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New blog name:

Isn't this domain name awesome? :P

Basically I couldn't resist, besides I want to split technical stuff from end of growth stuff. So please update your bookmarks. I will deprecate the old in favour of this domain name related to the blog contents. I know that since I moved to Ireland I haven't updated this, and sorry, can't make any promises about updating it. :)

Busy lately

So long since I haven't posted anything, really I haven't posted since I got to Ireland for work. So a lot has been going on, adapting to a new country, jobs and so on. I also didn't really knew anyone here, so that part has been interesting. I started working for Hostelworld, and currently I'm working for Afilias.

As I start the post, I have been working on my stuff lately quite a lot. Both with my boxes at home and with the server that hosts this web. Basically, I have been moving to *BSD, preferably OpenBSD, which I happen to like a lot. We could go and talk about many reasons and the late developments that has finally made make the jump, but that's another story.

So talking about this blog, and the server that hosts it, this is a highlight of some of the technology changes involved:

  • OS change from Debian to OpenBSD
  • Web server change from Apache to nginx
  • WAF change from mod_security to naxsi
  • PHP backend change from modphp to php-fpm
  • Drupal, which I used for the blog for close to 10 years, back to a static generated site.
  • Postfix to OpenSMTPd
  • Shorewall to pf
  • Bind to NSD
  • Control panel, ispconfig to no panel at all :)
  • And many more, believe me...

And I can tell that this server holds many sites, not just this, but those sites kept more or less the same.

I can say that the last months I have been enjoying sysadmining, and that's great, it has been a long time, also I have moved back to Emacs (after 12 years!), as for my job, I needed more that what could Vim provide, which I still use too of course.

More changes, I'm going to blog mainly in English, if I have time, I will translate it to Spanish, also same for the rest, tweets and so on. About peak oil and limits to growth, I'm taking a rest, I do it from time to time, but of course I will also blog about that too.

Four Horsemen

I haven't been publishing lately, due: my relocation in Ireland for work, and many other motives. Nothing new under the sun.

I leave you with this documentary, thanks to Carlos from the facebook group:

"Four Horsemen is the debut feature from director Ross Ashcroft which reveals the fundamental flaws in the economic system which have brought our civilization to the brink of disaster.

23 leading thinkers –frustrated at the failure of their respective disciplines – break their silence to explain how the world really works.

The film pulls no punches in describing the consequences of continued inaction – but its message is one of hope. If more people can equip themselves with a better understanding of how the world really works, then the systems and structures that condemn billions to poverty or chronic insecurity can at last be overturned. Solutions to the multiple crises facing humanity have never been more urgent, but equally, the conditions for change have never been more favourable."

The Permian extintion

Earth has suffered several extintion events, it is said that now days we are going through the 6th. The probably worst was the permian extintion, less spectacular than the dinosaur's, but for me more worrying. It's the story of a brutal climate change provoked by natural CO2 and Methane emissions (and more factors). Almost 95% of life on oceans and 70% of life on earth were wiped out. We have to take account of what forces are we dealing.

Rapa Nui

Recently I have been reading Collapse by Jared Diamond. I remember reading books by Heinberg, limits to growth, etc ... and we have a chapter that tells the story of Easter Island which has impressed me. There are shocking analogies with present day. Clearly, there are other collapses like the Roman civilization that perhaps look closer. But for me, the collapse in this small, isolated Pacific island evokes me the worst fears. As these people ignored the clear signs of environmental degradation of their land.

Easter Island

Easter Island was colonized possibly around 900 AD. The population in the period before the arrival of Europeans ranged from 6,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. The island was slowly colonized, is famous for it's legendary statues, Moai, ranging in weight to about 90tn, which is essential to keep in mind to understand the history of the island, representing their ancestors. The island was divided into 12 clans, and of course the largest Moai, meant the most glorious ancestor. At first inhabitants occupied the areas closest to the coast, and slowly entering itself on higher grounds.

When Europeans arrived, they found a deforested island, the highest plants barely exceeding 2 meters height. But it was that way before. In fact archaeologists found seeds of a larger variant of the Chilean palm. Recent studies by Catherine Orliac and others found about another 21 plants, mostly extinct trees, studying the fossil traces of ash. These trees were used for canoes, firewood, houses, fruit, etc.. The island was home to at least six species of birds on the island, and about 25 of seabirds nesting in it. These six species disappeared, of the 25 seabirds, 24 stopped nesting on the same island, and only 9 continued nesting on nearby islets. The palms became extinct around 1400, the rest of the trees no later than 1640. Unable to continue making canoes, ended in further pressure the island's resources, depleting shellfish and coastal fishes. Losing the forest eroded the soil that was degraded causing diminishing crops.

All this degradation caused famines, riots, there was indeed a coup in about 1680, in which the military exterminated the nobility, and rejected the previous religious beliefs. Cannibalism appeared. When Europeans reached the island is was wasteland, the people malnourished, the Moai fallen, as they were knocked because of internal conflicts.

Many people wonder, why they didn't noticed it? What were they thinking when they cutted down the last tree? And when the last of the native birds was gone? No, they apparently didn't. There are many reasons. But a very basic one is that "their economy" was growing. The moai were getting bigger. We find it very easy to notice, afterword of course, while the process of collapse develops, not being instant and the requirement of changing ancestral behavior patterns complicates it.

Note: Quick translation of the original in spanish

Lost. Completely lost.

While we are blaming politician and bankers and perceive only small parts of the problem, the great crisis unfolds. The crisis of the 3 E's:

1. Ecological. Depletion of mineral resources, fisheries, trees, etc, etc. Peak Everything. Exceeding the capacity of the planet, overshoot. Global warming. Pollution. Extinctions.

2. Energy. Peak Oil. Inability to continue exponential growth in energy consumption. Food and economic model completely dependent on abundant cheap energy.

3. Economic. The actual economic system needs exponential growth to continue. Exponential debt. Economy based in leverage, accumulation without limits (for some) rather than something functional. Business-As-Usual.

A · G · G · R · A · V · A · T · O · R · S

Political and economic corruption of elites. Misidentification of 3 E's. Media manipulation. Short-term policies. Lack of values, moral crisis, this could be a 4th E, Ethics. Etc.

I'm sorry, but while good, the crisis will not be solved by removing some official cars, or lowering the politicians incomes, but of course that may help.

We need to recognize this and make a profound change model that has brought us this far. But if we do not recognize the symptoms forget start solving this problem.

Thoughts of some of the scenarios shown in "Limits to Growth"

Scenario 0: The Earth is flat

Scenario 0

This is what they sell you, Merkel, Hollande, all economists are right. The earth is flat. We can achieve infinite growth economically, technologically, etc. Good news. By 2040-2050 about the food and industrial output tend to infinite as a result of our exponential growth. People weight 500kilos (1100lb) and it rains iphones. We will have a truck, a tank, a plane, and 10 cars each one. You'll go fishing with your nephews in your nuclear aircraft carrier, paid with a mortgage in 1000 years. These economists were right, we are dumb-ass, as we dare to defy the logic of infinite growth and exponential. We know we will have some kinks in about 1400 years when need 100% of the sun's energy, and 1000 years later the entire galaxy. But all these problems are far away, like now, we have always been doomers.

Scenarios 1 and 2: BAU (Business as Usual)

BAU Scenarios

Two models with acknowledging physical limits, without taking action, the current course. On the left, the famous scenario 1, conservative on the abundance of non-renewable resources. Is the stage that is observed today, since we are doing nothing to change the course of events. Scenario 2 is the same but with plenty on nonrenewable resources.

Scenario 4: "Sustainable Growth" / BAU-Green / Bright Green / Green Economy / you name it


We continue growing the economy. In the medium term this scenario is better, since the improvement in the productivity of agricultural land, pollution control, etc., allows us to grow even more than with the usual BAU. The growth of industrial production and population continues to pace. "The earth is flat." It's not likely going to happen. The result is a catabolic collapse. Much of the population is lost very quickly. Similar scenarios give same results with variations. The more the economy had grown, the harder the collapse.

Scenarios 9 y 10: The steady state

Steady state

The first stage "9" results of applying corrective policies. The second stage 10 would had been if this policies started in 1982, to appreciate what it costs us each day by not making decisions. The steady state is achieved by applying population control policies (maximum 2 children per couple in the world), improvements in food production (eg organic food), stabilization of industrial production per capita, control policies for pollution, soil erosion and depletion protocol of nonrenewable resources. This is the degrowth achieving the steady state in a graph.

More info:

Usual mistakes:

  • The limits to growth are not predictions. The system is too complex to be predicted. But if you can study their tendencies. And how they affect the choices we make.
  • It is not a political book.

Quick translation of the original in spanish

Creating jobs without economic growth

Note: quick translation of the original in spanish.

Interview with Cospedal ELPAIS.COM
I would like to make some considerations regarding Mrs. Cospedal (president of Castilla la Mancha) interview.

One idea is, that to create jobs to do work more hours, more growth. Certainly not just Cospedal who says this, any friend or family member may think so too. But I do not think it's that simple. There is a problem of productivity in Spain, it seems so, but paradoxically we work the most time in Europe, maybe Greece too. I did not draw the same conclusion. There are other problems that can affect it, such as the extravagant Spanish work schedules. In Portugal they have a 42.5 hours per week schedule. She advocates for something similar in Spain.

These statements, "we have to work more hours" are great slogans for elections, very hearty, but I do not think they would work as you may expect. The fact is that without growth the current economic system can not generate jobs. If while being declining you make people work more hours, production which is decreasing is divided among fewer people ultimately generating more unemployment. To me these statements make me imagine the Mayans sacrificing more people to appease the "wrath" of the gods that came in the form of drought. I think it's a superstition. This crisis has many causes, but you could resume that infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible. Of course better or worse management, the banking issue, but really everything is related, is essentially the ecology, resources, energy. This website provides a lot of documentation and links to know more. As we are currently overshooting, and the current system requires exponential growth to not become dysfunctional, this is creating a huge tension. The chance to continue economic growth without an increase in the energy input is 0. We may still have a periods of economic growth, but these will become shorter and shorter in time and the periods of recession will become longer and longer.

In the face of the process ending economic growth as we know it the chances to create employment do not go through the measures adopted and surely to be adopted. The solution is painful for many, is to work fewer hours, and distribute that work and that wealth better. The solution is a good degrowth. It's going to get tough. We will likely reach 6 million unemployed, and the end it's not in sight. How long are we going to be able to continue paying subsidies? Are we condemning unemployed to a permanent situation? I am not in favor of subsidies if they can work. In an economy that is going to decline distributing work is the most humane solution. What about people who have mortgages, how are they going to deal with this? The system is broke, we should be talking of partial defaults of everyone, as they will have to work less hours. We are rescuing banks, but why not rescue people instead? Who makes the first move? For it is clear that the elites are happy for now, the only time shit is for the people below. In a sense it is like the prisoner's dilemma.

I worry about that we are not identifying the causes and consequences of this crisis. We are wasting time, and the consequences will aggravate if we persist in the impossible.