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'Extreme frustration' after Bristol activists vandalise 150 vehicles

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From https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/extreme-frustration-after-bristol-activists-8913213

Reclaim Our Community wrote:

"We are a group of young people angered and fearful of the world we are inheriting. The UN estimate 1 billion climate refugees by 2050, how did Europe cope with a mere 1 million Syrian refugees in 2015?

"Irreversible feedback loops may have already been triggered, or will soon be set off: through the destruction and retreat of the Amazon rainforest, the melting of permafrost in the Artic circle and the bleaching of coral reefs. This could lead to spiralling ecological collapse.

"By now, everyone agrees that the climate crisis is immediate, grave and caused by human activity. Although our means of tackling this issue are not unified.

"After pursuing many democratic avenues in an attempt to affect change: writing to MPs, attending dozens of peaceful protests, working with the Green Party. No real change has occurred.

"In fact we see the opposite: we see the government support 100 new licenses for oil and gas, which led the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to say that “the Government has no coordinated plan towards achieving the net zero emissions by 2050 target”. We are left with no other option. If the institutions of power will not affect the necessary change, we must do so ourselves."

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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77 comments

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rdaddict | 7 months ago
1 like

Trustafarians at it again..

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Left_is_for_Losers | 7 months ago
2 likes

Idiots. Why don't they all turn their own heating and electricity off for the winter if they want to do something worthwhile to help the environment

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marmotte27 replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 7 months ago
10 likes

@Right_is_for_Dickheads

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levestane replied to marmotte27 | 7 months ago
0 likes

There are folk on the right of politics trying to do the right thing.

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hawkinspeter replied to levestane | 7 months ago
6 likes

levestane wrote:

There are folk on the right of politics trying to do the right thing.

However, that's just talk and we need action. Seven Bins Sunak is not going to listen to advice when he's just setting things up so that his wife's family can get the most money from their investments in oil companies.

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Eton Rifle | 7 months ago
4 likes

Ah, the Bristol Post. Presumably they haven't opened comments on the article, as the ensuing Gammon meltdown would crash the internet.

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Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
10 likes

The word vandalise is doing a lot of heavy lifting on that headline.

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David9694 replied to Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
11 likes

actual vandalism (for comparison) 

Live: Fourth speed camera cut down overnight in Cornwall at Longdowns

It happened overnight and followed cameras cut down in a similar way near Helston and at Perranarworthal

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/live-fourth-speed-camera...

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David9694 | 7 months ago
1 like

hoping the horses didn't colic at 3 am 

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levestane | 8 months ago
11 likes

It's fair to say that there is very little serious action to reduce resource consumption. In the UK I think only the Green Party are suggesting economic reduction, all the others promote growth that can only be achieved by increasing ecological footprint. Globally there is not a single metric that indicates any reduction to the rate of increase of environmental degradation.

I suspect direct action will become more frequent and in a 100 years time will be seen in a similar light to the suffragette movement of 100 years ago.

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hawkinspeter replied to levestane | 8 months ago
5 likes

levestane wrote:

It's fair to say that there is very little serious action to reduce resource consumption. In the UK I think only the Green Party are suggesting economic reduction, all the others promote growth that can only be achieved by increasing ecological footprint. Globally there is not a single metric that indicates any reduction to the rate of increase of environmental degradation.

I suspect direct action will become more frequent and in a 100 years time will be seen in a similar light to the suffragette movement of 100 years ago.

Sadly, other countries are now using our new Cumbrian coal mine as an excuse to not bother with reducing CO2 emissions: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/16/allowing-cumbria-coalmine-was-disaster-for-climate-diplomacy-says-lord-turner

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chrisonabike replied to levestane | 7 months ago
1 like

I'm sympathetic but asceticism doesn't tend to take over (for larger, more diverse groups).  Almost on the level of a law of thermodynamics, or Parkinson's / Pournelle's laws of bureacracy - people's consumption and normally their numbers* will quickly expand to use up any advances we make in efficiency or new resources exploitable by technology.

Exceptions are known (e.g. see how societies adapted to colonising islands with scarce resources in the Polynesian expansion) - but rather rare.  And often it doesn't end well, as conspiracies to use less are subject to being overrun (and in some cases eaten) by those who didn't sign up.

A technological example: though powerplants have become more efficient and components have got lighter, over the decades cars have stayed the same weight or got heavier** and require even more resources to make.

Why should humans be different from other animals?  Certainly humans have advanced abilities in forming conspiracies (cooperating) with other humans and to develop tools, but other animals can do the former and we don't always do so very well!  So though we may have pushed through one Malthusian barrier we have and will run up against other limits.

* More recently our lifespans have increased.  Presumably the reproductive rate may fall a bit as people last longer and fail to get out of the way of new people.

** Ignoring here electric cars as they're still evolving and also ones that have deliberately gone the opposite direction and ballooned in size on the outside e.g. SUV types.

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levestane replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
1 like

Agreed, technology and the Jevons paradox

I suspect that UPFs will solve the increasing lifespan problem.

We are not different to other animals so population collapse after the ongoing plague phase seems plausible. It would be good to have some form of controlled reduction, but your first two paragraphs explain nicely why this is unlikely.

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wycombewheeler replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
1 like

chrisonatrike wrote:

A technological example: though powerplants have become more efficient and components have got lighter, over the decades cars have stayed the same weight or got heavier** and require even more resources to make.

safety systems - air bags abs, improved door pillars, better impact protection

convenience - motors where previously manual adjustment was common, air conditioning

space - larger cars

more power - engines are more efficient but the 100 BHP engines common years ago are no longer common. In 1999 I got a company car (corsa) with 55 BHP, I bet nothing has such a small engine now.

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Secret_squirrel replied to levestane | 7 months ago
3 likes

Please show your working where all growth is associated with an increased ecological footprint. 
That's a flawed assumption. 

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chrisonabike replied to Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
2 likes

"Define 'growth'" I guess?  If you're measuring over a rather short term perhaps it's possible?  For a carefully chosen meaning of growth.  Do you have a counterexample?

I'm not seeing the assumption though.  Discussion of the theory and observations (which seems logical) - yes.

Humans cooperating / conspiring to use less resources over time is possible - but I'm not sure (due to the above) that it's compatible with "growth".  (Certainly not how our politicians envisage it...)  Using less is possible, just like it is possible for people to drive more carefully.  If everyone did that it would probably significantly reduce road casualties (though I suspect not to zero).  But everyone doing that is just ... very unlikely.

In the context of generally increasing human resource usage I did give a counterexample - but again this appears to be very rare / require some very specific circumstances.  And in my example - after some hundreds of years - resource usage went up as the cooperating culture was violently overthrown.

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levestane replied to Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
2 likes

Secret_squirrel wrote:

Please show your working where all growth is associated with an increased ecological footprint. 
That's a flawed assumption. 

It is up to those promoting growth to prove this could be done without increasing ecological footprint, and preferably whilst halving the footprint to return to sustainability. Mass transportation cycling could play a significant role.

Looks like 1.5°C is toast.

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Rich_cb replied to levestane | 7 months ago
0 likes

You only have to look at the UK and other parts of Europe to see that continuing economic growth is possible whilst our ecological footprint declines.

Increased efficiency lowers costs and increases profits. This translates into economic growth. Increased efficiency also reduces ecological footprint.

IMHO we are about to reach a tipping point both in terms of global fossil fuel use and global emissions.

Fossil fuel use is now predicted to peak before the end of this decade. Reducing the harm associated with ongoing fossil fuel use by focusing on fossil fuels with the lowest ecological footprint, eg by reducing methane flaring, will accelerate the reduction in ecological footprint.

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 7 months ago
2 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

You only have to look at the UK and other parts of Europe to see that continuing economic growth is possible whilst our ecological footprint declines. Increased efficiency lowers costs and increases profits. This translates into economic growth. Increased efficiency also reduces ecological footprint ...

This is definitely in territory where numbers / detailed studies would be helpful... but are you sure you're not falling for a general "ecological nimbysm"?

As in - for our more efficient activity here in the UK we're relying on outsourcing production of both material inputs to process and the energy it requires - ergo "not on the balance sheet here!"

We have certainly made processes more efficient.  However for any industry which has had a certain period of development (thinking of the chemical industries here) after a point while we can still be "more efficient" what we're doing is expanding the resource space - we're shifting to using different - or additional - process inputs or equipment.  The materials are often rarer / have a greater ecological impact to extract and process.  More technologically advanced equipment often requires more detailed equipment itself / more energy / more rare resources.

So the immediate process is definitely more efficient than yore (and garners more profit) and looks "cleaner" (especially - cleaner here) - but ultimately depends upon the use of more resources.

Jevon's paradox certainly isn't a physical law and the direction of travel is not always towards more resource usage ... but that is definitely the overall direction!

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Rich_cb replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
1 like

You can look at consumption based emissions to take into account offshoring. These are also falling.

Capitalism drives efficiency. If a process uses rare or hard to process materials there is a huge profit motive to adapt that process to use common and cheaper resources. Likewise with energy use, reducing the energy intensity of any process leads to more profit.

Li-ion batteries are a good example of this. Cobalt free batteries are now commonplace. Lithium free batteries are on the cusp of commercial roll out.

In both cases the removal of a rare or difficult to obtain material leads to both cost reductions and reductions in ecological damage.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 7 months ago
4 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

You can look at consumption based emissions to take into account offshoring. These are also falling. Capitalism drives efficiency. If a process uses rare or hard to process materials there is a huge profit motive to adapt that process to use common and cheaper resources. Likewise with energy use, reducing the energy intensity of any process leads to more profit. Li-ion batteries are a good example of this. Cobalt free batteries are now commonplace. Lithium free batteries are on the cusp of commercial roll out. In both cases the removal of a rare or difficult to obtain material leads to both cost reductions and reductions in ecological damage.

Capitalism drives exploitation.

If a process requires natural resources, then Capitalism will encourage the businesses that exploit those resources the fastest and those that can use loopholes to avoid any clean up. That's certainly a big part of why we're in such a mess - privatise the profits and socialise the losses.

If BP/Shell had to pay for cleaning up their messes, the world would be in a much better shape.

However, the exploit everything mindset pervades other political systems, but it's certainly an integral part of Capitalism.

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wtjs replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
4 likes

Capitalism drives exploitation

I agree that what he writes is tripe- it's essentially the basis of 'everything will be all right if we buy a Tesla and we can all drive around everywhere at 100mph', because all the targets are repeatedly moved so they're more than 5 years away and therefore don't exist

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hawkinspeter replied to wtjs | 7 months ago
3 likes

wtjs wrote:

Capitalism drives exploitation

I agree that what he writes is tripe- it's essentially the basis of 'everything will be all right if we buy a Tesla and we can all drive around everywhere at 100mph', because all the targets are repeatedly moved so they're more than 5 years away and therefore don't exist

Kicking the can down the road seems to be quite popular - we've been doing that for half a century.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
2 likes

Capitalism is driven by profit. While that can encourage exploitation of resources it also ruthlessly seeks out efficiencies.

It is that efficiency that makes capitalism a better fit for reducing environmental harm than its alternatives.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 7 months ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

Capitalism is driven by profit. While that can encourage exploitation of resources it also ruthlessly seeks out efficiencies. It is that efficiency that makes capitalism a better fit for reducing environmental harm than its alternatives.

Unfortunately, those "efficiencies" are often basics such as paying workers a suitable wage or providing a safe working environment etc. A lot of the time, Capitalism is more concerned with shuffling money around in a shell game to avoid paying taxes rather than operating efficiently. Also, a lot of the profit is derived by ignoring external costs or at least pushing those external costs onto others (e.g. dumping sewage into rivers is cheaper than treating and disposing it in a responsible fashion).

Also, I would say that Capitalism is more based on people using their wealth and land ownership to exploit people who are in need of money/land. Profit is often the difference between paying employees what they are worth vs paying them the bare minimum that you can get away with.

Additionally, efficiency is far less important than the size of the business. You could be the most efficient plumber in all the land, but lose out to a large company that just employs a bunch of mediocre plumbers. There's also the issue with barriers to entry for markets - this is often controlled by mega-corporations that lobby to get laws introduced that would penalise small companies and thus ensure that the dominant companies can maintain their market dominance. Usually it's nothing about efficiency, but far more about power imbalance.

I can't see that Capitalism has any mechanism to control environmental plundering - we're going to have to rely on international cooperation, lawmakers and public opinion.

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Rich_cb replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
1 like

There's a lot to unpick there but essentially a lot of what you describe is a failure of basic regulation.

It's perfectly possible to have full blooded capitalism with minimum wage laws and safety regulations.

Your criticism appears to boil down to the fact that capitalist enterprises cut costs wherever possible. That's also the basis of my point. Why go through the hassle of a dispute with your employees if you can save more money and therefore derive more profit by increasing energy efficiency?

As to your plumbing example, assuming that there is still a market for small scale plumbers, if your highly efficient plumber is sufficiently more efficient than their rivals then eventually they'll increase market share until, either they dislodge the big companies or the big companies copy their efficiencies. Either way efficiency wins.

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hawkinspeter replied to Rich_cb | 7 months ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

As to your plumbing example, assuming that there is still a market for small scale plumbers, if your highly efficient plumber is sufficiently more efficient than their rivals then eventually they'll increase market share until, either they dislodge the big companies or the big companies copy their efficiencies. Either way efficiency wins.

That's how it should happen in theory, but in practise the size of a business or at least its market share are far more important than its efficiency. Many small businesses find it very difficult to compete as they likely don't get to make deals with suppliers (due to the power imbalance between large suppliers and small businesses) whereas the largest companies will get big discounts or often be able to dictate what the suppliers can charge them (c.f. supermarkets and dairy farmers). This leads to the real problem of businesses becoming almost monopolies which is the usual aim for Capitalist businesses.

I agree about the need for regulation and legislation to curb the rampant expansion of dominant businesses, but again, the largest corporations will be able to wield their power over politicians and political systems. There's the issue with regulatory capture which means that the interests of the corporation will override the interests of the public. (e.g. corporations exploiting tax/accountancy loopholes to avoid paying taxes)

The Capitalist theory is that efficiency will win, but that's not what happens in real life and there needs to be much stricter controls in place to try to re-balance markets as the size of the business is far more important than efficiency.

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 7 months ago
4 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

You can look at consumption based emissions to take into account offshoring. These are also falling. Capitalism drives efficiency. If a process uses rare or hard to process materials there is a huge profit motive to adapt that process to use common and cheaper resources. Likewise with energy use, reducing the energy intensity of any process leads to more profit. ...

"Capitalism" is simply about making profit.  It might drive efficiency ... in making money.  (Even that needs qualification of course because we're humans with all kinds of other goals and quirky heuristics, not "econs".  Also I don't know if there is any space where we approach the ideal of the free market - without a whole bunch of other rules.)

The making of profit can drive other kinds of efficiency - we obviously need some kind of feedback loop to motivate that.  (But noting Jevons paradox - if the overall goal is "making profit" then improving efficiency may drive increased consumption which will tend to compensate).

It can mean using less resources, or reducing ecological damage.  But that is not a given without adding other rules into the mix though (e.g. regulation).

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
0 likes

...so perhaps this is a case of "the markets here are either too free or not free enough"?

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
3 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

"Capitalism" is simply about making profit.  It might drive efficiency ... in making money.  (Even that needs qualification of course because we're humans with all kinds of other goals and quirky heuristics, not "econs".  Also I don't know if there is any space where we approach the ideal of the free market - without a whole bunch of other rules.)

The making of profit can drive other kinds of efficiency - we obviously need some kind of feedback loop to motivate that.  (But noting Jevons paradox - if the overall goal is "making profit" then improving efficiency may drive increased consumption which will tend to compensate).

It can mean using less resources, or reducing ecological damage.  But that is not a given without adding other rules into the mix though (e.g. regulation).

The big problem with Capitalism is that it's built upon a couple of incorrect assumptions.

Firstly, there's the idea of a "free market" which requires people to have equal access to information in order to function correctly. Unfortunately, this is not at all what happens and most people have extremely limited access to the relevant information (often that information is kept internal to the business) whilst businesses have a huge incentive to mislead people as much as possible (see marketing/advertising).

Secondly, there's the idea of traders having equal opportunity/power and that's clearly incorrect as wealthy people have a massive advantage over the less wealthy. This also plays out with large companies having a big advantage over smaller ones.

The end result of these two issues is that wealth tends to get concentrated into fewer people's hands and the inequality gap widens. The only way these two trends can continue is through authoritarianism and subjugation of the non-wealthy.

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