Sunday, November 13, 2011

Growth, Development, And The Urgent Need For a Better Way

In Beyond the Limits, the twenty-year sequel to The Limits to Growth, the researchers make a distinction between development and growth, and write:

In the rich world, economic growth is believed to be necessary for employment, social mobility, and technical advance. In the poor world, economic growth seems to be the only way out of poverty. And a poor family sees that many children can be a source not only of joy, but also of hope for economic security. Until other solutions are found for the legitimate pproblems of the world, people will cling to the idea that growth is the key to a better future, and they will do all they can to produce more growth.

We should recognize that there's a certain amount of hurry-up involved too.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beginning Beyond The Limits

In 1972's The Limits to Growth, the authors made a case that, if trends in resource use, population, pollution, industrial and agricultural production continued, the world would reach its limits to growth within a century. They also showed that it would be possible to avoid this catastrophe, and that doing so would be easier the earlier the world began.

Here's a paragraph from the 1992 sequel, Beyond the Limits:

But until we started updating The Limits to Growth we had not let our minds fully absorb the message. The human world is beyond its limits. The present way of doing things is unsustainable. The future, to be viable at all, must be one of drawing back, easing down, healing. Poverty cannot be ended by indefinite material growth; it will have to be addressed while the material human economy contracts. Like everyone else, we didn't really want to come to these conclusions.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eco-Village, Neologism, And Artifact Ecology

Steve, my chief partner in writing the eco-village operating manual may have found a location.

I went to look at photovoltaic setups with neighbor, Joe Hesla, who asked me if I were planning on moving to the eco-village. I said that our neighborhood was my eco-village.

Steve likes to make up words and phrases. I believe English teachers call made-up vocabulary "neologisms." They are often Latin compounds. Steve usually makes his from scratch. His often seem to duplicate existing words, although Steve might feel that they remove some distasteful accidental meaning or emphasize something that isn't in the conventional word. "Woma" is a case in point. It really means the same thing as "woman," a mature female member of our species. The emphasis for Steve is sexual maturity, although I don't know why removing the en shows that. Inadvertently, or otherwise, it also removes the implication that a woman is a man with a womb.

One phrase of Steve's that everybody ought to adopt is artifact ecology. In artifact ecology, we consider the various materials and processes we use in providing ourselves with some means of survival or culture. Resource use, pollution, effect on community, benefit are all considered for -- say -- a person web logging.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

George Papandreou And The Limits To Growth

Here's a 2500 year old Greek bronze discovered in the sea the same year, 1972, that The Limits to Growth was published.

LTG was the popular summary of an MIT study that modeled the interactions between population, food production, industrialization, pollution, and non-renewable resources in the world economy. There were about a hundred variables, and the researchers were looking to see what would make the system grow, collapse, or oscillate.

St. Paul native, and Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou has called for a referendum on his country's proposed European bailout. The trade is austerity for 110 billion Euros. Service contributes 78.8% of GDP, and the public sector accounts for 40% of jobs. Oops.

If anything can save us, it probably won't come from public policy, but maybe a country with a severely straitened economy could afford to tell the industrial economy to "Take a hike. We're going to see how many of us can keep eating."