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Never Gonna Happen: Economic Recovery

It's a great idea: base our hopes and dreams on a Happiness Index instead of the GDP...

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
ford_prefect42
Aug. 4th, 2011 05:32 am (UTC)
I think it's cute that they use the 1972 "the limits to growth" as a source. Which was based on the 1968 "The Population Bomb", which stated that it was a mathematical certainty that there would be mass starvation and major wars in the 70s. Now, I want to mention that by "mass starvation", I don't mean a few million here and there, I mean *billions*. Didn't happen.

from the book.
■“Four billion people—including 65 million Americans—would perish from famine in the 1980s.”"

Then, there was the "club of rome" and the "limits to growth". Which frankly, didn't do much better.


Now, on to the statements in the film. First of all, the first law of thermodynamics tells us with certainty that nothing is created or destroyed in chemical reactions, And the planet, while finite is a *closed system*, which means that nothing is getting out. The tap water you are drinking is the same water that was drunk by diatomes in the carboniferous and t-rex in the Cretaceous. so it doesn't really matter that it's finite, because none of it *leaves*.

Which brings us to energy. Which is functionally infinite. Granted *fossil* energy is rather sharply and pointilly limited, but solar, wind, hydro, geo-thermal, wave, tidal, biomass (wood), are functionally unlimited, although production *rates* may be capped. Now, of those I listed, the only ones that is economically viable today are wind (marginally) and hydro (hugely), but that is changing on a near-daily basis. I have strong hopes for many others on that list within the next decade or so.

Now, to address another point. Yes, it's a fact that the *west* has been languishing economically for decades. But that's not due to resource limitations, but rather it's due to competition from emerging marketplaces. Remember the terrors in the 80s about the Japanese taking over all the manufacturing? See the parallel to China today? Well, those expansions come with *huge* improvements to the standards of living in those nations, which come with substantial increases to their resource consumption. So, no, the world economy *hasn't* stalled, only the *US* economy has.



What gets to me is the human cost of so many of these proposals. It's fine and well to say that the economy needs to stop growing, but that neglects the fact that the *population* is growing. If the population grows without corresponding growth in the economy, things get painful remarkably quicky. The economy isn't just SUVs and hedge funds, it's food, houses and medical care, clothes and lights. And they do not produce themselves.
liveonearth
Aug. 5th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
Argh. Going to drink margaritas now instead of worrying about the imperfection of your certainty.
ford_prefect42
Aug. 5th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
I am not *certain* of anything. I have a knee-jerk objection to propoganda.

I do however, love margaritas!
liveonearth
Aug. 5th, 2011 07:15 am (UTC)
=-] Good. Being uncertain is wiser than thinking that you know for sure. And we can obviously agree on the value of margs.
ford_prefect42
Aug. 5th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
You and I agree on a lot. The value of facts, The value of the environment, peak oil, evolution, the willingness to change opinions when new data comes in, and a whole lot else.

We're just reconciling some of the facts.
liveonearth
Aug. 5th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
Amen.
rick_day
Aug. 4th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
excellent analogy
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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