• BC
    n 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 redistributedVera Mont

    I agree.

    Some people used to think that the potential for universally beneficial economic growth was unlimited. Some very optimistic socialists used to think that.

    If a no-growth, steady-state economy is possible, it will have to be conducted at a considerably reduced level. Fewer people, less energy use, less extraction. Strict requirements for sustainable manufacturing and agriculture. Very strong states to enforce the limits, and assure equitable distribution would be required too. Etc.

    Ecological / economic / environmental collapse might pave the way to a no-growth economy, but that is not something to hope for. Recovering from the devastation will be immensely difficult, if even possible.

    So, it's all just fate or happenstance; we have no control?Vera Mont

    I may have hit the bleak anvil of dark fate too hard. It certainly is the case that millions of ordinary humans do see the long-term positive and negative consequences of past and current practices. Maybe the number is even in the billions. Unfortunately, nobody lives in a democracy of the wise, or even fairly sensible. The world is run by people with great ambition for power and wealth, and they are calling the shots.

    An axiom of some UN relief programs is that "famine is a political problem". Many, if not most, famines are caused by very incompetent, corrupt governments. The climate crisis is also a political problem of incompetent and corrupt governments--which includes some of the best ones. The governments of the G6 economies have not been able to meet their own targets for reducing CO2 emissions,

    Balance, though, balance... Texas, a state up to its knees in oil and grease, is more enlightened than it looks:

    In 2022, Texas produced the equivalent of 31% of the electricity it consumes from solar, wind and geothermal power, compared with just 10% in 2013. Texas ranks 13th for the percentage of power coming from renewables. The first ranked state, Iowa, got 83% of its power from wind and solar last year.

    Iowa, the corny state, may be producing 83% of its power from the wind, but it grows a lot of corn that goes into alcohol production as an automobile fuel supplement. Next door, Minnesota is producing about 33% of its power from wind, solar, and hydro (some of which comes from Canada). MN is also growing corn for automotive alcohol. Running cars on a corn/petroleum blend is just stupid, stupid, stupid.

    So, mixed bag.
  • Vera Mont

    Well, yes, but it's about money, money, money. Local constituencies don't want to lose their federal subsidy for producing something destructive, so no candidate can afford to run on a clean energy ticket, and they sure can't afford to piss off the vested interests that lobby against alternatives. It's the same with other kinds of environmental improvement, like food production and transportation.

    Governments that try to steer society toward sustainable sources for our necessities inevitably run into lavishly funded opposition from the vested interests, as well as the working people terrified of their bosses losing money and cutting back on employment. Candidates dare not even mention the possibility of well-off citizens giving up any of their privilege; indeed, they have to be seen at the launching of yet another cruise ship or luxury condo for which they've change the zoning that protected a green belt.

    The governments themselves, even if not corrupt, are made up of members who depend on financing by those same vested interests, and there is the constant threat of losing the next election. So they propose a bill that would get us somewhere within spitting distance of the their pathetically inadequate pledge at the last (expensive junket) summit meeting, and then whittle and bargain and chicken-shit even that down to a feeble gesture... which is bood by the opposition as too radical and it will destroy business and cause mass unemployment and widespread famine and maybe summon a demon or two from the pit of hell....

    It does not bide well.

    What the survivors will do with what's left will have to be on a very basic level, since they'll need to survive in hostile environment - not the vast choice of fertile, food-rich places our distant ancestors had at their disposal. There's been a lot of literary speculation on how they will proceed and whether they eventually become successful and screw it up all over again. They have time to repeat the cycle many more times before the sun burns out.
  • Outlander
    The first (and often last) types of societies were nomadic hunter-gatherers. There was no permanent housing, furniture, or storage as it was not needed or rather had no place in such a civilization. Once man was able to master the land and protect himself from the elements society progressed to an agrarian type where there was something along the lines of 6 months work farming followed by harvest followed by 6 months of winter where, depending on the harvest the society was able to continue. From there food could be stored and effort shifted to producing goods and infrastructure that finally had a place to reside for more than a season or couple of years. This was the dawn of the age of thinkers as man now had more free time and didn't have to carry around a spear all day completely enshrouded by a constant fight-or-flight frame of mind from dawn til dusk. This however still wasn't good enough as some harvests were unsuccessful at times and famines were a real and present civilization-ending danger. Those that did manage to survive became industrial societies as man now had means to produce food regardless of the elements or natural hardships slowly shifting the social dynamic from a solely goods producing economy to a service-based economy. Of course, the industrial age produced a need for something never required before: energy. Not counting horsepower and oxen plows. In ending one existential threat man has unwittingly unleashed another more drastic one: pollution.

    Every nation on earth could come together tomorrow and end all war and legislate birthrates but unless we find a better source of energy or means of procuring it with less negative output, we would still be in hot water. Literally.

    The science fiction type ideas of "nutrition pills" and cold fusion "limitless energy" would seem to be the Holy Grail of sustainability mankind is looking for. Paths to such such as lab-grown meat, insect based diets, and electric cars (still at-present ultimately powered by fossil fuels) are met with resistance. The microcosm is the same as the macrocosm. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. What would work for a small town of 500, can work for a country of 500 million, which can work for a world of 5 billion.

    But to answer the question.

    Are we doomed to ever expanding-consumption and ever-expanding resource extraction and production?BC

    Not likely. We're far more likely to either be destroyed (or at least have society fundamentally reorganized or altered) by a cosmic ELE (extinction level event) or run out of resources to extract. To avoid coming off as tongue-in-cheek I will return to the following and suggest innovation has continued to grow at exponential rates, offering a shining light of hopeful possibility towards sustainability or at the very least a much longer road to kick the can further along. :smile:
Add a Comment