The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, April 21, 2023

A new dichotomy: nation states vs. the "one planet" movement

A new dichotomy is emerging in the current debate: the contrast between the view of the world as composed of nation-states in relentless competition with one another and the “one planet” movement, which emphasizes human solidarity. These two trends are on a collision course. Up to now, the "one planet" approach seemed to be the only chance to set up an effective strategy against the degradation of the planetary ecosystem. But now, it seems that we'll have to adapt to the new vision that's emerging: for good or for bad, the world is back in the hands of nation-states, with all their limits and their idiosyncrasies, including their large-scale homicidal tendencies. Can we find survival strategies with at least a fighting chance to succeed? Daniele Conversi, researcher at the University of the Basque Country, has been among the first to pose the question in his recent book "Cambiamenti Climatici" (UB)

By Daniele Conversi (University of the Basque Country)

The climate crisis is one of the nine "planetary boundaries" identified in the Earth Sciences since 2009. The critical threshold for climate change (350 ppm) has only recently been passed. Other boundaries, such as biodiversity loss, have been overrun — and we are reaching other critical thresholds as well. The global environmental crisis signals the likely entrance into the most turbulent period in human history, requiring unprecedented creativity, force and adaptive skills to act quickly and radically in order to curb the global crisis. But which are the main obstacles arising in front of us?

Historians of science and investigative journalists plus some social and political scientists have studied in detail the way the fossil fuel lobbies hampered governmental action via disinformation, misinformation, and the "denial industry". However, these studies do not generally consider in detail the institutional scenario where lobbyists act, namely the nation-state.

My research explores a different set of variables originating in the current division of the world into nation-states powered by their own ideology, nationalism. In an age in which boundaries cannot halt climate change, nationalism fully engages in erecting ever higher boundaries.

Thus, we need to ask: if nationalism is the core ideological framework around which contemporary political relations are articulated, is it possible to involve it in the fight against climate change? I explore this answer via a few case studies arising within both stateless nations and nation-states. Riding the wave of nationalism, however, makes only senses if, at the same time, non-national solutions are also simultaneously considered, as condensed in the concept of "survival cosmopolitanism": Effective results can only be achieved when considering the plurality of possible solutions and avoiding fideistic responses such as 'techno-fixes' centred on the magic-irrational faith in technological innovation as the ultimate Holy Grail, which can easily be appropriated by nationalists. Salvation may come, not as much from technology, as from the abandonment of an economic system ruthlessly based on environmental destruction and the expansion of mass consumption.


  1. "Salvation may come, not as much from technology, as from the abandonment of an economic system ruthlessly based on environmental destruction and the expansion of mass consumption."

    Yes. So, I'll bite. How? To what?
    And a side question. The one planet movement -- how do they know it won't turn genocidal? The covid games bespeak... err, caution, regarding all "planetary" experiments, no?

  2. Any more diesel-burning will do...

    Road and Rail Network to Link Türkiye and Gulf Via Iraq -

    In the 1990s, China has been integrated into what's called the World Trade Organisation - and all hell broke loose - until today China imports 17+ million barrels of oil daily - mostly come from war-torn nations, the latest being Sudan - and produces 6 billion tonnes of coal annually...

    There is little oil remaining in Iraq - but the same story repeats itself again:

    China and others come into Iraq to build new port, rail and road networks connecting Turkey to the Gulf - so goods go from China to Europe faster...

    As if goods from China and others have never inundated Europe - yet or ever...

    Turkey has built West-financed hydro dams so massive - rivers flowing to Syria and Iraq have almost dried out....

    Iraq today produces almost 0% food, 0% goods for its own consumption....

    Our Western Civilisation is actually no more than a fossil fuels extraction operation...

    What "one planet" - for god sake?

    It is burning fossil fuels like no tomorrow - what matters - again, again and again...ha ha ha

    (many in the Middle East think the new rail and road networks are most likely built now not for trade - as the news claims - but rather to move Turkish, Russian, Private and other armies into the oil-rich region - fighting vicious depopulation wars over ME's little remaining oil - in near future - similar to how Saddam Hussain has built an excellent road network between Kuwait and Baghdad in the 1980s that later helped the Americans invade Iraq in just few days - as if riding the flying carpet - ha ha ha)

    "In any system of energy, Control is what consumes energy the most.

    Time taken in stocking energy to build an energy system, adding to it the time taken in building the system will always be longer than the entire useful lifetime of the system.
    No energy store holds enough energy to extract an amount of energy equal to the total energy it stores.
    No system of energy can deliver sum useful energy in excess of the total energy put into constructing it.
    This universal truth applies to all systems.

    Energy, like time, flows from past to future".


  3. Given enough time and resources the world eating system of competeing nation states would possibly evolve into a world eating global cooperative of some sort. Which would only serve to eat the world faster and more completely, more efficiently, of course. But, but with resources of all sorts becoming more scarce, I don't see things going in that direction.

  4. Really I see Nationalism ( and Patriotism, however it's defined) as part of the problems we face. Nothing is more environmentally destructive than war, and that seems to be about all that most nation states are really good at.
    Why should an accident of where you were born and raised matter once you are grown up?
    Admittedly a single world government could be much worse than a bunch of competing (and ineffective) institutions, but that doesn't mean that Nationalism is a good thing. ArtDeco

  5. Nationalism has its bad and its good sides. It is (compared to planetary efforts) localism. And within localism, there is a chance that mistakes in one jurisdiction will not be repeated in others. Whereas with single world govt, mistakes get amplified everywhere. As in the global covid response. As in EU. As in the US centralization in Washington. Et al.

    Biology demands variety. Not one boot stomping on the human face forever.

  6. this paper is probably pertinent to a number of issues being discussed here:

  7. Efe Turkish PrepperApril 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM

    There is no climate crisis. Heavy metal/mercury/radiation etc. pollution is the worst problem that i think of. Other things can be solved by the infamous four horsemen.

  8. Who sets the world on fire? The representatives of the multipolar world of nations with equal rights, or the one union that wants to assert its model for all?
    How stupid do you have to be to believe that an even bigger, more complex structure with even more power would be the solution to anything?

  9. World wide socialist revolution is the only urgent solution