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?