Highlighting the challenges of 9 billion people II


Yea, most people think it’s a problem of attitude, but there are great examples of where that’s clearly not the case. The environmental movement, for example, makes the same mistake time after time of treating niche opportunities as unlimited resources. The important part is not to say they have a ‘bad attitude’. The error is not one of attitude. The important thing to note it that it’s the exact same error they are trying to correct.

It’s error that the business and finance interests are making in massively misjudging the limits of the earth’s easy resources. The greens like the developers tend to think that every resource we have not yet exhausted is unlimited, like wind and solar and all that. That insight is the useful and helpful lesson of ethanol, that it was a good niche opportunity thought of as an unlimited resource up until it triggered the world food crisis. What we’re dealing with is a major conceptual misunderstanding of the problem.

If you don’t want to “plan for failure” as you say, then you should pull yourself up short and figure out why nearly everyone with that attitude actually is planning for failure. Almost no one thinks things through. Almost all planning is done to just push the problem a little ways ahead, hoping it will go away. That worked when we had not hit the limits of the earth.

Now just pushing the problem ahead a bit just pushes it to where it will be worse when we get to it again. In order to think things through we need to understand them from beginning to end, ¸¸¸.•´ ¯ `•.¸¸¸ , and that’ll teach you how nature starts everything with explosions of creativity to see if they will learn how to stabilize, or lets them collapse of their own feeble accord if they don’t.

The real solutions to our two main uncontrolled growth problems, population and wealth, are both stubbornly in conflict with our self-images of what ‘good’ means, the stuff we cling to in our minds. Those ‘functional fixations’ throw us into deep conflict with a changing world. To me the real solution to both is *not* getting the right ideas into our minds.

It’s to learn a way to see *through* our ideas so we can watch the real world, see them in overlay. Otherwise we only look *at* our ideas and let them hide the world from us. If we see both we don’t have to give up the things that are precious to us, including our attitudes, and can successfully navigate a place that we’ve mostly lost contact with too.

Does that make any sense?


Phil Henshaw


Hi Phil,

What differentiates humans from animals is our capacity to conceptualise in abstract terms and to plan for the future, and then to act on those plans with a view to realising them. To me the problem is one of “attitude”. My personal experience is that our plans are self fulfilling. Winners plan to succeed, and losers plan to fail. I am personally not predisposed to plan for failure. To me that is not a constructive use of my time and energy. My personal predisposition is to want to co-operate with my fellow humans with the objective of furthering our mutual interests. To me there is no purpose to be served in contemplating the end of the world. That is not the attitude of a healthy mind.

Kind Regards,

Brian Bloom


Measuring CO2 lifespan… and signs of nature’s rejection

O2 post:

Mauro asked about sorting out “carbon sinks”

That’s an excellent question. What you want is the *accumulative* total effect, for the *choice* being made, not so much the particular carbon sink (if what you want is to give people ways to decide what choices are better than others).

The way you’re starting is just the right way, thinking it through far enough to begin to see the real complications. It is indeed so complicated that leads me to seeing the need for ways to simplify. You want to get the whole picture right, not just use up your energy fully detailing the issues you start with. Continue reading Measuring CO2 lifespan… and signs of nature’s rejection

Highlighting the challenges of 9 billion people


There’s another, maybe better, explanation for the conspiracy of blindness to the concert of diminishing resource problems. The lack of a mental model for looking at things as a whole when they have so many seemingly disconnected parts. That’s a real physical barrier to conceptual understanding. That’s also something my method works very well for correcting if you get the feel for it.

I think the best unifying concept to the multiple resource peaks coming at once is that the economic system behaves as a whole, with spare capacity of any part being used to relieve strains on the others, so… all resources then necessarily hit diminishing returns at the same time. Continue reading Highlighting the challenges of 9 billion people