The Long Decent

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This essay will be in the form of bulleted sentence fragments. I have a lot of points to make and the use of prose will obscure them. If any bullet point is contentious you can address it in the comments section. Acknowledgements can be found at the end of the essay.

I do not want this essay to be considered of the disaster genre. It is not intended to be. Its main point is that we are on an unsustainable course but could get to a more sustainable future. Lives in this future need not be nasty, brutish and short.

The main points of this essay:

  • Our industrial society is unsustainable due to the diminishing availability of the many resources on which it depends
  • This will lead to a Long Descent to a lower standard of living and a simpler society
  • Our current political arguments are aimed at returning to the status quo before the most recent financial crisis
  • Trying to return this “normal” will make the underlying problem worse
  • There are powerful forces against preparing for a sustainable future

Common misguided political arguments:

  • On the Right
  • Drill baby drill
  • The free market will being back prosperity
  • Tax cuts for the Rich will increase jobs
  • We can grow our way out of our problems
  • On the Left
  • Entitlements do not need to be cut
  • Raising taxes on the Rich will bring back prosperity
  • We can grow our way out of our problems
  • Critique
  • The Right’s arguments will lead to a plutocracy
  • I agree more with the Left’s arguments
  • They are good starting points in the debate
  • They must be seen as bargaining chips, not unalterable positions
  • We are in a fight for the future of our civilization, there can be no sacred cows
  • The goal should be a sustainable future where Jefferson’s yeomanry predominate

The case for the Long Descent:

Definitions:

  • Problem – an issue that can be solved, return to status quo ante is possible
  • Predicament – an issue that cannot be solved, return to status quo ante is impossible, predicaments can only be managed to mitigate negative effects

What is the Long Descent?

  • Resource depletion is a predicament if we want to maintain our current way of life
  • Our society is hitting resource limits
  • Our most likely economic path in the future is a long bumpy decline
  • Economic downturns will be followed by “incomplete” recoveries
  • The decline will likely take over a century
  • This represents a historic change in life patterns
  • Historic changes are difficult to recognize when you’re in the middle of them
  • A century from now, the process will be obvious
  • A total, catastrophic collapse of society is not the most likely scenario
  • Downturns can be misinterpreted as unique events instead of symptoms of our predicament
  • The current downturn is seen as a problem and not as a symptom of our predicament
  • The current downturn is a symptom not a stand alone event

Is it really happening?

  • Yes; This fate was built into industrial society from its start; it’s like a Greek tragedy
  • You cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet
  • Modern Capitalism requires infinite growth
  • 1969 oil embargo was ineffective because the US had excess capacity
  • 1973 oil embargo was effective because the US no longer had excess capacity
  • The middle class has been struggling ever since 1973 oil embargo
  • The price of oil has not crashed during this economic crisis as it has in all others
  • The world is at or near peak oil; its exact date is not important
  • Attempt to return to the pre-oil-embargo status quo has resulted in an explosion of debt and made the US’s problems more intractable
  • The long glorious history of industrial society may be the result of resource (especially energy) extraction instead of the genius of Man’s recent flowering
  • Myths about abundant oil abound, but these deposits are either unconventional and require industrial processes to use or are difficult to access; this reduces their effective energy content
  • This will make oil more “expensive” and halt growth
  • Virtually all high grade ores have been used
  • Remaining ores are of lower grade and require more energy to extract and refine
  • Our recent economic history is perfectly consistent with a shrinking “pie” and the scramble to grab what remains
  • Recent downturns are completely consistent with the Long Descent
  • “Recoveries” from recent recessions have been getting successively weaker
  • If you think that some magic technology will save us then please create that magic

Mitigating actions – to lessen negative effects of our predicament:

  • Admit that we are in a predicament that must lead to a Long Descent
  • Do not demand that our leaders restore our “shining city on the hill”
  • Abandon the false promise of the Free Market
  • Modern Capitalism has a quarter-year horizon, we need a quarter-century horizon
  • Use market forces but manipulate them with government policy
  • The goal of government policy should be a less resource intensive economy with a large middle class
  • Tax the unsustainable, subsidize the sustainable
  • Do not waste current resources, we need them for the transition to a more sustainable society
  • Peak oil does not mean no oil
  • A lot of oil, mostly non-conventional, remains
  • Vigorously pursue alternate energies; these are inferior to fossil fuels in utility but they are sustainable
  • We could be saved by some magic energy source such as cold fusion, pursue it but don’t count on it
  • Keep importing energy from non-North American sources, save our own; energy is still relatively cheap
  • Give preference to sustainable development over balanced budgets
  • Developing sustainable technologies should be our equivalent to Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System or FDR’s infrastructure projects
  • Encourage a modest amount of inflation to remove purchasing power from the economy
  • Keep the US intact; a collapsed economy would make rational preparation for a sustainable future impossible
  • Humans are very adaptable; humans will survive, the question is at what level

Dangers:

  • No matter what we do, we will decline
  • As the economy inevitably declines the People will get discouraged and look for easy fixes; demagoguery will find fertile fields
  • People will demand action, they must be educated that sustainability our only alternative; it will be a hard sell
  • During times of decline, the Rich have a natural advantage; they have what all need
  • A tyrannical plutocracy is a very real danger
  • High tech gear and manufacturing require fewer people, this gives even more power to the few
  • The Rich will fight back with great vigor; money must be taken out of politics
  • Vigorously using our remaining energy sources will exacerbate climate change

Acknowledgements:

John Michael Greer:

  • Author of the book The Long Decent from where I got the title of this essay. It is a very readable and knowledgeable book.
  • Author of a blog that continues discusses this subject

Chris Martenson:

  • Creator of the video Crash Course, a good primer on this subject.
  • Author of a book by the same name. It extends the information in the video.
  • Chris Martenson has a news letter to which you can subscribe.

olenzekm's picture
olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

Comments

Here's a few of my thoughts offered in your bullet points method.

- there's plenty of wealth and income in the USA if we are to believe that GDp is a true measure for income growth- currently 15 trillion - that's comes up to 50,000 per man woman and child. IF the economic system was even somewhat fairly shared that is. Which it isn't - the wealthy have Captured the governing system setting up barriers to entry and creating a tax code that funnels wealth to the very top.

- GDP may be a very bad way to measure income or wealth growth by country - in fact the financial sector used to be well under 10% of GdP - a means to an end. It's now around 40% of GDP. One could argue that the 30% increase is simply bookkeeping shaninagans benefitting the top .001% - but paid for by decreasing income and inflation for the rest of us. So it could very well be that the true GDP of the USA is really around 10 -12 trillion. A drop of which is the Great Depression normal americans see and feel daily.

- taxes - the poor and middle class pay an extremely higher rate of overall taxes than the rich do if you add up ALL the taxes paid from gas taxes, FICA taxes stolen into the general fund(talk about double taxation), state and local taxes and fees for everything from park fees, fishing license, licensing to become a Construction Contractor or hairdresser etc.

- war - take out the cost of the wars which didn't need to be fought coupled with Privatization and we save 500 billion a year and Still spend well more than any other cuntry on the planet on warfare.

- health care - in 1980 the USA was #19 in life expectancy - now we spend twice as much as any other country in the world for a system that has dropped us down to #50 in life expectancy. Cost saving for a national health care system based upon the models that currently WORK in the vast majority of countries in the world would be around 1 trillion a year.

So fix the tax system where the ultra-wealthy pay an equal share of the income that the rest of us do, adopt a new health care system based on successful, working models and stop the privatization war machine and we'd save upwards to 2 trillion a year.

Deficit problem solved.

But that wouldn't enrich the oligarchs who have bought off the kleptocrats running BOTH parties.

This isn't going to end well.
The problem is one corporate party operating under 2 names to fool the uninformed - and frankly Most of the supposedly informed.

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Scappoose
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Mar. 30, 2012 7:49 am

You have an excellent critique of the problem of income distribution. This is a problem that must be addressed successfully in the favor of the middle class even if everything that I said in my essay is true.

The problem that I have with your post is that you seem to be saying that if we simply follow your recommendations we can get back to business-as-usual and the middle class will live happily ever after. Even if you were 100% successful our predicament would still exist. We cannot maintain our current resource usage rates on our finite planet.

The danger is that pursuing a never-ending growth strategy will accelerate the depletion of our remaining good-grade resources. If we leave only low-grade resources for the future, the future will be low grade.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

Well, a merging of economic, resource and environmental collapse is in the cards. However, they can be mitigated. They needn't be catastrophic. Nations that use remaining resources now to address the impending problems will do just fine. Nations that don't won't.

Quality of life and quantities in life are two very different things.. People who understand that and opt for the former will actually see an improvement in a life not reliant on superfluous stuff.

"That which isn't sustainable won't be sustained." - Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate, Economics.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

We are in total agreement.

If we can convince enough of our fellow citizens perhaps the US can have a good quality of life in the future. Frankly I am very troubled by the task ahead of us. There are huge multi-million dollar campaigns against a smooth transition.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

You might find this lecture at the Univ. of Colorado relevant. "Arithmetic, population and energy", Dr. Bartlett:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY

Ten-year time-frame for oil. 15 for coal. Probably we should use the remaining still relatively inexpensive resources to make renewable energy conversions before costs/energy depletion make a conversion impossible. It takes energy to convert to renewables.

Economists are correct....we'll never deplete oil or coal. It will take more of the energy from the stuff to extract remaining supplies than we'll get from the extraction.. Can't use 2 barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy. in a sustainable manner. That's what it's coming to.

Nations like Germany and Denmark are facing the future somewhat realistically. The U.S. has its head in the sand....looking forward to huge short-term profits before the proverbial S--- hits the fan

Some nations will have a somewhat smooth transition into the near-term very different future....for others, the transition will be catastrophic for the bulk of their populations. Nations like Haiti won't see a difference. Unaddressed economic, resource and environmental collapse has been the Haitian experience for decades..It vies with Chad as the most impoverished nation on the planet.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Great post olen. I appreciate the thought and effort that went into it.

You may have heard of the Venus Project. One of the main points is the need to transition to a resource based economy.

Resource Based Economy

The term and meaning of a Resource Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.

http://www.thevenusproject.com/en/the-venus-project/resource-based-economy

I'm not advocating for the Venus project nor condeming it. Just showing that others are thinking along the same lines. I have books that I refer to from time to time: Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken and Beyond Growth by Herman Daly. People know the debt money system is totally bogus and unsustainable, but other people are still getting materialistically wealthy in this system and can influence others who are inclined to measure their self worth through materialistic metrics.

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Choco
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Economists are correct....we'll never deplete oil or coal. It will take more of the energy from the stuff to extract remaining supplies than we'll get from the extraction.. Can't use 2 barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy. in a sustainable manner. That's what it's coming to.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

They can and will use 2 barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy it just won't be their own 2 barrels of oil energy that they use. It's been done throughout history. Isn't that how the great pyramids and the great wall of china were built? There is plenty of "free" energy to go around if you hold all of the cards.

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Bush_Wacker
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Quote Bush_Wacker:

They can and will use 2 barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy it just won't be their own 2 barrels of oil energy that they use. It's been done throughout history. Isn't that how the great pyramids and the great wall of china were built? There is plenty of "free" energy to go around if you hold all of the cards.

I understand your point, namely that the powerful will steal energy or whatever to get what they want. But your statement as constructed makes no sense. If I had two barrels of oil why would I waste one of them and end up with a single barrel?

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olenzekm
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Quote Choco:

You may have heard of the Venus Project. One of the main points is the need to transition to a resource based economy.

The Venus project seems to be a utopian vision. It does offer some good points, but overall I think that it could only work if we could somehow change human nature. Ideologues have been trying that throughout human history, often with tragic results.

Thanks for the link.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am
Quote polycarp2:

You might find this lecture at the Univ. of Colorado relevant. "Arithmetic, population and energy", Dr. Bartlett:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY

...

Can't use 2 barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy. in a sustainable manner.

...

That was a good youtube. Chris Matheson makes very similar points in the video Crash Course referenced in my main essay. He relates the exponential function to everything from finance to resource usage.

For energy he uses the concept of “net energy.” This gives you a ratio of how much energy you get out of a process compared to how much energy it took to produce it.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Matheson’s book (ignore the part about the figure):
In 1930, for every barrel of oil used to find oil, it’s estimated that 100 were produced, giving us a reading of 100:1, which would be way off to the left in Figure 15.3. By 1970, fields were a lot smaller and the oil was often deeper or otherwise trickier to extract, so, unsurprisingly, the net energy gain fell to a value of around 25:1—still a very good return with lots of light gray beneath it. By the 1990s, this trend continued, with oil finds returning somewhere between 18:1 and 10:1.

The drill-baby-drill group wants to take us to even lower ratios. Unconventional oils are even worse. Tar sands are about 5:1 and shale-oils are around 2:1 (Also from Matheson).

We are in a loosing battle if we plan to save ourselves by extracting every last BTU of fossil energy.

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olenzekm
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Quote olenzekm:
Quote Bush_Wacker:

They can and will use 2 barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy it just won't be their own 2 barrels of oil energy that they use. It's been done throughout history. Isn't that how the great pyramids and the great wall of china were built? There is plenty of "free" energy to go around if you hold all of the cards.

I understand your point, namely that the powerful will steal energy or whatever to get what they want. But your statement as constructed makes no sense. If I had two barrels of oil why would I waste one of them and end up with a single barrel?

With oil there will always be a huge demand. It will be extracted at the cost of "somebody". It just won't come at the cost of the profiteer. That two barrels of energy is a metaphor that could be the equivalent of human labor. When they built the pyramids they did not weigh the cost in human energy against the worth of the finished product. The cost of human labor is whatever those in power decide to pay. We the consumers will simply pay for the cost of oil extraction whether it's 2 barrels of energy or 100 barrels of energy. It's the same when you get a loan from the bank. Why would anyone pay $125 for a $100 loan. That makes no sense either.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am
Quote Bush_Wacker:

That two barrels of energy is a metaphor that could be the equivalent of human labor.

That's the point, it's all about energy. Oil is valuable for its energy. (It does have some plastic feed-stock value too, but we are talking energy.) If you are going to force humans to exert two barrels worth of energy to give you one barrel, why not just use their energy directly to produce the effect that you wanted from the oil? Do you have some special attraction to oil, or are you just being cruel?

Quote Bush_Wacker:

When they built the pyramids they did not weigh the cost in human energy against the worth of the finished product.

You are doing the old apples-oranges comparison. The ancient Egyptian society had some extra energy (human labor). They decided to change that excess energy into pyramids. A better analogy would be that if a pharaoh had two perfectly good pyramids already for his tomb, but destroyed them both to end up with a single pyramid that was no better than either of the ones that he started with and that he realized this fact before he started the project.

That would make no sense, just like it would make no sense to trade two barrels-worth of human labor to produce one barrel-worth of oil or any other type of energy.

Quote Bush_Wacker:

Why would anyone pay $125 for a $100 loan. That makes no sense either.

I assume that you mean that the total of interest and principal payments of the $100 loan would be $125. The difference is that the borrower gets the use of the $100 for a period of time. He considers the $25 payment worth it.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

I have no attraction to oil. As of right now oil is neccesary. If it costs 30 dollars to extract 10 dollars worth of oil then the oil company will simply charge us 35 dollars for 10 dollars worth of oil. We wouldn't do that if oil wasn't a neccesity. If that becomes impossible for us to pay them we will then just "subsidise" oil through our taxes. My point is that no matter what it costs to extract oil it will be extracted as long as we absolutely have to have it. Right now it costs about 10 dollars to extract 20 dollars worth of oil. That means huge profits for oil companies at a relatively affordable price for the consumer. That is changing. It used to cost about 10 dollars to extract 100 dollars worth of oil. Just like the loan, if we have to pay out the nose for oil we will find it worth it because we absolutely have to have it. Unless we find alternatives they will suck out every last drop of oil no matter the cost.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

I think that you are confusing dollars with energy. Dollars can buy energy but they are not the same thing. Dollars are just numbers in a computer. Those dollars can do no work. Energy is real and can do work. Taxes are irrelevant. Taxes do not create energy.

Sure we could subsidize the production of oil and we will get more oil. That is not equivalent to the statement “we will get more energy.” If it takes 2 BTUs of coal to extract and process 1 BTU of oil, then you end up with –1 BTUs. It’s simple math.

If we assume that energy is fungible, then $100 oil would imply $200 to extract it.

So, if oil extraction is your only goal, you can do it. If you want to get energy that can do work and you have negative net energy from oil processing, then you cannot.

I like my energy to do work.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

Catabolic Decline

One of John Greer’s concepts is that of catabolic decline. That means that as societies have less excess energy to work with, they become simpler. As they become simpler they stop maintaining many institutions that they can no longer support.

This is happening now in Detroit with their fire department.

Detroit is in an advanced stage of decline. As they decline they can maintain less and less of their “assets.” So now they are going to let abandoned buildings burn to the ground and not expend any fire fighting resources on them.

Granted, Detroit is a special case. But Detroit “special-ness” could be that it is the pioneer in the decline process.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

A Gallon of Gasoline

How much energy is in a gallon of gasoline? Chris Martenson has an interesting experiment that we all can do to discover this. Here is what you do:

1)Find out the MPG of your car
2)Discover a trip that will is fairly level and will take you that far
3)Now push your car that far

You might complain that that is unfair and you would be correct. It is unfair to the gallon of gas. The gallon of gas also has to keep your engine spinning and move your car at high speed. So you are getting off easy.

If you do not want to actually do the experiment, at least think about how much work that gallon of gasoline is actually doing.

Going to the gas station and complaining about the price in understandable, but think of how much work you are getting for that money. Gasoline is unbelievably cheap!

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

I think we are both barking up different trees here. I know how energy works. I was originally responding to Poly's statement that you can't spend 2 barrels worth of oil to extract 1 barrel worth of oil in a sustainable manner. My response was yes you can.

My response has nothing to do with energy but has to do with profiteering. They will gladly spend 2 barrels worth of YOUR oil in order to extract and sell 1 barrel of THEIR oil. It's all profit if somebody else is carrying the cost.

If you really want to go into actual energy we can. The law of physics says that you are wrong. The law of physics says that you can not extract more energy from anything than the energy you put into it. It is physically impossible. That is known in the scientic world as perpetual motion.

Whenever someone uses the 1 barrel of oil to extract 100 barrels of oil analogy they are really only talking about money.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

I think there is a lot of thinking going on. This is good. Getting rid of the Empire and the delusion that America is somehow the evolutionary or eugenic vanguard of human possibility is critical too. History will do that, but unless we are trying to surf that wave, it will be a tsunami wipeout.

Most of all, we need to see that a new and different future is not a "loss" of anything that is really worth having or being. Keep on thinking.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

A lot of your bullet points and associated solutions are getting acknowledged and adopted.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

One simple solution is to build all new houses in sunny states with solar panels made in Hillsboro Oregon, Thom's sponsor, and run electric cars. Nobody is on the grid, the cars plug into the home outlet and no pollution for the commute to work. This can work and the Southwest is in a perpetual drought. This applies most everywhere but with lesser degrees of efficiency. Are we going to have to go back to the days of sun worship? Is history about to repeat itself again?

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Choco
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Quote Scappoose:

- GDP may be a very bad way to measure income or wealth growth by country - in fact the financial sector used to be well under 10% of GdP - a means to an end. It's now around 40% of GDP. One could argue that the 30% increase is simply bookkeeping shaninagans benefitting the top .001% - but paid for by decreasing income and inflation for the rest of us. So it could very well be that the true GDP of the USA is really around 10 -12 trillion. A drop of which is the Great Depression normal americans see and feel daily.

This is the key, IMO. And how much of that remaining 10-12 trillion is all of us going to Applebees?

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I understand what you are saying. I think that "what we hayav herya is a failya ta communeecate.” You were talking on the transaction level; I was referring to the aggregate.

Your third paragraph requires a definition of energy. When you refer to the system as a whole and consider both thermal and chemical energy, of course you are correct. The thermodynamic-type energy remains constant in a closed system.

I am using the term energy as something that we can use to do work. In this sense, when discussing the likes of oil production, we need to consider how much work we need to put in and how much potential work we get out. If a process requires us to input more work than the potential work that we get out, then that process should not be done.

I think that the one barrel in and 100 out is not only about money. It is about how much excess energy a society will have to do work. This work includes real things like tilling the soil, cultivating, and harvesting crops. This is the kind of work we have not had to do since we have harnessed fossil fuels.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

I remember being taught that if all of humanity lived as we Americans, we'd need a few more planets worth of resources....and that was 30 or 40 years ago. It seems that we've been experiencing the long decent already and we'll be lucky if that's all it is and doesn't result in collapse. I do wonder if globalization has been manipulated with theses things in mind. Americans won't willingly accept a lower standard of living no how good it could be for the rest of the world. Resource Mischief?

There's The Other Inconvenient Truth to consider along with How We Wrecked the Oceans if you can stomach it. We're stumbling over too many tipping points for me to remain hopeful.

I do have to object to someone's comment about both political parties being two faces or hands of one corporate party.....that's too simplistic and cynical. Real life is more complicated and messy with too many power struggles for such conspiracies to be true. Granted, it's too damn close to the truth, but there are big differences in The Republican Brain and that of liberals. You can listen to the author talk about it here.

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thank you for the links. There is enough information regarding the extent of human exploitation of the planet that all should be convinced. But all are not convinced.

I think that the core problem is that free-market Capitalism has no answer. Since they have no answer they engage in spreading disinformation. That's all they have. Well that and billions and billions of dollars.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

I would like to see a progressive utility rate based on efficiency. The higher the r factor the less used per household. The average human generates 450 BTUs an hour, obese people have more insulation and can set their thermostat lower in cold climates, but are killed [literally] in summer months and warm climate. Skinny people do better in summer and FL, old people have slower metabolism, so they do better in summer and FL. Old skinny people make FL cheap. Southern exposure with triple pane glass gets the free solar, evergreens on the north break the wind, deciduous on the south block the sun in summer. A prorated utilty usage rate could be calculated. Under usage could get bonus rebates, and overusage [aka waist] could be penalized. High octane gas should have tax doubled, low octane tax should be reduced at least by the same amount of the oil subsidies.

gets

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

You have good ideas. There are alot of good ideas.

The problem is that the average person does not want to change their comfortable lives. That is understandable, especially when a whole industry, the great-right-wing conspiracy, is dedicated to stand in the way.

Let's hope for the best, but as individuals we need to prepare for the worst. We need to make our own lives more sustainable. We need to be able to provide for ourselves if there are any supply disruptions. We should also be good stewards of the Earth and reduce our use of her resources.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

When you spend two barrels of oil energy to extract one barrel of oil energy....there isn't any energy left to sell to anyone.. All of the oil is used to extract oil. Production will come to a screeching halt when we reach that point. Economists are correct, there will always be oil. We can't access all of it.

Money isn't "real" in economic functioning. It's merely a representative claim on real stuff..

Pharoahs used conscripted and slave labor to construct the pyramids. The labor was "paid" with grain and housing. In years of drought and failures of water from the Nile, there were grain shortages and no construction..

We pay labor money and let them exchange it for grain/housing. Same thing. Different method. If Pharoahs had issued a coin exchangeable for grain/housing, the effect would be the same. They just provided the necessities without the coin. as an intermediary.

If there are natural grain shortages,, all the money in the world can't create it.

Can't expend 5,000 calories of human energy to produce 2,000 calories of food energy. More energy is consumed than is produced. The result of that is starvation. Same sort of thing with oil energy.

If you want to understand economic functioning, forget money. It's a symbolic tool. A representation of real economic functioning. Some societies use or have used it. Others haven't.

Monasteries operate as a small nation state, and don't use money, yet goods are produced/distributed in an efficient manner. A lack of money doesn't effect real economic functioning. We just don't use the "symbol of money" to produce/distribute goods though it would be a simple matter to do that...issuing each monk a few coins monthly as a "symbol " of their claim on what is produced..

People are so hung up on money, the real economic functioning of the globe is going into freefall. It's simply a tool for the production/distribution of goods and the tool is being utilized stupidly. An economy isn't money.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I do not want to put words in Bush_Whaker's mouth, but I suspect that he is saying that one could take two "barrels" of some non-oil type of energy to get the oil. Presumable oil is more useful than the other energy which was wasted so it is not totally stupid.

But I really agree with you. Even if my presumption about Mr. Whacker’s arguments are correct, I think that any society that tried to what he suggests on a large scale would not exist too long. Economy is economy even if it’s the energy economy. One can be stupid only for so long.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am
Quote olenzekm:

I do not want to put words in Bush_Whaker's mouth, but I suspect that he is saying that one could take two "barrels" of some non-oil type of energy to get the oil. Presumable oil is more useful than the other energy which was wasted so it is not totally stupid.

But I really agree with you. Even if my presumption about Mr. Whacker’s arguments are correct, I think that any society that tried to what he suggests on a large scale would not exist too long. Economy is economy even if it’s the energy economy. One can be stupid only for so long.

Exactly what I was saying olen. You don't need a drop of oil to extract a barrel of oil. 200 men with picks and shovels will do the trick. It's going to take a lot of energy but it's human energy which is regenerative and unending. I think about how much human energy is spent by a rickshaw driver hauling some rich sumo across town so he can grab a cup of starbucks. Then he gets to take him back home. The total energy spent is 100 times the outcome of a cup of joe. ;)

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

If 200 men with picks and shovels could use that energy to produce the well drilling equipment, etc. and turn the drill bits to get a couple miles beneath the sea and hand pump the stuff out of the earth, you may be on to something.

For starters, it requires oil energy to produce the energy required for human labor. It takes 100 calories of oil energy to produce 5 calories of food energy...human energy. Industrial agriculture is based on oil energy. No matter how you slice it, we are consuming more energy than we'll soon be extracting.. Energy inputs can't be greater than the energy obtained. However, that's what is developing. That isn't sustainable.

Even in societies where the only energy was human, when it took more human energy to produce food than was obtained from the energy expended, the society collapsed. People starved. Energy inputs can't exceed the energy obtained indefinately. They have to at least be equal.

Energy inputs to obtain oil can't be greater than the energy obtained.. A society's use of energy (measured in calories) has to have an output of energy at least equal to the input of energy required to obtain it...whether food, oil or coal.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote olenzekm:
Quote Choco:

You may have heard of the Venus Project. One of the main points is the need to transition to a resource based economy.

The Venus project seems to be a utopian vision. It does offer some good points, but overall I think that it could only work if we could somehow change human nature. Ideologues have been trying that throughout human history, often with tragic results.

Thanks for the link.

I appreciate your Opening Post (OP). I'm guessing you may have developed a lot of those bulletted one-liners from reading works like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. There are a lot of collapse scenarios by numerous authors out there to pick through.

I don't intend to intrude on the pace of your thread, nor your guidance, but now I'm a bit curious: how did you develop your notion of human nature? It seems a bit tautological, and I find it appears in various analagous forms in your somewhat axiomatic statements about what people are willing to do.

From an anthropological/archaeological standpoint, we have some pretty good evidence that humans have proven to be far more flexible in their invention of cultural forms than most modern Westerners are educated (and conditioned) to believe. The forms of the present day technologically-based societies are actually, from that standpoint, a bit more rigid than most living in them recognize, for reasons that would be much too complicated than anyone could begin to explain in a single post.

I've personally witnessed where people have changed rapidly, both attitudinally and in what they are willing to conceive, when they step out of these carefully bounded patterns and experience something different. And, as Jacques Ellul has pointed out, attitude is a key to peoples' perceptions of the world: Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
Quote polycarp2:

If 200 men with picks and shovels could use that energy to produce the well drilling equipment, etc. and turn the drill bits to get a couple miles beneath the sea and hand pump the stuff out of the earth, you may be on to something.

For starters, it requires oil energy to produce the energy required for human labor. It takes 100 calories of oil energy to produce 5 calories of food energy...human energy. Industrial agriculture is based on oil energy. No matter how you slice it, we are consuming more energy than we'll soon be extracting.. Energy inputs can't be greater than the energy obtained. However, that's what is developing. That isn't sustainable.

Even in societies where the only energy was human, when it took more human energy to produce food than was obtained from the energy expended, the society collapsed. People starved. Energy inputs can't exceed the energy obtained indefinately. They have to at least be equal.

Energy inputs to obtain oil can't be greater than the energy obtained.. A society's use of energy (measured in calories) has to have an output of energy at least equal to the input of energy required to obtain it...whether food, oil or coal.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

Good points about energy, poly. One of the ways I organize my own thinking, which in no way contradicts your points, is to note that the "human energy" as you've used it reduces to solar-powered energy when you remove all these highly concentrated and mined sources, like crude oil and coal, from the equation. As we approach the Peak Everything point, this will become more apparent as the vertically integrated house of cards food production and delivery system (remember that wonderful study we looked at a few years back? -- Life Cycle-Based Sustainablility Indicators for Assessment of the U.S. Food System) begins to collapse.

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.ren
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Quote polycarp2:

If 200 men with picks and shovels could use that energy to produce the well drilling equipment, etc. and turn the drill bits to get a couple miles beneath the sea and hand pump the stuff out of the earth, you may be on to something.

For starters, it requires oil energy to produce the energy required for human labor. It takes 100 calories of oil energy to produce 5 calories of food energy...human energy. Industrial agriculture is based on oil energy. No matter how you slice it, we are consuming more energy than we'll soon be extracting.. Energy inputs can't be greater than the energy obtained. However, that's what is developing. That isn't sustainable.

Even in societies where the only energy was human, when it took more human energy to produce food than was obtained from the energy expended, the society collapsed. People starved. Energy inputs can't exceed the energy obtained indefinately. They have to at least be equal.

Energy inputs to obtain oil can't be greater than the energy obtained.. A society's use of energy (measured in calories) has to have an output of energy at least equal to the input of energy required to obtain it...whether food, oil or coal.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

I completely understand this and I agree but I think you are missing my point.

When money and power want something they will obtain it at any cost. That goes for oil especially in this day and age. Humans are a source of energy that can be exploited until there are no humans left. You don't need drilling equipment if you have enough human energy to dig until you reach your goal. I don't care if it's a 10 mile hole straight down. It doesn't matter if you go through 200 humans a day and they die from exhaustion. If there's 1000 barrels worth of oil left on the planet and somebody with power wants it he will get it at any cost. It might be 1 million barrels worth of human energy needed to obtain it but they will get it.

Likely they won't want it because there will be no need for it by that time. When oil becomes that scarce then an alternative will have been put into place well before then. The point to all of this is that the powerful can and will exploit those with no power for their own gain.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

The first point of Poly's is correct. Total energy spent cannot exceed total energy produced. The period of 1910 to 2004 was the Golden Age of cheap energy. When oil was 5' below the surface and could be produced for a 1to100 ratio was great.

The by product of cheap plastic was fun too. As we exhaust the Ancient Solar energy of gas and coal we revert to using existing sources of energy that is renewable. More human labor will be required for farming, food storage will be more expensive without petrol based containers to keep food fresh. Cheap alarm clocks will be replaced with ornate wooden clocks.

At that point the oil and coal oligarchs can try to figure out how to horde food and land, and force the masses to starve. They won't have the advantage of cars and helicopters.

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Phaedrus76
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Sep. 14, 2010 8:21 pm

Is the current course unsustainable? Sure, but so was using wale oil to light our houses.When the wale population declined we did not spend our nights sitting in the dark, we developed alternatives.

As the supply of a given product declines the price rises making other alternatives more attractive.What is going to be the best alternative to oil? I do not know, and I know the government does not know.

We want to address global warming? The way to do it is not through solar and electric car subsidies, just tax the hell out of gasoline and electricity.

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WorkerBee
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Apr. 28, 2012 12:22 pm
Quote olenzekm:
  • On the Right
  • Drill baby drill
  • On the Left

  • Raising taxes on the Rich will bring back prosperit

A couple of quick questions:

First. If we don't drill for more oil, then what do we do? Depend on foreign goverments to supply our growing need? They have oil, we have oil, but we are only allowed to use theirs? One of Obama's campaign promisies was alternative energy. Well his term is almost up. Are we any closer? Nope. Not one day closer. If not gasoline then what the heck are you expecting me to fuel my car with? Goat pee? Give me an alternative and I'll use it. Until then, it is insane to reduce our only energy supply.

Secondly, What good will raising taxes on anybody do? We cannot even make a dent in the debt by raising taxes. It's like trying to save the Titanic with a bailing bucket. With our gluttonous government on a feeding frenzy it is impossible. If you don't care about the debt, then why not simply increase spending? You don't need a tax increase to do that. Just spend baby spend.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am
Quote .ren:
Quote olenzekm:
Quote Choco:

You may have heard of the Venus Project. One of the main points is the need to transition to a resource based economy.

The Venus project seems to be a utopian vision. It does offer some good points, but overall I think that it could only work if we could somehow change human nature. Ideologues have been trying that throughout human history, often with tragic results.

Thanks for the link.

I appreciate your Opening Post (OP). I'm guessing you may have developed a lot of those bulletted one-liners from reading works like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. There are a lot of collapse scenarios by numerous authors out there to pick through.

I don't intend to intrude on the pace of your thread, nor your guidance, but now I'm a bit curious: how did you develop your notion of human nature? It seems a bit tautological, and I find it appears in various analagous forms in your somewhat axiomatic statements about what people are willing to do.

From an anthropological/archaeological standpoint, we have some pretty good evidence that humans have proven to be far more flexible in their invention of cultural forms than most modern Westerners are educated (and conditioned) to believe. The forms of the present day technologically-based societies are actually, from that standpoint, a bit more rigid than most living in them recognize, for reasons that would be much too complicated than anyone could begin to explain in a single post.

I've personally witnessed where people have changed rapidly, both attitudinally and in what they are willing to conceive, when they step out of these carefully bounded patterns and experience something different. And, as Jacques Ellul has pointed out, attitude is a key to peoples' perceptions of the world: Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes.

Olenzekm, your points method of presenting an array of thoughts is unique and serves its purpose well. I didn't see anything I disagree with!

Ren, I truly hope you're correct that people can change attitude rapidly because we badly need that to happen. I've always felt that education was the key to breaking out of humanity's dark ages, which I would say that we are still in unfortunately. Any species at war with itself has real problems to overcome. But this lack of cooperation for the common good is to a very large extent caused by incomplete and/or misleading information. It seems that the brightest among us need to figure out how to nullify propaganda in such a way that everyone can recognize it. They should organize to start a culture that can expand on itself and grow fast enough that it will draw people like a downhill snowball. People are looking for answers. They need to see that bright light shining - the light that cuts through the darkness.

There is nothing wrong with utopian visions like The Venus Project - they help us to have goals to aim for!

DonaldFG
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Point of fact rigel, we are drilling more since Obama took over. Foreigners still control the most supply, and have kept prices high. To say we need to do more of the same bad idea to change the outcome is crazy.

The US has 3% of the world's reserves, pumping it out faster won't make us more secure.

As for raising taxes, the best argument for it is that the oligarchs oppose it. Germany and Japan have higher taxes, and seem to be growing nicely.

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Phaedrus76
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Sep. 14, 2010 8:21 pm
Quote Phaedrus76:Point of fact rigel, we are drilling more since Obama took over. Foreigners still control the most supply, and have kept prices high. To say we need to do more of the same bad idea to change the outcome is crazy. The US has 3% of the world's reserves, pumping it out faster won't make us more secure. As for raising taxes, the best argument for it is that the oligarchs oppose it. Germany and Japan have higher taxes, and seem to be growing nicely.

You are correct. We have drilled more. But we have also restricted more. We don't know exactly how much oil we have, but the 3% is only what we have in existing wells. We certainly have more than that. It's our oil lets use it.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am

rigel wrote:

You are correct. We have drilled more. But we have also restricted more. We don't know exactly how much oil we have, but the 3% is only what we have in existing wells. We certainly have more than that. It's our oil lets use it.

poly replies; It isn't our oil. This isn't Norway. Norwegian oil belongs to the Norwegian people American oil does not belong to the American people.. It isn't our oil. It's sold privately to the highest global bidder.

MEJ wrote: I do have to object to someone's comment about both political parties being two faces or hands of one corporate party.....that's too simplistic and cynical. Real life is more complicated and messy with too many power struggles for such conspiracies to be true. Granted, it's too damn close to the truth, but there are big differences in The Republican Brain and that of liberals. You can listen to the author talk about it here.

poly replies: I've no doubt liberals exist in the U.S. However, neither wing of the Corporate Party seems to place them on the ballot. The Party of FDR died with the election of the Outsourcing King, and Destroyer of the American Safety Net, Bill Clinton or haven't you noticed?.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Phaedrus76 wrote: The by product of cheap plastic was fun too.

Actually I see the production of virtually indestructible plastics as a good thing. I predict that in the future landfills will be the main focus of mining activity. Hoards of people will "mine" landfills to extract all of the stored energy of plastics and mine other resources such as scrap metal. It will be a sad day for our grandchildren when the landfills are depleted.

Phaedrus76 wrote: At that point the oil and coal oligarchs can try to figure out how to horde food and land, and force the masses to starve. They won't have the advantage of cars and helicopters.

I have a vastly different take on this. I maintain that this will be a “long” decline. Oil and other resources will not disappear overnight. They will become more expensive in terms of money and energy. This means that the oligarchs will be the only ones with effective access to these products.

At various points in the transition, the oligarchs could use the remaining resources to build private “police forces” to protect them selves and their property. They could utilize the latest high tech surveillance and weapons such as drones and high-tech soldiers. High tech would allow them to do these things with relatively low amounts of resources.

During a decline, it is natural for wealth to concentrate. During the contraction phase of each expansion-contraction cycle, goods produced with much labor and cost during the expansion can be bought for pennies on the dollar due to forced liquidation. Those with money (read the Rich) can then buy them at much less than it cost to make them. This is how they would concentrate wealth and power.

This is why we must reverse the trend towards plutocracy and oligarchy. As I said, this path is the natural path for unfettered Capitalism. It will be very difficult to reverse.

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olenzekm
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Rigel1 wrote: If we don't drill for more oil, then what do we do? Depend on foreign goverments to supply our growing need?

You embedded the answer inside your question. The important part is “our growing need.” The single most important action must be to halt waste, full stop. This is where the greatest gains can be made.

I do suggest that we buy a lot of the oil we will need during the transition from foreign governments. Why, because oil is still relatively cheap and we should husband our domestic reserves. Our oil resources will grow in value as time goes on. Why should we steal from our grandchildren the few remaining resources? Must we leave nothing for them?

Rigel1 wrote: What good will raising taxes on anybody do?

It will serve two purposes:
·It will raise some revenue (I do not claim that it will balance the budget)
·It will decrease the vast pool of “hot” money currently sloshing around on the supply side. This balancing of the economy is a good on its own.

Rigel1 wrote: With our gluttonous government on a feeding frenzy …

I maintain that our predicament cannot be mitigated by anything other than government action. Capitalism, by its very nature, must be short sighted. A capitalist must keep his company viable every day. So they work on a quarter-year time frame.

We need to start working on a quarter-century time frame. Only government can take the actions needed to do things that will show no profit for 25 years. Any company that tried that would go bankrupt.

I am a strong believer in markets. Market mechanisms are powerful and the best way to get things done. The government should use market forces to move us towards a more sustainable economy. The use of subsidies and taxes are the primary tools.

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olenzekm
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DonaldFG wrote: There is nothing wrong with utopian visions like The Venus Project - they help us to have goals to aim for!

I agree. Utopian visions can provide us with a list of possibilities. It is then up to the people grounded in reality to try to implement the useful and doable items on the list.

If people get too focused on a utopia, they will loose touch with reality. When their utopia fails to materialize, they may fall victim to a dystopia. For this reason, I try to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

The waste that Americans thrive on is mainly an American flaw.

Other countries really do plan for the future, Norway being one, If the US held off on it's oil leases, and garnered a substantial number, established it's own oil operation, non-profit, utilizing the safe Norwegian methods, also not beholden to national markets, could refine and distribute on US soil, selling only low octane, the kind that 60 mpg cars use, progress could be made.

One interesting tidbit popped up re:Iran, their whole operation was shut down because a computer virus tripped all the safeguards, or enough to scare them into shutting the whole thing down. Our refineries have refused to sign on to a national digital safeguard protocol. Richard Clarke has been manning the alarms, as he did pre-911. Hackers, whether state or lone, can do that. It would be a shame if Koch bros refineries were shut down for a month, real shame.

The link I was trying to post was the one about UK, having endulged in austerity has just posted second quarter of negative growth, making it an official resession. Austerity begets recession, and Romney and fools seek austerity, the turnaround artist that bankrupts and outsources, and steals pensions.

btw olenzekm, depending on your locality, you might consider seeking community organizing for sustainable habitats, and make sure your passport is up to date.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

.ren, Thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m sorry for responding so late. I was out of "touch" for a couple of days.

.ren wrote: I'm guessing you may have developed a lot of those bulletted one-liners from reading works like

A lot of the detail comes from Messrs. Greer and Martensen in the Acknowledgements. I heartedly recommend their works. I am familiar with Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel but thought that he had an agenda other than finding the Truth about differential levels of development. I have not read his book about empires failing. I should give it a try.

.ren wrote: how did you develop your notion of human nature?

I developed it by observing humans. I saw how the American People reacted to the energy crisis of the 1970’s. The 1980 election was a watershed. Jimmy Carter offered the "moral equivalent of war" to make our country more sustainable. Ronald Reagan said that there was no problem and Americans should not have to sacrifice. We humans bought into the latter.

That told me that people do not want to hear bad news about their lives. If you go to the doctor, you do not want to hear that you have cancer. Well, there is a cancer on the American economy, but we do not want to hear it. We prefer happy talk. We like our presidents to be “optimistic.” The 1980 election set the template for governance ever since and the template is to continue our non-sustainable ways as long as possible. I have seen no evidence that we are prepared to behave differently.

Another part of the problem is that there is an entire, well funded industry feeding the American People disinformation along the Reagan line. This makes it very difficult for US to make hard decisions.

.ren wrote: we have some pretty good evidence that humans have proven to be far more flexible …

I agree 100% that humans are flexible. As I said, humans are the most adaptable animal on the planet. We will survive and adapt. The question is will we do it the hard way or the easy way? Right now, we are on a path to do it the hard way.

In 100 years, after the decline is obvious, I think that people will think two things about our generation:
They will hate us for wantonly wasting so much energy and resources.
They will be perplexed why so many people held on to ideas that were so wrong for so long.

I will look at your link to Propaganda.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

Thanks for your response to my questions, olenzekm.

Quote olenzekm:

A lot of the detail comes from Messrs. Greer and Martensen in the Acknowledgements.

I looked at your links before I imagined where you got your bulleted points. A lot of people have been influenced by Jared Diamond, so I figured he might be in there somewhere, especially given the range of your points. I was also assuming you had read more, which I still believe is a fair assumption. I am familiar with your sources, I have been studying this problem for quite some time. I personally don't rely on any one or two sources, though I do tend to repeat a few that I find useful in making certain points, like the Ellul source when it comes to understanding how humans are likely to behave to a real crisis.

Many people I know recognize the symptoms you've outlined and are laying the groundwork for new survival strategies now, while many are still in a denial state of mind. The reasons for that are, I believe, complex. So I mentioned one of Ellul's book; please note that it's a follow-up companion to The Technological Society

Quote olenzekm:

I will look at your link to Propaganda.

I just meant it as a reference. And please note, it's about sociological propaganda, not just propagana. This reference might offer some simple clarity: Sociological Propaganda.

I'm not sure how much sense Ellul's propaganda tome will make without having the groundwork of Ellul's previous book, but I recognize it is not the only one of its kind, and careful observation of what goes on around us can also be of service. Sociological propaganda does not involve the same meaning most people associate with the term propaganda. In anthropology we would probably use terms like cultural conditioning, but Ellul is coming out of a different scholarly tradition so he more or less invented his own. To understand how how conditioning might work differently in modern technological societies than it might in local, traditional societies, I find it helpful to understand how those societies are structured. So I have spent a considerable amount of effort trying to understand that. If my explorations can even be condensed, I would suggest that modern management theory correlated with the industrial revolution, combined with the evolution and spread of related techniques, like the bureaucratic institutions that we find so prevalent these days, play an enormous role in shaping what we see and how we relate to each other. What we see is also correlated with how we think about things, because for many, if not most, the abstractions about that is their world.

One of the perspectives I get from a range of thinkers like Ellul is a different variant on human nature than the one you've expressed. I too was there during the 1970s oil crisis. I was studying both anthropology and ecology at one of the state institutions responsible for generating the Green Revolution. So my take on it is slanted a bit differently, because I saw a lot of people waking up, I saw an ecology movement grow across the country, and I saw how it grew, and I saw how it effected a president. And then I watched it quickly become diffused and confused as a force the public would recognize, even begin to implement in their educational institutions, due to a coordinated program of mass propaganda that countered it across the nation.

It was a conscious system of idea shaping (the word "propaganda got a bad rep, so people who saw its efficacy back in the early part of the 20th Century, like George Creel and Eddie Bernays, changed it to "Public Relations" and they went on to develop modern corporate advertising, an incredibly powerful idea shaping force in modern societies today) put together by a set of systems, as I now recognize by having done the research, that followed a kind of blue print for that system's ability to access group behavior triggers.

That blue print would be reflected in a memo by a soon to be Supreme Court Justice, Lewis M. Powell, who also happened to be a corporate attorney at the time, therefore heavily involved in the structures of corporations and their purposes in the U.S. Economy. He was friends with the head of Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Eugene B. Sydnor, and he wrote him a memo (at his request) outlining "for discussion" what corporations need to do to "save" the American economic system. The Powell Memo. (Please note that I am not trying to say that Powell's one memo is the cause, only a symptom of a response by a very powerful and influential set of cultural patterns we group under the heading: "economics".)

Networking and using the lubrication of who we know and who can be influential in getting the things we want is also human nature. How that works to become systems of sociological propaganda which then influences how people relate to one another can be a life long study.

Ellul is considered a pessimist by many, but I don't see him that way, nor do I think he saw humans pessimistically, because realistic is not pessimistic. What you call human nature I see as a result of their nature, not the generative source. Conditioning to social norms is something humans also do. That conditioning creates a world view, and people tend to act according to the world they see, or at least think they see. So, getting people to see a world in a certain way influences whether or not they will go along with things. In a form of government where people need only legitimize the elites who make the key decisions that shape their society conditioning people to see that society as the best way life can be turns out to be a very effective way to maintain the system. And a Technological Society is one that is shaped primarily through hierarchical systems, both governmental and corporate so you just need to get people to be willing to believe in the efficacy of that system. That's simply what people like Ellul (and many others I could reference) attempt to reveal.

Not wanting bad news may be part of it, as you note, but changing social belief systems and norms that seem to be working is the real issue I see in getting people living within this system to recognize the need to act to move outside their daily routines, which are deeply embedded in the system, now a globalized system.

I just wanted to elaborate on that small point. To me it helps make sense of this conclusion you've made:

Quote olenzekm:

The 1980 election set the template for governance ever since and the template is to continue our non-sustainable ways as long as possible. I have seen no evidence that we are prepared to behave differently.

I do believe, by the way, that template was set a long time ago, and was just reiffied when corporations got their front man into the nation's Presidency. About that time their legal staff was developing the Unitary Executive Theory, and the Federalist Society (also see Wiki for a decent overview) came out of that around 1982 (five of the current Supreme Court Justices are associated with it and its legal philosophy). After all, you can best control a hierarchy by controlling its head. That's the nature of a corporate system. Fortunately for those who want to maintain that system, the U.S. Constitution appears to be compliant.

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.ren
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Quote olenzekm:

If people get too focused on a utopia, they will loose touch with reality. When their utopia fails to materialize, they may fall victim to a dystopia. For this reason, I try to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

I think that is the reason The Venus Project has not gotten very far - they are too focused on the vision. They have not considered the real world and what needs to be done to obtain the vision. Personally, and some agree with me, I think empowering the people with direct democracy is mandatory. The elite power structure will never cave in without the people being directly empowered to stop it.

I encourage every American to vote for and support the National Initiative for Democracy! Here is a blog article I wrote for this initiative.

DonaldFG
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote DonaldFG:

I encourage every American to vote for and support the National Initiative for Democracy! Here is a blog article I wrote for this initiative.

Have you started a thread on this topic? I don't keep up with everything on this board.

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.ren
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Quote .ren:
Quote DonaldFG:

I encourage every American to vote for and support the National Initiative for Democracy! Here is a blog article I wrote for this initiative.

Have you started a thread on this topic? I don't keep up with everything on this board.

Not here, but I have been posting on many forums for direct democracy over the years; they include E-The People (which has died), the NI4D forum itself (which also died), Democratic Underground, and many others including the TVP forum. We need democracy - BAD!

I will consider writing something on it here.

DonaldFG
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote DonaldFG:

I will consider writing something on it here.

Might make an interesting discussion topic. Democracy as you note is not closely defined. As an applicable definition to our present circumstances I consider it problematic, yet many people loosely throw the term around. It certainly could use some discussion. If only it could reach the extent a "sane" discussion on abortion always seems to achieve.

This is problematic in Legislative Procedures Act:

Judicial Review. (Q)
No court shall have the power to enjoin any initiative election except on grounds of fraud. After a statutory initiative has been enacted into law, courts, when requested, may determine the constitutionality of the law.

But I consider that discussing it further on this thread would be a derailment of the main topic. And I think this topic deserves all the attention it can get.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Currently Chatting

Why the Web of Life is Dying...

Could you survive with just half of your organs? Think about it. What if you had just half your brain, one kidney, half of your heart, one lung, half a liver and only half of your skin? It would be pretty hard to survive right? Sure, you could survive losing just one kidney or half of your liver, but at some point, losing pieces from all of your organs would be too much and you would die.

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