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@amcafee Hi Andrew. 1. I am not a troll. I am an academic who happens to be an expert on the issues you address in your book. Trying to dismiss my critique with this kind of language is not a good look.
@amcafee 2. The graph on GDP/CO2 decoupling… we all know this is happening in some rich nations. The question is, can we reduce emissions fast enough to stay within safe carbon budgets while still growing GDP at existing rates? See here: jasonhickel.org/s/Hickel-and-K…
@amcafee 3. My critique was focused on materials. It’s not just your graph on metals that's the problem; the graph on building and wood products suffers from the same issue: it doesn’t account for the material impact of imports.
@amcafee 4. You admit that your book doesn’t include this data. Indeed, you admit you *intentionally excluded* it. Presumably because it would cast your conclusions into doubt. So you have a book about decoupling that doesn’t engage any of the relevant literature. This is astonishing.
@amcafee 5. If you choose to focus on domestic material consumption (DMC), that’s absolutely fine. But then you can’t compare it to total GDP. You would need to subtract the share of GDP that’s derived from offshore material use, which you haven’t done. You can’t have it both ways.
@amcafee 6. How is the material footprint of the US going up when DMC is going down? Because the materials required to extract and produce and transport the final goods the US consumes has been taken off the books due to globalization.
@amcafee 7. For example, your measure accounts for the imported material products the US consumes, but not the materials involved in the mines and factories and transportation that lies behind those products, *even when controlled by US companies*. All that just vaporizes.
@amcafee 8. You implicitly admit that MF is important, but then say it’s difficult to track. Yet there is a large literature that explores this very question. You have engaged none of it. It is a striking omission.
@amcafee 9. Yes, MF aggregates different materials, with different impacts, into a single mass figure. But (a) all material categories are rising, not just the aggregate, and (b) aggregate mass flows are tightly correlated with ecological impact. This has been demonstrated repeatedly.
@amcafee 10. Indeed, MF is widely used by ecological economists as a proxy for ecological impact, and enjoys significant legitimacy for this purpose in the literature. But once again, you do not engage with this science.
@amcafee 11. If you don’t believe that mass of material flows is linked to ecological impact, then why bother even with your DMC data? Why bother with decoupling at all? By dismissing this link, you undermine your own project.
@amcafee 12. We are at 100bn tons now (not 80bn, btw). You say this is not an emergency. Soil depletion, deforestation, fish stock collapse, insect die-off, species extinction… you deny all this is a problem. These crises are driven by the impacts of excessive material throughput.
@amcafee 13. You compare material flows to the weight of the Earth’s crust, and say MF is tiny so it’s fine. No ecologist would recognize this as a legitimate claim. You commit Descartes’ error: to see the Earth as a repository of dead matter, as opposed to a web of living systems.
@amcafee 14. You are half a century behind in your grasp of ecological science. The point is not that we will run out of materials. The point is that continued increase in material use will continue to destabilize the integrated ecosystems and Earth-system processes that we depend on.
@amcafee 15. But here’s the thing: you yourself argue that we need to reduce material throughput. That’s why you are excited about “dematerialization”! So why then turn around and deny its importance?
@amcafee 16. You go through these acrobatics, playing loose with data (and even trying to normalize 3 degrees of warming!), because you start from the assumption that rich countries need to keep growing GDP, exponentially, forever.
@amcafee 17. Remarkably, you have never bothered to justify this assumption. And yet ecological economists argue that rich nations no longer need endless growth in order to deliver human flourishing and technological progress. This would make your goal of reducing throughput much easier.
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