Rees discusses our severe state of ecological overshoot and the behaviors that prevent us from taking any useful action to make the future less bad.
Rees thinks there are two key behaviors responsible for our predicament:
- Base nature, which we share with all other species, to use all available resources. Most people call this the Maximum Power Principle.
- Creative nurture. Our learned culture defines our reality and we live this constructed reality as if it were real. “When faced with information that does not agree with their [preformed] internal structures, they deny, discredit, reinterpret or forget that information” – Wexler.
I don’t disagree with Rees on the existence or role of these behaviors, but we also need Varki’s MORT theory to explain how denial of unpleasant realties evolved and is symbiotic with our uniquely powerful intelligence, and other unique human behaviors, such as our belief in gods and life after death.
Some interesting points made by Rees:
- The 2017 human eco-footprint exceeds biocapacity by 73%.
- Half the fossil fuels and many other resources ever used by humans have been consumed in just the past 30 years.
- Efficiency enables more consumption.
- The past 7 years are the warmest 7 years on record.
- Wild populations of birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians have declined 60% since 1970. Populations of many insects are down about 50%.
- The biomass of humans and their livestock make up 95-99% of all vertebrate biomass on the planet.
- Human population planning has declined from being the dominant policy lever in 1969 to the least researched in 2018.
- The annual growth in wind and solar energy is about half the total annual growth in energy. In others words, “renewable” energy is not replacing fossil energy, it’s not even keeping up.
- The recent expansion of the human enterprise resembles the “plague phase” of a one-off boom/bust population cycle.
- 50 years, 34 climate conferences, a half dozen major international climate agreements, and various scientists’ warnings have not reduced atmospheric carbon concentrations.
- We are tracking to the Limit to Growth study’s standard model and should expect major systemic crashes in the next 40 to 50 years.
- This is the new “age of unreason”: science denial and magical thinking.
- Climate change is a serious problem but a mere symptom of the greater disease.
P.S. Stay for the Q&A session, it’s very good.