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April 2, 2009 9:58 AM   Subscribe

For a New Green Society Manifestos on bright green environmentalism. Bright green environmentalism, which is comparable to technogaianism, stands in contrast to light green environmentalism, which focuses on lifestyle changes, and dark green environmentalism, which focuses on political changes; sustainable technology. [via mefi projects]
posted by kldickson (69 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm. It seems that I could be called a "techogaian", but I wouldn't dare self-identify as such. Does there have to be a such a flailing attempt at cleverness for everything or can people just say things like they are "striving for a balanced outlook"?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:02 AM on April 2, 2009


We're already failing to adequately feed 15% of the global population - and that's with the inflated yields made possible by petroleum-based [hence, non-renewable] fertilizers and pesticides.

To my mind, any environmentalism that doesn't have population control as its first, second, and third most important objectives isn't something that can be taken seriously.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


For environmentalists, they sure do seem to waste a lot of time and words trying to name themselves.
posted by Muddler at 10:20 AM on April 2, 2009


"I realized if I sold my S.U.V. it would just be bought by someone else who would almost certainly drive it a lot more than I would," said Ms. Hess, who drives less than 25 miles a day. "There still isn't one less S.U.V. on the planet," she said, with a hint of frustration.

Glad to see someone vocalizing this.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:22 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


british racing green technology
posted by poppo at 10:23 AM on April 2, 2009


Contrary to the Projects commenter, I hate how the pages are in alphabetical order, at least if the numbers are supposed to mean anything.

Also, I can't wait for the vicious librarian crowd here to get a hold of this:

Art is Waste: Recycle It!

The museums and libraries of the world are littered with art and text no one loves.

posted by echo target at 10:24 AM on April 2, 2009


Is there something clever I'm not getting about the navigation of the first link? It seems almost deliberately confusing.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:24 AM on April 2, 2009


technology environmentalism

way to ruin your joke poppo
posted by poppo at 10:24 AM on April 2, 2009


Oh good, I was worried that efforts to save the planet weren't going to be stopped by circular firing squads.
posted by DU at 10:25 AM on April 2, 2009


In a stunningly unfortunate collision seemingly borne of the crossed trajectories of Dawkins' damning designation for atheists and the self-destructive urge towards ideological taxonomy and subdivision, I present to you the lacto-ovo-ichthy-vegetarianism of ecological conservatism, Bright! Green! Environmentalism!

Manifesto away, kids, manifesto away.
posted by adipocere at 10:25 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: echo target:

Oh. Me am not so much with the smartitude.

Still, though. Why do that?
posted by hifiparasol at 10:26 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


echo target: I can't wait for the vicious librarian crowd here to get a hold of this

About half the people I had read this over before I sent it off to FANGS were librarians and their reaction to "the museums and libraries of the world are littered with art and text no one loves" and "anyone who has been in the stacks of a library or a museum’s storage facility can hardly escape being struck by the immense amount of cultural detritus our forebears have left us" was basically: "oh god yes."
posted by Kattullus at 10:31 AM on April 2, 2009


Actually, echo target, I think kattulus is on to something with "Art is Waste." The destruction of art is a well known phenomenon - Franz Kafka mailed out his manuscripts and instructed those in receipt of them to burn them on his death. He understood that it was all crap, and he didn't want it lurking around to haunt his memory for all eternity. I love Kafka. And I interpret the fact that some of the work survived in the same way most people interpret the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham would have killed Isaac, and that was the point. Kafka would have had his manuscripts burned. What happens after the fact is wholly secondary to the acceptance of the inevitable death of art.

The end of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" talks about this too - how desperately we cling to the concept of immortality and the ridiculous things we do in the hopes of attaining it. Katullus knows we're already infinite, and reminds us of this at the very beginning - Human bodies are biodegradable and will return their constituent atoms back to nature. When we attempt to build monuments to ourselves, our minds, our physical or political prowess, we are egging the universe on. We're secretly substituting a goat for our son, in the hopes that God wont notice.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:38 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bright-green environmentalism.

Ah, piggy-backing on the success of Dawkins's "Brights."
posted by grobstein at 10:41 AM on April 2, 2009


I read bright to mean "electrified" - which is a serious issue that needs resolving in the environmental community.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:46 AM on April 2, 2009


Ms. Hess, who drives less than 25 miles a day...

ms. hess needs to start riding her fucking bicycle.
posted by klanawa at 10:50 AM on April 2, 2009


"Ms. Hess, who drives less than 25 miles a day..."

ms. hess needs to start riding her fucking bicycle.
posted by klanawa at 10:50 AM on April 2 [+] [!]


Maybe there are hills?
posted by Smarson at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2009


If you can really argue that art is waste, well, every single human endeavor out there is waste too. I won't pretend that it's worthwhile to to preserve all of it, but saying that it's not worthwhile to preserve any of it is a funny thing for someone with the handle greekphilisophy to argue.
posted by echo target at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2009


I am with Joe Beese.

Bright white environmentalism here we come. Why white? Because that is the color of the mountain of skulls created by the gigadeaths required to bring the human population down to sustainable levels. Why bright? Because that's how skulls bleach out when you leave them exposed to the desert sun for a decade or two.

I'm registering the Pro-Death Party right now. Ask us about our abortion stance!
posted by adipocere at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2009


light green environmentalism, which focuses on lifestyle changes, and dark green environmentalism, which focuses on political changes

People really need to stop thinking these are exclusive.
posted by regicide is good for you at 11:02 AM on April 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


If art is not biodegradable it is pollution.

The Parthenon is a pollution? The Bhagavad Gita is a pollution? The Easter Island Moai is a pollution? The recordings of Mississippi John Hurt are a pollution?

We live in different worlds, you and I. It's possible to preserve what is good without running away from mortality.
posted by echo target at 11:06 AM on April 2, 2009


"I realized if I sold my S.U.V. it would just be bought by someone else who would almost certainly drive it a lot more than I would," said Ms. Hess, who drives less than 25 miles a day. "There still isn't one less S.U.V. on the planet," she said, with a hint of frustration.

Glad to see someone vocalizing this.


It's a valid point that getting rid of an S.U.V. doesn't remove it as a source of carbon emmissions, but using that as a reason to keep driving it is kind of a rationalization. The impact isn't the same as completely removing it from use, but it is possible to estimate the real impact. If she trades in her S.U.V. for a brand-new high-MPG hybrid, for example:

Pros
- Her personal gas usage will be reduced, probably by at least half.
- Buying a hybrid car rewards car manufacturers that are producing hybrids, and penalizes those who are not.
- Putting another S.U.V. into the used car market reduces the demand for new ones. The person who buys her used S.U.V. might have otherwise bought a new one.

Cons
- The person who buys her used specific S.U.V. might have otherwise bought a higher mileage vehicle.
- Manufacturing and transporting a new hybrid car consumes resources.

There are probably other important things that I didn't list. The point is that just because selling an S.U.V. doesn't actually have one of the benefits that someone might assume doesn't mean that it should be rejected outright without giving it more thought.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:13 AM on April 2, 2009


joe beese, adipocere -

Unless we expand into space first, AMIRITE?!

If we don't voluntarily start controlling population numbers, Earth's going to do it for us. Carrying capacity exists.
posted by kldickson at 11:25 AM on April 2, 2009


Smarson:
As a daily biker, I have to say that 25 hilly miles is not so hard to bike. Maybe it will be hard for the first month or so if you didn't bike before, but with a halfway decent bike, anybody without a serious health problem could do it.
posted by idiopath at 11:27 AM on April 2, 2009


greekphilosophy, did you deliberately choose to illustrate the "art is trash, let it rot" thesis with texts that are ~100, ~2000, and ~2700 years old respectively, or was that irony a happy accident?

As a literary-historian-in-training who loves without exception each and every one of those pieces of "art and text no one loves" (even the ones I also hate), I think it's a mistake to identify the urge to preserve art with the urge to "build monuents to ourselves." One could argue that the care and conservation of art, even art we don't like and that no one will ever look at, is one of the most powerful models, within culture, for the sort of unselfish dedication we need to bring to our relationship with the planet--we must work to care for and sustain the planet, even if we have no particular personal stake in the outcome, even if we'll never set foot in a rain forest, even if we hate polar bears, etc.

This is obviously a secondary issue at best, since art-pollution is pretty low on the list of urgent environmental problems demanding action right now. But the leap in Kattullus' original piece from the essential truth that "All meaning exists in time" to the tendentious claim that "The disintegration of a piece of art or literature should be its point" betrays a certain presentism and a willful reduction of the various ways in which things can "exist in time." Species also exist in time--should their disintegration be their point, too?

(Sorry this is so all over the place!)
posted by DaDaDaDave at 11:33 AM on April 2, 2009


We're looking at a population peak, not an ever-climbing spire of starving children shot out of octo-wombs. On the high end, that's 8.5 billion people, more than the 6.7 billion today. On the low side, only 6 billion.

The concerns should not focus on sheer number of people, as population drops with increased education in post-industrial societies, but should look towards consumption and product life-span.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


> We're already failing to adequately feed 15% of the global population - and that's with the inflated yields made possible by petroleum-based [hence, non-renewable] fertilizers and pesticides.

You are assuming this is solely an issue of limited resources because somehow we can't grow enough food for everyone. When it appears (hey, over in the Green) there is enough food to feed everyone. If anything, the problem with those not being fed is because of political and business reasons, and nothing to do with the 'carrying capacity' of the earth itself.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:36 AM on April 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


filthy light thief, I think the idea of constructing buildings for eventual disassembly is a great one. At the same time, the construction methods would really only work in certain areas - San Francisco, for example, is not a good place to use this.

Perhaps reusable building materials? Concrete materials that can be melted down and reused?
posted by kldickson at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2009


Also, I wonder how much it would cost to cover the floor of Chicago-O'Hare airport with piezoelectric tiles and how much electricity it would generate. It would certainly put a big dent in electric consumption if various types of buildings were required to install piezoelectric flooring - say, buildings that by necessity have high traffic.
posted by kldickson at 11:43 AM on April 2, 2009


Oh, no, kldickson, I am not one of those whackos who thinks that expanding into space will help. As a strategy, it doesn't deal with population concerns so much as it just infects other places with the exact same problem. See my previous comment.

And the fact that a "hump" may exist to our currently projected population rates means little if the hump is dramatically over the carrying capacity of humans on the Earth. I have seen estimates ranging from 250 million to 2 billion. Even if we glide down to a billion through some miracle of self-restraint, we may have lowered the carrying capacity of the Earth for a century or two, so we would have to shoot even lower. Of course, we can get more people out of the numbers as long as we keep them hungry, miserable, sick, and dirty.
posted by adipocere at 11:51 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


As much as I wish to let the text stand on its own let me clarify one point. I am not saying smash the old but rather make the new smashable. I say in the essay: "Since all of it has been bequeathed to us as beloved heirlooms it is our moral obligation to safeguard them against the natural process of decay even though their import has eroded away" and I believe that. I'm not saying that we should blow up the Parthenon (the Venetians already did that and besides that it is nothing but the skeletal remains of the painted, bustling temple the ancient Athenians made). I'm not telling anyone to torch a library or graffiti the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. What I'm saying is that the artists and writers of today should make art and literature that has its inevitable erosion built into it, that it should be a part of its meaning and I'm providing ideas as to how one might go about doing that. This idea of "planned evanescence" comes straight from Bruce Sterling's viridian design principles. In fact, as I mention in the projects post this whole essay is heavily influenced by viridianism. So are the bright greens, incidentally. I was trying to carry the ideas of viridianism, which was largely design oriented, into art and literature.
posted by Kattullus at 11:56 AM on April 2, 2009


I'm having trouble seeing how constructing buildings for disassembly would be an advantage. I don't know of any major (more than local) environmental problems caused by need of construction materials. Wood is renewable, steel is already recycled, and cement isn't too hard to come by. Sure, cement is wasted when we have to replace it, but the polar bears aren't endangered because there's cement in the landfills.

I don't mean to come off as too harsh on environmental solutions, but you have to consider the cost-benefit ratio. Making buildings with knock-down hardware is just going to make any new construction astronomically expensive.
posted by echo target at 11:59 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


mrzarquon: "If anything, the problem with those not being fed is because of political and business reasons, and nothing to do with the 'carrying capacity' of the earth itself."

To whatever extent that's true, it seems that increasing population pressure would only exacerbate those issues.

As for space, I think it was Wendell Berry who glumly observed that, having despoiled our home planet, there's everyone reason to think we would begin doing so with the rest of the universe - were we given the opportunity.

Given that the Apollo astronauts left their bags of trash on the Moon...
posted by Joe Beese at 12:00 PM on April 2, 2009


I'm registering the Pro-Death Party right now.

You are off to a really late start (gets super NSFW fast).

Are you enjoying the doom rocking thread your little collection of manifestos is inspiring, Kattullus?
posted by nanojath at 12:08 PM on April 2, 2009


To whatever extent that's true, it seems that increasing population pressure would only exacerbate those issues.

It's not true only to some extent--it's totally true. There were plenty of grain supplies to alleviate the famines in Ethiopia a while back, for instance, but they were left to rot in storehouses for political/economic reasons. And meanwhile, in the 20th century US farmers often received subsidies not to harvest their crops. Now that all earth's resources are potentially available to people in any region on earth, market failures and politics are what starve people, not the earth. And on the contrary, I think increasing population pressure would eventually alleviate some of the problems. After all, it's a lot harder to ignore the suffering caused by economic inequality when you have no choice but to be crammed into overcrowded public spaces full of the unwashed masses who can't even afford a Chiclet™ as you gobble down your hormone-fed Chicken McNuggets™.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:53 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope I'm proven wrong, and that the work of Thomas Kincaide the Painter of Light endures for generations and generations and tortures your children and their children with his sweet, cozy country cottages.
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:20 PM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't care what Kattullus says: I'm going to collect and preserve as many Precious Moments™ figurines as I can get my hands on now.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:23 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s: Your pros are good pros. Thanks for schooling me.

I speak with the bitter voice of experience. My mom had a really nice volvo station wagon, brand new, which she traded in on a brand-new Prius about four months after she got it -- almost immediately after I bought my Prius.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:43 PM on April 2, 2009


…the problem with those not being fed is because of political and business reasons, and nothing to do with the 'carrying capacity' of the earth itself.

Except those "political and business reasons" are never going to go away, and it's bordering on fantasy to think otherwise. Given the choice of betting on space exploration, or people waking up one day and deciding to stop viciously exploiting one another for personal gain, I'll take the spaceships every time. And to be clear, I don't think space colonization will ever happen.

This is not some future dystopian scenario: given the choice between accepting reduced standards of living and causing the deaths or misery of some unfortunate people somewhere else in the world, the dominant Western societies on the planet are more than happy to do whatever is required. (We do a lot of self-justification to get around this, and occasionally we have pangs of guilt that we assuage through various forms of self-flagellation, but for the most part we kill — or have others kill on our behalf — and try not to pay attention to it.)

Right now, we grow corn and turn it into ethanol for use as a motor fuel, rather than send it to places where there are famines. Do you really think that's going to change as petroleum becomes more and more dear? I certainly don't. Instead I suspect we'll convert more and more arable land from food production over to fuel production, and to hell with starving people in [wherever starving people are at the time]. Given the choice between feeding the starving and turning it into fuel, we already choose fuel. What does that mean? It means the lives of those people are less important, have less value, than a few hundred miles worth of driving.*

And that's with the population we have now. Add another couple billion people and we'll really see how cheap human life can become.

* Ethanol is a particularly egregious example because the tradeoff is so obvious: corn as food versus corn as fuel. However it's only one very small example. Any time any non-starving person expends resources on something non-essential, while there are other people starving in the world, that person is putting a price on that other person's life, by saying that the non-essential is more important to them. The non-starving person will doubtless come up with lots of cute rationalizations to avoid taking responsibility for the blood that's on their hands, but at the end of the day, they are not starving and are living in luxury, surrounded by lots of stuff; the other person is dead.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:02 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


nanojath: Are you enjoying the doom rocking thread your little collection of manifestos is inspiring, Kattullus?

Is doom rock anything like death metal? I enjoy death metal :)

Oh, and this really isn't mine, except for that one essay. I was just asked to participate by the main organizer of FANGS. I didn't see any of the other essays until the site went live.
posted by Kattullus at 2:16 PM on April 2, 2009


DaDaDaDave - I like art the same way that you do, I think, but I don't see why it's objectively important. If we don't save nature, we are all screwed. What happens if we don't save that piece of art that no one cares about?
posted by sid at 2:49 PM on April 2, 2009


> And that's with the population we have now. Add another couple billion people and we'll really see how cheap human life can become.

I see your point, but I choose not to subscribe to it because the logical extension of that is "well, we are all fucked anyway. People are horrible evil beings that only seek to take of them and their own."

I choose to believe that there could be a better alternative to the future you have predicted, and that there is hope for something different. And part of making that happen is to not just dismiss or write off that these things are inevitable, but to take an active role in helping move things in a different direction. Your option is the easy way. And I may be stupid for trying to do something more difficult, but I can't conceive of willingly participating in the creation of the future you have proscribed.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:03 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


When it appears (hey, over in the Green) there is enough food to feed everyone. If anything, the problem with those not being fed is because of political and business reasons, and nothing to do with the 'carrying capacity' of the earth itself.
posted by mrzarquon


For your 'analysis' to be correct, you have to ignore the energy that goes into fixing Nitrogen and the 'only' 130 years of economical mineable Phosperous left.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:26 PM on April 2, 2009


Aw geez...why not just call it 'green imperialism' and be done with it. So many people are willing to tell everyone else that we're all going to die unless we all pull together and conform to some rigid authoritarian belief structure. If anybody tells you that we need to give up some fundamental freedom in order to save the world for some imminent social or environmental apocalypse, they're fascists. That's what fascism is. It's a middle-class revolution based on some perverse pseudo-religious desire to return to a 'natural' state.

Dissenters are labelled as shills of special interests. But you guys carry on like you're environmental scientists...I don't see any experts chiming in here, just enthusiasts. If global warming presents a real threat, which it seems to be, the only responsible call for action is to demand more research. Using a perceived threat to impose your own personal standards of behaviour on everyone else is unacceptable in any society that values democracy.
posted by chrisgregory at 3:46 PM on April 2, 2009


> For your 'analysis' to be correct, you have to ignore the energy that goes into fixing Nitrogen and the 'only' 130 years of economical mineable Phosperous left.

I would love to claim that what I had linked in that comment was my research. In fact it was someone elses, who had put together a very good summary of research done by various organizations in relation to the availability of food.

As for the sustainability of our agricultural practices, many have conjectured that most of our industrial agricultural innovations have not in fact made us more efficient, it has just made it more profitable. If we have decided that our primary goal for food production is no longer for profit, but for sustainability and care of everyone (which would be a necessary, and enormous, hurdle to get over just to be able to provide food to the people who need it), then less profitable, more labor intensive forms of farming could take its place.

I am just trying to keep an open mind about solutions that do not call for the extermination of millions or billions of people. You might call me naive, but I'd prefer that to making those sorts of calculations.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:09 PM on April 2, 2009


I am just trying to keep an open mind about solutions that do not call for the extermination of millions or billions of people.

None of your post addresses the need for Phosphorus.

Do feel free to show how the present system of taking Phosphorous off the farms to your dinner table then to the sewage plant is going to achieve your stated goal.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2009


Concrete materials that can be melted down and reused?

And exactly where is the energy going to come for that?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:31 PM on April 2, 2009


> Do feel free to show how the present system of taking Phosphorous off the farms to your dinner table then to the sewage plant is going to achieve your stated goal.

Well, the short answer is we find a way to reclaim phosphorus from the sewage instead of pumping it out to sea.

You seem to be think I am happy with the current way we are producing and handling food, when in fact I think we need to reconsider the entire system of food production. I am using current information on how we currently produce food as a way to advocate that yes, it is indeed possible to find a way to generate enough food for people. However, that does not mean that the current system is the solution. It is just something to say "well, lets get working at a more efficient way to do it that is sustainable this time."
posted by mrzarquon at 4:46 PM on April 2, 2009


Well, the short answer is we find a way to reclaim phosphorus from the sewage instead of pumping it out to sea.

Are you peeing in a cup and pouring it on your food crops?
Are you taking your fecal material from the bucket in the house out to your food crop?

Now, are you going to have the 300 million Americans do this?

Because that is the lowest energy choice to recycle the Phosphorus. If you want to take Phosphorus from sewage - where exactly are you going to find the energy to do this?

(the whole techno-copia-green idea - where exactly is the energy going to come from for whatever you are pitching?)

I am using current information on how we currently produce food as a way to advocate that yes, it is indeed possible to find a way to generate enough food for people.

And this 'current information' - how much fossil energy is being used to generate the food per your 'current information'? And what happens when you take that input away? (Hint: You are back to fighting over saltpeter mines and digging up skeletons to 'grind the bones to make the bread')
posted by rough ashlar at 5:00 PM on April 2, 2009


@ chrisgregory, rough ashlar:

check the front page of the blog. half-truth manifesto, baby!!

<3
sophia
posted by aprilfangs at 5:11 PM on April 2, 2009


Well, appearing as you have spent a lot more time finding out holes in my general optimistic approach that we can find a solution (even if I don't know specifically what they are yet), what would your solution be, or is your only answer that everyone is doomed and why bother?
posted by mrzarquon at 5:19 PM on April 2, 2009


Well, appearing as you have spent a lot more time finding out holes in my general optimistic approach

Its called being grounded in realism.

that we can find a solution (even if I don't know specifically what they are yet),

And I've given you the solution - all biological 'waste' material has to go back to the farmland.

Do you find my answer of humanure to be unacceptable? If so, where will the energy to dewater, seperate and reprocess the wastes come from?

what would your solution be, or is your only answer that everyone is doomed and why bother?

Did you not get the memo? You are doomed to die. We all are. The sythe of father time will cut us all down.

http://www.dieoff.org/ explains far better than I can in replies on the blue as to why what you want to avoid - mass die off - is (almost) unavoidable.

For humanity to survive its best to have some members be able to survive VS try to have all survive and fail.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:55 PM on April 2, 2009


> Do you find my answer of humanure to be unacceptable? If so, where will the energy to dewater, seperate and reprocess the wastes come from?

Not at all. I think it is a fine solution.

I was just wondering where you were coming from, since all I was reading was criticism and no forward movement in the discussion.

http://www.dieoff.org/ explains far better than I can in replies on the blue as to why what you want to avoid - mass die off - is (almost) unavoidable.

I am interested in the almost part.

I think it would require a radical amount of change on how we do a lot of things, systems would have to be reconsidered (the concept of humanure, while not a radical idea 200 years ago, would now require a massive shift in public opinion and concepts about what is waste), and new solutions and processes are going to have to be implemented. I think you are calling for just as much a radical solution. I just haven't resigned to the idea that mass die off is unavoidable, and that atleast in the process of designing our systems we don't have to limit our creativity by saying "this will only work for 40% of the population." Because if we do, then that outcome is inevitable, if we don't, we might be able to hit the "almost".

Baring some major global catastrophes, human beings will survive. They may not be my children or your children, your beliefs and art and history may not be remembered, but as a species, I think we will somehow manage to live on. The problem I have with these discussions is at some point it boils down to "the western culture and our ideas and our society must survive, so who cares about those other less developed/cultured/deserving peoples."

I guess I see it as my approach doesn't exactly negate the space and resources for your approach, but if we just go with your approach, it negates the chance for mine to even be started. This isn't a sinking ship, the lights are still on, we have time to start reconsidering things, I don't feel like we need to start drawing lines in the sand just yet. And both of our approaches are still calling for a radical reassessment on How Things Are Done Currently™, so we need to push for that first before we can start fighting over the deck chairs.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:48 PM on April 2, 2009


If so, where will the energy to dewater, seperate and reprocess the wastes come from?

The energy could come from the waste itself. If it were used as feedstock for thermal depolymerization one of the output products would be "a mixture rich in nitrogen that also contains phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and trace minerals." (emphasis mine, quoted from here). The process also runs off its own input and generates fuel (methane and diesel) in excess of what it consumes.

Doesn't seem to require a radical change in our lifestyles or agricultural techniques, it's just not economically viable enough to be widespread right now because resources are still cheap and abundant. If/when that changes then I'm sure we'll see more effort devoted to reclaiming waste products of all kinds.
posted by benign at 7:21 PM on April 2, 2009


The process also runs off its own input and generates fuel (methane and diesel) in excess of what it consumes.

'The process' requires high caloric inputs. And things like platinum will cause explosions.

Sewage is low caloric per weight due to the water - and you have no way to prevent platinum from entering the process.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:34 PM on April 2, 2009


I am interested in the almost part.

Then go read dieoff.org - Jay has a plan.

I don't feel like we need to start drawing lines in the sand just yet.

Yes, well 'just yet' in the case of Phosphorus is at 130 years away if the USGS is correct. But if population keeps expanding as it has and the mantra of 'we can feed all the humans' is met up to that point, it just means more dying later.

This isn't a sinking ship, the lights are still on

Depends on where you are and what you are watching for signs of a ship taking on water.

Baring some major global catastrophes, human beings will survive.

Ahhhh, but that is the rub. If things go badly enough, the humans may just bring on that major global problem.

Remember that Americans are SO powerful that they were able to wipe out a whole species of locusts - yes, thats right. One of the plagues mentioned in The Bible - Americans wiped 'em out in their land.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:43 PM on April 2, 2009


I've been meaning to mention this, but I've been cautiously optimistic that this process may actually be able to do what they say it is doing. I am waiting to hear about external verification of the process, as one of my friends is actually working on the project (and he is a brilliant person, so I don't imagine him missing something) so I feel there is some possible validity to their claims.

So I counter your one crazy website that can save the world with my one crazy website that can save world.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:43 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except those "political and business reasons" are never going to go away, and it's bordering on fantasy to think otherwise.

Except those "political and business reasons" human procreation and population growth are never going to go away, and it's bordering on fantasy to think otherwise.

How sad to think that we've reached a point where it's considered credible in any quarter to suggest that overcoming the natural consequences of a fundamental human biological drive is somehow more likely than just expecting responsible political leadership and stewardship of resources.

Did you not get the memo? You are doomed to die. We all are. The sythe of father time will cut us all down.

http://www.dieoff.org/ explains far better than I can in replies on the blue as to why what you want to avoid - mass die off - is (almost) unavoidable.


Well, if there's a website that says so...

Only it's not. Mass die-off isn't inevitable. There may be a greater than 50/50 likelihood over the long-run of another such event occurring, but it's definitely not inevitable (or even almost inevitable). Another mass die-off is only inevitable if certain existing sociopolitical conditions continue to hold true indefinitely. We have now the technological capabilities to potentially anticipate and survive any such events, we just aren't leveraging those capabilities yet.

Maybe you're right and we never will. I often take this more fatalistic outlook myself. But when it comes to human behavior, I've learned it's better not to make confident predictions.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:56 PM on April 2, 2009


wow mrzarquon, is that for real? wasn't there also a guy recently who discovered a fungus that naturally produces diesel fuel as a waste product? it seems to me that, with just a little more of a concerted push to take the exploration of new clean energy technologies seriously, we could be on the verge of some major breakthroughs.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:01 PM on April 2, 2009


saul- Yeah, it is totally legit (as in the company, I am waiting for CERN to give it's thumbs up and yes, it is doing what they think it is doing). My friend has been working there for the last 2 years or so since graduating from college, and he was first able to tell us WTF he's been working on about a month ago.

And even at the end of the day, that process cannot actually power itself (but lets say it can power about 98% of the reaction, not account for the waste H2 and O2 byproducts), it is still a really freaking efficient way to harvest H2 (hook it up to some solar panels, you got something significantly better than what we have now).

And as for Jay's website: even if he does have the plan that is the answer, we are still fucked, because he obviously does not have the communication and organizational skills to get enough resources together to make a website that does not look it was made in between lithium dosages. If he can't convince a single Web2.0 freelancer it is worth their time to redesign the site so it actually looks informative, how can he convince enough people to actually implement his plan? Let alone get other energy and systems people to say "hey, this guy is on to something."

And I know this sounds corny, but all of his charts and graphs still just account for a static system as it exists now, and nothing about the amazing ability of human ingenuity.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:19 PM on April 2, 2009


> And even at the end of the day, that process cannot actually power itself

Meant to be "even IF that process can't power itself"
posted by mrzarquon at 9:30 PM on April 2, 2009


Fearing the future is a severe misappropriation of the pineal gland.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:35 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like to propose babyshit green environmentalism, in which people just try and rein back on the popping out of sprogs.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:08 PM on April 2, 2009


Tap for "Has a Website"
posted by mrzarquon at 11:15 PM on April 2, 2009


Heh. I didn't see that this had been posted here.

I still have some theoretical problems with your manifesto, Kattallus, like that it seems to lead to conflation of time-frames. Everything is biodegradable, especially in terms of how long it takes to get constituent atoms dispersed. On some level, it still feels like you're saying, "Create art that will be destroyed by the eventual consumption of the earth by the expanding sun!" Yeah, art already degrades, and there's already a large body of work that relies upon that. I think this would have been stronger had you focused on literature, since temporary writing is much more of a minority than temporary art.
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM on April 3, 2009


The museums and libraries of the world are littered with art and text no one loves. Likewise cemeteries everywhere abound in the corpses of once-loved artists and writers whose names and accomplishments are unknown to all who wander past their headstones.

I'm in library school. That made me gag.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 5:37 PM on April 4, 2009


tarheelcoxn: That made me gag.

Really? I'm curious, what did you find so repulsive?
posted by Kattullus at 11:50 AM on April 5, 2009


To provide a concrete example of what I'm on about in my essay, take a look at arborglyphs, the subject of my most recent post and an old post by jessamyn. That's one way to create writing that's impermanent in its very nature.
posted by Kattullus at 10:04 AM on April 7, 2009




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