• BC
    13.2k
    NO GROWTH is recommended by many people as a way to curb global warming. Or No Growth is legislated as a way of preserving a suburban community's charm and demographic characteristics. On the other hand, some say that continual and unending growth is required to supply a growing population with the means to live the kind of life we live now, or even a better life.

    Is it possible to have a healthy economy which is 'steady state'? Not expanding and not shrinking?

    It seems like inflation is sort of a "cosmological constant" in a healthy society. The FED aims to maintain full employment and 2% inflation. (I don't believe some of their statistics, but that's what they say.). 2% inflation isn't a lot in one month, but over time it adds up. Is such a thing as wage and price stability (no growth, no shrinkage) possible?

    Are we doomed to ever expanding-consumption and ever-expanding resource extraction and production?
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    Telling the economy to not grow, just doesn't seem remotely likely... Something only Japan would probably be able to accomplish.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    A debt-driven economy has to grow or die. So it does both: grows and grows and grows for about 30 years and then crashes, redistributing wealth from the entrenched elite to opportunists, and then a big war bails out industry, kills off a lot of otherwise unemployed men, and then it starts growing again.
    Zero growth would mean a stable economy with no investment, credit buying or surplus value in production; people simply exchanging value for value.
    There is no reason for a population to keep growing, if birth control is available and women are free to control their own lives and bodies. There is no rational reason for a society to demand more and more beyond what its members need for healthy living. People could work less, waste less and worry less.
    Zero growth in the economy might mean significant growth in personal fulfillment.
  • jkop
    706
    Is it possible to have a healthy economy which is 'steady state'? Not expanding and not shrinking?BC

    Expanding economies include parts which are steady state or shrinking. For example, corporate profits can be high at the same time as the amount of jobs is steady state or shrinking. Younger generations of the population remain in education or work with entertainment because no new job opportunities arise. They live with their parents until they're 30 - 40, and get no children. Populations are ageing, with increasing costs for society.

    Would this change if we somehow limit the expanding parts of the economy?
  • bert1
    1.8k
    It's obviously totally possible.
  • unenlightened
    8.8k


    I think this answers very clearly what is and what is not possible in this regard.

  • frank
    14.6k
    Is such a thing as wage and price stability (no growth, no shrinkage) possible?BC

    Bronze age cultures were no-growth. They remained stagnant for centuries. One assumes new ideas appeared from time to time, but died, possibly because life was precarious and holding to tradition was viewed as a matter of survival. Our own high-growth is made possible by technology, which was made possible by high-growth, so it's a cycle.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    Economic growth doesn't just come from population growth or increased resources consumption. Increased human capital (e.g., education), new technologies, improved efficiency, etc. can all lead to GDP growth even when the population and the total amount of natural resources is decreasing.

    Just for an example, consider vehicles. Older commuter cars get worse gas milage than modern trucks. You're able to use half as much gasoline, sometimes significantly less than that with hybrids, to travel the same distance in similarly sized cars. And newer cars are vastly more reliable, generally traveling close to twice as many miles before they have to be junked. Likewise, lightbulbs today last far longer and use much less electricity. Emissions for the wealthiest countries are able to trend down because new technologies are significantly more efficient, requiring less electricity to be generated.

    So, our goal shouldn't be reduced growth per se. Something more specific, like reduced pollution, reduced natural resource consumption, increased land set aside from cultivation, etc. would be a better goal. Over consumption is certainly an issue, but you can reduce different sorts of problematic consumption without necessarily reducing the total value of goods and services produced in an economy (not easily maybe, but it's theoretically feasible).

    That makes it more of a question of trading off lower (perhaps at times negative) growth versus longer term benefits. Unfortunately, our institutions are not well geared for this sort of thing. Electoral politics in general seem to make it hard to do long term planning. For all of democracy's many benefits, I think this is actually one place where it makes solving a significant—perhaps existential—problem significantly harder. "Tighten your belt so people 80 years from now can live better," is simply not an appealing slogan for many voters. Likewise, the heavy focus on individual property rights in modern liberal democracies makes shifting patterns of consumption very difficult.

    You're mostly working with incentives to help nudge people away from externalities (e.g. a carbon tax) because an individual's right to consume as much as they can afford to consume is sacrosanct. At the same time, the fact that the poor tend to spend a much higher percentage of their incomes means that the burden of these incentives will tend to fall on those with lower incomes. Granted, you can redirect the revenues back to the low income if there is political buy-in, but mass migration seems to be eroding the support for welfare states across the West because the beneficiaries of redistribution are not seen to be "truly" a part of the society yet.

    The other thing is that central banks target moderate inflation for a reason. Even if there was no real GDP growth you would still want predictable 1-3% inflation. Why? Because if there is no inflation there is no reason for people to invest or take any risks and this dries up access to credit. This is exactly why deflation is kryptonite for economies. If savers aren't putting their money into the credit market then there aren't loans to start new businesses or invest in new technologies (which can in turn actually lead to higher resource consumption). People, firms, and governments that have already taken out debt for investments now have to pay back their loans in currency that is worth more than the original loan. Basically, the real expected interest rate on a loan is the nominal rate - expected inflation. If inflation goes negative, it has the same effect as a (surprise) jump in interest rates. This makes defaults more likely and makes it harder for anyone to pay back loans.

    And, if your economy is growing (again, this might occur even with shrinking resources consumption due to innovation) and your money supply is static, you now have the same number of dollars/euros/etc. chasing a larger number of goods. This leads to deflation, which then is essentially an interest rate hike. Deflation will also tend to benefit those with savings or those who are owed debt payments and hurt those with debt, so it tends to be a sort of regressive transfer of wealth (although a lot of wealthy people have a lot of debt too). It's just bad news, which is why central banks generally just want inflation low and, most of all, stable. In theory, even 10% inflation would be manageable if everyone knew it would stay 10%. It's the uncertainty that leads to prices and wages decoupling and loans being issued on bad terms.
  • BC
    13.2k
    Bronze age cultures were no-growth. They remained stagnant for centuries. One assumes new ideas appeared from time to time, but died, possibly because life was precarious and holding to tradition was viewed as a matter of survival. Our own high-growth is made possible by technology, which was made possible by high-growth, so it's a cycle.frank

    And before the Bronze Age? Very slow change, except for development of agriculture and settled towns. The dispersion of bronze (tin and copper alloy) was a significant change. Bronze was possible because of the relatively low melting temperature, and the earlier development of kilns to fire pottery which were hot enough to melt tin and copper.

    More recently, the European economy was pretty much static between the collapse of the Roman Empire and 1500 -- a period of a thousand years. Large swaths of civilizations around the globe have experienced no-growth conditions for thousands of years.

    The technologies that made the current growth regime possible at first took decades to have an effect (like the consequence of global exploration launched in the 15th century). New technologies spur growth seemingly in minutes.
  • BC
    13.2k
    Economic growth doesn't just come from population growth or increased resources consumption. Increased human capital (e.g., education), new technologies, improved efficiency, etc. can all lead to GDP growth even when the population and the total amount of natural resources is decreasing.Count Timothy von Icarus

    A local example of good growth is the share of Minnesota's electricity generated by wind and solar -- 33%! The other 66% comes from nuclear power plants, coal plants, and hydropower. Coal, however, is on the way out and the largest plant is expect to close in about 6 years. Nuclear power has radioactive waste problems, of course. Natural gas sounds clean but its production and distribution leaks a lot of methane.

    Transportation and agriculture have moved into first place as Minnesota's largest CO2 emitters.

    28% of Texas electricity production is wind. The rest is natural gas, nuclear power, and coal in that order.

    Wind and solar production are not consumption-free, obviously. It takes a lot materiél to build wind and solar replacements for coal and natural gas.
  • BC
    13.2k
    That makes it more of a question of trading off lower (perhaps at times negative) growth versus longer term benefits. Unfortunately, our institutions are not well geared for this sort of thing.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

    Institutions--legislatures, schools, corporations--are indeed ill-equipped to make enlightened trade-offs. Being generous here, it isn't always a matter of cupidity or stupidity. Partly it is a problem of having sufficiently far-sighted and wide-angle vision to appreciate the whole problem and possible solutions. Executives in corporations and legislators always have time pressures which prevent necessarily time-consuming contemplation of possibility. Our species isn't good at large-scale long-range planning. Our brains and emotions just aren't equipped for it.

    A steady-state economy requires thinking within a different framework than within a steady growth model.

    Around 25 years ago I was traveling in rural Uganda. We often came upon stacks of bricks. What were these for? The stacks were accumulated as cash became available to make more bricks. When enough bricks were accumulated, a small brick house would be built. It might take them 10 years (rough estimate). The resulting house would consist of maybe two rooms and a tin roof -- perfectly adequate for a house located on the equator. Over time amenities could be added.

    Americans could live frugally for 10 years and save cash to make a large down-payment on a house, and avoid credit costs. The prospective house might not be very big, but be perfectly adequate for places with cold winters and hot summers. Amenities could be added over time. The same thing applies to automobiles. Buy conservatively and save for the cars replacement maybe 8 or 10 years down the line.

    Saving for future consumption, rather than buying credit for immediate consumption slows down one's budgetary merry-go-round a lot. It does require budgetary discipline (so does paying for credit) but it is generally less stressful. Aren't middle class people supposed to be good at delayed gratification?

    Maybe not so much.
  • BC
    13.2k
    Thanks. I'll need a bit of time to watch and chew it over.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    On the other hand, some say that continual and unending growth is required to supply a growing population with the means to live the kind of life we live now, or even a better life.BC

    If the population grows must not the economy grow with it if prosperity is to be maintained? If current consumption was evenly distributed how much of a reduction would average Western consumption experience? Would that redistributed consumption be sustainable? Probably not. Even if it were, would we vote for it?
  • BC
    13.2k
    Very good questions about growth/no growth.

    If consumption were even distributed, there would be some dramatic changes. The wealthiest people consume a lot of air travel (first class, business class, frequent flyers, and private planes). Their contribution to CO2 is highly disproportionate to their population size. Most people don't fly at all, or rarely.

    The consumption of salad might not change much -- I don't think that anyone is eating a vastly disproportion share of green leafy vegetables. But some people in affluent societies do not have access to fresh salad without making a major effort in travel (food deserts).

    Private automobiles, a major polluter (even electric ones--manufacturing, etc.) and economic driver are already pretty evenly distributed. What isn't evenly distributed is good quality public transit. Most people don't use it or don't have access to it. Public transit has to be manufactured as well, but 1 bus or 1 train car will carry far more people than 1 car, over their lifetimes. A switch to mass transit would require a significant redistribution of manufacturing.

    Quality housing is evenly distributed within economic classes, but is not evenly distributed between better-off and worse-off classes. A small percentage of the population are living on the street, in shelters, or in very substandard housing.

    IF (GIANT 'IF') we produced for need and not for profit or for artificially stimulated wants (too many to shake a stick at) consumption and production could be lowered significantly.

    For an analogy to at least a less growth economy: The average American family uses about 30 kWh of electricity per day. The average family could reduce its electricity usage to say 24 kWh (picking a figure out of thin air) without living in the Stone Age. They would need to be more careful about lighting; hot water use; refrigeration and cooking; heating and cooling (a bit cooler in the winter, a bit warmer in the summer); and other changes, depending on what they owned. This family would need less income to maintain themselves. Their energy supplier would still be in business, with a lower level of production (assuming everybody reduced energy consumption).
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    If the population grows must not the economy grow with it if prosperity is to be maintainedJanus

    Prosperity isn't everywhere. The whole point of disparity is that a small percent of the world's population both control and benefit from the world's economy.
    There is no need for the population to grow, but if it does, more people will live in poverty and perhaps even fewer will live in luxury, regardless of whether the economy as whole grows or shrinks.
    If current consumption was evenly distributed how much of a reduction would average Western consumption experience?Janus
    For the average Western consumer, there wouldn't be a great deal of change - if the redistribution included cutting the waste. In food, water, energy, building material and fuel, the North American system is extremely wasteful. If you include Europe, both the average consumption and waste will decline somewhat. Not because Europeans are smarter (though they are in some things), but because Europe is small: since the end of the colonial era, they haven't had the luxury of unbridled growth.
    Would that redistributed consumption be sustainable?Janus
    Yes, if it were done thoughtfully, with all necessary supporting infrastructure in place.
    Even if it were, would we vote for it?Janus
    Of course not. Nobody wants to give up a perceived advantage over his rivals.
  • frank
    14.6k
    New technologies spur growth seemingly in minutes.BC

    I know, and it seems exponential. HG Wells thought the species might split, between those who keep technology and those who retrogress. I think that's possible. Maybe those who keep technology can form a no-growth culture.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    When economic growth is measured, how is it measured? What precisely is growing?
    The law of conservation would suggest... strongly recommend?... demand? that something added here must have been subtracted from somewhere else.
    When increased population promotes growth, that actually means increased consumption of something, from somewhere, which is being eaten away.
    When technology promotes growth, that actually means more stuff is being produced and consumed, but the raw material and energy still has to come from something which loses material and energy.
    If a tree kept growing without limit, the Earth would have been consumed already by that single tree.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    Japan often has deflation instead of inflation.
    In 2023, eleven countries had negative GDP growth rate.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    Those are all good examples and points. What I wonder about is whether. assuming all but necessary wastage could be eliminated, even distribution of prosperity at the present total level of consumption would be sustainable, or anywhere near sustainable.

    Exponential population growth has been made possible by the exponential growth in technologies, notably medical technology. I think it is arguable that this exponential growth on technologies has been possible on account of fossil fuels (cheap energy) but the whole process, which has included a massive burgeoning of wasteful consumption, is "all of a piece", and the question seems to be whether it would have been possible without that wasteful consumption.

    Human life is so unimaginably complex that I'm not confident that the whole can be understood sufficiently to answer such questions. It also seems impossible to separate considerations of over-population from thinking about excessive consumption, or any level of consumption. Every organism is a consumer when it comes right down to it.

    The upshot seems to be that it is not merely a political problem we face—we may just have been too clever, technologically speaking, for our own good. At the same time, it seems impossible to see how more technological innovation, however brilliant, will be able to halt the damage being done to ecosystems, the degradation of which is proceeding apace and not, overall slowing down, but rather accelerating.
  • jkop
    706
    Exponential population growth has been made possible by the exponential growth in technologies, notably medical technology.Janus

    Yeah, more babies survive. But when the standard of living increases, women have fewer children. So initially the population will grow, but then stabilize and decrease, as the majority will be older people.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    So initially the population will grow, but then stabilize and decrease, as the majority will be older people.jkop

    And then we may face the problem of insufficient workforce to sustain the population.
  • BC
    13.2k
    Exponential population growth has been made possible by the exponential growth in technologies, notably medical technology.Janus

    Yes and no. Two areas of technology have (imho) have contributed the most to population growth: The Haber Bosch process of converting nitrogen and hydrogen gas to ammonia (for fertilizer) enabled huge increases in food production, (The same process is also used in making explosives; the # of people blown up is less than the # of people fed well.). The other area of technology is civil engineering: Clean water and sewer systems which take sewage away, ideally never to be seen again. Better civil engineering cut the number of people who died young from infectious diseases. Joseph Bazalgette built the big interceptor sewers in London in the 1860s. Norman Borlaug's 'Green Revolution' in plant breeding is another contributor to food production.

    Medicine is an important technology, absolutely. Better understanding of disease and better treatments have significantly increased the age at which people die of heart disease and cancer. That's not a small accomplishment. Infectious disease has not disappeared, but the list of biggest killers is different now than it was in 1920, say. Polio has never been a leading cause of death, but it is now quite rare. TB was the leading cause of death from infectious disease in 1900. It hasn't disappeared, but in many parts of the world it is quite rare. More people died in the US from Covid 19 (1,000,000+) than died in the 1918 Influenza epidemic (around 650,000). The next big change could be epidemics of antibiotic resistant infections. Various diseases have developed strains which are no longer treatable. Gonorrhea for instance has untreatable strains. Staphylococcus aureus (a 'hospital infection') has become much more difficult to cure.

    it seems impossible to see how more technological innovation, however brilliant, will be able to halt the damage being done to ecosystems, the degradation of which is proceeding apace and not, overall slowing down, but rather accelerating.Janus

    I'm pessimistic about the future of the next few generations. Life is going to be very difficult for them. Whether human life will even be possible say in 2150 or 2200 is open to question,

    The thing about human beings is that "we are what we are" just like every other species. Scarab beetles roll shit into balls. Sharks are voracious feeders. Woodpeckers drill holes wherever. Wasps often sting and ask questions later. The kind of world we have ended up with is a result of us being "what we are".
  • BC
    13.2k
    And then we may face the problem of insufficient workforce to sustain the population.Janus

    Japan is approaching that situation; China (maybe surprisingly) will also. Quite a few countries have birth rates below replacement level.
  • kudos
    376
    Is it possible to have a healthy economy which is 'steady state'? Not expanding and not shrinking?

    The question is exclusively about capitalism, and whether or not capitalism can be rationally organized, right? I think what makes capitalism so interesting is that it runs on ideology. That is, the main driver of the value that presents itself is not 'in itself,' but 'for itself.' It is pure idea, and thus it is the only form of economic organization that seemingly has agency of its own. The agency is driven by a need to justify its existence and so it is really difficult, I think, for it to 'believe,' or rely on 'faith.' If it encounters a problem, then that problem must take the form of a realistic threat to its continued agency as capital, not so much the continued agency of the players that fulfill it with their activity.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    even distribution of prosperity at the present total level of consumption would be sustainable, or anywhere near sustainable.Janus
    Of course it would be, if the economic base were changed and the population levelled off, and we allocated the redistributed resources intelligently.
    I mean, a diamond tiara or a $5 million painting won't do an African farmer much good, but an artesian well at a fraction of the cost makes all the difference between starvation and subsistence; a wind generator and irrigation ditches could make the difference between subsistence and comfort.
    The valuation of that diamond tiara and painting is completely unsustainable. Corn, pumpkins, peanuts and beans are sustainable.
    We need to rethink production and consumption, as well as distribution. We need to re-examine and adjust our system of values. If we want to be viable.

    Exponential population growth has been made possible by the exponential growth in technologies, notably medical technology.Janus
    So have birth control and infant and child survival (no need for extra babies) been made possible by technology and medicine. But there are always political and religious factions that block women's right to control their fertility. Even so, increased prosperity and security pretty much always translates to lower birth rate.
    nd the question seems to be whether it would have been possible without that wasteful consumption.Janus
    I think so, if we assume that humans are capable of planning more than a quarter ahead. But it doesn't really matter what might have been: we are where we are. Rock the right, hard place to the left, very bad weather ahead.
    Every organism is a consumer when it comes right down to it.Janus
    Indeed, but most other organisms live in balance with their ecosystem and put something organic back in; we're the only ones who take natural materials and turn them into indigestible unnatural ones.
  • BC
    13.2k
    most other organisms live in balance with their ecosystemVera Mont

    Is this because they are committed to live in balance with their ecosystem, or is it that other organisms prevent them from getting the upper hand? That is, the condition of the 'natural balance' is just a stalemate between predator and prey.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    That is, the condition of the 'natural balance' is just a stalemate between predator and prey.BC
    Yes, that too. Also, the simple inability to dig up fossils and turn them into plastic. The fact is, they don't and can't trash their environment the way we can and have. If we wanted badly enough to survive, we'd make a conscious commitment to establish balance. But I'm not convinced that the will to live is strong enough in humans to choose a different path.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    even distribution of prosperity at the present total level of consumption would be sustainable, or anywhere near sustainable.
    — Janus
    Of course it would be, if the economic base were changed and the population levelled off, and we allocated the redistributed resources intelligently.
    Vera Mont

    What I wonder about is whether. assuming all but necessary wastage could be eliminated, even distribution of prosperity at the present total level of consumption would be sustainable, or anywhere near sustainable.Janus

    It would help the conversation if you quoted the entirety of passages instead of truncating them. In any case, the underlined section of your response allows for population reduction so it is not really addressing the question I asked. That is because if the population were levelled off, the present level of total consumption would obviously not be as great. Also by "changing the economic base" I assume you mean a model that involves less consumption and waste, independently of a population reduction.
  • BC
    13.2k
    If we wanted badly enough to survive, we'd make a conscious commitment to establish balance.Vera Mont

    When we decided to leave the trees and walk on two legs, we didn't know where that would lead us. When hunter-gatherers started collecting wheat kernels, and using the biggest ones for seed, they didn't know where that would lead them. They didn't know where their first settlements of huts would lead them. They didn't know where devising writing would lead them. Angles, Saxons, and Jutes didn't know where taking over the island of Britannia would lead them (it led to the British Empire).

    Our great-great-grandparents didn't know where digging up fossils and turning them into plastic would lead. The next generation didn't know where electricity would lead them. Or the automobile, or television, or computers, or the tens of thousands of unique plastic materials would lead them.

    We just aren't 'built' to find something nice and new (polystyrene coffee cups, delicious spring water in plastic bottles, plastic siding for our house, cell phones--you name it) and set it aside for 10 years while we research it's long-term impact on society, the economy, the environment, and older products. No, we seize it and rush it into production--the same way we would do if we came across a delicious fruit in the forest --we'd stand there and eat it till it was all gone.

    It isn't that we are stupid or evil; we just are what we are -- smart opportunists who seize the main chance without looking back [edit: or that far forward].

    When it comes to the ant and the grasshopper fable, we play the part of the grasshopper. We are less like squirrels which store up food for the winter, and more like rabbits that make no long-term plans when the leaves turn in the fall.

    We can't want badly enough to be what we are not. Yes, we are smart enough to see trouble down the line; we just can't hardly avoid it. That's our tragic condition.

    What's true of non-entities like myself is also true of the presidents, generals, captains of industry, the super rich, et al. They can't help but be what they are.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    It would help the conversation if you quoted the entirety of passages instead of truncating them. In any case, the underlined section of your response allows for population reduction so it is not really addressing the question I asked. That is because if the population were levelled off, the present level of total consumption would obviously not be as great. Also by "changing the economic base" I assume you mean a model that involves less consumption and waste, independently of a population reduction.Janus
    I meant that on the present model, no economy is sustainable, not even if waste were reduced (on the present model, it cannot be eliminated), not even if assets were redistributed. The present level of consumption is not the present level for more than a day at a time: for some people it goes down, when inflation or job loss reduces their purchasing power; for some it goes up, when profits and tax cuts increase their buying power. In some parts of the world, war and weather reduce the availability of consumables; in others, a technological breakthrough increases GDP, but not necessarily overall standard of living.

    If the current entry level job availability and pay is any indication of a trend, the outlook for youth is pretty grim. Of the 15 well-paid jobs listed there, 12 contribute no material goods or useful services to the population. They all require higher education and, for the children of low earners, crippling student debt. Do they have any future? Who knows? Automation marches on relentlessly.
    Anyway, it won't matter that the population is older for a while (until a generation dies off - that's only about 20 years) because the old people hold up better in health and activity than they used to and they contribute a good deal of volunteer work. If the population keeps rising, the number of deaths from starvation, armed conflict and epidemic will also rise - though usually not enough to counter the birth rate. So, lots more people living in crowded, hopeless misery.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k

    So, it's all just fate or happenstance; we have no control?
    I can't go along with that view, seeing how many different kinds of social and economic organization humans tried before stratified urban civilization. I don't think they were too stupid to project their actions a couple of generations into the future. Some of those pre-civilized cultures lasted considerably longer than any of the ensuing city-states, nations and empires. We're not stupid, but most of us are credulous to the point of self-immolation and a few are ruthless enough to use that to use the rest of us.

    Our great-great-grandparents didn't know where digging up fossils and turning them into plastic would lead. The next generation didn't know where electricity would lead them. Or the automobile, or television, or computers, or the tens of thousands of unique plastic materials would lead them.BC
    Actually, I don't think that's entirely true. There were indications of where industrialization and capitalism were headed two hundred years ago. We choose not to listen; when things get too bad, those who have the power make a few concessions and stay in power. We're happy with a momentary local improvement, until it starts imploding and they throw another war.
    We just aren't 'built' to find something nice and new (polystyrene coffee cups, delicious spring water in plastic bottles, plastic siding for our house, cell phones--you name it) and set it aside for 10 years while we research it's long-term impact on society, the economy, the environment, and older products. No, we seize it and rush it into production--the same way we would do if we came across a delicious fruit in the forest --we'd stand there and eat it till it was all gone.BC
    We don't all do those things; many of us simply accept that they are done. Yet, we can wait 10 years for approval of a promising cure (public safety); we can put off indefinitely urban improvements with obvious benefits (money) and when we were warned of the climate change danger, and confronted by a mountain of evidence, we did put it aside for not for 10 years but 100, to study and research, before doing even the minimum in mitigation. This blind fate seems to have an agenda.

    But I think you're right, ultimately. We are self-destructive and there is an inevitable outcome.
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