The Limits Manifesto No Harm, No Hubris, No Hurry Bill Vitek Clarkson University April 28, 2007
It’s Time To Change Our Minds <ul><li>Vital Signs </li></ul><ul><li>End of the World  as We Know It </li></ul><ul><li>Must...
Vital Signs <ul><li>Doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight, “reflecting global failures to solve the problems posed...
Vital Signs <ul><li>Peak Oil: first trillion barrels consumed in last 100 years; last trillion barrels in next 30 years. (...
Vital Signs <ul><li>Two of the most populous nations are becoming two of the largest economies. </li></ul><ul><li>Human po...
The Problems are Right in Front of Us <ul><li>Interconnected  </li></ul><ul><li>Technology often makes matters worse </li>...
http://wolf.readinglitho.co.uk/mainpages/consumption.html
http://www.oilcrisis.com/midpoint.htm
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming /
http://www.susps.org/overview/numbers.html
http://www.whole-systems.org/extinctions.html
Manifesto Propositions <ul><li>Provide a foundation for a new and improved way of looking at the world.  </li></ul><ul><li...
Manifesto Creed   <ul><li>“ I accept The Limits Manifesto Propositions regarding moral behavior, the pursuit of knowledge,...
Proposition One: No Harm <ul><li>Except for planet Earth, life seems pretty rare in the universe.  Thoughtlessly and willi...
Proposition Two: No Hubris <ul><li>Human beings are the unintended offspring of evolutionary biology, and as such lack any...
Proposition Three: No Hurry <ul><li>All life depends on sunlight and the complex and integrated chemical and thermodynamic...
Proposition Three: No Hurry <ul><li>Our high life of consumption is brought to us by contemporary NPP  and  the rapid draw...
Proposition Three: No Hurry <ul><li>We can’t speed up natural processes. </li></ul><ul><li>Our only option is to slow ours...
No Harm, No Hubris, No Hurry <ul><li>Each is a limit on human behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Each requires us to think of our...
Action Items <ul><li>Become an  Ambassador of Limits . </li></ul><ul><li>Block the “No-Limits” dogma  peddled by technolog...
Action Items <ul><li>Resist solutions that ignore human population. </li></ul><ul><li>Resist solutions that create extinct...
Action Items <ul><li>Demand that losses of natural capital be accounted for in any calculation of costs and benefits. </li...
Why This is So Difficult <ul><li>Flashy Brains </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Genesis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prometheus </li></...
Why This Is So Necessary <ul><li>Using the Tree of Knowledge to Protect the Tree of Life </li></ul><ul><li>A True Test and...
Spread The Pledge! No Harm No Hubris No Hurry
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The Limits Manifesto

  1. 1. The Limits Manifesto No Harm, No Hubris, No Hurry Bill Vitek Clarkson University April 28, 2007
  2. 2. It’s Time To Change Our Minds <ul><li>Vital Signs </li></ul><ul><li>End of the World as We Know It </li></ul><ul><li>Must Stand Down From Our Insatiable Assault on Limits </li></ul><ul><li>Must Accept Limits and Their Place in Our Lives </li></ul><ul><li>Renewable Energy is a Small Piece of the Puzzle </li></ul><ul><li>A Necessary Revolution </li></ul><ul><li>A Long Shot </li></ul>
  3. 3. Vital Signs <ul><li>Doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight, “reflecting global failures to solve the problems posed by nuclear weapons and the climate crisis.” </li></ul><ul><li>Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that “there is a 90% chance humans are responsible for climate change.&quot; </li></ul>
  4. 4. Vital Signs <ul><li>Peak Oil: first trillion barrels consumed in last 100 years; last trillion barrels in next 30 years. (20 year old today has lived through a time in which 540 billion barrels of oil has been consumed.) </li></ul><ul><li>The current rate of species loss is being compared to the five known mass extinction waves. This “sixth wave” is anthrogenic. </li></ul><ul><li>One billion people lack access to fresh water. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Vital Signs <ul><li>Two of the most populous nations are becoming two of the largest economies. </li></ul><ul><li>Human population growth continues to follow an exponential curve. </li></ul><ul><li>There are currently 27 million slaves in the world, more than at any other time in human history. </li></ul><ul><li>Eight nations possess nuclear weapons, and two are working to acquire them. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Problems are Right in Front of Us <ul><li>Interconnected </li></ul><ul><li>Technology often makes matters worse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Early daylight savings increased energy use </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The recipe for success is broken </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unleash human ingenuity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harness and commodify nature’s immense and complex forces (90 million acres of US corn in ’07) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enjoy the new and improved world that results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Repeat. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. http://wolf.readinglitho.co.uk/mainpages/consumption.html
  8. 8. http://www.oilcrisis.com/midpoint.htm
  9. 9. http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming /
  10. 10. http://www.susps.org/overview/numbers.html
  11. 11. http://www.whole-systems.org/extinctions.html
  12. 12. Manifesto Propositions <ul><li>Provide a foundation for a new and improved way of looking at the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Rely on a base of knowledge that describes the state of the world as we best understand it now. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest a range of choices and actions consistent with this understanding. </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute to the process of curtailing the many ailments of our global home and its myriad inhabitants. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Manifesto Creed <ul><li>“ I accept The Limits Manifesto Propositions regarding moral behavior, the pursuit of knowledge, and the use of the earth’s material and energy productivity, and I hereby pledge no harm, no hubris, and no hurry in my daily thoughts and actions.” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Proposition One: No Harm <ul><li>Except for planet Earth, life seems pretty rare in the universe. Thoughtlessly and willingly destroying it or limiting the diversity and co-evolution of life, especially at the level of species, is a moral wrong among self-conscious creatures who surely know better by now. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Proposition Two: No Hubris <ul><li>Human beings are the unintended offspring of evolutionary biology, and as such lack any special or pre-ordained tools for divining the world’s inner workings. </li></ul><ul><li>Closer to our cousin apes than gods in all things—and genetically 99.5 percent Neanderthal—we should refuse to think otherwise. </li></ul><ul><li>We should behave as if our ignorance will always exceed our knowledge . It will. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Proposition Three: No Hurry <ul><li>All life depends on sunlight and the complex and integrated chemical and thermodynamic processes it powers. </li></ul><ul><li>Net Primary Production (NPP) is the term that describes the energic and organic material production of these ecosystem processes. </li></ul><ul><li>NPP is constrained by many factors and cannot be substantially improved, increased or sped up over time without the addition of inputs from outside the system. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Proposition Three: No Hurry <ul><li>Our high life of consumption is brought to us by contemporary NPP and the rapid drawdown of an eon or more worth of accumulated fresh water and highly energy-dense materials (stored Natural Capital). </li></ul><ul><li>Across the board this drawdown is increasingly noticeable in the exploitation of soils, aquifers, oil and natural gas. </li></ul><ul><li>In the grand sweep of human history and culture, these are one-time draw downs. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Proposition Three: No Hurry <ul><li>We can’t speed up natural processes. </li></ul><ul><li>Our only option is to slow ourselves down . </li></ul>
  19. 19. No Harm, No Hubris, No Hurry <ul><li>Each is a limit on human behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Each requires us to think of ourselves and the world in which we live in radically and deeply different ways. </li></ul><ul><li>Each will sound and feel foreign to us. </li></ul><ul><li>All are necessary for the transition that is coming. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Action Items <ul><li>Become an Ambassador of Limits . </li></ul><ul><li>Block the “No-Limits” dogma peddled by technological optimists and economic theorists. </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge Net Primary Production as the only long-term feedstock for sustaining life. </li></ul><ul><li>Slow down. And when going fast admit your role in the run on the bank. </li></ul><ul><li>Welcome limits as one of the initial and permanent operating conditions for any system with life in it. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Action Items <ul><li>Resist solutions that ignore human population. </li></ul><ul><li>Resist solutions that create extinctions. </li></ul><ul><li>Count calories, including those embodied in our everyday products. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand and appreciate the role that nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium—play in your life. </li></ul><ul><li>Demand a public and accurate accounting of our Net Primary Production feed stocks and capital stocks. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Action Items <ul><li>Demand that losses of natural capital be accounted for in any calculation of costs and benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Discount efficiency as nothing more than a clever way to increase consumption (Jevons Paradox). </li></ul><ul><li>Accept blame yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>Honor your debt to the universe by drinking a toast to its—and your—continued existence. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can do this every day. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Why This is So Difficult <ul><li>Flashy Brains </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Genesis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prometheus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Enlightenment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manifest Destiny </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Geological Inheritance </li></ul><ul><li>Crediting the Brains (the pumps) rather than the Inheritance (the well) </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria in a Petri Dish and the Evolutionary Disposition to Live to Excess </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/u/up_the_creek_without_a_paddle.asp </li></ul>
  24. 24. Why This Is So Necessary <ul><li>Using the Tree of Knowledge to Protect the Tree of Life </li></ul><ul><li>A True Test and Testament of a Well-Developed Neo-Cortex </li></ul><ul><li>There’s Still Time </li></ul><ul><li>The Scope of the Problem is Global </li></ul><ul><li>Limits are the Key to Creativity </li></ul>
  25. 25. Spread The Pledge! No Harm No Hubris No Hurry
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