Cary Neeper

Writer, Blogger, and Painter -- esteeming life wherever and whatever it might be.

Check out Critical Non-fiction for links to reviews in

Exploration of complexity, its indicators, embedded chaos, and value in human organizations.

Below, click on links to:
Exobiology blogs at

Quote from the Talmud: "You are not expected to complete the task. Neither are you allowed to put it down."

What genre fits The Archives of Varok series best? YA? My granddaughter suggested readers 7th grade or older. A recent adult fan thought the books were most appropriate for adults. The covers suggest a younger audience, but that's the problem with my love of genteel fantasy and the way I paint. What do you think? come join the conversation on my Goodreads blog.

Check out the Book Club Discussions Questions for The Webs of Varok in the Archives of Varok Website. Issues include ways to preserve resources for future generations and expanding the concept of Family.

Reviewing Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded in Goodreads. Published in 2008, this book is not to be missed for its tough look at what we must do to restore our credibility and provide a good example for the "Code Green" humans must implement to secure our future.

Review of the Working Paper from the Post Carbon Pathways Project
Posted on 3 April 2014

Don’t miss this valuable source of useful options to move beyond growth economics. Alexander's article includes a thoughtful review of current and past Don’t miss this valuable source of useful options to move beyond growth economics. Alexander's article includes a thoughtful review of current and past thinking about classical and no-growth economics, an extensive list of references, and ten challenging prompts – read these, if nothing else – for anyone and everyone concerned with the global situation and a transition to a more rational future.

Post-Growth Economics: A Paradigm Shift in Progress (PDF)
by Dr. Samuel Alexander*

*lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne, fellow with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and co-director of the Simplicity Institute.http:/​/​​articles/​review-of-the-working-paper-from-the-post-carbon-pathways-project

Introduction to the Issues: Based on the economic theories of Herman Daly, the economics on Varok that are disrupted in "The Webs of Varok" depend on their being stable populations, those whose numbers remain unchanged. This requires a universal buy-in, an ethic that emerges from agreeing that replacement-only is the only humane option for a sustainable future. Universal recycling, localization, long-term manufacture of carefully selected technology, and a system of nonrenewable resource quotas provide the basis for a sustainable free market.

A nice synopsis to freshen memories as you tackle the issues. CN)

by Peter Graystone for Population Matters Magazine Spring? 2013

This book, the second in a projected series of four, is set on the imaginary world of Varok, where live several different intelligent species.

On Varok, family size is limited to self-replacement through both the law and deeply-ingrained ethics. Various councils monitor resources and population, so that there exists a robust steady-state. Each locality aims at self-sufficiency, creating its own goods as far as possible. There is a strong sense of group and place, with full employment achieved by sharing work hours. Civilisation is devoted to selective technology and conservation. There are rights to privacy, quiet, free expression, shelter, food, medical support, air and water.

Tandra, a human, has moved to Varok to report back to Earth on its sustainable way of life, in the hope that Earth might follow suit and move away from the stress of overuse and overpopulation, and an economy where growth is considered essential to pay interest on debt and to provide jobs for more and more people.

The vulnerability of the steady-state ideal is that it depends on consensus, a shared belief in its benefits for present and future generations. This is broken by one powerful inhabitant of Varok, who attempts to overthrow the economy. She manufactures and sells cloth unrestrainably, using pesticide to get higher yields, and getting workers by offering addictive berries. She floods the market with her inferior cloth, which is popular because it is cheap. She wants to increase population and grow business, and start an armaments industry. The subsequent conflict ends happily!

The book finishes with recommendations for Earth: cap energy use; stabilise population; reduce inequality; stabilise money supply; use an index that measures well-being rather than gross domestic product; ensure full employment by sharing out work-hours; think about social benefit rather than profit; localise; base lifestyle on ‘enough is enough’; stabilise the economy.

Certainly Not Stagnation

Click and type in a question or comment

Brian Czech in Supply Shock talks about "stagflation... a combination of inflation and recession..." an impossible situation in the steady state, where production and consumption are held stable at the standard of living chosen democratically and debt is a thing of the past.
To quote Shawne in Conn:The Alien Effect, the third book in The Archives of Varok, to be released soon:
"The steady state means time to conserve everything and keep everyone working, sharing work hours, sharing big items locally, producing energy locally. Some people even understand the need for selective technology and replacement-only reproduction."

Oleyall, the great-fish guru to the varoks that comes to visit Earth in The Alien Effect defines the "steady state economy" this way:
“Wastes, and all growth in population, production and consumption are minimized. All resources must be counted and quotas set according to democratically chosen standards of living. Some regions will need more, and others will need less. In any case, resources that are replaceable by new growth are replenished at the same rate as they are used. Those resources with limited quantities have minimal use and recycling.”

Long-term Stability—Survival in the Anthropocene

The –isms are irrelevant. Socialism, communism and capitalism are all growth economies—stuck on the belief that growth is a panacea for what ails our Full Earth. A new ecological, full Earth, complex economy needs to focus on the long-range future and make a stable (no-growth) economy the primary goal of all nations.

Some places have already arrived with the primary driver in place—human population growth at zero. For them the opportunity is ripe for another needed focus—converting to a debt-free economy. Only then can a society hope to secure its future. Only then can resource use (and production) be reduced to sustainable levels for all time.

This means minimal throughput—setting quotas for extraction so that resources--like rare metals, water, and soil--are not lost over time and waste can disappear into reuse, repair and recycling.

Technological development must be highly selective and focused on improving efficiency of end use. Jobs must be shared and taxes devised to assure equity of income, with no more than a 15% difference.

We know now, all too well, the dangers of growth continuing as it has for the last two hundred years. Critical to our kicking the habit is an understanding of steady state benefits, like time for creative endeavors, less stress, and more community.

We also need to improve our understanding of our world and our place in a large universe. Join the NSF funded projects to incorporate aspects of sustainability in their teaching--NAGTW (On the Cutting Edge Faculty Development Program in the Geosciences) workshops and InTeGrate (Interdisciplinary Teaching of Geoscience for a Sustainable Future) in their major efforts to link student course context to “real-world issues.” Resources can be found at http:/​/​​integrate/​workshops/​sustainability2012/​courses.html.

More next week on the details of these programs as reported in EOS volume 94 Number 25 18 June 2013.

Review of related nonfiction,Supply Shock by Brian Czech

Click and type in a question or comment

Wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist Brian Czech takes us on a readable and essential tour of economics—its history, its foibles, and its coming salvation, what some have called a Full-Earth Economy, one that recognizes the limits to resources in a world with seven billion Homo sapiens.

In a careful analysis of the impact of economic policy on politics and our natural world, Czech offers solutions that seem, not only reasonable, but necessary and inevitable if we are to revert to a pleasant long-term existence in a comfortable world of sharing and conservation.

In a thorough discussion of our current situation, the literature, and various reactions to economic dilemmas, Czech demonstrates that growth now erodes our ecological foundations. He doesn’t miss discussing any of the caveats, like technology as salvation. He demonstrates clearly that technology also has costs, but can be selective, developed only when it adds to the efficiency of end use.

To the charge that steady state economics is stagnation-- he points out that stability and minimal throughput set us free as we share and ease back creatively, with time to live more engaged lives. This is a must-read for anyone interested in everything from the future and economics to ecology.

Nautilus Silver Medal YA and ForeWord Adult SF Finalist

Photo by Nancy Bedell Stone