The Highest Form of Knowledge

You are 15 years old, dear Saania,¬† and you love having fun with philosophy. In your blog you stress how important empathy is. I like this very much! I could not agree more that people want to be understood! ūüôā

As we go through our lives, one of the most important things we learn is how to connect with people. No wonder we, humans, are known to be ‚Äúsocial animals.‚ÄĚ

Feeling heard is a human need, and all of us want to feel understood.

Often when I would have an argument with someone, I would almost find myself preparing my response instead of genuinely trying to listen to them. But I now realise that people don‚Äôt want to hear your ‚Äúlogic‚ÄĚ all the time. Sometimes, they just want to be understood. Like we all do. Empathy is something that helps us get in touch with our feelings and hence gives us an emotional understanding of others around us.

Or at school, I would always want to be seen as the ‚Äėsmartest‚Äô amongst my friends. And so I would brag about my grades, step on the feelings of others, and be‚Ķ

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‘Our prosperity must be compromised because it is killing us’

https://www.dw.com/en/our-prosperity-must-be-compromised-because-it-is-killing-us/a-53741670

I copied the following interview from the above link!

“Coronavirus has forced the global economy to shrink. Is this what a more sustainable world without growth could look like? DW spoke to environmental economist Niko Paech about his ideas for a post-growth society.”

 

“As countries around the world slowly emerge from lockdown, many are crawling into a reality characterized by¬†economic crisis¬†and soaring levels of¬†unemployment. According to the World Bank, the global economy is set to shrink by 5.2% this year, rendering this the deepest recession since World War II.

But even this historic contraction doesn’t go far enough for environmental economist and degrowth proponent Niko Paech. He argues that we need to transition permanently to a post-growth economy if we want to ensure our survival on this planet.”

DW spoke to Paech for the new series of the environmental podcast On the Green Fence.

DW: You would like us to switch to a post-growth economy because you say it’s the only way for us to survive on this planet. How do we reduce production and consumption without jeopardizing our prosperity?

Professor Niko Paech: Our prosperity must be compromised because it is killing us. It must be reduced, especially since there is no right to this prosperity. The same applies to other consumer democracies whose prosperity is the result of decades of blatant plundering. This means that by reducing prosperity we are not relinquishing something, but rather giving back the booty that we in our insolence have presumed to claim as ours.

On the Green Fence: Degrowth ‚Äď is less really more?

DW: What would people have to relinquish if your concept of a post-growth economy were to be implemented?

Paech: Your question is all wrong from the outset. It’s not about relinquishing. How can you relinquish something that you’ve never been entitled to in the first place?

DW: But isnt that a question of perception? Many would argue they are entitled to this…

Paech: Hang on! I can’t just rob a bank and say I am entitled to this booty and the two dead people lying on the floor are simply collateral damage. It’s the same with the¬†ecologic side effects of my air travel¬†or consumption. Or let’s say you go to the doctor tomorrow and the doctor says: “You have a huge malignant tumor on your back. I’ll have to cut it away for you to survive.‚ÄĚ Of course I’m not going to make a fuss and say: “Oh God, how can I do without this tumor?‚ÄĚ No! It’s a relief to get rid of it. I wouldn’t mix up relief and renunciation. That is way I don’t talk about renunciation, but prefer the more neutral terms of reduction or self-limitation.

Read more: Can a minimalist mindset help save the planet?

DW: So what would this self-limitation entail for us in concrete terms? What would change?

Paech: First off, the vast majority of holiday travel by plane, cruise ship or car is simply no longer tenable in the twenty-first century. Next it’s crucial to dismantle digitalization. We will not survive in a digital world. Then of course there is consumption. We must learn to use durable goods in a way that their useful life is at least doubled, if not tripled. And we will need a major¬†change in the agricultural sector. Meat consumption must be cut by at least two thirds. Creating more living space is also off the cards. But above all, we will need to¬†share more at a local or regional level, for instance with neighbors sharing a lawnmower or car.

This will not only save a lot of ecological resources, but will also reduce our dependence on money and consumption. And that in turn will create greater resilience, including socio-political resilience. This means that people are no longer so dependent on their current jobs or transfer payments from the state. Instead, they become more adept at providing for themselves in networks in a more collaborative manner. But having a big clear out also means we need to dismantle things without replacing them. This is crucial.

Three sit-on lawnmowersHow much is too much?

condensation trails cross in the skyCan frequent fliers be moved to stay on the ground?

DW: Dont you think you are overburdening people here? Do you really believe this can be achieved by consensus?

Paech: No. Of course this won’t be achieved by consensus. This can only be achieved if people rise and act together by forming alliances within social niches and by creating¬†counter-cultures¬†with a post-growth lifestyle that challenges society as a whole. It’s never an attack on democracy to simply say no. No to air travel, no to meat, no to smartphones, no to home ownership or to some absurd new acquisition. No one can take that right away from you in a democracy.

DW: But to actually stop people from flying or driving cars, youd need very strict measures and lots of bans, or not?

Paech: There are all sorts of bans in a democracy. In Germany you can’t drive through red lights for instance. Nobody would consider this dictatorial. People often pretend that bans are not democratic. We currently don’t have a majority for this anyway. But there will come a point when people will revolt and then they will confront those are still behaving like ecological vandals at the expense of others.

Read more:¬†‘The time has come for humanity to go through its next evolution’

DW: Aren‘t you worried that a sustained shrinking of the economy would wreak havoc with our social systems?

Paech: Our social systems will have to be restructured, of course. We would even, in the sense of socio-political autonomy, make people more resilient. So instead of feeding the factors that people are fighting over all the time anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to make people more independent and reduce the rivalry? The resilience I’m talking about simply means being less dependent on consumption.

DW: A lot of the change you‘d like to see would probably be hard to accept for most people right now. If you tried to give it a positive spin, what could people look forward to in a post-growth society?¬†

Paech: We’ve never been so free. We’ve never been so educated. We’ve never been so rich. We’ve never been so eager to assert our moral superiority at every opportunity. And at the same time, we’ve never lived in such an ecologically ruinous way. And this contradiction is eating away at us. Mental illness is on the rise. We are in the midst of a rampant¬†identity crisis. It’s clear that the quality of life needs to be improved. We also need to reduce our fears about the future. No one can have a good life if they are constantly afraid of what the future might hold.

Read more:¬†Welcome back greed and stress, we’ve missed you!

We also need to become more independent of markets, of technology, of money, of the state, of companies. Achieving that is perhaps the highest degree of freedom. We are not free today. In fact, ultimately, we are all puppets of a consumer dictatorship. If all supermarkets in Germany were to close for four weeks, we would become extinct, because as we grew richer we also lost our ability to satisfy our most basic needs.

Computers for sale in an electronics store
Clothing on display in a shopAre we addicted to our consumer lifestyle?

DW: Youre not just critical of consumerism and economic growth but also of green growth in particular. Why?

Paech: We have established a new religion. It’s what I would call the Church of Progress. Our faith in technology is helping us create completely new alibis and excuses. We argue that it is not really our lifestyle that is the problem but rather the fact that we still haven’t achieved the necessary technological progress. Take¬†Germany’s energy revolution¬†for example ‚Äď it’s the perfect alibi. I can fly to the Caribbean as long as I buy green electricity. It’s all a bit reminiscent of the Catholic trade in indulgences. One could say that the air traveler’s guilty conscience is drowned in organic lemonade.

And this technological compensation logic is fueling a green economy which is setting new records everywhere, not only in Germany. But the ecologically harmful things are also setting new records everywhere at the same time. And that is no coincidence, but rather the systemic connection between eco-vandalism on the one hand and a new ecological indulgence trade.

DW: Do you have an explanation why its so hard for us to slow down, consume less, and produce less?

Paech: As long as people haven’t practiced how to reduce things they won’t be able to do it even if they have long understood that it is necessary. And we are not practiced in reducing things, on the contrary we have been collectively trained in the logic of growth. But if a society really wants to practice reduction, somebody must set an example. We need pioneers. But we simply don’t have any role models for a sustainable life.

Read more:¬†Life after coronavirus: ‘We can shape a totally different world’

DW: Were running out of time over the climate crisis and we need a global solution. If we look to the developing or emerging countries, how realistic is your post-growth model there? Surely we cant just tell them:¬†‚ÄėDont make the same mistakes as we made! Dont grow! You mustnt reach our standard of living or the world will have a problem.

Paech: Until a country of the global North actually implements a post-growth society, there is absolutely no chance to inspire so-called emerging and emerging countries to follow suit. I believe that there is a moral duty on the part of the North, which has caused so much damage through colonialism and the subsequent industrial plundering of this planet, to take the lead. Especially since the very people who are suffering most have not contributed to the damage at all. We need to implement this as a blueprint for others. And the rest is fate. The rest depends on how crises impact on us, like corona for instance.

Environmental economist Niko Paech is one of Germany’s leading sustainability researchers and growth critics. He’s a professor at Siegen University. Paech believes that transitioning to a post-growth economy is the only way for mankind to avoid global environmental catastrophe.

Paech was interviewed by Neil King and Gabriel Borrud for the DW podcast, On the Green Fence. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

 

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This is a copy of an article about the environmental cost of air travel

Here is the link to the original article by DW:

https://www.dw.com/en/to-fly-or-not-to-fly-the-environmental-cost-of-air-travel/a-42090155

Though air travel is more popular than ever, the vast majority of people in the world have never been on a plane. As that dynamic slowly changes, the environment stands to suffer. Is flying less the only solution?

    
An airplane flies with contrails in its wake

When was the last time you traveled by plane? Various researchers say as little as between 5 and 10 percent of the global population fly in a given year.

But things are changing. According to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimates, there were 3.7 billion global air passengers in 2016 ‚ÄĒ and every year since 2009 has been a new record-breaker.

By 2035, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts a rise to 7.2 billion. Like the planes themselves, the numbers just keep going up. And given the damage flying does to the planet, that is food for thought.

Not just the CO2

Many estimates put aviation’s share of global CO2 emissions at just above 2 percent. That’s the figure the industry itself generally accepts.

But according to Stefan G√∂ssling, a professor at Sweden’s Lund and Linnaeus universities and co-editor of the book Climate Change and Aviation: Issues, Challenges and Solutions, “That’s only half the truth.”

Other aviation emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), water vapor, particulates, contrails and cirrus changes have additional warming effects.

A Boeing 747 jet being assembledBeyond emissions made solely in flight, manufacturing effects within the aviation industry add considerably to its overall footprint

“The sector makes a contribution to global warming that is at least twice the effect of CO2 alone,” G√∂ssling told DW, settling on an overall contribution of 5¬†percent “at minimum.”

But IATA spokesperson Chris Goater told DW the science behind this so-called ‘radiative forcing’ is “unproven”.

Even if we accept the 2 percent emissions figure as final, if only 3 percent of the world’s population flew last year, that relatively small group still accounted for a disproportionate chunk of global emissions.

A few years ago, environmental group Germanwatch estimated that a single person taking one roundtrip flight from Germany to the Caribbean produces the same amount of damaging emissions as 80 average residents of Tanzania do in an entire year: around four metric tons of CO2.

“On an individual level, there is no other human activity that emits as much over such a short period of time as aviation, because it is so energy-intensive,” G√∂ssling explains.

The¬†WWF carbon footprint calculator¬†is instructive in this regard. Even a serious¬†environmentalist who eats vegan, heats using solar power and rides a bike to work,¬†but who still take the occassional flight,¬†wouldn’t look very green at all.

Just two hypothetical short-haul return flights and one long-haul round-trip in a given year would outweigh otherwise exemplary behavior.

Infografik persöhnliche Klimafußabdruck reduzieren ENG

New tech can’t solve everything

As awareness of the need to reduce our individual and collective carbon footprints in order to prevent climate catastrophe grows, several industries have come under sustained pressure to find clean solutions.

The aviation sector made its own promises ‚ÄĒ in October 2016, 191 nations agreed a UN accord which aims to cut global aviation carbon emissions to 2020 levels by 2035. Another ambitious target of that agreement is for the aviation industry to achieve a 50 percent carbon emission reduction by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

Goater says there are four ways in which the aviation industry intends to achieve these things: through carbon offsetting in the short-term, the continued development of more efficient planes, deeper investment in¬†sustainable fuels¬†‚ÄĒ such as biofuels ‚ÄĒ and through better route efficiency.

“Basically air traffic control is very inefficient,” he explains. “It creates unnecessary fuel burns and more efficient use would create a 10 percent reduction in emissions.”

He also highlights the fact that a number – albeit very few – of commercial flights are now powered with sustainable fuels every day, despite the fact that the first such flight took off less than a decade ago.

“That was something that happened much faster than anyone was expecting,” he says. The key now, in his view, is for the industry to prioritise investment in the area and for governments to commit in the same way they have to¬†e-mobility¬†in the automobile sector.

But Gössling and many of his peers remain unconvinced.

There were 3.6 billion individual passenger flights in 2016 ‚ÄĒ the number is expected to double by 2035A plane launches in front of two contrails in the sky.

“I think that essentially we need price hikes,” he says. “We did interviews with industry leaders a few months ago and many of them agreed, secretly ‚ÄĒ they were anonymous interviews ‚ÄĒ that if we don’t have a major price hike for fossil fuels, then there is no way alternative fuels could ever make it.”

Daniel Mittler, political director of environmental NGO Greenpeace, agrees that fossil fuels need to be more expensive. “The first step is to end all fossil fuel subsidies, including those going to aviation and to properly tax the aviation industry,” he told DW.

For Goater, that is not realistic. “Fuel is already a significant proportion of an airline’s costs,” he says. “Believe me, if we could fly without oil we would.”

The hard truth?

So what’s to be done? G√∂ssling, who has devoted more than 20 years of research to the subject, sees only one solution.

“Do we really need to fly as much as we do, or is the amount we fly induced by the industry?” he asks. In addition to artificially¬†low airplane ticket prices,¬†the industry also promotes a lifestyle, he argues.

“Airline campaigns project an image where you can become part of a group of people who are young, urban frequent flyers, visiting another city every few weeks for very low costs,” he says.

Yet for Goater, the idea of dictating who can fly and when is as unrealistic as it is outdated.

Two passengers ride a tandem bicycle in Berlin, GermanyCan we look toward simpler methods of transport than jet-fueled airplanes?

“Reducing emissions needs to be balanced with allowing people the opportunity to fly ‚ÄĒ I believe that’s a settled consensus amongst the mainstream for many years,” he says. “It’s not up to people in one part of the world to take it on themselves to deny people in other parts of the world those opportunities.”

For Mittler, it comes down to individual choice as much as anything else and he believes that while efficiency gains are vital, the first step is to reduce the amount we fly.

“We need to move towards a more sharing and caring way of living on this planet,” he says, adding that doing without the weekend shop in New York might be one of the least painful ways of contributing to that.

“We need a prosperity that is based on community and based on real wealth of collective vision, rather than one that is based on relentless consumption. Aviation is a symbol of the kind of consumption that we need to leave behind.”

This article was updated on January 24, 2020. A previous estimate of 3% for the percentage of people who fly in a given year has been updated to a figure of 5-10%, based on a wider range of estimates from various sources.

Looking ahead, not getting ahead

This is a reblog of Sean Crawley’s very thought provoking blog!

wake up and smell the humans

towerSunday 14th June, 2020

5.58am

It’s raining again. 100% humidity in winter. Mobile phones warn of moisture detected. It’s hard to recall the feeling of that last hot dry summer. The royal commission into the bushfires publishes testimonies of unimaginable horror and analyses of inadequate preparations and responses, yet,  I can’t fully remember or reimagine what it was like, back then. There is the present to deal with; a new set of dramas unfolding. Disease and the economy. Systemic racism being exposed in our institutions. Not even our beloved artists are exempt from this new revision of history and culture. People are massing. Lip service from politicians representing governments that fail to enact the recommendations of repeated inquiries will no longer suffice. Do something, we scream. People now demanding change. COVID -19 a trigger point, the historians of the future will write. The real issues have nothing to do with…

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Another Sunday Diary

Four weeks ago was Peter’s 85th birthday. I wrote about it here:

https://auntyuta.com/2020/05/24/sunday-diary/

In that post three weeks ago I was also contemplating about what it is like for Peter and me to stay in our home and managing to do everything by ourselves. I thought about it that staying at home there are still many things we can enjoy if only we can make the time for it: Sitting in the sun. reading, writing, playing games, watching TV,  going out for a meal or catch up with family! We also love just listening to music. So far, Peter is still able to drive a car. To go to places in our own car is a good thing because of the Coronavirus. Before the epidemy we always liked to use public transport when at all possible. We still try social distancing!

 

We also want to (or have to!) stay active as much as possible. But somehow we are always running out of time! I ask myself, why is this so? . . . .

These are the things we try to do: Looking after personal hygiene, walking in the open air, shopping for essentials, doing the most necessary housework and gardening. But it usually does not take long and we are so exhausted that we urgently need to rest for a while! This means each day we can do only a very limited amount of work. Each and every day we have to cut back on something that we would have liked to have done. If we decide to do something that we had been neglected to do for very long, something else that might be just as important, cannot be done by us on that day. We feel, that every day we have a bit less time. How is that possible? The question is, what is really most important to us that we still want to be able to do?

Another thing is medical appointments:

At times medical appointments do keep us very busy too!

I should have called this post RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

Diary: What should I drink?

https://www.rdhmag.com/patient-care/patient-education/article/14033922/hidden-fluoride-in-tea-and-other-foods-and-beverages

Effects of excessive fluoride

“. . . .¬† Now consider the effects of a heavy tea-drinking habit on fluoride accumulation in body tissues. We know that dental fluorosis caused by excess fluoride is a risk only in childhood, since fluorosis occurs during tooth formation. Children probably aren‚Äôt likely to drink tea in large amounts, so dental fluorosis from that source isn‚Äôt common. There have, however, been documented cases of skeletal fluorosis linked to tea. This type of fluorosis, caused by chronic consumption of fluoride, can be a crippling condition in which bones become weak and joints are stiff and painful. Deformities are seen in severe cases. There can also be neurological complications.9

A 2011 study in the¬†Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism¬†concluded that skeletal fluorosis ‚Äúcan result from chronic consumption of large volumes of brewed tea‚ÄĚ and that ‚Äúdaily consumption of 1-2 gallons of instant tea can lead to skeletal fluorosis.‚ÄĚ10

. . . .”

My Joints are “stiff and painful”, very much so!! And this seems to be getting worth. Is it possible that this is not just due to old age?

I never buy tootpaste with fluoride in it, but of course I use a lot of our fluoridated town water. I heard before that excessive black tea drinking can be bad, This article in an RDH magazine now tells me all about the dangers of drinking too much black tea!

Do I drink perhaps a bit too much black tea? Should I perhaps drink only green tea and herbal teas? I wonder. If I totally gave up drinking black tea, would I then have a chance to reduce the painfulness in my joints? I do think now it could probably help, and that I should give it some more thought!