VCC Classroom

Modern Climate Change

Can the Economy in Modern Society Work without Polluting the Environment With Our Growing Waste?

The mainstream economic model depends on continuous growth and this growth is achieved by ever increasing consumption of products, material and energy, which increases waste. At the same time, globalization, rationalization, and the preference of “new” over “reuse” and “repair” have further increased the waste output of our society. Attempts to reduce waste by recycling of selected items are to a large extent failing and increasingly leading to the overload of the environment, in particular the rivers, lakes and the ocean, with litter (including, but not limited to plastics) from macro to micro and nano scales. Addressing the wicked problem of maintaining a thriving society where the needs of the people are met without overloading the planetary physiology with an increasing flow of waste requires a thorough rethinking of the mainstream economic model and the development of circular economic models that can reduce the amount of waste drastically.

Modern Climate Change: A Symptom of a Human-Caused High Energy Pulse

Modern climate change is a symptom of the much larger syndrome of what could be called a single-species high-energy pulse. Unlike other animals, Homo sapiens were able to improve energy supply to their bodies allowing them to developed larger and more complex brains, out-compete all other mammals and establish a single-species dominance. With the recent access to new energy sources and technologies, humans modify the physiology of the Earth’s life-support system to an unprecedented extent. By changing major flows, including carbon, water, nitrogen, phosphorous, and energy, by several orders of magnitude, and by creating new flows, humanity reduced most limitations to population growth such as predators, sicknesses, and limitations to food, dwellings, and other resources and this initiated an explosive growth of population and human wealth. As a side effect, the Earth’s energy imbalance has increased at least seven orders of magnitude resulting in global warming and unprecedented rapid climate change. Humanity’s impact on the Earth’s life-support system is comparable to that of a virulent virus on the organism of a host animal, and there is a chance that its action will render large parts of the planet unfavorable for humanity to thrive. ...