backback sitemapsitemap ecoglobe Basic environmental & socio-economic facts

[Also see: key facts A glossary of terms and concepts [E, D, F]]
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  1. Premises (basic "truths")
  2. Sustainability
  3. Sustainable development
  4. "Green" (growth, economy, etc.)
  5. Job creation & Poverty reduction
  6. Globalisation and "free trade"
  7. Growth (economic expansion)
  8. Efficiency, "decoupling", "rebound"
  9. Services & "dematerialisation"
  10. "Degrowth" ("décroissance")
  11. Mobility & transportation
  12. Energy & peak oil
  13. Climate change & "renewable" energies
  14. Peak resources & overshoot
  15. Population growth
  16. Food & GMOs for 9 billion by 2050
  17. Technology & innovation
  18. HOT - Hope Optimism Technology
  19. Human nature ("people want more")
  20. Some images
    Premises:   top
  1. The earth is finite. We are bound to this planet and its resources.
  2. All accessible resources are finite, either in absolute quantity or in flow rates.
  3. We must share resources with other beings since we depend on the continued functioning of the interdependent web of life.
  4. Todays problems can only be handled with todays knowledge and techniques.
  5. Hope, optimism, and yet-to-be-invented technology cannot replace action.
  6. Technology cannot replenish depleted resources, nor revive extinct species.
  7. Beware of definitions and models that violate these premises.
    [Please let us know if and why you would disagree Feedback form, opens in new window...] top next: sustainability
    Issues:  top [For more details see sitemap (search), ecostories, A glossary of terms and concepts [E, D, F], or click on the linked images at the bottom.]
  1. top Sustainability is the quality (characteristic) of a society that can carry on for a very long time without changing its lifestyles. A sustainable society does not use resources faster than nature (the earth) needs for regeneration. top
  2. top "Sustainable development" excludes continued expansion ("growth"), since resources are finite. In practice, "development" means "more". Therefore "sustainable development" is often seen as an oxymoron.
    The economy is part of society and both together are located within nature (the earth) If people in poor areas need better lifestyles, this development must be compensated by lifestyle contraction in the richer areas. Otherwise we are increasing our speeds of resource depletion.
    [The "normal" Brundtland definition of "sustainable development" - three equivalent pillars: environment, economy, and the social - is flawed and not valid, because the socio-economic entity is located in and fully dependent on the environment. Compare: sustainabilitysustainability...] top
  3. top "Green" is a color only, with an amplitude of approx. 60 nanometres. IF "green" is meant to be "sustainable" or "good for the environment", then the scientifically correct definition for "sustainability" is applicable.
    A "green economy" or a "green technology" must consume resources at speeds that do no exceed the time that Nature (the earth) needs for regeneration. No technology and almost none of our modern economic activities can be called "green". Using the "green" word is delusive, creating the false impression of sustainability.
    "Green Growth" is nonsense. top
  4. Job creation and Poverty reduction are the most frequent reasons mentioned to promote economic growth. Both are laudable goals. Yet economic growth does not necessarily produce jobs. Importantly, growth increases the pressure on the planet, which is already hugely overloaded. Therefore poverty reduction must be achieved by other means, such as redistribution. top
  5. top Globalisation and "free trade": The WTO - World Trade Organisation, represents most countries. They believe so-called "free trade" is leading to more economic growth, more employment, and the elimination of poverty.
    Because of deminishing natural resources (fuels, water, biodiversity, minerals, etc.) and increasing pollution (climate changing greenhouse gases, chemicals, radioactivity) growth will stop. Compare: The WTO by 2022 - ceteris paribus?
  6. top Growth, or economic expansion, increases the use of materials and energies, mostly non-renewable. Always. Decoupled and other "sustainable" growth models are unscientific fiction. Cf. Efficiency. top [Das Wachstumsvirus]
  7. top "Efficiency, "decoupling", "rebound" ... A higher material efficiency does factually reduce the GDP, ceteris paribus, i.e. for the same production quantity. Cf.: "decoupling"
    The rebound effect is a social phenomenon, meaning that savings in one area of life will be used for expansion in the same or in other areas. But the effect does not invalidate the fact that higher material efficiencies do reduce environmental impacts and the GDP.
  8. top "Services" are often wrongly believed to lead to a "dematerialisation" of the economy and to be less resource-intensive, whilst still allowing economic growth. Compare the "music lessons"
    Dematerialisation of our society is a fairy tale. We cannot live without material stuff.
    Services are often very resource consuming, like transportation. The only difference between goods and services is that a buyer of a service does not become the owner of the product, be it a haircut or a leased aircraft or a subway trip. [What are Services?"]
    Whatever work we do, "Growth" counts the difference in Gross Domestic Product between two periods. As the GDP is measured in money, which in turn represents material resources, any growth will increase material use.
    Music lessons take the energy and equipment for the lessons, which is far less than the factory needed to produce a physical product.
    If the music is made in stead of producing a motor car (if sounds are produced in place of 1200 kg of metal, glass and plastics), this reduces the resource use, thereby reducing the GDP, the opposite of what growth proponents want.
    A redefinition of GDP does not change the fact that "growth" (products, population) means "more" (resources used, people).top
  9. top The economy is part of society and both together are located within nature (the earth) "Degrowth" is a fuzzy and scary concept. Some "degrowth" proponents say it means the reduction of social differences. But mere redistribution does not reduce our environmental pressures.
    Others remain unclear whether it means less growth, stopping growth (zero growth), or economic (lifestyle) contraction. Presently growth is still the prevailing ideology and even zero-growth is almost automatically rejected because our present societal structures require growth to function. top
  10. top "Mobility" and Transportationtop
  11. top "Energy" and peak oiltop
  12. top "Climate change" and "renewable energies" top
  13. top "Peak resources" and "overshoot"top
  14. top Population growth increases the pressure on the resources. More people means less resources per capita, i.e. less space, less food, less water, less consumerables. More people create more pollution, more resource depletion, more misery. Population growth is the biggest taboo. Together with the growth ideology it constitutes the total increasing impact on our planet: Impact=Population x Affluence. Affluence is lifestyle= resource consumption per capita. "A" includes Technology. Often the equasion used is I=PxAxT. The separate mentioning of T is justified because the T increases the speeds of resource use and depletion. Some people wrongly believe T is decreasing our impact. top
  15. top Food "for 9 billion people by 2050"top
  16. top Technology and "innovation"The Technology factor of I=PxAxT"Technology of I=PxAxT top
  17. top HOT Hope Optimism Technologytop
  18. top Human
Compare: NON SEQUITUR - Growth illusions
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