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Nuclear Power and the Consumer Society – theme for December 2012

“Every Day in Every Way We are Getting Better and Better”  Not really, but that is the mantra of the prevailing consumer society. Working harder, striving more, getting richer, buying more, getting fatter…

It’s not necessary, but we have bought the idea of endless progress, endless economic growth, endless consumerism. All on a finite plane, with limited land and fresh water.

And of course, the nuclear lobby preaches to us – for this desirable way of life, ever more energy is needed – nuclear energy.

The alternative, a conserver society, would be a huge change in lifestyle. But it is the change that must happen. It will come, perhaps by choice, by public awakening to the need.  If not, inevitably it will come as the result of  environmental/economic catastrophe.

It’s not a new idea. It was given a great impetus by “Small is Beautiful” E F Shumacher’s book, in the 1970s., and more recently, by Ted Trainer’s book “The Conserver Society”.

It’s  a bit hard to get our heads around these ideas, – ideas which come naturally to many indigenous peoples, with their traditions of frugality, of returning resources to the earth, and also of working less hours daily, and spending more time on social, ceremonial, and leisure activities.

“….The sustainable alternative path is appropriately referred to as The Simpler Way. Living more simply does not mean deprivation or going without anything necessary for a high quality of life. It means being content with what is sufficient for hygiene, comfort, convenience, etc.

Adequate material living standards are easily achieved at negligible cost in non-renewable resources, and on very low cash incomes, if acceptance of simpler lifestyles is combined with intensive use of alternative technologies such as earth building and Permaculture design. Needless to say thriving household economies involving gardens, poultry, preserving, repairs and home-made furniture, entertainment etc., can greatly reduce dependence on supermarkets and the associated resource, energy and ecological costs.

The most important theme in The Simpler Way is not to do with the household economy or individual lifestyle choices. It is the development of small scale, highly self-sufficient local economies, enabling most of the everyday things we need to be produced within our suburbs or close by. There will not be enough energy or other resources for many goods to be produced far away, packaged and transported to us via floodlit supermarkets. Towns and suburbs must therefore contain many small firms and farms producing for local use….”


Nuclear power versus the concept of ENOUGH – the Conserver Society – theme for November

The Conserver Society is, in contrast to the current Consumer Society is a way of human life that respects and values the finite nature of our planet. A Conserver society would mean that population numbers would stall, even decline, that use of energy and natural resources would be limited, and production of rubbish would be minimised.   This is all possible, and is not a new idea.  The idea of the Conserver Society was quite popular in the Western world, in the 1970s, around the time that the famous book, from the Club of Rome,  “Limits to Growth” examined  world population, industrialization,pollution, food production, and resource depletion.

Today,  Frank Rotering introduces a similar, but more advanced idea – Contractionism: Shrinking economies to salvage the biosphere.  In the 1970s, the Club of Rome warned about the damage that continued population and industrial growth would do to the planet. Now, in 2014, Rotering is demonstrating the damage now being done, and what we need to do to stop it before the world’s environmental crises become irreversable

“Contractionism’s core assertion is that humankind’s economic activities have driven the biosphere into overshoot, that this violation of ecological limits threatens life on earth, and that reversing overshoot is a revolutionary task…….

[The current economic system  has] spurred an orgy of colonization, rising consumption, and population growth.  Today this system dominates the globe and, through its heedless expansion, threatens to destroy the natural world.  Contractionism arose in reaction to this potential catastrophe.  Its countervailing economic conception is to rapidly shrink the world’s bloated economies and to achieve sustainable well-being for the world’s people. …….Contractionism usesWilliam Catton’s word “overshoot” to refer to the violation of ecological limits due to economic activities.[2] In the broadest terms, humankind has caused overshoot because its production level, or output rate, is too high and its ecological efficiencies are too low. Reversing overshoot will require a sharp decrease in the global output rate through reduced population and per-capita consumption, as well as substantial increases in ecological efficiencies………

[A] new concept, introduced by climate analyst David Wasdell, is thecritical threshold.  This is the point where  positive feedbacks have become so strong that effective human intervention is no longer feasible.[7]  For a major threat like climate change or ocean acidification, reaching the critical threshold means that the biosphere’s partial or complete collapse has become inevitable. ……

the initial task before humankind – the planetary emergency it must immediately confront – is to stabilize the global economy in time to avoid the first point of no return we will potentially encounter…….The overshoot crisis is at root an economic problem, and therefore requires an economic solution.”

The G20 , Nuclear Power and the concept of ENOUGH – theme for November 2014

Critics call the G20 an unofficial global government promoting neoliberal economics. Whenever there is a choice to be made between the interests of corporate power and the interests of the population, they support the needs of corporations. All the while, they neglect climate change by pushing the issue to the bottom of the agenda.

They see the G20 as playing the role of global cop and global financial ‘reform’ facilitator – without accountability to the people they speak for and at the expense of the poor and dispossessed. This is why there arealways protests when the G20 and G8 come to (any) town.

The G20, at a leaders’ level, is de facto the premier forum for international dialogue and cooperation on a whole range of critical global issues that have been unable to find resolution in other contexts.

Yet the G20 excludes more than four-fifths of the world’s countries, causing some critics (and excluded countries) to denounce it as unrepresentative and therefore insufficiently legitimate…….

the informal structure of the G20, with a rotating chair and no permanent secretariat, means that agendas are determined each year by the chair and so can swing widely, and formal mechanisms to monitor follow-through on countries’ public commitments are weak……..

The group is widely perceived by the public as transnational elites hatching plans behind closed doors in insulated centers of power.


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