Why we’d need 8 Whole Earths by 2100

We’ve largely used up or maximized our use of the good quality sources on earth, for lots of our critical resource needs.  It’s evident in their systematically rising prices, for one thing, but also in our rapidly declining rates of discovering new reserves, for half a century now!   We’ve “eaten the good stuff”, and still plan to find more and grow the economy as before.

a fact

So, not that you couldn’t use your shopping and profits for values far greater than just having more, of course,

BUT, to prosper by increasing our wealth as we have been,

It seems like it'd be a real joy! Just catch them with your radiant smile.


we need to

*Double* our total previous use of natural resources
three more times this century !

(like being the sorcerer’s apprentice)

It’s a detail overlooked by the world’s mainstream economists, and apparently nearly all the critics too.   Our present economic plans are to keep prospering as we did over the past two centuries.  That necessitates continuing to double of our resource uses every ~33 years in the future, then, or magical change only dreamed of.

It’s really ALL our long term professional economic modeling, all our long term environmental rehabilitation planning, such as responding to climate change, as well as all our long term government, finance and business plans, that “just assume” continued growing resource use as before.  Just to make the point clear,… our long term plan is not only to “make bricks without straw” but also to project making bricks without water or clay!

Why it not adds up to our really needing 8 whole earths by the end of the century has to do with the sneaky mathematical properties of doubling… sneaking up on our brains. In each doubling period everything changes as much as throughout all its prior history.   The oddest and most sneaky of all aspects of it, of course, is that this dilemma is quite real…

Even if we could find 7 more earths worth of resources as good as what we started with, it would actually end up just make our problems worse.   “Enjoying them” would then reasonably be expected to involve 7 times the impacts we’ve had on the beauty and sustainability of the earth too…!!   It also exposes the  madness of our well meaning hope to rely on growth to pay for reversing climate change!

These problems add to the evidence that the fundamental in-feasibility of our long term growth plan has avoided most everyone’s attention.   It’s not just “unlikely” that we’d keep finding many times the total amount of natural resources we’ve consumed before,… and that using them would have no effect.

You might as well be looking for an endless line of magical frogs to kiss.

Continue reading Why we’d need 8 Whole Earths by 2100

Post 2015 UN Sustainable Development Strategy

Responding to questions for UN Post2015 Sustainability Consultation with NGO’s
Week 2: Development Challenges in a Changing World (11 Feb- 17 Feb)
on the UN http://www.worldwewant2015.org website  


1. Which global trends and uncertainties may influence how environmental sustainability is framed in the international development agenda over the next 10-30 years?

There’s a major global shift that will continue, and upset virtually everything people are planning on, because people are NOT planning on our world economic growth model to stop producing growing economic returns.  It financially relies on consuming the earth ever faster.  That is produces ever shrinking returns.

You can see the physical evidence of it happening all over and as the main cause of our converging world crises, the world commodities crises, food crises, inequity and ‘missing middle’ crises,  the related financial crises and ecological liability crises.   It is giving us a world increasingly mired in conflicting interests, complexity, confusion, and indecision. Continue reading Post 2015 UN Sustainable Development Strategy

Thinking a natural world Into Being

A group email on how to connect the mind’s concept language with nature’s process language, earning one “KaShu!” from Alanna.


To get things to connect it really does help to first see how they are disconnected.   People put no particular value on where their money comes from or goes to, for example.  As that is a major pathway for our own accumulative effects on our world, nature cares about that a great deal!   People also quite ignore small % changes over time, even though they naturally result in exceeding large scales, complexities and rates of change, inevitably pushing the limits of stability for whatever physical system is doing it.   People just tend to see no association between accumulative causes and their dramatic effects, though.    I indicates “something funny going on”.

So to get a reliable grasp on how different a conceptual world is from the natural world, you need personal examples of where you notice “something really missing”  to go back to it again and again to reground your own thinking on the disconnect between thought and nature.    What I go to are times and places when I could observe growth producing lasting change, making it obvious it’s not in my head but happening where I’m seeing it happen.   There are any number of different kinds of “pregnancies” where bursts of growth large and small develop in isolation. Continue reading Thinking a natural world Into Being

connecting social language to nature’s process language

Helene and Steven had raised the need to include finance in the narrative of “the commons” and Myra had said about my reply “Jessie, This is your clearest writing by far on the new financial commons. ”  … so I hope it’s of use here.   (The discussion was part of a follow-up to a CAUN Commons Action for the UN conference call with Barrett Brown, on the different kinds of “thought leaders” he had identified setting the course for the sustainabilty movement, using social science methods, reflected in his Fall 2012 article in Kosmos. fyi)


Learning to speak nature's language


I. On Feb 4 2013 Jessie responded

Helene & Steven,

Great to have someone bring up the need to work on having a new financial commons.  We need to map out how to transform finance, so that it acts to care for the earth as its main objective rather than to squeeze it dry as fast as it can, as at present.    So we’d need to understand things that people already do that contributes to steering finance in one direction or the other, kind of unusual territory for social organizers…

So what we need to do is get our social language to somehow recognize nature’s process language.

Continue reading connecting social language to nature’s process language

It’s the student that creates the education

Posts to the UN NGO Thematic Consultation on Education on how to measure and improve education for the Post2015 UN development goals.   My series of three comments focus on the tools a student needs to create their own educations… NOT on measuring the productive value of their educations for business.  We did that already, and overdid it.   It would do both students and society a great deal more good to look at the basic competencies offered, to see if students are getting the tools they need for exploring the world, like having competence in math, reading, and understanding ‘relationships’.

Productivity is often the assumed purpose of education, but has produced an unsustainable spoiling and depletion of the earth’s resources, now straining all its human and natural ecological systems.   So it’s our students who need the tools for guiding their own educations, to take us out of that dilemma created by the poor learning of their parents.

Schools and teachers should mainly be judged by their own peer and served communities, only measuring achievement in core competencies, and create a new core competency in “relationships“. Understanding relationships is a new essential competency for living in a world thrown into disarray by rapidly changing relationships of all kinds, caused by our prior vast misunderstanding the relationships between ourselves and the earth.


What he needs is the tools not the answers...

World We Want 2015 – Thematic Consultation – Education

Quality of Learning – Week 2 Questions

1.       1. How should learning outcomes be measured and how can measurement of learning improve education quality?

2. What would be your recommendations to address and improve the quality of education in the post MDG framework?


I. E-Discussion TWO: Week 2 – Quality of Learning
JLH Tue, January 15, 2013 at 06:11 pm

1. Based on my understanding of quality of learning, the indicators used to measure learning outcomes should be:

  1. … kept simple.  We should only use unambiguous measures giving confidence in what is being measured, like “numeracy”, “literacy”,  “understanding relationships”, “understanding design”, i.e. rudimentary life skills. Continue reading It’s the student that creates the education