Chemistry parable – Sustainability: The Universal Solvent of Private Property Rights

Guest essay by Charles Battig, MD | The alchemists of old were diligently ambitious in their goals. These antecedents of modern chemistry were not hindered by a lack of knowledge of atomic structure and physical chemistry when it came to setting priorities. Lacking a nuclear reactor and knowledge of atomic reactions, they postulated the existence of “The Philosopher’s Stone.” This mythical substance was thought to be able to turn base metals into gold, and endow eternal life and wisdom to its discoverer.

Another magical substance hypothesized was the “universal solvent.” Such a substance would be able to dissolve all other substances, including gold. Philosophical discussions over what container could hold this universal solvent must have been lively. Aqua regia, a mixture of concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acids, was eventually discovered, and comes close to the definition. This “royal water,” named by the alchemists because of its ability to dissolve gold and the noble metals, was also thought to have therapeutic healing properties as well.

Far from the realm of primitive physical sciences, another universal solvent has been created by the progressive social engineers. It is able to limit personal freedoms, diminish private property rights, destroy the useful products of civilization and their means of production, deprive humanity of natural resources and their access, and impose hardship on the least prosperous members of humanity. I term it “The Progressives’ Stone,” as it can do all this and more. Regrettably, it is real and not mythical. It permeates all levels of our government.

“Sustainability” is the embodiment of the planner’s “Progressives’ Stone,” a universal societal solvent… infinitely elastic and open-ended in its ability to justify most any action taken in the name of social and environmental justice. It is the societal equivalent of the ancient “royal water” in its corrosive properties when employed against our constitutionally mandated unalienable rights of ordinary free citizens.

sustainability_cloudDocumenting the origins of the “Philosopher’s Stone is a task for historians probing the Middle Ages. “The Progressives’ Stone” has a more recent and defined linage. British economist Barbara Ward’s 1966 book “Spaceship Earth” advocated for sustainable development and a new international economic order linking the global environment and social justice. Population control was an inherent part of the message.

On this side of the Atlantic, Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring” laid the groundwork for a message that found a receptive audience in guilt prone readers. She put a human face on the claimed crimes against the environment. Misuse of insecticides was translated into a fear of all insecticides at any level. DDT was made the poster child for environmental destruction. Bird deaths and egg thinning were offered as evidence. Years later, many of the claims in her book were termed “lies,” once they were subject to scientific review. In the interim, millions of innocent children have suffered Malaria-related deaths in Africa from prohibition of DDT use, and the term “eco-imperialism” became a book title.

As a formalized political doctrine, “Sustainability” was introduced by the 1987 “Our Common Future” report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, authored by Gro Harlem Bruntland, VP of the World Socialist Party. The official U.N. website contains the “Sustainability” definition: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The capitalized “S” serves to distinguish the U.N. definition from the mundane usage indicating “lasting or continuing for a long time.” The U.N. pre-supposes an all-knowing ruling class that has unique knowledge of the present and of the future. In reality, the needs of the future are subject to change, and planning now for an unknowable future is the planner’s folly. Fredrick Hayek aptly described this as the “Fatal Conceit.” Who knew a century ago, that commonplace sand (silica) would become essential to our transistor and integrated-circuit world of today?

Much of the U.N.’s vision of “Sustainability” was eventually incorporated into official U.S. Federal policy by President Clinton. He established the “President’s Council on Sustainable Development” by executive Order No. 12852, dated June 29, 1993. It published the 1999 report “Towards A Sustainable America…Advancing Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment for the 21st Century.” Perhaps well intentioned in its Utopian vision of our future, it has become a weapon of mass destruction against many of the visions of our Founding Fathers, and our basic freedoms.

Professional planners have adopted these precepts, and their official organization, the American Planning Association, has a formalized policy guide. The Environmental Policy Agency has its own. Business has learned how to make a profit from it. Enthusiastic application of sustainability concepts has provided the commercial world with financial rewards. Do-more-with-less is the way to greater profits and positive public perception.

Like a Madison Avenue brainstormed advertising mantra, “Sustainability” now appears throughout the media and in governmental policy requirements. If it is not “Sustainable,” it must be stopped, altered, or mitigated, until the project has met prescribed guidelines. “Sustainability” has been elevated in governmental policy to a level higher than our Constitutional unalienable rights. Unlike the business model, “Sustainability” in the governmental sphere has uses beyond a more efficient government. Henry Lamb and others recognized the threat to personal property rights early on. Tom DeWeese has been sounding the alarm for decades.

A visit to your local governmental planning board or board of supervisors should convince you that “Sustainability” is the universal solvent able to shut down private property rights. Want to build a home on your dream location? No…it is not sustainable to the environment. Want to add on to your home…no, it imposes non-sustainable burdens on the wildlife. Nor are golf courses, ski resorts, livestock , soil tilling, fences, industry, septic fields, roads, logging, dams and reservoirs, power line and fiber optic projects “Sustainable,” if so designated by local or Federal government. Get out of “Sustainability” Jail cards are called proffers or mitigating off-sets; such extra costs make surviving projects more expensive for the increasingly poor taxpayer.

Increase your chances of living a sustainable life as envisioned by our Founding Fathers by challenging “Sustainability” as envisioned by government planners. Private property rights are an endangered species not protected by “Sustainability.”

 


 

Originally published in American Thinker August 26, 2014

Charles Battig, MD , Piedmont Chapter president, VA-Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment (VA-SEEE). His website is www.climateis.com

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89 thoughts on “Chemistry parable – Sustainability: The Universal Solvent of Private Property Rights

      • No merely applying a UN agreement (not a treaty) by the stroke of the President’s pen in 1993. And although not approved by the Senate – it is now being applied by all Federal and many State agencies. The EPA and BLM are similarly following UN Agenda 21. The recent edicts on water from the EPA and the BLM Texas/Oklahoma river boundary claims are based on UN Agenda 21 – Chapter 18.

  1. Very well said.

    It’s a bit terrifying how far back into Feudalism our Progressive oligarchy is dragging us. It’s especially bad for the poor of the world having “sustainability” keep them in poverty and even push them back closer to the Stone Age than the 21st Century.

  2. Together with the “precautionary principle” it can stop any progress and development.

    • Svend – Certainly.
      Especially if there is a dis-incentive to create it – that is, to create wealth.
      See, for example the taxation policies of the Wilson, Callaghan and Brown governments in the UK. NB the Bl-iar government harmed pensions – and various other aspects – ‘If it’s old, re-invent it’.

      Auto

      • It has yet to come to light how badly the Bl-air government (under Brown) destroyed private pensions. When it does come to light, there will be social unrest since those who have created the wealth of the country, have wholly inadequate pensions, whereas those who suck upon the teet of the wealth producers have reasonably generaous pensions (and some extortionally so)..

  3. ‘Sustainable development’ = ‘Suppressed development’. It is an insidious device used a lot by people who do not care much for other people in distant lands. This post is an excellent contribution to the detailed analysis of it.

  4. If only “they” were out to sustain “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” instead using Ma’ Gaea as an excuse to sustain and expand their own power and authority over the rest of us.

    • Rights inherently conflict and are limited by the necessities of democratic society.

      People do not have the right to emit poisonous gases into the air. if someone were to attempt to disperse sarin gas then they would be arrested. Similarly people do not have the right to pollute rivers, to over fish and drive species into commercial extinction as the Europeans did on teh Grand Banks … Sustainability is one factor that fits into this category.

      Private property rights are limited. They are not the be all and end all of existence.

      • Hmmm.
        If I choose to grow a two-meter [6-7 feet] tall shrub on the northern border of my property, shading a little of my neighbour’s [NB UK Spelling] property, are my rights (rightly) limited?

        Auto

      • Tag says: “Private property rights are limited. They are not the be all and end all of existence.”

        Good you mind if I use your car, house, shirt, food anytime I want. Oh yes and your pay check too.

      • @auto If your neighbour decides to alter the drainage on his property and pump water onto yours, are his rights properly limited?

      • @mkelley Would you mind if I opened an all night outdoor bar with a 10,000 watt PA system directly adjacent to your home? You might have the rights to live there but nobody in their right mind would pay you a cent for your property. I won’t charge you for the free concerts. Happy hour will be 4AM till 7AM.

      • Tag,
        That is a strawman argument. You will not be able to show anywhere in the constitution where it says emission of poisonous gas is a right. The Constitution actually enumerates the rights that are fundamental and you will not find that those enumerated rights conflict. You may find conflicts in subsequently invented ‘rights’ but you cannot trace them back to The Constitution.

      • Saying “Rights inherently conflict” is like saying “Rights-of-way (on the road) inherently conflict.” You simply lack the concept “rights.”

      • You emit poisonous gases into the air every day, TAG. Relatively large quantities, too, I’d say, reading your comment.

  5. New proposed city plan for Christchurch NZ is out.
    agenda 21 is at work here.
    My Property has now changed up to MEDIUM DENSITY RESIDENTIAL ZONE.

    There are 496 Properties now in this zone.
    The plan is that in about 10 years this number will start to go up to 1228 Properties in the same zone.
    We now have 16 house per (h/ha). In the future they want 40 per (h/ha).

    The question was asked will existing residents will be ‘forced out’.

    They said ” Changing demographics is considered to be a reason why diverse housing is needed. There are no active measures to ‘force’ a person to move.

    Here are some of the links to the plan.

    http://resources.ccc.govt.nz/files/TheCouncil/policiesreportsstrategies/districtplanning/districtplanreview/Appendix4-MediumDensityAnalysisDOC.pdf

    http://resources.ccc.govt.nz/files/TheCouncil/policiesreportsstrategies/districtplanning/districtplanreview/Appendix13-OverviewConsultation.pdf

    • ‘ There are no active measures to ‘force’ a person to move.’

      They never say that it is proposed, only that it is not yet ‘active’.

  6. The official U.N. website contains the “Sustainability” definition: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

    Don’t worry about future generations’ needs. If Britain today looked like 19th century industrial Britain they would be up in arms. It was polluting and horrible. Yet today Britons enjoy a higher standard of living, live longer, healthier and are in fact spoilt for choice. Cars, smartphones, CT scans, kidney dialysis, yearly holidays, health insurance etc. Should 19th century Britain have worried?

    Another point is that generally the better off people are the fewer kids they tend to have.

    • The EU fished the cod on the Grand Banks in commercial extinction. A moratorium was placed on the cod fishery which caused great hardship in Newfoundland. The hope was that with the moratorium the cod stocks would be established. Unfortunately the reality is that the stocks have not been reestablished and that a new equilibrium has been established with low cod populations.

      So the EU compromised the fishery for future generations.

      To compensate for the collapsed cod fishery the EU came back and wanted to fish turbot into extinction. Fortunately the Canadian government, which had been complicit in the cod extinction, grew a pair and confronted the Europeans on the high seas. EU fisherman were using nets with an illegally fine mesh and would have captured immature fish if given a chance. The EU didn’t like this at all but finally had to comply.

      Sustainability is a good thing.

      • Yes, sustainability is a good thing. But Charles Battig is not writing about sustainablity, he is writing about “Sustainability”.

      • Hey TAG,
        I’m all for monitoring of our resources, sensible management and use, but the sustainability thing is being spread loose and large. Just look at the actions of the EPA regarding co2.

      • After you say sustainability is a good thing could you please define the word ‘sustainability’ for me?

        And as you do please remember that nothing – absolutely nothing – lasts forever.

      • From a biological point of view, the fishermen should have taken the immature fish and left the big mature fish. You may find this logic difficult, but immature fish by definition cannot breed yet. Mature fish are the fish that replenish the stocks by breeding. So by only selecting mature fish to catch the fishermen decimate the fish stocks with low chance of replenishment. However, as no-one has invented a net that can catch only the smaller fish and not the large ones expect fisheries to continue their fish to extinction approach. Supported by the less knowledgeable trolls of course.

      • The situation you describe, over-fishing, is a classic example of “the tragedy of the commons” problem well-known in economics. The problem is a LACK of private property rights, precisely the opposite of what you imagine. It is an example of what happens when the rule of (typically government) experts governs a situation rather than the discipline of free markets.

  7. In reality, the needs of the future are subject to change, and planning now for an unknowable future is the planner’s folly.

    They tried to plan for horse manure with a conference in 1898. They were in a state of despair until the motor car arrived.

    From Horse Power to Horsepower
    By Eric Morris
    “In 1898, DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure.

    The horse was no newcomer on the urban scene. But by the late 1800s, the problem of horse pollution had reached unprecedented heights…….American cities were drowning in horse manure as well as other unpleasant byproducts of the era’s predominant mode of transportation: urine, flies, congestion, carcasses, and traffic accidents…….

    The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed…….

    Wet weather turned the streets into swamps and rivers of muck, but dry weather brought little improvement; the manure turned to dust, which was then whipped up by the wind, choking pedestrians and coating buildings. Municipal street cleaning services across the country were woefully inadequate……

    In New York in 1900, 200 persons were killed by horses and horse-drawn vehicles. This contrasts with 344 auto-related fatalities in New York in 2003; given the modern city’s greater population, this means the fatality rate per capita in the horse era was roughly 75 percent higher than today……

    As difficult as it may be to believe for the modern observer, at the time the private automobile was widely hailed as an environmental savior……

    Per vehicle and per mile, it seems highly likely that the environmental problems caused by the horse were far greater than those of the modern car. Horses even contribute to global warming: manure releases methane, a greenhouse gas eight times more potent that CO2…..

    But neither draconian regulations nor disincentives for travel were necessary to fix the horse pollution problem. Human ingenuity and technology (enabled by government, which provided infrastructure and regulations) did the job…”

    PDF [8 pages]

    • Well stated. Recently my sisters, brother in law, and some nephews traveled to China for a wedding. Like everyone else they recognized the industrial pollution. However they failed to recognize the open sewers that ran behind and between the homes and shops. The toilets in the homes were dry so the odor and gases from the open sewers simply came up through them. There was no garbage pickup. It was simply thrown out the back windows and into the sewers.

      It’s fascinating how the industrial pollution made an impression on them but these other aspects were ignored until it was pointed out. Does anybody think pre-industrial cities were pristine, clean places? They were filthy, diseased, rat holes. The wealthy people maintained summer homes they could escape to during the recurrent epidemics. But the poor people living out in the country flocked to the cities once industrialization got underway which indicates, unless you had money, the country was no better.

      Yeah, let’s return to that – Not.

  8. “Like a Madison Avenue brainstormed advertising mantra, “Sustainability” now appears throughout the media and in governmental policy requirements. If it is not “Sustainable,” it must be stopped, altered, or mitigated, until the project has met prescribed guidelines. “Sustainability” has been elevated in governmental policy to a level higher than our Constitutional unalienable rights….Tom DeWeese has been sounding the alarm for decades.” ~Charles Battig

    The Wildlands Project Video is displayed on the Tom DeWeese link. NGOs and governments are working to convert all land into wilderness.

    Personal anecdotes of possible Wilderness Project mischief in the US include: caves being closed on flimsy excuses; beaches being restricted or closed; collection of fossils and sand from beaches requiring permits and reporting to an agency; fossil sites being closed; and the persecution of ranchers and farmers.

  9. I noticed bees inhabiting a gap in my house’s flashing, if they can survive the dowsing of chemicals they will get after dark tonight, I’ll call it sustainable.
    If you see a crazed man with a flashlight running around like he’s being attacked by bees, tell the cops (or neighbors for that matter) not to shoot him.

    Which brings me to my main point:

    O’Riorden (1985) commented on the difficulty of defining sustainability, describing its definition as an:

    ‘Exploration into a tangled conceptual jungle where watchful eyes lurk at every bend’

    Spedding (1996) commented that perhaps this was the reason for:

    ‘The remarkable number of books, chapters and papers, that even use ‘sustainable’ or ‘sustainability’ in the title but do not define either term’

    Wilson (1992) stated:

    ‘The raging monster upon the land is population growth, in its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct’

    • Is a perpetual motion contrivance sustainable? or “Sustainable”? If it is just “Sustainable”, does it have to work as advertised or just be advertised to work?

  10. I find it ironic that Rachel Carson, who helped launch the modern environmental movement, was undergoing radiation therapy for cancer before the launch of Silent Spring. Here is what she has said in the past.

    Rachel Carson Dies of Cancer; ‘Silent Spring’ Author Was 56

    “Chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world–the very nature of life…..”

    http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0527.html

    Here is her radiation treatment.

    Greenpeace
    As her book changed the course of history, Rachel Carson struggled with her cancer and radiation therapy. In the spring of 1964, the cancer reached her liver, and she died on April 14 at her home in Silver Spring, Maryland.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/rachel-carson-and-the-birth-of-modern-environ/blog/42299/

    Irony and hypocrisy? You see when you have cancer or malaria you really would like to get treatment for yourself.

  11. Without entering the ‘tangled jungle’ of sustainability (which is highly politically colored) there is a concept worth pondering that is quite well established in population biology and ecology. That is the notion of carrying capacity. Overshooting is possible, and yhe self correcting consequences are not pretty. Desmond Morris book Collapse examines some historical examples in great depth. My book Gaias Limits explores the notion more generally for the present. And surprise, there are two general carrying capacity limits we will all snug firmly up against by around 2050, with the shoe starting to pinch sometime between 2020 and 2030. And it is doubtful although not impossible that innovation will save the day. The scale is too large, and the deployment times too short for that to be plausible. Climate change mitigation is barking up the wrong tree if one is really concerned about future generations. There are a few things that can be done to avoid the problem if we started nowish. But we aren’t for the most part.
    And the amount of misinformation about food supply and energy equals or exceeds that on CAGW, but for different reasons. Willful blindness, the counterintuitive nature of Bayes theorem, a lot of misreporting and/or misunderstanding of fundamentals…
    Hopefully the CAGW meme comes crashing down soon so the world can turn attention to real issues.

    • I don’t think we need to worry about carrying capacity for a while. With Ebola raging in West Africa and the Muslims running rampant in the Middle East we should see a nice population drop in the next couple of years.

      /Sarc sort of

    • Rud Istvan

      You write

      Without entering the ‘tangled jungle’ of sustainability (which is highly politically colored) there is a concept worth pondering that is quite well established in population biology and ecology. That is the notion of carrying capacity. Overshooting is possible, and yhe self correcting consequences are not pretty. Desmond Morris book Collapse examines some historical examples in great depth. My book Gaias Limits explores the notion more generally for the present. And surprise, there are two general carrying capacity limits we will all snug firmly up against by around 2050, with the shoe starting to pinch sometime between 2020 and 2030. And it is doubtful although not impossible that innovation will save the day. The scale is too large, and the deployment times too short for that to be plausible. Climate change mitigation is barking up the wrong tree if one is really concerned about future generations. There are a few things that can be done to avoid the problem if we started nowish. But we aren’t for the most part.

      There is no problem to avoid!

      Man-made global warming has failed to occur so alarmists are reverting to their silly assertions of overpopulation. And they have have renamed overpopulation as “carrying capacity” to avoid the obvious retort that they should reduce their own population first.

      There are no actions needed to avoid overpopulation and there is no need to start any such actions “nowish”. For the benefit of any who don’t know, I repeat the following explanation of why assertions of overpopulation are nonsense.

      The fallacy of overpopulation derives from the disproved Malthusian idea which wrongly assumes that humans are constrained like bacteria in a Petri dish: i.e. population expands until available resources are consumed when population collapses. The assumption is wrong because humans do not suffer such constraint: humans find and/or create new and alternative resources when existing resources become scarce.

      The obvious example is food.
      In the 1970s the Club of Rome predicted that human population would have collapsed from starvation by now. But human population has continued to rise and there are fewer starving people now than in the 1970s; n.b. there are less starving people in total and not merely fewer in in percentage.

      Now, the most common Malthusian assertion is ‘peak oil’. But humans need energy supply and oil is only one source of energy supply. Adoption of natural gas displaces some requirement for oil, fracking increases available oil supply at acceptable cost; etc..

      In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite; i.e. the human ‘Petri dish’ can be considered as being unbounded. This a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.

      Humans do not run out of anything although they can suffer local and/or temporary shortages of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

      A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.

      But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
      (a) alternative sources of the resource
      and
      (b) alternatives to the resource.

      And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

      For example, both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.

      Many alternative sources have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.

      Alternatives to oil as a transport fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.

      There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

      Indeed, coal also demonstrates an ‘expanding Petri dish’.
      Spoil heaps from old coal mines contain much coal that could not be usefully extracted from the spoil when the mines were operational. Now, modern technology enables the extraction from the spoil at a cost which is economic now and would have been economic if it had been available when the spoil was dumped.

      These principles not only enable growing human population: they also increase human well-being.
      The ingenuity which increases availability of resources also provides additional usefulness to the resources. For example, abundant energy supply and technologies to use it have freed people from the constraints of ‘renewable’ energy and the need for the power of muscles provided by slaves and animals. Malthusians are blind to the obvious truth that human ingenuity has freed humans from the need for slaves to operate treadmills, the oars of galleys, etc..

      And these benefits also act to prevent overpopulation because population growth declines with affluence.
      There are several reasons for this. Of most importance is that poor people need large families as ‘insurance’ to care for them at times of illness and old age. Affluent people can pay for that ‘insurance’ so do not need the costs of large families.

      The result is that the indigenous populations of rich countries decline. But rich countries need to sustain population growth for economic growth so they need to import – and are importing – people from poor countries. Increased affluence in poor countries can be expected to reduce their population growth with resulting lack of people for import by rich countries.

      Hence, the real foreseeable problem is population decrease; n.b. not population increase.
      All projections and predictions indicate that human population will peak around the middle of this century and decline after that. So, we are confronted by the probability of ‘peak population’ resulting from growth of affluence around the world.

      The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; human population is NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish. There is no existing or probable problem of overpopulation of the world by humans.

      So, please ignore the non-issue of overpopulation which is euphemistically called “carrying capacity” and return the thread to its subject.

      Richard

      • richardscourtney:And these benefits also act to prevent overpopulation because population growth declines with affluence.

        Over population would be a problem if people did not decide not to overpopulate. You have basically made a case that overpopulation is not a problem because people recognize it as a problem and have acted to address it.

        It has been shown that some renewable resources can be eliminated. Whether cod has been eliminated for commercial purposes is too soon to tell, but other fisheries are threatened with exhaustion unless governmental controls are agreed upon, respected and enforced. It may not matter much that the lost resources of mastadons and passenger pigeons have been eliminated through over-harvesting; or that the American bison and sperm whale were hunted to near extinction; but they are cautionary tales that other renewable resources may be eliminated unless “sustainable” harvesting practices are agreed upon and enforced.

        Like anything good, “sustainability” can be misused; the existence of misuses does not imply that the concept is fundamentally unsound. People who favor gun rights like the hammer analogy: the fact that hammers can be used to kill people does not by itself justify regulating or prohibiting them. It’s the same with sustainability.

        The fundamental limit is human ingenuity. Among our ingenuities is the recognition that we can achieve sustainable harvests of just about all harvestable and renewable resources through discussion, adoption, and enforcement of reasonable harvest limits.

        Property rights and sustainability sometimes conflict, and that is why we have legislatures and courts. There is no good reason to believe that enforcement of sewage regulations and building codes will entitle you neighbor to use your automobile without your permission. And the same with restrictions on whether you can dam the water that runs through your property; however the laws will eventually be written, a restriction on the water use on your property will not entitle anyone to occupy your home ad lib.

      • Some math freak did a study on population years back. I think it was that if you took every human on earth and put them inside Texas you would still not reach the population density of NYC – no wonder the E=GREENS ARE SO DAMNED UNHAPPY.

      • Matthew R Marler (August 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm): “You have basically made a case that overpopulation is not a problem because people recognize it as a problem and have acted to address it.”

        Hmm. The post I read made no such claim. The claim was that more affluent people, for their own selfish reasons, tend to have fewer children than poor people. My wife and I are not at all worried about global “overpopulation”, for the very good reasons richardscourtney enumerated, yet we deliberately had fewer kids than our parents. Of course we probably lavished more resources on our fewer kids than our parents expended, in total, on their offspring (take THAT, Club of Rome!). I fully expect our offspring to expend (and thereby create) even more resources on their kids. Good on ‘em!

        Do some people limit their own reproduction and/or others’ reproduction from fear of harming Gaia? Perhaps. But I didn’t see richardscourtney addressing that point at all.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Thankyou for your interest in my comment. Others have refuted your main complaint at my comment and I write to reply to your on-topic response to my comment.

        You write

        It has been shown that some renewable resources can be eliminated. Whether cod has been eliminated for commercial purposes is too soon to tell, but other fisheries are threatened with exhaustion unless governmental controls are agreed upon, respected and enforced. It may not matter much that the lost resources of mastadons and passenger pigeons have been eliminated through over-harvesting; or that the American bison and sperm whale were hunted to near extinction; but they are cautionary tales that other renewable resources may be eliminated unless “sustainable” harvesting practices are agreed upon and enforced.

        But that is evidence that I was right when I wrote

        A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.

        But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
        (a) alternative sources of the resource
        and
        (b) alternatives to the resource.

        And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

        We have not run out of fish and we have many fish farms near here. When a fish species becomes too rare then people seek other fish. In Medieval England there was a law that serfs could not be remunerated in salmon because that fish was so common landlords would use excess salmon as a cheap payment., but salmon is now a semi-expensive fish.

        Whales still exist and crude oil has replaced whale oil.

        The American bison has been replaced by cattle as a supply of meat. Americans do not have a hamburger shortage.

        You seem to have an excess desire for legislation. My socialist principles inform me of the need for laws to constrain misbehaviour and corruption, but they also inform me of the need to avoid excess legislation because laws constrain the variety of human behaviours which overcomes your concerns.

        Richard

  12. TAG makes a good point about the sustainability of some fishing practices. I understand why people around here (even musicians) have issues with the word “sustain”: it is an easy word to misappropriate and misuse for the purpose of manipulating emotions.
    However, the tragedy of the commons can be a very real problem, with over-fishing being a classic example of what happens with unfettered competition to acquire a resource.
    There are two solutions to the problem: (i) private ownership, or (ii) a common resource management agreement.

    • The fishing practices are actually a particularly poor example. Most of these fishing practices have been mandated to ensure ‘sustainability’ and have had the unintended (?) effect of reducing sustainability of fish stocks.
      Fishing Net Mesh Size is regulated to ensure that only the large mature fish are caught. This ensures that only immature fish who cannot breed and replenish stock are left; decimating the fish population. They should leave mature fish who breed and replenish the stocks but that is impossible with fishing with nets.
      Limits or Bans on Certain Species are put in place but the net doesn’t know what species it is catching. So when the net is emptied onto the boat deck, the fishermen sort through the fish throwing the species they are not allowed to catch back – usually dead – into the sea. The boat continues till it has caught a particular weight of fish. Had the protected species been allowed to be sold then the weight would be met earlier and less protected species caught killed and disposed of. It would be better to identify sea areas that were not to be fished where these protected species could breed without being caught. But allow sale of that species caught outside the area.
      Limits to Fleet Size The number of boats is greatly reduced so the owners have started using bigger faster and more effective boats with fish hunting sonar and even drones to search ahead. These boats are extremely efficient at extracting fish from the sea to the level of a larger fleet of less efficient boats. They are also able to travel far further and European boats are now around Africa and into the South Atlantic.

      All these ‘sustainable’ regulations have had the opposite effect to that intended, didn’t the progressives do well. Indeed, so many progressive government regulations seem to have these negative consequences that one wonders if it is not intentional.

  13. “Sustainable Development”- sounds nice, but it entails a stable world population of humans of 500 million. Do note, the Bilderburg group of leading industrialists who work an tandem with the UN also sprouts this line. Now lets see, there are 7 billion of us now. Oh dear, 93% of us will become surplus to requirements. The butcher Kone in Africa only murdered 90% of the population-he still has to murder another 30% of the survivors. A return to Neolithic human technology of 10,000 years ago which the ultra greens fantasize about sustained a global human population of around 7 million. You can see why they never mention the practical reality of their fantasies.

    A little history lesson to bring on board. The Nazis were an offshoot of the romantic green movement. They too loved nature and animals, but hated humans. The Bilderburgs were established by Prince Berhard of the Netherlands-a Nazi. The UN were essentially formed by the Fabians-global Socialists with similar ultra green “Utopian” ideals. Hitler was once asked by a journalist why he, as a Socialist cosied up to big business. The answer-“when the time comes, they too will be made to comply.” Bilderburgs, beware-when the time comes, you too will be shafted.

  14. Sustainability sounds simple enough, but that’s an illusion.
    Take the claim, for example, that wind an solar power is
    sustainable, presumably because wind and solar will
    always be with us. But the whole purpose of sustainable
    systems is that future generations do not need to create
    a new system (in this case energy)sin ce previous generations
    have not depleted the energy resource, that being impossible.
    However, the wind/soar energy system depends upon more than just
    the wind and sun- it requires turbines/solar panels to capture
    the energy. Those turbines an solar panels are not sustainable
    in two important ways.In the first place, a turbine or solar
    panel needs to be replaced at frequent intervals, they are not
    everlasting, so the collectors are not sustainable. But, more
    importantly, sustainability implies future generations will
    prosper by continuing to use systems we devise. But that is
    unlikely to be true. For example, in the past nuclear energy
    was deemed non-sustainable because there are known limits to the
    amount of terrestrial uranium and even though enormous amounts
    existed in the oceans, it was expensive to extract, being many
    times more costly, and consequently, an impractical energy source.
    However, two things changed all that. First, extraction methods
    became cheaper – today uranium can be extracted at around $300
    per kg versus terrestrially mined uranium at $80 to $110
    per kg. And now, with the advent of reactors that can extract
    20 times more energy from uranium than current reactors, the cost
    of even ocean extracted uranium as a fuel can be considered a
    near zero cost item in operating a nuclear power plant. Therefore,
    passing on the the next American generation an energy system primarily
    consisting of wind and solar puts that generation at an impossible
    disadvantage in competing against countries that will be using a
    nuclear based energy system. The energy system we will have bequeathed
    our subsequent generation, which we assumed was sutainable is, in
    fact, anything but sustainable. Humans are, for all intents and
    purposes, never going to run out of uranium, even though the
    substance is, in reality, finite.

    • Col Mosby: But the whole purpose of sustainable
      systems is that future generations do not need to create
      a new system (in this case energy)sin ce previous generations
      have not depleted the energy resource, that being impossible.

      I don’t know where you get that. The goal of sustainability is that the *resource* not be exhausted and made unavailable in the future. Fossil fuels are finite, and might be exhausted by humans: the main debates being about how long that will take, what the fossil fuels will cost, and how best to replace them. Solar energy is also finite but with a much larger limit, and there is no chance that humans will exhaust the resource in the next 100,000 years. For each resource, future generations will invent new technologies and replace equipment.

      Nuclear power is also sustainable: fissionable fuels can be made from initially non-fissionable allotments of lots of elements, and nuclear waste products can mostly be made into fuel, so it looks like nuclear power will last at least as long as the Earth has mass sufficient to sustain life. That’s true even without the development of fusion power. Arguments against nuclear power seem to me to be behind the times.

      Solar power is definitely sustainable, the biggest remaining question being how long and and how costly will be the process of bringing down the cost of production of power. Right now California is generating at least 4400 MW of solar power (http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx#SupplyandDemand), and yesterday generated at least 38,000 MWh of energy (I rounded those figures up from the table because rooftop systems are not included in them.) This usage (and the 10 times greater world usage) do not diminish the supply of solar power to future generations.

      The total renewables contribution to CA electrical energy yesterday was 17%. It’s expensive, but it does not contribute to the depletion of any source, or reduce its availability to future generations. I conjecture that it prolongs the life of the fossil-fueled power plants, but that is a theme for the future.

      • Forbes on news just reported that the Germans are in a real fix. Have committed to tear down all nuclear plants – built wind farms in the north but now have no grid system to make use of it? The Government committed to be fossil and nuclear free by 2040 but the projected cost would be around 50% of the GDP.

        So, current alternatives cause factory closures and JOB loses. Nt a very pretty picture and they seem not to have any answers according to the speaker.

  15. “Who knew a century ago, that commonplace sand (silica) would become essential to our transistor and integrated-circuit world of today?”

    And, of course, frac sand is the same stuff and it has already unlocked untold volumes of cheap energy to ‘sustain’ industry and prosperity in the US and Canada. Fortunately, despite the dismal ones who want to choke off civilization, this technology will prove to be too compelling to ignore by the otherwise co-opted government id-eo-logues around the world. Oh we have protests and moratoriums but the reward is just too great. Fortunately, it can also be rationalized by the ‘gang green’ to meet Kyoto – the US is the only nation of significant CO2 emitters that actually has come to meet the Kyoto target and they did it with fracking unconventional oil and gas reserves.

    A little development, not widely known yet, is that it looks to be the tool for unlocking large otherwise uneconomic offshore oil and gas resources (another North Sea bonanza?). And there will be a lot of ky yiyin’ from the ocean emotion folks but this will be all to no avail eventually. If governments in there now don’t go for it, it will be their tipping point and a big opportunity for opposition parties everywhere.

    Thank goodness US ingenuity and the potential for profit has not yet been killed off, despite the might of the world being tasked to knock out this world prosperity engine and the enormous fifth column within its borders levering away at it. Without this seemingly singular source this type of technology would never be developed. The EU has certainly permanently removed themselves from the possibility for this kind of technological discovery or any other that might serve an expanding economy. Witness rebirth of medieval energy technology there. Such discovery isn’t even sought after. Karl M’s 19th Century solution is de rigueuer outside of this 5% patch of the earth.

  16. He who lives by the Executive Order dies by the Executive Order.

    This war is going to be decided in the journals. That is the dog.

    Politics is just the brightly colored tail. Meanwhile, politicians will pigpile, that’s what they do.

  17. Re: Fishing. Overfishing is very real. It has been especially practised of late by those sustainability nazis, the EU, on a worldwide basis. But wipeout of marine stocks does not seem to occur. As previously discussed on WUWT, it is temperature change which cyclicly causes stocks to move, and return. This is quite evident in the fisheries for the various Cod species. It has also been understood for centuries by those of us who live off and manage fisheries. Brett Keane, NZ

  18. Well this is timely. I just pointed out that the 1984 versions of the World Order Models Project laid out the blueprint for the political, social, and economic changes without mentioning temps or carbon dioxide. Just the occasional reference to the equilibrium of the Biosphere.

    Most of us might be looking for the Climate Change propaganda in a science class. Will we appreciate how history makes a superb tool for invisible fundamental transformations?http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mischievous-masquerade-apush-as-the-sought-coherent-framework-justifying-intervention-in-history/

    The philosophers need not go back to the Middle Ages to recognize what is going on.

    • occupy-in the conclusion of my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon I point to a 2006 Club of Rome paper created for a conference in Poland that states explicitly that the global vision is feudal. The masses are once again to be under the control over political power and not free to make their own decisions. That’s the social engineering beauty of these K-12 education reforms going on globally and poorly understood. They are behavioral and go directly to the human ability to perceive and thus what is never noticed. The FuturICT documents are also explicit on the extent of the social direction using Big Data, supercomputers, and just raw governmental power asserted at all levels.

      It is not a pretty vision but it is quite well-documented. Now the danger is it continuing to remain unknown.

      • “That’s the social engineering beauty of these K-12 education reforms going on globally and poorly understood. They are behavioral and go directly to the human ability to perceive and thus what is never noticed.”

        Nevertheless, this sort of manipulation of children’s world view is never as powerful as the learning a child experiences in a close bond.

        Therefore, maternal deprivation and getting children away from loved ones, parents, and grandparents must be part of this kind of propagandizing. Many of us have the ability to question what we were taught early in life, but what is irreversibly psychologically damaging is the loss of family love and deep bonds. This causes mental illness.

        Emotional deprivation early in life is a horrifying prospect for any society. Take Attachment Theory seriously. Intelligence is not genetic, and it is not dependent on training; its foundation is in loving, responsive relationships at all stages.

        ref: I am sorry to include this; I have not been able to watch the entire 7 minutes. The baby is isolated. Several slides show the symptoms of babies who have experienced maternal deprivation in the early months.

  19. We are living in an uneasy world where much of the unease is connected with cost and availability of energy. Russia, Ukraine, Europe and the gas spats; Nigeria, Venezuela, Middle East and oil politics; Chinese south sea claims etc.

    Yet western nations with great domestic energy potential are sleepwalking toward energy poverty and dependency. Sustainablility is one of those classic First World problems. The billions who burn dung, kero, twigs or anything at all could only wonder…if they had the leisure to wonder.

    Perhaps if we eliminated ugly words like “sustainability” and replaced them with elegant words like “thrift”? Even Julia Gillard couldn’t uglify “thrift”, no matter how gratingly she squeezed it past those adenoids. Call me sentimental, but I think ugly words are ugly for a reason.

  20. Having grown up in the “Limits to Growth” era I got very depressed. I snapped out of it when I read “The High Frontier” by Gerard K O’Neill. It changed my whole outlook and I’ve never looked at an insolvable problem the same way since.

    We can solve anything. What we need are resources to do it. We currently are in a planetary arms race that spends more than a trillion dollars a year. I’ve yet to encounter a problem that can’t be solved with even a fraction of those resources thrown at it.

    The problem is that governments and their owners (not you and me) don’t want to solve problems. They see us as the problem and their solution to “us” problem is virtual genocide by various means. The whole tax CO2 is just the latest scam to achieve that goal. When it fails they will just move on to their next scam and keep as many gains as they can.

  21. diminish private property rights

    Private property ceased to exist in the US ever since Kelo v. New London. Governments now own all property, and can take it at will through eminent domain. We all occupy our homes at official sufferance.

  22. The Fabian Socialists’ holy icon is that of a red-hot Earth placed on an anvil in front of a giant forge being beaten into submission by men wielding sledge hammers…

    An appropriate and descriptive depiction of what has happened during the “Progressive Era” over the last 100 years. The tremendous economic, scientific and social advancements made possible under free-markets, free societies and free men have been utterly destroyed and replaced by massive centrally-planned economies, oppressed societies and over-taxed workers paying for enslaved welfare recipients that exist to vote for more “goodies” stolen from those still naive enough to remain in the workforce.

    The CAGW scam was a brilliant Progressive scheme giving governments ultimate control over energy and generating $trillions in CO2 taxes for wealth redistribution on a global scale, all under the guise of “Saving the Planet” (TM).

    Fortunately, the Progressive Era has orchestrated its own demise. The national debts of Socialists countries now exceed governments’ abilities to finance them, and the temporary fix of money printing has destroyed their respective currencies. The CAGW scam is also collapsing as empirical evidence has, for all intents and purposes, disconfirmed this silly and untenable hypothesis.

    In about 5~10 years (perhaps sooner), an economic collapse brought about by 100 years of Progressive fiscal and monetary insanity is imminent. After the collapse, the world will have two choices: 1) rebel against Progressivism and restore severely limited governments and return to free-market economies, maximum personal freedom and personal responsibility or 2) allow totalitarianism to rule and control what’s left after the chaos.

    History shows door #2 is the most likely scenario, but, as Cajuns love to say, Ya neva know…..

    • “personal freedom and personal responsibility” :)

      All too often people forget that other side of the coin. They want freedom to do whatever they want but want someone else to pick up the tab when things don’t go well. Ya #2 in the guise of “we are here to help you” and “we know how to fix this” will probably win. Sad but not inevitable. Never give up just because others do.

    • But Trap #2 is the Progressives’ aim. They are totalitarian but need to break the ‘mold’ of the current ‘free world’ systems and ethos as put forward by the Fabian’s. To quote Kruschev:

      “ ‘You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you’ll fall like overripe fruit into our hands.’

      Perhaps Kruschev was aware of the huge assistance that would be given to the destruction of the ethos and economy of the United States by adherents to Alinksky and Cloward and Piven

  23. Nothing is allowed in the UK unless it is “sustainable”. The National Planning Policy Framework says:
    “At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.”

  24. There has been an engineering concept of sustainability based on scheduled maintenance of equipment and civil works infrastructure.

    Investing in equipment and civil works infrastructure gets nowhere if as soon as assets are acquired they are allowed to rundown as a result of not being maintained in a way to ensure they deliver services during their normal economic life. Failing to maintain assets is the opposite of investment; it is dis-investment.

    In assessing development projects, I ignore “Sustainability” in its political form and interpret the term “sustainability” to mean “engineering sustainability”, which is far more important in developing countries where dis-investment almost always follows investment.

    Countries borrow money to invest and then immediately ignore maintenance. Typically, in developing countries physical assets have an economic life only half their rated economic life. Under-provision for depreciation is the norm.

  25. Aqua rigia is a mixture of concentrated nitric and conc.hydrochloric acids.

    We have had a universal solvent for eons—water. In the earths crust it will dissolve anything at the right temperature and pressure.

  26. “Sustainability” sounds so good and reasonable. That is by design, so that people don’t recognize the danger of it. The problem is, when the Humpty Dumptys who are in power use the word “sustainable” it means whatever they choose it to mean — neither more nor less. The phrase “climate change” belongs in the same category. All the better and easier to control the sheeple.

  27. “Who knew a century ago, that commonplace sand (silica) would become essential to our transistor and integrated-circuit world of today?”

    And, of course, frac sand is the same stuff and it has already unlocked untold volumes of cheap energy to ‘sustain’ industry and prosperity in the US and Canada.

    Check out “Sand is the New Gold,” here:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-29/sand-new-gold

  28. It is the old feudal and surf system resurrected. The land lord overseas the populace who own no such land, though they live on it and till it. All productivity and daily life is targeted towards the whims and profits of the master, seemingly benevolent, dictates, not for individual thinking, growth, or mistake making. So we submit calmly under its perfect rules and regulations thinking, eventually, that our collective ship will come in and we will all get an equally large slice of the pie. We could not be more blind if we were to gouge out our eyes and lobotomize our brains.

  29. Author Michael Crichton had something to say about “sustainability”:

    Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.

    Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at their beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths:

    There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature. There’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability.

    Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion; that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.


    See? Sustainability will get you into Heaven.

  30. I like the way that the APA starts off with the bold statement of “Democracy” and “economic growth” before going on into “sustainability” which will do away with both of the above with the steady erosion of private property rights and personal freedoms.

    APA is definitely a worthy disciple of Agend21, this agency is the father and mother of “sustainability” as it is touted AND the mother and father of “Anthropogenic Global Warming”, which also deserves it’s parentheses.

    This is where our efforts need to be marshalled – see my blog for more info.

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com

  31. As an Alchemist I can assure you we do not try to transmute Lead into Gold. It’s metaphorical – we are attempting to turn matter into spirit.

  32. The Progressive’s Stone goes far, far back. A landmark was Plato’s Republic, where Plato argued that a gentle totalitarianship of philosophers ought to rule society. These clever rulers would figure out where everyone else would fit in society, as warriors, shop-keepers, and so on. Fast-forward to Brave New World, Walden II, and Farenheit 451, and it is all generally the same.

    Charles Fourier is a likely recent landmark, with an influence felt directly to today. He believed in planned communities organized to keep people healthy and productive.

    The concept of environmental degradation gets added with Malthus. Some Marxists pay attention only to wealth and labor, but others realize anything can be over-simplified into the “good guy-bad guy” morality most of us outgrow by adolescence, as we see shades of grey. The Progressive’s Stone here gets formed from a blend of Scientific Utopianism and Marxism. The theory of evolution helps a lot, as some can now scientifically be more equal than others.

    From there, the line of thought and activity is steadily sustained by many, either Scientifically-Inspired Utopians, Marxists, or those who are a blend of both. In the 1940s, Ellsworth Huntington writes “The Wellspring of Civilization.” This may be the first presentation of the idea of the environment as Gaia, an entity itself to be revered and feared.

    Nukelar scientist Harrison Brown, after helping develop the nukelar bomb, decides he is one of the ruling philosophers, and puts out a series of popular-press books declaring that we need to have a group of intellectual elites rule us, or we will all end up dead from some catastrophe, such as nukelar war.

    He is also able to prop up evolutionary theory: since he and his fellow travelers have to, for philosophical reasons, believe in a very old earth and very old universe, he fosters Clair Patterson to whisper to a meteorite and discern that the universe if 4 billion years old. This is confirmed by – wait, there is no way to confirm this, since no one was around then. OK, well it is accepted as dogma since it holds the intellectual elites in place to decides who gets to live and reproduce.

    Harrison Brown is declared by Science Czar John Holdren to be his intellectual hero. In tribute, Holdren joins up with Ehrlich to figure out how to put birth control in the water, set up an approval process to be a parent, and so on.

    The rest is history.

  33. Oh – I left this out: Marx, yet another philosopher-king, was directly inspired by Hegel, who took the intellectual “dialectic” and applied it to social issues, and repeated Plato’s idea that the warrior or business classes should not rule, and was also directly inspired by Fourier. That is how Fourier ties in.

  34. Some might enjoy this 90s project – do not hear about them today – why?

    http://ag.arizona.edu/oals/ALN/aln36/Clark.html

    Sustainable community planning

    by Kenneth N. Clark

    The western U.S. city
    Recent developments in energy-conscious planning
    A holistic approach to planning and architecture
    Civano: Tucson’s solar village
    Conclusions
    Reference & further reading
    Author information
    The energy crisis of the 1970s brought the industrialized nations of the Western Hemisphere face to face with a new reality: their cities, especially those in the United States, are poorly positioned to deal with a growing population in a future of diminishing fossil fuels.

    Attempts by architects and engineers to design for this new reality have led to a renewed interest in the potential of solar energy and energy conservation to meet the needs of an uncertain energy future. The worldwide experiments of the late ’70s and early ’80s brought about an interesting juxtaposition of high-tech/low-tech engineering solutions, as well as a new attitude about energy responsibility in architectural design. A common ground for these diverse attitudes to saving energy was to examine successful historical precedents for clues to low-cost, energy-saving design strategies. Possibly the most enduring results of the energy crisis have been the continuing experiments with alternate sources of fuel (primarily solar and wind), alternate types of building construction (adobe, rammed earth, straw bale, and others), and the many and varied energy-conservation programs sponsored by local utilities.

    But have we, as environmental designers, really learned from the energy scare of the 1970s? Or have we once again become consenting handmaidens to economic and development interests? In the United States, where nearly 60 percent of the energy consumed goes to transportation, it is imperative that we combine land use and transportation design to achieve a sustainable balance. Superficially, the specter of dwindling energy resources has been pushed aside by development of more energy-efficient automobiles and by government assurances that we have, by political means, secured the sources of fossil fuel energy.

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