Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Ten of Spades, Part II, The Assumption of Continuous Growth


Going back briefly to part I, one should come away with this thought, that once the modern industrial age began, so did the population explosion. More food was produced by three things that were not present in the age or environment before it. 1) Electrical generation, 2) mass production of uniform parts, 3) wide spread use of fossil fuels. The above photo shows a farm implement that was made before electrical generation.

For thousands of years, people could expect that their offspring would have a reasonable chance at a better lifestyle than they had. This was an reasonable assumption, that is until the industrial environment came to being. During this "run" our natural resources are being consumed at an unprecedented rate. As our population expands, so does the rate of consumption. Of course this consumption produces pollution even further destroying what resources are left. There could be a day when these resources are eventually gone, or spent, if you believe that resources such as oil is limited.

There's a concept that I'll borrow from Jay Hanson and share with you. Hanson's thoughts about why most people cannot come to terms with peak oil is that through out the thousands of years of progressing, people have become conditioned to think in those terms. That is, most people can only think "progressively" forward, they are incapable of imagining a tomorrow of decline, not there. They simply cannot "see" it. This isn't their fault, after thousands of years of conditioning, it's in the genetic make-up. Perhaps, an example of this might be sheep following one another over a cliff.

This thought of "ever progressing" is not only limited to people. Continuous growth is the basic assumption, driving our economy. Investment is made in hopes of future growth. Loans are made in hope of growth. Interest is only realized after growth. Without real growth, how can our financial system survive? Suppose, we're almost there? Could it be, that after this last expansion of growth this country has experienced from the housing market, employing perhaps a quarter of Americans, there's nothing more to grow?

When the resources that products are made from become to scarce or too expensive to profit from we can expect those products will no longer be made. No company is going to make them for nothing, not for long. Perhaps, this has been happening already? When a product costs more to make and transport, than what the market will bear, that product becomes "worthless". Could we be seeing this now with the McMansions that are in the out-laying communities far from employment centers?


auntiegrav said...

Is this what you were referring to before that was here for me?
Not bad. I just think that most people CAN imagine decline, but deny it as long as they are allowed, and also that the current culture is 3/4ths advertising-driven and the advertisers won't LET anyone think in terms of decline about anything.
The National Geographic, for chrissakes, is full of full-page glossy ads for SUVs in the same issues that talk about peak oil and climate changes. One of the most respected, serious venues in science, I think, and they can't find a better way to deliver their message. Sad, just sad.

yooper said...

Hello auntigrav! Been away on a trip to Ann Arbor. The ten of Spades I, The Industrial Environment, I think, you'll like that..

Ok, I think you're right most, people can imagine decline. However, they cannot imgaine it in a way that you and I can. Whoa! eh?! Most people simply cannot imagine a scenario that doesn't include them. Yes, in denial even to the point, of drinking their last cup of water from the toliet tank....

Yup, really like the National Geographic. Really like their TV special, on what earth would be like without humans.... You gotta check this out! Especially, their thoughts about electricty and human departure.....

Thanks, yooper

auntiegrav said...

We don't watch TV anymore at our house. Well, not unless the revolution gets televised. We put the TV in the furthest, coldest room of the house and watch movies on it, but not even that so much since we got a portable DVD player. It's amazing the difference it makes in the kids to not watch commercials. You know, they HATE to go to WalMart...too much junk. They would rather go to book stores or rummage sales.
Moving on.
I also wrote somewhere about the Perception of Perpetual Growth. It's the perception that runs up everything, not real growth. It's why a bear market is self-inducing as soon as anyone thinks there's a bear market.

yooper said...

Ha! ha! You're just like Michael Nystrom! He believes the second great depression won't be televised! Ha! ha! I told him, perhaps he's right, not only the way he thinks it will happen. Instead of tptb not airing it, they'll just simply pull the plug... Oh, oh, maybe that's why he's pushing so hard for Ron Paul? I scared a lot of people over there on BNB, but probably him the most. He did witness what happened in Japan, when there housing market collapsed there......

Preception of speculation? ha!

Thanks, yooper