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Archive for the ‘limbic system’ Category

Pleasure Center

Posted by feww on March 27, 2008

The following is a reply to the blogger Alan Roberta who recently dropped by. In his response to A Fast-Warming World Alan wrote:

The latest news about climate change is so alarming (the right wing would say alarmist) as to make many people want to plant their aching heads in the sand. Some scientists using advanced computer models now argue that if we want to stop the Earth from warming, the amount of carbon we should be emitting is … none. None? As in, zero? As in, shutting down the global industrial economy? After all, global energy demand is expected to accelerate until at least 2020. Yet attempts even to slow the rate of increase of carbon emissions have paralyzed world politics for more than a decade.

FEWW replied:

Alan, we [Members of Creating a Sustainable Future, CASF] have argued for ZERO emissions by way of reducing the world energy consumption to levels below 60EJ since 2005. See

There’s a fundamental systemic problem. It’s called exponential growth economy and it’s degrading, polluting, tearing apart destroying and otherwise killing off everything in its domain. In the absence of a ‘radical’ change to the economic system our world is rapidly falling apart. See:

The world is also running out of TOPSOIL. There are only about 4 years to go before a sharp decline in the production of food crops occur due to critically low levels of topsoil. See:

Freshwater? Not much left! See:

The end result? First the collapsing cities, then war and finally ecocide. See and

Yet attempts even to slow the rate of increase of carbon emissions have paralyzed world politics for more than a decade.

The Golden Age

The ruling elite, their politicians and lawmakers (sic) depend on the political economy and enjoy the status quo. The economic system [and the lifestyles that it promotes] places the individual’s pleasure above all else, stimulating their “pleasure center.” A CASF Member equates the human reaction to the ecological fallout [the loss of food, freshwater, habitat, species extinction . . . pollution, climate change, extreme weather events . . . and the failing ecosystems] with the famous Frankensteinian experiment on rats:

Two brain researchers, James Olds and Peter Milner, while investigating if rats might be made uncomfortable by electrical stimulation of certain areas of their brain, especially the limbic system, discovered the “pleasure center” in the 1950s. An electrical current was applied to the rat if they entered a specific corner of a cage, the theory being that the uncomfortable effect would deter them from entering that corner. Instead, they came back quickly after the each stimulation. The rats were allowed to press the stimulation lever themselves in later experiments; they pressed it as much as seven-hundred times per hour. This region in the rat’s brain became known as the “pleasure center”.

The Golden Age (Goldenes-Zeitalter) by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

The Skinner Box

In later experiments, rats in Skinner boxes with metal electrodes implanted into their nucleus accumbens repeatedly pressed a lever which activated their pleasure center. They did so in preference over food and water, eventually dying from exhaustion.

The Skinner Box. Image: GNU Free Documentationl icense, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. Source: (Wikimedia Commons).

If a rat is given the choice between stimulating the forebrain (obtaining pleasure) or eating, it will choose stimulation to the point of exhaustion and death.

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Posted in Climate Change, exponential growth economy, limbic system, pleasure center, politics, ruling elite, Skinner box, the golden age | Leave a Comment »