One Finite Planet

Environment: Journey to grok One Finite Planet.

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COP27: Climate change action sabotage?

Reports from COP27 seems indicate the key initiative this year to make wealthy nations cover the cost of the damages poor nations will incur as a result of emissions that have main originated from those wealthy nations.

The proposal as it stands has a missing an essential piece, and trying to cover for that essential piece, appears most to likely to increase emissions, and move COP away from a focus on solving the climate crisis and instead toward just fighting over the cost.

This is a troubled look at the key flaw in what has been put forward and the real solution that should be in place.

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Did Al Gore nail it: Is climate change merely inconvenient, or is it an existential threat?

Claims that +1.5oC warming would be ‘catastrophic’, and that climate change represents an ‘existential threat’ can be quite vague as just what is ‘catastrophic’ or an ‘existential threat’?

This webpaper, seeks to translate ‘catastrophic’ outcomes and ‘existential threats’ into more concrete outcomes.

“We recognise climate change is a serious problem and are committed to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent the disastrous consequences anticipated to occur by around 2026”

Typical government position: Is it ok?

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The Power struggle in Australia.

From “the biggest corruption scandal ever” in Brazil, problems in Venezuela, human rights in Saudi Arabia and Iran, to the problems caused by lobbyists against action on climate change, an abundance of fossil fuels is a source of political power, yet rarely force for good, and Australia, with a wealth of coal and gas, is not spared.

The current crisis in Ukraine not only drives up energy prices globally, but it also creates a dilemma for gas producing nations.

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The environmental impact of the transition to EVs and the potential problems.

There are many claims that EVs result in more emissions than fossil fuelled vehicles. The reality is that even when an EV is powered from a ‘dirty’ grid, it is clear that driving an EV creates less emissions. What is less clear, is whether the emission reduction when driven justifies the emissions that are created when building the EV?

Buying an EV is better for the environment in the long term than buying an ICE vehicle but can be worse for the environment than not buying any new vehicle at all. The key finding is that while it is best to stop buying so many new ICE vehicles ASAP, there should be no rush to replace existing ICE vehicles with EVs, and instead allow existing vehicles the around two decades until their normal scrap date.

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Big Oil, AKA Big Fossil: How real, and what about ‘big climate’?

Yes, big oil with value at over US$7 billion per day in revenue at stake clearly has a vested interest in arguing against climate change and downplaying risks, but on the other hand, aren’t there also vested interests exaggerating and overstating the risks of climate change? Effectively could ‘big renewables’, ‘big science‘ or ‘big climate’, be out lobbying and out promoting ‘big fossil‘?

Is this really a balanced fight, or is it more like the might of ‘big tobacco’ vs ‘whistle blower medical research’ all over again?

This is a look at the financial might on each side of the argument, and the respective motives for each side to overstate their case.

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Covid-19 & Vaccination Deaths: Statistically, Coincidences will distort reported deaths.

I read recently about reasonable people protesting over post vaccination deaths in South Korea, echoing stories from around the globe about the underreporting of deaths following vaccination.

Can most of these deaths be just coincidences? This question has me seeking the real story on what is happening, not just with deaths following vaccination, but also with deaths from the virus. Almost one year after my initial exploration of vaccine efficacy and safety, now there is data, not just projections, so it is time for a review, and this question needs answering for any such a review.

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One finite planet: beyond sustainability.

We cannot even properly define sustainability without giving time much more thought.

The first core problem with ‘sustainability’ is clear from the Wikipedia page:

Sustainability is a societal goal that broadly aims for humans to safely co-exist on planet Earth over a long time.

Sustainability: Wikipedia

Just what is ‘a long time’?

To a five-year-old, an hour is a long time. As we get older, the perception of ‘a long time’ stretches with our time horizons. Perhaps it is the same with humanity, and the distance into the future we look will also grow to the point we feel the need to define ‘a long time’.

Defining ‘a long time’ remains abstract, while still thinking of the planet as existing for infinite time, but a bigger problem is that people have to look elsewhere for purpose for their existence.

Unlike the thinking of ‘sustainability‘, one finite planet, as a problem to be solved. To genuinely provide for the future, humanity has to sustain the planet, whilst finding solutions to the time limit.

The Finite Planet of the 21st Century.

The increasing perception of land and resources as finite.

Today in the 21st century, we all know of the entire planet, and we recognise all territories as either ‘owned’ by some country, or under international treaty.

But for the whole of human history until very recently, it seemed there would always be the possibility of new territories to claim, and undiscovered parts of the globe to explore. For almost all of history, for us humans the planet has been so vast, with so much of it unknown, that the planet felt infinite.

Modern humans have existed for at least 300,000 years, but it is only in the most recent 350 years, that any human has known even known the shape of the continents of the world, and yet for the last around 30 years every individual now see a photo image of every square kilometre of each of those continents.

A key part of what it is to be human has been exploration. The line from Star Trek: ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’. While there are still places to explore in the depths of the oceans, prior to the 20th century, there were still explorers on land reaching previously unexplored or unreached destinations.

When we think of the great explorations of the future, we are now looking beyond our own planet.

Reality is, our planet will only remain habitable for as little of 25 million years, can only house a finite number of people at any one time, and no resource is truly infinite. However, we do need to ensure resources that would otherwise be consumed in the time available, have a pathway to being renewed or recycled.

This is a revolution from the approach that has worked for 300,000 years.

The planet has always been finite but dealing with that is new.

Every resource on the planet is finite, but for most of history, every resource was assumed to be at the planet level inexhaustible.

Once we set a time frame of even 25 million years, then we can determine which resources, such as iron, we can genuinely assume to be inexhaustible, and which others, such as oxygen in the air, that we have been treating as inexhaustible so far, do still need consideration.

We are becoming aware that fresh water is not infinite, and nor is the ability of the environment to absorb plastics or the air absorb CO2 without ramifications, but as recently as within the 20th century, neither of those problems seemed to fit within people’s time horizons.

Some are still even thinking about a finite earth with respect to plastic waste or greenhouse gas pollution even today. For many people, there is no timeline.

History of understanding our planet is finite.

The 20th Century: Enter Sustainability.

While it had always previously appeared that there would always be new areas of land for housing, new oceans to fish, and more place to store any waste, in the century more realities became clear. While previously pollution was a problem only within a local area, and the solution was simply to move the waste elsewhere.

People started to fear a resource that became scarce in one location, may not forever just be able to be found given elsewhere and not always only a matter of new exploration.

Before 1650 and “Sustainability”, A Seemingly Infinite Planet.

To most life on Earth, including people prior to around 1650 CE, the planet appears effectively infinite. For people in the past, it seemed that it did not matter what they did to the environment, because the environment could always recover and there were always new and unexplored lands.

From Infinite Planet To Finite Planet.

Before 1650 CE, people lived on an ‘infinite’ planet:

  • Living sustainably seems to require zero restrictions.
  • The earth had not been fully explored and mapped – no individual human even knew of all the continents, and for every society, there new continents of unknown size to be discovered.
  • There was always more ‘unused’ land, not just as nature reserves but land considered unused and available to be used if the need ever arose.
  • As populations slowly increased, there would then be additional people to unlock additional resources, as sufficient labour is already available for farming, mining etc
  • The earth had not been fully explored and mapped – there even new continents of unknown size to be discovered. to discover
  • There was ‘unused’ land, not just as nature reserves but considered unused becaus only nature reserves remain in their natural state, and we need those nature reserves as they are
  • additional people no longer unlock additional resources, as sufficient labour is already available for farming, mining etc

1650 to 2000: The Transition To A Global Society.

As recently as 1650, there were still entire societies unknown to each other.

The ‘New World‘, at least to Europeans, of North and South America was joined by Australasia, as huge areas of land that, although fully populated by their established societies, were seen by Europeans as effectively unoccupied.

Most of the world had no enforced borders, or rules of citizenship as we know them today, and immigration meant deciding to go to a new land.

As European society expanded into new territory, there was land to be farmed, mineral wealth to be discovered, for a time, every additional person in the new societies of the new world allowed for increased utilisation of natural resources and access to new wealth.

However, but the end of the 20th century, the situation had changed. More people no longer are required to access all available resources, and now the only question is who is to be allowed access to which of the world’s resources.


We can’t really even properly define ‘sustainable‘ without a framework that provides a bigger picture.

Consider the mission:

One Finite Planet is a societal goal that broadly aims for humans to safely co-exist on planet Earth whilst all working towards overcoming the limits of existing on only one finite planet.

Humanity needs goals and this is more a mission statement than tangible goals to pursue, but if the mission could be adopted by enough people, then there can be collaborative work on the goals.


  • *2022 October 2:
  • 2021 December 12: First version.