Something cool that I just realized about -ops is that by their nature they are valuable to the community they exist in vs. tourists, etc.

This is important in rural communities where so many businesses focus on attracting and serving "outsiders" that the needs of the locals are often neglected.

@jjg Whether cooperative or tourist-ey, all trading orgs. *have* to attract and serve outsiders: If you're not trading with outsiders, you're not bringing any money/resources into the community. Inwards-facing trading orgs. aren't adding any stuff to the community, they're just moving it about.

(nb. doesn't apply to production orgs. A cooperative bicycle workshop, f'rinstance, can take junk and make it into useful stuff; it's effectively creating resources out of thin air!)

@ej In this case I'm focused on things like your bike shop example.

I guess it's more about priority. In my town most business development is focused on serving tourists while the members of the community itself goes unserved. I think a community which requires constant resources from outside the community isn't very sustainable.

Once the members of the community have what they need then I'm all for branching out.

@jjg Fair point! I do think, though, that almost every sub-county-sized community requires constant supply of external resources! Autonomy/resilience vs. specialisation, efficiencies-of-scale etc. etc..

@ej I see where your coming from.

Personally, I'm dubious about the value of specialization and efficiencies-of-scale. I think treating these things as unconditionally good is the source of a lot of problems, and is significantly responsible for undermining autonomy.

@jjg There are many, /many/ instances where I totally agree with you! But I do also hafta observe that before specialisation, es-of-s, etc, like 75% of the planet had to be farmers, just to produce enough food to free up the remaining quarter to do basically every other task. (I know that's not, by itself, a conclusive argument - we're probably way better at distributed systems now than we were back then!)

@ej Yeah, I don't think we want to go back to that :)

One thing I've been studying is the intersection between what's known about the biological limits of human civilization (Dunbar's work, etc.) and the minimal viable population size in terms of genetic diversity, basic survival needs, cultural development, etc.

I think finding that sweet spot could address the concerns I have while not discarding too much of what we've gained so far.

@jjg We do only get one crack at it, though! If we get it wrong, and create an unsustainable, diminishing population, we can't rebuild from scratch - all the easy-to-get-at resources have already been used and everything that's left takes some serious specialisation to procure. I'd rather we erred on the side of caution, even if it's considerably less person/resource efficient..

@ej I'm not sure I understand what you mean about getting one crack?

@jjg "crack": attempt, go, try, pass, iteration.
"it": creating a sustainable and resilient civilisation, without scarcity or cruelty and most likely on a stellar scale.
Sorry for my absolutely abominable use of nouns, here! I was as much thinking aloud as actually intending to toot!

@ej I liked the noun, I just don't necessarily agree that we only get one chance.

@ej @jjg

It will suck to be young (and old) in another 50yrs when the truth about #ClimateSensitivity starts getting real.

We think we've emigration/immigration problems in the world now. Society ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until the resources are gone in Africa and it's too hot to live in the tropics and Middle East.

Local communities everywhere are going to have a whole new worry to try and figure out. It won't be fun.



@wion @jjg Perhaps surprisingly, I actually largely agree* with this too!

When I said "lest we create a diminishing population" I was not considering the current trends, but instead considering a situation in which push-back against the current trends had created an existential threat of the opposite kind.

(* Though I suspect we may disagree, rather, on potential solutions, if any such solutions there be!)


Here's my belief. I'm not trying to convince you and you don't have to agree, because it doesn't matter anyway. We won't live to see how it turns out...

Humanity is already doomed. We've already sabotaged Earth's natural systems to the point they will collapse before they can rejuvenate again (a geological time scale). Earth's 6th mass extinction has begun, and we've facilitated it greatly by way of the industrial revolution. Still fucking it up, in fact.


@wion @ej I think we're definitely on-course to make earth uninhabitable for human (and many other) life. It's discouraging that in light of this knowledge, most people who are in control of the causes choose not only to ignore these facts, but are pushing to accelerate the process.

It's possible that we're already doomed, but I grew up in the 80's so I'm used to working on making things better under the constant threat of imminent annihilation :)


It's amazing, isn't it? With all the evidence, facts, and data about climate change, species extinction, and imminent catastrophes, governments can't see past their borders, bank accounts and corporate constituents.

Nothing wrong with trying to make things better, starting with ourselves. It can give people some positive focus. But I'm afraid that's all it is, meaningful distraction in our remaining time.

But again, just my view on it all.


@wion @jjg Hmm. Even if we are doomed, there seems to be little societal cost in acting as though we're not; whereas if we aren't, there's an immense cost in acting as though we are. Consequently, in the absence of absolute, 100% certainty, I suspect the best course of action is to act as though we still have a hope, whether or not we actually do..

[As for probability, I tend to agree with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' assessments: ]


We should all have our sources for feeling as we do, otherwise we should keep our traps shut and go on living in ignorant bliss.

If you've followed some of my posts in the past about #DarkEcology, you'll know that's where my position is now.

I also studied environmental science and worked at NOAA for a number of years. Grew up in the Pacific Northwest with earth-conscious people.

I lived the green dream, spiked trees, ate granola, wore Berkonstocks...



But I have come to realize there's a difference between pulling back from the 'hope' while still living harmoniously with our planet because it's the right and moral thing regardless of how it will turn out (the dark ecologist way) vs. living harmoniously with some almost religious-like faith that humanity will prevail and science/tech will get us there.

On the contrary, dark ecologists understand that it's technology that put us in the jam we are in.



If you find the time for some interesting reading, I recommend this article by Paul Kingsnorth...

Kingsnorth has a similar background as myself, though more aligned/successful as a writer. And read *all* of the associated comments, which present a lot of very smart, critical thinking on the future from people who've been thinking about it for decades.

You'll find lots of leads to further reading too.



I often point that article out to people originally in discussions like this because it does a good job of framing the problem in an eloquent way, while also making clear what the position of 'dark ecologists', like myself and others, are.

You don't have to agree, and you will waste your time trying to make me see differently too. None of us will be around anyway.

But we dark ecologists are more accepting of a 'dark' end, despite humanity's best efforts.


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