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If a truly sustainable society was created...would you be happy there?:

 51 USAF713, Tue, 27th Dec '11 1:06:40 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
In retrospect, I'm not sure whether the idea posited by Raven is all that terrible, at least in terms of its base goal.

If you think about it, the only way to continue the human race is to move on to another world... and, inevitably, to pillage said world like we've pillaged Earth. If we get good at it, we may soon not even treat planets as anything more than a resource, to be harvested, used, and discarded. God help whatever aliens get in the way, too.

Or, we could die happy here by fixing our mess, limiting ourselves voluntarily, and letting the flame of humanity simply... go out.

It seems like either choice is horribly depressing, in each one's own way...

edited 27th Dec '11 11:59:48 AM by USAF713

I am now known as Flyboy.
Three-Puppet Saluter
Jet fuel is pillaging and Americans (the people with an interest in space) are imperialistic murdering shits, and you still want to be in the air force?

Seriously, though: scientific advancement helps the situation more than it hurts.

edited 27th Dec '11 3:06:21 AM by DomaDoma

Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
[up] I agree with the scientific advancement is good sentiment.

 54 De Marquis, Tue, 27th Dec '11 10:40:35 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
It's not entirely clear to me what the OP is asking, but the article proposes that certain types of catastrophe are practically inevitable, and proposes "transition plans" for avoiding the worst of it. This isn't so much about "sustainability" as it is "survivalism." That's an interesting topic in itself, at least different, but not what most of you have been discussing for three pages.

As for "sustainability" itself- the term has many different meanings, and one's conclusions are different depending on which meaning one is using. If by "sustainable" you mean that humanity learns to live in some sort of perpetual balance with the rest of the ecosphere, then humanity has never been sustainable in that sense, and seems to be making no progress toward such an end.

If you simply mean the survival of global human society in some form, that has always depended on opportunities for economic and demographic growth. As long as there is room to expand, we are sustainable in that sense. Since the traditional forms of economic expansion (the development of more land, the refinement of raw materials including fuels, the expansion of the available pool of laborer/consumers) seems problematic for various reasons, our continued "sustainability" depends on finding future opportunities for expansion and growth that don't kill ourselves off in the process, or allows our civilization to fall apart.

Ultimately, that means producing and consuming with much greater efficiency and less waste than we currently do. Ultimately, that will happen anyway, as resources run out, but it would certainly seem desirable to be able to change our economic infrastructure without the costs and turmoil that scenario implies.

Given that returning to an agrarian society is unrealistic, and that economic waste and inefficiency actually cant be reduced to zero without doing that, and that in it's current form our global economic process seems to be heading toward a crisis of some kind at an unknown level of severity, and that when this crisis comes we will adapt like we always do, then the question becomes how long will this transition take, how sever the crisis, and what we could do right now to extend the amount of time we have.

The development of Green Technology can (and will) continue. Some degree of "localism" seems inevitable, although how much and what form this will take isn't clear. And we need to develop a much better way of accounting for and modeling economic costs and waste than we do.

The primary barriers right now are political and cultural. People still seem more worried about avoiding having to shoulder more of the burden of transforming our economy than others do, than actually getting it done. So far, for every proposed change, some constituency claims that it treats them unfairly.

It will take time to overcome those barriers. We are making observable progress. Whether that progress will prove fast enough is anyone's guess.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 55 USAF713, Tue, 27th Dec '11 12:01:06 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Jet fuel is pillaging and Americans (the people with an interest in space) are imperialistic murdering shits, and you still want to be in the air force?

Americans? Try humanity. Look around you, man. We do not coexist with nature. We subjugate nature.

Of course, it's not really a question of whether or not this is bad (it should be self-evidently bad to any rational person). It's a question of whether or not extinction is worse...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Three-Puppet Saluter
More than half the paper production in the world comes from tree farms. Read: consciously self-sustained sources. Subjugation, sure. As long as there are plenty of both, I don't consider a tree more important than my books. Pillaging, not so much.

Personally, I'd think the kind of people who sign up to be xenobiologists would be rabid conservationists. And given that I thought you were talking about extraterrestrial civilizations, that would go tenfold. (With a little less Prime Directive, mind.)
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
 57 Silent Reverence, Tue, 27th Dec '11 8:14:37 PM from 3 tiles right 1 tile up
adopting kitteh
Of course, it's not really a question of whether or not this is bad (it should be self-evidently bad to any rational person). It's a question of whether or not extinction is worse...

I'd just take the third, middle option. We can coexist with nature so long as we accept we are no more important than it. Do we really need over nine thousand million humans, three to six cell phones per person, and families with three backup cars so that the pool cleaner can drive to the next corner to speak to the milkman about how do they bang the housewive? Nah.

As for sterilization of humanity, I don't like it but I'd take the background premise if it was a (more or less) voluntary AND progressive measure. Like, having at least X and up to Y percent of the population sterilized each generation, ideally volunteers.
 58 Flyboy, Tue, 27th Dec '11 8:18:41 PM from the United States
Decemberist
I'd just take the third, middle option. We can coexist with nature so long as we accept we are no more important than it. Do we really need over nine thousand million humans, three to six cell phones per person, and families with three backup cars so that the pool cleaner can drive to the next corner to speak to the milkman about how do they bang the housewive? Nah.

Of course not, but you'll never convince humanity to part with all their things. We are short-sighted, selfish, materialistic beings by nature.
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
 59 Silent Reverence, Wed, 28th Dec '11 8:08:57 AM from 3 tiles right 1 tile up
adopting kitteh
Well, I was assuming there would be a disaster good enough that will leave us with no better choice than to live with what we have left for some time; cloud have misread. I mean, there's no much sense in the establishment of a "truly sustainable" model of society otherwise, as they tend to be too removed fron even the middle levels of the Maslow hierarchies.
Lower population is the key. We are not sure to what extent we could make people be more environmentally conscious, so it is better to reduce population so that our impact on the planet would be less significant anyway.

That still leaves the question of how to go about such population reduction...
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
 61 Kino, Wed, 28th Dec '11 9:29:39 AM from NC/NYC Relationship Status: 700 wives and 300 concubines
Connoisseur of redheads
@OP: Could I survive in a situation like that? Sure; i've got the skills and training. Would I want to? Not really; as much as I like a challenge and an opportunity to prove myself, flush toilets and AC are pretty awesome.

To echo what Barkey posted earlier, I'd most likely end up linking up with my buddies and like-minded individuals, and a) form our own town. or b) Start raiding.
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
Three-Puppet Saluter
[up][up] Just get everyone to the point where they have lots of contraceptives and non-sex entertainment. Seriously, it's happening everywhere in the developed world (the US presumably being behind the curve because it's got the most first-generation immigrants and comparatively serious Christians, but the curve is still at work.)
Righto. This box you saw. Was it in some kind of desolate rust belt?
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