SATURDAY, OCT 24, 2015
Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS
TOPICS: NEAR FUTURE, FROM THE WIRES, LIKELY STORY, HISTORY, REALITY-BASED
TUCSON (A-P) — The Euro-Sino Empire was a replay of the Greco-Roman
Empire that preceded it. Much as the Greco had been, the Euro
beginnings were based on an extractive mercantile agro-economic maritime
empire. Unlike the Greco, the Euro transitioned to coal and other
sources which allowed for continued growth. The later Roman
agro-military-industrial complex that subsumed the Greco was mirrored by
of the global fossil-fueled corporate politico-economic empire that
began with the Euro Industrial Revolution whose pulse climaxed within
the Sino region. The Euro (and interim Americo) complex had transitioned
away from coal to use the preferred oil and gas reserves. When they ran
out, the Euro-Americo region tried to transition back to coal and exploit alleged
alternative fuels, but because the Sino-Indio part of the corporate
Empire was already coal-based, the Sino region came to dominate the
global affairs of Empire in its final years before the coal too failed to empower.
The earlier "Greek Miracle" of the free, curious and critical Ionian and Athenian Greeks was mirrored by the European Enlightenment that laid the foundations for a recovery of science as a way of finding things out which served the Euro-Sino Empire much as the Greek learning had the Greco-Roman Empire. Having some grasp of the nature of things aids empire building. While science is a necessary precondition for sustainable empire, as was the case with the Greco-Roman Empire, the Euro-Sino Empire marginalized science, especially towards the end of empire when it sought political-military solutions and so failed to transition to sustainability.
Much as the Greco-Roman Empire had been replaced by a "Holy Roman Empire" which was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire apart from its ideological Christian hegemony, the Euro-Sino Empire collapse allowed the Holy ISIS Empire to dominate, with extreme prejudice, the lives and minds of most of the remnant population. Having even less science and no internet except for the inner elites, the Global Caliphate lasted a mere 42 years instead of the nearly thousand years between the fall of the Western Greco-Roman Empire and the European Renaissance that began after the fall of the Eastern Greco-Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 1453 which generated a wave of émigré Greco scholars who brought their precious ancient Greek manuscripts and memes with them to Europe to escape the Islamo hegemony of the Ottoman Caliphate.
History continued to repeat itself. The high-speed Euro-Sino culture didn't last long, but neither did its Dark Age. The remnant techno-scholars (aka Anonymous) had preserved the internet and evolved it into the Info-Ether we depend on today. Those who had survived were in no position to generate much new information, were low on empower, were lamentably limited and oppressed, and so the techno-scholars morphed the misnamed "smartphones" into the solar smartbooks we depend on today to access the vast info trove stored in the Info-Ether generated by the Euro-Sino Empire as it flowered before its collapse. Thanks to the Byzantine Greco scholars who preserved the Greco learning of the free, curious and critical Ionian Greeks to whom we trace our intellectual ancestry, and thanks to the techno-scholars who preserved the Open Internet and hacked the Global Caliphate's Intranet to use to dismantle their empire by decapitating it, we recovered science upon which we came to base our fragile grasp of reality and culture (see Way Down to Prosperous Sustainability).
The techno-scholars recovered information and made it available to all. They had developed the ham-net which was a radio-based internet. A document request could be sent and often within a day, the document could be retrieved. Each scholar could request as much text-based information each day as they could read in a day. Images could be included, but little video was sent which was little missed. A scholar could request Origin of Species or 1.2 seconds of video. YouTube and Netflex was archived, there was no recreational internet, so scholars became the prime users of the Info-Ether unlike the Internet which had come to be dominated by post-truth social media.
When the techno-scholars made the planet safe for information, they released autonomous hydrogen balloons carrying solar-powered hubs as non-orbiting satellites above the troposphere. In the stratosphere there are no clouds, so solar power is a predictable 365 days of power. Some solar power was used for electrolysis of water vapor to maintain the hydrogen gas. The Info-Ether only worked during daylight hours, but it worked to connect the smartbooks. Material, including limited video, could be queued to download for nighttime consideration. To make good use of limited bandwidth, library servers delivered ebooks, film, music, and video from their vast archive stored locally. Patrons would build a list and visit the village library to plug in their thumb drive that could easily hold a week's worth of information. When smartbooks were connected during the day, they were connected to the Gog, the global AI, and so by proxy they were indeed smart. The low-power Info-Ether had limits compared to the internet of the 21st century, but none that mattered.
5th century CE.
Begins where prior agrarian/wood powered military/maritime empire, the Greco-Roman, ends secondary to overshoot—over exploitation of human and environmental biophysical resources. Mediterranean-wide expansion into Egypt and northern Europe/British Isles of agriculture into formerly forested areas, for both cultivated and grazed usage, resulted in a system pulse. Although initial productivity was three times the sustainable level, the loss of soil fertility, population growth, extensive soil erosion, continued deforestation to fuel industrial production (of metal, glass, ceramics, cement, lime), to provide for roofing, for cooking/heating, and ship building to allow maritime trade/war became limiting. Only agricultural production in Egypt was sustainable secondary to annual flooding/fertilizing by Nile.
6th - 11th century
Slow Stage 4 environmental and social recovery (aka Dark Age). Soils recover from over exploitation forced by demands of distant elites of prior empire on outlaying areas. Natural secession leads to reforestation, creates biomass and increasing soil fertility allowing for second round of agro-industrial development. The Holy Roman Empire subsumed the last of the Roman aristocracy. The Feudal SYSTEM depended on the God's Mandate (the divine right of kings) narrative of the priests to justify the emergent inequality of elite aristocracy providing protection services (from Vikings, Muslims, and neighboring principalities) and serfdom.
Medieval three-field system allows for a more productive agricultural system supporting larger populations to empower renewed empire building beginning with the rise of towns in Western Europe leading to the growth of Machiavellian principalities, military might, and commerce. Larger principalities and city-states emerge united by the existing empire of belief.
Leagues & guilds grow in Western Europe. Chimney technology allows for multi-room elite housing with glass windows on exterior. Home heating, mining, and glass making required extensive, unsustainable wood consumption, a repetition of Roman deforestation/empowerment pulse of over a thousand years prior.
The raise of political and economic power occurred within the overarching religious/belief empire despite start of Little Ice Age, famine, and Black Death.
Global expansion of trade and mercantile empire building enrich hereditary aristocracy, but comes to challenge divine rights of the agro-wood powered Feudal SYSTEM.
England repels Spanish Armada in 1588 but fear of future invasion results in construction of a fleet of large war ships, each consuming 1,000 oak trees. Naval demands for wood and cannon smelted by charcoal trump glass maker demands on forest resources in Europe.
Jamestown, 1607, was in part an attempt to export glass making to America (a continent for the taking) that had 'plenty' of sand and trees. Dirty coal came to substitute for wood, coke for charcoal, to continue industrial production of glass and metals.
The Newcomen steam engine of 1712 and improved Watt steam engine, 1763 to 1775, both coal powered, unleashed the dogs of war and enterprise resulting in the Industrial Revolution, its global expansion and exponential growth. Power shifts from agro/wood powered military/aristocracy to fossil-fueled industrial/military/business-as-usual based empire building necessitating replacement of the God's Mandate narrative with the Growth's Mandate meme suppled by the new priesthood of the economists.
America's eastern forests, through which a tag team of squirrels could once have traveled from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River without touching the ground, largely exhausted by 1830s, as were whales, forcing transition to biofuels (alcohol/turpentine briefly), coal and petroleum use to enable continued growth. And then what?
Growth greatest in North America, supplier of weapons of mass destruction, spared the destruction of WWI and WWII in the first half of century, resulting in the short-lived Americo interim period. The Green Revolution allows food to be made of oil (via industrial inputs into the agro-ecosystem). Initially, among scientists, only HT clearly saw the need to put system over self.
Growth shifts to the Sino region, whose economy/extraction of planetary resources doubled every seven to ten years in the early part of century. In three years China used more cement than America had in its entire history and used half of planetary coal production to grow the economy to, among other things, keep Wal-Mart open 24/7 and make solar panels and wind turbines salvaged and used in 22nd century by techno-scholars to preserve information and information technology.
Managed Stage 3 descent (alternative to unmanaged 'zombie apocalypse' collapse as happened among those not writing history). Slow Stage 4 environmental and social recovery begins in some regions (those embracing managed descent) assisted by remnant population organized under United Federation of Watersheds policy for continued sustainable degrowth.
Federation managed degrowth of population and environmental restorancy continues to further HT's prosperity of enough for all achievable in our century. Federation prime directive: Thou shall not overshoot thy system's sustainable environmental production. That is, don't repeat the pattern, learn to live within self-imposed, self-embraced limits.
Initial descent was chaotic and 'got people's attention', but the 280 year descent shown above was much less steep than it could have been. Human history could end before the 24th century. In an optimistic future, those not wanting to live the nasty, brutish and short life, who were adverse to eating others or being eaten, adapted to Federation planned descent to reduce population without increasing the death rate (via war, pestilence, genocide, starvation, interpersonal violence) by accepting effective birth control for all discontinued for conception limited to one birth to two natural deaths. Death by murder, suicide, self-neglect, starvation, plague not followed by increase in births per Nature's way.
Birth certificates transferable such that for each two certified 'natural' deaths (old age, accident and individual illness) counted for transfer of one birth certificate. The less than one child per woman policy allowed for degrowth of population by reducing it by half every 80 years until a sustainable population was reached allowing for a transition to a 2.1 child per woman average or to a one death to one birth policy.
Birth rates have biological limits, but death rate does not. All humans could die in one century or even a decade. A negative population growth of only 0.875% was alternative to a much faster catastrophic die-off possibly ending in human species extinction. Humans living through the managed descent got by on 'just enough' without existential threats until all could have enough which was understood to be true prosperity.
A straight two deaths to one birth policy, assuming an average life expectancy of 70 years, best practice medical care, adequate nutrition, protection of citizens from war/murder, would result in only a negative 0.714% degrowth rate that would take 98 years to reduce population by half, a very slow rate of descent that may not be possible to maintain during descent as a natural die-off could well exceed -7%. Only an egalitarian rationing system would allow citizens to live out full lives of enough during descent. To avoid an unnecessarily long, drawn out descent, those living their life 'right and well' into old age, who avoided self-inflected death (e.g. via alcohol/drug abuse) by negligence or misadventure, would enable others, usually close kin, including their grandchildren, to reproduce. Not uncommonly, grandparents in due time enabled a granddaughter or grandson's wife to bare a child.
To 'humanely' degrow the population non-catastrophically (to avoid the 'zombie apocalypse' scenario and traumatizing the surviors to such an extent that they fail to rebuild as per Calhoun rat/mice experiments of mid 20th century) required 300 years minimum. In areas not adopting Federation policy, degrowth occurred in 30 years or even three years, but those few living through the degrowth, as happened many times regionally in the past 10,000 years of human empire building (e.g. Indus Valley Civilization), did not record the details of precipitous descent and early recovery. This is why the Dark Ages are dark. Typically only scant archaeological evidence, such as cut marks on human bones, provide ignorable clues.
So, back to the early 21st century: 3.8 billion people were mesmerized into listening to a 5 minute presentation by Anonymous, in an appropriate language, on Sustainability Issues. All TVs in the world, all smartphones, all computers were hijacked, and of those not online at the time to listen, many wanted to know what they missed and felt forced to listen too. Lawyers argued that Anonymous had wasted a minimum of 3.8 billion times 5 minutes of human life, or 48,000 years, the equivalent of 700 human lifetimes. They demanded the death penalty.
I was picked as I didn't know who I was. There was no defense, as
they noted, so I had none. The lawyers presented evidence, possibly
exaggerated, that 13 people had been influenced adversely as evidenced
by subsequent search engine misuse that suggested they were questioning
growth for its own sake. The prosecution keep saying, more loudly each
time, that I had killed 713 humans. I have been sentenced to be publicly hanged
in a fortnight after being castrated with a dull aluminum spoon.* My
mind has been clarified wonderfully (to paraphrase Samuel Johnson whom
the Google knows).
"X-axis" time from 23,880 BCE to present projected to 2400 CE displayed as a 3d sphere with coast, river, watershed boundaries. Alternative version goes back 75,000 years to include the modern human near extinction event.
"Y-axis" emergy(seJ)/person (for both "average elites" and "average commoners") in watershed region/time displayed as elevation topo over time. Go to region/watershed of interest (viewed similar to Google Earth), use time slider (t-axis), see rise/fall/oscillation of human footprint with sidebar 2d graphs and narrative sidebar.
Early view of hunter-gather populations spreading and pulsing to megafauna extinctions, acting like an invasive species, climaxing with early industrial complex/empire building at end of Epipaleolithic. Rise of Neolithic agroecosystem empires pulsing to changing conditions, conquest, and unsustainable practices. All known empire pulsing shown per region with selectable multiple projections to 2400 CE from Business-as-usual scenarios to Federation scenario.
Maximum view height 720 pixels (10 inches at 72 dpi). Maximum time width for 2d, at 1 pixel = 1 year, 26,280 pixels (365 inches, 30 feet, 9.27 m, at 72 dpi).