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Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

built for collapse

A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.
These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena h
ave played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."

Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
"... accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels."

The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
"Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use."

Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.

Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."

Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."

In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)." The Guardian / By Nafeez Ahmed

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

facebook depression

Social Envy - Study Finds Facebook Causes Depression And Isolation

BERLIN - Social networks like Facebook make many things easier. You can find out right away if Alex got the job or not, and you can not only read about Marie’s vacation, but you can also see all those pictures of her on the beach, too.

There’s also a downside to this. Researchers have conducted tests that show that people who spend a lot of time scrolling on Facebook are more socially isolated and more frequently depressed than those who do not.

The question, of course, poses itself: are lonely people more drawn to social networks – or does constant surfing result in loneliness over time?

While it wasn’t able to answer the question conclusively, a joint research study conducted by Berlin’s Humboldt University and the Darmstadt’s Technical University did however reveal that spending time on social networks could lead to negative feelings.

The German researchers, led by Dr. Hanna Krasnova, conducted two studies with 600 Facebook users. The results, which will be presented at the end of February at the "11th International Conference Wirtschaftsinformatik (Information Systems)" at the University of Leipzig, show that Facebook can stir up intense envy and can also negatively impact life satisfaction, particularly for passive users.

People who communicate relatively infrequently but read the posts of friends and click through their pictures tend to be less satisfied with their own life, according to the researchers. They asked their subjects to cite possible reasons for this – why using Facebook could awaken a sense of frustration.

The never-ending “envy spiral”

"Envy" was the answer in nearly 30% of cases, followed by 20% of those who deplored “lack of feedback” to their posts by other users. In 36% of cases, subjects said they “sometimes to very often” felt frustrated by Facebook.

Most envied were the vacations or leisure activities of others, followed by social interactions such as, for example, seeing that a friend got more virtual happy birthday wishes than one had received for one’s own birthday. This is different than face-to-face relations, where envy is fueled by the success, talent and possessions of others.

On social networks on the other hand, everybody tries to come across at their very best, often embellishing their profiles. According to researchers, Facebook “friends” become a reference group against which one starts to compare one’s own popularity and success – and this easily leads to glorifying others and putting them above oneself, i.e. the perfect recipe for feelings of envy. Researchers coined the phrase “envy spiral” to describe this phenomenon.

"Envy can proliferate on social networks and become even more intense in the case of passive users," the researchers write. "Considering the fact that Facebook use is a worldwide phenomenon and envy is a universal feeling, a lot of people are subject to these painful consequences," said the study.

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

Frans de Waal shows us a task he gave Capuchin monkeys to see if they responded to a sense of fairness.

A key aspect of this 'experiment' is the cucumber-monkey SEES the first monkey getting the better -grape- reward. Mainstream modern society was blind to inequality, until awareness of the 1% started to grow (perhaps we were watching ads on tv).
And no, even now we don't really fully comprehend (or see) how much the rich have and how much they are getting. We are barely beginning to understand.

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

COCAINE UNWRAPPED tells the story of cocaine: coca farmers in Colombia, drug mules in Ecuadorian prisons, cocaine factories in the Bolivian jungle, dealers on the streets of Mexico, law enforcement officials on the streets of Baltimore -- and the everyday consumers around the dinner tables of the West.
It's a story of politics, death, economic and environmental devastation and human suffering, and explores realistic alternatives to the war on drugs.

The film features front line reportage, exclusive access to the political leaders of Latin America, such as Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as well as revealing interviews with drug czars. Watch this film and you will never think the same way again about the "War on Drugs".

Posted By Hastamorir Artists Society

the locus effect by gary haugen

The Locus Effect by Gary Haugen

THE author of a new book, “The Locust Effect”, was in London recently to talk at the Legatum Institute, a think-tank. Gary Haugen founded the International Justice Mission, a non-profit organisation that tries to increase access to justice in poor countries by helping victims to take cases, by training police and by lobbying for more money and attention to be given to what Mr Haugen terms the “plague of everyday violence”.

The subtitle of his book, “Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence”, explains his thesis in a nutshell: no matter how much is done to improve poor countries’ business environments, education or health care, unless they become safer, they will never stop being poor. And the main reason why violence is endemic in so many places is very simple, he thinks: nothing shields most of the world’s poor from those who wish to prey on them. “In the last half-century,” he writes, “basic public justice systems in the developing world have descended into a state of utter collapse.”

When you picture a poor person in a poor country, you probably imagine someone who lacks food, and perhaps safe water and adequate shelter, and who may be suffering from untreated disease. But what you don’t see, because it is not visible, is that he or she is probably outside the protection of any law. Someone who attacks or steals from a poor person (who may have a small plot of land, or tools of a modest trade) will almost certainly never be punished. When poor people are asked what their biggest problem is, says Mr Haugen, they often answer “violence”—even if they are also hungry, jobless or sick.

Much of the book is given over to truly distressing stories: a Peruvian mother who finds her young daughter’s dead body thrown in the street, bearing marks of torture and rape; Indian villagers enslaved in a brick factory, beaten and starved. The common thread is impunity. In the case of the Peruvian girl there was, to say the least, suggestive evidence implicating a powerful local; it was apparently destroyed with the collusion of the police. When some enslaved workers escaped from the brick factory, the owner not only felt so sure he would not be prosecuted that he went to their village to drag them back, but enlisted local police to help him.

But it is not all depressing. Mr Haugen points out that even countries where the rule of law is now reasonably secure used to have corrupt and violent police, dysfunctional legal systems and de facto impunity for the rich and powerful. In the mid-1900s Parisian police saw their job as protecting the elite from the poor; around the turn of the 20th century New York’s police were hand-in-glove with kleptocratic politicians and racketeers. The powerful lesson of history, he writes, is that even terrible criminal-justice systems can be made to function reasonably well—given time, committed campaigners and reform-minded elites.





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