Overshoot Liability Determines Behavior

The overshoot liability is measured using a sustainable civilization as a reference.

Determinants of sustainability.

        longitudinal balancing of the energy budget
        maintaining a percentile limit of the energy budget diverted to social conflict
        no degradation of the supporting eco system

1) The only reason we have 7 billion people alive today is because we are using stored solar energy in the form of fossil fuels, to feed, house, and otherwise support them. When we don't have these energy sources and they are not replaced with fusion, the supported number will be a lot smaller. This century may be crunch time. If we don't get fusion energy to replace diminished deliveries of fossil energy (nuclear fission energy too) the number of people supported will be less than a billion and maybe as I suggest less than 100 million.

2) Social Conflict can consume all of humamkind's productivity. The productivity embedded in infrastructure and the productivity created by economies of scale, trade, and specialization of labor. In other words, if social conflict increases (all other things held constant) humankind's past and present productivity will support a smaller population. I claim that the largest forcing function of social conflict is increasing stratification of wellbeing. That a sustainable civilization must have finite limits on stratification of wellbeing, if not during a single person's lifetime, then certainly between generations.

3) The eco system supports, facilitates, creates the niche in which humankind exists. Humankind to my knowledge does not support the eco system. It would do fine without us. Humankind does have the power to degrade its niche in this eco-system. This century eco system damage will reduce the number of people that can be supported.

These are the fundamentals of the predicament.
                we cannot get them into forefront of the discussion of sustainability
                people cannot use these concepts to assess their risk
                        (the potential injury to their children) and
                these three descriptors of risk are not seen as most important,
                how do you think, humans that inhabit this time slice of the human experiment,
                        will determine the behavior that leads to sustainability?

In other words: No liability ==>> no change in behavior


Jack Alpert 

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From Overshoot to Sustainability

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