Jevons Paradox and the anti-sustainability management mentality of neoliberal globalization.

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Once again Chris Hedges folds Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies' thesis into his ongoing narrative. In this morning's read on, he writes:

Quote Chris Hedges, Apocalyptic Capitalism:

Civilizations careening toward collapse create ever more complex structures, and more intricate specialization, to exploit diminishing resources. But eventually the resources are destroyed or exhausted. The systems and technologies designed to exploit these resources become useless. Economists call such a phenomenon the “Jevons paradox.” The result is systems collapse.

In the wake of collapses, as evidenced throughout history, societies fragment politically, culturally and socially. They become failed states, bleak and desolate outposts where law and order break down, and there is a mad and often violent scramble for the basic necessities of life. Barbarism reigns.

“Only the strong survive; the weak are victimized, robbed, and killed,” the anthropologist Joseph Tainter writes in “The Collapse of Complex Societies.” “There is fighting for food and fuel. Whatever central authority remains lacks the resources to reimpose order. Bands of pitiful, maimed survivors scavenge among the ruins of grandeur. Grass grows in the streets. There is no higher goal than survival.”

This is how we watch the management mentality -- reflected in both dominating political parties in this nation -- take us down a road with a big yawning cliff at its end. This process has grown to such gigantic proportions that I don't know if jumping off the bus will save anyone at this point. The management mentality, with "efficiency" as their prime criteria, creates complexity to solve problems while missing the real problem they are trying to solve. The phrase 'studied stupidity' comes to mind.

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am


Last month, The Associated Press asked a group of climate and biological scientists to score each of the presidential candidates on their scientific knowledge. On a scale of 0 to 100, Cruz scored six, the lowest of any candidate.

“This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner,” Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor Michael Mann told the AP. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”

He says regularly that Nasa's temperature measures show no increase at all for the last 18 years. His score of 6 is also the age of kindergartners and they have been heard to say "I saw Santa Clause putting gifts under our tree and look at the apple core he left, bite marks and all" "But Senator Cruz, didn't other people see Santa Claus, too? How was he in so many places at the same time?" "I'm not a scientist but have you heard of parallel realities?"

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I see Hillary got the highest score. Whether that means her policies will be informed by her scientific understanding or by the management mentality Hedges speaks of in the OP is another question one must ask. Bernie was in the B-student range. The scientists who did the grading dinged him for exaggeration when he said global warming could make the earth uninhabitable. I didn't hear his remark actual. If he was contextually referring to humans, it may not have been an exaggeration, according to some actual scientists.

Just one of many current samples:

Scientists post extreme weather warning

They warn: “Our results indicate that the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale (which, if it happens, obviously can kill most of the life on Earth) is another possible catastrophic consequence of global warming, a global ecological disaster that has been overlooked.”

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

"The Saddest Thing Is This Won't Be Breaking News"

Thom plus logo As the world burns, and more and more fossil fuels are being used every day planet-wide, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels passed 416 ppm this week at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In the 300,000 years since the emergence of modern humans, carbon dioxide levels have never been this high.
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