Saturday, October 31, 2009

Climate Change as Evidence of A System

Where can we find evidence of a social system? Do we have to concoct some kind of academic hocus-pocus to linguistically conjure up the "idea" of a social system?

I don't think so. Evidence of a system, and by that I mean a human social system, is all around us: it's climate change.

Let's look at what we already know from the science of climate change:

• Individuals don't create climate change
• 6.5 Billion individuals together don't create climate change


6.5 Billion individuals PLUS a capitalist system, a technological system, create climate change.

In fact, it isn't even all 6.5 billion of us. At least half the world's population is so poor, so "underconsuming," that their collective contribution to global carbon emissions is almost negligible.

It really amounts to the richest one sixth of the world's population, the 1 billion or so who consume the most, who contribute the vast majority of the world's excessive carbon emissions. And it's not just that 1 billion alone. It's 1 billion PLUS all their automobiles, highways, coal-fired power plants, suburban subdivisions, millions of acres of shopping malls, agribusiness, distant factories and 60" television sets, all consuming, burning and emitting energy, that together create climate change. The technological system of resource extraction, production, distribution and consumption, as an economic system, makes a larger contribution to the production of climate change as the billion or so "individuals" who participate in that system.

To this we must add "nature's own" climate feedback cycles that, triggered by this excessive human C02 production, continuously creates more warming than just the human social system alone. What begins as a human system problem then becomes a human/environment system problem. And that is the ultimate designation of a system.

And to prove this point, please listen to physicist Anita Burke, who worked for Shell Oil International, advising their top corporate leaders on the causes and impacts of climate change. She spoke at the "Gaining Ground" conference in Vancouver, Oct. 2009, along with Bill Rees. Anita gives us the numbers: individual and household consumption of energy, water and other resources only counts for 10-25% of all resource consumption. The other 75-90% is used by corporations.

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