Print

Print


Foreign Policy, according to long time activists and observers, is a US magazine that has consistently in the past been the place where new directions/features in US foreign policies are first spelled out.

This makes the following article particularly alarming:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/04/life_after_death

It highlights a study by two economists, and essentially said that the Black Death of the 14th century - which wiped out between one-third and one-half of the continent's population - was the cause of Europe's prosperity, its rise from "global backwater", and the "foundations of modern Western civilization".

Judging from the abstract of the Black Death study (full article: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/nico.v/Research/Horsemen_REStud.pdf), it seems all it claimed is that their model is consistent with the following:
Population reduction of the Black Death lead to higher wages for labor, which lead to higher purchasing power, which lead to higher demand for urban products, therefore expansion of urban centers, the filthiness of which lead to more deaths, aided by wars, leading to even more urbanization, and higher per capita incomes, without technological change.
So urbanization and higher monetary income values are equated to the “Rise of Europe” (not surprising given that it's done by two economists).  It seems to me that this interpretation is only suitable for that historical time, even if one accepts that higher monetary income equates "rise" of a civilization.  Today our problems are very much associated with urbanization, industrialization, and the replacement of natural riches with monetary/artificial riches.

I also suspect that the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, as well as some earlier Greek philosophical thoughts, DID indeed profoundly shape the direction European civilization and thought process undertook, in terms of how it viewed the natural world, human relations to it, how to quest for knowledge about it, etc.  

What is truly alarming though, is the fact that Foreign Policy chose to highlight such a study, wholly uncritical of its findings, and paired it with another one that predicted that high death rates from HIV could lead to higher incomes in South Africa (in future generations, through simulation study).  It ended with a very suggestive statement: "Fortunately, no one's yet gone all apocalyptic when searching for a solution to Europe's current economic woes."

Maggie


From: Lance Olsen <[log in to unmask]>
To: maggie zhou <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: Climate And Biodiversity <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 8:40 AM
Subject: Thinking beyond apocalypse: Consequences of human dieoff

Human population has long been subject to a now-familiar controversy.
While many have pointed out that human overpopulation sets the stage
for conflict of many kinds, others have pooh-poohed such concerns and
insist instead that human underpopulation is the real concern.

More recently, questions have arisen over a potential crash of the
human population -- or even extinction -- if emissions from fossil
fuels push global average temperatures above 2 Celsius. This risk is
for many the most disturbing of the questions raised by a world where
the heat is clearly rising. And it will be miserable indeed for the
many who will be affected during their own lifetimes.

But, looking beyond the generations affected directly as large parts
of the planet become uninhabitable, what might the consequences be
for the subsequent generations? Here too, we face controversy over an
intrinsically sensitive question. But the topic of human life after
human dieoff has not been entirely neglected by the behavioral/social
sciences, and economists have been leading the discussion. Now,
Foreign Policy reviews the possiblities, and points to some reading
that many of us will and should take seriously.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/04/life_after_death

--
-------------------------------------------------
"He who knows he has enough is rich."
Lao-Tzu
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The first commandment of economics is: Grow. Grow forever. Companies
get bigger. National economies need to swell by a certain percent
each year. People should want more, make more, earn more, spend more
-- ever more."

Donella Meadows, co-author, Limits to Growth

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
" ... all of us, including scientists, will have to give serious
thought to the notion that economic growth and true sustainable
long-term wealth may now be antithetical."

Kurt Cobb, "Should Scientists Embrace Economic Growth?" Scitizen, 16 Oct, 2007
<http://www.scitizen.com/stories/Future-Energies/2007/10/Should-Scientists-Embrace-Economic-Growth/>
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
=============================
"If we are concerned about our great appetite for materials, it is
plausible to increase the supply, to decrease waste, to make better
use of the stocks that are available, and to develop substitutes. But
what of the appetite itself? Surely this is the ultimate source of
the problem. If it continues its geometric course, will it not one
day have to be restrained? Yet in the literature of the resource
problem this is the forbidden question. Over it hangs a nearly total
silence. It is as though, in the discussion of the chance for
avoiding automobile accidents, we agree not to make any mention of
speed!"

John K. Galbraith. "How much should a country consume?"
In Jarrett, Henry (editor), Perspectives on Conservation.
John Hopkins Press. 1958
================


















_______________________________________________
ClimateAndBiodiversity mailing list
[log in to unmask]
User Options: http://confluence.bigskynet.org/mailman/options/climateandbiodiversity/mzhou_us%40yahoo.com
List Information:
http://confluence.bigskynet.org/mailman/listinfo/climateandbiodiversity

===============================

PURPOSES OF THE CLIMATE AND BIODIVERSITY LIST:

To gather and transmit information about the ecological impact of global warming and its consequence in the form of a changing climate. This transmittal is for the benefit of the conservation and science communities and, by extension, the general public.  The related topic of how to reduce emissions, although crucially important to conservation and economic policies, will be left for other forums.

To facilitate free discussion without adherence to a "party line," messages posted by members of this list represent only the opinions of those individual members and may not reflect the opinions of all members or the list's founders.

FAIR USE NOTICE:

[log in to unmask] sometimes circulates copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is being made available for purposes of education and discussion of the ecological impact of global warming . We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in relevant national laws.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in human and environmental rights for educational, scientific, personal and non-commercial use only.

All efforts are made to provide accurate, timely pieces, though ultimate responsibility for verifying all information rests with the reader. [log in to unmask] cannot guarantee that the information it circulates is complete and correct or be liable for any loss incurred as a result of its use.

Nor can [log in to unmask] be responsible for any subsequent use of the material. Anyone intending to use this material for commercial or other purposes not covered by Title 17 U.S.C Section 107 must contact the copyright holder for permission.