allow humanity to live within and shape their environment. Technology murders the land, laying in wait to consume everything into a faithless dystopia.

    Ultimately, both brands of Speculative Fiction envision a world where something other than us gives us the power to control our world. Speculative Fiction has been lauded as the last bastion of great ideas -- an open forum for the discussion of the "real" issues. Yet the history of literature also tells us that what is not mentioned is often just as potent as what is. Thus, it is arguable that Speculative Fiction highlights our true sense of powerlessness -- but against whom and what are we powerless? Science contrasted against Speculative Fiction, it seems, tell us it is we who are powerless against us."

    That's gist of it.

    Discuss.

    :cool:
     
  2. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    The basic premise of the thought is this: If a potentially useful environmental service has clients, it will have greater potential of success. Cities, by nature of being more concentrated and composed of demographic areas, are thus more willing and able to subscribe to new services and systemic changes. Rural areas, by comparison, have one nearly-insurmountable problem -- distribution. The practicality of implementing any service or systemic change that makes environmental issues the M.O. will find a larger and more voluntary group of clients in urban areas, and much more diversified, individualized, and geographically distant non-groups in rural areas.

    I fully admit I could be wrong on this, but it makes total sense to me. If you introduced a garbage pickup service that sorted your garbage for you, for example, the ease of implementation would be significantly higher in urban areas. It would also be more effective/profitable overall because of the quantities involved and the localization of the pick-up area. Within a 100km radius, you might have 7 million people. In a rural area, in 100kms you might have only 7000.

    This "no one knows" sentiment is what I don't understand! You've been pointing out how bringing water to arid places has increased the population of the arid areas, and subsequently increased competition for what little of the resource is available (which is only available at all because we forced it to be there). The population that has sprung up around this artificially sourced resource is creating pollution and waste beyond the means of support of that environment. It's forced out the wolves and helped spread the coyotes. How is it that we don't know that it's bad??? Everything you've described sounds like bad, bad, and more bad!!! It has happened. Don't we know it's bad?!?!

    That's why I'm so confused that you're suggesting we do more of it...???
     
  3. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    ...So either I've killed the conversation or you've all run away... :(

    Here's something that perhaps adds an element to this debate. http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,146072-c,internetnetworking/article.html

    The iTunes store has picked up HBO shows. Normally, all downloadable TV shows cost $1.99. This has been rigid iTunes policy since the store's inception. However, 3 of the 6 new HBO shows are to cost $2.99 per episode, and the others remain at $1.99.

    Now, while we value art in a variety of different ways, basic rules of supply and demand have always been applied to art. Single-piece works from the pre-mass production days (read: pre-consumerism) are variably considered "priceless," but auction prices reflect the desirability of the particular singular piece. Mass-produced art has more directly been shaped on the supply:demand ratio. Online content, however, has no basis in the objective-physical world -- it is an infinite supply with infinite distribution potential. Thus, for online content, the supply:demand system is really only the demand system. Or, desirability. It is not, however, without objective-physical consequences.

    The environmental impact from the consumption of the computers we use to watch this content, and from the generation of power required to fuel the entire system:
    http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/environ/hitech_trash/what_to_do.html

    It has been suggested that computers (and electronics in general) have an added deposit tax associated with their purchase that would fund a return system, much like bottle-exchange taxes (Sony is the first corporation to introduce such a platform). Then, a returned computer would result in gaining back a portion of your deposit, while the other part would fund the electronics recycling programs. That does not address the associated environmental cost of the software and digital media, however.

    So, would it be warranted, would it make sense, and would people accept it if there was a per-megabyte e-tax to offset the environmental impact of consumer electronics and their content placed on all domestic internet usage? Or should the producers themselves be forced to build environmental fees into their cost? If so, how does that effect the way we value "invisible" arts like downloadable digital content? If longer shows cost more, environmentally, will it be cost prohibitive to produce such longer material? Or, is there something else we could try?
     
  4. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Been distracted for a few days but feel as if I'm returning to a more normal existence. You gotta love the HCPs.
    The problem in Arizona is insufficient water to support the population. The population won't disappear until the water disappears altogether. What I'm proposing is to discover and implement a solution to the water problem so that it never disappears. Then, the population becomes a "don't care."
    Feeling some cynicism this morning, so I’ll say that some of the people will agree the tax is warranted and all of the people would pay the tax. My reasoning is that we do not like to have our lives disrupted. We do not wish to cede our comfortable life style to anyone or anything. So, we’ll pay whatever it takes to be left alone. What prompts this attitude? Yesterday, was watching the news when a newsreader read off a prepared script that gas prices are high and they are going higher. The report was like this:
    “Four dollars (a gallon) is a done deal now,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill. “We could go significantly above that.”
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12400801/
    So, now we are being carefully prepared for higher gas prices. I know that Europe has more of a gas price problem than we do but is my sense that Europe is better equipped with mass transportation than we are accurate? I suspect they are better prepared sociologically than we are as well. Be that as it may, we are heading for $5/gal prices and there does not appear to be a damned thing we can do about it. Still, it’s okay because if we know about it in advance we can adjust our expenses to cover the anticipated cost. Which is what we do.
    How you gonna get us off our butts to do something, anything?
     
  5. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Part of my problem with this thread is trying to determine who the 'we' is in all of the posts. I used to think I knew who that referred to, but I'm not sure I do any longer. In the USA we had a sense of what it meant to be an American. We used words like pride when we referred to this country. Of course, to each of us it meant something different, but within reason, we all knew what we were talking about. 'We' meant the country that was founded by displaced Europeans, people seeking safety and religious freedom, people seeking new homes and new lives without the fears that the 'old world' presented at each turn. We lived on that conception for a few hundred years. Now, with the world so much smaller and as the USA has changed demographically, who is 'we'? Can we speak for a 'we' any longer?

    So for me, that's the first challenge we have to overcome in this thread if we want to determine what kinds of taxes and changes 'we' would accept today. The aspirations of the population have changed. The self-conception has changed, I believe. And that's crucial in this discussion. The Germans always spoke of a Zeitgeist. What is ours today? And what is our Weltanshauung?
     
  6. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    From my point of view, 'we' is a composite of myself, my family, the people I know, and my estimate of what the rest of the country believes based on the bits and pieces accumulated over time from the various news agencies, magzines, and fiction that I have and continue reading. IOW, 'we' is U.S.ofA. people as I see them.
    I've been observing them critically now for more than 50 years so there is a lot of experience blended into that 'we.' A lot of experience but no claim on the accuracy of my composite. It's just what I think I know.
     
  7. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    Well... as I understand it, the zeitgeist can only be determined after the age has passed. For Baudrilliard, cultural mythologizing in the modern media/consumer culture is an attempt at defining the zeitgeist as a consumable. Which is to say, the product defines the age by what the product defines, which is only itself. Mythologizing as a means to predictively define the zeitgeist is precisely what's causing the weltanshauung to appear so conflicted. Consumer culture attempts to place the zeitgeist as an a priori, so the weltanshauung's role in defining the zeigeist a posteriori is basically defeated by the predictive zeitgeist force of consumer culture.

    But, as I cannot say because I am in the time, this may not be the zeitgeist of our time at all. ;) But, for Baudrilliard, the key is to be aware of mythologies so the weltanshauung can move forward regardless of the distractions.

    One of the classic examples of this sort of thing is the space race. It's one of those moments in history where two distinct groups of people knew who they were. The goal and the idea behind it (weltanshauung) became a driving force in determining a sense of modern nationalism. All the pieces were lined up behind the goal. It even gave the Cold War a kind of legitimacy. Then the USSR fell, and the entire modern age kinda went with it. The mythologizing and culture shaping flattened. And now the pace of production and consumer culture of the 40's-90's has caught up to us and the new goal for society is, ostensibly, the antithesis of that earlier age. Maybe the zeitgeist of the Cold War era is not dead, but is become our new enemy. Tie that to the weltanshauung, and it's no wonder we're so conflicted.

    So, Mr. Wassner, a good point for sure. Especially because with democracy being what it is, there needs to be a majority as a united "we." But...

    I have a question... If weltanshauung can be basically understood as worldview/belief systems, and we identify both nationalism and environmentalism as part of welantanshauung -- in your estimation, how important is accuracy and truth in the weltanshauung?

    Baudrilliard thinks the only hope is to be aware of and expose the mythologies, but it is the mythologies that give ideas their power. Your post is a great example of that -- the sentiment about American history in your post references a very specifically incomplete picture of American history. That is, it references the myth, rather than the "accurate truth" (especially where "religious freedom" is concerned). But it's the myth that has the power, and it's the clarity of the myth you're saying allowed for the commonality and unitedness of the American "we." Now the myth is showing some cracks, and identity is no longer so certain. The house of cards is coming down, if you will, because accuracy and truth is entering the weltanshauung.

    So to turn your query back to you: as an argument in strategy -- in how to best approach creating the "we" majority we (humanity) needs to move forward with "saving" the planet and ourselves along with it -- for the environmental weltanshauung to succeed, which approach would you take? Truth or myth? And why?
     
  8. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    If it was put to a referendum, would you vote for it?

    That's what I'm trying to figure out. But I suspect this discussion is having the opposite effect.
     
  9. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    I am terribly afraid we cannot. Watching the primaries this last year, I see nothing pulling the U.S. together while our media seems intent on pulling us apart.
    When there is no give in a position, there is nothing that can be done to draw folks together. The religious fundamentalists have no give in them; it's a matter of faith after all. The America Firsters have no give in them. The politicians on the right seem to believe "my country, right or wrong" and the ones on the left "my country, wrong." We cannot talk about our history because it offends some folks. We cannot talk about our future because it offends some folks.
    We look at what we were in our founding days and think back to a golden age of thought - except that some people could be considered 2/3 persons but they couldn't vote even that 2/3.
    Do we look ahead? I've listened to a long series of politicians talking about the need for change but none has given me a picture of what we will look like after we change. None has given me a picture of what we look like today. I am left with the "we" I described above.
    Look at the sum total of our exchanges in these threads and see if you can identify a Canadian "we" or a U.S. "we,"
    even a New York "we." Can they be considered an amorphous, conglomerate "we"? Or is the answer to "we" in the Fooster's consumerist demons?
    Does it not bother anyone that "we" can no longer raise an army to fight our just wars? We are buying soldiers. Fortunately, they are not Praetorian but home grown.

    And, yes, Foo, I'd vote for it. That's the easy thing to do: spend money. You haven't got around to asking me the tough things to do - like change my life style.
     
  10. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    If it can really even be claimed to have been a golden age of thought at all, given the apparent stupidity of the great-grandchildren of that age. Despite the enfranchisement issues, the most important principles of American democracy seem to have been forgotten. Like the reason for anti-monopoly laws. Or the second amendment. Or the reasons that European banks were not allowed into the US. Or the reasons why church and state were deemed important to be separate under a nation designed on "united we stand." A golden age that produced... something else entirely.

    The Canadian "we" is most accurately defined as "not American." :) New York? There's definitely a New Yorker.

    This tension you're describing is what I was trying to address in my assertion that we need to pare down the size of our democracies. New York has an identifiable cultural uniqueness, and it's economic demands and output (in terms of both secondary resources and waste) places it in the order of a small nation.

    As a Canadian who grew up split between Toronto and Windsor, Nova Scotia (the true birthplace of hockey, dammit!), I can say with 100% certainty that a Toronto Canadian is not the same as a Windsor NS Canadian. Very similar, sure. Yet we force this identification with such a broad set of sub-cultures that's its weakening our sense of who we are and what we're for. Each are distinct and should be treated as such. But both should also respect each other.

    Which is why I'm so torn on multiculturalism. It's weakening our sense of self by making us multiple. But it's encouraging peaceful coexistence by negating the assertive singular. So I'm really, really, really interested to see how the EU plays out as a multicultural organization, in addition to its effect on trade.

    I think if we can educate the multi-coloured multi-cultured people that just because some of us are of the same skin tone doesn't mean our cultures are the same, then we might get somewhere. But it seems to me that the EU is the only group that has the potential to achieve this right now. Us non-indigenous North Americans, technically, shouldn't even be here -- and that's a whole extra can of worms "we" need to find a way to deal with as we try to define who "we" are. I'm just not convinced that super-sized democracy is the way to go.

    First define a just war. Then I'll find you a talking head that disagrees. There certainly aren't many just wars going on right now. Certainly none the North Americans are involved in.

    Well if I'm in charge you're not getting any more water in your desert. :p So you might wind up changing without me asking you to! ;)

    There's really only a handful of changes that I'd make. I don't think many of them would change your lifestyle much. Shall I give you my grand solution to all the pollution? :D
     
  11. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    It is highly impolite to treat a sarcastic comment literally.:p
    Really? Does that mean no more than we are currently receiving or no more period? If the former, than the current situation continues until it can no longer continue. As the end point nears, people will move in clumps and bunches but the migration ought to be somewhat staggered. If the latter, where in Canada would you like them to re-locate as there is no locale in the U.S. with sufficient water resources to accomodate their needs?
    Yes, you should.
     
  12. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    The 'we majority'. I like the sound of that. Well, maybe not. Let's think about this.

    We're talking about Zeitgeists that shape world views. We're already seeing a spirit of green consciousness, partially foisted upon us by necessity and high oil prices, but also by watching the glaciers start to melt on U-Tube and seeing Polar Bears stranded on broken icepacks.

    A spirit infused the anti-war movement in the 60's, as well as the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and the women's movement. So where and how did it begin?

    People felt stifled by the prevailing prejudices. They wanted to be more expressive and less repressed. Society in general, the Weltanshauung of the times, perpetuated inequality within its conservative, crewcut crowd, and admired conformity. So what changed those who began to rebel? Music? Art?

    There was no environmental threat then, or at least no perceived one. Th threat was to freedom and expression, and then to individual lives when the draft started to take your average college age kid.

    We do have a developing spirit today that manifests itself in environmental concerns and health obsessions. So how do we make this a world prevailing view? Or at least a 'we majority' sensibility?

    Self-preservation

    It happened after 9/11 in NYC and elsewhere. The spirit of the times became a paranoid, aggressive, war-loving one out of fear. And the Weltanshauung has morphed in the Western world from one of tolerance to one of division.

    What could generate a more inclusive 'we majority' today?
     
  13. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    LOL I can always count on you to treat my questions as rhetorical and generate rhetorical questions of your own :p

    I shall respond in all due haste with my plan to SAVE THE WORLD!!! and a policy of proactive eco-friendly zeitgeist manipulations... or propaganda... or coercive marketing... or whatever the nice-sounding word for that stuff is... :D

    Serious answers to sarcastic and rhetorical questions... oh me oh my!
     
  14. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Ideas? I vaguely recall something I thought germain hidden in John Naisbitt’s Megatrends. As I no longer have a copy, my paperback fell apart, I went looking for that book and stumbled across this place: http://www.2enlightenment.com/taxonomy/term/5/9 Without detailed review, the topics and comparisons seem to fit well with this discussion.

    You might also find this blog of interest: http://coyotegray.livejournal.com/
     
  15. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Hmmm, HE. Not sure I find that terribly informative. Interesting maybe. But not necessarily helpful.

    Fung, what do you mean? I'm asking real questions. Serious questions. And serious questions deserve serious answers. :)
     
  16. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    What makes it seem apropos is the identification of where we are to day as Independent (an either/or mindset), self-interested, linear thinkers, static structures, reductionists, practitioners of standard education and accountability, deriving meaning from materialism, primed for competition, acting on prediction and certainty, with cultures intentionally dumbed down (KF’s consumerist society), accustomed to debate issues with the notion that there must be one best answer, and believing unconditionally in representative democracy. That seems a fair summary of everything we’ve been saying in the Applying the Subjective, Education, and this thread.
    If that is a fair summation of where we are today, then this site’s anticipated alternative is depicted in the middle column, much of which seems to be along the lines KF has been advocating, is a possible goal. The site maintains it is part of on-going trends already in motion. Maybe so; maybe not. But, for me, an interesting point of departure for furthering this conversation.
     
  17. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    Ok, here's the basics of what I would do if I was in charge. And if I'm not in charge, what I've considered pitching to my local rep for implementation in the area where I live as a local experiment. (Not all of it, of course, but the relevant bits.)

    To my way of thinking, the basic thing that has to change is how we generate electricity. Just about everything else flows from there.

    First, I'd commission attractively designed small-scale wind turbines for installation on the roofs of every single building. Aesthetics being what they are, they aught to blend in nicely. Then I'd commission a pile of attractively designed solar panels, for the same reasons. This measure alone could probably substitute between 25% and 75% of our existing power usage, hopefully improving over time.

    As a model for infrastructure, this would require that every home have a battery system, and be linked in a web-structure to a central hub. Most cities already have these hubs, so it's simply a matter of reorganizing the distribution and feed, as well as installing additional battery storage for a planned excess of power. The idea here is that if one piece of the web is low in strength, the other parts of the web will hold it up.

    To account for the remaining need and non-ideal weather situations, there still needs to be some centralized power generation. But this system should be able to easily avoid carbon emissions through the use of nature-based technologies.

    To that end, I'd explore the viability of installing a few more hydroelectric dams, as well as some tidal-electric fans. By now, the big dams of the past have been around long enough that we know that the environmental impact is relatively short term. The local habitat simply adjusts to a new body of water, and downstream the local habitat adjusts to decreased water levels by moving upstream. I'd try to create large (100km+) greenbelts around the artificial lakes as natural aquifers/wildlife areas.

    If they were open to it, I'd ask First Nations groups to explore the possibility of hosting, running, and overseeing the new dams (or alternatives). I'd do so in part as recognition of the impact of such systems on their way of life, but also to encourage the development of infrastructure and the influx of expertise to the rural areas. I figure that by providing them with off-grid power as above, that also increases the independence of rural communities. For people of the First Nations, it should hopefully be perceived as an olive branch to hand them a certain amount of power over the rest of us invaders. Give them control of the switch, give them a voice with power behind it. Not perfect compensation, but perhaps a start.

    If not dams, then I'm thinking geothermal is probably smart. Between geo and hydro, that should be enough to cover the remaining energy needs. I'd like to experiment with a space tether and see how it works. If it doesn't suck all the lightning out of the sky, infinite power will have arrived.

    Along with all this will be a clarification of taxation on all consumed goods. There will be a recycling deposit tax on everything. You buy it, you pay for it to get turned back into natural organic material. The less easily recyclable the material, the higher the tax to offset its recycling. At the corporate/production level, I'd introduce a tax break incentive for any corporation that runs its own recycling program that adheres to the minimum standard of 100% total recyclability. In theory, this will cause the people who make the goods in the first place to make their goods easily recyclable.

    In practice, this probably means increases in illegal dumping. So I guess I'll need to hire an army of inspectors. Inspector positions will be 6 year posts, maximum, and no more than 2 years in any one geographic area or industry sector.

    For emissions, I think we need to develop a standard unit of pollution. To do so, the basis of the amount will be the average animal production of natural toxic emissions per day. This is based on the "return to earth" idea, which relies essentially on the notion that humanity in the wild will still pollute a certain amount, but that the biosphere is designed to process natural waste. i.e -- Homeostasis.

    Each unit of emissions/waste will be measured against that amount and charged accordingly. Partly to pay the poor hippie kids who will plant the tree to compensate for the emissions, and partly to fatten the government coffers off the senseless waste (to be returned in clean-up projects). Non-recyclable goods will have a hefty storage tax, pending the development of an adequate recycling technique. So I'd charge a flat rate on emissions per unit, independent of who you are or what you do. That should create some incentive for the auto manufacturers, as well as industry.

    So that should about handle emissions. Cars should be smaller and universally electric hybrid. They'll be powered by the new grid and factored into the per-person quota, so they are no extra burden on the system. Hybrid with what though, I'm still not sure. Fryer grease? But the goal will be 100% electric, and as soon as possible.

    For mass and distance transportation, I'd like to examine the possibility of improving and modernizing the rail system.

    I'd put a lot of funding into colonizing the moon and mars -- the theory here being that if we can devise an enclosed self-sustaining environmental management system that isn't on earth, the resulting environmental technologies will be highly valuable in reversing what damage has been done to our system. At the very least, it will help us better understand environmental nuances and produce better environmental management and recycling technologies.

    I'm thinking that to do this, we've probably got to open space up fully to the private sector. Unpleasant, I know. But I think necessary. Then the private sector can employ individuals with expertise outside of military channels, which should hopefully improve the complexity of expertise going on out there. And the space industries will be subject to all the same rules as everyone else.

    Then, I'd get into talks with the national treasury and try to devise a fundamental change to the nature of currency. I'm inclined to think it should be based on energy. One dollar equals one kilowatt equals 100 calories. Something like that (obviously will need tweaking). Make money worth the two major fundamentals of modern existence -- electricity and food. This idea is still in the "hmmmm" stages, though. As a basis for economic value, I think that's a decent platform on which to approach the total economy. But I'm open to alternate suggestions.

    For the military, I'd like to explore modernizing some lower-tech solutions to modern problems. If the situation in Afghanistan is any indication of how future wars will evolve over time, then I think using "green" based power in our military camps will create green infrastructure in those areas. Decentralization may improve defensibility and enhance local development. However, I suspect certain concession to old and dirty technologies will have to be made. This too has to be open for suggestions. But I don't think it's unfeasible to ask the military to incorporate green technologies where appropriate.

    And that's about it.

    Trickle down changes I would expect to see would include greater self-management and self-governance, hopefully with less overall reliance on federal level public works and centralized infrastructure. If a community has extra power at their disposal, that power can be sold out of the local grid to industry and infrastructure, or to beautify the local area. Even to put heaters into driveways if that was deemed a help in winter.

    Other advantages I see pertain to defense in that a decentralized energy system of this sort makes terrorist or normal military attacks on the power grid virtually pointless. The maintained centralized station remain a vulnerability, but become more easily defensible due to the decreased reliance on centralized power.

    One of the basics of this whole idea is that we need to steer away from trying to create permanent, perfect solutions. NASA is currently the pinnacle of this ideology, but we see it everywhere. We have the capability to build things that will last much longer than us, but I think it is both economically and environmentally advisable to focus on shorter-term life cycles for our constructions. The pace of development and consumerism simply doesn't jive with permanence. If we shift toward a modifiable and maintenance-form of construction, this should improve our ability to detect flaws in our constructions and their effects. It also more readily allows us to make changes in the event of mistakes. The fundamental paradigm shift here is recognizing that what we do today can affect the future, and not always in a good way. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. We need to build things that are easy to take down and recycle if required, but good enough to last with proper maintenance.

    That should also generate an entire industry based on performance assessment and optimization. I would expect that by decentralizing the power grid, we'd increase the size of the energy industry. This would create a greater requirement on local expertise, hopefully increasing the number of community level maintenance technicians.

    So... pull it to shreds! :D
     
  18. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    Well, in the States, it will have to be on political lines. If someone in the private sector threatens to take economic-environmental leadership away from the White House bubble, you can bet there will be hell to pay. American politics has shaped the system such that no private sector action goes forward without a nod, which is one of the many reasons why American democracy is becoming more and more of a farce. It's become a semi-transparent form of fascism as far as domestic policy goes. And that, I'm afraid, is the root of the problem in the US.

    We have this in a slightly lesser form in Canada, but we have a 4+ party system here, so this partisan hackery you see in the US isn't quite as bad (though it still exists). When a political party's only real reason for existence is to oppose the opposition, it's not really acting in any interest but in maintaining the existing system. It's false controversy, over and over again. So no matter what anyone suggests for everyone to get behind, the opposition will simply oppose it on principle.

    So for the States, I think the democratic party needs to fold. It's completely useless. McCain will win the election. As an alternative in an ideal world, McCain would leave the Republicans and run independently with Hillary as his co- or vice-president. They need to do it on the principle that the existing system cannot produce results. I think that would appeal to many voters, as most people are probably uncomfortable with feeling like they're in a high-school gang from the 50's greaser era.

    If they can do that, and then establish a voting base under them, then they could generate a third political party with a viable basis for significant inclusion in the house of reps.

    But this is, of course, a pipe dream and will never happen.

    But if the democratic party simply folded itself into the Republican party, then we'd see some real democracy in action. A one-party system would cause a conniption, but given the present state of American politics, it's probably the best thing that could happen right now to create change. It would be the boldest strong arm move ever made by a political party in history.

    Again, total pipe dream.

    So for you Americans... frankly, I think you're screwed. The culture is based on red or blue, and neither option is a good one. No "we majority" can exist in a system based on unnecessary and false opposition. The fact that you've had nearly continuous political campaigning for the entire second term of Bushy is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Politics has become nothing more than entertainment. Oy....

    So in short, unless something happens to shake up the system by some major players, you're doomed to more of the same.

    The "we majority"... "we" majority need to oppose the very system that gives us power. Zoinks!
     
  19. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    It's interesting to me to hear other's interpretations of where and how America has failed at democracy. I work in small business. It hasn't failed there at all. I finance entrepreneurs and private business owners, artists, creative people. Small business is thriving.

    What I sense from your posts, Fung, is a very modernized Big Brother is Watching system.

    We need to identify the magnitude of the problem. When necessity demands a government mandated rule for everything we consume, buy, eat, everywhere we travel etc, then we reached that point that I mentioned before - that 'necessity' point that is governed by questions of survival. Self-preservation.

    But questions of self preservation and worries about it can shape the Zeitgeist in the long run.
     
  20. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    I'm Canadian... America is the greatest 24/7 reality TV show on the air. Y'all are the Truman Show to us. We're all armchair experts on you people!

    And the view from the inside is always different from the view outside. When I lived in Australia and England, the differences in journalism about Canada was intriguing. Comparatively, though, internal local media about Canada versus international media about Canada is fairly equal. Whereas local media in the USA compared to international media..... that's something else entirely. It's almost night and day.

    And living north of you people means we meet an awful lot of you. And we Canucks notice one thing overwhelmingly... you have no idea why we criticize you. And that alone is reason enough to suspect that America is not what it thinks it is.

    Reeeeeeeeally???? Hmmm... that's very interesting to me, since right now I'm involved in fighting a work place privacy law contravention. All very much about Big Brother... :eek:

    Everything I suggested is anti-Big Brother to me. In fact, the measures I've described were all designed to thwart Big Bro. So what exactly are you taking as Big Brotherly????

    :confused: