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Sustainable Civilization: From the Grass Roots Up

Sustainable Civilization: From the Grass Roots Up



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Published by unno_20026437
The flow of stored energy needed to operate our infrastructure is ending. Belief in or dedication to a particular ideology may alter individual perceptions, but not physical facts. We need to re-think our civilization from the grass roots up, not bumble blindly on.
The flow of stored energy needed to operate our infrastructure is ending. Belief in or dedication to a particular ideology may alter individual perceptions, but not physical facts. We need to re-think our civilization from the grass roots up, not bumble blindly on.

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Published by: unno_20026437 on Feb 08, 2009
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Sustainable Civilization: From the Grass Roots UpIntroduction - Sustainability Challenges
Our predominant industry, political, and personal paradigms developed in an era of cheapabundant energy, expanding population, andwhat seemed to be unlimited resources. We havegone forth and multiplied (well beyondsustainable numbers) and subdued (perhapsfatally) the Earth.The flow of stored energy needed to operate our infrastructure is ending. Belief in or dedication toa particular ideology may alter individual perceptions, but not physical facts. We need tore-think our civilization from the grass roots up,not bumble blindly on.Do you care about the damage humans continueto do to the global environment?Do you care about plants and animals having a“natural” habitat free of human interference?Do you care about the level of resource wastecommitted by current human society?Do you care about the overall quality of life for each living person?We need to set aside the rigid mindset thatseparates and sees our infrastructure as distinctaspects of biological, structures and otheengineering, and information and intellect. It allneeds to work together with minimal loss of energy in such transformations as are necessary.There are many treatises with theories on howmany people could live on the Earth based onsome minimum life support per person. I
 propose though we ask also, what is theminimum for new healthy generations,
This treatise and the related appendices andtabs represent the opinions and observations of the author, with full credit to the work of allothers referenced. Thanks is given to all who provided input, and further factual critique iswelcome.maintaining community, and the benefits of aneducated technical and developing civilization,with an eye toward providing the best livingconditions per person and opportunities for continued advancement of civilization, whilereducing our impact on such as remains
 of nature.
As we enter a new millennium, humancivilization faces numerous challenges. Much of our present infrastructure and processes are notsustainable. Much of what we do threatens notonly us, but all life on the planet.- Industry pollutes with enduring toxins that notonly kill but alter our DNA.- Fission reactors provide power for a fewdecades, all the while “threatening” to release aradioactive cloud, then require future generationsguard against the dismantled parts for perhaps ahundred thousand years.- We arguably divert one half of the renewableresources of the planet to human uses.- We use non-renewable resources in mannersthat destroy them.- The apparent abundance from hybrid crops isdependent on non-renewable resources andenergy exponentially higher than the energywithin the food.- The farming and food infrastructure depletesthe groundwater, mineral, and biological baseessential for soil to grow healthy natural food.- Easy to mine metals and mineral resources arealready "on the table".- The economy of many nations is based not onactual capability and production of the nation, but on borrowing and inflation of currency.Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine youare traveling on a multi-generation spacecraft, powered by energy radiated from a fusionreactor.
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You have only the biological diversity andresources put on board by the builders. Awhile back people found accumulations of long-storedcomplex molecular feedstock that work asconvenient fuel, and can help certain crops growmore abundant. The burning strains the air recycling system, but people love the extra food, products and services it allows.The dramatic but obviously temporarily increasein the growth of food is met by expandednumbers until even these sources are strained,and continue to increase the population even inthe face of facts that the food surplus cannot lastthe natural lifespan of the present population.It's where we are today.For the moment, our farms still grow sufficientfood to feed everyone. But each new belly tofill, and each gallon of fertilizer and pesticideused, moves us closer to “peak food”. From that point on, the food infrastructure becomes lessand less productive. Without reliable food, suchveneer of civilization as holds back the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" could easilycrumble.The world may appear large, but it is finite. Wecan calculate the available land, water, and other resources, and even our day to day allowance of incoming solar energy. We know the minimumcalorie energy and nutrition required per person,and can calculate the area to grow food based on plant selection and growing conditions.We are facing not any government createdarbitrary currency or policy limit to humanachievement, but the factors of physicalresources, and centrally available energy. Withenough energy, resources can be reworked.Without it we may leave much of the Earth ahigh-tech desert.We can calculate the area required for solar energy to grow industrial materials and fuel, andthe tradeoff in food area. We have calculatedthat we are already diverting to human use one-half of the productive life of the Earth. Whenyou have estimated some basic footprint area per  person, multiplying by 6 billion provides asobering comparison to the available renewableresources of the Earth.The concept of determining the "footprint", or area of naturally recycled resources required to provide for the uses of a person, city, nation, or the global population shows that in almost everydefined area whether political or physical, we are beyond a sustainable population
.Eliminate allhuman resource use that is not "life-support" for a fixed population, and you still findsustainability is at best questionable. The present infrastructure is producing food beyondthat which is calculable for the sustainable input.In general, it would take several additional planets to provide for humanities presentresource use rate.How is this possible? How are we providing for 6+ billion people? Our infrastructure isdependent on the non-renewable withdrawal of the energy valued stored in fossil fuels. Thetimeframe when the first non-renewable yetessential input fails to meet demand is thelifespan of our present civilized infrastructure.Since the fossil fuel era really began, the globalhuman population has increased six fold, nowstanding at more than six billion. We have adeadline and the clock is ticking. Business asusual is suicide. But those who see the problemand speak of it are maligned. Nevertheless thosewho can be awoken must be. To make the bestdecisions and implement the best courses of action we need the best minds at work. It willtake time and significant effort to implementchange.
For those who have suffered thru a review of earlier versions of these written babblings, thank you for the feedback. Everything remains a"work in progress", and if anyone has an interestin this "Sustainable Civilization" or any of theappendices, just send an email request to:unno_2002@yahoo.com
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The admitted U.S. government debt as of September 2007 was $8.965 trillion, and rising.This number represents recognized debt, such asTreasury Bills, Savings Bonds, etc. Every year the amount is growing. But this huge number is just the tip of the iceberg.In 2004 the trustees of Social Security andMedicare projected the current costs of promised payments to be around $74 trillion. Every year,the promises continue to grow, as does the "onthe books" debt. Starting in 2008, the beginningsof the post WWII "baby boom" become eligiblefor their early Social Security payments. If/whenthese people, (who are among the highest tax paying workers) retire, federal tax incomeslumps, even as the promised payments balloon.The federal government does not have the assetsto make existing promised payments with“money” of real value, and politicians have no problem adding to the lies with further promisedof money and benefits.The government CANNOT provide guaranteedfinancial security. The government does notoperate any for-profit business; it operates only by taking money from those who actually create profits, or by appearing to create "money" byinflating the currency, essentially stealing fromanyone who holds the currency of the nation.Remember, unlike a barter currency denominatedin gold, grain, jugs of wine, or kilowatt hour of electricity, there is no inherent recognizabletrade-good value to the U.S. dollar. The dollar only has value for so long as people believe
ithas. Although the dollar is used in trade betweentwo willing parties, never forget that there is thethird party of the government constantlymanipulating the value of the dollar.The economy, ANY economy, goes thru naturalcycles of expansion and contraction, depending
The basis of confidence in the U.S. dollar is theglobal influence of a robust economy of theUnited States, and the influence of ouinternational policies, including militaryinterventions. Without these, global confidencein the dollar would wane, and its value coulddisappear.on the demographics of the population, resourcechanges, technological development, etc.Even if there was unlimited and free fossil fuelto provide the energy to operate the economy,there is no apparent way that the U.S. couldactually pay this debt in real value. The onlyapparent "out" for the government is inflation.This creation of money out of thin aiDESTROYS the value of existing money.There are nations that actually spend less thentax revenues. Of all the nations on the planet,the U.S. is THE WORST in deficit spending. Weannually go into debt more than every other nation on the face of the planet combined.Denying the situation, and actively making itworse, seems insane, unless you realize our  politicians, and our news media, are fully awareof the situation, and the fact there is no sane wayout. Stop the overspending, and the economycrashes now. Announce the promises won't be paid, and there is political fallout, and theeconomy crashes now. Keep churning out the promises, and MAYBE your term
will endquietly, and someone else will have to accountfor the disaster.It's the same with the "peak oil"
 situation.Those who run government and businessesappear determined to run full speed for as longas possible. They have been advised repeatedlyof the problems we face. The rational conclusionis they do not see any solution from the topdown.
A Sustainable Civilization is one where theneeds of the present can be met withoutcompromising the ability of future generations tomeet their own needs. It is one where there arefeedback loops, physical and mental, personal,family, and societal which keep in chec population growth and resource use. It is onewhere resources, physical and energy arebankedas a safety net, and to allowconcentrated large expenditures for improvement projects.
For an expanded review of economics, andaddressing it in your personal affairs, see theEstate and Financial Planning appendix.
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